Austin City Limits Music Festival 2011 – Friday

The 10th Anniversary of the Austin City Limits Festival brought together a diversified lineup from dubstep deejay Skrillex to bluegrass angel Alison Krauss to motown king Stevie Wonder to west Texas songsmith Ryan Bingham. As always I began my first day with the western swing revivalists Asleep at the Wheel. They opened with “Miles and Miles of Texas.” Ray Benson and his band of accomplished musicians played Bob Wills standards like “New San Antonio Rose” and songs about Bob like the Waylon Jennings classic “Bob Wills Is Still The King.” The Wheel played their hit “Hot Rod Lincoln” and a new song originally performed with Willie Nelson called “Hesitation Blues.” On the set list appeared “Get Your Kicks on Route 66,” “Bump Bounce Boogie,” and “Boogie Back to Texas.” The Wheel brought the sounds of western swing alive.

I caught the end of the Theophilus London set. Banging beats, fresh rhymes, and creative samples impressed this particular listener. For example, London looped a sample of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” over a fat beat dropping science in the rain. London also played his hit “Love Is Real.” The juxtaposition of hip hop with the sweet sounds of the Secret Sisters, in my opinion, is the beauty of a good festival. Diversity is essential.

The Secret Sisters played their hit song “Tennessee Me,” but it was their song selections from past country legends Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, the Everly Brothers, and Patsy Cline that really hit the spot. Take for example, their cover of “Why Baby Why,” which was soft and pure sweetness. These sisters from Muscle Shoals, Alabama strike a sentimental chord in me. The Southern ladies also played the Rufus Wainwright tune “Do You Love An Apple.”

We followed Secret Sisters with the electronic soul man James Blake. The Englishman opened with “Unluck” and “Give Me My Month.” For the most part the talented composer form London stuck with songs from his debut album James Blake, including the tracksI Never Learnt To Share,” “Lindisfarne I,”and “Lindisfarne II.” I especially liked his Fiest cover Limit To Your Love.” And, he spaced out “The Wilhelm Scream,” which concluded a nice set.

Big Boi from the Outkast crew brought Dirty South bounce and swagger into Zilker Park. Unlike many of the recent hip hop shows I’ve seen lately, Big Boi’s flow was exquisite and the sound clear. The set included tracks “General Patton” and “Follow Us” from the new album Sir Lucious Left Foot…The Son Of Chico Dusty. But the afternoon also saw a fair share of classics like the “cooler than a polar bear’s toenail” track “ATLiens” and the harmonica banger “Rosa Parks.” Big Boi proved he had a deep catalog with crowd pleasers “So Fresh, So Clean” and “Ms. Jackson.” He also brought rock and roll rap fusion with the protest song “B.O.B.” And, I was very pleased that the Atlanta native unleashed my personal favorite Outkast gem “The Way You Move.”  Nas & Damian Marley followed the Atlanta native rapper making this a lively stage.

Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley entered the stage as the flag bearing the red, gold, and green and the Lion of Judah flew. “As We Enter” kicked off the set. One of my favorite things to do is to see a Marley brother in Austin. Mr. Marley brought the reggae magic while the rhyme-smith Nas dropped serious science. In reality both of these cats are amazing lyricists and when done in tag-team fashion over dope beats booties commence to shake. “As We Enter” the lead track off the excellent Distant Relatives album is a great example of the combination of danceable sounds spiced with tangling hip hop and patois rhymes. The hard-hitting “Nah Mean” kept the vibe alive displaying the perfect marriage of reggae dancehall, African culture, and American rap.

Then Nas unleashed one of my favorite old school rap gems “If I Ruled The World (imagine that).” Following on the heels of the rap standard the Africanized “Dispear” brought down the house. Rebellion drips from this tune. I love it. The fevered pitch of the pounding “Dispear” was cooled off nicely by the roots reggae jam “Land Of Promise.” This Dennis Brown infused track is modern reggae at its best. Positive messages entwined with earth crushing roots reggae sounds made for a perfect evening. Jr. Gong’s “More Justice” from 2001’s Halfway Tree kept the show on this track.

Marley played several songs from his popular album Welcome to Jamrock. “Move!” sampled Bob Marley’s “Exodus” merging classic reggae and new ragamuffin styles and phrasings. Similarly the title track “Welcome To Jamrock” mixes Ini Kamoze’s “out in the street they call it murder” sample and a riddim straight from Kamoze’s “World A Music” into the biggest reggae hit of the 2000s. Marley and Nas then displayed their skills on the “Road To Zion,” which I believe  set the original mood for the Distant Relatives collaboration. They closed with the Bob Marley smash hit “Could You Be Loved.”

