Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bonnawho's Who - Jose Gonzalez

Official Bio:

With his crystal-clear singing voice and vibrant, classically-inspired playing, José González is one of today’s most remarkable artists – testament to the irrefutable power of one man and a guitar.

His debut album 'Veneer' captured his magical sound in its purest state, simply beautiful and beautifully simple. Touching on a remarkable array of influences, from folk to classic pop to a dazzling spectrum of world music, 'Veneer' touched audiences across the globe. Originally released in Sweden on Imperial Recordings in 2003 and on Hidden Agenda in North America in 2005, 'Veneer' was re-issued in the US on Mute Records in 2006. In September 2007 González will release his sophomore album, the highly anticipated 'In Our Nature' (released in the US on Mute). 'In Our Nature' sees González coming into his own as a songwriter – with songs that are as instantly accessible as they are brimming with darkness and brooding intensity.

In the four years since the Swedish release of 'Veneer,' González' global profile has grown steadily. Winning the Swedish Grammy for Best Newcomer in 2004, González was awarded the European Border Breaker Award in 2006 and the Swedish Government's Music Export Award 2007. His cover of The Knife's 'Heartbeats' (which appears on 'Veneer') was used in a successful European advertising campaign for the Sony Bravia LCD Television, and González' played multiple worldwide tours, performing for audiences in Europe, Asia, South America, and North America. 'Veneer' also went Platinum in Sweden and Great Britain, Double Platinum in Ireland and Gold in Australia and New Zealand

In March 2006 González performed seven times at SXSW – winning over audiences and critics in Austin TX. This set the stage for taking on North America. He has since toured the US extensively, selling out shows in every major market, and appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, The Carson Daly Show, with Zero 7 on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and on the nationally syndicated English-language television show American Latino. González was also a featured vocalist on the Grammy nominated Zero 7 album 'The Garden.'

In 2006 González performed at multiple music festivals including Central Park Summerstage in New York City, Austin City Limits, LA's Hollywood Bowl, Seattle's Bumbershoot, The Intonation Music Festival in Chicago and Toronto's V Fest. Most recently, González performed at the 2007 Coachella Music Festival in Indio California.

González, like his music, is deceptively unassuming, studied and powerful. Swedish-born but of Argentinean descent, González picked up the guitar at 14, learning the basics from his dad’s gift of a Beatles songbook, then studying classical guitar through his teens. At the same time as he was learning the ins-and-outs of his acoustic instrument, González indulged edgier tastes like The Misfits and Black Flag by playing bass in a pair of Gothenburg hardcore bands.

In 1998, González began playing guitar in a friend’s indie rock band, saving his own songs for an as-yet-undetermined purpose. He eventually put together his own trio, dubbed Junip, with an ear towards creating more experimental-tinged music a la Low and the Constellation Records catalog (home of, among others, of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, A Silver Mt. Zion, and Do Make Say Think). Incredibly, that wasn’t enough for the young musician. His newfound interest in artists such as Cat Power and Songs: Ohia – as well as a lifelong passion for singers like Chet Baker and Joao Gilberto – compelled him to attempt some solo recordings.

While working towards his PhD in biochemistry at the University of Gothenburg, González music career began to take shape, eventually forcing him to choose a career in music over one in research.

The foundation on which he builds his songs is the same on which he built his studies - he attacks his music patiently, methodically and with great interest in finding unexpected angles. 'In Our Nature' is about exploring these angels.

"I didn’t want to write about love but to find other – equally universal – themes for the songs" says González about the making of 'In Our Nature.' "These are things I have always been thinking about. But the last six months I became even more interested after I read the book 'The God Delusion' by Richard Dawkins. He’s an evolutionary biologist, but the lyrics are far from biological, I’d like to point that out. It’s mainly the themes that interest me."

"I like playing with symbolism," González continues, "On this album I’ve wanted to bring out the primitive aspects of human beings."

'In Our Nature' was recorded entirely on tape at a Gothenburg studio. Though González spent a great deal of time writing these new songs – playing them over and over into a voice recorder until he was confident in their arrangements – the actual recording of the album happened very quickly, taking less than two weeks in the studio to record and mix ten songs.

While it is sonically similar to 'Veneer,' 'In Our Nature' shows González' growth as a songwriter. Displaying a heightened emphasis on melody and strong, focused lyrics – the album is a dark combination of softness and anger that is at once mesmerizing, intimate and hauntingly epic.

Live On Stage:

Jose Gonzalez is often compared to Nick Drake - which isn't too far off. Gonzalez plays soft, sort of spooky yet beautiful sounding indie-folk. Here's a live performance he did for Spin...

IMEEM Playlist:

Music Videos:

This one is a bit creepy for someone so has such a dreamy, folkie sound. Here's "Down The Line"....

Couple more for you...



For more on Jose Gonzalez head on over to his official website.

Bonnawho's Who - Lez Zeppelin

Official Bio:

Since forming in 2004, LEZ ZEPPELIN - the New York City-based,all-girl, all-Zeppelin quartet -- has gained unanimous critical acclaim as one of the most exciting live acts around, becoming the first female rock act to pay homage to Led Zeppelin and to garner rave reviews across the board. LEZ ZEPPELIN stays true to the musically audacious spirit of the original, delivering the legendary rock band's blistering arrangements and monstrous sound note-for-note at sold-out shows across the country. The thing that sets them apart, however, is the seamless and unique way LEZ ZEPPELIN inject their gender-bending performance into the original material.

Recently profiled in SPIN, managing editor and author Chuck Klosterman proclaimed that Lez Zeppelin could be "the most powerful all-female band in rock history." Bob Stanley of The Times of London raved, "they are the best band I've seen all year, no question," and recently ran a front page feature that called the group so "electrifying" they are "driving club audiences to a frenzy."

Channeling Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham are: Sarah McLellan on vocals; Steph Paynes on electric and acoustic guitar and theremin; Lisa Brigantino on bass, keyboards and mandolin; and Helen Destroy on drums.

For those skeptics who still dare to ask: Can four women pull off the exuberant, powerful and musically intricate performances for which Led Zeppelin was known, a LEZ ZEPPELIN show is nothing short of a revelation.

The band has just released their debut album Produced by the legendary Eddie Kramer known for his work with Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Hendrix, KISS, Lauren Hill etc. The record is being released on Emanation Records/Redeye Distribution worldnwide.

Live On Stage:

This is the band that caused NME to declare that Led Zeppelin was headlining Bonnaroo this year - hyping they had a midnight exclusive. Well the Manchester faithful will still be able to get the Led out though, as these ladies wail. Check them out for yourself....

Maybe Robert Plant will stop by for a sit-in.

IMEEM Playlist:

For more on Lez Zeppelin head on over to their official website.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Bonnawho's Who - Rogue Wave

Official Bio:
Emerson once wrote, "When it is darkest, men see the stars' and he might as well have been penning a poem for Rogue Wave. Last year was a rollercoaster ride for the foursome - drummer Pat Spurgeon had a kidney transplant, keyboardist Gram LeBron lost his father, singer Zach Rogue had a daughter and the band recruited a new bass player (Patrick Abernethy, formerly of Beulah). But instead of falling apart, they converted all their heartbreak, love, hurt, pain, elation and insight into a most affecting and beguiling record, Asleep At Heaven's Gate.

