Tuesday, January 27, 2009

2008 In Music: My Morning Jacket

This album surprised the shit out of me. For awhile, I literally could not stop listening to it.

It all started when I heard "Evil Urges" on the radio - then promptly downloaded the album. The falsetto and the breakdown in the title track is what hooked me. Both parts of "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream" and all their psychedelic, trance-like terrain are what sealed the deal - especially Part 2, which reminds me of Pink Floyd at times.

Then there is that "Highly Suspicious" one. At first I didn't know what to think. The vocals evoke Prince, but the peanut butter reference makes me giggle and not take the song seriously....until the guitars grab me. That one has really grown on me. When I heard James say "interweb" in "Librarian," I was sufficiently intrigued and I was enraptured by the epic instrumentation. Another creeper is "Thank You Too."

Although Evil Urges has a couple moments that leave me just shrugging, my overall impression is that they hit this one out of the park. It's incredibly listenable and it holds up to repeats. And more than ever before, I am saddened that I have still not caught one of their concerts.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

2008 In Music: Eric Lindell

This album is the only one I properly reviewed in 2008, nearly a year ago. Low on Cash, Rich In Love was my introduction to Eric Lindell, and it definitely impressed me. If you're looking for a breezy, laid back listen, Eric is your man. Soulful, funky, modern blues - how can you go wrong?

Read my review HERE

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

2008 In Music: Widespread Panic

Like Nine Inch Nails, this is another no-brainer for me. This band is tattooed on my heart. Their album from 2008 is the only one that I rushed out to buy on the release date. They also ranked as one of the best live shows I saw last year (they always do :)

Free Somehow. The first release to feature guitarist extraordinaire Jimmy Herring since he joined the band. The first track literally starts with a "boom" and the sonic journey is fantastic from start to finish. JB's voice is like a fine wine or scotch, smooth and tantalizing.

Like many albums from '08, Free Somehow has its fair share of political, societal and cultural observations. Some are subtle, others are much more obvious - like "Walk On The Flood."
We elected our leaders, so we've been told. Got no right to complain, we've bought what they sold. The slogan of the day is put peace on hold.

"Three Candles" has classic Panic elements - heady imagery, blissful guitars and keys, and spot-on vocals by John Bell. "Tickle The Truth" embodies the essence of Widespread Panic too, and it never fails to bring a smile to my face. It's got that funny edge that they often break out during their concerts. ♪ You know, these cool shades make you look bitchin'. ♪ Heh.

The title track is gentle and beautiful, with one of my favorite guitar solos on the album. Then as an instant contrast, you get the heavy and gritty "Flicker." The peak of the album for me comes with "Her Dance Needs No Body." I get chills just thinking about the saxophone and orchestral layers of that song. The remaining two tracks, "Already Fried" and "Up All Night" are a delicious denouement.

Of course, I would always prefer to have my Panic served up to me on a stage somewhere, but this album proves that the band is still evolving and can hold it down in the studio. Keep it comin' boys.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

2008 In Music: Porter Batiste Stoltz

You can't go wrong when you combine George Porter's delectable bass, Russell Batiste's drumming power, and the blistering guitar work of Brian Stoltz. Then add in Phish's Page McConnell on keys here and there....this is the freshest funk album of 2008, without a doubt.

MOODOO. It's live and it SMOKES! Irresistible. "I Get High" is the first song with vocals, and it may be the highlight for me - but really MOODOO is just one continuous jam. The Curtis Mayfield cover is also over and beyond great. Then there's some Dylan thrown in (Stoltz once toured with him), and of course a nice spattering of the Meters from Porter's catalogue. Simply put - MOODOO is hotness.

Friday, January 16, 2009

2008 In Music: Drive-By Truckers

There is no denying that this album was one of 2008's best, even though there are a couple tracks I usually skip.

Nothing yet has topped the epic Southern Rock Opera, but at times Brighter Than Creation's Dark approaches that level. First off - "3 Dimes Down" has one of my favorite Truckers lyrics ever - ♪Totally screwed, while chicken wing puke eats the candy apple red off his Corvette.♪ The Truckers can go from lighthearted & funny to depressingly serious, and I love that their songs have real characters from all walks of life. When I listen to them, I really focus on the lyrics. From the alcoholic in "Daddy Needs A Drink" to "The Righteous Path" with a blue-collar family guy trying to keep it together - ♪got a grill in the backyard and a case of beers, I got a boat that ain’t seen the water in years, more bills than money, I can do the math, I’m trying to keep focused on the righteous path.

"That Man I Shot" is just effing awesome for lack of a better description. It didn't stand out to me on the first couple of plays, but when I saw it performed live, I then had to hear it everyday. If I wanted to introduce someone to the Drive-By Truckers, "That Man I Shot" would definitely be one of the songs I played for them. "Goode's Field Road" is another that didn't hit me until I saw it in concert. The emotion in Patterson's delivery made me really pay attention to the story. Once the light bulb came on, I realized just how big that song really is. My other most-listened tracks on the album are "Check Out Time In Vegas" and "A Ghost To Most" - which are both Cooley songs, and I think some of his best to date. "A Ghost To Most" brings another of my favorite lyrics - ♪skeletons ain’t got nowhere to stick their money, nobody makes britches that size.

