Archive for the jenny lewis Category

Best of 2010: 15-13

Posted in Crooked Still, Jenny and Johnny, jenny lewis, Justin Townes Earle, Top 21 of 2010 on December 22, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

#15 – I’m Having Fun Now by Jenny & Johnny

Jenny is former Rilo Kiley front woman and indie rock goddess Jenny Lewis.  Johnny is singer/songwriter/producer Johnathan Rice.  The two started working together when Rice appeared on Lewis’ 2005 album Rabbit Fur Coat. They continued to record and tour together as their musical relationship turned into a personal one.  Rice was so largely involved in Lewis’ 2008 release Acid Tongue that it only seemed natural that the pair would release their newest effort as a duo project with both of their names on the record.

And while Lewis may be the bigger name of the two, it is important to note that this is a fully collaborative effort with each getting a chance to shine.  In fact, Rice’s voice is the first you hear on record on the punchy and poppy album opener, “Scissor Runner.”  Still, I find myself drawn more to the tracks like “My Pet Snakes” and “Just Like Zeuss” where Lewis has the lead.  Those tracks play like lost sessions from Rilo Kiley’s More Adventurous (one of my all-time albums) with Rice playing Blake Sennett’s role as sideman.  No matter who leads on each track, Jenny & Johnny have managed to make a record that is simply a lot of fun.

Jenny & Johnny: My Pet Snakes (Buy Album)

#14 – Harlem River Blues by Justin Townes Earle

There’s no real sense in rehashing Justin Townes Earle’s origins one more time in this space.  I’ve done it a few times already.  Suffice to say that Earle is the son of one legend, bears the name of another, and has already done enough in his short career to create a legacy all his own and independent of his father and his namesake.  His previous effort, 2009’s Midnight at the Movies was handily selected as last year’s best album by a panel of Americana bloggers.

This year, Earle returns with Harlem River Blues.  It’s an ambitious album that straddles the lines of many forms of American roots music.  The breezy folk of “Wanderin'” easily gives way to the bluesy soul of “Slippin’ and Slidin'” and the up-tempo gospel rhythms of the title track.  Incidentally, the title track is also as infectious a tune about planned suicide as I can ever remember hearing.

I was a little distracted with life when this album first came out, so I didn’t really sit with it until I started working on this list.  It was unranked in my first draft, but slowly crept up the board in subsequent drafts until settling here at #14.   A few more weeks with it, and it may have cracked the Top 10.

Justin Townes Earle: Harlem River Blues (Buy Album)

#13 – Some Strange Country by Crooked Still

First off, I just want to say that no one else sounds like Crooked Still.  Their unique instrumentation that includes a cello and a double bass as part of the line-up gives their music a darkness that is largely absent in other contemporary string bands.  I remember hearing their version of “Ain’t No Grave” in 2006 as part of the house music at a venue in Asheville while waiting for an Adrienne Young concert.  I had never heard Crooked Still’s music before, and I was haunted by that song for a long while before I came to realize who was singing it.

Now it’s four years later, and I’m still haunted by vocalist Aoife O’Donovan and crew on the new CD Some Strange Country.  And I think haunted is the right word due to the murder ballads and other tales of woe and sorrow that make up the bulk of the record.  When I reviewed the album earlier this year for Country Standard Time, I used words like ghostly and chilling to describe the band’s sound and subjects.  I think both of those words fit the song I’m sharing here.  This is the traditional tune “The Golden Vanity” featuring Ricky Skaggs on backing vocals.

Crooked Still: The Golden Vanity (Buy Album)

Hump Day Notes: New Josh Ritter, New Brandi Carlile, and More

Posted in Brandi Carlile, Dawn Landes, jenny lewis, Josh Ritter, Rilo Kiley on February 10, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

It’s time for some mid-week notes…

***This qualifies as old news by this point as the official release went out on Monday… but it’s still news that I’m excited about.

Josh Ritter has completed work on his new album, So Runs the World Away. The release date here in the U.S. is May 4th (my birthday is May 3rd if any readers want to pitch in and get me a copy). This is Josh’s first full release since 2007’s The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter, and he says he’s extremely proud of the songs on the new record. He’s never made a bad one to my ears, and I’m almost giddy with the thoughts of new music from one of my favorite artists.

You can view a brief video and download a free track from So Runs the World Away at Josh’s website. “Change of Time” sounds like a perfect introduction to the new album.

Josh Ritter: Change of Time (Sign up for Josh’s mailing list)

***I learned recently in this post from High Noon Saloon that Dawn Landes is Josh Ritter’s wife. I somehow failed to notice that when I first mentioned Dawn here a few weeks ago.

