Cross Canadian Ragweed - Nowhere, TX
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Cross Canadian Ragweed - Nowhere, TX
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Vinyl Is Making A Comeback!
Lost Highway, Sub Pop, and even EMI are few of the labels that i've noticed offering the CD/Vinyl choice. Browsing Amazon's upcoming releases recently, i found that most of the albums on the list are re-issues of older albums in the analog format. Waterloo Records in Austin, as i'm sure is true with many stores around the nation, now have larger sections of new vinyls than that of the used, original pressings. Best Buy and other major retailers are tossing around the idea of adding Vinyl records (in a limited, carefully chosen selection, mind you) to their music departments.
Vinyl records enhance every aspect of the experience one has with their music. The artwork becomes not just an album cover, but a true work of art to be to be carefully studied as the sounds are magically transferred from a small needle through to giant speakers. Playing a vinyl record requires much more work than, say... a click of a mouse does - meticulous removal of the album from its sleeve followed by the steady-handed placing of the needle along the outermost groove. And then you're required to repeat this procedure halfway through the listening process. All this extra effort allows for a ceremonious display of respect for the artists' work, and a higher appreciation for the fidelity of the music.Perhaps just as exciting as finding that perfect, although slightly worn, copy of Blonde On Blonde, Sweetheart of the Rodeo, or Our Mother The Mountain in the used section of the store is carefully removing the plastic on the 12x12 cardboard encasing your newest favorite album deemed worthy of a vinyl immortality. Maybe there will be a fold out poster. Maybe extra liner notes. Ultimately there's the holy grail of bonuses - the vinyl-only bonus track...
And then there's that sound.....
No matter how our digital technology grows, the simple fact is that the quantity and quality of sounds present on an LP can never truly be transferred to CD or mp3. The desire for increased volume on CD's only lessens the dynamic quality of the sound captured. It puts a fuzzy, warm feeling inside you to hear that fuzzy, warm sound that comes from an LP. Records capture every sound that went into the microphones and play them back without losing any of the grandeur. This sound can transport you (often back in time) into that fabled studio the musicians holed up in for days at a time and created their art. Hell, i even enjoy the pops and static you often come across - it's genuine.
Of course, saying that vinyl is the next big thing again is just as relative as saying that the artists i talk about here are popular. Sure, they've remained preferred in small circles (DJ's and fellow Audiophiles), but the popularity will never again compete with that of the quickly accessed, readily available, and easily pirated mp3. But there is some hope in the numbers.... Vinyl revenues were up 46.2% from the last year in 2007, while CD sales dropped 20.5% - following a 10.9% drop between '05-'06. LP sales don't even make a dent in the overall layout of sales in the music industry - CD's still reign, for now - but the numbers that are reported don't include small indie record shops, or the sale of used albums in stores and on eBay. (sales figures are from RIAA via Wired.com)
And let's be honest - you wouldn't be here, nor would this blog, if it weren't for the mp3. It has dramatically changed the way we listen, collect, and share our music. But many of these hip labels releasing the vinyls fully understand that. To compensate, many offer supply a code with the purchase of the record that allows the customer to go online and download mp3's of the tracks for portable use.
So, what's in store for the CD? i believe the only thing keeping the Compact Disc hanging on is the need for music in the vehicle. Satellite radio and the FM transmitters for iPods have tried to phase out the Auto CD player, but still haven't matched it. XM and Sirius are revolutionary, but you still aren't able to pick a certain track or skip through to songs of your choice. And although many new vehicles are offering direct iPod docking stations, too many still only have the option of the FM transmitter - which simply does not produce the same sound as an mp3 file. Moreover, unless you're on a long trip with little radio interference along the way, it's just too much trouble to find an empty station to transmit your tunes through. Once the majority of car radios have auxiliary plugs on the face, or even USB ports, the CD will finally have seen it's days.
The same was most likely said about the vinyl upon the introduction of the CD, but as we've seen, that big black disc has not only hung on, but thrived. There's a nostalgia, a deeper connection to the music you get with a vinyl record that never existed with the CD and exists far less with the mp3. Long Live Vinyl.
If there is one ray of hope for the compact disc, this has to be it - Optical Media Productions is testing the idea of a Vinyl/CD hybrid. Old school on the top, digital on the bottom. The vinyl side will only fit about 31/2 minutes of music - a perfect place for a bonus track. Read the story....
Here's a couple of tunes picked especially for this occasion:
Ryan Adams - If I Am A Stranger (vinyl rip)
Todd Snider - Vinyl Records
And these just scream vinyl to me:
Bill Withers - Use Me
Bob Dylan - Talkin' World War III Blues
John Lee Hooker - Boogie Chillen'
Ray Charles - What'd I Say
Check out Amazon's Vinyl catalog.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
But thanks to the internet and all its archiving glory, you can still find remnants of it - like here at Elbo.ws.
