Light of the Stereo

Light of the Stereo

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tuesday Double Feature: Alialujah Choir "A House A Home" & The Last Bison "Switzerland"

This week's Tuesday Double Feature includes two videos with Fantastical dream like imagery.

Alialujah Choir - "A House A Home"

This Portland Oregon side project is made up of some of the best folk artist this rain soaked city of ours has to offer. Their dreamy organic music is earthy and comforting. Spaciously sparse and boldly arresting the Alialujah Choir create songs that are beautifuly emotional. Celebrating the recent release of their dedut self-titled album we should expect to see more from this great band.  

The Last Bison - "Switzerland"

This Virginia based band combines elements of alternative rock, folk and chamber music to create wonderfully unique arrangements. With the recent release of their latest EP Inheritance on Republic Records The Last Bison are starting to build momentum. Having made an appearance at this years Musicfest NW, we can only hope that they won't be strangers to the Northwest.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

From The Shelf: Alabama Shakes - Boys & Girls (2012)

Alabama Shakes
Boys & Girls
ATO Records

Thank God for Brittany Howard and the Alabama Shakes. The soulful blues ache in her voice almost makes you want to cry. If you're like me and was raised on your parents Motown albums, then listening to their debut LP Boys & Girls is like a sweet memory you didn't even know you had. Occasionally affected by coffee shop impulse buying, this is the first album I've bought at a Starbucks that I didn't regret after three tracks. Filled with some of the most emotionally bold soul music to be played in over four decades this album is a must for anyone that loves Aretha Franklin, Carol King or Otis Redding.

From the aching groove of "Hold On" to the driving build of the closing  track this album is an audio time machine through the history of soul. There's the subtle rocking pew sway of the 50's in the title track "Boys & Girls."  "Rise to the Sun" on the other hand personifies the dancing shake of the heyday of 60's soul, while "I Found You" is the strutting gize and attitude rich flavor of Apollo nights of the politically charged 70's.

Stylistically and emotionally rich this album is amazing from start to finish. It has the three element that make all truly great soul music; Amazing instrumentation, a voice that can knock you to the grounds and faith. If the band can stay true to all three of these  facets then they are sure to be with us for a long while and will find the recognition that they truly deserve.   

Living Room Performance: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit "Danko/Manuel"

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit - "Danko/Manuel"
WorkPlay Birmingham, Alabama
August 17th, 2012

Having launched his career as a songwriting member of the Drive-By Truckers, Jason Isbell has spent the last several years proving his individual greatness as the lead of his own band the 400 Unit. Isbell released his first full-length live album Live From Alabama  just yesterday. So in honor of the occasion we've posted this performance. Enjoy 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tuesday Double Feature: Reckless Ones "Dead & Gone" & The Hillbilly Moon Explosion "My Love Evermore"

This week's Tuesday Double feature feels like it's right out of the Grindhouse Theaters of the 60's and 70's.

Reckless Ones - "Dead & Gone"

This post-apocalyptic video from Minneapolis rockabilly band the Reckless Ones plays like Lance Mungia's Six-String Samurai. This Midwest three piece personifies all that is holy in the rockabilly world: Tattoos, hot-rods and curvacious women worthy of a Petty pin-up calender. Denying the sterile sound of the present these boys wrap themselves in the warm tones of their retro goodness and the world is better for it.

The Hillbilly Moon Explosion - "My Love For Evermore"

Like a David Lynch film this video by Zurich based The Hillbilly Moon Explosion has an off putting high art feel that would make Tarantino jealous. With a brand new album Buy,Beg or Steal filled with the haunting vocals of Emanuela Hutter and the swinging top shelf Americana their known for. This band is expanding it's fan base with leaps and bounds.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cure for the Mondays: Smoochknob "Meet Me Half The Way"

Smoochknob - "Meet Me Half The Way"

Clown-love In Portland, makes a cute video but a scarey internet search.

Home town favorites, Portland's Smoochknob are known for their fun antics. So this humorous little video for the upcoming single off their forthcoming album is no surprise. With any luck we'll be seeing the new album in spring of 2013. Until then, I hope that your Monday doesn't suck too much.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

About Last Night: Two Cow Garage @ Dante's 11/10/12

Last Night Two Cow Garage left everything but a severed limb and the kitchen sink on Dante's stage. For those of us who braved the cold, bore witness to one of the greatest rock shows to roll through Portland in months.

Starting off the night was the blue coller rock of Portland's Truckstop Darlin'. I love the work ethic of this band. There was no messing around. Using every second of their 45 minute slot John Phelan and the boys played every song they could fit. This is how every opening band should be.  Plowing through their set list with a systematic focus Truckstop Darlin' is sure to have please their fans and won some new ones. A perfect introduction into the night, there salt-of-the-earth set lead wonderfully into the aggressively raw performance of fellow Portland favorites I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In The House. 

