Singer-songwriter David Poe's poignant acoustic guitar and vocal cover of "September" by Earth, Wind & Fire, with all the proceeds to benefit the 9/11 group Tuesday's Children, is profoundly disturbing and powerful at the same time. For those of us New Yorkers who lived through this heinous moment in world history, it is a tragic event that we will carry to our graves. But the event also sparked a level of human compassion and cooperation that shone a beacon of light and hope that the entire world could see. I've often contemplated how we can continue to keep that flame of optimism burning in a world that seems teetering on the brink of madness. Perhaps Max Pickwoad's video is the perfect reminder to bring us back to that moment of clarity when everything around us was literally collapsing but somehow hope still sprang eternal.
I became a bigger fan of the majestic, jangly pop-rock of Nada Surf once R.E.M. faded into the woodwork. Don't get me wrong, I dug the lads from Athens, GA., but their last few albums just didn't move me. Thankfully, the N.Y.C.-based Nada Surf continues to soldier on, 20+ years later, despite never reaping the benefits of the enormous success they so deserve. Nada Surf's latest effort, the digital release B-Sides (Barsuk Records), collects previously unreleased tracks and bonus material from the band's four previous studio albums (Let Go, The Weight Is a Gift, Lucky, and The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy), many of which have never been available digitally in the U.S. If you don't know this band, listen to the first single, "No Quick Fix," and start buying them today. Well worth the effort.
Much has been made of Columbia's epic failure to release the Americana juggernaut The Basement Tapes -- Bob Dylan and The Band's prodigious output of music recorded in Woodstock, NY in 1967. Well, that is all about to change in early November as that label's Legacy imprint finally gets it right.
Some artists defy the odds, slowing building an audience until critical mass can be reached and a career can sustain itself. No easy feat in our dwindling music biz daze. All ready a star in his native Iceland, perhaps the indie folk singer-songwriter Ásgeir shall now conquer our vast expanse. From his exceptional album, In The Silence, here is "King and Cross" for your listening pleasure, certainly offering him a well-deserved advantage.
Hard to believe that The Rolling Stones, half of The Beatles and The Who, and a dozen more bands that started a full decade before The Ramones (1974) have outlived them, and in many cases are still touring. They were one of my favorite punk bands ever... and with the recent death of Tommy Ramone (nee Thomas Erdelyi), all four original members of one of New York's finest bands ever, we are not "glad to see you go." The first three -- lead singer Joey (nee Jeffrey Hyman, died 2001), bass player Dee Dee (nee Douglas Colvin, died 2002), and guitarist Johnny (nee John Cummings, died 2004) -- all died only within six years after calling it quits.
The first three Zep albums have been remastered by guitarist Jimmy Page and re-released in various configurations including bonus discs and vinyl. Sonic upgrades with extra tracks -- both live tracks and songs-in-the-process -- once only found on bootlegs afford many new nuances in the tone and textures that were lost in previous versions. (The vinyl sounds amazing!) Suffice to say, they are ALL ESSENTIAL.
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Cleveland-born and raised Bobby Womack has passed away at the age of 70. He was one of America's greatest R&B singer-songwriters and guitarists (Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin) and his career spanned 50-plus years. Last time I caught him live in concert was at the Beacon Theater in NYC well over 18 years ago. He was fine form, played all of his hits, many from the chart-topping The Poet (1981), including one of his most beloved songs, "If You Think You're Lonely Now," and The Poet II (1984), and even dragged Sly Stone (whose classic album There's a Riot Goin' On heavily features Womack's uncredited guitar playing) on stage for a few numbers. For me, his Harlem anthem "Across 110th Street" remains one of the best songs ever. Two years ago he released the critically lauded album The Bravest Man in the Universe on XL, the same U.K. label that released Gil Scott-Heron's last album. It was Mr. Womack's first effort in 14 yeas, and like Gil's effort, there was a very stripped-down, electronica element coursing throughout. My favorite track from said album was the bluesy, Stevie Wonder-inspired piano-bass-and-drum track "Dayglo Reflection" (above) featuring the haunting vocal support of chanteuse Lana Del Rey. His contributions to music will be missed.
As you know I've been championing the NYC-based singer/songwriter Jay Stolar for the past six months. I'm gobsmacked that a major label has yet to snatch him up. (Hang in, Jay, only a matter of time!) Here's a new video of his instant classic "Lost" live from Flux Studios. And do catch him at Rockwood Music Hall where he'll be sharing his magic on just about every Thursday at 10 pm in June, July, and August all summer long (exact dates on invite below)! And if you know any label people, drag 'em down. They'd be wise to sign him immediately. Hope to see you there! peace, Dusty