Archive for March, 2013

Song of the Week: Patty Griffin (and Her “Driver”)

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , on March 28, 2013 by 30daysout
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Patty Griffin

When we talked to the nice folks at New West Records a few weeks ago, they were excited about the recent signing of Austin-based singer/songwriter Patty Griffin. Her new American Kid album is coming out May 7.

The first single from it, “Ohio,” is about the Underground Railroad, and how slaves used the network to escape to freedom. Griffin’s husband and “driver,” Robert Plant, sings harmony and came up with the tempo and mood for the song.

Patty Griffin official web site

Video Du Jour: The Mavericks

Posted in Rock Moment, SXSW with tags , , , on March 27, 2013 by 30daysout
Mavericks Waterloo

The Mavericks, partyin’ in the parking lot at Waterloo Records.

More stuff from SXSW: The Mavericks, a country rock band fronted by Raul Malo, have a new album out – In Time is their first studio work in about a decade. It’s heavy on the melodic, danceable stuff for which they are best known.

We caught their free set during SXSW at Waterloo Records. They played acoustic, and they quickly turned the record store parking lot into a party zone. Here’s “Back In My Arms Again,” from the new album.  Thanks to headonfire1105 for loan of the video.

The Mavericks official web site

40 Years Out: Dark Side of the Moon

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , on March 26, 2013 by 30daysout

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Well, happy birthday Dark Side of the Moon. The classic Pink Floyd album turned 40 years old this past weekend, and for one, I celebrated by playing it all the way through Sunday on my back porch patio.

Very early. Very loud. The neighbors love me.

The album came out when I was a senior in high school, and it blew my mind. Since then it has become one the most iconic and best-selling rock albums of all time.

You can buy about 10 different versions of the album – a couple of years ago Pink Floyd released an “immersion” box set for the album that included the original music remastered, an early mix, a quadrophonic mix, demos, a complete recording of the album played live, and the entire program sung by Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Just kidding about that last one. But it’s all there, check it out.

Different mixes of some of the songs have turned up at various times. Here’s “Eclipse/Brain Damage” as it appears on the Pink Floyd compilation Works (1983). It’s a different mix than you’ll hear on the regular Dark Side, with the voices sounding a bit lower because it was blended from the quadrophonic masters, and slightly different intros/sound effects. (We have to do Soundcloud because our Divshare account was suspended for “abuse.”)

And if you want to hear a different version of “Money,” you should go to the 1981 compilation A Collection of Great Dance Songs. The original Dark Side of the Moon album was on EMI/Capitol, but by then Pink Floyd had signed with Columbia/CBS Records. Capitol Records refused to license “Money” for use on the album, so David Gilmour re-recorded it all by himself, playing all of the instruments. Dick Parry reprised his saxophone role on the track.

There are some differences between the re-recorded version and the original; mainly in the saxophone and guitar solos and the overall use of reverb and Gilmour repeating “away” at the end instead of the high pitch scat singing on the original. The drumming is noticeably different from Nick Mason’s, especially during the guitar solo, with very little of the tom tom fills heard on the original.

I got that last bit from Wikipedia – I just listened to the damn thing and it still sounds like “Money.”

Don’t know what else to say about Dark Side of the Moon, unless: if you haven’t heard it yet, you can’t call yourself a rock music fan.

40 Mind-Blowing Facts about Dark Side of the Moon

Pink Floyd/Dark Side of the Moon 40th anniversary official web site

Video Du Jour: George Harrison & Friends

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , on March 25, 2013 by 30daysout

You know this already – “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” from the Concert for Bangladesh in Madison Square Garden, New York City 1971. It doesn’t get much better than this.

30 Days Out Interview: Oisin Leech of The Lost Brothers

Posted in Interview, SXSW with tags , , , , on March 24, 2013 by 30daysout
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Mark McCausland, left, and Oisin Leech of The Lost Brothers.

Among all the new friends we made at South by Southwest (SXSW) this year, we really like The Lost Brothers. The “Losties” are a duo from Ireland who sing in close harmony, reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel or the Everly Brothers.

Mark McCausland and Oisin Leech met in an dusty old Liverpool library in 2007. Comparing influences, they discovered they both played in various bands and had traveled to Liverpool to take their music to the next level. The pair shared a love of music and influences as diverse as the Carter Family to Sam Cooke, Mississippi John Hurt to Dion and the Belmonts, Phil Spector to the Louvin Brothers, the Impressions to Van Morrison. The pair were regular faces on the Liverpool music scene and when together, people began to call them The Lost Brothers.

Leech and McCausland left the bands they were in at the time and flew to Portland, Oregon, where they hooked up with producer Mike Coykendall (M Ward, Bright Eyes), and recorded in his attic their debut album Trails of the Lonely.

