In The Groove
With a history 50+ years in the making, Tower of Power has been a funk institution since 1968, knocking out hits like “What is Hip,” “So Very Hard to Go,” “This Time It’s Real” and “You’re Still a Young Man" while lending their soulful sound to collaborations with Santana, the Grateful Dead, Elton, Huey Lewis, Justin Timberlake and everyone in-between. "50 Years of Funk & Soul - Live at the Fox Theater" captures their storied career with no-holds-barred victory lap concerts in Oakland, CA, performing their full spectrum of life-affirming funk and soul hits to sold out audiences in 2018. Available as a 3-LP set, 2-CD/1-DVD package, standalone DVD and digital audio configuration, these historic performances include alumni special guests Chester Thompson, Lenny Pickett, Francis ‘Rocco’ Prestia, Bruce Conte and Ray Greene.
For two decades, Sara Watkins has been one of the most visible artists in roots music, with her catalog ranging from solo albums and Watkins Family Hour, a duo with her brother Sean Watkins, to her Grammy-winning bands Nickel Creek and I’m With Her.
With the nostalgic and gentle new album Under the Pepper Tree, Sara Watkins offers a comforting record for those moments as daily rhythms fade into nightly rituals – and when a child’s imagination comes to life.
Made with families in mind, the personal project encompasses songs she embraced as a child herself, as well as the musical friendships she’s made along the way. Recorded in Los Angeles with producer Tyler Chester, Under the Pepper Tree brings storytelling, solace, and encouragement to the listener, no matter the age.
There's early work with Eric Dolphy and McCoy Tyner in Charles Mingus' Jazz Workshop, work with Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln, a stint in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, and also one with Miles. There's his groundbreaking and highly influential Ntu Troop albums of the early 70s and his jazz-funk work including two classic albums with the Mizell Brothers, one of which supplied A Tribe Called Quest with a sample that was smooth like butter. That's not to mention appearances on beloved albums by Pharoah Sanders, Donald Byrd, Norman Connors, Roy Ayers, Gene Ammons, Phyllis Hyman, Jackie McLean and many others. This is what Gary Bartz brings to the Jazz Is Dead project and as can be expected, his questing spirit fits the JID style like a glove and has produced an album that's a cutting-edge addition to his immense canon as he effortlessly interfaces with a new generation.
Building on the success of “Perception” and “The Search,” consecutive No. 1 Billboard Top 200 albums (both RIAA certified platinum), Michigan rapper NF is back with his first ever mixtape, “CLOUDS (THE MIXTAPE).” The project comes as a surprise for fans who are sure to enjoy NF’s signature blend of introspective lyrics and thematic elements, and features from Hopsin and Tech N9ne. Produced by Tommee Profitt, the album boasts a wide range of new sounds, including heavy hitting hip hop tracks “CLOUDS,” “LOST,” and “TRUST,” alongside melancholic anthems “JUST LIKE YOU” and “PRIDEFUL.”
The album is the third release by the band for Nonesuch Records and follows up their break out release, Free Yourself Up, which debuted top 10 on the Billboard Album charts (a career peak for the band) and garnered them their first charting radio single, "Good Kisser." Obviously was produced by Grammy Award-winning producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Mike Elizondo
2020 was a terrible year for gardening. It was terrible for peppers, it was terrible for tomatoes, it was terrible for the condition of the soul. But Chad VanGaalen somehow raised a garden all the same: carrots and sprouts and broccoli and a revivifying new album, all of them grown at home. He likes to eat directly off the plant, he says—"I get down on my knees and graze. It's nice to feel the vegetables in your face"—and the 13 songs on World's Most Stressed Out Gardener were harvested with just such a spirit: in their raw state, young and vegetal, at the very moment, they were made. What that means is that the Calgary songwriter's new album is a psychedelic bumper crop. A collection of tunes that does away with obsessiveness, the anxiety of perfectionism, in favor of freshness and immediacy — capturing the world as it was met while recording alone at home over a period of years. "Don't overthink it," VanGaalen told himself again and again, despite the push/pull love/hate of his relationship with songwriting. "I'm always trying to get outside of the song—but then I realize I love the song." This is a record that gleams with VanGaalen's musical signatures: found sound, reverb, polychromatic folk music that is by turns cartoonish and hyperphysical—like ultra magnified footage of a virus or a leaf. Apparently, the LP began life as a "pretty minimal" flute record. (There's only a vestige now, on "Flute Peace"—one of three instrumentals.) Later it became an electronic record "for a while" and finally, "right at the last second," it "turned into a pile of garbage." The good kind of garbage: glinting, useful, free. Music as compost—leaves, and branches ready to be re-ingested by the earth, turned into a flower. Throughout these 40 minutes, VanGaalen floats from mania to solace to oblivion, searching for zen in all the wrong places. "Turn up the radio / I think we’re dead," he sings on "Nothing Is Strange"; or, on the inside-out rocker "Nightmare Scenario": "You’re stressed out when you should be feeling very well." The singer's mental landscape is rotting and redemptive, beautiful in spite of itself—and his soundscapes reflect this fertile decay. He has been influenced by his instrumental work on TV scores (Dream Corp's third season began this fall), but still "nothing can really replace the human voice,” he admits. Like Arthur Russell or Syd Barrett, it’s VanGaalen’s vocals that shine a path through the swampland—from the cello-lashed “Water Brother” to “Starlight”’s krautrock pipe-dream. These days, VanGaalen cherishes the privacy of the studio, the capacity to wander around, get distracted, and "move at the speed of life." Whereas once he would obsess over mic techniques, now he puts the microphone in the same place every time—trying to capture a song quickly, the idea at its heart. He'll act on his infatuations—for the flute, a squeaky clarinet, his basement's copper plumbing (remade into xylophones for "Samurai Sword")—and then he'll try to get out, "veering away from responsibility," before he overdoes his stay. In the end, it's like gardening. You have to live with your horrible decision-making; the weather's going to fuck you if it wants to; and if you plant a hundred heads of broccoli, "now you gotta eat a hundred heads of broccoli—or watch them go to seed." But mostly VanGaalen just tries to be a deer: "I remember seeing some deer come out in the Okanagan Valley once," he says, "watching them wait for a sunbeam to hit a perfect bunch of grapes—and then eating them right out of the sunbeam. I'd recommend that."
Morgan Wade has never sounded like anybody else, and for a long time, she thought that meant her songs were just for her. “Honestly, I think that was really good for me,” she says. “It made me think, ‘Alright, well, I’m not going to sing for anybody else––but I’m singing for myself.’”
Since then, Wade has figured out that when you grow up in Floyd, Virginia, where bluegrass sustains everyone like the Blue Ridge Mountain air but you hear other sounds like pop and punk in your own head, singing for yourself is the way to become the artist you were always meant to be.
Produced by Sadler Vaden––Jason Isbell’s longtime guitarist and an acclaimed solo artist in his own right––Wade’s full-length debut Reckless is a confident rock-and-roll record that introduces a young singer-songwriter who is embracing her strengths and quirks as she continues to ask questions about who she is––and who she wants to be. Her voice, a raspy soprano that can soothe liltingly or growl, is on brilliant display. “I feel like the last couple of years have been me trying to figure out where I fit in, who I fit in with, and what’s going on,” Wade says. “I’m almost four years sober, so a lot of the friends I had, I don’t really hang out with anymore. When I wrote these songs, I was going through a lot, just trying to figure out who I am.”
Cuttin' Grass Vol. 1 (Butcher Shoppe Sessions) is now available on Vinyl & CD.
The fifth album from Oklahoma-bred singer/songwriter Parker Millsap, Be Here Instead emerged from a wild alchemy of instinct, ingenuity, and joyfully determined rule-breaking. In a departure from the guitar-and-notebook-based approach to songwriting that shaped his earlier work, the Nashville-based artist followed his curiosity to countless other modes of expression, experimenting with everything from piano to effects pedals to old-school drum machines (a fascination partly inspired by the early-’70s innovations of Sly Stone and J.J. Cale). As those explorations deepened and broadened his musical vision, Millsap soon arrived at a body of work touched with both unbridled imagination and lucid insight into the search for presence in a chaotic world.
The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band are the greatest front-porch blues band in the world. They are led by Reverend Peyton, who most consider to be the premier finger picker playing today. He has earned a reputation as both a singularly compelling performer and a persuasive evangelist for the rootsy, country blues styles that captured his imagination early in life and inspired him and his band to make pilgrimages to Clarksdale, Mississippi to study under such blues masters as T-Model Ford, Robert Belfour and David “Honeyboy” Edwards. The band has built through their legendary live shows. Playing as many as 300 shows each year, the band has one of the most dedicated followings out there. This following is sure to eat up the band's latest offering, Dance Songs For Hard Times, a country blues record that was made the right way — two feet on the ground and both hands getting dirty.
In the midst of the thick New Orleans summer of 2017, Chris Lyons of garage punks Bottomfeeders found himself sitting on a small batch of songs that didn’t quite fit the fuzzed-out pileups of that band. The new songs were more chiming, driving but relaxed, full of little corners begging to be filled with classic pop harmonies and wayward country licks. He called in his trusted confidants: Bottomfeeders drummer and longtime musical partner Lucas Bogner—the two started playing music together at the tender age of 15—plus bassist Pete Campanelli, and Kunal Prakash (Jeff the Brotherhood) dug the songs and signed on, and the quartet started playing in earnest, hunkering down in the practice space.
