Welcome back to another Live Music Friday here at Burgo’s Blog. Today, we’ll be featuring someone a little closer to my (adoptive) home… Australian musician, Xavier Rudd.
One of my favourite shows of 2007 was an Xavier Rudd gig on the Gold Coast… in fact, I even put up a post about it, although that post was more about his opening act, Jeremy Fisher. Nevertheless, that night with Xavier was one of the most powerful shows I’ve been to in recent memory. There is an energy and passion in Xavier Rudd’s music that you would be hard pressed to find in most other artists.
Although Xavier Rudd sometimes gets mixed in with the rest of the surfer-folkie crowd (ala Jack Johnson, Donovan Frankenreiter & Tim Curran), I’d probably place his music more in that slightly harder mix of Ben Harper & Co., with a more activist view present in his music. Not only does Rudd display a strong connection with the aboriginal people of the world through his music, he’s also a leading light for environmentally-conscious musicians.
Finally, anyone who has seen Xavier Rudd perform before will know what an inventive musician he is live; often performing as a one-man-band, Rudd masters percussion, the slide guitar, and… of course… his well known ability on the didgeridoo. In fact, in my mind, he’s one of the top dij players in Australia, point blank. Here’s a video to show his versatility…
Anyway, enough background, and on to the show at hand. The set I’ve posted below is Xavier Rudd performing live at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in 2007, right around the time that he released his stunning album, White Moth.
It’s a great set, and one that finds him performing personal favourites, “Messages“, “Message Stick“, “Famine“, “Come Let Go” and “Gift Of The Trees“. It’s everything that is right with great live recordings, and makes you feel as if you’re in the tent with Xavier himself… thanks go to the original recorder.
Listen. Love. Support.
Xavier Rudd, live at Bonnaroo Music Festival on June 16, 2007
The New York Fund (image credit: www.gregorynolan.com)
So, there’s this band called The New York Fund, and you need to listen to them. Seriously. I’m not kidding. If you want to hear music that excites you, then this should be it.
Previously incaranated as the band Cherryfalls – circa 2003-2005 – after a slight line-up change, the London town band have come back, harder and – in my opinion, better – as the blues/alt.country/rock tinged The New York Fund. Sounding somewhat like a mix of Whiskeytown, The Cardinals, The Damnwells and, at times, The Kooks, The New York Fund have played with bands such as the Hold Steady and Ash… so that gives you some kind of idea to their versatility.
Singer Joey McAdam (or “Joey New York“, as he’s listed on their Myspace page) has an amazing voice, with that perfect mix of alcohol-fuelled swagger and a stunning range. And guitarist Adrian Woodward brings the perfect blues tinge to their blend of alt.country rock… the riffs are instantly recognisable, and complemented by an amazingly tight ryhthm section. Put simply… it’s some of the best stuff I’ve heard in 2008 thus far. And that places The New York in someprettyheadycompany.
Shockingly, the band has not been picked up by a label yet… hopefully someone out there is listening.
I’ve included three songs below: two from their 2007 EP, “Guns”, and the third is from the (currently unreleased) 2008 “Konk Sessions”. The first song, “The Guns of Camden Town“, is the perfect exemplification of their “Jack Daniels tinged rock“… all dirty, vintage guitars that lead you through a rollicking tune, it’s a song that – at times – sometimes sounds somewhat Raconteurs-ish.
The second song from that EP, “Oh My Sweet“, continues that theme, and finds Joey McAdam blowing an awesome harp.
And finally, the third song (and perhaps my favourite of the lot), “Going to New York“, is from their as-yet-unreleased Konk Sessions recording. A more wistful song from them, it has one of my favourite choruses of the year, complete with these absolutely delightful hand-claps that seem to come out of nowhere. It’s a keeper.
So I was all set for a Calexico “Live Music Friday” post today, and then at the last minute, an email came through pointing me towards this NME article, which in turn led me to the BBC Radio 1 site, which – finally – pointed me towards this set: Coldplay, performing live from the Brixton Academy in London.
