Archive for Alejandro Escovedo

Video Du Jour: Alejandro Escovedo

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , on June 19, 2012 by 30daysout

Our Austin buddy Alejandro Escovedo has a new album out, Big Station, produced by Tony Visconti (David Bowie, T. Rex) and featuring the first single “Man Of The World.” Here, he performs that song in the studios of WFUV in New York City.

Alejandro Escovedo official website

30 Days Out Interview: Chuck Prophet

Posted in News with tags , , on March 26, 2012 by 30daysout

Chuck Prophet is a great guitarist and an excellent songwriter.

Chuck Prophet is one of those musicians that opens your ears the first time you hear him. He’s a blistering guitarist and a singer who is rock and roll rough but tender when he needs to be. And he is a great songwriter.

Old-timers will remember Prophet as the guitarist and songwriter who teamed up with Dan Stuart for Green On Red in the 1980s, or they will remember him as the guy who co-wrote Alejandro Escovedo’s breakthrough record Real Animal. Entry-level fans looking for fresh rock should pick up Prophet’s newest album, Temple Beautiful, which has been described as a love letter to his hometown of San Francisco.

Playing multiple gigs at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Prophet sat briefly and shot the breeze with us. He said he didn’t set out to create a “theme” record with Temple Beautiful, the songs just shook out that way.

Chuck's wife Stephanie Finch, left, plays in his band.

“It was just kind of aimless, at one point we realized we had a batch of songs and it started to be a record about San Francisco,” Prophet says. Once he realized that was the direction it was taking, Prophet aimed to give it some true local flavor. He wrote one song, “Willie Mays Is Up At Bat” about the Giants Hall of Famer.

“Every good tragedy has to have a hero, so we got Willie Mays in there,” he explains. “It’s kind of fun for me as a songwriter, if I’m excited about what I’m doing then it’s no effort.”

Another song, “The Left Hand and the Right Hand” has a couple more colorful characters. “It’s about Jim and Artie Mitchell, they had a strip club and a theater in San Francisco, they were kind of pioneers in the pornography business. They made Behind the Green Door, and they owned the O’Farrell Theatre, which was one of the most notorious adult establishments,” Prophet says. “They knew how to party, and one day the party got out of hand and Jim wound up killing his brother Artie. So it’s a Cain and Abel story, and we got to thinking about Phil and Don (Everly) and Phil and Dave (Alvin) and all these brothers.”

Colorful storytelling aside, Temple Beautiful is getting kudos for its back-to-basics rock sound and for its vocals. Some have compared it to a “lost Kinks record,” an observation that Prophet accepts gladly. “This record is the one where everyone is saying that,” he adds. “I do listen to a lot of 1970s and 1980s Kinks, so yeah, I’ll take that.”

Austinites who know and love Texas rocker Alejandro Escovedo know Prophet well, because the two are great friends and easy collaborators. They’ve written together for years, penning all of the songs for Escovedo’s Real Animal in 2008, and they wrote together for Street Songs Of Love in 2010.

“Above and beyond the songs, Al is easy company,” Prophet says. “When we’re in the room, it’s like touching two jumper cables together. Sometimes we just fall into songwriting, other times it’s too hard and we just turn out the lights and listen to Mott the Hoople records. But it’s great working with him, we both speak the secret language.”

So we should thank Chuck Prophet, for continuing to make real rock and roll for grown up adults. Temple Beautiful is some of the best work of his career, and the songs flat out rock. So when he comes to a city near you, check ‘em out live. You won’t be disappointed.

Chuck Prophet official website

YouTube: “Temple Beautiful” Live on KEXP (Seattle)

YouTube: “The Left Hand and the Right Hand” Live on KEXP

YouTube: “Willie Mays Is Up At Bat” Live on KEXP

Video Du Jour: Alejandro Escovedo

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , on February 10, 2011 by 30daysout

Texas rocker Alejandro Escovedo has been a favorite of ours for a few years, and if you don’t know this man’s music do yourself a favor and check him out.  His album Street Songs Of Love was hands-down one of the best mainstream rock albums of 2010, and the one before that, Real Animal from 2008, is also a classic.

