Ivy Tripp by Waxahatchee (Album of the Week)

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Album: Ivy Tripp

Artist: Waxahatchee

About: 13 songs; 38 Minutes

Released: 2015

Choice: Deliberate Obfuscation

Waxahatchee is the name of a creek in Alabama. Katie Crutchfield grew up near that creek and chose its name for the name of her band. “Band” is a little vague when it comes to the music of Waxahatchee. The music is mostly her voice with other sounds layered onto it. It makes for more interesting listening than would be the case if she just relied on her pretty voice and moody, reflective lyrics. This is a quick 38 minute album that features 13 bursts of musical creativity.

Many of the songs of Ivy Tripp have a do-it-yourself vibe that I loved. Summer of Love sounds like she is approaching that creek, swollen by rains, and racing by. She plops her recorder down on a rock while a dog barks nearby. She picks up her guitar and sings a melancholy song to a picture of her and a summer love. This is just one example how other sounds make the raspy sweetness of her voice more. On this one, the listener can imagine the scene – and wonder whose dog that is.

Stale by Noon is another single instrument song – this time a keyboard. On this one, she echos her own lyrics while an nursery rhyme songlike notes follow along. Again, on this one, the lyrics reflect loss and trying to figure things out – I could stop praying for everybody; I’m wasting my time. I’ll read your philosophy and get a new lease on life.”

Most of the other songs are denser than these two. My favorite of the album is Air which combines electric guitar and a cymbal/drum line that fits well with the mood of the song. Here her voice lifts and almost cries out “you were patiently giving me everything that I will never need.”

When she brings in the electric guitars and drumline, her voice can take on an edge that make you think that you don’t want to be on the wrong side of her. On a song like Under a Rock she almost snarls,

Your ravenous, insatiable

Appetite for the expendable

Will leave you just as hollow as your requiem

I like what Katie does throughout this album, and for me it works well. Dan, however, finds what she is doing on some of her songs sloppy and amateur. I disagree with him, but I understand where one could think that. Dan does see the talent here, however. For me, I like that there is something new to listen for in each track. It could be that the experimentation that she brings may not be to everyone’s liking, but no one can say all of her stuff sounds alike. Opening the album with a song that has dirge-y organ chords that rattle through its entirety is pretty bold. That low hum makes the song uncomfortable, but the lyrics are uncomfortable too – You take what you want / you wear it out / I’m not trying to be a rose / You see me how / I wish I was / But I’m not trying to be seen.

Ivy Tripp is a tour through Katie Crutchfield’s creative soul that can at times be lovely and melodic and at other times be discordant and bitter – and for me, that makes for a great and interesting listen.

Next up: Second Hand Heart by Dwight Yokum

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Tracker by Mark Knopfler (Album of the Week)

tracker_coverAlbum: Tracker

Artist: Mark Knopfler

Year: 2015

About: 15 songs; 1 hour and 15 minutes

Choice: DJR blogging

Appropriately, the liner notes of Mark Knopfler’s new album, Tracker, contains a mini-essay by the novelist, Richard Ford. Ford is known for the beauty of the language of his stories, and the precision of his words. In the essay, he recounts that he pridefully told Knopfler about an offer he had to co-write some songs with a well-known musician. He asked Knopfler if he had any advice. Knopfler tells him to stick to his novel writing. The ability to pare down a story to a few verses and choruses was not, he advised, as easy as it may seem.

It appears to come abundantly easy to the seasoned song-writer who for many years headed the band, Dire Straits. Over a long one hour and 15 minutes, Knopfler tell fifteen stories. There are poets and boxers and truckers and lovers. This is an album full of the workers and oftentimes what the toll of that work bequeaths. None of this album is Sultans of Swing or Money for Nothing. This is more Mark Knopfler as Van Morrison or any other of the Celtic singers who bring a cultural sound to their craft that is unmistakable.

The album’s opening track is a kick. It starts with the familiar Brubeck Take Five line and then Celtic fiddles and then whistles come in. It works brilliantly. And here comes  Knopfler’s familiar voice, and you can picture yourself swaying and singing along to this in an pub as you lift your mug of Guinness. “Oh, laughs and jokes and drinks and smokes and no  light on the stairs. We were so young, so young, and always broke, not that we ever cared.” He nails it on that one.

