Wow, what a phenomenal week!
First came Sunday night's exciting Grammy Awards show--a rock 'em, sock 'em, no-holds-barred ceremony honoring this year's absolutely greatest musicians! I was enthralled!
Would Adele be able to sing? What would Lady Gaga be wearing? Would Kanye West really rush onstage, grab a microphone, call people on his cellphone and ask if their refrigerator was running? And wasn't it about time for Jay-Z and Beyoncé to have another baby or something? Heck, it could be a great night!
But...when all was said and done, it was a major downer!
Why? No Spin Doctors reunion!
Still, later that night, when Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and I went out for donuts and coffee, the car in front of us lost a hubcab! And you should have heard Gaga howl!
And at Krispy Kreme, Nicki Minaj let us take cuts!
Like I said: what a week!
Amos Lee: As The Crow Flies (Blue Note) It's always difficult to ascertain what album deserves the treasured lead-off spot here, but I'm suspecting that Mr. Lee--whose previous album Mission Bell actually topped the charts--wholly deserves the spotlight! This six-song EP, recorded during the very same Mission Bell sessions, was likewise produced by Calexico's Joey Burns, and is as utterly fab as you'd expect! Still, why dwell on that if you've just learned that "Amos Lee"'s real name is Ryan Anthony Massaro, according to Wikipedia! Dude, I'm proud of my Italian name, and if I ever changed it, it sure as heck wouldn't be a tribute to The Real McCoys! By the way, did Sheryl Crow clear that title?
Mitch Ryder: The Promise (Michigan Broadcasting Corporation) As a former Michigander--isn't that a funny name?--I would be remiss were I not to make note of this new release by legendary rock 'n' roll figure Mitch Ryder, who has been making records of some repute since the '60s, first with his band the Detroit Wheels, then with his equally hip band Detroit, and then later on, intermittently, as a quirky solo artist via records largely released internationally--that is, not here--many of which were fascinating, interesting, and, like I said, quirky. The dude does not like to repeat himself! So is this record any good? Sure! Why not! I like it a lot! I'd also like to make note that the man supposedly now lives in South Lyon, Michigan, I town I often drove through in the early '80s while listening to the Lotus Eaters and Prefab Sprout! Maybe he saw me and wrote a few songs about it here! Check it out!
Phenomenal Handclap Band: Form & Control (Tummy Touch) I quite like the Phenomenal Handclap Band, and in fact enjoyed watching them perform in our studio a few years back! Still, I'd have a hard time describing exactly what they sound like! According to trusted retailer Amazon, they have a "musical palette that now includes prog-pop, new wave and modern leftfield dance," but informed sources report they left it in the trunk of their car along with a couple of canvases, some paint and big box of brushes! Dopes! Judging from the name of their album and label, let's just assume that their music sounds like the sort of thing you'd produce if you spent a lot of time looking at catalogs your mom used to get in the mail that had names like Maidenform and Playtex all over them! Yeah, let's assume exactly that! I have played this album repeatedly and find it quite clever! You probably will too! Sure, that's right!
Barry White: Let The Music Play: Expanded Edition (Hip-O Select) Somehow 2012 seems like exactly the right time to fully appreciate the masterful contributions made by late music maestro Barry White--whose deliciously excessive recordings at times might have seemed like over-the-top parodies to the cynical, especially back in 1975, when this set was originally released, but now sound lush and absolutely fascinating. Bolstered by five additional versions of the title track, it's a welcome reissue I'd highly recommend. Let's see his entire catalog get this kind of treatment!
Band Of Skulls: Sweet Sour (Vagrant) I like the Band Of Skulls, because I tend to favor exceptional rock 'n' roll trios--if they're good at what they do, there's very rarely a note of excess to be heard, and the intensity of which they're capable is remarkable. This new set, the band's second, is a step up from their debut; the songs seem more fully formed, and there's a bit more adventurousness in their arrangements. Not to sound too dorkish, but I accidentally walked into a set they were playing in Hamburg, Germany a few years back and was incredibly impressed by them before actually realizing who they were! Downside: In Hamburg, I drank a lot!
Otis Taylor: Otis Taylor's Contraband (Telarc) A disarming album, mostly for its raw, contemporary feel thoroughly soaked in the blues, a music form that however revered is not exactly burgeoning in terms of actual innovation as opposed to tasteful and precise refinement. Taylor, who plays guitar and banjo and is said to play "trance blues"--cool!--sings about topics relatively non-traditional and is joined here by a marvelously eclectic band incorporating cornet, pedal steel guitar, fiddle, djembe and much more. Adventurous stuff and highly recommended.
Hillsong UNITED: Live In Miami (Hillsong) If you're like me--a dude who goes about his business drinking Diet Coke, watching TV and reading the newspaper (sort of like the Internet but tangible!), feeling fully plugged into our wonderful culture, you're probably wondering who the heck Hillsong are and why should you care? For that matter, if you're like me and actually from Miami, you know that place is as flat as a terrazzo floor--the only hills there are created by giant ants that hate humans! Relevant? Not at all! Still, this album is expected to sell loads! Apparently a bestselling Australian "worship" group who play religious music that has captivated many folks around the globe, they've released their first live album here in four years, comprised of 2 CDs and a DVD, and, I presume, they'll now appreciate this plug and put in a good word for me about that whole blowing-up-the-convent-mailbox-with-a-cherry-bomb thing I was involved in when I was a kid! Suscipiat Dominus sacrificium de manibus quid pro quo, Aussie dudes!
Forgas Band Phenomena: Acte V (CD/DVD) (Cuneiform) Was duly impressed by this bountiful collection of composed/improvised material by the band led by French composer/drummer Patrick Forgas--a nice batch of tightly played tunes residing somewhere in the middle ground between prog and fusion, but never less than enjoyable to fans of either genre. His band consists of seven extremely skilled players--sax, trumpet, violin and more--and all are particularly enjoyable on the DVD, featuring a live performance at NEARFest 2010 that would have been great fun to witness in person. Top-notch, and available here.
Tonight Alive: What Are You So Scared Of? (Fearless) I'm happy to provide a plug here for Australian "pop punk" band Tonight Alive, who came to LA recently and recorded this US debut album with the help of producer Mark Trombino. It's quite good, the songs are catchy, they're visually appealing, their album cover is fully capable of being licked, and they'll be playing the entirety of this year's Warped Tour! A prescription for success? Heck, I've seen their name on marquees everywhere!
Goatwhore: Blood For The Master (Metal Blade) It may just be me, but sometimes, late at night, I like to pull out my pipe and slippers, turn the lights down low, and crank out a little Goatwhore! Hey, there's also a band with that name!