Rogue Wave's Brushfire Records debut, Asleep At Heaven's Gate, is a proudly defiant album shot through with heartfelt self-examination and a wider commentary on the flawed world around us. 'The entire record is about the internal joy that we've been feeling at being able to overcome so much in the last year and then looking around at the country we love, which is disintegrating before our eyes,' declares Zach Rogue. 'I heard this guy on NPR talking about duality in relation to being with his mother when she died. Most people describe death as the most awful thing they could ever experience. But as he was watching the life leave her body, that instant was both the most horrifying moment in his life and the most beautiful, spiritual, and enlightening moment he ever had. Life is all about those dualities"

"There's an intensity and a fury to Asleep At Heaven's Gate," he continues. 'There is a sense of darkness, urgency and tension that we haven't had on our records before. It's new territory and it feels like a new band in a lot of ways.'

Rogue Wave came into existence in 2002, when Zach Rogue decided to put down on tape some of the songs that had been kicking around in his head for years. After initially self-recording and self-releasing the resulting album, Out Of The Shadow, Rogue Wave became a full band and found a home on Sub Pop Records, who reissued the album to widespread acclaim. Descended Like Vultures followed in 2005, earning the band more rave reviews and landing their music on 'Weeds,' 'Heroes' and 'Friday Night Lights.'

After touring non-stop for over a year in support of their second album Descended Like Vultures they took a much-deserved break (though they did come out of hiding to contribute 'Sightlines' to the hit Spiderman 3 soundtrack). 'When we recorded Descended Like Vultures, we had been on the road for months and we had only a few days off before we went into the studio,' Rogue confides. 'We were exhausted and burnt out. This time, we had a few months off to relax and reflect - and it shows.' Produced by Roger Moutenot (Yo La Tengo, Sleater Kinney, Elvis Costello) with Zach Rogue and recorded in Forestville, California, Asleep At Heaven's Gate was derailed two weeks into the sessions after technical problems mis-pitched a majority of the early tracks. Refusing to be defeated, the foursome decamped to their studio in Oakland, CA where they spent days salvaging what they could, rerecorded some tunes and laid down overdubs. The results are worth it, because Asleep At Heaven's Gate finds the band at their most accomplished.

'Christians In Black,' which was inspired by a suicide, is a gentle ballad that gently combines Nick Drake and Neil Young, while 'Chicago x 12' is a dulcet slice of melancholia that deftly manages to make self-doubt sound uplifting. The shimmering and glimmering mini-anthem 'Lake Michigan' is a highlight, full of Seventies pop sensibilities and uplifting melodies, though in part it tackles 'environmental destruction and the greed that perpetuates our inability to make any kind of progress,' according to Rogue.

Part of the richness of Asleep At Heaven's Gate is due to the band's newfound sense of experimentalism. "We were listening to a lot of Wendy Carlos, who scored Tron, A Clockwork Orange and The Shining," Rogue says by way of explanation. She is responsible for a lot the ambient noise and the interesting sounds you hear. It's that noise versus melody abstract sound debate. It's the idea that banging on a wall or hitting a door with your hand can be a musical instrument.'

Asleep At Heaven's Gate is not just the work of its four members strumming chords and hitting doors though, guest appearances and collaborations abound. Matthew Caws from Nada Surf sings on a couple of songs, indie innovator John Vanderslice contributes, Snowblink's Daniela Gesundheit sings on a number of tracks, Dominic East of Our Lady of the Highway lends vocals and Bill Cameron of the Winechuggers plays keyboards on 'Ghost.' For the sun-kissed epic Own Your Own Home,' the band invited thirty friends into the studio with acoustic instruments of every ilk. In fact, Rogue estimates that they ended up using about 150 different instruments during the various recording sessions.

Asleep At Heaven's Gate is an album about hopes and fears, triumphs and tragedies, sadness and joy. Filled with darkness and light swirled together, Asleep At Heaven's Gate is a stirring sonic reminder of the dualities that make life such an unforgettable and incomparable ride.

Live On Stage:

This is a band that I just recently started listening to, after discovering their album - Descended By Vultures. I dig their dreamy California indie-pop sound, take a listen...

IMEEM Playlist:

Music Videos:

If this song sounds familiar it's probably because you've heard in the Zune commercial, here's Lake Michigan...

A couple more for your viewing pleasure..


Publish My Love

For more on Rogue Wave hit up their official website.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Bonnawho's Who - Ghostland Observatory

Official Bio:

Live On Stage:

There are two things that I know about Ghostland Observatory - 1) one of the guys likes to wear a cape on stage and 2) my friend came back raving about their performance at Langerado, after having no idea who there were before she went. From what I hear these guys are absolutely killer live if you're into electro-rock music and want to dance you ass off. Check out in action...

No official music videos, so got one more live performance for you instead...

IMEEM Playlist:

For more on Ghostland Observatory check in with their official website.

Bonnawho's Who - Grand Ole Party

Official Bio:

"I must be the devil's daughter/ what a dark father to dwell in me oh I must be the devil's daughter/ such a dark father to dwell in me bastard child that I am/ oh you can see it in my swagger in the palmist's lines of my hands/ in my lips that bud like daggers look out young son/ when I bloom you'll come a-crawling - “Look Out Young Son”

How do you explain on a piece of paper the elements that make a band truly exciting and genuinely unique? Sometimes, a good starting point is simple geography. When Grand Ole Party sets the stage for their live show, the placement of their drums and amps is the first cue: three abreast, with the drum kit front and center. The uninitiated will then experience the next surprise when the three-piece takes the stage and the lone female musician moves her diminutive frame behind the kit. The third moment of wonderment comes when lead vocalist Kristin Gundred opens her mouth to sing and a cavalcade of power and passion comes out. But none of these things are gimmicks, and Grand Ole Party isn’t trying to shatter your preconceptions, they just wanna rock out.

Since late 2005, musicians Kristin Gundred (vocals, drums) John Paul Labno (guitar) and Mike Krechnyak (bass) have been writing music, touring clubs and putting on the kind of live show that makes friends tell friends to get off the couch and into the club. The trio met while attending University of California, Santa Cruz, jammed together in a loose collective, then decided to get serious, taking the newly-formed group around the U.S. until they found a place that seemed like a good fit. San Diego is where they landed, and where they have gone on to cultivate a rabid following of fans devoted to their raucous live show.

It has all unfolded very quickly, as tends to happen with bands who have that rare combination of fierce songs and onstage electricity. Grand Ole Party’s first show was at a friend’s house in February 2006, and the word spread like wildfire about their compelling live set; they’ve played a host of club dates, including opening for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs just eight months after their humble beginnings.

The group was nominated for the 2006 San Diego Best New Artist Award in and set out to record their debut CD in March 2007 with Blake Sennett of Rilo Kiley and The Elected at the helm. It was a blitzkrieg of 12-hour days, five days straight, largely live-to-tape, according to front-woman Kristin: “We recorded live because we wanted that same energy from our live show to be present in the studio. We were pretty excited because recording Humanimals made us more self-aware of our sound and took us from a live-only project to a tangible, playable thing.” Guitarist John Paul Labno also echoes the enthusiasm of Sennett’s production talents:“In the studio, his biggest asset was in coaxing us to do good takes, and knowing when we had them. It kept it exciting. He had certain ideas and helped us experiment with them. In the end, it sounded just like GOP.” That Grand Ole Party sound – freshly infusing raw funk and stripped-down soul into primal, infectious rock and roll – was truly captured on Humanimals.