By the time the band played its first gig in late 2018 at the opening of Nola’s ManRay Records, the songs had multiplied and the members of the newly christened Silver Synthetic had become genuine rock & roll craftsmen. In a world that doesn’t seem capable of swaying, Silver Synthetic’s self-titled debut shakes and boogies.
It makes sense that the band’s first gig was in a record shop ‘cause folks, this is record nerd-core in a major way, evocative of the LP's first golden era, as the late sixties oozed into the strange 1970s, with the requisite T-Rex stomps, Britfolk twists and turns, and dueling Verlaine/Lloyd guitars. It’s about warmth, and you can practically smell the gently glowing amp tubes on “In the Beginning,” which wafts along on a gust borrowed from Lou Reed’s beatific Coney Island Baby breeziness. With “Chasm Killer,” the boys lean into jammy heartland rock, almost approaching Silver Bullet Band territory at one point! Even when the band kicks into charging lean rock-n-roller, like on the Kinksy “Around the Bend,” there’s a laid-backness that allows more room for the spirit.
You could call Silver Synthetic rock & roll formalists, but the truth is they're more like minimalists, stripping away tired clutter and unnecessary bloat and just zooming in on the essential.
In 2008 Etienne de Rocher paused his budding career as a songwriter in the Bay Area to relocate his growing family to the fertile artistic grounds of Athens, GA. The new locale was immediately a creative inspiration. Although it would take years to complete, he began soaking up the musical energy of his new home and writing some of the songs that would become Haunted Shed’s debut “Faltering Light” immediately.
“Faltering Light” is more than just a love letter to the Classic City though. It’s a love letter to life. 11 rocking, thoughtful, psychedelic, literary songs about Etienne’s experience with life raising kids, restoring homes, cooking, holidays and his inward contemplations of dreams, emotions, and nightmares.
Recorded at Chase Park Transduction with Drew Vandenberg (of Montreal, Faye Webster) at the helm, Haunted Shed’s debut album is a thoughtful, fun collection of stories from someone who’s experienced enough life to have some good ones.
The legendary So-Cal punk group The Offspring return with their 10th album (and first new offering since 2008), the blistering and triumphant Let The Bad Times Roll. Produced by Bob Rock, the group describes the album as "the most cathartic thing we've done. The messages might be dark, but at the end what's left is that communication is important, working through feelings is important and most of all, hope is important."
Description: Nearly two decades into her storied career, 9-time GRAMMY-winning singer, songwriter, pianist, and 2020’s most livestreamed artists, Norah Jones is set to release her first full live album ‘Til We Meet Again.The collection presents globe-spanning performances from the U.S., France, Italy, Brazil, and Argentina that were recorded between 2017-2019. The 14 songs featured on ‘Til We Meet Again also span Jones’ entire career from her 2002 debut Come Away With Me (“Don’t Know Why,” “I’ve Got To See You Again,” “Cold, Cold Heart”), 2004’s Feels Like Home (“Sunrise,” “Those Sweet Words”), 2012’s Little Broken Hearts (“After The Fall”), 2016’s Day Breaks (“Flipside,” “Tragedy”), as well as her more recent singles series (“It Was You,” “Begin Again,” “Just A Little Bit,” “Falling,” and the GRAMMY-nominated “I’ll Be Gone”).
The album closes with Jones’ stunning solo piano performance of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun,” a tribute to Chris Cornell that was recorded at the Fox Theatre in Detroit just days after Cornell’s death following a performance at the same venue.
The Pink Stones deliver a full serving of Peach State picked country-rock from Athens, Georgia with the release of their debut album, Introducing… The Pink Stones, via the New West Records imprint Normaltown Records. Mixing elements of classic cosmic country, raucous rock’n’roll and fresh humor and heartaches, The Pink Stones are authoring a new chapter in the annals of Cosmic American Music.
With over 5,000 performances spanning four decades, 20 million records sold worldwide, and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, CHEAP TRICK is undoubtedly one of the most influential classic rock groups of the past 50 years. The band was formed in 1974 and while it has evolved throughout the years, CHEAP TRICK has continued to reach mainstream and critical success. Hits such as “I Want You To Want Me,” “Dream Police,” and “Surrender” have cemented the group as one of America’s top rock ‘n’ roll bands of all time.
Cannibal Corpse will be releasing a new studio album called "Violence Unimagined" on 4/16. The title tells you everything you need to know about Cannibal Corpse's fifteenth hellish opus. Comprising eleven tracks, it is state of the art death metal played with passion and breathless precision, making for another flawless addition to what is inarguably one of the premier catalogues the genre has thrown up.