lyrics

The Dang-It Bobbys Release New Album 'Big Trouble'

The Dang-it Bobbys, whose sound The New York Times described as “lovely riffs on bluegrass, country and folk music,” will release on September 20 its sophomore album, BIG TROUBLE, the follow-up to its 2009 debut, SOMETHING IN THE AIR. While many of the band’s riffs are lovely, there is much more: ingenious combinations of musical styles as well as smart, funny lyrics and a special energy that is downright contagious.

The Dang-It Bobbys will play the CD Release Show at 10 p.m. Saturday, September 24, at Rockwood Music Hall, 196 Allen St. in New York City. Complimentary Cover; information: 212.477.4155.

The Dang-it Bobbys, led by multi-instrumentalist Kris Bauman, explore what the word “Americana” truly means on the upcoming release, which features musicians from the New York City bluegrass, jazz, rock and country music scene, The band is a real melting pot of American music, showcasing the talents of blues/funk guitarist Luca Benedetti (ulu), jazz/classical violinist Alan Grubner (Henry Threadgill, Howard Levy), jazz bassist Chris Higgins (Pat Metheny), bluegrass mandolinist Dan Marcus (Norah Jones), and the 2001 RockyGrass Dobro champion, Todd Livingston (Earl Scruggs).
The Dang-it Bobbys’ unorthodox background is clearly evident on the autobiographical title track “Big Trouble,” a cautionary tale for would-be travelers to Mexico, juxtaposing a bluegrass style 4/4 and English lyrics with a traditional Mexican 3/4 feel and “gringo-ized” Spanish. On “Hey Guess What,” the cyclical form, heart-wrenching harmonica and mantric snare drum provide the backdrop to a mother’s attempt to come clean to her daughter. “Heading Out,” an unconventional ballad, showcases the band’s range of both intensity and tenderness.
The Dang-it Bobbys garner influence from all facets of American music, from bluegrass and country to jazz and blues. It is this flavorful stew of styles, coupled with the artistry of the adroit musicians featured on BIG TROUBLE, that give The Dang-it Bobbys an unquestionably American sound.
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Upcoming Performances:
September 24, Rockwood Music Hall, New York
October 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, Pete’s Candy Store, Brooklyn

Mocean Worker | 'Candygram For Mowo!'

It’s been four years since we last heard from our favorite fast-talking, electro-funk, party-jams beat-maker Adam Dorn a.k.a. Mocean Worker. Since then tough economics have turned tougher, smug indie bands have become smugger and raving mad religious fanatics have grown, well, raving madder. What the world could use in these troubling times is some good ol' fashioned, happy days are here again, get up on the good foot grooves. Mocean Worker--who has built a reputation for exactly that over a ten-year plus career as a recording artist, songwriter, remixer, DJ, bassist and more--returns made to order with his sixth studio album, Candygram For Mowo!

From the opening salvo of the record’s first track "Shooby Shooby Do Yah!" in which 1930s big band horns are met by the syncopated rattle of a tambourine, it's apparent that the Mocean Worker feel-good brand is intact.  Joined by a divers cast of special guests, including Lyrics Born, Mindy Abair, Bill Frisell, Charlie Hunter, John Ellis, Hal Willner and Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Mowo! brings the funk in all manner of delectable shapes and sizes. Whether crossing swing era rave-ups with ‘70s rare groove ("Do Like Ya Like"), Les McCann meets Marvin Gaye-flavored house party, soul jazz ("Sistas & Bruthas"), North Cali hip-hop with ‘50s hard bop ("My Own Little World") or injecting deep house with Nuyorican rhythms ("Out There In The Random"), the beats are infectious, the hooks irresistible and the attitude always cheeky.

In Mocean Worker's own words, "These ain't good times, so why not have something that makes us feel good?"

Candygram For Mowo! is indeed what our collective sweet tooth craves.

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Candygram For Mowo! track listing:

1. Shooby Shooby Do Yah! (featuring Steven Bernstein)
2. Swagger
3. My Own Little World (featuring Lyrics Born & Mindi Abair)
4. Hoot & Hollah
5. Sistas & Bruthas (featuring Mindi Abair)
6. It Still Don’t Mean A Thing (featuring Steven Bernstein)
7. Mel’s Torment (featuring Rahsaan Roland Kirk)
8. Out There In The Random
9. Do Like Ya Like
10. Ya Damn Right
11. Say Yeah Yeah Yeah
12. Jive, Jive, Jive
13. Sho Nuff (featuring Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Bill Frisell, Charlie Hunter & Hal Willner)
14. JD

AgesandAges | Bluebird Theater | 7/20/11

AgesandAges have been described as “big tent revivalists.” Some lump them into the cult category, alongside Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, as they have a sev

The Grownup Noise Announce Summer Tour

Four years and five national tours since the release of their last album, The Grownup Noise’s latest record, This Time With Feeling, has definitely proven itself to be worth the wait. Carefully blending elements of pop, folk and rock, the band bridges the gap between indie and Americana. The record was mixed in North Carolina by studio master Scott Solter (Spoon, Okkervil River). Fusing tranquil lyrics and harmonies with an assortment of orchestrated flourishes including cellos, pianos and accordions, all five members of The Grownup Noise are multi-instrumentalists.

