A dynamically-gentle, compelling folk-Americana album by an earnest singer-songwriter from Chicago. Mr. Kesller once shared his chops on The Voice and that certainly helped raise his profile as an artist of merit and will hopefully afford him a much deserved wider audience for this amazing new album.
Some artists are discovered like that perfect shell on a stroll on the beach -- you look down and you spot it, pick it up, marvel over its beauty, and take it home. Nashville-based, El Paso-born, indie folk artist Jethro Gaglione aka Sierra Blanca has a vibe that is so sweet and fine. Utterly undeniable. A true natural talent. The self-taught multi-instrumentalist's new EP Honorable Mention will be released on Nov. 10th. In the interim, check out his single "Beds," a ballad so evocatively engaging and refreshingly simple, inviting the listener to crawl into bed with him while be serenaded to. And that is why it's my single of the week.
Leave it to Morrissey to solve our current political and social dilemmas -- North Korea nukes, Vegas sniper, racial tension, POTUS' misguided bullying, raging hurricanes and fires, et al. -- and help us find respite from the world's insanities with his latest grand single, "Spent The Day In Bed" from his new long player Low In High School (released by BMG on November 17th). It starts with an infectious keyboard hook that wraps his voice around his simple but profoundly wise proclamation:
I've been playing it every morning these past few weeks as I contemplate his very inviting and therapeutic remedy before I finally succumb to my morning rituals and log on to my computer to see what calamity awaits me. Thank you, Stephen for at least offering a very solid alternative to combat my spiraling-out-of-control anxiety. peace, Dusty
Recently, Dusty provided me a golden opportunity: in connection with the release of Three-Piece Suite -- a remastering of some compositions from Gentle Giant's first three albums -- their media team offered an interview with Derek Shulman, lead singer for the group, and now a high-level record company executive. Knowing my love of Gentle Giant, Dusty offered the interview to me. There was no constraint on content, only on the number of questions (an even dozen). So, with thanks to Anne Leighton (of Anne Leighton Media), who coordinated, here is my interview with one of progressive rock's most iconic figures, both as an artist and as a rep:
The Fall - New Facts Emerge (Cherry Red)
For a band that has existed around the spiteful and brooding presence of Mark E. Smith for over thirty albums and forty years another release shouldn't pack many surprises but it does. Many have served under his difficult demands, being in The Fall almost a rite of passage, an induction by fire for many a Mancunian musician. Some never fully recuperate from the experience.
I became a fan of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers several years ago by a chance encounter with a friend's iPod. I became obsessed and ended up going through what I thought was his whole catalogue. I classified him as a classic rock artist who was underappreciated, no longer relevant, and patted myself on the back for "getting it." So when I heard that Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were coming to Seattle on August 19, I grabbed my credit card and headed to my laptop, ready to buy a general admission ticket to Neumos or the Showbox…maybe the Moore Theater. After all, if the bands that I listened to in high school were playing those venues when they came to town, that's where I'd find Tom Petty.
The Children of Rain - Red Corduroy (Bad Pressings)
This is a tale with two beginnings that merge revealingly. One is more than half a century old, the other only began at the start of the year. They meld on the account of a single name, or rather the mis-accounting of it, and the fact that it seemed beguiling to this writer on a late at night, nothing better to do trawl for "quality obscure" on auction sites. You are unlikely to have heard of The Children Of Rain. They released one single on Dot Records in 1966, but someone at the label sent the wrong credits to the pressing plant. Although they were the first to get their hands on "Get Together," their rendition tanked, not because it was in any way inferior to the later version by The Youngbloods which became a counter-culture anthem for that turbulent decade of hope and change, and sold! sold! sold! Such is the mysticism and capriciousness of fate, and the fact the song was demoted to the flip-side of their sole release "Dawn To Dusk." It might have had a better run at success had their name been at all visible on the disc, rendered an afterthought after the their lead singer's Pam Meacham, which had been randomly elevated and wrongly spelt in the process. Hence the black hole on search engines. How it appeared was never how it was supposed to but it stands as a portent laden indication of future calamities. Having taken a chance on their eight song acetate I realized I may be buying an expensive relic of little actual worth, but I coughed up the $200 and hoped that my instincts might have unearthed a wonderful curio, and not a batch of best forgotten musings.
Over 25 years after setting sail on the Seas of Cheese, Primus continues to navigate uncharted, musical waters, over running so many younger vessels in a music scene progressively stagnating in the doldrums. This is an act that continues to play music because they love to and it shows.
Some music acts deserve our full attention because of the legacy that spawned them. And so it goes that former Oasis lead vocalist Liam Gallagher delivers his much anticipated solo long player As You Were (Warner Brothers) on October 6th followed by short tour in selecti cities in North America in November. The songs -- "For What It's Worth," "Chinatown," and "Wall of Glass" (12 million streams!) -- are deservedly getting fantastic press from journalists and public alike. When the Manchaster-based anthem rock band disbanded, the Brothers Gallagher seemed destined for the scrap heap. Could the parts equal the power of the collective? Well, yes and no. Neither brother has released a solo album to rival either Definitely Maybe or (What's The Story) Morning Glory?. I certainly prefer Liam's sneering vocals over Noel's comfortable vocals and Noel's songwriting chops over his younger brother's tunes. Yes, together they were a force of nature. Apart...? I liked Beady Eye songs, but didn't love either of their albums. And to be fair, I've not given Noel's solo albums my full attention.