Sunday, August 31, 2008

REVIEW: The Verve - Forth


The return of Richard Ashcroft and The Verve
Forth is the Album 11 Years in the Making

The Verve's new album is titled Forth - it's a great listen for your country drive or a quality backdrop for your quiet dinner and a glass of wine. The title of this one is a total play on words as the new record is the band's first step back into the global spotlight and, at the same time, the band's fourth record. The parallels don't end there. The cover for Forth depicts beautiful golden clouds matching much of the record's atmospheric space-rock feel. The record dances on the fine line between mood music, ambient retro-shoegaze, modern progressive and modern rock. One listen of Forth set us down a most interesting path...

The Verve is reborn, with "Sit & Wonder" - the magical first track on Forth. This track, an interesting leader on the album as it stretches to nearly 7 minutes in length, contains elements of both the band's past and future. We are reminded immediately of the band's ability to transport us a million miles away. "Valium Skies" is a beautiful and smooth pillow of air - helping us bridge the gap to the past. We are drifting.... swimming through golden skies.

RSL Record Review: 3.75 Stars of 5.0 Stars

Our immediate favorite is "Rather Be" offering a conversational and confident Ashcroft in front of smooth hooks that would make Mick Jagger jealous. The rise and fall of these notes sound like the footsteps it took to reach this place - for the Verve to make this album. It's a reassurance of sorts - making us feel better about being ourselves. This one's a gem.

Many of the tracks on Forth have lengthy lead-ins on the album, perhaps protecting the listener from the jolt of this album's disjointed tracks. It has been 11 years since Urban Hymns (which reached #1 in the UK) and it's only reasonable to expect to kick up some dust.

The one X-factor on the Forth record is Ashcroft himself. A master of mood, Ashcroft does little in particular on this album to differentiate himself from another instrument effect... (We would like to see the singer open it up and prove out his reputation for strong voice. There's a lot here to love, but the singer leans a little too heavily, for our taste, on vocal reverb effects.) This one detractor cannot do much to harm this otherwise great return effort from the Verve. We recommend you check this one out with a bottle of red.

The Verve
Web / Myspace

Saturday, August 30, 2008

An African Tribute to James Brown at the MFA Boston

A Funked Out Season Finale:

BragginBilly here, can't believe the summer is fading up already. Last Wednesday the Museum of Fine Arts wrapped up the Concerts in the Courtyard Series. It was a tough year weather-wise, (most of the shows ended up being moved inside) but a great one for music. Kudos to organizers Brendon Downey and Dan Hirsch for putting it all together and bringing Boston some amazing acts here in '08.

Senegal's Cheikh Lo

Fred Wesley

Fred Wesley played with James Brown, Ray Charles & Van Morrison

Pee Wee Ellis

Ellis played with James Brown & Van Morrison!

Vieux Farka Toure

Malian singer/guitarist

WHAT A YEAR! - The season opened up with Jose Gonzalez (see previous post) and along the way you had greats such as Beth Orton, Grizzly Bear, Grupo Fantasma, and if you were quick, you got to catch Bon Iver as well. Vetiver and Phosphorescent were remarkable - seriously, the subtle and yet stunning Vetiver set may have been one of the best Boston shows of the year! Phosphorescent got lost in traffic but showed up late to put on a great show! (A side note to Phosphorescent's centerpiece: Matthew Houck, please turn towards the crowd when you do a guitar solo - the audience want to see you play!)

STILL PROUD: The grand finale, as we said was a double set of Still Black, Still Proud: An African Tribute to James Brown featuring Cheikh Lo and Vieux Farka Toure. The stage musicians included Pee Wee Ellis and Fred Wesley - two living legends, who were key members of James Brown's Horn Section.

It was an entertaining show and a great time for everyone there. Much dancing was done by young and surprisingly old alike. I'm looking forward to next year and I hope they can keep it going. There's no such thing as too many good music venues. The MFA has been one of the best in town this year!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Front and Center - ANGEL PIER


A musical movement is underway and gaining momentum in Ireland and it goes by the name: ANGEL PIER. In the past, we have been kind of sweet on this band but their sound is getting better by leaps and bounds these days. ("Really guys, good show!") And, we are happy to relay that others (finally!) beginning to notice of their talent!

With the 2008 release of the band's sensational Sacrifice EP, we are falling head over heels yet again for Angel Pier's unique brand of pop-powered indie rock acrobatics. And with good reason, this EP is one of the best releases of the year! Highly recommended!


One of the Best Sounds of 2008

Angel Pier is Darragh Nolan, Luke Paluch, Vinny Redmond, and Mark Colbert.

