Friday, June 30, 2006
I've never participated in those "celebrity stock market" games where you speculate on the fortunes of celebrity actors and actresses. But if someone created a music version I'd make Eliza Carthy my speculative long-shot pick. Born in 1975 to British folk stars Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson, Carthy is a forward-thinking lover of traditional music. "Adieu, Adieu," from 2001's Red Rice, is a good example of her approach. Carthy has been relatively quiet recently, but I anticipate that she'll build a respectable international audience in the next decade. Keep Regina Spektor and Lily Allen- there's little doubt that Carthy will be making interesting music decades from now.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
The Widow's Walk continues at the Architect's site.
TOP TEN ALBUMS
The Raconteurs' "Steady As She Goes" is an appropriate theme for this mid-year assessment. I really enjoy each of these albums. But I don't love any of them as I did like The Hold Steady's Separation Sunday in 2005 or The Streets' A Grand Don't Come For Free and Kanye West's The College Dropout in 2004. Maybe that will change when the new Johnny Cash album comes out next week or when the surround-sound version of The Flaming Lips' At War With the Mystics is finally issued. And Art Brut is a grower.
1. P.O.S.- Audition
2. Elvis Costello- My Flame Burns Blue
3. Ghostface- Fishscale
4. Arctic Monkeys- Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
5. The Architects- Revenge
I fear that my favorite regional rock band, the mighty Architects, are getting lost in the shuffle. Revenge is the Midwest's answer to American Idiot. That they're not everyone's "it" band befuddles me. The MP3 above demonstrates how they channel the spirit of Joe Strummer.
6. The New Tragedies- Vanity Vanity
7. Gregory Hickman-Williams- Passages
8. Gomez- How We Operate
9. The New Amsterdams- Story Like a Scar
10. Art Brut- Bang Bang Rock & Roll
TOP TEN SONGS
The bitchin' sound system in my 13-year-old sedan has both AM and FM! To qualify in this category a song must have blasted from the car's factory stereo via a commercial radio broadcast. This rule disqualifies brilliance from Cat Power, The Boy Least Likely To, Lil Wayne, P.O.S., Be Your Own Pet and Belle & Sebastian.
1. Anthony Hamilton- Can't Let Go
2. Gnarls Barkley- Crazy
3. E40- Tell Me When To Go
4. Chamillionaire- Ridin'
5. The Flaming Lips- The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song... (With All Your Power)
6. Arctic Monkeys- I Bet You Look Good On the Dancefloor
7. Ghostface- Back Like That (featuring Ne-Yo)
8. Raconteurs- Steady As She Goes
9. Don Omar- Ojitos Chiquitos
10. Band of Horses- The Funeral
Like a jerk, I've missed area shows by Art Brut, P.O.S. and Mac Lethal.
1. Erin Bode- Jazz In the Woods Festival
2. Matthew Ryan and David Mead- Mike's Tavern
3. The Architects- The Hurricane
4. Joan Jett- Verizon Amphitheater
5. David Ford and Gomez- Grand Emporium
6. Lee Konitz and Bill Frisell- The Folly
7. Bob Dylan and Merle Haggard- The Midland Theater
8. Flaco Jimenez- KC Fiesta
9. Rhino Bucket and Whiskey Boots- Mike's Tavern
10. The Dresden Dolls- Borders in-store
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Shine has shone.
I took a boozy stroll down memory lane at my personal blog this morning, and people with less addled minds are already correcting my faulty recollections. Walt Mink is typical of the bands I'd see at the rock clubs I mention in that post. Every review of Walt Mink mentions that they fused the twee pop of Lets Active with heavier Seattle-style riffs. I'd like to offer a new perspective on the band's approach, but that pretty much sums it up. Note: this jam from 1993 fades in at about the ten-second mark.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
The ship has sailed.
Atlantic Records producer Arif Mardin died Sunday. He was 74. His list of credits is absurdly diverse- John Prine, Bette Midler, Phil Collins, Sonny Stitt, Hall & Oates, and Doug Sahm are among the hundreds of artists he produced. Mardin oversaw dozens of jazz sessions in the 1960s, including this '66 Charles Lloyd date. "Love Ship" is clearly a "meditation" on John Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders' Meditations. Young Keith Jarrett's explorations are intruiging, while stalwarts Cecil McBee and Jack DeJohnette provide an anchor.
