Monthly Archives: June 2013

WILLIE NILE – American Ride

Album: American Ride

Artist: Willie Nile

Label: Loud & Proud

Release Date: June 25, 2013

Willie Nile


With American Ride, Willie Nile ascends to the uppermost tier of the most revered American musicians and esteemed populist pundits, an elite and exclusive circle of venerable troubadours whose numbers include Springsteen, Dylan, Fogerty, Petty and Mellencamp. Truth be told, Nile earned that status decades ago — some 33 years previous in fact — when he was wooed by major record companies in response to an exceptional early promise. But now, long after the luster of a music label association vanished, he still proves his worthiness, not by falling back on earlier glories, but rather by plowing forward with songs that enhance and expand those seminal efforts while remaining true to his muse.

While recent albums – Streets of New York, House of a Thousand Guitars, et al — have positioned him at that peak, American Ride emerges as his signature statement of sorts, a rollicking, robust rallying cry of anthemic proportions. It’s not only a celebration of his native New York, but rather, more precisely, a salute to those who prosper and persevere on the mean streets of Manhattan. At their core, these are songs of sheer celebration and tenacity, be it the rousing, riveting, fist-pumping, air guitar-flailing shout-out of “This Is Our Time,” If Ever I See the Light,” and “Say Hey,” or the quiet and contemplative musings of “The Crossing” and “There’s No Place Like Home.”

Even a presumptive ode to the dearly departed, Nile’s irrepressible take on Jim Carroll’s “People Who Died,” helps maintain this determined delivery, given that it’s an unabashed ode to heroism, humanity and commitment. Ultimately American Ride resounds like a victory cry – urgent, enduring and unfailingly affecting.

DOWNLOAD: “This Is Our Time,” “There’s No Place Like Home,” “Say Hey”


CHEYENNE MIZE – Among the Grey

Album: Among the Grey

Artist: Cheyenne Mize

Label: Yep Roc

Release Date: June 25, 2013

Cheynene Mize


Over the course of her three albums and an initial 10” EP, Cheyenne Mize has come to define herself in various ways – an introspective chanteuse, a pop pundit and a meditative siren that mixes her musical references with a certain apparent ease. With #Among the Grey#, Mize attempts to offer some clarity by identifying some of its songs in decidedly distinctive ways, whether it’s the churning underbelly of the tense and tentative “Through the Window Pane,” the cosmic cascade of “Raymaker,” or the ominous vibe of “Give It All.”

Ultimately though, Among the Grey is still mired in… well… several shades of gray, so that when certain songs dissipate as a casual drift, it becomes all the more difficult to glean a more emphatic impression. It’s left then to the more visceral entries – “Give It All,” “Wouldn’t Go Back” and “As It Comes” — to ensure Mize makes her mark. As it is, she can lay claim to being a desirable diva, equally adept at wielding an apparent sneer or a mellow groove.

DOWNLOAD: “Give It All,” “Wouldn’t Go Back,” “As It Comes”

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Dual Form / THE CYCLIST – Bones in Motion

Album: Dual Form / Bones in Motion

Artist: Various Artists / The Cyclist

Label: Leaving-Stones Throw

Release Date: June 04, 2013

Dual Form /


If you were to have told me 7 years ago as I was about to send my heaping Glad bag of old cassettes to the local Goodwill to hold off on giving them up for charity because they will be a hot commodity in 2013, I would’ve laughed in your face on my way to the cashier for my tax exemption form.

But lo and beholden, tapes are quickly becoming the new vinyl, evident in the way young labels are offering their releases in the once-archaic format. And leading the charge is Leaving Records, launched in 2009 by abstract Los Angeles beatsmith Matthewdavid and his designer girlfriend Jessellisa Moretti. Dual Form is the quintessential idiot’s guide to this most adventurous endeavor while simultaneously celebrating the micro label’s new partnership with Los Angeles abstract groove merchants Stones Throw.

This intriguing and at times puzzling collection is custom made to extrapolate the diverse tastes of Leaving’s curators, filled with names both known to many (Odd Nosdam, Sun Araw, DNTEL) and an elite few (dak, Run DMT, Trance Farmers), but ultimately indicative of Matthewdavid and Moretti’s itch for the abstract and experimental in modern creative beat music. In many ways, Dual Form is the electronic underground’s equivalent to Brian Eno’s No New York, offering its listeners an advanced education on sounds they might not have previously dug beforehand.