Mavis Staples performed under the tent producing a revivalist feeling in the middle of Zilker Park. Civil Rights, spiritualism, and good music swirled under the tent, take for example, the songs “Freedom Highway” and “Creep Along Moses.” Staples made everyone dance and sing to the soul classic “I’ll Take You There.” To experience the best of soul music and to get a taste of what soul music was like in the 1970s go see Mavis Staples. The energy is extraordinary! We concluded the evening with the English rock group Coldplay. “The Scientist” and “Clocks” made the set list, while an Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” set up a very nice “Fix You.”

Austin City Limits Music Festival 2011 – Friday

The Best Albums of September 2010

Antifogmatic (Deluxe)
  1. The Punch BrothersAntifogmatic [Nonesuch 2010]
  2. Spragga BenzShotta Culture [Boom Tunes 2010]
  3. Gappy RanksPut The Stereo On [Greensleeves 2010]
  4. Ana Tijou1977 [Nacional Records 2010]
  5. The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger Acoustic Sessions [2010]
  6. DubmatixSystem Shakedown [Renegade Media 2010]
  7. Quantic presenta Flowering Inferno Dog With A Rope [Tru Thoughts 2010]
  8. Taj Weekes & AdowaA Waterlogged Soul Kitchen [Jatta Records 2010]
  9. Robert PlantBand of Joy [New Rounder 2010]
  10. Lil Jon & The East Side BoyzCrunk Rock [Universal 2010]
  11. Mavis Staples (and Jeff Tweedy) You Are Not Alone [Anti/Epitaph 2010]
  12. Justin Townes EarleHarlem River Blues [Bloodshot Records 2010]
  13. Richie StephensReggae Revolution [Pot of Gold/VP Records 2010]
  14. Paul WallHeart Of A Champion [Swishahouse 2010]
  15. Isobel Campbell & Mark Lannegan Come Undone [Vanguard 2010]
  16. Tom Petty & the HeartbreakersMojo [Reprise 2010]
  17. Sarah BlaskoAs Day Follows Night [Universal 2010]
  18. Various ArtistsDear New Orleans [ATC Benefits 2010]
  19. Jerry Lee Lewis Mean Old Man [Shangri-La Roots 2010]
  20. Lady Saw My Way [Toasting Music 2010]
  21. Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah DogsGod Willin’ & The Creek Don’t Rise [RCA Records 2010]
  22. Max StallingHome to You [Blind Nello Records 2010]
  23. Ryan Bingham Junky Star [Lost Highway Records 2010]
  24. Grupo FantasmaEl Existential [Nat Geo Music 2010]
  25. James Levy Verses [Township Records 2010]
  26. Danny Malone Verses [Township Records 2010]
  27. AtmosphereTo All My Friends, Blood Makes The Blade Holy: The Atmosphere EP’s [Rhymesayers 2010]
  28. Hope SandovalThrough The Devil Softly [Netwerk Records 2009]
  29. Bostich & FussibleBulevar 2000 [Nacional Records 2010]
  30. Sahara SmithMyth Of The Heart [Playing in Traffic Records 2010]
  31. Tom Schraeder Once Lace, Now Cotton[Township Records 2010]
  32. Ben Sollee & Daniel MartinDear Companion [Sub Pop Records 2010]
  33. The TrishasThey Call Us The Trishas [Fatty Four Records 2010]
  34. JamesThe Morning After The Night Before [Island/Def Jam 2010]
  35. Green River Ordinance The Morning Passengers EP – Acoustic Sessions [For Mona 2010]
  36. The GreenhornesGun For You [Greenhornes 2010]
  37. RobynBody Talk Pt. 2 [Interscope Records 2010]
  38. Jon Langford & Skull OrchardOld Devils [Bloodshot Records 2010]
  39. T-Model FordPee Wee Get My Gun [Fat Possum Records 2010]
  40. RuskoHold On [Mad Decent Records 2010]
  41. Street Sweeper Social Club – The Ghetto Blaster EP [Street Sweeper Social Club 2010]
  42. Natty King Trodding [Tad’s 2010]
  43. Black Milk Album Of The Year [Fat Beats Records 2010]
  44. Chezidek Herbalist [Tad’s 2010]

Put The Stereo On

System Shakedown

Dog With A Rope

Harlem River Blues [Explicit]

You Are Not Alone

Dear New Orleans [Explicit]

Junky Star

El Existential

Verses

Verses

Once Lace, Now Cotton

Pee Wee Get My Gun [Explicit]

