Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Irritation is the mother of invention

One of the songs on my “Perfect Wife” CD came into being because of irksome neighbors. At the place I was living last year, the back yards butted up against the back yards of the houses on the next street over.

Every warm evening, the house diagonally behind ours would have a backyard party which usually consisted of lots of beer, kids and an over-the-top car stereo cranked flat out. The music they most often listened to was generally south of the border ballads with very heavy bass lines.

Very heavy. In my studio on the second floor I could see the windows vibrate from the bass.

I had the windows closed one day and I was trying to write a song for the Perfect Wife CD…but all I could hear, even with headphones on, was the the bom bom-bom ba of the bass from the car stereo in the other yard.

After getting frustrated by trying to ignore the sound…I finally just gave in and wrote a song using that bass line.

Voila: “Reassurance”

The CD "Perfect Wife"

Monday, September 26, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tippy Canoe & Melody Walker House Concert

Tippy sez:
"Please join Tippy Canoe and friends this coming Saturday, September 17th for a special House Concert in Elk Grove [CA] hosted by the one-and-only Ukelele University.

This is completely Open to the Public and will also feature the incredible Melody Walker & Jacob Groopman (of The Real Nasty)."


Ferris Wheel by Shiny and the Spoon

This is the first full CD by the Cincinnati duo Shiny and the Spoon, Amber Nash and Jordan Neff.

Yahoo! ‘Bout time. The CD contains 13 songs, 11 of them originals. This is a very comfortable CD to listen to. The blend of Amber and Jordan’s voices makes any sugar in my coffee unnecessary.

The sound they achieve on this CD is probably somewhere in the Folk area…but it is by no means limited to just folk. Guitar, ukulele, bass, piano, slide, drums…all make their way into the various arrangements to good effect.

But it’s the vocals that kill on this CD. The vocals. The vocals. And the songwriting.

Here are a few that stuck in my head as I listened:

The fourth song, “Killing the Flowers” has a great lyrical arc and a nice bite

“Black Nag” is a cool story that drags you into itself

“Run” would be my hands-down favorite for a driving-cross-country-song.

“Thirteen Crates” does that down home boogie so well.

“Bread and Butter” Killer, killer harmonies.

How can I dislike a Malvina Reynolds song? “No Hole In My Head” is a lovely rendition of a song from a much overlooked songwriter.

For me, the true measure of a CD is if I hear a song that I would feel comfortable (sometimes even compelled) to cover. On this CD “I Hear Ghosts” is that song. “…their words are like wine I just can’t stop drinking…” Works for me.

Go buy this CD. Put down your mouse and do it now.

Shiny and the Spoon

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Jame Hill’s new CD

I’m going to say right off the bat that I don’t think there is a better ukulele player today than the Canadian James Hill.

Having said that, I won’t have to mention the ukulele again. On his newest CD “Man With A Love Song”, the ukulele is just one of many instruments he plays to make the music he makes.

And he has truly made music on this CD. The 13 songs (with one reprise) are tight and confident. His voice, also is more confident. The sound swings from bluegrass to, well, swing to sultry shuffle. These are all great songs and it isn’t hard to see why he put them together on this CD.

His musical partner, Anne Davison, supplies honeyed harmonies, cello and violin; supporting but never overpowering James.

The first song “Hand Over My Heart” (good pun) starts off with a bang and never looks back. If you’re looking for that breathtaking instrumental work, you get it in spades on this cut.

In the second song we’re introduced to Anne’s killer harmony singing and cello playing.

The best written song, for me, is the eighth cut “What Would You Have Me Do?” that opens with “The lady is too fat for words/ but she sings like her life is on fire”. Damn.

Although all the songs are definitely worth listening to, I’m just mentioning a few that stuck with me. The ninth cut, “Indecision Rag” tosses you in the rollercoaster and takes off, never looking back. Relentless.

Lyrics are always a benchmark for me, and the writing on this CD is topnotch.

But…the song I would cover, the one that grabs me by the throat is the final (two) cuts “Voodoo Forever, Aloha”. I’m a sucker for a song in 6/8s time and a spooky lyric.

Quit reading this and go buy this CD.

“Man With A Love Song” James Hill

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