New Tunes: Scott Warren’s Quick Fix Bandage

Scott Warren is a L.A. based musician and front man for the Indie band Signal Hill Transmission. A few weeks ago (July 28th if you’re keeping track), Scott released his solo debut Quick Fix Bandage. The lead song, “Before You Say Goodbye”, has made several appearances on my iTunes – and in my head – over the last several weeks – most notably on a hike in Telluride in late July. “The reality sets and the reality…”. You’ll see what I mean.

It’s a solid album – mellow, leaning toward the rootsy side – and bookended by the grand finale of America’s “Sister Golden Hair”, one of my mellow 70’s rock favorites.

Scott WarrenBefore You Say Goodbye” (mp3)

Buy:

Visit: Scott Warren’s Official Site | MySpace

Summer of Sound Saturday Night on Mill Ave

If you’re with me here in the Valley of the Sun, and you like good tunes, join me & m’ lady Saturday night at the Mill Cue Club on Mill Avenue in Tempe. The New Times Summer of Sound series kicks off, with Americana as the theme of the evening, featuring local bands Tractor Pull Divas, Matthew Reveles, the Cartwheels, the Sugar Thieves, and L.A. band the BellRays. Entry is only $5.

Live music on Mill Avenue. Feels like 1995!

Tractor Pull Divas

It’s time to spread the word about some quality music in my neck of the woods here in Arizona.  I don’t do it enough..

Tractor Pull Divas hail from Chandler, one of Phoenix’s ‘burbs just southeast of the city. They’ve got a nice rootsy sound with a good, clear vocalist reminiscent of Roger McGuinn and  Tom Petty. They’re keeping it pretty incognito online. They have a MySpace page, but nowhere do I see any mention of their names and backgrounds.

But I do know they have an EP that they released last year: Love Songs for (Insert Your Name Here), and I recommend dropping the $5. You can never go wrong supporting an unsigned band, can ya?

Hear: It’s Not Going To Kill Me (mp3)

Buy their EP, Love Songs for (Insert Your Name Here) on CD Baby or on Tractor Pull Divas - Love Songs for (Insert Your Name Here)

Visit: http://www.myspace.com/tractorpulldivasmusic

Bolero!: Conor Oberst at the Marquee Theater in Tempe

Thanks to a last minute ticket offer (gotta love Twitter), I headed out to see Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band last night at the Marquee Theater in Tempe. They played the ACL Festival last September, but I missed ’em there. I’ve been an admirer of Conor’s since I heard the Bright Eyes album ‘I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning‘. Brilliant record. Conor’s self-titled solo debut last year is also top notch, “Sausalito” being my favorite.

With the venue located in the heart of Arizona State University, the college set was out in full force. I was one of the old folks in the crowd, and I’m only 38. Props to the older 50 something who was accompanying his teenage daughter. I’ll be doing the same down the road. I love seeing that.

Conor, his new wide-brimmed black bolero hat, and the band strolled out at around 9:20pm, and launched into a track called “Spoiled” from the MVB’s forthcoming album, ‘Outer South‘. The 90 minutes of music focused exclusively on music from that album, and from Conor’s record.

I was back by the soundboard, and my only complaint of the evening was the occasional muddiness in the mix in some of the louder full band songs – especially “Sausalito”. An exception though was a tune that the lead guitarist sang about a half hour into the show. It was a short, sweet blast of rock n roll – sort of like when Keith Richards steps to the mic for one of his uptempo tunes. I was taken aback. I’ll be keeping an eye out for this tune on the new record. I tried to get some lyrics down, but pretty much failed. All I got was “I still get…” and “with you”. That helps, huh?

What surprised me too was hearing the Conor songs live, and the way it breathed new life into them. “Eagle on a Pole” was explosive and spirited; “Get Well Cards” and “Moab” were also great.

The true magic for me though came when things slowed down, namely in the opening and closing songs of the encore. The first song of the encore was just Conor and his acoustic, singing “White Shoes” (from the new MVB album). It was just gorgeous, centered around the chorus: “Anything you wanna do. Lover, anything you wanna do.” Intimate and intense. You can hear it right here.

The closer of the evening was “Milk Thistle”, which also closes Conor’s record. Apparently I hadn’t taken the time to focus on this song when listening to the album, because the lyrics blew me away…

I’m not scared of nothing / I’ll go pound for pound
I keep death on my mind / Like a heavy crown
If I go to heaven / I’ll be bored as hell
Like a little baby / At the bottom of a well

And

And I’m not pretending / That it’s all okay
Just let me have my coffee / Before you take away the day

I was really impressed by Oberst and the band. Conor couldn’t have been more genuine and personable in his interaction with the 700 or so people in the crowd. He seemed to be in a great mood, and the crowd fed off that, enjoying every song, even the new unfamiliar ones.

Except for those few who felt like chatting away during “White Shoes”. I am not fond of people like you.

