Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rinjo's Cloudcast

By: Rinjo Njori

On the 27th edition of the I Blog Econo Podcast we get a feel for whether or not Paul Collins is the King of Power Pop, but first.... The A's duke it out with Ted Leo on the best "C.I.A." song. Ice-T covers Black Flag, there is a whole bunch of police themed songs, and my favorite Big Star song sung by Chris Bell.

Need a Portable version, iTunes

Monday, September 27, 2010

Schultz' Earful

By: David Schultz

For as much as the digital age has sped up the pace by which word of mouth can travel the globe, it hasn’t resulted in any significant evolution of the concept. In that fun time in the early 90s, when grunge hurled forth its howling yawp of frustration in response to the profligate commercialization of rock, indie bands with a less bombastic sound but not mightier brighter outlook offered many listeners, mostly college-aged, a fine alternative. It’s an era marked by more people having fond memories for bands that they paid fleeting attention to in their prime. If all the people that speak reverently of The Replacements actually bought their albums and went to see them when they were a viable, working band, the beloved ragtag group from Minnesota wouldn’t have imploded with operatic flair.

Such is the segueway to Pavement’s return to New York City for four sold-out shows at Summerstage in Central Park. Pavement’s first two albums, Slanted And Enchanted and Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, may be two of the most influential indie-albums ever released but, at the time, they were primarily fodder for MTV’s 120 Minutes and treated with the same interest that greeted Velvet Underground releases. When tickets for the Pavement reunion went on sale more than a year ago, they were lapped up as eagerly as if Led Zeppelin was reforming in the park with the resurrected corpse of John Bonham on drums. From a critical standpoint, the response to their return was well deserved, regardless of whether it’s ridiculously out of proportion to the attention they attracted in the 90s. Perhaps this is simply our way of saying we’re sorry.

Notwithstanding the references to Smashing Pumpkins and Stone Temple Pilots that cement “Range Life” to a specific point on the time/space continuum, very little of Pavement’s Friday night show seemed dated. If Pavement were to come around nowadays, Pitchfork and the rest would still be touting them as revolutionary. “Cut Your Hair,” Stephen Malkmus’ critique of image over substance, retains its snarky relevance and the band’s steadfast refusal to tie themselves to form or genre remains captivating and intriguing. There’s no talk of a new album or adding shows to the short-lived victory lap, so after Austin, TX (Stubbs 9/28), Hollywood, CA (Hollywood Bowl 9/30) and Las Vegas, NV (Pearl At the Palms 10/1), we might have to go back to talking about Pavement in the past tense.

SISTERS IN THE SAME WAY the Ramones were brothers, Jessi, Kelley and Nikki Darlin, the frontwomen of Tennessee’s Those Darlins, embody the ethos of the girl next door. Not the wholesome, overlooked and taken for granted type found in John Hughes movies but rather the rambunctiously fun, adorably degenerate types from indie films that you want to party with until the sun rises. They will tempt you and lead you astray and as long as they’re joining you on the ride, you’ll enjoy every twist and turn. On their self-titled debut, the Darlin girls sing of the joys of getting loaded, driving under the influence and raiding the kitchen in a drunken haze all while resurrecting the feeling of Johnny Cash bringing a train around the bend.

The giddy glee of hearing a trio of cute chicks from Tennessee can overshadow the wondrous quality of their country tinged garage rock, aided to an unquantifiable extent by the ferocious drumming of Linwood Regensburg. To rely on those moments as centerpieces of a live show, Those Darlins will undoubtedly blow away the crowd while running the risk of being a novelty act. To their credit, they seem to realize as much. On their recent gig at New York City’s Bowery Ballroom, Those Darlins left “DUI Or Die” and “The Whole Damn Thing” out of their set list, forgoing the easy way out and concentrating on establishing themselves as legitimate rockers.

A good portion of their setlist focused on songs from their recently recorded sophomore album, which should be released sometime in the spring. The newer songs have a heavy rock and roll stomp, contrasting nicely with their brisk country punk runs through “Cannonball Blues” and “Red Light Love.” Jessi Darlin is a nifty little guitarist and her “sisters” are charismatic on-stage personalities, especially when they roam the stage and drift into the crowd. Although the guitar riffs can be a bit derivative, their sources are beyond reproach. Their cover of the Velvet Underground’s “Lonesome Cowboy Bill” could easily be mistaken as one of their own and their extended take through the psychedelic standard “Shakin’ All Over,” that closed the show left no doubt that Those Darlins are much more than a trio of cute, party-loving belles.

IN SEPTEMBER OF 1974, John Lennon visited WNEW – 102.7 FM in New York City to chat and play some records. Yes, back in the era of viable commercial radio, these types of things would occasionally happen. In introducing Bobby Parker’s “Watch Your Step,” Lennon pointed out how The Beatles appropriated the riff into “Day Tripper” and “I Feel Fine” and took a sly swipe at The Allman Brothers Band by mentioning how they too borrowed the song’s guitar riff for “One Way Out.” Beatles! Allmans! Parker’s 1961 single may arguably be one of the most influential songs in classic rock history. Judge for yourself.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Top 50 Albums of 2010 (So Far)

By: Michael Foreman

1. Vampire Weekend: Contra
The greatest collection of sounds of any popular CD I’ve heard so far this year, blended, shaped, cajoled and forced together into a style that nods to many (most obvious are Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel and Talking Heads’ use of African music) but is totally its own. From the opening lines of “Horchata,” you’re hearing a different sound (“In December drinking horchata/I'd look psychotic in a balaclava/Winter's cold, it's too much to handle/Pincher crabs that pinch at your sandals”) that captures the excitement of the best groups that have expanded the meaning and scope of rock and roll (for me, U2, Talking Heads and The Police come to mind). Also, it’s quite a feat for a CD to stay current on my iPod and in my car for 8 months, but Contra has that staying power because it challenges on all levels but never forgets to sound and fell great. 3 key tracks: “Horchata” “Giving up the Gun” “I Think Ur a Contra”

2. The Black Keys: Brothers
One of those albums where the artist brings together all the strands of its prior albums – garage, blues, metal, soul, arena, the case of the BKs - for a truly stunning CD. Here, the BKs show themselves to be the current masters of the riff and the mood. Each song has its own short, insistent combination of melody and rhythm that gets under your skin and sets up residence in you mind. The words are straightforward, fit into each song’s groove and feeling, so that you’re immediately invested in what’s going on. But it’s the music that blows me away on this CD. A killer cover of the Gamble & Huff classic “Never Gonna Give You Up” ties together all the different voices on the second-to-last track. 3 black key tracks: “Next Girl” (“Oh my next girl will be nothing like my ex-girl”); “Ten Cent Pistol” “Unknown Brother”