Al and his awesome band will again anchor the Friday night lineup of South by San Jose at SXSW 2011, and if you can’t wait till March you can catch him every Tuesday night at The Continental Club in Austin.  Here’s a conceptual video by Todd V. Wolfson of Escovedo playing the old Gun Club song “Sex Beat,” at the Continental and other points in Austin.  You can feel the low-rent art love, can’t you?

Alejandro Escovedo official website

2010 In Review: Our Favorite Albums & Other Stuff

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2010 by 30daysout

This was a pretty good year for recorded music, in the form of albums and in digital form. Rock artists came back with a vengeance, producing strong music and worthy albums.  Any number of indie bands offered up career-defining work, which makes the future look pretty healthy indeed.

The big news on the digital front was, uh, the Beatles on iTunes, and in just their first week on the download service they sold about 2 million songs.  Paul McCartney, now the keeper of the Beatles’ flame, appeared on “Saturday Night Live” over the weekend and performed five songs including “A Day In The Life/Give Peace A Chance” in tribute to his fallen bandmate John Lennon.

McCartney’s peers and inheritors in classic rock also rebounded a bit in 2010, putting out strong new material or making a splash with box-set showcases of earlier work.  Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix went the box-set route, while people like Joe Cocker, Ray Davies, John Mellencamp, Robert Plant, Heart and a few others released new albums that showed they all have a little gas left in the tank.  So let’s flip through some of our favorite albums of the year’s new material:

Street Songs of Love – Austin’s Alejandro Escovedo produced yet another album of straightforward guitar rock and this one may be his best yet.  With veteran producer Tony Visconti at the dials and with guests like Bruce Springsteen and Ian Hunter, Escovedo shows he isn’t afraid to stand toe-to-toe with America’s greatest rockers.

American VI: Ain’t No Grave – Seven years after his death, Johnny Cash shows more life than most rock artists who are still able to step up to the mic.  Recorded in the final months of his life, the album dispenses with the rock covers from previous Rick Rubin-helmed albums and deals with such classic material as Kris Kristofferson’s “For The Good Times” and the traditional spiritual that serves as the bone-chilling title track.  This, my friends, is the heart of rock and roll.

Brothers – The indie duo Black Keys, featuring guitarist/singer Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney, went to the famous Muscle Shoals recording studio and tapped into some dark, muddy soul for songs like “Howlin’ For You” and “Everlasting Light.”  The album, as well as single “Tighten Up,” have been nominated for Grammy Awards but why the hell isn’t it in the running for Album of the Year????

American Patchwork – Anders Osborne is a transplanted Swede, gone to seed in New Orleans as a bluesman with a fierce talent on guitar.  The opening salvo of “On The Road To Charlie Parker” and “Echoes Of My Sins”  and gems like “Standing With Angels” show that he is also an excellent songwriter.

Emotion & Commotion – Jeff Beck is a 1960s-era guitar god who doesn’t get nearly the love that peers Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page receive.  But on this album he does what he does best – he turns in some rockin’ instrumentals and welcomes guest singers Imelda May, Olivia Safe and Joss Stone to either put a new spin on an old song (“I Put A Spell On You” with Stone, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”) or freak out Hendrix-style (“Hammerhead”).

True Love Cast Out All Evil – The godfather of psychedelia, Roky Erickson, is backed by indie-rockers Okkervil River on this definitive late-career effort.  It’s a spooky exploration of Erickson’s shattered psyche, done to the tune of old hymnals, country music, folk rock and punk fury.  A great piece of work from a truly original American artist.