Fans of Joan Jett and David "Honeyboy" Edwards will want to Hit Random. I created the site as a forum for my photographs. The first two sets of posts highlight this year's Warped Tour and the Kansas City Kansas Street Blues Festival.
Monday, June 26, 2006
It's a stranger now.
Porter Wagoner gives me the creeps. I didn't like him from the moment I first saw him performing on television. That impression didn't change when I finally made the pilgrimage to the Grand Ole Opry and saw Porter in person. Conversely, I've always adored Dolly Parton. Doesn't everyone? But give Porter credit for allowing Dolly to become a star. This single was recorded on April 21, 1969 and reached #5 on the country charts in 1970, the year that Dolly had her first big hit as a solo artist.
Friday, June 23, 2006
Charles Smith, R.I.P.
I was checking in at the front desk of a California hotel several years ago when two genial strangers approached. They threw their arms around me while a third man snapped our picture and handed me the Polaroid. I thanked them, but I was totally confused by this seemingly random transaction. Later that evening, my boss informed me that the men were Robert "Kool" Bell and Charles Smith of Kool & the Gang. He'd tipped them off that I was a big R&B fan, and he was annoyed that I hadn't immediately recognized them. Smith, guitarist and founding member of the band, died Tuesday. He was 57. Rather than posting "Fresh," "Too Hot," or "Get Down On It," I'm offering an interesting track from Gang Land, an odd Kool & the Gang album from 2001. While most of Gang Land is attempt to embrace hip hop, "Jazziacs At the Kool Jazz Cafe" is a look back at the band's jazz roots. Smith's solo starts three minutes in.
The new arrangement is silent.
Here's an A&R tip for a savvy artist looking for the perfect song. This overlooked roots reggae gem from 1984 is ripe for contemporary revival. Its gentle melody, positive vibrations, and conscious lyrics could work wonders for anyone. I'd love to hear pop Idol Taylor Hicks or indie idol Jenny Lewis sing "I'm hoping and praying that very soon things will rearrange/Too much innocent blood's been shed." The exultation to meditate is just a bonus. It would add gravitas to a lightweight artist like Kenny Chesney and is a natural fit for a serious artist. M.I.A. comes to mind; can you imagine the Diplo remixes? Even if this proposal is whack, there's plenty to savor here, starting with Albert Griffiths' distinctive voice.
I wrote yesterday about The Kansas City Kansas Street Blues Festival, which I'll attend tonight instead of going to shows by Mark Selby, Mac Lethal/Joe Good or Hank III. Here's a KCUR audio interview with festival performer D.C. Bellamy. The same link offers a tribute to recently deceased local jazz favorite Rusty Tucker.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Goodbye, Mr. Townsend.
"He's still alive?" That's how my Patchchord preview about this weekend's Kansas City Kansas Street Blues Festival begins. It's mind-boggling the man bragging about his magic stick in this filthy1933 recording will be "live and in person" a few miles from my home on Saturday. That's Roosevelt Sykes on piano. Enthusiasts will want to see this relatively recent video of Townsend doing his thing.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Jeff and his song are no longer in KC.
Jeff Black detests his old home town. From its song title to lines like, "Thank God I've been leaving that place since the day I was born," "Free At Last" is an attack on Kansas City. While he escaped "the Grand Emporium blues" several years ago, Black's new digs in Nashville haven't propelled him to stardom, although country-rock act Blackhawk had a big hit with one of his songs, and bluegrass artist Sam Bush has popularized Black's "Same Ol' River" among the Telluride crowd. This song is from his most recent release, Tin Lily, although I recommend Black's debut, Birmingham Road, which features backing from Wilco.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Memphis has ended.
I love hearing the author of so many American songbook standards faking his way through his own compositions. This 1956 date, loaded with ringers like Art Pepper and Harry "Sweets" Edison and arranged by Johnny Mandel, is charming. I won’t pass judgement on Carmichael’s nostalgic vision of The South, nor will I ponder the stickiness of Memphis in June.
My initial impressions of yesterday's Warped Tour are here.
I was both annoyed and flattered that Pitchfork, the popular and profoundly influential indie-rock site, came out with their version of my 100 Best Music Videos On YouTube idea today. So I sent them this cheeky email.
"Listen here, Pitchfork. I can’t blame you for copying my brilliant "100 Best Music Videos On YouTube" concept. When There Stands the Glass posted its list on May 25, my daily numbers skyrocketed into double digits. That's right- over ten hits a day! It's too late for Pitchfork to start playing catch-up with my site. Oh sure, you can try gimmicks like your little "festival." But after your day in the sun is over, everyone will realize that There Stands the Glass is the internet's definitive music destination."
