Monday, July 27, 2015

The Return Of The Orange Humble Band

Darryl Mather, formerly of the Lime Spiders, formed the Orange Humble Band in 1995 with the help of some friends that included indie songwriter/producer extraordinaire Mitch Easter, Ken Stringfellow of The Posies and Big Star's Jody Stephens.  Two records, one in 1997 and one in 2001, had their moments of pop brilliance, with 2001's "Humblin' (Across America)" often referred to as one of the greatest power pop records of all time. I like that record, but I don't love it.

I do love "Depressing Beauty," the new Orange Humble Band record and their first in almost 15 years.

Aided once again by Mitch Easter, Jody Stephens and Ken Stringfellow, Darryl Mather also employs Dwight Twilley, Susan Cowsill, Jon Auer (Stringfellow's partner in Posies crime) and Muscle Shoals legend Spooner Oldham for the ride and recording at the legendary Ardent Studios.

This is from the Citadel Records press release:

Returning to Ardent was like a homecoming," Mather commented. "So many significant ups and downs have happened both in my life and the band member's lives over the past 10 or so years. We realised at our reunion in Austin, whilst celebrating a sneak preview of Big Star's documentary film 'Nothing Can Hurt Me', that it was time to reunite to create some fresh new music, which not only honoured our varied musical roots but also the many fallen friends we have sadly lost over the last decade".

Along with the towering pop figure of Dwight Twilley, additional special musical guests for this recording include Susan Cowsill (background vocals), Spooner Oldham (Wurlitzer piano), multi-instrumentalist Shawn Lynch, (backing vocals, guitar, keyboards and percussion), Kirk Smothers, (baritone and tenor sax), Scott Thompson (trumpet and flugelhorn) and former Alex Chilton long time colleague Jim Spake (tenor sax and clarinet).

Finally, as a most welcoming inclusion, string arrangements were created and scored by Carl Marsh. Cult like in status, Marsh most famously wrote and conducted strings for the revered Big Star's 'Third' album of 1974. Hailed pop luminary Chris Stamey (dB's) also provided additional string arrangements.

I was mostly impressed with the sound of "Depressing Beauty." There is a familiar feeling throughout that reminds me of so many AM radio hits of the 70s and yet "Depressing Beauty" never feels retro. You will no doubt hear Dwight Twilley and of course, Big Star all over this record, but there is also something very southern and very soulful about these tunes.

I'll keep my gushing to a minimum, as I am still sitting with "Depressing Beauty." I will say this. One of my biggest complaints about new music is that I can never remember any of it. There is always something lacking, usually a hook or melody, and I rarely want to go back. First pass through "Depressing Beauty" and I immediately wanted to go back. So much jumped out at me. Maybe you'll feel the same.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Songs Of The Week 7.0: 7/18-7/24

Bad Apples- Royal Fingerbowl
Come On (Parts 1 & II)- Earl King
Star Crossed Lovers- Propellerheads w/Martha Wainwright
You Close Your Eyes- Orange Humble Band
Cheer Down- George Harrison
Junior's Eyes- Black Sabbath
Me Just Purely- Brendan Benson


Friday, July 24, 2015

"Another Friday, Another...": THE WEEKEND MIX

Do you look forward to The Weekend Mix? Is it something you automatically download and listen to, going for the experience of the playlist, or do you look at the track list and decide, "Yeah, I don't need this."

I ask because The Weekend Mix posts seem to get the least amount of commentary and feedback, good or bad. I'm happy to put them together, but I wonder if it's gone stale.

Today's playlist, once again, has no connecting theme other than me wanting you to hear all these tunes, either again or for the first time.

I opened with something out of New Orleans featuring the great rhythm section of Matt Perrine and Jason Marsalis. It's title couldn't be more appropriate, as its groove should make you do just that.

Two tracks are new to me, the Bobby McClure track with the Hi Rhythm Section and the Mutantes. Both surprised me at random and both immediately got thrown into the mix.

A friend had suggested, upon hearing the tragic news about the death of Nick Cave's son, that I pay tribute and I use a song of Nick's in a mix. Today's the day.

Some of you might recognize the title of the Todd Rundgren track as part of the "Runt" medley. This version is an unreleased version re-recorded in the 80's, I believe. I've never gotten the story straight. It might have been recorded around the "Nearly Human" sessions in 1989, or possibly earlier. If the Rundgren fan reading knows for sure, please let me know.

For a year or two in the 80s, I went apeshit over Donnie Iris and his first two solo records. Iris had a hit in the 70s with "The Rapper" and his band The Jaggerz. He reappeared in the 80's with his hits "Ah! Leah," and "Love Is Like A Rock." The song here suffers a bit from dated production, but I do love everything about it. Lots of layers, hooky as all hell. See what you think.

