Archive for the ‘music’ Category

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Rhode Island’s Newest Folk Roots Movement

December 22, 2011

Rhode Island is known for interesting music. Whether its the noise bands out of Providence, or the current emergence of folk and bluegrass, the ocean state has a variety of musicians that offer many talents.

Currently, the state is seeing a new wave of bluegrass, alternative country and folk. Some of the best acts include the alt-country sounds of Jeff Byrd and Dirty Finch, the indie folk styling of Andrew Spatz, the nitty-gritty of Joe Fletcher & the Wrong Reasons and bluegrass’ newest talent, Big River Stomp.

Big River Stomp hails from West Greenwich, featuring guitarist James Studley, Jeff Budzinski, Matt Dipinto, and Jesse Burdick on banjo. Each musician brings forth a rich bluegrass background with strong vocal talents. Burdick’s styling on banjo goes from backyard to big stage having shared the stage with well known bluegrass musicians such as Bourbon Boys and String Fingers.

Big River Stomp offers the sounds of traditional bluegrass, as well as the modern sounds of newgrass. Like any good cowboy story, each song tells detailed tales of life.

Big River Stomp is a band not to miss in the folk roots emergence of the smallest state in the union.

RM CRESSER © 2011 500 Rad Records

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Belle & Sebastian’s Stevie Jackson Releases Solo Album

October 13, 2011

After fifteen years in the public indie eye with the band Belle & Sebastian, vocalist and guitarist Stevie Jackson releases his first solo album this month.

With critics and fans alike, one says Belle & Sebastian, one automatically thinks Stuart Murdoch. We learn that with Jackson’s solo album, Jackson deserves much more credit than he receives.

Reminding one of the post Pavement bands (Preston School of Industry, and Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks), Jackson’s solo record sheds light on to what his role is with Belle & Sebastian.

(I can’t get no) Stevie Jackson can be compared to the 2002 Belle & Sebastian composed soundtrack for the film, Storytelling. “Scooby Diver,” sang by Jackson sounds similar to his new song, “Try Me.” The song also carries similar riffs to the Gentle Waves’ song, “Weather Show.” The Gentle Waves was Isobel Campbell’s solo band with Jackson playing guitar.

Stevie Jackson’s studio band is an all star cast and features members of Belle & Sebastian, The Pastels, The Company, Trembling Bells, and New Pornographers. We learn that Jackson has a lot of pull in Belle & Sebastian, as if Murdoch is the heart, Jackson is the soul. (I can’t get no) Stevie Jackson proves the Jackson is the man behind the newer Belle and Sebastian sound.

(I can’t get no) Stevie Jackson is a new Belle & Sebastian record without Stuart Murdoch. An unknown critic once stated that, “His songs are noticeably different from Murdoch’s compositions. They tend to be shorter and less introspective, opting for catchy 1960s-style pop more often than the folky melancholia that defined Belle & Sebastian’s early releases.”*

Jackson’s solo album provides the fact that is not this statement is not entirely true. Jackson’s compositions are at times a bit immature  and simple, as heard in, “Press Send.”

“Did you ever wake up after sending an email to a friend….female”

Yet, Jackson’s own work shines on “Just, Just to the Point”. A song that could define a new sound for him, and screams brit pop. “Where do all the good girls go,” is the typically 60’s pop, Jackson leads towards as heard in his Belle & Sebastian songs.

Overall, Jackson first solo record is his favored reproduced 60’s pop. The album is decent. (I can’t get no) Stevie Jackson could be considered as a new Belle & Sebastian album, just without Stuart Murdoch.

*this quote can be found on numerous websites, (Wikipedia, BBC) regarding the band, however no credit is given to a single author*

RM CRESSER © 2011 500 Rad Records

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Welcome Back Matt Pinfield and 120 Minutes.

July 30, 2011

The days of 120 Minutes. A wonderful two hour program that introduced young minds willing to stay up late to new and old indie and ‘buzz alternative’ bands. Ending in 2003, the show ran for 17 years.  MTV actually pulled the show in 2000, and sending it to MTV2 where it aired until 2003. Like the rest of the networks, MUSIC television was officially dead  succumbing to the hype of reality tv shows. Perhaps after almost ten years of reality shows, folks are sick of it. Also returning this year are brand spanking new episodes of old nineties favorites such as Beavis and Butthead. To sweeten the MTV nostalgia, indie music fans recently learned of the return of 120 minutes. However, 120 Minutes is no longer on Sunday at midnight, but on now Saturday at 1 am, hoping to catch the SNL audience.  Also, its no longer on MTV, but again on MTV2.