Myspace / Web

Thursday, August 28, 2008



Landon Thompson at the Middle East : June 17 : RSL photo

GO VIRAL: This brand new video is making its rounds and it's a real eye-opener. The clip features "The Power to Change" from The Black and White Years - the hottest Austin band of 2008. The filmmaker/editor of the piece is NYU's Scott Pearson. Spread the word!

Now In Stores - Delta Spirit's Ode to Sunshine!


Hard Working, Hard Living, Exceptional Music..... These are simple facts that the music from Delta's Spirit's self-produced, full-length 2007 debut capture in absolute sincerity. From the moment I heard these songs, the notes resonated in my soul. Last year, we delightfully named, "Ode to Sunshine," the RSL Album of the Year (two quick mentions: here & here.)

The BEST RECORD of 2007 gets the Proper Treatment: The album, which the band snuck in under the gun in late last year, is being re-released on Rounder and is available in record stores everywhere this week. I cannot stress to you enough how great this record is - it speaks directly to the human soul! Here's your chance to get the best record you currently do not yet own.... How often can you say that?

Hit Play and Walk into a Dusty Saloon, stepping into a past you never knew. There is something epic and dangerous about these songs.

Delta Spirit - Trashcan

WIN A COPY OF The Delta Spirit's "ODE TO SUNSHINE" from Ryan's Smashing Life and Rounder Records. Thanks for all the entries. This contest is now closed! Send us an email to therslweblog @ with the words, "ODE TO SUNSHINE" in the subject line. Include your full name in the email.

The winners will be contacted for their mailing addresses. This contest will only be open for a limited time. The rest of you should go out and buy this record. Everyone should have it.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Deathbot - Cold Wind Revival (FREE Album Download!)


COAST TO COAST INDIE ARTISTRY: Deathbot is probably the last name you might expect to hear attached to an experimental acoustic guitar and piano project from Southern California... But hold up, the strange name begins to make strange sense when you consider this band's unique roots.

Deathbot is the indie-americana product of singer songwriters R. Mansfeld & Joseph James, former frontmen for New York's punk rap group Turbulence & Calibrate and the California alt-country band, Big Wheels. With a revolving cast of friends from San Francisco and LA, Deathbot has crafting songs in the mix and vein of the indie, Americana, and alt-country. With a little help from their friends, Mansfield and James have been performing their music and picking up music influences along the way. Deathbot have finished the final preparations for Cold Wind Revival - their latest album and now they are giving it away for free... Yes - for free!

We've shared two pretty incredible new tracks below - you'll need to visit the band's website to check out the exceptional single "Bombs in Bloom " and the rest of this hot new record.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Radiohead covers The Smiths

Under Cover: "The Headmaster Ritual"

Respectfully Done: RADIOHEAD does The SMITHS

Headmaster Ritual
Recorded Nov 9, 2007

Inspirational: The Smiths

We Love Muy Cansado - The Stars + Garters album


Boston's Muy Cansado releases Stars + Garters

HOT NEW PROJECT: My High School Spanish tells me muy cansado means very tired, but there's nothing remotely worn out at all about Boston's Muy Cansado. The threesome have released one hell of a debut album in Stars + Garters (highly recommended) released just last week. The album is rife with great guitars, counter basslines and strong drums. In other words it's just damn good rock!

RSL RECOMMENDED: Record Report Card 4.0 Stars (a 5 Star Scale)

Muy Cansado are David Fine (Drums), Lisa Libera (Bass Guitar and Vocals), and Chris Mulvey (Insane Vocals and Guitar.)

THE BAND: Chris Mulvey's locals on this record are pretty insane - calling to mind vintage Frank Black. His notes elongate into a stage scream while bassist Lisa Libera's harmony softens the blow. All the while, drummer David Fine sharply punctuates the beat. I am soooo glad that this one appeared in my mailbox - seriously one of the better debut albums we have heard for some time! Our 4.0 Score is the second highest ranking we have given a band in '08 for their first full-length LP! (We hear a lot of new music. This is a serious compliment.) Maybe we can get them to play an RSL show sometime? We'll see!

Stars + Garters is on sale now - pick it up here through CD Baby. Muy Cansado is now on the road and kicking up some dirt - check 'em out:

upcoming dates:

TONIGHT - Jerry’s Bait Shop
Lee’s Summit, Missouri
Aug 27 - Silvie’s Lounge
Chicago, Illinois
Aug 28 - Howler’s Coyote Cafe
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Aug 29 - Wilbert’s
Cleveland, Ohio
Sep 3 - O’Briens
Allston, Massachusetts
Sep 4 - The Delancey
New York City, New York
Sep 11 - Plough & Stars
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Web / Myspace / Facebook / Album

Friday, August 22, 2008

Blues n Brews starring Ronnie Earl is Tomorrow!

