Archive for the Chip Robinson 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)

Interview with Kasey Anderson & Chip Robinson

Posted in Chip Robinson, Kasey Anderson on April 19, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

We had quite a fine day of music at WDVX earlier today when Kasey Anderson (top) and Chip Robinson (bottom) joined us for a Blue Plate Special.

Both artists have new records out on Kasey’s Red River Records label, and I spoke about each of them briefly last week. Both are deeply personal albums that tell a full story from beginning to end. In Kasey’s case, Nowhere Nights tells of his departures from a physical place and space of mind while burning bridges and mending fences as he left. Chip’s Mylow chronicles his time doing what he calls “trying to stay alive” over the past decade when he was away from the music industry.
I’m sharing two songs from today’s performances here. Both are intimate, acoustic readings of songs from the new records.
After the show, I spent some time with Kasey and Chip talking about the new albums, Chip’s history with The Backsliders, Kasey’s blogging, and various other topics. I’m sharing our conversation with you as well. The interview did not air at WDVX… this is the only place to hear it.
Kasey Anderson: Bellingham Blues (Buy Album)
Chip Robinson: Wings (Buy Album)
My Interview with Kasey Anderson & Chip Robinson

Monday Blue Plate Special: Kasey Anderson, Chip Robinson, & Carrie Rodriguez

Posted in Carrie Rodruguez, Chip Robinson, Kasey Anderson on April 16, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

Monday is going to be a big day on the WDVX Blue Plate Special, and I wanted to give everyone enough of a heads up that you’ll have time to plan accordingly. Monday’s show will be a triple bill featuring songwriter Kasey Anderson, former Backslider’s frontman Chip Robinson, and Texas fiddler/chanteuse Carrie Rodriguez (Kasey and Chip will also play Monday night at The Preservation Pub). The Blue Plate Special will be aired live Monday at Noon (Eastern) on WDVX’s website.

If you want to know more about Carrie Rodriguez and her new collection of covers, Love and Circumstance, you can check out what boyhowdy had to say over at Cover Lay Down. I think it might still be too early to share this one here.
Today, we’re going to focus on Kasey Anderson & Chip Robinson.
First up, we’ll talk about Kasey Anderson. Kasey is a songwriter from the Northwest who I’ve known for years now as a fellow poster on the message boards at the Alt-Country Tab website. I’ve been relatively absent from that site for a while now, but I’ve kept an ear on Kasey for the last year or so. I’ve been consistently impressed with what I’ve heard.
His latest effort, Nowhere Nights, is out now on his own Red River Records. It’s a powerful and fiery record about leaving, moving on, and facing the consequences of the journey. With songs like “Bellingham Blues,” “Torn Apart,” and the title track, Kasey makes you feel the asphalt under your feet and the match in your hand as he runs off and burns bridges on his way out of town.
Here’s an mp3 of the rocking “Torn Apart” and the video for the haunting “I Was a Photograph.” The latter tells the story of U.S. Marine James Blake Miller and his troubles since returning from Iraq.
Kasey Anderson: Torn Apart (Buy Album)

Next up is Chip Robinson. Chip is making a triumphant return to music after a decade long absence with his new solo project, Mylow. Chip got his start as front man for the North Carolina based alt-country outfit, The Backsliders, in the late 1990’s. The Backsliders made two amazing records together before disbanding at the end of the decade. Chip has been largely absent from the music scene since then.

With Mylow’s opening track, “Preface,” we find out where he’s been. The song paints a picture of a man trapped in a “dark and empty place” where he battles countless demons and is beyond the reach of any helping hands. As the album proceeds, Chip faces those demons and pulls himself out of the spiral. The anthemic chorus of the title track reminds us all that… no matter what we’ve been through… everything will work out if we just keep our heads up.
Chip Robinson: Mylow (Buy Album)
Here’s a bonus YouTube vid of Chip doing one of his classic Backsliders tunes.