Profile for Larry L. Looney > Reviews

Browse

Larry L. Looney's Profile

Customer Reviews: 582
Top Reviewer Ranking: 15,919
Helpful Votes: 7007




Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Larry L. Looney RSS Feed (Austin, Texas USA)

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
Music From The Lost Provinces: Old-Time Stringbands From Ashe County, North Carolina & Vicinity 1927-1931
Music From The Lost Provinces: Old-Time Stringbands From Ashe County, North Carolina & Vicinity 1927-1931
Price: $13.99
18 used & new from $9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars a great music trip to a treasure-filled past, March 3, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a great collection of North Carolina string band music from the late 20s, early 30s. It’s easy to hear the roots of bluegrass in these recordings. The performances are intense and unpretentious, and the joy the musicians feel is palpable. As is the case with recordings of this age, some rough spots are to be expected, but I have to give a tip of the (old) hat to the engineers who re-mastered these tracks – they did a great job. The music is so infectious that after just a few seconds, any recording glitches that might be present slipped right past my ears.

If you love music like this, be comforted – there are young bands out there today applying themselves with all their hearts to keeping these traditions and styles alive, not for fortune and fame necessarily, but for the sheer fun of playing this music. Two of the best groups working today in this genre are the Foghorn String Band and the Black Twig Pickers. The Foghorns are more strictly traditional, the Twigs toss a bit of experimentation into the mix (but not so much as to put off traditionalists). Seek them out and have a listen – and by all means pick up this collection, it’s wonderful.


Wood, Wire & Words
Wood, Wire & Words
Price: $12.99
21 used & new from $10.40

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't ever doubt that Norman's still got the touch..., February 26, 2015
This review is from: Wood, Wire & Words (Audio CD)
I bought this album without one whit of worry about the quality of the music it contains. I’ve been a fan of Norman Blake’s music (and Nancy Blake) for decades, and I had no doubt that this would be yet another recording of his that I would treasure. As soon as I heard his fingers on the strings in the first track, I knew I was right. Sure, he’s getting up there in years, and now and then you can hear it in his voice – but that just adds to the authenticity of his music. There’s a deep love for this music in his performances – it’s blindingly apparent to anyone who’ll give this album even a casual listen. One has to marvel imagining what Norman has seen and experienced over the course of his life – not just the musicians with whom he’s played, but all of the life experiences he’s garnered. You can hear it all in these songs, as on every recording he’s ever made.

Norman’s picking has lost a bit of its dexterity and feeling – his fingers glide over the fret board and strings seemingly effortlessly. Of course, that’s how the great ones sound – and Norman is definitely in that company. He loves his guitars and his music like he loves life, and that’s a blessing to his listeners.

If you love fingerstyle acoustic guitar, you owe it to yourself to check out this album – it’s as fine as anything he’s ever done. Norman’s music doesn’t fade or become weak with time – it ages like a fine sipping whiskey. I for one will do my best to be at the head of the line anytime he makes a new recording. I feel so fortunate that I was able to see Norman and Nancy in concert here in Austin at the Cactus Café back in the 80s – I sat there watching and listening, completely transfixed. Anytime I put on one of his albums, I literally bask in it.

He’s a treasure, and this album is one more jewel in his catalogue.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 1, 2015 2:53 PM PST


Xiii: The Series: Season 2
Xiii: The Series: Season 2
DVD ~ Stuart Townsend
Price: $24.94
15 used & new from $18.41

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not as interesting as the first season, and it was iffy..., February 24, 2015
This review is from: Xiii: The Series: Season 2 (DVD)
I have to concur with the previous reviewer in that the 2nd season deteriorated rapidly after the first episode or two -- it began to feel more and more as if they were making it up as they went along. I know, I know, it's based on a 'graphic novel', so I shouldn't expect too much -- but seriously? The plot twists seemed as if they were tossed in just to be there. The acting in season 2 wasn't up to the first season, either. I can't recommend this at all. One thing that put me off as well was the over-indulgence in martial arts sequences. Oh well -- they gave me an opportunity to take a break. Yawn.


