• Moving away from here
  • The E.P. Roundup
  • Griffin House: Lost & Found
  • Patti Smith: Twelve
  • Bryan Ferry: Dylanesque
  • Trisha O'Keefe: Star Burns Brightest
  • Amanda Marshall: Everybody's Got A Story
  • Feist: The Reminder
  • Bear McCreary: Battlestar Galactica Season 2 (Scor...
  • Amy Winehouse: Back to Black
  • Tuesday, April 29, 2008

    Moving away from here

    I've set up my own little slice of internet over at www.adamsalsman.com. Photos and music reviews are there.

    If you're an RSS reader, hit up this:

    That's all from here!

    Tuesday, September 18, 2007

    The E.P. Roundup

    I've got a bunch of EPs sitting here in my listening queue, and I figured it'd be best to just get them all out in one. Without further ado:

    Baker: Three Songs (EP)

    In anticipation of their Oct. 5 full-length album debut (to be available on Topshelf Records), this Boston quintet slid out this 3-track sampler which encompasses three of my four favourite Baker tunes (missing is 'Gotta Get Out of This City).

    The production value is top notch, as I expect nothing left from these musical geniuses/perfectionists, and foreshadows a strong, well packaged, and, I dare say "Freakin' Awesome" debut.The highlight of the EP is "Fingers," which also is the source of their first music video (available on their Myspace page and, I would assume, will be part of the interactive content on the CD).

    A Fine Frenzy: Demo (EP)

    This was found on iTunes shortly after the internets gave up their bounty and showed me the beauty and talent that is A Fine Frenzy (which is really Allison Sudol, using the "Five For Fighting" Artist naming scheme).

    The EP pulls the radio-friendly, hyper-catchy "Rangers," the heart-wrenching "Almost Lovers," and low-key, non-album track "The Well" and showcases what the debut album "One Cell in the Sea" is all about: beautiful, at points, ethereal, piano-driven indie-pop tunes.

    The album has since released and will be featured more prominently when I get off my posterior.

    Lucius: Lucius (EP)

    I know very little about this group, except that 1) they are Boston-based and 2) their vocals are handled by a pair of ladies.

    While at Harpers Ferry for a Baker concert, I noticed free CDs. Being one to never look gift music in the mouth, I grabbed it, and then sat on it for a month or two.

    After popping it in iTunes, I was pleasantly surprised by what I found: a dark, somewhat minimalist group, using just enough to convey the song and rebelling against the new standard of "wall of sound," for the most part.

    The two stars of the EP are "Get On, get Going" and a surprisingly good, different take on the Beatles' "Happiness is a Warm Gun."

    I've been, as of yet, unable to find any additional information about these gals, but with fall approaching, I'm hoping some news will surface.

    Mieka Pauley: Mieka Pauley (EP)

    How excited was I to find this in iTunes late last year?

    Ms. Pauley is another Boston native I discovered one fall night at the Paradise Lounge. I was there to see Jim Boggia, but placards for her then-upcoming concert were all over the place. Intrigued, I grabbed one and later found her to be amazing.

    The 7-track EP has 6 studio tracks, and one live version ("Stronger"). I'm not certain how many of these tunes will be appearing on her upcoming release, "Elijah Drop Your Gun," but any fan of the woman-and-her-guitar format will, most assuredly, love every track. The highlights are "Run" and "Invincible".

    Matt Nathanson: Slow, But Speeding (EP)

    Matt Nathanson (here-to-fore known as Matty Nate) is one of my all-time live-performance artists. His stange presence is warm, inviting, and manages to make you feel like it's just an audience of one, even in a sea of a thousand.

    The three tracks which comprise this EP were bundled with Matty Nate's recent release "Some Mad Hope." The tracks offer a sample of tunes off of 'Hope' in an all-acoustic, all-Matty-Nate form. Of the three, "Detroit Waves," is my favourite as it does the best job of showing Nathanson in his quiet singing voice as well as his from-his-toes, strong-emotion wail.

    Tuesday, July 17, 2007

    Griffin House: Lost & Found

    In recent history, two albums have found their way onto my truly elitist "Desert Island Records" list. Joe Strummer's Streetcore, and this album, Griffin House's Lost & Found.

