If great reviews and the respect of your peers were tangible income, Warren Buffett would be paying 30% tax on his income as Alejandro Escovedo’s secretary.
From the start of Escovedo’s solo career — after a brief stint with the Kinman brothers in Rank and File and a turn in his own shoulda-been-huge True Believers in the ’80s — the hypertalented singer/songwriter has been long on critical acclaim and short on commercial success for a variety of reasons (label and distribution trouble, no love at radio, health issues), but he has continued to grow and evolve as an artist to the delight and amazement of his cultishly proportioned and loyal fan base.
Escovedo’s debut for Fantasy, Big Station, is the third in a de facto trilogy that began with 2008’s Real Animal and continued on 2010’s Street Songs of Love. Following those adrenalized-yet-sensitive rock albums/sonic scrapbooks, his first collaborations with fellow cult singer/songwriter Chuck Prophet and iconic producer Tony Visconti, Escovedo reassembles the dream team on Big Station, a set that rumbles with themes of home, love and a sense of place.
The album’s first single, “Man of the World,” bristles like Eddie Cochran shot through with a few thousand volts of Tom Petty; if there was any justice in the world, it would be pouring out of every car radio this summer. Like the best of Escovedo’s catalog, Big Station offers electric muscle (“Party People”), acoustic power (the title track) and heartbursting balladry (“Bottom of the World”), all of which he paints with the perfect brush and touch.
Escovedo’s exquisite gift is his ability to blend his Mexicali heritage with his unabashed love of ’60s Rock, ’70s Glam and Punk and ’80s Twang Pop and twist it into a sound that is weirdly familiar and pointedly fresh. And like everything he’s done, Big Station is his absolute best for now.
Modern Blues/Roots hero Tommy Castro performs tonight at The Redmoor in Mount Lookout, which has been presenting several topnotch national acts of late, thanks to veteran local promoters JBM Promotions (they have contemporary Folk Pop great Dar Williams playing the same club this Saturday with locals Ellery). Castro is pulling in to town with his stripped-back backing band The Painkillers, named for his 2007 album Painkiller and put together by the acclaimed and successful guitarist/singer/songwriter as he began exploring a more expansive palette of American Roots influences.
The band is performing heavily off of Castro's debut for the esteemed Alligator Records imprint, 2009's Hard Believer, which helped Castro score a slew of Blues Music Awards from The Blues Foundation in 2010, including Entertainer of the Year (his full crew also won Band of the Year). Castro has also been busy the past few years touring with "The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue" show; Castro's live album from the tour is his most recent recording.
Showtime tonight is 8 p.m. and tickets are $25 at the door.
Here's some live footage of Castro and The Painkillers.
• Formerly the singer/guitarist for rootsy Chicago Indie rockers Low Skies, Chris Salveter launched the Indie Folk outfit Judson Claiborne in 2007 and self-released its debut, Before Midnight Scholar, the following year. For 2010's breakthrough, Time & Temperature, the band joined the label La Société Expéditionnaire and have since played shows with like-minded artists like Andrew Bird, The Cave Singers, Grant Lee Phillips and Cass McCombs.
Judson Claiborne is current prepping its next release, which they'll surely perform at least a bit of tonight when they play MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine. The album — to be called We Have Not Doors! You Need Not Keys! — has been recorded in various locations around the Midwest in recent months. The band is looking at releasing the project next spring.
Slaveter's lyrics have been much lauded for their insight as well as their cleverness and humor. The band also showed their wit when they launched a Kickstarter campaign to help with the new release this past spring. Rewards for donations included things like "Instructions by phone on how to perform the Heimlich Maneuver" as well as "handmade" bath salts (not the crazy, bite-someone's-face-off kind; the "Calgon, Take Me Away" type).
Tonight's free show starts around 10 p.m. with local up-and-comers Jeremy Pinnell and the 55s. Here's a sample of Judson's elegant, evocative, dreamy style on the song "Twilight Spirit."
• Also free tonight is the "Salsa on the Square" series on Fountain Square. Tonight should be another great one as the music will be served up by gifted local "all-female Salsa band" Orquesta Kandela. The full ensemble (featuring a dozen members with incredibly diverse cultural backgrounds) includes a complete horn section, expanded percussion and several vocalists.
Read more about the group here, then get down to the Square this evening by 7 p.m. As always, dancing is a big part of the event, but if you've the dance skills of Kate Gosselin, fear not — instructors are always on hand to teach newbies some basics.
Here's a short sample of Orquesta Kandela at work:
Since the dawn of Electronic music in the ’60s, one of the consistent difficulties with the genre has been that the idea of a composition or an entire record is often more interesting than the execution of the idea.