And who better to emerge from the launchpad of this compilation than The Cyclist, a young man from Liverpool, England, whose concepts about dance are as diverse as the pop crafted by his former townsmen The Beatles 50 years ago. For his full-length debut Bones In Motion, the 19-year-old producer takes the concept of mindless house music and smashes it into shards of fractured rhythms that toys with the repetition of techno like the wobbly wheel of a mountain bike going full speed down a steep hill, as kinetic cuts like “Feel Beauty” and “Sleeping” can attest.

Indeed, it will be most interesting and exciting to see what other sonic spawn the marriage of these two intrepid imprints will bring forth to the listening public. Well, at least those with an open mind.

DOWNLOAD: From Dual Form: “Windy Windy” (DNTEL), “Sisters” (Odd Nosdam), “Purple Hay” (Trance Farmers)/From Bones in Motion: “Feel Beauty”, “Bones in Motion”, “Sleeping”


Album: Time Off

Artist: Steve Gunn

Label: Paradise of Bachelors

Release Date: June 18, 2013

Steve Gunn


A buddy of late guitarist Jack Rose, Steve Gunn has similar experience as an improviser, band member and gun-for-hire. Time Off presents him not only as guitar slinger, but also as a singer and songwriter. Gunn proffers the kind of simultaneously abstract and concrete melodies as contemporaries like Glenn Jones, James Blackshaw and Rose, but adds a rhythm section, lyrics and his own lightly toned vocal chords for a hypnotic atmosphere that’s almost mystical. “Water Wheel” and “Lurker” stride like giants in the mist, offering substantial weight, but only if you watch them out of the corner of your eye. The blues acts as an anchor for “New Decline” and the Rose-inspired “Old Strange” while keeping the improvisatory acid folk aftertaste. The latter is especially choice, resembling John Martyn if accompanied by Ali Farka Touré. “Trailways Ramble” zips up the lips for a mesmerizing journey through open-tuned psych folk drones. Time Off takes its time getting where it’s going, but deftly reaches its destination.

DOWNLOAD: “Old Strange,” “Water Wheel,” “Trailways Ramble”

EDDIE SPAGHETTI – The Value of Nothing

Album: The Value of Nothing

Artist: Eddie Spaghetti

Label: Bloodshot

Release Date: June 18, 2013

Eddie S


Four albums on, Mr. Spaghetti remains as irascible as ever, and while his day job with the Supersuckers would seem to offer ample opportunity to vet rowdier rebukes, his solo efforts suggest he has plenty of outrage to rail on about. Of course, part of Eddie’s charm lies in the fact that he wields that pissed off perspective proudly, and with song titles like “People Are Shit,” “Fuckin’ With My Head” and “If Anyone’s Got the Balls,” he’s apparently compounded his complaints.

His rambunctious attitude may translate as a sneer or a swagger, but regardless, that insurgent sentiment casts a wide net in terms of what it targets. Nevertheless, it’s easy to get swept up in his snarky tirades, partially because the frustrations he sings about are also issues plenty of people can relate to these days. Yet, while most of the album is buried in bluster, the most telling song is the ballad that serves as its final coda. Consequently, “When I Go, I’m Gone” offers a rare respite, with the normally saucy Spaghetti reflecting on his life and legacy. It’s an uncommon instance of serious rumination, a tender moment in the midst of otherwise cynical circumstance.

DOWNLOAD: “Fuckin’ With My Head,” “When I Go, I’m Gone,” “If Anyone’s Got the Balls”

Outlaw: Waylon, Willie, Kris and the Renegades of Nashville, by Michael Streissguth

Title: Outlaw: Waylon, Willie, Kris and the Renegades of Nashville

Author: Michael Streissguth

Publisher: It Books

Publication Date: June 04, 2013



Nashville in the late ‘60s was the closest thing the music world had to Henry Ford’s assembly line, though with more Nudie Suits. Run with an efficiency even the Mob could respect, a handful of labels, publishers and producers all inbred together lined music row southwest of downtown Nashville and ensured that just about every record that came out of the region had the same syrupy backing vocals and distracting string arrangements (with the big exception of those by legendary badass and rule breaker Johnny Cash). And that formula was to remain undisturbed until a trio of Texas rebels came to town.

Outlaw, from longtime music author (best known for 2006’s Johnny Cash: The Biography) focuses on the period in the early-to-late ‘70s when Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson, among a few others, stopped into Nashville and temporarily broke the template leading to the phenomenally successful and highly influential Outlaw country movement (heard now in everyone from Lucero and The Old 97s to Steve Earle and Jamey Johnson). It’s important to note that this new breed of rebels were helped along by Cash.  