The Best Albums of September 2010

The Best Albums of January 2010

  1. Ryan Bingham and Various Artists Crazy Heart [New West 2010]
  2. Vampire WeekendContra [XL 2010]
  3. Various ArtistsDub Like An Antelope – Legends of Reggae Celebrate Phish [Red Hillz Music 2010]
  4. SpoonTransference [Merge Records 2010]
  5. SizzlaCrucial Times [VP Records 2010]
  6. Dave Rawlings MachineA Friend Of A Friend [Acony 2009]
  7. Snoop DoggMalice ‘N Wonderland [Capital Records 2009]
  8. Corinne Bailey RaeThe Sea [EMI 2010]
  9. Souls of MischiefMontezuma’s Revenge [Hieroglyphics Imperium 2009]
  10. Julian CasablancasPhrazes For The Young [RCA/Jive 2009]
  11. Animal Collective Fall Be Kind EP [Domino 2009]
  12. Two High String Band – Hot Texas Bluegrass Burrito [THSB 2009]
  13. Ray Wylie HubbardA: Enlightenment B: Endarkenment (Hint: There Is No C) [Bordello 2010]
  14. Them Crooked Vultures Them Crooked Vultures [Interscope 2009]
  15. Various Artists The Princess And The Frog [Disney 2009]
  16. Young Money We Are Young Money [Cash Money 2009]
  17. Works Progress AdministrationWPA [Signature Sounds 2009]
  18. Chris SmitherTime Stands Still [Signature Sounds 2009]
  19. Rosie Flores & the Pine Valley CosmonautsGirl of the Century [Bloodshot 2010]
  20. Mark E Works 2005 – 2008: Selected Tracks & Edits [Merc 2010]
  21. Lee “Scratch” Perry Alien Starman [Secrets 2009]

The Best Albums of January 2010

Top 30 Albums of July 2009! – HOT SUMMER MUSIC for JULY 2009

July 2009

  1. Major Lazer Guns Don’t Kill People…Lazers Do [Explicit] [Downtown 2009]
  2. Chali 2na Fish Outta Water [Decon 2009]
  3. Slaid CleavesEverything You Love Will Be Taken Away [Music Road 2009]
  4. Zee AviZee Avi[Brushfire Records 2009]
  5. Lady Saw Extra Raw: The First Lady of Dancehall [VP Records 2009]
  6. AswadCity Lock [Rhythm Riders 2009]
  7. Rhett MillerRhett Miller [Shout! Factory 2009]
  8. Mishka Above The Bones [J.K. Livin Records 2009]
  9. Bob DylanTogether Through Life [Columbia 2009]
  10. MicachuJewellery [Rough Trade 2009]
  11. ScientistInternational Heroes Dub [Tameki Wambesi Dove 2009]
  12. Mojo Morgangot Mojo? [Gedion Soldiers 2009]
  13. The LemonheadsVarshons [The End Records 2009]
  14. The AggrolitesIV [Hellcat 2009]
  15. The Low Anthem Oh My God Charlie Darwin [Nonesuch 2009]
  16. Various Artists Riddim Driven: Sweet [VP Records 2009]
  17. Dinosaur Jr.Farm [Jagjaguwar 2009]
  18. Ryan Bingham & the Dead HorsesRoadhouse Sun (Amazon MP3 Exclusive Version) [Lost Highway Records 2009]
  19. EminemRelapse [Explicit] [Aftermath Records 2009]
  20. Jason LytleYours Truly, The Commuter [Anti/Epitaph 2009]
  21. Todd SniderThe Excitement Plan [Yep Roc Records 2009]
  22. Son VoltAmerican Central Dust [Rounder Records 2009]
  23. Mos DefThe Ecstatic [Downtown 2009]
  24. Levon HelmElectric Dirt [Amazon Exclusive] [Vanguard 2009]
  25. Tanya MorganBrooklynati [Explicit] [Independent Media/iM Culture 2009]
  26. DoomBorn Like This. [Explicit] [Lex Records 2009]
  27. Laura IzibiLet The Truth Be Told [Deluxe] [Atlantic 2009]
  28. J Dilla Jay Stay Paid [Explicit] [Nature Sounds 2009]
  29. St. Vincent Actor (Amazon Exclusive) [4AD 2009]
  30. Matthew Sweet & Susanna HoffsUnder The Covers: Vol. 2 [Shout! Factory 2009]
  31. WilcoWilco [The Album] [Nonesuch 2009]

