Friday, December 28, 2012

The Soul Corner - Bettye LaVette "Let Me Down Easy"

This week we feature one of our all time favorite soul singers, performing earlier this month. At age 66, Bettye LaVette still runs circles around just about any singer of any genre you can name. Her ability to throw herself into a song, dig deep into the writing and her life, her emotions, is the very essence of soul music.

Her story is a wild one, nearly tragic, but after decades of disappointments, misfires, bad choices,  scoundrels, broken promises and broken dreams, Ms. LaVette never quit performing and recently finally found some measure of success. Her remarkable story is told in an unflinching manner in her new autobiography A Woman Like Me, which I highly recommend.

"Let Me Down Easy" was released in 1965 as Bettye's second single and charted at #20 on the R&B charts. But there was no follow up and so the song, like LaVette herself, faded until her resurgence in the last 10 years. It is now a cornerstone of her live performances, a monster, as seen here in London a few weeks ago:



Here she is singing the song on the Shindig! TV show in 1965:


This will be our final Soul Corner as an every Friday feature, though if we stumble into a great soul song video, we will post as a bonus Soul Corner. We will start a new feature every Friday in 2013, so continue to look for some choice old nuggets right here each week.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Introducing: Frantic Chant


I must confess that I'm one of the music fans that is welcoming the resurgence of psychedelic music.  It is coming from Texas, California, Australia, New Zealand, France, Finland, Denmark, England and of course, Scotland.  Today's introduction is a fine Edinburgh band with a psychedelic/shoegaze bent -- Frantic Chant.  They give you a generous dose of what they do well on their new single, Colour, which is released today, December 27, on Dog Got A Bone Records.  It is a two track record with the title track providing nearly eight minutes of a, well, colorful musical trip.  The B-side, "With All Our Friends" lowers the pace and volume, but takes us further down the rabbit hole.  As a collector has been through more than a couple editions of psychedelic music, I assure you that Frantic Chant could slip into a '60s soundtrack with no challenge to their credentials.  And I mean that as a high compliment.  I can only hope that a new album is in the works.

The band is listed as O'Hara on bass, Stazy on voice and guitar, Nick on guitar, and Col McGregor on drums.

"Colour" is available as a download and a limited edition CD from this Bandcamp link.

Frantic Chant released a full length entitled The 51st Best Band in Edinburgh in June 2012.  You can stream it below, and download it from Bandcamp.




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REVIEW: Various Artists - Alive At The Deep Blues Fest


We've been listening to these great Alive/Naturalsound artists all of 2012 - each album has its own pleasures, but what unites them, in my mind, are a joy in playing and the serious chops that are hallmarks of great blues and rock and roll.

Back in the summer, seven members of Alive's roster joined 19 other bands for a summer BBQ festival in Bayport, MN and the results were recorded and, fortunately, produced into an album by Jim Diamond. Here's the tracklist:

River Water - Buffalo Killers  
It's a Shame - Buffalo Killers  
There is a Bomb in Gilead - Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires
The Red, Red Dirt of Home - Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires
Traveling - Brian Olive  
Bonelle - Brian Olive  
Hold On Me - Radio Moscow  
Little Eyes - Radio Moscow  
24 Hour Blues - Left Lane Cruiser  
Rambling on My Mind - Left Lane Cruiser  
Three More - John The Conqueror  
Be your own Invention/Stranger Dig - Henry's Funeral Shoe
Henry's Funeral Shoe - Henry's Funeral Shoe
From the psychedelia of Buffalo Killers (expansive, sweet-sounding) and Radio Moscow (heavy, raging), to Bains' roaring gospel/blues-based Southern rock, to Olive's mix of blues and sweet SoCal pop, Alive embraces variety. Here's Brian Olive:



Left Lane Cruiser, John The Conqueror and Henry's Funeral Shoe are playing hard blues, and it really shines through in a live setting. Here is the Welsh brother duo Henry's Funeral Shoe:

This is a record that happily does double duty: It's a great document of what sounds like one of the best summer music festivals I've ever heard of, but it's also a really good label sampler. If you're still looking for a way to spend that iTunes or Amazon gift card, this record is a good option, and it will open up seven other worthy possibilities...

Here is a free download of a live version of The Buffalo Killers' "It's A Shame" from the Fest:


Monday, December 24, 2012

18 New Christmas Songs from Summersteps Records - Free Downloads!


From Summersteps Records, home of Kid Icarus and Eww Yaboo (whose combination of garage and grunge we extolled last year), comes a very generous Christmas music compilation/label sampler.

A combination of originals and standards, it's got a little something for everyone - and definitely a few cuts you will want on your Christmas mix. Favorites on first listen include "2000 Miles" by straws, a well-played shoegaze with resonant female vocals, Kid Icarus' "On Boxing Day" - which really just rocks, and the sweet power-pop of Langor's "Yantsor, the Candy Cane Maker"... but you may favor other tracks on here, including a spare, acoustic version of "Last Christmas" by Geez Louise which restores the plaintiveness that you'd think the song ought to have, if you did ever think about it. By the way, once I did spend the time to think about this song (rather than just scream and twist the dial as I do when Wham's version comes on), I kind of wished I hadn't... I mean, why write a song to someone who dumped you LAST CHRISTMAS? Anyway, it's a nice little ballad, as is Obvious Dolphin's take on "White Christmas".




2 for Christmas Eve


The Chris Stamey / Chorus Project post from yesterday helped me recall this fine Christmas song of Mr. Stamey's from 2010: 




And in special honor of the events that will take place this evening, here are my 2 favorite versions of one of my all time favorites, "Run Run Rudolph". First, the 1958 original from the one and only Chuck Berry:

And this killer version from across the pond, by Dave Edmunds:

Merry Christmas!

Post - Cavalcade



We've featured songs by POST (Yeah, try to Google THAT! Thanks, guys.) a few times.  They are a very good young Glasgow/Manchester band, and we expect big things from them.  They are selling physical copies of an EP titled Cavalcade at their live shows.  The really good news as they've also made it available on line for those of us not living in the UK.  It is on Bandcamp for name-your-price.

Stream it here:




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Sunday, December 23, 2012

"Bing Crosby", a special Christmas song

What is an element of Christmas more essential than Bing Crosby? Well there are not many, but certainly one is helping out the less fortunate. Combine those two, add some great musicians and talented young singers, and you have something special.

The Chorus Project "Bing Crosby":


And this gets extra points for actually being a new and original Christmas song and a fine one at that. Produced by the great Chris Stamey, whose latest effort with the dBs will sit high among my best of 2012 list, due to be posted here in early January.

The Chorus Project is a group of 25 high school age singers from the Chapel Hill, NC area. All proceeds from the sale of this single, the Chorus Project's first release, go to support programs and the scholarship fund for Community Chorus Project, as well as to KidZNotes, a music program for low-income children in Durham, NC.

Available for purchase for just $1 at Bandcamp:  http://thechorusproject.bandcamp.com/.

Merry Christmas from WYMA.