Archive for the 'Reviews' Category



13
Dec

NHT’s Best of 2008

Every blogger’s gotta have one so here’s my list for the best of a pretty strong year. Click on the album covers for band websites.

#1 Blitzen Trapper – Furr (Sub Pop)

The finest 6 piece band in Portland delivers an adventurous stunner on their fourth record. There’s so much going in every song I feel like I’ve heard a whole record’s worth of ideas after two or three tracks. Where do I start? It’s the Kinks meets Of Montreal, early Dylan meets Wilco, After The Gold Rush era Neil Young meets Beck.  And I’m diggin’ the 80’s hair metal logo!  Suffice to say that if my boys sing along to every tune then it’s been in pretty heavy rotation around the NHT house.  I do skip “Black River Killer” when the kids are around; hard to explain that one to a nine year old…

God + Suicide

Black River Killer

That last one is downright chilling live.

#2 Crooked Fingers – Forfeit/Fortune (CAI/Red Pig)

CF’s latest sheds the freak folky Americana leanings of their past efforts in favor of a Blitzen Trapper type rock infused with Arcade Fire’s sense of drama (without their tiresome aura of self-importance) and tasteful doses of Latin and Eastern European flavor. Guests include Brian Kotzur (Silver Jews), Tom Hagerman (DeVotchKa) and Neko Case. This may be Eric Bachmann and his shifting brood’s best yet. Unfortunately I can’t bring myself to include the cover art (hey, we’re kid friendly ’round here)

¡No Me Lo Des!

Luisas Bones

The Crooked Fingers released this one all by their lonesome. Buy it here: http://www.crookedfingers.com/

The Golden Hour

#3 Firewater – The Golden Hour (Bloodshot)

Original review here.  Tod A can still bring it after 10+ years out of Cop Shoot Cop. A brilliant travelogue about Tod’s 3 year sojourn through India, Pakistan, Israel & Turkey, bringing a solid rock foundation to showcase music from halfway around the world.

Some Kind Of Kindness

Weird To Be Back

Leeds me to believe Tod’s happier living out of a suitcase…

#4 Buena Vista Social Club – At Carnegie Hall (World Circuit)

Original review here. Finally a magical night of Cuban music sees the light of day. Music that was a revelation in 1998 on the studio record is nothing short of incendiary in this live setting. The sheer joy and exuberance of these incredible musicians, many playing the US for the first time, pours out of the speakers.

Chan Chan

El Cuarto de Tula

#5 Paul Weller – 22 Dreams (Yep Roc)

The Modfather takes a bold, audacious step outside the comfort zone that dulled his last couple of albums and succeeds in spades. Solo record #9 is his most varied yet, touching on Brit folk, blue eyed soul, jazz, crunching rock, driving psychedelia, Middle Earstern grooves and piano ballads. So inspiring to see an artist still able challenge himself after 30+ years. Guests include Robert Wyatt, Noel Gallagher, Graham Coxon (on drums, only Weller could bring together the Hatfield & McCoy of Brit rock), Gem Archer and Ocean Colour Scene’s Steve Cradock is all over this (he also gets a production credit).

All I Wanna Do (Is Be With You)

Push It Along

#6 The Last Shadow Puppets – The Age Of The Understatement (Domino)

Review of “Standing Next to Me” single here. A collaboration between Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner and Miles Kane (Little Flames, Rascals). It’s early Bowie’s 60’s symphonic-pop meets Love meets The Yardbirds with Enio Morricone and John Barry flourishes. Delicious.

My Mistakes Were Made For You

Separate And Ever Deadly


#7 The Dodos – Visiter (FrenchKiss)

One of my favorite local bands I haven’t seen live yet. ‘Course I don’t get out much… Their second album is smile inducing from start to finish. Another guitar-drums duo (I was hoping bands without bass players was a passing fad) fills so much space with so little. Here’s a couple tracks from Visiter live from The Doug Fir Lounge, Portland recorded in October of last year:

It’s That Time Again > Paint The Rust

And my fave tune from Visiter: Fools

#8 David Byrne/Brian Eno – Everything That Happens Will Happen Today (Todomundo)

Original review here.  If Nonesuch hadn’t reissued their first collaboration My LIfe In The Bush Of Ghosts this new record may never have happened. Getting back in touch for the reissue, Eno mentioned he had a large cache of tracks and Byrnne offered to compose lyrics. Sheer beauty ensued.

Life Is Long

One Fine Day

Available only on their website it here.

#9 Foals – Antidotes (Trasgressive)

This post-new wave Oxford, UK 5 piece sounds like Gang Of Four for a post Arctic Monkeys world. So catchy, so much fun. Here’s a live version of one of my favorite tracks of their full length debut:

Red Socks Pugie

Thanks to Indie Boy for the recording. Ther’s more live and rare Foals than you can shake a stick at here. Here’s another fave of NHT:

Cassius

#10 Raconteurs – Consolers Of The Lonely (Warner Bros.)

