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Archive for February, 2011
26 Feb

First Ear Candy of 2011

Much like movies, January/February are typically dead release months for music. I think labels try to get out all the big stuff for the holidays and then rely on Grammy sales and a couple of semi-major releases to get them through the winter. So finding something to heat up the ears during this cold time can be difficult. But I’ve found two big stompers that have come out just recently that have made me get my groove on. Both are from…wait for it…Adele?

Yeah, that young British semi-soulful chanteuse that had a sleepy hit a couple of years ago with “Chasing Pavements.” I must say I didn’t really get her then. I listened to her debut album “19” a few times but couldn’t form a connection. I found her whiny and needy and “oh, poor me” with the music dragging along. Her new album, “21,” still finds her being a bit on the loser side again, but this time around it is more defiant. Instead of “oh, this boy left me and I’m pathetic,” she is more “oh, this boy left me….f*** him!” She still wallows around in self-pity a bit, but overall it is a vast improvement in tone and with the music as well.

The first two songs on the disc are excellent and I’m hooked on them. “Rolling in the Deep” is on the charts now as the first single and it moves and grooves. The blue-eyed soul is a breath of fresh air among the clunky party and sung/rap songs littering the charts. But even better for me is “Rumour Has It.” This song stomps like an pissed off chick walking into a room ready to do some damage. And then, to show she is not all rawhide and razorblades, the mid-point of the song slows to a confessional crawl – and then promptly grooves right back up again just to let you know business is business. It is just a great tune. This is the style of song that Christina Aquilera should have pursued on her last disc instead of the sexed-up robotron she portrayed – you can just hear her vamping all over the slow section to the hilt.

Needless to say, Adele is winning me over.

 

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21 Feb

A Blip of a Music Review: “Live: The Storyteller” by Todd Snider

Alternate Title:  “Nouveau Prine”

Pros: Double CD where the focus is both on the songs and on Snider’s stories/comments, prime performances solo and with a solid backing band, nice sound, and a very appreciative audience who are prepared for the great music and the “18 minutes.”

Cons: While there are many good song choices and fan faves, some of the big ones like “Beer Run” are missing as well as some of his quiet and sweet pieces (which may have been lost on the large Bonnaroo crowd anyway), and although the music is terrific, the title is “Storyteller” and a couple of more yarns would have balanced out the disc a bit more.

Verdict: I have loved Todd Snider since his first disc in 1994, where he was more rocky than the hippy-ish folkster he is now. But the progression from that debut through to “Storyteller” has been gradual and he has really developed into more than just a folk singer with some good songs. He has allowed himself to be who he wants to be and has applied that to his craft both in the studio and in live concerts. Due to this and the potential to tell “stories between songs that may last up to 18 minutes,” he has slowly been gathering a very loyal following that resembles some of his forerunners like John Prine. And it is well deserved. His stories are quirky and funny and lead directly to and from songs that were inspired by these tales. “Storyteller” captures all of this quite well and even better than his last live disc “Near Truths and Hotel Rooms.” It is almost like folk performance art with a healthy dose of hippy wisdom, mushrooms, and a clever wink.

Hear This:  “Sunshine,” “Don’t It Make You Wanna Dance,” any of the story tracks

Skip This: You can’t really skip anything here – it is all essential to the performance.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Blips  •••

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