Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Best Guitar Cds of the Week - Week of 08/30/2011

   Yet another slow week for releases as the record industry virtually sits out the end of August,saving everything for next month. That lets a few songwriter oriented albums slip past my normally narrow, guitar-focused blinders:

Ry Cooder - Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down
   While quite capable of pulling of astounding guitar work,this time around,Cooder has a message in mind. He's not happy with how things are going and uses some satirical humor to let us know it. Titles like "No Banker Left Behind" and "John Lee Hooker for President"  lets you know where he's coming from.

Robert Earl Keen - Ready For Confetti
   The very image of the "songwriter's songwriter",Keen is another guy who is no slouch on the guitar but is all about the tunes. For album number 16,Keen tries out a shorter song length than usual for him but still ends up with some of the best songs in the business.

Glen Campbell - Ghost on the Canvas
   After the sad announcement that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease,Campbell decided his swan song would see him go out in style. Mr. Campbell,thank you for a lifetime of great music.Guest guitarists include Dick Dale,Rick Nielsen and Brian Setzer.

Tom Morello - World Wide Rebel Songs
   Morello fits right into this weeks theme of great guitarist putting out an album that's all about the songs. If you're looking for volume knob trickery and Whammy pedal shenanigans,prepare to be disappointed.

Singer/songwriters not your cup of tea? Patience,my friends. September will be good to you.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Rare Bird: Daion The '81 Caribou

  Here are some photos of a rarely seen guitar from the Daion guitar company,a Japanese maker that was around in the late 70's to early 80's. Many of their model are variations on the classic parlor,dreadnought and jumbo designs. As you can see,the '81 Caribou is something a bit different! This model is part of the "year series",thus the '81 is actually part of the model name. If you would like to learn more about this little known guitar company,there's a whole website dedicated to it here:  http://daionguitar.com/acoustic.php Enjoy!

Plenty more Daion guitar photos below...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Bill Frisell covers John Lennon!

Stamp of AzerbaijanImage via Wikipedia
  Bill Frisell's upcoming album will be an all covers album of John Lennon songs! It will cover both solo and Beatles era tunes. Thanks to Savoy Jazz,Frisell's newest label,and their openness to releasing more new music than his previous label would allow,we get yet another Bill Frisell album in 2011. It features one of his most fearless group of collaborators. Joining Bill are Jenny Scheinman on violin,Greg Leisz on steel,Tony Scherr on bass and Kenny Wollesen on drums. As usual,Lee Townsend was the producer. Check the video below for a sneak peek at the tunes and a bit of interview with Bill. You can even get a rare look at Frisell playing a Fender Stratocaster!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Best Guitar Cds of the Week - Week of 08/23/2011

Junior Wells - Hoodoo Man Blues (Expanded Edition)
    Another reissue in the top spot? Sure thing,when it's this good. This 1965 album captures the blues at a pivotal time when it was both influencing the music around it and taking in influences of it's own. Wells and guitarist Buddy Guy laid out a virtual template for artists like The Paul Butterfileld Blues Band,John Mayall's Bluesbreakes and Al Kooper's Blues Project. You can listen along and practically pick out what arrangement each song inspired. I'd be willing to bet Johnny Winter is no stranger to this album based on his take of Good Morning Little Schoolgirl on the Johnny Winter And - Live album. Want some proof that not all of Eric Clapton's influences have the last name King? Just check out Guy on Chitlin Con Carne.
   Those influences go the other way as well. It's pretty clear that Wells and Guy were no strangers to soul,funk and rock music. Both Snatch It Back And Hold It and Hound Dog show a heavy James Brown flavor. Guy's guitar through a Leslie sound on the title track shows he was never a strict purist when it comes to effects. This release follows through on the "Expanded" claim, besting the two bonus tracks of the 1993 issue with six alternate takes interspersed with studio chatter,giving a nice "you are there" quality. Wells and Guy have several albums together,all of them worthy additions to a solid blues collection but this is my favorite.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Best Guitar Cds of the Week - Week of 08/16/2011

