Thursday, September 28, 2006

P Diddy

The man with possibly the most ridiculous name in music, well perhaps that title belongs to Meat Loaf, is releasing a new record. That's right, no longer Puff Daddy, or even P Diddy but just "Diddy" (he sounds like a friendly animal cartoon character) releases 'Press Play' on Oct 17th.

Now Diddy has always been quite a shy, self-effacing character. He carries this trait onto his new record when he proclaims on "The Future" that he has the "potential to be the first Black President, iTunes download me in every residence.....This is the man who provided more jobs for Black Men than armed services"

Would you vote for him? You can listen to it for yourself:

Listen to it on Realplayer.
Listen to it on Windows Media.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

More Willie Nelson news

Here's some info on the forthcoming record.

Willie Nelson Talks About Working With Ryan Adams On "Songbird," Due Oct. 31

Willie Nelson"It's a different sound than any other album I've ever made," says Willie Nelson. He's talking about Songbird, his new release for Lost Highway, produced by the young prolific singer/songwriter Ryan Adams. "It's more electric, there's more rhythm and more production. That's all because of Ryan, his band, and his ideas."

"I knew our coming together was going to be something different," Nelson continues. "We came from extremely different places, and we didn't always agree. But it was an experiment, and now that it's done, I think it's real strong."

Songbird charts new territory for this musical icon in several ways. He was recording in a new location (Manhattan's LoHo Studios) with a new band (The Cardinals). He tackled an ambitious slate of songs across a range of styles - from Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" to Gram Parsons' "$1000 Wedding," from Harlan Howard's "Yours Love" to the album's title track, taken from Fleetwood Mac's landmark Rumours album.

Willie Nelson and Ryan AdamsMost notably, though, Songbird is a collaboration between living legend Nelson and producer Adams, one of the most talented young musicians in any genre. Since emerging with pioneering alt-country band Whiskeytown, singer/songwriter Adams has been on a restless quest to explore all of the music he loves. In just a short time, his recordings have ranged from blazing punk rock to old-school honky-tonk, all shot through with his signature passion and intensity.

Pairing up with Willie brought Adams back to his country roots - but the project that resulted is far from a throwback. Instead, this cross-generational duo of outlaws came up with a batch of eleven songs that showcases Nelson's incomparable interpretive skills, set within arrangements featuring a rocked-up, jagged edge.

Songbird truly feels like a band album, though the spotlight never leaves Nelson's inimitable voice. And as spare and modern, even dissonant, as the sound sometimes gets, the prominent use of pedal steel guitar and harmonica (played by Nelson's longtime cohort Mickey Raphael) keep things firmly rooted in country tradition.

"It was a pretty targeted list of songs," says Nelson, "and then we just used the ones that worked out the best. Things like '$1000 Wedding' and 'Hallelujah,' those were some I hadn't tried to sing before. But they were all just good songs that I wanted to do."

Willie NelsonNelson adds that while some of the ideas for the rock covers came from Adams (including "Stella Blue," a Grateful Dead song written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter), he felt confident with all of the selections. "I wasn't surprised at how good the songs are - I knew how good something like 'Songbird' was," he says. "But you're always a little hesitant to do covers on songs that have been done so well."

To find their own way into this set of songs, Nelson and Adams first had to find the right comfort zone in the studio. They share a record label, and Adams has opened for Nelson on occasion and participated in a Nelson birthday and tribute concert in 2002, which included a duet of the reggae anthem "The Harder They Come" at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. Nelson knew, however, that this project was "coming from a different direction," and would require an even more open approach.

Songbird is a testament to a great artist who, at age 73, continues to push himself and find new challenges for his music after recording countless albums over the last five decades.

Nelson offers special praise to the Cardinals - Neal Casal (piano, guitar), Jon Graboff (pedal steel), Brad Pemberton (drums), and Catherine Popper (bass) - who have worked as Adams's touring and recording band for the last few years. "We all got along fine," says Nelson. "They were as good as you could ask for - and Ryan stood out a lot, too. He's a great guitar player, really brought a lot as a musician."

As Nelson recalls, the recording of the aching prayer to fidelity "Yours Love" - written by country's immortal Harlan Howard, and probably best known in Waylon Jennings's hit version from 1968 - was prompted by steel player Graboff. "He's a big fan of (famed Nelson band member) Jimmy Day," says Nelson, "and he knew just what kind of feel to put on it."

Willie NelsonIn addition to the covers, Nelson and Adams each wrote a new song specifically for Songbird. Nelson's acoustic "Back To Earth" could easily have appeared on one of his timeless albums, while Adams contributed the country-blues gem "Blue Hotel." They also recorded new renditions of three Nelson classics - "Sad Songs and Waltzes" (from Shotgun Willie), the opening "Rainy Day Blues" (from Me And The Drummer), and "We Don't Run" (from Spirit).

One of the project's most striking recordings is the closing track, a dark, ominous version of "Amazing Grace." It might seem impossible to imagine a new way to hear this, of all songs, but Nelson and Adams have created an entirely original take, with underpinnings of fear and menace. Nelson says that he's not sure whose idea it was to tackle the mother of all spirituals, "but when we went into it, Ryan started playing it that way. That arrangement is so unusual - I never would have come up with that, but it came out so great."

