Music Review

Song of the Week: Israel Nash - "Strangers"

The spirit of Neil Young, Buffalo Springfield, and early solo David Crosby circa If Only I Could Remember My Name, thrive in this former Brooklyn-based "metaphysical" cowboy Israel Nash Giripka's musical universe. Having stumbled upon him quite by accident I was immediately drawn to his tone, stringed textures (Gretsch guitars, pedal steel), and musical chops. The most excellent single entitled "Strangers" is the debut track from his sixth album Israel Nash's Silver Season, available worldwide October 9th via Loose Music & Thirty Tigers.

Video of the Week: Stolar - "My Own Way"

Stolar, the artist formerly knows as Jay Stolar, has released another pwoerful pop song with an equally powerful video. "My Own Way" was created in support of the Jed Foundation's groundbreaking mental health awareness movement Love Is Louder. For more info visit their website at www.loveislouder.com. A portion of the proceeds from #MyOwnWay will help support the Love Is Louder movement. Be inspired and watch it now!

Song of the Week: The Bottle Rockets - "Monday (Everytime I Turn Around)"

Missouri-bred Brian Henneman of The Bottle Rockets has been waving his roots-rock flag since the '90s and has been delivering catchy-as-hell music all along. Now he's at it again, teasing ears with a brand new tune "Monday (Everytime I Turn Around)" from a forthcoming album entitled South Broadway Athletic Club set for release on Bloodshot Records on Oct. 2nd, 2015. In the interim, share this tasty slice of American rock music with your family and friends at all of your Labor Day celebrations on this Monday holiday.

Video of the Week: FKA twigs - M3LL155X

British singer, songwriter, producer and dancer FKA twigs has released a brand new EP entitled M3LL155X (Young Turks), that features five songs, four of which -- "Figure 8", "I'm Your Doll", "In Time", "Glass & Patron" -- are accompanied by a video directed by FKA twigs herself. The four film pieces form one continuous FKA twigs-directed work, cementing who she is as an artist with an aggressive statement conceptualizing the process of feeling pregnant with pain, birthing creativity and liberation. She breathes a quiet but potent energy into every frame. One of the freshest musicians on the scene today.

ANNIVERSARIES: Mal Waldron Born 90 Years Ago

Malcolm Earl "Mal" Waldron was born on August 16, 1925 in New York City. His father worked for the Long Island Rail Road. Mal started taking classical piano lessons at age seven and, inspired by his love of jazz, also learned alto saxophone. He earned a B.A. in Music from Queens College, with the G.I. Bill (he'd been drafted in 1943 and served for two years, fortunately not seeing combat) paying for his tuition. He worked in jazz, blues, and R&B contexts and made his first recording in 1952 as a member of Ike Quebec's band. In '54-56 he was part of Charles Mingus's Jazz Workshop and recorded with Mingus. Waldron went out on his own as a leader at the end of 1956 with the album Mal/1 on Prestige and quickly became one of the prolific label's house pianists. The following year he added to his workload the position of Billie Holiday's accompanist, which garnered him more attention; he stayed in that position until her death in mid-'59.

There was a break in his career following a 1963 heroin overdose that caused a mental breakdown and left him with the shakes to the extent that he could not play the piano. There was temporary brain damage affecting his speed of thought, so even after he had re-taught himself how to play by listening to his own records, for a while he couldn't improvise. He compensated for this mental deficit, while it lasted, by writing out his solos in advance. Read more »

Song of the Week: David Gilmour - "Rattle That Lock"

One of my favorite guitarists, ever, is releasing his fourth solo album, Rattle That Lock, on September 18th on Columbia Records. Until then we get to groove on a catchy new single that would not have sounded out of place on The Wall album. Has Mr. Gilmour been hanging out with Nile Rodgers? This is not the laid back "muzak" grooves of the On the Island. This is David showcasing his Fender Stratocaster guitar magic. Pre-order it here!

The Watkins Family Hour - Lincoln Center

Saturday night was a perfect summer evening for free Americana music at Lincoln's Center Damrosch Park as part of the Annual Roots of American Music, Americanafest NYC. The evening featured two of the genres rising stars. The headliners played two sets with the first half of the set featuring mostly original tunes by former Nickel Creek members Sean and Sara Watkin's new band The Watkins Family Hour. They and their extraordinary band entertained a robust crowd of New Yorkers and tourists alike. One of my favorite songs of the evening was their beatiful take on the Grateful Dead's "Brokedown Palace." And co-vocalist Fionna Apple's original song "A Mistake" was quite moving. Yes, she's one of the members of this band. Read more »

Song of the Week: Barrence Whitfield - "The Claw"

"The Claw" is a much-needed jolt of raw, unfiltered, throw-back, punked-out garage rock bliss played with the same verve and reckless abandanon as The Sonics once did it. Barrence Whitfield & The Savages keepin' it real in this pre-fab muzak daze. From their new long player Under the Savage Sky on Blood Shot Records. TURN IT UP, UP TIGHT WHITE PEOPLE!!!!

