Jun 302008

Ever since The White Stripes hit the scene, there has been no shortage of two man (or woman) bands out there releasing cds. Hell, there’s been no shortage of coverage for them on this here web site, either. And while there are more two man bands out there than you can shake a stick at, I promise you there are none, and by none I mean ZERO, that are quite like the Black Diamond Heavies. The Black Diamond Heavies are not for the uninitiated…Nay, the Black Diamond Heavies are for people who are ready to feel sin and salvation through the low end of a B3, with a tumbler full of whiskey and Van Cambell’s growl as a drinking partner. I’d been kicking around various ways to describe BDH’s sound and then I saw it spelled out perfectly on a CMJ review of Someone Else’s Class as such, “humid tone over heated tunes.” A perfect description for a gutturally raw and fantastic band.

A Touch of Someone Else’s Class is the follow up to last year’s fantastic Every Damn Time. It features production work by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys and a guest horn appearance by Ralph Carney. As with any proper blues album, punk-ass or not, it features several covers, including a version of Tina Turner’s “Nutbush City Limit” that may be the best version of the song I’ve ever heard. The disc even offers a surprising change up for the band in “Bidin’ My Time”, a somber ballad that seems as if it was written by Campbell near last call in a smoky piano bar five states away from his girl. While I wouldn’t want an album full of songs like “Bidin’ My Time”, this particular track has become one of my favorite songs on the album.

A Touch Of Someone Else’s Class isn’t only Essential Listening, it’s another slam dunk for both the band and Alive Records…a label that just continues to drop monster album after monster album out of their catalog. If you haven’t already, check them out. And speaking of checking them out, The Black Diamond Heavies are another band that will be playing the Deep Blues Festival next month. They are one of the bands I am most looking forward to getting to check out. I’m telling you, if you are anywhere near Minnesota or in a position to get on a plane and be near it, you need to get to Lake Elmo July 18 thru 20. It’s gonna be an event fans of this sound will be talking about for years to come.

Black Diamond Heavies – Bidin’ My Time
Black Diamond Heavies – Everything Is Everything
Black Diamond Heavies – Smoothe It Out

Black Diamond Heavies’ Official Site, Black Diamond Heavies’ myspace profile, Buy A Touch Of Someone Else’s Class

Jun 302008

Some good news popped up on Hank III’s Official Site. I quote:

A true release date for “Damn Right & Rebel Proud” has been decided. This will have an official press release in the VERY near future. Thank you to everyone for your support, but for the time being there is no need to reach out to Curb about “Damn Right & Rebel Proud.”

Rest assured that this new album is well worth the wait. Be ready for a few tracks that have been added to the track listing! It looks like the wind is finally at our backs, we are very excited to get the new record out and be back out there with the fans. This is all very triumphant news for all of us.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Hank III – Dick in Dixie

Jun 272008

PART 5: The Blakes

The eponymous album from this 3 man Seattle band is another great find for me and this little project.  No gimmicks, just good music with nice variety between the songs, yet still maintaining cohesiveness.

In looking for some info on them, I came across a story in the Seattle Times about how well they’ve been doing and one part particularly stood out.  Apparently, Iggy Pop heard the band at SXSW and asked, “Who’s this? This [stuff] is good!”  I can’t say it much better, this stuff is good, and The Blakes are at 9 out of 10 ponchos on my must-see scale…maybe 9 1/2.

The Blakes- Commit
The Blakes- Two Times

The Blakes on MySpace

PART 6: Black Kids

I had heard their song “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You” before on an indie mix I’d downloaded, and while I liked it right away, I didn’t have the urge to check out their whole album.  I mean, it’s a fun song, but not very substantial, so I didn’t expect much from Wizard of Ahhhs.

The album turned out to have the same feel as that song, light, poppy, sing-song-y with a slight tendency to the annoying, in other words, it was pretty much just what I’d expected.  The songs are fun and clever and it’s nice to listen to and maybe sing along with on the drive home from work, but not the sort of thing I can imagine myself listening to much unless a song comes up on shuffle.  I’m going to give them 7 ponchos- I would like to see them, but not over many other bands that I also want to see there.

Black Kids- I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You
Black Kids- Hurricane Jane

Black Kids on MySpace

PART 7: Booka Shade

This German Duo electrohouse duo is another group that I had heard stuff from before but hadn’t gone so far as to get an album from.  Movement is total chillout room music, at first listen I kept thinking Deep Forest with more bounce.  When the schedule was released, I found it strange that they’re going to be on from 3:30-4:30p, as this is music I’d be more likely to listen to at sunrise, but for those to whom the time 10 minutes before the end of their set is meaningful, I guess their set time should be pretty perfect.

I give them 5 ponchos if I’m already feeling tired and don’t want to fall asleep, or 8 ponchos if I’m at the right level of awake and intoxicated to appreciate them.

Booka Shade- Darko
Booka Shade- Body Language (Interpretation)

Booka Shade on MySpace

PART 8: Brand New

I’m awful with genres, but according to their Wikipedia entry, Brand New is a a post-hardcore band.  There are at least one or two songs off of The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me being played on Sirius’ Alt Nation channel and I thought they were decent enough tunes, so I was interested in checking out the album.

Lead vocalist Jesse Lacey has a great voice, very strong and earnest, and combined with good percussion and strong guitars it should be a decent album.  However, while the music behind it all may be good, the lyrics are often juvenile and trite, and the album ends up slightly angsty with a touch of cheese.  The song that really killed it for me was “Jesus”, with lines like, “Well, Jesus Christ, I’m alone again. So what did you do those three days you were dead? Cause this problem’s gonna last more than the weekend.” and “I know you’re coming for the people like me, but we all got wood and nails and turned out a hate factory.”  Holy melodrama, Batman.

Overall, The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me is pretty easy to listen to, but even though I dig the music and the vocals, due to the cheese factor I’m gonna give them 5 ponchos.

Brand New- Sowing Season
Brand New- Degausser

Brand New on MySpace

Jun 262008

Hayes Carll has gotten a lot of run on a lot of blogs. Thank god too. Had it not been for me continually seeing his name on blogs I read on a regular basis I may not have ever gotten around to checking out his latest (and first I’ve ever heard) release, Trouble in Mind.

Really, everything that needs to be said about this album has already been said and it’s all been said better than I could have done. A particularly good review of the album which pretty much sums up how I feel about the cd was posted on The 9513 a couple of months ago. I especially like one of their closing paragraphs:

All and all, the good on this record far, far, far outweighs the bad. In fact, the only reason that I’m giving this one such an analytical look is because it warrants it. Work of serious artistic substance deserves serious listening and serious reflection, and this record is full of very worthy artistic substance.

This record is the very definition of Essential Listening…especially for fans of intelligent quirkiness ala Todd Snider.

Hayes Carll – Drunken Poet’s Dream
Hayes Carll – Wild As A Turkey
Hayes Carll – Knockin’ Over Whiskeys

Hayes Carll’s Official Site, Hayes Carll on myspace, Buy Trouble in Mind