Live in Westford, MA:
New England's finest Blues Festival
Saturday, August 23rd

A Wicked Blues N Brews Festival

Ronnie Earl

WESTFORD, MA: New England's best blues festival happens tomorrow and it takes place in a beautiful metro-west Boston setting. What better way for Ronnie Earl to play some old favorites and share the new material from Hope Radio, the band's remarkable 2007 release? (Available on Stony Plain Records - click here for some pretty great samples.)

Festival Planners didn't stop there. In establishing a remarkable all-day lineup of music listening pleasure this is one music festival you don't want to miss!

Published Music Schedule:
Set order& times subject to change

Racky Thomas
(Acoustic Set at the Gate)
Set Time: 11 am - 12 Noon

Jason James and the Bay State Houserockers

Set Time: 12:30 pm

Ottomatic Slim
Set Time: 1:35 pm

The Bruce Marshall Group
Set Time: 3:00 pm

The Love Dogs
Set Time: 4:05 pm

Blues N Brews Headliners:
Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters
Set Time: 5:30 pm

Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters

And as for brews?
More than 75 Beers from more than 20 Breweries

Festival is TOMORROW - Saturday, August 23rd
at the Nashoba Valley Ski Area
Westford, MA

Hours: Noon to 7pm
(will 11 am pre-gate show!)

Tickets are $30 in advance
(Ronnie Earl's show is worth that alone)
ticket includes beer tasting

Also On Sale:
Food, Crafts & Vendors as Well!

(including sponsors & list of this festival's benefits)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Travel By Sea - Days of My Escape

Highly Recommended: One of the Best of 2008

Days of Escape is the Triumphant second record from indie duo Travel By Sea. Kyle Kersten and Brian Kraft return to the studio (Autumn Tone Records) producing some incredible heartfelt songs on the new one. It's tough not to get lost between the rolling seas and the tall fields on this record. From the first majestic notes on "Let It All Lie Down" - the first track on the album, to the soft plaintive poetry and strumming guitar in "Way It Was," this record's a winner. Because this album has the ability to pull the listener emotively like the wind directs a sailboat's sail, the songs here are powerful. This music is tangible!

BACK STORY: In 2006 Travel By Sea released Shadows Rise, a heavily alt-country tinged record that put the pair on the national map. (Remarkably, Kersten and Kraft worked remotely but together on that project which I credited as the new alt-country project of the year in 2006.) People were definitely listening - and they weren't hear more than the music - there's a lot of potential here.

A PROMISING FUTURE: Kraft and Kersten were signed to Autumn Tone and tapped even deeper into their souls in 2008 for Days of Escape. It's been a launching board for the band. For the first time ever, Travel By Sea is playing full stage shows aided by the addition of two new tour members; Trevor Gerhard and Dan Moore. With a full lineup the band is building on its own lineage. It's damn hard to not hear this band and not believe in what they're doing. This is one of the best new album projects in 2008.

From the 2006 TBS album "Shadows Rise"
Travel by Sea - Complete Shakeup

Travel By Sea
Myspace - Web - on Autumn Tone

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

REVIEW: Radiohead @ the Comcast Center - 8/13/08


Stellar Night for A Live Show:

Radiohead put on one hell of a show last week @ the Comcast Center.
All Photos & Video captured 8/13/08 - Courtesy of Cole Kinsler

MANSFIELD, MA: Just one week ago (seems like yesterday) I attended an incredible night of Radiohead at the Comcast Center in Boston's Metrowest. We arrived craving/needing a good night. It had rained for four of the five previous days and all I could think was "dry, dry, dry...." And when it finally became clear the rain wasn't going to descend on our heads - it was show time. My eyes traversed the sold-out sea of concert goers at the Comcast Center... The palpable anticipation hung in the air. We were all expecting greatness....

And as for material, I don't think a soul out there was surprised to hear a number songs from Radiohead's In Rainbows (distributed to fans for free) released in 2007. I don't think we possibly could have hoped for as much Kid A love as we did. (I am referring, of course, to 2000 album that broke so many rock-and-roll hearts and made listeners into Radiohead fans for life. The album was a big part of the amazing RH show at the Comcast Center last week (8/13/08) - a performance that offered - in my eyes - one of the band's best setlists ever.

The Stage During "Optimistic"

Radiohead Setlist - August 13, 2008
The Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA

01. Reckoner *
(video below)
02. Optimistic *
03. There There *
04. 15 Step *
05. Kid A
06. Nude
07. All I Need
08. The Gloaming *
09. The National Anthem *
10. Videotape
11. Jigsaw Falling Into Place *
12. The Bends
13. Faust Arp
14. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi *
15. Everything In Its Right Place *
16. Exit Music for a Film *
17. Bodysnatchers *

18. House Of Cards *
19. I Might Be Wrong *
(video below)
20. Paranoid Android
21. A Wolf At The Door *
22. How To Disappear Completely *

23. Cymbal Rush (Yorke solo at start)
24. Karma Police *
25. Idioteque *
(video below)

DOWNLOAD THE WHOLE SHOW: I was going to give you people the show then I saw other bloggers hosting it - so no need to duplicate their efforts. Check out the Music is Art blog and download the rest of the songs, one-by-one, or the whole show as a zip file!

