The Top Albums of October 2009

Never Give Up” with Screw Driverand Inner Circle is one of those uplifting songs that inspires and makes you want to take on all comers. It has the punch and message of the Jimmy Cliff classic “The Harder They Come.” This song is my new motto: “Never Give Up, Never Surrender.” Inner Circle’s State Of Da World deserves the attention of the world. This new album includes collaborations with reggae megastars Junior ReidGramps Morgan of Morgan Heritage, Bushman and Luciano.  Slightly Stoopid appears on “Mary Collie Weed” and Damian Marley and  Stephen Marley make guest appearances on “Smoke Gets In My Eyes.”

Texas musicians James McMurtryLyle Lovett, and Robert Earl Keen all released new albums this month. McMurty’s Live In Europe features rocking versions of “Ruby And Carlos” and “Just Us Kids.” Lyle Lovett‘s Natural Forces has a beautiful cover of Townes Van Zandt‘sLoretta.” And Robert Earl Keen has a Townes Van Zandt tune “Flyin’ Shoes” on his new album The Rose Hotel. The single “The Rose Hotel” is free and loose and classic Robert Earl.

On the rap/hip-hop scene Wu-Tang Clan Alumni Raekwon and Ghostface Killah released new albums. The sequel to Raekwon’s classic album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx has been released. Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Part II features killer solo tracks like “Ason Jones.” Method Man, Inspectah Deck, and Ghostface Killah guest on “House Of Flying Daggers” and on “The New Wu.” Old School maestro Slick Rick joins Raekwon, GZA, and Masta Killa onWe Will Rob You.”  And new school rapper Lyfe Jennings appears on the track “Catalina.” Ghostface Killah’s album Ghostdini Wizard Of Poetry In Emerald City includes the notable tracks “Baby,” “Back Like That (Remix),” and “Do Over.” Also on the rap scene A Tribe Called Quest emcee Q-Tip released Kamaal The Abstract with the jazzy single “Even If It Is So.”

Greensleeves released two solid reggae compilations this month: The Biggest Reggae One-Drop Anthems 2009 and The Biggest Ragga Dancehall Anthems 2009. Great songs on this year’s one drop anthems include Beres Hammond’s Can’t Say I Never Tried” and Marcia Griffith and Busy Signal’s Automatic (Keeping It Real). The outstanding track is Romain Virgo’s tribute to the legendary Alton Ellis entitledAlton’s Medley: Breaking Up / Ain’t That Loving You / My Willow Tree.” Also Peetah and Assassin’sHot A Road,” Mr. Williamz’s No Cigarette” and Ziggi’sGonna Leave You” make this easy-going reggae collection worth the listen.

On the dancehall side of things with The Biggest Ragga Dancehall Anthems 2009 Black Ryno’sBend Over” and Vybz Kartel and Gaza Indu’sVirginity” induce the booty shaking while the catchy “Never Change (From Mawning)” by Chino will have you singing along. This newest addition to the dancehall anthems collection stocks up on heavy hitting dancehall singjays like Busy Signal, Demarco, Mavado, Jah Vinci, Laden, and Konshens.

  1. Inner CircleState Of Da World [Shanachie 2009]
  2. James McMurtry Live In Europe [Lightning Rod 2009]
  3. Lyle LovettNatural Forces [Curb/Lost Highway 2009]
  4. Monsters of FolkMonsters Of Folk [Shangri-La 2009]
  5. Various Artists The Biggest Reggae One-Drop Anthems 2009 [Greensleeves 2009]
  6. RaekwonOnly Built 4 Cuban Linx 2 [EMI 2009]
  7. Robert Earl KeenThe Rose Hotel [Lost Highway Records 2009]
  8. Various ArtistsJah Live Riddim [Joe Frasier 2009]
  9. International Observer Felt [Dubmission 2009]
  10. Roseanne CashThe List [Manhattan 2009]
  11. Various ArtistsPenthouse Showcase Volume 4 [Penthouse 2009]
  12. Various ArtistsPenthouse Showcae Volume 5 [Penthouse 2009]
  13. Kiddus IGreen Fa Life [Makasound/Makafresh 2009]
  14. Breakestra Dusk Till’ Dawn [Strut Records 2009]
  15. Danny MaloneCuddlebug [Township Records 2009]
  16. Kid CudiMan On The Moon: The End Of Day [Dream On/G.O.O.D./Universal Motown 2009]
  17. The XX xx [Young Turks 2009]
  18. Various ArtistsThe Biggest Ragga Dancehall Anthems 2009 [Greensleeves 2009]
  19. MuseThe Resistance [Warner Brothers 2009]
  20. Ghostface Killah – Ghostdini Wizard Of Poetry In Emerald City [Island/Def Jam 2009]
  21. Various Artists5: Five Years of Hyperdub [Hyperdub 2009]
  22. Gossip Music For Men [Columbia 2009]
  23. The Avett Brothers I And Love And You [Columbia 2009]
  24. Chuck FendaFulfillment [VP Records 2009]
  25. Omar Perry –  Can’t Stop Us [Makasound/Makafresh 2009]
  26. Tribal SeedsThe Harvest [Tribal Seeds 2009]
  27. Toddla TSkanky Skanky [1965 2009]
  28. Masta Ace & Edo GArts & Entertainment [Traffic 2009]
  29. Mark Stuart and the Bastard SonsBend In The Road [Dualtone 2009]
  30. Q-Tip Kamaal The Abstract [Jive 2009]
  31. Doveman –  The Conformist [Brassland Records 2009]
  32. DawesNorth Hills [ATO 2009]
  33. Kris KristoffersonCloser To The Bone [New West 2009]
  34. Mark KnopflerGet Lucky [Rerprise 2009]
  35. Takana ZionRappel à l’ordre [Makasound/Makafresh 2009]
Advertisements
The Top Albums of October 2009