The rest is a mixed bag for me. I think part of it is its length. I like to get the album as a whole in, but I don’t really have over an hour to spend listening to a single album (unless of course we have had a dinner with guests and multiple forms of beverage in multiple types of glassware are consumed. Then, my dishwashing/music listening time can certainly accommodate such a task). Many of the songs sounded so similar to me, and when they both sound similar and there are multiple, that can get a little tedious. I can’t say anything bad about his musicianship (so wonderful still is his guitar work), or his singing and harmonizing which are really great too. I just would have liked a shorter album with the strongest of these songs.

One of those for me was one of the album’s simplest. Beryl is a song tribute to the celebrated British writer, Beryl Bainbridge, who only received a Booker Prize for literature after she was dead. The sum of the song is:

Beryl was on another level / when she won a Booker medal / She was dead in her grave / after all that she gave

Beryl, everytime they overlook her / When they gave her a Booker / she was dead in her grave / after all that she gave

Beryl, the tobacco overtook her / When they gave her a Booker / she was dead in her grave / after all that she gave

It’s all too late now

This is one of the songs on the album that lets Knopfler’s familiar Dire Straits guitar work shines. 

Dan got much more out of this than I did, and I can possibly attribute it to the fact that I did not spend as much time with it. He finds a soul here that the early Dire Straights certainly did not have. He writes that what he finds is “warm, generous and comfortable.” I do not disagree with that. I am glad that Dan brought this one into my library, and if only for that first song, I would recommend it for a listen.

Next up: Ivy Tripp by Waxahatchee

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sometimes i sit and think, and sometimes i just sit. by Courtney Barnett (Album of the Week)

SIJS-2400Album: sometimes i sit and think, and sometimes i just sit.

Artist: Courtney Barnett

Released: 2015

About: 11 songs; 44 minutes

Choice: Deliberate Obfuscation

How can I not give the highest of  praise to an album that has the line “give me all your money, and I’ll make some origami, honey?” Courtney Barnett’s cleverness with lyrics continues in her new album, sometimes i sit and think, and sometimes i just sit. More than any other album this year, this is the one I have most looked forward to listening to. In 2013, I named Courtney Barnett’s double EP release as one of my top ten albums for that year (it was a stretch since it wasn’t truly an album, and several of the songs had been released prior to 2012). But, I loved the songs so much that I felt that they needed to be on my list. Unless something unheard of happens between now and year’s end, this one will be high up on my 2015 list.

The album combines her oh-so-cleverly-wonderful lyrics with a garage rock noise factory and a languid vocal style that is perfect for her Australian accent. I ate this one up, just as I expected that I would.

The album opens with Elevator Operator – a song about a twenty year old who chucks off his tie and work responsibilities and heads to a rooftop at the same time a woman whose “heels are high and her bag is snakeskin; hair pulled so tight you can see her skeleton.” She challenges him not to jump (especially since he has such great skin that she would give anything for), but he comes back at her by saying she seems to be the one there to jump; he is only there because it provides him a real life SimCity vantage point. She tells the tale to a thumping drum and twanging guitars. She rocks it out. She is kind of Lucinda Williams melting into Chrissie Hynde to create the next generation of women rockstars.

Not all of the songs give you the full throttle rock sound. Some have more of a dreamy slowed-down sound. My favorite song from her first EP was Avant Gardener which detailed having a panic asthma attack and the ambulance coming to rescue her. On this album, An Illustration of Loneliness (Sleepless in New York) has a very similar vibe and also has that quieter sound. There is still a grungey guitar line that backs her as she narrates not being able to sleep and finding the cracks in the ceiling as metaphor for the lines in her own palm. She then scares herself by what she sees:

I lay awake at four, staring at the wall

Counting all the cracks backwards in my best French

Reminds me of a book I skim-read in a surgery

All about palmistry, I wonder what’s in store for me

I pretend the plaster is the skin on my palms

And the cracks are representative of what is going on

I lose a breath… my love-line seems intertwined with death

As expected, this album makes me want to pay as much of attention to the words as I do the music. Each of the eleven songs on the album gives the listener a narrative – some silly; some serious. There is a girl trying to impress a boy in a public swimming pool only to end up losing consciousness by trying to hold her breath too long, then, coming to with the boy and his towel gone. Depreston follows her as she takes a look at a suburban home for sale and is overwhelmed by thinking about who lived in the space before. Dead Fox is a take on environmentalism.