During his stint in Nashville, Nelson, signed to RCA, was much more successful as a songwriter. Sick of being forced to record in the same studio with the same producers and not allowed to use his own backing band, in 1972 Willie said “fuck it,” moved back to Austin, grew his hair out, took up smoking weed and started a musical revolution that is still going strong today. Kristofferson, the Rhodes Scholar, ex-Air Force, part-time helicopter pilot and full-time poet, was much more successful as a songwriter and eventually decided to cash in on his good looks in LA. Jennings, despite being close to Willie and Kristofferson, had better luck staying put in Nashville. But his rebellious streak, and the success his buddy was having in the Lone Star State, worked to wear down his label, which eventually loosened up on the reins.

Outlaw strikes a beautiful balance between being a well-researched study of the scene at the time and a collection of holy-shit-you-should-have-been-there anecdotes. Much like his earlier efforts, Streissguth’s tone reads almost like page-turning fiction. A great textbook for the birth of a genre.


BATS – Free All The Monsters

Album: Free All the Monsters

Artist: Bats

Label: Flying Nun

Release Date: June 18, 2013



Recently re-released (sans bonus tracks, unfortunately) 2011’s Free All The Monsters offers belated opportunity to discover Christchurch New Zealand’s favorite sons. By all rights, getting reacquainted ought not be necessary, given the fact that the Bats have been around more than 30 years, albeit garnering substantially less acclaim than ought to have been their due.

Regardless, the general consensus among critics and admirers alike is that Free All The Monsters represents the pinnacle of their recording career, the best possible collusion of jangly instrumental prowess and smart, enticing melodies. Any one of these songs might provide an effective introduction, be it through the earnest strum of “Long Halls,” “Spacejunk” and “In the Subway,” the uplifting sentiments of “See Right Through Me” or the billowy harmonies that adorn “It’s Not the Same.” Equal parts idyllic outlook and psychedelic suggestion, Free All The Monsters stands out as an album worthy of ongoing appreciation. Now, given opportunity for reconnection, it will hopefully get belated love after all.

DOWNLOAD: “Long Halls,” “It’s Not the Same,” “See Right Through Me”

THE BRILLIANT CORNERS – Heart on Your Sleeve: A Decade in Pop 1983-1993

Album: Heart on Your Sleeve: A Decade in Pop 1983-1993

Artist: Brilliant Corners

Label: Cherry Red

Release Date: June 18, 2013

Brilliant Corners


If you weren’t familiar with Bristol, England’s ‘80s indie pop band The Brilliant Corners then after you hear this 2-cd/48 song comp you certainly will be.  While they weren’t as well known as some of their contemporaries that doesn’t mean this quartet didn’t have talent and a batch of terrific songs. The band, which took its name from a Thelonius Monk record, issued ten singles and five albums in their decade-long career (plus was on a ton of compilations).  Though the band is primarily known in indie pop corners early in their career their sounded added elements of  psychobilly and straight rock while later cuts were more of the jangly variety and later still, towards the end of their career, a tad noisier.  Leader  Davey Woodward was an underrated songwriter (with a unique voice) to be sure and one listen to Heart on Your Sleeve will have you wondering, “How have I not heard this band before?!”

Early cuts like “Black Water” “Big Hip” have an almost tribal beat to them while later cuts like “Brian Rix” and “Trudy is a Squeel” add lovely touches of jangle (the latter much fuzzier). These particular songs are all on disc one which adds some unreleased demos as well as some alternate versions. The twenty three songs on disc two continues on with their quirky songs of pastiche (opener “Teenage” is a classic, reminding me a bit of the June Brides) while the end of the disc tacks on six live cuts. A treasure trove of music here, especially for the uninitiated and Woodward himself adds the informative liner notes.

Side note: the band is reforming and playing a gig in the U.K. this month as part of Cherry Reds’ Scared to Get Happy festival!

DOWNLOAD:  “She’s Got Fever,” “Black Water,” “The Funniest Thing,” “Brian Rix,” “Teenage,” “Shangri-La,” “White Gates”


Father John Misty + Pure Bathing Culture 6/18/13, Denver CO

Dates: June 18, 2013

Location: Gothic Theatre, Denver CO

Father John Misty


This show was supposed to be at the Ogden Theatre but got moved to the slightly smaller Gothic (a fact that Father John Misty made light of during his set). I didn’t mind, the Gothic is closer to my house and easier to find parking. I also didn’t mind the 8 pm start time (doors were at 7 pm) as I’m on the older side and need all of the beauty sleep I can get, ya’ dig?