That's all I've got.

Enjoy, maybe.


All Up In The Aisles- John Ellis & Double-Wide
EZY Ryder- Jimi Hendrix
I Ain't Gonna Turn You Loose- Bobby McClure
Daddy Rollin' (In Your Arms)- Dion
Ando Meio Desigado- Mutantes
Epistle To Dippy- The Dickies
Best Place I've Ever Been- World Party
Let The Bells Ring- Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Waiting Man- King Crimson
It's Not Too Late- Dennis Wilson
You're Only Dreaming- Donnie Iris
Don't Tie My Hands- Todd Rundgren
Red-Eyed & Blue- Wilco
Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone- Leon Redbone
Grow Too Old- Bobby Charles


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

"The food here is terrible." "And such small portions.": Wilco's New Free Record

When I am asked, "Don't you like any new artists," I still answer "I love Wilco," even though they have been a band almost four times longer than The Beatles were. Wilco was the last "new" band that struck a chord with me. That chord resounded in 1994 and it has parlayed into an incredible catalog of studio work and inspired live performances, and to this day, I look forward to new music from Jeff Tweedy and company the way I once used to back when things were, you know, better.

As you might have heard by now, "Star Wars" was a surprise free drop last week on Wilco's website and on select digital sites. It is, as far as anyone can tell, the new "official" Wilco record, which is scheduled for a traditional release later this year.

I dove in headfirst... and almost cracked my skull open.

"Star Wars" is a sputtering collection of songs things trying to be songs. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Tweedy has successfully experimented before, but this is the first time these experiments were labelled Wilco and not Loose Fur, a band that included Jim O'Rourke and released two interesting records in 2003 and 2006  respectively, or simply Tweedy, his recent oddball solo affair with help from his son Spencer.

Some might argue that Wilco has been experimenting from day one, with each of their releases sounding different than the one prior. I guess I wouldn't disagree. But "Star Wars" is the first time I listened to a Wilco record and did not immediately want to listen again. I was left cold, and strangely enough, it was over all too quickly. This bothers me more than the content. It's 34 minute length feels like the cherry on top of an unbaked cake. I don't mind the new musical territory, I just want to believe the band means it. And I don't.

"Star Wars" begins with its moments. "More" and "Random Name Generator" both quirk along at an upbeat pace and for a few minutes you'll feel confident that Jeff Tweedy has done it again. But then, it all starts to slowly fall apart. "Taste The Ceiling" sounds like a "Summerteeth" throwaway, say "Candy Floss's" stranger, inferior brother. "Pickled Ginger" is a distorted, two minute mess, like something Tweedy might have introduced in a rehearsal with "So what do you think of this?" only to receive stares from a stone-faced backing band. If you're still hanging around by the last three tunes, "Cold Slope," "King Of You," and "Magnetized," you will surely want to kick the chair out from underneath you when this trifecta completes it monotonous run.

I just made "Star Wars" sound unbearable, and as a whole, it might be. But broken up into pieces, with a song or two on separate albums,  a b-side here, an E.P. there, maybe a tune in a movie, and these songs  things might have worked while we waited for something proper. But all together as one, "Star Wars" sounds like a free album.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Spin Cycle

I've known Sal Maida for almost a quarter of a century. We worked together, listened to music together and traded stories until we laughed so hard, we cried. A fantastic bass player and an even better raconteur, Sal Maida's knowledge of music from the basics to the minute, dwarfs just about anyone else I know.

Now, he hosts "Spin Cycle," a two-hour show on Little Water Radio. The man was made for this.

The show airs on Fridays from 2PM- 4PM. Check out the archives, especially his July 3rd tribute to British bass players. (The American bass players tribute aired on July 17th, but has not been archived as of yet, so check back.) This show will not disappoint. Maida plays tunes from the sublime to the ridiculously obscure without a lemon in the bunch. And you will learn something. I did. Like for instance, I had no idea The Isley Brothers covered Paul Revere & The Raiders. How did I miss that?

I don't like giving friends shout-outs unless I mean it.

Give Spin Cycle a listen. It's good for ya.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Songs Of The Week 7.0: 7/11-7/17

Dear Miss Lonely Hearts- Phil Lynott
Golden Goose- Peter Frampton
I Don't Need No Doctor- Nick Ashford
She- The Monkees
No Presents For Me- Pandamonium
Autograph- Bernard Butler
Way Of The World- Cheap Trick


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Another One Makes the Cut

If I had heard this song without the visual, I'm pretty sure I would have tossed it aside as a pleasant-enough, but no big deal retro-soul throwback. But watching Rachael Price nail this sucker in one take really knocked both socks and a dickey right off.

(Thanks Geno!)