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Reviews (Album, Movie, TV)
Classic Review: Neil Young & Crazy Horse's "Ragged Glory" PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ken Lay   
Thursday, 20 February 2014 23:45

Neil Young has always marched to the beat of his own drum --- both literally and figuratively --- you just never know what you’re going to get when one of his albums lands in record stores.

That is what’s both fascinating and frustrating about the rock legend that has composed both straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll LPs and country works along with techno synth-rock, blues-jazz and rockabilly albums.

Some of these works are good, some are bad but the one constant is their originality.

In 1990, Young reunited with Crazy Horse, his longtime band, and went back to his roots with Ragged Glory.

The contents of this LP ushered Young and his band mates into a new decade with their traditional guitar rock sound. This incarnation of Crazy Horse features Young (lead guitar, lead vocals); Ralph Molina (drums, background vocals); Billy Talbot (bass, background vocals) and Frank Sampredo (rhythm guitar, backing vocals) and is nothing short of a masterpiece.

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 February 2014 23:48
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Ampient: Music4 Projec PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alec Cunningham   
Tuesday, 28 January 2014 16:19

Local musicians join forces in an ambient collaboration

Ampient, an experimental ambient project that comes to you from a handful of Knoxville musicians, has recently released its newest collaboration of tracks simply titled Music4 Projec. Although it was originally formed in 2009 by the well-known local musician Todd Steed and members of the group have varied from year to year since then, this specific release has been a collaborative between Steed, John T. Baker, George Middlebrooks, Brett Winston, and Toby Applegate.

The group notes that multiple tracks on the release were created as a nod to Brian Eno, the musician who initially founded the idea of ambient music back in the 1970s. Ambient music is intended to reduce the mundane occurrences of everyday life by providing a soundtrack to enhance your day and stimulate your mood. And as is the purpose of this type of music, this album is designed to be one that will make you think.

The release begins with a track by Baker titled, “Music For Yardwork,” which employs sounds comparable to those of a lawn mower. Similarly, you can easily imagine yourself as a traveler being taken on a musical journey with “Voyager.”

These musicians have taken piano, guitar, and strings instruments and wrapped them in a layer of electronic processing in order to give off its intended conceptual air. In doing so, they’ve managed to put immense personality into this predominately instrumental project of theirs.

Each musician brings their own particular style to the table. Middlebrooks, for instance, tends to produce a sound founded strongly around the synthesizer in his roaming, lengthy tracks. And although most of the tracks are of traditional length, the contributions made by him range from being almost seven minutes in length to being a full sixteen minutes long.

Winston, on the other hand, takes an entirely different approach. His songs are much shorter in length – the longest of the six tracks he contributes barely reaches four minutes. Each of his songs have titles that have to do with flying in an airplane, such as, “Island Home in the Sky,” “Travel Delays,” and “Crash Landing Safe Return.” He also adds a stronger sense of structure to three of his songs by introducing lyrics into the composition.

The differences in style can be explained by each artist’s individual musical background. Winston, for instance, comes from a band called The French, whereas Baker’s origins come from his solo pop career, and Middlebrooks hails from an ambient-infused rock trio called Stolen Sheep.

This might not be an album meant for every type of music lover, but if you’re not already a fan of ambient music, this album can easily grow on you. Some of the most notable tracks include “Music For Yardwork,” “Crash Landing Safe Return,” and “A Towel That Smells Summer Fresh.” Music4 Projec can be listened to in its entirety and can even be downloaded for free at ampient.bandcamp.com.

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 16:23
 
Garth Brooks Rekindled Traditional Country on Self-Titled Debut PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ken Lay   
Tuesday, 28 January 2014 16:23

Oklahoma native begins revival of Honky-tonk and Western Swing with humble first outing


During the 1980’s Country and Western Music went Pop and the genre as most fans knew it nearly died out as fiddles and mandolins were replaced by electric guitars and loud drums.

Of that era, Alabama was the only band that sustained success through the 1990s. The 80’s were dark for country music.

Sure, George Strait emerged early in the decade and Merle Haggard continued to release critically acclaimed smashes such as Big City and Kern River (the latter 1985 release was hated by his record company and is now out of print). But the genre’s traditional sound took a back seat until Randy Travis emerged in the middle of the decade with a pair of releases.

After that, traditional country went dormant until the emergence of Garth Brooks, who burst onto the scene in 1989. He brought traditional county music back with his self-titled debut, a humble but stellar effort that had fiddles, western folk tales, rodeo, swing, heartbreak, desolate desperation, love songs and farming, blue-collar factory work and inner struggle --- in other words --- everything that is great about country music.

And the critics and fans alike gushed praise upon the work that signaled the beginning of a new era in country and western music.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 16:27
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Classic Review: Blood, Sweat & Tears PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ken Lay   
Tuesday, 28 January 2014 20:56

B S &T’s third effort doesn’t pack a big punch

Blues and Jazz rockers disappoint despite some high notes

Blood, Sweat and Tears was a hit making machine during 1968 and 1969 but the group declined almost as quickly as it shot to the top of the charts and dazzled critics and fans alike.

In 1970, the group released Blood, Sweat & Tears 3 and upon hitting record store shelves, it was met by lukewarm reviews at best.

The LP followed Blood, Sweat & Tears (1969) and Child is Father to the Man (1968). Those works were true classics. The band’s first album was a critically acclaimed smash while second was greeted warmly by critics and spawned hits like “God Bless the Child,” “Spinning Wheel” and “And When I Die.”

The group’s third effort was admirable but was a disappointment. It was eagerly anticipated.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 20:59
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Show Review: Chvrches • Asheville • Nov 30th PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 23 December 2013 17:06

On a cold night in America, somewhere downtown, we join our readers, moving fast over the ground.

Two folks went walking, the long city streets, pretending not to notice the air as it freezed. Slowly eroding their sense of self, this kind of weather calls for a fat man and an elf. These two had come, from a land far away, a land of orange and laughter and a street named Gay. They came for delights. What kind you may ask? Some coffee and a concert in a city called Ash. Their coats were pulled tight, and their scarves set to choke, in hopes of keeping out, this November cold. In their hands were some tickets, and they passed them with glee, to the doorman, who promised, this is one show to see. With their eyes adjusted, and the heaters set to fry, they danced and they sang, in the fast moving lights. One hour, and fifty five minutes of fun, and a return trip that almost ended in their destruction. For on the road, going, the completely wrong way, was the police, chasing a car, directly in their lane. Fast thinking and Rad Racer had trained them for this and so they let out an oil that was black and was slick. Saving the day and safely, arriving back home, that is just part, of the story to come. Prepare your glasses, and cozy, yourself a seat, we hope that you find, this review, a real treat.

 

Last Updated on Monday, 23 December 2013 17:10
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