A weekly guide to the music industry’s buzz and latest releases, in full review
George Jones, The Duhks, Terrence Howard, Michael Doucet, Otep, The Funk Brothers, Hard+Heavy, Ava Logan, Mark Erelli, James Carter, Bob Gibson, Steve Howell, State Radio, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Noah and the Whale, David Banner , Chris James and Patrick Rynn, Shwayze, The Grascals, John Trudell, Ry Cooder
Political Song of the Week: The Coup - “Baby Let’s Have A Baby Before Bush Do Somethin Crazy”
Political Article of the Week: Quagmire, Phase 2: The Invasion of Pakistan by William Pfaff (thanks to Marty)
Exerpt from The Godfather - Part II INT THE CASINO - NIGHT By now the group has made its way into the casino. Some of them are crowded around the crap table; Senator Geary is with the enormous and beautiful Yolanda, who barely speaks English. There are other girls with some of the men; not with Michael, who gambles dollars while talking to Corngold. CORNGOLD: Our information is that Castro is dead. There are maybe a few hundred die-hards in the Sierra Muestra; but government troops are going to clean them out any day. ...to be continued
Terrence Howard Shine Through It Columbia/Sony BMG Taking a break from the big screen, Terrence Howard is giving his acting career a little rest, focusing on music. Bruce Willis tried it. Trust me, it didn’t work. Howard, conversely, created something interesting, original, and uncategorizable. Shine Through It is a musical odysey of songs that fit together somehow, but for the life of me I couldn’t give you a solid reason. Everything from flamenco-styled ballads to nearly early-Paul Simon era rock tunes, and even back to big-band swing numbers. Overflowing all of this is Terrence Howard’s voice: something akin to a lifetime of smoking, months of screaming at the top of your lungs, and a full day of misery. Low crooning, bordering on talking, makes his approach style something that has yet to appear on Earth. The musical end of it is great: not only melodies, but also interesting songstructure. Amazing that this can happen for the same artist these days. Most certainly best of the week.
Pastor Troy, “Patience Above,” Rock Ridge/ADA Terrence Blachard, “A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem For Katrina),” Blue Note/Manhattan/EMI Big B, “More To Hate,” Suburban Noize/SRH Lay Down Rotten, “Reconquering The Pit,” Metal Blade Buck Howdy with BB, “Chickens,” Prairie Dog/Steve Vaus Monster Mike Welch, “Just Like It Is,” VizzTone/BGB/Red Eye Randy McAllister, “Dope Slap Soup,” Reaction Tommy Alverson, “Country To The Bone,” Palo Duro/Fontana Louise Rogers, “Come Ready And See Me,” Self-Released Various Artists, “Pickin’ And Singin’: Ultimate Blue Grass Collection DOUBLE CD,” CMH
George Jones Burn Your Playhouse Down Bandit This just-released album is a treasure-trove of unreleased rarities. The album features a collection of unreleased duets that Jones has performed over the years, dating back to the mid 70s. The collaborators vary from Keith Richards to Jones’ ex-wife Tammy Wynette. The CD is a priceless document of some of the near forgotten moments of one of country music’s most infamous and tumultuous careers. Twelve gems from one of country music’s legends.
The Duhks Fast Paced World Sugar Hill The Duhks prove that a change in lead singer isn’t always a debilitating loss. With “Fast Paced World,” their newest album, the band unveils the soulful, powerful, and bilingual vocals of new front-woman Sarah Dugas. The album continues The Duhks’ tradition of crafting catchy and dynamic alt-folkrock (or something like that). While the album might not be as “punk” as some press have touted it as being, its blend of folk rock and world music is still quite an interesting fusion. There certainly isn’t anything else quite like it.
Terrence Howard Shine Through It Columbia/Sony BMG Taking a break from the big screen, Terrence Howard is giving his acting career a little rest, focusing on music. Bruce Willis tried it. Trust me, it didn’t work. Howard, conversely, created something interesting, original, and uncategorizable. Shine Through It is a musical odysey of songs that fit together
somehow, but for the life of me I couldn’t give you a solid reason. Everything from flamenco-styled ballads to nearly early-Paul Simon era rock tunes, and even back to big-band swing numbers. Overflowing all of this is Terrence Howard’s voice: something akin to a lifetime of smoking, months of screaming at the top of your lungs, and a full day of misery. Low crooning, bordering on talking, makes his approach style something that has yet to appear on Earth. The musical end of it is great: not only melodies, but also interesting songstructure. Amazing that this can happen for the same artist these days. Most certainly best of the week.