3. Broken Bells: Broken Bells
The union of an unlikely pairing – indie rock (James Mercer of The Shins) and hip-hop/neo-soul (Gnarls Barkley’s Danger Mouse) – creates a sound that’s much more than the sum of 2 such disparate parts. This is what I call alternative pop – or what the Z-100s of the world would be playing if I was running the world. The first track, “The High Road,” let’s you know what’s in store: mid-tempo, minor chord, electronic atmospherics for two-thirds of the tune, breaking into a major key, arm-waving, cell-phone lighting coda. Think of a warmer-sounding version of early ‘80’s new wave, but be prepared for unexpected twists and turns along the way. 3 key tracks: “The High Road” “Vaporize” “Trap Doors”

4. The Apples in Stereo: Travellers in Space and Time
In my imaginary world where Broken Bells is a regular on the radio, this CD by the Apples in Stereo is a greatest hits collection by one of the per-eminent pop/rock bands of the 21st Century. Every song is full of hooks and swirls, multi-layered vocals and recording gimmicks, and memorable melodies and natural harmonies. The use of synthesized vocals on a number of the songs is particularly striking in two respects: First, it gives the CD the feel of a long, lost Electric Light Orchestra album, perhaps what ELO’s inconsistent double album Out of the Blue could have been with some better, more consistent songwriting. Second, it provides a unified sound to a CD that covers a wide spectrum of the pop/rock landscape. Call this one a guilty pleasure. 3 key tracks: “Dream about the Future” “No One in the World” “Told You Once”

5. Ali Farka Touré & Toumani Diabaté: Ali & Toumani
Touré was the master blues guitarist from Mali, Diabaté the pre-eminent musician playing the kora, a 21-string Malian harp. They recorded their first CD together, In the Heart of the Moon, in 2004 (released in 2005) and toured together briefly in 2005, when Diabaté learned that Touré was dying (he was to pass away in 2006). Diabaté planned the sessions for this CD, Touré’s last, over 4 days in June 2005, enlisting legendary Cuban bassist Orlando “Cachaito” Lopez. Diabaté explains in excellent liner notes that Touré was in such pain during these sessions that he’d pause during the recording, and then push himself to finish. I think it’s important to know this background to appreciate the truly wondrous gift that is this CD. The interplay between guitar and kora is seamless, the music is absolutely beautiful, and the warmth and energy that graces this CD. The music is blues and African folk. The CD may not be for everybody, but it’s a joyful, moving listen. 3 key tracks: “Sabu Yerkoy” (based on Cuban salsa); “Samba Geladio” (great interplay between the two); “Kala Djula” (amazing playing by Diabaté, with the rhythm centered around Touré and Cachaito)

6. Josh Rouse: El Turista
If you’ve followed my lists over the past few years, Josh Rouse’s name may be familiar to you. I think he’s one of the most gifted, inventive, insightful singer/songwriters to come out of the last decade. He’s spent the last 5 years or so living in Valencia, and his last two CDs had brief flashes of Spanish folk music, flamenco, samba and bossa nova increasingly coloring his music and worldview. On El Turista, Rouse fully embraces the old and current music of his adopted hometown, pushing his sound past the traditional singer/songwriter model, experimenting with jazz and flamenco, singing in Spanish, and examining his life as an American living abroad. This is an album of layers, where a traditional song like “Cotton Eye Joe” is re-worked into a melting pot of American and Spanish folk, sung and performed with the commercial sensibilities of an indie pop/rocker. The foundation of Rouse’s songs is still the American singer /songwriter, but there’s a rich display of talent being showcased here. 3 key tracks: “Lemon Tree” (the best example of the different musical influences on the CD); “I Will Live on Islands” (could be a lost song from Paul Simon’s Rhythm of the Saints); “Valencia” (co-written with his Spanish wife, a samba in Spanish, about his new hometown)

7. Drive-By Truckers: The Big To-Do
The DBTs are not just the best American rock and roll band around today. They one of a small handful of rock artists putting out consistently excellent CDs every couple of years which set stinging social commentary to blues-based rock on a family tree that starts with the Stones and Allmans. The range of issues is compelling: father flight (“Daddy Learned to Fly”), alcoholism (“The Fourth Night of My Drinking”), unemployment (“This F---ing Job”), infidelity (“You Got Another”), sexual abuse (“The Wig He Made Her Wear”), the grimier side of the music world (“After the Scene Dies”), murder (“Drag the Lake Charlie”), unfulfilled dreams (“Santa Fe”). People are real in the world of The Big To-Do, and situations are unresolved and messy. It’s only rock ‘n’ roll, but it really is more. 3 key tracks: "Daddy Learned to Fly" "After the Scene Dies" (“when the last one leaves/and the last note fades/and the last dreams’ been put away/shut the light off, shut the light off/after the scene dies/what you gonna do when the club shuts down”); "The Flying Wallendas"

8. Aqualung: Magnetic North
This has nothing to do with Jethro Tull, everything to do with a brilliant British singer/songwriter named Matt Hales. On Magnetic North, Hales fulfills the promise he hinted at on his prior CDs (this is his 6th since 2002, 5th in the US), showcasing memorable melodies in sparkling production with tasteful arrangements, including the occasional orchestration. It would be too easy to describe him as a poor man’s Coldplay, a member of the Radiohead- Keane –Travis school of what Chris Martin called “limestone rock” (something in-between hard and soft rock), a 21st century Elton John or an English Ben Folds, and would actually miss the mark with what Hales has done on this CD: present 12 excellent songs with melodies that sound as new and fresh as they sound of a piece with the rich history of post-Beatles British pop/rock. Ultimately, I’ve listened to this CD so much since I bought it back in April I had to place it in my Top 10. 3 Key Tracks: "New Friend" "Reel Me In" (a song I had so stuck in my head the other night I was certain I heard it on the radio, until I realized this isn’t music that’s getting on the radio these days); "Fingertip"