Conor Oberst Milk Thistle (mp3) – from Conor Oberst

[audio:milkthistle.mp3]

Links: Official Site | MySpace

Ick’s Pick (Week XIV): Old Californio’s new album, ‘Westering Again’

Sure, I could steer you toward the new Neil Young, Richard Swift, or Doves albums – all out this week – but this one’s been on steady rotation for several weeks now, and it would be silly of me not to make this my Ick’s Pick o’ the week. A few weeks ago, I announced myself blown away by this band: Pasadena’s Old Californio, and their new album, Westering Again – largely due to the mind-blowing infectiousness of the opening tune, “Mother Road”.

Well, today’s the day the album is unleashed to the masses, and I strongly recommend you visit one of the links below to pick it up. If you’d be interested in a diverse American album drawing on influences ranging from Gram Parsons and Moby Grape to the Grateful Dead and Crazy Horse, you’d be well served by hearing this album. Here’s my “Mother Road” post that goes into the band and album in more detail. And, you can still rock out to “Mother Road”…

BUY Westering Again here on iTunes or here on CD Baby.

HEAR Old CalifornioRiparian High (mp3)

VISIT: Old Californio on MySpace

Mother Road [instant fave]

We all have those friends who decry the state of new music today. “All new music sucks!”, they say. Of course, some of these people think Creed was the best thing since sliced bread. Well, every time I hear these people, I now have another band to fire back with: Old Californio.

Last Friday, I opened up my snail mail to find their forthcoming CD, ‘Westering Again‘, inside. Instead of tossing it on the stack of CD’s I need to listen to, it went right into my car CD player. I don’t know exactly why. Cover art? Cool band name? Fate? How ’bout all of the above.

Less than 30 seconds into the opening track, a spiritual experience ensued. The song is “Mother Road”, and it’s easily the best tune I’ve heard all year. Rootsy, earthy, homegrown, purely American rock n roll – a perfect blend of inspiring, get-out-on-the-road lyrics, unforgettable riffs, great chord changes, and a harmonious sing-along chorus. If the Traveling Wilburys sprung back to life, this could easily lead off their third album.

“You got to get on the mother road
just like a river reflectin’ everything it’s told
You got to get on
Get your story told.”

You’ll understand after you’ve hit the repeat button 5 times and you’re singing along.

Old Californio is singer/songwriter/guitarist Rich Dembowski, Jason Chesny (bass), Levi Nuñez (keys, including some great B3), and Justin Smith (drums). The album was produced by the band along with Alfonso Rodeñas (Mark Olson, Los Tigres Del Norte), and recorded in their old chicken coop garage turned studio in Pasadena, California. There’s clearly a West Coast / southwest-y feel throughout the album. I hear shades of Dylan (“From the Mouths of Babes”), Calexico (the horns on “Riparian High”), and the Grateful Dead (during “Warmth of the Sun”, you’d swear that late 70’s-era Dead were morphing into “Not Fade Away”).

I’m an upbeat person by nature, and maybe that’s why this album connects with me so easily. Among the Californian soundscapes, the reverence for the great outdoors and the escapism, there is an undercurrent of positive energy – an “It’s good to be alive” vibe. I can get behind that.

Old CalifornioMother Road (mp3)

Westering Again will be released on April 7th. I’ll post a links to buy when available. For now, keep these guys on your radar.

Links: Old Californio’s MySpace page.

New Raul Malo – Lucky One

Former Mavericks frontman Raul Malo will be releasing his first album of original material in eight years on March 3rd. Lucky One was recorded over the last couple of years at Raul’s Nashville home. Co-producing several of the tracks is Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin.

Here’s a free & clear mp3, courtesy of Fantasy Records, Raul’s new label. Seriously, I could listen to Raul Malo sing the phone book…

Raul Malo Lucky One (mp3)

Links: Pre-Order Lucky One on Amazon |Raul’s Official Site | MySpace | Facebook/iLike

Light of the Moon

My main way of staying somewhat in tune with the jam band scene is by listening to Sirius-XM’s Jam_On channel. In rotation these days is this fun tune by Al & the Transamericans. They’re a supergroup of sorts: moe‘s Al Schnier is joined by members of Strangefolk, Okemah, and the Gordon Stone Trio. Okay, well supergroup to some, since I’ve only heard moe’s music.

The tune is a bluegrass / roots tune with a banjo leading the way. A fast paced knee-shaker. The crowning moments for me come during the guitar/banjo solo, where the band’s jam background sneaks in for some nice atmospheric playing.

Al & the TransamericansLight of the Moon (mp3)

Buy: This Day & Age

MySpace: myspace.com/althetransamericans

Blue Car

Everything about this song is just.. right. The cadence of Greg’s delivery. The lyrics. The electric guitar. The way the drums and the first line of the song introduce themselves together.

I think I need to buy all of Greg Brown’s albums, hop in the car, and drive around for a few weeks.

Greg BrownBlue Car (mp3)