Michael Doucet From Now On Smithsonian Folkways Leader of world famous, Grammy awardwinning Cajun band, BeauSoleil, Michael Doucet appears primarily solo on this Smithsonian Folkways released cd. He plays fiddle, octave violin, guitar, and accordion throughout the album, providing diverse examples of regional Creole and Cajun music. `The album showcases Doucet’s staggering musicianship which is especially incredible when one learns that every cut on the album was performed without rehearsal or overdubs, and during the first take. The release beautifully continues the Folkways tradition of releasing masterfully documented examples of various regions’ folk music.
Otep The Ascension Koch
I had forgotten about Otep. I thought they had given up when Nu-Metal’s popularity died and bands like Mudvayne and Slipknot took off their makeup and started trying to grab onto new trends. Apparently not though, which is perhaps deserving of some respect. While “The Ascension” is an evolution in Otep’s music, it is still anchored firmly in the Ozzfest hard rock sound that they’ve always been playing. The album was recorded by Grammy-winning producer Dave Fortman,
a man who has recorded albums for both Mudvayne and Evanesence (a band with whom comparisons will undoubtedly be drawn). Though both Otep and Evanesence’s sounds are partly defined by their female vocals, Otep is far darker and dirtier in production. Ultimately, if the genres of “Nu-Metal” and “Hard Rock” don’t immediately turn you off, you’ll probably enjoy this. The Funk Brothers Live in Orlando Eagle Rock As a Motown house band and recording studio titans, the Funk Brothers have little to prove in their ascending age. “Live in Orlando” is, surprise, a live recording of the Funk Brothers performing all their favorite Motown hits in front of, surprise again, a packed Orlando crowd. Nothing new here but nothing bad, and theirs definitely nothing wrong with Motown.
Ava Logan So Many Stars Diva Vet/North County So Many Stars is contemporary jazz vocalist, Ava Logan’s recording debut, but you’d never know it. Her voice is confident and distinct, deftly handling standards and rarities alike. It’s not surprising to hear that Logan performed as Ella Fitzgerald in the Black Ensemble Theater’s “Ella: First Lady of Song”; her pure and vibrant voice echoing what had made Ella’s voice so powerful. Logan’s backing band is also solid. Simple arrangements for guitar, bass, piano, and drum quartet provide an elegantly understated frame upon which Logan builds. While the recording lacks the warmth of classic jazz recordings, it doesn’t manage to hurt the beauty of the songs documented. Recommended for those who’ve lost faith in contemporary jazz vocalists. Ava Logan is classic.
Mark Erelli Delivered
Various Artists Hard+Heavy: Talk Dirty To Me Time Life/Rhino/Warner Another in the Hard+Heavy series. To be perfectly honest, I don’t really know why this isn’t just a box set instead of 20 different albums; there is only loosely a tie to them all, and they would work just as well sold in a book documenting the worst era of hair. On here includes namesake’s Poison, Winger, Great White, and (somehow) The Beastie Boys.
Signature Sounds Modern country with a folk’y twist . . . or is this folk with a country’ twist? I can’t quite tell. Sounds a little bit like an upbeat Bob Dylan. “Delivered” shows that Mark Erelli would feel right at home with alt-rock acts like Counting Crows as well as country acts like Faith Hill and/or Tim McGraw (with whom Erelli toured recently). The songs are well crafted and contemplative, which is more than can be said for the vast majority of modern country, and clearly place Erelli in a league of his own.
Shelton’s Single Of The Week: Night Ranger “Sister Christian”
The Absence “Riders Of The Plague,” Metal Blade Sathima Bea Benjamin “A Morning in Paris,” Ekapa/City Hall
Artists on the rise! The Marble Index “Watch Your Candles, Watch Your Knives,” Death Of/Rock Ridge/ADA
Jason Ring “Patchwork,” Old Grove Press Joseph Arthur “Foreign Girls,” Lonely Astronaut
James Carter Present Tense Emarcy/Decca/Universal Hell yeah! I saw this seventeen person marching band play once and it ruled. They were all punks, so I never understood where the ambition was coming from that could hold them all together, but James Carter gives me a pretty good idea. “Present Tense” is ripping upbeat jazz/big band and James Carter wails on his saxophone like a man possessed. Seriously, I cannot stop tapping my feet. I feel classy, too. Even when he slows it down, Carter soars. Awesome.
Bob Gibson Funky in the Country Self-Released Funky in the Country is the long overdue reissue of American folk legend, Bob Gibson’s self-released live album. The album was recorded at a Coffee shop near Chicago in 1974. The beautifully performed, and perfectly recorded live recording captures Gibson’s live charisma and charm that moved so many audiences. Gibson’s pure and warm voice is heard singing songs penned by him and his friends (including Shel Silverstein and Phil Ochs). His trademark 12 string playing is in top form as well. The album is really indispensable to those who consider themselves fans of the 1960s folk revival. Perfect really.