9. Josh Ritter: So Runs the World Away
Fifth CD from a singer-songwriter who would be the leader of the alternative folk-rock scene, if that qualifies as a music scene. Each of his CDs has been among the best of that year, and this one continues his impressive streak dating back to 2002. Ritter’s songs are stories, and his best lyrics are cinematic in scope and emotion. "The Curse" is the “typical” song about an archaeologist falling in love with the Egyptian mummy she discovers, who comes to life in her presence and stays timeless while she ages. In "Folk Bloodbath," Ritter connects to some of the more notorious bandits of the 19th century (“And I'm looking over rooftops/And I'm hoping that it ain't true/That the same God looks out for them/Looks out for me and you/Angels laid them away”). Ritter has a way of tossing off memorable lines, and the best songs on this CD connect with feelings and experiences deep inside us, like the best poetry. 3 key tracks: "Change of Time" (“I had a dream last night/I dreamt that I was swimming/And the stars up above/Directionless and drifting … Time, Love/It’s only a change of time”); "Lark" (“The trees rustle as if to kneel and listen/To the heartbeat of a lark or the lark in my heartbeat”); "Lantern" (“Be the light of my lantern, the light of my lantern, be the light .. I'll hold it high for you, though your path is blocked/I'll hold it high for you, through the thieves and rocks/I'll hold it high for you, keep you safe from harm/I'll hold it high for you, until you're back in my arms”)

10. The Hold Steady: Heaven is Whenever
One of the best straight-ahead American rock and rock bands, with their best CD yet. This is the CD they hinted they could make with 2006’s Boys and Girls in America, and just not delivered in 2008’s ironically titled Stay Positive. These ten song-stories may be sung-talked by Craig Finn, but each has its own rhythm, riffs and feel, avoiding the sameness that made Positive such a negative. The band sounds very focused on this CD, and the music side of the songwriting finally has a richness and depth that matches the emotional weight and storytelling style of the lyrics. While the Steady may have bar band roots, they finally take their game into more sober surroundings, and it’s like a cloud has lifted on the band. Besides, have to love a band that name checks an underrated Todd Rundgren song (“Utopia is a band / They sang "Love Is the Answer"/ I think they’re probably right”), from "We Can Get Together"). 3 key tracks: "The Weekenders" (“In the end only the girls know the whole truth / In the end I bet no one learns a lesson”); "We Can Get Together" (“heaven is whenever we can get together/Sit down on your floor and listen to your records”); "Hurricane J"

11. Jack Johnson: To the Sea
Another one finally delivering on his promise, after five prior studio albums, two soundtracks, a double-live CD later and millions of CD sales. There’s always been something about JJ that’s been missing for me, although my now 19-year old daughter has been as into him for years as I was to James Taylor at her age. (I read somewhere that JJ is this generation’s JT.) However, To the Sea is as solid a CD from beginning to end as you’ll find this year. There’s still plenty of the surfer dude in the laid back, toss-off-a-song approach that JJ now has refined to a science, but I hear some old Kinks, and even a nod to the Beatles and The Byrds in a few places, showing a musical depth and connection to the broad arc of rock and roll over the last 40+ years that prove Johnson’s not just former surfing champ. A lot of the reviews use the word breezy to describe Johnson, but this CD seems like the winds of change. 3 key tracks: "You and Your Heart" (which I heard at an ice cream stand in Safed – Israel’s center of Kabbalah – this summer); "From The Clouds" "Turn Your Love"

12. Nada Surf: If I Had a Hi-Fi
This is how you make a covers album: take a few songs that everyone knows (maybe even a classic rock song along with some indie classics), a few that the real music geeks know, and then a few that absolutely no one knows (and maybe sing a couple of those in the song’s native, non-English language). And then use the album to focus on your sound, and make the songs bend to that sound. That’s this album. Nada Surf have developed this great sound that sounds like an updated pre-country rock Byrds as fed into a blender with The Eagles together with a heavy dose of late ‘70’s power pop and the great Britpop of the ‘80’s and ‘90’s. That sound, with the hooks on top of hooks on top of melodies and graced with beautiful, unexpected harmonies, is the start of the show. And for my fellow music geeks, it’s worth burning a companion CD of the originals and then going back and forth a few times. The version of the Moody Blues’ "Question" was enough for me to dust off MB albums I hadn’t listened to in years. 3 key tracks: "Enjoy the Silence" (Depeche Mode); "Love Goes On!" (The Go-Betweens) "Love and Anger" (Kate Bush).

13. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings: I Learned the Hard Way
I probably played this CD a bit too much when it came out in April and haven’t placed it higher because it seems too familiar, but it is one helluva collection of what could have been Motown hits 40 – 45 years ago. It takes a brash confidence to make a Motown-sounding song called "Money" that’s not the old Barrett Strong standard covered by Jr. Walker, The Beatles and everyone else, and still pull off a song that sounds as if it were released at the same time as the classic, but that’s how good Jones and the Dap-Kings are. "The Reason" sounds like it comes straight out of The Funk Brothers classic soul instrumentals. I could go on and on. 3 key tracks: "Better Things" (you have to catch the subtle change in rhythm that comes with the song’s coda to fade); "Window Shopping" "I’ll Still Be True" (with horns that sound straight out of either a long lost Burt Bacharach song or James Bond theme)

14. Shelby Lynne: Tears, Lies and Alibis
This album is so understated that it seems to have been too far under the radar of most critics than deserved. This CD is fine, quality performance by an artist who straddles country and rock, with stellar songwriting and engaging, moving singing. Shelby runs through gentle soft rock ("Rains Came"), breezy jazz-pop ("Why Didn’t You Call Me") and classic country ("Like a Fool"), but the CD’s emotional highpoint comes on "Alibi." 3 minutes, 7 – 12 second s into the song, Lynne shows a very special ability of delivering a powerful performance through the vulnerability of a quiet, beautiful voice. For that moment alone, this CD is worth repeated listens. 3 key songs: "Alibi" "Family Tree" "Home Sweet Home"

15. Erez Lev Ari: Argaman [Crimson]
Israeli rocker’s second CD sounds very much like Israel. A lot of Western influence, but wrapped up in the colors and feel of the Middle East, with hints of some very old melodies and musical traditions. Two guys at the CD store at Ben Gurion Airport turned me onto Ari, and it really is some captivating, original music. My Hebrew is basically non-existent, although I’m told he’s singing about everyday life in Israel, the same kind of things you might hear from Springsteen or Craig Finn (of Hold Steady). You can check him out on You Tube and My Space. 3 key tracks: "Boker Tov" [Good Morning]; "Rak Ta'amin" [Just Believe]; "Milchama Avuda" [A Lost War]

