If Triple M's favorite rock and roll farmer plays his new CD for the cows out in the barn in New Glarus, they're chewin' their cud a bit faster..and dancing in their stalls.
If you're a follower of local music, you've probably heard that Jimmy Voegeli brought in some heavy hitters to help out on "Gimme the Jimmys." Yeah, he's got Bun E. Carlos from Cheap Trick on one track, and Dan Baird of the Georgia Satellites playing the guitar solos on several songs, but while that looks great on press releases, the proof is in the listening.
So often a local band will sound great live, but when they try to make a record of original material it leaves you asking "Why did I buy this?"
Luckily, that's not the case with Gimme the Jimmys. It starts off really strong with " HaDaYa"..a great jumping boogie woogie number that you just want to turn up loud. And even though all the songs aren't traditional blues..they all fit and have a great flow.Â A couple of my favorites: "Hell or Heaven," and "JiMo Boogie," with the liner notes listing the musicians as Jimmy plus drummer Mauro Magellan, and a bottle of Jack. Gotta give credit where credit is due. I also can't get enough of Dan Baird's slide guitar on "She Don't Love Me."
Jimmy's a great keyboard player, fine tuning his chops as a member of the Westside Andy Mel Ford Band over the years. But he's not a show-off on this record..it's got great guitar solos..and the horn section (The Amateur Horn All Stars) is fantastic.
If you missed their Madison CD release party at the Harmony Bar, you still have a few chances to see the Jimmys live this month and pick up a copy of the CD. They've also got upcoming gigs at the Club Tavern, Knuckledown Saloon and the Brink Lounge
You can check out the Jimmys schedule and sample and buy their CD here. Reviewed by Kitty Dunn
It's been a while since we had a new album from the Cars. Can you believe it was 1987?
When bassist and co-lead singer Benjamin Orr died in 2000, most fans had probably given up on the idea of a Cars reunion. In 2005, Elliot Easton and Greg Hawkes teamed up with Todd Rundgren and some other musical veterans to form The New Cars, which performed some Cars' and Rundgren hits on tour, but could it really be the Cars without Rick Ocasek?
Well Ocasek is back in the fold and their new record "Move Like This" sounds a LOT like the old Cars we knew and loved. It sounds so much like an old Cars record, that I bet if you played me some of the songs on it and said "those were from Side 2 of Candy-o" I probably would have believed you.Â (I remember I only really listened to one side of that album back in the early days.)
The first single, "Sad Song" starts with a riff and drum lick that's immediately identifiable as that Cars' sound. Despite the title, it's a fun upbeat song that would sound great cranked on the car stereo with the windows open in the summertime.
I also liked "Soon," which has aÂ slow, dreamy quality that reminds me of the song "Drive," sung by Benjamin Orr on the 1984 "Heartbeat City" album.
While "Move Like This" will probably impress the die-hard Cars' fan that's been waiting since the late '80's for something new, I don't think it really stands up that well when compared to their self-titled debut or Candy-O.Â Ocasek goes a little too crazy on the keyboards, with a synthesized sound I don't really enjoy. For example, one song "Keep on Knocking" has a driving guitar sound that almost seems like a Neil Young thing going on, but then there's some keyboard overlay that just mucks it up.
-Reviewed by Kitty Dunn
Elvis Costello writes the introduction on the liner notes to Paul Simon's new CD "So Beautiful or So What," and he promised me "rock and roll surprises." And Simon delivers. I won't detail them here or they won't be surprises to you. What I will say is that this definitely goes beyond the confines of the typical rock and roll record, without getting outlandish or silly.
Paul Simon has never been afraid to search the world over for musicians, or unique musical instrumentation and vocals. Like he did with "Graceland" and "Rhythm of the Saints," Simon takes us on a journey that takes us somewhere new..in this case..down south for a little gospel, across the ocean to India, and back home again. And he does it while still maintaining his rock and roll sensibility.