Anyway, my plan was to get an installment out pretty regularly, as not to miss any big releases. But this summer has been one big blob of uncertain locales and shaky internet service - with even more to come. So that didn't happen, but i did manage to talk about some releases as i learned of them in single posts.
i will resume with a late summer/early fall album release forecast:
Conor Oberst - Conor Oberst
This album has been talked about on every other blog and music mag, so i won't get in-depth. Conor Oberst left behind the Bright Eyes moniker as well as his "better half" and longtime producer Mike Mogis and went deep into Mexico to record his latest effort. The self titled disc is reportedly not as much 'sad-bastard' but more up-tempo midwest rock - much like Cassadaga, which i really enjoyed.
Conor Oberst - Danny Callahan
stream the whole thing here.
Carrie Rodriguez - She Ain't Me
(Back Porch Records)
If Norah Jones and Allison Krauss had a love-child, her name would be Carrie Rodriguez and she would be a classically-trained violinist with a twangy, soulful voice. Carrie worked with songwriter Chip Taylor for many years, and in '06 released her solo debut, Seven Angels on a Bicycle. It's a fiddle-driven, mellow album that features mostly songs penned by Chip. Carrie is set to release her sophomore effort in which she took over the writing duties - she co-wrote with Gary Louris and Mary Gauthier, and Lucinda Williams makes a cameo. Not bad.
Carrie Rodriguez - Got Your Name On It
Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez - Keep Your Hat On Jenny
pre-order She Ain't Me
Todd Snider - Peace Queer
(New Door Records)
i already talked about this one here.
Rodney Crowell - Sex and Gasoline
(Yep Roc Records)
The Houston Kid honed his musical chops as a guitar player/singer with ol' Emmylou. He ran around with Steve Earle, Guy Clark, and Townes in the 70's and 80' - oh yeah, he was also married to Rosanne Cash. Known mainly for his songwriting, he has penned songs that produced hits for Emmylou, Guy, Waylon, George Strait, Keith Urban, etc. With a slew of solo albums since '78, Rodney's last few discs have been politically-fueled rants set to catchy guitar/mandolin riffs.
from Sex and Gasoline:
Rodney Crowell - Closer To Heaven
from 2005's The Outsider:
Rodney Crowell - Don't Get Me Started
Okkervil River - The Stand Ins
Will Sheff and band didn't take long to follow up 2007's The Stage Names (which, if i could re-do my Best of 2007 list, would make the top 5). That's simply because they had toyed with the idea of releasing a double album last year. Though the idea was forgone, The Stand Ins picks up where The Stage Names left off. The overall theme is said to carry over, there's a sequel to the plaintive Savannah Smiles, and even the artwork coincides. Read more here.
here's a live version of a song that will be on the new disc - my most anticipated of this list.
Okkervil River - Lost Coastlines (WOXY.com Lounge Acts)
Old Crow Medicine Show - Tennessee Pusher
i posted about this release here as soon as i found out. Since then, i've also been informed that an EP will precede the album release. Out next week (July 29th), it will include 2 songs from the full album plus an exclusive track, Back To New Orleans.
The album was produced by Don Was (The Stones, Dylan, Black Crowes) who has his own channel on MyDamnChannel.com - check out the boys playin' some studio sessions with country legend 'Cowboy' Jack Clement:
You can find an older version of Caroline at my original Tennessee Pusher post, but he's another new tune from The Show that i've found:
Old Crow Medicine Show - Soul Rebel (live)
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
In December of 2000 - just a couple months after the release of Heartbreaker and a couple weeks before the session known as The Suicide Handbook (stay tuned...) - Ryan Adams and some friends stopped in at Woodland Studios in Nashville to record some songs.
Another studio session intended to be part of a 4-disc Demolition series, The Pinkheart Sessions finds Ryan in his most punk-rock state so far in his solo career. Backed by Billy Mercer, John Paul Keith, Brad Pemberton, and Bucky Baxter - also know as The Pinkhearts - this session produced two songs that would later make it on the only disc to be officially released in the Demolition project. The cuts here of Starting To Hurt and Gimme A Sign are the actual takes that made it on Demolition (2002). Most of the remainder of Demolition came from the second Pinkheart Sessions recorded in the summer of 2001 (again, stay tuned).
Other notable songs from this collection are Mega-Superior Gold and Candy Doll, both of which received considerable live play when Ryan toured some as Ryan Adams & The Pinkhearts. Aside from a couple brilliant songs, this session is a mix of over-powered rock, juvenile satire, and even a couple of instrumental takes. But if you take it for what it actually was - limited studio time booked with the intention to try some things that may make an album one day - it served it's purpose. The standout track from the first Pinkheart Session is Young Winds. Ryan managed to calm his overactive limbs, sit at the piano, and pour out another soulful serenade.