Now we’re doing a dozen more favorite new releases:

1. Band of Joy – Robert Plant

2. Midnight Souvenirs – Peter Wolf

3. Tears, Lies and Alibis – Shelby Lynne

4. To The Sea – Jack Johnson

5. American Slang – The Gaslight Anthem

6. Raising The Bar – Magic Slim & the Teardrops

7. Flags – Brooke Fraser

8. Infinite Arms – Band of Horses

9. Le Noise – Neil Young

10. Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys – My Chemical Romance

11. The Suburbs – Arcade Fire

12. Wake Up! – John Legend & the Roots

Our favorite albums from Texas (beside Alejandro Escovedo):

1. A. Enlightenment  B. Endarkenment (Hint: There Is No C) – Ray Wylie Hubbard

2. Plays Blues, Ballads and Favorites – Jimmie Vaughan

3. Country Music – Willie Nelson

4. Myth Of The Heart – Sahara Smith

5. ¡Esta Bueno! – Texas Tornados

Some great songs from this year:

1. “Fuck You”by Cee Lo Green

2. “Echoes Of My Sins” by Anders Osborne

3. “Better Days” by Ray Davies & Bruce Springsteen

4. “Tighten Up” by the Black Keys

5. “Dance Yrself Clean” by LCD Soundsystem

6. “Tender Heart” by Alejandro Escovedo

7. “The Weary Kind” by Ryan Bingham

8. “Drunken Poet’s Dream” by Ray Wylie Hubbard

9. “My Heart Explodes” by the Dollyrots

10. “The New Fuck You” by Street Sweeper Social Club

And sorry, we liked these albums too:

Slash by Slash (with Lemmy, Ozzy, Fergie and Kid … Rock)

Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics Of All Time by Santana (with Chris Cornell, Daughtry, Rob Thomas, etc.)

No Better Than This by John Mellencamp

Scream by Ozzy Osbourne

Vintage Vinos by Keith Richards

Keep checking back during the week, as this list magically grows with daily updates:

Annual Bitching About The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Thanks for FINALLY allowing the Stooges in there, and thanks for considering Neil Diamond this year.  Now:  Stevie Ray Vaughan, Doug Sahm, KISS, Little Feat, The Meters, The Neville Brothers … and for God’s sake, THE FACES!

Box sets marketed to beneficiaries of the Obama tax cut plan:

Exile On Main Street – The Rolling Stones cut a new versions of old songs to add to their 1972 classic, which makes a compact two-CD package.

The Promise – Bruce Springsteen went back and “enhanced” some tracks on a 21-song collection of outtakes from Darkness On The Edge Of Town.  The big three-CD, three-DVD box set includes a remastered version of Darkness and a DVD of a rousing 1978 live set from Houston.

Band On The Run – Paul McCartney’s third reissue of this album, augmented with three CDs and a DVD of live cuts, B-sides and outtakes.

The Complete Mono Recordings – Eight discs of Bob Dylan’s 1960s classics, as they would have sounded on AM radio.

West Coast Seattle Boy – How much Jimi Hendrix material can conceivably remain in the vault after this set’s four discs?

John Lennon Signature Box – All of Lennon’s albums, remastered, a 10th disc of his singles and an 11th CD of his “home tapes.”

Also: Live At Leeds (40th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition) by the Who (4 CDs), and Damn The Torpedoes (Deluxe Edition) by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (2 CDs).  This category alone has 41 discs – put ’em all under your Christmas tree!

Finally, R.I.P. in 2010:

Alex Chilton, Solomon Burke, Houston DJ Mark Stevens, Michael Been, Phillip Walker, Dennis Hopper, Jose Lima, Ronnie James Dio, Bobby Charles, Teddy Pendergrass.

“Austin City Limits” features Alejandro Escovedo

Posted in News with tags , on October 21, 2010 by 30daysout

One of our favorites, Austin’s own Alejandro Escovedo, will appear this weekend on an all-new “Austin City Limits” episode.  This time he will showcase songs from his latest CD, Street Songs of Love.  Here’s a behind-the-scenes sneak peek at the rehearsal and part of his ACL performance, which airs Saturday on a PBS station near you (check local listings for time).

Austin City Limits official website

Alejandro Escovedo official website

Our Guide to the Essential Texas Party Albums

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2010 by 30daysout

More than once someone has asked, “If I wanted to throw a party at my house and I wanted that Texas sound, what should I play?”  Well if your house is in Buffalo, New York, then you can play the Goo Goo Dolls and probably half the crowd would say “Yeah, that’s Texas.”  Hopefully the other half would correctly recognize the Goo Goos are a local band from Buffalo.

