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Goin' In Hot
Goin' In Hot
Price: $11.58
29 used & new from $7.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Fine Nashville twang born of a broken heart, May 13, 2014
This review is from: Goin' In Hot (Audio CD)
Davis' fourth album, his second in partnership with producer Kenny Vaughan, expands upon the Nashville twang of 2012's Man About Town. The influences are similar - Dwight Yoakam, Big Sandy and Raul Malo - but there's also a helping of the Derailers' Bakersfield hybrid and NRBQ's irreverence. Guitarist Bill Corvino and steel player Gary Morse add plenty of twang to Davis' songs of marginal finances, slender experience, waning sobriety and wounded hearts. Especially wounded hearts, as Davis wrote the album in the aftermath of an emotional breakup that brought forth tears, regrets and painful reminders. He croons with Nikki Lane on "Hurtin' for Real" and struggles with the painful aftermath of "Love Hangover" and unfulfillable desires of "Wanna Go Back." The band, which also includes bassist Michael Massimino and drummer Joey Mekler, moves easily between mid-tempo blues, country two-steps and second line shuffles, and really tears it up for the roadhouse rock of "Midnight Train" and "Ragman's Roll." Their flexibility recalls Commander Cody's Lost Planet Airmen, and is a perfect match for Davis' broadened songwriting. [©2014 Hyperbolium]

Tea & Confidences
Tea & Confidences
Price: $31.15
12 used & new from $12.26

4.0 out of 5 stars Striking collaboration between Irish and Canadian singer-songwriters, May 4, 2014
This review is from: Tea & Confidences (Audio CD)
Singer-songwriters Stephen Fearing and Andy White have released numerous albums under their own names and in groups (notably Blackie and the Rodeo, and ALT), but this turns out to be only their second as a pair. Now living on opposite sides of the globe (Fearing in Halifax, White in Melbourne), the album was written in a two intense face-to-face sessions and recorded six months later with Gary Craig on drums. The material ranges from strummed folk songs to mid-tempo pop and to surprisingly heavy guitar rock, with moments that recall the Warren Zevon, Eric Clapton and Rockpile.

The duo's songs are rife with accumulated wisdom and the craft that comes from practice. Their experience as performers is evident in the multiple ways their music supports their words. The strummed guitars and confident vocal of "Secret of a Long-Lasting Love" remain buoyant as the lyric's loneliness and desire lead to reunion and consummation. A sense of optimism sees failed relationships as pauses rather than endings, and lost souls find paths back home. The funky shuffle "We Came Together" opens with riffs that suggest both T. Rex and the Everly Brothers, and the growling electric rhythm riff provides bedrock for "Sanctuary."

The album's ballads suggest the bittersweetness of Nick Lowe's solo material. "Another Time Another Place" (which seems to give an unconscious nod to Bob Seger's "We've Got Tonight" with its opening vocal hook) meditates on missed opportunities, "Think of Me Like Summer" and "Save Yourself" are pained in their separations but generous with their wishes, and the heartache of leaving in mirrored by the possibility of a new start in the "Emigrant Song." Fearing and White are each sophisticated troubadours in their own write, but there's extra magic in their collaboration. [©2014 Hyperbolium]

Get Attuned To Our Tyme
Get Attuned To Our Tyme
Price: $8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Terrific throw-back garage fuzz psych, May 4, 2014
Though they've been kicking around in one lineup or another for eight years, this Bonn-based quintet has only now recorded and released their debut LP. That's given them plenty of time to hone their fuzz guitar, whining organ and solid garage rock beats. The band cites vintage touchstones in the Music Machine, Brogues and We the People, as well as the sounds of 80s revivalists like the Fuzztones and Gravedigger V. The strong organ presence also brings to mind Country Joe & The Fish, the Doors, Lyres, Rain Parade and Chesterfield Kings. The band's eleven originals mix easily with two finely crafted covers (the Daybreakers' "Psychedelic Siren" and Sonny Flaherty and Mark V's manic "Hey Conductor"), as the band plays Eastern-tinged psychedelia, buzzing garage punk and organ and drum-driven rave-ups. The vocals are swaggering, snotty and with the Mellotron effect of "City of Light," trippy. The album is well stocked with catchy melodies, sharp hooks, fuzz-powered riffs and inventive production touches that will really please garage and psych aficionados. [©2014 Hyperbolium]

The Soul of Ragtime
The Soul of Ragtime
Price: $11.49

4.0 out of 5 stars The soul of Ragtime found in rags, marches, opera and more, May 4, 2014
This review is from: The Soul of Ragtime (MP3 Music)
Though Ragtime's syncopation and polyrhythmic marches often conjure turn-of-the-twentieth-century nostalgia, it's shown itself to be a terrifically hearty music. Jazz musicians revived the Ragtime canon in the 1940s, and many of the British Invasion's brightest lights started out in Trad Jazz bands that played Ragtime selections. Even more strikingly, the 1970s saw Scott Joplin's profile elevated by records, awards, and in 1974 (nearly sixty years after his passing) a Top 5 chart hit for "The Entertainer." The latter achievement also pigeonholed Ragtime in the public consciousness as old-timey music, and obscured the breadth of its offerings in two-steps and fox trots in both instrumental and vocal forms.

Terry Waldo began his exploration of Dixieland and Ragtime in the 1960s and his radio serial This is Ragtime, and a book of the same title, were centerpieces of the 1970s revival. He's continued to champion the music's history and promote its on-going vitality with new compositions and recordings, live performances (both solo and with his Gotham City Jazz Band), and as a teacher. His latest album combines newly composed tunes with classics of the repertoire and songs brought to Ragtime by Waldo's deft ears and fingers. Waldo draws material from gospel, Broadway, early jazz, marches, and perhaps most surprising, nineteenth-century opera. The latter, from Wagner's Tannhäuser, is a somber piece whose relationship to Ragtime is revealed in its lighter final minute.

Waldo shines on the album's wide range of rags, including the original "Turkish Rondo Rag" and "Ragtime Ralph," but the album's biggest surprises are in tunes not famously known as piano rags. John Phillip Sousa's "Stars & Stripes Forever" wears Waldo's syncopation with a glee that befits the song's joyous patriotism, and the jaunty flourishes added to "Just a Closer Walk With Thee" enliven a song typically played as a funeral dirge. Waldo reads "I'm Just Wild About Harry" in the romantic vein of its composer, Eubie Blake, rather than the upbeat band arrangements of the '20s and '30s, and his rendition of "The Pearls" retains the character of Jelly Roll Morton's solo arrangement. If you think Ragtime is nothing more than a nostalgic, almost corny soundtrack for The Sting, Waldo's deep scholarship and vital artistry will set you straight. [©2014 Hyperbolium]

Beauty In Disrepair
Beauty In Disrepair
Price: $10.00
37 used & new from $4.76

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A superbly wrought album of modern power pop, April 16, 2014
This review is from: Beauty In Disrepair (Audio CD)
Seven years after his album debut as a solo act, and more than a decade after relocating to Nashville, singer-songwriter Emerson Hart is back with his second album. Hart first came to notice through his band Tonic, but was heard even more broadly with the crafting of "Generation" for the Dick Clark-produced television show, American Dreams. His latest, produced by David Hodges, has a bigger sound than 2007's Cigarettes & Gasoline, and the arrangements are more dynamic and dramatic than the singer-songwriter vibe of his earlier work. Hart's voice fits well into these beefier backings, carving a human-sized emotional channel through Hodges' powerfully constructed productions.

Like more recent Nashville transplants, Hart connects to the power balladry of modern country, rather than the city's twangy musical heritage. There are worn down moments, such as the troubling reminders of "To Be Young," and introspective "Mostly Gray," but the album first grabs listeners with the soaring chorus of "The Best That I Can Give." Beyond the latter's instantly hummable melody, Hart communicates the song's conflicted emotion with the tone of his voice and the top-range notes for which he reaches with every last ounce of strength. The apologetic lyric turns out to be icing on a perfectly bittersweet cake, and offers a preview of the album's themes of uncertainty and unexpected repercussions. The exasperated questions of "Who Am I," though not as venomously bitter, will remind listeners of Matthew Sweet's Girlfriend, and "Hurricane" finds a similar middle ground between intellectual dissection and emotional flight.

From the number of songs of separation, one might assume this album is the product of a fresh break-up. But as a relative newlywed, it's more likely that Hart is a romantic who's collected a lifetime of emotional scars into the realization that life isn't just full of ups and downs, it is ups and downs. The disappointments of "Don't Forget Yourself" and sad inevitability of "Hallway" are the tail-end of experiences worth the suffering and lives that aren't fatalistic. Hart's mood turns celebratory for the twang-tinged love song "You Know Who I Am," and the album closes with "The Lines," an uplifting song about the growth that springs from inexperience. It's a fittingly hopeful and inspirational ending to an album that dwells, inventories, analyzes and finally draws direction from the highs and the lows that give each other dimension. [©2014 Hyperbolium]
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Cold of the Morning
Cold of the Morning
Price: $15.70
19 used & new from $11.46

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Undeservedly obscure mid-70s Memphis folk and blues, April 6, 2014
This review is from: Cold of the Morning (Audio CD)
It's safe to say that Big Star wasn't the only 1970s Memphis act that didn't find the contemporary recognition they deserved. They weren't even the only 1970s Memphis act produced by Jim Dickenson to sail in that uncharted boat. Singer-songwriter Sid Selvidge, having been reared in Greenville, MS, followed the migratory trail to Memphis in the early 60s and continued to steep in the music of his native South. He fell under the tutelage of Furry Lewis, made friends with Dickenson and Don Nix, waxed an album for a Stax subsidiary and after a multi-year stint in academia, returned full-time to music to make art rather than commerce.

After an early 70s album for Elektra was shelved, Selvidge teamed with Dickenson to record this 1976 release for the local Peabody label. Unluckily for Selvidge, the label chose that very moment to go out of business (echoing Big Star's trouble with Stax a few years earlier), returning the master and an initial press run that had no distributor. Luckily for Selvidge, the album was strong enough to gain notice with only haphazard distribution of a small number of copies. But with big city eyes upon him, Selvidge discovered that New York showcases and major label interest wasn't what he was looking for. Instead of pursuing these leads, he returned to Memphis, revived the Peabody label as a going concern, toured and released sporadic albums of his own.

Though The Cold of the Morning garnered some critical notice at the time of its release, it fell out of print more than twenty years ago and drifted into the memories of the few who discovered its original issue or lucked into a word-of-mouth recommendation. The same could be said of Selvidge's sporadically released later albums: treasured by a small number of in-the-know fans, but physically elusive to the larger audience of blues and guitar listeners who would have enjoyed them. The track lineup include three fine originals ("Frank's Tune," "The Outlaw" and "Wished I Had a Dime"), but it's the album's cover songs that fully reveal Selvidge's breadth and interpretive depth. The set opens with superbly selected and rendered take on Fred Neil's "I've Got a Secret (Didn't We Shake Sugaree)," sung a shade more upbeat to Selvidge's solo finger-picked backing.

The album's other mid-60s gem is Patrick Sky's "Many a Mile," a song whose wistfulness is amplified by the purity of Selvidge's voice and guitar playing. Reaching further back, George M. Cohan's "Then I'd Be Satisfied with Life" retains a turn-of-the-century tone in Selvidge's vocal slides and ragtime guitar. The jazz age "I Get the Blues When it Rains" is augmented by the piano and washboard of Mud Boy Slim and the Neutrons, and "Miss the Mississippi and You" is sung with an introspective lilt that's less sentimental than Jimmie Rodgers original. Omnivore's 2014 reissue adds six bonus tracks, each of which matches the quality of the original dozen. The traditional "Wild About My Lovin'" and Charley Jordan's mid-30s blues "Keep it Clean" are especially fine, but truth be told, Selvidge picked great songs and made great recordings of each one.

Selvidge balances the nostalgia of older material with a timeless folk presentation of guitar and voice. Mud Boy and the Neutrons lend support for two tracks ("Wished I Had a Dime" and "I Get the Blues When it Rains"), but Selvidge's picking and singing (including a cappella and yodeling) are so musically complete that the production really benefit from the clarity of his presentation. The productions are spare, but the complex interplay of voice, guitar, melody and lyrics is filled with subtlety and depth. Omnivore's reissue includes a twenty-page book filled with photos and extensive liner notes by Bob Mehr. If you managed to miss out on this album over the past thirty-eight years, this is a perfect chance to get acquainted. [©2014 Hyperbolium]

It Doesn't Suck: Showgirls (Pop Classics)
It Doesn't Suck: Showgirls (Pop Classics)
by Adam Nayman
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.68
50 used & new from $6.64

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly entertaining defense of the indefensible, April 6, 2014
Readers might be inclined to think this book is a put-on, but Adam Nayman's apparent sincerity, obvious writing talent and impressive analytical dexterity is convincing. Convincing that he means it, if not necessarily right. Nayman is a 20-something film critic, and his well-researched treatise on Paul Verhoeven's legendary 1995 box office bomb is a thoroughly entertaining read, if not necessarily a completely convincing defense. Nayman is among a group of critics that have turned the table on the film's initial reception, suggesting that Showgirls isn't just not bad, it's a modern classic that was sorely misunderstood by both reviewers and viewers.

The key to appreciating Showgirls is, paraphrasing author Anne Rice, to interrogate the text from the right perspective. Nayman's approach isn't tongue-in-cheek irony, simple-minded contrarianism, or the mental slight of hand of Jason Hartley's Advanced Genius Theory; his appreciation is unabashed fandom. Nayman argues that the careers of director Verhoeven and writer Joe Eszterhas anticipate their work in Showgirls, and that analysis of the film itself reveals that the filmmakers knew exactly what they were doing. Verhoeven is posed as a satirist and provocateur, the film's lack of subtlety as an artistic choice, and the laughter it generates for over-serious scenes as an opportunity rather than an accident.

If one accepts the film's most ridiculous moments as intentional, rather than unconscious mistakes, a number of critical analyses begin to flow. First and foremost for Nayman are the film's mirror-like, self-reflexive qualities. Starting with the film's star, Elizabeth Berkley, Nayman suggests that Showgirls provided an opportunity for her reinvention as a grown-up actress that parallels the film's main character, Nomi Malone. But as Nayman continues to ascribe intention to what might easily be a lack of care or perspective, one starts to wonder if Occam's razor is a more straightforward explanation of the parallels. Berkley and Malone both aimed for grown-up, but ended up in entertainment that was merely adult.

It's possible that Nayman is seeing depth where there are really only artistic shallows, and he's seeing causation where there is really only coincidence. Nomi's relationship with her roommate might be subtle and complex, but it might simply be poorly thought out and rendered. The homophones for Nomi - "Know Me?" and "No Me" - could be clever entendre, or they could be nothing more than on-the-nose, inch-deep word-play. He argues that the film is too self-conscious to be camp, but it's difficult to overcome the feeling that no matter how many of the film's worst moments you explain away, the film still manages to be worse.

Nayman brings welcome context for casual viewers, including the existence of the little-known companion book Showgirls: Portrait of a Film and Rena Riffel's low-budget spoof sequel, Showgirls 2: Penny's From Heaven. Though he occasionally employs the sort of hyperbole for which the film was originally ridiculed, the bulk of his analysis is well-reasoned, deftly written and hugely entertaining. Nayman may be an analytical genius, or simply a talented writer tackling a lost cause; but either way, his book is a fun and surprisingly thought-provoking read. [©2014 Hyperbolium]

Kudos To You!
Kudos To You!
Price: $13.98
37 used & new from $7.07

4.0 out of 5 stars Another round of rock and rye, March 23, 2014
This review is from: Kudos To You! (Audio CD)
This Seattle pop-punk band had a brief blaze of fame with a pair of albums in the late '90s and promptly consigned themselves to a cycle of retirement and reunion. They call their commitment "full-time part-time," reconvening every four or five years to put together an album of rocking irreverence that finds their creative batteries recharged and their band chemistry fully intact. The band's material brings to mind Jonathan Richman, Ben Vaughn and They Might Be Giants, but they're less child-like than Richman and less pathos-filled than Vaughn, which leaves them in a pure-pop place to write about such shared interests as insects ("Slow Slow Fly" and the wonderfully overblown "Flea vs. Mite"), cars ("Crown Victoria") and the work-a-day world ("She's a Nurse"). Kids will love "Crappy Ghost," but may cry when they find out it's not the theme song to a beloved 1970s Saturday morning cartoon they can stream on Netflix. Several of the songs rework earlier material from the Presidents, their predecessor Egg and Chris Ballew's post-PUSA Giraffes, but all are given a completely new kick in the ass. Fans will also want to track down the live album Thanks for the Feedback, released simultaneously as part of this album's Pledge Music campaign. [©2014 Hyperbolium]