It would seem that Sigur Ros is at least tangentially aware of that circumstance because the Icelandic quartet seems to have found the proper balance of conceptual cool, ephemeral frippery and solid musicianship over the past decade and a half. This is the band, after all, that invented its own language on its debut album, 1997’s Von, and initially left all of the songs on 2002’s ( ) untitled.
That is conceptualism on a grand scale, but Sigur Ros has typically been more than equal to the task of making a soundtrack every bit as fascinating as the airy framework that underpins it.
After a brief flirtation with a slightly more tangible Pop song structure on 2008’s Meo suo i erum vio spilum endalaust, Sigur Ros returns with Valtari, which sees the band bringing strings and electronics back to their rightful place in its sonic forefront. While Valtari revisits the chilly ambient atmospherics of Sigur Ros’ early work, the band folds in dashes of Meo suo’s Pop ethic and ethereal operatics courtesy of a beautifully utilized girl’s choir.
The album’s first single, “Ekki Mukk,” takes Brian Eno’s aggressively Ambient stance while “Rembihnutur” soars with an expansive crystalline magnificence that could pass for Radiohead or U2 in an experimental moment while “Dauoalogn” swells like a contemporary hymn rising to the arched ceiling of a grand Electronic church.
If Meo suo i erum vio spilum endalaust was Sigur Ros’ Saturday night dance party, Valtari is their Sunday morning confessional.
(The following Sigur Ros video is NSFW due to nudity, including shots of Shia's LaBeouf.)
Last night, Cincinnati's Walk the Moon hosted an album release show at New York City's Mercury Lounge in honor of their full-length debut for RCA Records. To promote the record on a bit of a wider scale, the quartet also performed on The Late Show with David Letterman. The band played its signature tune, "Anna Sun," which has been named "song of the summer" two years running and, therefore, deserves a ranking on the list of all-time songs of summer.
WtM's appearance on The Late Show also elicited some nostalgia from the host. Letterman introduced the band as "from the Queen City, Cincinnati, Ohio … home of Oscar Robertson and your Cincinnati Royals." Lettterman grew up in Indiana and has talked about his affinity for Cincinnati (and, particularly, its sports teams, including our one-time NBA franchise) frequently.
After the tune, Letterman seemed to enjoy the group so much, he joked with them, "Now wait a minute — during your song, we made some calls and we've arranged for you guys to move from Cincinnati and live here at the YMCA."
Walk the Moon killed it. Look ma — no face paint?! Here's the video:
Indie Funk Pop greats of Montreal's live show is like Prince and the Spiders from Mars doing Mummenschanz, and it's so entertaining, everyone should see the band live at least once in their lifetime (even if you hate all music, the band's theatrical presentation is something to behold). If you still need to cross "see of Montreal in concert" off of your bucket list, tonight's the night. The band performs at Covington's Madison Theater at 8 p.m. with Yip Deceiver (a side project of oM's Davey Pierce and Nick Dobbratz's) and Brooklyn "Pscychedelic Soul, Island Romance Pop, Space Rock" quartet Chappo. Tickets for the all-ages show are $15.
The headliners are touring in support of its latest album, Paralytic Stalks. Here's the official music video for the track, "Spiteful Intervention."
• Tonight at the basement Ballroom at the Taft (a great place to see a show, if you haven't yet), Punk-to-Metal veterans Corrosion of Conformity headline a night of sludgy modern Metal madness. The show features opening acts Torche, Black Cobra and progressive Salt Lake City-based Math Metal ensemble Gaza.
Click here to read a little more about Torche, then enjoy the Floridian band's video for the track "King Beef" below.
• If you're a little short on funds, Fountain Square has a great free show this evening. The 7 p.m. "American Roots" concert features two of the area's finest Americana acts — Magnolia Mountain and Wild Carrot (with its back-up crew, The Roots Band).
Click here for even more live music events in Greater Cincinnati today.
Local RCA Records recording artists Walk the Moon surprised fans today by announcing that they have teamed with video service VEVO to premiere its new, self-titled album, which hits stores this coming Tuesday. The album is being premiered as a "series of officially unofficial videos, hand-made, band-made by yours truly without a film crew or a budget."
Check out the full Walk the Moon album below (in playlist form).
Over the past dozen years, Beth Ditto and Gossip have finetuned their lo-fi Indie Rock presentation into a wild pastiche of fist-pumping Punk, funky Soul/Pop and Indie Dance Rock, with a stage component that blends campy theater of the absurd with thrift store chic. Ditto and guitarist Nathan Howdeshell have never forgotten their Arkansas roots but have masterfully absorbed the musical zeitgeist of their Northwest environment and assimilated it into their broad range of oddly complementary influences, particularly on their 2006 breakthrough Standing in the Way of Control and their 2009 hit Music for Men.
On A Joyful Noise, Gossip’s fifth and finest album, the band and producers Mark Ronson and Brian Higgins have crafted a set that blends a soaring Gospel vibe with a slamming Indie Rock foundation and accessorizes it with bristling Dance Punk and washes of Electronic atmosphere.
