Thursday, April 24, 2014

April 24, 2014 Playlist

Tune in to Dirty Roots Radio every Thursday night from 8 to 10 p.m. (central) at www.wgrn.net.

The Grass Roots – Midnight Confessions
Hank Williams – Lovesick Blues [live]
Freddie King – Going Down
John Doe – Just For the Hell of It
X – We’re Desperate
Frankie the Gambler – Adam’s Drinking Boots
The Sonics – I’m A Man
Bob Reuter’s Alley Ghost – Berta
Rancid – Time Bomb
Rancid – Ruby Soho
The Black Keys – Your Touch
Joe Tex – King of the Road
Sammy Davis, Jr. – John Shaft
The Replacements – Androgynous
Howlin’ Wolf – Goin’ Down Slow
The Misfits – Rat Fink
Joan Jett – Bad Reputation     GOLDEN GOD
Joan Jett – Hanky Panky        GOLDEN GOD
Motorhead – Dead Men Tell No Tales
Hank Williams III – 87 Southbound
Lee Hazlewood – Think I’m Coming Down
Nikki Lane – Right Time
Sir Douglas Quintet – (Is Anybody Going To) San Antone
Steve Earle – The Week of Living Dangerously
R.L. Burnside – Goin’ Down South
Nina Simone – Ain’t Got No/I Got Life
Greg Brown – Freak Flag
Ram Jam – Black Betty
Bruce Springsteen – Adam Raised A Cain
Iggy Pop w/Kate Pierson – Candy
Otis Redding – I’ve Been Loving You Too Long
Jimbo Mathus & the Tri-State Coalition – Dark Night of the Soul
Jimbo Mathus & the Tri-State Coalition – Shine Like a Diamond
Alex Chilton – Free Again [alternate vocal]
LaVern Baker – Tweedle Dee
Elvis Costello – Every Day I Write the Book
Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders – Its Just A Little Bit Too Late
Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich – Hold Tight
Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band – Sure Nuff ‘N’ Yes I Do
The Staple Singers – Pray On
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – I Should Have Known It
Bob Dylan – Thunder on the Mountain
Cake – Strangers in the Night
Cake – Italian Leather Sofa
Dwight Yoakam – Dim Light, Thick Smoke
Leo Welch – Praise His Name
Solomon Burke – Diamond in Your Mind
Tom Waits w/the Kronos Quartet – Diamond In Your Mind


Thursday, April 17, 2014

April 17, 2014 Playlist

Tune in to Dirty Roots Radio every Thursday night from 8 to 10 p.m. (central) at www.wgrn.net.

Thoughts and good vibes go out to Glen Campbell tonight...

David Allan Coe – You Never Even Called Me By My Name
Merle Haggard – Mama Tried
Jonny Two Bags – One Foot In The Gutter
Jonny Two Bags – One Foot In The Gutter
Lydia Loveless – Really Wanna See You
Chuck Berry – Crazy Arms
Booker T & the MGs – Time Is Tight
Glen Campbell – Gentle on My Mind
Johnny Cash – Wichita Lineman
Charles Bradley & the Menahan Street Band – Stay Away
Townes Van Zandt – At My Window
Nikki Lane – Right Time
John Doe – Just For the Hell of It
Isaac Hayes – By the Time I Get to Phoenix
John Mellencamp – Teardrops Will Fall
Pony Boy – Easy Money
The Cramps – Bikini Girls With Machine Guns
Carl Perkins – Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby
Jack Scott – The Way I Walk
Onie Wheeler – Onie’s Bop
The Replacements – Lost Highway
The Replacements – Busted Up
Otis Redding & Carla Thomas – Tramp
Otis Redding – Try a Little Tenderness [live]
Chuck E. Weiss – Boston Blackie
Tom Waits – Rains on  Me
Glen Campbell – Galveston
Social Distortion – Born to Lose
Social Distortion – This Time Darlin’
Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers – Do You Love Me
Levon Helm – False Hearted Lover Blues
The Band – Chest Fever
Glen Campbell – Rhinestone Cowboy


Monday, April 14, 2014

ALBUM REVIEW: Lydia Loveless - Somewhere Else


I’ve heard a lot of really unique descriptions of Lydia Loveless's new album, "Somewhere Else".  It’s always X + Y that supposedly equals a new sound.  None of them seem to capture the essence of the record for me.  On Loveless’s Facebook page, her sound is described as “Loretta Lynn and Patti Smith slamming shots at a Midwestern dive bar while cowboys and punks brawl out back”.  That’s a good one, but for my ears, even that falls flat.  If you want a good comparison, you have to look to The Joker.

Yes, from Batman.

Specifically, the Heath Ledger Dark Knight Joker.