And unfortunately that’s sort of the situation here in Texas.  This state has many transplants who really couldn’t identify a true Texas artist outside the obvious (Willie Nelson, Dixie Chicks).  So I’m stepping up to your service, a native Texan with a working knowledge of our state’s great artists, with a collection of albums made by our native boys and girls.  And true to Texas, you can ask someone else from around here and they’ll come up with a completely different list – and want to kick the ass of the guy who came up with this one.  So let’s party and forget where you got this list:

1. Texas Tornados Live From Austin TX – Recorded for the venerable TV show “Austin City Limits” in 1990, by the supergroup featuring Doug Sahm, Freddy Fender, Augie Meyers and Flaco Jimenez.  A brilliant gumbo pot of blues, country, Tejano and rock and roll with memory-tugging versions of Fender’s “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights,” the Sir Douglas Quintet’s “She’s About A Mover” and a rollicking “96 Tears,” this single CD spans the incredible breadth of Texas music.   It’s worth the price of admission just to hear Fender sing “Baby What You Want Me To Do.”  This CD is a party all by itself.

MP3: “Who Were You Thinking Of” (live at Austin City Limits) by the Texas Tornados

2. The “Chirping” Crickets – When four Lubbock boys cut this album way back in 1957, they had no idea how much this music would transform the world.  Songs like “Oh Boy!,” “Not Fade Away” and “That’ll Be The Day” made their writer and singer Buddy Holly a star and the latter would become a hit.  This is the birth of rock and roll as we have come to know it – written and performed by members of a rock band.  In fact, the record caught the ears of four young musicians in Liverpool, and in a few more years the world would change yet again.

MP3: “Oh Boy!” by Buddy Holly & the Crickets

3. Texas Flood – Okay, we can’t get too deep into the list without name checking the late, very great Stevie Ray Vaughan.  He was perhaps no more electrifying than on his 1983 debut.  Texas Flood was instantly a success, and one of the most popular blues albums ever recorded, but Vaughan was more than a mere blues artist.  His technique and ability on the guitar instantly put him toe-to-toe with legends like Hendrix and Clapton – and since his death in 1990 virtually nobody has even come close to Stevie Ray.

MP3: “I’m Cryin'” by Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble

4. Honeysuckle Rose: Music From The Original Soundtrack Yeah, it’s a soundtrack.  And yeah, it has the dreaded “On The Road Again.”   But it’s prime Willie Nelson, recorded in 1980 live as the movie was being made.  It has the hell-raising energy of Nelson’s best Texas roadhouse shows, as he and his rockin’ band charge through classics like “Whiskey River,” “Bloody Mary Morning” and the whacked-out anthem “Pick Up The Tempo.”  Guest appearances by Texas legends Hank Cochran and Kenneth Threadgill are a bonus, and I swear you won’t even notice the songs featuring better-seen-and-not-heard actresses Amy Irving and Dyan Cannon.

MP3: “Pick Up The Tempo” by Willie Nelson & Family

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Video of the Weekend 2: Alejandro Escovedo and Friend

Posted in News with tags , on July 24, 2010 by 30daysout

We were kinda thinking this was gonna happen sooner or later.  Happily, we were on hand in Houston in 2008 when Bruce Springsteen invited Alejandro Escovedo onstage at the Toyota Center to sing Escovedo’s “Always A Friend.”  It was a great moment – for us, and for Alejandro too.

So last night, Escovedo’s playing the famed Stone Pony in Asbury Park, N.J., and it happened: Springsteen joined Escovedo onstage for three songs, including “Always A Friend.”  They also played “Faith,” the duet the two did on Al’s new Street Songs of Love, and a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Beast of Burden.”   Thanks to rpmjerseyshore for the video!

This one comes from sanctified4one:

And one more from rpmjerseyshore:

Video for the Weekend: Alejandro Escovedo

Posted in News with tags on July 23, 2010 by 30daysout

Sorry, we can’t resist – after seeing Alejandro Escovedo’s great performance Wednesday on “Late Show With David Letterman” we had to go back to his great in-store performance at Austin’s Waterloo Records a few weeks ago.  Here’s “Tender Heart,” one of my favorites from Al’s new album Street Songs of Love, with a bonus performance of the title song.  A pretty sweet two-fer, if you ask me.

