Category Archives: Reviews

Los Lonely Boys: Sacred

Epic/Or Music/One Haven

Southwestern trio Los Lonely Boys return to rock with Sacred, the first album of original material since their 2004 debut. Sounding like a cross between Stevie Ray Vaughan and Los Lobos, the Garza brothers —Henry, JoJo and Ringo— turn in an inspired disc full of hairpin musical twists and turns, showing off a rich heritage of cultural diversity near the Texas/Mexico border.

 

True, some of Sacred's hot spots are the pop oriented big production numbers like the fluff and sass of the radio ready "Roses." But, John Porter and Mark Wright's crisp, clear assistance at Pedernales studios in Austin, Texas equals a larger, more inclusive Los Lonely Boys recording that stretches across a wider spectrum and is destined to bring the band a broader demographic.

 

The opener "My Way," smolders with the Texas roadhouse blues of Henry Garza's guitar and vocals meshing with JoJo's fluent, rhythmic forays on bass guitar. The Texas Horns chime in to lend a hand, and "My Way" fulfills Los Lonely Boys' promise from their first outing, setting them on an extended career path as headliners. "Diamonds" is another gem benefiting from Porter and Wright's techno enhancing savvy, and Ringo's stormy drum breaks pop up into the forefront of the mix.

 

Aficionado's of the SRV, Albert Collins school of showy, electrified blues will enthuse on Henry's scorching wall of sound on "Oye Mamacita." The Boys bring out the mellower, Latin romantic side of their background on "I Never Met a Woman." And, they get a little help from their father, Enrique Garza, Sr., and mentor Willie Nelson on the country flavored "Outlaws." Sacred sets up the building blocks of Los Lonely Boys' escalating pyramid, putting them in rarefied territory with past greats that have crossed the rock and roll and blues divide, laying a solid groundwork that stands the test of time.                 

Ryan Adams Rocks the Sonar

Ryan Adams & the Cardinals

7-21-06

The Sonar

Baltimore, MD

 

Ryan Adams doesn’t get a whole lot of time to himself once he arrives to a venue.  The singer-songwriter, self dubbed on “the edge of alt-country,” sits beneath the seat of his piano, left of center stage, legs extended, in silence.  There is a peaceful aura surrounding the often times volatile 31 year-old rocker.  

Continue reading Ryan Adams Rocks the Sonar

Herbie Hancock :Jazz to Funk

Jazz to Funk captures jazz legend Herbie Hancock at the peak of his transitional period in the late 1960s when he was moving from the hard-bop sound he had helped establish with Miles Davis and moving towards a more funk-laden sound layered with deep rhythms that would find a home in his work during the 1970s.

This two-disc collection of outtakes and rare recordings finds Hancock backed by some of the era’s most legendary influential players, including Don Cherry and Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Ron Carter on bass, and Jack DeJohnette on drums.

The first disc contains four rare cuts from a 1969 session with Albert “Tootie” Heath.  Despite being originally listed as a side-man on the sessions, Hancock’s tasteful piano adds a swinging groove that takes center stage.

The second disc is a mishmash of outtakes from the 1966 soundtrack session for the film Blow Up.  While not as hard hitting as the previous disc, it provides a good feel of the vibe and sound that helped define the time.

This collection is Hancock at his best, both as a player and as a composer.  For those getting into Hancock for the first time (What took so long?), there are better places to start – namely his classic records Cantaloupe Island or Headhunters, but for those who have already gotten into Hancock then this collection is a must.

Peter Rowan: Crucial Country

I’ve seen Peter Rowan enough times over the years to know that he is constitutionally incapable of playing a bad show.  Like any artist however, some shows are better than others.

This set, recorded live at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in 1994, was one of those magic nights when the X-Factor was present.  Rowan’s band that night, Crucial Country, might well have been called The Ringers.  Sam Bush on mandolin, Jerry Douglas on dobro, Viktor Krauss on bass, Kester Smith on percussion and Larry Atamanuik on drums breathed not just life but fire into some of Rowan’s finest songs.

Drawing heavily from Rowan’s two early 90s gems, Dust Bowl Children and All On A Rising Day, Rowan and company also stretch out on in cosmic cowboy style on classics like “Panama Red,” and “Land Of The Navajo,” and reveal more tender, reflective and philosophical sides at other times.

During the one moment that starts to lag, a drum breakdown part of the way through an extended take on Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry,” the entire crowd began to sing the chorus creating a spine-tingling moment out of what could have been filler.  A dozen years has done nothing to dim the magic captured on these tapes.  It’s good Rowan finally allowed their release.