Friday, May 31, 2019

Friday's Playlist: Sick Songs - Disease, Illness and all that good stuff.

Life is not all fun and games. In fact it sucks pretty hard sometimes. It's hard enough when you're healthy but it's downright shitty when you're sick. Here are a few songs about disease and general poor health. Ain't that just a ray of sunshine on a Friday morning?

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Album Review: The Waterboys - Where the Action Is

The Waterboys have long turned into another alias for Mike Scott so it should be no surprise that it no longer resembles the band that released A Girl Called Johnny and the Whole of the Moon over thirty years ago. Gone is the Celtic pop of Fisherman's Blues or This Is The Sea. The Waterboys are now an outlet for everything Mike Scott wants to release, and the range of styles he broaches can be quite wide. His previous album, 2017's Out Of All This Blue, saw him tackle neo-soul and was informed by hip-hop beats and production style.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Jonny Lang @ la Cigale, Paris - May 26th, 2019

After Walter Trout's killer set, it was going to be an uphill battle for Jonny Lang: how would he top what just happened? The truth is he didn't. How could anyone? The good news is that the headliner's brand of soulful Blues-rock was every bit as good as the act that preceded him.

Walter Trout @ la Cigale, Paris - May 26th, 2019

Last night wasn't just any night for Blues veteran Walter Trout (Canned Heat, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers)... Last night he celebrated five years of the liver transplant that saved his life. His emotion when he told the story was palpable and informed his whole set. Whether he played a slow blues or a rockier number his performance was in his image: captivating, grateful, generous and larger than life.

Kris Barras Band @ la Cigale, Paris - May 26th, 2019

Rockin' the Blues is a package tour that showcases the talents of three hotshot blues-rock guitarists. The first act of the night is the Kris Barras Band, led by a former MMA pro from England who is now on his second album.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Melvin Taylor @ Pan Piper, Paris - May 25th, 2019

Melvin Taylor has been Chicago's best kept secret for over thirty years: a veritable blues-rock road warrior with a jazz technique and a penchant for funk. I hadn't been to one of his shows since a memorable night at the New Morning in the summer of 1996 (or was it 1995?), when he was touring behind his fantastic album Melvin Taylor & the Slack Band.

Album Review: Stray Cats - 40

The Stray Cats are back with a new record and it's like the past 27 years never happened. In fact it's like nothing happened after 1960. The boys are still dispensing vintage rockabilly like Cliff Gallup was still  playing with Gene Vincent. In fact that era informs their whole aesthetic, from their clothes and haircuts to lyrics subject matters. Of course, we've heard it all before but it's a treat hearing that formula again after all these years: a Spartan, swinging rhythm section, twangy riffs and lightning-fast guitar solos.

Album Review: Mavis Staples - We Get By

Mavis Staples will be celebrating 80 years in July, but her music remains as vital and youthful as ever. That's because Soul, Rhythm and Blues and Gospel don't age: they are timeless expressions of universal feelings, as relevant today as they ever were.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Friday's Playlists: Inspired by Dylan & Dylanesque

In honour of Mr. Zimmerman's 78th birthday you get not one but two playlists this Friday. For the first one, we have compiled a few tunes from artists who have acknowledged their debt to the enigmatic Nobel Prize laureate, some of which even explicitly reference him in the song. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Tower of Power @ la Cigale, Paris - May 21st, 2019

Classic soul outfit Tower of Power is out touring behind their new album Soul Side of Town and celebrating their five decades at the same time. Founding member Emilio Castillo is still steering the ship alongside a cast comprised of musicians that also include long-time contributors Stephen Kupka and Sal Cracchiolo as well as new lead vocalist Marcus Scott. Original bass player Rocco Prestia has unfortunately been sidelined and is competently replaced by Marc Van Wageningen. His presence is still missed, but the band moves forward, as it should, because personalities don't matter. What matters is the groove, relentless and tight.

Album Review: Nick Lowe - Love Starvation/Trombone

Over twenty years ago, after the success of Little Village, Nick Lowe dropped his proto-punk pub-rock power-pop guises and reinvented himself into an understated singer/songwriter. Power chords and frantic beats gave way to low-key acoustic guitars and delicate arrangements.