Alejandro Escovedo official website

Bonus Video of the Week: Alejandro Escovedo

Posted in News with tags , on July 8, 2010 by 30daysout

Sorry about that metal video earlier this week – here’s something a little more appropriate.  Alejandro Escovedo has an excellent new album, Street Songs Of Love, and if you love rock and roll you need to get a copy.  Escovedo is touring with a stripped-down version of his band – dubbed the Sensitive Boys – and by all accounts they rock out like nobody else.  Here’s the anthem “Anchor” as performed Wednesday (July 7) at Waterloo Records in lovely Austin, Texas.

Alejandro Escovedo official website

Review: Rockin’ the Fourth!

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , on June 30, 2010 by 30daysout

Swingin’ into the Fourth of July weekend, we have a hurricane swirling off the Texas coast and a big black glob of goo lurking off Louisiana.  Meanwhile, in my own backyard, I’m grillin’ weenies!  What about you?  Here are a handful of new releases that will help you rock the Fourth no matter where you are or how you celebrate.

It borders on the criminal that Alejandro Escovedo isn’t a big star outside of Texas.  Here, he’s the hero of the Lone Star state – and his new Street Songs Of Love is a good example why.  Al follows his masterpiece Real Animal (from 2008) with a relaxed set of rockin’ ruminations on love and life that may just be among the best things he’s ever done.  The ringing anthem “Anchor” kicks off the proceedings, and the crunching guitars and big choruses that follow in song after song show that Escovedo isn’t afraid to stand toe to toe with the greatest classic rockers.  In fact, he does just that – trading verses with Mott the Hoople’s Ian Hunter on the tender “Down In the Bowery” and rocking out with Bruce Springsteen on “Faith,” Alejandro Escovedo shows why he is the king of Austin.  Street Songs Of Love is brilliantly produced by Tony Visconti, who worked with David Bowie and T. Rex back in the day.  Escovedo and his great band (including stellar guitarist David Pulkingham) sharpened these songs during a residency at Austin’s Continental Club, so they probably sound even better live.  Hands down, Street Songs Of Love is one of the best albums of the year.

MP3: “Street Songs” by Alejandro Escovedo

Last week we talked about all the artists with the blues all of a sudden, and now Austin guitar slinger Jimmie Vaughan drops Plays Blues, Ballads and Favorites, an album that sounds for all the world like a roadhouse Saturday night.  Vaughan has stocked his album with 14 wild covers (and one original) that jump right out of the speakers: “The Pleasure’s All Mine,” shuffles into your consciousness with Vaughan’s rough singing and stinging guitar, then Lou Ann Barton lends harmony to Jimmy Reed’s “Come Love.”  Barton duets again with Jimmie on the old Dale and Grace swamp rocker “I’m Leaving It Up To You,” then she takes a lead vocal on the LaVerne Baker chestnut “Wheel Of Fortune.”  I don’t know how he does it, but Vaughan gives all of his albums this production that sounds like he’s playing right in your cramped living room – I love it.  Man, this is another great barbecue party record and one that I know I’ll be playing long after the summer’s over.

MP3: “I’m Leaving It Up To You” by Jimmie Vaughan (with Lou Ann Barton)

Upon listening to The Gaslight Anthem‘s new American Slang, most people (especially music critic types) will evoke the influences of Springsteen and Van Morrison.  They’re not incorrect in doing so, but Gaslight’s true heart beats to the rhythm and romance of old Sam Cooke and Drifters records, supercharged into brilliantly original rock by frontman and songwriter Brian Fallon.  In fact, Fallon has a way with a story that recalls the Bard of the Boardwalk but his songs add a street-soul tough-tenderness that evokes the best of Tom Waits.  It’s hard to single out one or two highlights on American Slang; it’s just a very consistent rock record that never fails to deliver.

MP3: “Stay Lucky” by The Gaslight Anthem

Go out and pick up any one, two or three of these albums and celebrate the Fourth with a rock and roll blast.  Who needs fireworks?