Their folk-tinged music has great atmosphere, particularly on their third album The Passing Of The Lost-Brothers-000165-560x374Night, thanks in no small part to singer/songwriter Brendan Benson, who produced it in Nashville. The songs are sometimes sad, sometimes eerie and moody, from the opener “Not Now Warden,” about a man in prison whose love has moved on, to the sensational “Widow Maker,” a story of a hanging.

Appropriately, The Lost Brothers were invited to perform at the Tribute to Levon Helm that was one of the big closing shows during this year’s SXSW. Oisin Leech of the Losties saw one of our photos and contacted us to ask if we had any shots of him and his partner performing with Steve Earle and others in the climactic song “The Weight.” We did indeed have a few pictures, and in the exchange we had the chance to ask Oisin a few questions.

30 Days Out: I seem to recall you guys have been at SXSW before, but how was this one for you? What did you think? What was the weirdest experience? What was the best experience for you?

Oisin Leech: Yes, we have been to SXSW before but 2013 was our favorite year so far. Mark and I loved it. It’s the first time we have an album out in the United States on Readymade Records and so it was good timing to come to play Austin this year with the new album just out. This is our third album.

Hearing Dave Grohl speak about his favorite punk bands and about his early days with Nirvana was really something. Nirvana was the reason I started a punk band, the Vermin, when I was 14 and Grohl is one of my heroes. The Vermin didn’t gig. We just rehearsed and read Nirvana biographies.

The weirdest experience? It was weird, but weird in a good way, to sing “The Weight” with Amy Helm, Steve Earle and the Midnight Ramble band at Auditorium Shores at the tribute show for the late, great Levon Helm. It was weird to sing in front of that many people – good fun though. I’m not complaining! The Midnight Ramble Band are a wonderful band and it was a big thrill for Mark and I to jump up for a verse.

The best SXSW experience was seeing Charlie Sexton play guitar at Threadgills as part of Will Sexton and Brady Blades’ SXSW Big Bang. It was great fun to be part of Will and Brady’s gig. Steve Poltz, John Murry and Charlie Faye also played. I am a big 7635175Bob Dylan fan and to hear Charlie Sexton play in a small venue was like watching lightning. Charlie plays in Dylan’s band.

30 Days Out: Do you approach audiences differently in the U.S. than you would in the U.K.? Is there a different sensibility, or expectation on the audience’s part – and yours?

Leech: Well, it’s funny because I think a lot of folk melodies and lyrics came across the ocean from Ireland to North America over the centuries. And obviously North America sent rock and roll back. I hear it in a county song by Gordon Lightfoot or even in a Bob Dylan song like “Restless Farewell.”

The Lost Brothers’ music is so inspired by American music – Sam Cooke, Chuck Berry, Hank Williams, Townes Van Zandt – maybe sometime an American audience at a Lost Brothers gig are hearing their own music through the voices of two Irish guys. We try to bring our own thing to the table. It’s an ongoing musical exchange. I always love the reception we get in the States and maybe they are hearing older traditions being sung back to them. We never, ever underestimate the audience wherever we play because usually they know a lot more than the singer. A show is what happens between the song and the listener and therein lies the magic of a good or bad gig.

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Mark McCausland, left, and Oisin Leech (center) sing “The Weight” with Steve Earle and The Midnight Ramble Band at SXSW 2013.

The Everly Brothers sing a song called “Rose Connolly” which was a traditional song in Kentucky but “Rose Connolly” was a traditional song from Scotland and Northern Ireland a long time before it was ever sung in Kentucky. It traveled across the ocean! So it’s an ongoing musical conversation over hundreds of years. Maybe that’s why we feel at home when we play in the U.S. because we’re just a small part of something much bigger that’s been ongoing for a long time.

When we did the U.S. tour with Glen Hansard we could really feel the warmth back from the audience each night from Boston right across to San Francisco over the three weeks. When we play in Ireland and in the U.K. it’s a more edgy experience. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just a different atmosphere – maybe you need both worlds, I think you do.

30 Days Out: I love the story about your trip to Portland in the early days of the duo. What do you think of that city’s vibe? Does it have any similarities to Ireland/U.K.?

Leech: Portland is where Mark and I first recorded so we will always have a soft spot in our hearts for Portland – the city of the Rose. We lived there at the White Eagle Hotel and often go back. On our first album Trails of the Lonely we worked with two great producers in Portland, Mike Coykendall and Adam Selzer. We spent many hours in Powell’s book store looking for original copies of John Fante books. Portland has its own unique vibe, unlike anywhere I have ever been. Also our dear friend and musician extraordinaire Paul Brainard lives there. Always great to see Paul.

YouTube: “Under The Turquoise Sky”

30 Days Out: Listening to you live, you certainly live up to all those comparisons to Simon & Garfunkel.  But I hear influences that go back a little farther, and wider … Can you talk about your influences?

