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SOME STUFFS: New release from the Neil Young archives to be released this week

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If you are a hard copy fan, you’ll have to wait another week to have it but digital fiends will be able to buy a new installment of Neil Young’s archives series. Live At The Cellar Door is, as the title indicates, a live album recorded in 1970 at the Cellar Door in Washington, DC, in what were acoustic rehearsal shows for his then-forthcoming Carnegie Hall performances. As you know, Young was celebrating the success of his great After The Gold Rush album and was only a few months away from releasing what would become Harvest, but the way Young works, he may have had three more albums ready to record. The Cellar Door shows features performances of “Tell Me Why” and “After The Gold Rush”, along with renditions of Buffalo Springfiend’s “I Am A Child” and “Flying On The Ground Is Wrong”. You’ll also hear what were the public debuts of “Old Man” and “See The Sky About To Rain”, which wouldn’t be heard until February 14, 1971 when Harvest hit stores.

You may pre-order the album digitally, vinyl, or compact disc (in that order) below through Amazon.

FREE MP3 DL: Jess Williamson’s “Native State”

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New year missions and anticipations for what will become new year music, and anticipating the new year is Jess Williamson, an Austin-based singer/songwriter/musician who looks forward to releasing Native State (Brutal Honest), her debut album that will be out on January 28th. The press material states she makes the kind of folk and country music you may not expect because it is haunting, but I think sometimes the best music is not what you expect from it, and it’s all about the human emotion and what we have to deal with in order to get from one place to another. Williamson makes the kind of songs that will get you from here to there, and it may move you to stay for awhile, only to look forward to whatever journey lies ahead. Listen to one of those excursions below with the title track to Native State. The album will be made available on vinyl, with only 300 copies being pressed up.

VIDEO: Shelby Earl’s “Swift Arrows”


Seattle’s Shelby Earl released her Swift Arrows album this past summer (my review of which can be read by clicking here) and yesterday she posted the video made for the title track, directed by Neil Ferron. For some nice down home music, or a song that you may need to remind you of home, have a listen to Miss Earl.

AUDIO: Chad Kichula’s “Me This Time”


Last month I posted Chad Kichula performing a cover of a Johnny Cash classic, but now you can hear one of his originals. “Me This Time” (see how that works out?) is from his latest (and self-released) effort, The Whale’s Back.

FREE MP3 DL: Loves It’s “The Angel’s Sing”

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Austin’s Loves It will be releasing their new album tomorrow, All We Are (my review of which can be read by clicking here and as a means to get you to hear it as a means to get you to buy it, you may stream and listen to “The Angel’s Sing”. If it moves you, it’s a free download as well, while supplies last.

VIDEO: Louis Barabbas & The Bedlam Six’s “Waiting For Bad News”


Youth is the latest album from Louis Barabbas, teaming up with The Bedlam Six for some powerful music that may be somewhat of a shock to older fans of his. Listen, embrace it, ride it. The video for “Waiting For Bad News” is directed by Andrew Ab and was shot in… well, I was going to say “shot in black & white” but I’m sure it was just changed in post-production to become black & white, someone prove me wrong.

COVERED: John Prine vs. Joey Sweeney

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Released 40 years ago this month, Sweet Revenge (Atlantic) was John Prine’s third album, one that has managed to prove the test of time. It may be a dollar bin gem and one you may be able to find at thrift stores, garage and yard sales, but it’s his type of folk/country, what one might call Americana, alt.country, or No Depression, that has managed to influence a generation or two. He had recorded a new album a year beginning with the start of his Atlantic contract in 1971, but it was Sweet Revenge that brought him to places, and he would end up following with a new release two years later. The cover photo features him on a random country road, kicking back in his back stage without a care in the world.

Philadelphia singer/songwriter/musician will be releasing a new album on La Société Expéditionnaire called Long Hair and early versions of the cover featured a photo of him by a beach, with the photo surrounded by blue, looking very much like Prine’s Sweet Revenge with similar lettering. Are the photos meant to be representative of someone’s sense of solitude, peace and comfort? The latest edition of Sweeney’s cover is now surrounded by a yellow background. Not sure if this is final or why there was a switch but I like the blue background better.

