Showing posts with label Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Show all posts

Jun 18, 2012

Snap Judgment Track-by-Track Review: Kenny Chesney - Welcome to the Fishbowl

Already reviewed this. Still dull. I've noticed quite a few recent country singles sounding a lot like this - tuneless, that is. It reminds me of the days when I was still an aspiring lyricist. I'd get my "song" just perfect (to the eyes of a wordsmith) and then send them to a musical collaborator. Working from pre-written lyrics didn't give them a lot of room for melody and the finished product often came off sounding bland and skeletal. I'm sure "Come Over" wasn't written by this method, but still, it's clear that the music part of this song wasn't nearly as important as the words, and it should usually be 50/50. On the other hand, maybe it's prime time for me to get back in the lyric writing game!

Big, dumb and full of star-power. And it's a country song about being a rock star. Not really anything else to say.

Sing 'Em Good My Friend
Lots of "whooo ooh's" and "doo doo doo doo's" in this slow story song. They're trying to create a mood. If the mood is "moderately uncomfortable," job well done. In the positive column, this isn't a song about bars, beaches or reminiscing. It's about buying a guitar from a man whose wife is near death. As tiresome as "country dying songs" are, this isn't really one of those. It's about "passing the torch" so to speak. So, kudos for a pretty well done idea. It's kind of a downer though and not particularly memorable musically.

Welcome to the Fishbowl
It's about reality TV and the Twitter generation. About how there is no privacy anymore. Funny enough, Chesney himself remains a deeply private individual who rarely reveals anything much about himself, so this comes off a bit inauthentic. This is a catchier tune than what's come before on the album, but it doesn't have enough meat to stick with you.

I'm a Small Town
Well, here's a new way to write about the same old thing - this small town anthem is actually from the perspective of the town. While this might seem like splitting hairs, Kenny actually pulls this one off with aplomb. It's a well written tune as well. Thoughtful, insightful and heartbreaking. Let's just hope nobody writes a song from a truck's point-of-view next.

El Cerrito Place
This is the song I was most anticipating (or dreading?) from this album. It's a cover of one of my favorite Charlie Robison tunes. Here we go… It certainly fits the gray mood of the album. This is a pretty flat reading. Chesney doesn't have enough grit to pull this off. When the song picked up, I thought it had a chance here… but the chorus just killed the cover dead. No variation whatsoever. That's the thing about a refrain. The singer is supposed to reveal a different emotional facet of the words with each repetition, not just recite the words. I'm not one of those folks who summarily hates commercial covers of more "indie" country songs, but I hate this.

Makes Me Wonder
Ah, some real melody. Finally. Another song with a refrain. He gives this one some oomph though. This is a good tune. Nice harmonies. If Chesney can do one emotion right, it's wistfulness. Ugh, "what's up with that?" is a line in the bridge. That'll count off half a letter grade.

While He Still Knows Who I Am
Alzheimer's. Big time downer. It's fairly believable and free of cheese though. I don't even like to think about this subject matter. Not sure it's a song I will want to revisit. Not too badly done though.

Time Flies
This sounds more like a trademark Kenny song. Bouncy island rhythm and kicking off responsibilities. "Time flies when you're having rum" - I wrote that line once back when I was an aspiring lyricist. "Talking to a cutie, heading for the booty," however, is not a line I would ever consider writing. WTF?? This has an earworm of a chorus, but there's too much familiarity and too many clunker lines to give this a good grade.

To Get to You (55th and 3rd)
Another depressing ballad framed by a particular place. Didn't we already have one of those four songs ago? This piano-driven weeper features a far better performance than "El Cerrito Place," but the song isn't as interesting. And while Chesney delivers an emotional vocal, the music doesn't pull its weight. It's a power ballad minus power.

Always Gonna Be You
Sigh. Kenny needs some Celexa, Red Bull or maybe some meth. Cheer up, bald buddy! I'm going to hit up the Mio now, myself. Another dull, depressing tune. Kinda sums up the album.

Great song. Better than anything else on the current album. That's not a good thing when this is a rehash of a single from the previous album.

May 10, 2012

Beale Street Music Festival 2012: A Wrap-Up

Living in the deep south and not having pockets quite deep enough to go to Jazzfest in New Orleans or Hangout on the coast, Beale Street Music Festival is the only festival I can frequently attend, so I make a point of going as much as possible. This year, I missed Friday due to needing to work, but was still able to make it to Memphis for 2 hot, fun days of music. The crowd was down a little this year probably because the headliners weren't quite as big as usual, but you still can't get this much entertainment for $75 anywhere else. And as hot as it was, the weather was wonderful, considering it didn't rain for the first time in like, ever. Here's a rundown of who I saw at the festival.

John Hiatt - We caught a few songs from Hiatt before heading over to Drew Holcomb. Sounded good. Other than his biggest "hits," I've never been a huge Hiatt fan, so I didn't feel guilty for cutting out.

Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors - Probably would be megastars if they changed their genre from pop-rock to "country"…way more interesting guy/girl duo at the lead than Sugarland possesses. Warm, melodious set full of great hooks and killer vocals.

Son Volt
Son Volt - What you'd expect from Jay Farrar, as far as stage presence, but the band sounded GREAT. Jay's vocals were excellent too. You know what you're getting with a Son Volt show, but there's nothing wrong with being all about the music. Finally got to hear my favorite song, "Windfall" in concert.