    And, yes, it *is* that good.

    Remember, "Along time ago in a blog entry far, far away," I was praising Glen Phillips work while noticeably ignoring Kim Richey and Griffin House? Yeah, I'm still sorry for that. And that's not an offense against Glen.

    Griffin House masterfully crafts beautiful, realistic, emotional songs, all wrapped in his acoustic guitar and bundled up in his wonderful voice.

    Does it sound like I'm tripping over myself to give this guy praise? Well, it should. I honestly feel he's that good, and after having seen him solo and live recently, my feelings were completely confirmed.

    Any way, the album. 11 tracks, just shy of an hour. 100% wonderful. Sorry, there I go again.

    Outside of saying "the whole album," some excellent tracks include "Ah Me" (even if it deals with a crumbling relationship, it's musically brilliant), "Waterfall" (which has found some commercial success, no pun intended, for oral-b), "The Way I Was Made" (a pride-inducing tune which traces his origins back to his grandparents), and "New Day" (which just slowly builds to this beautiful, optimistic ending).

    In the end: I could trip over myself for another hour and a half singing this guy's praise, but I'll just leave it at "I think most anyone would, could, and should enjoy this album. On repeat."

    On the web: There are a few shows of the Weekly Review Traveling Roadshow (House, Richey, Phillips) on archive.org. This one is the best of them.

    Also available are photos from his concert at Harpers Ferry, in Allston, Ma. on my website: Griffin House photos @ AdamSalsman[dot]com.

    Technorati Tagged: | | Desert Island Album | 2004

    Wednesday, July 11, 2007

    Patti Smith: Twelve

    And then there is the other side of an album of covers. Patti Smith's "Twelve." Yes, the "Twelve" refers to the number of tracks.

    From Jimi Hendrix to Tears for Fears, Nirvana to the Allman Brothers, Smith manages to at least break even, if not come up a little bit ahead by the time of the album.

    When doing a cover (just one or a whole album), you have to take in to account how the fans will respond. If you end up just doing an uninspired, flat out cover (see: Bryan Ferry's "Dylaneseque") you could alienate the fan-base. If you do too much experimentation and alteration, you may be heralded for creative, but again shunned for destroying a "classic."

    Smith plays it safe. There's not a lot of stretching the musical boundaries (except for the banjo in "Smells Like Teen Spirit;" It works!), but she does some faithful work to bring her back to the front of pop culture.

    Where I feel "Are You Experienced?" failed a bit in Smith's hands, she manages an even-keeled "Everybody Wants to Rule the World." "Gimme Shelter" is belted out with some serious force to give Mick a run for his money, but Paul Simon's "Boy in the Bubble" feels a bit awkward.

    Where she does things so very right is the Beatles' "Within you without you," Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and the Allman's "Midnight Rider."

    In the end: Again, this is the good side of a cover album. It feels like Patti Smith took special care in picking these songs and worked them up to play nicely with her voice. Like I said, it's no world-shattering re-imagination, but it's 12 songs from the pop-vernacular performed for us with Smith's unique vocal strains. Worth at least a once-through.

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    Bryan Ferry: Dylanesque

    Bryan Ferry covers Bob Dylan. It'd at least be an interesting match up, right? One would think.

    Yeah, not so much.

    The entire process seemed uninspired, unimpressive, and downright insulting to Bobby Dylan's work.

    The problem may stem from having absolutely no attachment to Bryan Ferry or any of his work, my complete dislike of his voice, or just that these all seem to be bland interpretations of some major and minor Dylan tunes.

    And, to be honest, I didn't think anyone could screw up "Watchtower." The song has been covered, altered, re-imagined, had the re-imagining become the definitive version, covered, altered, and replayed so many times. I don't think you can be a band without covering "All Along the Watchtower." Hell, even Battlestar Galactica did.

    Yet, here is Bryan Ferry, shoving this pitifully lame, soulless version of a Dylan uber-classic.

    In the end: The whole thing feels awkward and clumsy like a 15 year old unhooking his girlfriend's bra for the first time. There are good cover albums out there, there are bad cover albums out there, and then there's this one. Please, do us all a favour and pick up Patti Smith's "Twelve." At least she tried to mix things up a little bit.

