Friday, August 30, 2013

Nomadic Bliss-Bombino

One of my great musical discoveries of 2013 is the album "Nomad" by Nigerian singer-guitarist Bombino (Omara Moctar). Masterfully produced by The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, the album is rich with North African rhythms, vocals sung in the Tuareg language of Tamashek, and an endless supply of hot guitar jams from Bombino, who is said learned how to play by watching videos of Jimi Hendrix and Mark Knopfler.

Bombino is from a nomadic "Tuareg" tribe which is an arabic term meaning "abandoned by God", and these are songs filled with an air of searching and discovery. Without understanding a word of the vocals, you feel you're being taken on a unknown journey that it both strange yet oddly familiar. Instantly likeable, this disc rewards repeat listening and is by far one of the best of the year.


Monday, August 26, 2013

The Return of The Replacements!!!

Whether they're consciously aware of it or not, every music lover has that one seminal band that opened their ears and hearts to the power of what music means to them. Those bands who completely change your perception. Like Dorothy walking from the black and white Kansas into the color of Oz. I have a few who did that for me (Bowie, Sonic Youth, Velvet Underground, Dylan) but the band I often forget about was The Replacements.

One of the "reunions no one ever thought would happen" occurred last night as The Replacements  triumphantly played their first gig since their unexpected "breakup show" in Chicago on July 4, 1991. And for 90 minutes with fists in the air on that hot summer day in 1991, no one was a bigger "Mats" fan than I. As an angsty 16 year old music freak, no one represented the power and glory of rock and roll like The Replacements. They merged the alienated, rebellious feelings of youth with three chord "crank it up" beauties that sounded as if they were written just for you. Like Pete Townshend, Lou Reed, and Bruce Springsteen before him, Paul Westerberg was able to write songs that broke through all the confused, messy, emotional shit going on in your head and made you feel you were not alone. And it was all done with the punk/pop beauty of songwriting that sounded instantly familiar even though no one else was doing it like them.

Even if The Replacements are now only Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson (Slim Dunlap had a stroke last year), their return is cause for a rock and roll celebration. While admittedly some of the songs from last night lack the fury of their 80's heyday, this is obviously understandable. And with songs that great, it really makes no fucking difference. Until I saw the videos from last night's show, I had forgotten how much their music meant to me as a youth. But with the magical power of music, was it really that long ago?

The Replacements, Riot Fest, Toronto, ON, Canada
1. “Takin’ a Ride”
2. “I’m in Trouble”
3. “Favorite Thing”
4. “Hanging Downtown”
5. “Color Me Impressed”
6. “Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out”
7. “Kiss Me On the Bus”
8. “Androgynous”
9. “Achin’ to Be”
10. “I Will Dare”
11. “Love You ‘Til Friday”
12. “Maybellene” (Chuck Berry cover)
13. “Merry Go Round”
14. “Wake Up”
15. “Borstal Breakout” (Sham 69 cover)
16. “Little Mascara”
17. “Left of the Dial”
18. “Alex Chilton”
19. “Swingin’ Party”
20. “Can’t Hardly Wait”
21. “Bastards of Young”
22. “Everything is Coming Up Roses” (From ‘Songs For Slim’ EP)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday Song

When I finally get all the time in the world to listen to all the music I want, one of the artists I will immerse myself in will be Akron, Ohio's Joseph Arthur. He wrote one of the best songs of all time with the 2001 classic "In the Sun", but every song I've heard from him throughout the years has rocked my world. There is no doubt he's one of the best and prolific songwriters of the last 20 years. Listening to the great World Cafe radio show, I was turned on to this amazing song from Joseph's new album "The Ballad of Boogie Christ". These are simply the best lyrics I've heard all year and this song is currently on repeat in this house.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Inspiration and New Laura Veirs

Hello fellow readers. Yes, I'm back writing this labor of love of all things music, film, and whatever moves me at the moment. After not feeling "it" for the past months, sometimes life hands you a beautiful gift that awakens something in your heart and soul to inspire you to do everything you love.

So what I'm loving today is the new album by Portland, OR singer/songwriter Laura Veirs titled "Warp and Weft". Laura's 2010 album "July Flame" was perhaps my favorite album that year, so my expectations for this one were very high. This album exceeds them.

Recording again with her husband/musician/producer Tucker Martine, "Warp and Weft" has more musical layers than Laura's past work, yet those layers only add to the depth of her fantastic writing. Recorded while she was pregnant with her second child, these are not cheerful songs about the joys of parenthood but songs of longing, love, hope, innocence, fear, acceptance, and letting go. Oh, and there's a brilliant song about Alice Coltrane.

If you truly "feel" emotions, no one captures that magic feeling of yearning and hope that gets in your gut the way Laura Veirs does. With special guests the likes of Neko Case, Jim James, and K.D. Lang, the album with be hyped as such. But make no mistake, this is Laura's baby all the way and one of the finest albums of the year.