Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness - Brooklyn, You're Killing Me

The new song by Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness is my first highlight for 2017.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Marc Martel - The Silent Night EP

Marc Martel, known for his astonishing Freddie Mercury-esque vocals, takes a surprising approach on his new Christmas offering. Aptly named, The Silent Night EP, it serves as a refreshing addition to a chill evening get-together with family and friends.


The EP sets a distinct singer-songwriter-meets-synth-pop feel, and is full of moments that would cause anyone to stop and listen. The title track is almost theatrical in its stark acappella intro, conjuring the image of Martel standing in some remote snow-blanketed forest, while singing the most familiar Christmas carol of all-time.
Melancholy classics like "O Come Emmanuel" and "In The Bleak Midwinter" also stand out as emotional piano-driven ballads where Martel's refined instinct for preserving a song's fundamental core, while giving it his own artistic arrangement, shines. Grammy award winning guitar and banjo virtuoso, Ron Block (Alison Krauss & Union Station), brings his brand of Tennessee bluegrass to Martel's sound on "What Child Is This?" The track list contains a cohesive selection of 5 traditional Christmas classics, including "O Holy Night," but also gives us a novel take on Martel's own "How Many Kings".

Track listing:
1. Intro
2. Silent Night
3. In The Bleak Midwinter
4. O Come, Emmanuel
5. O Holy Night
6. What Child Is This?
7. How Many Kings

Listen to the full record - and buy it HERE!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Josh Fix - Free At Last

Free At Last is the debut record of Josh Fix. It's his first - and only - full length record to date (also there is the "Steinway The Hard Way" EP from 2004 and the "This town is starting to make me angry" EP from 2009).


Free At Last was recommended to me for years, but I was never ready to listen to it properly. Now I did: What I discovered was nothing less than the powerful, refreshing and playful record in years.

If you're into Queen, Ben Folds, ELO, Jellyfish, Elton John or Bleu you should take a close listen!

Start with: I thought about it first / Jethro / Free at last / Don't call me in the morning


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Mike Viola - Interview & Acousto De Perfecto

In July 2012 Mike Viola released his latest full length record Acousto de Perfecto. You can order it directly at Lojinx (vinyl, CD, digital).


Along with the record release Mike Viola was so kind to give me an interview:

How Acousto De Perfecto did came about?

After recording Electro De Perfecto and playing a few shows with my rock trio around Los Angeles I headed out on tour solo, alone with my guitar where I landed on this idea to make Acousto De Perfecto. Stripped down versions of Electro De Perfecto. I have this tendency to compartmentalize my material.


"This is my rock record" - "this is my live acoustic record with all new songs" - "this is my guy trapped in his basement far reaching swinging for the fences POP record" - this whole idea of Acousto De Perfecto kind of flies in the face of compartmentalization.
Confuses things.  Muddles the story.  But it's ultimately really satisfying to hear the Acousto De Perfecto immediately after the last track of Electro De Perfecto "When The Stars Are Against Me". It opens up the lifespan of the songs for me. For the idea the creator has for his creation. Not only Frankenstein, but the Son, the Bride, meets the Wolfman - maybe the new way of doing songs isn't some eternal flame "ultimate version" like any Beatles or Stones record.  But rather, an interpretation. I sound pedantic. Foolish.  See, if you think about these things too much you begin to put them in a compartment. Stupid humans. Off to the show!

