Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, May 25, 2013 08:05 am
One of the founding members of the Doors, keyboardist Ray Manzarek died Monday, May 20 at the age of 74. Manzarek's influential work on the keys was equally responsible for the band's signature sound as Jim Morrison's explosive voice.
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, May 18, 2013 08:56 am
Kacey Musgraves isn't necessarily the spokesperson for modern country music but her debut album, "Same Trailer Different Park," is powerful enough to shift the direction of the genre.
This album captures the untamed spirit of Musgraves and has received positive attention from a diverse audience. Released March 19 on Mercury Records, the 12 tracks showcase the 24-year-old's songs that flip around clichés that aren't worried about being patriotic. Musgraves, with just one song, has ended the conventional country music idiom.
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, May 11, 2013 08:31 am
M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel have created yet another timeless collection of pop songs on She & Him “Volume 3,” released Tuesday, May 7.
The retro sound is as authentic as it was on their last three albums – Volumes One and Two and an album of Christmas music released last year – and has stepped up the tone and maturity of the warmly sweet melodies that have defined the She & Him sound.
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, May 04, 2013 08:08 am
After releasing an album earlier this month, it seems there could be no greater gift to Willie Nelson than the international recognition he received on his 80th birthday Tuesday, April 30 for a long and storied career. Then I watched SpongeBob SquarePants wish him a Happy Birthday on www.happybirthdaywillie.org.
The website is a collection of videos from musicians including Snoop Lion, Neil Young, Iggy Pop, Tony Bennett, Keith Richards and many more wishing Willie Nelson a happy birthday. It’s a fitting tribute for the man who is part of a small group of living artists responsible for shaping modern American music.
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, April 27, 2013 06:53 am
The man known as Snoop flourishes as a reggae artist on his latest album, "Reincarnated" released Tuesday, April. 23. The rapper introduced to the world as Snoop Doggy Dogg in 1993 with his debut album produced by Dr. Dre has reinvented himself as Snoop Lion following an influential trip to Jamaica last year. It was there that Snoop Lion said he became immersed in the Rastafarian culture. He also filmed a documentary by the same name as the album that follows his journey as an artist, focusing on his most recent incarnation.
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, April 20, 2013 09:59 am
"Ghost on Ghost" released Tuesday, April 16 is the fifth and absolutely best Iron and Wine album to date. Singer-songwriter Samuel Beam, performing under the moniker Iron and Wine, has progressed as a songwriter since his first release in 2002. This just bursts with golden tones and exquisite songwriting.
Produced by Brian Deck, "Ghost on Ghost," incorporates elegant jazz and vocal arrangements that complement Beam's remarkable songwriting. Beam is like a modern Nick Drake in his musical versatility. The 12-track album released on Nonesuch Records is warmly nostalgic yet modern, and is already in contention for my favorite album of the year.
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, April 13, 2013 09:04 am
The retro sound that Dawes developed on the band's first two albums is more refined and authentic on "Stories Don't End," released April 9. Since the band’s 2009 debut release "North Hills," Dawes has stuck with its signature blend of smooth harmonies and slow hanging guitar solos. After hearing “Stories Don’t End,” there is little wonder as to why this has been the band's formula for success.
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, April 06, 2013 07:17 am
When Beth Hart joined Jeff Beck on “I’d Rather Go Blind,” to honor Buddy Guy at the Kennedy Center in December it marked the second chapter in the singer’s career. Since receiving a standing ovation from President Barack Obama and Jimmy Page from Led Zepplin among other attendees, Hart has drawn positive attention for “Bang Bang Boom Boom” released April 2.
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, March 30, 2013 12:00 am
Full of crunchy power chords, youthful lyrics and unabashed energy, California-based Wavves is leading the grunge revival with “Afraid of Heights,” released March 26. The psychedelic stripped down surf punk sound perfected by the 26-year-old Nathan Williams is in top shape and is the best sounding of the four releases since a self-titled debut in 2008.
The restless spirit that Williams captures on “Afraid of Heights” is addicting from the catchy hooks to each furious drum fill.
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, March 23, 2013 12:00 am
Eric Clapton is clearly comfortable in is position as an elder statement of blues on his latest album, "Old Sock," released March 12. Blues, soul, reggae, folk, jazz and an all-star cast of players are all featured on Clapton’s 21st studio album and first release since 2010.