Listen to tracks like “Gypsy March”, “Dirty Spirit Rag” and “Belle Isle” and you’ll hear a host of timeless influences coming clearly through Kristin’s vocals; the singer cites inspirations including Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Patti Smith, Grace Slick and Motown girl groups. “It took me until I was 20 to break free from total shyness and start actually doing something,” explains Kristin. (She’s now 23)“When we play together I feel whole… It's me at my best.” While you’re listening, take note of disc closer “Radio” which was remixed by dub legend The Scientist.

Bassist Krechnyak confirms that Humanimals was a challenging process, but believes that every ounce of energy invested was well worth it: “We have sacrificed a lot but it has never been a very tough decision to do so. Music and art in general is a way of living…it's also a response to the world around you, it's survival. This record, and the music we're making, it's a very natural thing for us because it's what connects us to the elements, to the world.”

The word is spreading fast, brothers and sisters. Just prior to a fall tour with Rilo Kiley the group was once again nominated at the 2007 San Diego Music Awards, this time in two categories: Best Alternative Artist and Artist of the Year. Without question, the more they play, the more the excitement builds.

This is your official invitation to the Grand Ole Party.

Live On Stage:

Grand Ole Party are one of the latest additions to the Bonnaroo line-up and are currently on tour with Rilo Kiley. If you crossed Karen O, Janis Joplin and Grace Slick together you probably end up with someone who sounds like GOP's lead singer Kristen Gundred - oh and she also happens to be the drummer. Check them out live and you'll see what I'm talking about....

No music videos out there so let's go with one more live clip...

IMEEM Playlist:

For more on Grand Ole Party head on over to their official website.

Panic At (The Silent) Disco

In the wake of the Allmans cancellation, Superfly promised us an exciting announcement for today and here it is…

The Bonnaroo Music And Arts Festival is pleased to announce that Widespread Panic will now close the 2008 festival, headlining the main stage on Sunday evening, June 15.

Jack Johnson has chosen to join his friends Pearl Jam on the main stage Saturday night stepping into the slot vacated by the Allmans. Jack will perform beginning at sunset, to be followed by Pearl Jam’s closing main stage set.

We’re also excited to note the additions of Les Claypool, Chali 2na of Jurassic 5, Superdrag, What Made Milwaukee Famous, Adele, Grand Ole Party, and The Postelles to this year’s festival line up.

This will mark the Southern jam titans fifth appearance in Manchester.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bonnawho's Who - Ladytron

Official Bio:

Four very different individuals assembled three years ago from different parts of the world under circumstances that are no longer important. They had similar views on what today and tomorrow meant to them, but what really mattered was that they wanted to make an album that cleared the skies for city kids, country kids, kids who love the sound of analog synths, and kids who don’t know what a synth is.

Light & Magic is Ladytron’s second album, the follow-up to their debut 604, an album that sneaked out of Liverpool and quietly crept up on people everywhere – from London to Los Angeles – to become one of the most critically acclaimed and influential records of recent years.

Putting firm emphasis on writing pop songs that transcend genre, from the release of their first single “He Took Her to a Movie” in early ‘99, the band existed outside fashion and against the grain. Songs about Spatial Girls, City Lines, Spanish Comedowns, Jetlag, Hotels, Fires, Cheap Models.

”...the first great electro pop record of the new millenium.” – Muzik Magazine

”...the best piece of electronic music since ‘Enjoy the Silence.’” – Felix da Housecat

Ladytron spent 2001 playing festivals, touring Europe and DJing, all the while confusing, amusing, and picking up more adjectives along the way. Eventually, the band went back home and started to pull together a bag load of Techno and the Teardrop Explodes, My Bloody Valentine and the Shangri-Las, hibernating in their studio, only emerging to DJ around Europe and the USA, generally breathing a bit of life into machines.

”...existential art terrorist chic meets Comme Des Garcons catwalk show.” – NME

As spring 2002 refused to budge, they packed their laptops and took songs from rainy England to meet California sunshine, and put the finishing touches to their northern songs in a studio on the Hollywood b-side, fenced in by palm trees, kerb-crawlers and stilletto-merchants.

Meanwhile the electro sound blossomed all the way from New York to Berlin, and 604 soundtracked the way. Ladytron have – perfectly on cue – created an album that defies the “new” genre’s many cliches. With an emphasis on songwriting and narrative, and incorporating everything from analog warmth to dreamy vocals to varied beats, Light & Magic….

Boasting directness, richness and variation is an album that outshines their debut, displaying the killer pop instinct that made 604 and songs like “Playgirl” and “He Took Her to a Movie” now-classics.

From the nag-nag-nag of “True Mathematics” to the pop extreme of “Evil” (“Papa Don’t Preach” meets The Exorcist), harsh Roland riffs collide headlong with long nights of Lee Hazlewood. Elsewhere, Joy Division solos get battered by Chicago house, but most of all Light and Magic is an album of simplicity, stories and warmth made by four people in love with classic pop.

Live On Stage:

I can't even pretend I know anything about Ladytron other then what I just looked up on Wikipedia. They play electro-pop, that's about all I got - let's take a listen....

IMEEM Playlist:

Music Videos:

A plethora of videos to choose from, I dug this one for Destroy Everything You Touch...

Some more to check out...



Jet Age

For more Ladytron hit up their official site.

Bonnawho's Who - Battles

Official Bio:

Some bands need biographies written on them, some bands don’t, yet someone still foolishly insists on writing one. Brooklyn’s Battles fall squarely into the latter category. Nonetheless…

Rising from the ether of a pop-scarred 2004, the enigmatic EP C announced Battles arrival like a blinding succession of Morse Code strobes across an aphotic landscape. Even as a short-form debut it was clear that band members Ian Williams, John Stanier, Tyondai Braxton and Dave Konopka had established something utterly unique. Instead of the conventional band dynamic of individual players waiting for their turn to be showcased, the members of Battles are more analogous to a tangle of brain synapses all firing in time with each other.

Having served time in seminal acts Don Caballero, Helmet, Tomahawk, Lynx and The Mark of Cain amongst others, Battles draw from a sprawling range of styles and sounds and distill this erratic static into the tightest mindfuck jams to be committed to playable format. Closely following EP C, Tras/Fantasy served as another definitive dose of labyrinthine, juggernaut rhythms and equilibrium-shifting textures that would safely place the band outside the orbit of any contemporaries.

On this first pair of EPs, Stanier’s drumming is like pinpoint buckshot, Williams’ guitar is sharpened schizophrenia, Braxton’s sound manipulations are fragments focused and Konopka’s guitar is malleable granite?which is to say, all are nearly impossible to define yet none can be ignored. Late in 2004, Battles unleashed B EP and set their cryptic marks in stone. Centered by a set of extended musical movements, B EP was a fitting conclusion to the band’s inception-as-trilogy.