The album opens with “Strawmen,” a lush arrangement that evokes feelings of peace and clarity. The playful “Six Foot Solemn Oath” immediately launches into a duet lead by intertwining piano and strings. “Carnival” lifts the tempo with a powerful folk-rock hook and lyrics that tell the tale of a magical love. Sorrowful lead single “The Artist Type” boasts an irresistible melody, expertly uniting gentle string arrangements and booming piano.

Check out “The Artist Type” MP3 HERE.

The Grownup Noise will kick off a national summer tour in support of This Time With Feeling. Described by the Portland Press Herald as combining “smart lyrics with keen vocals” and adding that “its songs are doses of melodic sunshine,” the Boston-based quintet offer a kinetic, emotional warmth. Catch them live in your city!

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The Grownup Noise Tour Dates

8/3: Philadelphia, PA @ Danger Danger Gallery
8/4: Washington, DC @ Velvet Lounge
8/5: Columbus, OH @ Kafe Kerouac
8/6: Louisville, KY @ Uncle Slayton's
8/7: Dayton, OH @ South Park Tavern
8/8: Chicago, IL @ Schubas
8/9: Nashville, TN @ Five Spot
8/11: Denver, CO @ Hi-Dive
8/16: Santa Cruz, CA - Daytime show
8/18: San Francisco, CA @ Hemlock Tavern
8/19: Sacramento, CA @ Distillery
8/23: Portland, OR @ Solar Panel Company - Daytime show
8/23: Portland, OR @ Knife Shop
8/24: Seattle, WA @ Hi-Dive

Luther Russell Announces New Double LP

Luther Russell is set to release his fifth LP, a double-length entitled The Invisible Audience, on July 12th on Ungawa Records. It's a wildly ambitious record from the multi-talented singer-songwriter/producer, which he calls "a glimpse into the jukebox of my psyche." The twenty-five tracks on this epic record were culled from months and months of recording "whenever I could get into my eight-track studio or on a four-track cassette to get an idea down." The album's narrative flow seems to run the gamut of emotions from regret, betrayal and loss to humor, nostalgia and hope. His last release, 2007's Repair (produced by Ethan Johns) was a ragged, rootsy pop record full of rich, sometimes bouncy melodies which belied their darker subject matter, namely that of his then-fresh divorce. The album won him quite a bit of acclaim but nonetheless failed to break him to a wider audience. Since then he concentrated on the production side of things, working with a wide array of artists, including Noah & The Whale, Laura Marling, Sarabeth Tucek, Holly Miranda, Richmond Fontaine, Sean Lennon and Fernando, to name a few.

It was during this industrious period that Luther would hit the recording studio on his own whenever time permitted "to capture some kind of feeling before it slipped away" or for other projects like "the odd failed soundtrack that never was." Being a multi-instrumentalist (Luther has lent his talents to many other artists on drums, guitar, bass, keys, etc.) helped to get many songs recorded with no time to waste. For instance, "Traces," a track evoking Slim Chance-era Ronnie Lane, was done "pretty much in one day", recalls Russell. Still, he did enlist help from a few close musical allies to help flesh out harmony-laden blasts like "Everything You Do" and "Tomorrow's Papers", as well as the psychedelic trance-rock of "Motorbike". In fact, on the elegiac "In This Time," members of his old band The Freewheelers popped by to help with the feel of the track. "I just had so many different types of songs coming out of me over the past few years that for once I wanted to intertwine as many as I could, regardless of style or genre, to try and paint a more complete picture of who I am as an artist. This would be my chance because I could take my time and do it until it was done--whenever the hell that would be".