Show Notes: Songs with a star (*) were superior performances. Things of note: The show started with a bang - the selection of Reckoner, Optimistic, There There and 15 Step really snapped the crowds attention to the stage. At this point the sold-out Comcast Center was probably 85-90% full. Traffic was a royal bitch and some got hung up. If you did, you missed some juice. As it was, I missed the entire opening set by Grizzly Bear.

It's probably I good idea to mention that Radiohead sported two Tibetan flags on stage. It was a silent statement but one in direct opposition to the Olympic Games being televised from China. A note to other bands and public figures: This is how you should share your politics. The flags were present for all to see, but the band didn't make the show about their feeling about the Chinese occupation there.

The set design: Holy &#*$! Seriously, whoever designed this needs a serious pat on the back and a hot cup of coffee! Strips of LED lights descending like icicles from the ceiling of the stage, looked interesting (almost like upside down pipe organ stacks) but blew your mind when turned on. These are flat surfaces so they can be used to emit light or can have light projected on them. Or both - which was often the case. Add large screens (everywhere) and what you have is stationary fireworks!

Song Selection: As I said this is a remarkable setlist. As a fan of Kid A (2000), you could not be disappointed with this show! I am glad that Thom worked at least one song from his sensational solo album. Even if was "Cymbal Rush" - there are better songs, and the Eraser album should definitely be in your listening arsenal. "Rush" was the first song of the second encore. Thom came out alone and started things up on the piano. The band would soon return.

also from Cole Kinsler


the band takes the stage






Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The RIAA plays Grinch - Is this the end of Muxtape?

MUXTAPE - Out of Business?

The music industry goes through a massive overhaul just about once every four years and there's some evidence this evolutionary process is only speeding up with the introduction of new technologies. Just a short time ago, no one even knew what Muxtape was... And then, suddenly, the "make-your-own mixtape and share it" software was the talk of the town - even Rolling Stone got in on the action and applauded the ability for fans to be creative. People were listening. The amazing Word of Mouth Power grew the site overnight.

I don't use the site that much anymore (you wouldn't know it since I have like four accounts) but now know that Muxtape is under heavy assault these days by The RIAA.... The same "media rights protection" group that issues punative action against listeners for alleged file sharing and legally bombards music bloggers (both the good - who provide significant exposure for media projects and the bad - who leak complete albums to the public).

RIAA to Muxtape - "It's Over!"

The RIAA Wields a Mighty Ax: I just learned from Aaron over at Enough Cowbell (a recommended Boston site) that Muxtape has been effectively closed for business (the company makes some money through directing listeners to Amazon where they can buy the music) and there's currently no end in sight. Seemingly, the entire purpose of a site like Muxtape is to stand up and be seen by enough people and then to be sold to the highest bidder. That may not happen as the Feds crack down. More details as they develop. I'm actually working on another Legality and Media piece anyway - this one will fit right in. Here's the one I did on Album Leaks.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Tim Williams :: Tape Your Head


TIM WILLIAMS - a still from "Tape Your Head"

GREAT STUFF FROM TIM WILLIAMS: We have a brand new video to share from our old friend Tim Williams (RSL Top 40 Albums of 2007 - performed at one of our RSL Live Showcases, the Tim Williams RSL Interview, and Tim even took over the blog one day!)

The new video is for Tape Your Head - the latest single from Tim's incredible When Work is Done album.

(Tim Williams video - Dovecote Records)

Tape Your Head - Tripwire Live Session

If you Don't have Tim's record yet, why not now?


Web / Myspace

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Albert Hammond Jr's ¿Cómo Te Llama?

Record Recap:

We add this on to the Best of List
for the first Half of 2008

Beginning with great guitars and a dependable drum beat, Albert Hammond, Jr's new album kicks it in gear and never relinquishes the listener. It's with little hesitation that we recommend ¿Cómo Te Llama? (Black Seal Records) adding it to the list of 2008 releases to get distinguished on the Best of List for the First Half of the year.

(The Best of Fire Half 2008 List is coming - but here are some of the records we have told you made the list in recent days: album, album, album. Think of it as a shopping list of contemporary good taste and this list will continue to grow until it needs to - you can check out 2007's Hot List for the First Half, here.)