The boldly aggressive rock'n'Roll of Micheal Dean Dameron and the irreplaceable crew of SOB is some of the best damn music you will ever hear and this goes twice as true live at Dante's where they hold home court advantage.  Last night was a particularly amazing show even as short as an opening slot in a four band line-up. A perfect balance of the flesh pounding force and heartbreaking vulnerability that is SOB at its best, Dameron's gravel raw vocals seemed more poignant than ever. The band was also in rare form, as though re-energized from a long hiatus and chomping at the bit.  The concussive rhythm of Flapjack Texas's no nonsense drumming and the punctuating precision of Mole Harris's bass poured from the stage with a true physical presence. While the playful guitar flairs of Jon Burbank and harp mastery of David Lipkind gave even familiar songs new life.  As the minutes clicked away I have to admit that I felt a little cheated. I could listen to these guys all night but thankfully the best was yet to come.

Like a punk rock machine gun The Copyrights' followed with a rappid-fire delivery that was unrelenting. Undeniably this band has a hand on that great punk rock energy that can spill from a stage a excite an audience. What they don't have is songs that sound different. Their  performance on stage was powerful  and fit wonderfully in the mix of the bands. Unfortunately, half way through their set it felt as thought they were playing one song the whole time. The one redeeming factor of their show was that their no breaks delivery maintained the momentum of the show and spring-boarded the night in to the mind blowing performance of Two Cow Garge.     

And what a performance it was. Bounding across the stage with uncanny punk rock dexterity Shane Sweeney and Micah Schnabel flew about like balls of rock'n'roll fury. It's been a long time since I've seen a performance this unyieldingly powerful. Fueled with an energy formulated from one part small town frustration, one part artistic hunger and a good helping of pure joy to be on a stage in front of a crowd that loved them; there was no stopping these boys. Driving through one song to the next, the crowd howling along the red hewed walls of Dante's never felt this familiar. Near Primal, Two Cow Garage gave there all and we loved every moment of it.
Combined these bands gave one of the best concerts I've seen and reminded us beyond party lines what America is really about.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

From the Shelf: Bridgit Mendler- Hello My Name Is... (2012)

Bridgit Mendler
Hello My Name Is…
Hollywood Records

Bridgit Mendler's new cd Hello My Name Is…, Is great. The song “Postcard” is a tribute to all kids who want to do things that they are teased about, like a guy doing ballet or a girl who wants to play baseball. It is great. My favorite song is “5:15.” It talks about a girl who at 5:15 realizes that she like a guy a lot. The cd is a must have. Bridget Mendler is a great singer she has a spunky energy that comes through in her songs. I think she is a better singer than actress, even though she is a super great actress. You need to listen to some of these songs or even the whole cd.

*This CD Review was writen by my daughter Cassidy. She was very proud of  her first CD review and I am very proud of her for writing it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tuesday Double Feature: The Right Now "He Use To Be"& Leela James "Something's Got A Hold On Me"

I'm a fan of all kinds of eclectic styles of music, but having grown up on my father's Motown vinyl, soul holds a special place in my heart. So, this week's Tuesday Double Feature recognizes the rich new voices of the next generation of soul.    

The Right Now - "He Use To Be"

The warm grooving swing of The Right Now has all the heart filled power of 70's styled soul. Belting out her lyrics with a gigantic voice that can rattle you to the core, Stefanie Berecz will easily find her way into the pantheon of soul's matriarchal hierarchy someday very soon. Make sure you check out their dark new album Gets Over You and start praying that they make it to the west coast sometime next year.

Leela James -"Something's Got A Hold On Me"

Covering the likes of Etta James, you can be certain that this soul sister knows her stuff. Wielding lusciously bold vocals and the confidence of soul divas of old,  Leela James is the real deal and all business. It's her ability to harness the past and use it to create presently relevant music that makes this songstress and the art she's creating so poignant.  

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Living Room Performance: Two Cow Garage "American Static"

Two Cow Garage - "American Static"

Ohio based Two Cow Garage is, in my opinion, making some of the best working class rock'n'roll on the road today. Powerful in both delivery and content these boys are due for a breakout.

Luckily those of us in Portland get the opportunity to see them tonight at Dante's. So here's a little preview of what we have in store.

