Stacy Clark knows a thing or two about adversity. Ten years ago, during her senior year of high school, the Buffalo, New York singer was diagnosed with a rare blood platelet disorder that nearly took her life. Clark handled the physical ordeal with grace, and in the end the illness only added to her sense of drive and determination.
In addition to doing open-mic shows while still in high school, Clark was savvy enough to seek an internship at a local recording studio. A pattern of diligence and perseverance was set in motion.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008 4:54 PM
Acoustic guitarist Michael Koppy kept his playing, with its rich, burnished tone and strong melodic backbone, under wraps for a quarter-century. “I’ve got friends I’ve known for decades who didn’t even know I owned a guitar until I started playing out a few years ago,” Koppy says by phone from his L.A. area home.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008 4:21 PM
Welsh songsmith Euros Childs sure has been busy since the dissolution of his longtime psych-pop band, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, in 2006. He’s just released his third album in two years—the new The Miracle Inn—and has threatened to be back in the studio before Christmas putting a fourth to tape.
“I thought by now I’d have started running out of ideas,” the singer’s said, “but it’s the opposite.”
Childs has always been a fellow of many and varied ideas, and that much hasn’t changed as a solo artist—his debut, Chops, was a schizophrenic splash of Gorky’s fan-familiar ideas, while follow-up Bore Da was more well-received as a collection of highly approachable, sunny pop melodies delivered via the less universally approachable Welsh language.
This most recent Miracle Inn outing should most directly score with fans of Gorky’s 2001 release How I Long to Feel That Summer in My Heart. As he is on that album, Childs is relatively contained on Miracle Inn, the singer mixing charming power-pop and similarly charming pensive folk, simple (and, often enough, sad) melodies floating underneath the singer’s thin, delicate vocal.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007 1:32 PM
Long Time Coming is the heralded comeback album from North Carolina-born Nappy Brown, a veteran roots vocalist whose powerful, gospel-infused 1950s sides for the Savoy label made him a pioneering figure in the R&B realm and helped plant the seeds of the soul music that followed.
Born in 1929, Napoleon Brown Culp started singing in the church choir when he was just nine years old and belonged to a number of gospel groups during his teen years. He got his big break in 1954, waxing a pair of gospel offerings with an outfit called the Heavenly Lights before label boss Herman Lubinsky invited him to jump to the “secular” side, which kicked off a run of R&B successes.
Thursday, November 15, 2007 3:04 PM
With color-coordinated suits and a skinny chest-pounding singer that goes by the name Howlin' Pelle Almqvist, the Hives, alongside like-minded American counterparts such as the Strokes and White Stripes, helped bring noisy garage rock back into the public consciousness at the outset of the decade. But the Swedes' campaign to turn all hipsters into two-tone, tie-wearing rockabilly devotees seemed to lose some steam after the excitement faded around their breakthrough hit, "Hate To Say I Told You So." By the time they got around to releasing their third album, 2004's Tyrannosaurus Hives, the world had already grown weary of their Monkees-style shenanigans.
So, for the much delayed follow-up the Hives have ordered an impressive overhaul, going so far as to recruit trendy producers like Jacknife Lee (U2, Bloc Party) and Pharrell Williams (Britney Spears, Jay-Z) to freshen things up a bit. They contribute fresh beats (check out "Giddy Up!") and a detectable sheen to The Black and White Album, which is due in stores Nov. 13. But listen long enough and it's the Hives' punk rock credo that once again rules, with burly guitarist Vigilante Carlstroem and his '64 Gibson SG leading the way to cranked-up bliss.
Friday, November 09, 2007 4:01 PM
It comes off exceptionally thought-out and measured, the way Iceland’s Sigur Ros build and break and settle melodies and rhythms. And that precision is part of their power.
But it isn’t the precision so much as the way Sigur Ros’ songs can mimic nature’s unpredictability that really makes them as affecting as they are―there’s an oncoming hurricane implied in most songs on the band’s first four LPs, moods of eerie calm swelling into melodic gusts, whipping winds and thunderous explosions, then a graceful, soothing eye.
Friday, November 09, 2007 10:59 AM
Guitarist Dave Riley and harpist Bob Corritore find plenty of room to play on Travelin’ the Dirt Road, a 10-track collection that’s original in composition but very much traditional in both sound and spirit. These two blues veterans aren’t out to propel the genre into the 21st century, but that’s more than okay: their honed instrumental chops—along with Riley’s gritty, powerful vocal presence—recall the best of the acoustic and electric blues traditions, never straying far from the original source and making this album a great place to visit.
Produced by the Phoenix-based Corritore, a prolific, Grammy-nominated producer in addition to club owner and radio host, Travelin’ the Dirt Road (Blue Witch Records) features eight original songs by the Gibson 335-wielding Riley, with the other two penned by the late John Weston, Riley’s friend and former bandmate.
Monday, November 05, 2007 5:02 PM
It’s funny how having one of those omnipresent pop hits, like singer/songwriter Dan Wilson had with his band Semisonic’s “Closing Time,” can become a bit of an albatross—a success you have to live down as you move on.
Fact is, though, while Wilson’s only just introducing himself as a solo artist, he’s certainly well beyond being a one-hit-wonder; the songsmith wrote a hunk of the Dixie Chicks’ massively successful Taking the Long Way, taking a Grammy for writing their leadoff hit “Not Ready to Make Nice.”
And even if he hadn’t already proven that the insistence of that “Closing Time” chorus hook wasn’t a fluke, it would’ve been hard to go wrong with the team he surrounded himself with to make his debut solo LP Free Life—the disc is executive produced by master producer Rick Rubin, sweetened by Sheryl Crow and Tracy Bonham’s voices, Heartbreaker Benmont Tench’s piano and Mason Jennings’ guitar, for starters.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007 3:16 PM
Have a listen to Dashboard Confessional's "Thick As Thieves."
While he’s come to be known as the polar opposite of those cute little characters that adorn mugs, posters, and t-shirts adorned with the phrase “love means never having to say you’re sorry,” Chris Carrabba is far more than a one-trick pony, as he proves on this emotion-laden—but not pure emo—return to action.
Far more stripped-down than Dusk and Summer, the new disc focuses almost exclusively on Carrabba’s expressive voice and increasingly intricate fretwork—the latter of which is showcased vividly on the dramatic “Thick as Thieves,” on which he wields his J-45. The singer does tend to push the envelope in terms of intensity, bringing a tinge of bitterness to “Matters of Blood and Urgency” and “Little Bombs,” but in contrast to the band’s earliest work, he also displays a good sense of when to give the listener the chance to catch his or her breath.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007 1:20 PM
Take a look at the calendar for a moment—it’s hard to believe that 30 years have passed since the Clash released their self-titled debut album in America.
An incendiary, jolting collision of punk and reggae, politics and poise, The Clash instantly set the four players in the band apart from the rest of Britain’s safety pin pack. At the head of the group dubbed “The Only Band That Matters” was guitarist-singer Mick Jones, who made up for his lack of musical skills in the early days with fearless energy, classic melodies, and a deep love for great rock and roll.
Three decades later, after working with the Clash and Big Audio Dynamite, and producing bands like the Libertines, Jones returns with an album that shows he has lost little of his punch.
Thursday, October 25, 2007 1:45 PM