Acousto de Perfecto cover

Acousto De Perfecto spawned out of being on tour alone playing the songs from Electro De Perfecto. I didn't want to simply make a parallel record of all the songs on Electro De Perfecto done acoustic so I included some new material that I was gathering for whatever record of mine was coming next. 
Secret Radio was written onstage live at a show in Charlotte NC. This guy, a fan of pop music was putting on a "pop fest". He paid all his favorite pop artists to come to NC, put them (us) up in hotels and rented out this hall. Maybe a gym at a college? Can't remember. Anyway. About 13 people showed up on a rainy Friday night. It was an utter failure. It spoke volumes about the distorted self-perception that fans of pop music have about their pop brethren. That's another story. An ugly long story. The story of Secret Radio is me singing to those 13 people. Explaining something in song. that  they are the reason I try and try again. And always will. No matter how pathetic the numbers. I sing to the  people who lean forward and sometimes way too far back to hear the right melody, lyric, emotion wrapped up in a sexual midst that lies or lays somewhere between the girls in the train car in Hard Day's Night and the tattooed love boys. They mine their record collections for just one more surprise. A fix. Anyway... that song was a direct delivery from that haggard muse hanging in the stale air of that empty auditorium in Charlotte NC one cloudy summer night.  

Why do you think vinyl LPs have this huge comeback particularly in the recent years?

Cause vinyl is better and people know that. CDs were an invention by manufacturers. SONY invented the CD player and the CD format. Then they bought Columbia records and forced vinyl out of existence. At least I think that's what happened. Anyway, the internet has come along and along with it main street America is coming back and so is vinyl.  It's always the corporations that fuck shit up for us little guys. CDs... never liked them. Walmart... don't shop there. I'd rather pay twice the amount for my chunk of cheese elsewhere. 

How did you meet Bleu? Your cooperation with him and Ducky Carlisle (L.E.O., The Major Labels) were great efforts – is there a chance of anything more in the future?

I was doing these shows in Boston called "Mike Viola's mix tape". My friend Andrea Kremer introduced me to William James and told me we'd fall in love. She was right.  L.E.O. was all his idea. TML was the first and last band I've ever been in. It's highly unlikely we'll do another record. I died at the end of that one anyway.   

TML - Aquavia cover

Who was the last singer/band that took you by surprise?

Probably Rufus Wainwright. When he did Want One. I didn’t really get him before that record. Just didn't hear it. But that one knocked me out and then I went back and fell in love with his earlier stuff too.  

Is the internet in summation good or bad for musicians/bands - in terms of file sharing, crowd funding, blogs and social networks?

It's great for me. Can't speak for everyone else. I love it cause if I hear about something that's supposed to be good I can immediately check it out, or buy it, or not. And for me as an artist I can reach my fans directly, they know where to find me. 

You did movie soundtracks in the past (The Dewey Cox Story, Get Him to The Greek, That Thing You Do etc.). It’s surely fun to write lyrics like Furry Walls or African Child, is it? I loved the performance of Furry Walls at the end of the movie (the beginning is incredibly funny)!
As much as I love all the records of Aldous Snow (except the one before his creative hiatus – that was crap… ;-): Is there a chance we will ever listen to these songs with Mike Viola on vocals?

Hem. I just did a tour with Adam Schlesinger where we played a bunch of songs from the movies we've worked on. There are demo recordings of me singing every song from the movies I've worked on and also songs that didn’t make it. For Greek I think Dan Bern and I wrote close to 30 songs. 


What do you think about your early songs nowadays (MV & the Bottom Line, MV & Snap, Kenmore Square…)? Is there a song you like in particular?

Oh that stuff is terrible. BUT, there are some earlier songs and recordings of mine that are really inspired naive and punk rock. I'm going to release some of that hopefully this year on 7". 
But SNAP was horrible and the records we made are even worse than what we sounded like live. One thing we could do was harmonize really good though. I miss that.  We drank tons of beer, harmonized and played darts. Okay there's a few songs I like. I think there's so much memory wrapped up in those songs so it's hard to tell if I really hate them or I just hated who I was when I was making them. But I'm pretty sure I hate them.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Owsley - Discography

The Semantics - Powerbill Demos (1993)
01 Sticks and Stones
02 Future For You
03 Glasses and Braces
04 Johnny Come Lately
05 Coming Up Roses