Where the album falls short for me is with Shonna's songs. I'm sorry - I think they're well-written but her voice is just not for me. I don't mind her on back-up vocals, but I've tried and "I'm Sorry Houston" and "The Purgatory Line" usually get skipped. "Home Field Advantage" does the trick, though. I do enjoy that one. So out of 19 tracks, skipping 2 is a pretty good ratio.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

2008 In Music: Keller Williams with Moseley, Droll & Sipe

The first time I saw Keller Williams on stage, I was hooked. His solo performances are truly something to see. It is amazing to witness how adept he is at creating a layered sound as just one man (with a bunch of gadgets mind you). But I must say, when he hooked up with Moseley, Droll & Sipe - it was mind-blowing. I was thrilled that the quartet didn't waste any time putting out a live album.

Live is the next best thing to being there in person. If you're not a fan of sprawling, Dead-like jams, then this is probably not for you. If you are, I am willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that you will enjoy this album. Even those who are blasé about Keller Williams as a solo act would probably be surprised how well his songs translate from one-man to jam band. This format really breathes new life into Keller's staples. You still get all the lyrical silliness and energy that Keller is known for, but the music means business. Seriously, there were moments when I had to hold onto my face so it didn't get rocked off.

If nothing else, you will thank Keller for introducing you to Gibb Droll, who is relatively unknown for no apparent reason. Droll's guitar solos are scorching, and he really frees Keller up to concentrate on his vocals (and what not :-). When you add in Keith Moseley on bass and the legendary Jeff Sipe on sticks, it's a combination that can't be found anywhere else.

Also check out my November 07 review of Keller with Moseley, Droll & Sipe (then going by the moniker WMD's)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

2008 In Music: Lucinda Williams

This woman rocks!
She just oozes cool and wisdom in every word.
What a great album.

I have admittedly not been following Lucinda Williams as long as most of her fans. I have instead worked myself backwards through her catalog; West was the first release that I listened to in the same year that it was released. West is a fantastic collection of songs, but it is one of those that you really have to be in the mood for.

Little Honey, on the other hand, suits almost every occasion. I have probably listened to it most while driving down the highway, and it is a perfect match for the open road. Each time I hear it, "Tears of Joy" really pulls at me - that bluesy guitar and the lyrics really speak to where I am in my life right now. Then there's "Honey Bee" which is just loud and raunchy and delicious. "Well Well Well" is a perfect "had-a-bad-day/fell-off-the-wagon" number. I've definitely been there, and the line "if you hang around trash, you can't come out clean" is just fantastic. "If Wishes Were Horses" is beautiful. "Jailhouse Tears", the one with Elvis Costello, amuses me endlessly.

As I'm writing this, I am realizing more & more just how much I love each of these songs. I could go on and on, but you should listen for yourself if you haven't. Five Stars.

Friday, January 9, 2009

2008 In Music: Foxboro Hot Tubs

My "beach read" album of 2008.

It is technically "Green Day"; but at the same time, it isn't quite Green Day. They're not blazing any new trails here - Stop Drop And Roll is definitely a throw-back to the 60's garage rock sound. Some critics rated this album poorly, saying it is just blatantly ripping off bands like the Kinks and Donovan. I personally don't care if they use recycled sounds. Stop Drop And Roll is light, lively and fun to listen to. Sometimes, that's just what the doctor ordered. Plus I've always been a fan of Billie Joe's voice, and I hear him doing some different things on this album. I dig it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

2008 In Music: Kings of Leon

These songs embed themselves in my soul more each time I listen, and in my book that's a damn fine album.

My next installment - Kings of Leon's Only By The Night. What can I add that hasn't already been written by others? This is one band where I definitely agree with the majority, popular opinion - they are fantastic (even though they were nominated for a Grammy :) Only By The Night is a real creeper. The first time I listened, I thought, "Eh, it's alright but not as good as the last one." Then it snuck up on me - BAM - and I wanted to hear it everyday. Even the massive amount of radio play hasn't turned me off yet, so that's saying something.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

2008 In Music: North Mississippi Allstars

Even though I had a copy of this in '07, it wasn't officially released until 08 - so it still counts!

Hernando. Named after the trio's hometown, and without a doubt their best album for me. Of all the 2008 releases, I'm sure this one has gotten the most listens. Unfortunately, Luther took a break to play guitar with the Black Crowes, so I only caught one live performance after the album release. It was definitely one of the concert highlights of the year, though. Hard-hitting, bluesy, jazzy, funky - these guys can do it all. They're all vocalists. Very diverse group of gents. I love 'em.

Shake what yo mama gave you!

Monday, January 5, 2009

2008 In Music: The Procrastinator's Journey

For the past few weeks, I have been feeling the pressure to compile a "Best Albums of 2008" List. Let me just say that ranking music sucks - it's like comparing apples to eggplants.

So I'm not doing it. There are way too many albums that I liked in 2008 but have not heard enough. Instead of making a list, I'm just gonna take this thing one album at a time, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER. At this rate, I might have a Top 100 of 2008 by January of 2010 :O)

Let's kick this off with a rather obvious choice for me, and one that got many listens at home, on the road, and in concert:

Of course if you know me at all, you should've seen this coming. Nine Inch Nails. The Slip.

This one definitely doesn't have the Holy Shit factor that Year Zero did (or Ghosts for that matter); but considering that it was conceived in a relatively short time period and given away for free, it's pretty damn good. Seeing "Head Down" and "Echoplex" live certainly increased their impact on me. I also really dig "1,000,000." And "Discipline." The whole album is a solid listen. Then again, when's the last time you heard me say something negative about Trent.