It’s appropriate that Clapton would release "Old Sock" as he embarks on a world tour to celebrate his 50th anniversary as a professional musician (he joined the Yardbirds in 1963). Clapton, over the course of 12 tracks, jams on his influences proves he is still one of the best bluesmen living today. Clapton recorded only two original songs for the album, "Gotta Get Over," and "Every Little Thing." In fact, a third of the songs on the album were first recorded in the 1930s.
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, March 16, 2013 08:05 am
"Amok" by Atoms for Peace is Thom Yorke's latest neon enigma. The experimental electronic band led by the Radiohead vocalist includes Flea, the legendary bassist from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich on synthesizer, two-time R.E.M. drummer Joey Waronker and Mauro Refosco on percussion. The first studio album for the band was released Tuesday, Feb. 26 on XL Recordings, but really it is just an extension of Yorke's exploration into electronic music as a solo artist that began in 2006 with "the Eraser."
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, March 09, 2013 09:07 am
The latest album by Youth Lagoon is an immersive and radiant composition that shouldn't be overlooked by musical explorers. "Wondrous Bughouse," released March 5 on Fat Possum Records, is the brilliant sophomore release by Trevor Powers of Boise, Idaho, who uses the stage moniker Youth Lagoon.
What makes this album so dazzling is the atmosphere Powers created for the album and how he then manipulates that throughout the 10 tracks. Once you adapt to the Youth Lagoon world you can fully appreciate the masterpiece; it's like the musical equivalent of the movie "Avatar."
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, March 02, 2013 09:07 am
Samantha Crain exhibits youthful innocence and mature songwriting on her fifth album, "Kid Face," released Tuesday, Feb. 19 on Ramseur Records. A skilled guitarist like Joni Mitchell with the unfiltered expression of Regina Spektor; Crain's delightful voice serves as the perfect complement for her heartfelt lyrics.
The 26-year-old from Shawnee, Okla., draws from her Choctaw Indian roots and combines modern sensibility with an authentic pastoral style. She seems to have something to prove with this release - that she can produce compelling songs that encompass a broad range of styles.
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, February 23, 2013 08:25 am
Nick Cave leaves no psychological stone unturned on his most recent album "Push the Sky Away," released Tuesday Feb. 19. The 15th studio album by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds released by the band's own label, Bad Seed Ltd., is a self examination set to heavy tones and a steady pace over nine tracks. If this album were a novel, it would contain footnotes and a map.
"Push the Sky Away," is at times unnervingly personal as it exposes the psychology of Nick Cave. His brooding style was challenging at first because it made this unfiltered portrait seem like a caricature. Sure, the album is overly elaborate and theatrical, but Cave covers broad and colorful territory delivered through his unique sense of storytelling. Cave even refers to Miley Cyrus and the Large Hadron Collider.
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, February 16, 2013 08:35 am
Matt Costa takes listeners on a journey from his native Southern California to Glasgow, Scotland and through decades of musical tradition on his latest album, “Matt Costa.”
The song "Good Times," is the most fun track I've heard this year and it comes courtesy of Costa, who released his fourth full length album Feb. 12 on Brushfire Records. Incorporating New Orleans horns, a simple rhythm and a super-magnetic hook that sticks with a twisted ending, "Good times are coming/ To an end."
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, February 09, 2013 08:27 am
Jim James reaches new electronic heights on his solo debut "Regions of Light and Sound of God."
James has served as lead singer, guitarist and chief songwriter with the progressive indie folk band My Morning Jacket for the past 15 years. On his first solo album released Feb. 5 on ATO Records, James branches out further into the realms of acoustic, electronic, funk and psychedelia. The audience should expect nothing less from an album which was influenced by the 1929 graphic novel "God's Man," by Lynd Ward.
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, February 02, 2013 08:35 am
The blues is a unique American invention that, while taking on various forms it is identifiable by its original mold. The collaborative project of Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite on "Get Up!" released Jan. 29 (Stax Records) is a modern take on the expressive Chicago blues.
The blues has been passed on through the generations and over time has evolved to fit the needs of the artist. The blues musicians of today like Derek Trucks, Jack White, the Black Keys and others have each used the blues structure to articulate their commentary on the world.
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, January 26, 2013 08:11 am
The hypnotic beats of Toro Y Moi develop like a Polaroid photograph. First there is a burst of energy that kicks the mechanisms into motion. Then, the product unfurls methodically and with a little patience the image becomes clear.
