Okay, so it’s my birthday today, and what am I doing? LOL…go figure, right?.. it’s not the best day I’ve had … my wife has been away too long (since November because she got her wallet ripped off and CO hasn’t issued a new driver’s license yet)… and my son has been in the hospital the past few days (he’s getting out tomorrow). So, I really need to do this. It’ll be good for my soul, and it’s been forever since I wrote a MMMM post anyway. Here we go for the new year and a batch of really good new releases.
Songs: Song Samples (r-click/open new tab)
1. Katey Laurel – The Wheel
2. Churchill – We Used to Be Happy
3. John-Alex Mason w/ Cody Burnside – Gone So Long
4. FaceMan – BigHead
5. Freddi / Henchi & the Soulsetters – I Wanna Dance, Dance, Dance
6. Tennis – Pigeons
I’m not really sure what happened over the past three years since Katey Laurel’s 2008 release Upstairs Downstairs, but rarely have I heard an artist mature so quickly. Produced by Nielsen Hubbard (Glenn Phillips [Toad the Wet Sprocket], Kate York), From Here sounds like it was crafted specifically for the AAA/Americana and adult contemporary crossover radio stations it is already making inroads onto. From Here’s first single, “The Wheel” is featured on the respected A Taste of Triple A sampler, and while not everything on there is a “hit,” it is a very well respected compilation of what’s upcoming and potentially worthy of airplay at a national level. I’d fully expect to hear this track and others from the album spread across the entire range of both commercial and non-commercial stations statewide. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to hear this on KUNC, KBCO and Alice 105.9 (Denver) … as well as throughout the RMMN reporting stations statewide. Recommended tracks: Begin Again, Everything I Love, The Wheel
Churchill’s “We Used to Be Happy” is one of a number of songs on their latest, Happy/Sad, that in fact deals with issues related to both of those emotions; and really seem to deal with those emotions within the context of personal relationships. There’s an evident power contained in this recording that was hinted at in their last ep… and one which is sure to garner them considerable airplay regionally. Recommended tracks: Miles, We Used to Be Happy, Happy Sad.
John-Alex Mason moved away from Colorado for a while. He went up to the wet northwest … and found he belonged in Colorado. On Jook Joint Thunderclap, John-Alex takes another bold step towards being considered not only a potential future Colorado music hall of fame blues artist, but also an artist helping to redefine a style as much a part of Americana as anything that exists today. There are some pretty heady surprises on this album with John-Alex teaming up with rapper Cody Burnside for two of the tracks. Cody is the grandson of legendary modern bluesman R.L. Burnside and has contributed his unique style to the North Mississippi Allstars (North Mississippi Allstars – Hill Country Revue: Live At Bonnaroo CD). Recommended tracks: Gone So Long, Riding On, Diamond Rain
Okay … FaceMan’s self-titled debut was a “very highly recommended” from my friend Brian Johnson, publisher of the Marquee Magazine, who informed me that this was at the top of his best new album picks of 2011. I’m getting used to hearing some classic styles reengineered to fit into what is now called “indie” but for those of us who grew up during the college rock heyday of the 80s is really all about being alternative and not quite fitting into nicely defined parameters. Such is this album – ranging from more rock oriented tracks like the sampled track BigHead to the more acoustic neo-americana-indie-folk-rock of CookieMonster, which has more to do with having to deal with “…no more shirt and no more tie; to the working class I say goodbye” and sitting at home watching yes, Sesame Street on daytime tv. Recommended tracks: BigHead, CookieMonster, Colfax
Someone posted something recently that made me reconsider where I’d put Freddi / Henchi & the Soulsetters – Crown Princes Of Funk: The Last Set. When I got this just released (2010) compilation recently, I had thought to place it into the historical context in which the songs belong – 1965 to roughly 1975. But then, it occurred to me that many of those who listen to my show were not even alive during this period, and most (if not nearly all of them) would be totally unfamiliar with the 30+ year historical legacy of this band in Colorado … or to know that they moved here from Arizona and despite their popularity there and in LA, became and still are one of our most beloved bands here. Even weirder still is that most of the folks I know over 50 who HAVE partied the night away with the band have no knowledge of this wonderful history. Place this one VERY HIGH on your list of must have albums from 2010/2011 …if for nothing else than to hear the evolution of this legendary Colorado funk/soul band as they were transitioning from AZ to CO. RIP Marvin “Henchi” Graves (2009). Expect to hear a lot from this comp in 2011…
Retro is in… and boy is it evident in Cape Dory, the exceptional indie-pop record from the husband and wife team known as Tennis. There’s not a thing on this album that doesn’t remind me of sunshine and surf – and no doubt, as it originated via the sailing experiences of the couple. That it harkens back to the early sixties sunshine surf pop days is all the better… a nice escape from the winter blues and seriousness that all too often darkens our mood. There’s been some buzz on this record at a national level, and it is very possible to see this one become a top seller – regionally and nationally … there’s a charm on this that really does recall the naiveté and innocence that was a core value of early sixties girl-pop. That much is inescapable. “It’s this combination of lo-fi sounds and lyrical complexity that makes Cape Dory a great debut record.” (Paste Magazine)