1532
1532
Price: $8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Stunningly good album -- skillful, honest songwriting, February 12, 2015
This review is from: 1532 (MP3 Music)
‘Life is short. Love is not
Tell them you love them and it will keep giving.’

‘Many think there’s time but then it’s too late,
so I’ll tell you. I will tell you.’

With the first two lines above, Drew Gibson introduces the first song on his new album 1532, and at the same time sets the mood for the whole set. The second two lines above are from the first song, ‘Bettie-Jane’, and pretty much seem to voice his purpose in writing and recording these songs. The album is about his family, the lives they lived and the stories they told – and as one listens to these well-written, honest (above all) tunes, one gradually begins to get the idea that the lives lived and the stories told are, if not one and the same, inseparable. The two intertwine and mingle, over time becoming part and parcel of each other.

Accompanying himself beautifully on acoustic and electric guitars, aided and abetted by a small group of like-minded, talented friends, Gibson has produced an album of songs that are deeply and intensely personal, and at the same time dealing with these subjects in such a way as to make them universally understandable. He may have set out to honor their memory – or keep it alive – by telling these stories in song, but what he has done is create a work that has the capability of touching the listener on a level most writers can only hope to reach. The words and music are one in a way that even after only one or two listens, makes it difficult to separate them from each other, and that’s a skillful thing.

Instrumentally, Gibson’s guitars and voice take center stage. He’s a brilliant player and his voice is perfectly suited to his material – but there’s no overbearing ego at work here. It’s all about the songs and how to best frame them to suit their mood and meaning. Working with his producer Marco Delmar and a limited number of fine players, the arrangements are as close to perfect as anyone might imagine or hope. Nothing gets in the way of the songs themselves. One standout is the amazing playing by David Hadley on pedal steel and resonator guitar, which take my breath away each time I listen, but never dominate unduly.

As wonderful as the musicianship is on this recording, it’s the lyrics that justly form the meat of the songs. He speaks of several relatives, the lives they lived, the values they held, and the effect they had on his own life. There are hardships recounted – serving in World War II, immigrating from Scotland to Canada, then down into the States, lives full of hard work, joy, tragedy, warmth and accumulated wisdom, bountiful love and advice handed down from one generation to the next. These songs are the story of a family told across the years, remembered and cherished for the treasure they hold.

We are all the sum of many influences, and Gibson is no different – but he’s lucky enough and talented enough to be able to express these gifts in song, to the great benefit of his listeners, whose numbers will hopefully grow. This recording is a thing of life and beauty, told with simple truths and honesty – how rare is that? Pass it by at your peril. Get it, listen to it, let it fill your heart, and then tell everyone you know about it. Drew Gibson deserves to be more widely heard, and there are plenty out there who deserve to experience his work.


You're Home Now
You're Home Now
Offered by CD Baby
Price: $12.81
8 used & new from $9.30

5.0 out of 5 stars More quality songcraft from a great writer, December 13, 2014
This review is from: You're Home Now (Audio CD)
I’ll say up front that I’ve known Richard Berman for many years, and loved his work from the first time I heard him. His songs are honest and real and come from the heart, painting lyrical pictures of characters that become flesh and blood in the mind of the listener – whether they’re based on ‘real people’ (individuals or composites), characters from stories, or have sprung straight from Richard’s imagination. Listening to these songs feels like renewing a conversation with an old friend – I’m not sure there’s any higher praise than that, and I give it freely.

The souls that populate Richard’s songs deal with the same emotions, boons and pitfalls as all of us. Love, loss, joy, sadness, hard times, grief and hope can all be found here. There are highs and lows to be found in the human spirit – both coming and going. We deal with them all, and if we set our heart and mind to it, we move on through the lows and bask in the highs. It’s the points of the journey that lie in between the two extremes that exist in the shadows – and Richard’s songs have a way of leading the listener into contemplation that help pass the time and the miles in a way that, if we allow ourselves to be more open to the world in which we live, help us bear the sorrows long enough to find the joys.