Chazwick Bundick, better known by his stage name Toro Y Moi, creates hypnotic techno-pop beats that are built for a modern generation of music fans. "Anything in Return," released Jan. 21 by Carpark Records, is a melodic journey that captures the circuitry transferring musical energy inside Budick's head.
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, January 19, 2013 08:12 am
Benjamin Gibbard expands his creative bounds on his latest solo album “Former Lives,” released Oct. 16. Throughout 12 tracks, Gibbard wrangles an eclectic group of songs that draws from inspiration in classic rock ’n’ roll, Latin music and country style while focusing on sadness and heartbreak.
Gibbard is best known as the singer and guitarist of the indie rock band Death Cab for Cutie and briefly in the electronic collaboration with Jimmy Tamborello, the Postal Service. In 2009, Gibbard collaborated with Jay Farrar for an album inspired by Jack Kerouac: “One Fast Move or I’m Gone: Music From Kerouac’s Big Sur.”
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, January 12, 2013 02:58 pm
Kendrick Lamar is pretty easy name to remember and if I were to pull a prediction out of my musical crystal ball it would be fans of hip hop will be hearing his name soon.
The 25-year-old born Kendrick Lamar Duckworth has captured my attention with his second album "Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City," released Oct. 22. This is the follow up to 2011’s “Secton.80,” which was released on Top Dawg Entertainment.
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, January 05, 2013 01:13 pm
There are few concerts where I’m waiting for a tuba solo. The sousaphone tooting Damon "Tuba Gooding Jr." Bryson is only one reason the Roots performing live are electric, memorable and leave the crowds wanting more.
The Roots returned to Atlantic City Friday, Dec. 28 marking my third time seeing the Philadelphia-born hip-hop group in town. After seeing them live in 2008, the band instantly reached the top of my favorite live acts and I vowed to see them perform whenever possible. Before the show began, I said to my friend, “Keep an eye on the tuba player – he will blow your mind.”
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, December 29, 2012 10:42 am
Music is a bookmark of time, which is why so many writers look back at the end of each year. Music can also act as a time machine. A song can set the time and place with a particular tone that pulls you back when you hear it again – like how every time I hear "Gimmie Shelter" by the Rolling Stones, I think of the movie, “Goodfellas.”
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, December 22, 2012 12:00 am
The deeper we get into “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” holiday songs are the ubiquitous Muzak of the season. I may get tired of the endless beating of little drummer boys, but I really enjoy some holiday songs. Pretty much every holiday song Frank Sinatra covered is at the top of my playlist and I love Dean Martin’s version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” as well as the version of the same track by She & Him. But, it seems like lot of the really good tunes get lost in the musical stocking stuffed with holiday cheer.
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, December 15, 2012 09:17 am
The Lumineers may be my favorite discovery of the year. The band has defined a new sound in the folk-rock genre with its self-titled debut album released April 3 on Dualtone Records.
The Denver-based trio by way of Ramsey, N.J., succeeds in utilizing its strength in simplicity. The Lumineers blend a powerful mix of catchy, upbeat melodies and meaningful lyrics. This album is the first thing that comes to mind when I want to listen to music.
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, December 08, 2012 10:00 am
The planet lost a world-class musician, composer and jazz advocate on Tuesday when Dave Brubeck died Wednesday, Dec. 5, one day before his 92nd birthday. Brubeck is best known for "Take Five," recorded with the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Its opening notes are unmistakable and for many it was their first exposure to jazz.
Until the end, Brubeck stood like a monument to an entire era of jazz. Many musicians who explored new styles of the genre during the 1950s have long passed including Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Charlie Mingus, Max Roach and Duke Ellington. Brubeck, however, endured the journey as a sage-like jazzman, performing into his 90s.
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, December 01, 2012 09:11 am
Regina Spektor is the best female singer-songwriter of my generation and there is no better proof than her latest collection "What We Saw From the Cheap Seats."
Spektor and her piano do all of the heavy lifting here. She uses classical, jazz and rock elements in her compositions in addition to emotional pounding on the keys.
Written by Shaun Smith Saturday, November 24, 2012 08:26 am
Band of Horses has won me over with its warmth and tone exhibited over the past three albums - and the latest, "Mirage Rock" does not depart from the blended melodies and sweet harmonies that have become the band’s signature style.
