Album Review : Charlie Sayles

It is no secret that rock music owes its existence to the blues. Charlie Sayles is a mean blues harpist who proves he is the real deal from the first few notes he blows into his harmonic. Its dirty dive bar blues, the likes of which that inspired Tom Waits'  booze splattered odes.  The album is raw and authentic. Production wise it very well be a mic on stage.  the funk to "Green Peace" gives it the gumption to look at the bigger  picture than just lamenting at a bar. The guitar is a little low in the mix with  the drums  carrying the groove. He gets into more of a road house blues shuffle on "These Chains" which also has slight gospel undertones, as the song reflects on the pit falls of addiction. His harmonica solo sit where guitar solos typically would in this kind of music and are a welcome diversion, after all how many times can you take some one wanting to be Stevie Ray Vaughn.

Though "Laughin and Grinnin" is more what you would it expect it, still carries more swing than stereotypical blues and really gives Sayles the space to cut loose . They break out some classic twelve bar blues walk downs on "Arella". The vocals go down into a steamy whisper. This album continues to take you on a tour of the varied moods of blues taking on a more easy going lounge feel on " I Don't Want to Die" which finds the harmonica trading off with the guitar. The song "A New Day Coming" reminds me of a more breezy and easy going take on something Hendrix might have done in one of his less drugged funk moments. There is more of a Texas blue phrasing to the soulful ballad "Vietnam". Sayles doesn't just blow into his Harmonica with a rhythmic intensity and hope for the best like many do, he has a very lyrical quality to his playing that can caress a melody.

The album closes with " Those Things of Old". The song's honky honk twang still holds a groove to it is not unlike those used by Howling Wolf or Albert King that would later be bastardized by Led Zeppelin. However many bands from the British Invasion pulled liberally from this period of blues. Its evident that Sayles is plugged in directly to the roots of the music. If you are hungry for some real blues and want it light on the guitar solos , but heavy on having it's roots firmly planted in the real shit then this album will not do your wrong. It's being released on Fetal Records, check out a taste below.

Album Review : Magnificent Birds Of Prey's "Kaleidoscope"

This band out of Philly is a bit of an odd bird. Many genres collide here, but the foundation is cerebral grunge with progressive ambitions. The range can as tender as Genesis era Peter Gabriel, but often break out into throaty roars though not of the metal variety.  These roars even occur over angular jangle to "Icon" .They walk a weird line between Police like new wave on "Can't Wash My Soul"punk inflected rock.  "Writing Every Thing Away" finds the  guitar jerking the more tender side of their vocalist with  drums rolling  adventurously around the proceedings . The first song where the lyrics grab you in s the geek friendly "Storm Trooper Blues" . This song comes from of  one of Darth Vader's minions who finds himself having second thoughts after his vacation request gets denied. The guitars are  slathered in digital delays bubbling with surrealism in a dreamy juxtaposition to the vocals  huskier blues based tone.  The use of backing vocals is the most punk element to most of the songs, since punk rock never indulges in the sort of effects that makes up sound of these birds of prey.

The band's strength  is their ability to step out of the rock confines and slip into smooth jazz flavored undertones displayed on  "Statue".  The lead singer finds room to wander as the band uses their chops to create the  black light backdrop. "Seven" is a modern take on Jimi Hendrix. The vocals croon prompts the band to go off on a funky prog punk vision quest . On the album's harder moments the drummer is allowed to flex his talents. They glide on cruise controlled groove with "Collide O Scope", before the vocals yet again tense up adding grit. The reflective jazz tone drifts into psychedelic dimensions on "Drive" but with a dose of Spanish castle magic funk in the mix. Their idea of a lullaby sounds more  like something Sublime might have concocted in a stoned moment of inspiration. The bonus track "Sharpie" is available to those who pre-order the album, which comes out August 18th. 