Recent years have seen Willie Nelson tackle a number of thematic albums - a reggae project (Countryman), an album of jazz instrumentals (Night & Day), a tribute to songwriter Cindy Walker (You Don't Know Me). Asked whether Songbird has a running theme of its own, the Red Headed Stranger has a quick reply.

"It'll always be the Ryan Adams project, as far as I'm concerned," he says. "He put together the songs and the sound, it was his band - he was really the main guy here."

Listen to some of the new record here.

Oh No! Not ANOTHER new Ryan Adams Record

It's not exactly another new Adams record. The boy who put the pro into prolific couldn't sit still and has managed to lend his band, The Cardinals to country legend Willie Nelson for "Songbird", a new album of original music and cover versions.

"Songbird" has been given an October 31 release on Lost highway records, and featured Adams as producer and collaborator, and his band The Cardinals on all 11 tracks. Nelson's long-time harmonica master Mickey Raphael also joins the fray.

"Songbird" was recorded at Loho Studios in New York, NY and mixed by Jamie Candiloro and features Adams on acoustic and electric guitar and bass. Tracks include "Back To Earth", written by Nelson, "Blue Hotel", written by Adams specifically for the Red Headed Stranger, and cover versions of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah and Gram Parsons' "$1000 Wedding", among others.

The full tracklisting is as follows:

"Rainy Day Blues" Willie Nelson
"Songbird" Christine McVie
"Blue Hotel" Ryan Adams
"Back To Earth" Willie Nelson
"Stella Blue" Jerry Garcia/Robert Hunter
"Hallelujah" Leonard Cohen
"$1000 Wedding" Gram Parsons
"We Don't Run" Willie Nelson
"Yours Love" Harlan Howard
"Sad Songs And Waltzes" Willie Nelson
"Amazing Grace" Traditional Arr. by Ryan Adams

I've just got my copy so a review will follow shortly.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Ben Kweller

This guy seems pretty cool, I've just stumbled accross him. Good melodic pop. His new self titled album is out now produced by Gil Norton. His previous, 'On My Way' album was produced by alt-country legend Ethan Johns (of Ryan Adams fame).

Check out the video below for "Sundress" - a killer song:

Real Player
Real Player Low
Real Player High

and good news if you live is the US, he's on tour:

9/22 - Los Angeles, CA - Avalon
9/24 - San Francisco, CA - The Fillmore
9/25 - San Francisco, CA - The Fillmore
9/28 - Portland, OR - Crystal Ballroom
9/29 - Bellingham, WA - Western Washington University
9/30 - Seattle, WA - Showbox
10/3 - Englewood, CO - Gothic Theatre
10/4 - Boulder, CO - Fox Theatre
10/6 - Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue
10/7 - Chicago, IL - Vic Theatre
10/8 - Milwaukee, WI - The Eagles Club
10/11 - Detroit, MI - St. Andrews Hall
10/12 - Columbus, OH - Newport Music Hall
10/13 - Cincinnati, OH - Bogart's
10/14 - Nashville, TN - Rocketown
10/15 - Atlanta, GA - Variety Playhouse
10/18 - Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
10/20 - NYC - Webster Hall
10/21 - NYC - Webster Hall
10/22 - Boston, MA - Avalon

ps - you can stream the entirety of the album on his website. See what you think and leave a comment!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Free Wine!

Don't all rush at once but the Times is giving away (almost) free wine. That's right, it's not like me to promote newspapers but this is a good offer. All you have to do is collect 3 passwords, one of which is printed every day in the times to get 3 bottles for the price of postage (£5.99). And those wines are:

Vina Labarta Rioja 2004

Cantoni Pinot Grigio 2005

Buronga Growers Holthill Shiraz 2005

Not bad eh?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Steers


I went to see a band last night in the Cardiff Barfly called The Steers. It was one of those nights that I could be talking about for a while. You see it was either their last gig ever, or their last gig ever as an unsigned band.

A small nerdy-looking guy in shorts had arrived from Island Records to check them out with a view to feeding them into his corporate machine. He had every reason to be impressed.

They're emo/indie/punky stuff that's cool these days, and why not? They were very tight, very energetic and they rocked. There were about 4 standout songs, they'd make great singles. The guitarist Sid, jumped about the stage like a man possessed, i was convinced he was going to smash the head of his guitar into the wall beside him. Ben, who lives in the same house as my brother, was solid on the bass and the 16 year old drummer rocked.

Check out 'Leave' on their myspace site HERE.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The best radio station in town

I stumbled across the most wonderful invention on the internet to delight my ears recently. It's called Pandora, as in the box. When you open it, you'll find so much more music you love.

I hate listening to the radio because it never plays any songs that I like. It's all choc-full of Paris Hilton, Coldplay and hip-hop. To counter-act this, I have created my own.

It's full of alt-country greatness, featuring Ryan Adams, M Ward, Townes Van Zandt, Dylan, Josh Rouse, Cash and many other fantastic artists. Have a listen, you never know, you may discover an artist you can't live without.

Click on the image below to listen to Oh My Sweet Alt-Country Radio