December 15th, 2011 by Tim Wardyn
Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings: Collector’s Edition Box Set
Bill Wyman was with the Rolling Stones in their prime and up until the early 90’s. That’s when he decided that he wanted to be more than a rhythm guy in one of rocks biggest acts. He wanted to do something different. That something became something of a jam band in the form of Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings. With this group (and subsequent box set containing all four albums he’s released to date) he accomplished one thing. He knows how to stay generic.
Don’t get me wrong, the group is really talented and throughout the four albums and five discs you’ll hear some great guitar work and guests like Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler and George Harrison. But the set as a whole doesn’t have a single track that jumps out as a great track. They are all decent, but I can’t find myself listening to this over and over again. Maybe I’m too young to enjoy Wyman’s crew. Maybe I’m looking for more than 66 tracks of just messing around. Maybe I’m being a little too critical toward someone who is considered a legend.
Despite the talent, I can’t say that I would ever pop this in and listen to it under any circumstances. It’s just too generic and mediocre for me. If you enjoy listening to middle-aged people jam, you would love this. It’s just not for me.
December 11th, 2011 by Tim Wardyn
Fat Possum Records
A.A. Bondy is one of those artists that I’ve been meaning to listen to, but just hadn’t until his third album Believers. Now that I have, I realize that I’ve been missing out. This album is an amalgamum of etherial soft-rock, country and bits of electronica.
“Hiway/Fevers” is a ride on cloud 8 1/2. It doesn’t put you completely under a trance, but it is easy to get hidden in the music. “The Twist” is like a one-man Blitzen Trapper or Fleet Foxes. It’s brooding without being depressing and sounds like it could be the soundtrack to Jack London’s short story To Build a Fire. It’s hypnotizing.
A.A. Bondy is an artist that thrives on slowly wrapping his music around you. It’s not instantly accessible, but after a couple of listens he will have you hooked. Once he has you, there is no going back.
December 9th, 2011 by Tim Wardyn
Covered Up with Flowers
Fat Possum Records
If you’ve read either of my reviews for Lissie’s “Why You Runnin’?” EP or her full-length debut Catching a Tiger, you’ll know that I am a huge Lissie fan. Her voice is beautiful, but she has a spicy side as well. On the opening track of this five-song covers EP, she takes on Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit of Happiness” by telling the audience that “I’m gonna take a shot of tequila before I do this.” She then proceeds to take that track from hip-hop to alt-country and make it sound like it’s supposed to be acoustic. It’s amazing the way she can take any song and make them sound like they were meant to be Americana tracks. Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” has never sounded so down-home, especially when Lissie yells the line “I’m a freak bitch, baby!” and then flows into the French lyrics in the bridge of the song.
She also takes on Nick Cave’s “The Ship Song” and Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” and makes them sound like she wrote them. The way that Lissie can take any genre, mold it into her sound and make it sound like it’s supposed to be like that is simply amazing. Now, I’m a fan anyway, but anybody who loves Americana or alt-country music like I do has to love Lissie. She’s one of the best artists in the genre and anybody who doesn’t believe that, just needs to listen to this album. It won’t be long before they are on board.
December 7th, 2011 by Tim Wardyn
Singular Genius: The Complete ABC Singles
Oh man, where do I begin? Let start with the fact that there are 106 songs on five CD’s and that every single track is great. Not good. Great. This is also Ray Charles. One of the greatest artists of any generation. He could make you get up and dance one song and then make tears tickle your cheeks the next song. Add in the numerous covers among this collection and you have a must-have box set for any fan of music.
Charles takes “America the Beautiful” and puts so much soul and passion into it, that you could be listening to it in your cubicle at work and stand up with your right hand over your chest and salute the flag with tears streaming down your face. He also puts his trademark spin on John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” Sam Cooke’s “Laughin’ and Clownin'” and Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” And that’s just Disc Five!
Disc Three has a live version of “I’ve Got a Woman” (in two parts) and three Buck Owens covers: “Love’s Gonna Live Here,” “Crying Time” and “Together Again.”
The other discs prove just how truly versatile Charles was. Not only are there dozens of tracks that he wrote or co-wrote, but he covers The Beatles (“Eleanor Rigby”), Hank Williams (“Your Cheatin’ Heart”), John Lennon (“Yesterday”) and even the Gershwins (“Someone to Watch Over Me”).
Do I even need to mention that this has “Hit the Road, Jack” and “Georgia on My Mind?” Probably not because you should already be in the process of getting this set before even reaching this point. Buy this box set right now. It will be the best money you’ve ever spent on music. Period. It’s that good.
December 5th, 2011 by Tim Wardyn
Cameo Parkway Holiday Hits
Real Gone Music
I am one of the few people that loves Christmas music. Especially good Christmas music. I’ve always put the Time/Life Treasury of Christmas on repeat throughout the holidays because the nostalgic feel of Burl Ives’ “Holly Jolly Christmas” and anything by Nat “King” Cole is addictive. So when I received Cameo Parkway’s Holiday Hits, I was stoked. While it doesn’t live up to the lofty expectations I put on it, this collection is still a solid disc of Christmas magic.
