In which Kristian Mattsson, aka The Tallest Man on Earth, steps out from behind the guitar and in front of a piano, and – a very rare occurence – adds a backing band. Oh, and debuts a new song, possibly titled “There’s No Leaving Now”.
All of which comes courtesy of a surprisingly good quality live recording of his recent show in Gothenberg.
For a while now, Ryan’s been teasing us fans with images from the studio of his forthcoming album, produced by Glyn Johns (see the above image for just a taste, and view the rest in his Facebook album here).
Although the images were tantalising enough, I’ve been craving a bit more, and it looks like it’s just arrived. Just two nights ago, Ryan performed a surprise solo acoustic set at Los Angeles’ El Rey Theatre, opening for his friend and “Oh My Sweet Carolina” duet partner Emmylou Harris… and we might just have got our first glimpse of some of the new material possibly set for the forthcoming LP. Not only did he revisit the aforementioned Heartbreaker single — alongside Harris of course — but he also unveiled at least four new songs that made their way online in the small hours of the night. How much do we love Youtube right now?
Below, you can watch Adams perform “Dirty Rain”, as well as three more heartbreaking new songs alongside the Emmylou duet.
God, I can’t believe how long it’s been since I went to a gig… I think my last one was Ryan Adams at the beginning of the year, and here we are in November already. The good news is, my lapse in attending gigs was broken by an absolute kicker of a night, watching Pearl Jam, Ben Harper & The Relentless 7 and Liam Finn perform at the QSAC Stadium in Brisbane last night.
To be honest though, although I arrived there in plenty of time, by the time we managed to get to our seats Liam Finn‘s set was all but ending, so I can’t really say too much about that. I will say that what heard of his set was… intriguing to say the least. There was a rawness there that I certainly hadn’t heard in his recorded stuff before, so I think catching a live set of his in the future will be on the cards. It was either a beautiful cacophony, or an awful racket… I didn’t hear enough to make up my mind. Whatever it was, however, it’s definitely interested me in catching him live again.
Following Liam’s set, Ben Harper came on with new(ish) band Relentless 7. I’ve seen Ben Harper live a couple of times before, but this was first time with the Relentless 7. Through no fault of their own – well, largely not their own – I have to say: I was disappointed. It wasn’t the quality of their performance whatsoever that brought a downer on their set, but rather that the sound quality for their set was the most substandard sound setup I have ever been witness to. QSAC Stadium itself is an open-air stadium, which is never easy to get the sound levels right for in itself – what with wind to take into account, etc – but regardless of the situation, I was immensely disappointed in the organisers/sound crew for not having a better go at this one. The result was that in between songs, when Ben was talking, he was all but completely inaudible, which completely ruined the flow of the set. I’m sure that those lucky few who managed to get standing room in the floor section were fine, but for those of us on the side stands, the tech crew totally let us down.
All in all, I don’t think it’s fair for me to write up on Ben’s set all that much, because of the sound problems. I will say that the set disappointed me – particularly, “Diamonds on the Inside” seemed lacklustre – but, again, it’s hard to tell how much of that was a lack of groove within the band itself, or the sound issues. The one high point of the set, for me at least, was actually the opening tune, “I Will Not Be Broken”. Now, I stand to be corrected here, but as far as I am aware, this is a new tune from the band, and one I really, really like. Other standouts were a simply stunning rendition of “Faded”, and a kickass cover of INXS’s “Never Tear Us Apart”.
I managed to get a few sound clips on the night, and I’ve embedded two mp3s from Ben’s set below. Please note, however, that the sound quality of my recorder is point blank terrible… there is distortion galore, levels all out of whack etcx; so I don’t include these as mp3s to listen to again and again, simply for those who are diehard fans and who want to get an idea of what the band sounded like.
Following the Relentless 7, it was of course time for the main act, none other than Pearl Jam. Now, I’m about to commit music blogger heresy and openly state that, while I previously liked Pearl Jam, I’d never really seen the attraction as others have. To be honest, the major drawcard to the gig, for me, was Ben Harper. But, after last night, all that changed. Seeing them live, I finally understood the passion that the band instills in its fans. Point blank, Eddie and Co gave one of the most visceral, energetic and above all, honest performances that I’ve ever seen. And damned if I’m not like a little kid who hears his favourite band for the first time.
