Archive for March, 2010

ReviewShine Wednesday: David Hidalgo & Louie Perez

Posted in David Hidalgo and Louie Perez, Los Lobos on March 31, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

This recurring Wednesday feature is usually a place where I spotlight a new or unknown artist who I am sharing with you even as I am discovering them for the first time. David Hidalgo and Louie Perez, however, are neither new or unknown. In fact the pair of high school friends have been writing songs together for over 40 years now with their best known efforts coming as the driving creative forces behind the infinitely influential Roots Rock/Tex-Mex band Los Lobos.

With their new release The Long Goodbye, Hidalgo and Perez take the opportunity to share their work as a duo without the support of their Los Lobos band mates. Even without the rest of the group along for the ride, Hidalgo and Perez showcase the broad range of styles and influences that set Los Lobos apart from the beginning. “What Good is Love” is a gritty, dusty rocker that features two songwriters at the top of their games. “When Love Fails” is pure Country with a touch of border flavor. “Till the Hands Fall off the Clock” has a classic honky-tonk sound… if you could find a honky-tonk joint where the band played accordions instead of pedal steels. The rest of the songs on the album move from acoustic folk, to rock, to border rave ups with relative ease.
This is a fine set of tunes from two important artists that serves as a retrospective of their careers while also offering up something new. Fans of Los Lobos will love the insight into musical partnership of Hidalgo and Perez over the last four decades. Newcomers and latecomers to the band may find themselves searching out a copy of How Will the Wolf Survive?
David Hidalgo & Louie Perez: What Good is Love (Buy Album)

Random Weekend Post: Jonatha Brooke

Posted in Jonatha Brooke on March 27, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

Taking my wife to Nashville this weekend to see Jonatha Brooke at 3rd and Lindsley. I’ve never seen Jonatha live, but I’m becoming more familiar with her work. She’s one of my wife’s favorite songwriters, and we’re both looking forward to the trip.

Here are a couple of live performances of songs from her classic album Steady Pull.

moe.: Captain America

Posted in Greg Horne, John Hartford, moe. on March 25, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

I’ve been thinking a lot about the jam band moe. this week. It actually started last week when I wrote my review of the new Great American Taxi album for Country Standard Time. GAT is fronted by Leftover Salmon’s Vince Herman and has deep roots in jam band music. A couple of songs on that album greatly reminded me of moe.’s rock noodlings.

Shortly after writing that, I received a copy of Jennie Arnau’s new record Chasing Ghosts. That album actually featured an appearance by moe.’s Al Schnier. His presence was minimal, but it still had me fondly remembering my college days when I first discovered the band’s music.
Like so many other bands I listened to in college, I don’t keep up with moe. much anymore, but I would like to share the song that introduced me to their sound. This is “Captain America” from their 2000 release Dither.
moe.: Captain America (Buy Album)
I would also like to use this space today to thank Greg Horne for joining me on the air last night at WDVX. Greg was in the studio playing music for an hour or so and helped us raise almost $1,000 for the station. As part of his appearance, he was taking requests from callers in exchange for donations. One caller asked him to play his favorite John Hartford song, and I’d like to share that with you here…
Greg Horne: California Earthquake (Buy Greg’s Music)
…and while we’re at it… why not share Hartford’s original as well.
John Hartford: California Earthquake (Buy Album)

ReviewShine Wednesday: Drunk on Crutches

Posted in Drunk on Crutches, Greg Horne on March 24, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

We’re going with a bit of a different sound today for ReviewShine Wednesday with the rock heavy music of Drunk on Crutches. The band’s sound is primarily built around brash rock and roll guitars that contain just the right amount of swagger to place them perfectly in their home base of L.A. This isn’t just some California vanity project, though. Listen closely, and you’ll start to hear songwriter and vocalist Jennifer Whittenburg’s Georgia roots begin to show.

Maybe it was the wailing harmonica and the railing against the bright lights of Los Angeles in “Using Me Up.” Maybe it was Whittenburg’s smokey vocal on the downbeat acoustic number “Oh Well.” It may have even been the dreamy country-rock reading of Neil Young’s “L.A.” Whatever it was, something about this album grabbed me immediately and brought me in. This is a highly melodic (check out the track I’m posting, “Apt. 16”) album that satisfies my Rock & Roll side quite nicely.
Drunk On Crutches: Apt 16 (Buy Album)

This post is also serving as a reminder that I will be joined on the air at WDVX tonight by local musician Greg Horne. It’s all part of the Spring Fund Drive at WDVX. As I mentioned before, Greg is a phenomenally talented guitar player who is well respected in Knoxville as a songwriter, session player, producer, side man, and solo artist.