According to MTV.com, Pinfield is thrilled to be reunited with 120 Minutes.  Matt Pinfield, is not the original host of 120 Minutes, for Dave Kendall created and hosted the show until the early nineties. The question is, will it be the same groundbreaking influential show it once was?  In the article, Pinfield mentioned bands such as Sleigh Bells and Das Racist. Das Racist? 120 Minutes will now take on indie hip hop as well rock. Not only will video watchers get to learn about the underground indie rock bands, but now the indie hip hop community will have the opportunity to thrive off the show as well.  120 Minutes did air videos from different types of artists outside the indie genre at times. Goth rock Marilyn Manson even hosted the show a few times. It will be interesting to see what is considered a band situable for the modern 120 minutes. I predict the following bands will be apart of the video line up. The Thermals, Best Coast, the Cool Kids, and Wavves to name a few. Pinfield promised in the article that the show is more action packed. All this writer hopes for is another episode hosted by Thurston Moore and Beck, which is quite possible considering Moore’s new album, Demolished Thoughts was produced by Beck.

As we are learning, MTV is somewhat struggling. Still nervous to change the reality TV format, MTV is putting classic revamped shows onto its other stations. So my question to you MTV why are you resurfacing old shows? MTV has been on the air for thirty years, and let’s face it, its been dead for the last 15 years. With quality viewing such as Jersey Shore, why not show anything else?  Its no longer working is it? In all due honesty, I have not watched MTV or its clones in years.  However, tonight I will.

As a fellow music lover, bring back music television. Its what the people want. Whats not a better way to start off with Matt Pinfield and 120 Minutes. One step at a time, MUSIC television. One step at a time.

RM CRESSER © 2011 500 Rad Records

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We’re Back!

April 10, 2011

SO after much hiatus, and a computer being fixed, I will be coming back with new reviews soon. This winter I did catch up with some indie icons. The legendary Calvin Johnson, Ian Svenonius and Ted Leo. Interviews and show reviews can be found on Patch Narragansett.

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Top 20 albums of 2010.

December 30, 2010

Here are the top 20 albums of 2010.
BAND ALBUM
1. SURFER BLOOD- ASTRO COAST
Fresh sound, brilliant new band! Wonderful album.
2. Deerhunter- Halcyon Digest
please see: https://500records.wordpress.com/2010/10/22/album-of-21-of-500-deerhunter-halcyon-digest/
3. Stereolab – Not Music
4. Gorillaz – Plastic Beach
When we all thought Damon was getting stale, he brought in legends such as Mark E. Smith and Mick Jones to produce this amazing album.
5. Spoon- Transference
6. The Thermals – Personal Life
A perfect name for this album, because Hutch totally opens up and tells you whats up. Sadly, it sounds like he is in a super rut. Sort of depressing album, and the b sides that didn’t make the album were better, “Separate” and “Canada”. The Thermals Pinkerton album, indeed!
7. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists- The Brutalist Bricks
Ted’s best album since Shake the Sheets! see: http://narragansett.patch.com/articles/ted-leo-and-the-pharmacists-rock-the-met
8. Quasi – American Gong
9. Superchunk -Majesty Shredding
10. Wavves – King of the Beach
11. The Black Keys – Brothers
12. Beach House – Teen Dream
13. New Porngraphers – Together
14. Miles Kurosky – The Desert of Shadow Effects
The much anticipated album from Beulah’s frontman. He told me that it wasn’t what the fans expected but the turnout is different. Good job Miles!
15. Belle & Sebastian – Write about Love
16. Born Ruffians – Say It
17. The Soft Pack – The Soft Pack
18. Arcade Fire- The Suburbs
19.Ty Segall- Melted
20. Admiral Radley – I Heart California

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Album 22 of 500: The Thermals-Personal Life

December 9, 2010

BAND: THE THERMALS
ALBUM: PERSONAL LIFE
LABEL:  Kill Rock Stars
RELEASE DATE:  September 7th 2010

“I give you all that I have, I tell you everything,” Hutch Harris sternly sings on “Never listen to Me.” He sure does lyrically on the Thermals new album, Personal Life.

Personal Life is the Thermal’s audio diary. Perhaps, Harris and the gang are channeling their Pinkerton side, and this album is depressing.  Someone broke Harris’s heart and he is lyrically letting people know how he feels. The album could be a month to month guide to a failing relationship. From getting to know someone and wanting to be apart of their life, as we hear in the opening track, “I’m Gonna Change Your Life” to the healing and letting go on the last song of the album, “You Changed My Life.”

Since 2002, Portland Oregon’s the Thermals have brought us albums about the norm a semi indie punk band would bring us, politics and religion. The band has tackled the topic of love lost before off the last album with the song, “I let it Go.”  They have not avoided the common band song topic through the years, they just mixed it well over the last eight years.  However, Personal Life, their fifth full length album, is their most personal album to date.

