Thank you Gudi for your reply. OK, I'll continue.
JUNIOR BROWN - VOLUME TEN
This is the comeback EP of the master of the double-necked electric/steel guitar hybrid called the guit-steel from Austin, TX.
He is up to his usual high quality standards as far as humorous lyrics and excellent playing are concerned but unfortunately, at only 5 songs, the EP format is a bit short after so many years of silence. It's a self-release so if you want more, like me, this disc may well be required to sell well until there will be more. All tracks are good, so I recommend them all.
RY COODER - ELECTION SPECIAL
Listening to this CD, I've got the distinct advantage of not being a US citizen, otherwise I'd probably gotten enough of the advertising of both parties long before the 2012 presidential election. The former Little Village guitarist delivers his 2nd album in 2 years time with this one and it's not noticeable how fast this one has come to him as a songwriter. These are all topical songs, told from point of views which are anti-Republican, pro-civil rights. Over here in Germany, some might say Cooder's inner "Wutbürger" has written this album. He has done a good job both lyrically and musically, playing all instruments aside of the drums which are the department of his son Joachim. As far as the melodies are concerned, I prefer this one over "Pull Up Some Dust And Sit Down" even. Cooder's recent 3 albums have all been very impressive. 10 years ago, I wouldn't have expected material this good from him. At 9 tracks, it's also a bit short, but the promo has got 1 song more. If you love "Pull Up Some Dust And Sit Down" and can find the promo of this album here, I can tell you it's totally worth getting over the regular 9 track CD.
BOBBY KING - THEY DON'T KNOW
This is the comeback of the former partner of Terry Evans in duo they had during the late 80s, both of them of course having been longtime band members of the aforementioned Little Village guitarist. Bobby King has been a Christian all his life and this is his self-released gospel CD which came out fairly recently. Unfortunately, nothing is said in the booklet about the musicians, apart from Ry Cooder doing a cameo on electric guitar on the title track, which is sadly, a bit lost in the mix. Bobby King's vocals are nothing short of stunning. Recommended tracks include the title track, "You Delivered Sanctified Me You Saved Me" in which he sounds a little like the guy from Gnarls Barkley, "Am I Right Am I Wrong", "Don't Take Your Love Away" and "I'm Available". On King's website, it says that, strangely enough, on song #9 on the album, he let his pastor take the lead vocal and King himself does the backup. You can call that devotion or whatever but it's an unexpected thing to do if this is meant as a comeback album.
HANS THEESSINK & TERRY EVANS - DELTA TIME
The 2nd duo album by the Austrian master guitarist Theessink and Terry Evans (of King & Evans fame). This time around, they get backup vocal help from Willie Greene, Jr., Ray Williams and Arnold McCuller. Ry Cooder, the aforementioned Little Village guitarist was invited to play a few cameos, too. He does a wonderful job on a cover of "How Come People Act Like That", written by Bobby Charles. 5 of the songs are new ones written by Theessink which are all recommended, and the rest of the songs are covers from the blues and soul genres. It's a mostly acoustic blues album with some electric guitar thrown in to spice things up. I feel this is the better of the 2 Theessink & Evans CDs. I guess you will like this if you enjoy both artists individually and together, and if you know Cooder, it's a nice introduction to Theessink, though for this purpose, you should really start with "Crazy Moon" and start your way into Theessink's oeuvre from there, like I did.
By the way, this comes in an all cardboard sleeve, so I recommend having a spare jewelcase ready to store the CD in there to prevent it from getting scratched.
DOGS OF BALI - PICASSO'S PARTY
Dogs Of Bali are the duo of singer Dyan Ondovchik and multi-instrumentalist Grant M Olsen. I became aware of this album through the impressive list of guest musicians which play on it, including drummers Jim Keltner (of Little Village), Jerry Marotta and Kenny Aronoff, percussionist Lenny Castro, bassist Tony Levin (of Spin 1ne 2wo, amongst others, if anybody remembers them) and one Indian violinist L Shankar. The whole affair was mixed by Tchad Blake (of Latin Playboys fame).
The music is situated in a place where progressive rock meets folk/Americana, and they really do rock out in places. The lyrics are deep and Dyan's voice reminds me of a less countrified Emmylou Harris. It's hard not to recommend the whole album because it's that good but I'll try to narrow my recommendations down to a few songs: "Sticky Threads", "Angels Over the USA", the title track, "No Harm", "Liars Leap", "Redemption Kiss", and if you're about to separate from your partner, "World Without You" might make you think twice. It's a great album but unfortunately, it's only widely available as mp3s. If you want the lossless version, feel free to write to the artists through their website, like I did. This is how I got the CD-R version which they sell at shows. This album is definitely worth making that effort to get the lossless version.