Skimming the credits, I saw quite a list of musical instruments..from glockenspiel to tuned bass djembe, conga, harmonica, harp, and celeste and angklung. (A celeste is similar to a glockenspiel, and is the instrument used in Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy; an angklung is an instrument made of bamboo tubes.)Â The use of these instruments (and others) creates a very interesting record that never jumps the bridge into novelty..but just seems to work.
Simon is definitely reflective and even philosophical throughout most of the album, but he's never depressed..even in the quieter, slower ballads. As he says in the song's title tune, "Life is what we make of it, so beautiful, or so what."
Paul Simon's world is definitely beautiful, and it's a nice place to visit.
Self-titled Debut AlbumThe Head and the HeartAlbum Rating:Â 2 1/2 M's
Genre:Â Folk, pop, rock, awesome,
This might be one of the better bands you've never heard of.Â The Head and the Heart launched itself onto the music scene in Seattle 2 years ago when they all met at a bar.Â The album starts off strong with "Cats and Dogs" and it feels like a potential huge hit for the group.Â The band has this wonderfully delightful mix of folk and pop that fuses together.
The next song of note is "Down in the Valley" that is emphatically and almost begrudgingly slow, but slowly builds itself to a crescendo of glory and then falls back down.Â It's incredible.
Here is a link for a free download of their song "Down in the Valley:"
Then we get a song like "Rivers and Roads" that just breaks your heart.Â It reminds me a lot of The Avett Brothers...and that's a good thing.Â It's sad lyrics reinforce feelings of loneliness and alienation in a beautiful and poignant manner.Â The song breaks in the middle for some primal Mumford & Sons yearning, mixed with a cool drum beat at the end combined with the lulling voices of singers CharityÂ Rose Thielen, Josiah Johnson and Jonathan Russell.
The album is best listened to a few times...and then some more.Â Some of the songs like "Lost In My Mind" are easy to gloss over, but they are pretty good.Â Â Â I enjoyed "Sounds Like Hallelujah" as well.Â I wish more bands could make music like this.
This is a really fun album that has some great songs.Â Not all of them are wonderful, but there are some gems and this band would definitely be a good one to check out.
"Go Go Boots"
Musical Style: Â Alternative Country
Drive-By Truckers has been active for over 15 years and they released their 11th album in February. Â The album was released on ATO Records and marks the eighth album produced by David Barbe. Â The album has a soulful quality to it, but the souls presented in some of the songs aren't really interesting.
We start out with the song "I Do Believe" that has a nice flow to it and guides us through a child-like story of unconditional love. Â Then we get the title track that has a slow guitar entrance and mournful pacing that is enticing. Â Here is a quick video explaining some aspects of the album:
If you haven't already, you should check out more of the Go-Go Boots episodes that tell about the inspiration behind the album and some of the interesting stories behind the band. It gives you insight into a soulful band that has been around for a long time and is exploring new music. This album contains two covers by Eddie Hinton in "Where's Eddie" and "Everybody Needs Love" and both are really good, especially "Everybody Needs Love."
There are also other good songs like "Assholes" and you can't help but stomp your feet to songs "The Weakest Man" and "Pulaski." I will say that the last half of the album is probably the strongest. Some songs are pretty interesting, but a couple of them feel pretty underwhelming and dull at points.
This is a strong effort by Drive-By Truckers to create something that is yearning and deep, but sometimes I feel like energy is sacrificed in an effort to manufacture "soul." Â The album has its strong points and if you are fan of the band you will no doubt like it. Â I especially like the cover of "Everybody Needs Love" and most of the second half of the album. Â It's a strong effort by the band, but sometimes I couldn't connect with some of the music. Â I think the album has both strong and weak points, but it is something you should give a chance.
I've been an R.E.M. fan since my brother bought me a copy of "Life's Rich Pageant" back in the mid-1980s. I've got a lot emotionally invested in this band, so when they release a new album, I'm always excited..with reservations. Let's face it..some of the albums that came after "Automatic For the People" were not that good.
So when I threw "Collapse Into Now" onto the turntable...or popped the disc in the CD player...I wasn't sure what I was going to hear.
