Top Ranking Albums of September 2011

The Spiritual Accessories EP
  1. Graham Wilkinson The Spiritual Accessories EP [Little Windmill Records 2011]
  2. Trombone ShortyFor True [Verve Forecast 2011]
  3. Various ArtistsO Brother, Where Art Thou? [Lost Highway 2011]
  4. SuperHeavySuper Heavy [Universal 2011]
  5. Preservation Jazz Hall Band and the Del McCoury Band –  American Legacies [McCoury Music 2011]
  6. Various Artists – Our Favorite Beres Hammond Songs [VP Records 2011]
  7. The Secret Sisters –  The Secret Sisters [Universal Records 2010]
  8. Bunny LeeDub Will Change Your Mind [King Spinna Records 2011]
  9. Aloe Blacc – Good Things [Stones Throw Records 2010]
  10. Various ArtistsListen To Me: Buddy Holly [Verve Forecast 2011]
  11. Augustus PabloThis Is Augustus Pablo [VP Records 2011]
  12. Various ArtistsThe Biggest Ragga Dancehall Anthems 2011 [VP Records 2011]
  13. WilcoThe Whole Love [dBPM Records 2011]
  14. James Blake and Bon IverFall Creek Boys Choir [Universal Records 2011]
  15. Tom WaitsBad As Me [Anti/Epitaph 2011]
  16. Olivia Tremor ControlThe Game You Play is in Your Head, Parts 1, 2, & 3 [Cloud Recordings 2011]
  17. Theophilus LondonTimez Are Weird These Days [Warner Brothers 2011]
  18. St. Vincent Strange Mercy [4AD 2011]
  19. George StraitHere For A Good Time [MCA Nashville 2011]
  20. Zee AviGhostbird [Brushfire Records 2011]
  21. Clap Your Hands and Say YeahHysterical [CYHSY 2011]
  22. Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter – Marble Son [Station Grey Records 2011]
  23. Pedro Soler & Gaspar Claus – Barlande [InFine 2011]
  24. Lisa Hannigan – Passenger [ATO Records 2011]
  25. Lenny KravitzBlack And White America [Atlantic Records 2011]
American Legacies
The Game You Play is in Your Head, Parts 1, 2, & 3
Top Ranking Albums of September 2011

Austin City Limits Music Festival 2010 – DAY TWO

On day two of the Austin City Limits Music Festival we started the day at the Austin Ventures Stage with an electro-pop alternative/indie rock band from Northern Ireland called Two Door Cinema Club. The setlist included a hard-hitting barrage of tracks: “Cigarettes in the Theatre,” “Undercover Martyn,” “Do You Want It All?,” and the solid hit “Something Good Can Work.” The boys from Bangor, Northern Ireland played several tracks like “This Is Life,” “You’re Not Stuboorn,” “What You Know,” and “Eat That Up, It’s Good For You” from their new album Tourist History. And with the closers “Come Back Home” and especially the single “I Can Talk” the young rockers finished strong.

Tourist History

Following Two Door Cinema Club, Andrew Mayer Cohen aka Mayer Hawthorne representing Ann Arbor, Michigan brought the soul of the Motor City to Austin City Limits. The sweet sounding “Maybe So, Maybe No” set the vibe for the afternoon set. Mayer Hawthorne and the County then flipped the script playing the remixed versionGangsta Luv” recorded with the smooth rhyming rapper Snoop Doggy DoggThen he slowed down again for a chill version of “I Wish It Would Rain.”

His neo-soul sound flows in the same manner as the R&B and Soul revivalists: Mark Ronson, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and Amy Winehouse. Not that Hawthorne sounds like these contemporaries but rather he sounds more like the classic crooners of old–Smokey Robinson and the Miracles or Marvin Gaye. The soul session then evolved into a sing along with a spot on cover version of the classic Doobie Brothers trackWhat A Fool Believes.” And, ultimately Mayer Hawthorne returned to his roots with the R&B jam ” Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out.”

I left the Austin Ventures stage for the Broken Bells. My family stayed behind for the Local Natives, which they reported were awesome ,especially since the 15-year old virtuoso fiddle player and singer-songwriter Ruby Jane joined the band for a musical ride. Unfortunately, this is the problem with Austin City Limits: there are too many bands at the same time to really see all the bands that you want to see.

I hated to miss the Local Natives, but the Broken Bells beckoned. Brian Burton aka Danger Mouse and James Mercer of the Oregon Indie Rock band The Shins align to make melodic space rock music like “Vaporize” andOctober.” And, I especially like the tracks “The Ghost Inside” andThe High Road.” Some tracks are more punchy like “The Mall & Misery,” but for the most part Broken Bells songs are spaced-out, well crafted, and textured rock songs. Danger Mouse adds layers of synths and keys atop the haunting vocals of James Mercer.

The Monsters Of Folk are a 2010 version of a folk-rock supergroup. They are our generation’s Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Combine the breathtaking vocals of  Yim Yames aka Jim James from My Morning Jacket with the rootsy vocals of Conor Oberst and the talents of multi-instrumentalist Mike Mogis from Bright Eyes; then mix in the vocalist and music maker M. Ward, the genius behind groups like She & Him and you’ve got one hell of a supergroup.