16. Spoon: Transference
Listening to this CD is like unpeeling an onion (without the odor and tears). Layers on layers of ideas, sounds, words, by one of the best of the bands formerly known as indie. Spoon knows that great rock music comes in all shapes and sizes, and, like their best CDs, this one explores the diverse sounds under the heading of rock music. The album starts out with the hazy "Before Destruction," then veers into a 2 minute new wave romp of "Is Love Forever," before settling into what can be thought of as the “Spoon sound” of "The Mystery Zone." From the jam-rock fade of "I Saw the Light" to the power pop of "Trouble Comes Running," the touching piano ballad "Goodnight Laura" and the streamlined groove of "Got Nuffin," this CD is the state of rock and roll in 2010. For those who you who thought rock ended in the early ‘80’s, this CD might be a revelation. 3 key tracks: "The Mystery Zone" "Trouble Comes Running" "Out Go the Lights"

17. Peter Wolf: Midnight Souvenirs
A great album of American music – rock, R&B, folk, country, the whole musical traditions of the last 50 years - by the voice of the once-very-excellent J. Geils Band. The album starts with a real treat, the soulful Shelby Lynne duet "Tragedy," and just keeps on rolling for 13 more songs. Also included are duets with Neko Case ("The Green Fields of Summer") and Merle Haggard ("It’s Too Late For Me"), a terrific cover of Allen Toussaint’s "Everything I Do (Gonna Be Funky)," and what sounds like an old Barry White throwaway ("Overnight Lows"). For my money, the killer song here is "There’s Still Time," as optimistic a song as you‘ll here this year about the power of change. 3 key tracks: "There’s Still Time" "Then It Leaves Us All Behind" "Don’t Try to Change Her"

18. Paul Weller: Wake Up the Nation
A great album of UK rock – British Invasion, punk. new wave, progressive, alternative, classic. It’s all here, sounding a little rougher around the edges that Weller’s usual solo work, making this CD perhaps a little harder to swallow but a little more satisfying after sticking with it awhile. The title track holds the key to this album: “We’re gonna wake up the nation and don’t be no drag / Shake up the station and out of their hands.” This is an album of shaking up, being uncomfortable with sitting around, breaking out of old ways of seeing and hearing. Dissonant guitars, "Aladdin Sane"-like piano (for those David Bowie fans, the atonal piano flourishes like those at the end of Bowie’s song "Aladdin Sane" come up in random spots throughout this album). So why buy a dissonant, very UK-oriented album that won’t even make a blip in the US? Because it’s Paul Weller, and, in his words, “Aim high and save ourselves forever.” 3 key tracks: "Wake Up the Nation" "Aim High" (check out the sample of the 5-5-2 signature from "Spinning Wheel"); "Trees"

19. The New Pornographers: Together
A great album of…… Canadian rock? For those new to this list, the NPS are a Canadian supergroup of sorts, a collection of terrific Canadian rock talents, including alt-folk singer Neko Case (a critics’ favorite), A.C. Newman (an alternative Jeff Lynne) and Dan Behar of the group Destroyer (a Canadian group that often pushes the envelope on alt/indie scene. I’ve always thought the sum of the NPs is greater than its parts, and maybe that’s what this CD – aptly named Together – is all about. Individual talents are blended together, creating an original sound that showcases and highlights each member’s sounds and style. "Your Hands (Together)" is an excellent showcase of what Newman, Case and Behar can do when they give themselves up to this group – a song with at least 4 different melodies, harmonies nearing excessive levels, an arrangement that leaves ELO in the dust (a lot of ELO influences coming out this year). A worthy successor to the kind of progressive pop/rock first developed by The Beatles and The Kinks, and continued in the UK by Squeeze, The Smiths and Blur. The last track sums up the strength of this CD: "We End Up Together" 3 key tracks: "Moves" (a Newman song); "Crash Years" (a better rock vocal by Case than she’s recorded solo); "Silver Jenny Dollar" (a terrific Behar song).

20. Natalie Merchant: Leave Your Sleep
Incredibly inventive, wide-ranging double-CD, containing some of Merchant’s best work since 10,000 Maniacs (more than 15 years ago). She takes poems that she’s been reading to her 6-year old daughter and brings them to musical life, with music ranging from the alt-folk/rock of the Maniacs, to the traditional American folk she’s recently explored, jazz, klezmer, reggae, soul, Japanese, bluegrass, string quartet classical, and, of course, children’s music. The breadth of styles is startling, the arrangements inspired throughout, the poem-lyrics enlightening (and I’m not much of a poetry person). Also, the CD package is worth buying the CD outright, rather than downloading – it’s a little book, containing a short description of the poet with each poet, as well as Merchant’s insights into the poem and the process of making this CD. 6 key tracks (3 for each CD): "Bleezer’s Ice-Cream" (New Orleans jazz, featuring Wynton Marsalis’ arrangement and trumpet); "It Makes a Change" (soul-tinged pop-rock, featuring Medeski Martin & Wood); "The Dancing Bear" (Klezmer provided by The Klezmatics); "The Blind Men and the Elephant" (‘30s European cabaret, Edith Piaf); "Topsyturvey-World" (reggae, complete with some dub vocals); "The Janitor’s Boy" (New Orleans jazz by Marsalis, early Billie Holiday channeled by Merchant)

And the rest…………:

21. The National: High Violet
This is the CD where The National, a Brooklyn-based indie band that’s been around for a decade, transforms from “critically acclaimed” to widely recognized. An album that unfolds and expands with each listen, with multiple layers of moods, textures, rhythms, melodies and harmonies. The arrangements are picture perfect for the songs, perhaps best evident on the penultimate song "England," which has a "Hey Jude" worthy fade to end (“Afraid of the house, spend the night with sinners / Afraid of the house ‘cause they’re desperate to entertain”). This CD could easily end up in my end of the year Top 20 – it sounds better, more important, with each listen. 3 key tracks: "Little Faith" "Bloodbuzz Ohio" "England"

22. Blitzen Trapper: Destroyer of the Void
If you grew up in Oregon (I’m guessing, having never been to Oregon) and only listened to Queen, U2, Neil Young and Bob Dylan, you might come up with the sound of Trapper on this CD. Excellent album to listen to all the way through, and great to have included in an iPod shuffle because each song is strong and has a fresh sound. 3 key tracks: "Destroyer of the Void" (perhaps a more apt title would be "Oregonian Rhapsody") "Laughing Lover" (think U2 arena rock) "Evening Star" (think Neil Young).

23. Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars: Rise & Shine
Second CD from six Sierra Leonean musicians who came together as a band while living as refugees in the Republic of Guinea, fleeing a brutal 10-year civil war (from 1991 to 2002). The music is spiritual and purposeful. The songs are about unity, opportunity, ecology, struggle, salvation and love. Excellent liner notes help to connect the artists to the listener, but their music is the best communicator. This CD feels like Bob Marley & the Wailers at their best. 3 key tracks: "Muloma (Let Us Be United)" "Tamagbondorsu (The Rich Mock the Poor)" "Jah Come Down"

24. Merle Haggard: I Am What I Am
What he is is a helluva songwriter and singer. His phrasing is as comfortable as a breezy summer morning. His songwriting is direct, easy to connect to. For a long time, I steered clear of Haggard, branding him just another one of those country singers that I just didn’t understand, and didn’t want to. But I’ve spent some time this summer learning me some Merle, and it’s been a joy. 3 key tracks: "Live and Love Always" (I love the country fiddle beginning) "How Did You Find Me Here" "Mexican Bands" (complete with mariachi band)

25. Titus Andronicus: The Monitor
Imagine Green Day having gone from Dookie straight to 21st Century Breakdown, and that’s how high TA shoots on this, their second, CD. They very nearly pull off a bona fide classic 10 song, over hour long, concept album, ostensibly based on the Civil War but a commentary on war and the struggles for peace. The lyrics – especially the way they are delivered by lead singer Patrick Stickles - are pure punk with a dose of rebellion found in the early music of The Who and Rolling Stones, but the music is far-reaching – sweeping in decibel range, often grand, always interesting. 3 key tracks: "A More Perfect Union" "A Pot in Which to Piss" "The Battle of Hampton Roads"

26. Salif Keita: La Différence
One of the biggest, brightest stars to come out of African pop / roots music in the last 2 decades, with a typically excellent album fusing his roots in the blues and traditional music of Mali with European (especially French) and American pop influences. This CD leans toward combining popular rhythms, melodies and harmonies with Malian instruments and styles, creating music that’s very accessible to a Western listener. 3 key tracks: "La Différence" "Seydou" "Papa"

27. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers: Mojo
It’s been 8 years since the critically panned The Last DJ for Petty and his Heartbreakers (I liked it a lot), with only the Petty-solo Highway Companion and the journey-back-in-time Mudcrutch in between. If you were looking for the classic Petty + Heartbreakers that’s been on tour the last few years, don’t look here. This is a blues-based, jam-happy album, as if to prove that the Heartbreakers can out-Mudcrutch Petty’s original band (not a difficult thing to do). I think they pull it off, but at 15 songs, there’s a long-ness to this CD (a stretch of 3 or 4 songs in the middle) that saps the strength of the CD’s best music and performances. But I think this CD is worth the long listen. Hey, there aren’t too many Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame groups producing music this good 3 key tracks: "Jefferson Jericho Blues" "I Should Have Known It" "High in the Morning"

28. The Len Price 3: Pictures
Seems like every year I find an English group that’s hell-bent on recreating the 1960’s of The Kinks and The Who (here, with a little Pretty Things and Small Faces), and I’m a sucker for that group each year (last year it was The Kooks). This year, it’s The Len Price 3. Only 1 song out of 13 goes over 3 minutes (by 7 seconds), and 2 are under 2 minutes (another song clocks in at 2:02). I could swear I’ve heard all these songs before. 3 key tracks: "Keep Your Eyes on Me" "Mr. Grey" "Man Who Used to Be"

29. Jesse Malin & The St. Marks Social: Love It to Life
In the ‘80’s, Malin might have been a star, combining the driving, anthemic rock and roll of Springsteen, Petty and Mellencamp from that era with some NYC street smarts. Like Lou Reed but with a singing voice that actually can carry a tune. So, this album may have been released 25 years too late, but it’s real fine album that deserves to be sung in the Garden, with lit lighters demanding a few encores, the way we used to do it, before cell phones. 3 key tracks: "Burning the Bowery" "St. Marks Sunset" "Revelations"

30. Butch Walker & the Black Widows: I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart
I still have a hard time thinking that the producer of Katy Perry, Avril Lavigne and Pink can actually be such a terrific songwriter and indie rocker, but the proof continues with this CD. We saw him open for Train last spring, and I thought he blew Train away. Power pop, indie pop, chamber pop, and pop /rock. The only pop missing from this CD is the schlock he produces for the masses. 3 key tracks: "Trash Day" "Pretty Melody" "House of Cards"

31. Mose Allison: The Way of the World
After Haggard, Allison is the other all-time great songwriter I finally discovered this year. I’ve learned he’s very much the dean of jazz and blues songwriting, I’ve come to learn, and this CD is absolutely awesome. The songs seem simple enough, but first hearings can be deceiving. I’ve been so removed from jazz for some time now that I had forgotten how much the best pop music over the last 30 - 40 years owes to the 2 – 3 minute jazz standards from the ’40’s and ‘50’s. This CD is bridge between old and new. (It also shows that an 83-year old master still has a lot to contribute to today’s music scene, as a songwriter and performer). 3 key tracks: "My Brain" "Some Right Some Wrong" "Ask Me Nice"

32. The Roots: How I Got Over
The Roots are my touchstone to rap. The music is powerful and haunting. On nearly every song, the juxtaposition of the rap with the sung chorus is jarring and unsettling, while the music shifts between 2 extremes: understated and cool on one end, funky and immediate on the other. On "Dear God 2.0," they turn the best song from last year’s disappointing Monsters of Folk “supergroup” album into a near masterpiece, a moving discourse into the major issues facing our country. 3 key tracks: "Dear God 2.0" "How I Got Over" "The Fire" (with John Legend).

