Written by SHAUN SMITH Saturday, May 25, 2013 09:05 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 09:56 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 09:31 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 09:08 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 07:53 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 10:59 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 10:04 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 08:17 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 01:00 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 01:00 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 09:05 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 10:07 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 10:07 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 09:25 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 09:35 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 09:27 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 09:35 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 09:11 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 09:12 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 03:58 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.
- Getting down with the Roots
- 12 of '12: the highest notes of the year
- Seeking relief from the cacophonic Christmas
- The Lumineers blaze a brilliant path
- Brubeck defined cool
- Value in the “Cheap Seats”
- Band of Horses circles greatness with ‘Mirage Rock’
- The gobble is gospel
- Aerosmith is back
- Music delivers the message of hope
- Strutting to ‘Gangnam Style’
- Getting to the core of Fiona Apple
- Benny's at his best
- Avett Brothers make it feel like ‘we’re all in this together’
- “BAY-bull” is home in the States
- The DMB fan in me
- Dylan displays fighting spirit on ‘Tempest’
- Just like a Dylan
- The 'Boss'-man cometh
- Column aims to explore the joys of music
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