In 2005 Battles set off across the globe on tour with Prefuse 73 and his crack live collective, combining driving atonal grooves and bombastic improvised fury that landed them in Japan opening for The Mars Volta and establishing their reputation as one of the most exciting live acts to crisscross the globe. The sheer musical breadth of their first three EPs and the lasting impact of their live shows have left fans and skeptics alike in perplexed anticipation of their debut full-length.

This May will see the release of Mirrored, Battles first album proper and a significant measure of evolution from a band that has yet to cease moving. Still entirely intact are the unflinching experimentations and metallic angles of their young catalog, but a new melodic insight has manifested itself in the form of some of their most engaging tracks yet. “Tonto” opens with and off-kilter series of chimes and chugs which are welded to a forcibly shuffling drumbeat and a foreboding chant that gives way to a soaring midsection. First single “Atlas” is a verifiable anthem, unrelenting and gigantic, but never surrendering the skewed aesthetic of the band’s past. With snaking, entrancing harmonies and thundering percussive force, Battles are a distorted reflection of an entire musical diaspora view of innovation and tension reverberated as a flash, mirrored.

Live On Stage:

Battles play that complex derivative of punk and prog called Math Rock - and I'll warn you it's not for everyone. Here's a example of just what I mean...

IMEEM Playlist:

Music Videos:

I remember digging this video looked when I caught it on Subterranean awhile back, here's Atlas...

One more for ya...


For more on The Battles hit up their official website.

No 'Roo For The Allmans

Some more unfortunate news out of the Allmans camp....

We regret to inform you that the cancellation of the Allman Brothers Band’s spring performances, including their run at the Beacon Theater in New York City, has been expanded to include the Bonnaroo Music Festival.

From the official press release:

“For the past six months, founding member GREGG ALLMAN has been receiving scheduled treatments for Hepatitis C, a virus that, with these treatments, has become curable in recent years. The treatments so far have been successful and the virus has been eradicated from his system.

However, the recovery time from the side effects of the treatment are taking longer than originally projected. Since the Allman Brothers Band are known for exhilarating and exhausting concert performances they don’t want to give fans anything less than they have come to expect; so the band members made a group decision to delay the first round of dates. “I’m getting better but I’m still tired,” says Gregg. “I need to be at 110% to do the shows the way we do them. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the support and understanding my Brothers and our fans have given me.”

As for other Allman Brothers Band dates, a 12-concert jaunt planned for August, including two that have been announced so far (8/16 in Boston, MA and 8/23 in Camden, NJ), will go on as scheduled. The rescheduling of the Beacon Theatre run and additional fall shows will be announced soon. Gregg and the Allman Brothers Band appreciate the ongoing support they have always received from their fans and look forward to seeing them this summer. The road goes on forever…”

Superfly is also promising a big announcement for tomorrow.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Bonnawho's Who - The Coup

Official Bio:

The Coup's new album, Pick A Bigger Weapon, kicks off with a classic Boots Riley line — "I'm a walking contradiction/Like bullets and love mixin'..."— and then it just gets better. After a 14-year career that has defined the word "uncompromising", the Coup return armed with bigger funk and taller tales.

Backed by a stellar band that includes Audioslave's Tom Morello, Dwayne Wiggins, and veterans of Parliament-Funkadelic, the Gap Band, Toni! Tony! Toné!, Jesse Johnson, and Frankie Beverly and Maze, the sound is a little edgier on this record and the beats a little faster." The Coup'suniquely bent grooves point to "Dirty Mind"-era Prince, late-80s Too Short, and the trunk-rattling hyphy sonics of the New Bay movement.

The song-cycle of Pick A Bigger Weapon highlights Boots' storytelling gifts— the same outrageous humor, underdog love, and righteous rage that produced classics like "Fat Cats/Bigga Fish" ("Genocide & Juice") and "Me & Jesus The Pimp In A '79 Granada Last Night" ("Steal This Album"). The songs capture the collisions between economics and everyday life, the political and the personal.

The album begins with "We Are The Ones", the story of a street player who could be related to Slick Rick or the late Bay Area rap hero, Mac Dre. "Laugh/Love/Fuck" is a breezy manifesto. "My Favorite Mutiny" showcases a lyricist’s dream session with the Roots' Black Thought and Talib Kweli. "Head of State" turns war-weariness into a riotous joke.

Songs like "Mindfuck (A New Equation)", "Captain Sterling's Little Problem", and the true-life tragedy of "Tiffany Hall" are as harrowing as "Two Thumbs Way Down/I Love Boosters" (with a cameo by Jello Biafra) is hilarious. "BabyLet’sHaveABabyBeforeBushDoSomethin’Crazy" (featuring the stunning singer/rapper Silk E) is an apocalyptic love song that recalls X's "The World's A Mess, It's In My Kiss" and Marvin Gaye's "If I Should Die Tonight". "IJusWannaLayAroundAllDayInBedWithYou" finds utopia in the bedroom.

"All we have on earth are our seconds and minutes, and in order to survive, we're forced to sell that time. We sell our lives off to the highest bidder," Boots says. "The question is how would we use those seconds if we had control of that time?"

Born in Chicago and raised in East Oakland's Funktown neighborhood, Boots became a teenage community organizer, but later switched from a clipboard to the microphone, forming the Coup with rapper E-Roc. Pam the Funkstress, the first female DJ star in the famously competitive Bay Area turntablist scene, later signed on.

Their 1991 self-distributed EP landed them a deal with Wild Pitch Records. Two singles, "Dig It" and "Not Yet Free", cracked BET and national black radio. Their debut, 1993's Kill My Landlord, went on to wide acclaim. The next year, Genocide and Juice shot up the charts, but stalled when EMI absorbed Wild Pitch. E-Roc then left the group.

1998's Steal This Album, released by indie label Dogday Records, was received as a masterpiece and sealed the Coup's rep. But the band's next record, Party Music, scheduled for release shortly after 9/11, became a cultural flashpoint amidst Cheney-Ashcroft hysteria. The album’s original cover (completed three months prior to 9/11) depicted the crew setting off an explosion in the World Trade Center using a guitar tuner and drumsticks. The band's label, 75 Ark, pulled the cover immediately after the attacks.

"As far as the record industry was concerned, it was the end of my career," Boots says. Instead, Boots' defiant refusal to "ride the fence" and the album's undeniable funk made it an underdog favorite. The album hit #8 in the 2001 Pazz and Jop Poll, the most important year-end critic's list.

At the same time, Boots visited South Africa's World Conference Against Racism with the Black August hip-hop tour, where he distributed tens of thousands free cassettes of music in the Oakland community, what he calls "newspapers on tape". He also founded Shoyoass Words, Sounds, & Pictures, a record and media company specializing in music and art that he calls "relevant to social change."

In 2003, the Coup joined with Billy Bragg, Steve Earle, Tom Morello, and Janeane Garofalo, on the barnstorming, Bush-slapping "Tell Us the Truth" tour. Working with those artists proved influential on Pick A Bigger Weapon. "This album took a bit longer, because all of these influences were getting a chance to settle," says Boots, also citing the Clash’s “Bankrobber” as another substantial influence.

"I always think my next album is gonna be my last," Boots laughs, "like it may not sell and I’ll have to do something else. So it drives me to make an album that people might remember as the best one I did."

The record achieves a musical and thematic unity. "I like albums like Songs in the Key of Life, Death Certificate, Beatles albums," says Boots. "I like feeling like I'm getting a presentation, rather than a bunch of Polaroids of people in the studio on a certain day." Pick A Bigger Weapon is here. They say it's a democracy. You decide.