That'll show 'em.
Monday, June 19, 2006
The power shifted.
Allow me to explain why I’ll be the oldest person at today’s Warped Tour who’s not either Joan Jett or a member of the Buzzcocks. It’s not so I can show off my mohawk. I’m not a Christian follower of the Tooth & Nail bands. And I’m certainly not the lonely dude hoping to hook up with that cute sophomore from Spanish class with the AFI t-shirt. So why would I subject myself to scorching heat and smelly crowds to see dozens of skinny kids bang on guitars that are almost all untouched by blues, jazz, funk and hip hop influences? I believe that once a music fan dismisses "new" popular music, they instantly become a relic. Besides, Warped has provided me with a handful of great moments, such as standing in the middle of a crowd screaming "Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut From the Team)" along with Taking Back Sunday, and locals Salt the Earth inviting their fans onto their remote stage for a communal experience. And, oh yeah, Anti-Flag is playing.
Friday, June 16, 2006
Kevin still loves you, but his song is gone.
I liked to take my date to a bar called Jimmy's Jigger back in the '80s. It was situated on the east side of the state line that divides Missouri and Kansas. And it bordered the south side of a street that at the time separated the gentile part of town with the gritter urban core. The Jigger house band was fronted by Kevin Mahogany, and his music was similarly situated at the crossroads. He wrapped his enormous voice around songs associated with the Temptations, Randy Travis, Luther Vandross, Jon Hendricks and Joe Turner. Blues, jazz, country, funk- it was all the same to Mahogany. This self-titled 1996 major label effort is one of the more mainstream (i.e., least jazz) albums in his large catalog. While Jimmy's Jigger is gone, the now internationally known Mahogany plays a couple dates in the Kansas City area this weekend.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Catalyst transformed into mere words.
I'm not convinced that Dave Douglas is the most interesting performer in progressive jazz. The trumpeter is widely hailed as a brilliant emancipator of new music. I won't go that far, but it's obvious that he has the good sense- and the resources- to surround himself with incredible talent. On "Catalyst," the last number on 2003's Strange Liberation, Douglas quickly gets out of the way and lets Bill Frisell make some wicked guitar noise. He allows Chris Potter to skronk through his sax solo. Bassist James Genus asserts himself as if he's the date's leader four seconds in, and drummer Clarence Penn is relentless. Uri Caine's throwback keyboards fill out the racket.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Rosalinda is taking a powder.
Mexican pop star and actress Thalia's roots move, Con Banda: Grandes Exitos, is compellingly weird. The concept was to recast her greatest hits in the banda format. The album cover of the 2001 release hints at the difficulty of reconciling the heartfelt tuba-driven music with a glossy, image-based sheen. "Rosalinda," the theme to a telanovela in which Thalia starred, is a representative of the odd result. I like it in the same way I'd like to hear Shania Twain's interpretation of bluegrass.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
The song got lost along the way.
In a thoughtful examination of the Stephin Merritt controversy concerning music and race at his remarkable Living In Stereo, writer David Cantwell confessed that he wasn't familiar with the music of The Magnetic Fields. I impulsively suggested that "I Looked All Over Town," from the "i" album, was perhaps my favorite song of 2004. In the song of heartbreak and isolation, Merritt examines the tears of a clown. "Maybe somewhere I could be free, Somewhere they won't throw rocks at me, Somewhere this crazy hair could be my crown." I know just what he means.
Monday, June 12, 2006
Graceland is closed.
She looks like Claire Danes, possesses Joni Mitchell’s instincts and inhabits a musical landscape dominated by Norah Jones. Pop-jazz performer Erin Bode and her band performed a revelatory hour-long set yesterday at the Jazz In the Woods festival in suburban Kansas City.
Bode isn’t a great vocalist; she sings with a girlish breeziness. She compensates with grace, enthusiasm and an impeccable taste revealed in her choice of covers. Her eleven-song set featured five of them- "Graceland" and "Born At the Right Time" by Paul Simon, U2's "I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For," Bob Dylan’s "Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You," and best of all, an inspired cover of "I Can’t Help It" from Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall.