33. The Derek Trucks Bank: Roadsongs
Swansong double-live album from one of the best blues-rock bands of the last 10 years. The excellence of the band starts with guitarist Derek Trucks, worthy successor to the Allman Bros. school of blues-steeped guitar. For the last 10 years, Trucks has played with this killer band, one that rocks with soul, blues and passion. If this is truly the last of this group (Trucks has said he’s going to be teaming up with his singer wife, Susan Tedeschi, from here on), this becomes an important document of a kick-ass ensemble. 4 key tracks (an extra track because it’s a double CD): "Down in the Flood" "Afro Blue" "Down Don’t Bother Me" "Rastaman Chant"

34. Corinne Bailey Rae: The Sea
Back in 2006, Rae debuted with the ever-present "Put Your Records On" and seemed destined to a career as a sort-of female British John Legend, tossing off neo-soul sounds easily with a beautiful voice that has just a touch of Billie Holiday in the delivery. This CD is a sea change, the product of two years of mourning after her musician husband died of an overdose. It’s bare, raw, rocking in parts, vulnerable, and dissonant, with a fragility and frailty in her voice that was absent from her debut. As a result, a song like "Paris Nights/New York Mornings" can be as disquieting as it is satisfying, with it’s rock beat seemingly contrary to her jazz-blues delivery on the verses, before both sounds come together on one of the most infectious choruses of the year so far. 3 key tracks: "I’d Do It All Again" "The Blackest Lilly" "Paris Nights/New York Mornings"

35. Teenage Fanclub: Shadows
9th CD in 20 years from one of the founders of the ‘90’s Britpop sound, 5 years removed from their last CD. Still making terrific, if now pretty much obscure, British pop/rock. Middle of the road rhythms and multi-layered harmonies abound. This is a very listenable album, one that will have you reaching out for the group’s breakthrough 1992 classic CD, Bandwagonesque. Ultimately, this CD holds up well next to that 1992 classic. 3 key tracks: "Sometimes I Don’t Need to Believe in Anything" "Shock and Awe" "The Back of My Mind"

36. Yeasayer: Odd Blood
Second CD from another Brooklyn-based band with a penchant for African and other diverse sounds. This time around, they go the electronica route, with terrific results most of the time; interesting results all the time. An album of bright melodies, couched in an impressive collection of sounds and samples from a wide range of sources. I have a feeling they are still a couple of albums away from their real breakthrough, but Odd Blood satisfies until that day. 3 key tracks (which appear as tracks 2, 3 and 4 out of 10 tracks, making for a very strong start to the CD, and setting the CD up for a tail-off in its 2nd half): "Ambling Alp" "Madder Red" "I Remember" (one of the most beautiful songs of the year so far)

37. The Holmes Brothers: Feed My Soul
Truly music for the soul, from a trio that’s been fusing R&B, gospel and the blues since the ‘60’s, but recording only for the last 20 years. The title track is incredibly moving, with drop-dead gorgeous harmonies backing Wendell Holmes’ earnest vocal. But the real stunner here is their complete re-working of The Beatles’ "I’ll Be Back" as gently rocking soul, with a beautiful lead by drummer Popsy Dixon. 3 key tracks: "Feed My Soul" "You’re the Kind of Trouble" "I’ll Be Back"

38. Surfer Blood: Astro Coast
All the critics call this surf music, probably because of the group’s name and penchant for referencing the chords structures and lyrical content of the early Beach Boys and Jan & Dean, but this music is more of a cross between The Ventures and The Surfaris ("Wipe Out") instrumental blow-outs and the noise rock of My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth. Labels and references aside, this is one of the more original sounding new bands this year, and as we move further away from the original Southern California surf rockers, originality often is a rare commodity. 3 key tracks: "Swim" Twin Peaks" "Anchorage"

39. Solomon Burke: Nothing’s Impossible
It’s nearly impossible to have a bad Solomon Burke record. But the star of this CD is also Willie Mitchell, the legendary producer of Al Green’s greatest hits of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, in what is Mitchell’s last album production before he died last January. The combination is magical, often compelling. Mitchell lets most of the songs just cook along to a slow boil, with Burke’s voice moving around the soulful arrangements and straightforward melodies like an easy stroll on a cool summer night. Great stuff. 3 key tracks: "Oh What a Feeling" "Nothing’s Impossible" "You Got Me Where You Want Me"

40. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti: Before Today
The last Ariel I remember in rock was Ariel Bender, the short-lived replacement guitarist for Mott The Hoople after Mick Ralphs, and Ariel Pink’s (not Pink the pop singer) music reminds me of that mid-‘70’s era of rock, when David Bowie and Marc Bolan were wrapped up in glam, Hall & Oates were first experimenting with their rock and soul, and Roxy Music was moving on from Brian Eno’s departure with the alluring disco/proto new wave hit "Love Is a Drug." "Round and Round" has a great chorus that plays much like that old Roxy Music hit, while "Little Wig" could be right out of the David Bowie mid ‘70’s songbook. But with musical references so out of today’s mainstream, Ariel Pink and his group are another new, refreshing sound, re-shaping old, lost musical ideas into a sound very much in the 2010’s. 3 key tracks: "Bright Lit Blue Skies" "Round and Round" "Little Wig"

41. Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3: Propellor Time
One of the founding fathers of the UK’s alt-rock movement, ranking up there with Paul Weller, Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson, in his third CD with The Venus 3, which features R.E.M’s Peter Buck along with R.E.M. sidekicks Scott McCaughey (who also leads his own band, The Minus 5) and Bill Rieflin on drums. Guest appearances by Nick Lowe, Johnny Marr (The Smiths) and John Paul Jones (Zeppelin). The first-class back-up is a testament to the consistently high level of Hitchcock’s songwriting and singing, and this CD showcases 10 understated songs that are worth repeated listens. 3 key tracks: "The Afterlight" "Luckiness" "Primitive"
42. Erykah Badu: New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh
This album turned me back to Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life for the first time in years. Part Two is just as adventurous in its own way as 2007’s Part One, but this CD is an easier pill to swallow. That spirit of adventure is hinted at in the minimalist opening track, "20 Feet Tall," but actually waits until the 10+ minute final track, "Out My Mind, Just in Time," to blow the neo-soul envelope wide open. In between the two songs is an artist waiting to explode, and that slow boil makes this CD very special. 3 key tracks: "20 Feet Tall" "Umm Hmm" "Fall in Love (Your Funeral)"

43. Freedy Johnston: Rain on the City
One of the best alt-folk singer-songwriters of the ‘90’s with his first CD in 9 years. It’s all about the songs here, with deceptively simple, clean arrangements that highlight Johnston’s voice and acoustic guitar to create an intimacy a way that makes it seem like you’re listening to private studio performance. James Taylor does this well sometimes, but it’s Johnston’s specialty. 3 key tracks: "Don’t Fall in Love With a Lonely Girl" (“’cause you’ll never be alone with her …. ‘ cause you’ll spend your nights waitin’ up for her”), "The Devil Raises His Own" (“She sure did you wrong but I’m tellin’ you sometimes the devil raises his own / didn’t I tell you you should’a left that girl alone”), "The Kind of Love We’re In" (“Some love’s over man and that’s all she wrote / that’s the kind of love we’re in”).

