Posts Tagged music review

music review: The Lone Bellow

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If asked about my musical tastes I gravitate mostly toward darker, goth female artists but have a soft spot for the flannel boys of Americana –bands like The Avett Brothers and Band of Horses. Sometimes I dig those rootsier beats. The Lone Bellow album Walk Into a Storm has me swaying and swooning in my Doc Martens. Note to self: find some flannel shirts at Goodwill. Maybe bring back my 90s wardrobe of flannel and jean shorts with tights. There are plenty of heartfelt and poignant songs on this album enveloping you in a big auditory hug. Things are tough. Despite challenges and adversities we’ll be okay if we stick together. And the power of music can lift our spirits and open our hearts. The opening track swiftly draws you in and digs deep. It’s moving, particularly with Kanene Pipkin joining Zachary Williams on the chorus. I particularly like these lyrics: “I’ve got no sickness/ Got no disease/ Except for the heart inside of me.”  The song “Is It Ever Gonna Be Easy” reminds me a bit of Chris Robinson Brotherhood both in twangy guitar and earthy vibes.  “May You May Well” is a hopeful meditative song. There’s an aching beauty to “Come Break My Heart Again” with Williams singing: “Come break my heart again/ So I can feel it /I think you need it/ I know you mean it…” A swaying and feverish beat anchors “Time’s Always Leaving.”

The Lone Bellow’s third studio album, Walk Into A Storm [Descendant Records/Sony Music Masterworks] was produced by Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell) and recorded in Nashville, Tenn. It will be released September 15, 2017.

WALK INTO A STORM TRACK LISTING:

  1. Deeper In The Water
  2. Is It Ever Gonna Be Easy
  3. May You Be Well
  4. Come Break My Heart Again
  5. Feather
  6. Walk Into A Storm
  7. Time’s Always Leaving
  8. Can’t Be Happy For Long
  9. Between The Lines
  10. Long Way To Go

The Lone Bellow will kick off a tour in support of their new album on September 21 in New York.

TOUR DATES:

Sept 21 – Central Park Summerstage – New York, NY#

Sept 23 – Farm to Fork Festival- Sacramento, CA

Sept 29 – The Orange Peel – Asheville, NC ^

Sept 30 – Riverfront Park Concert Series – Lynchburg, VA

Oct 01 – Beachland Ballroom – Cleveland, OH^

Oct 02 – Opera House – Toronto, ONT^

Oct 03 – El Club – Detroit, MI^

Oct 05 – Lincoln Theatre – Columbus, OH ^

Oct 06 – Dave Finkelman Auditorium – Middletown, OH ^

Oct 07 – Headliners Music Hall – Louisville, KY^

Oct 08 – Deluxe at Old National Center – Indianapolis, IN

Oct 10 – Thalia Hall – Chicago, IL^

Oct 11- Thalia Hall – Chicago, IL^

Oct 13 – Majestic Theatre – Madison, WI ^

Oct 14 – The Englert Theatre – Iowa City, IA ^

Oct 15 – Fine Line Music Cafe – Minneapolis, MN ^

Nov 01 – Bijou Theater – Knoxville, TN*

Nov 02 – Variety Playhouse – Atlanta, GA*

Nov 05 – Iron City Birmingham – Birmingham, AL*

Nov 06 – Charleston Music Hall – Charleston, SC*

Nov 07 – Neighborhood Theatre – Charlotte, NC*

Nov 09 – Haw River Ballroom – Saxapahaw, NC*

Nov 10 – 9:30 Club – Washington D.C.*

Nov 12 – Infinity Hall Hartford – Hartford, CT*

Nov 14 – State Theatre – Portland, ME*

Nov 15 – House of Blues – Boston, MA*

Nov 16 – Higher Ground – South Burlington, VT*

Nov 17 – Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA*

#Supporting The Head And The Heart

*w/ The Wild Reeds

^w/ Mt. Joy

 

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music review: The Charlatans

 

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My heart belongs to several bands and artists but two bands will permanently possess a special spot: Jesus Jones and The Charlatans. I followed both bands in the 90s and befriended them as best one could without having sex with any band members. Kudos to singer Tim Burgess and bassist Martin Blunt for keeping The Charlatans going and the music flowing after the deaths of keyboardist Rob Collins in 1996 and drummer Jon Brookes in 2013. Different Days is the 13th album for The Charlatans, who formed in the late 80s.

