There are thousands of new songs entering into the cybersphere each week.Radio Free MP3 is my attempt to sort through the masses and highlight a few songs that I find interesting.
Black Joe Lewis – "Sugarfoot"
Black Joe Lewis is a large, mostly white, horn heavy soul band from Austin, Texas. If that makes any sense. Its like how the Black Keys are two white guys that play guitar. Joe Lewis, the front man, is the bastard step-child of James Brown and Otis Redding, with less voice but more then enough emotional soul to make up for it. The band behind him squeals, howls and rocks long and hard enough to make the party last all night. "Sugarfoot" rips everything from the James Brown bag to make them sound like a cover band, but one good enough that you don't mind the cover charge.
Gretchen Phillips – "To the Lady C"
Ms. Phillips is another Austin based singer/songwriter where she has been making music for twenty plus years. She first made waves for including her lesbianism into her songs long before being gay was hip or cool or even popularly acceptable. For most of her career Phillips made music with more of a punk bent, but on "To the Lady C" she shows how to be a softer, gentler lesbian. The lyrics are sweet, and kind while the music gently rocks like a summer breeze through a wheat field. Her new album, with the same name as the song just came out on Sea Sick Sailor records.
Jenny Owen Youngs – "Good Day"
I can't hardly help not to love songs that include handclaps, and "Good Day" is no exception. It is filled with such infectious, bubbly good times that I can't help but want to get in my car just so I can ride with the top down and this song blaring from the speakers. Lewis says this was intention as her last album, Batten the Hatches was filled with love lorn, sad bastard ballads. This time she says she wants to "move people emotionally, but also move them physically." On the basis of "Good Day" I'd say she's got that down pat.
Kicksville – "Kalamaya"
My wife's parents were missionaries for many years and as such she was born in Sierra Leone, Africa. They left long before she was really aware of where she was, but the Dark Continent left a lasting impression on her psyche. This has caused me too, to have an interest in that distant culture. Not enough to be well versed, mind you, but at least a desire to know more.
The music of Africa is so unique, vibrant, and varied that I am always amazed to hear it. Kicksville is less a band and more of a collective experiment, and according to their website a vacation town. Confused? Yeah, me too. Apparently, they are not even African either. Not that you'd know it from "Kalamaya."
The music starts from the town's mayor and morphs as the collective of 58 citizens expand and add to the core song. They then release one song per week which are collectively known as seasons. Not the most normal way to make music, bu then nothing about Kicksville seems normal.
"Kalaymaya" is a beautiful blend of Paul Simon guitar sounds, and unearthly, gorgeous vocals. It all blends into a bouquet that conjures images of a land that is both familiar and unseen to my eyes.
Rufus Wainwright – "Harvest"
When I started this series I knew that I wanted to highlight music that I had recently discovered and found interesting. For the most part this will be music released recently by bands that aren't particularly mainstream. Once in awhile though I hope to present music that isn't particularly new, or obscure, but that is wonderful just the same.
Rufus Wainwright comes from a musical family that includes Loudon Wainwright and Kate McGarrigle (his parents) and Martha Wainwright (his sister.) This performance of the classic Neil Young song comes from KCRW, a radio station out of Santa Monica, California, and their always wonderful Morning Become Eclectic program. I've always loved this period of Neil Young's music, and in particular this song. It is such a haunting piece of music, and Rufus' performance is simply beautiful.
You can listen to the another Morning Becomes Eclectic program featuring Rufus Wainwright here.