SOME STUFFS: Tom Brosseau to lay something on you all: a new album in 2014

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Tom Brosseau released four albums in the 00′s, and then he seemed to stop. Did he take a time off? Did he need time to rethink or regroup? No matter, Tom Brosseau fans, for he has returned with a brand new album, his first in five years, and it will be called Grass Punks, which you’ll get to hear in full on or around the 21st of January via Crossbill Records. I say “on or around” because you know how it is these days, the album will stream a week or two before its release, everyone will get a chance to hear it as a temptation technique towards wanting to buy it. It’s the world’s greatest listening booth, this internet is.

He has allowed the sharing of a song called “Cradle Your Device”, and what exactly is this device? Is it divine? Is it divided? Brosseau describes it this way:
I don’t think of ideas, I search for them. There’s motion. I know the more my body is stressed the more endorphins are released. This creates a natural high. When my mind is clear I can focus and stay focused longer on my thoughts, problems and the future. There’s humanity. I like to people-watch. I enjoy spotting color patterns, trends; watching interactions, hearing laughs. My inspection, then, switches to the problems of others. I am fortunate to have to depend upon public transportation. There’s plenty of walking, plenty of people, and lots of opportunity for idea plucking.

Gotta love humanity. In the words of Rick Springsteen, we all need the human touch, and I need it too. Maybe you too as well. Get in touch with the human in you again through Brosseau and his songwriting.

You may get in touch with him (but not touch him, unless he approves of it) beginning next week as he begins touring across the land of Midwest and Eastern America:
October 10… Grand Forks, ND (North Dakota Museum of Art) **
October 12… Omaha, NE (O’Leaver’s) **
October 14… Cedar Falls, IA (Cedar Valley House Concert) **
October 15… Rock Island, IL (Daytrotter)
October 16… Madison, WI (House Concert) **
October 17… Indianapolis, IN (Do317 Lounge Presented by MOKB) **
October 18… Chicago, IL (Old Town School) **/☎
October 19… Nashville TN (The Basement) **
October 21… Knoxville, TN (Live on WDVX: Blue Plate Special)
October 22… Charlotte, NC (Snug Harbor) **
October 23… Asheville, NC (The Grey Eagle) **
October 27… Brooklyn, NY (Manhattan Inn)
October 28… Hamden, CT (Outer Space)
November 1…. Burlington, VT (Radio Bean)

** w/ Sean Watkins
☎ w/ Paula Cole

REVIEW: Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience (2 of 2)”

 photo JT2020Two_cover_zpse29f502f.jpg Time seemed to go by fairly fast between the moment the first 20/20 Experience dropped and the second one made itself known. The first volume in this new Justin Timberlake musical saga ran a little over an hour, so to have an extra hour of music seemed awesome, gratifying, and insane. With the first volume, I felt Timberlake had created the perfect definition of an album, a risk in 2013 when most pop fans aren’t flocking to albums as people used to. People have continued to bash Timberlake for whatever reason: being white, being a country boy, and being someone he isn’t so he decided to challenge the naysayers. For The 20/20 Experience (2 of 2) (RCA) he decided to embrace what the naysayers are saying about him and to throw it back at everyone.

I liked the first Experience a lot so as I started listening to the second installment, I thought a few things. At first, I didn’t think these songs were that good, at first. Obviously, by calling the albums a 20/20 Experience, he wants us to get a full vision of what he’s trying to create but I wondered “is this just too many extras? Are these just songs that should’ve been left to be bonus or non-LP tracks?” The one thing that was immediate: Timbaland. His style is great and you know it is his sound that is being heard, and that made up for what I was feeling with the first two tracks. What changed things was the third track, one that featured Drake called “Cabaret”. I’m not what you’d call a Drake fan but I’ll listen, and his performance here is fairly decent. The pairing here works, and that was the moment the album got better and more interesting. While Jay-Z makes an appearance on the Experience with “Murder”, his references to John Lennon and Yoko Ono seemed half-assed and misinformed, and I felt that in a world where anyone and everyone can do a search on Google, he is someone who came off as clueless as J. Lo in the claim that Ono had what it had taken to break-up The Beatles. Incorrect, Mr. Carter, put on a dunce cap for that.