Steve Howell My Mind Gets to Ramblin’ Out of the Past With My Mind Gets to Ramblin, Steve Howell showcases his twenty plus years of experience in the blues scene. Howell has dedicated himself to the classic Americana blues
of Mississippi John Hurt and Robert Johnson, although, a native of Texas, he doesn’t shed his country roots completely. Decent blues revival with unremarkable vocals, “My Mind Gets to Ramblin’” is a good introduction to the sound if you are unfamiliar and a strong release from a man with a long musical legacy.
State Radio Year Of The Crow Ruff Shod/Nettwerk Boston trio State Radio have given the world Year Of The Crow, a blockbuster of a political rock album. A cleaned up garage band, with way too much alternative rock influence (or vice versa), State Radio’s driving feel creates a band that is painfully uncommon these days. Relying on melodies, beat, and fills, the band writes songs about topics that mean something to them; opening track “Guantanomo” seems self explanatory. Songs about police oppression, the fall of the government, and everything good, this is for the wingnuts with good taste in music.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Telarc/Concord/Gravier The soundtrack gathered by Woody Allen for his latest film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, is new territory for the veteran director. Straying from his affinity for Dixieland and Gypsy jazz, this soundtrack features a diverse collection of Spanish music, both contemporary and classic. The passionate, yet understated flamenco guitar that drives the entire soundtrack perfectly suits the film for which it was chosen, though one hardly needs to have seen the film to enjoy this album. A pleasant and sophisticated listen, that is recommended to anyone with interest in the different possible interpretations of flamenco guitar.
Noah and the Whale Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down
Chris James and Patrick Rynn Stop and Think About It
Cherry Tree/Mercury/ Interscope/Universal
Genius pop song writing. Noah and the Whale continue what bands like Orange Juice or even Jonathan Richmond started so many years ago: Simple, straightforward, even cute, but still unbelieveable emotional. I’m not sure where his country of origin is, but he certainly carries some sort of European accent with him. Unbelievably easy to listen to, and perhaps even perfect song construction, Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down is nothing short of golden. Shelton’s Single Of The Week: “2 Atoms in a Molecule”
David Banner The Greatest Story Ever Told
BOOM! Chris James and Patrick Rynn of The Blues Four’s new album explodes with a rip-roaring blast of modern blues-rock. The album is raunchy and rockin’ which I’m sure is just what this dynamic duo was shooting for. While the group perhaps lacks the audible authenticity and heartbreak that defined early blues, they still stick with the twelve-bar formula and manage to make a really fun record. Fun, now that’s a word that isn’t usually synonymous with the blues, but these two make the listener reconsider that preconception though. The exuberance and energy with which these songs are played eclipses the somewhat uninspired songwriting and production, and makes for what is ultimately a good contemporary blues record.
Big Face/SRC/Universal Motown David Banner’s newest release, “The Greatest Story Ever Told” is an unexpectedly complex and interesting album. Well, maybe complex isn’t the right word... at least not intentionally complex. Conflicted, is perhaps more accurate. The album veers from surprisingly radical political songs and interludes that articulately express Banner’s own insights on contemporary racism, and its relationship with both imperialism and capitalism to unfocused boasts about cars. Three entire songs on the album are devoted to car worship in fact. Despite the glaring contradictions that make up a bulk of the album’s lyrics, the cd as a whole is still quite enjoyable; inspiring even. The beats are all solid and interesting, and the theme that is consistent throughout the whole affair is the empowering story of Banner’s own perseverance and dedication; an element of honesty and humanity often lacking in releases of this nature. Check it out, if contemporary rap is your thing, you’ll probably dig it.
Shwayze Shwayze Suretone/Geffen This seems to be an interesting week for original styled music. Shwayze is technically hip-hop, but that’s really unfair. I guess the closest comparison I can make would be to House of Pain’s frontman’s short lived groove called Everlast (a miserable combination of singer/songwriter and hip hop), but I would certainly not say they sound alike. Shwayze is good, which sets him apart the most. Quite soul-less rock as beats, almost pop-rock styled, but with intelligent, Tribe influenced hip hop covering it all up. This is a bit odd at times, but most certainly solid all the way through.
“SO NICE GOTTA DO IT UP TWICE”
(created by the original NYC D.J., Jocko, 1955)
The Grascals Keep On Walkin’
Ry Cooder I, Flathead
Nonesuch/Perro Verde/ Warner Bros.