Yob - Atma
  Eugene Oregon's Yob are part of two trends I am enjoying very much. First,the Pacific Northwest seems to currently have a rather high ratio of quality heavy metal bands. Second,the large amount of excellent doom metal has never been better. Yob is a big part of both those trends. Around since 1996,they split up in 2006 and reformed in 2009 with the release of "The Great Cessation".With Atma,they confirm their status as one of the best metal bands around. Yob has one of my favorite features for a metal band,an utter disregard for any kind of commercially consideration. Songs take however long they take and if that means clocking in at well over the ten or fifteen minute mark,so be it. Radio edit? What's that?
  They are also masters of wringing tones and textures out of a genre that can be a bit one dimensional in lesser hands. There is a depth of color here that will reveal itself after repeat listening. The production and mix play a part here in a far more interactive way than the formulaic mixes heard in much of today music. Aside from some textural effects,the mix borders on mono,with only the most subtle of stereo panning. This makes for a heaviness and focus,blended with an articulate clarity one usually doesn't associate with a genre that usually inspires adjectives like "sludgy" and "dark". Hardcore Yob fans must already know that this album also features guest vocals from Scott Kelly of Neurosis. His singing here is one of the most seamlessly integrated guest appearances I've heard,just fitting right in without screaming "tacked on guest spot". Kudos as well to label Profound Lore,who are doing an excellent job of getting plenty of this less commercial heavy metal out into the world. Extra bonus kudos to 20 Buck Spin,who will be releasing the vinyl version on 2xLP in September! Yeah!


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Best Guitar Cds of the Week - Week of 08/09/2011

Paul Motian - Windmills of Your Mind
   After two weeks of sparse new guitar music comes the gem that makes the wait worthwhile. While the rest of the world delightfully gobbles up the staggering 39th volume of the "That's What I Call Music" series,you and I can enjoy Paul Motian's newest album. Motian celebrates his 80th (80th!) birthday in grand style with Guitar Omnivore favorite Bill Frisell,bassist Thomas Morgan and vocalist Petra Haden. Motian and Frisell have been playing together for decades,Frisell appearing on Paul Motian Band's 1981 Psalm album. Morgan is one of those upright players with a fluidity that seems to belie his absolutely enormous sound. Given her background in alternative rock and recent a capella work, Petra Haden might seem the odd man (woman) out to anyone who hasn't been paying attention. Doubters are directed to her self-titled 2003 collaboration with Bill Frisell.
   As expected,Motian and Frisell employ the mind reading of longtime collaborators who apparently have an inexhaustible supply of new ideas.They both long ago mastered the idea that what you leave out is as important as what you leave in.You may have seen bassist Morgan with Ben Monder or Joey Baron,and he is the pleasant surprise here for me. To drop right into such exalted company and flourish is impressive. I'll be keeping my eye on him. Is there a musical style in which Petra Haden doesn't excel? If so,I haven't heard it yet. Her performance here is not your run of the mill "female jazz vocalist" the track listing of jazz standards would imply and as such,is just the type of individualist Motian has welcomed for decades. Her quiet vocals float over the rustlings and rumblings underneath,giving a unique take on these tunes. Regular readers know I'll enjoy anything with Bill Frisell on it,but this has engaging performances from everybody and much to recommend it. I haven't found a source yet but this is rumored to be coming out on 180 gram vinyl as well,so vinyl fanatics,start looking!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Sugar Thieves at the Glendale Jazz and Blues Festival

   The Sugar Thieves are a great blues band based right here in Phoenix Arizona. They do mostly originals with some choice covers.They've just released thier self titled album,available at thier website  http://sugarthieves.com/ and you can find them on Facebook here.  Before we get to more of my photos,here's an interview with vocalist Meredith Moore and drummer David Libman:

Plenty more Sugar Thieves photos at the Glendale Jazz and Blues Festival below...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Best Guitar Cds of the Week - Week of 08/02/2011

  Being a one man operation and not a commercial website has advantages and disadvantages. On one hand,this year,I've occasionally been having trouble finding new guitar Cds to get excited about. That means for a second week in a row,we'll start of with a bit of negativity,instead of the guitar Cd of the week I'm most excited about. On the plus side,I don't have to write glowing reviews of new stuff I'm "supposed" to like. No doubt,you'll be seeing good reviews for this weeks hall of shame winners in all the guitar magazines. Here's what NOT to buy this week:

   I've enjoyed Shepherd's recent live album,but this...this is slick,overproduced product. At 17 songs,it also manages to overstay it's welcome by 5 or 6 songs. This exemplifies the exact opposite of what I want out of a blues artist.

Keb Mo - The Reflection
   Keb Mo is one of those frustrating artists whose tepid recorded output gives little indication of their enormous gifts. Here,we have to suffer through his bid for attention from adult contemporary radio with guest spots by the likes of Dave Koz. Awful.

John Hiatt - Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns
   My problem here is less with Hiatt then with producer Kevin Shirley. Shirley seems determined to work with as many talented artists as he can (Joe Bonamassa,Iron Maiden) and help them turn out albums that sound dated, too processed and compressed into lifeless, overly loud harshness.

So,there you have it. Kenny Wayne Shepherd,Keb Mo and John Hiatt,all really talented guys,all putting out albums that I really don't like. What do I like this week? It's a pretty short list,but read on...