Identifying Charles Walker’s influences
doesn’t require prolonged exposure or intense examination. The Milwaukee
native grew up with a love of the Blues, Funk, Pop and Motown, as
evidenced by his devotion to Luther Allison, Prince and Stevie Wonder,
and the sound that he’s developed with his latest outfit, appropriately
tagged the Charles Walker Band.
If Robert Earl Keen and Kathleen Edwards
formed a Bluegrass/Americana duo and managed to retain their individual
identities while combining their collective talents into a distinct
third direction, they would sound a lot like Mandolin Orange.
The Infamous Stringdusters are one of the
more high-powered acts that exist on the fringes of Bluegrass music. Ten
years as a band, the Stringdusters have built up an impressive
following with albums and live shows that are upbeat, fun and fueled by
There is a sense of desolation and edgy
calm in The Antlers’ expansively compelling soundscapes. If you were
freezing to death on an Antarctic ice shelf, this is the music your
brain would spontaneously create to distract you from your imminent
The first time I heard FIDLAR, I was
parked on my couch holding my cellphone over my head and smiling like a
massive dork up at the screen. Some cute boy from OKCupid was sending me
links to YouTube videos from his favorite bands. The Skate Punk/Surf
Rock sounds of FIDLAR made up most of the list.
History will always chiefly remember Kurt
Cobain as a creator of music, not a consumer. But the Nirvana leader
was also an avid advocate for his favorite groups and most cherished
influences. In the posthumously released Journals, he documented his 50 favorite records. Most telling of all was his inclusion of Pixies’ Surfer Rosa in spot No. 2. That’s significant because Nirvana’s biggest hit owes a great debt to the group.
In a world where Punk has become a
commodity on a par with soy lattes and $500 tennis shoes, it’s
comforting to know that Agent Orange is still prowling the wastelands
and kicking the universe in its rapidly descending ballsack.
Marc Cohn isn’t particularly prolific,
but when he lays hands on a piano or guitar, something extraordinary
happens. Witness the ubiquitous platinum success of “Walking in Memphis”
from Cohn’s eponymous 1991 debut, which earned him a Best New Artist
Grammy. Neither 1993’s The Rainy Season nor 1998’s Burning the Daze matched his debut’s immediacy, and it was nearly eight years before Cohn wrote new original music.
The hit Disney show Hannah Montana not only launched Miley Cyrus' career, but it was also
tangentially responsible for Metro Station, an energetic Pop/Rock outfit
that hit enviable heights in spite of significant internal tensions.
During Hannah Montana’s first season, Trace Cyrus and Mason
Musso, brothers of the show’s co-stars, met on set and formed Metro
Station based on their mutual musical interests.
About halfway through “Deathcamp,” the lead track on Tyler, the Creator’s new album Cherry Bomb,
the dense, hard-charging music takes a breather so the controversial
California-bred rapper can declare, “I don’t like to follow the
rules/And that’s just who I am/I hope you understand.” No doubt many don’t understand, which
seems to suit Tyler just fine
If you’re a Donkeys fan, you know the San
Diego quartet from its decade-plus history, three exemplary albums on
Dead Oceans and 2014 debut with new label Easy Sound Recording Co., Ride the Black Wave.
You know they haven’t had a lineup change since forming in 2004 and
that they’ve been nominated twice (winning once) for Best Rock Band at
the San Diego Music Awards.
When I was getting into music as a
teenager, I took a genealogical approach to discovery. If I liked a
particular band, then presumably I’d like the bands its members had
played with previously or would play with subsequently. If you applied that same connective logic
to Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers, you would a) experience a healthy
degree of corollary success, and b) collect a backbreaking amount of
material in a hurry.
Japanese music culture has always been
adept at absorbing Western musical forms and translating them into
familiar but distinctly new concepts. Shonen Knife may have begun as a
de facto Ramones tribute, but the band has grown into a unique sonic
entity that embraces all genres and reconfigures them into its own
singular sound. Given that, what can we make of Peelander-Z?
The idea behind Jayme Stone’s all-star
group, Lomax Project, is so brilliant it leads one to wonder why no one
has thought of it before. Alan Lomax was the legendary song-catcher and
in-the-field recorder who went out into rural areas, wrong sides of the
tracks and the outskirts of America in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s to
collect obscure ethnic Folk music. Lomax took along a portable
reel-to-reel tape recorder and captured the music of many unknown
artists who would go on to be recognized by the larger population.