2008 releases artists artists to watch for in 2009 digital downloads guitar music

Thursday Roundup – Gnarls Barkley, Ben Nichols and Denison Witmer

It’s been a while since I’ve done a roundup post, so here are the tunes that have been spinning in my iTunes this week.

Gnarls Barkley – Who’s Gonna Save My Soul?

Gnarls Barkley - Who’s Gonna Save My Soul?You know, it still strikes me as strange that certain people only know Gnarls Barkley as that “Crazy” duo, when there’s so much more to them than that one tune. This song, the demo version of “Who’s Gonna Save My Soul?” – which incidentally has a killer music video, which I’ve included below – shows off just that point.
Stripped down, Cee-Lo gives this song an emotion that slays.

Listen: Gnarls Barkley – Who’s Gonna Save My Soul?

Ben Nichols – The Kid

Ben Nichols - The KidIf you’re a fan of the genre, chances are pretty good that you’ve heard Ben Nichols‘ name before, as lead singer of the always-awesome Lucero.
Nichols is releasing his solo debut full-length album sometime next year, but in the meantime, he’s just released a seven-song EP, “The Last Pale Light In The West”… which is available now (and yes, that “now” is meant to instill a sense of urgency within you), here.

If anything, I prefer Nichols’ solo output to his stuff with Lucero, and that’s saying something. Take some stripped-down, dusty guitars and a plaintive, yearning voice, and you’re close.

Listen: Ben Nichols – The Kid

Denison Witmer – Life Before Aesthetics

Denison Witmer - Life Before AestheticsYou might have heard some of Denison Witmer’s work in the past if you’re into cover songs… and if you haven’t, you might want to check out this post from the uber-excellent Cover Lay Down blog.
This song, however, is his own… and will appear on his upcoming album, “Carry The Weight“, which is due out in November. It’s a killer track, and one which really has me excited for November.

Listen: Denison Witmer – Life Before Aesthetics

2008 releases artists to watch for in 2009 digital downloads guitar music

Amiestreet and Brett Dennen – Hope for the Hopeless

Brett Dennen - Hope for the Hopeless

So as I mentioned in a past post, Brett Dennen and Amiestreet have teamed up to make the world a better place with some charity. It’s unfortunate that this happened while I was away on holiday, as by the time you read this post, you will only have a few hours left to get in on the action… as the charity preorder is running until today, the 27th October. I know that’s a confusing way to begin a post, but I thought I should get the important information out of the way first… now, onto more detail.

Brett Dennen was one of the first posts I actually made here on Burgo’s Blog. Having at the time just heard Dennen’s outstanding “Ain’t No Reason” from the “So Much More” album, I was blown away by the potential that this young kid exhibited.
Overall, however, I felt that Dennen’s true possibilities were still undiscovered… while “So Much More” had it’s highlights (particularly the aforementioned “Ain’t No Reason” and “She’s Mine”), the album didn’t quite live up to its highlights. In the end, I was left wanting… more. I knew that Brett Dennen could deliver, but it didn’t seem his time was quite right.

Fast forward to October 2008. I’m on an island in Vanuatu, when an email drops in my inbox from Zane at to let me know that Brett Dennen was releasing his album “Hope for the Hopeless”, and that it would be made available on as part of the website’s ongoing Download To Make A Difference campaign. For each album purchased, will donate $5 to the Mosaic Project, an organization of close personal significance to Brett Dennen.

First off, let me just say that I really like what Amiestreet are doing. They seem to have the right mindset to really make a difference, and I appreciate that.
Secondly, however, another part of me was slightly apprehensive. Would Brett Dennen finally live up to the potential that I was so sure he possessed?

After living with this album for the week that I’ve now been back from the islands, I can say that Dennen’s definitely on the right road. “Hope for the Hopeless” is a far more accomplished album that “So Much More”, and in some ways hearkens back to his self-titled debut.
In particular, songs such as “Closer to You” and “Who Do You Think You Are?” are signals that Dennen is growing exponentially as an artist.
And the unexpected “Make You Crazy”, featuring personal favourite Femi Kuti in an over-too-soon cameo, completely throws you for a loop… in a great way.

Overall, I think there are still depths to Brett Dennen’s capacity as an artist that haven’t been reached; but “Hope for the Hopeless” is a great growth-spurt. I’ll still be watching him with much faith and keen interest.

Check out Amiestreet’s interview with Dennen here, and you can also order the album at the end of the interview.

Here’s some tasters, though, to whet your appetite…

Listen: Brett Dennen – Heaven
Listen: Brett Dennen – Who Do You Think You Are?
Listen: Brett Dennen – Make You Crazy

1999 releases guitar live songs music music videos

Ben Folds Five Reunion, Front to Back… on Myspace now!

Another short post today, but Myspace has finally put up their “Front to Back… Ben Folds Five Reunion” videos that “the other Matt” and I were so excited about.

I can’t seem to access the Myspace videos myself (not sure if it’s only available to US viewers?), but thankfully someone is dutifully uploading them on youtube as we speak… and after watching a few minutes, I’m in love again.

Playing their 1999 album, “The Unauthorized Biography Of Rienhold Messner”, in front of a live audience… well, it’s everything a Ben Folds Five fan could have asked for.

Here’s a taster or two below… but you can check out the videos on Myspace here, and (if you’re having trouble accessing those, like me) the youtube user’s profile here.



Stream Ryan Adams & The Cardinals “Cardinology”

Stream Ryan Adams & The Cardinals Cardinology

Short note… but Cardinals fans can now stream the entire “Cardinology” album here. All in all, I’m actually loving it, although some reviews haven’t been as positive.