There are three noticeable things on this album that stood out from the rest of the material. “Drink You Away” has a very strong country feel with gospel roots, but it could also be a blues song. To me, it seems that if Timberlake senses his style of soul/pop could lose a following, he could always move over to the country side. It wouldn’t be a problem, and maybe people remember that photo of him with Britney Spears where they both showed off their denim duds. He most likely grow up with a good share of country too and this could easily become a song he performs next year as part of a collaboration with a country artist at next year’s Grammy award ceremonies. Or do a country remix with Lady Antebellum or Little Big Town. I can see it, and he should do it. The other thing is the rock feel of “Only When I Walk Away”, which for some reminded me of Janet Jackson when she did “Black Cat” and how people felt it was a stretch, a challenge, and a risk. One might argue that that can be said for Timberlake, which will lead others to say “well he’s white, he doesn’t have to worry about risk” but still, rock isn’t familiar to most even though he once played bass with the Flaming Lips for a television performance. Why shouldn’t any artist be able to play around with genres and have fun? By the time the album gets to this point, the mood of the album had gone beyond fun.

The third thing I noticed happens in the last third, where lyrically he starts to get more aggressive and swears a bit, as if he’s trying to show a hip-hop edge or by being a rock’n’roll bad boy, but I wondered if it was truly necessary. Timberlake can be whatever he wants in his music, and yet I have always felt he had been reserved and pushed himself to an established limit and never went past it. I’m old enough to full understand what those vulgarities mean, I do not need a parental advisory but I don’t think the songs really needed them, as the attitude he wants to establish is already there. Fortunately, this feeling isn’t something that happens throughout but maybe for Timberlake, this is very much a part of the Experience that he wants to share, that full vision that allows listeners to understand where he is coming from, even if some of those elements are unnecessary.

In comparison, the second Experience is good but not as good as the first. As a whole, both Experiences are masterful and are this generation’s Use Your Illusion, displaying an artist who is willing to share his heart and soul to everyone, and to see how far he can and is willing to go. At the same time, some of the songs here can be considered seeds for where he could find himself next. He doesn’t have to kowtow to anyone, and I feel Timberlake could make any type of music at this point and be a success, and I’m sure he is confident in knowing this. Anything he does could be considered a risk, and yet he is a risk taker doing the tasks by his own rules, within his own limitations, which are probably non-existent. A lot of music today is marked with designer labels, but it’s nice to hear a major label artist pulling off the kind of things today that were once part of the norm in the music industry years ago, while still understanding the standards that once were. To be limitless while holding to the limits shows incredible restraint, and one wonders what would happen if he really let himself go. Maybe that is his full vision, The 20/20 Experience in its grandest form. If we allow ourselves to fully see, imagine what would happen if we allowed ourselves to fully listen.

REVIEW: Loves It’s “All We Are”

 photo LovesIt_cover_zpsa33e4062.jpgLoves It are a Texas duo who understand the roots of rock’n’roll by weaving it with everything from R&B to country and pop, before the music became something else and more mainstream. All We Are is a 13-track album (their second) that goes back to a time when there was a ruthlessness about everything from sex, lust, love, and just mere passion for anything and everything, even the non-sexual. Vaughn Walters and Jenny Parrott both play and sing with a passion, and even that would have lead to arrests decades ago, and they do it with the kind of sensibility that has nothing to do with sensibilities. Or if something like a sensibility didn’t exist. “Dancin’”, “Western Swing Murder”, “Appalachian Ballad”, and “The Angels Sing” all sound like songs that would not fit together, but they fit perfectly here because of how they write and sing their songs, and how they’re each performed. “(Would You Like To Be) My First Divorce” hurts when it should but feels loving because it is. “Scab”? Peel it and find out much of a relief it is. Real country music? Hear the heartbreak of “Flag”. You don’t have to live in a town with a population of less than 500 to feel this, Loves It know how to pull all of the right strings because they truly love what they do, and what they do is with a passion. Fear it, or embrace and love it forever. They are a forever type of group.