Dan did not get as gushy as I did, but he agrees that this is a good listen and Courtney has it going on as a rock-n-roll gal. I could go on and on snipping and pasting lyrics, but I will just cut it here. There are just so many good ones! My advice is to listen to this one!

Next up: Tracker by Mark Knopfler

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New Orleans Brass Bands: Through the Streets of the City (Album of the Week)

SOR_NOLABrassBands New Orleans Brass Bands: Through the Streets of the City

Artists: Liberty Brass Band, Treme Brass Band, Hot 8 Brass Band

About: 15 tracks; 1 hour and 10 minutes

Year: 2015

Choice: DJR Blogging

Because of our traveling to New Orleans for Ali and Jose’s wedding and all of the doings around that, our album review is delayed. Dan did, however, give us pretty easy duty with his pick.

New Orleans Brass Bands: Through the Streets of the City is just that – a musical journey through that city and through time. In listening to it, you can imagine yourself transported to the unique city that is New Orleans. The album includes fifteen pieces played by three different brass bands: Liberty Brass Band, The Hot 8 Brass Band, and Treme Brass Band. It is released by the Smithsonian Folkways collection whose mission is to document the cultural diversity of, and understanding of, our world’s sounds. Of course New Orleans brass bands belong in such a mission, but it is easy to understand this music. It sounds like good times and joy.

The cool part of this collection is that the three bands chosen represent old school classic brass bands (Liberty), a more modern version of the old (Treme), and a band that is combining the old with modern rap and bounce (Hot 8). New Orleans (After the City) by The Hot 8 Brass Band is a great example of that convergence and is one of my favorites in this compilation. It has a traditional bouncing sousaphone, call and response, and a rapping line that culminates in a screeching trumpet line. The lyrics include shout-outs to places around the city and the sentiment that this home is the only place they want to be. That there are young bands like the Hot 8 making the tradition of the New Orleans Brass Band in a new image but maintaining the roots is important. The link below takes you to a good introduction to this group.

http://www.folkways.si.edu/hot-8-brass-band-overcoming-adversity-through-music/african-american-music-jazz/music/video/smithsonian

While in New Orleans last month, we made our second visit to the Backstreet Cultural Museum. Our guide gave an amazing recounting of both the New Orleans Indian culture, and the Social Aid and Pleasure Club parades that happen most of 52 Sundays of the year in New Orleans. The format of the parade includes the first line – the members of the club sporting similar snazzy outfits and sashes; the brass band, and, finally, the second line – people who just fall in behind to parade and dance with the club. The route includes stops at businesses where the club and band members can catch a sit down and a drink of water before then move on. This goes on for hours.

For this review, I am not going to pick through the tracks of the album any more extensively than I already have. Apparently there is a great liner note booklet that came with the album, but I have not seen that yet. I am sure it can provide me with more of the history and what I should be listening for. What I want to leave with in this review is that the spirit of the music represented on this album is universal. There are second lines because people can’t help but want to dance along with the band, and the fact that everyone is invited to do so makes it wonderful!

Next Up: Courtney Barnett, Sometimes I Sit and Think & Sometimes I Just Sit

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Then Came the Morning by the Lone Bellow (Album of the Week)

thelonebellow_cvrAlbum: Then Came the Morning

Artist: The Lone Bellow

Year: 2015

About: 13 songs; 45 Minutes

Choice: Deliberate Obfuscation

I chose The Lone Bellow’s new album, Then Came the Morning as our album of the week because I knew I had some Lone Bellow in my collection, I thought I liked them, but I couldn’t really remember what they sounded like. From their website, they state that their sound “mixes folk sincerity, gospel fervor, even heavy metal thunder, but the heart of the band is harmony: three voices united in a lone bellow.” I can go along with that, but I am not sure that it helped me define this band. That description of themselves set them up for DJR Blogging to go to town on them in a pretty harsh fashion. Personally, I think they would have gotten better treatment if they hadn’t included a song that rhymed hell you ride with Telluride. That really got his goat!