One of the best shows I saw all year. Jack White is a straight up rock star, Brendon Benson is an underrated genius, great songwriting,  driving guitars, killer hooks, what’s not to like?.

Carolina Drama

Salute Your Solution

When they played “Carolina Drama” at Slim’s White stepped to the front of the stage to deliver the last couple of versus without the aid of amplification. You could have heard a pin drop as his voice reached every corner of that room. Gave me the chicken skin…

And the best of the rest, hopefully to be fleshed out in the near future:

#11 Alejandro Escovedo – Real Animal (Back Porch)
#12 The Botticellis – Old Home Movies (Antenna Farm)
#13 Los Campesinos – Hold On Now, Youngster (Arts & Crafts)
#14 Drive-By Truckers – Brighter Than Creation’s Dark (New West)
#15 Antony and the Johnsons – Another World (Secretly Canadian)
#16 The Zydepunks – Finisterre (Nine Mile)
#17 Jesca Hoop – Kismet (Columbia)
#18 Aimee Mann – @#%&*! Smilers (Super Ego)
#19 Calexico – Carried to Dust (Quarterstick)
#20 Lucinda Williams – Little Honey (Lost Highway)

09
Dec

These demos kill fascists

Finally got around to seeing “Man In The Sand” and was riveted throughout. Billy Bragg did a marvelous job creating music to a handful of the thousands of unrecorded songs Woody Guthrie left behind after his death. Seeing Bragg’s journey from Guthrie’s hometown of Okemah, Oklahoma to the shore off Coney Island, the last place Woody called home, added a whole new perspective to what was already one of my all time favorite albums. Rumors of tension between Jeff Tweedy and Bragg about song selection among other things have long circulated but the only allusion to it in the film that I could see was this less than thinly veiled quote from Tweedy: “In the conversations that we’ve had that have not been arguments, but just discussions, Billy starts talking about the big picture. And these are things that I haven’t thought about at all. My only response to him is, ‘You know what, I bet Woody would just pick the songs that didn’t suck.’”

If you don’t own Mermaid Avenue go out and buy it this instant. If you do and love it like everyone who owns it does than “Man In The Sand” is revelatory. Here are some unreleased demos, outtakes and alternate versions to get you started:

Billy Bragg & Wilco: Mermaid Avenue Demos

She Came Along To Me
All You Fascists
Agin’st The Law
Agin’st The Law
When The Roses Bloom Again
California Stars
Hesitating Beauty
Greenback Dollar
My Flying Saucer
Hoodoo Voodoo
Ain’t Gonna Grieve My Lord No More
Give Me A Nail
Birds & Ships
She Came Along To Me
I Guess I Planted
Eisler On The Go
The Unwelcome Guest

Zip them demos: Mermaid Avenue Demos zipped

05
Dec

Free Les Blanks LP

Les Blanks’ sound is a hard thing to pigeonhole. There’s a distinct scuzzy 70′s rock thing in there with a bit of Clash and a Modest Mouse type indie twist. But then the next song comes on and you’re riding the planks at a honky tonk dive. A minute later there’s a harmonica driven blues hollerin’ at you. I just love surprises!

Their second album, Shoot The Horse is being offered up for free via their website (or maybe from this player doohicky, if it works, below). The album’s available for purchase in myriad higher quality formats as well for a Radiohead style “name your own price” type deal.

They proclaim to be from Mount Echo Atwater, CA. Cool, sounds better than LA…

19
Nov

New Music

There’s definately a spot for the new Crooked Fingers record on my best of 2008 list. Forfeit/Fortune sheds the freak folky Americana leanings of their past efforts in favor of a Blitzen Trapper type rock infused with Arcade Fire’s sense of drama (without their tiresome aura of self-importance) and tasteful doses of Latin and Eastern European flavor. Guests include Brian Kotzur (Silver Jews), Tom Hagerman (DeVotchKa) and Neko Case. This may be Eric Bachmann and his shifting brood’s best yet. Unfortunately I can’t bring myself to include the cover art (hey, we’re kid friendly ’round here)

Phony Revolutions

Your Control – featuring Neko Case

Forfeit/Fortune is available in a variety of formats at the Croked Fingers Online Store.

The Eagles Of Death Metal’s skuzzy brand of 70′s boogie-disco-glam rock just gets better and their third record, Heart On, kicks serious ass and takes every name. Starting as a one-off side project of Queens Of The Stoneage frontman Josh Homme (who forgoes the guitar/lead vocalist thing to display his drum chops) with longtime pal Jesse Hughes, the Eagles have been going on & off for over ten years now. To call this their most polished effort to date isn’t saying much but tempering the supercharged Rolling Stones/T. Rex send-ups of yore with a bit of maturity is a welcome step forward.

Anything ‘Cept The Truth

Wannabe In LA

More tunes and tour dates can be found on the Eagle’s myspace page.

Stephane Wrembel is a French guitarist based in Brooklyn who plays killer Django Reinhardt inspired acoustic jazz. For Gypsy Rumble, his first recording on local Amoeba Records, he’s augmented his regular trio with David Grisman, one of the greatest mandolin players around. Absolutely mind boggling musicianship and the most inspired playing I’ve heard from David in some time.

