The Mighty Souls Brass Band’s debut album Lift Up is exactly what you need to listen to when you’re having withdrawals from all the Mardi Gras fun. If you missed out on finding that little baby in your king cake this year, mix up a drink, put Lift Up on, sit back and crown yourself the king of your own krewe.
The Mighty Souls Brass Band was Sean Murphy’s big dream that came to be with the joint efforts of up to 14 rotating and evolving musicians from Memphis. The MSBB’s music ranges in styles from Marching, Swing, Soul and Funk with each track of the album taking on its own sound that it’s impossible to listen to without feeling the desire to move your feet. The music speaks for itself and requires little in the way of lyrics though a few of the tracks offer some vocals that only enhance the notes that are pushed through the loud horns and jazzy percussion beats.
It’s no secret that my favorite thing about New Orleans is the off the beaten path swing and jazz bars where I can dream about being one of the girls being swung up on a dashing man’s shoulders and spun around the floor… and this album is exactly what I would want to be the soundtrack of my fantasy swing dancing self. Check out this video and tell me you don’t feel like putting on your suit going out and grabbing a cutie in a swing dress and tossing her around the dance floor!
With Gill’s debut album The Ballad of Lucy Lawless Soirez, he cemented himself into my musical life. That album was everything I wanted for a soundtrack while cooking, drinking with friends, reading, or basically anything that’s chill and enjoyable. Gill’s one of those guys you might not have heard of but you’ve probably heard. While he’s put out a large amount of music with the New Orleans jug band The Kitchen Syncopators, you’re probably more likely to have heard his banjo and steel guitar chops with Old Crow Medicine Show.
That said, Gill solo is nothing like OCMS (a band I love). His solo material tends to take on a much more sophisticated and well-rounded sound, or viewers of the HBO series “Treme” might say it takes on a lot more of a New Orleans sound. I’m more engineer than music expert, so I prefer the “sophisticated” descriptor. HOWEVER, if I were to don my music expert hat (made of bedazzled construction paper), I’d say Gill’s music is a mixture of old country blues and jazz, with the songster sounds of the 30’s as garnish to Gill’s magnificent voice (lol…who’s been watching too much Top Chef?).
Regardless of how you wanna describe the sounds you hear on Piety & Desire, the only point we have to agree on is that it’s Essential Listening and an odds-on fave for our top of the year list.
My first exposure to Melody Gardot came via her 2008 album, Worrisome Heart. The first time I heard her I emailed the following to my wife:
I don’t know much.
But I know I like her.
She makes me wanna smoke cigarettes and drink vodka outta funky glasses.
Much has been made about her unique path into the music scene, and in the interest of back story I’ll recap it here. At nineteen, Melody was riding her bicycle when she was struck by a car, ending up with a head injury that caused cognitive impairment. As fate would have it, during her rehab her doctor suggested that she try making music to help repair that damage. Katherine Wright of the Music Therapy Association explains, “Music enables a person to reminisce and reconnect with her sense of identity. Songwriting is an excellent tool to use when working on concentration and other cognitive issues.” Following her doctor’s suggestions, Melody started writing and recording the songs that would eventually make up her debut cd, Some Lessons- the Bedroom Sessions, as well as Worrisome Heart.
April saw Melody release her second full length, My One And Only Thrill, and I could go into a whole “Here’s a 23 year old old-soul with a jazzy haunting voice that knows real pain” type of spiel, but I’ won’t. Instead I am gonna review the album with a haiku:
rat pack and dry martinis
When I started ninebullets.net I really didn’t listen to too many woman singers. It wasn’t a conscious decision, really, so much as habit. Eilen Jewell was one of the singers that helped break that habit with her 2008 effort, Letters From Sinners And Strangers. When I read on songs:illinois that she was changing her sound on Sea Of Tears I got a little worried. Why mess with a good thing I wondered. Her last cd was perfect for damned near every mood and occasion.