WORLD FAMOUS HEADLINERS - WORLD FAMOUS HEADLINERS
This quintet comprises three vocalist/guitarist/songwriters: Big Al Anderson (of NRBQ fame who co-wrote a song of two with our man John Hiatt back in the day), Shawn Camp (who was in Bluegrass Elvises recently with Billy Burnette) and Pat McLaughlin (who had a solo career for a while and then played guitar with John Prine, amongst other things). Add to them the rhythm section of Michael Rhodes, bass, and Greg Morrow, drums, and you get the finest of what Nashville has to offer these days. Literally. It's the best album Al Anderson has released since "Pay Before You Pump" and that means something. Recommended tracks include "Mamarita", "Heart Of Gold", "Jukin'", "Too Fast For You" and "Nobody To Love", but again, this is just to narrow the selection down to a few. These are the outstanding ones, the others are all very good, too. This album is in the running for best album I got last year, but it's a little difficult to decide which year to file it under. It came out in 2012 but in the cover, it says 2011. That's the music world these days ... small scale releases seem to get pushed back over and over again and when they finally come out, they risk going under everyone's radar. But not this one because I tell you about it
FLORATONE - FLORATONE II
Jazz guitarist Bill Frisell's project from a few years back with drummer Matt Chamberlain (of Edie Brickell & New Bohemians fame), his keyboardist Lee Townsend and producer Tucker Martine (the resident engineer of Flora Studios at Portland, OR) have delivered a follow-up album last year. Having not cared about music due to being busy with work, this one came totally out of the blue for me, but it's totally worth it if you like Frisell. It's not as blues heavy as the first Floratone album but feels more relaxed and to me, II is a better album as a whole because it's got more good songs. The guests include Ron Miles on trumpet, Eyvind Kang on viola and Mike Elizondo on bass. Recommended tracks to try out the album include "More Pluck", "Move", "Do You Have It", "The Bloom Is On" and "No Turn Back".
SAM PHILLIPS - SOLID STATE (Songs From the "Long Play")
This singer/songwriter may well be best known for having formerly been married to the now famous producer T-Bone Burnett (who won a Grammy Award TM for the soundtrack to "O Brother Where Art Thou") with whom she recorded quite a few of her solo albums. Not this one, in fact. She produced this one all by herself. It's the physical outcome of an online subscription project which she did circa 2010-2011. Musicians include herself on vocals and acoustic guitar, Jay Bellerose on drums, the Section Quartet, led by Eric Gorfain on strings, Chris Bruce and Greg Leisz on guitars, Jennifer Condos on bass and Patrick Warren on keyboards. Sam's singing and guitar are center stage here. I know many of her albums but only have a few because many include some great songs amongst songs which are not so great. Not this one, this one is very consistent. It's like now after the T-Bone years, her own voice finally has conquered the album length. This disc is better than "Martinis & Bikinis" which is widely seen as her previous career highlight. Unfortunately, "Solid State" is playing a bit hard to get: it's only available via mailorder through the artist's website. If you like T-Bone Burnett's productions as much as I do but feel a bit bored by him reprising the Raising Sand Band sound so often, I highly recommend getting the "Solid State" CD. Recommended tracks include "Magic For Everybody", "Throw Yourself Away", "Lying (2011)", "What It All Means", "Tell Her What She Wants To Know", and most of all, "Lever Pulled Down".
VARIOUS COMPOSERS & ENSEMBLE H2O - NEW WATER MUSIC
The music on this disc was premiered in live performance on a barge floating down the River Thames in London, England, at the Diamond Jubilee Pageant of Queen Elisabeth II, so it is no surprise that this music sounds very English. It's an album consisting of instrumental music written by current era classical and soundtrack composers for a modern, small orchestral ensemble, with the goal of premiering it in the same style as Georg Friedrich Händel's Water Music was first performed: on a barge floating down the Thames. Thus, all of the pieces contained herein were inspired by Händel's Water Music. Mind you, this is not rock music and it's not exactly classical music either, this is more like easy listening in a way, but in a good way. This disc came to my attention because Anne Dudley (of Art Of Noise fame) has got a composition on it. That tune, "Fast Slow Fast" is also one of my recommendations on here. Others would be "Air On the River" by Stephen Warbeck, "Gigue" by Debbie Wiseman, "Jubilee Gavotte Rock" by Christopher Gunning, "Bourree" by John Lunn and "London Bells" by Jocelyn Pook. Music for bright and sunny Sunday mornings indeed.
BILLY BREMNER - BILLY BREMNER'S ROCK FILES
The former bandmate of Little Village's Nick Lowe in Rockpile, Billy Bremner, has released his 4th solo album with this CD in Sweden. It was co-written and produced by Bremner's former bandmate in Refreshments, sax player Micke Finell. Bremner plays guitar and bass throughout. 3 drummers and 3 keyboarders took part in the sessions, among them the formidable boogie woogie pianist Johan Blohm and Mats Forsberg from the Refreshments. This is more in the vein of the countrified rock n roll which Bremner presented on his 2nd solo album "A Good Week's Work" so if you like that one, you cannot go wrong with this one. Lyrically, it may well have been a breakup album because many songs are about relationships not working out. Sometimes, that's a little hard to swallow, I have to admit, so my recommended tracks are mainly none of those songs: "The Cocktail Of the Year", "Lie Detector", the instrumental "Lena", "Emergency", "Alligator and the Rockadile" and "At Last the Summer's Here".