¿Cómo Te Llama? is a follow up of Hammond, Jr.'s highly praised 2007 solo debut Yours To Keep. The players on this record include Hammond, Jr., Matt Romano, Marc Philippe Eskenazi and Josh Lattanzi. The record was recorded over 5 weeks at Electric Lady Studios and produced by Albert along with engineer Gus Oberg and drummer Romano.

With one foot in the past and an eye to the future, Hammond, Jr., is a wonderful example of an experimental rock artist. There are some things he does on this record that aren't necessary profound, but are daring in their own right. The man has a mind for music.

From the Album: Our favorite tracks from ¿Cómo Te Llama? We love the way that the bass totally dictates "Victory at Monterey," and the way it dissolves into periods of drum and guitar only to return to the bass guitar as the primary motivator. We also love "Rocket" - a plodding monster of a song that's its own muse. What starts out like an exercise on rise and fall, we come to understand is a progression (as the title suggests) to the beyond. Pulling, rather than pushing - this track really moves you along. Check these out on the record! .... Here's the single track, "GfC"

of ¿Cómo Te Llama?

We are giving away this beautiful record personally autographed by Albert Hammond Jr. to a lucky RSL reader (U.S. only, I am told, sorry.) Entry will opt you into Albert's fan email list which is used to update fans on his projects and shows. No other information will be shared. Just drop us an email with your full name inside. Enter the words "Albert Hammond Jr" in the subject line of your email. Winner will be notified and requested to send a mailing address. Good luck!

Myspace / Web

Friday, August 15, 2008

Plus/Minus at the Middle East on Saturday

Recommended Show:

An EXCEPTIONAL Indie Rock band


Don't Miss Brooklyn's Plus/Minus, a threesome of very inventive indie rockers. James Baluyut, Chris Deaner and Patrick Ramos will bring the show to the Middle East upstairs tomorrow night. Here at the RSL we have been big fans for awhile now.

Get ready to be impressed! The band's new album will be released in October. Saturday night's show will also feature the talented Broken River Prophet CD release. This night should be a winner.

Myspace / Web

central square, cambridge

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Boston's Cassavettes to play with the Allman Brothers and Bob Weir's Ratdog

An Opportune Moment:

Cassavettes will play the Comcast Center Saturday

Boston's Cassavettes will open this Saturday (August 16) for the legendary Allman Brothers and Bob Weir's (Grateful Dead) sensational Rat Dog. That's one great opportunity to play in front of a large audience. Get there early. Tickets are still available.

Congratulations are definitely in order for the band, who just released the digital live album, "Animal Friends." You should check this one out. We also hear that Cassavettes guitarist and singer Mike McCullagh and his best girl, Julie, have tied the knot. Congratulations to the couple! (This is probably the best wedding gift that Mike could have asked for!)

Cassavettes myspace

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Review: Beck's Modern Guilt - Not As Good As They Say

I had intended to deliver this album to you Dead on Arrival.
Here's what changed... and why I'm still not fawning over it

Beck's latest album could be my least favorite of the last decade....
But I don't hate it anymore, which I did up until last weekend.

Before I go very far, I hope this isn't your first read of the RSL. We don't do negative pieces for the most part. We get hundreds of albums each year for review. And rather than to spend time ripping apart bad projects my feeling is that the readers will be better served by us indicating a truly great band that no one is writing about and desperately needs the exposure. So no slash and burn pieces. It costs me the prurient readership and in it's place a decent-sized, more appreciative and enlightened indie reader base. Suits us fine.

Then Beck, who I respect very much, had to go and put out this album. You see, I'm compelled to review Beck's work. He's important to music - a polarizing force (whether you realize it or not) and he has been for some time. Plus, I feel personal connection. In my little group of friends, years ago - I discovered Beck and played the shit out of those old albums harder than anyone I knew. And, Beck connected to the evolving artist and the shifting sounds of his career - the man kept it vibrant and fresh.... Until now.

The Addition of a World-Class Producer: Expectations for this one were SUPER HIGH based on the noted addition of super producer Danger Mouse (2008 King Maker for his work on The Black Keys' sensational Attack & Release - currently ranked Record of the Year.) I think I reasonably expected to like this one as much as Guero. Boy, was I setting myself up for a fall....

It Could Be Worse: I think this is where I reassure you how much I really don't hate this album now. Not at this point - and I don't... but I did just a week ago.

I would say my thermometer is reading Average to Decent now. Very middle of the road... Disappointing for Beck and for Danger Mouse... But better than most new material released today under major hype, sadly. Most of Beck's records - top songs that lead into even better ones - a few profound moments. I listened intently, waiting for something brilliant to occur. It Never Did.

Rolling Stone magazine gave Modern Guilt a 4-Star Review. What the hell were you listening to Melissa Maerz? A professional writer, Maerz repeatedly uses superlatives painting a picture for this modern Emperor has No Clothes album... "... feels like the perfect....", "seems custom-made.....", "... the funkiest"...." (vomit.)

