Even a cursory glance at Tom Waits' musical arc over the years (from sensitive Folk/Pop singer-songwriter to jazzy boho troubadour to arthouse Blues experimentalist) will give an accurate reading of his overwhelming creative restlessness. So leave it to Waits to find a new format with which to present his double live document of last year's acclaimed and patently brilliant "Glitter and Doom" tour.
Them Crooked Vultures aims to restore the luster to the supergroup in the new millennium. Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal) and Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) are pretty potent new generation ringers on guitar and drums, but installing Led Zeppelin's iconic John Paul Jones in TCV’s bass-and-everything-else slot is audacious brilliance, resulting in a trio that effectively crosses Rock's modernity with its classicism.
We're slowly inching our way toward the bleakest of release months, and so, if the sheets prove to be as sparsely populated as they seem to be now, I will be perusing the back stock (i.e., the piles of unreviewed material that teeter precariously in the Bunker) to find some things to talk about in the absence of actual new releases in December. In the meantime, let's see what the mailman (or the Internet) brought this week.
In between my kidney stone pain cycles, I've managed to get a little reviewage done — enjoy the fruits of my labor. There has to be a labored fruits joke in there I'm missing because I'm fuzzy from the Vicodin; insert your own if you're so inclined. Let's take a look at new releases by Mission of Burma, Sean Lennon, Los Cenzontles (featuring Blues legend Taj Mahal and Los Lobos' David Hidalgo) and The Swimmers.
This posting is considerably later than I would have liked, and if blame is to be assigned then let it be on my hippie kidneys. I'm still waiting for a kidney stone to pass, which means cycles of writing quickly while I can sit upright and writhing on the floor and speaking in tongues. You read, I'll writhe.
If you have a passion for all things, everything is exciting in some small way. Like my grandmother always said, there are no boring things, just boring people. And none of those boring people had anything to do with new album releases from Lyle Lovett, Son Volt's Jay Farrar, Death Cab for Cutie's Benjamin Gibbard, Electric Six and Mike Doughty.
There's a distinct chill in the air, the leaves are turning and beginning to carpet the yard and the drizzle in the air is threatening to crystallize and dust our lawns with a touch of white. That can only mean one thing: I'm hunkered in the Bunker with a cup of coffee and my Mackinac Island sweatshirt to keep me warm and a stack of new CDs to preview and review for the coming week.
There's a chill in the air and the sheets are shiveringly cool when I climb into bed at 2 a.m., so Fall must be upon us. The big three (Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas) are lurking in the wings, and that can only mean one thing for a music journalist: What will make my Top 10 albums of 2009? One of the new releases from The Avett Brothers, Rosanne Cash, Lucero and Grant Hart might make it on that list.
Monsters of Folk was spawned in post-show jams between Bright Eyes, My Morning Jacket and M. Ward earlier in the decade. Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis, Jim James and Matt Ward actualized a tour in 2004 (which was dubbed Monsters of Folk by their tour manager) but it’s taken the quartet five years to translate the structured jam atmosphere of their tour into a studio experience.
It's been a couple of days since the end of MidPoint, and I still feel as though I bodysurfed a tsunami. Two thoughts occurred almost simultaneously when I finished my review of Saturday night's final shows: "Man, I'm glad I don't have to go out tonight," followed by, "Man, I can't wait until next year." In the meantime, let's spin some new albums from Madness, Blackberry Smoke, Dennis Diken with Bell Sound, Will Hoge and Kris Kristofferson.
The death of Patrick Swayze and the cartoonishly rude antics of Kanye West at the MTV awards will dominate the news for days to come and are likely to overwhelm any attention that might have been rightly paid to the passing last Friday of poet/author/Punk frontman Jim Carroll. A fitting salute would be to seek out a copy of 'The Basketball Diaries' and read his journal kept as a teenager whom Jack Kerouac once called "better than 89 percent of the novelists working today."
Toronto's Danko Jones has always brought an interesting melodic element to the Hard Rock arena, a touch of Pop lightness to leaven the Rock density. The approach has clearly worked; Jones and his Power Garage trio have become arena-sized heroes in Europe, they've received numerous home-country Juno nominations, The Raconteurs have covered them, Motorhead personally tapped them as tourmates and The Rolling Stones gave them the opening slot for their Toronto show.
When I sat down at the computer to write, I was beat to a pissy pulp. I had a mountain and a half of work to do. What to do? I chose to listen to Patton Oswalt, the funniest person on the planet right now. And within the first 20 seconds of his new album, 'My Weakness Is Strong,' my exhaustion was a thing of the past. All of those laughing cliches? Did 'em. Laughed 'til my sides ached? Check. Laughed 'til I cried? Check.
With my crazy busy schedule, I'm already over my allotted time limit on how long I can spend on this opening, so I'm off to put out a half dozen other fires while you peruse this week's reviewage. The past couple of years have produced an absolute bumper crop of newly minted singing/songwriting women of every stripe, from Pop chanteuses with serious chart aspirations to Rock chicks with chops and bravado. Imogen Heap is not among them.
Six degrees of Kevin Bacon? The boy's got nothing on Delbert McClinton. The Texas native got his chops in a Blues house band that played behind Howlin' Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson and Jimmy Reed, then played harmonica in the early '60s for Bruce Channel and gave harp lessons to John Lennon backstage during Channel's UK tour.