Jazzfest 2010: April 29 recap


Photo from fOTOGLIF

The second weekend of Jazzfest saw fans enjoy a beautiful sunny day of music, although potential thunderstorms loom. Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk rocked the main stage in the 1:20 pm slot, with bassist Tony Hall leading the way via his super funk playing. “You Can Make It” was a great funky anthem to get attendees going who were still waking up from the previous late night out.

Amanda Shaw and the Cute Guys (pictured above) drew a big crowd to the Gentilly Stage, where Shaw’s bluegrassy rock entertained. A cover of The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go” mixed punk energy with bluegrassy fiddle breaks from Shaw with great results.

Gov’t Mule threw down an hour-long set back on the main stage, with guitarist Warren Haynes tearing it up as usual (after he’d been out late jamming with Eric Krasno at Maison the previous night.) Teases of classics like “Blue Skies” and “Get Up Stand Up” fit nicely with Mule’s bluesy hard rock on the sunny day.

New Orleans‘ own Soul Rebels entertained with jazzy flair on the Congo Square Stage, while Steve Martin and his Steep Canyon Rangers drew a huge crowd to the Gentilly Stage for their 3:35 pm set. One fan said it was the largest crowd he’d ever seen at that stage. Martin is a great banjo player and his crossover appeal made this set a huge draw.

Widespread Panic closed out the main stage with a massive two-and-a-half hour set that featured an extended sit-in by four-piece horn section, the Megablasters. The extra horns added a great touch to “Up All Night,” a laid-back rocker that is easily the anthem of the festival (since most fans are out on the town all night it seems.) A rip-rocking “Tallboy” followed for Spreadhead heaven. Many choices abounded. Other bands playing at the same time as Panic included Elvis Costello and the Sugarcanes, the Average White Band, Blues Traveler and more.

The Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi Band threw down an incendiary evening show at the House of Blues, featuring mainly great new material and a couple choice covers like Clapton’s “Coming Home” and The Beatles’ “I Got a Feeling.” They’ve got bassist Oteil Burbridge in the band now, along with his brother Kofi on keys, plus two drummers and two backing singers to formwhat is easily one of the best rock ‘n’ roll bands on the planet today. Trucks & Tedeschi close out the Gentilly Stage today for what should be another highlight performance.

Aqualung: Magnetic North


RIYL: Beck, Bright Eyes, Ben Folds

Aqualung, a group that is essentially one man, Matt Hales, flirted with retirement before realizing that his gift for songwriting needed to continue being shared by the masses. His/their latest, Magnetic North, is Aqualung’s second album on Verve and first set of new material since 2007’s Memory Man. Following a move from his native England to Los Angeles, Aqualung’s new material is slightly more upbeat and inspired in spots than some of his previous work, which tended to be mostly dark, moody and melodic. Right from the start, Magnetic North kicks off with “New Friend,” a super catchy ditty that features, for lack of a better term, a psychedelic piano riff. “Reel Me In” is like a cross between Ben Folds and Death Cab for Cutie, and it’s another upbeat anthem.

There are more melodic-as-hell tracks in “Fingertip” and “Hummingbird,” but that doesn’t mean Aqualung forgot where he came from. Some of the best numbers are the haunting and falsetto-laced “Lost,” which sounds like it could have come from 2004’s Strange and Beautiful; the powerful “36 Hours;” or the quirky and dark title track, a fitting closer to this unique batch of songs. If you’re a fan of alt-pop that has more alt than pop, chances are good you’ll love this new one from Aqualung – and as an added bonus, it’s the kind of record that will make your significant other think you’re cool and sensitive. And what could be wrong with that? (Verve 2010)

Aqualung MySpace page

Hole: Nobody’s Daughter


RIYL: Nirvana, Bush, heroin chic

Ten years removed from its last year, it appears that the ’90s nostalgia wave has officially begun. Alice in Chains pulled a shocking comeback last year, and this year will see the reformation of two of the biggest bands of ’90s alt-rock, Stone Temple Pilots and Soundgarden. The question is, what is driving this musical time warp? Is it the counter-culture – if such a thing still exists these days – rejecting the sounds of today, or a simple cash grab by the bands in question? The truth lies somewhere in between, but if we’re being honest, we suspect it’s closer to the latter than the former.