Warren’s review of Dawn’s new album, Sweetheart Rodeo, is much more in depth than the brief one I put up… so I suggest you just go read that one. His assessment of the album is pretty much spot on anyway. While you do that, you can listen to one of the more country inspired tracks on the album.

Dawn Landes: Sweetheart Rodeo (Buy Album)

***Rilo Kiley’s long time drummer Jason Boesel granted an interview to Paste Magazine last week in which he says new music is on the way from everyone’s favorite indie band fronted by child actors. Well… not completely new music really. Rather a compilation of rare and unreleased tracks from the band’s back catalogue. Of course, to me, any new Rilo Kiley is good Rilo Kiley. Look for this sometime later this year.

Boesel also says Rilo Kiley vocalist Jenny Lewis is working on another new solo album away from the band. She’s working again with her boyfriend Jonathan Rice who was heavily involved in 2008’s Acid Tongue. Maybe the new album will contain one of the new songs I saw Jenny perform last July.

***Finally… Tonight is the night Brandi Carlile makes her way to Knoxville for a show at the lovely Bijou Theatre. I wrote rather extensively about Brandi’s music and her new album Give Up the Ghost in this post a few months ago. I’m pretty excited for the show.

Brandi has also just released a new EP in time for Valentine’s Day. XOBC is an iTunes exclusive featuring three new original tracks along with covers of The Beatles’ “All You Need is Love,” and Bryan Adams’ “Heaven.” You can purchase it from iTunes here. It serves as a nice addendum to Ghost and well worth the minimal price for Brandi fans.

I’ll leave you today with another video from Brandi’s recent session at The Interface. This is “Dying Day” from Give Up the Ghost.

Random Weekend Post: Jenny Lewis & Triumph the Dog

Posted in jenny lewis, youtube on July 11, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

Here’s something new I’m going to try to start doing. Just a quick post with a random song or YouTube vid to get through the weekend. I don’t always have much time to post during the weekend… so these will just be quick posts with little commentary to highlight old songs that are running through my head or just something different I want to share.

We’ll start today by continuing this week’s Jenny Lewis theme. I give you Jenny and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog… live from Bonnaroo.

Birthday Notes

Posted in Birthday, jenny lewis, Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers, youtube on July 7, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

***My first several posts here don’t have time and date stamps on them for some reason… but I’m pretty sure that today (or possibly yesterday… sometime this week for sure) is the one year anniversary of A Fifty Cent Lighter & A Whiskey Buzz. Now that we’re 150+ posts and nearly 55,000 visitors into this thing, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who has stopped by, commented, and (most importantly) enjoyed the music over the past year. Hopefully, a lot of you have found something new here that you have then gone out and purchased for your own collection.

If you have discovered a new favorite here and would like to leave a comment about it on this post, that would be great. Thanks again.

***YouTube Time!!!

As I mentioned last week, my wife and I made a road trip to Asheville to see Jenny Lewis at The Orange Peel on Thursday night. The Heartless Bastards got things rocking to start the night and really set the tone for Jenny and her crew. Jenny kept the entire room in a trance with a presence that filled the whole stage and a killer band that kept up with her at every turn.

The set was primarilly filled with music from her two solo albums Acid Tongue and Rabbit Fur Coat, with the only Rilo Kiley tune being a solo acoustic version of “Silver Lining” at the beginning of the encore. Although she played a relatively short set, it was packed with almost all of my solo favorites and made for quite an enjoyable show. Jenny also worked two brand new songs into the set which I will now share with you via YouTube. These two videos were shot in St. Louis during an earlier stop on the tour.

“Big Wave”

“Just Like Zues”

…And here’s one video from the Asheville show. It’s the solo/crowd sing along version of “Silver Lining.” Thanks to the original tapers for these videos.

***Finally, for those of you in and around Knoxville… there’s a great chance to take in a free live show later this week.

Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers will be playing as part of Old City Live Thursday night in Knoxville’s Old City. Clyne first came to prominence as the front man for The Refreshments, a pop-rock outfit from Arizona that came out of the same scene as The Gin Blossoms. The Refreshments had a few minor radio hits with “Banditos” and “Down Together” in 1996. You might also know them as the band that performs the instrumental theme for Fox’s cartoon hit King of the Hill.

Since 1999, Clyne has been fronting The Peacemakers, and band that covers a lot of the same musical ground as The Refreshments with a slightly twangier edge. That edge will be on display Thursday night in Knoxville, and you can get a taste of it here on the song “Counterclockwise” from the 2004 release Americano.

“The kids are lighting firecrackers… Boom, boom, boom!”

Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers: Counterclockwise (Buy Album)

Live Music Bucket List: Jenny Lewis

Posted in jenny lewis on July 2, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

Real quick post today just to brag that I will be scratching Jenny Lewis off of my Live Music Bucket List tonight at the Orange Peel in Asheville.

I’ll try to work on posting my full Bucket List, or artists I want to see live before I die or they do, sometime in the near future. For now, though, let’s all just bask in the musical glory of Jenny Lewis.

Here’s one from her first solo album Rabbit Fur Coat. If you’re at the Orange Peel tonight, look for me. I’ll be the guy wearing a WDVX hat.

Jenny Lewis: Rise Up with Fists (Buy Album)

Top 10 of 2008: #2 Acid Tongue by Jenny Lewis

Posted in jenny lewis, Top 10 of '08, youtube on December 31, 2008 by AmericanaPulse

Well… it’s New Year’s Eve, and here I am in the studio at the radio station waiting to ring in the new year. I figure if I can’t get out and celebrate in style (my buddy Red did give me a glass of champagne)… I might as well get to work on finishing my Top 10 list for the year.

The number two album on this list is the second solo offering from Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis. I first tackled this album here back in October, and I love it as much now as I did then. In fact, I’m not sure if there’s much more I could say about the record today that I didn’t say then… so I’ll just ask you to go back and read that one again.

Again… the links in that post are dead… but here are a couple of tracks to get you through.

Jenny Lewis: Acid Tongue (Buy Album)
Jenny Lewis: The Next Messiah (Buy Album)

And just for fun…

Jenny Lewis: Acid Tongue

Posted in jenny lewis on October 26, 2008 by AmericanaPulse

If you’ve been reading lately, then you know that I’ve been a little obsessed with Rilo Kiley lately. Of course, to be obsessed with Rilo Kiley is to also be obsessed with Jenny Lewis. Well… last month, Lewis released her second solo album outside of Rilo Kiley, Acid Tongue. There’s an awful lot to like about this release, and it stands toe to toe with Jenny Lewis’ first solo effort, Rabbit Fur Coat, and her best work with Rilo Kiley.

For the recording of her new album, Jenny enlisted the help of a few of her friends and tried to recreate the feel of weekend jam sessions that she attended at the Laurel Canyon home of musician Jonathan Wilson. Wilson would host house parties featuring session musicians from the Canyon’s musical glory days of The Byrds, Zappa, and The Mamas & The Papas. Lewis and some of her contemporaries would also sit in on these sessions and fell in love with the communal aspect of the music and the immediacy of the live sound.

When she went into the studio, Jenny tried to recreate that sound by inviting Wilson along for the proceedings. She also extended invitations to her boyfriend Johnathan Rice and friends like M. Ward, Zooey Deschanel, Benji Hughes, Chris Robinson, Rilo Kiley bandmate Jason Boesel, and the ambiguous album credit of “Jenny’s Birthday Party Patrons.” With such a large cast, she definitely had the communal feel. Could she nail the live sound in the studio?

Listen to this track for your answer…

Jenny Lewis: The Next Messiah (Buy Album)

That track you just heard… all 8:45 of it… is actually three songs in one and was tracked completely live in the studio. Lewis calls it the most exciting experience she’s ever had while cutting a record. There are bands out there who could spend a month in the studio trying to record something as dynamic and intricate as “The Next Messiah.” Lewis completed her entire album in less than three weeks. The “live in the studio” approach brings a sense of immediacy to tracks like this one and other up tempo tunes such as the celebratory “See Fernando,” the slightly creepy “Jack Killed Mom,” and the sexually charged (it’s Jenny Lewis… there have to be a few sexually charged lyrics on the album) duet with Elvis Costello “Carpetbaggers.”

On quieter numbers, the immediacy turns to intimacy and warmth. “Sing a Song for Them” is an uplifting number that lilts along over a restrained but bouncy bass line from Jason Leder, soaring strings, and subtle piano fills from Lewis herself before all of Jenny’s birthday party guests join in for the final chorus. “Pretty Bird” also just oozes warmth from the speakers as Lewis’ vocal is caressed by M. Ward’s beautifully textured electric guitar.

To my mind, music works best when it is a shared experience. That’s why I enjoy being a dj and a blogger. It’s all about sharing the music and being a part of helping others experience something that I enjoy. Jenny turned the making of this album into a shared experience with her friends and colleagues. Now she’s sharing it with us. That’s a very good thing.

Jenny Lewis: Carpetbaggers (Buy Album)
Jenny Lewis: Pretty Bird (Buy Album)