One of Richard’s most moving songs, ‘Holding hands’ (from the album of the same name) finds resolution in the title track of this new release. It concerns two women, friends of Richard, walking through a Wal-Mart in Alamogordo, New Mexico, holding hands – the reactions from those watching them were sadly predictable, and Richard’s song made note of this and expressed a deep hope that tolerance would grow, and that people would come to accept love in all its forms for the gift that it is. Their story is continued in ‘You’re home now’, sung here beautifully by Jamie Anderson, a friend of the two women, wonderfully depicting the longed-for acceptance they sought.

In ‘The token of Scotty’s affection’, Richard revisits the game of Monopoly in a way that is wistful but ultimately gently humorous – things change but not necessarily for the worse. It’s a theme that runs through his work like a gold thread in a tapestry, skillfully woven into the lyrics, sometimes so subtly that we don’t recognize it until we’re really listened – and that’s one of the signs of a great writer.

I’ve heard several of these other songs from Richard in person – ‘Quoddy Point’ (co-written with the fine songwriter Buddy Mondlock), ‘A father and a daughter’, ‘Marianna’, as well as at least a couple of parts of the ‘Miss Hattie’ trilogy. Like all of Richard’s work, these songs are personal and universal at the same time – he draws them from within, and from life experiences, but presents them in such a way that they are almost instantly recognizable as a part of us. There’s no pretense or ego driving this music – just honest feelings, heartfelt words and beautiful, memorable melodies.

The production on the cd, by Max Cohen (who also worked with Richard on his ‘Now and then’ album), is just about as perfect as it could be. The musicians who appear here are well-seasoned, sensitive and supportive, and the arrangements never get in the way of the songs, but compliment and frame them, just as they should. This is, quite simply, a fine album – it fits nicely with the rest of Richard’s catalogue, and by all rights should find a comfortable and rewarding home in many collections.

Highly recommended.


The Austin Steamers
The Austin Steamers

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb mix of old-time and bluegrass music, December 1, 2013
This review is from: The Austin Steamers (MP3 Music)
A few months ago, my lady and I dropped by one of our favorite local eateries for some dinner. This place hosts live music regularly, but without calling them ahead of time, one never knows for sure who’s going to be playing on a particular night. We were pleasantly surprised when the band began to play – sometimes bluegrass, sometimes more of an old-time or string band style. As they continued, our attention was drawn more and more to them – the musicianship was excellent, and the mix of material was great, and it was all rolled up with a gentle sense of humor and the obvious fact that the band was having a blast.

It was The Austin Steamers – we had never heard of them before that night. Speaking with Sean Tracey during their break, I discovered that they had been doing a monthly gig there for some time – we just never happened to be there when they were playing. Sean told me this was their last night at Waterloo for a while – they were about to head for Alaska for an extended stay. After enjoying their sound so much, we were wishing we had discovered them much sooner.

The music on this, their only CD release, is a wonderful program of original material and carefully chosen songs by other writers they admire. ‘Old black crow’ and ‘Path of least resistance’, both Sean Tracey originals, are standouts, as are Joe Sundell’s ‘Dollar bill’ and Daniel Zeh’s ‘Hangdog’. Tracey’s ‘The only thing wrong’ is laced with self-deprecating humor without being trite or maudlin even for a moment. Among the covers, I’m especially fond of ‘Last letter home’, an Amazing Rhythm Aces song I’ve loved for years. Their version of ‘Freight train blues’ brings new life to an old standard. All four member sing, alternating lead and harmony vocals from song to song. Sean Tracey seemed to be the spokesman, at least on this night, but everyone shone on every tune, all having contributions to add, both instrumentally and vocally.

The Steamers are back in Austin, returned from Alaska – we’re really looking forward to going to hear them play again. Check out their website for more info, including upcoming performances. Whether or not you can make it to hear them perform live, by all means pick up this CD or the download. This is wonderful music, full of life and smiles and energy.


