Monday, June 24, 2013

upcoming releases...

American Ride - Willie Nile (Jun 25)
Magna Carta Holy Grail - Jay-Z (Jul 4)
Amelita - Court Yard Hounds (Jul 16)
Wassaic Way - Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion (Aug 6)
The Civil Wars - The Civil Wars (Aug 6)
See You There - Glen Campbell (Aug 13)
Made Up Mind - Tedeschi Trucks Band (Aug 20) 
Made In California (box set) - The Beach Boys (Aug 27)
The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You - Neko Case (Sep 3)
Hesitation Marks - Nine Inch Nails (Sep 3)
Sound System (box set) - The Clash (Sep 10)
The Diving Board - Elton John (Sep 16)
Rock Of Ages (deluxe reissue) - The Band (TBA)
Live At The Troubadour (LP/DVD) - The Horrible Crowes (TBA) 

P.S. Happy birthday to Alan Vega, of the band Suicide, who just turned 75!!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

R.I.P. James Gandolfini

Gone too soon

Today, the world lost one of the greatest television actors of all time. He was also terrific in the movies he acted in, no matter how small the role (watching him in True Romance still gives me chills). I grew up watching and studying The Sopranos. It provided me a few life lessons along the way. We'll never see a drama character as seductive and repulsive as Tony Soprano again. It was flawless acting, in every sense of the word. Just imagine; where would the Don Drapers and Walter Whites be without him? Rest in peace, Mr. Gandolfini.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Wrote A Song For Everyone

I'm usually skeptical when it comes to duet albums put out by old artists who tend to rope in younger artists to sing with them on classic tunes. It can fall flat easily. Not for John Fogerty though. Produced and arranged by him, this album sets a whole new standard in reworks done duet style. It's an instant classic. Creedence Clearwater Revival was American rock & roll defined, circa late '60s/early '70s, and really, what better way to re-introduce the music to a new generation than this? Many of these brand new versions are insanely good. But that's not to say they're better than the originals; those still remain untouchable and always enjoyable to listen to. These new ones are completely different. And FRESH.

There are quite a number of country artists here, and each of them provide their own unique flavor, yielding ace results -- Keith Urban reviving the lesser known Almost Saturday Night, Zac Brown Band on Bad Moon Rising, veteran Alan Jackson on Have You Ever Seen The Rain (probably the most country-sounding, totally right up his alley), Brad Paisley who engages in an intense guitar solo battle with Fogerty on Hod Rod Heart, and my current country favorite, Miranda Lambert who sings on the title track, a non-single from Green River (1969), which also features the guitar wizardry of Tom Morello.

The Foo Fighters rocking shit-hard on Fortunate Son really sets the tone of the whole album, making it sound still as relevant today as it was during the Vietnam War, at the same time suggesting this is ain't your usual run-of-the-mill duets album. The rendition I'm not so fond of is Lodi, done with Fogerty's sons; a very upbeat country blues-rock take. I prefer the tenderness of the original. Born On The Bayou is my all-time favorite Creedence song, and while Kid Rock sings great on it, he kinda ruins it by occasionally singing the "Born On The Bayou yeah" lines in lower pitch. But it's the closing Proud Mary, sung by Jennifer Hudson, that fails to impress. I always love me some Allen Toussaint New Orleans, but if you ask me, incorporating this style makes Proud Mary less embellished.

The other high points -- Mystic Highway is a new tune that proves John Fogerty still has the fire in him. It's without a doubt the absolute best thing he's written since his Creedence days. It already stands shoulder to shoulder with the other classics. The most 'senior' guest is Bob Seger, who puts a Silver Bullet Band spin on Who'll Stop The Rain, and it's excellent. Meanwhile, Dawes slows down Someday Never Comes and makes it sound more 'Laurel Canyon-ish'. I left the best the last -- Long As I Can See The Light may possibly be the only CCR song that My Morning Jacket could do and kick ass on. It was made for them, the way The Band's It Makes No Difference was. It's got those signature MMJ ingredients; lots of jam and lots of soul. And when Fogerty sings the line "Guess I've got that old travelin' bone", it chills your spine. Keep on rockin', John.


Friday, June 14, 2013

The Promised Land

"There's a dark cloud rising from the desert floor. I pack my bags and I'm heading straight into the storm."

Recorded in Camden just this week as part of the ONE campaign. Bruce and the band performs tomorrow night at Wembley Stadium, their first time there since the legendary shows of 1985. Oh what I would give to be at the show......five times seeing 'em on this tour just ain't enough! In my opinion, the thought of the band performing Born In The U.S.A. in its entirety at Wembley is pretty mindblowing, if it does happen. In other news, I got word that the upcoming fan documentary, Springsteen & I, will actually be screened here in Singapore next month! More details to come soon...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


One word: Fan-F'ing-Tastic. Just when you thought 2011's Here We Rest couldn't be topped. If Outfit or Decoration Day was Jason Isbell's most significant song during his Drive-By Truckers days, then the opening Cover Me Up, describing his newfound sobriety, his new love, and his new lease on life, is his most important, solo. This time he's without his backing group, 400 Unit, so the music's less hard-rocking, but despite the more sparse instrumentation, there's still a strong focus on hooky melodies and arrangements, which Isbell always had an extreme talent for. Not to mention his ever-expanding vocal ability. And then there's the remarkable songwriting, which is the reason why I keep coming back to him. Oh Lord, it's as raw and honest as anything I could've ever imagined. Southeastern is an incredibly personal record; real naked stuff. It's almost his Blood On The Tracks. It also reminds me a lot of Bruce's Tunnel Of Love and Nebraska, a lyrical masterclass in the joys and frailties of human relationships and also the stories of tragic people leading tragic lives, respectively. Isbell is already up there with guys like Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley. And like them, he's only concerned with making music that's real and from the heart, that's why he can never get mass, worldwide appeal in this day and age.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Darkness 35

Let's take some time today to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the release of one of the greatest, fiercest rock albums ever made.