Yeah, I know…even for me, a guy who relishes in way-out-there analogies (one of my crowning achievements was impressing the conservative parents of a college student I had in a Sunday School class with my lesson built entirely about a throw-away line from "White Men Can’t Jump"), that’s a stretch.

But I remember when the Dark Knight came out I told a friend that I thought Heath Ledger transcended the movie.  It was a hard concept to explain, but basically I felt that everyone else in the movie existed within the framework of the film.  There were boundaries and lines.  Every role existed within those.  Most performances do.  But Ledger didn’t pay attention to those lines.  It’s a rare phenomenon when an actor pulls that off.  It’s not sloppy.  They’re not a bull in a china shop, busting through the lines and boundaries.  Just the opposite.  They gracefully slip past them, go over them, weave through them.  At the same time, it’s powerful.  The borders can’t contain them.

That’s how Lydia Loveless’s voice strikes me on this record.  There is a framework for it; the music, song structure, etc.  But her voice is so big and powerful and emotive that the framework can’t contain it.  At the same time, she knows how to use it.  It doesn’t get away from her.  It’s never a bull in a china shop.   It’s just a big, beautiful instrument that she can wield at will, regardless of the lines and boundaries around her.

She’s explained numerous times that when it was time for her follow up album, she made every good effort at copying the sound of her previous album, assuming that’s what everyone wanted/expected.  When she realized that just wasn’t where she was, she scrapped it and wrote from her heart, coming up with a new sound. 


You will (or have…I’m pretty late in sharing this one) hear a lot of reviewers talk about that sound.  Yes, there are elements of country and punk in there (see every song).  I haven’t heard as many people mention the power pop (again, all of ‘em) and southern soul influences (“Hurts So Bad”), though.  But given the wild-ass blend of hybridized and bastardized sounds I’m used to sharing on Dirty Roots, that’s not what’s groundbreaking here.  That’s not a slight, either.  The band sounds great…but ultimately, the music is just Loveless’s canvas.

You’ll hear much made of her lyrical content.  Yes, it’s explicit.  And she pulls it off well.  Unless you’re Prince or Leonard Cohen, blatant references to oral sex (“Head”) can be difficult to pull off.  And “my head jammed…way up your ass” (from “Chris Isaak”) isn’t a graceful lyric for anyone to execute.  However, it doesn’t even jar to hear Loveless sing it.  Heartfelt honesty can work wonders.  There’s no question she meant that one.

Yes, her apparent experiences belie her age at only 23.  But she’s not the first precocious singer songwriter.  It’s a special quality…but for this listener, it’s not what makes this album special.

What’s special here is everything to do with her performance.  That swollen, sultry, achy voice.  It sounds like it may actually burst from longing or pain.  Her tremolo is used to perfect effect.  She swoops and stretches, crossing lines, ignoring standard rules. 

Writing honest words is important.  Delivering those words from the depths of your soul in the way that you know is right, and true to yourself, is high art.  That yields transcendence.  And that’s what Loveless has done with “Somewhere Else”.

And, yeah…she’s only 23.  So let’s hope she stays honest and keeps listening to her soul.  Who knows where she can go from here? 

For now, she’s delivered one hell of an incredible album.  It’s my favorite of the short year so far and I feel very confident in saying it’ll take my top honor for the entire year. 


CREDIT: All photos Blackletter/Patrick Crawford, courtesy of Bloodshot Records


April 10, 2014 Playlist

Tune in to Dirty Roots Radio every Thursday night from 8 to 10 p.m. (central) at www.wgrn.net.

Townes Van Zandt – Waitin’ Round to Die
Tom Waits – Coney Island Baby
The Hooten Hallers – She Used to Love my Music
Aretha Franklin – Chain of Fools
Patsy Cline – Walkin’ After Midnight
Lucinda Williams – Changed The Locks [live]
Nirvana – Molly’s Lips
The Black Keys – Fever
Steve Earle – Oxycontin Blues
Charles Bradley – Stay Away
The Pretty Things – She’s Fine She’s Mine
Elmore James – Dust My Broom
Robert Cage – Get Out of Here
T-Model Ford – To the Left to the Right
Hasil Adkins – She Said
Joe Johnson – Gila Monster
Julie London – Cry Me A River
Social Distortion – Mommy’s Little Monster
The Strypes – What A Shame
Elvis Costello & the Imposters – Bedlam
Stud Cole – Always & Always
Neil Young – Dirty Old Man
Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Piece of Crap
Willie Nelson & Tom Petty w/ The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – Goodnight Irene
Elder Beck – Rock and Roll Sermon
Hi-Fi Guys – Rock ‘N’ Roll Killed My Mother
Chuck E. Weiss – Hey Pendejo
Chuck E. Weiss – Hey Pendejo
Tom Waits – Tom Traubert’s Blues (Four Sheets to the Wind in Copenhagen)
Gob Iron – Buzz and Grind
Ryan Bingham – Bread & Water
The The – Dogs of Lust
Chuck E. Weiss – Boston Blackie
Martha Reeves & the Vandellas – Nowhere to Run
Steve Earle – Breed
Honeycombak – Sex Change Sadie
George Baker Selection – Little Green Bag
Jeb Loy Nichols – Heaven Right Here
Paul Jones – Pucker Up Buttercup
R.L. Burnside – Chain of Fools
Bob Dylan – Love Minus Zero/No Limit
Kris Kristofferson – Duvalier’s Dream
The Pogues – The Band Played Waltzing Matilda
The Cramps – Shortnin’ Bread
The Cramps – Muleskinner Blues
Social Distortion – When the Angels Sing
Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros – Bummed Out City
Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros – Ramshackle Day Parade


