Cd Reviews – March – 2007

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John Mellencamp

Freedom’s Road

Universal Records

5 out of 5

I’m going to start this review by saying that no other album has a chance of competing with Guns N’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy as the best album of 2007, if it’s actually ever released, except for Freedom’s Road. If you know me personally you will understand the weight that this statement holds. Mellencamp’s new album is easily his most important work since 1985’s Scarecrow.

Just like the small, farming-town tales of triumph and tragedy found on Scarecrow, Freedom’s Road is a brilliant collection of songs that sums up what I currently feel as an American as opposed to the values of the “redneck agenda” that Green Day railed against on American Idiot.

Songs like “The Americans,” “Heaven is a Lonely Place,” and even the already overplayed “Our Country” find Mellencamp expressing a message of unity and tolerance with an almost saint-like conviction.

While Mellencamp’s opinions are abundantly clear in every song, he manages to avoid being overly critical and refrains from sounding drunk on personal politics. 

With Freedom’s Road, Mellencamp once again firmly places himself in the highest echelon of American songwriters. Freedom’s Road is the soundtrack for the beliefs of the post-911 counterculture, and is a stark tribute to the true meanings of freedom and the road we must walk to reach it.

— DJ Hippie

 

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Boulder Acoustic Society

NOW

Independent

3.5 out of 5

ViolinistDarolAnger claims the Boulder Acoustic Society is “the future of string band music,” but a good part of their newest CD, NOW, is made up of jazzy standards, old-time traditionals, and only a few new, original tracks.

That being said, what is presented on NOW is a carefully crafted album that has earned them much-deserved attention, beyond that which they have already notched on their belt. (Boulder AcousticSociety took second place at 2006’s Telluride Bluegrass Band Competition, and has received national airplay from their two previous albums.)

Produced byGreg Schochet, mixed by James Tuttle and mastered by Airshow Mastering’s DavidGlasser, NOW is the type of album that old-time traditional artists would have made had today’s technology been available back then. It’s crisp, refined and gives brilliant credit to the instrumentation, all without sounding too slick or produced.

The light, bouncy tracks simultaneously pay homage to American roots music, while also kicking sand in its face by boldly saying, “This is how we roll in Boulder.”

The band’s presentation is immaculate but loose, and it comes across as fun for listeners. It’s rawness refined and it’s damn good.

:: Boulder AcousticSociety ::

:: Swallow Hill :: March 2 ::

:: Avogadro’s Number :: March 3 ::

:: Sunset Event Center :: March 9 ::

:: Michelangelo’s :: March 23 ::                    

— Brian F. Johnson

 

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Ted Russell Kamp

Divisadero

Poetry of the Moment Records

3.5 out of 5

Shooter Jennings better step it up, or the bass player from his band The .357’s is gonna whoop his ass. That bass player, Ted Russell Kamp, just released his third album in under two years. divisadero takes listeners on a trip from hellraising nights to hung-over mornings. It’s a solid country record disguised as a singer/songwriter album, disguised as a rock record, but any way it’s disguised it’s worth it. 

 

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The One AM Radio

this too will pass

Dangerbird Records           

4 out of 5

Hrishikesh Hirway, the mastermind behind The One AM Radio, may have finally done it.

this too will pass follows Hirway through several relationships and residences, as countless other albums have followed other artists, but Hirway does this without the album sounding like a brooding collection of tracks to slit your wrists to.

:: The One AM Radio :: The Thin Man :: March 22 ::                    

 

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New Amsterdams

Story Like A Scar

Vagrant Records

4 out of 5

Maybe it has something to do with the long days that come with putting this publication out each month, but I just love marathon recording sessions. The New Amsterdams’ latest release Story Like a Scar is a product of such sessions. Recorded in six 14-hour days with producer Roger Moutenot (Yo La Tengo, Elvis Costello), the album gives nods to Amsterdams’ lyricist Matt Pryor’s Kansas home, with typical themes of being away from home and finding yourself working their way into the songs.

Those influences could have made Story Like a Scar a trite, been-there, done-that album, but Pryor’s unique take on those situations, and the accompanying roots-based musicianship not only saves the album but elevates it immensely. The instrumentation, which includes banjo, harmonica, stand-up bass and lap steel, would lead one to believe that the record has a country feel, but the melodies and the delivery is anything but. In fact, to be honest, had those instruments not been pointed out, I would have missed them. This album has texture galore without being over the top.                       

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Aesop Rock

All Day

Nike + Original Run

3.5 out of 5

If those few days of spring-like weather last month weren’t enough to get the running shoes out of the closet, Aesop Rock’s All Day, commissioned by Nike as part of it’s Original RunSeries, will certainly help.

The 45-minute track was created specifically with runners in mind, while still being all Aesop Rock. With continually changing musical landscapes, All Day may be the best running companion since the black lab.

 

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BenLong

Still Alive

Noise Buffet Records

4 out of 5

Denver-based BenLong might have produced the most pro album ever made in someone’s kitchen. Still Alive is a great alt-country, singer/songwriter album featuring a whole host of Front Range guests. Long claims to have made the album the new-fashioned way, with Pro Tools and self-motivation, but the production quality is really well done, despite the do-it-yourself approach.

Some of the songs on this album, Long said, have taken him nine years to finish! It’s about time, and it was worth the wait.                   

 

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The Greencards

Viridian

Dualtone

4 out of 5

Americana bands are supposed to be, first and foremost, American, but no one told The Greencards that. The three-piece outfit, with a line-up that is one-third English and two-thirds Australian, formed in Austin and has relocated toNashville — all the things an American Americana band should do. But, regardless of their native roots, The Greencards’ new release Viridian is 100 percent American roots music bliss. It’s no wonder, this is a band that cut its chops on tour with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson, during their summer of 2005 tour of minor league baseball parks. Viridian is rock and roll and bluegrass forged like iron into an impeccable, very fun and listenable package.                

 

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Bayside

The Walking Wounded

VictoryRecords

Sub-par, run of the mill indie-rock custom crafted for the mall-shopping teenage crowd.

 

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Black Lips

Los Valientes Del Mundo Nuevo

ViceRecords

Raw and unrefined, but kick-ass psychedelic garage rock, live from  seedy Tijuana.

 

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Hobex

Enlightened Soul

PhrexRecords

Decent, even strong at points, but it does little to set itself apart from other jammy releases.

 

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Bob Dylan

Don’t Look Back

Pennebaker Films

A bold look at  Dylan’s early years is re-released in a lavish box that includes a book and a new documentary on Dylan’s 1965 tour of  England.

 

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Megadeth

That One Night

Image Entertainment

I love metal, but metal bands are boring to watch at home; stick with Cops instead, or at least VH-1 Classics’  documentary, The History of Metal.

 

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BarryWhite

Let the Music Play

Eagle Vision

This arrived onValentine’s Day and I made love to myself all night because of it. A great look at the Sultan of Seduction, Barry White.

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