will phalenSo yes, instead of listening to U2’s new free download, we’ve been listening to these fine CD’s (Shelled out cold hard cash for the tangible thing!) played on a really excellent, high-end, stereo system… all highly recommended…

1. Sun Kil Moon – “Benji” – extraordinary…made me cry and laugh… powerful art and a nylon string guitar – I think it’s probably one of the greatest records I’ve ever heard. Really!

2. Mavis Staples – “One True Vine” – produced by Jeff Tweedy… beautiful, soulful… hushed, just great!

3. Chrissie Hynde – “Stockholm” – thanks to Terry Flamm for the recommendation! Neil Young sits in on a song with his great Les Paul guitar!

4. Jim James – “Regions of Light and Sound of God” – so good, weird, and cool, love the saxophone!

5. Jenny Lewis – “The Voyager” – Ryan Adams and Beck contribute… the record builds and the title track is my favorite song of the moment!

6.  Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings – “100 Days, 100 Nights” – killer soul, great voice, great band!

7. Will Phalen – “The Dirt, the Air and the Grass”  – beautifully realized. Will does it all, love that Rickenbacker guitar… he’s a really cool guy too… and excellent band! Ringing guitars and haunting lyrics.

8. Nate Currin – “You and I Are Ghosts”  – A great singer-songwriter, writes extraordinary songs, excellent production… I close my eyes and am reminded of the best of Ryan Adams… but Nate has his own voice… on a national tour in a motorhome… we were on a bill with him at Uncommon Ground.  He just knocked us out…a cool guy too.

9. Parquet Courts – “Sunbathing Animal” – Noisy, funny, raucous. You just know these guys love Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, and Television and Dylan too.  Two voices, classic garage band vibe.  But these guys are super-smart and articulate… funny, did I say funny? Love it.

10. The Handsome Family – “Singing Bones” – It was “True Detective” that compelled us to buy this one.  The title song of the great HBO series is “Far from Any Road.”  Beautiful and haunting. Brett Sparks owns the low tones. Gothic Country? Rennie Sparks writes beautiful lyrics… love this record! Dark. In a good way.

11. The Beatles – “Please Please Me,” – OK it was “Tune In” that made me purchase a copy of the Beatles first record.  Recorded in about 16 hours. The Beatles are raw and exuberant. There are some great originals but it’s the cover songs that really knocked me out this time.  I think I overlooked this one for years, thinking it was their later work that was the best. This is the Beatles as a really tight, joyous, raucous r&r band. All the elements of their later success are here. Fresh!

12. Fairport Convention – “Liege & Lief” and “What We Did On Our Holidays” – lots of people who have come out to see our band whitewolfsonicprincess have compared us to Fairport Convention. Which is just the greatest compliment! I went back to these early records. They are just amazing. Sandy Denny’s voice is one of the great instruments, and Richard Thompson is an extraordinary guitarist.  We do some originals using non-standard tunings, with some Celtic, Gypsy type vibe, and I think it’s these tunes that conjure up the Fairport Convention mojo.  So glad I traveled back to discover and enjoy these early discs… totally inspiring!

Jammer

 

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What to say about U2? They are a band that has had it all. Over and over. They still make really, really great music. Carla turned me onto “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb,” (2004) a year or so after it was released. One of her friends gave her a copy, and told her she’d enjoy it because it’s a “spiritual” album. Turned out I was the one who really got hooked on the record. I play it all the time, year after year.

It’s “soul music;” music that reveals, and feeds, the soul. Bono called it U2’s “rock” record, and it does rock; Edge’s guitars are up-front and dimensional, and Bono does some fine singing. “One Step Closer” gets me every time. But the whole album is inspiring. Love this band. Bono is a live wire, eyes wide open, always questioning. And Edge’s guitar is a force-field of exhilarating energy. The bass/drum foundation laid down by Adam & Larry is just sonic bliss.

This band won’t be on a VH1’s Behind the Music any time soon. These guys are just too well put together.  They are  an amazing band of brothers, dedicated to the good work. It seems they don’t play by any rules but their own. Yes, well, U2, what really can you say? “A heart that hurts is a heart that beats, do you hear the drummer slowing? One step closer to knowing…” – Jammer

If someone told us that Brian Eno is a real-world Elf starring as himself in the “Lord of the Rings”, we wouldn’t be surprised at all. Eno has always seemed a little other-worldly; he is an intelligent, super-inspiring, creative catalyst, and a consummate collaborator. He has had his finger in many, many musical pies. He is of course one of the originators of “ambient” music, and has collaborated on some great albums by Roxy Music, David Bowie, Robert Fripp, U2 and Talking Heads. Eno is a formidable secret agent of change. He always seems to be thinking outside the box, and he is always devising strategies to break the rules, and to see what happens. He approaches the creative process as a game to play.  And usually, the results are pretty amazing. It’s sometimes hard to pinpoint exactly what Eno does, but some of the albums he’s been associated with are the finest works you can imagine. For instance:  “Low,”  “Heroes,” “Unforgettable Fire,” “Joshua Tree,” “Achtung, Baby,” “Fear of Music,” “Remain in Light,” “My Life in the Bush with Ghosts”  – Imagine!  Eno Lives! – Jammer