For Different Days, core members Burgess, Blunt, guitarist Mark Collins and keyboard player Tony Rogers collaborated on this album with former Verve drummer Pete Salisbury, Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe, Johnny Marr [featured on several songs including the lead single ‘Plastic Machinery’], New Order’s Stephen Morris, Paul Weller [“Spinning Out”], as well as spoken word contributions from Ian Rankin and Kurt Wagner. The Charlatans have never really hit it big in the United States like other contemporaries such as Oasis and The Stone Roses. In 2015 Q Magazine gave the band a lifetime achievement award.

In many aspects over the years, the band has transitioned from Britpop to indie rock. On Different Days, a California vibe definitely seeps into these songs. There’s still swagger and a bit of Manchester as well. It’s overall pretty laid back, sunshiny and optimistic. There’s the pretty and soothing “Hey Sunrise” with its jangly guitar. On the contemplative and catchy (the brilliance of Tim Burgess’s writing) “Solutions,” grooving percussion and a deep bass line propel along with gentle keys propel the melody. It’s one of my favorites. Maybe because I’m looking for one. The songs “Plastic Machinery” and “Not Forgotten” feature more guitar than keyboards with fierceness and swaying beats. “Plastic Machinery” tackles fleeting popularity and superficial happiness. “Not Forgotten” approaches how we evolve and what we learn from relationships: “I’ve taken every opportunity. Tried to be everything you wanted me to be. So why do you have to talk like that?” This is a spectacular album. It pulls me back in and can easily be filed alongside 2001’s Wonderland or 2006‘s Simpatico in its overall sound.

RATING: 5/5*

The Charlatans
Different Days
BMG

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show review: An Evening with Jack & Amanda Palmer

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An Evening with Jack & Amanda Palmer

First Parish Church–Lexington, Mass.

Monday, July 18, 2016

For the two decades that I’ve been a music critic my mom hasn’t been to any shows with me. We crossed that off the to-do list last night when my mom and I went to see Jack and Amanda Palmer perform songs from their debut album You Got Me Singing. A sold-out sweaty crowd packed the pews in the 90 degree stuffiness and ultimately enjoyed an intimate evening filled with songs and love and hugs. I’ve witnessed first-hand and spoken with the devoted Amanda Palmer fans who will travel hours to see her. They also support her art projects. This new album is fully backed by Patreon. Amanda’s a genuine, heartfelt soul and spectacular performer. The tour started in D.C. where Jack Palmer lives then traveled to Amanda’s hometown of Lexington, Mass. before continuing on to her other homes of New York City and upstate New York. It’s pretty well sold-out so enjoy if you managed to snag a ticket. It’s a moving, exquisite treat. Music heals. Music is an outlet and during these turbulent and violent times we need music more than ever.

Amanda came out solo with her beloved ukulele and walked up and down the aisles singing “In My Mind.” She then heralded: “This is church Thor and Amanda Palmer-style where our god is art.” She then sat down to the piano and played the alternately urgent and gentle song “Machete” which she wrote for her best friend Anthony who died of cancer last year. She explained that he taught her about compassion and love. He also left her his firearm collection which she’d like to just pitch to the bottom of the ocean along with all other weapons. Amanda’s father Jack stepped out with his acoustic guitar and sang the Leonard Cohen song “You Got Me Singing,” the title of their album. He’s quite comfortable performing. A gentle man with a deep, resonant voice, before performing the Phil Ochs song “In the Heat of the Summer,” John stated: “Like many folks songs, this one stays relevant.” It’s a subdued yet dramatic song. The pair spent years carefully choosing songs to cover over several years. Amanda admitted they could’ve recorded much more. There’s beautiful harmonizing between father and daughter. The instrumental opening act Thor & Friends added an eclectic, worldly orchestral back up with viola, drums, guitar, bass and xylophones.

