Eric Lindell finds happiness in the blues
Eric Lindell4 stars of 5Eric Lindell remembered his roots in California punk, boned up on the blues in New York, and swam in the swamp-rock of New Orleans. His cross-country musical journey in all directions of the compass has landed him in the Big Easy where his hard work gigging in small bars and clubs has paid off with a deal on the Alligator Records label. Lindells second Alligator release, Low on Cash, Rich in Love, is a 12-song collection of blues-rock with a hint of Motown soul thrown in to keep it fresh.And for a blues album, its pretty upbeat. Lindells lyrics and sound are consistently happy even though they usually revolve around subjects like being poor ( Low On Cash), cheating girlfriends ( Mind Your Business) and breaking up with girlfriends ( What I Got). Lindell employs standard blues instrumentation with guitar, bass, drums, harmonica, sax and organ, and makes it all work in a way that sounds oddly new and exciting. If you close your eyes and just listen youll never know that what youre hearing is a skinny, tattooed white boy from California singing with that really big soul and playing guitar like hes B.B. Kings brother. Charlie Owen, High Life writer
Mike Doughty4 1/2 stars of 5Former Soul Coughing frontman and songwriter, Mike Doughty, is back with all his lyrical playfulness and mumbo-jumbo free-form poetry nonsense and not a moment too soon. At a time in music where everything is so needlessly depressing, here comes Doughty with his latest solo album, Golden Delicious. Its easily the feel-good album of the year thus far, and is further proof that good songwriters and musicians dont always have to bury you under a load of post-modern melancholy or rage against the war to have any worth.From the opening bongo-laced bass grooves of Fort Hood, Doughtys happiness (either with his new-found solo success or his triumph over a heroin addiction) is evident in lyrics like You should be getting stoned with a prom dress girl/you should still believe in an endless world/you should blast Young Jeezy with your friends in a parking lot. The goofy lyrics continue in I Just Want the Girl In The Blue Dress with I love your baby fat/your crooked nose is where its at followed by a succession of brrr-ump-a-dum-bums over staccato drumming. Its funny and catchy how rare.Then of course theres 27 Jennifers, a song already getting massive radio play (as it should be) and is just one more in a succession of infectiously silly songs. Doughtys lyrics often dont make any sense ( Nuggets and the heliotropes, I go:/party games and ocean liners???) but coming from his background in stream-of-consciousness songwriting with Soul Coughing its understandable and never takes away from the enjoyment of Golden Delicious one bit. Almost every song on the album will pull you out of your chair and make you want to dance or sing along.The album does kind of slow down a bit near the end, but if anything it will just be a chance to relax your face from smiling so much. Charlie Owen, High Life writer
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks 3 stars of 5 Stephen Malkmus has held a special place in the heart of hipsters since Pavement records first started sputtering ironic, elusive lyrics almost two decades ago.With the release of Malkmus fourth solo album, Real Emotional Trash, he might have endeared himself to a new fan base: psychedelic hippies.On the albums title track it wouldnt be hard to picture tie-dyed Phish fans noodling barefoot at a summer concert series to 10-minute jams. Malkmus writing never really made much sense, but fans listening to college rock stations in dorm rooms, circa 1994, nodded along anyway. Real Emotional Trash takes the farcical writing to another level, but despite his critical acclaim and devoted fan base, Malkmus never seems to need to be taken seriously.In the albums opening line, he writes, Of all my stoned digressions / Some have mutated into the truth / Not a spoof. Its a fine moment of clarity, but for the following hour, theres no telling what Malkmus stoned digressions actually mean. Mike McCollum, Steamboat Pilot & Today
Chatham County Line4 stars of 5North Carolina bluegrass quartet Chatham County Line is better at marrying the old and the new than just about any other band that includes a banjo. On IV, lead songwriter Dave Wilson puts together a set that catches the elaborate picking of old-time music, the melancholy of a country ballad, the conscious laboring of a great soul tune and the steady tilt of a rockabilly rager.Chip Of A Star is an easy-moving opener, Birmingham Jail calls on 1960s political folk, One More Minute needs early 1990s alternative to survive,Clear Blue Sky belongs at a barn dance and Thanks is the strongest Beatles-esque album-closer thats come around in a long time.It all makes IV a beautifully written, cohesive effort one that is more folk than mountain, more American music than Americana.Chatham County doesnt make an obvious effort to include every bit of the rich musical heritage of its home state, and its a good thing. If you come from a place, and you let it happen, all the influences worth having will work their way in the music naturally.That way, roots music isnt a throwback, and it isnt a novelty. Its just how your songs sound organic, heartfelt and natural. Margaret Hair, Steamboat Pilot & Today
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