Some of the songs had decent lyrics but you had to wade through disassembled, narcissistic drone (cool when it works, noise when it doesn't) and symptoms of the artist's mid-life crisis. I will let the writer Maerz choke on her own words; "Taken as a whole, the album's first five songs stand among Beck's strongest work." - Lady please... Even if you were deeply moved by Modern Guilt, lay off the Corporate Tool schtick....

You are free to love music as you please but there is no way that the first five songs of this record can touch the stuff Beck released in the six years prior to 2005. Absolutely impossible. The comparison should never have been made.

FOUR STARS? So, Modern Guilt has the Rolling Stone writer absolutely beside herself and I, as a rabid Beck fan, was feeling seriously left out wondering if I even like four songs on the record. (Actually at that time, I liked only emblematic "Gamma Ray" with its goofy surf a-go-go beat. I suspect the general let down on the record colored/poisoned some of the later tracks.) I ended up really diggin, "Profanity Prayers" too. It's got the beat and has more of a stolid sophistication than its predecessors from previous albums.

"Profanity Prayers"
from Modern Guilt

This is a good one, but at this point, you're 90% through a 10-track album you paid $14 dollars for. It's not enough to save the project. Certainly not a four-star album.

I am Beck's Adoring Public and I will be the first to say, "We were slighted." I sit there listening to Modern Guilt (again, not a horrible album, just a completely average ten track record with a couple of decent songs) and question my loyalty to the artist. "Is there something wrong with me? I'm supposed to like this!...."

But you see, music is supposed to reach out to you - not the other way around. Sometimes the people need to say, "Nay" and the Emperor has No Clothes.

There, it needed to be said.

RSL Album Report Card: 2.75 Stars (5 Stars)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Great Summer Album - Mates of State, Re-Arrange Us

One of Our Favorites:
Recommended Summer Listening

Tonight in Boston!


Live in Boston tonight: Mates of State at the Paradise Rock Club, doors at 7pm. As of the publication of this piece, tickets were still available!

Hey there, BragginBilly here. The last few days (here and here) we have been telling you about our project to assemble the Best of List for Albums released in the First Half of 2008. (Here's the list from 2007.) One thing was immediately clear - We wanted to tell you about this one in time for the Mates of State show in Boston tonight.

Another Top Album in 2008: We recommend: "Re-Arrange Us" from Mates of State. This one is a successful follow up from 2006's "Bring It Back" - a personal favorite.

RE-ARRANGE US: Although somewhat ironically named, "Re-Arrange Us" picks up right where "Bring It Back" left off. It's a great CD top to bottom that never leaves you with the feeling that you're hearing the same songs again. No re-hashing, just more good tunes on the same vibe.

BEST OF 2008: the new one from Mates of State

For the uninitiated, Mates of State are a husband and wife team - and a talented one at that. Josh Hammel (drums) and Kori Gardner (piano and organ) are generating some of the best harmonies out there today. Hammel's understated drumming shows off a sophisticated sense of rhythm, and Gardner combines her intimate singing voice with fine work on the keys. I saw them twice last year when they were almost a trio...(Kori was very pregnant at the time and has since given birth to the couple's second daughter.) Both shows were unforgettable!

From the Re-Arrange Us album:
Mates of State - Now

Here's Your Chance: Check out Mates of State tonight in Boston at the The Paradise. Tickets were not sold out last night and there should be some available at the door tonight before show time.

Myspace / Web

Saturday, August 09, 2008

New Music Video: World As Large from Parlour Steps


Parlour Steps

As I mentioned earlier this week, I am assembling our Annual 2008 Best of List (First Half of the Year) and I checked back in on Ambiguoso (Nine Mile Records) is the stellar 2008 record from Parlour Steps on Nine Miles (Nine Mile Records.)

I've spent a few days this summer telling readers about how brilliant this clever Vancouver band is. (Here's my review of Ambiguoso, if you missed it... recommended.) All the High Energy without the empty rage, Parlour Steps shines.


The band tapped Dave Hadgkiss of Parkbench Productions ("Thieves of Memory") for their latest; The "World As Large" music video.


COMING SOON: I will be publishing pics of Parlour Steps' last performance in Boston (some include pix of the band getting down and dancing to Austin's Black and White Years. It was a special night!

Parlour Steps Web / Myspace
Buy this recommended Album: Nine Mile Records

The Best of the First Half 2007

Neil Young @ Shepherd's Bush, West London (1971)

There are great musicians, great shows and great recording - and then there's Neil Young - an amazing set! Rarely do all of these elements come together and the material is still not available to enjoy. With Neil Young's recent release of the Massey Hall 1971 show there is a lot of love out there these days for his music - and especially tracks from this era. Presenting: Neil Young Live at the BBC 1971...