The album has the format that I like best. Lots of 3 minute songs that comes in at about 45 minutes of listening. I tend to have a good feel at the end of those 45 minutes as to what a band is about. After listening to their new album for two weeks, I understand that the Lone Bellow members are fantastic at mixing their voices in harmonies. That’s about it.

This album has so many different flavors. A descriptor that comes up often in write-ups about them is “Brooklyn country.” There is that Mumford/Lumineers/Edward Sharpe-iness to them on several cuts, but there are songs that you would totally feel were straight out of the church missive, or a down home honky tonk collection. As an example of the former, there is the lovely, Watch Over Us. It is a beautiful hymn that highlights how well the three members of this band can meld their sounds as if in a unison prayer.

Sometimes I’m up

Sometimes I’m down

Sometimes I’m almost

Leveled to the ground

But my baby’s sleeping

Sleeping in peace

So watch over us

From there you can find yourself in more of a southern-rock, Drive By Truckers feel with the song, If You Don’t Love Me. Drum punches, cymbal crashes, and a bunch of bass. Or you can have a honky-tonk jive with Diner with the requisite coin in a jukebox motif. The album’s final song begins with just a guitar and solo voice. For me, there is a sound to this song that makes me picture it being sung around a Civil War campfire, but from the solo voice it moves into more of a honky tonk country band, harmonies. Here is an example of where I don’t even know what to feel about a single song, let alone the whole album!

My favorite of the album’s tracks is Marietta – one of the album’s ballads. The music is beautiful and their swelling sound works magically to make the remorse projected by the lyrics feel soul-crushing.

The worry of what couldn’t be,

the love for the lust of your name,

of losing, of winning, of striving, of leaving, of stealing

and breaking and shame,

of fighting and failing and lying and telling yourself

that you’re clean of the blame.

I let you in again, I let you in again,

you sleep with the lights on,

what you call your family are gone

I let you in again

and patiently wait for your storm.

The songs fronted by Kanene Pipkin, the woman in the trio, are an even different story. She has a throaty, beautiful voice with a little bit of a rasp. On Call to War you get a taste of that talent, but, for me, it fits in even less than some of the others. 

My final thought on this album is that I am glad to have songs of the Lone Bellow in my collection, but I may still struggle in identifying them. 

Next Up: New Orleans Brass Bands – Through the Streets of the City

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Tangier Sessions by Sir Richard Bishop (Album of the Week)

tangierAlbum: Tangier Sessions

Artist: Sir Richard Bishop

About: 7 songs; 40 Minutes

Released: 2015

Choice: DJR Blogging

First, some housekeeping. Last week’s artist, Father John Misty is in no way, shape, or form a religious leader. This week’s artist, Sir Richard Bishop has not, at this writing, ever been knighted. 

This review will be brief as there are no lyrics to parse or multiple elements to explain. Tangiers Session is a man and his guitar. Albeit, it is a special guitar – a small, antique traveling guitar found in a shop in Geneva. A guitar that, although too expensive, would not leave the guitarist’s mind. A guitar that Sir Richard Bishop bought and  took with him to Morocco. Over the week of his stay in that country, the songs of this album fell out of that instrument.

My advice is that if you enjoy music; if you appreciate the guitar; if you ever are seeking music that will let your mind wander to another place, spend some time with Sir Richard Bishop’s Tangier Sessions. In his review, Dan praises the transporting quality of this album as well. He writes that it makes me want to go to Tangier and write in a notebook with a fountain pen.” Me, I want to sit on the rooftop atop that building in Tangiers and hear that special guitar play. I imagine closing my eyes to try to create that world and then opening them to take it in the reality. Listen to this, and I think that you will want that too. In the songs, you can almost see the colors and the movement. You can appreciate the mood. There is excitement and calm. All of this is accomplished with one instrument that he seems to be master of.

