Last night at the Fillmore I got a chance to shoot a big show with lots of lights; such a treat when you aren’t fighting for every little bit of light in the hopes of one clear shot. Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers opened, bringing that Grateful Dead country funk sound together with her clear as a bell powerhouse vocals; it was my first time seeing them and I thought they were incredible, authentic and fun. More in-depth review Monday at Westword.
Last night local Bob Marley tribute band Wake Up and Live celebrated Marley’s birthday with a packed house at Cervantes’ Other Side. Thank goodness they took that elevated platform out by the bar, for once no one tripped there! With the new layout and coffee being served, the Other Side is fast becoming a favorite of mine. Portland’s The Quick and Easy Boys from my Jam Bands to Watch list opened, and completely blew me away. I highly suggest checking them out live. Rastasaurus were also on the bill, acting ever more like the polished touring band they are shaping up to be. Read my review at the Westword here:
I also got a chance to take my first promo shots, musicians are slightly harder than babies:
After writing a band an apology for calling them a jam band in a recent article, (they said they didn’t care what I called them as long as people were listening phew!), I started to get annoyed that the term “jam band” had become such an offensive insult. I wrote an opinion piece for the Westword which quickly accumulated comments from jam band haters saying we stink, and because jam bands suck. There were also some fantastic, valid arguments, some prefer the song craftsmanship of singer/songwriters over extended jams, others don’t like the fusion of genres. But the majority had the knee jerk reaction I spoke of in the intro. Here’s a link to the Westword article, the comments are pretty funny:
If you go to the Westword’s main page, they put it front and center next to an article about where to buy weed in Denver: http://www.westword.com/
The Minneapolis City Pages music blog Gimme Noise liked it so much they published it as well. There too, jam bands are hated on:
The vitriol, it’s so amusing.
Combining excellent songcraft with a great voice that hits your soul, Jenny Lewis can do no wrong in my eyes. Her long reign of awesome songs continues with “Completely Not Me”, a song that ran with the credits for HBO show Girls’ premiere. Recorded with Vampire Weekend‘s Rostam Batmanglij, the stomping beat, banjo, and effervescent backing vocals give the song a country church feeling complete with angels watching over.
Australia’s Sarah Blasko is ready to bust out onto the international scene. Her new album I Awake Live at Sydney Opera House is out today, and she also released a crazy weird but tremendously awesome video for her heartbreakingly beautiful song “Fool”. As slowly strobed images cross against the screen, you get an unsettling feeling when you catch glimpses of shots of her with no eyes, a melting chin, any uncanny valley horror you can think of. Her smokey torch song voice is the anchor to the whole thing though, washing the eeriness away with beauty and soul. Watch and listen to Sarah Blusko’s “Fool” here:
I was supposed to review String Cheese Incident in Denver for New Year’s Eve, but as is typical in the world of Phish, they started playing too well so we last second booked the last two seats flying out of Denver that morning. We stayed with wonderful friends in Williamsburg who had a view of the Empire Building from their fire escape, and even managed to get tickets for face value (one a shiny glittery lotto ticket!). It was fairly amusing that coming to NYE last second took way less planning and stress than if I had decided to go months ago, but isn’t that always the case? The city streets were absolutely electric with excitement, topped only by what Phish was about to pull off inside. My best moments of the NYE run article was published today at the Westword, read all my gushings here. It’s days later and I still spring little tears of joy and gratitude thinking about that Forbin’s.
I could sit here for a lifetime:
Sometimes you fall in love with a band that has only just begun and has very little material out there. You play those three songs over and over, checking for US tour dates and anticipating their EP release. Yesterday the waiting paid off a little, as they released a video for their new song “Melting”. Their scattered 90’s pop sound is insanely catchy and extremely accessible, at times reminding me of Weezer and Beck but with direct Britpop connotations.
Here is their soundcloud with the other two songs that exist on the internet. Here’s to 2014!
When you see over twenty tracks listed, you think either someone has a lot to say, or they need an editor. Cass McCombs is the former, his sound is so pleasing and easy going he could have recorded a box set and it would have all been listenable. With Mike Gordon of Phish playing bass here and there, the thumping backbone of the rhythm section lets his vocals echo and wisp above it all while remaining strong and direct. “Big Wheel” trucks along strong, a beat similar to “When the Levee Breaks” chugging on as Cass purrs seductively with the slightest sneer. The slide is used to maximum beautiful effect in “Angel Blood”, amazing AM pop hooks that remind me of early Beatles through it and the remainder of the album. Some tracks are more segments of songs, as McCombs seems to be sharing any idea he had at the time, fully formed or not. “Brighter!” appears twice, a melancholy song that sounds like it would have fit in on the Twin Peaks soundtrack, and then having cult actress Karen Black take over the vocals the second time around, giving the song and even eerier turn as her final performance before succumbing to cancer.
“There Can Be Only One” has a very Velvet Underground feel to it with the flat story telling vocal delivery, bouncy bass from Mike Gordon (Go Cactus!) and shimmying drums from Furthur’s Joe Russo sprinkling all over the album. “Name Written on Water” is as close to an homage to Bob Dylan as you can get, the repeating Watchtower sounding rhythm growing stronger and stronger as his snarky delivery questions life. The production on this album is great, warm with a vintage feel that just sounds so damn pleasant. This is one of the better and more prolific songwriters out there right now, and with his galley of talented collaborative friends, there’s no telling the body of work he will create in his lifetime.
“There Can Be Only One” with Mike Gordon:
I posted this song a few weeks ago, the video is out now and it’s gorgeous. When the lace comes off her face, I actually gasped, Anna Fox Rochinski is such a stunner. The whole thing has such a beautiful, sun drenched feel, the lazy day in the park images blending seamlessly with the dreamy tune. This band continues to impress me and hit just the right spot. It helps that the picnic layout looked like it came out of a Free People catalog, who doesn’t love bohemian multi colors.