The Best of April 2009!!!

The Best of April 2009!!!

1. Graham Wilkinson & the Underground TownshipYearbook [Township Records 2009]
2. K’NaanTroubadour [Octone Records 2009]
3. Buju BantonRasta Got Soul [Gargamel 2009]
4. Bob Dylan Together Through Life [Columbia 2009]
5. CunninlynguistsStrange Journey Volume One [QNS 2009]
6. J.J. Cale Roll On [Rounder 2009]
7. B RealSmoke and Mirrors [Duck Down 2009]
8. Jah CureThe Universal Cure [SoBe 2009]
9. Souls of Mischief Tour Stories [Hieroglyphics Imporium 2009]
10. JahmaliEl Shaddai [Penthouse 2009]
11. Various ArtistsEvolution Dub Volume 1: The Origin of the Species [Greensleeves 2009]
12. Various ArtistsEvolution Dub Volume 2: The Great Leap Forward [Greensleeves 2009]
13. SizzlaGhetto Youthology [Greensleeves 2009]
14. Bitty McLeanMovin On [Taxi 2009]
15. John Brown’s BodyRe-Amplify [Easy Star Records 2009]

Graham Wilkinson and the Underground Township released a new album on Township Records, Yearbook, this month that brings the best of Texas roots music to the fore. Graham Wilkinson has proven himself not only as a songwriter but also as an arranger. Some of the songs on this album come from earlier albums but here they are arranged in new and lovely ways. On the track “Ragamuffin,” Hayes Carll lends his voice and Lloyd Maines plays his pedal-steel guitar. “Let It Go” stands out as an americana roots jam and “La Briza” casts an easy groovy spell. “Boys and Girls” is a reggafied track that has a ska sound.  On the strings laden “Ghosts,” a previously unreleased track,  Alejandro Esovedo adds his voice to this rock n’ roll piece of art. Graham Wilkinson and the Underground Township and the boys at Township Records, including producer and bassist Wayne Dalchau, have done it again. And this time the album artwork and concept of the Yearbook make it worth getting the hard copy of this album. Get the digital album if need be but the artwork and music make this album a tangible item one needs to hold, see, listen, and appreciate. Like the old days before the digital single this album harkens back to the good old days of the concept album. This album, Yearbook, captures a year of creativity, music, and Austin vibes.

K’Naan the Somalian rapper dropped sweltering rhymes over fat beats on his new album Troubadour. The track “I Come Prepared” with Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley stands out as a powerful song and the track “ABC’s” with Chubb Rock is slamming. Chali 2Na Fish, Mos Def, and Adam Levine also co-star on this album. But K’Naan shines on solo tracks too. The track “T.I.A.,” which stand for “This Is Africa,” samples Bob Marley & the Wailers’ “Simmer Down” with heavy bass drops chopping the old rhythm into a new dancehall beat. The Somalian rapper shows his softer side on ballads like “Wavin’ Flag” and “Take A Minute.” I am looking forward to seeing the live show.

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The Best of April 2009!!!

TOP 10!!! September 2008

September 2008

1. Michael Franti & SpearheadAll Rebel Rockers [Anti 2008]
2. Graham WilkinsonGraham Wilkinson [Township Records 2008]
3. Burning SpearJah Is Real [Burning Music 2008]
4. John Brown’s BodyAmplify [MRI Associated 2008]
5. Busy Signal Loaded [VP Records 2008]
6. James Levy Blood Red Rose [Township Records 2008]
7. Beres Hammond A Moment in Time [VP Records 2008]
8. Queen IfricaFyah Muma [Flames 2008]
9. Kimya DawsonAlphabutt [K Records 2008]
10. Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings 1000 Days, 1000 Nights [Daptone 2007]

Michael Franti & Spearhead have released an excellent reggae and pop album. The addition of the strong voice of reggae seductress Cherine Anderson over the heavy bass riddims of Sly & Robbie make this album a head nodder. “The Rude Boys Back in Town” and “Soundsystem” display Spearhead’s block rocking ability while two versions of “Hey World” encapsulate Franti’s ability to say something meaningful over good music.

The 2008 Austin City Limit’s Music Festival introduced the world to some of the best local music coming out of Austin, Texas. Christopher Denny an Arkansas native and presently an Austin-based singer-songwriter crooner and backed by Austin’s Underground Township rocked the Austin Ventures stage. Furthermore Graham Wilkinson of the Underground Township released an excellent compilation of solo acoustic gems this month. Many organic grooves are coming out of Austin. Wayne Dalchau’s Township Records released several great albums in the last month, including Wilkinson’s new album and James Levy’s Blood Red Rose. Wayne is also working on a much anticipated Township Records compilation that will include Chris Denny, Graham Wilkinson, and other Township Records artists.

Burning Spear’s new album Jah Is Real flows smoothly and feels refreshingly natural and original. One can see the party and imagery that emerges from the single “Jam Cruise.” It is amazing that the Spear can drop tunes like this over four decades. Rather live or in the studio Burning Spear embodies roots reggae music.

Plus a mention of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and their phenomenal performance at Austin City Limits is needed here. The soulful group dropped funk and love on Austin, bringing the audience alive on a hot Saturday afternoon. Much dancing ensued and these soul players deserve their props. John Fogerty kicked ass and took names, playing “Down on the Corner,” “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” and “Lookin’ Out My Back Door.”

TOP 10!!! September 2008