There are talents that I don’t really understand, and Bishop’s is one of those. I don’t know how you get into your head the sound of a country or the sound of a culture and then put it into play. Going over to his website, I listened to clips of a bunch of his other albums. There are a myriad of sounds that he creates ranging from techno fluttering to blue-grassy wholesomeness. This man is obviously not a one trick pony. My other question is, how do you replicate these songs? Does he write them down or is the major melody memorized and then played around each time he goes to perform it? I really don’t know. I do know that this album is beauty.

This is not a record that I would have come to without our marriage music challenge. Again, it makes me happy that we do this. Maybe because of this of this album, we will one day take that trip to Tangiers – Dan with his fountain pen, me with my felt tips and glue sticks. We will sit in a coffee shop and hear this music in our memory.

Next Up: Then Came the Morning by The Lone Bellow

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I Love You, Honeybear by Father John Misty (Album of the Week)

fjm-iloveyouhoneybear-2400Album: I Love You Honeybear

Artist: Father John Misty

About: 11 Songs; 45 minutes

Year: 2015

Choice: Deliberate Obfuscation

The narrative in our head that accompanies our life is usually much harsher than what comes out of our mouth, or even, out of our pen. I would not want anyone tracking my thoughts. People who irritate you, situations that drive you crazy, not nice things you might want to do – you keep those bottled up because they wouldn’t necessarily show you to be a good or nice person. On his album, I Love You, Honeybear, Father John Misty doesn’t abide by those usual conventions.

I read that in his first go at putting together this album, his wife (aka Honeybear) told him that it wasn’t honest. As a good husband, he took her advice, and the final product seems pretty darn honest. If you listen to this as background music, you can get swept away by the beauty of it. There are layers of gorgeous sound throughout the album, and Josh Tillman’s voice is mellow and soothing. Think Fleet Foxes (of which he used to be a part of), Bon Iver, or any other bearded troubadour.

And then you come to the content, and it is raw and uncomfortable and you aren’t sure at all how to take it. Is it funny or sad or despairing or misogynistic or romantic? Yes. 

The opening track of the album is the title song. A song with Honeybear in the title is probably cute, right? The song is as lush musically as any 1970s Elton John ballad, but amidst the beauty is darkness. You get a taste of it with the first visual – “the Rorschach sheets where we make love” – and he gets more vivid than that. He moves on to describe love in the time of chaos. But, in the midst of crashing economies, dead in the street, and mental illness, his stated end game is to not give into despair because there is love. Not your standard love song, but he is obviously not your standard lover.

The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apt. is a brutal takedown of a girlfriend who drives him crazy with her affectations and pseudo-intellectualisms. It is harsh and hilarious. He makes a point even with the use of quotation marks.

And we sang “Silent Night” in three parts which was fun

Until she said she sounds “just like” Sarah Vaughn

I hate that soulful affectation white girls put on

Why don’t you move to the Delta?

Before the album came out, Tillman performed Bored in the USA on The David Letterman Show. Just listening to this song on the album, it seems a performance piece with a brilliantly inserted laugh track that kills. On Letterman, he goes full boat with the performance. He opens playing a piano that turns out to be a player piano, he kneels on the piano praying to white Jesus, a string orchestra backs him gorgeously, and the laugh track taunts just as it does on the album.

Oh they gave me a useless education {laugh}

And a subprime loan {laugh}

On a craftsman home {laugh}

Keep my prescriptions filled {laugh}

And now I can’t get off {laugh}

But I can kind of deal {laugh)

Oh, with being bored in the USA {applause}

When he finishes and puts down the microphone, the audience remains quiet and then tentatively begins to applaud. They seem to be struck with the “what the hell was that?” phenomena.

Dan also has a little bit of the “what the hell” after listening to this album. He likes the sound and appreciates his antics, but wonders who this Misty/Tillman guy really is. I get the feeling that he feels a little taken for a ride on this one.

This album doesn’t want to give you a chance to ignore it. I appreciate that it plays with honesty in a way that stirs discomfort, but also some recognition. Like I said, I  don’t want anyone reading my mind at all times, but I am glad that Josh Tillman lets us into his for this one.

