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Entries in new album (4)

Friday
Jun062014

Haven’t Got the Blues (Yet): the 26th album from Loudon Wainwright III

Haven’t Got the Blues (Yet) — or HGTB(Y), for short — is the 26th album in the long and illustrious career of Loudon Wainwright III.

It follows his acclaimed Older Than My Old Man Now album from 2012—“my death n’ decay opus,” as Wainwright calls it.

In HGTB(Y) he broadens his scope with a 14-song, genre-bounding set (“eclectricity,” he calls it) dealing with varied subject matter including depression, drinking, senior citizenship, gun control, heartbreak, pet ownership and New York City’s arcane practice of alternate side-of-the-street parking.

Uproariously rocking lead track “Brand New Dance,” which evokes The Big Bopper’s classic “Chantilly Lace,” is “me moaning and groaning about the horror and embarrassment of personal physical diminishment in the wider context of the world in which we live today,” Wainwright states.

Continuing this theme, “The Morgue,” which Judd Apatow originally commissioned for Wainwright’s dysfunctional dad character to sing to Adam Sandler in an episode of Undeclared, finds “death and decay meeting shit love,” he says.

Likewise, “Harlan County” was written as a theme song for the TV show Justified, and also like “The Morgue,” was rejected. Wainwright’s version on HGTB(Y), however, features the beautiful vocal harmonies of singer-songwriter Aoife O’Donovan. The backup vocals of Wainwright’s daughter Martha, meanwhile, appropriately grace “I Knew Your Mother.”

Other cuts of special Wainwright interest include “Man & Dog,” which was motivated by his dog Harry (the inspiration of other Wainwright ditties, including, he says, his yet-to-be-recorded “Puppy Hate”), and “Spaced,” a klezmer/Balkan gypsy-styled look at that alternate street parking theme. He takes a typically topical turn on “God & Nature” (“A bit of Episcopalian gospel composed after watching the 2012 Vice Presidential Debates”) and his new seasonal favorite, “I’ll Be Killing You This Christmas”—which he actually wrote in response to the Newtown shootings.

Wainwright notes that he toyed with the idea of calling the album Town & Country, then saw the cover photo of the famous forlorn clown Emmet Kelly, after which “Haven’t Got the Blues (Yet)” became the title track. Another standout track, “Depression Blues,” invokes such great blues men as Blind Lemon Jefferson and Sleepy John Estes, not to mention Shakespeare and “old Sigmund.”

Producing HGTB(Y) was Wainwright’s long time musical collaborator David Mansfield, who has backed him on numerous previous recordings as instrumentalist/arranger, including the 2010 Grammy Award winning High Wide & Handsome-The Charlie Poole Project.

“I got to know L’il Davey about 23 years ago, on a flight back from Vancouver—I think—to New York,” Wainwright recalls. “I’ve worked on and off with him ever since, on TV, in the recording studio, and on the road. He’s been featured as a player and arranger on some of my best records including History, Grown Man, Last Man on Earth, and High Wide & Handsome.”

Other top players grace HGTB(Y), and include ace banjoist Tony Trischka, saxophonist Steve Elson, drummer Sammy Merendino, bassist Tim Luntzel, and another longtime musical cohort, Chaim Tannenbaum, on background vocals.

Born in Chapel Hill, N.C. in 1946, Loudon Wainwright III came to fame when “Dead Skunk” became a Top 20 hit in 1972. He had studied acting at Carnegie-Mellon University, but dropped out to partake in the “Summer of Love” in San Francisco, and wrote his first song in 1968 (“Edgar,” about a lobsterman in Rhode Island).

He was soon signed to Atlantic Records by Nesuhi Ertegun, and was lured by Clive

Davis to Columbia Records, which released “Dead Skunk.” His songs have since been recorded by Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Cash, Earl Scruggs, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, his son Rufus Wainwright, and Mose Allison, among others. In 2011, they were commemorated by the comprehensive five-disc retrospective 40 Odd Years.

Additionally, Wainwright has co-written with songwriter/producer Joe Henry on the music for Judd Apatow’s hit movie Knocked Up, written music for the British theatrical adaptation of the Carl Hiaasen novel Lucky You, and composed topical songs for NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered and ABC’s Nightline. An accomplished actor, he has appeared in films directed by Martin Scorsese, Hal Ashby, Christopher Guest, Tim Burton, Cameron Crowe and Judd Apatow.

Wainwright has also starred on TV in M.A.S.H. and Undeclared, and on Broadway in Pump Boys and Dinettes. Most recently, he appeared in the film Pleased To Meet You (with fellow music legends John Doe, Aimee Mann and Joe Henry), and created a one-man theatrical show, Surviving Twin, which combines his songs and the writings of his late father: Initially developed as part of University of North Carolina’s Playmakers series, it focuses on fatherhood—both being a father and having one—and also explores the issues of birth, self-identity, loss, mortality, fashion, and of course, pet ownership.   Surviving Twin is currently being performed in limited theatrical engagements.