Friday at Austin City Limits Music Festival 2009!!!

Wavin' Flag

The rain fell as the music filled the park. Mud seethed underfoot and gushed between toes. Among the strong aromas and beautiful sounds, the 2009 Austin City Limits Music Festival came alive and offered another memorable year of music. Although environmental factors change from year to year, from stifling heat and dust to drenching rain and mud, the show never stopped. The music continued. And Austin proved itself again as the live music capitol of the world.

I caught Dr. Dog at the Dell Stage for my first show. I found these boys from Philadelphia to be quite harmonic, reminiscent of the psychadelia rock of the Beatles and The Byrds. Songs like “The Breeze” and “The Old Days” displayed that smooth 1960s sound. But my favorite song on the set list was “The Rabbit, The Bat & The Reindeer.”

I had heard of Phoenix, but I had never listened to their music. A friend convinced me to see this alternative rock band from Versaille, France. The comparisons to their French peers Daft Punk and Air interested me. Ultimately I understood the comparisons, finding the sound close to a New Order-like electronica pop. Phoenix pleasantly surprised me with tunes like “Lisztomania,” “Lasso,” “If I Ever Feel Better,” “Fences,” “Girlfriend,” “Run Run Run,” “Too Young,” “Rome,” and “1901.” Many of the songs appear on the new album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.

The best show of the day came from the Somalian born/Canadian based rapper k’naan. Under the Wildflower Tent the slender Somalian rocked the crowd with political prose, heart-felt lyrics, and blistering beats. Appropriate adjectives include humble, inspirational, and talented.  k’naan had a broad appeal, drawing young children and old people, and all those between the young and old. An intimate performance captivated the crowd.

The track “T.I.A. [Explicit]” thundered bass as K’naan introduced the crowd to his unique brand of hip-hop. “T.I.A.” samples Bob Marley’s classic ska tune “Simmer Down,” layers it over heavy beats, and atop raps the brilliant young wordsmith. In Africa, Bob Marley, Lucky Dube, 2pac, and The Notorious B.I.G. reign supreme. k’naan studied these great performers and his sound reflects those influences. Yet the sound is original. The music is gangsta but peaceful, hard but soft, and always chalk full of the contradictions and realities of life.

From Africa the Somalian took us on a trip to “America.” On the album, Mos Def and Chali 2Na join the track with their rhymes on the studio version of “America,”  but solo and live K’naan brought this song to its full potential without the help of these great lyricists. The song “Take A Minute” brought emotion to the tent. The following love ballad “Fatima” lightened the mood. And then the hardcore rap song “ABC’s” (with a Chubb Rock sample) rocked the and rolled with pure energy.

K’naan then sang a song about “Somalia,” which brought tears to the crowd’s eyes. The lyricist played two different versions beginning with an acapella and moving into a full band version. As K’naan says “his real will makes your real look like a rental.” This track talks about the perils of childhood in Somalia and the suffering of the people. K’naan harnesses the pain and realities of the world and turns them into amazing poetry. The rapper followed the tear jerker with “Bang Bang,” a nice jamming pop tune. And he ended his set with the a sing-a-long to “Wavin’ Flag.”

K’naan was the highlight of the evening. But the jams continued with Thievery Corporation. The dub electronica duo and band played on the main stage this year kicking out funky electronica with “.” The crew from Washington, D.C. also played the sitar heavy “Mandala,” displaying their unique acumen at world music.

In a testimony to the diversity of the music at ACL I caught parts of sets from the Texas country group Reckless Kelly and the hard-rocking new super trio Them Crooked Vultures. Them Crooked Vultures features bassist John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, drummer David Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters, and Josh Homme the guitarist and lead singer from Queens Of The Stone AgeKings Of Leon headlined Friday night playing their hits “Sex On Fire,”
”On Call,” and
”Use Somebody.”

The  music continued after the festival at the ACL after shows. I went to a Township Records showcase at the Ghost Room downtown on 4th Street in the Warehouse District. I caught the end of Danny Malone‘s set. This kid has a beautifully haunting voice. My wife described him as a creepy James Taylor. His new album Cuddlebug features the eerie track “Basement.” Graham Wilkinson & the Underground Township played some of my favorite tracks from the new album Yearbook, including “Ragamuffin” and “Let It Go.”

Let It Go

Friday at Austin City Limits Music Festival 2009!!!