Live On Stage:

The Coup may be most famously known for the cover art for their '01 album Party Music that depicted Boots Riley and Pam the Funkstress appearing to detonate the Twin Towers and was set to hit stores in mid-September of that year. It brought a lot of attention to the act, who pushed the release back to November so new art could be created. Sorry for the weighty story, here's The Coup performing at South Paw in Brooklyn from '05....

IMEEM Playlist:

Music Videos:

Just because I like the one of this one, we're going with it. Here's Fat Cats And Bigga Fish...

Few more to check out...


Dig It

Not Yet Free

For more on The Coup check out their official website.

Bonnawho's Who - The Sword

Official Bio:

is a colossal, high-energy powerhouse. Utilizing a potent combination of intense songwriting chemistry, eye-opening creativity and talent and a distinctly unique vision, THE SWORD is, without question, one of heavy music’s most electrifying new bands.

Conceived in Austin, TX in 2003, THE SWORD took the form of a cohesive quartet in early 2004 when guitarist / singer J.D. Cronise, guitarist Kyle Shutt, bassist Bryan Richie, and drummer Trivett Wingo joined forces. Inspired by such legendary names as SLEEP, SLAYER and THE MELVINS, the four-piece immediately began to construct the songs that would soon comprise their initial demo recording.

...THE SWORD has a double office to perform: to destroy anything that opposes the will of its user and to sacrifice all the impulses that arise from the instinct of self-preservation.

THE SWORD’s live shows quickly became the hottest ticket in Austin, as their punishing, yet melodious compositions, mythical imagery and conscious effort to slowly immobilize audiences left music fans astonished while word about the band continued to flourish and grow. Less than a year after their formation, THE SWORD became known as "Austin's most dangerous band".

Soon, an increased number of regional live dates had gained the band an army of followers. That, combined with a devastating performance at SXSW 2004, led to the band sharing the stage with respected noise heroes like JUCIFER, DON CABELLERO and MASTODON. In April, 2004, THE SWORD was invited to hit the road alongside fellow Austin music heroes ...AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD. The month-long tour introduced their formidable live show to thousands of stunned new devotees along the east coast and Midwest U.S.

...very frequently THE SWORD may simply mean pure destruction, and then it is the symbol of force, sometimes devilish force.

Following another much-talked about performance at SXSW 2005 and the awareness of the quartet’s talent at an all-time high, the band found a home in diverse NYC label Kemado Records. A number of new songs already in hand, songwriting for the band’s debut full-length immediately resumed.

Set for release in February, 2006, "THE SWORD" is a mind-blowing, nine-song journey inside the mysterious, yet concrete world THE SWORD call their own. Recorded at Austin’s Folkvang Studios, the album was engineered by bassist Richie and produced by frontman J.D. Cronise, ensuring the complete capture of the hard-earned sound the band has worked so tirelessly to achieve. Mastered by Rick Essig at Master Cutting Room (THE NEW YORK DOLLS, CHIC COREA) and featuring atypical album art by ...AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD main man Conrad Keely, the band’s self-titled debut is set to send shockwaves throughout the hard rock community at large.

Exhilarating songs such as the powerfully monolithic "Celestial Crown", the heavy-handed "Freya", the graceful then rampaging "Iron Swan", "March of the Lor" with it’s gripping, towering build and the catchy, colossal closer "Ebethron" instantly convey what words can only try to describe: THE SWORD is not to be taken lightly.

...As something of divinity enters into the making of THE SWORD, its owner and wielder should also respond to the inspiration. His mind should be at one with the soul which animates the cold steel.

Live On Stage:

Metallica isn't going to the only metal band to bring head banging to Manchester this year. The Sword are everything you'll love in a metal act - heavy, sludgy, proggy, odd time signatures, lots of hair, etc. Check out this fantastically shot performance from The Local 506 in Chapel Hill, NC...

IMEEM Playlist:

Music Videos:

These guys have two videos to their name, here's Winter's Wolves...


For more on The Sword head on over to their official website.

Bonnawho's Who - Two Gallants

Official Bio:

Ever since 2002 when Adam Stephens (guitar/vocals/harmonica) and Tyson Vogel (drums/vocals) began making noise at house parties and on street corners they've slowly been carving out their own creative space. In a world where bigger is often considered better and quality is sacrificed with ease, Two Gallants have risen against the tide with their cathartic, stripped-down sound and depth of material to forge an intimate bond with a wide array of fans.

"The intensity of our interaction while playing is clearly quite different" explains Stephens. "I think it's the product of both of us pushing our own selves so hard and so far that out of necessity we have to lean upon each other to keep from flying off the track."

There is no substitute for an honest, deep connection built on trust and respect. Through the shared experience of growing up together in San Francisco, Two Gallants have pushed each other into a unique and timeless spectrum of music. They craft emotional, visceral, intelligent songs that remind us of America's folk, country, and blues traditions but are fueled with the energy of punk. Through Stephens' first-person narratives, murder ballads, and drunken outlaw tales, Two Gallants have taped into the universal struggle of the human condition as they channel the pain of men twice their age.

Speaking to their on-stage relationship, Stephens says, "[As a guitar player] I stick to the basic structure of the song, Tyson listens to the changes in vocals and melody; he draws them out and intensifies them. Tyson has a plan but it never grows old and lost in routine." While Vogel's unorthodox drumming and gut-wrenching support vocals give the songs life, it's Stephens' words that give them a soul. "There's something about the way he sees things" says Vogel. "He's very convicted, clear and emotionally pregnant. There's a real unique clarity and truth to what he sees and how he puts that forward through music and writing."

As the band continued to grow, tour, and write new songs, they found a home at the seminal indie label Saddle Creek in both the US and Europe. Always known as a record label that does things their own way, the fertile grounds of Saddle Creek have provided Two Gallants with the freedom to grow as they constantly work to refine their craft. In response to their nearly 200 international shows last year and two solid albums (2004's The Throes and 2006's What The Toll Tells) Two Gallants have garnered remarkable praise in almost every major music publication including MOJO, Rolling Stone, Harp, Paste, Uncut, Pitchfork, Vice, NME, to name a few. But it's the pair of 2007 releases, the acoustic EP Scenery of Farewell and self-titled third full-length, that finds the band coming of age in the studio. "The live context is always where we've felt the most comfortable, it's where the magic or the spiritual side of things comes in" offers Vogel; "where as recording has taken some warming up to, until now."

After working with Alex Newport (Mars Volta, At the Drive-In) on a new mix of The Throes, they developed a creative compatibility and asked him to produce their next two albums. By combining Newport's personality, experience as a musician and recording engineer with a new batch of songs the band had written specifically for the new record, Two Gallants have created their most fully-realized, cohesive piece of work to date.

While the new album documents the band's growth and maturity, as Stephens says, "This record was a bit of a return to our beginnings. I think that's why we decided to have it stay simple and self-titled." By harnessing the power of what they do live and relying on each other, Two Gallants expands on what makes this band so special: their exceptional songwriting and raw chemistry.

