Tag Archives: Recommended

Chris Staples – Golden Age

Chris Staples_HeadshotI maintain a playlist called Golden that pulls together a bunch of songs that give me fall shivers and nostalgic heartstring tugs. There’s loads of Beck’s Sea Change, Kurt Vile’s Walking on a Pretty Day, Steve Gunn’s Sundowner, Elliott Smith, Damien Jurado, Lord Huron, and now…Chris Staples.

Staples’ new album, Golden Age, shares more in common with those songs and that feeling than its title. There’s a type of sadness, without being maudlin. And maybe that’s to be expected. After a rough patch where Staples was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes that resulted in pancreas failure, a bike accident that required surgery, and the dissolution of a long-term relationship, Chris Staples is afforded some sad bastard time.

But that’s what’s great about this record: it’s not sad bastard music. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE me some of that. But Staples’ album maintains a bit of pop bounce with lovely melodies and simple production. It’s been described as a “subtle” record, which I guess is as good anything I would come up to describe the production. Because subtlety implies hidden complexity, and this record has that in spades.

Give a listen to lead off track “Relatively Permanent” and tell me you aren’t ready to sit down with Chris, have a beer, and talk about where you grew up.

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Drunken Prayer – Heigh-Ho Nobody Home

My original forays into freak folk started with Hasil Adkins, who defies genre assignment but personifies the spirit of this strangest of musical styles and really put me on a path of weirdness. Charles Manson’s famous demos ended up on mix tapes and further piqued my curiosity. Charlie’s a wicked man, make no mistake. But there’s something very tender about his demos and “Look at Your Game Girl” is a bona fide cult classic.

Enter: Morgan Geer and his ongoing odyssey, Drunken Prayer. I’ve seen various incarnations of this project from the solo crooner to the neo-Vegas stage show to the psycho freakout mountain holler. Geer covers a lot of ground, and most of it via the ditch.

“Heigh-Ho Nobody Home” is a tasty sampling of his home-style witch’s brew. Geer is DYI all day long and his House of Morgan video series applies his own warped sense to sound and vision. Dig in and sop it up.

Drunken Prayer on Fluff and Gravy Records

The Growlers – Good Advice

Some friends in the know have been trying to turn me onto The Growlers for a while. And really, why have I not been listening? I trust my friends, especially when it comes to music recommendations. Well, I finally got around to it and because I consider you, our readers, friends I implore you to not repeat my mistakes.

This is our music. It’s a bit druggy, a bit psych, a lot cool.

Listen now. Get your shit together. It’s good advice.

And then dig this awesome video:

North American Tour Dates:
09/05 – Denver, CO – Hi Dive
09/06 – Denver, CO – Hi Dive
09/08 – Lawrence, KS – Bottleneck
09/09 – Minneapolis, MN – 7th Street Entry
09/10 – Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall
09/11 – Ann Arbor, MI – Blind Pig
09/12 – Toronto, ON – Lee’s Palace
09/13 – Montreal, QC – Il Motore
09/14 – Allston, MA – Brighton Music Hall
09/17 – Providence, RI – Columbus Theatre
09/18 – New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom
09/19 – Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brenda’s
09/20 – Washington, DC – Black Cat Mainstage
09/22 – Atlanta, GA – The Earl
09/23 – Nashville, TN – Exit In
09/24 – Memphis, TN – Hi Tone Cafe
09/25 – Dallas, TX – Dada
09/26 – Houston, TX – Fitzgerald’s Upstairs
09/27 – Austin, TX – Scoot Inn
10/10 – Victoria, BC – Upstairs Cabaret
10/11 – Vancouver, BC – The Rickshaw
10/15 – Seattle, WA – Chop Suey
10/16 – Spokane, WA – The Bartlett
10/17 – Portland, OR – Alhambra Theatre
10/18-19 – San Francisco, CA – Treasure Island Festival
10/25 – Orange County, CA – BEACH GOTH III at The Observatory

The Pack a.d. – Sirens

So, last week I decided to check out the love show of a band I knew nothing about. I don’t get to do that nearly as often as I’d like to, but my pal and local PR man, Nathan put the word out he was looking for a date and I decided to go hang out with him. (Full disclosure: PR man Nathan Walker wrote a few pieces for GLONO in another life. He only sends me shit he thinks I’ll actually like, making him a GOOD PR man).

Nathan knows I like good rock and roll and the whole point of this site is to talk about and share the bands we think everyone should know about. Well, here’s The Pack a.d. Dig ‘em.

MP3: The Pack a.d. – Sirens

The Pack a.d. – Sirens (Official Music Video)

Wooden Wand & The Briarwood Virgins – Briarwood

Wooden Wand’s James Jackson Toth has traversed some rough country—or at least the characters in his songs have—and there’s a jagged edge around his songs that belie the often tender lyrics at the heart of them.  The remnants of those journeys are sprinkled throughout the new album Briarwood with the “patches on my jacket and stickers on my car” the most literal and the weary drawl of Toth’s voice the most poignant. You can believe him when he says “nothing else will do.”

Of course, journeys mean movement, which can leave trails of interrupted relationships and missed opportunities. Toth’s ability to detail in almost journalistic fashion the ramifications of the emotional wreckage left behind helps navigate troubled waters without coming off schmaltzy. In the end, “we’re all just passing through.”

Just as Briarwood is a deft balance of lyrical emotionalism and storytelling, the music is equally tasty. Dollops of keyboard and swells of slide guitar carry the songs and take you to the edge of breakdown without ever taking the easy way out. If the beauty of jazz is what’s left unplayed, then Wooden Wand has picked up a thing or two from their smoky colleagues.

Wooden Wand & the Briarwood Virgins – Big Mouth, U.S.A.