My first impression of the record was that I'd heard the songs before. Not in a "oh my goodness they're just churning out the same stuff and giving it new titles" kind of way, but each song seemed to remind me of one of their older tunes from back when I was really into the band (and listening on vinyl, by the way).
Uberlin reminds me of "Drive," and "Walk It Back" has a similar feel and message as "Everybody Hurts," with lines including "Reverse and rewind, erase and revise, and try to start again."
Not every song gave me a flashback though. There's an eerily soothing lullabye called "Every Day is Yours To Win," and a quirky rhyme-fest with a great title "Alligator-Aviator-Autopilot- Antimatter," that shows the band's rockin' side. And the last song, "Blue," is a musical beat poet collage that features Stipe and his hero Patti Smith, with a background of swirling atmospheric instrumentation.
And as weird as that is..it seems to fit. Kind of like an old comfy sweater that you just bought today.
-Reviewed by Kitty Dunn
"Fixin' To Die"
G. Love & Special Sauce
"The G stands for Garrett and the 'Love' just felt right." And G. Love & Special Sauce has put out another album last month that is a fun and catchy ride. Produced by the Avett Brothers (and I'm a fan of them), I have to say that this is sound is a banjo filled fun time.
Here is the title track from the album:
G. Love & Special Sauce ramp up the blues in this album.Â The second song of the album is "The Road," a melancholy ode to the grungy life of a band, connecting with fans but far removed from your family.Â The same goes for "Katie Miss."Â I was struck how this album goes from the high energy of "Fixin' To Die" to the soft lulling of "Katie Miss" to a song about coffee in "Milk and Sugar."Â But, I'm not particularly fond of odes to hot beverages and this is one of the few that fails to deliver.
I think that all artists should cover someone on their albums.Â It's a recipe for collaboration and a deep sign of respect.Â So, I especially loved the cover of "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," one of my favorite songs by Paul Simon.Â G. Love & Special Sauce add their own special instrumental ending and it is spectacular.
The title track is by Bukka White, and has been covered by a host of musicians including Bob Dylan on his debut album.
The next cover is "Pale Blue Eyes," by Velvet Underground.Â I really enjoy this song and it it s a great way to end the album.
There are other great songs in the mix like "Walk On" and "Get Going" and several others.
I think if you're a fan of The Avett Brothers, you will like this album.Â It has a nice mix of raucous and slow blues.Â G. Love & Special Sauce have created a great lively R&B album and I think that the range of covers is fun and well-done.Â I didn't like all of the songs, but I think overall there is a strong selection that a wide variety of listeners will like.
Cake is back after a 6 year hiatus with their new album "Showroom of Compassion" that was released in January.Â This is their 6th full length album from the group.Â It was the first album for the band to debut on the Billboard Top 200.
Cake has been around since 1991.Â It's kind of hard to categorize their music.Â They are kind of a college rock, ska, punk, jazzy, funky collaboration of sounds.Â The album starts off really nice.Â I love the first song:Â Federal Funding.Â I think this song is the strongest on the album.Â Here it is below:
It's sardonic and mocking and has such a nice beat.Â Â My interpretation of the song is a lampoon of how poorly some Federal money is managed.Â "Take your colleagues out to dinner....You'll receive the Federal funding."
The thing that is hard about following a song like that...is that it's hard.Â And unfortunately, the new album goes down from there.Â The next song is "Long Time" and has an unusual funky beat that is infectious.Â I like it as well, but the bar is high because of the first song.Â Then there are yawners like "What's Now Is Now" and "Mustache Man (Wasted)."Â Then there is the instrumental "Teenage Pregnancy" that is both daring and simple.Â I enjoyed the horns in the song.Â They mesh well with the other instruments.
The rest of the songs are good and bad.Â "Bound Away" is probably the gem in the mix and has a solid orchestration and drifting quality that is alluring and presciently ethereal, examining death and the aimless wanderer.Â Lead singer John McCrea's sings, "Seconds turn to minutes, minutes turn to hours,Â Hours give you a lifetime and a grave with pink flowers."
We end on "Italian Guy."Â It's not an especially endearing song, but it's a good way to end the album.Â It has a solid sound, but leaves you wanting more.