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    Thursday, May 17, 2007

    Trisha O'Keefe: Star Burns Brightest

    Trisha O'Keefe: Star Burns Brightest Today is my day of musical love affairs.

    As you may know from previous entries, I enjoy, and I dare say, love, Trisha's music. That love affair, thankfully, can continue.

    Her latest album, Star Burns Brightest, runs more tracks and more time than her two previous releases combined, and that's a great thing. Star runs 1:11.5, with 17 tracks.

    Something I find with many independent artists is that their albums tend to feel over-produced. Not so with this one. Clearly, just the right amount of polish was applied to create a gem of a disc.

    The pop-rock-ish-ness (say that 3 times fast), is nicely offset by some solid bluesy sounding riffs (Hear Me Out, Sorry Now?), wonderful use of piano and beautiful lyrics (I Want It All -- A favourite), and, hell, even a nice harder-rockin', straight forward 4-piece setup (Fire and Brimstone). Some of the quieter tunes (most specifically Passing Me By) do a good job of tearing at the ol' heart strings, while others, equally quiet, fill the heart with hope (I Could Get Used to This).

    Hearing some of the tunes she did acoustic on Live! in their full instrumentation (Never Enough, BirdSong, Nobody's Love, Wasting My Time)is a treat and a half as I've been grown to know and adore these songs over the last year. And who doesn't like hearing new ways of presenting beloved songs?

    Also, kudos to her production staff.

    In the end: It's a great album that plays perfectly to O'Keefe's greatest strength (her voice), and leaves most of the modern day rock album bullshit behind. She's going places, I think, so get on board early. Listen, digest, repeat.

    Technorati Tagged: | | |

    Wednesday, May 16, 2007

    Amanda Marshall: Everybody's Got A Story

    Amanda Marshall: Everybody's Got A Story If this were the late 90s/early 00s (all over again), I feel like people should be clamoring harder about Amanda Marshall. Sadly, she snuck by my radar a few years back, and I only recently discovered due to a blog post on one of the music blogs I frequent.

    Marshall's "Everybody's Got A Story" is completely planted in the pop/rock field of the aforementioned time period. A few years later, it clearly sounds as though it were a period piece, but that makes it no less enjoyable. On the contrary, if you can suspend your current musical sensibilities, this is one hell of a fun album.

    The title track is reminiscent of any number of tracks off of Natasha Beddingfield's last album, just clean fun pop. Colleen (I Saw Him First) is a cute, mellow tune about two life long friends arguing over a boy. Sunday Morning After is a great tune for anyone who's partied, perhaps, a little too hard on Saturday night; I think we can all relate to at least part of this tune.

    In the end: The album feels like a throwback to an earlier time, because, really, it is. It definitely illustrates how the face and sound of pop music has changed, but it's still an enjoyable piece, one that has a few tunes to keep your foot tapping. And, hey, if nothing else, she's cute.

    Technorati Tagged: | |

    Feist: The Reminder

    Feist: The Reminder Feist, oh darling Feist.

    My love affair with this album started with a video for "1, 2, 3, 4" which Caitlin posted at her internets music musings blog, Beginning to See the Light. I mean, really, metallic blue tube top pants suit? Genius.

    Anyway, I heard the song, and then played it a dozen more times. So simple, so beautiful, so wonderful.

    So what did I do? Well, two things: immediately (and illegally) downloaded it and the proceeded to purchase it because it's so damn good.

    That's right. I bought the album. Baby don't buy an album unless it's good. It's a good start.

    The album starts a little slow, with "So Sorry," most assuredly a break up tune. But, like a label pairing of opener and headliner, it's good... just differently so.

    I Feel It All and My Moon My Man (sounding remarkably Spoon-ish), however, kick things up. Mind you, kicking it up on this album isn't exactly rock and roll. It's just... pardon the pun... Feistier.

    The whole album roller coasters up and down like this, but never wavers in quality.