Album of the Week : Delta Deep

If I told you the bassist from Stone Temple Pilots and the guitarist from Def Leppard started a band your first thought would be"Hmmm I bet it sounds something like Velvet Revolver" and you would be wrong. Instead these guys are digging digging down into the southern backwaters to play some Mississippi blues. A key component to their new sounds lies in the project's leade singer Debbi Blackwell Cook. Debbi made a name for her self as a backing vocalist for the upper tier of jazz and blues. Now Cook is stepping up stage and is ready for her close up. One thing interesting about this album is you find out how underrated of a guitar player Phil Collen is. He shows that his chops go way beyond getting the rock out of here. His blues fills are even more fluid than when some like Jeff Beck has dipped into similar territory. He does crank up the rock gain on some of the solos. You do hear the ghost of 80s metal past in the big arena rock chorus of "Down In the Delta". Cook's tough alto works similar to Tina Turner over the more rock portions . There is a smooth groove and vocal exchange between Cook and Collen on " Treat Her Like Candy". The  Stevie Ray Vaughn like strut to "Miss Me" does not keep it from being the most friendly to modern rock radio.

They tackle roadhouse blues like Page and Plant did on the first two Zep albums. The organ flowing under this song gives them the edge to accomplish this. David Coverdale shows up for the duet on "Private Number" without it sounding like a Whitesnake song. Its funny that they also cover a Deep Purple song  later in the album since Coverdale did a stint with that band as well. However when Joe Elliot joins in on "Shuffle Sweet" it does result in something that sounds more like it could have appeared on one of the more recent Def Leppard albums. Collen begins to take over the mic on "Black Coffee" with  he and Cook sharing equal time on "Feel It".

Since Deep Purple is one of my favorite classic rock bands I had high expectations for "Mistreated". Their version hits with the same hard rock pump. I was surprised when Collen took the mic for this one since any thing sung by Ian Gillan is ambitious, Cook does take hold of the second version to grant the song the more fitting vocal acrobatics.If you were a fan of that Badlands supergroup that Jake E Lee was a part of you can find a lot of common ground here. It makes sense that this era of rock would come to the cross roads with blues, there has been a lot of common ground as far as playing is concerned to this feels pretty natural and considering the caliber of musicians has to deliver if you are a fan of any of their previous work , it is worth your time and if you are skeptical but love the blues it is worth checking out to make you a believer.

This Weekend : Iceage, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Morrissey

This weekend is so crammed full of music until I am having to cram it all into one post. First off there is Iceage at Drunken Unicorn tonight , who I have been dying to see as they were one of the best Dannish Punk band, which is a harder title to capture considering how the scene their is flourishing so. Now they are just one of the best new bands, since there new album "Ploughing Into the Field of Love" found the band out growing some of the limitation of punk and expanding their sound into a dirty rock n roll. Front man Elias' drunken mumbles are now emoting with more notes being sung, but retaining the attitude from his punk days. I would be at this show, but parenting requires that I had to pick a night for a baby sitter this weekend so if you know me then you know who had to win out despite the fact that I have already seen him as much as he has cancelled on me.

Red Bull Sound Select and Tight Bros are presenting:

– $3 with RSVP / $10 Without RSVP / Doors at 9pm / ALL AGES /

Next up tomorrow night is Unknown Mortal Orchestra who is touring to support the album "Multi Love" that come out last month. Showing that pop can still be smart and not that guilty of a pleasure. There are elements of everything to the good time drugged out feel of the Beatles tripping years to electronica, layered with e smooth vocals and danceable backdrop has to make for a good time. Alex G is opening and the show starts at 9 so you can still catch Unknown Mortal Orchestra if you are going to Morrissey since Terminal West isn't that far from Symphony hall which normally brings their concerts to a close at around ten. At 15 bucks it is certainly a cheaper ticket than the 70.00 Morrissey tickets, so if you are only a marginal Morrissey fan, then UMO is the smart was to go on a starving artist budget.

Morrissey will waltz out on stage at 8:30 so far his set list is as follows below

  1. (The Smiths song)
  2. (The Smiths song)
  3. Encore:

  4. so that's 9 songs from "World Piece is None Of Your Business" and only 3 Smiths songs so if you are a bigger fan of the Smiths than Morrissey then this might not be the show for you.