Next up:  Tangier Sessions, by Sir Richard Bishop

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Fear and Saturday Night by Ryan Bingham (Album of the Week)

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Album: Fear and Saturday Night

Artist: Ryan Bingham

About: 12 songs; 53 Minutes

Year: 2015

Choice: DJR Blogging

Dan and I didn’t exchange Valentine’s gifts this year, but this week’s album felt like a romantic exchange. Dan writes his own love letter to this album over on his blog and talks some about our introduction to this musician. This album feels different from our first meeting, but it feels as real with the grit of life as ever.

We saw Ryan Bingham in 2009 in a basement bar in Breckinridge where we danced and fell in love with a new act which we had serendipitously came upon. The second time we saw Ryan Bingham was after he won his Academy Award for the song The Weary Kind and he was opening for Willie Nelson at Red Rocks. Between then and now, I haven’t lost my pleasure in listening to Ryan Bingham, but it hasn’t really been stoked. Listening to his new album, Fear and Saturday Night, stoked the Ryan Bingham flame for me. I think a lot of it has to do with how honest all of this felt.

I have a thing for gravelly voiced singers with drawls, and, lordy me!, does Ryan Bingham epitomize that genre. There are a couple songs on this album where you might be afraid that his voice will not make it through. But it does, and he has himself an excellent album that is personal and real, and he shows up as a found man.

The album opens with Nobody Knows My Trouble. When Dan shared this album with me, the songs weren’t in order. I tried to figure out what song would open it, and I correctly picked this one. The song’s message is a great dichotomy of happily saying he is living the good life, but everyone needs to back off, and don’t go thinking they have him and his path figured out. And he does it in the style of a bouncy cowboy song. That line where he tells people to just stay away couldn’t sound more friendly!

As an album that we listened to during the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, this seemed a perfect choice. Were I Mrs. Bingham, there is much here that would make me swoon, but his way of doing it is to maintain the heart of a bad boy. In Fear and Saturday Night he almost mournfully sings of what he can’t escape from: But I don’t fear nothing except for myself /  So I’m gonna go out to raise me some hell/ I’ll take my chances, I was born to run wild / Hell, it’s Saturday night, I’m going to town. And he counters that need to run wild with his good intentions on Darlin where he sings let’s dance on top of the wire / I’ll try to keep myself in line.

There is a lot of mellowness on this album, but he is such a good poet that you can’t cast them off as sappy songs of a dude in love and about to have a baby. Each song gives you something different. There is love and struggle and hope and happiness. And there are songs that bring back that rocking sound that he pounded out in that bar in Breckinridge. Top Shelf Drug is one of those – nasty guitar licks and lots of cymbal crashing.

This was a great reintroduction to an artist that I had pushed in the back of my listening line. His life has obviously taken many turns since we claimed him as a find back in 2009, and where he seems settled now feels balanced and creative. Well done!

Next up: Father John Misty’s I Love You, Honeybear

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No Cities to Love by Sleater-Kinney (Album of the Week)

sleaterAlbum: No Cities to Love

Artist: Sleater-Kinney

About: 10 songs; 33 minutes

Year: 2015

Choice: Deliberate Obfuscation

Dan thought I was choosing a hyphenated husband-wife duo when I chose Sleater-Kinney for our album this week. He soon realized that this band is anything but that. I admit that I came into this album with prejudice. I wanted to like this album a lot because my son, Sam loves Sleater-Kinney so much. Sam likes things that are cool, and I listened to it during the week that Sam married a very cool woman in a very cool way. It seemed like a good AND cool motherly thing to do if I, too really loved this album. So, if you are the dubious sort, you may chalk this up to me just glad handing. I really do love this album.

The first song I listened to was S-K’s David Letterman Show performance of A New Wave. That performance is indicative of the whole of the album. Songs that go from 0 to 60 immediately, and have a catchy hook that nails it. At the end of that performance, you hear Letterman say, “That’s right! That’s exactly right!” Here you have three women – each of the forty years old – rocking like no one’s business. I heart that. It is exactly right.