The Grascals’ playing is sharp and driving on this, their third full-length release. The vocals are right-on, and the new banjo player, Aaron McDarris plays flawlessly. Technically the album is perfect. Perhaps that is what leaves something to be desired. Perhaps the release is just TOO polished. The album’s precision and sheen set it apart from rough and ragged bluegrass classics and pegs The Grascals as a product of our contemporary music scene. An industry that places more value in image and precision than in character. I’m not saying that The Grascals lack character, only that this album doesn’t exude the same character as the records that made me love bluegrass in the first place. While it sure ain’t Bill Monroe, “Keep On Walkin” is a fine example of the future of the bluegrass genre.
John Trudell Bone Days Asitis/Daemon Didn’t really know what to expect from the packaging (the cover has a Native American on a cross in someone’s eye), but I guess this makes sense. “Bone Days” is what the collaboration between William Shatner and Neil Young would sound if they were able to successfully score a Disney movie together. Yeah, I know . . . weird. Not bad though. Lots of people win Oscars for their work on Disney movies. Yeah, I know . . . weird.
Slide guitar legend and American folk musicologist Ry Cooder graces the world with another eclectic and phenomenal album. With “I, Flathead,” Cooder continues his tradition of unconventionality, with scattered mariachi horn arrangements, string sections, spoken interludes, and straight up rocking blues stomp. Cooder’s varied inspirations do nothing to detract from the cohesion of the record though, and the album is just as funny, charming, and emotional as anything he’s released. At 61, his gravelly voice is still in top form. While rooted in Americana this album should appeal to almost anyone who appreciates honest, independently minded rock.
Editor: John Shelton Ivany Coeditor & Contributing Writer: Seth Kramer Contributing Writer: Michael Rekevics The John Shelton Ivany Top Twenty-One is distributed to over 200 national newspapers (copyright 2008 John Shelton Ivany).
John Shelton Ivany is the current Internet content provider for Hardrock.com. Mr. Ivany is the former editor of Hit Parader, Country Song Roundup, Revolution and Rock & Soul (all national magazines). Formerly editor of On Radio, Electric Village and Riffage.com websites. Mr. Ivany was the President of Titanium Records, a subsidiary of Atlantic Record Company.
Pucca: Spooky Sooga Village Shout! Factory Featuring in-pack item - Holloween cut-out templates that will help turn any pumpkin into a scary Pucca jack-o’-lantern.11 episodes chock-full of ghosts, skeletons and other spooky phenomena. There’s something super weird about Sooga Village. But never fear! Whatever happens Pucca is here! She is the super cute, super powered, pintsized Kung-Fu queen! Pucca, her ninja love Gar and their friends Abyo and Ching are ready for a fun night of Halloween Tricks or Treats. But with jumps and surprises around every corner, these mini martial artists may have to kung fu kick (or kiss) their way out of trouble. Spooky Sooga Village is a fun mix of mischief and magic for any little ghoul!
Dinosaur King: The Adventure Begins Shout! Factory/Sega/4Kids Dinosaur King, the colossal fantasy adventure of three young dinosaur enthusiatst whose discovery of some mystifying artifacts pull them into an incredible world of adventure, dange - and dinosaurs - and one of the hottest new kids’ franchises. Based on the internationally renowned arcade and collectable card game, the fantasy adventure series Dinosaur King has already evolved into a monster-sized hit. The DVD, featuring the first five episodes (Prehistory in the Making, Battle at the Pyramids, Tanks a Lot!, Bungle in the Jungle, and Rubble Trouble), an exclusive Dinosaur King playing
card, and a wealth of bonus features, is certain to excite fans both new and old. Players assume the role of either Max or Rex and take part in a quest to travel the world to collect dinosaur fossils, thwart the Alpha Gang and their evil plans and collect all the remaining pieces of the mysterious stone tablet. Dinosaur King the video game features and innovative “fossil cleaning” mode allowing players to collect and bring to life over 100 different dinosaurs. Players wil lalso be able to trade their dinosaurs with friends or compete in 3D rendered head-to-head dinosaur battles in the multiplayer portion of the game.
Hollywood Winners & Losers: From A to Z by: Mark Thise Limelight/Hal Leonard For all the times you’ve started at the screen trasported by sublime acting, breathtaking direction, or a brilliant script and wondered aloud, “I hope they won an Oscar for this!”. From those who have had the honor of bringing home the golden statue and those who walked away empty handed, this coffee-table favorite features over 900 biographical entries that document all of Hollywood’s winners...and its losers. Organized alphabetically and featuring little known facts, best known films, trivia, biographical information, real names, and - of course - details about the movies and films they were nominated for, Hollywood Winners & Losers From A to Z! Is far more than just a massive reference book, it’s the ultimate “popcorn book” for movie buffs of all ages! From today’s most celebrated actors and actresses to the numerous stars of films from cinema’s gilded age, Hollywood Winners & Losers is the ultimate compendium of Tinsel Town’s most coveted prize. This book is an endless source of inspiration for aspiring actors, actresses, and directors, and a must-have resource for cinematic nerds and casual movie-goers alike!