The band’s originals are also interesting, especially keyboardist and songwriter Adam Maness’ catchy set-opener "Holiday." A standup bassist and an aggressive drummer also supported Bode. In their worst moments the quartet meandered into bland but entirely likeable light pop. They’re not producing "serious" art in the vein of Cassandra Wilson. Their sights are definitely aimed at the mainstream. The primarily middle-aged festival audience was charmed.
Bode is a delightful, promising artist. Even so, only time will tell if three years on she’ll be singing duets with James Taylor or if she’ll be crooning in the lounge of the Holiday Inn at the St. Louis airport. There is absolutely no doubt, however, that Bode gave an ideal performance on a steamy Sunday afternoon.
Additional songs from Bode’s two releases on the distinguished Max Jazz label, the new Over and Over and 2004's Don’t Take Your Time, are available at her site. There Stands the Glass' regular format will return tomorrow. Unless, of course, Bode asks me to join her at Graceland.
Friday, June 09, 2006
Nothing but ash.
Talk about aging well! The fried jams of the Meat Puppets sound even better twenty years down the road. The stigma of the "Jerry Garcia-esque" guitar has evaporated, as has the whole tired "punk versus country" controversy. Aside from Cris Kirkwood's annoying exaggerated twang on the harmony vocals, this bonus track from the reissue of '86's Out My Way is pretty wonderful. Only George Jones could be forgiven for failing to appreciate it.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Blues no more.
Possessing perhaps the best nickname ever in "Mr. Five by Five," Jimmy Rushing achieved immortality singing for the top Kansas City-based bands of the '20s and '30s- Walter Page's Blue Devils, Benny Moten's Kansas City Orchestra and Count Basie & His Orchestra. He co-wrote this classic with Basie. It was recorded on March 1, 1938. Suffused with mystery and longing, "Blues In the Dark" could be the best three minutes of music from the last century.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Lemmy left the pub.
Some people don't understand the appeal of ugliness. Motorhead's music is even homelier than the trio's appearance. And that's what makes it so great. This is an alternative version of the hit "Heart of Stone" from the out-of-print Over the Top compilation.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
We're Really Gonna Miss You.
"Nothing From Nothing" was a pivotal touchstone of my childhood. The song of the summer of '74, everyone in my life- from my redneck pop to the DJ at the roller rink- loved it. The knowledge that Billy Preston had been the "fifth Beatle" and had made the freaky jam "Will It Go Round In Circles" just added to the good vibes. Only when I became a geeky music-obsessed adult did I discover that Preston was responsible for monumental funk workouts like "Outa-Space" and that he'd co-written "You Are So Beautiful." Preston died today after protracted health problems. He was 59. We're gonna miss you, indeed.
It's all gone now.
Although it's rewarding, being an Elvis Costello completist is an expensive proposition. He has yet another new release today, The River In Reverse, a collaboration with Allen Toussaint. The New Orleans arranger and songwriter has been everywhere and worked with everyone. For more information, start here. My favorite song on Connected, Toussaint's fine 1996 album, is this instrumental. It sounds like The Meters in formal wear.
Monday, June 05, 2006
The good times are over.
I'd seen soul-bluesman Bobby Rush perform at festivals a handful of times, and while I'd laugh at his risque antics, I never quite connected to his music. I had him pegged as a poor man's Latimore. Then I heard 2004's Folkfunk, in which Rush releases his inner John Lee Hooker. The synths are gone and while it's still plenty dirty, not every song is about the sex act. If you see Bobby Rush this summer, I'm sure he'll be glad to sell you an autographed Polaroid and he'll still sing about loving a big fat woman. Folkfunk reveals, however, that behind the clowning is a performer of substantial depth.
Friday, June 02, 2006
The MP3 is gone.
Trying to find a definitive song to represent Indonesia is akin to selecting a piece of music that defines America. It can't be done. The diversity of the vast archipelago defies easy generalizations. As recovery efforts from May's devastating earthquake continue, this gleeful selection by Java's Nasida Ria, an Islamic nine-piece all-woman band, may allow more direct emotional connection to the tragedy than just reading another newspaper headline. The song, with its Arabic flourishes and roots in contemporary pop from Japan and Bollywood, is tremendous fun. It's found on the fantastic Rough Guide series. If you're so inclined, here's an overview of what the Red Cross is doing in Indonesia.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
The heartache is gone.
What a voice! Passages is the new release by Kansas City-based vocalist Gregory Hickman-Williams. As I suggest in my review of the album, those tiring of Johnny Hartman's collaboration with John Coltrane finally have something fresh to enjoy. It's available for sale at at CD Baby.