Music Review

Album of the Week: Warren Malone - The Great Big Bubblegum Heartbreak

The life of a singer/songwriter is littered with heartbreak, pain, joy, piss & shit, and... well, life! For the Manchester-bred, NYC-based Warren Malone, life is an enormous canvas, a canvas he paints with deftness and combustible energy -- from his gentle brush strokes to brash colors and muted grays and everything in between. Ten songs that encompass his life and loves. "You Get What You Paid For / I've got a broken heart..." sings Malone; straight ahead, tightly woven in an evocatively simple arrangement with help from two of his favorite New York collaborators -- Brandon Wilde and Lenny Monachello. They represent a small but unified group of mighty professionals who have kept the art of songwriting very much alive. Armed with acoustic guitars and amazing songs, Mr. Malone, along with them, continue to spread their joy of songwriting.  Read more »

Dusty Wright - "Weather This Storm"

For survivors everywhere... here's the video collaboration of visual artist Ashley G. Garner with Dusty Wright. The song was produced by d. Bindi, mixed by David Lee, and mastered by Alan Douches for West West Side Music. Recorded by Gio Loria at Black Volt Studio, LA & Straus Park Studio, NYC. Co-vocals by Jay StolarRead more »

Mark E Smith Remembered

Mark E Smith and The Fall lived on the outskirts of alternative rock and pop music for over forty years.

I saw them once in '85. They played the Hammersmith Palais. I went with my brother Phil who was a big fan from the start. The place wasn’t packed but the core was positioned around the band, close. Many of them taping the show. I had this sense of the stage being low and we were really in on the vibe. Which was heavy, carrying a low-level threat of aggression. It felt like cheap grindy speed. Read more »

Good Evening, Mr. Ross

Steve Ross
I Remember Him Well: The Songs of Alan Jay Lerner
Birdland Jazz Club, NYC
Monday, January 22, 2018

Lerner who?

Getting serious for a moment, this is the fact around which we will orbit: What really constitutes American culture? Literature and architecture and painting -- yes, certainly. But what particularly animates our hearts is song -- and, in particular, the living energy of the American musical theater. In that buoyant realm, there’s no greater literate master than lyricist and writer Alan Jay Lerner (1918-1986). The open-and-shut-case evidence for this assertion is his CV: On A Clear Day, Brigadoon, Gigi, Paint Your Wagon, An American In Paris (story and screen play), Camelot, and -- most famously, My Fair Lady.

Watching our black and white TV, as a child I noticed my parents (and the studio audience) were delighted by a singer I’d never heard of. I could not understand the big to-do about him. Yes, he was pleasant-enough looking, but no Robert Goulet (a handsome icon of the day). Read more »

On The Contrary

Mark E Smith 5th March 1957-24th January 2018

A mercurial maverick, Mark E Smith's was a survivor of the early punk movement whose creative output spanned four uninterrupted decades, thirty two studio albums and sixty six former band members. A true contrarian who orchestrated chaos, he rightly deserves the description of unique. Sometimes majestic, often a shambles, his performances could never be guaranteed or predicted. He hired and fired musicians like a malevolent monarch, and in the process created some of the most inspired and challenging music of any era. He defied definition, was as cantankerous as hell, but unlike Shane McGowan, alcohol didn't cease his output. When John Peel died the BBC invited Smith into the studio to speak of his former stalwart, the only coherent utterance was that he and Peel had never been friends, and the interview quickly had the plug pulled on it as Smith's ingestion of whatever he could lay his hands on had mutated him into a leering, bug-eyed goblin. Tortured and torturous he was a constantly uneasy presence. Read more »

A Woman's Wisdom... Lyla June

Lyla June is Taos, New Mexico-based singer/songwriter who lives her life according to "the path of service." Besides being a musician, she's also a poet, anthropologist, educator, community organizer and public speaker. She is of Diné (Navajo) and Tsétsêhéstâhese (Cheyenne) Native American lineages. CultureCatch sat with her recently. Here's that interview: Read more »

