Archive for the Alejandro Escovedo Category

Best of 2010: 3-1

Posted in Alejandro Escovedo, Chip Robinson, Joe Pug, Top 21 of 2010 on January 2, 2011 by AmericanaPulse

#3 – Mylow – by Chip Robinson

If such a thing existed, Chip Robinson would be the hands-down winner of the Americana Comeback of the Year Award.  Robinson came onto the scene in the 1990’s as the front man of The Backsliders, an alt-country outfit out of Raleigh, NC.  The group released two studio albums and a live EP before disbanding in 2000.  After that, Robinson disappeared for the better part of a decade only to resurface earlier this year with the deeply personal Mylow.

Robinson recounts the lost decade on the dark, and almost industrial sounding album opener “Preface” when he tells of the “deep, dark, hole” he fell into full of drugs, alcohol, cancer, and darkness from which no one could rescue him.  The song is captivating  due to its rawness and sense of despair, but it ends with Robinson looking to find a way home.  And that’s the line this album walks so well.  All of Robinson’s clouds have a silver lining hiding somewhere, and while he deals with the missteps of his past, the album is also filled with a sense of joy for having returned with a fresh song to sing.

Chip Robinson: Preface (Buy Album)
Chip Robinson: Kutschy Rye (Buy Album)

#2 – Street Songs of Love by Alejandro Escovedo

My feelings on the music of Alejandro Escovedo have been well documented during the lifetime of this blog.  I’ve written about him more than any artist not named Scott Miller.  His 2008 CD Real Animal was the first new album I ever reviewed.  It was also my favorite album of 2008.  He produced one of my favorite albums of the past decade.  He melted faces at Tennessee Shines.  He did it again in January.

That most recent trip to Knoxville gave me the chance to actually talk to Escovedo for a while and preview several of the songs from this album a full week before he even went into the studio to record it.  I don’t know if it’s possible to love an album before you’ve heard it, but if you can… i did with this one.  Sonically, this is a continuation of Real Animal with the multifaceted Escovedo mostly playing to his rock and roll roots on full throttle rave ups like “Tender Heart,” “This Bed is Getting Crowded,” and “Faith.”  The latter features a duet with Bruce Springsteen.  The centerpiece of the album, however, is one of its slower numbers, “Down in the Bowery,”  a song Escovedo wrote for his son.

Alejandro Escovedo: Down in the Bowery (Buy Album)

#1 – Messenger by Joe Pug

My favorite album of the year is also my favorite discovery of the year, Messenger by Chicago songwriter Joe Pug.  Pug was studying to become a playwright at the University of North Carolina when he decided to turn his gift for wordplay to songwriting instead.  In fact, his debut EP Nation of Heat (available as a free download if you join his mailing list) was comprised primarily of songs that were based on ideas from a play he had been previously working on.  He embarked on a grass roots marketing and music distribution campaign to spread his songs and gain new fans, and his audience steadily grew and grew.  I first discovered his music when I learned he would be the opening act for Josh Ritter at the Bijou Theatre back in May.  I want to thank Ritter for giving me the nudge I needed to give this record a shot.

With a few exceptions, Messenger is a bare bones kind of album.  The arrangements are sparse and focus mainly on Pug’s words and gentle acoustic melodies.  Truthfully, that’s all he needs.  Whether he sings as the fallen soldier who asks to be buried away from his uniform so that God will see his face, or the gentleman stricken by the beauty of the unnamed messenger, his words draw your ears and demand your attention.  Add to that Pug’s voice which is composed of a unique nasal resonance and a strangely affecting timbre, and you have a combination of lyrics and vocals that are impossible to ignore.

In past years (last year especially) I’ve had trouble deciding on the album to place in this #1 spot.  This time it was easy.  I look forward to seeing where his career goes from here.

Joe Pug: How Good You Are (Buy Album)

Best of 2010/$5 Albums on Amazon

Posted in Alejandro Escovedo, Arcade Fire, She and Him, Spoon, Tift Merritt on October 12, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

I don’t know if you’ve noticed the Amazon search box in the sidebar on the site or not. If you have, then you know this already. If not… I have recently joined the Amazon Associates program.

What that means is that if you purchase any of the music I write about on this site through the Amazon links I provide, I get back a (very) small percentage of the sale back from Amazon.  Not only will you be helping the artists featured on the site, you’ll be helping the site as well.  This site is ad free, and I have never made one cent from it in the two-plus years I’ve been running it.  The problem with that is that I put a lot of time into things here and I have to pay a hosting fee every month for the mp3 files.  It adds up.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to all of the sudden start adding link after link or change anything on the site.  The Amazon search box in the sidebar will be the only real change.  Please feel free to use it for your Amazon shopping if you like.

I did notice today, however, that several of the albums I’m considering for my Best of 2010 list are currently available as $5.00 digital downloads from Amazon during the month of October.

If you’d like to get a leg up on the 2010 list and help out the site as well, please take a moment to download a couple of these albums.


You can find the full list of $5.00 albums here.

Weekend YouTube: Alejandro Escovedo

Posted in Alejandro Escovedo on October 10, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

If you don’t follow Alejandro Escovedo on facebook… then you should.  He’s always posting cool YouTube videos to his profile.

Here’s one recorded last year in Austin…

And an older clip from Esovedo’s punk/glam outfit, Buick McKane…

Random Weekend Post: "Anchor" on Letterman

Posted in Alejandro Escovedo on July 24, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

I’m going to try to keep up with my YouTube posts while on my little sabbatical. Thanks to Sally for sending me the link to Alejandro Escovedo on the David Letterman show earlier this week.