Two Guys Two Guitars
Two Guys Two Guitars
4 used & new from $5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Truth in advertising, and a great CD..., October 10, 2013
This review is from: Two Guys Two Guitars (Audio CD)
Before anyone writes this off as `just another album from Austin', they should give it a listen. True, the Austin scene produces an incredible number of releases each year - but this one is something special. Danny Britt and Marvin Dykhuis are exceptionally talented, veteran musicians and good friends, and the camaraderie generated by comfortable familiarity and the deep wells of talent from which they both draw are elements that are easily heard...and seen, if you ever have the good fortune to hear them perform in a live setting, as we did last Sunday. That show was just the two of them, completely acoustic, in the living room setting of a house concert - they also do shows with a full band.

The songs on this disc are mostly originals, penned by Danny or Marvin, sometimes with co-writers - the one cover is a great one, `High hill', written by Champ Hood, and a widely-loved favorite from the repertoire of Austin's own Uncle Walt's Band. The songs deal with love found and lost, life on the road, friendship and loneliness and more - sometimes delivered in a straightforward manner, at other times (such as in Danny's `My aim's gettin' better all the time') with a healthy dose of humor. The album is a great example of truth in advertising - the title says it all: `Two guys, two guitars'. The production is clear and the arrangements are unadorned, allowing the quality and warmth of this music to shine through in a way that is not simply entertaining, but refreshing. Their guitar lines intertwine effortlessly and support each other with no egos getting in the way - the vocals are relaxed and smooth, and the harmonies are exquisite.

It's very obvious that these two are having a blast making this music. It's equally enjoyable for the listener, and has to be heard to be appreciated. Listen to the samples for an idea of how great this duo sounds...and by all means, see them live if you get the chance. You won't be disappointed.


Tant Que Les Heures Passent
Tant Que Les Heures Passent
Price: $17.17
23 used & new from $4.49

5.0 out of 5 stars stunningly effective sound-sculpting, September 4, 2013
First of all, I know this is long for an Amazon review - if you don't think you want to spend the time, then don't. I also hope you'll bear with me while I approach this from what might seem an odd angle - it's an unusual work, something that might well sound like `noise' to many listeners, but which, for me at least, is a source of wonderment and beauty. This is amazing music, created / assembled in an unconventional manner - it merits a similarly unconventional approach in order to absorb its many facets, and to understand a little of how and why it works the way it does.

Filmmaker Raúl Ruiz has written a great deal on what he calls `poetic cinema', expounding his ideas and theories concerning the effects cinema has on the viewer in his book POETICS OF CINEMA 2. He speaks of the idea of a `film within a film' - in some cases, a `film within a film within a film', with elements from one interacting with those of another. This concept can be extended to infinity, whereby multiple levels of `action' can occur side-by-side, layered, or simultaneously. He goes on to explain how such layers can be absorbed by the viewer, sometimes on a subconscious level, to be re-assembled by the mind either as the film progresses or in the state of `post-understanding' described by the great Andrei Tarkovsky in his masterpiece SCULPTING IN TIME. Ruiz also utilizes the example of multiple jigsaw puzzles, all of which have their pieces cut in the same pattern, but which originally display different images. If all of these puzzles are disassembled simultaneously, with the resulting pieces mixed at random, it's possible to reconnect them using the shapes alone, which will of course result in seemingly jumbled images - but viewing these scrambled images repeatedly, one after the other, can result in the mind piecing the pictures back together as they were originally, much in the same way that the mind can recognize words in which the letters are disarranged.

Ruiz writes of a process he calls `distracted comprehension' - he describes a physicist, a brilliant theoretician, who finds that he can better understand a new idea being postulated for him by a colleague if he doesn't allow himself to become absorbed in the process of listening attentively to the theory's explanation. His comprehension is more thorough, and more readily attained, if he allows himself to be slightly distracted during the exposition, with his mind re-assembling the critical points of the idea, very like the jigsaw puzzle or the `film within a film within a film' mentioned in the previous paragraph. Human memory works in much the same way, reassembling bits of information which are then processed to appear `whole' to our consciousness. One of the truest representations I've ever seen in a film of human memory is in I COULD READ THE SKY (Ireland / England, 1999, directed by Nicola Bruce) - there are layers of images displayed on the screen, with the audio being presented in the same manner, to a wonderfully realistic effect.