Live On Stage:

Like the White Stripes and the Black Keys the Two Gallants are a guitar and drums duo - but the similarities end there. While those acts are steeped in the blues, the Two Gallants sort fall into the wordy singer/songwriter camp. Check it out for yourself their appearance on Jimmy Kimmel...

Download: Two Gallants - 2007-06-03 - The Electric Factory - Philadelphia, PA

IMEEM Playlist:

Music Videos:

Here's the duo with The Prodigal Son....

Few more you might want to check out...

Despite What You've Been Told

Steady Rollin'

For more on the Two Gallants check out their official website.

Bonnawho's Who - Money Mark

Official Bio:

Money Mark is the most recent artist signed to Brushfire Records but he has been a long time friend of the Brushfire Family. Mark and Jack Johnson met during a late ’90s recording session helmed by notable producer Mario Caldato, Jr. (who also produced Mark’s forthcoming record Brand New By Tomorrow), with Mark subsequently playing upright piano in Jack’s band during a tour of Japan. Mark also appears on the Jack Johnson and friends dvd “Live at The Greek”.

Mark has had quite an impressive career. He has collaborated on crucial recordings with the likes of Yoko Ono, Porno For Pyros, Beck, Jack Johnson, and Blues Explosion, to name but a few. He was lynchpin of an early line-up of Jakob Dylan’s Wallflowers, and his musicality was the organic ingredient that induced the Beastie Boys’ rebirth beginning with 1992’s epochal Check Your Head. Adept at melding funk, jazz, hip-hop, folk, Afro-Cuban and Latin musics as well as brain-goggling experimentalist noise, this one-time Los Angeles Lakers ball-boy is an acknowledged master of staying in a musical pocket that’s forever changing shape. Considering his low-key heroics, it’s just desserts that a few years back Money Mark was immortalized in the form of his own collectable action figure. Among the chart-topping tracks, touring, and toys, however, Mark has also crafted out a fine solo career.

Mark’s first three solo albums (Mark’s Keyboard Repair from 1995, 1998’s Push The Button, and 2001’s Change Is Coming) were followed by a trio of rougher records (Love Stains: A Demo, Demo Or Demolition?; and Father Demo’s Square), each incorporating the word “demo” to indicate they were demonstrations of what would reach full flower later in his fourth solo album Brand New By Tomorrow.

Live On Stage:

Money Mark is probably best know for his work with the Beastie Boys - both in the studio and in their touring band - but he's also released a number of albums on his own. If you dig G. Love, Jack Johnson and the like you're going to want to circle MM's set on your schedule. Here he is in action...

IMEEM Playlist:

Here's Money Marks's latest for your listening pleasure...

Music Videos:

Got a bunch to choice from here, but since he happens to be huge in Japan (I swear, look it up) we'll go with this one....

Few more to check out...

Pick Up The Pieces

Hand In Your Head

For more on Money Mark make your way on over to his official website.

Night Club & Cafe Artists Announced

The latest batch of artist additions have been announced here's some info...

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of Bonnaroo is the opportunity for new musical discoveries...and, once again, Bonnaroo is eager to share with you a few of the many under-the-radar up-and-coming artists that have caught our ear in the past year or more. This time, we're delighted that the Troo Music Lounge and the Blue Room Café will host talented performers not only from the continental USA but also from Bonnaroo's increasingly extended musical community...including Hawaii, Australia, Canada, and...two from Africa.

Make sure that your Bonnaroo weekend includes a regular visit to the Troo Music Lounge and the Blue Room Café. You may discover your new favorite band!

Alana Grace - Amy La Vere - Bear In Heaven - Bombadil - Carney - Colour Revolt - Cornmeal -De Novo Dahl - Dead Confederate - Electric Touch - Erick Baker - Extra Golden - Howlin Rain - Jake Shimabukuro - Jessie Baylin - Jypsi - K'NAAN - Lord T & Eloise - Mike Farris f. Roseland Rhythm Revue - The Nikhil Korula Band - Nomo - Person L - Phonograph - Rotary Downs - Royal Bangs - Scissormen - Sometymes Why - stephaniesid - The Afromotive - The American Plague - The Big Sleep - The Duhks - The Everybodyfields - The Greencards - The Weather Underground - Your Vegas

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Bonnawho's Who: Back Door Slam

Official Bio:

Almost everyone, if pressed, can recall some key point in their life when a single event caused them to suddenly and dramatically alter course. To have had such a revelation at age 11 and to have made good on it—turning a spontaneous passion into a serious profession that demands life-long commitment—now that’s a little out of the ordinary.

“I was in a car with my dad, and he put on Dire Straits’ ‘Sultans of Swing,’” explains Davy Knowles, 20-year-old guitarist, singer and principal songwriter of the blues-rock trio Back Door Slam. “I just fell in love with the music then and there. That track changed my life, and I realized, ‘I really want to be able to do that.’ ”

The inspirational moment occurred on the Isle of Man, the tiny kingdom stuck in the middle of the Irish Sea (roughly equidistant from Belfast to the west and Liverpool to the east), where the teenaged trio coalesced—with this particular lineup in 2006. Knowles and drummer Ross Doyle, 20, had played together in a prior version; bassist Adam Jones, 19, was the most recent to join. Taking its name from a song popularized by early inspiration Robert Cray, Back Door Slam, has, however, acted rather swiftly on its intention to make good. Under the guidance of the same IOM-based management team that launched multi-platinum Grammy-nominated Corinne Bailey Rae last year, they have already issued a pair of EPs and a full concert DVD, wowed audiences at the U.S.’s taste-making South by Southwest conference, supported name acts as diverse as Don McLean and Elvin Bishop, and prepared an audaciously impressive debut album, ROLL AWAY, issued by independent Blix Street Records, best known for the catalogue of recordings by the late Eva Cassidy. That release was preceded by the band’s first full American tour.

If conventional wisdom has it that the most popular activity of the young is rebelling against everything that preceded them, it’s wisdom that is in need of some reevaluation. Both the general tradition of the blues and the specific experience of Back Door Slam refute it, in ways that support the linkage of all good music across any expanse of time or space. “Sultans of Swing” got Knowles started on guitar (“I nicked my dad’s acoustic and figured the song out by ear. I must’ve played it for a year.”) and led him to his father’s record collection. “That’s where I found people like John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers,” Knowles recalls with obvious fondness, “and, from there, I got into Eric Clapton and Peter Green in the early Fleetwood Mac, and [late Irish axe-man] Rory Gallagher, who I just love. Then I began reading guitar-player magazines and started seeing who the people I was influenced by had listened to, which is how I learned about Blind Willie Johnson and Robert Johnson.”

While classmates spent time tuned in to Metallica or Britney Spears, Knowles “was more into the vintage music.” So were his eventual bandmates. “Ross initially liked indie rock, though he’s really into blues now, and Adam has wide tastes; he likes Jeff Buckley and things like that.” Nor has Knowles pigeon-holed himself; if blues is his bailiwick, he’s also inspired by “English folk music, like Bert Jansch and [Jansch’s Pentangle guitar partner] John Renbourn” and classic soul singers (“Marvin Gaye and especially Ray Charles, who is just incredible and irreplaceable”).