Album Review: Rammstein - RAMMSTEIN

It's been ten years since the last studio record by everyone's favourite Teutonic pyromaniacs. Not that they've been absent: they've embarked on several tours and have released a few live documents but fans have had to wait a whole decade for a follow up to LIEBE IS FÜR ALLE DA

Album Review: Jimmie Vaughan - Baby, Please Come Home

If there was any doubt as to the vibrance of the Blues in 2019, Jimmie Vaughan's new album should lay them all to rest. The sepia-toned photo adorning the cover of this new LP is a perfect indication of the music inside: a familiar swing, old school sounds, and and an reverent approach to the material make the erstwhile blues revivalist one of the best, most authentic connection to the original source.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Album Review: Saint Vitus - Saint Vitus

Something is rotten in the State of Metal, and that's the corpse of old school Doom metal that refuses to stay dead in its casket. Instead it's risen to haunt us all: a few months after their Swedish counterpart Candlemass reunited with their original singer to release one of the best albums of their career, U.S. Stoner Doom Metal scene originators Saint Vitus are doing the same with a self-titled LP, their first since 2012's LILLIE: F-65,  that sounds every bit as dirty and evil as you'd expect.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Wu-Tang Clan @ Accorhotels Arena, Paris - May 17th, 2019

On the day of their headlining slot on the French date of the Gods of Rap package tour, Wu-Tang Clan released a new EP entitled Of Mics and Men, the soundtrack to their new documentary series. But obviously the crowd was mostly here to hear old classics from Enter the Wu-Tang Clan (36 Chambers), which turned twenty five last year. All photogs were asked to leave after three songs, so I am unable to write a proper review of their set (as opposed to De La Soul and Public Enemy which I still managed to hear from the backstage area where I was). But from what I saw, the band was firing on all cylinders.

Public Enemy Radio @ Accorhotels Arena, Paris - May 17th, 2019

This act is being billed as Public Enemy Radio, which is basically the version of PE that's been touring for the past few years minus Flava Flav. If his absence (and replacement by longtime collaborator MC Jahi) caused some disappointment, it was quickly dissipated by a typically ferocious set from one of the most legendary acts in Hip Hop and beyond.

De La Soul @ Accorhotels Arena, Paris - May 17th, 2019

De La Soul played a short set that was heavy on hits and classics. Lawsuits have unfortunately prevented the band from enjoying their rightful legacy as Hip Hop innovators and the opening slot on the Gods of Rap is a way of righting wrongs and reclaiming their crown. 

DJ Premier @ Accorhotels Arena, Paris - May 17th, 2019

In the spirit of full disclosure, I'll start by admitting that Hip Hop isn't my favorite music genre, as you can probably tell by the content of this site. However, there were certain rap artists I did enjoy growing up and three of them are touring aspart of the Gods Of Rap package:
De La Soul, Public Enemy (albeit in a somewhat truncated format) and the Wu-Tang Clan.

Friday's Playlist: Jazz Classics

We usually like to feature things that are a little more on the rock side, but today we're in this ind of mood. Don't expect deep cuts or left field material: this is just classic performances of classic tunes by classic artists. Be-bop, swing, vocal, modal... This is jazz for people who don't like jazz. But if you don't like jazz, what is wrong with you?

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Album Review: Sammy Hagar & the Circle - Space Between

Unpopular opinion: Sammy Hagar's career is a monument of underachievement and mediocrity. The guy has a fantastic voice, and he's only used it to cater to undiscerning masses by churning out generic hard rock. It's often rather pleasant (Montrose's first album, a cheap American Led Zeppelin knock-off offered a few classic rock anthems), sometimes very commercially successful (I Can't Drive 55 or his tenure in Van Halen were blockbusters that still sell today) and always absolutely unremarkable.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Album Review: Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul - Summer of Sorcery

Two years after Soulfire, Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul returns with more rollicking soul/rock but when the previous record was comprised of covers and songs Van Zandt had written for other artists, Summer of Sorcery is comprised solely of originals. And while those tunes are meant to be heard in concert, which is where the group excels, the album is a perfect blend of everything we love about the music of the sixties and seventies.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Dead Can Dance @ Le Grand Rex, Paris - May 10th, 2019

Friday's Playlist: Kraut Rock

The theme of this Friday's Playlist is a much maligned Prog-Rock sub-genre rather offensively known as Kraut Rock. Would it be known as Wop Rock if it came from Italy? Or Gook Rock if it came from Asia? Of course, for some listeners the name is the least offensive thing about this genre. Yeah, this is not exactly pop music. Don't expect verses and choruses. Don't expect a format, either. Just let the music take you on a journey.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Album Review: Sunn O))) - Life Metal

Sunn O))) has always tried the limits of the listener's endurance. Even if you are the type of person that listens to Metal Machine Music recreationally (and I have been guilty of that), a Sunn O))) project can test your patience like no other. And there is no payoff at the end. The reward is in the journey.

Album Review: The Wildhearts - Renaissance Men

In the ten years since ¡Chutzpah!, the Wildhearts' last studio album, bandleader Ginger has released several solo records, played with Michael Monroe and Courtney Love and seemingly broken up and reformed the band several times so it's a rather good surprise to see them release Renaissance Men with a recognisable line-up, thanks to the umpteenth return of classic-era bassist Danny McCormack.