The album is a solid work overall.Â There are some songs that will stick with you, and others that wont'.Â I would encourage you to listen to the whole thing at least twice the whole way through to give it a chance.Â There are some songs that aren't very good, but the album is listenable and if you are a huge Cake fan, you will enjoy it.
Cold War Kids
So, the Cold War Kids are back at it again and this album...isn't really special. Â I have to say that I am a fairly big Cold War Kids fan. Â I like the sound of lead singer Nathan Willett. Â He has a painful drawl that sucks you in. Â No doubt that he is a good singer, but this album really doesn't have much behind it. Â I was longing for a Robbers & Cowards album that drew me in with classics like "Hang Me Up To Dry" and "Hospital Beds." Â This album feels much safer and blander than any of their previous efforts. Â There is something to be said for expanding on your previous sound, but sometimes it's like making a sequel that doesn't really feel warranted. Â Indiana Jones 4 anyone?
That said, there are some pretty decent songs in the bunch. Â I really enjoyed "Sensitive Kid" and "Bulldozer," and even found myself drifting to those songs after hearing some of the prior rubbish. Â Here is "Bulldozer" below:
I think that this song is the best on the album. Â If the whole album were encompassed by this sound, this would be gold. Â But, sadly, it doesn't. Â It feels mean to say it, but I found myself bored by a lot of their songs. Â They just didn't do it for me.
Songs I recommend:
Mine Is Yours, Sensitive Kid, Bulldozer, Broken Open, Royal Blue, Out of The Wilderness.
I think that Cold War Kids are an enigmatic group that has had flashes of brilliance, but this albums feels very contrived at points. Â I recommend a couple of songs on it and no doubt there will be several fans who will love it, but it just wasn't for me. Â They have to learn how to explore their sound more. Â I look forward to what Cold War Kids will be doing in the future and I hope that this album will just be a slight blip on the radar of a great career. Â They have the potential for greatness and it shows on this album, but it also shows on the album that they have some more work to do.
"The Promise"Bruce Springsteen
Released:Â November 16th, 2010
The Boss has done it again with the release of this double cd compilation of unreleased music from the Darkness on the Edge of Town sessions.Â With 21 songs, it speaks volumes to how much material Springsteen has left on the shelves throughout his career and on how prolific he is.Â It's hard to believe that he is 61-years-old.
Let's Get to the Album:
To start out the album we get "Racing in the Street ('78)" and is an alternative version of the song that was on Darkness on the Edge of Town. It feels like a Billy Joel song with the piano intro and harmonica and it's a great beginning for an interesting album.Â I enjoyed "Outside Looking In" that is a head nodding good time of a song.Â It is a good reminder of how ingenius Springsteen is at creating pure sensory enjoyment.
Lots of Interesting Songs...
There is a neat version of the song "Because the Night" that was written by Springsteen and Patti Smith and is probably Smith's best known song.Â The song is a raw version that is subtly quiet and loud, beckoning you in with familiarity, as if you're listening to a local band cover a popular classic rock piece.Â We get a wide variety of songs from the melancholy "The Brokenhearted" to the peppy "Save my Love."Â If you're a Springsteen fan, there's no doubt you will enjoy this album.Â There are driving songs that are fun, but I feel that it's lacking any truly great songs.Â Fortunately, all of those were put on Darkness At The Edge of Town.Â I was kind of expecting more, but that's the problem whenever a great artist puts out something new, it's hard to surpass previous stuff.
There are fun songs like "Ain't Good Enough For You" and "Spanish Eyes," and then dull ones like "Talk To Me" that I really didn't enjoy. We then end on the songs "The Promise" and "City of Night" that are two somewhat good ways to end an album.
I'm not the biggest Bruce Springsteen fan, but I did enjoy this album.Â It has some bumps on the way, but that is usually the case with stuff that made the cutting room floor.Â There are songs that are interesting and anyone who liked the Darkness On The Edge of Town will most likely like this album because it is a great continuation of that music created over 30-years-ago.
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Here are a few great tips to do so:
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