Released Sept. 18, "Mirage Rock" is the fourth album by Band of Horses and it utilizes the familiar fuzzy reverb and a stripped down quality. Both make me believe Band of Horses is among the select group of musicians today that have an authentic sound.
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, November 17, 2012 08:52 am
With the arrival of Thanksgiving each year comes a wonderful assortment of turkey and football. Not far behind is the beginning of seasonal music, which brews slowly like a pot of turkey soup.
Just in time for the first appearance of Christmas decorations, so too will there be the lingering sound of familiar songs about silent nights, snow and halls decked with holly. But before the sleigh bells start a-jingling let's take a musical moment to reflect on this fall holiday.
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, November 10, 2012 11:20 am
“Music from Another Dimension,” reminds me why Aerosmith is one of my favorite bands. Released Nov. 6, the band’s first album in 11 years shows Aerosmith has returned to its ‘90s excellence and ‘70s flair.
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, November 03, 2012 12:00 am
After more than a year, Bob Dylan’s “Hurricane,” is not the ringtone on my cell phone. Even though it has nothing to do with weather, when my phone rang during the storm, it just reminded me of the water rising outside my home in Ventnor.
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, October 27, 2012 12:50 pm
It seems like I can’t go anywhere without someone talking about “Gangnam Style.” At first I thought I could avoid it like most memes, but I can’t. Even Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has gotten in on the fun with his own parody video.
In the two months that I have been writing The High Note for ShoreNewsToday.com, I have watched a lot of weird music videos. Being of the MTV generation I can appreciate a good music video, but I don’t consider myself a music video aficionado. “Sabotage,” set the bar pretty high for me as a young lad. By the time The Box came around, I could watch any video any time I wanted… that was until my mother got the phone bill.
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, October 20, 2012 10:36 am
"The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do," is the latest album by Fiona Apple.
And - that is the last time you will read that title in this column.
Written by Shaun Smith Saturday, October 13, 2012 08:09 am
Ben Folds decided to get the band back together and it rocks. "The Sound of the Life of the Mind," is the first album released since Ben Folds Five split up 12 years ago. Featuring the multi-instrumented artists Ben Folds chiefly on piano, Robert Sledge on bass and synthesizer and Darren Jessee on percussion, the ironically named trio has only improved since reaching commercial acclaim in 1997 with "Brick," which I guarantee is the most popular song you've ever heard about a high school kid taking his girlfriend to an abortion cli"The Sound of the Life of the Mind" allows Folds, who is the principal songwriter for the band, to completely concentrate on songwriting and piano arrangements.
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, October 06, 2012 08:40 am
After only a few seconds into the first song, I knew "The Carpenter" would be the best album yet by the Avett Brothers. It ranks among my favorite albums of the year.
The entire album a delightful listen and I believe folk rock and pop music fans would each find at least one song enjoyable.
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, September 29, 2012 12:00 am
"Babel" the latest album from Mumford & Sons is unabashed, full of bravado and banjo.
The British-born band creates original music in the tradition of music native to both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, September 22, 2012 12:00 am
“Away From the World,” has made me a Dave Matthews Band fan. DMB has won me over with meaningful and catchy lyrics wrapped around loose jams that capture a live sound on the latest album released Sept. 11. There is really no doubt about it; the Dave Matthews Band is a group of very talented musicians and Matthews’ is an incredible songwriter.
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, September 15, 2012 07:51 am
On his 35th and latest studio record “Tempest,” Bob Dylan speaks to his listeners as a man who is nearing the end of his career and vowing to go out fighting. Over the course of the 10-song, one-hour self produced album, released Sept. 11, Dylan’s raspy sage-like voice ranges in character from cowboy rebel to compassionate lover.
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, September 08, 2012 12:00 am
Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, September 01, 2012 12:00 am
Something in my DNA changed when I heard the “Boss” for the first time. It was like the first time I saw “Jaws.”
Just when you thought it was safe to turn on the radio, the rapid-fire snare drum opening to “Born to Run” erupts and, buckle up sports fans, we’re off.
Written by SHAUN SMITH Friday, August 24, 2012 10:58 pm
Music is a beautiful thing. I hope to explore my favorite subject with you each week as I write this column for The Current Newspapers.
I immerse myself into music – and I’ll try to carry you along on my journey each week.
For example, I have listened to at least one Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue song every day since leaving the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Sunday, Aug. 19.