The band opened with an incendiary “Why Go”, and things only got better from there. Below, I’ve include a setlist for the night. Now, I had to leave during “Encore 2” due to transport times (which meant I missed “Jeremy”… bugger), so what I have in the setlist there is what I gathered from others at the show; but if anything’s incorrect, feel free to leave a note in the comments and I’ll update the post with correct info.
Pearl Jam Set list, live at QSAC Stadium in Brisbane, 25 November 2009
Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town
In My Tree
Amongst The Waves
Off He Goes
Not For You with Modern Girl snippet
Daughter with Another Brick In the Wall & Schools Out snippets
If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It) (AC/DC cover)
Red Mosquito (with Ben Harper)
Indifference (with Ben Harper)
Gonna See My Friend
Throw Your Arms Around Me (Hunters & Collectors cover) (with Liam Finn)
Baba O’Riley (The Who cover)
Highlights of the set, for me, were a beautiful “Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town“, a haunting “Off He Goes“, and particularly the opening of the first encore, where Eddie came out just with an acoustic guitar, and launched into “The End“, and was progressively joined by the band for “Just Breathe“.
Again, I managed to catch a few clips on my recorder, but, again I must point out that these are more for the diehards to listen to, and that the distortion sucks something awful. But, if you’re after a glimpse of last night, here are a few…
So, a while back I noticed that I had watched a lot… and I mean, a lot… of Ryan Adams videos on the ol’ Tube. And I got it into my head that one day, I should really post a collection of my favourite performances of his on here, but for various reasons, I never got around to it. One of the reasons was that the post itself would be extremely clumpy, with anywhere between 10 – 20 youtube videos all embedded in the post; it would have scrolled on and on, and might have been slow to load.
But then the other day, I stumbled upon Embedr, which allows you to embed multiple videos all into one handy frame… all you need to do is scroll through the videos below, and press play on whichever one you’re interested in. So, below, I present to you a “Ryan Adams Video Best Of…”; with some commentary added, of course.
1. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – “Two”, live on Letterman
One of my all-time favourite Ryan Adam’s songs, this performance of “Two” (from the Easy Tiger album) is simply heartbreaking. Incidentally, you’ll notice how many of these videos are of Ryan and the Cards performing on Letterman… all I can say is, thank you David for being such a Ryan supporter… it’s given us some great performances. “If I could I’d treat you like you wanted me to I promise… but I’m fractured from the fall, and I wanna go home” Album | Easy Tiger
2. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – “Fix It”, live on Letterman
From the Cardinal’s latest (and, ostensibly, last album) Cardinology, “Fix It” was one of the standout tracks. And this performance, where Ryan cries out “Fix It!” so plaintively at the 2:35 mark? Man, if that doesn’t make you feel something, I don’t know what will. “I know it’s not a game, but it feels like losing when someone you love gets up and walks away…” Album | Cardinology
3. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – “Come Pick Me Up”, live on Letterman
That harp opening man… that harp. One of the most heart-rending Ryan Adams songs you will ever hear. Probably the song that brought about this entire love affair that I have with his stuff. Also, this performance is from back in the day when Catherine Popper was in the band… man, she was great. “Come pick me up, take me out… fuck me up, steal my records, screw all my friends behind my back… with a smile on your face, and then do it again.” Album | Heartbreaker
4. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – “Now That You’re Gone”, live at Austin City Limits
If anyone out there has a copy of this gig, please let me know. It was aired on PBS back in 2005, and this song in particular from that night gets me like few others do. Oh, and Catherine’s in this one too. “I don’t dare touch anything of yours, because it’s evidence of us, and it means everything… well sort of.” Album | Cold Roses
5. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – “Desire”, live on BBC4 Sessions
The entire broadcast of this night is simply beautiful… high quality video recordings of Ryan’s concerts are hard to come by, and this entire set was simply, and beautifully, shot. It’s out there for download, with Ryan’s blessing, if you’re into that sort of thing. This song, “Desire”, just seems to have Ryan at possibly the most comfortable on stage I’ve ever seen… and that contentment is contagious. It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing. “You know me. You don’t mind waiting. You just can’t show me, but God I’m praying, that you’ll find me, and that you’ll see me, That you run and never tire.