All these elements come into play on ROLL AWAY, which was recorded at DAM Studios in Douglas, the principal city on the Isle of Man, with producer Dave Armstrong (whose credits include fellow Manx music export and renowned songbird Christine Collister). It’s an impressive set, full of stirring blues, bruising rockers and affecting minor-key ballads, that marks Back Door Slam’s as one of the year’s most stunning arrivals “We wanted to make the record as raw as we could,” Knowles says. “Not too many overdubs. We tried our best to get a real live sound.

“We recorded the album on and off over the course of a year, as we were also doing gigs across the U.K., and in France. Some of the songs we’ve had kicking around for a year or more, so this album sort of provided ‘closure’ for a lot of the things we didn’t have a chance to record earlier.”

Among such songs is “Too Late,” whose arrangement alternates between a sparse acoustic-guitar sound and full-blown band dynamics. “That was the first proper song I wrote,” Knowles says with a laugh. “I was on holiday with my parents and didn’t have a guitar for two weeks, so I made friends with this French gypsy guy who hung out at the restaurant we ate at. He lent me his guitar, and I wrote that song.” Of more recent vintage is the somewhat folk-bluesy title track, which shares a similar genesis. “It’s the first song I wrote without a guitar,” Knowles adds. “I was out on a dog walk, and I just got the melody and all the lyrics. Then, I had to put the guitar to it when I got home.”

“Roll Away” addresses the dilemma, he says, of living in such a desirable but off-the-beaten-path locale as the Isle of Man (“Roll away/Maybe I’ll return to this island some day”): “It’s a beautiful place and so nice, but it’s also small and insular in its thinking in a way. I feel lucky to have grown up there, but you can’t forget there’s also a world out there beyond it.”

Other highlights of the program are the tough-riffed “Outside Woman Blues” (the album’s one track not written by Knowles), “Come Home” (“an older one, kind of my first attempt to write a big electric blues”) and “Heavy on My Mind,” which suggests the muscular amplified style of Albert King. “That’s a funny one, actually,” says Knowles. “We were staying at our manager’s house, and it was the creepiest house, with a graveyard and an old battlefield next to it. The line ‘My mind is playing tricks on me,’ came from walking around that house. You know how [in a spooky place] you know there’s nothing there, but you keep looking behind yourself anyway to see if someone’s following you? It was like that.”

“Stay” addresses a more serious subject: the death of Back Door Slam’s rhythm guitarist, Brian Garvey, and another friend, in a car accident in 2004. “It just devastated us,” Knowles recalls. “It took a long time to come to terms with that. Writing ‘Stay’ was a kind of therapy for us.”

As much as the band enjoyed recording its debut long-player, playing live is “definitely where it’s at,” says Knowles. “It’s all I ever wanted to do: go on tour and keep playing.” Which is what Back Door Slam did throughout the spring and summer of 2007. On their Austin stop at SXSW, the musicians ran into a fellow artist with Isle of Man connections. “We got to meet Pete Townshend,” Knowles enthuses. “He was really nice and took time to speak with us. He went to school on the Isle of Man for a bit, and I think he’s still got relatives there.”

The hook-up with the Who man further underscores just how far the young trio has come in such a short time. At the end of May, Back Door Slam performed on the same bill with The Who, as featured guests at the Isle’s first annual Peel Bay Festival. It’s not at all unlikely that their performance on that stage, and on the 11 tracks that comprise the ROLL AWAY album, will wind up affecting music fans just as deeply as “Sultans of Swing” touched Davy Knowles. A tradition continues.

Live On Stage:

I've only been hearing great things about these guys - especially their live show (see Ace Cowboy's write up) - so I was excited to see their name on the bill. If you dig psychedelic blues rock then these young chaps from across the pond will be for you. Here's a monster, nine-plus minute take on Hendrix's "Red House"....

Live show, go download it....

Back Door Slam - 2008-02-02 - Proud Larry's - Oxford, MS

IMEEM Playlist:

Once again IMEEM comes through with a playlist of their debut album Roll Away...

Music Videos:

They've got one video under their belt, here's "Come Home"....

I have a feeling a lot of people will be talking about these guys after their appearance - just call it a hunch. For more on Back Door Slam head over to their official website.

Bonnawho's Who - The Wood Brothers

Official Bio:

Ways Not To Lose, the 2006 debut from the Wood Brothers had, in a sense, been a lifetime in the making—the first public collaboration between vocalist and guitarist Oliver Wood, who fronts Atlanta-based blues band King Johnson, and upright bassist Chris Wood, of the long-running, genre-blasting trio Medeski Martin and Wood. As players, they displayed an easy-going virtuosity; as siblings, they had an extraordinary rapport. Their folk and acoustic blues tunes, tinged with gospel hopefulness and country melancholy, were welcomed like old friends by both fans and pundits. National Public Radio named their debut disc one of their top ten discoveries that year. Rolling Stone declared, “The flip, easygoing party music on ‘Lose’ disguises sneakily deep inquiries into what it means to be alive, struggle with temptation, and every once in a while seek some truth.”

With Loaded, the Wood Brothers engage in a more expansive musical dialogue that commenced well before they hit the studio; they collaborated for the first time on writing material together. John Medeski, returning as producer, got into the mix as the songs were just taking shape, and he plays keyboards on several tracks. The crew, working at a studio near Woodstock, New York, opened up the sessions to other musicians and friends—singers Amos Lee, Pieta Brown and Frazey Ford, steel guitarist Darick Campbell, violinists David Mansfield and Jennifer Choi, cellist David Eggar, drummers Billy Martin and Kenny Wolleson, and percussionist Donnie McCormick—making this a more fleshed-out, multi-layered band effort compared to the spare, live-in-the-studio approach of Ways Not To Lose.

Oliver still does the lead singing, in a voice that is, by turns, weathered, wounded or yearning, but Chris takes his first lead-vocals turn at the mic on the gentle “Don’t Look Back,” bolstered by Frazey Ford of Canadian roots music trio The Be Good Tanyas. Jokes Chris, “After being in an instrumental band for eighteen years, it was pretty weird to be stuck in front a microphone. When MMW fans see us play, they say, that’s the first time I ever heard you speak, much less sing.”

“We initially just brought our songs and our musicianship to the table,” continues Chris, “We had a chemistry that was good and we captured that on the first record. It’s been almost two years now and, having played constantly for the last two years together and written things together, we’ve just evolved. We have different things to say, different things are happening in our lives, and we combined our efforts much more. That combined voice has taken us to a different place and this record illustrates that.”

Songwriting, as well as playing gigs, became an important connection for the brothers, as Oliver explains, “Chris and I live pretty far apart, so unless we’re on the road, we really don’t see each other. A lot of times one of us will start a song, introduce some music or some lyric. It took a little while, but we got used to the idea of getting the other person involved to where both of us have our hearts invested in a song. That’s a different feeling than, ‘Hey, here’s my song, let’s play it together.’ It’s different for both of us to have something at stake there.”

Most importantly, their songwriting and playing got them through some tough times for their family, Oliver says, “We lost our mom last spring to ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. She was deteriorating over the last year or two, so we couldn’t help but have that influence what we were feeling and what we were writing about. It’s a unique situation because we are working together, but we’re also family, so we were both hit in kind of the same way by the passing of our mom. That definitely shows up in the music quite a bit.”