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Jake Bugg - Messed Up Kids: Great Song, Unnecessary Video

Jake Bugg is promoting a new video for his song "Messed Up Kids" to hype his upcoming EP of the same name.  I'm not gonna link to it here, because the screen shot features three naked girls from the video, which is made up of footage of Bugg and the naked girls performing as a "band".  To be fair, the video doesn’t have much nudity; it’s mostly a tight shot on him with snippets of the girls.  But all of the promotion for it has featured several still shots of the girls with Bugg in all their glory.

The thing that makes this so odious is that Jake Bugg doesn't NEED that to sell his art.  His stuff doesn’t lack quality.  He’s one of my favorite artists of the past few years and his material is just killer.  He's about as good as a young musician gets.  Robin Thicke, who pulled a similar stunt last year, is a schmuck who NEEDED the nudity to sell a song that he had someone else produce for him.  By ripping off Marvin Gaye, no less.  Yeah, “Blurred Lines” sure was catchy…but I maintain that I could have performed Robin Thicke’s part and it would have still been just as much of an earworm.  The producers made it sound good.  The nudity created the necessary hype.

Now, before I do the inevitable and mention my daughter, let me just say…I’m not a prude.  I like purty girls as much as the next guy and this whole thing is not just a stodgy reaction to the fear that someday daddy’s little girl will grow up to be – gasp – a sexual being.  I know that day’s coming.

It’s just that this is the third video in a year or so from a major artist consisting of completely pointless nudity designed only to generate hype (Justin Timberlake being #3, who, like Bugg doesn’t need such idiocy to make up for a lack of talent).

Someday my now-six-year-old daughter will grow up.  By that point I can only imagine that these kinds of videos will be commonplace and old hat.  And I already see so many damaging messages coming her way.   She already wants to wear skinny jeans and those tight leggings I see on every college girl under the sun, wants to wear shirts that show her tummy, and actually tells us she wants to be sexy.  And this is a kid coming from a household where mom doesn’t do those things and we don’t even have television!

It kills me to think that an artist as talented as Jake Bugg thinks he needs to do this to get attention.  It kills me even more to think that my daughter may watch one of these videos someday, created by her favorite singer/artist, and wish that she was one of those girls because she thinks that’s what it takes to get attention. 

Dick move, Jake Bugg.

Monday, April 7, 2014

2014: A Surprising Year of Musical Discovery

I can remember periods of my life that, when I look back, are marked by the discovery of new music. 

After I lost my "dream job" in St. Louis and returned home to this small, rural town, I was disillusioned and frustrated, so I split as often as I could to go to the nearest city and spend time in music and bookstores, soaking up these "new" sounds (what was then called "alternative country").  I learned about classic albums by Cash, Kristofferson, Nelson, Jennings, and many others.  I’d spend hours poring over music, digging through books that described the new movement and anthologized the classics of the roots genre.  I discovered No Depression Magazine, which served as a pipeline and valuable resource.  That period of a few years laid the foundation of my musical tastes today.

A few years back, just before my daughter was born, I got really into the untamed raw blues of the Fat Possum label roster.  That, in turn led to the exploration of other Delta, then Chicago, blues music.  That was the same time I was digging deep into Tom Waits' catalog for the first time.  I found the first five Ramones records one day in the budget bin, bought them all at once, and finally “got it”.  I watched Julien Temple’s documentary on Joe Strummer and a switch flipped; I went from being a casual fan of the Clash to finally seeing what the fuss was about.  Joe Strummer became a hero and his music, both with the Clash and with the Mescaleros, remains among the most important in my life.  For that year or two, everywhere I turned, there was new music just waiting to be discovered. 