Alejandro Escovedo: Street Songs of Love Redux

Posted in Alejandro Escovedo on June 30, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

For those of you who might have missed my audio review of Alejandro Escovedo’s latest CD before it was taken down by the man…

You can now read a more traditional, text based, review of the album that I wrote for the Country Standard Time webzine.

Alejandro Escovedo at WDVX: Recap

Posted in Alejandro Escovedo on January 25, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

This is a picture of me with Alejandro Escovedo and his guitarist David Pulkingham taken last Tuesday when they visited the WDVX studios.
Alejandro was in town for a performance at the Bijou Theatre, but took the time to drop by the studio for an on-air interview and performance session with WDVX Program Director Tony Lawson. During his visit, Alejandro offered acoustic versions of two brand new songs from his upcoming CD and a slew of newsworthy tidbits.
First… the music. Alejandro began the set with a tune called “Anchor,” a bouncy love song that was immediately catchy and full of hooks. The second number, “Down in the Bowery,” was a much more personal tune that he wrote for his 17-year-old son to encourage him to follow his dreams. Alejandro says his son is a graffiti artist and the lead singer of a “very noisy” punk band. He says he couldn’t be more proud. He closed the brief intimate set with a beautiful rendition of “Sister Lost Soul” from Real Animal. He now dedicates the song to the memory of the late Stephen Bruton.
During the on-air portion of the interview, Alejandro revealed that he will be in the studio soon (possibly this week) to begin work on his new album. He will reunite with Real Animal producer Tony Visconti and return to the same Lexington, KY studio where he recorded my favorite album of 2008. Look for that project sometime this summer. He says he’s already been working out seven or eight new songs (more on those later) in his recent live sets and expects the new record to have a similar sound to Real Animal.
Off the air, I chatted with Alejandro a bit about the new album and his current touring line-up. He told me he wants to continue playing with his current four piece rock outfit for another couple of years. After that, he wants to “try everything musically I’ve ever wanted to do.” It’s very hard for me to imagine anything that he hasn’t done… but I can’t wait to see what those things are.
He also let me in on a special treat for any of you who are lucky enough to attend SXSW this year. The Alejandro Escovedo Orchestra will be reuniting for a show at the festival. I really wish I could be there.
As for his performance that night at the Bijou, it was every bit the the blistering Rock & Roll show that his previous visit was last January for Tennessee Shines. At that show, Alejandro fielded a few complaints from the bluegrass fans in the audience for being too loud and generally playing the Devil’s music. There were no such complaints last week, but Alejandro was able to work in a few good natured jabs at the grassers by promising to keep things nice and quiet.
It was a promise he didn’t bother trying to keep.
After walking on stage to the strains of George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” Alejandro, decked out in a grey suit with a red scarf and red cowboy boots, cranked up the volume and energy with raucous renditions of “Always a Friend” and “Everybody Loves Me.” He also peppered the set with other familiar favorites such as “Sister Lost Soul,” “I Was Drunk,” and “Real Animal.” In the middle of the show, Alejandro and David unplugged their guitars, stepped in front of the microphones, and treated the audience to an acoustic version of the long distance love letter “Rosalie.” He dropped everyone to their knees with that one… and then brought them back to their feet with a fire breathing version of “Castanets” (my favorite AE tune) to close the main set.
Those songs were all great, of course, but the real story from the night was the presence of so many new songs in Alejandro’s setlist… seven in all. I’ve mentioned two already, and “Anchor” and “Down in the Bowery” only sounded better with the full force of The Sensitive Boys (Alejandro’s band) behind them. The rest of the new batch included the rocking “Faith,” “Tender Heart,” and “This Bed is Getting Crowded.” These three songs make me believe Alejandro wasn’t kidding when he said the new album will be full of just as much fire as Real Animal.
Two of the songs were slightly less bombastic, but full of their own character nonetheless. “Tula” was inspired by the works of author Larry Brown, and had a bit of a beat poetry/speakeasy feel to it with a deliberate beat and hand played percussion. “After the Meteor Shower” has its roots in the music of The Velvet Underground (the Underground’s John Cale produced Alejandro’s 2006 release The Boxing Mirror). Alejandro says the was basically trying to rewrite the Underground’s “Pale Blue Eyes.”
The night ended with Alejandro leading the audience in a sing along of The Rolling Stones’ “Beast of Burden” that was followed by me walking the streets of downtown Knoxville listening to 40 Licks on my iPod. It was a very satisfying evening overall and one that left me very hungry to hear Alejandro’s new album this summer. I’ll tell you all about it when I do.
In the meantime, here are two tracks recorded live in the studios of WDVX. As per Alejandro’s request, these tracks are available for streaming only. Hope you enjoy.

Alejandro Escovedo at WDVX Today

Posted in Alejandro Escovedo on January 19, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

Today (Tuesday) is going to be a big day at WDVX. Alejandro Escovedo is in town for a concert at the Bijou Theatre, and he’ll be dropping by the WDVX studio to chat with Program Director Tony Lawson before the show. Alejandro will likely share a few songs with us on the air as well. He’s scheduled to stop by around 4:00 (Eastern). You can listen to a stream of his appearance at the WDVX website.

Alejandro was in town around this same time last year… he played Tennessee Shines in January. For that show, he shared the stage with four other artists and played roughly only 35 minutes due to the nature of the Tennessee Shines program. Tonight, He’ll have the stage entirely to himself (minus opening sets from Johnny Quaid and Roman Candle), and I can’t wait.
As an added bonus, Alejandro has been working out some new songs on this tour and is preparing to return to the studio with producer Tony Visconti to record the followup to 2008’s Real Animal. I imagine he’ll play some of those songs tonight. I’ll try to check back in with a post-show report later this week. Until then… here’s a classic Alejandro track.
Alejandro Escovedo: Paradise (Buy Album)