Song after song is as personal as it gets.  The single off the album, “I Don’t Believe You,” is a song about trust and being fed up with the other person. This album lets the listener become the shrink. Each song leads the listener into a deeper and darker downward spiral.

Track three takes a turn for the worse, its haunting and its the realization of a failing relationship.  “Never Listening to Me,” is perhaps a realization that one has rushed way too quickly into a relationship, and its starting to sink,

“Follow my call/follow my voice/like you know me.”

“Never Listening to Me,” is asking, do you even know who I am, or do you even care? Oh, but it gets worse! The most depressing song on the album is, “Alone, A Fool.” Lyrics that can bring a grown man to tears, “When I have you close/I miss you the most/I’m alone.” Almost a reminiscence of an Elliott Smith song, and with that said, the man is suffering.

In “Power Lies,” he asks when he can heal, yet throughout the album he puts himself down. An example of this can be hear in, “Our Love is so Strong,” where he begs to be deceived. Someone set fire to the thermals emotional state, and it can even be heard in the b sides from this record, such as “Separate” and “There’s Nothing You Can Learn to Accept.”

Overall, this is a very powerful album. This is by far not their best.  Yet, the Thermals put a lot of heart and soul into the album, and this is their version of  Pinkerton. Relationships can crash and burn even for our musical heroes. Most bands have proved its easier to write a song about heartbreak than any other topic. As author Nick Hornby wrote and later restated by John Cusack in the film, High Fidelity,

“People worry about kids playing with guns, and teenagers watching violent videos; we are scared that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobodies worries about kids listening to thousands – literally thousands – of songs about broken hearts and rejection and pain and misery and loss.”

Luckily for the Thermals, their fans will always be there to listen. Hutch Harris, Kathy Foster and Westin Glass need a hug.

RM CRESSER © 2010 500 Rad Records

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Album of 21 of 500: Deerhunter- Halcyon Digest

October 22, 2010

BAND: DEERHUNTER
ALBUM: HALCYON DIGEST
LABEL: 4AD
RELEASE DATE:  September 28th 2010

When an indie band takes on a major label, it can mean two things: an overproduced attempt at their sound, or an almost entirely different more corporate sound.  With Deerhunter’s new album Halcyon Digest, which was released on the same label as the Pixies, we don’t see that so much. The listener will hear a more developed attempt at the usual Deerhunter sound.  Deerhunter’s older albums are indeed excellent, yet mainly you have to weed through the noise and one gets a rare glimpse of the gems that their new album, “Halcyon Digest” holds. Here we will look at the band, and what it took to pull together an indie noise masterpiece.

Like many other bands, Deerhunter has gone through a lot. Formed in 2001, the indie noise band from Atlanta Georgia has seen a death of their original bassist from a skateboarding accident, to numerous breakups.  Fronted by Bradford Cox, along side with  guitarist Lockett Pundt, Josh Fauver and Moses Archuleta.  Deerhunter has come a long way from their first full length 2007 release on the indie label Kranky. Cryptograms reminds one more of a Providence noise band than the calm dream like state we meet in, Halcyon Digest. Some critics may see Halcyon Digest, as a total sellout album for the Atlanta band.  As noted before, this writer truly disagrees that this is a major label sellout album. We hear this progression in the older albums.  For example, “Spring Hall Convert,” off Cryptograms could easily fit on the Halcyon Digest.  It is rare of a band to pull such a beautiful composition on a fourth album.

Halcyon Digest is eleven songs of beautiful dream lands, and odd lyrics.  Deerhunter lyrics are simple, yet they are also interesting, usually full of self loathing, understanding others’ feelings, rejection, hopelessness, religious undertones and death. Cox’s lyrics seem to perhaps be dealing with his Marfan Syndrome and the lost of his bandmate on Halcyon Digest. By far, the best song on the album is “Desire Lines,”  with the chorus, “Walking Free/Come with Me/Far Away/Everyday”  In “Helicopter,” we are greeted with religious undertones and the subject of death, “Take my hand and pray with me/My final days in company /The devil now has come for me.”  Where he later sings, “I’m tired of my pain oh/No one Cares for Me.” Another example of death is found on the last song, “He Would Have Laughed,” a song about the late indie rocker and friend, Jay Reatard, who died in January of this year. We hear self loathing and understanding for those who feel the same in, “Don’t Cry” “Come on little boy/I am your friend and I understand the pain.”  Cox maybe channeling his younger self. Another example of rejection and Cox’s childhood flashbacks can be found in the song, “Memory Boy”. “Its not a house anymore./Try to recognize your son/in your eyes he’s gone.”

What’s not gone is the beauty and genius of Deerhunter.  Deerhunter took what sound best, cleaned it up and gave us one of the best albums of 2010.

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RM CRESSER © 2010 500 Rad Records