Turns out it wouldn't be for roughly five years, as Luther wouldn't finally compile the songs until he was able to listen to many different sequences on the often snail-paced subway rides between Manhattan and Brooklyn where he had relocated after several years in Los Angeles. "I just began to hit upon the fact that all of the instrumental tracks that I had accrued could provide little 'smoke breaks' for the listener, so to speak". Inspired by the sprawling double-albums of his youth, such as Husker Du's Zen Arcade, Game Theory's Lolita Nation and Fleetwood Mac's Tusk, he began to see the songs woven together in a longer, more colorful tapestry. "I wanted to make a record that someone could literally get lost in...every time you'd drop the needle you'd be somewhere new. It would be like a friend that was always around, but each time you get together something has changed a little, just like in life". Invariably the album would wind up consisting of some darker pathways, to which Luther attributes more than a few harrowing experiences, such as the sudden passing of two of his "very best friends" and a horrible accident where he nearly lost use of his right hand. "A period of intense darkness seemed to settle over me after the recording of my last record. Moving to New York was definitely an 'escape' of sorts, but the kind of loss I experienced over the past few years one can never quite shake, I think".

It's these more contemplative stretches of musical highway that are found in songs such as "A World Unknown," a stripped-down blues lament concerning "various frightened glimpses into one's own mortality" and "1st & Main," a spidery concoction regarding a certain sojourn through downtown L.A. "which I'd rather not discuss", Russell broods. Livelier tracks include the uproarious "Long Lost Friend," something of a sonic shotgun-wedding between the Faces and Nilsson, juxtaposed with lyrics about "literally having fuck-all", and "Ain't Frightening Me," a dervish of acid words and zig-zag melody influenced by the proto-power-pop of Nick Lowe and Dwight Twilley. The font of mix-and-match songcraft throughout the record can also be attributed to Luther's background, which includes a grandfather and great-uncle, each of whom wrote several Tin Pan Alley standards. It's this family history which he pays tribute to on instrumentals such as the ragtime-y "109th & Madison" (named for the intersection in Harlem where his grandmother grew up) and "Still Life Radio," the old Broadway-style opener which evokes an instant nostalgia even before the expansive record has begun to rev-up (with the grinding Sidekick Reverb).

As to the inevitable head-scratching regarding the sheer length of the record, Luther takes it in stride. "I fully get and understand that many people will ask 'why so long' and generally not have the patience to sit through such an 'endless' listen", he laughs, "but I just had to do it. It just felt right and I thought it would be a true musical experience--that is if you even like what I do in the first place!" This time around, not only has Luther Russell made a record that has many of the hallmarks he is known for (ear-catching melodies, lyrics layered with multiple meanings and adventurous musicianship), but he's managed to make one that contains all of them: the dark folk-blues territory he has covered in past records such as Lowdown World, the bold experimentation found in out-of-nowhere u-turns like Down At Kit's and the melancholy pop of the aforementioned Repair. The Invisible Audience aims to tie up the many loose ends of Luther's recorded output and twist it into something new, yet strangely recognizable. "It's an album made for music fans. People like me. Folks who want to disappear for a while, take a vacation from all the bullshit. All you need is a pair of headphones and an open mind".

The Greencards' new 'The Brick Album' features Vince Gill, Sam Bush

From the first notes struck together in 2003 through tours with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson, up to and beyond their fourth studio album in 2009, The Greencards have won steadily escalating acclaim for their multi-dimensional Americana vision. Each step they’ve taken has widened their appeal. Their releases have topped the Billboard Bluegrass charts. In both 2008 (for their Viridian album) and 2010 (for Fascination), they were nominated for Grammy Awards in the “Best Country Instrumental” category. They’ve earned ovations from “newgrass” music devotees at MerleFest and from indie-rock loyalists at Lollapalooza and the Austin City Limits Festival. RollingStone.com noted, “This imported band is creating some of the finest Americana around.”

But this four-piece band, spearheaded by Australians Carol Young and Kym Warner, is interested less in past accomplishments than in looking ahead for new goals to achieve. Produced and engineered by studio veteran Justin Niebank (Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, Keith Urban), The Brick Album on the band’s own Darling Street Records is the first to successfully infuse The Greencards’ eclectic musical references with the excitement they generate onstage.

“We’ve been striving for this since our first record,” says mandolinist Warner. “We recorded totally in one room this time, with very little isolation. It was all about doing the performance now, without going back to add anything later on.”

“What you’re hearing is all one take,” bassist and singer Young adds. “If someone really didn’t like what we’d done, we’d play it all again from the top rather than drop the part in. When you drop in a part, you lose a little bit of the feel. You’ve got to get a run-up to it.”

That immediacy was heightened by the addition of two new members of the group. Tyler Andal, a young fiddle whiz from Tennessee, reinforces both The Greencards’ grounding in roots music and their eagerness to let in the fresh air of newgrass, rock, folk elements, Latin America and much more. “He thinks outside the box,” Warner explains. “We’ve always had a strong rhythmic aspect to our music, and Tyler definitely brings that.”