Desire” Album | Demolition
6. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – “Let It Ride”, live on Letterman
Bearded Ryan! It’s really interesting, watching the videos from different stages in Ryan’s career… it’s clear when, and when he isn’t comfortable in his own skin. This video has him at his “hiding behind his hair” best; but that doesn’t take away from an incendiary performance. “Twenty-seven years of nothin’ but failures and promises that I couldn’t keep… Oh lord I wasn’t ready to go.” Album | Cold Roses
7. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – “My Winding Wheel”, live on BBC4 Sessions
And then compare this video with the last… it’s a completely different performer, in all respects except the “awesomeness” one. The band in this song are so unbelievably tight, it’s like they’re one person with 5 sets of arms. “So buy a pretty dress and wear it out tonight, for anyone you think could out do me…” Album | Heartbreaker
8. Ryan Adams – “So Alive”, live on Letterman
I still have no idea how this song did not blow up bigger than it did. “I am on your side!”, Ryan screams at the 2:28 mark… and man if he doesn’t speak for everyone who’s cried out “don’t forget me, I’m on your side here… I’m alive dammit!”. Pure emotion. “Just put to bed and stand beside me. Stand beside me, always on your side… I’m on your side and so alive it isn’t real.” Album | Rock n Roll
9. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – “Firecracker”, live in Jamaica
From the “Music in High Places” DVD, this performance of Ryan in Jamaica is full of such innocence, it’s hard not to fall in love with it. In fact, the entire DVD is like that. “Well, everybody wants to go on forever, I just wanna burn up hard and bright.” Album | Gold
10. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – “New York, New York”, live in Jamaica
Another performance in Jamaica, this track finds Ryan with a larger band than normal, with locals joining in on bongos and djembes. And it’s freakin’ awesome. Also, there’s a guy in the background who gets his ass drunk. No, I don’t mean himself, I mean his donkey. It’s hilarious.
On a more serious note, while I kept this “Best Of…” to live performances, you really should check out the official video for the track. Recorded just a few days before 9/11, it’s a bittersweet love song to that city of cities. “The world won’t wait and I watched you shake. But honey, I don’t blame you… Hell, I still love you, New York” Album | Gold
11. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – “Everybody Knows”, live on Letterman
You know, normally “Everybody Knows” isn’t one of my favourite Ryan Adams tracks… but for some reason, whenever I watch this video, that completely changes. Ryan and Neal’s voices complement each other so well in this performance, it’s sublime… and by the time it gets to that last refrain, it’s complete bliss. “And everything’s changing so how I am to know how I’m going to hold on to you when I’m spinning out of control? You and I together, but only one of us in love…” Album | Easy Tiger
12. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – “The Sun Also Sets”, live on Nissan Sessions
Ryan’s gradual intensity in the successive refrains in this song continually blow me away. I never, repeat never, get tired of watching this clip. That, “Oh, be sure…” cry at 1:53? It’s absolutely criminal the crowd doesn’t go wild at that point. “There it is, we are only one push from the nest. There it is, we are only one moment from death. The sun rises, but the sun also sets…” Album | Easy Tiger
13. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – “I Taught Myself How To Grow”, live on Letterman
Anyone who knows me knows this could quite possibly be my favourite Ryan Adams song (along with Wild Flowers), and this performance certainly doesn’t disappoint. Ryan at his heart-breaking-lyrics best. “I taught myself how to grow, and now I’m crooked on the outside, and the inside’s broke” Album | Easy Tiger
14. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – “Oh My God, Whatever, Etc”, live on BBC4 Sessions
All in performance. And I mean that in the sense that Ryan is performing in this song… not just singing, but with his entire body and flamboyant gestures. Neal’s guitar in this song is as trusty as a metronome too. If you aren’t singing along with the “Oh my God, whatever, etc…” line the second time you listen to this song, I’d be surprised. “Strange lovers moan each others names on by-hour sheets for the very first time. One of them’s James, the other’s some name she changes every time she lies across his bed” Album | Easy Tiger
15. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – “How Do You Keep Love Alive”, live on BBC4 Sessions
And so we end with this, one of the most heartbreaking songs in the list. It seemed a good a time as any to stop. No explanation for this one. The song title says all you need to know about what you’re in for. “What does it mean to be so sad? When someone you love, someone you love is supposed to make you happy… What do you do, how do you keep love alive?” Album | Cold Roses
And there we have it. Bear in mind, I had to stop this list somewhere… there are many other great Ryan Adams videos out there on the interwebs, but I hope that at least something on this list caught your eye. And I hope, if you haven’t before, you look into some of Ryan’s music. You won’t regret it.