The show opened with the harmonizing vocalists singing “hold out your hands” and “Say Please.”  Although festival organizers should have put this top notch band on a bigger stage, they still managed to put together a wonderful set, including songs from the album Monsters Of Folk. The set included: “The Right Place,”Man Named Truth,” “Ahead of the Curve,”Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.),” “Slow Down Jo,” “The Sandman, The Brakeman And Me,” and “Baby Boomer.”

But the band also played songs from other projects including the Bright Eyes tunes “Soul Singer in a Session Band,” ‘Hit the Switch,” “At the Bottom of Everything,” and “Another Travelin’ Song.” They also played a wonderful version of the M. Ward song “Vincent O’Brien” and the My Morning Jacket tracks “Golden” alongside a fantastic take on “Smokin from Shootin.” Although the guys covered material from other projects they stayed true to their collaborative material playing Monsters of Folk originals like “Whole Lotta Losin’,” “Temazcal,” and “Map Of The World.” And they closed with the haunting “His Master’s Voice.”

Matt & Kim provided a nice interlude between Monsters of Folk and M.I.A. I liked how the duo interlaced their indie dance rock with dance tracks. At one point, I heard a rip-roaring dancehall cut from Diplo’s Major Lazer album Gunz Don’t Kill People…Lazers Do called “Pon De Floor.” Plus there was a nice cover of the Biz Markie favorite “Just A Friend.” Essentially Matt & Kim threw a party on their stage playing their own stuff like “Daylight” alongside other great samples and beats.

Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam aka M.I.A. is a performing artists. For this show, we got up close and danced our assess off. From the slamming “Galang” to the hardcore “World Town” M.I.A. brought anarchy to ACL. I heard lots of complaints about M.I.A. from people near the back, but up front the sounds and sights elicited a punk electronica atmosphere. Of course she played the megahitPaper Planes.”  And she concluded with the noisy “Born Free” from her new loud album Maya. Also, we caught the end of a solid Muse show. Luckily, the science fiction rockers played “Starlight.”

Austin City Limits Music Festival 2010 – DAY TWO

The Best Albums of March 2010

The Best Albums of March 2010

I listened to a lot of music this month. I caught some of the South By Southwest festivities this month increasing my music intake. I have starred the albums directly related to my SXSW experience.

  1. She & HimVolume Two [Merge Records 2010]*
  2. Romain Virgo Introducing? Romain Virgo [VP Records 2010]
  3. Brooklyn Rider Dominant Curve [In A Circle 2010]*
  4. Solo Banton Walk Like Rasta [Reality Shock 2009]
  5. GyptianRevelations [VP Records 2010]
  6. Various ArtistsRagga Ragga Ragga 2010[VP Records 2010]
  7. Various Artists Police In Helicopter Riddim [Necessary Mayhem 2009 and 2010]
  8. Erykah Badu New Amerykah Part Two: Return Of The Ankh [Universal Motown 2010]
  9. JonsiGo [XL 2010]
  10. Various Artists Best of Bangers R Mashed: Volume Two [Bangers 2010]
  11. Wedding Dub Steppactivism [Sounds Around France 2010]
  12. Surfer Blood Astro Coast [Kanine Records 2010]*
  13. Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears Tell ‘Em What Your Name Is! [Lost Highway 2009]*
  14. Black Joe Lewis & the HoneybearsBlack Joe Lewis & The Honeybears [Lost Highway 2009]*
  15. CALLmeKAT – I’m In A Polaroid, Where Are You? [Playground Music 2008]*
  16. Visqueen Message To Garcia [Local 638 Records 2009]*
  17. Adam Carroll & Michael O’ConnerHard Times [Self 2010]
  18. Method Man, Ghostface Killah, & Raekwon Wu Massacre [Island Def Jam 2010]
  19. Joanna Newsom Have One On Me[Drag City 2010]
  20. Vadoinmessico – Vadoinmessico – Ep [Vadoinmessico 2009]*
  21. Bright Light Social Hour Back and Forth [Bright Light Social Hour 2009]*
  22. Timber Timbre Timber Timbre [Arts & Crafts 2010]*
  23. Freelance Whales Weathervanes [Mom & Pop 2009]*
  24. Joe Pug Messenger [Lightning Rod 2010]
  25. Local Natives Gorilla Manor [Frenchkiss 2010]*
  26. E-40 Revenue Retrievin’: Day Shift [Heavy on the Grind 2010]
  27. The Band of Heathens One Foot In The Ether [BOH Records 2009]*
  28. The Daze – Straightjacket Hymns [The Daze 2009]*
  29. Speak Hear Here [EP] [Playing in Traffic 2010]*
  30. Gil Scott-Heron I’m New Here [XL 2010]
  31. Band of Skulls Baby Darling Doll Face Honey [Shangri-La Music 2009]*
  32. Natalie Merchant Leave Your Sleep [Nonesuch 2010]
  33. John Hiatt The Open Road[New West 2010]
  34. Texas Tornadoes Esta Bueno [Bismeaux 2010]
  35. Ludacris – Battle Of The Sexes [Disturbing the Peace 2010]
  36. The Minor Prophets Oscar [Single] [The Minor Prophets 2010]
  37. Mother Falcon Still Life [Mother Falcon 2010]*
The Best Albums of March 2010