    There are some truly amazing tracks, ones that just jump out at me. My Moon My Man, as mentioned, is evocative of Spoon which immediately kicks it up in my book. Sea Lion Woman feels like it could have been ripped either from Nina Simone or Paul Simon (during his African tribal beats days). 1, 2, 3, 4 is just a light, airy tune, something you almost feel like you might here on a summer night, with your legs dangling off of a dock, making small waves in water of some secluded lake, dusk just approaching. The rough simplicity of Intuition gives the song a feeling of intimacy, as though this were just some acoustic demo being played for the first time in your buddy's basement.

    In the end: Fans of Jem (unplugged), Cat Power, or even that darling Jenny Lewis, will definitely enjoy this one. It teeters on the pop/acoustic/alternative edges, but never offends sensibilities; only warms them. Check it out, or, as Han Solo once said "Don't be a fool!"

    On the web: As mentioned, Caitlin has the video for 1, 2, 3, 4 on her blog. I'll post her KCRW session tomorrow. Also, here are two tracks from her Radio performance a couple days ago: Feist: Live on Radio 1

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    Tuesday, April 17, 2007

    Bear McCreary: Battlestar Galactica Season 2 (Score)

    Battlestar Galactica: Season 2 (Score) I won't lie. This is a chance for me to write about two things I love: BSG and TV/Film scores.

    Bear McCreary, for 3 seasons has been tasked with producing the scores to Battlestar Galactica. Building on what was created by Richard Gibbs in the Miniseries, McCreary's work has touched on nearly all aspects of world music to create a lush, exciting musical background for TV's best SciFi (and, arguably, best drama).

    Season 2's disc starts out with a rework of the old (70s) Battlestar Galactica's theme to play the part of the Colonial Anthem, and suddenly, what was once hokey is now a beautifully orchestrated and arranged piece of music.

    Many of the album's tracks, including A Promise to Return, Allegro, Reuniting the Fleet, and Worthy of Survival, all build on themes which McCreary original composed in Season 1. They tend to feel a bit repetitive in the scheme of things, but are no less beautiful.

    Some of the more original tracks are the reason this is one of my most listened to albums week after week. The musical theme for the not-allowed-to-happen relationship between Roslin and Adama is beautiful, crafted to convey love, and also containing a pinch of the pain that comes from knowing that love will never be.

    Meanwhile, the main theme to episode 16 in Season 2 is Black Market, which meshes hard rock with beautiful middle eastern tones to create what I can only describe as "bad-ass."

    Of course, my hands-down-favourite track on the disc is Prelude to War. The track builds in a way which can, in fact, be described as preparing for battle (or, yes, a prelude to war). The use of drums and strings in the piece create a tense, high energy 8.5 minutes which, if you ever have watched the show, make you wish you were in the cockpit of a viper. I know I drive my car that way.

    In the end: Obviously this is a niche piece. I get that. But, if you've never seen BSG but still enjoy TV/Movie scores, check it out. Of course, if you're as hooked as I am, you'll do anything you can do to get any and every piece of BSG action.

    Technorati Tagged: | | TV Score | 2006

    Thursday, March 22, 2007

    Amy Winehouse: Back to Black

    Amy Winehouse: Back to Black What an amazing juxtaposition Amy Winehouse's music is:

    Without the vocals, this music could be pulled straight from the 50s. But then, Winehouse starts singing, with a voice that, too, could be pulled from ths 50s, but blasting lyrics which are cleary modern. My favourite example is the beginning Me and Mr. Jones: "What kind of fuckery is this?"

    Quite honestly, I think this is a beautiful album, that, as I mentioned, seems to play these sounds that people know from a "better day" and lyrics which, at points, are harsh, direct, and occasionally obscene.

    The album also manages to show some pain, which seems clear based on some googling and the self-destructive path that Winehouse is on. Then again, every good artist has a lot of pain inside.

    I'm currently enjoying Me and Mr. Jones (for the aforementioned lyric), Love is A Losing Game (a beautiful but sad song), and Rehab (A seemingly self-mocking tune).

    In the end: You know, I won't lie, if you don't listen to closely to the lyrics, a lot of song scould definitely be playing in the background during more... intimate times. It's a great package who's only fault is that it finishes at 35 minutes.

    Technorati tagged: | | Jazz | 2006