Greg’s new solo project, Basically Sane, came out recently and has been warmly received in town. It’s mostly an acoustic effort built to showcase Greg’s playing and lyrics. At it’s heart, Basically Sane is a folk record, but it’s more than that as well. The more traditional numbers such as “Fall on My Knees” and “Rock That Cradle, Joe” are offset by the more rocking “I Liked You Better” and the trippy “Phone Call From Glen.” No matter the style, each song is built around Greg’s extremely skilled finger picked melodies that showcase a talent that deserves to be heard outside of Knoxville.
You can hear Greg with me in the studio at 6:00 (Eastern) by tuning to the WDVX webcast or find out more at his website.
Greg Horne: I Liked You Better (Buy Album)

Jennie Arnau: Chasing Ghosts

Posted in Jennie Arnau on March 23, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

I get a lot of CDs sent to me in the mail… usually two or three each week. When those discs come in, they generally go into one of two stacks.

Stack A is for the projects from artists I know and that I’m excited about listening to. Stack B is for artists that I haven’t heard before and know nothing about. Stack A goes straight into iTunes and onto my iPod. Stack B gets set aside, and I try to listen to them when I get the chance.
Occasionally, a disc from Stack B can jump into Stack A if it grabs me in a certain way. The easiest way to do this is for the disc to contain a guest shot from an artist that I do know and respect. Jennie Arneau’s new release, Chasing Giants (a B stacker), certainly has that going for it. Jennie enlists the talents of moe. guitarist Al Schnier to play mandolin and guitar on two tracks, and Noam Pickelny of The Punch Brothers and Leftover Salmon plays banjo throughout. Throw in production work from Trina Shoemaker (Over the Rhine, Shannon McNally, Sheryl Crow), and I was more than intrigued by the assembled cast.
The other way to jump stacks is to have a visually stimulating cover image that grabs me immediately and makes me want to know what’s going on inside. The cartoon image of the little cowboy and cowgirl staring down the giants with their six-shooters was too much for me to pass up.
The disc had the goods to jump into the A stack… but it wouldn’t stay there long if the music didn’t grab me as well.
Jennie’s newest album blends the southern stylings of her South Carolina roots with the big city polish of her current New York City home. The album opening, “For the Winter,” kicks off with a Vienna Teng or Norah Jones style piano/guitar pairing laced with politeness and restraint. It isn’t long, however, before the banjo and fiddle kick in to give the tune a personality of its own and reveal the track’s rootsier heart.
Those styles are played against each other throughout the album. The pop leaning “Bouncing Ball” is laced with subtle banjo fills from Pickelny, while “Beautiful Life” switches from mournful country to sunny pop from verse to chorus. Those tunes are then contrasted with the straight up R&B of “The Sparrow & The Gods” and the gentle folk of “Jack Be Nimble.”
Overall, the two styles meld very well, even if the album does come off as more demure than dynamic in places. Still, Jennie Arnau now has my attention. Her next offering will go straight into stack A… even if it’s a total solo effort in with a plain brown cover.
Jennie Arnau: For the Winter (Buy Album)

Great American Taxi: Reckless Habits

Posted in Great American Taxi on March 22, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

I’ve had another CD review published over at the Country Standard Time website. This time it’s the new release from Leftover Salmon alum Vince Herman and his current project Great American Taxi.

Great American Taxi’s new release Reckless Habits has just been released on Thirty Tigers Records, and you can read my review of the album by following this link.
Here’s one tune from the album to give you a little taste of the sound… although this one is really impossible to sum up with just one song. “Unpromised Land” is probably my favorite song on the album. It’s not FCC friendly, however, so I’ll never be able to play it on the radio. That’s why I’m sharing it with you here. I like to think of it as a cross between moe. and Sam Bush.
Great American Taxi: Unpromised Land (Buy Album)

Random Weekend Post: Greg Horne

Posted in Greg Horne, Knoxville Music on March 20, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

Wednesday night at WDVX, I’ll be joined on the air by local artist Greg Horne. Greg is known around town as a tremendous guitar player, and he just released his new album Basically Sane. I’ll try to throw up a brief review of that album before he sits in with me Wednesday, but just in case I don’t… here’s a nice video of Greg performing live.