Josh T. Pearson – Last Of The Country Gentlemen

Josh T. Pearson - Last Of The Country GentlemenJosh T. PearsonLast Of The Country Gentlemen (Mute)

How do you grade a perfect album? More to the point, how do you review an album so remarkable that its perfection will ultimately turn most listeners off?

And here is something else that will blow your mind: Most of the people who end up disliking Last Of The Country Gentlemen after they’ve heard it still won’t be able to pan it very much, because that would be like piling more agony on a guy that sounds like he’s just had the worst day of his entire life.

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Bob Dylan – The Original Mono Recordings

Bob Dylan - The Original Mono RecordingsBob DylanThe Original Mono Recordings (Columbia/Legacy)

Cynics will note that there is virtually no difference performance-wise between the mono recordings of his first eight records for Columbia, so why bother? They will then point to the success of the Beatles’ mono box as the financial motivation for Sony (Columbia’s owner) to pull a similar move, a clear attempt at getting Dylanophiles to dig deep in their wallets once again.

But what cynics also need to acknowledge is that these eight records are absolutely essential and probably half of them changed the course of rock music. So if you’re going to exploit a legendary artist like Dylan with some fancy, overpriced packaging, at least you’re doing it with material that’s pretty hard to fuck up.

In looking at it from that perspective, if someone who is just beginning their studies of Rock Music 101 were to approach the Dylan catalog for the first time, they may as well fork over the dough all at once for the format presented here.

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Freeway and Jake One – The Stimulus Package

Freeway & Jake One - The Stimulus PackageFreeway & Jake OneThe Stimulus Package (Rhymesayers)

My introduction to Freeway was on Kanye West’s “Two Words”, from his debut album College Dropout. I thought he was a remarkable rapper. I liked the percussive flavor of his voice, and the beard is somehow compelling, too. I thought his MC moniker was a bit odd, but it turns out it isn’t a reference to an actual freeway, but to Ricky “Freeway” Ross, the drug dealer credited with introducing crack to LA. If it sounds familiar, it’s because Miami’s Rick Ross drew his moniker from the same drug dealer.

The Stimulus Package has the most elaborate CD packaging you can imagine. It’s a wallet, with a roll of dollar bills with the lyrics printed on them. No plastic involved. So when I came across it, I had to check it out. The guy from the Kanye video with his mug printed on giant Monopoly dollar bills. How is that not cool? The Philly Freezer is in fine form on this one, and it has the added bonus of introducing me to the brilliant production work of Jake One.

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Cee Lo Green – The Lady Killer

Cee Lo Green - The Lady KillerCee Lo GreenThe Lady Killer (Elektra)

Cee Lo Green’s new album The Lady Killer is the perfect party record. Like Green himself, it’s big and bold – a mix between a James Bond soundtrack and a classic 60s Motown record, with a hint of the inventiveness you’d expect from one half of Gnarls Barkley.

The character Green has created in the The Lady Killer gets his introduction in, appropriately enough, the “The Lady Killer Theme” intro, and his voice threads through each song on the album. He’s at his most playful in “Fuck You,” the first single off the record and a story in itself. It’s a pop masterpiece.

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Z-Ro – Heroin

Z-RoHeroin (Rap-A-Lot)

Sometimes the universe drops something completely unexpected in your lap. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes it’s not. I recently decided to check out all the 2010 hip hop releases that my public library had.

My intention was to get a sense of the state of hip hop today by exploring the library’s collection. I couldn’t afford to buy dozens of CDs, and I wouldn’t have known where to begin. What I got, though, was a glimpse of one of the greatest rappers I’ve ever heard, Z-Ro, a man who has released a dozen albums in as many years, but is still an underground voice outside of Houston, TX.

Heroin is the third in a trilogy of drug records, with Cocaine (2009) and Crack (2008) preceding it. I picked up Cocaine after I discovered Heroin, and it’s a great album as well. The weird thing is that they share two songs, but with different names on both albums. “We Don’t Speed” is “Tha Police” on Cocaine, and “Shotta” is “Move Ya Body” on Heroin.

“Never Let Go” kicks off Heroin with a big, dark funk. The production grabbed me right away and got me thinking of Dr. Dre. Z-Ro has a very arresting bass voice, and I love his flow. His rhymes are hard, pained, real. Depressed, not depressing.

The album features choruses you might find yourself singing. Which would be bad, because they tend to be a bit foul. “Do Bad on My Own” is a brilliant song with a poignant chorus that has Z-Ro doing the harmonies, layered one on top of the other.

“Real or Fake” announces itself big and heavy with a great synth and guitar intro. Dripping with deep, dirty southern funk. Then Mike D (not the Beastie Boy) practically steals the song from Z-Ro with his verse.

“We Don’t Speed” is a gripping rap about getting pulled over by a cop. “Man, it’s just weed, you trippin’!” This verse is worth a read:

Since Barack Obama became the first black President,
The police have been waging war against the black resident.
Racial profiling is at an all time high.
We represent 10% of the population,
But 65% of the jail population, and I can’t tell you why.
A lot of us are guilty as charged, and as much as I hate to say it,
Some brothers deserve to be behind bars –
You know the ones who beat on women, and the murderers, and the rapists,
and especially the ones that kidnap and even abandon babies.

Intense, right? An interesting angle on a fairly common topic in hip hop. When Z-Ro raps about himself, he’s starkly honest. He makes me like him, flaws and all. I’ve listened to a lot of new hip hop albums over these past few months, and Heroin is the best of the bunch. I’m going to start working through more of his back catalog next.

Video: Z-Ro – “Driving Me Wild”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAa891UirjM&fs=1&hl=en_US]

Z-Ro: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, eMusic, MOG, wiki