With great trepidation I put the new cd in my car stereo.
Huuuuge exhale. Turns out she didn’t remake her sound so much as tweak it a little here and there. The results are just as powerful as her last album. Powerful and melancholy with a little bit of a 50’s rock and roll / surf rock added to the background. The standout track (as well as title track), “Sea of Tears”, really drives this new sound home and could easily be a song Travolta and Thurman would have danced to in Pulp Fiction. To contrast the rock of “Sea Of Tears” is the jazzy brooding of “Final Hour”, while the ode to codeine, “Codeine Arms”, bridges the gap between the two.
By the end of Sea of Tears a couple of things are obvious. One, there really isn’t anyone out there doing what Eilen does, and if there is please tell me who they are. Two, this album will be on many a year-end Top 10 list, and with that said, three; this album is Essential Listening, so buy it come April 21.
I think I’ve mentioned on here how far behind I am when it comes to listening to the cds that show up in my mailbox. It had gotten so bad that there was a box of unlistened cds that I packed when we moved (7 months ago) and still had not touched since. So, I did the only thing I could think of. I hired my friends as ninebullets interns and started handing out stacks of cds. The instructions were simple. Listen and if you think I’d like it then give it back. Otherwise, it’s yours. One of the cds that came back was Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis’ album, Two Men With The Blues, with a simple sentence written across the cover in Sharpie…
“What’s not to like?”
What’s not to like, indeed. I’ll be honest, on my best days I’m only lukewarm towards Willie Nelson. I’ll listen if it’s on, but I don’t ever reach for any Willie if left to my own devices. That said, this album will have a permanent place in my cd collection.
Two Men With The Blues pairs Willie Nelson with legendary jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. It was recorded during a two night stint at New York’s Allen Room billed as “Willie Nelson Sings the Blues”, part of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s “Singers Over Manhattan” series. The band features Wille and his long-time harmonica player Mickey Raphael joining ranks with Wynton and his backing quartet for a raucous selection of tracks ranging from country stalwarts to jazz standards and all with an effortless perfection.
If there was any complaint about the cd to be cast it would be that the bass is too high in the mix which makes it difficult to really crank up the volume while listening. If that’s the worst thing you can say about an album, then you know that thing is Essential Listening. It kind of makes me excited to see what else is gonna come out of that box.
Worrisome Heart had a tough road to travel before making it to our ears, and had it not been for a horrible accident when Melody Gardot was nineteen we may not have ever heard her voice at all. At nineteen, Melody was riding her bicycle when she was struck by a car, ending up with a head injury that caused cognitive impairment. As fate would have it, during her rehab her doctor suggested that she try making music to help repair that damage. Katherine Wright of the Music Therapy Association explains, “Music enables a person to reminisce and reconnect with her sense of identity. Songwriting is an excellent tool to use when working on concentration and other cognitive issues.”
Following her doctor’s suggestions, Melody started writing and recording the first pieces of her songbook, which would become her debut EP, Some Lessons the Bedroom Sessions. Some Lessons garnered the attention of a DJ at WXPN (a station known for launching the careers of Amos Lee, as well as Norah Jones). She also won a People’s Choice award from City Paper Philadelphia in 2005.
I only tell you the back story because I find it really interesting. It’s obvious this girl was meant to make music, but it took a 2000 pound automobile moving at a high rate of speed to put her on that path. It’s kinda freaky in that ‘you ain’t avoiding your fate’ kinda way.
She recently released her first full-length album, Worrisome Heart, and I could go into a whole ‘here’s a 22 year old old-soul with a jazzy haunting voice that knows real pain’ type of spiel. Instead, however, I am gonna repost here the first things that came to mind when I listened to this album and emailed my wife about it:
I don’t know much.
But I know I like her.
she makes me wanna smoke cigarettes and drink vodka outta funky glasses http://www.myspace.com/melody
I was politely asked by Melody’s people to remove the songs so here are 3 videos from YouTube: