Archive for the ‘Free Download’ Category

Moot Davis: Man About Town

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Hard country twang from a well-traveled New Jerseyan

You can pretty much guess you’re in for a good time when an artist shares the album cover with his Telecaster. Don’t let the modern décor and long tie fool you – this twangy country music would be just as comfortable wearing a bolo as it spins around a honky-tonk floor. Davis is a New Jersey boy, but with time spent in Austin and this Kenny Vaughan-produced third album recorded in Nashville, he’s a lot more Hank than Bruce. Better yet, Vaughan and his Fabulous Superlative cohorts (Paul Martin and Harry Stinson) chip in expert backing alongside Chris Scruggs’ steel and Hank Singer’s fiddle, rocking  like the Domino Kings and other great roots bands that came out of Springfield, MO.

Vaughan’s productions balance the hard country twang of telecaster and steel with touches of twelve string and Spanish-flavored guitar. Davis’ voice melds a number of influences, including the disconsolation of Hank Sr., the trill of Big Sandy, and the dramatic balladeering of Dwight Yoakam, Chris Isaak and Raul Malo. The tic-tac guitar and train rhythm of “How Long” are pure Johnny Cash, but Davis sings in a higher register that takes the song in a different direction, and the driving drums and slide guitar of “Queensbury Rules” bring to mind the street-smart 1980s rock ‘n’ roll of the Del-Lords. Davis duets winningly with Elizabeth Cook (who sounds like Kelly Willis here) on “Crazy in Love with You” and brings a honky-tonk croon to “Only You.”

Davis writes of derailed careers, trouble on the road, love, disillusion and broken hearts. The latter takes original turns with the bullfighting imagery of  “Fade to Gold,” and the boxing allusions of “Queensbury Rules.” His two murder ballads, “Black & White Picture” and “Memory Lane,” are mysterious and dark. The former hinges on the fatalistic pairing of wedding bands and .44s in a pawnshop display; the latter explores the aftermath’s everlasting prison of memories. Vaughan backs Davis with everything from classic honky-tonk shuffles to spare slide guitar, making this a great showcase for a New Jerseyan who’s songs are more Cumberland than Hudson. [©2012 hyperbolium dot com]

MP3 | Day the World Shook My Hand
Moot Davis’ Home Page

The Explorers Club: The New Yorker Suite

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

The third in a trio of free ‘60s-styled AM pop suites

In 2008 this South Carolina band’s Freedom Wind so thoroughly evoked the Beach Boys golden age, that you’d wonder if their East Coast beach town of Charleston had somehow connected via a time and space portal to Los Angeles in 1965. More than just recreating the harmonies, instrumentation and arrangements, the band evoked Brian Wilson’s ethos in music, words and emotional tone. It remains a jaw-dropping achievement from start to finish. Four years later, in February of 2012, the band will return with their second album, expanding their exploration of 1960s sounds to the broad sweep of mid-decade AM radio hits, encompassing everything from the sophisticated writing of Burt Bacharach to the Latin-tinged schmaltz of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.

In anticipation of the forthcoming album, which will be mixed by Beach Boys associate Mark Linett, the band is releasing a trio of free EPs, each featuring a non-LP cover song and two pre-Linett mixes of album tracks. The California and Carolinian Suites, released in October and November, included covers of Burt Bacharach’s “Walk on By” and the Classic IV’s “Stormy,” alongside two pre-release album tracks each. This third and last suite includes a cover of Vanity Faire’s “Hitchin’ a Ride,” with a bit of gas added to the original’s chugging rhythm and the signature recorder hook moved to keyboard. The EP’s original tunes include the bubblegum soul “Anticipatin’” and the breezy, Bacharach-ian “Run, Run, Run.” You can stream the tracks below, or download the EP for free from Amazon!  [©2012 hyperbolium dot com]

Download The Carolinian Suite for Free!
Download The Californian Suite for Free!
Download The New Yorker Suite for Free!
The Explorers Club’s MySpace Page

Hitchin’ a Ride

Anticipatin’

Run, Run, Run

Willie Nile: The Innocent Ones

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Willie Nile continues his rock ‘n’ roll hot streak

Willie Nile is clearly possessed by the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll. Three albums into a renaissance that began with 2006’s Streets of New York, the sixty-three-year-old singer-songwriter continues to turn out arrestingly good music. At an age that most rockers have retired, resigned themselves to oldies shows or simply turned into lesser versions of their younger selves, Nile is enriching his work with age and experience. His voice remains charged with idealistic belief, and he propels his tight band forward as he unleashes anthems, pop songs and powerful ballads.

His latest album opens at full throttle with “Singin’ Bell,” the drums racing, the rhythm guitars building a wall of energy and Nile singing out like a twenty-first century Woody Guthrie. His populist mission is clear when he sings “I’m a soldier marchin’ in an army / Got no gun to shoot / But what I got is one guitar.” It’s a theme he develops through lyrics that gather the tribe and speak for unempowered. He lauds the decency of the commoner and shows pity for the insulated rich, he sings moaning Dylan-esque folk on “Sideways Beautiful,” tips his hat to Buddy Holly for “My Little Girl” and rouses the spirits of 1977 punk with “Can’t Stay Home.”

The album’s last song, a mid-tempo tune that suggests early Tom Petty, opens with the lyric “If memory were money, I would spend every penny thinking of her.” It’s a clever turn of phrase (as is the follow-up “If fire was her daughter, I would drink a pail of water just to kiss her”), but like most of Nile’s lyrics, it’s something more – it’s a memorable expression of a deeply felt emotion that’s turned into a shared with the listener. Shared experience is a hallmark of Nile’s songwriting, and the reason his fans remain so passionate thirty years after he debuted. This album was originally released in the UK in 2010, but is just now getting the stateside push it deserves. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

MP3 | One Guitar
Willie Nile’s Home Page

The Explorers Club: The Carolinian Suite

Monday, November 21st, 2011

South Carolina band with a yen for the mid-60s

In 2008 this South Carolina band’s Freedom Wind so thoroughly evoked the Beach Boys golden age, that you’d wonder if their East Coast beach town of Charleston had somehow connected via a time and space portal to Los Angeles in 1965. More than just recreating the harmonies, instrumentation and arrangements, the band evoked Brian Wilson’s ethos in music, words and emotional tone. It remains a jaw-dropping achievement from start to finish. Four years later, in February of 2012, the band will return with their second album, expanding their exploration of 1960s sounds to the broad sweep of mid-decade AM radio hits, encompassing everything from the sophisticated writing of Burt Bacharach to the Latin-tinged schmaltz of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.

In anticipation of the forthcoming album, which will be mixed by Beach Boys associate Mark Linett, the band is releasing a trio of free EPs, each featuring a non-LP cover song and two pre-Linett mixes of album tracks. The Californian Suite, released last month, opened with a superb cover of Burt Bacharach’s “Walk on By,” and this month’s entry, The Carolinian Suite, offers up the Club’s take on the Classics IV’s “Stormy.” The band relaxes the song’s tempo a notch, giving the arrangement a terrific, loungey air; Jason Brewer’s voice isn’t as husky as Dennis Yost’s, but his gentle blue-eyed soul, the harmony vocals and the jazzy guitar at song’s end are terrific. The EP’s original tunes include a ballad (“Sweet Delights”) that sounds like mid-60s Brian Wilson crooning from the Great American Songbook, and the Burt Bacharach-styled “It’s No Use,” featuring an emotional vocal coda that’s equal parts Little Anthony and Dionne Warwick.

You can stream “It’s No Use” below, and download the EP for free from Amazon. Up next month is The New Yorker Suite, with a cover of Vanity Fare’s “Hitchin’ a Ride” and two more originals! [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

Download The Carolinian Suite for Free!
Download The Californian Suite for Free!
The Explorers Club’s MySpace Page

Chip Taylor & The Grandkids: Golden Kids Rules

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Famed songwriter sings with his granddaughters

Chip Taylor’s most widely known for his iconic rock, pop and country compositions, including “I Can’t Let Go,” “Wild Thing,” “Angel of the Morning,” “Country Girl City Man” and “Sweet Dream Woman.” His parallel recording career, including solo albums and a few charting singles in the mid-70s, never gained the renown of his writing, and spent most of the 1980s as a successful professional gambler. He crept back on to the music scene with a few albums in the ‘90s, and in 2002 he kicked off a series of collaborations with Carrie Rodriguez, which in turn led to the past decade’s recording renaissance. His latest, recorded with three granddaughters (Riley, Kate and Samantha), is the product of his long-term practice of writing songs for family events. On the occasion of his son’s marriage, Taylor wrote a trio of songs to sing with his grandkids, and the family’s response prompted this full album.

Taylor’s grizzled voice blends happily with the chirpy pre-teen tones of his granddaughters, and the songs he’s written (with co-writing from Kate on “Magical Horse”) fit their young years. The girls sing sweetly, shining on the humorous stories and confident on the more serious lyrics. The former will catch your kids’ ears for sing-along on first pass, but it’s the weightier lyrics that introduce the deeper pleasures of songs. Taylor’s songs allow his grandkids to be kids, suggesting they “learn stuff about stuff you don’t know,” take time to wander into their imaginations, and ask questions. There are messages for adults as well, reminding parents that kids have ideas and dreams that need to be heard, and that they can be empowered to care for others and for the planet.

The three songs originally recorded for Taylor’s son’s wedding close the collection, including the terrific second-line inflected soul of “The Possum Hunter,” a father’s clever and warm advisory “Happy Wedding,” and the hopeful “Now That Kristian and Anna Have Wed.” The album is charming and, particularly given Taylor’s depth as a songwriter, the quality of his assembled band, and the freshness of his granddaughters’ singing, a welcome respite from the bulk of purpose-built children’s music. The collection’s release on Smithsonian Folkways puts it in remarkable company, alongside classic albums from Pete Seeger, Ella Jenkins, Alan Mills and many others. Take a break from Barney and the Wiggles, and let Chip Taylor and his granddaughters entertain you. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

MP3 | Golden Kids’ Rules
Smithsonian Folkways’ Home Page

The Crags: Big Divide

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Minimalist folk punk from Durango, Colorado

This trio from the Southwest Colorado town of Durango has a lo-fi sound that suggests new wave minimalists like Oh-Ok and Wednesday Week, as they might have sounded fronted by the rich voice of Pearl Harbour, Martha Davis or Lene Lovich. Vocalist Tracy Ford is backed by simple arrangements of guitar, bass and drums, and supplemented by short solos and simple harmonies. It’s surprisingly effective, as the basic rhythm patterns and uncluttered production keeps the focus on the expressiveness of Ford’s voice. These tracks have the finish of demos, but their lack of production polish is charming and honest, and the songs are catchy. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

MP3 | Big Divide
The Crags’ MySpace Page

Southern Culture on the Skids: Zombified

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Southern-fried rock ‘n’ roll Halloween

Just in time for Halloween, this thirteen-track set expands upon a rare, like-titled eight-song Australian EP from 1998. The band mixes originals and covers, including a killer instrumental take on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Sinister Purpose,” a psychotically-tinged version of Kris Jensen’s “Torture,” and a Las Vegas grind arrangement of Kip Tyler’s rockabilly classic, “She’s My Witch.”  Tales of demons, zombies, undertakers, witches and swamp monsters reanimate the exploitive nighttime feel of 1960s drive-ins, and musical nods to the Cramps, Lonnie Mack and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins make this disc a must-have for your next fright night party. The newly added tracks (#9-13) fill out the album with tales of the supernatural, nighttime shadows, and the Link Wray-styled instrumental, “The Creeper.” It’s a shame that American International isn’t in business, as SCOTS would surely be the studio’s house band. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

MP3 | Zombified
Southern Culture on the Skids’ Home Page

The Explorers Club: The Californian Suite

Monday, October 31st, 2011

South Carolina band with a yen for the mid-60s

In 2008 this South Carolina band’s Freedom Wind so thoroughly evoked the Beach Boys golden age, that you’d wonder if their East Coast beach town of Charleston had somehow connected via a time and space portal to Los Angeles in 1965. More than just recreating the harmonies, instrumentation and arrangements, the band evoked Brian Wilson’s ethos in music, words and emotional tone. It remains a jaw-dropping achievement from start to finish. Four years later, in February of 2012, the band will return with their second album, expanding their exploration of 1960s sounds to the broad sweep of mid-decade AM radio hits, encompassing everything from the sophisticated writing of Burt Bacharach to the Latin-tinged schmaltz of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.

In anticipation of the forthcoming album, which will be mixed by Beach Boys associate Mark Linett, the band is releasing a trio of free EPs, each featuring a non-LP cover song and two pre-Linett mixes of album tracks. This first EP opens with a superb cover of Burt Bacharach’s “Walk on By,” and finishes with two originals that evoke the genre-blending music of mid-60s radio. The marimba opening “Weight of the World” suggests Tijuana Brass, the rhythm is drawn from the Brill Building, the muted horns lean to Bacharach, and the ballad vocal has the heft of Jay and the Americans. The closing “Summer Days, Summer Nights” adds a dash of the Rascals and Grass Roots. The Carolinian and New Yorker suites (featuring “Stormy,” “Hitchin’ a Ride” and four more pre-LP mixes) are due in November and December. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

Download The Californian Suite for Free!
The Explorers Club’s MySpace Page

John Amadon: Seven Stars

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Exquisitely crafted singer-songwriter power pop

Portland singer-songwriter John Amadon is something of a studio rat, holing up to write and record original compositions until they shine with craft. It’s not the airless sound of modern recording, but the earthy, sharp-in-just-the-right-places acoustics you’d associate with Big Star’s first two records at Ardent. The guitars have a pluckiness that brings listeners into the studio – like the acoustic picking that opens Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.” The mood harkens back to the late ‘60s and early ‘70s era of power pop; you can hear strains of Badfinger’s melancholy, Alex Chilton’s falsetto (check out the first few notes of “All Patched Up”), CS&N’s harmonies, and the whole of Elliot Smith’s folk-pop.

Amadon has explained that several of the album’s songs are rooted in a one-sided obsession. Most directly he’s written “Let’s Walk Without Talking” about the object of his unfounded desire, and “Bitter Prayers” couches a not-wholly-convincing apology in a wistful melody and vocal whose protestations might be a stalker’s elocution to his prey. The songs are inner monologues itching to be spoken, uncertain self-appraisals whose outside awareness is askew. The album’s lone instrumental is appropriately entitled “Xanax,” as its mood perches between anxiety and medicated calm.

The album plays as an intense day-dream, filled with wanderings sparked by the barest of incidents. Amadon imagines a relationship with someone he’s never actually met, investing her with details that he seems to realize are false. Even without knowing the album’s premise, the affection in these songs is too claustrophobic to read as standard love song fare, and when Amadon sings “I won’t make light of the insight, you’re beyond knowing,” it’s more of an admission than an existential observation. This is a finely produced album whose sound would stop you in your tracks at a hi-fi shop; the lyrics will subsequently transfix you with their haunted imagination. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

MP3 | Let’s Walk Without Talking
MP3 | All Patched Up
Stream Seven Stars on Bandcamp

Radio Moscow: The Great Escape of Leslie Magnafuzz

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

‘70s-styled power-trio monster riffage

Parker Griggs and his band take it to the next level of power-trio psychedelic blues-rock with their third album. Griggs is possessed by the metal, blues-rock, boogie and prog-rock greats of the early ‘70s as he unleashes monster guitar riffage astride the slugfest of his rhythm section. One can only dream that Radio Moscow could be sent back in time to tread the stage of Winterland on a bill with Hendrix, Sabbath, Crimson, Ten Years After or Humble Pie. The album opens in full hypersonic stride, with the bass and drums threatening to run away from the ear-clearing wails of Parker’s fuzzed guitar, and the bombast doesn’t let up until disc’s end. There are a few production touches – stereo pans, phase effects and feedback – but the bulk of the album is straightforward, take-no-prisoners hard rock. Drop the needle on your Thorens turntable, turn up the volume on your Marantz receiver and let your Advent loudspeakers sing. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

MP3 | Little Eyes
Radio Moscow’s Home Page