Given that it was a live set, it was simply too fortuitous a timing to pass up… so I decided to post this set for today’s Live Music Friday.
If you’ve read this blog for a while, you might remember me mentioning that I was slightly hesitant to embrace Coldplay’s new album, “Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends“, and that it’s lead single, “Violet Hill”, just didn’t hit me where it should have. That, of course, was based solely on that single. Since then, I’ve managed to listen to the album in its entirety… but I’m still undecided about it. Something tells me that it will be one of those albums that will grow on me over time; but right now, while I think it’s a good album (and great, by other bands’ standards), it doesn’t quite reach the heights that I know Coldplay are capable of.
That said… this live set, featuring both new and old material, is an absolute cracker, and makes me like the new songs all the more. It’s not surprising, really… Coldplay are a band made for dramatic, passionate live performances. And this, their first live performance in two years, is no exception.
It’s a great set, that finds Chris Martin in a playful mood (once he finally addresses the crowd, before “Viva La Vida”). For example, before the track “Chinese Sleep Chant“, Martin jokes about the fact that the band’s live return had been a free ticket giveaway, with “I know there have been complaints about the ticket price. What can I say, we’re money grabbing whores!“. Or, between “Square One” and “Trouble“, where the band seamlessly switches songs, and there’s this wonderfully surreal moment where he stops and says:
“How seamless was that? How professional was that crossover? You know, if ever… if ever Jonny’s ego grows out of control and the band splits up, and you happen to be on a piano ferry going to Calais or wherever they go, and you see me doing a little piano-turn, you can say, “Chris, I remember when you used to be a pop star, and you did those seamless crossovers between Girls Aloud, and your own beautiful ballads. And I will say thank you so much”
… before… well… seamlessly picking up the tune again. And when the crowd sings along to the outro of “Trouble”, it’s such a powerful moment that Chris Martin comments, “Whoa. What a ferry journey that would be“.
In fact, it’s at moments like that, listening to the majestic sounds Coldplay create here, that it hits me… I have no doubt that the new tunes will eventually become anthems, just as the older material has obviously become.
Finally, make sure you at least listen to the track, “Death Will Never Conquer”; sung by the band’s drummer, Will Champion. It’s awesome to hear him step out from behind the skins and into the spotlight. And “Fix You“? Awesome. That’s all that’s needed to be said.
Enough rambling. The set is below. Listen. Love. Support.
Coldplay, live at London’s Brixton Academy, 16 June 2008
The always brilliant Captain Obvious recently featured an interview with Pug, and I thoroughly suggest you go check it out to learn more, as there are some great insights into this young artist there. Just to pull out a particular quote which endeared me to him, however (emphasis my own):
Pug: Well, certainly Dylan and Prine are huge for me. They might be obvious, but I think that’s okay. Because there’s something very fundamental about both of those guys that makes them accessible, so you can go off on a tangent of your own. They taught me that a song can be original in its logic or phrasing or spirit even while its using a structure or melody that’s been around for a hundred years.
Steinbeck and Whitman are huge for me. Whitman explained once that poetry isn’t meant to confuse people. That trying to articulate your feelings as clearly as you can is cryptic enough as it is. You don’t need to fool anyone. You don’t need to prove to anybody that you know things that they don’t know. Because of course you do. So just try to say it as clearly as you can. Steinbeck, for me, embodies that ethos, whether he meant to or not. You see it most strikingly in The Grapes of Wrath when he begins that harrowing passage that begins, “And this I know…”. You’ll never read something so lucid. I suppose right now, that’s what I strive for.
Okay. So Bob Dylan? Check. John Prine? Check. John Steinbeck? Check. Walt Whitman? Check. Seriously, this kid could not check more boxes with me if he tried. And these influences are easily seen. Joe Pug can turn a phrase like nobody’s business… at only 23 years of age, his lyrics sound like they come from someone twice his age.
