Not unlike noses, heartfelt opinions are something everyone has and when it comes to music, these beliefs are even more fervently embraced. There are sure to be readers who will vehemently disagree with my assertions, (“waddya mean this knucklehead didn’t include the Grizzly Bear album?”), but in my humble opinion, these are records that may have flown under the radar and more importantly, refute the assertion by music fanatics that nothing good is being recorded nowadays.
Various Artists – Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan (Amnesty International) – This 4-CD set was released to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Amnesty International and is just what you’d expect—a hodge-podge of artists delving into the canon of the only singer-songwriter whose legacy could measure up to that of this prestigious human rights organization. This big tent approach is such that there’s room for fellow icons (Johnny Cash, Patti Smith), punks (Rise Against, Bad Religion), pop day-trippers (Ke$ha, Miley Cyrus), rebels (Steve Earle, Tom Morello), folkies (Billy Bragg, Pete Seeger), divas (Adele, Bettye LaVette) and even the man himself. It’s a wonderful demonstration on how timeless and malleable Bob Dylan’s songs can be.
Sister Sparrow may travel in the company of the Dirty Birds, but the only thing filthy about this nonet is the horn-driven funk that’s been honed through a relentless touring schedule. With vocalist Arleigh Kincheloe fronting the band and being the foundation with the group along with harp-blowing brother Jackson and drumming cousin Bram forming the foundation of the band, SS&TDB has turned 2012 into quite a watershed 365-day stretch. Not only did the band drop its second album Pound of Dirt, but they played South by Southwest and Bonnaroo, shared a bill with Counting Crows and are wrapping up the year opening multiple dates for Gov’t Mule, including the headliner’s annual New Year’s Eve show. But for the whirlwind that this year was, Arleigh Kincheloe’s biggest accomplishment was coming out on the other side with a renewed sense of purpose upon the completion of her crew’s sophomore bow.
“It was really challenging. It was my first experience to really have time to work on things,” she recalled. “[I was] sort of staring my own ability in the face, which is terrifying; to sit with it, think about it and hear every mistake and flaw, [realizing] that you can’t be too much of a perfectionist.”
For as many concerts that play in our area at any given time, it always seems like the days leading up to and including New Year’s Eve wind up being arguably one the biggest live music days of the year. This go-round is not different as there is plenty to choose from regardless of your taste in music.
1. Andrew W.K. - The hard rocking singer-songwriter cum motivational speaker/nightclub entrepreneur/Cartoon Network show host/Kathy Griffin beau welcomes 2013 in Amityville (Revolution, December 30)
2. Coldplay & Jay-Z – Is this the most bizarre pairing since Jimi Hendrix opened for The Monkees? You can be the judge if you head over to Brooklyn for this most unusual bill. (Barclays Center, December 31)
When veteran country hitmaker Billy Dean joins Kenny Rogers for the latter’s “Hits and Christmas” show at Westbury Music Fair on Dec. 23, he’ll be bringing more than chart-toppers like “That Girl’s Been Spyin’ On Me” and “Let Them Be Little” with him – he’s also bringing a whole lot of history. Dean made his first visit to country’s Top 10 with his debut single, “Only Here for a Little While,” back in 1990, but he’s been steeped in the art of twang since his teens.
It all started with the musician father for whom he was named. “He had a band for 28 years,” Dean explains. “They played pretty much the same place, the American Legion Hall, but man, it was a rough kind of a place. It was country music at its best — cheatin’, knife fights, drunk [laughs]…they had a good time. When I became a teenager…I joined his band and played on the weekends, and eventually went off and did my own thing.”
Not unlike what’s happened with books, technology’s various conveniences have also impersonalized the way we ingest music be it through downloads or the earbuds of an iPod. While LPs are arguably the best way to experience this food for the soul, there’s something to be said about cracking open either a CD booklet or a well-packaged box set, regardless of the genre.
Anglophiles had plenty to rejoice about whether it was because Blur commemorated its 21st anniversary by releasing its entire canon (in addition to a live album culled from its show at the 2012 Olympics closing ceremony). Or could it be elder statesmen Elvis Costello and Peter Gabriel being represented by a pair of compilations for the former and the 25th anniversary release of the latter’s biggest album? And while there’s the deluxe edition of The Jam’s last album and the entire Roxy catalog for Union Jack fans to rave over, the Yanks got their due with the deluxe reissues of Bob Mould’s old band Sugar and Smashing Pumpkin’s sprawling 1995 double-disc third album.
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