Bobby Rydell and Chubby Checker apparently love Jingle Bells because they open the album with “Jingle Bell Rock” and then try their best to sing like Elvis, Bobby Darin and even The Chipmunks on the bizarre “Jingle Bells Imitations.” The International Pop Orchestra contributes four instrumentals that set the egg nog guzzling mood: “Joy to the World,” “The First Noel,” “Hark! The Hearld Angels Sing” and “Deck the Halls.”
The disc includes some strange and, frankly, awful tracks, however. The Mexicani Marimba Band isn’t bad, but when “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is entirely instrumental and the lead instrument is a xylophone, you know you’re in trouble. There is only so much you can do with that. Bobby the Poet contributes one of the worst Christmas songs I’ve heard in a long time with “White Christmas (3 O’Clock Weather Report).” He seems to intentionally speak/sing/slaughter the song “White Christmas” while a weather report (presumably the one at 3 o’clock) runs in the background. I’m not sure if this was supposed to be funny (and maybe it was back when it first came out in 1967), but it is downright annoying now.
From beginning to end, this is spotty at best. The best thing you could do is take the decent tracks (mostly by the International Pop Orchestra) and intersperse them with your Treasury of Christmas collection.
October 20th, 2011 by Tim Wardyn
If you’ve ever heard the beautiful musical landscape that is Seabear, then you’ve heard Soley. You just haven’t heard her sing. On this, her first full-length album, the multi-instrumentalist takes the same basic Seabear sound (think lying in the grass, staring at the clouds passing by) and adds a wispy female voice to the fray.
Musically, her sound is a lot like fellow Icelander Bjork, but Soley’s vocals are less, well, weird. She actually sounds more like Jonsi from Sigor Ros (also from Iceland), especially on “Smashed Birds.” Consider Soley Icelandic folk. Take away the fluffy pseudo-electronic backdrop and add a guitar and you get Katie Herzig. But then, Soley’s debut LP wouldn’t be as unique. There is something about Iceland that brings a musically soothing quality to almost everything. Soley is no different. If you’re looking for a folk album that is nothing like anything else you’ve heard, then check out We Sink.
October 19th, 2011 by Tim Wardyn
The straight-ahead rockin’ Foo Fighters are back! Gone are the contemplative softer songs like “Walking After You” and “Ballad of the Beaconfield Miners.” This is the way a rock record is supposed to sound. It has throat-shredding metal (“White Limo”). It has fantastic rock radio ready tracks (“Rope” and “Walk”). And it has a perfectly placed cameo where former Husker Du frontman Bob Mould echoes Grohl’s chorus on “Dear Rosemary.” Bottom line: From the opener “Bridge Burning” to the closer “Walk,” this is the first album where every song is not only solid, but great. It’s their best album since The Colour and the Shape. I’m not sure that I am ready to call this my favorite Foo album, but it is close. Really close. And the more I listen to it, the closer it gets. If you’re a Foo fan, you probably have this already. If you aren’t, then you are a fool. And fools should buy this album. You’re welcome.
October 19th, 2011 by Tim Wardyn
In Concert, On Broadway
Harry Connick Jr. is this generation’s Frank Sinatra, except more talented. Sinatra could sing and make the ladies swoon. Connick Jr. can sing, make the ladies swoon and make his fingers dance on the piano like Fred Astaire could dance in general. Proof of that is this live recording at the Neil Simon Theatre on Broadway in New York City. He dances all over the ivory on “Besame Mucho” and reincarnated Sinatra on “The Way You Look Tonight.” But, as Sinatra sang, the best is yet to come. The three song paradise that concludes the concert, dedicated to this home of New Orleans, is a straight up party. What else would you expect from the area that knows how to live it up. “Take Her to the Mardi Gras,” “Bourbon Street Parade” and “Mardi Gras in New Orleans” close out a stellar show that has the audience screaming in delight and will leave you doing the same, even if you are enjoying a night in your favorite easy chair. Of course, if your still sitting after this is over, you’re already dead.
October 19th, 2011 by Tim Wardyn
Quite Scientific Records
What do you get when you combine tragedy with optimism? You get one of the best folk albums of the year. The opener “Eliza (Hue)” starts as a beautifully quiet introspective track, but then it expands into a musically swaying folk-circus before calming back down to a lone piano. You become a like a fish, entranced by the bait and then he has you hook, line and sinker. But it is completely worth it. “Poor Eliza” continues the theme with a more countrified (and darker) sound complete with a prominent fiddle making it the first song I’ve ever heard that sounds like it was partially written in the back woods of Alabama and partially in a cave.
Bathgate has taken the Richard Buckner lonely folk baritone and somehow made it simultaniously darker and optimistic. Bathgate said that recording this album was a “painful and joyful experience.” That experience has created a beautiful gothic-folk record that must be heard.
October 18th, 2011 by Tim Wardyn
The Valley Wind
Fat Possum Records
Band of Horses guitarist Tyler Ramsey knows how to transport me to the Sandhills of Nebraska. The title track from Ramsey’s latest album repeats the line, “Do I have to wait until it’s gone?” over and over in front of a light alt-country rhythm that puts me in the middle of nowhere, listening to the wind blow over the rolling golden hills. If you ever go there and are driving along Highway 2, play this album. You’ll get it then.
The entire nine-track album has a rustic and lonely feel to it, but it still sounds familiar. Maybe that’s because Ramsey’s voice is very similar to both Avett Brothers. This is a beautifully lonely album that is perfect for those looking to drink away a former lover.