Those were times when I had extra time and disposable income.  I now seem to never have any of either.  There's also the sad fact that there aren't nearly as many music or book stores these days.  Discovering new music happens in fits and starts, not in waves anymore.  I miss that feeling of being flooded by new finds.

But in the past few weeks, I've been turned on to many great artists: Pony Boy, whose art I love so much and who I'm proud to say has become a fan and friend of my Dirty Roots Radio Show; The Strypes, who completely blew my world apart and made me excited about rock and roll for the first time since I don't know when; St. Paul & the Broken Bones, who shook me up on the soul side; Leo Welch, the first gutbucket blues release on Fat Possum in ages. 

Bloodshot Records is the label I’ve worked with the longest when it comes to the hobby side of my radio career.  I can always count on them for a few releases that really hit me just right every year, but they’ve been on fire so far in 2014, with incredible new albums by Lydia Loveless, Scott H. Biram, the Dex Romweber Duo, Bobby Bare, Jr., and more.  It’s gonna take a mighty special album to knock Loveless out of my slot for top album of the year.

Jessica Lea Mayfield is an artist I was marginally interested in previously, but I’ve fallen in love with her new album.  Johnny Two Bags, the guitarist for my all-time favorite band, Social Distortion, has just released a great new solo record.

And there’s so many more.

It seems that my list of favorite releases from 2014 so far outnumbers my entire year’s worth of favorites from the past several years.

I’ve accepted that there may not be entire periods of my life defined by the discovery of amazing amounts of new music anymore.  The days of me spending hours and hours in music and book stores, absorbing sounds and information like an unquenchable sponge are, unfortunately, mostly over.  And until I make the jump into exploring jazz (I will one day but have learned you can’t force that kind of thing), I may not have many more specific genres to jump deeply into.  As fun as it was to explore massive amounts of blues music or alt.country music all at once, I’ll take one killer album from any genre these days.  As long as it moves me.

It may just come in fits and starts now…but so far there’s been a lot that’s moved me in 2014.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

April 3, 2014 Playlist

Tune in to Dirty Roots Radio every Thursday night from 8 to 10 p.m. (central) at www.wgrn.net.

Happy Birthday, Mike Ness of Social Distortion!!

Social Distortion has been my favorite band since I was 13.  I don't think I've stuck with any other band/artist that long.  I've been blessed to interview Mike Ness twice and the second time I worked up my courage to pour my heart out a little bit and tell him how much him, his band, and their music have meant to me over the years.  I remember saying that no matter where I was in life or what was going on that his music had always been there for me.

He simply said, "That's awesome...me too."

How perfect is that?

James Brown – King Heroin
St. Paul & the Broken Bones – Don’t Mean a Thing
Pony Boy – If Only He Were You
Johnny Cash – I Drove Her Out of My Mind
Hank Williams – House Of Gold
The Fendermen – Mule Skinner Blues
Mike Ness – Once a Day
Tom Waits – Jockey Full of Bourbon
The Strypes – What A Shame
Pony Boy – The Devil In Me
St. Paul & the Broken Bones – I’m Torn Up
Townes Van Zandt – Who Do You Love
The Easybeats – St. Louis
Bob Reuter’s Alley Ghost – Dana Dew
The Sir Douglas Quintet – I Wanna Be Your Mama Again
Michael Parks – Farther Along
Scott H. Biram – Gotta Get to Heaven
Joe Alford – Please Don’t Go
Bob Dylan – Masters of War
The Jaynetts – Sally Go Round The Roses
Tav Falco & the Panther Burns – Train Kept-a-Rollin’ [live]
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – I Should Have Known It
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Oh Well [live]
Jessica Lea Mayfield – Party Drugs
Albert Collins – I Ain’t Drunk
Merle Haggard – Silver Wings
Jonny Two Bags – One Foot In The Gutter
Izzy Stradlin & the JuJu Hounds – Shuffle It All
Pony Boy – Easy Money
David Dondero – Rothko Chapel
St. Paul & the Broken Bones – Call Me
Edgefield C. Johnston – O’Seerin’ Birthday Song
The Strypes – You Can’t Judge a Book by the Cover
The Strypes – Rollin’ & Tumblin’
Tom Jones – Burning Hell
Tom Waits – Satisfied
New York Dolls – Personality Crisis
Ramones – Rockaway Beach
Jake Bugg – Lightning Bolt
Mike Ness – Send Her Back
Social Distortion – Death or Glory
Social Distortion – Far Behind
Social Distortion – Up Around the Bend
Johnny Cash – After All
Social Distortion – Drug Train
William S. Burroughs – Old Western Movies
Tom Waits - Martha