But what does all of this have to do with this music...? I'll try to draw some connections...

Bérangère Maximin's music works similarly. She utilizes pre-recorded tapes of found / environmental sounds, musical instruments, percussion (both standard sources and tapes of assembled rhythmic cycles), and voices to create an atmosphere of complete submersion for the listener. She brings all of these elements together in an astonishing way, wielding fragments of sound as tools and instruments, assembling them not in a random fashion, but thoughtfully and creatively, as a composer for a symphony orchestra might draw upon the various instruments to create mood, to express ideas and concepts, to construct a sense of space in which the audience is drawn into the sound-sculpted world she is building. Sounds appear, vanish and re-surface - some recognizable, others not. In the end, it's not really necessary to attempt to determine the source of everything falling onto the ear. Her work is like that `film within a film within a film' described by Ruiz, or the experience that must be understood after experiencing it, as Tarkovsky spoke of his film ZERKALO (MIRROR) (Russia, 1975) - the great Russian director, despondent over film critics savaging what was his most personal creation, found his work validated by viewers who wrote to him explaining how deeply the film affected them, many of them coming to understand it more fully some time after they had seen it.

Bérangère draws from her sound-palette as a visual artist might, coloring the audio presentation as if she were working on an abstract canvas - works of modern visual art might seem to be chaotic, but often inspire deep reactions in the viewer, much as I believe seemingly `abstract' music can touch a listener on the deepest level. There are other ways to communicate ideas and thoughts besides directness - the shortest distance between two points (in the case, the creator of the work and the person experiencing it) might be a straight line in geometry, but in art, be it musical, visual, literary, or otherwise, the most effective and rewarding journey is often a circuitous or oblique one. An object viewed from one angle takes on a completely different shape as we move around it - the same principle can be applied to music, or `audio art', to literature (there are works which the author intends be read in random order, for example) and of course to cinema.

This music must be experienced in order to comprehend it, to feel it - I can't recommend it highly enough. This is her first official release. Two others have subsequently been issued: NO ONE IS AN ISLAND (2010) and INFINITESIMAL (2013). All are excellent.


These Arms
These Arms
Price: $18.11
17 used & new from $1.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Great songs, written and performed from the heart..., August 5, 2012
This review is from: These Arms (Audio CD)
The songs on THESE ARMS contain a number of influences - folk, country, blues, Cajun (reflecting Mark's heritage). One of the wonderful things about this talented duo is how seamlessly they can blend these, sometimes within an individual song, into a viable whole that is simply great music that not only touches the soul of listeners, but brings nourishment to their minds as well...not to mention inducing them to a good bit of foot-tapping in the process...and the urge to dance.

Seven out of the eleven tunes on this album are Mark Viator originals, and they clearly illustrate what a fine writer he is. He's also a very talented guitarist - almost all of the guitar work on the recording is Mark's. Whether he's fingerpicking or flatpicking, or playing slide, it's always masterful and appropriate, and never showy for the sake of it - it's all about the music and what supports it best and conveys the mood. When Mark shifts from accompanying lyrics to adding a spot of lead, the seamlessness is wonderful to behold. If you're fortunate enough to see them perform live (which we do every chance we get), you'll understand this even more. The songs here that were written by others (Thad Beckman, Robert Earl Keen, Kate Wolf and Hank Williams) are as well-chosen as the originals are well-written, and suit Mark and Susan to a T.