I had only heard Pure Bathing Culture’s debut cd like a week ago for the first time but their catchy tunes made enough of an impression on me to want to catch this mid-week gig. I wasn’t sure how they were going to pull it off , the core of the band is guitarist Daniel Hindman and vocalist Sarah Versprilles. but live they were a four piece with guitar/bass/drums and Versprilles also played the keyboard  (there was also a smoke machine going on stage but I think this is just a Gothic thing and not a P.B.C. thing. The band has a swoony, organic melodic sound, think a bit Cocteau Twins mixed with more recent acts like Beach House and even a bit of Denver’s own Tennis (mainly in the vocals). Pop nuggets like single “Pendulum” and “Dream the Dare” both sounded gorgeous live and yes, I’m proud to say the band pulled it off on stage.

I’m almost embarrassed to say I was going to leave before hearing Father John Misty’s set. I hadn’t heard any of his music before (only his work with Fleet Foxes and some of his solo stuff, under his own name, J (Josh) Tillman) but decided to hang for a few songs, which ended up being nearly the whole set. Leaving would have been a mistake as this guy and his band were flat-out terrific. It also must be said that if this music thing doesn’t work out Tillman could easily have a career in stand-up comedy, the guy is hilarious. Making light of the show being moved to the smaller Gothic he quipped, “We couldn’t sell-out the Ogden so they moved us here. I know……all we have in this crowd is criminals, folks from nursing home. Oh, and those of you trying to seek refuge from the impeding tornado (earlier in the day there was a tornado at the Denver Airport). “

The set consisted of stuff mostly from last year’s Fear Fun (Sub Pop) and while his band was great, (2 guitarists, a bassist, drummer and a keyboardist) it was the long, tall Tillman who stole the show. Snaking and slithering across the stage, dropping to his knees, throwing his arm across his forehead and feigning  and number of emotions with tongue firmly planted in cheek (think Jim Morrison meets Mark Kozelek meets Neil Diamond). Cuts like “Funtimes in Babylon” and “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” were real charmers which the nearly sold-out crowd ate up (I didn’t realize just how popular this guy is).If this guy and his band come to your town, do whatever needs to be done and if that means knocking over old ladies or young children in a mad rush to get tickets, well, by all means do it.

THE BEACH BOYS – The Beach Boys 50: Live In Concert

Title: The Beach Boys 50: Live In Concert

Director: Marc Bennett & Joe Thomas

Release Date: November 13, 2012

Beach Boys Live DVD


 There’s a familiar showbiz axiom that says something to the effect of “always leave your audience wanting more.” For all their years in the spotlight however, the Beach Boys don’t seem to take notice. Indeed, with all the hype and hoopla surrounding last year’s 50th anniversary tour, the band might have actually overstayed their welcome had Mike Love not abruptly pulled the plug. Nevertheless, the Beach Boys have always been mostly about memories and nostalgia, so it’s fitting that this concert DVD provides a good-natured souvenir of the band’s final fling.

It won’t be the last word on the subject — an ultimate anthology promising a wealth of unreleased material is due later this summer — but it may well be the only remaining opportunity to relive the reunion. Truth be told, it ‘s the supporting musicians — most of whom belong to the group called the Wondermints, the same outfit who support Brian Wilson’s solo ventures both onstage and in the studio — who did all the heavy lifting, filling in every note and nuance generated by the albums. Likewise, with the exception of David Marks, who provides some wonderful riffing, the original quintet’s instrumental contributions are mostly negligible. Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston offer only perfunctory performances on their instruments,  and suspiciously, there’s next to no shots of Brian actually playing his piano. Yet, that’s more than made up for by the army of guitars, keyboards and percussion utilised by the backing musicians. Even those famous Beach Boys harmonies are so overly augmented, it’s hard to know how much the core members actually add to the mix.

That’s one reason why it sometimes seems they’re only going through the motions, and that all the onstage enthusiasm is being shared solely by the boys behind them. Love slithers and poses as he always tends to do, Johnston and Jardine do their best to egg the audience on, and even the close-ups of a typically catatonic looking Brian make it hard to distinguish a smile from a grimace. Happily, no one in the crowd seems to mind, and indeed, there are ample shots of the ageing audience dancing, grooving and generally soaking up every song. And no wonder; plenty of hits are included — from “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “I Get Around” and the aptly-titled “Do It Again,” through the progressive era of “Heroes and Villains” and “Good Vibrations,” and finally on to the later phase of “Kokomo” and “That’s Why God Made the Radio,” 21 tunes in all. In the end though, it’s the sum total of that sound that counts.

 No bonus features, no behind the scenes glances — The Beach Boys 50: Live In Concert offers just over an hour and fifteen minutes documenting a moment in time, as it was but may never be again. For the truly devoted, that seems to be all that’s needed.