U2 at Madison Square Garden, 30 July 2015

I finally did it: I saw U2 in concert.

I may have waited too long to catch the band in its prime, but its 37 years of experience -- without a personnel change -- and undiluted passion have made it one of the biggest concert draws for decades now, even if recent albums have been uneven in inspiration. Read more »

Video of the Week: Church of Betty - "Endure"

NSFW. So simple that it will hypnotize, but that's always been the case with many of NY-based Chris Rael's Church of Betty tunes. His new single "Endure" (from longplayer Swirled World) channels the raga spirit of George Harrison. The video directed by filmmaker/photograhper Jasmine Hirst has an edgy, East Village experimental quality that perfectly exploits the overall tone and texture. 25 years in and Church of Betty can still thrill.

American Composers Declare Independence from Europe

When I was growing up, New York 's best (now long-defunct) classical radio station, WNCN, played only American composers' music each Fourth of July. With the classical world dominated by Europeans, this was a welcome and educational corrective. In the history of American music, independence wasn't achieved until the 20th century; 19th century composers such as John Knowles Paine and George Whitefield Chadwick studied in Europe and blatantly imitated European models. Listening to their music "blind," few would guess they were Americans. There was Revolutionary War-era vocal writer William Billings, but his originality was more a lack of proper technique. Continuing WNCN's tradition, here's a look at true American classical music.  Read more »

Chris Squire's Musical Legacy

Chris "Fish" Squire, the heart and soul and, yes, the foundation of iconic prog-rock band Yes, passed away Saturday at the age of 67. He had been battling leukemia, and last month had left the band for the first time -- he is the only member to appear on every Yes album (21 studio albums and a plethora of concert recordings). Squire, who played with a pick, achieved his unique sound by rewiring his Rickenbacker bass to stereo and sending the output of the bass and treble pickups into separate amplifiers. His sound -- and, let it be remembered, his vocals, usually heard in harmony or counterpoint to lead vocalist Jon Anderson's, but still prominent enough to be immediately recognizable -- was integral to the classic Yes albums of the 1970s. Read more »

Song of the Week: Todd Rundgren - "Put Your Arms Around Me"

Okay, so it's a collaboration and not a true solo Todd Rundgren track. The album Runddans is the result of the collaboration between Todd Rundgren, Hans-Peter Lindstrom and Emil Nikolaisen. Their track, "Put Your Arms Around Me (Stereolab/The High Llamas Remix)", is fantastic. Hopefuly Todd will get back to his organic roots on this next long player. Until then, this will do just fine.

Thoughts on Ornette Coleman

The first time I heard Ornette Coleman in person was at a New Year’s Eve concert in the Harlem State Office Building cafeteria. (He and his band Prime Time were topping a triple bill that opened with drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson  & the Decoding Society and found guitarist James “Blood” Ulmer’s band spanning the transition from 1980 to 1981; both leaders had spent crucial time as Ornette sidemen.) The thing I remember most about it was how closely Ornette’s sound on alto sax resembled that of Charlie Parker’s. I had never heard the resemblance on Coleman’s recordings, but on the nearly non-existent sound system in this low-ceilinged (with acoustic tile) room, the similarity was striking. Read more »

Fare Thee Well... 50 years of The Grateful Dead!

So if you know anything about The Grateful Dead, you know that this is their 50th anniversary. Their final shows will take place in Santa Clara, CA (2 shows) and in Chicago at Soldier's Field (3 shows). (A live webcast of all five concerts will be available for $79.95 at Dead.net.) To celebrate this historic milestone, Dead.net has just started taking advance orders on their new 80-disc box set -- Thirty Trips Around The Sun -- featuring 30 unreleased shows; one show from every year of touring! (It's planned for a September 18th release date.) You may not have enough time to listen to all 80 discs, but if you're a Deadhead, how can you say no? There will also be a 4-CD sampler set -- Thirty Trips 1965-1995 -- that serves as an introductory sampler to the Dead’s live canon, including 30 unreleased performances — one from each concert in the boxed set – along with the 1965 recording of “Caution.” Also featured is an essay by Dead aficionado Jesse Jarnow dissecting every track in the collection.  Read more »

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