Amanda took the lead on several songs including the Sinead O’Connor song “Black Boys on Mopeds,” a heartbreaking song rendered beautifully by Palmer: “these are dangerous days/ to say what you feel is to dig your own grave.” For the kiddie song “Wynken, Blynken and Nod,” Amanda said it was a good time to take out your babies to put to sleep or if anyone wanted a nap to “find a motherly figure and make a nest not in a rapey way, get consent.” Much applause. She proceeded to sing all wide-eyed with plenty of hand gestures. She might need to record one of those lullaby albums. The Noah Britton song “I Love You So Much” included an audience sing-along but not before Amanda started and stopped a few times before declaring “I’m playing in the wrong key. It’s C, not A.” Her father smiled, “That’s why I love live music.”

Besides Leonard Cohen and Sinead O’Connor many of the artists weren’t that familiar to the mostly alternative audience. That doesn’t mean people didn’t appreciate them. The album’s a love note. The performance an engulfing repast. While Lexington and Boston are not directly affected by tragedy, Amanda declared: “Everywhere is here and everyone that’s getting hurt is us. We need more music.” The opening act Thor & Friends charmed with its soothing meditative, positive-vibrations instrumental arrangements and entertained with Thor’s charm. Overall the evening proved to be a blissful love fest. Oh and my mom enjoyed it. Of Amanda: “She’s adorable and talented and happy.” Because her daughter is not.

 

–review by Amy Steele

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music review: Julianna Barwick

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During my last two acupuncture sessions I’ve listened to Julianna Barwick’s third full-length album, Will. It’s allowed me to focus on the music and remain in the moment during my treatment. This inventive album scores with its eclectic, gorgeous arrangements and assorted instrumentation. The entire collection exudes transcendent and ethereal vibes with bitter, shadowy undercurrents. An outstanding, striking work of art.

An impressive and glorious pitch combined with strings and piano on “St. Apolonia” reminds me of Chelsea Wolfe’s music. “Nebula” is a completely dreamy, soaring meditative wonder. “Beached” features piano, breathy vocals and a powerful quietness. Opening with expansive and lofty keyboards, “Same” pushes the listener into another realm through the Brooklyn artist’s vigorously exalted vocals. “Someway” conveys a sadness and uncertainty through its layered composition and heartrending vocals. Vibrant electro-beats propel the outstanding and devastating “See, Know.”

This album takes you on the ultimate contemplative aural journey. At turns brooding and at others soothing, there are numerous elements to appreciate, to dissect, to focus upon. Each listen provides a new revelation. Julianna Barwick explained: “While making this record, there were moments of isolation and dark currents. I like exploring that, and I love when I come across songs that sound scary or ominous. I’ve always been curious about what goes into making a song that way.” Somebody on twitter commented that she rarely listened to an album in its entirety. Needing or wanting to listen to an album repeatedly from start to finish remains the rare exception. Will is absolutely that album. Prepare for a spectacular immersive experience with vast appeal.

–review by Amy Steele

Will [Dead Oceans]

Release date: May 6, 2016

purchase at Amazon: Will

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music review: Joshua Fletcher

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Nashville-based and former ATL resident, Joshua Fletcher created a bevy of moving alt-folk songs with heart and his baritone vocals. “The Eye and the Storm” is a romantic song with lyrics such as “I get so caught up in your eyes, in the shapes of your smile, in the way the rain comes awash in the blues. I get so caught up in your lips, in the songs of your hips . . .” Beats pick-up on the full band, infectious drumming and harmonica-infused “We are All Alone.” Whispery tender vocals on “To Find Your Name.” Then there’s the compelling arrangement of “Wheels.”

There’s enough variety but definitely a distinctive flair to Fletcher’s songs– a bit wistful, definitely thoughtful and eminently passionate. He sings about relationships and being alone and belonging. Lovely songwriting and a beautiful album. This is what to listen to hanging out on the back porch or during a romantic dinner. Portland, Oregon-based The Damnwells’ Alex Dezen produced the album.

Joshua Fletcher
Ready, Aim
In Music We Trust
Release date: May 26, 2015

RECOMMENDATION: BUY/Download NOW

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