Written by Jennifer Scott Monday, December 22, 2008 01:45 pm
Growing up on the tail end of the baby boom, my musical education included all of the timeless rock and roll innovators, but I was just a hair too young to experience them in their prime. I was 11 in 1969 during the Summer of Love and Woodstock. My first glimpse of Janis Joplin was on Ed Sullivan’s show, a Sunday night staple in our home, earlier that year. And I remember vividly, the first time I heard of the Beatles.
Written by Jennifer Scott Wednesday, December 17, 2008 11:00 pm
Just In Case band members Brian Rash, Adam Bucciarelli and Casey Littlefield will perform at the Hard Rock Café.
Making music these days requires so much more than being blessed with the natural gift of a fine voice, ability to play an instrument or knack for writing a song. There’s also building and maintaining a website, being “social” on MySpace, Facebook and the like, designing and making merchandise like T-shirts, stickers, posters and more. And, networking and making the endless calls to venues, club owners, show producers, and anyone that supports original music, as well as recording and making the actual CD, packaging that CD, and building and maintaining an actual recording room. Easier now, than in days past, but still something that is required to succeed.
Written by Jennifer Scott Wednesday, December 10, 2008 11:00 pm
All Bubba ever wanted to do was play music. Growing up in suburban Maryland, some of his sweetest memories are playing music on the back porch with his brothers. He tried to recreate that “back porch” feeling with a little Naw’lins flavor at his Bubba Mac Shack in Somers Point; a happy place where families of all ages spent many a summer evening eating, dancing and listening to live music.
So it is fitting that Bubba’s latest endeavor is a holiday show for the whole family on Saturday, Dec. 13 at the Tigerlilly, 805 E. Eighth Street in Ocean City. Starting at 7 p.m., the Bubba Mac Blues band will perform a special holiday show with all the tradition and back porch feeling that everyone has come to know as Bubba’s specialty. That Bubba looks quite a bit like Santa, is a Christmas bonus for the kids. Always a lover of good food, Bubba has included in the ticket price a buffet that includes turkey, ham and some Cajun food, (of course) and enough decadent desserts for everyone to feel guilty of “holiday” gluttony.
Written by Jennifer Scott Sunday, November 23, 2008 11:00 pm
To say that Brett Denafo has a passion for radio is an understatement. Quite. From the time he was 10 years old and riding his bike from Ventnor to Atlantic City’s boardwalk to peer into the studio window of WAYV, Brett has always dreamed of owning his own radio station. And now he does. The ultimate “dream big” story. Maybe because his dream started at the early age of 10, he didn’t realize just how big that dream was.
“I would sneak out of the house and ride my bike to Chelsea and the Boardwalk in Atlantic City” remembers Brett. “I would stare into that studio window for hours and hours, watching the jocks play music and talk to their listeners. I hung around so much, Mike Ferriola, the station’s engineer, befriended me.”
Written by Jennifer Scott Wednesday, November 19, 2008 11:00 pm
I’m of a certain age where growing up (in the ’70s), concerts were It…the ultimate event. This past week I had two, with a few interesting observations and one life-changing decision from this weathered and experienced rocker.
I was invited to go to the AC/DC concert in Philadelphia. Now, I appreciate what AC/DC has done for rock and roll and still do. Their new album, “Black Ice,” their 16th studio album since their first, High Voltage in 1975, entered the Billboard charts in August at No. 1, no small feat. I’ve even met and had dinner with Brian Johnson during my radio years, but AC/DC is not so much my music. I wouldn’t actually buy a ticket, but was happy to lace up my dancing shoes and accompany my Emergency Contact (E.C., the new designation for “significant other”) to his show. Now, he was beside himself with excitement. In honor of the show he even dressed like Angus (some version of a “school boy” outfit), and posted pics on his Facebook page. He stopped short of actually wearing the outfit to the show, although most of his friends and family believed he had…and he hasn’t corrected any misconceptions. This is the person who rarely goes to any Philly shows with me because it’s too far, too late, etc. etc. etc., but AC/DC is an exception, and of course it’s easy to see why.
- Music First: Making rock music that’s truly inspired
- Music First: Robyn Chrystyne just wants to play her music
- Music First: Living legend Paulie Teardrop strolls Caesars
- Music First: Bluebone keeps the blue burnin’
- Music First: Formica Bros. mixes bakery with a beat
- Music First: Bay-Atlantic Symphony is secret no more
- Music First: Ernie’s Guitar Shop sees its share of restored glory
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