The Stephane Wrembel Trio with special guest David Grisman

China Boy

Swing 48

Check out Stephane’s website for live dates (if you happen to find yourself in Brooklyn in the next few weeks) and, bizarrly, gypsy jazz rythm guitar tracks you can play along to.

06
Nov

New Music

The Zydepunks – Finisterre

The third record from these New Orleans cult favorites is a kick ass good time with Eastern European, Breton and Cajun grooves infused with a fierce punk energy and lyrics in Spanish, English, French Creole and Yiddish. Comparisons to Gogol Bordello are inevitable but these five would absolutely hold their own in a sweat soaked dance floor throw-down. With any luck they’ll come back to the Bay Area again (apparently they played 924 Gilman & The Balazo Gallery in December of ’06).

Cuando Creceran Los Flores

When My Ship Sails Away

Buy their records here. Check out more songs and a handful of tour dates at their homepage (sadly they seem to prefer Europe to the West Coast). They’ve been nominated for zydeco band of the year, vote for ‘em here.

Buena Vista Social Club – At Carnegie Hall

How in the world could World Circuit/Nonesuch have been sitting on these tapes for over ten years is beyond comprehension. Well, better late than never. Another lock for my best of the year list. Music that was a revelation in 1998 on the studio record is nothing short of incendiary in this live setting. The sheer joy and exuberance of these incredible musicians, many playing the US for the first time, pours out of the speakers. Several tracks from that amazing album get extended workouts with ‘El Carretero’ almost doubling in length and half the songs here did not appear on that recording.

El Carretero

Mandinga

Dave Holland Sextet – Pass It On

Another stellar release from the best bassist as composer since Charles Mingus. I hear elements of Brazilian and African music, boogaloo, hard bop and free form improv. Older tunes are revisited and new songs rock in a sextet setting with the addition of trumpeter Alex Sipiagin (from his big band) and pianist Mulgrew Miller replacing vibe man Steve Nelson. Robin Eubanks just kills it on the trombone. Maybe the best jazz album of the year.

The Sum Of All Parts

18
Sep

New music

Paul Weller – 22 Dreams

The first lock for my Best Of The Year list. The Modfather takes a bold, audacious step outside the comfort zone that dulled his last couple of albums and succeeds in spades. Solo record #9 is his most varied yet, touching on Brit folk, blue eyed soul, jazz, crunching rock, driving psychedelia, Middle Earstern grooves and piano ballads. So inspiring to see an artist still able challenge himself after 30+ years. Guests include Robert Wyatt, Noel Gallagher, Graham Coxon (on drums, only Weller could bring together the Hatfield & McCoy of Brit rock), Gem Archer and Ocean Colour Scene’s Steve Cradock is all over this (he also gets a production credit).

Buy it at Yep Roc records.

22 Dreams

Cold Moments

Blitzen Trapper – Furr

Another record that’s definitely made my Best Of The Year short list. The finest 6 piece band in Portland delivers an adventurous stunner on their fourth record. There’s so much going in every song I feel like I’ve heard a whole record’s worth of ideas after two or three tracks. Where do I start? It’s the Kinks meets Of Montreal, early Dylan meets Wilco, After The Gold Rush era Neil Young meets Beck.  And I’m diggin’ the 80′s hair metal logo!

Fire + Fast Bullets

Gold For Bread

Furr is out this Tuesday on Sub Pop.  BT will be playing at the Independent in SF with Parson Red Heads December 2nd. Click on the cover or head over to their myspace page for more tunes plus videos & tour dates.

All Girl Summer Fun Band – Looking Into It

Speaking of bands from Portland with records coming out Tuesday (am I the king of the segue or what?), The All Girl Summer Fun Band has been making the same playfully punky pop we’ve come to love for almost ten years. Think the grittier side of Stereo Total meets the Shangri-La’s and you’re close. I am utterly unable to stop smiling, tapping my toes & bopping my head from side  when these ladies come skipping out of my speakers. Their 3rd record  will be on their own AGSFB label.

Something New

This Will Never End




Catch me on KALX in Berkeley

I host the Cuppa Joe show on KALX in Berkeley every other Wednesday from 6 to 9 PM. You can tune at 90.7 or online by clicking HERE ------------------------------------------- NEXT SHOW: October 28 FUNDRAISER SHOW!! ------------------------------------------- Check out past playlists HERE
Got something I HAVE TO HEAR? Wanna send me free stuff? Email me at mike@nowhearthismusic.com

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Quick note about the tunes

The mp3s on this blog are to give folks a little taste. Imagine they're those little pouches on the bag your Sunday paper comes in. You know, the one's with a packet containing just enough toothpaste to brush your teeth once or twice. They are left up for a limited time. If you find something you like support the artists by dragging your friends to their shows and/or buying their CDs/records/schwag. If you are the artist (or their label/representative) and don't want an mp3 on here, please email me (mike@nowhearthismusic.com) and I'll remove it posthaste.
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