Quagmire, Phase 2: The Invasion of Pakistan By:William Pfaff
The Coup “Baby Let’s Have A Baby Before Bush Do Somethin Crazy,” Baby let’s have a baby, before.. Bush do somethin crazy I don’t want the world to blow before we get a chance to let our love grow I don’t want the world to blow before we get a chance to let our love grow I don’t really wanna fuss and fight Baby we might have numbered nights We might never get our money right We could take off this patch tonight Bombs goin off everywhere The police got us runnin scared But I still got some love to share Plus you know I stopped smokin squares
The United States has just invaded Cambodia. The name of Cambodia this time is Pakistan, but otherwise it’s the same story as in Indochina in 1970.An American army, deeply frustrated by its inability to defeat an anti-American insurgent movement despite years of struggle, decides that the key to victory lies in a neighboring country. In 1970, the problem was the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Cambodia. Today it is Taliban and alQaida bases inside Pakistan, which the United States has been attacking from the air for some time, with controversial “collateral damage.”George W. Bush has now authorized independent ground assaults on Taliban and al-Qaida targets in Pakistan’s Tribal Territories, without consultation with Pakistan authorities. These already have begun.This follows a period of tension, with some armed clashes, between American and Pakistani military units, the latter defending “Pakistan’s national sovereignty.” Pakistan public opinion seems largely against “America’s war” being fought inside Pakistan.Washington’s decision was made known just in time for the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that opened the first phase of the “war on terror,” after which “nothing could ever be the same.” We no doubt have now begun phase two.The eventual outcome of the American intervention in Cambodia in 1970 was Communist overthrow of the American-sponsored military government in that country, followed by genocide. The future consequences in (nuclear-armed) Pakistan await.There is every reason to think they may include civil protest and disorder in the country, political crisis, a major rise in the strength of Pakistan’s own Islamic fundamentalist movement and, conceivably, a small war between the United States and the Pakistan army, which is the central institution in the country, has a mind of its own and is not a negligible military force.In Afghanistan, American and NATO forces have been complaining for many months that victory over the Taliban was impossible so long as there were secure Taliban bases in Pakistan’s largely inaccessible Tribal Territories.Pakistan’s former president, Pervez Musharraf, was told by his American allies to clean the Taliban out of the Territories or the U.S. Army and NATO would do it for him. U.S. presidential candidate
Barack Obama made the same threat. John McCain concurred. Musharraf had been looking for a negotiated arrangement with the tribesmen.Pakistan’s military intelligence services created the Taliban while they were collaborating with the CIA to form the mujahadeen that drove the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan. Many in the service still support the Taliban as a useful instrument against India, and to keep Afghanistan out of the hands of more dangerous enemies.Musharraf was forced out of office. The U.S. brought in exiled former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, expected to be cooperative. She was assassinated, presumably by Islamic extremists. Her widower has been elected to take her place and declares himself an enemy of terrorism. However, the United States has already taken the matter into its own hands.In the Vietnamese case, the American military command held that it could win the war by invading Cambodia to cut the so-called Ho Chi Minh Trail, along which supplies and arms for the Viet Cong Communist insurrection were being transported. The argument made was that cutting this route would starve the Viet Cong of supplies.Initially, the unhappy
Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia, desperately trying to keep his country out of the Vietnam War, was persuaded to turn a blind eye to U.S. bombing of the trail. A military coup followed in 1970, installing an American puppet general. B-52 saturation bombing ensued, without the desired military effect, but killing many Cambodians. The joint U.S. and South Vietnamese “incursion” to cut the trail came in April 1970; it simply pushed the supply operations deeper into Cambodia. Richard Nixon said he acted to prove that the United States was not “a second-rate power.” “If, when the chips are down, the world’s most powerful nation acts like a pitiful helpless giant, the forces of totalitarianism and anarchy will threaten free nations and free institutions throughout the world.”The native Cambodian Khmer Rouge subsequently defeated the American-backed military regime in Phnom Penh. Genocide followed, the “killing fields,” on which the United States turned its back, condemning the triumphant Vietnamese Communist government when it later invaded Cambodia to stop the killing.