Mike Gordon - Overstep CD - Ask, and Mike Gordon will tell you all about the songs he has written and recorded for his fourth solo album Overstep, and how the finished product compares to his previous releases (2003's Inside In, 2008's The Green Sparrow, and 2010's Moss). But as a devotee and student of the creative process, he'd much rather talk about how the songs came to be, and about the long road traveled between idea and finished work.
Most artists have a ritual or routine that they rely on to inspire and guide their efforts from concept to fruition. Gordon has developed hundreds of them over the years, and perhaps thousands. He speaks often about the importance of listening, and of his commitment to following ethereal voices and visions. One such persistent vision he describes was of a spare cabin in the woods with a single window and a desk, and Gordon making music with guitarist and longtime collaborator Scott Murawski. So he called Murawski and proposed a songwriting retreat at idyllic Lake Sunapee in New Hampshire. Murawski accepted, and the old friends escaped together to summon the muse, unburdened as yet by the expectation that they would eventually record an album.
After multiple writing retreats and an album's worth of core tracks in hand, Gordon took a leap of faith, and hired Paul Q. Kolderie (Radiohead, Hole, Pixies, Dinosaur Jr.) as producer to bring the project home. Gordon had self-produced all of his previous albums, but felt he was ready to surrender control to someone who understood his vision and loved the material. 'Hiring Paul was definitely the right thing,' says Murawski. 'The payoffs are all over the place.'
Gordon cites three goals that he kept in mind throughout the process from start to finish: Find ways to be raw and sophisticated at the same time; Be groove oriented; Write songs that will be fun to play live. Whether an explicit goal or not, the songs on Overstep evidence Gordon's evolving ability to develop three-dimensional characters within his songs, and to speak more directly to the truth of their condition.
Drive-By Truckers - English Oceans CD - English Oceans, the band's 12th release, is an elegantly balanced and deeply engaged new effort that finds the group refreshed and firing on all cylinders. 'It can go from this chainsaw rock 'n' roll to this very delicate, pretty-sounding stuff,' says Mike Cooley.
English Oceans was recorded over 13 sessions at Chase Park Transduction Studios in Athens, GA with their longtime producer, David Barbe. Cooley fans will be happy that he brought six new songs to the sessions and this record marks the first time that Cooley sings a song penned by Patterson Hood on 'Til He s Dead or Rises.'
In typical DBT fashion the songs depict an array of characters. 'Pauline Hawkins,' is based on a new novel by Willy Vlautin. DBT's ever-keen political edge can be seen in two songs on the record. Cooley s 'Made Up English Oceans' and Hood's 'The Part of Him.' 'It's about political assholery -- there's someone new playing that role every few months,' says Hood. 'Grand Canyon,' the final song on the album, is an emotionally overwhelming tribute to Craig Lieske, a longtime member of DBT's touring family. Lieske died suddenly in January and the album is dedicated to him.
The album was recorded with a compact, retooled lineup. Jay Gonzalez, who joined the band in 2008 as keyboardist, has added guitar to his duties, while bassist Matt Patton was drafted from the Tuscaloosa group The Dexateens. 'It's a very tasteful group, and when it needs to be it can be a very big, powerful, over-the-top band, too, and it can go from one to the other seamlessly,' says Hood.
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The New Mastersounds - Therapy CD / LP - “Therapy” is the ninth studio album by The New Mastersounds, the now multi-national funk band originally from Leeds/England. With a new perspective in sound and vision, Eddie Roberts (Guitar), Simon Allen (Drums), Joe Tatton (Keyboards) and Pete Shand (Bass) recorded 12 fresh tracks in Denver/Colorado USA, aiming for a forward thinking sound mixing vintage funk with raw soul, smart jazz and original disco.
On “Therapy” The New Mastersounds introduce a couple of new faces. “I met Kim Dawson on Jam Cruise last year when she performed as part of my 'super jam'. We didn't have time to get to know each other at that point, but subsequently through various shows and social situations in Denver, where she lives, we got to know each other well and I felt that she understood and shared my vision of music. ‘I Want You To Stay' was a lyrical sketch I had and she helped and co-wrote with me to make some sense of what I was trying to say. 'Soul Sista' was a poem she had written recently and, as the backing track was inspired by the Lyn Collins/James Brown track … I thought her message was a very appropriate fit. Ryan Zoidis has been a friend for a few years through festivals and musical collaborations performing with Lettuce. When ‘Slow Down’ called for a Maceo-esque solo he was the obvious choice and nailed it!”
TAUK - Homunculus CD- Meet Tauk, a band that delivers a unique blend of rock-fusion with a fresh experimental spirit. Since forming earlier this decade, the NYC-based group has built an impressive DIY buzz scoring opening gigs for MOE., Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Tea Leaf Green, and sets at Gathering of the Vibes, Hangout Music Fest, Peach Festival with The Allman Brothers and Bonnaroo. Most recently, the band announced upcoming gigs at Camp Barefoot Festival and FloydFest this year.
After touring, the band then teamed up with Grammy-winning producer Robert Carranza (Jack Johnson, Mars Volta) to harness the band’s eclectic vision creating entirely instrumental tracks for their most recent album, “Homunculus.” “What’s compelling is the raw power of the band, from their light moments to full-out jamming. Music is a language that some feel and others speak – and Tauk do both very well" adds Carranza.
Tauk plans to continue to push the envelope of their musical vision, and bring that vision to all those who are listening around the country. Read our review.
Mar 7-9 Zach Deputy's Disc Jam - Live Oak, FL
Mar 20-23 Suwanee Springfest - Live Oak, FL
Mar 27-30 Hoopla in the Hills - Guysville, OH
Video of the Week:
Mike Gordon - The Overstep Sessions Vol 1
Thanks for reading! Treat yourself to some good music this week.
- Lee Crumpton