From the Shelf: Cory Branan - Mutt (2012)

Cory Branan
Bloodshot Records

Somewhere between the highway spirit of Bruce Springsteen and the drunken melancholy of Tom Waites the latest album by Cory Branan is rich with his tell-tail honesty and blatant creativity. It's been five years since his last album  and the time has left it's mark. Delivered in his raw smokey voice, these songs remind you why it's worth the wait. With moments of experimentation, Branan's 3rd full-length LP finds him expanding his instrumental canvas, revealing a broader array of musical influences.  Mutt showcases an evolved singer who has emerged from the chrysalis of a guitar wielding troubadour into a complex musical architect.
Lyrically, their is nothing subtle about these songs. From the opening "Croner" Branan peels back the ragged facade of life to reveal the tragic and wonderful. Thankfully though, not without the tongue-in-cheek wittiness he's known for. This album, like his others, is filled with some of the most ingenious lyricism and blatantly emotional honesty currently set to music. Effectively reaffirming his place as a king among songwriters, Mutt is another jewel to place securly in his crown.

Musically this album ranges from the tender country serenade of "Darken My Door" to the rocking power house of "Survivor Blues" while hitting all the tempos in-between. Some unique highlights include the Waits inspired gypsy jazz of "Snowman" and the contrasting translations of "Survivor Blues" that exist so independently of each other that it lacks the repetitiveness that you would usually expect. In all this album is a wonderfully fun ride on an auditory roller-coaster of tempo and instrumentation
Being a fan of Cory Branan is like being in a long distance relationship, you learn to appreciate the quality of his material verses the quantity. I should know, I've been writing about music for ten years and Branan's The Hell You Say was one of the first albums that I reviewedMutt certainly is the highest of quality.  Hopefully it won't have to hold us over for another 5 years, but I'm sure that, if need be, it most definitely will. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

10 Questions: Patterson Hood

Patterson Hood, the curly locked half of the Drive-By Truckers is known for his storytelling so it was no surprised when he sat down to write a book and ended up with his most personal album to date : Heat Lightning Rumbles In The Distance. Between his consummate touring and busy schedule he graciously took some time to answer some questions. 
BLS: Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance is your 3rd solo album. How does it differentiate musically from solo albums you’ve made in the past?

PH: It's the most personal and intimate album I've ever made.

BLS: Your father David Hood played Bass on the album. How did the family connections effect the creation of the album? What were you able to draw on from his years as a Muscle Shoals session ace?

PH: My dad is a consummate musician and a sweetheart of a guy. I'm very lucky in the Dad department. He definitely brought his A game to the studio for his sessions on this album. His playing on the title cut is one of my favorite things I've ever been a part of.

BLS: You have said that this is your most autobiographical album to date, with songs derived from two specific periods of your life. Did you find it was easier or harder to write more personal songs?

PH: I don't know generally. I just write what occurs to me and usually don't realize what it all is about until after the fact. These songs came really fast and easy, probably the fastest I've ever written an album so I must have been inspired, but I have no idea why this album occurred at this moment in time. I'm sure glad it did though.

BLS: I’ve read that this album developed out of a rerouted book writing project. Are there any writers that you admire and have inspired your writing whether in prose and songwriting?

PH: Way too many to list. I'm obsessed with great writing and always reading and listening. Right now I'm really loving the Father John Misty album (Fear Fun). I think his writing is fantastic. What a great wit. I'm reading "Reading My Father" by Alexandria Styron. She is a really fine writer and daughter of William Styron who wrote "Darkness Visible" and "Sophie's Choice".

BLS: On this album you co-wrote a song with Kelly Hogan. How was your experience working with her? What insights did her feminine view point lend to the songwriting process?

PH: Kelly is one of my favorite people and one of the greatest singers in the world today. She is also a very underrated writer. Her lyrics on "Come Back Little Star" are among my favorite lines on my album. I always love and welcome a feminine point of view. I just love smart and funny people, whether they happen to be male or female.

BLS: Like George Jones, you dabbled with a spoken word format for the song (Untitled Pretties). What was it about this song that made you decide to use this format?

PH: That was an accident. It was originally supposed to be an instrumental song but it was inspired by a very short chapter I had written for my aborted book project. At last minute, I had the idea to read the chapter over the music and it synched up like it was always meant to be that way. I guess it was. I always love and welcome the happy accident when making a record.

BLS: You have described DBT as a Noir band. Do you feel that your solo work is as emotionally dark or is it driven by a different emotional battery?

PH: There is obviously always a lot of darkness in my music, but I also consider it to be cathartic in the same way that the blues was considered cathartic to the people who played it, listened to it, danced and fucked to it. I actually think of this album as very uplifting, especially at the end. It may come from and visit some dark places, but I consider it very hopeful. It at least makes peace with it's demons and is a tale of survival and pushing though the darkness and finding joy in the things that are important.

BLS: With touring in support of Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance, how does the live experience differ from DBT shows?