This is music that needs to be heard; and Joe Pug wants to help you with that. If you visit his website, you’ll be greeted with the following message:
Friends, Romans, Countrymen…
If you’re insulted by the songs they loop on the radio all day. If you’re
tired of your parents repeating the phrase “music meant something in my day” with baseless contempt. Here’s a chance to do something about it…
I want you to give my music away.
The thing is, there’s no subsidiary of Viacom shoe-horning my latest single onto radio playlists. There’s no carefully worded advertisements assaulting you at the bus-stop. There’s no ringles.
You heard about my music from a friend. Simple as that. Which means you listen to music because of its substance, not its convenience. And that’s precisely why I’m asking for your help.
Think of some likeminded friends who haven’t heard my songs. Then let me know how many sampler CDs I should send you to give to them.
So let’s help spread the word, shall we?
I’ve included three songs below; the stunning lead track, “Hymn #101“, the EP’s scathing title track, “Nation of Heat“, and finally, the deliciously titled “I Do My Father’s Drugs“. If you like them, then spread the word to your friends about Joe Pug. Let’s get him out there.
Welcome back to another Live Music Friday here on Burgo’s Blog… unfortunately, due to time constraints, this post might be a bit short… but still packed full of great tunes.
Today, I thought we would get a bit soulful, and listen to the silky smooth sounds of Amos Lee, live on KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic” show.
I thought an “Amos Lee Live Music Friday” would be timely, considering that I only found out this week that Blue Note Records have given his new album, “Last Days at the Lodge” an official release date for later this month… June 24. Amos Lee really is one of those truthful musicians; he exposes everything to you, concealing nothing. His singing is direct, confident, and delivered in a chocolate-coated voice that slowly pours its way into your soul. In fact, I once heard NPR’s Tom Moon describe Lee’s voice as one that “triangulates Bill Withers, Terry Callier and Ray Charles”, and I couldn’t have put it better myself. And, I mean, when you get right down to it… the guy’s opened for Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, and the notoriously brilliant-yet-critical Van Morrison; so you know he must be doing something right.
This set, from Amos Lee’s performance on KCRW radio in May of 2005 is a slight departure from the live shows I normally post here. The set doesn’t have that “crowd interaction” feel that most of the other posted shows do… after all, apart from the interviewer, there wasn’t a crowd at all. But what it lacks for in the warmth of crowd chatter, it more than makes up for in song selection and sheer tightness. And really, it’s astounding that he and his band could produce such a slick sound live.
If you’d like to stream the entire version, along with the interviewers questions, the entire show is archived here. The set I’ve posted below is simply the songs, stripped out.
Listen. Love. Support.
Amos Lee, live on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic, 25 March, 2005
So today, I received my copy of the new Flobots album, “Fight With Tools”, and all I can say is these guys have got me excited… in a big way. Despite the fact that they’ve been taking a pounding in the music blogosphere lately, I have high hopes for Flobots.
The problem with that Popmatters review linked to above – in my opinion – is that they seem to be missing the entire point of the song that they eviscerate there, “Handlebars”; something which I find surprising, considering the fact that the point is made clear by the video that accompanied the single. Let’s take a look at some of the choice words in that review:
At one point in “Handlebars”, the narrator boasts that he and his friend made a comic book. Hey guy, guess what? I made a bunch of comic books with my friend Josh when we were kids. It was a series called Goggle Guy. We made about 10 different issues and actually sold some of them. Call me when you and your buddy pop out issue number two, which will hopefully happen sometime before you “end the planet in a holocaust” as you threaten toward the end of your little brag session.
Um. No. See, as I see it, the song isn’t about a bragging session at all. It’s a song about the infinite possibilities that we all have as kids; that idiom that anything is possible as long as we believe in ourselves. After all, it’s opening lines of “I can ride my bike with no handlebars, no handlebars” hit you over your head with that wide-eyed, child-like innocence
But, at the same time, it’s a song about how that potential is beaten out of us by life… how life can jade us, and steal our innocence.