Hole_02

That Hole is releasing an album this year as well is probably more coincidence than opportunistic timing. This is only their fourth album in 19 years, after all, so no one can accuse Courtney Love of having anything resembling a master plan. And goodness knows that she surprised a lot of people when Celebrity Skin hit the post-grunge wasteland in 1998, so with the release of Nobody’s Daughter, one is inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt – to a point, anyway. Sure, the album works here and there, but when Love tries to let loose on songs like “Skinny Little Bitch,” “Loser Dust” and “Samantha,” it is in the most mannered way imaginable. Indeed, her attempts to get snotty in that last song reveal Love trying just a bit too hard to be edgy, with the whole “people like you (fuck!) people like me (fuck!)” refrain. Frances Bean is surely in a corner saying, “Stop it, Mom, you’re embarrassing me.”

The album’s best moments come when Love acts her age. Album closer “Never Go Hungry” is a taut acoustic track – and curiously, the only song she wrote without outside assistance – that fits right in with her earlier work. The album could have used more of those and less songs like Linda Perry’s “Letter to God.” In the end, Nobody’s Daughter is slightly more than what one would expect from Love at this point in her life. Here’s to using diminished expectations to your advantage. (Cherry Forever/Island Def Jam 2010)

Hole MySpace page
Click to buy Nobody’s Daughter from Amazon

Me, Myself, and iPod 4/28/10: The Silver Seas officially own our souls

esd ipod

The original title of this post was going to be “Free Crowded House!,” as in I have their new single “Saturday Sun,” which they briefly made available on their web site. I’d repost it here, but that just doesn’t seem right. Plus, I’m loath to do anything that HMFIC, who’s a lawyer, would disapprove of. Sorry, guys. For what it’s worth, it’s good.

The Silver Seas – The Best Things in Life
Their first album, High Society, is one of my favorite albums of the 2000s. Their new one, Chateau Revenge, isn’t far behind, and who knows, it may eclipse its predecessor. It’s not quite as high on the ’70s AM radio sound as the first one, but is yet another first-rate batch of classic pop songs just the same.

April Smith and the Great Picture Show – Movie Loves a Screen
I just love this girl’s voice. Impossibly sunny, and what great pitch. She doesn’t dance around notes – she fucking hits them, hard. And what a sweet refrain. “I just want to mean something to you.” I love a little moon-eyed optimism. It’s a nice antidote to our snark-laden world.

Grosvenor – Taxi from the Airport
Think Joe Jackson’s “Stepping Out” covered by Double (of “Captain of Her Heart” fame), and you’re close. Sophisticated synth pop.

Trentemoller – Sycamore Feeling (Remix Edit)
Fans of Hooverphonic and Propaganda, take note. This moody slice of electro-pop is right in your wheelhouse.

Burning Hotels – To Whom It May Concern
Next time the Airborne Toxic Event is looking for an opening act, they’d be wise to pick these guys.

Kids of 88 – Ribbon of Light
Is it wrong of me for wishing MGMT’s new one sounded more like this?

The Brute Chorus – Could This Be Love?
Attention, Anglophiles. Here’s your next UK buzz band. I like this one because it has a little American swagger in it.

Lawrence Arabia – Apple Pie
Yep, I’m still a sucker for the power pop stuff. Sue me.

The New Pornographers: Together


RIYL: Neko Case, Canada, indie-pop musical theater

Since 2003, there have been only two years in which Carl Newman, leader of the indie-pop superstars the New Pornographers, has not put out an album. And for a stretch there, that was a good thing; you’d be hard pressed to find a one-two-three punch from anyone that rivals the New Porns’ 2003′s Electric Version, Carl’s solo album The Slow Wonder, and the New Porns’ staggering Twin Cinema (2005). That last album had half a dozen songs alone that could each start its own religion.

Since then, the goings have been, well, fine, but a far cry from the band’s best work. Challengers (2007) has aged decently enough, but still doesn’t contain a moment that rivals, say, “The Bleeding Heart Show” or “The Laws Have Changed.” Unfortunately, the band’s latest album, Together, doesn’t contain anything that rivals the best work on Challengers. It’s not a bad record, per se; it’s simply an average record from a band that has to this point been anything but average.

Sure, anyone who likes “Mutiny, I Promise You” will enjoy “Crash Years,” and fans of “Use It” will like the unofficial title track “Your Hands (Together).” Likewise, there are a million bands who would kill to call this album their own. But this is not some other band’s album – it’s a New Pornographers album, and they can frankly do better than this. They didn’t phone it in – the album’s final track, the other unofficial title track “We End Up Together,” is one of those reach-for-the-stars moments – but it appears that Newman’s well is running a little drier than it had been five or so years ago. Hey, writing good songs is hard – there’s a reason only a handful of people are truly good at it. If Newman needs an extra two years between albums to charge the batteries, that’s fine with us. We can wait. (Matador 2010)

New Pornographers MySpace page
Click to buy Together from Amazon

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