The Semantics - One More Step (Demos - by PopFair / 1993)
01 Heart Attack
02 Simple Thing
03 Vegas
04 Standing Still
05 Pamela
06 One More Step
07 Jerry Deacon
08 Lonely Girl
09 Gone
10 She's So Clean
11 Victim for Somebody
12 Baby It's You
13 This One's For Me
14 The Facts of Life
15 Hippy Woman
16 Wildflower
17 Maria
18 Merry Go Round
19 Avalon

The Semantics - Powerbill (1993 recorded / 1996 released)
01 Sticks And Stones
02 Future For You
03 Coming Up Roses
04 Jenny Won't Play Fair
05 Average American
06 Don't Say Goodbye
07 The Sky Is Falling
08 Black And Blue
09 Johnny Come Lately
10 Life Goes On
11 Glasses And Braces

Owsley - Owsley (Original Version / 1998)
01 The homecoming song
02 Coming up roses
03 Good old days
04 Uncle john's farm
05 Sentimental favourite
06 Oh no the radio
07 Zavelow House
08 Sonny Boy
09 Class clown
10 Mess with me

Owsley - Coming Up Roses (Single / 1999)
01 Coming Up Roses
02 The Homecoming Song
03 Mess With Me

Owsley - Live in Newark (1999)

01 Intro
02 Oh no the radio
03 The homecoming song
04 Coming up roses
05 Uncle johns farm
06 Zavelow house
07 Sonny boy
08 Sentimental favourite
09 I'm alright
10 The sky is falling
11 Good old days
12 Class clown
13 Last Goodbye (live Jeff Buckley cover)

Owsley - Owsley (1999)


01 On No the Radio
02 I'm Alright
03 Coming Up Roses
04 Good Old Days
05 The Sky Is Falling
06 Sentimental Favorite
07 Zavelow House
08 Sonny Boy
09 The Homecoming Song
10 Uncle John's Farm
11 Class Clown
12 Band on the Run
13 Mess with me - Good old days (reprise)

Owsley - Live (2000)
01 Intro
02 Good Old Days
03 Sentimental Favorite
04 Coming Up Roses
05 Last Goodbye (Jeff Buckley)
06 Class Clown
07 Sonny Boy
08 Uncle John's Farm
09 I'm Alright
10 The Sky Is Falling
11 Zavelow House

Owsley - Acoustic Session (2003)
01 Be with you
02 Rise
03 Dude

Owsley - Live in Nashville (2004)
01 Intro
02 She's The One
03 Oh No the Radio
04 Dude (live)
05 Coming Up Roses
06 Zavelow House
07 Matriarch
08 My Old School (Steely Dan)
09 Rise
10 Down
11 Rainy Day People
12 Be With You
13 Good Old Days
14 Outro

Owsley - Live at Vintage Vinyl (2004)
Owsley - Live at Vintage Vinyl 04-03-2004 (complete concert - audio/video)

Owsley - The Hard Way (2004)

01 Be With You
02 Rise
03 She's the One
04 Dude
05 Down
06 Matriarch
07 Undone
08 The Hard Way
09 Dirty Bird
10 Rainy Day People
11 Got A Lot On My Head (Cars Tribute)

Owsley - Changes (Rare Songs - by PopFair / 2010)
01 Psycho
02 Changes
03 Mess With Me
04 Upside Down
05 Got a Lot on My Head
06 When Lonely Comes Around
07 Band On The Run
08 Leave it all behind
09 Endlessly
10 Won't get fooled again (live Seattle 2000)
11 Ruth Trimble and Will Owsley - May It Be

Ethos Music with Owsley (circa 2010)
01 Far from me
02 Fountain of Youth
03 Take Me to the Place

Owsley - Changes - Version 2 (Rare Songs - by PopFair / 2016)
01 Fountain of Youth
02 Psycho
03 Changes
04 endlessly
05 Far from me
06 Mess With Me
07 leave it all behind
08 Upside Down
09 Take Me to the Place
10 When Lonely Comes Around
11 Feel No Pain
12 Got a Lot on My Head

Rare
Chris Andrews & Owsley - Someone To Trust

Friday, September 9, 2016

Bleu - A Watched Pot

A Watched Pot - the third record of Bleu - was supposed to follow Redhead but got into a lot of trouble.