PH: This is a very different type of show. I love the DBT show with it's wild abandon and cathartic uplift and big sweaty anthems, but this is a very beautiful and cathartic show, it just achieves it in a very different way. I love this band. The harmonies are beautiful and I love all of the piano and cello. I would very much like to continue doing both shows for a very long time.

BLS: Everyone likes to fantasize about the life of a rock star, but the reality is sure to be a whole different beast. In your experience what is the hardest thing about the day to day grind of being a professional musician?

PH: It's a very hard life and you get tired and homesick, but it's also wonderful. I get to see the world and meet all kinds of people and get to play the show, which I always look forward to and still love as much, all of these years later, as I did when I was a teenager.

BLS: What is the name of 5 bands you love but few people have heard of?

PH: As I mentioned earlier, I'm loving that Father John Misty album (Fear Fun).
The War on Drugs is one of my faves right now.
There'a a great band from Athens called Bloodkin, that has been together for over 25 years. They write great songs.
Centro-matic has long been my favorite band in the world. They should be selling out arenas.
The band I'm touring with right now, Hope For Agoldensummer is fantastic. Page and Claire Campbell sing those incredible sister harmonies, write great songs and have some of the best stage banter ever.

From The Shelf: Patterson Hood - Heat Lightning Rumbles In The Distance (2012)

Patterson Hood
Heat Lightning Rumbles In The Distance
ATO Records

With an album title like a Charles Bukowski poem, Patterson Hood has produced his most emotionally honest record to date in Heat Lightning Rumbles In The Distance. Using his amazing storytelling skills to finally share his own story, this record holds some of the most personal songs we've ever heard from Hood.  Melding together, the songs on this album reveals the uneven journey to manhood.  Told through lyrics that  hold the same detailed mastery that we have grown to expect from Patterson Hood. Heat Lightning is ripe with potent characters and vividly emotional moods. Coming off like the passages of a great novel, this record leaves you with a deeper respect and simpathy for Hood as an artist as well as a human being.

As usual, the musical soundness of this album is unquestionable. In addition to some of the usual contributors like Mike Cooley, Brad Morgan and David Barde this album features appearances by other talented artists including Kelly Hogan and Patterson's father and well known Muscle Shoals session bassist David Hood.  Ranging from the sparse George Jones styled "untold pretties' to the short but driving energy of "Better Off Without" the emotional landscape of this album mimics the ups and downs of it's subject mater.

Patterson Hood has truly topped himself with this album. Once again joining the best of lyrics and music to create an unforgettable album that you'll want to place in heavy rotation.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Quick Pick: Saturday, November 10th

Saturday, November 10th
Two Cow Garage
Truckstop Darlin' / The Copyrights / I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch in the House
350 W Burnside
Doors: 8PM /Show: 9PM
Adv.: $10 /Day Of: $10
21 & Over

With a line-up of some of the greatest working class rock bands in America, this might in fact be one of the best concerts of the fall, if not the year.
Topping the bill is the awesome talent of Ohio based Two Cow Garage. With the lyrical soul of Springsteen and the punk rock heart of Fugazi these boys have been making some of the most honest rock' n 'roll on the road today. What the Black Keys have done with electrified broken blues, these boys have done with Midwest blue-collar rock' n 'roll and deserve as much credit and attention. If this band isn't already on your radar than here's your chance to catch then at their best.
Filled out the rest of the bill is some of Portland's own amazing working class bands including the labor-worn lyricism of Turckstop Darlin' and the hard rocking power of  I Can Lick Any Sonfoabitch in the House which in my opinion is easily the greatest undiscovered talents in the US today.
Don't miss this show. It's been a long time since I've seen a lineup that paired bands this successfully and is sure to make the show unforgettable. So leave your post election worries at home and come out and see what the real America is all about.     

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tuesday Double Feature: The Pierces "Sticks & Stones" & The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band "Devils Look Like Angels"

With the spirit of Halloween still in the air, this weeks Tuesday Double Feature is a little on the fun and creepy side. Enjoy, and I hope you had a chance to vote, cause there's nothing scarier than politics.

The Pierces - "Sticks & Stones"

This sister duo has the rich sound of the 70's coursing through their music. Somehow seeming to have mixed the class and country of June Carter Cash with the powerful rock to early Heart, The Pierces have revived the bold power of the era without the cheesiness of nostalgia. Having toured this last year with Coldplay this band is sure to be household name in no time.

The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band - "Devils Look Like Angels"

Heralding from southern Indiana, Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band plays a wonderfully rough delta style blues tinged with a spry hillbilly accent. Their latest album Between the Ditches is ripe with the lovely gravel vocals and the kind of crossroad blues that will make a honest man sin. We've been lucky to have the band swing through Portland twice in the past few months and I hope that trend continues.