JOE WALSH - ANALOG MAN
The long-awaited comeback album of the Eagles guitarist includes a lot of songs Walsh has co-written with Tommy Lee James (who I have never heard about before). Also, about half of the songs from the album are co-produced by Jeff Lynne (of Traveling Wilburys fame) who plays almost all instruments on those songs, to great effect I must say. Other musicians include Ringo Starr on drums, Joe Vitale and Bruce Sugar on keyboards, Rick "The Bass Player" Rosas and Kenny Passarelli on bass. The album is a nice twist on familiar rock styles and you can hear the fun it was to make the music, which is great. Only on the instrumental "India" which involves electronica in a way Jeff Beck would have done it in his work of the 2000s does Joe Walsh branch out into unchartered territory. But that kind of consistency is not a bad thing at all. In fact, this is his best album on pure songcraft since I don't know when. I got the "deluxe CD/DVD" version because of the 2 bonus tracks and it was worth it for me, so it might be for you as well. Recommended songs for first listening include the title track, "Lucky That Way", "Spanish Dancer", "Hi-Roller Baby", "Fishbone", "One Day At A Time", "Wrecking Ball" and "India".
DAVID BYRNE & BRIAN ENO - EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS WILL HAPPEN TODAY
Byrne and Eno's 2nd duo album ended what was then a run of several albums in succession during which Eno worked on song-based material again. Amongst the headliners, the band includes Leo Abrahams and Steve Jones on guitars and Seb Rochford on drums. Most of the material here feels like country/gospel style music dressed up in a synth pop/electronica costume. It's quite quirky a record and that's no surprise from Eno. I quite enjoyed his previous solo album "Another Day On Earth" but waited almost too long to get this one, since the CD seems to be out of print now. Recommended songs include "Strange Overtones", "Life Is Long", "Home" (which includes portions of Paul Simon's songs "Sounds Of Silence" and "Homeward Bound" - Simon and Eno worked together on Simon's then previous solo album "Surprise"), "The Lighthouse" and "One Fine Day".
SARABETH TUCEK - SARABETH TUCEK
This is another seemingly out of print album from not so long ago. It seems like in the iPod age, they press a CD once and when it's sold out, it's gone. I guess I was lucky to find this one, the debut of this singer/songwriter from New York City, NY, which was produced by Ethan Johns (who first came to my attention by playing lead guitar and drums on John Hiatt's album "Stolen Moments"). The band on this album consists almost entirely of Ethan Johns and Luther Russell. Sarabeth Tucek's songs and voice take center stage. That voice is sometimes rather reminiscent of the Velvet Underground's Nico Päffgen so it is no surprise the album is quite dark and moody at times. I prefer the lighter moments and this is reflected in my recommended tracks: "Nobody Cares", "Blowing Kisses", "Come Back, Balloon", "Something For You".
ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA - MR BLUE SKY (The Very Best Of)
Amongst the 2 albums which Jeff Lynne (who played with Little Village drummer Jim Keltner in Traveling Wilburys, just to establish the Hiatt connection) released in 2012, I picked this one because it includes the only newly self-written song he released on both albums, "Point Of No Return". It's a good song, and the updated versions of the old ELO songs which he plays all by himself here, can hold their own, but maybe not for those who love the originals since the 70s which I have to admit I don't. Preferring re-recordings over the originals may be called a late-borner syndrome but I only prefer some of the re-recordings on here over the originals, and those are my other recommended tracks on here: "Don't Bring Me Down", "Do Ya", "10538 Overture" and "Livin' Thing". The other Lynne album from that year, "Long Wave", clocks in at just under half an hour, consists entirely of covers, most of which are from the pre-rock n roll era and surprisingly turned out to be not that much my cup of tea. However, I'm very much looking forward to the new album of original material which Lynne recently confirmed he is working on.
K'NAAN - COUNTRY, GOD OR THE GIRL
And now for some more genre-bending: I got interested in this album thanks to the several cameos by high profile artists, well, maybe you could call them music superstars, too. The Somalia-born Canadian Keinan Warsame started out as a rapper in hip hop music and this is his major label funded attempt to cross over into the mainstream. I feel it's been pretty generous by the label to fund him the participation of co-lead vocalists like Paul Hewson (of U2 fame), Nelly Furtado and Nas (of Fugees fame), and of the guitarist Keith Richards (of Rolling Stones) who also contributed to one song as a writer.
Producer Steve Jordan (of Blues Bros Band and The Verbs) also appears but the real big musical contributions on here come from people I had not heard about before, despite them probably already having lengthy careers, such as producers Brian West, Ryan Tedder and Chuck Harmony. Luckily for a hip hop artist in these times, K'naan has also got a competent singing voice which is on display here more often than when he is just rhyming. That may not be purist, but the number of hip hop purists on this board is probably rather small, so whatever. My recommended tracks include "Hurt Me Tomorrow", "Is Anybody Out There", "70 Excuses", "Bulletproof Pride", "Sleep When We Die" and "The Wall". If you're interested now in this album, make sure you got the deluxe version because the Keith Richards cameo song is not on the "regular" CD, thus rendering it an "inferior CD pressing" over the "deluxe version". Those label politics sure are confusing. Why don't they just release only the bonus track version and skip the incomplete version altogether?