Loaded is bookended with a pair of wistful tunes, ”Lovin’ Arms” and “Still Close,” that address loss but also hint at spiritual regeneration. That’s a theme that recurs throughout the album. For the Wood Brothers, the blues offer solace from downheartedness; there’s a soulful quality in their work that grows increasingly compelling—not to mention, comforting—the more familiar these songs become. “Postcards From Hell” takes the Robert Johnson legend and flips it, telling the story of a singer who manages to keep his sound pure by closely guarding his soul. “Pray Enough” brings humor to a gospel exhortation, with label-mate Amos Lee joining in on backup vocals. (Lee reappears later in the album to swap verses of Jimi Hendrix’s “Angel” with Oliver.) And there’s real tenderness to “Walkaway,” an understatedly arranged breakup number in shuffle time, with drums from Chris’s MMW band-mate Billy Martin.

Along with “Angel,” the Wood Brothers cover the traditional “Make Me A Pallet On Your Floor,” turning it into a loose back-porch jam highlighted by Donnie McCormick who adds vocals and percussion by rhythmically scratching the wires of a chicken coop (“with no chickens in it,” Oliver hastens to add). The lilting melody of Bob Dylan’s “Buckets Of Rain” unfolds in a beautiful slo-mo tempo, with Oliver playing stop-start guitar leads. He hesitates before singing each line, as if he’s pulling poetry right out of the air. Says Chris, “Oliver has a magical way of playing behind the beat, an amazing laid back thing, one of those indescribable things that you can’t teach. Either you’ve got it or you don’t.”

Though the pair had a good time in the studio with their extended lineup, they plan to hit the road again simply as a duo. Multi-tasking on their individual instruments, they can cook up a mighty groove or create a seriously laid-back mood. Oliver admits, “There is something special about performing as a duo, a uniqueness to it, whereas oftentimes a group with drums and keyboards doesn’t stand out as much. In some ways we really stand out as a duo, making a whole bunch of a racket with just the two of us.”

Chris concurs: “There is a certain flexibility we have as just the two of us that we are learning to take advantage of more and more. When you don’t have a drummer back there, you can really play with the rhythm, slow down a phrase or speed it up, and be more liquid that way.”

Expect to see—and hear—a lot more of the Wood Brothers this year, on tour and on Loaded. And count on being treated like family.

Live On Stage:

For those who don't know The Wood Brother is the side project of Chris Wood from MMW fame. The brothers together produce sort of rootsy, laid-back blues infused pop music - sort of in the Jack Johnson, G. Love vein. Here's Luckiest Man off their debut album...

We'll go with another clip from Pickathon 2006, here's Chevrolet...

Here's a show for your downloading pleasure....

The Wood Brothers - 2007-08-23 - Thursday at the Square - Lafayette Square - Buffalo, NY

IMEEM Playlist:

I cobbled together this playlist, not too much of The Wood Brothers floating around, but enjoy...

For more on The Wood Brothers hit up their official site.

Bonnawho's Who - Serena Ryder

Official Bio:

Though she’s only 24, Canada-based songstress Serena Ryder is already a world-traveled artist, hailed by No Depression for her “Pipes. Presence. Potential.” Elle noted that “When Serena Ryder sings about love, the most jaded world weariness dissolves.” Now the singer/songwriter Billboard declared to be “Canada’s Most Promising” is poised to present herself to American audiences with her debut Atlantic Records EP, “TOLD YOU IN A WHISPERED SONG.” The five-song calling card highlights Ryder’s powerful three-octave range – which veers from tough to tender, often in a single verse – and distinctive, classically romantic songwriting.

Ryder grew up in Millbrook, a rural/suburban town in eastern Ontario. Her mother a singing go-go dancer and father a Trinidadian-born Caribbean-folk musician, formed the origins of a truly eclectic spirit whose passion for music spans a wide array of styles, from folk and country to jazz, blues, and rock ‘n’ roll. Taking personal inspiration from a surprising spectrum of influences – she names John Prine, Neil Young, Wham!, and Culture Club in a single breath -- Serena began writing and performing at 13.

At 15, Serena left Millbrook for the more metropolitan Peterborough, where she began attending art school and immersing herself in the city’s thriving bohemian community. Over the next few years, she played countless shows, both as solo artist and as singer in a number of local combos, all the while honing her burgeoning gifts for penning inimitably creative melodies and lyrics.

Like any true troubadour, Ryder hit the road and began touring across her native Canada, Australia and France. She toured extensively with such great acts as Steve Earle, Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings of The Guess Who, The Corrs, Blind Boys of Alabama and many more. The multiple treks not only helped sharpen her stagecraft, it brought her music to an ever-increasing audience.

“My fans are awesome,” she enthuses. “They tend to be quite grounded and unique… I love having time to hear their story. God only knows they hear mine enough!”

On the heels of a Top 20 hit in Canada, Ryder traveled to Austin, TX in March 2007 for the annual South By Southwest extravaganza. Her inventive, jazz/blues-inflected vocals and intimate songwriting caught the attention of Atlantic Records and before the month was out, she had signed to the venerable label. In May 2007 she recorded her U.S. debut EP, “TOLD YOU IN A WHISPERED SONG.”

Largely a solo affair, just singer, guitar, and song, tracks such as the confessional “Weak In The Knees” represent but a precursor to what will be Ryder’s definitive musical statement thus far, a full-band recording due in early 2008. The tender title song “Brand New Love” display Ryder’s gifts in their purest form – rich vocals, gentle acoustic guitar and haunting, deeply melodic songs. The politically-tinted “Blown Like The Wind At Night” speaks volumes of her remarkable lyrical range, revealing an artist blessed with a genuinely unique perspective.

Ryder will follow the EP’s release by spending the second half of 2007 on tour in America. Already lined up are treks alongside such artists as Xavier Rudd and Chris Isaak. With the road as her home for the foreseeable future, Ryder intends to take full advantage of the plentiful downtime by writing songs for what will be her Atlantic Records debut album. “It’s going to be pretty stripped down,” she affirms. “I’m really into doing a very direct, really organic sound.”

That naturalistic approach defines Serena Ryder, from her frank and direct personality to the warmth and wisdom of her lyrics. She views herself as part of a long musical continuum, a participant and player in the centuries-old saga of the song. That sense of history, of belonging to something greater than the moment, simultaneously roots Ryder in a glorious tradition, while also setting her apart from most of her modern musical peers.

“I think maybe the reason people are feeling detached from a lot of the music that gets played on the radio today is because everyone’s trying so hard to be their own island, their own original person,” she says. “But it’s not important what makes you stand out – what’s important is how connected to everything you are. Everyone’s trying so hard to do something brand new, something they think people need or want, but really, we don’t need anything else.”

Live On Stage:

Serena falls somewhere into that Joss Stone camp - young woman with a big voice. She won the 2008 Juno (the Canadian Grammys) for New Artist Of The Year. Here she is with Told You In A Whispered Song the title track from her latest EP...

IMEEM Playlist:

Here's a playlist of Serena's most recent album If Memory Serves You Well - which consists entirely of cover songs from Canadian artists. Anytime you make a reference to The Band in your album title and cover one of their songs I'm ready to be a fan...

Music Videos:

Serena's got a handful of videos, let's check out her cover of "Good Morning Starshine" - which is best known from the musical Hair...

Few more to check out...

Weak In The Knees

Just Another Day

For more on Serena head on over to her official website.