I don’t quite know how I’ve let this go until now without a post. Mumford and Sons was a band I’d heard mentioned in quite a few places online, but for some reason I’d never bothered to track down much of their stuff. That was, at least, until Song, By Toad (easily one of my favourite music blogs) featured a fantastic video of the group performing their killer track, “White Blank Page”. The video is, quite frankly, sublime, and I’ll simply point you towards the Toad site to watch it there.
After that, I did a bit more digging myself, and found that the band has recently released the official video for their debut single, “Little Lion Man”… and I’ve fallen in love with it.
Both tracks appear on Mumford and Sons upcoming debut album, “Sigh No More”, which I believe drops tomorrow, coincidentally enough. I know what my next purchase will be…
Below, a “live on BBC1” version of them performing “White Blank Page”.
Can you lie next to her and give her your heart, your heart?
As well as your body, and can you lie next to her and confess your love, your love?
As well as your folly and can you kneel before the king and say ‘I’m clean’, ‘I’m clean’?
– Mumford and Sons, “White Blank Page”
My love for Joe Pug is no secret. If there is one artist who I have ever featured on this blog that I would like to see succeed, it’s Joe. Joe’s “Nation of Heat” EP was passed around my friends and family and random people I accosted on the street like no other, and it was one of the most promising debuts I have heard to date.
Recently, a live show of Joe Pug performing at Schuba’s Tavern on May 1st was posted to archive.org, and the set has pretty much been spinning non-stop through my headphones since then. A pleasant mixture of solo and full band stuff, the show hints at a great upcoming release. The full show can be downloaded here, but below, I’ve included the highlight of the set for me… that’s the opening tune, “How Good You Are”.
This song has hit me like a stake through the chest. I simply cannot wait for the upcoming full-length. Here’s to more of this from Joe Pug.
The other day I got that kind of email that music bloggers love to get… an email from an artist’s management saying, “Hey… you know, I’ve noticed from your blog posts that you like xyz… and I think you might like some of my client’s stuff. Want to check it out?”… and you actually do love the client’s stuff.
(Side note: to management… if you’re going to approach music bloggers, make sure that you’ve actually read the damn blog. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve got emails about artists I’ve already posted about, or one that even said “Hey, I sound like Howie Day. You probably won’t know his stuff, here’s a link”… Srsly? Ahem. Rant over)
The point is, that in this case the email came from Shannon over at Brick Wall Management… and not only did she do everything right, but the client she thought I might like was Ari Hest.This is the kind of email I love getting. Where management has actually got my tastes damn spot on.
Um. Ari freakin’ Hest? Only someone I’ve been a fan of for ages… around 6 years or so, I would say, ever since I first heard “Aberdeen” from “Come Home” way back in the day. So of course, I was thrilled when Shannon told me that Ari’s just dropped a new album, entitled “Twelve Mondays”.
After listening to the album for about an hour, I twittered: “Just been sent the new ari hest album to review. there’s a song on here that’s possibly the best thing he’s ever done, in my opinion.”
Yeah. It’s that kind of album.
Official music video for “Dead End Driving”, from the new Ari Hest album, “Twelve Mondays”
First off, some more background on “Twelve Mondays”:
Back in 2008, Ari started out a trailblazing experiment called “52“. Basically, what “52” entailed was recording (and releasing) a new song every week. Fans then voted on their favourite tracks, and twelve of those were collected into the album, “Twelve Mondays”.
That such an album could have come out of “a song a week” project is, quite simply, astounding, and only hints at Ari’s songwriting prowess.
Oh… and the best thing Ari’s written? Well, the whole point of the “52” project was that different songs would appeal to different people. So you should probably head here to purchase the entire album to decide for yourself.
For my money though, “The Weight” will go down as an all-time Ari Hest classic.