Image: Neil Young by Graham Nash

It's damn hard to believe that this show (a collector's treasure for three decades now) has never been released. It was recorded at the old Sheperds Bush Empire Theatre (sold to the BBC in 1953 with some conversions for television broadcasts for years.) This session is crisp and clean - showcasing classic Neil Young during an important period in his professional development. The song selections are hard to beat!

Important: I love music and support the efforts of musicians. Consequently, is not my policy to share live shows that are available commercially to avoid inflicting damages. If anyone is aware of any reason why this material should not be shared, please contact me.

DID YOU KNOW? - In 1992, the BBC sold the site (it was called the Shepherds Bush BBC Theatre when Neil Young played there in 1971) and it's name was reverted back to the Shepherds Bush Empire. The theatre, now operated by the Academy Music Group, maintains it's strong musical heritage - still hosting live shows today.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Belle and Sebastian @ 9:30 Club - March 2006

Resurrected on Request!!!
A Favorite Band - Live in the USA

Belle & Sebastian are a Scottish indie pop band formed in Glasgow in January 1996. After releasing a number of albums and EPs on Jeepster Records, they are now signed to Rough Trade Records in the United Kingdom and Matador Records in the United States.

While their early sound was commonly filed under "twee pop", a description the band have rejected, Belle & Sebastian have much in common with influential indie bands such as The Smiths and Felt, and also take in other influences, such as northern soul and funk, as well as a sense of irony and humour, that are not usually associated with twee. Audiogalaxy classified Belle & Sebastian music as chamber pop, as they used instruments not very common in pop such as flute, cello or trumpet. (With thanks to Wikipedia.)

The current members of the band are:

* image credit - Christine on Axis of Live

Washington D.C.'s 9:30 Club
March 5, 2006

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Supergrass - Diamond Hoo Ha

We sorely underestimated how much we were gonna love this one!


The Best of What's To Come: It's right about this time each year that the RSL starts thinking about our best of list for the first half of the year. (Here's the First Half List from 2007.) In doing so we often, inevitably step on some toes and make some interesting and bold statements about the state of music.

Regular readers know that our lists at the RSL are always refreshing escapes from the norm. (Don't expect a retread of what you will see in the big music magazines or even in the Music Blogs of note. Printing the same list as everyone else just isn't accurate (we all don't really like ALL the same things) and it smacks of pandering and retrograde through "overt trendiness." Ultimately.... Our lists are different and that serves you (our readers) the best.

One of the Best Releases So Far this Year

The best part of the lists is that we get to talk about albums that came out of nowhere and really impressed us. Case in point is today's entry: Diamond Hoo Ha, the sixth studio album from Oxford, UK's Supergrass.

The band (Gaz Coombes - Guitar and vocals, brother Rob Coombes on keys, Danny Goffey on drums and Mick Quinn on bass guitar and vocals) have such a strong, unabashed appreciation (fearless) of good seventies rock (the songs "Diamond Hoo Ha" and "Rebel in You" for instance) and then take that sound to new and most unexpected heights ("When I Needed You", "Ghost of a Friend" and "Butterfly.") This is a very well rounded album.

At it's start, Diamond Hoo Ha has got just about all the same elements that last year's White Stripes album had - and everything works here too (as it did with Jack and Meg's album.) Perhaps the only element different between the Icky Thump and Diamond Hoo Ha is that the Supergrass record (with but one or two exceptions) is more expansive and experimental. (Ending the comparisons to the Stripes here, I meant the comparison to merely serve as a compliment. While both projects are rock based and rely heavily on their guitars - they are two very different animals.) I daresay, this one from Supergrass is pretty brilliant.

One can't help but listen to an album like Diamond Hoo Ha, and love the fact that great rock music exists even while the rest of the world is doing something else (and often not as well.)

The bottom line... I knew I would be giving Diamond Hoo Ha a listen, but didn't expect to love it anywhere near as much as I have. Expect to see this album in the upcoming Best of 2008 So Far posting... (don't miss this one!) and do your best to find this in your music collection. I don't think you will be disappointed. Supergrass grows on you very fast!

Web / Myspace

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Girls Rock !

Film is where Rock N Roll, Art & Culture Collide:

GIRLS ROCK! (2007 film, 90 mins) The Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls is a place where 8-18 year olds come from all over the country to learn Rock DIY-style--forming bands, writing songs and building community, and “Girls Rock!” is the movie about their journey.

NOW IN BOSTON: Currently underway, the MFA Film Program still has FOUR REMAINING SHOWS of Arne Johnson and Shane King's documentary Girls Rock! This exuberant film follows four girls through the transformative experience of forming bands, writing songs, rehearsing, and performing. Along the way personal trouble, as well as fresh confidence is unearthed.