Childish Gambino - Culture and genre shock going from Son Volt to Donald Glover's rap alter-ego. Despite counting myself at least a moderate hip-hop fan, this was my first rap concert. The bass felt and sounded amazing. Childish Gambino was out to prove his rap cred and he did so. It got a bit tiresome midway, with no conversation breaks (guess I was hoping he'd do a little comedy routine in the middle or something), but he's a strong performer who never got winded and proved himself a true hip-hop artist, not just an actor doing a side gig for fun. Huge crowd for this set.

The Cult - I'd heard bad things about Ian Astbury and the boys live beforehand, but they were solid. They rocked pretty hard - some of their newer songs were very punk sounding, much less arena rock than the songs that made them (semi) famous. Ian was pretty engaging and though he didn't try particularly hard, they put on a good show.

Sundown on the Mississippi
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals - Hell of a show. Grace is a thoroughly engaging performer and her vocals were top notch. She also played nearly every instrument on the stage over the course of the show. Her band is tight as a drum too. Go see 'em if you get a chance. Not an ounce of disappointment from this one. Another big crowd for this set.

Jane's Addiction - Tired old man syndrome kicked in just before this set, so we only made it halfway through. Hey, gimme a break… I'm over 35, it was 90+ degrees most of the day and I'm a desk jockey. Jane's Addiction's set was much more lavish than earlier performers. They had digital screens, crazy lights and people hanging from circus swings. Perry Farrell was a great showman and the band seemed very much a well-oiled machine, despite the sound not being that great. I heard my favorite tune  ("Mountain Song") and their biggest hit ("Been Caught Stealing") so I didn't feel too bad calling it a night.

Old 97s - Awesome show. Best sounding band of the weekend, for my money (of course Union Station is surely "better" but I'm more roots rock than bluegrass oriented). Rhett Miller was friendly and his voice was great as the band played all their better known songs ("Big Brown Eyes," "Question," "Barrier Reef" etc) along with some from recent albums ("I'm a Trainwreck" "Every Night is Friday Night"). Perfect set.

The Chris Robinson Brotherhood
The Chris Robinson Brotherhood - I prefer Robinson's harder rocking Black Crowes work, but his folksier side is also worth seeing live. Tight band, strong performance from Chris. A little jammier than I prefer, but I'd rather see them than say, Phish, any day.

Black Stone Cherry - We got our hard rock fix in at this show. Hottest freaking show of the weekend…. it was 93 and we couldn't squeeze up into the shade of the overhang, but we toughed it out with some adult beverages. Black Stone Cherry rocks hard; the guitarist seems straight out of some 80s hair metal band and he was the 2nd most energetic performer I saw this weekend, running around the stage nearly the entire set. BSC's vocalist is a treat to behold live - soulful and unique. These southern hard rockers played their biggest hits like "Blind Man," "White Trash Milllionaire" and "Like I Roll" along with a few cool covers like Joe Walsh's "Rocky Mountain Way." Very talented band. The drummer was nuts, all afro'd out and a blaze of arms and fingers - he once threw a stick at a stagehand mid-song… and never missed a beat.

Michael Franti
Michael Franti and Spearhead - Far and away the best show of the weekend. While the focus was more on love and fun than music, the band didn't slack at all, and Franti is surely one of the greatest live performers working the circuit right now. He spent a good third of the show out in the crowd, all 6'6' of him, singing, playing guitar, slapping hands and spreading love. I've read in previous concert reviews that this is their usual show protocol, but it didn't come off anywhere near "going through the motions." The atmosphere was sincere, warm and vibrant. They opened the show with "Everyone Deserves Music" and went on to make me think everyone deserves to see Spearhead live. Much like the Beastie Boys, Spearhead just has this vibe and broad appeal that's so contagious, I can't imagine anyone hating them. Other songs they played included "The Sound of Sunshine," "Say Hey (I Love You)" and "I Know I'm Not Alone." Despite the overwhelmingly positive bent of the performance, it never felt cheesy or awkward. This is a band with "it," whatever "it" is. Beach balls, cute kids on stage and other cute kids leading chants from the audience… the gruffest and most cynical individuals among us couldn't help but smile the whole show. Franti's a liberal, but I'm pretty sure you could get Congress in a Spearhead show and they'd agree on nearly everything by the last song. I don't care if you're not into reggae-influenced dancehall pop rock, if Michael Franti and Spearhead do a show close to you, be there.

The Civil Wars - As talented as you've heard. As boring as you may suspect. They were cute and cuddly and sounded great, but unless they pump up the volume a little in the future, I don't see them maintaining their level of popularity.  "Poison and Wine" was the highlight for me.  Huge crowd for them.

Alison Krauss and Union Station - Call it heresy, but we only stuck around for about 5 songs before moving on to Robert Randolph. I do want to hear a full show from AK at some point, but we were more in the mood for some bluesy slide guitar on this night. Alison sounds as good, no better, than you've heard. I swooned. The band was of course, untouchable.

Robert Randolph & the FB
Robert Randolph and the Family Band - Excellent, loud, supremely talented. Great show in the blues tent. How did this guy not get a full stage? Anyway, awesome set. Cool lights. I was tired so I don't remember a great deal more, but it was a nice end to a hot, fun weekend.

Jul 18, 2011

New Country Doppelgangers

Reid Perry of The Band Perry and Jared Followill of Kings of Leon. (Jared has since cleaned up his look to disassociate himself with The Band Perry, presumably)

Grace Potter of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals (and Kenny Chesney guest) looks a lot like Heidi Klum.

Brantley Gilbert and Jason Aldean look a lot alike. Can't imagine why.

Countryish singer-songwriter Corey Smith could almost pass for the white Rick Ross if he put on a hundred-fifty pounds or so.

And then there's radio show host/former music star Kix Brooks and his Village People doppelganger...


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