Friday
May302014

Seminal indie-rock act Braid return with new album

Album release: ‘No Coast’ by Braid
Release date: July 8 2014
Label: Topshelf Records
Pre-order: on Topshelf Records website

Topshelf Records and seminal ’90s indie-rock band Braid are pleased to announce the band’s first full-length studio album in 16 years, ‘No Coast’. Being released on Tuesday July 8, ‘No Coast’ was produced by Will Yip and contains 12 of the most technically and lyrically creative songs ever penned by the Champaign-Urbana, IL- based quartet. Featuring a rousing collection of textures, as well as the combined signature vocals provided by guitarists Bob Nanna and Chris Broach, No Coast presents itself as the fitting follow-up to the career defining, 1998 indie-rock classic Frame & Canvas. 

Since its inception in 1993, Braid released a number of compilation songs, 7” material and full-length albums that are still regarded as indie-rock benchmarks. 1998 was the defining year for Braid. The band played almost 200 shows that year, toured Europe twice (first with The Get Up Kids then with Burning Airlines), and Polyvinyl Record Co. released Frame & Canvas, the quintessential Braid album, recorded and produced at DC’s Inner Ear studios with J. Robbins. The record was released in April 1998 and met with more success than neither Braid, nor Polyvinyl, had ever imagined.

By early 1999, Braid was ready for a break and, ultimately, ended up deciding to call it quits. The last five days of the band were captured by the Bifocal-directed Killing A Camera documentary. Nearly a year later, Damon, Todd and Bob emerged as Hey Mercedes with some additional friends while Chris went on to start The Firebird Band and Lucid Records.

In mid-2010 the members of Braid - Chris Broach (guitar/vocals), Bob Nanna (guitar/vocals), Todd Bell (bass), and Damon Atkinson (drums) - discussed the possibility of working on a new release as well as performing a number of reunion shows that eventually led to their Closer To Closed EP and their Frame & Canvas tour in 2012 where they performed the album front-to-back in addition to a number of fan favorites. This burst of activity was a welcome return for the band that’s also made fans excited for what was possibly next beyond the release and brief stint.

Now in 2014, Braid has returned with a fresh set of material on No Coast that is more of a rebirth of the band rather than a simple reunion. “I think we feel like we want this to be an introduction to Braid more than a follow-up to previous material,” Chris Broach said. “We wanted to capture the spirit and dynamic tension that comes from having two guys up front that have a lot to say and a rhythm section that helps shape the songs. We spent a lot of time looking to where we could give each instrument its own space on the record - everything has its place, and its very deliberate.”

“The drive has always been there to create new, exciting material that would speak to all of our fans, old and new,” Bob Nanna adds. “We’re excited with how the record turned out and look forward to Braid’s busy future.”

Wednesday
Nov132013

Captain Rugged - new album from Keziah Jones

Album release: Captain Rugged by Keziah Jones
Release date: 20 January 2013
Label: Because music
Listen: on official website 

"For Nigerian singer-songwriter Keziah Jones' forthcoming sixth album, he decided that, like all great artists, he needed an alter-ego..." The Guardian

Five years after Nigerian Wood, Keziah Jones is back with his most personal and political project yet, wearing the outfit of an Afro superhero. That superhero is "Captain Rugged", his quirky and socially committed double. A graphic novel as well as long player, the album chronicles the Captain's adventures in Lagos. From his birth place in Makoko, the Nigerian slum version of Venice - an illegal water settlement on stilts with the Lagos region - through to the loud industry of the bus stations of Obalende.

Nigerian, Afropolitan, universal, Captain Rugged tells us about modern Africa and its urban movements. From his youth amongst the ghettos and skyscrapers of bustling Lagos, flying around in his ankara cape and shaking the city with his angry beats: “Here I come, an Afro Superhero, Captain Rugged”, cries Keziah. His Afronewave echoes his rebellion: a concept album in the shape of a manifesto.

“I’ve been nurturing this character for the past ten years. This superhero business is a satire on power, politics and magic. I’m telling the epic story of refugees, immigration and exile, I wanted to portray these personalities as particularly rugged and robust: they’re survivors, superheroes. African superheroes... that was my ambition for this album."

Keziah is following in the footsteps of Fela Kuti, a fellow countryman and great defender of pan-africanism who was imprisoned several times for speaking out against the Nigerian dictatorship. “I met Fela in the year before he died, and he emphasised to me the necessity of creating music that relates directly to reality." Locating his superhero in Lagos allowed Keziah to breathe real life into Captain Rugged, creating a powerful, outspoken and liberated avatar.

Keziah Jones assesses the relationship between the northern and southern hemispheres. “What I want to show the world is the modernity of post-colonial Africa, far from the image that the western world carries of a continent devastated by famine and/or war. I’m talking about young urban Africa: 20 million people live in Lagos! Modern contemporary African culture is a reality. Today, African culture has proven its vivacity and is nourished by the Diaspora."

His music is his own, all based around a soulful genre he created: Blufunk. Rhythmic, organic and infused with a punk-funk attitude crossed with Yoruba rhythms. Recorded between London and Paris, mixed in New York, the album Captain Rugged has a psychedelic quality that he sums-up with a rather engaging: “George Clinton sharing a joint with Fela”. His latest album is his most meaningful yet, and acts as a bold, hopeful statement here from Captain Rugged and Keziah alike.