44. Lightspeed Champion: Life is Sweet! Nice to Meet You
Lightspeed Champion is the non de guerre for Devonte Hynes, a Houston native seemingly intent of resurrecting the Brill Building single-handedly. He seems to cover every type of pop music that’s come out of the last 40 years except for hip-hop and disco, with a classical musician’s emphasis on melodies and a Broadway writer’s penchant for theatrics. There are touches of Queen one minute, Motown the next, then Elton John, followed by ELO, with some Rufus Wainwright, Mika and then a little Elvis Costello and David Bowie, with just a touch of Alejandro Escovedo. The one common element is Hynes’ strong voice. In time, it will interesting to see if he settles on a style, or on being eclectic. But it’s interesting. 3 key tracks: "Faculty of Fears" "I Don’t Want to Wake Up Alone" "Middle of the Dark"

45. The Revelations: Bleeding Edge
This year’s classic retro-soul CD, and a pretty good one. The band is not quite the powerful musical force of the Dap Kings, and lead singer Tre Williams doesn’t quite bring something new to the table the way Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings do. But if you’re looking for some good new soul, look in this direction. If you close your eyes on some songs, you may even think you’re listening to Hall & Oates! 3 key tracks: "Graceful Bow" "How Do I Tell Him" "Cheatin’/Secret Lovers"

46. She & Him: Volume Two
She is actress Zooey Deschanel, he is Monster of Folk M. Ward. They make real nice music together. Nothing threatening or too complicated. Just nice, good ol’ soft rock, like Bread, The Carpenters, Carole King, and maybe even The Captain & Tennille. Complete with echoes, strings, steel string guitars and whispered backing vocals. There’s something a little more substantial going on underneath the surface, but there’s no pressing reason to investigate it, if that’s not your thing. Stay on the surface and enjoy. 3 key tracks: "Thieves" "Me and You" "Sing"

47. LCD Soundsystem: This Is Happening
LCD Soundsystem is James Murphy, and he’s been making albums for the last 10 years that have received near uniformly great reviews from critics. This CD continues that winning streak. The best two-word genre description I’ve seen is “alternative dance,” but this is music that continues what David Bowie and Eno started in the ‘70’s and Talking Heads and Gang of Four continued in the late ‘70’s and ‘80’s. Since I don’t go to clubs, I don’t know for certain if this is club music, but the beats, rhythms and repeated electronic riffs are all here. It’s been taking me some time to get into this CD, but I get more into it with each listen. And then I listen to Heroes, Here Come the Warm Jets and Remain in Light. 3 key tracks: "Drunk Girls" "I Can Change" "Somebody’s Calling Me"

48. Jakob Dylan: Women + Country
At first listen, I thought this was Jakob’s version of the bluesy, folksy, rocking, sometimes pop music of his dad’s last few albums, but Jakob has a distinct voice and style as a performer and songwriter, and those qualities reveal themselves after a few listens. The album is produced in a very understated way by T-Bone Burnett, so that even the more rocking numbers seem to slink along, in a muted, subdued way. In the end, this is a hard album to keep off my Top 50 list. 3 key tracks: "Nothing But the Whole Wide World" "Everybody’s Hurting" "They’ve Trapped Us Boys"

49. Frightened Rabbit: The Winter of Mixed Drinks
Scottish alt-rock group singing about much more than love songs. They have an odd way of looking at things, often optimistic, sometimes fatalistic. "Swim Until You Can’t See Land" is one of my favorite songs of the year so far (“Let’s call me a baptist, call this the drowning of the past / She’s there on the shoreline / Throwing stones at my back / So swim until you can’t see land”). Had to put them in the Top 50 over other CDs because there’s a sound to this group that cries out for bigger things to come. 3 key tracks: "Swim Until You Can’t See Land" "The Loneliness and the Scream" "FootShooter"

50. Los Campesinos: Romance is Boring
And from the other end of the isle of England comes the Welsh Campesinos. Alt-rock with equal measures of punk and progressive and the music, the feel, the lyrics and the performances all play off of that ironic mixing of styles. Adventurous, sometimes riotous, even a little discordant but very listenable, and often excellent. The CD received mixed reviews, but I find this a hard CD to put down once I start it up, partly because the first 2 songs are just so good (2 of my 3 key tracks). 3 key tracks: "In Media Res" "There Are Listed Buildings" "A Heat Rash In The Shape Of The Show Me State; Or, Letters From Me To Charlotte"

Monday, September 13, 2010

Schultz' Earful

By: David Schultz

Pontificating over the difficulties any artist encounters in following up a well-received debut album can be a pretentious endeavor. Given that, we’ll leave a dissertation on that subject to a blogger who thinks they’re offering fresh new insight on a much-covered topic. Sadly though, all the clichés about sophomore efforts may be embodied by Sugar, Dead Confederate’s disappointing follow-up to Wrecking Ball, their 2008 retro-grunge debut. Everything that made the Athens, Georgia band such a compelling creature is missing from their latest. The taser-fueled, tortured yawp of Hardy Morris, which resurrected the recently departed ghosts of the grunge rock 90s, is criminally absent and the torrid, jittery screech of Walker Howle’s guitar has been tamed (or at least tightly restrained). Where Wrecking Ball demanded every bit of your attention, Sugar gets mired down in the depths of the well-worn pathways tread by Neil Young and his Crazy Horse loving ilk. Try listening to “Father Figure” and not feel the urge to listen to “Powderfinger” shortly thereafter. Sadly, this may be a conscious effort to move towards fare that the mainstream finds palatable. “Sugar” and “In The Dark” make brief detours into the dark alleys that announced Dead Confederate’s arrival too deliberately to excuse the tone set by the rest of the album. Sugar may find a home amongst those who like their singers a little less raw and their guitars a bit more melodic – “Giving It All Away,” which gets a helping hand from J Mascis, borders on catchy - but it fails to live up to the promise Dead Confederate showed just two short years ago.

