Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Musical Graffiti, 3/29-- T-Bone! Simon!

Lookee and listen here, folks-- here's some fantastic music news to brighten your Wednesday"

1. Yahoo has a good interview with T-Bone Burnett, in which the great producer talks about his new album as well as his work with Cassandra Wilson. Thanks to Jeffrey Overstreet for the link.

2. Rolling Stone has exciting news about a new record from Paul Simon-- his first since 2000's memorable You're the One. Surprise releases May 9th, and includes some exciting guest musicians-- including producer Brian Eno!

Friday, March 17, 2006

More new album news: Emmylou Harris and Mark Knopfler

Yet another new album to be excited about in 2006. Rolling Stone has the story behind All the Road Running, a duets collection due April 25:

For the past decade, whenever Harris and Knopfler found themselves in the same city, they'd rent a studio and lay down country duets. It started with a brief session seven years ago and ended with two weeks in Nashville in 2001. The result is a quiet, country-flavored album featuring twelve tracks mostly written by Knopfler, including two ballads inspired by 9/11, "This Is Us" and "If This Is Goodbye." The latter, inspired by an Ian McEwan story about the doomed airplanes, has Knopfler and Harris portraying a couple contemplating their final moments together. "I'm glad it works as a straightforward love song," Knopfler says. "I wanted to just point out the value of a life lived with love in it. If there's any answer to barbarism and backwardness, then that is it."

Musical Graffiti, 3/17-- The Overstreet Edition!

Big thanks to Jeffrey Overstreet for providing me with two blogworthy links for today.

First, don't miss the sneak peak of Ron Sexsmith's new single, from his upcoming album Time Being (May 16). Sounds fantastic.

And, check out Jeffrey's rave review of the new Don Peris album, Go When the Morning Shineth:

Go When the Morning Shineth is Don Peris's second solo venture, and this one is mostly made of instrumentals, with two songs along the way--one of which features Karen, and in the other he's joined by Denison Witmer.

From the dreamy “Day Trip,” with its rhythm-guitar punctuation and honey-drip guitar plucking, to “Jubilee,” in which he provides himself with jazzy drum accompaniment and interweaving layers of loop effects, it's clear that Peris is feeling a bit more experimental than usual.

The guitar stylings will be familiar to Innocence Mission fans, but the atmospheric effects give some number a fresh twist.

Can't wait to hear it!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

First impressions of the new Donald Fagen album

One might be tempted to call this the new Steely Dan record-- it does, after all, feature one of the band's two co- master- minds, as well as several other musicians who have appeared on recent Dan releases. And it is very much in the same vein as the last two Dan albums, stylistically-- in fact, Fagen and Becker haven't really changed their sound much at all since 1980's Gaucho, either as a band or as solo artists.

Thing is, Morph the Cat is actually better than either of the new millenium Dan albums. Sure, it's another set of smooth, sophisticated, jazzy pop, with the emphasis squarely placed on mood and tone. But the songs here are, quite simply, some of the best to ever come out of the Steely Dan camp. The melodies are more immediate, the grooves more irresistible, and, for the first time in a long time, the sleek, subdued production doesn't suck all the life out of the proceedings-- there's so much chemistry between the musicians here, so much warmth that was sadly missing from albums like Two Against Nature.

And as a songwriter, Fagen's never been better. That trademark Steely Dan cynicism is still in tact, but here there's so much humor and pathos that it's anything but a downer. There's a song about a giant, ghostly cat hovering over Manhattan; a conversation with the ghost of Ray Charles; a meditation on a quotation from W.C. Fields; even a song about a fling with an airport security officer.

At this point some of the songs run together in my mind-- particularly toward the end of the album. But that's always the case with albums from Fagen and/or Becker, and it's likely that the individual tracks will begin to distinguish themselves more with further spins. As it stands, though, this is one of the most pleasurable and memorable albums of the year so far, and may very well stand as one of 2006's significant recordings.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Ben Harper doubles up

Ben Harper's got a new set of discs on the way-- yes, that's right, discs. Both Sides of the Gun is a double album with one disc devoted to rock and roll numbers and another to more introspective ballads. In other words, Harper's done turned into a Foo Fighter!

Rolling Stone has the first review.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Van Morrison Pays the Devil

Oh, and by the way... Neko Case isn't the only first-class vocalist releasing a new album tomorrow.

Thom Jurek raves about Van Morrison's first full-length foray into country music, Pay the Devil.

Here comes the Flood...

Ever read one of those reviews that's just so doggone enthusiastic-- yet still fair, balanced, and intelligent-- that you almost find yourself loving the album in question based on the review alone?

Mark Deming's take on the new Neko Case album is one of those reviews. And, having heard the album myself, let me assure you that the man is right. Fox Confessor Brings the Flood is a fantastic album, and better with every listen. Tomorrow's the big day, so get thee to a Best Buy or Tower Records first thing tomorrow morning!