Some tracks are not included for obvious reasons.
1. Starting To Hurt (Demolition)
2. Mega-Superior Gold
3. Gimme A Sign (Demolition)
5. Red Red Red Red Wine
6. Candy Doll
7. I Don't Wanna Work
9. Enemy Fire (instrumental)
10. Testy, Testy (instrumental)
11. Around The World/Under The Bridge (RHCP parody)
12. Young Winds
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
Got a link to this in my inbox this morning.
check out more videos at MyDamnChannel.com
The song is from Todd's forthcoming album, Peace Queer - out August 19th. It will carry a theme that he is well-accustomed to - the modern-day protest song. He includes a cover of CCR's Fortunate Son, and the lead-off track is entitled Mission Accomplished - we all know what that's in reference to.
i've thrown up a couple Todd Snider songs here and there, but not enough has been said about this wordsmith. Like John Prine before him, Todd has a way with words that is not initially super-impressive. At times, their lyrics are so corny that they are are downright mindblowing. And listening to people like Townes Van Zandt, Elliot Smith, and Ryan Adams - whose austere phrases are often difficult to decode, we tend to forget the value of a little humor and levity in music. While Todd may not shoot for the most intellectual phrase to come up with, his timing and syllabic choices are perfect. He has a superb sense of melody that shines through in his solo acoustic work.
A tongue-in-cheek song about the most powerful frat-boy of them all.
"You got the run of this place.... unbelievable!"
Here's another humor-driven tune from Todd:
Iron Mike's Main Man's Last Request
buy East Nashville Skyline (2004)
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Today, i'm pulling from my Slowies playlist. It's simply a collection of soothing, slow-paced songs that i often use to fall asleep to. That's not to say that the songs are uninteresting, just very calming. In fact, i often end up staying awake thoroughly examining the words - as simple, quiet instrumentation paves the way for lyrically driven songs.
- Iron & Wine - The Sea & The Rhythm
buy The Sea & The Rhythm [EP]
Sam Beam comprises about 20 percent of this playlist. His fluid vocals could calm a cat in a swimming pool. This song wouldn't be near as magnificent if it weren't for the shockingly simple banjo solos.
- The Wood Brothers - That's What Angels Can Do
buy Ways Not To Lose
The Wood Brothers momentarily drop their heavy groove and show us a beautiful song in which Oliver decides that the only explanation for his love's power of him is that she must be an angel. Listen close and you'll hear trickling water in the background....
- Band of Horses - Part One
buy Everything All The Same
- Okkervil River - Savannah Smiles
buy The Stage Names
The xylophone is a perfect touch for a song about your little girl.
- Todd Snider - All My Life
buy Happy To Be Here
Monday, July 14, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
as always, enjoy responsibly...........
There's a similar story about Nelson's first post on StarMaker here. Nelson runs the new-born FiftyCentLighter, and in addition to a This Mornin'.... shout-out, he's got a great post on Son Volt's Trace. He calls it an essential album, and he couldn't be more right. i, too, had been thinking about going through my catalogue of CD's for those deserted island, can't live without, bought multiple copies of...... discs - basically, a greatest albums that i own feature. Trace will definitely make the list, and i wanna thank Nelson for reminding me i wanted to do this.
As for the title and picture - i had this miniature toolbox that came in a package deal with Cross Canadian Ragweed's Garage (along with a vinyl and a mechanic's shirt). I had no idea what to use if for (tools were out of the question as i could maybe fit a hammer in there....) until i realized that it was just wide and deep enough to fit a long row of CD cases. Perfect! i had recently outgrown my flipbook style CD case and was a little tired of the discs getting scratched. And so, with the help of lots of haphazard music stickers, the Toolbox O' Music was born. It's normally filled with the newest additions to my library; however, there are those few albums that never seem to get bumped out. This feature post will highlight those masterpieces.
So, to start, we'll go way back..........
Willie Nelson - Red Headed Stranger
Columbia/Legacy ~ 1975
Thought of as a troubadour-songwriter, Willie's most famous tunes, however, were not self-pinned. Blue Eyes was written by Fred Rose, Seven Spanish Angels by Eddie Setson and Troy Seals, I'd Have To Be Crazy by Steve Fromholz, etc. But Willie has the ability to give each and every song he records his own touch, whether it's from his tenor-twang, the timbre coming from Trigger, or simply his 'Willie Nelson Charm'.
The two stand-out tracks on Red Headed Stranger were not Willie originals either, but because i've never heard any other versions and HE OWNS THEM, they might as well be his.