Diplo and Switch present Major Lazer‘s Guns Don’t Kill People…Lazers Do with special guests Santogold, Mr. Lex, Vybz Kartel, T.O.K., Mr Vegas, and many more. The creative DJ/producer duo amalgamates and mashes up tunes sampling from soca, calypso, merengue, and reggae, dropping fat beats, gun blasts, reggae air horns, and choice samples. An example of one of the more interesting and creative cuts is “Baby,” which adds an auto-tune to a crying baby. The killer reggae track on this work is “Can’t Stop Now,” which features Mr. Vegas and Jovi Rockwell. The harmonic Rockwell and Mr. Vegas create an easy-sounding classic reggae track among the hard-pounding dance jams. The track “Hold The Line” samples surf guitars from Dick Dale And His Del-Tones classic “Misirlou,” adding heavy beats and the vocal duo of Mr. Lex and Santogold. Some of my personal favorites on this album include the rough shod “Bruk Out” featuring T.O.K and Ms. Thing; “Cash Flow” featuring the roots reggae flavor of Jah Dan; “Anything Goes” with chaotic verses from Turbulance; and the dancehall sensation Vybz Kartel working “Pon De Floor.”

Chali 2Na‘s Fish Outta Water snap, crackles, and pops. A guest appearances by the Marley Brothers, Damian Marley and Stephen Marley, on the cut “Guns Up” piles deep booming funky fresh rhymes over a sweet melodic reggae chorus peppered by a Jr. Gong flow. The King of the Dancehall Beenie Man joins Chali 2Na on the tune “International” for searing dancehall reggae/hip-hop fusion. I found the single “Lock Shit Down” with Talib Kweli appealing and the track “Comin’ Thru” to be a hip-hop jam.

Texas songwriters Slaid Cleaves, Rhett Miller, and Ryan Bingham made the list this month. The Austin-based musician Slaid Cleaves sings heart-wrenching ballads playing Texas country music like it should be played. The song “Cry” on the album Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away will rip out your heart and have you reaching for the bottle of whiskey. American folk legend Bob Dylan dropped the new album Together Through Life featuring the ominous dark-sounding hit single “Beyond Here Lies Nothin’.

Zee Avi and Mishka add international flavors to the best albums of July, providing fun flip-flop rock and reggae sounds for the summertime. Jack Johnson‘s Brushfire Records handpicked Zee Avi for the label where she fits well with the laid back surfer motive. The Malaysian-born ukulele player’s new album is self titled Zee Avi. Reggae-drenched Canadian/Bermudian seafarer Mishka is the new artist appearing on Matthew McConaughey’s record label JK Livin Records. Mishka’s new album Above The Bones provides good summer tunes and positive vibes.

Top 30 Albums of July 2009! – HOT SUMMER MUSIC for JULY 2009

JamTex Top 10 for July 2008

July 2008
1. DubmatixRenegade Rocker [Dubmatrix 2008]
2. Hayes CarllTrouble In Mind [Lost Highway 2008]
3. Various Artists Reggae Gold 2008 [VP Records 2008]
4. Willie NelsonOne Hell of a Ride [Box Set] [Sony 2008]
5. Joe Ely and Joel Guzman – Live Cactus [Rack’em Records 2008]
6. Alejandro Escovedo Real Animal [Back Porch Records 2008]
7. DJ Yoda Fabriclive 39 [Fabric 2008]
8. Ryan Bingham Mescalito [Lost Highway 2007]
9. EtanaThe Strong One [VP Records 2008]
10. Various Artist Ragga Ragga Ragga! 2008 [Greensleeves 2008]

Dubmatix‘s new album Renegade Rockers offers some true gems with classic dancehall don Pinchers and rocksteady veteran Alton Ellis laying down superb tracks with the Canadian dubmaster. Lining up sensational reggae vocalist like Willi Williams, Linval Thompson, and Ranking Joe, Dubmatix has produced dynamite soundscapes to be played loudly in the hot Texas heat.

Hayes Carll‘s “She Left for Jesus” from his new album Trouble in Mind is the best country song of the year if not the decade. Witty, humorous, and delightfully sounding Hayes Carll embodies the best of roots music.

VP’s Reggae Gold 2008 compiled some of the hottest reggae coming out of the Caribbean, including Mavado, Beenie Man, Bugle, Richie Spice, and Collie Buddz. Syren Hall‘s “Sombody Come Get Me” and Tarrus Riley‘s “Ease Off” play like smooth roots reggae. The compilation contains burning dancehall anthems, such as Stephen Marley and Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley‘s “The Mission.” YT‘s “Champion Sound” kills the competition, dropping bombs and crazy bass.

For a trek across New Mexico and Arizona and onto the old casinos of downtown Las Vegas, the sounds of Joe Ely and Joel Guzman‘s new album Live Cactus framed a passing desert landscape. And where eventually the desert plain gave way to mad rapids on the swollen Colorado River rampaging down the truly grand canyons of the American Southwest.

JamTex Top 10 for July 2008