The opening salvo of “Melody Emergency” finds Ditto warbling with Kate Bush’s intensity and Lene Lovich’s chirp while Howdeshell cranks out glammy chords worthy of Marc Bolan and drummer Hannah Blilie nails down the perfect groove. The trio immediately veers into should-be-a-mega-club-hit Dance Pop territory with the dramatic and anthemic “Perfect World,” a track that Madonna would embrace but could never pull off, and the funky Electropop novelty of “Get a Job.”
With typical bravado and style and an impressively evolving maturity, Gossip push the aptly titled A Joyful Noise in a dozen different directions while maintaining a firm grip on their own malleable sonic identity.
Our Brian Baker says, "Landreth’s swampy yet razor sharp slide guitar riffs are as singularly identifiable as a fingerprint and as beautifully impressionistic as a Monet watercolor," while none other than Eric Clapton said Landreth is "probably the most underestimated musician on the planet and also is probably one of the most advanced." (Read more from Brian about Sonny here.)
Landreth is touring behind Elemental Journey, the guitarist's first all-instrumental album. Check out his guitar-duet with Joe Satriani, "Gaia Tribe," below.
• Catchy Indie Pop crew Wintersleep plays a free show tonight at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine. The Canadian rockers (who, in 2008, won a Juno Award, which I believe is like a Grammy except made of Canadian bacon) just two days ago released their new album, Hello Hum. The show starts around 10 p.m. with local Pop/Rock foursome Damn It To Hell, which recently put out its first release (click here to listen).
Here's Wintersleep playing the new album track "Nothing Is Anything (Without You)."
• On Thursdays, Fountain Square presents two different concert series specials. At noon, it's Acoustic Thursdays for downtown lunchers and anyone else who wants to hear some good music sans electricity (well, they do use SOME electricity; PAs usually require it, unless it's an old fashion wheel-and-crank system). Today join Lauren Houston and Jim Pross on the Square at lunchtime
Then, at 7 p.m., it's time for the popular Salsa on the Square. Dance the night away with Stacie Sandoval's Grupo Tumbao. And don't worry if your moves are a little rusty; dance instructors will be on hand to lend their support to your two left feet.
New local Country band Jeremy Pinnell and The 55s — featuring Pinnell, the former frontman for The Light Wires, The Brothers and The Sisters and other local favorites, back on the mic — has started a new weekly gig at The Avenue in Covington, one of the rising venues on the local scene for area original bands.
The 55s hold down the fort every week for Honky Tonk Thursdays at the bar. The shows are free and kick off at around 9 p.m.
Here's a clip The 55s did for The Emery Sessions, a fantastic live performance video series shot at the historic Emery Theatre in OTR, with visuals handled by renowned local photographer Michael Wilson (he also took the photo above) and audio manned by Pop Empire's Cameron Cochran (who also plays lap steel with the 55s and co-helms the Sessions). Here they are performing the song "Back Home."
A few weeks ago, CityBeat was honored to premiere the music video for Ohio Hip Hop artist (and occasional CityBeat contributor) Ill Poetic's Cincy-focused music video for his new track, "Gone." Today, Ill Poetic is allowing us to show you something very cool first — a behind-the-scenes mini-documentary about the shoot titled "A Piece of Our Soul in the Road." I'll let Ill Po explain:
A couple weeks ago, we premiered the video to my song “Gone” on Citybeat.com. The response we received for the song & video was more than I could’ve hoped for. I got so many phone calls, texts, FB messages, blog & YouTube comments from old friends and family, other artists & musicians, and fans in general. And not just the typical “That shit was tight, son” comment. You guys gave me the real feedback. I feel like we all got to reminisce about the people and places we loved, some of whom didn’t make it this far with us (hence the title “A Piece Of Our Soul In The Road”).
The process of making and debuting this video in Cincinnati was pretty unique and made for a lot of new memorable experiences. So David Damen (co-director of the “Gone” video) and I got together to make a small documentary on the filming & debuting of this video, featuring commentary from Mr. Dibbs, and footage from the actual shoot and debut. And in tradition of the video online debut, we’re premiering this Behind-The-Scenes Look again with Citybeat, entitled “A Piece Of Our Soul In The Road”.
From the shoot at Divebar with Mr. Dibbs, to the debut at “Selectas Choice” Dance Party last month with Rare Groove, Pillo & Apryl Reign, this whole process was just fuckin’ amazing. I hope you enjoy the mini-doc as well as the OG song and video.
Pay close attention to the score behind this documentary to get an advanced listen on some of the upcoming music from the EP. “Synesthesia: The Yellow Movement” EP is dropping this Summer.
Without further ado, we give you A Piece of Our Soul in the Road. (For those with prudish bosses, NSFW — salty language.)