A Watched Pot cover

A Watched Pot was recorded with John Fields in 2005 for Aware/Columbia Records.
A few weeks after finishing the record Bleu was dropped from the label (as well as many other artists) because of downsizing of Sony.
This didn't stopp him to play his songs and stream them and new ones at Myspace (Do you remember Myspace? It's so long ago!). The record was never released on CD or digital ... until 2009! 


These four years were full of creative work: Bleu moved from Boston to L.A., put out L.E.O.  - Alpacas Orgling (a project with Mike Viola, Andy Sturmer of Jellyfish and Jason Scheff of Chicago), founded The Major Labels (a power-pop project with Mike Viola and Ducky Carlisle) and released Aquavia (the first and maybe last record of The Major Labels), and worked as a producer.

The A Watched Pot sessions resulted in these songs (I'm not sure if this list is complete and absolutely correct):

- Save Me
- Boy Meets Girl
- Come 'n' Go
- The Blame Game
- It Can't Be Bad (If It Feels So Good)
- Go
- I Won't Fuck You Over (This Time)
- What Now
- What Kinda Man Am I
- No Such Thing As Love
- The Penguin Song
- I'm In Love With My Lover
- Kiss Me
- One Day
- Singin' In Tongues
- When The Lights Go Out
- A Watched Pot
- Take Cover

The retail version was finally released on July 14, 2009 with the following track list:

1 Save Me
2 Come 'N Go
3 No Such Thing As Love
4 Boy Meets Girl
5 Kiss Me
6 I Won't Fuck You Over (This Time)
7 When The Lights Go Out
8 What Now?
9 Go
10 One Day
11 What Kinda Man Am I?
12 The Penguin Song (hidden track)

I'm In Love With My Lover and Singin In Tongues were used for FOUR (the follow-up of A Watched Pot in 2010) while The Blame Game, It Can't Be Bad, Take Cover and A Watched Pot were released with Besides, a compilation of B-Sides and previously unreleased material in 2011.

Bleu said: ”It truly means the world to me to finally get this record released. It always feels good to put your art out in to the world, but after all I've gone through for this material to see the light of day, the reward is particularly sweet.”

I am so glad Bleu was finally able to release this album.
A Watched Pot may not be as upbeat as Redhead was, but these songs are so strong - it would have been a shame not to have it out in the world.
It's a perfect record, in terms of production, clever lyrics and wonderful harmonies - all is carried by the wide ranged strong voice of Bleu.


I won't go into detail about the songs, just listen to them! Only one thing: there is not one single song on this record that is not addictive, catchy and marvelous.

Here are the official videos for No Such Thing As Love And Come'n'Go:




Listen to A Watched Pot here:

 

You can buy the record at the official website: www.bleutopia.com

Rooney - Calling The World

Calling the World is the second studio album by Rooney. With three years of recording, about 50 songs in total and John Fields producing (!), the album was finally released in 2007.


Robert Schwartzman (lead vocals, guitar), Taylor Locke (lead guitar, backing vocals), Ned Brower (drums, backing vocals), Matthew Winter (bass guitar) and Louie Stephens (keyboards, piano) present nothing less than their best record to date (in my humble opinion).

You can easily discover many influences, like Queen or E.L.O. - and Powerpop all over the record.

To sum it up: It's so good, it's in heavy rotation since weeks at my turntable. You might experience the same...


P.S.: Though there was a new Rooney record out in 2016 ("Washed Away"), it's sadly not the same level as "Calling The World". With "Washed Away" the only remaining member of the band is Robert Schwartzman.