This album, as well as any forthcoming album on this feature, is best enjoyed from front-to-back, and with deep consideration. i appreciate when you can tell than an artist spent time planning a track order and the album has the feel of a 40 minute story with a beginning, middle, and end - as opposed to a 10-14 track collection of their best songs at the time.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
I have a older version of the tune that, as far as i know, is unreleased.
mp3: Old Crow Medicine Show - Caroline
My first impression is, well.... that of the unimpressed. I don't quite like the corny upbeat tempo that the new version sports. Ketch drastically changed the lyrics and added slight melody tweaks in an attempt to transform the song into what some may consider a more listener/radio-friendly version. Rips the soul out of the song...... At least they didn't touch the trademark harmony echoes from Willie Watson and the rest of the gang.
Let's hope they just got tired of the old way they played it and wanted to update the song - and that there's 12 other stellar new tracks to make up for this mistake.
Anyway, still lookin' forward to the release. It has been nearly two years since Big Iron World came out and changed the way people think about traditional music.
If i had to name the Top 3 Live Shows i've seen, Old Crow would take up two of those spots. They are truly THE BAND to see live - you can take anyone (no matter their musical taste) along with you and they will leave a fan of OCMS. There is something to be said for pure musical talent and showmanship - qualities that transcend any genre stereotypes.
They're not comin' down my way, but maybe you'll be luckier:
Wed 3 Manchester Club Academy, Manchester, UK
Thu 4 The Liquid Room, Edinburgh, UK
Sat 6 Shepherds Bush Empire, London, UK
Thu 18 The Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA
Fri 19 9:30 Club, Washington, DC
Sat 20 9:30 Club, Washington, DC
Wed 24 Berklee Performance Center, Boston, MA
Fri 26 Webster Hall, New York, NY
Sat 27 Webster Hall, New York, NY
Sun 28 Town Point Park, Norfolk, VA
Thu 9 Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN
Fri 10 Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN
Sat 11 Louisville Palace Theatre, Louisville, KY
Sat 18 Riviera Theatre, Chicago, IL
Thu 6 Henry Fonda Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
Fri 7 The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA
Sat 8 The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA
Wed 12 Crystal Ballroom, Portland, OR
Thu 13 Moore Theatre, Seattle, WA
Some Other Stuff:
Friday, July 4, 2008
Rather than save it for last, i'm gonna start with the song that inspired this post. It could be construed as too literal, but Jerry Jeff was best at being blunt.
mp3: Jerry Jeff Walker - Life on the Road
buy Scamp (1996)
Since the introduction of the automobile, Americans have long had an affinity for The Highway. Whether it represents the distance between a man and his lover, the treacherous path taken while transporting precious cargo, or a mythical place where the good go to be bad, the highway has always possessed transcendental qualities.
mp3: Owen Temple - Tennessee Highway
buy General Store (2002)
mp3: The Everybodyfields - Out On The Highway
buy Nothing Is Okay (2007)
mp3: Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited (alt take)
buy No Direction Home - The Bootleg Series, Vol. 7 (1995)
There's something special about the feeling you get from being on The Road. Whether you're a traveling musician or not, there's a calming effect that comes from the mixture of the soft hum of your tires on the blacktop, the wind in your face, and the surrounding scenery. The long stretches with nothing to do except bounce stuff around in your head have no doubt spawned some of your favorite songs from your favorite artists.
mp3: Hayes Carll - Down The Road Tonight
buy Little Rock (2005)
mp3: Bruce Robison - Driving All Night Long
buy Long Way Home From Anywhere (1999)
mp3: Patty Griffin - Long Ride Home
buy Comfort In The Curves (1997)
from Old Blevins Road (2001)
mp3: Bleu Edmondson - What I Left Behind
buy Southland (2001)
buy Conviction (2005)
Often portrayed as a metaphor for life itself, The Road takes on deeper responsibility when it determines the destination and not simply the gettin' there.
mp3: The Avett Brothers - Salina
buy Emotionalism (2007)
mp3: Reckless Kelly - Desolation Angels
buy Under The Table & Above The Sun (2003)
mp3: Walt Wilkins - I Chose This Road
buy Mustang Island (2005)
i'll leave you with some gems from Townes......
"it's a hard road you're travelin'/you can't walk it alone/find a big man to stand beside you"
"mother thinks the road is long and lonely/
little brother thinks the road is straight and fine/
little darling thinks the road is soft and lovely/
i'm thankful that old road is a friend of mine"
"there's lots of things along the road i'd surely like to see/
i'd like to lean into the wind and tell myself i'm free/
but your softest whisper's louder than the highway's call to me/
close your eyes, i'll be here in the mornin'/
close your eyes, i'll be here for a while"