Picking Up the Slack for Mtv: The Apache Relay

Accessible, nostalgic, thoughtful and even slightly intoxicating the way it sticks in your head - The Nashville act The Apache Relay's song Don't Leave Me Now does a hell of a job articulating desperation and how one can be completely fixated on not only someone else' attention, or lack thereof it,  and forget the rest of the world exists but, also, lose sight of the fact that life will go on if that someone isn't there. Most of us have been there and are better for it, but unless you've been married to the same person since you were a teenager, you realized at a certain point, accept and even embrace the idea to an odd degree that people will move in and out of your life - and it's best for your mental stability to not be overly dependent or expecting of relationships.

Album of the Week : Shannen Nicole's "Captive"

There is more to singing than just good pipes. You can have range and power, but what do you do with it. This is a question some artists can answer on their first album and some spend a career exploring. So its remarkable that Shannen Nicole has developed such an ear for it by seventeen. She has an impressive back drop of soulful groove to place her jazz inflected sass over. She is a pop singer if you mean pop by it's definition in the 1950's. She is quick to drop things down by the second song. "Damsel" finds her dripping her voice over the slinky lounge orchestrations. There is a slightly more contempary ballad feel to "He Told Me".  It sways like classic r&b.

The title track keeps things at a simmer, before it
breaks down into just piano and strings. The backing instrumentation is never an afterthought. Sometimes it's lush big band orchestration and then on songs like "Once Upon a Life"it could be care free folk  band backing her.  There is very "Earth Angel"where it's stripped down to just Shannen and a guitar on "Sensitive". Her music is never dark, but it comes close to brooding on "She Knows It" which has a pretty clever chorus.  Then there are songs like "Lonely Heart" where  she mixes genres in ways that can not be as easilly defined taking folk and mixing it bosa nova rythyms. 

 Amy Winehouse and almost every other female singer who drenched there music in pop-jazz and began to croon, owes their vocal stylings to Sarah Vaughan, Shannen is included in this but also blends in other influences, these remain hidden due to her knack for mixing genres. The first time you will hear traces of other artists influence is a slight touch of Norah Jones and a dab of Jewel on "Stay". "Wicked Lullabye" is all groove that her voice dances along with. It's funk drums set against western blues. One of my favorites songs is the more somber and introspective "Choices". She closes the album out with a more traditional ballad in "2 AM". If you are a fan of smart retro tinged pop like Adelle, Amy Winehouse, Norah Jones and Lana Del Raye, then this is an album you will want to add to your collection. She never mimics the artists I mentioned, but has plenty of common ground with them.  Expect big things from her. She has the looks and the chops, a dangerous combination in the music biz. 

This Summer : The South By South Orange Festival

We have roots up north and tons of friends, be it our blog family or our family in the world of like minded artists, one of whom is Tomas Doncker, the man behind the True Groove Global Soul label as well as one of the pivotal figures to come out of New York's No Wave scene along with Mike Griot. Now the two have joined forces to launch the South By South Orange Festival on the weekend of June 26th  at the Sopac Theater in South Orange New Jersey. If you are up that way either going home from college or  for the weekend this is an even you won't want to miss if you are north of Virginia.The concert is being curated by bassist Mike Griot.  Doncker's work always tries  to connect music to listeners on a deeper level than what the current state of popular music offers so it should come as no surprise that the goal of the festival is  to show how art, science and creativity collide to bring forth innovation.  and while Doncker's band will act as the house band the weekend will also feature appearances  by Living Colour drummer Will Calhoun, The Wailers front man Josh David and violinist Alan Grubner. Doncker will also be performing his "Big Apple Blues" album that he wrote in collaboration with Pulitzer Prize winner Yusef Komunyakaa.

From his Howlin Wolf album here is a taste of Doncker's take on the Willie Dixon song...yes, the Doors did not originally write the song. The Dixon penned tune was recorded by Wolf seven years before Jim Morrison and friends touched it. Doncker also released the gripping soul ballad "New Day" that was also recorded during his performance at the Iridium in New York City. This track is worth checking out as Doncker shows why he has had the honor to play with every one from Bill Laswell to Yoko Ono, he can tear the fret board inside out and spit it at you.

Doncker also released the gripping soul ballad "New Day" that was also recorded during his performance at the Iridium in New York City. This track is worth checking out as Doncker rips the solo a new one. While a much mellower groove that comes close to gospel, if you have like any of the other stuff I have covered from True Groove Global soul, then hearing how immaculate this comes across live is sure to blow you away.