Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ben Kyle House Concert Tonight in Media!

I can't guarantee "Danny Boy", "The Parting Glass" or "The Irish Rover", but tonight's intimate show in Media will surely gain its share of converts to Ben Kyle's contemplative balladry. Ben Kyle is an ex-Pat Irishman who now calls Minneapolis home, although his Belfast roots shine through his tightly constructed story songs sung with an evocative Gaelic lilt. After three albums with his alt country band Romantica, plus an exquisite duets album with Texas sweetheart Carrie Rodriguez, Kyle struck out on last year's solo debut, Ben Kyle. The album deals with the push and pull of creating a solid home life for his family with the vagabond lifestyle that is the calling card of most touring musicians. The result is spare and touching, with the bare minimum of accompaniment.

Tonight's shindig is a Sixth Street Concerts event, which means it's a super cozy house concert in Media. Show starts at 8:00, will be over by 9:30 and will still provide ample time to get your Irish on in one (or more) the approximately 3,000 bars in Delaware County featuring Irish music tonight.

Sixth StreetConcerts - call 610-627-0670 for reservations.

Here is a sweet sampler of Ben Kyle's music:
Romantica - "There She Goes" (from It's YourWeakness That I Want)
Romantica - "The National Side" (from America)
Romantica - "Tonight I'm Leaving You for Love"(from Control Alt Country Delete)
Carrie Rodriguez and Ben Kyle - "Unwed Fathers" (from WeStill Love Our Country)
Ben Kyle - "The Hills of England" (from Ben Kyle)


Tuesday, March 05, 2013

# 18 - fun. - Some Nights

Back in 2006, I called Dog Problems by The Format the best album of 2006... ahead of Boys and Girls in America by The Hold Steady. I might want a do-over on that one.

I still love Dog Problems, and now the decade-long gestating overnight stardom of Nate Ruess (lead singer for both The Format and fun.) has propelled fun. to superstardom on the back of their massive smash "We Are Young", surely to be a generational touchstone once the aughts' hangover recedes a decade from now.

# 19 - The Lumineers - The Lumineers

I really like The Lumineers debut. I really do (take a look... it's # 19!). But how the heck did they get so popular, so fast? Is it Mumford mania pulling them along? Guess how many views the video for "Hey Ho" has? If you guessed 24 million, you'd be half right. I say "God bless The Lumineers", but keep it real kids, I don't want this to be your Cracked Rear View.

The Lumineers - "Classy Girls" (from The Lumineers)

# 20 - The School - Reading Too Much Into Things Like Everything

If you ever wondered what would have happened if Brian Wilson had produced The Shirelles, take a listen to The School. It's all bubbly melodies, lovesick lyrics and kitchen sink production - guaranteed to make you feel like you are listening to Hyski on WIBG or George Michael on WFIL. Groovy.

The School - "Why Do You Have to Break My Heart Again?" (from Reading Too Much Into Things Like Everything)

Vinyl nerds... check out this video. Graded VG+.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

# 21 - Nicki Bluhm - Driftwood

For those miss Laurel Canyon songbirds like Linda Ronstadt, Karla Bonoff and Joni Mitchell, may I present Nicki Bluhm, sweetheart of the radio. Her second album, Driftwood, is a slow burn that features the year's best duet, "Stick With Me" featuring her husband, Mother Hips main man Tim Bluhm. And she was bringing back bangs way before Michelle.

Nicki Bluhm - "Stick With Me" (from Driftwood)

# 22 - The Avett Brothers - The Carpenter

Despite the huge misstep of "Paul Newman vs. The Demons", which was probably a natural defensive reaction to the scattered "sellout" cries that greeted I And Love and You, the Avett Brothers continue their hot streak with their death-obsessed The Carpenter. Despite the mind boggling success of americana sensations Mumford and Sons and The Lumineers, the Avetts remain the realest deal.
The Avett Brothers - "The Once and FutureCarpenter"

# 23 - Joe Pug - The Great Despiser

Joe Pug is a self-effacing young singer songwriter who gives away his music for free, tours like an old school troubadour and talks of his debut album "escaping" rather than being leaked. There's a humanity and forcefulness in his songwriting that sparks that rare combination of being tender but not sappy. His second album, The Great Despiser", features 10 original songs and one killer cover, "Deep Dark Wells", that shines a light on unknown Texan wordsmith, Harvey Thomas Young.

# 24 - Shark Tape - 2 EP's (+)

Philadelphia's Shark Tape self released 2 ep's and a digital single (ten songs) that together combined to make the 24th best lp of 2012.  You could look it up. Combining the early 80's moody angst-ridden shimmer of Echo & The Bunnymen and The Teardrop Explodes with a dash of Westerbergian flair, Shark Tape is angling for Next Big Thing status in 2013. Check out this video for "Put Those Things Away"... the only bummer is that it's not introduced by Martha Quinn.

# 25 - American Aquarium - Burn.Flicker.Die

American Aquarium lead singer P.J. Barham looks like the booze-bombed spawn of Tim Matheson and Ryan Adams, but luckily for us he evokes the gritty, lovable loser side of Ryan Adams that we fell in love with in early Whiskeytown. The protagonist in "Savannah Almost Killed Me" falls for a girl who was "A Bette Davis double / With diamonds on her knuckles / She knew every word to "Born to Run"". My kind of girl. My kind of guy.

American Aquarium - "Savannah Almost Killed Me"  (from Burn.Flicker.Die)

Teenage Kicks Belated Top 25 of 2012

My friend Sarah says that by the first week of January it is too late to post a best of 2012 list. I think she's right. But she is industrious and hard working and I am not, so therefore I bring you the top 25 albums of 2012 in the first week of March. Three titles battled it out for the top spot and ultimately a traditional, second generation artist took the crown. So without messing around, I'll start with # 25 and work my up (down?) to # 1.