Thursday, February 25, 2010

Blunt Mechanic

Ben Barnett is a musician who has, all his life, documented experiences through song. After releasing eight albums, six singles and five splits as Kind of Like Spitting over the course of a decade, retiring the moniker and reinventing himself as Music Director of Seattle's Paul Green School of Rock, Barnett has now emerged triumphant with a new band, Blunt Mechanic, and said band's debut full-length, World Record. Both band and album tip heavy on the riffaged hooks and light on the darkness; big on the thumbs up--no time for the thumbs down.

It is far from hyperbolic to enthusiastically assert that this album—Blunt Mechanic's first—is Barnett's finest work to date. Considering the critically-acclaimed and cultishly-followed body of work he has amassed over the past 15 years, it's understandable that one could lazily dismiss that claim before having heard the onslaught of unstoppable, charming hooks, impeccably constructed songs, heart-wrenching, moving, uplifting storytelling, brilliant turns of phrase and vocal/instrumental interplay that defines World Record. Barnett has here created the culmination of his musical and personal explorations in a way that is powerful, relatable, inspirational, ineffable and communicable, and there's just no stopping that kind of force. Highly Recommended!

Blunt Mechanic - Our First Brains

Blunt Mechanic - Less Beat
Blunt Mechanic @ MySpace


SONG OF THE DAY: Nada Surf - Electrocution (Bill Fox cover)
(from If I Had A Hi-Fi, out June 8th on Mardev Records)


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Friday, February 12, 2010

Allison Moorer

Nearly 12 years ago, Allison Moorer made an unforgettable introduction with her contribution of the thoughtful ballad, “A Soft Place to Fall,” to the soundtrack to the Robert Redford-directed drama, The Horse Whisperer, which later earned her an Academy Award nomination. From there, Moorer went on to carefully craft a long-lasting career with her impressive debut LP, Alabama Song, while challenging herself to always look inward for an even deeper meaning -- which she certainly explored on Miss Fortune (2002) and The Duel (2004).

In 2007, Moorer received a Grammy nomination for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals for “Days Aren’t Long Enough,” a song co-written with her husband, singer-songwriter Steve Earle. Venturing into a creative world beyond music was merely natural, too; that fall, Moorer went on to appear in the stage production of Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove’s “Rebel Voices,” a theatrical adaptation based on their best-selling book, Voices of a People’s History of the United States. And in late 2009, Moorer appears in The History Channel’s The People Speak, a film inspired by Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, which also features Bob Dylan, Morgan Freeman, Bruce Springsteen, Danny Glover, Matt Damon, John Legend, Josh
Brolin and more.

Allison Moorer’s highly anticipated release Crows is out Feb 9th, on Ryko. Crows, produced by R.S. Field (Buddy Guy, John Mayall) at the House of David Studio in Nashville, TN, is a marked departure from her previous work and her first original material since 2006’s Getting Somewhere. Crows is wholeheartedly real -- its spirit is tangible and each lyric could belong to anyone. Moorer’s look inward is pure and without hesitation, all while she’s exploring what could exist outside of one’s soul. Recommended!

Allison Moorer - The Broken Girl (acoustic)
Allison Moorer @ MySpace


SONG OF THE DAY: The Radio Dept - Heaven's On Fire
(from Clinging To A Scheme, out April 21st on Labrador)


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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Cuckoo Chaos

Planting was never an option for Scott Wheeler. He's been nomadic for the past decade, hopping from town to town, experiencing different scenes that piqued his interest. But, sometimes a community just pulls you in, inspires you, and makes you want to call it home. Such was the case for Wheeler when he returned to San Diego in 2007 after stints in various places around the U.S. He immersed himself in a community of artists that embraced his artistic nature, his fluid lifestyle, and his desire to better himself as a musician. And, out of this community formed Cuckoo Chaos, a band that captures the sound of California coastlines, Liverpool alleyways, and Brooklyn bedroom echoes.

Wheeler's Cuckoo Chaos is rounded out by members of San Diego perennials The Powerchords and The Vision of a Dying World. It's clear that their fathers gave them The Byrds and The Beatles talk, but the sound of contemporaries Devendra Banhart and Luke Temple can be heard throughout each acoustic gem and jam. Acoustic guitar melodies float in the wind like the white sands of secret beaches. Wheeler's piano lines skip like smooth rocks across the surfaces of calm waters. Cuckoo Chaos' harmonies can cause the sun to rise and ignite dawn, while Wheeler's solo voice can gently put the sun to rest. The debut album from Cuckoo Chaos is the result of many late nights spinning old records and talks about journeys with no destination in mind. It is as much a collection of nostalgic beauty as it is a foray into the simple textures of eclectic songwriting.

San Diego’s Cuckoo Chaos’ debut EP We Are From Deerplants is now available digitally everywhere and physically through Lefse Records. They are currently prepping their debut full length to be released later this year. Don't be thrown off by this acoustic fuzz release, the upbeat full length is most definitely a full band at work. Recommended!

Cuckoo Chaos - Slowly Counting Down To Nothing
Cuckoo Chaos @ MySpace


SONG OF THE DAY: Frog Eyes - Flower In A Glove
(from Paul's Tomb: A Triumph, out April 27th on Dead Oceans)


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