All Her Fault
All Her Fault
Price: $13.82
35 used & new from $5.97

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another winning set of idiosyncratic blues, folk and country, March 23, 2014
This review is from: All Her Fault (Audio CD)
The latest collaboration between Holly Golightly and Lawyer Dave doesn't really break any new ground, but when you're in a solid groove, new ground isn't necessarily the place to plow. Golightly herself says "I'm not looking to achieve something that hasn't been achieved before. We just do what we do. The songs are really all that changes." But changing the songs turns out to be enough, as the idiosyncratic combination of folk musics they've developed over the past seven years still has new things to say. As before, the tracks are assembled in the studio instrument-by-instrument and voice-by-voice, but the productions aren't overworked, and their unfinished edges retain the vitality of performance.

The duo's interests in country, blues and R&B continue to dominate, with vocals that range from sing-out hootenannies to cooler moods that recall solo albums like Laugh it Up. Golightly sings girlish country on "No Business" and adds 50s-styled harmonies behind the resigned lead of "The Best." The former includes terrific electric guitar, and the latter has a drifting piano that signals the album's newest instrumental member. Piano is heard tinkling behind the blue waltz "Pistol Pete," and rolling riffs along the edges of "Bless Your Heart" and "Pefect Mess." Lawyer Dave picks and strums throughout the album, with plenty of slide to give things twang.

The duo's penchant for clanking percussion remains a major element of their music, and the blue-folk "Can't Pretend" once again brings to mind their modern-day take on Richard & Mimi Farina. Tracks that really highlight the pair's musical ethos include the rough-and-ready stomp heard on "1234" and "Don't Shed Your Light," and the slow-moving organ-stabbed blues of "King Lee." The album's lone cover is Richard Jones' "Trouble in Mind," taken upbeat from its earliest incarnations and goosed by a yowling vocal. This is an imaginative album of songs whose roots are yet again twisted and turned into something original. [©2014 Hyperbolium]

Dark Night of the Soul
Dark Night of the Soul
Price: $12.21
51 used & new from $4.84

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars +1/2 - Outstanding album of rootsy, blue rock 'n' soul, March 7, 2014
This review is from: Dark Night of the Soul (Audio CD)
Squirrel Nut Zippers founder Jimbo Mathus actually never strayed far from the blues of his native Mississippi. Just as the Zippers were taking off in the late '90s, he recorded an album of Delta blues, ragtime and jug band music in honor of Charley Patton, and in financial support of Patton's daughter (and one-time Mathus nanny), Rosetta. Following the Zippers' initial disbanding in 2000, he toured and recorded with Buddy Guy, set up his own studio, and began a string of albums that explored the many Southern flavors with which he grew up. In 2011 he waxed Confederate Buddha, his first album with the Tri-State Coalition, and explored various shades of country, soul, blues and rock 'n' roll.

The band's third album knits together many of the same musical threads, but in a finer mesh than the debut, and with an edge that leans more heavily on rock, blues and soul. You can pick out moments that suggest the Stones (and by derivation, the Black Crowes), but a closer parallel might be an older, grizzled version of Graham Parker, as Mathus sings his deeply felt, soulful declarations and confessions. There's a confidence in these performances that suggest songs workshopped for months on the road, but in reality they were developed over a year of casual studio time, and nailed by Mathus in demo sessions and by the band live in the studio. Mathus connects with these songs as if they're extemporaneous expression, and like the best slow-cooked ribs, the exterior may be lightly charred, but the heart remains tender.

Listeners will enjoy the swampy southern rock and hint of Hendrix in "White Angel," Memphis soul (and a lyrical tip to Lou Reed) in "Rock & Roll Trash," and the Neil Young-styled fire of "Burn the Ships." Matt Pierce's and Eric "Roscoe" Ambel's guitars are featured throughout, with scorching electric leads answering Mathus' vocals. The album turns to country for the moonshiner story "Hawkeye Jordan" and Casey Jones (the railroad engineer, not the Grateful Dead song) is given an original spin in "Casey Caught the Cannonball." Mathus covers a lot of ground between the love song "Shine Like a Diamond" and the addict's lament, "Medicine," but it's the album's unrelenting rock 'n' soul intensity that will both will keep your undivided attention. 4-1/2 stars, if allowed fractional ratings. [©2014 Hyperbolium]

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