The other recent arrival, former National Flatpicking Championship winner Carl Miner, excels as a guitarist in that tradition but more importantly applies his virtuosity equally well beyond it. “He’s good at everything,” Warner says. “He’s one of the most versatile musicians, and probably the most consistent, we’ve ever played with. With Tyler and him in the band, everyone is pulling in the same direction.”

Make that “directions.” The Brick Album kicks off with “Make It Out West,” a rhythmically irresistible chant powered by guest artist Sam Bush’s slide mandolin, with lyrics conjuring restless dreams and far horizons. From there the songs take listeners through ever-changing vistas — the Spanish-inflected “Heart Fixer,” whose vocals by Young and guest artist Vince Gill stir memories of Marty Robbins; the slinky, teasing “Mrs. Madness,” written by Warner after a night of watching Bored to Death; the magical “Girl in the Telescope,” which floats like a feather in sunlight; “Tale of KangaRio,” an intimate Brazilian dance of mandolin and guitar; “Loving You Is the Only Way To Fly,” a dreamy evocation of the Louvin and Everly Brothers, the pillars of classic country duet vocals.

There’s much more, but two tracks bear special mention. The wistful “Faded” is a sweetly harmonized tune, so natural that you don’t even notice its unusual 5/4 time signature. Similarly, “Adelaide” is a brisk instrumental, built over a rushing stream of chord changes made accessible by melodies and solos of eloquent coherence.

“As we get older, the more I think about it, the more we want something in music you can cling to,” Warner says. “That comes with melody. What we do on The Brick Album allows us to have something not only on the record but also on our live show. It brings it back to “more than anything, this is about lyrics and harmony.”

It’s also about integrating fans more than ever into the band’s process. The Greencards followed an independent path with The Brick Album, partnering with its followers rather than with record labels to fund its sessions. In exchange for contributing to the “Buy A Brick” project, each donor had his or her name permanently inscribed on a brick within the wall that comprises its cover art.

“The times have changed a lot in the music industry, not so much in the creative side but in business side of making music,” Warner says. “We just wanted to give something unique and special to people, not just by sending them an early copy of the record by putting their names on the artwork. That makes them fully a part of it.”

But it’s the music that makes us all part of this journey. Warner and Young were both steeped in country music; she charted several No. 1 singles in her homeland as a solo artist and he won the Australian National Bluegrass Mandolin Championship for four consecutive years. They moved to Austin, put together the first incarnation of The Greencards there and today call Nashville home.

Along the way, they have picked up some influential fans. Their 2009 release, Fascination, prompted Rosanne Cash to say, “The Greencards are a little island of truth and beauty in a sea of artifice and mediocrity. What a fine group, and what a great collection of songs.” Buddy Miller called it one of the year’s “most inventive discs.”

With this new release, the world becomes more than ever The Greencards’ stage. Their sound defies category, balancing taste and technique, engaging lyrics and melodies and wildly creative arrangements. There may be a wall on The Brick Album’s cover, but the future suggested on these tracks knows no barrier.

Jim Lauderdale to Release Reason & Rhyme

Can there be too much of a good thing?  If the question’s about collaboration between American roots music hero Jim Lauderdale and legendary lyricist Robert Hunter, the answer’s an emphatic “no!”  Marking the former’s debut on the respected Sugar Hill records label, Reason And Rhyme makes a compelling case for the continued vitality of the Lauderdale—Hunter partnership—and for Lauderdale’s unique and deeply satisfying approach to bluegrass.

“This one’s back to total bluegrass,” Lauderdale says of the collaborative follow-up to 2010’s electric Patchwork River, and so it’s no surprise that it features many of the musicians involved in previous bluegrass efforts like Could We Get Any Closer (2009) and 2007’s Grammy-winning The Bluegrass Diaries.  The close-knit crew, headed up by producer and resonator guitarist Randy Kohrs, is perfectly in tune with Lauderdale’s ‘grass-with-a-twist' sensibilities, and whether it’s a return buddy like bassist Jay Weaver or new colleague Mike Compton (mandolin), each player delivers mightily with the genre’s characteristic virtuosity and emotional fire.