The ten tracks on this album are 3-minutes nuggets of beat poet energy. As I listened more and more, I caught the lyrics that make up the energy. Seeing them written down in the booklet that comes with the CD, is a visual of the song style. Short clips of ideas and notions:

I’ll take God when I’m ready

I’ll choose sin till I leave /

Where’s the evidence

The scars, the dents

That I was ever here? /

Wanna walk to, walk off

The edge of my own life /

We speak in circles

We dance in code

Untame and hungry

On fire in the cold

Those are lines from four of the songs, but I could have put examples from each that exemplify that same kind of staccato energy. They converge messages of injustice, identity finding, life’s hard knocks and girl power. Put to music, the message is blasted out.

This fun YouTube video of the title track, No Cities to Love starts out with Fred Armisen playing a keyboard on a city street and then cuts to a bunch of notables belting out the song. You have your Sarah Silverman being licked by her dog while she belts it out; Miranda July dancing awkwardly, Andy Samberg botching the lyrics … It is a perfect representation of what this whole album is. It makes you want to shout along, jump up and down, and bop your head to the crazy drum line that anchors each song. 

I am not cool enough to say that this version of Sleater-Kinney that comes 10 years after their last album is a different send up of the band. I honestly don’t know.  I have one other Sleater-Kinney album in my Itunes and it is their third album, Dig Me Out from 1997. I can tell you that 1997 was a time of my music listening that I wasn’t seeking much outside of my singer-songwriter world. Probably, if one of those songs came up in my shuffle, I would have skipped forward for something calmer. I am not a much different person from who I was back in 1997, but one of the areas that I think that I am very different is the flavors of music that now fill my music loving heart. There is now a place in there for Dwight Yokum, and even, Run the Jewels. And, the piece of my heart that housed punk in the 1980s but had shrunk in the 1990s, is now opening housing for rockers like Sleater-Kinney. I think that’s cool.

Next Up: Ryan Bingham’s Fear and Saturday Night

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The Beautiful Bones by Kelley Hunt (Album of the Week)

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Album: The Beautiful Bones

Artist: Kelley Hunt

Released: 2014

About: 12 songs; 50 minutes

Choice: DJR Blogging

Dan’s choice this week, Kelley Hunt’s, The Beautiful Bones is tricky for me to write about. I listened to it several times, but had a hard time forming an opinion about it. Kelley Hunt has a nice voice and the instrumentation is well done on this album. There is just nothing that grabbed me and made me want to discover more.

A couple artists came to mind as I was listening to this album this week. Bonnie Raitt with her smokey, bluesy voice, and Sharon Jones with her high energy, give-em-hell soul. Kelley’s style is scaled down than Sharon’s, but there are a few tracks like Release and Be Free where she comes close to bringing the passion that I really love in Sharon. The Sweet Goodbye and Let it Rain have a Bonnie Raitt-y closing-the-bar-sad-song quality. But despite being very much in line with some artists that I do like very much, she doesn’t nail it for me. This one isn’t going to be one that I come back to with enthusiasm.

Somewhere between gospel, soul, and blues captures the spirit of the songs that make up this album. It loses me both in not being a genre that I love, but also I didn’t find any of the songs really captivating.

This is where hearing an artist live may help in my listening. I expect that if I went into a Kelley Hunt live performance cold – having never heard her music to any extent prior – I would come out of it a fan wanting to buy her cd. Not having her performance presence in my mind, and not being a big fan of the kind of music that she does, makes my review an unenthusiastic one.

Bill Shapiro, the host of the local music radio program, Cypruss Avenue, recently did a whole program on the music of Kelley Hunt. She was the first local artist that he has ever done this for. I only heard a little bit of the broadcast, but what I did hear was gushy outpouring of her talent. I agree that she has a strong vocals and instrumentation, but I am not onboard with Shapiro on this one. I also am not sure why he has not been able to find other Kansas City artists to highlight on his show. There certainly are others out there who warrant his attention.

Dan has some reservations about the album, but his review more positively capture what this album has going on. While everything that he writes is true, I’m sticking with my opinion.

Next Up: Sleater-Kinney’s No Cities To Love

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