Mark's Cajun heritage is never far from the surface. `Queen of the bayou' is a heartfelt tribute to his grandmother, a tasty stew of memories and love. `Ain't goin back' is an honest look at the life of a proud Louisiana working man, a vivid picture of resilience and devotion to family. `Dharma bums', as one might gather from the title, was inspired by Jack Kerouac's novel, and wonders eloquently if the idealism the book inspired in many of us when we read it the first time can be carried and kept alive as our lives move along. Susan's voice carries Mark's original `These arms' to sweet heights - it's a beautiful love song, extremely moving, and one you'll find yourself humming it before you realize it. Her renditions of Kate Wolf songs (`Across the Great Divide' appears here), as well as those of country legends such as Hank Williams (`I'm so lonesome I could cry' gets a beautiful reading on this album) and Patsy Cline (if you're lucky enough to see them perform, ask for `Walkin after midnight'), are all nothing short of wonderful, and Robert Earl Keen's `I would change my life' illustrates that she can give new life to more contemporary songs. She makes everything she sings her own, reaching down into her artist's soul to color them with shades from her own palette. When the two of them blend their voices, the harmonies are perfect and the chemistry is intimate - you can get a sense of it from just listening, but again, seeing them perform in a live setting makes it abundantly clear that they love what they're doing.

Many of Austin's finest musicians lend their talents to this recording. It never feels over-crowded, rather like a conversation among good friends, where everyone has something to contribute but no one attempts to dominate. Every track flows easily along, without production getting in the way of the material. As I said earlier, this is simply great music - well-written, performed with heart and talent, and a complete joy to experience. Pass it up at your peril. I don't think I'm allowed to insert a link to their website here, but if you do a search for them, you'll find it - there are samples available there, and you'll hear what I mean. If you like what you hear - and if you enjoy great music, I feel sure you will - check out Mark's earlier solo album BAYOU TÊCHE, filled with more finely-crafted original songs (one co-written by another great Austin-based songwriter, Slaid Cleaves), and his solo acoustic guitar offering WIRE & WOOD, showcasing his instrumental talents. They're both excellent.


My Love Will Keep
My Love Will Keep
Price: $13.99
35 used & new from $9.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a weak track on it...!, May 24, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: My Love Will Keep (Audio CD)
I've been listening to Jonathan Edwards since his first, self-titled album was issued back in the early 1970s. His music has been of consistent quality, a careful mix of his own finely-crafted originals and hand-picked songs by other writers, always delivered with heart, energy and honesty. This album, just released in 2011, is no exception. There's absolutely not a single weak track among the dozen selections.

Five of the songs were written by Jonathan -- his friend Henry Gross had a hand in a couple of others, there's one by the great Jesse Winchester (FREEWHEELER, from Jesse's GENTLEMAN OF LEISURE album), the beautiful THIS ISLAND EARTH, by Paul Cooper, which Jonathan sings as if it comes from the depths of his own soul. As a matter of fact, I think that's one of his strengths -- every song he performs sounds as if it's his own. SHE LOVES YOU, the John Lennon / Paul McCartney classic from the Beatles' early days, in a lovely, eloquent, unhurried arrangement by Jonathan's old friend and bandmate Eric Lilljequist from the band Orphan, takes on an entire new personality here -- the lyrical beauty of the song stands out as never before.

Jonathan revisits one of his own older tunes, HOW LONG (which appears on ROCKIN' CHAIR as well as BLUE RIDGE, his album with the bluegrass band The Seldom Scene), with a newly-penned verse that draws the song closer to his own reality...and on a personal note, to mine as well, touching me deeply. There's also a beautiful tribute to John Denver, JOHNNY BLUE HORIZON.

The feeling I get from Jonathan's music -- his own compositions as well as those he chooses that others have written -- is a unmistakable celebration of abundance -- abundance in life, in love, in humor, in humanity itself. It seems to honestly fill his heart, and it comes through in his music. When an artist feels that on such a profound level, it's bound to come across in his craft. Along with that, there is such a feeling of sheer joy, life and energy in his music -- and if you dont find yourself tapping your foot, or humming along, or even wiping an eye now and then, you should check your pulse. This album is as close to perfect as it could be -- it embodies all the greatest qualities of contemporary folk music. Jonathan is accompanied by some great musicians here, the production is first-rate (never overblown or heavy-handed). I can't recommend this recording highly enough.

In closing, I'd also like to advise you to check out the DVD of Jonathan Edwards: That's What Our Life Is -- it's extremely well-done, and includes interview footage as well as lots of performances, some current, some going back to the 70s.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20