GIRLS ARE THE STARS: The primary subjects of “Girls Rock!” are Laura, an articulate adopted Korean obsessed with death metal; Misty, who is emerging from a life of meth-addiction, homelessness and gang activity; Palace, a sweet-seeming 8-year-old with a heavy metal sneer, and Amelia, who's writing a 14-song cycle about her dog Pippi. Forming bands, writing songs and playing a gig in one week, these girls and the rest of the camp engage in an experiment in empowerment that will leave no-one unchanged.

In meeting these four children, the filmmakers discovered what many books and studies have already described—girls are struggling with a bewildering and heartbreaking array of challenges to their self-image. Everything from eating disorders to drugs to sexual harassment have made girlhood a virtual battlefield. The filmmakers were happy to find in the camp a place where, in the words of former Camp Assistant Director Jen Agosta, "it is 100% ok to be exactly who you are." What happens to the girls as they are given a temporary reprieve from being sexualized, analyzed and pressured to conform, is truly exhilarating. The act of picking up a guitar and making noise becomes a truly revolutionary act.


As the final performance for over 700 people draws near, the girls are thrown into a paroxysm of excitement and self-discovery, achieving things they never thought possible. Through video diaries, verite footage, revealing interviews, and issue-driven animations, filmgoers will transform right along with the girls.

What We Have to Say: "Think Little Miss Sunshine’s Olive goes to Paul Green’s Rock School. This one has 'fun' written all over. A winner for families and those who like to rock!"

Tickets: Members, seniors and students $8; general admission $9. Discount matinee prices (weekday until 5 pm; weekends until 12:30 pm) are $6, $7.

Just four remaining Boston shows:
Thu, Aug 7, 6 pm
Sat, Aug 9, 10:30 am
Sun, Aug 10, 12:30 pm
Sat, Aug 16, 10:30 am

To purchase tickets please call the box office at 617-369-3306 or online at

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Newport Folk Festival - Crowds Mightily Entertained, Soaked

Saturday - Aug 2, 2008

A deluge in Newport made things very muddy

- but didn't dampen the spirits of the crowd

BragginBilly here. It turned out to be a great day for music, but it was sure was a wet one, for those who didn't make it under one of the very few and very crowded tents at the Newport Folk Festival.

The weekend had kicked off on a far-drier evening with a very special performance by Beach Boy Brian Wilson - a late addition to the Newport Folk Festival weekend.

I arrived at the festival early afternoon on Saturday after fighting both Boston and Newport traffic jams. I was totally bummed to miss Jakob Dylan. There was still so much to see. Here's a glimpse into an entertaining day at Newport:



Trey Anastasio hit the stage and was greeted by screams of "Welcome back Trey!" He just shot back a big smile and dug in. It was only the Phish frontman's first second public stage performance and 17 months and he lit it up. (One has to wonder if Trey's performance at the Festival will guide him towards a Phish reunion?)

All Smiles and Down to Business

Things have definitely changed for the Folk Festival - and based on the impressive lineup this year, one couldn't help but say for the better. Anastasio was one of the few performers on stage Saturday that went unplugged.


Zooey Deschanel

About the time the drops started falling it was time to hit the one big tent to catch She & Him. This was very lucky because I managed to get one of the last couple spots under the tent before the deluge arrived. They put on a great show. Zooey's voice was as good as you would hope and the sly smiles and sideways looks made for an entertaining, if understated, performance. It was a very happy surprise that you got a lot more M. Ward in the live performance then you did on the album. His guitar play added some extra edge to one of my favorite albums of the year so far.


M Ward

An Early Appearance from Jim James!


Lettin' it Fly at Newport

Jim James - Suspicious Minds
(Elvis Presley cover)

Jim James also popped out to do a song with group in advance of his set and kicked up the vibe a few more notches. Jim James, of My Morning Jacket fame, followed up with an amazing set. He switched back and forth between guitar and something called an omnichord. Toward the end of his set he commented about amazing it was to be playing such a storied music festival (it began in 1959) and walking amonst the ghosts of many of music's greats. I think he proved himself worthy of that company.


Cat Power - I Found A Reason
(Velvet Underground cover)

As the sun finally emerged emerged it was time for Cat Power to hit the stage. Chan Marshall's aggressive stage presence as she stalked from one side of the stage to the other, stood in stark contrast to the soulfulness of their music. Although known for being quite mercurial, the performance went off without a hitch - much to the pleasure of all those who had waited out the storm.

Sunday Recap: We gracefully defer to our esteemed colleague at Aquarium Drunkard.

Thanks to the Planners and Organizers of the Festival. You did a fantastic job and without all your work and careful planning, things would not have gone so well. (Now if we could only get Mother Nature on board!) Looking forward to see how they can top this one in 2009!