Posted by flotz on Tuesday, June 19, 2012 | Video

Can’t stop listening to this record. In fact, have gone and retroactively bought all the Field Music out there and am hooked.  Their early work holds up and their last record, Measure, is amazing. Don’t know how these guys were not on my radar so long. They embody the avant pop aesthetic written about before on this blog.  At once compositionally intricate and melodically seductive.  Crazy time signatures that lock into hypnotic grooves.  And the production is money. Drum sounds are tight; guitar sounds are glorious. Can’t recommend this band enough. Keep playing their records and discovering something new. Ranges of emotion plus weird “field music” moments of recorded sounds in the streets. Mixed with orchestral moments. Love em. Hoping desperately for a US tour.

Posted by flotz on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 | Live Review

Bettye Lavette mesmerizing last night, living up to her billing as “emotionally charged soul maven.”  At 66, she commanded the stage with such warmth, wit and verve, not to mention a vocal delivery capable of eliciting chills and tears. She would bend notes, deliver lines with weird flourishes, and generally own every word, every syllable.  Captivating to watch on stage as she danced and gesticulated, performing, aware of her presence. And, when she wanted to emote, she could just rip yr heart out.

If you aren’t familiar with her repertoire, it’s about the interpretation of classic rock, lots of British invasion tunes, others as well.   She’s straight up about it, saying at one point (to the mostly white boomer crowd) “These were the songs of your youth, but they were a nemesis to me. When they started to get popular in the sixties, it was the death of black music on the radio. The Supremes barely survived.”  But interestingly, this project of hers has been the resurgence of her career, leading to two grammy nominated records, which she enjoyed pointing out.  She played four tunes by the fab four, starting out her set with a Beatles song, “The Word” from Rubber Soul.  Also, “Blackbird” from The White Album, “Isn’t It A Pity” by George Harrison from All Things Must Pass and “It Don’t Come Easy” by Ringo Starr (which was released as a single in 1971). Another one of her great quips: all these songs were written by white boys who were high, now they’re being sung by a black woman whose drunk.

Other tunes she destroyed included “Heart of Gold” by Neil Young, “Love Reign O’er Me” by Pete Townshend, “Joy” by Lucinda Williams and “Your Time To Cry” by Joe Simon. She closed with one of her own tunes, “Got My Own Hell To Raise” exiting stage right to a standing ovation while the band still played, and then re-emerged, still singing on the remote mic, then the band exiting and she closed with a bone chilling acapella song.

Speaking of the band, they were of course amazing, so restrained, never over playing, tight as hell, always subservient to what the song needed, bringing out the compositions. Guitarist played some sweet ebow on “Isn’t It A Pity” and had many moments of glory on a Fender Strat through a Twin Reverb.

She’s playing again tonight – definitely worth seeing someone who truly is a soul diva legend.

Posted by flotz on Friday, April 13, 2012 | Live Review

Caught Thomas Marriott at Tula's. Exquisite set with top notch players. Marc Searles on the keys was golden. Had a killer sound with delay and sustain, provided this deep layer underneath everything.  Sometimes he'd have one hand on the keyboard and one hand on the grand piano.  So tasteful. That's a good word for the quartet overall.  The sounds Marriott coaxes out of his trumpet and flugal horn are rich and melodic. Bassist Jeff Johnson and D’Vonne Lewis on drums never overplayed, but kept it cookin.  Cool to hear some new tunes; you could sense the band was exploring them for the first time -- Marriott would play the head, take a solo, and then sit down and listen to what the band did with his composition. 

Posted by flotz on Monday, April 2, 2012 | Live Review

Kelly Hogan fantastic at The Triple Door. Something so likeable about Hogan, find yrself rootin for her.  She’s got this endearing combo of sweet and sassy. Her new record (out in June) is comprised of songs written for her by other people: Vic Chesnutt, the Magnetic Fields, Andrew Bird, M. Ward, Jon Langford of the Mekons, Catherine Irwin of Freakwater, the Handsome Family, Robyn Hitchcock, Gabriel Roth of the Dap-Kings/Daptone Records, and others.

