The Adam Ezra Group is celebrating the release of Volume 2 of the Better than Bootleg series with a show at The Sinclair in Cambridge, MA on January 2. Like its predecessor, Better than Bootleg, Vol 2 is a live recording, but while all the songs on Volume 1 came from one single performance, the recordings on this collection are taken from different shows. (Cl
In an interview conducted on December 13, Adam Ezra explained that it is not a live album” in the usual sense, documenting a single concert from beginning to end. Rather the collection represents the band’s ongoing experiments at finding the best way to engineer recordings that “translate the energy from our live shows into a recording.” I quite like the approach taken to this collection. A live recording of a show on a single night is documentation of that specific night’s, but this approach feels more representative of the band’s live shows in general. It mixes things up. The tracks include performances of some of the bands best known songs such as “Burn Brightly” and “Steal Your Daughter,” one cover of James Taylor’s “Sweet Baby James,” as well as some of the newest songs in the band’s repertoire. (Click here to jump to a video of “Hippy Girl,” another song from the album.) Continue reading →
Plus a gallery from a great concert with unexpected audience participation! Narrative songwriting is a staple of American music, but it’s not easy to do well. The charts are full of derivative, clichéd, sentimental songs that do sell well enough, … Continue reading →
I’d only discovered his music a few weeks ago, when I read a short blurb about the live and unplugged remake of his 2011 album Record: Breakup. I didn’t know who he was, so I certainly wasn’t aware of the original, electric, studio version of Record:Breakup, but something about the blurb intrigued me. I remember jotting down the link on my phone, and finding it later that night, I was blown away. Continue reading →
Caravan of Thieves are a fun band to play at your Halloween party because of songs like Monster, Ghostwriter and Butcher’s Wife that treat appropriately macabre Halloween type themes, but that’s not the only reason. They’re also a band that celebrates the things that really make a holiday like Halloween fun, dressing up in costume, and letting it bring out your wild side. To be sure they do their fair share of songs about kind of creepy, macabre themes, but there’s a playfulness to it. Think more Dia de los Muertos or even Carnival, Mardi Gras or a Gypsy Fair, than crass commercialism, blood and gore! It’s a party for one and all! Continue reading →
Boston-based independent recording artist Will Dailey‘s advice to aspiring singer-songwriters is to seek out experiences that you can call on in your work, and “listen, not just to music, but to everything around you.” It seems to have worked for him. He grew up surrounded by music from across the spectrum from Classical to Folk and says it all left an imprint. He exercises the the songwriter’s prerogative to call on whatever styles of influences seem appropriate for the song. The result is songs that are rich and complex, gathered into albums that are varied and full of surprises, refusing to be constrained by the conventions of a narrow style of genre.
Will Dailey and Bleu duet during the last show on the PledgeMusic Tour
A hard working and prolific artist, Dailey has done well for himself since his first self-produced release in 2004, GoodbyeRedBullet, in spite of being repeatedly knocked around by the vicissitudes of a recording industry struggling to come to terms with the digital age. He’s released 4 albums to date, 5 if you count Torrent Volume 1 and 2 separately. Collectively they reveal a songwriter with mastery over a wide variety of styles, and an interest in exploring a wide musical pallet. And while each album has it’s own distinctive feel, each is also a a musical buffet of sorts, with varying musical styles juxtaposed and hidden gems to discover. Continue reading →
Cory Branan makes Mutt Music! That may sound like a lame insult I’ve just invented, but it’s actually the term he’s been using to describe his music for some time, and it’s what he alluded to in titling his most recent album Mutt. He proudly owns the hybrid, eclectic styles of music it contains, and well he should. He shifts and combines styles seamlessly. It’s brilliant. His musical style was one of the topics of conversation when I interviewed him before his set at the Middle East Downstairs on July 21st. Continue reading →
When I asked Tim Barry how he would classify the style of music he plays, he told me, “I just say it’s Rock & Roll with an acoustic guitar.” I’ll buy that. I know that his solo set during the show at the Middle East Downstairs on Sunday, July 21st reminded me of what rock and roll is really about as much or more than did any of the sets by artists with full bands and electric instruments. He had the nervous energy and desire to please that an aspiring artist might bring to an important audition, yet he was confident and a consummate performer. He established a rapport with the audience that made it seem like he leading a sing along with a bunch of friends at a pub. This was especially true when he took the microphone stand from the stage and put in on the floor in front so he could sing in the midst of the crowd. This was a guy who was working his ass off to put on a great show, but having a great time at it. He told stories and philosophized, but mostly he played his heart out, and the crowd ate it up.
As he recounted in the post Musicians Egos and…, he had been largely responsible for bringing the show together, and several acts expressed their appreciation to “nice guy” Tim, either from the stage of when I talked to them later. It was a Sunday night show that certainly didn’t feel like it was happening on a Sunday night! I’ll have more to say about the other acts in later posts, but for now let me tell you about Tim Barry, and incredibly exciting artist I had the good fortune to interview on June 17 by phone from his home in Richmond, four days before the show in Cambridge.
St. Paul de Vence are, from left to right: Mike Sievers, Kale Lotton, Jonny Gundersen, Lydia Ramsey, Benjamin Doerr & Alex Malloy.
If you’re a musician and someone asks you to write their story, there’s probably a good chance that it’s going to come out in song. That’s precisely what happened when Seattle-based musician Benjamin Doerr set out to write the stories he collected from his grandfather who had come of age in France under the German occupation of World War II, then joined the Free French to fight for the liberation of his country. Though the stories may still find themselves into print in some form someday, Doerr found they initially came out as songs. Eventually those songs evolved into a band and a self-titled 11-song album, St. Paul de Vence, named after a town in Southwest France where Ben’s grandfather was stationed for a time.
Now if you’re yawning and thinking who cares about something that happened decades ago and ocean away, well… I’ll skip the cliche about those who don’t study history, even though it’s true, because the album isn’t a history lesson at all. It’s a collection of 11 catchy tunes with compelling lyrics that will appeal even if you can barely place France on a map, or didn’t know it was ever at war with Germany. It’s just even more fascinating with context. On July 16, I talked to Ben about the project from his home in Seattle about the project, the band, the album, what he’s working on now, and what’s next for St. Paul de Vence.