Leech: Mark and I were lucky in that we grew up around music. Mark’s family were the traveling Moore family band from Omagh. They played my granny’s dance hall in the 1950s long before we were ever born. My mum sings at church each week. My sister Saramai is a great singer and my dad plays violin. Music is everywhere in Ireland. It’s in the water.

My first love was punk rock – English bands like Alternative TV and the UK Subs, Irish punk bands like Striknien DC. Then I got into Nirvana and started to read about Kurt’s love of Leadbelly which opened up a door to Bob Dylan, Muddy Waters and folk and country. Folk is just like punk. It’s an open form of expression with (few) rules. I connected with it immediately. I used to go on Wednesday nights to a Dublin club called the Cobblestone and sit at the very front listening to singers like Sonny Condell and Ger Wolfe.

When people say Mark and I sound like Simon and Garfunkel it’s a big compliment but we never planned that at all. It was just chance. We are big Everly Brothers fans more so. The Everlys raised the game for everyone.

Mark loves Merle Travis and Sam Cooke. We’re both big Chuck Berry fans … Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Robert Johnson, The Louvin Brothers, The Delmore Brothers, Jackson C. Frank, Van Morrison and Them, The Band and Levon Helm is a huge inspiration. We love the Beatles and lived in Liverpool for many years. Then there are bands from closer to home like Sweeneys Men, Planxty with legends like Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny and Christy Moore. I also love Patrick Street with Andy Irvine. Music that grabs the heart strings or gets the heart and soul racing.

There’s a singer from Sheffield, England, called Richard Hawley. He is as good as it gets for me. We made our second album So Long John Fante with some of Richard’s band and producer Colin Elliot.

YouTube: “Until The Morning” (filmed in Austin during SXSW)

30 Days Out: Love “Widow Maker,” especially the video. Can you talk a little about working with Brendan Benson, and what he brought to the table when you worked together?

Leech: It was a big thrill to work with Brendan. He gave us great confidence in our lyrics and in our playing. He taught us how hard you have to work. We made the album in five days and I don’t remember taking any breaks day or night. Then Brendan mixed the album in two days. He is such a great singer and writer himself so it was inspiring to be making a record with him and we had so many laughs during the week. He is a gentleman, a friend, and we love him dearly like a brother. Not only did he make the album with us but he released it on his own label Readymade Records in the U.S. In the U.K. it’s on Lojinx Records.

30 Days Out: What’s coming up for you guys?

Leech: We have 18 new songs demo’d and we have a very clear idea of how we want the next album to sound.We just wrote two new songs in Woodstock which we are very excited about. We just did the Midnight Ramble at The Levon Helm Studios and it was a very inspiring experience. We will do the summer festivals, in June we tour with Billy Bragg and next week we fly to London because Graham Nash has asked us to perform at the opening of his new photo exhibition “Graham Nash – Life on the Road.”  Mark and I have no idea how Graham heard of The Lost Brothers but it doesn’t matter I suppose, we’re thrilled that he asked us and we are looking forward to playing and seeing the photos!

The Lost Brothers official web site

YouTube: “Widow Maker”

50 Years Out: The Beatles’ “Please Please Me”

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , on March 22, 2013 by 30daysout

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Fifty years ago today (March 22), EMI/Parlophone released Please Please Me, the debut album release by The Beatles, in the United Kingdom.

The New Music Express said on March 8th 1963: “Things are beginning to move for the Beatles, the r-and-b styled British group. The disc Please Please Me follows closely on the heels of their first hit ‘Love Me Do’ written by group members John Lennon and Paul McCartney. It looks like a bright future for the Beatles, but knowing them I don’t think they’ll let it go to their heads.”

George Martin recalled, “Please Please Me was done in a day – we started at 10 o’clock in the morning finished at 11 at night, and that was the record made.”

In the United States, most of the songs on Please Please Me were first issued on Vee-Jay Records’ Introducing … the Beatles in 1964, and subsequently on Capitol Records’ The Early Beatles in 1965. Please Please Me was not released in the United States until the Beatles’ catalog appeared on CD in 1987.

The Beatles official web site

Video Du Jour: Iggy & the Stooges

Posted in Rock Moment, SXSW with tags , , , on March 22, 2013 by 30daysout

We learned a lot of things at this recent SXSW music event: you spend more time walking from venue to venue and standing in line, than you do actually hearing music. If there is a huge, famous act playing during SXSW, you probably won’t get in to see them – unless you have connections. But actually, we knew both of those years ago. It doesn’t deter one’s fun at SXSW, at the very least.

And the other thing we learned: as soon as Iggy Pop leaves the stage after a show, he gets into a car to go away. And he doesn’t even bother to put on a shirt! We caught his exit from the Mohawk club after Iggy and the Stooges’ SXSW show. Here’s a new song from that show, “Burn.”

Thanks to freddycannonII for loan of the video.