And, ultimately, it’s a song that talks about the fact that, while we have all the potential in the world to do all these good things (“I can design an engine sixty four miles to a gallon of gasoline, I can make new antibiotics“), we squander this responsibility. When they’re talking about “ending the world in a holocaust”, they aren’t literally saying that they will (I feel like a dumbass for even having to point that out to the reviewer)… they’re talking about the powers that be. I mean, listen to that last stanza and it’s blindingly obvious:
My reach is global
My tower secure
My cause is noble
My power is pure
I can hand out a million vaccinations
Or let’em all die from exasperation
Have’em all healed from their lacerations
Have’em all killed by assassination
I can make anybody go to prison
Just because I don’t like’em and
I can do anything with no permission
I have it all under my command
Because I can guide a missile by satellite
And I can hit a target through a telescope
Through a telescope
Through a telescope
And I can end the planet in a holocaust
In a holocaust
Gah. I got a bit carried away there, but that review irritated me no end, and I needed to get that out. But this post isn’t meant to be an analysis of “Handlebars”.
What this is meant to be, is a post saying: these guys are good. Mixing hip-hop with a groove-fusing rhythym section, violins and trumpets… in a tightness beyond belief? Yeah, it’s good. And the productions values on “Fight With Tools” looks to have been flawless.
While they may not be “Rage Against The Machine” (and, let’s be honest, they’re nowhere near the same league… but then again, who is?), they offer something: they offer change. They offer hope. And that’s what music should do.
I’ve included three tracks from the album below. The first is the album intro, “There’s a War Going On For Your Mind“, which sets the mood for the album to come. The second, “Mayday!!!“, is a hard-hitting track, that in the hands of a lesser band, might have become a wall of mashed sound… yet somehow, Flobots pull it off. And, of course, the final track is the single, “Handlebars“.
So by now, if you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you would know my love affair with the band Dispatch. Dispatch was, I think, probably the first band that I really obsessed over. Ultimately, they were everything that I wanted to be in the music world; they were the epitome of my romanticised view of a world where bands played for the fans and for the music… not for the adulation or the money.
While my forays into the music world somewhat destroyed that dream, Dispatch were always the band that reminded me that, somewhere out there, the dream was alive. Even when they broke up, that dream lived on. As Pete said, in the “Last Dispatch” DVD, regarding their reunion concert in Boston:
If you believe in the drama, then you might say sadness; or you might believe in the immediacy of something ending. But I don’t believe in endings. You know, it’s like the magician doesn’t stop doing tricks. So it will be what it is, a proud and happy team to be here.
All of this is a somewhat convoluted preamble to introduce today’s Live Music Friday; an evening spent with Pete Francis at the Woodstock Opera House.
Pete Francis Heimbold, aka Pete Francis, was one of the three members that made up Dispatch. When they broke up, it was no surprise that I followed his solo efforts with extreme interest. While my musical tastes have changed in the last few years, at the time of their break-up, circa 2002, I seemed to identify most with Pete’s style of music.His song,“Untold”, still ranks in my top 10 list of favourite songs of all time. His surreal symbolism, and themes that revolved around emotions – love, regret, you name it – spoke to me in a way that few other artists did.
While State Radio – led by Chad Stokes – certainly seems to have been the band that has gained the most widespread attention – and deservedly so – in the post-Dispatch days , I feel like Pete Francis (and Braddigan, as well), have a lot to offer the music world that seems destined to fly somewhat below the radar. Perhaps that will change now that Pete’s new album, “Iron Sea & The Calvary”, is out; but, in the meantime, I thought I would try change that by posting this show.
This set took place in 2005 – when Pete performed at the Woodstock Opera House, alongside guitarist Bill Foster – and contains many Pete Francis favourites, such as “Burning the River“, “Father Rose“, “Carry You“, “Sandcastle City” and “Untold“. I hope you enjoy.
Listen. Love. Support.
Pete Francis & Bill Foster, Live at the Woodstock Opera House, 20/8/2005