Album of the Year: Cameron Blake - Fear Not

Sometimes music can surprise you when you least expect it to... and so it goes that my family and I were driving home from our Christmas visit in Akron, Ohio and I was bored out of my mind on Interstate 80 -- somewhere in the middle of snow-covered Pennsylvania -- when I decided to play a CD from the Michigan-based singer/songwriter Cameron Blake. What is this, I thought? Rufus Wainwright's twin or Scott Walker's protégé, or Tim Hardin's ghost or... you get my musical reference drift, oui? Somewhat lazy, but a starting point. Yet, he is his own poet. And that voice, like Matt Wilson of Semisonic/Trip Shakespeare, or Tim Buckley, clear and pristine tenor, riding his melodies effortlessly. Damn, I wish I had his voice. What it could do with my songs, but alas it is his and his alone and I am thankful that I have found it before the end of 2017 and that I can carry it with me into the optimism of 2018. And his songs make your mind soar, soar all over our uncharted landscape. Yes, these 12  songs are profound. And require repeated listens to allow their poetry to sink in. And I will take his songs and his voice and his undeniable gift and I will use his artistry to fill my half-empty cup and toast this new year, toast the beauty of life with all of its seemingly impossible obstacles. And that is what a true singer/songwriter can deliver -- optimism for the future, respite from the pain, longing for the simplicity that we all strive to maintain, away from the hostilities that try to consume us. Find the joy in your heart, like Mr. Blake's empathetic music on Fear Not. For it is a place to be, a place to explore, a place to find peace. Happy New Year, Dusty

RIP Ralph Carney

Ralph Carney has left this mortal coil far too soon. He was one of us, a musician from Akron who made it out and had become a much-beloved multi-instrumentalist where ever he hung his hat. (The last two years in Portland, OR.) Carney was also the uncle of Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney. He added his brilliance to acts like Tom Waits, The B-52s, Elvis Costello, Kronos Quartet, Jonathan Richman, St. Vincent... basically any band worth their salt that needed some brilliant reed component, whether clarinet or saxophone or some other homemade instrument! Read more »

Legendary '70s Jazz Sessions Reissued

Michael Cosmic: Peace in the World / Phill Musra Group: Creator Spaces (Now-Again)

For fans of avant-garde jazz who like to dive deep into the music's history, this combination of two rarities is the reissue of the year. Michael Cosmic and Phill Musra are twins who were born, respectively, Thomas Michael Cooper and Phillip Anthony Alfred Cooper in Chicago in 1950. Falling under the influence of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians after being recruited as teens by AACM member Roscoe Mitchell, they studied with Mitchell, Anthony Braxton, and AACM founder Muhal Richard Abrams. A year at the University of Wisconsin (1970-71) gave them the opportunity to take Cecil Taylor's class, after which they moved to Boston along with fellow student Jemeel Moondoc. Read more »

The Return of David Broza's Annual Xmas Eve Concert in NYC!

Singing in Hebrew, Spanish, English, and Arabic, singer/songwriter David Broza, one of Israel’s most important living artists, brings the full spectrum of his work to this amazing production with his all-star band and special guests. (I've had the honor of opening fro David, and he is the real deal.)

Israel’s iconic singer/songwriter, guitarist and UNICEF goodwill ambassador David Broza will embark on a coast-to-coast winter tour this December, celebrating 40 years since the release of his best-known song, "Yihye Tov" (Things Will Be Better). The well-known composition was written in 1977 during the Arab-Israeli peace talks between Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, and has become an anthem of the Israeli peace movement. Read more »

Album of the Week: Melanie De Biasio - Lilies

As I mentioned back in June, Miss Melanie De Biasio truly transcends description and/or refuses to be boxed into any one musical genre. Her latest nine-track album Lilies was released last month. This captivating Belgian artist incorporates jazz, classical, nufolk, even electronica into her musically rich vocabulary to create her truly unique and atmospheric sound; imagine Nina Simone meets Talk Talk.  Read more »

Album of the Week: Todd Kessler - About Memory

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. Read more »

Song of the Week: Sierra Blanca - "Beds"

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.

Single of the Week: Morrissey - "Spent The Day In Bed"

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: 

"Stop watching the news / Because the news contrives to frighten you
To make you feel small and alone / To make you feel that your mind isn't your own..."

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

A Gentle Giant in Captivity - An Interview with Derek Shulman

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: Read more »

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