HERE WE GO MAGIC fares a bit better on Pigeons, the follow up to their entrancing self-titled debut that secured Luke Temple’s project a slew of opening slots for Grizzly Bear and Department of Eagles. Pairings with their ethereal-minded Brooklyn brethren seems to have had little effect on Here We Go Magic: on Pigeons, they move away from the lilting melodies that made “Fangela” and “Tunnelvision” so engaging in favor of a more upbeat set of repetitive rhythms. When the music remains calm, as it does on “Casual” and “F.F.A.P,” Temple’s falsetto enhances the dreamy qualities that mark HWGM’s best work. It’s when it speeds up, on songs like “Collector,” that Temple comes perilously close to encroaching on Perry Farrell’s milieu. The most noticeable difference in HWGM’s latest is the overtly electronic feel to many of the tracks, although on songs like “Old World United,” it sounds as if Temple’s spent too much time locked in Danny Elfman’s basement listening to Simpsons outtakes. Pigeons lingering in the electronic lab produces many initially jarring moments that ultimately dissolve into lush, ambient soundscapes. It’s a challenging work and worth a listen.

ON “WHICH WAY TO YOUR AMERICA?” Living Colour gave voice to the disparity between the visions of America being offered by the Reagan/Bush presidencies and the non-corresponding visions of America they observed on a regular basis. In 2004, in the midst of the Bush II presidency, another New York based band, the Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, addressed many of the same issues on Who Is This America? What with albums getting the re-release treatment to celebrate significant double digit milestones, it may seem a bit soon to celebrate the reissue of a 2004 release. However, in light of the political and sociological changes that have been wrought since the release of Who Is This America? (i.e. Obama), it’s as good a time as any to revisit Antibalas’ subversive rhetoric.

Even though the world may be different than it was 6 years ago, the politics of Who Is This America? are no different than those found throughout the years on populist folk recordings and world music from countries beset by overbearing regimes: on the title track, an immigrant expresses his frustration with the racial prejudice and cultural bias he confronts while pursuing his version of the American Dream; on “Big Man,” a downtrodden soul wryly expounds on the class struggle between the haves and the have-nots and on “Indictment,” a cast of political characters are called to answer for their actions. The true joy of this album though has nothing to do with politics: it’s the music. Reminiscent of the lushly textured funk that had its heyday in the Seventies, the AAO unleash a furious barrage of percussion amidst a swirl of heady horns. It may have emanated from Brooklyn but it’s world music at its finest and never grows tiresome.

THE CANNY BROTHERS BAND HAVE RELEASED One Drop Of Whiskey, the follow up to their 2007 self-titled debut. On their latest, the Cannys weave together traditional Irish standards like “Come To The Bower” and “Irish Rover,” splendid originals like “Donnelly” and the title track and well-chosen covers like Steve Earle’s “The Galway Girl” and Merle Haggard’s “Silver Wings.” Using classic rock as an underpinning, the Cannys are remarkably able to remain steadfastly loyal to their Irish roots and enliven an overlooked genre without transforming it into a series of mindless rebel shouts and weepy ballads. Amongst the highlights, a studio version of the traditional “I’ll Tell Me Ma” which nicely segues into and out of Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away.” Many Irish bands have liberally borrowed this concept from the Cannys but none pull it off as well. You can pick up the album by clicking here.

Over the weekend, The Cannys will be fixtures on the main stage of Brooklyn’s Great Irish Fair (Saturday, September 18 @ 3:45 p.m.; Sunday, September 19 @ 6:00 p.m.).

THE YEAR MAY STILL HAVE MIDTERM ELECTIONS and a whole football season to go but we may be able to declare the race for song of 2010 over. As if dared to craft a Motown song that could never find radio airplay in the Detroit label’s heyday, Cee-Lo Green and his band of merry songwriters have come up with “Fuck You,” easily the catchiest song since he and Danger Mouse burrowed their way into the collective psyche with “Crazy.” Much like the previous Gnarls Barkley smash, covers have already started to sprout up like disaffected hipsters at a Brooklyn Vegan endorsed show. Given Cee-Lo’s stature and the fact that the song is obnoxiously catchy, it will be curious to see whether it gets the “Gold Digger” radio edit treatment for commercial radio or whether Elektra simply ignores the dying medium and rides the wave of the viral video to the winter release of The Lady Killer. Don't believe how good the song is, check it out yourself.

PARTICLE, ONE OF THE ORIGINAL JAMTRONICA BANDS, will celebrate their 10th anniversary with a series of October shows that will herald the return of Charlie Hitchcock, the guitarist most identifiable with the Los Angeles based band’s rise to a national level. In many ways, Particle never truly regained their momentum in the wake Hitchcock’s 2005 departure, experiencing many stops and stutters. Shortly after the split with Hitchcock, Scott Metzger and Ben Combe both joined the band. Within two years though, each had left to pursue separate endeavors and Particle was once again without a permanent guitarist. With keyboardist Steve Molitz finding a home with Phil Lesh & Friends – who incorporated Particle’s “The Elevator” into their live repertoire, Particle shows were few and far between. If the impetus for the “reunion” anniversary was a May 2010 gig at which Hitchcock returned to honor the memory of two longtime fans that had passed away, this may very well be the blessed event that is said to spring from loss.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

September 10: BuzzUniverse & Turbine To Play Mercury Lounge

BuzzUniverse and Turbine will take over New York City's Mercury Lounge for a Friday night throwdown. The doors open at 10:30 p.m. Expect BuzzUniverse to take the stage at 11:00 p.m. with two sets of Turbine starting at midnight.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

WHYY TV Saturday Night Music Block September 4th

Philadelphia's WHYY is presenting a fantastic Saturday night music lineup tonight. Austin City Limits kicks things off at 10:30pm with singer-bassist Esperanza Spalding, who performs a mix of jazz, soul and Brazilian pop and Athens, Georgia native Madeleine Peyroux ("Bare Bones"). Following at 11:30pm, Live from the Artists Den features Jakob Dylan from the Desmond Tutu Cultural Center in New York City with a set drawn heavily from his 2008 "Seeing Things" album, including "All Day and All Night," "Evil Is Alive and Well," and "On Up the Mountain."

Sun Studio Sessions
follows with Five Times August, who has had songs featured in over 40 television shows, including MTV's The Hills and The Real World. Touring college campuses and appearing alongside major acts like Augustana and Dashboard Confessional, Five Times August has built a growing following with one of the most robust online presences of any young artist.

Tune in to WHYY and support public television and this fantastic, original music programming!

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Grace Potter Rocking The Gear circa 2006!