Give it a listen and make up your own mind.


So I’m back…

Burgo at Vanuatu
Burgo – Mele Cascade, Vanuatu

and it was great. Although we were extremely unlucky with weather (ie. it rained every. single. day. except for one day, which was overcast), it was still a wonderful holiday filled with wonderful people. I’ll have an update with more details over on my personal blog at sometime within the next week or two.

Keeping this strictly music-related though,  I’m catching up on some random events that occurred while I was offline:

– Yesterday was the anniversary of Elliott Smith’s passing. Five years on, and it’s still a dark day for me. Wherever you are, Elliott, I hope it’s wonderful.
Listen: Elliott Smith – Between the Bars

– Diana from Madmuse dropped me a line to let me know that the video for Bill Madden’s “Unfair” track (which was featured on this blog here) has been released into the wild. I’ve included it below. It’s… well, I’m not sure it lives up to the track itself, but it’s still worth watching.

– Zane from Amiestreet let me know that “Brett Dennen and have teamed up to bring fans his highly anticipated new album, Hope for the Hopeless, as a special $5 pre-order — with all proceeds going to benefit Brett’s favorite charity, The Mosaic Project, a non-profit dedicated to youth-empowerment and education.“.
I’ll be featuring a review of the album in the next few days, but I wanted to post this now as the charity preorder is running until the 27th October, so there’s only a few days left.

Brett Dennen was one of the first artists I featured on this blog, so I’m looking forward to reviewing the album sometime within the next week. Watch this space.

– I also noted that my “South African Bands you MUST hear!” post has been sparking some interesting discussion in the comments, with my musical taste being questioned more than once. Heh. I love it when readers swear at me.

… and there’s still a mountain of emails that I have yet to check, so I promise I’ll get through those within the next week or two. Hope you all behaved while I was away.


Where I’ll be in two days time…

Iririki Island. Posting will be, well… non-existent over the next week and a half, as I go to spend some quality time in Vanuatu on Iririki island. Be good all.


Iririki Island


Iririki Island

(Photo by Owen-JP)

reading round up

Reading Round Up day

Quick round-up of things that caught my eye this week…

– New discovery to my blog-reading habits, the very promising serves us up a very nice taste of Golden Bones, with the tune, “The Cost of Comfort”. It’s a killer track, and if keeps exposing me to sounds like that, it will easily become a regular fixture in my reading list.

– Already a stalwart in that list, the Captain over at Thanks Captain Obvious throws us some Anathallo bones with tracks from their upcoming album, “Canopy Glow”. When the Captain says something like, “I reiterate.. so freaking good” about a band, you better believe I sit up and notice. And, as usual, he’s right. Go check it out.

– Meanwhile, my name-doppelganger, Matt over at Addicted To Vinyl points us towards some Ryan Adams and The Cardinals tunes. Even though he didn’t freaking go to the show, he still deserves the link-love for spreading the word. (Side note: I managed to get my preorder copy of Ryan Adams’ “Infinity Blues” in. Did you?)

– The always-worthwhile Ninebullets points out that Olin & The Moon are offering their CD, “40 Miles of Bad Road“, for free on their myspace page (and also on the Ninebullets site itself)… which comes as good news, as I was also searching high and low for it. Head over and listen to some tunes now.

– Completely unrelated to music here, but I’ve also finally got something up and running on my other personal blog, Well, I say “up and running”, but really all I mean is that there’s something there now. I’ll be using that blog when I have something to say that isn’t strictly music related, and wouldn’t fit here… so if you feel like you can’t get enough of me here (yeah, right), then feel free to call around there.

2008 releases artists to watch for in 2009 digital downloads guitar music

The Sand Band – The Secret Chord

I’m quite late to the party on these guys, having first read about The Sand Band way back in August on that awesomeness of music blogs, Some Velvet Blog. I filed away the band for listening at a later date, and it somehow slipped between the cracks… until now.

The Sand Band
The Sand Band

I’m not sure if it’s just been one of “those” weekends; or the fact that I was watching the “Jeff Buckley… live in Chicago” DVD last night… but The Sand Band’s “The Secret Chord EP” is strikingly, achingly beautiful on this Monday morning.

A wistful, world-weary tone permeates David McDonnell’s lyrics in this EP, which is washed over by spacey echoes, pedal steel guitar and an acceptance that comes to us all.

The reason I mentioned Jeff Buckley up above is obviously referring to the title track from The Sand Band’s EP: “The Secret Chord”. When Leonard Cohen originally penned the line, “Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord/That David played, and it pleased the Lord“, I wonder if he realised just how deeply those words would resonate for years to come?
And – especially when Jeff Buckley performed the song live – it becomes clear to the listener just how much that line indicated a search for that “secret chord”. Certainly – to me at least – “Hallelujah” has always cried out like no other for a “follow up”… or an attempt at resolution.

In their song, “The Secret Chord”, the Sand Band have done just that… there’s a certain sense of completion that comes when listening to the song. It’s almost as if the missing piece of that puzzle has come together… that piece that’s been hidden underneath the couch, ever since the first time I heard Leonard Cohen utter those words and point out to me that something was missing in the first place. They’ve lifted the couch and shown me that piece, and I’ve finished that damn puzzle.

And I can’t tell you how good that feels.

For those who need to feel the same… Listen. Love. Support.

Listen: The Sand Band – The Secret Chord

Oh, and by the way… for those of you who want to hear more from this band, if you click through to the Velvet Blog post linked to above, there’s a little present for you at the end of that post…