“We started on this one last August,” Lauderdale notes, “right after I finished touring with Elvis Costello.  Robert and I have worked just about every way you can think of—writing in the same room, adding lyrics to music and music to lyrics—but whichever way we go, he’s the lyrics guy and I’m the music guy.  This time around, we wanted to keep the momentum from Patchwork River going; I started sending him melodies, and ten days later we had 18 songs to choose from.”
The collaboration began over a decade ago, when Lauderdale was preparing for his first joint project with bluegrass patriarch Ralph Stanley, and quickly bore fruit, with more than 30 songs written before the first all-collaborative album, Headed For The Hills (2004).  “I’m not surprised, but I’m always blown away how creative he is lyrically,” says the singer/songwriter, who’s busy enough that finding time to record has always been among his greatest challenges.
With 11 fresh takes on the bluegrass sound that he’s loved since he was a teenager, this latest effort presents Jim Lauderdale at his most relaxed and rooted—and with the help of one of American music’s greatest lyricists, it’s a set that offers not only deep musicality, but deep meaning and vision.  Reason And Rhyme—it’s just the right name for just the right music.

The Band of Heathens | Oriental Theater | 3/29/11

The Band of Heathens kicked off their West Coast tour on Tuesday at the Oriental Theater in Denver. The show also marked the release of the Americana rock band’s new LP Top Hat Crown & the Clapmaster’s Son.

Lee MacDougall Gives it to Denver Short & Sweet

Short and sweet can be a good thing, but when it’s good, everybody wants some more. British musician Lee MacDougall certainly showed that he could satisfy, but unfortunately for the very few that showed up for his performance at the Larimer Lounge, it was a moment that lasted not quite long enough.

GROOMS Announce Sophomore LP On Kanine Records

On PromGrooms' sophomore album, set to be released on Kanine Records this summer, the Brooklyn avant-rock trio has come into their own.  In every way, Prom is a more mature, unique, adventurous, and most of all, accessible record than 2009's widely-praised album Rejoicer.
Travis Johnson (vocals/guitar) and Emily Ambruso (vocals/bass) met, ridiculously, on Friendster, shortly before that website became 100% irrelevant, only to meet in person at a Valentine's Day party in the Oklahoma woods a few weeks later.  They immediately started discussing experimental music and pop, and, after relocating separately to New York in 2004, starting playing experimental music and pop together in their bedrooms.  They met Jim Sykes (drums) through a friend soon after, but didn't start playing with him until 2009, when Grooms formed and released their debut album.  That album was a dark, noisy, and tangled affair, the lyrics focusing almost entirely on Travis' religion-fixated obsessive-compulsive disorder, which he was diagnosed with in adolescence.
On this gorgeously poppy album, Prom, the experiments are with beauty, texture, and melody, and the OCD-related lyrics are nestled in lulling, comforting sounds.  The album was written with touchstones like genre-crossing records from Broadcast and Wire's “154” in mind, in between Emily dragging everyone to see terrible movies in theaters and Jim finishing up his PhD in ethnomusicology.  The result is a semi-electronic, often ambient and haunting record, that sounds variously like zombies playing surf rock ("Imagining the Bodies"), glitchy, pounding IDM ("Tiger Trees"), and creepy Spector girl-group tunes ("Sharing") among dozens of others.  Emily and Travis obsessed over the melodies this time around, pushing each other to sing better at all turns, and harmonizing in ways they'd never tried before.  The band slept in sleeping bags in the studio (Uniform, in Philadelphia), staying up late and waking up early to obsess more, and to fidget with sounds they'd never played with before. Friend Jay Heiselman mixed Prom over the 2010 holidays, diving deep into post-production to help create the intensely new direction for the band.
To Grooms, this record is about freedom: to be catchy, to be unabashedly pretty, to try entirely new types of music, and even to write their first-ever breakup song.  They hope you sing along to Prom, that you get happy and sad to it in the way you do with great pop records, and that you get just a little freaked out when their dark side shows up here and there.
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Upcoming Tour Dates:
Feb 23 – Embassy Vinyl - Scranton, PA
Feb 24 – Happy Dog - Cleveland, OH
Feb 25 - Mulligan’s Pub - Grand Rapids, MI
Feb 26 – Mockbee - Cincinnati, OH
Mar 16 – Palm Door (SXSW) - Austin, TX
Mar 20 – Bro Fest - Dallas, TX
Mar 22 – Opolis - Norman, OK
Mar 23 – The Lemp - St Louis, MO
Mar 25 – Pancho’s - Chicago, IL
Mar 26 – Project Lodge - Madison, WI
Mar 27 – The Strut - Kalamazoo, MI
Mar 29 – Now That’s Class - Cleveland, OH
Mar 30 – Garfield Artworks - Pittsburgh, PA
Apr 02 – The Ox - Philadelphia, PA