Graham Wilkinson & the Underground Township make music for all the “Ragamuffin” Kids

Nature lovin,’ tree-huggin, hippy musician and artist Graham Wilkinson put together a fascinating group of Austin-based musicians to accompany his original and inspirational songs on the new album Yearbook. Graham Wilkinson and the Underground Township make beautiful music for mountain drives and nature hikes, but also for boisterous bars across North America. The music is original. Some might claim it is a kaleidoscope of roots music, folk, rock, Americana, jazz, and reggae, but really Graham Wilkinson and the Underground Township melt away genres and make new and exciting music.

underground township photo

On Yearbook Graham Wilkinson writes beautiful ballads like “Star Blue” and blues tunes like “The Corner Store” underscoring his brilliance at song writing. Drummer Matt Morris, bassist Wayne Dalchau, guitarist P.J. Herrington, and Chris Stringer on keys make up the backbone of the Underground Township on this particular album with Graham playing a range of instruments from harmonica and guitars to percussion. The Township is joined by a revolving cast of musicians from the Austin scene including Hayes Carll, Alejandro Escovedo, Ray Hilner, Meg Kemp, Mista Swift, Margaret Whitt-Harn, Joe Fallhaeber, Trisha Keefer, Mark Levine, Nick Warrechuk, Mark Wilson, Kyle Clayton, Will Duppy, Leila Henley, Heidi Johnson, Danny Malone, David Moss, Hector Munoz, Ron Weisberg, Dawnerin Wilkinson, Sarah Lu Wilkinson, and even legendary Texan musician Lloyd Maines.

The track “Ragamuffin” sticks out as a particular favorite of mine. I’ve always liked this song, but when it came up on my iPod (in a random shuffle mode) while cruising through the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming it seemed to be the perfect song at the perfect time. Hayes Carll and Graham Wilkinson share vocals on the song with Lloyd Maines playing a beautiful steel guitar. The gliding pace of the song helped me to glide smoothly over the meadows and mountain lakes.

The tracks on Yearbook like “La Brisa,” “Let It Go,” and “Boys and Girls” are not only great songs, but they also have been well produced here by Township Records. Township Records, run by bassist Wayne Dalchau, is a great local Austin indie label with talented new artists like Danny Malone, James Levy, and Graham Wilkinson and the Underground Township.

Yearbook is a concept album that takes a look back at the collaborations and music of 2008 in South Austin. The previous release from the band was the self-titled Graham Wilkinson & the Underground Township, which took a different approach to Graham’s songs. On Yearbook the tracks are more filled out. And the good news is, The Underground Township are taking this wonderful music on the road for 2009. The late summer tour is exhaustive. Make sure to catch Graham & the Township playing in a town near you.

Aug 2 2009 6:00P Freds Texas Cafe Ft. Worth, Texas
Aug 5 2009 8:00P The Whitewater Tavern Little Rock, Arkansas
Aug 6 2009 9:00P Tres Hombres Carbondale, Illinois
Aug 7 2009 9:00P Duke’s Hideaway Chicago, Illinois
Aug 8 2009 9:00P Duke’s Hideaway Chicaco, Illinois
Aug 9 2009 8:00P Village Inn Suttons Bay, MI
Aug 10 2009 8:00P Village Inn Suttons Bay, MI
Aug 11 2009 8:00P Village Inn Suttons Bay, MI
Aug 12 2009 9:00P The Happy Dog Cleveland, Ohio
Aug 13 2009 9:00P Hill Country BBQ New York, New York
Aug 14 2009 10:00P Blak Oak Tavern Oneonta, New York
Aug 15 2009 8:00P Fred Fest Oneonta, New York
Aug 19 2009 9:00P Northside Tavern Cincinnati, Ohio
Aug 20 2009 9:00P Boone Saloon Boone, North Carolina
Aug 21 2009 9:00P Tasty World Athens, Georgia
Aug 22 2009 9:00P Westville Pub Asheville, North Carolina
Aug 25 2009 9:00P Lynagh’s Irish Pub Lexington, Kentucky
Aug 26 2009 10:00P The Basement w/ Rufus Huff (Kentucky Headhunters) Nashville, Tennessee
Aug 27 2009 8:00P The Whitewater Tavern Little Rock, Arkansas
Aug 28 2009 8:00P Smoke and Barrel Tavern Fayetteville, Arkansas
Aug 29 2009 8:00P The Parish w/ The Blue Hit & Danny Malone Austin, TX

Graham Wilkinson & the Underground Township make music for all the “Ragamuffin” Kids