Scott Miller Fundraising for WDVX

Posted in Scott Miller, WDVX on March 18, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

As I mentioned yesterday, Scott Miller joined me on the air last night at WDVX as part of the kickoff of our Spring Fund Drive. WDVX is a community radio station in downtown Knoxville dedicated to playing roots and Americana music.

I talk about the station a lot here… not just because I work there… but because I also believe in what we’re doing there in trying to promote the music we love and the artists that create it. To be able to continue doing that work, we have to pass the hat a couple of times every year to ask for support from our listeners. Listener support is our single greatest source of funding at WDVX, and it helps keep the lights on and the music playing. If you like, you can support WDVX at our website and pick up a great new CD of live music from local artists like Scott Miller, the everybodyfields, Mic Harrison, Christabel and the Johns, Cutthroat Shamrock, and many, many others.
For his part, Scott Miller spent roughly an hour and a half on the air with me last night. He played some songs live in the studio (including taking requests in exchange for donations) and brought in a few CDs from his personal stash to play. I’m including a small portion of his visit and an acoustic version of “Absolution” from his time in the studio. The “Buy Album” link points to the studio version of the song.
Scott Miller live at the WDVX Fund Drive
Scott Miller: Absolution live at WDVX (Buy Album)

ReviewShine Wednesday: Natalie D-Napoleon & An Important Note

Posted in Natalie D-Napoleon on March 17, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

An important note is on the way… but first a brief look at this week’s find from ReviewShine…

***Natalie D-Napoleon is an artist from the west coast of Australia who now finds herself splitting time between her homeland and the west coast of the United States where she recorded her new EP Here in California. The EP was recorded in Santa Barbara with kd lang’s longtime producer David Piltch and contains six lovingly crafted covers some of Natalie’s favorite Australian and American songwriters.
The Australian contingent is represented by Paul Kelly’s “To Her Door,” “Even the Sweet Things Die” from the Jayco Brothers, and an acoustic take on AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long.” As for the American songwriters, Natalie took a run at Kate Wolf’s “Here in California,” Mark Olson and Victoria Williams’ “Hummingbird,” and Guy Clark’s west coast anthem “L.A. Freeway.” The collection is a quick and easy listen that offers some nice takes on a few classic tunes and introduced me to a couple of new ones as well.
Natalie D-Napoleon: You Shook Me All Night Long (Buy Album)
***Now the important note… Today is the first day of the Spring Fund Drive at WDVX.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention again that I do work part-time as a DJ for the station. Even so, I fully believe WDVX to be one of the great outlets that exists for Americana music. We play everything from classic bluegrass to The Drive-By Truckers and just about everything that falls in between. You can listen to the station live 24-hours a day on one of our web streams. If you like it, you can help keep us on the air by pledging your support to keep the music alive. This year, our featured premium is a new CD featuring live performances from several Knoxville and East Tennessee Artists including Scott Miller, the everybodyfields, and many more. East Tennessee’s Own: Volume 1 is available with a $50 pledge to support WDVX.
The festivities kick off today at Noon (Eastern) with a special St. Patrick’s Day edition of The Blue Plate Special featuring live music from Matt McNeely, Four Leaf Peat, Shamrock Road, and Cutthroat Shamrock. Later, at 6:00, I’ll be joined in the studio by none other than Scott Miller… the Patron Saint of A Fifty Cent Lighter & A Whiskey Buzz. Of course, you can hear it all at WDVX.com.
Here’s what Scott sounded like the last time he visited me in the studio. This track was recorded live in the studio… the “Buy Album” link points to the studio version of the song.
Scott Miller: Sin in Indiana (Buy Album)

Random Weekend Post: New She & Him

Posted in She and Him on March 13, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

The newest project from actress Zooey Deschanel and musician M. Ward is set to be released March 23rd. It will be the second release from the duo that call themselves She & Him and is fittingly titled Volume Two. You may remember how much I liked Volume One.

This is the video for the first single from the new album, and it already has me smiling. The bouncy retro innocence that I found so captivating on the debut release still seems to be present here, and the visuals match the sound. I love how Ward’s cool aloofness contrasts with Deschanel’s playfulness.
This is “In the Sun” by She & Him.