She played a bunch these, including the Hitchcock tune, “I Like To Keep Myself In Pain”, awesome, with gnarly key changes and great lyrics. Hogan joked about it being “I Like To Keep Myself In Bread” as the French version.  Wonder about the Hitchcock/Hogan connection cause the Jody Grind (awesome band of Hogan’s from the 90s) opened up for him in 1990. 

She sang the M. Ward song, “Daddy’s Little Girl,” about Sinatra, clever tune with line “some men need a woman to love them; he needed the world to love him." She sang one of her own tunes which she wrote for Neko Case called “Golden.”  Also did a Vic Chesnutt song, “Way of this World” which she called the southern Marlene Dietrich ballad – it was minor and gave space for Hogan to show her vocal prowess.  Her vocal range and timbre are wide; she’ll sometimes get all raspy, sometimes be clear as a bell, and lots in between.  “Slumber’s Sympathy” by Gabriel Roth was pretty, more heartbreak.  She did a couple songs by Magnetic Fields, including “Papa Was a Rodeo” from her record Beneath the Country Undergod. The mirror ball came on for it appropriately and Puddles from the opening band joined her and gave a Johnny Cash baritone treatment to the chorus.

For the entirety of the set, she was accompanied by a guitarist, Chris Scruggs, who switched between acoustic and a Tele straight into a Fender Twin Reverb, no pedals at all, some tasty licks he pulled off here and there,  and a bassist, Casey McDonald (sp?) who also played piano and sang some harmony. Great show. The background lighting of the stage at The Triple Door was trippy as usual.  Here’s an interview with her by The Stranger:

Posted by flotz on Sunday, March 11, 2012 | Album Review

A behemoth at 73 songs. A lotta meh, a few stinkers by luminous egos and a few gems.  Overall, kept thinking that the best person who covers Bob Dylan songs is Bob Dylan.  I’d rather hear Dylan’s garbled, twisted rendition of “Like A Rolling Stone” than Jeff Beck’s bloated turd.    Also, no Robyn Hitchcock? What a diss. 

The gems:

  • Johnny Cash – “One Too Many Mornings” Not sure which Cash era this is from, but this cover is golden.  A tough act to follow as the first song on the collection. Hard to follow the man in black.
  • Billy Bragg – “Lay Down Your Weary Tune” What a great song. Bragg does it justice with a simple arrangement and a humble, strong delivery
  • Miley Cyrus – “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” Give the Nashville machine credit on this one. Gotta say it sounds great!
  • Bettye LaVette – “Most of the Time” Wow.  Everybody playing on the tune is holding back, barely making the beat.  Guitarist sounds sweet with Fender vibrato and LaVette just imbues every line with soul.
  • Pete Seeger – “Forever Young” Awesome!  With a choir of kids in the back and Seeger delivering the lyrics like a homily.
  • Sugarland – “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You” Rousing version of this tune, cool interpretation.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Patti Smith – “Drifter’s Escape” Totally appropriate pick for Patti. Such a monotone song, so arty as it were.
  • Joan Baez – “Seven Curses” Again, perfect pick.
  • Bryan Ferry – “Bob Dylan’s Dream” Cool synth arrangement of a somewhat obscure tune
  • Silver Sun Pickups – “Not Dark Yet” Bold pick and they (almost) do it justice
  • We Are Augustines – “Mama, You Been On My Mind” A great tune and they render it with heartfelt tunefulness
  • Angélique Kidjo – “Lay Lady Lay” Really weird interpretation and cool hearing women belt out some of those great lines

The stinkers

  • Pete Townshend – It’s like Pete trying to sound like Bob. Eek.
  • Kei$ha – No one should every let her sing a cappella. Never ever again may this be allowed to happen.
  • Lenny Kravitz – Stop yrself.
  • Carly Simon – As soon as she hit the line “makes love like a woman” had to skip