Category: Albums of 2013

Kurt Vile “Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze”

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Never Run Away” by Kurt Vile (Matador Records) Kurt Vile’s lo-fi bedroom records from the past have given way to a more produced sound on his latest record called Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze.  While some of the edges have been smoothed out production-wise, the songwriting is as sharp as ever on his most assured collection yet, as he comes to terms with balancing life on the road and raising a family at home. Vile is married and has two young children and more than on any of his previous albums, the overriding theme of homesickness pops up time and time again. Both “Pure Pain” – “well I want to be...

Steve Earle & The Dukes (& Duchesses) ‘The Low Highway’

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Pocket Full Of Rain” by Steve Earle & The Dukes (& Duchesses)  Steve Earle is an American Storyteller, poet and novelist, and his brand new album is certainly his best and most varied since Transcendental Blues, which came out almost 20 years ago. Recording with his crack live band, The Dukes (& The Duchesses) consisting of Chris Masterson on guitar, Eleanor Whitmore on violin, Kelley Looney on bass, Will Rigby on drums, singer Allison Moorer on piano and Siobhan Kennedy on vocals, makes all the difference in the world here. There’s an electricity that crackles through the grooves on The Low Highway that could only come from a group of musicians...

Todd Rundgren ‘State’

  I love Todd Rundgren. I’ve been a fan since the early 1970s, and at this point I don’t see that ever changing. Like Neil Young, Todd is one of the most mercurial artists who still makes interesting records in all sorts of genres mainly to please himself. That’s made for lots of experimentation along the way resulting in all different types of records like Beatles sound-alikes, samba reworking of older material, a record of Robert Johnson covers (called Todd Rundgren’ s Johnson, no less), rap and disco. So even when Rundgren doesn’t hit the ball out of the park, say on records like (re)Production and One Long Year, you can always count on at least taking an interesting...

Foxygen ‘We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic’

  Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Oh Yeah” by Foxygen When I recently went to see Unknown Mortal Orchestra play in Chicago, the opening act was their Jagjaguwar label mates Foxygen. I had never heard of them before, however I must say that not only was I duly impressed enough to delve further into their oeuvre, but there were probably more people there to see them than UMO who were the headliners. Foxygen is a California duo consisting of Jonathan Rado and Sam France who formed in 2005. Although they are a duo, the band adds several members including vocalist Elizabeth Fey when touring. Their sound is a thoroughly modern take on ‘60s psychedelia, infusing Kinks...

Dawes ‘Stories Don’t End’ – NEW MUSIC REVIEW

  Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Most People” by Dawes Dawes make musical catnip circa 1976 for Mumford-loving, aging boomers who are desperately trying to stay musically relevant, while never ever leaving their musical comfort zone. And along with Fleet Foxes, Dawes have created a sound that is grounded in well-written songs, hummable melodies, plush harmonies and poetic lyrics that are chock full of credibility, offering a welcome relief from the jingoistic sing-a-long fare provided by musical peers like Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers who dominate the charts these days with their brand of feel-good pep rally music. Too bad it isn’t 1976, for if it was, Dawes’ latest album Stories Don’t End would be...

Walker Lukens ‘Devoted’

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#856 in the Series) is Walker Lukens, Devoted.  If Harry Nilsson, Paul Simon, and Warren Zevon had a love child, his name would be Walker Lukens. This Austin settled, by way of Houston and New York City musician is that good, and with his new album Devoted he has managed to combine the raw, vulnerable musings of Nilsson, the pop sensibility of Simon, and the “on the edge” coolest guy in the room vibe of Warren at his Excitable Boy peak. With the current Mumford-ization trend that is so popular in today’s musical landscape, it is somewhat of a refreshing change to find a record that is equally, if not more enjoyable than...

Old Man Markley ‘Down Side Up’

  Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#854 in the Series) is Old Man Markley, Down Side Up (Fat Wreck Chords) There is an interesting thing happening in the pop music world these days. The more things change, the more they stay the same….and yet they still keep changing. Not entirely sure what that means, but this much is true: traditionally defined genres are blending, sometimes being deconstructed altogether, and new fusions are emerging. Especially in the Nashville/ACM scene, groups like Gloriana and Lady Antebellum have managed to get mass market crossover appeal while still winning several critical accolades with a not-exactly-country, not-exactly-pop, just pretty-darn-good sound. Enter Old Man Markley, with a style dubbed “newgrass.”.Energetic without being overly gritty...

Bob Thiele and his New Happy Times Orchestra with Gabor Szabo ‘Light My Fire’

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Light My Fire” by Bob Thiele and his New Happy Times Orchestra with Gabor Szabo It was the year of Sgt. Pepper’s and Are You Experienced. Rock was becoming jazzy…and jazz was taking on the current crop of rock greats. Hence today’s Song Of The Day. Credited to Bob Thiele and his New time Happy Orchestra with Gabor Szabo on guitar, here we have one of the great lost guitar jazz albums of the 1960s. How can you beat the likes of then-current hits like “Light My Fire” by The Doors, The Byrds’ “Eight Miles High,” Simon & Garfunkel’s “Fakin’ It,” and Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Woman # 12×35?” (featuring some...

Eric Burdon ”Til Your River Runs Dry’

  Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Devil And Jesus” by Eric Burdon While the world gets ready to get their ya-ya’s out over The Stones’ 50th Anniversary tour another legendary British Invasion hero just released a new album that stands head and shoulders next to much of his material from is glory days with The Animals. Eric Burdon seemingly all but disappeared from the musical landscape until last year’s South By Southwest gathering where Bruce Springsteen talked about the profound influence Burdon had on him during his keynote speech. Later that evening, Burdon joined Springsteen and The E Street Band on stage for a rousing version of “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” reintroducing him...

Josh Ritter ‘The Beast In Its Tracks’

  Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#852 in the Series) is Josh Ritter, The Beast In Its Tracks I have come to expect great things from Josh Ritter over the handful of years that I’ve been a fan of his. And were it not for my pawing through a friend’s estate sale and picking up Animal Years because he swore I’d like it, I’m not sure how or when I would have found Josh Ritter. But man, now three LPs and two EPs since that career-defining release, am I ever glad I did. When I heard about the scheduled release of The Beast In Its Tracks  I went all out. I pre-ordered the 180-gram vinyl (with free CD album...

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