Wednesday February 13th 2013, 6:27 pm
Fine Tuning: Rod Melancon’s “Mad Talkin’ Man”
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Last October, we told you that L.A.’s Rod Melancon was heading back to Nashville to record with Dave Cobb, who has previously produced the likes of Jamey Johnson, George Jones and Shooter Jennings. We’re happy to announce that Rod’s first recording from that session has just dropped from the heavens, and it’s a muscular bad boy rocker featuring Jamey Johnson’s band — Jason “Rowdy” Cope (guitar), Brian Allen (bass), Chris Powell (drums) — plus producer Dave Cobb on acoustic guitar and Kristen Rogers on backing vocals.

“When I was 9 years old I had an Elvis cassette tape and a framed photo of him on my wall,” Rod recently told us. “Those songs brought something out of me. They made me feel like I was on fire! Thats the kind of music I wanna make, the kind that you feel deep down in your gut. Rock ‘n’ Roll the way it was when guys like Elvis roamed the earth.” Have a listen at this Soundcloud link, and check out Rod at next month’s South-by-Southwest, when he’ll be playing the Grand Ole Echo showcase and the Sin City showcase, both shows at Maria’s Taco Xpress, dates and times to be announced soon. (Photos by Courtney Sudbrink)
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Monday February 28th 2011, 6:33 am
Fine Tuning: Chinga Chavin’s Country Porn
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Country Porn is a really cornball and juvenile country-rockish “comedy” album (your mileage may vary) released on Penthouse Records in 1976. Let’s call this one “corn-pone” or maybe “corn-porn,” as the case may be. If you can get by the puerile lyrics, the album is a lot of fun. More after the jump.
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Friday February 27th 2009, 1:42 pm
Fine Tuning: Phosphorescent’s ‘To Willie’ + Original Willie Tunes
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Phosphorescent’s latest release, “To Willie”, is a respectful tribute to one of the most prolific songwriters in music history. Covering eleven of Willie Nelson’s songs, singer Matt Houchuck is faithful, for the most part, to the original tunes. He preserves the bounce in tracks like “Gotta Get Drunk” and the introspection in others like “Can I Sleep In Your Arms?” while adding a little more twang and that rich, “Phosphorescent” sound throughout. The melodies and overall “Willie” vibe of the original songs, however, remain the foundation of this album.
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Thursday December 18th 2008, 2:43 pm
Fine Tuning: I’ll Stay ‘Til After Christmas
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I’ll Stay ‘Til After Christmas is a compilation album for indie music lovers who feel ambivalent about Christmas. You won’t find songs about snow flakes or cozy hearths on this digital-only release, which features a track about a holiday breakup as well as one entitled “It’s Christmas and Everything’s Wrong.” What you will find is a thoughtful mix of anxious lullabies. Bosque Brown’s rendition of “Silent Night” evokes child-like isolation while Au Revoir Simone’s version of “Christmastime is Here,” provides a delightful, slightly creepy escape from a fraught family Christmas.  Blitzen Trapper’s “Christmas is Coming Soon” is a standout track about nostalgia, at once wistful and optimistic.
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Tuesday December 09th 2008, 3:05 pm
Fine Tuning: Little Joy’s “Little Joy”
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Little Joy is putting on warm jeans right out of the dryer; it’s realizing that you’re just happy to be here. The big surprise (or little joy, I guess) is that musicians from bands such as the Strokes and Los Hermanos could collaborate to produce something so slow in pace and breezy in style. It is as if Fabrizio Moretti and Rodrigo Amarante are killing time on the slow boat to Christmas Island with an arsenal of chimes, ukuleles, Hammond organs and ethereal background harmonizing. The much larger joy is that this album often works beautifully. Little Joy is a real pleasure to soak into, due to a rare combination of selfless collaboration and well considered production.
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Monday November 17th 2008, 12:06 pm
Fine Tuning: John Phillip’s Pussycat
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September 9th marked the release of the newly rediscovered Pussycat sessions by the late John Phillips. The sessions, which featured members of Traffic and the Stones and were produced by none other than the Glimmer Twins, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, were shelved or lost in late ’76 or early ’77. This album is one of a few that began bubbling up to the surface shortly after Phillips’ death in 2001. Lost music that involves some big names in rock sure sounds like an exciting proposition. Unfortunately, anything sounding good about this album ends there.
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Wistful lyrics and boisterous music are almost always a winning combo, and on She’s the Dutchess, He’s the Duke (out now on Hardly Art), the Dutchess and the Duke have mixed all those elements with some excellent musical influences from the likes of Dylan, the Stones and the Mamas and the Papas.  They sings songs about lovers’ regrets, underpinned by aching optimism. On some tracks we hear no more than a guitar, a tambourine, and the harmonies of frontman Jesse Lortz and his childhood friend and collaborator Kimberly Morrison; on others the duo is accompanied by a flute, sitar, or congas – instruments reminiscent of the White Album or the Rolling Stones’ “Paint it Black.”
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Tuesday October 14th 2008, 10:52 am
Fine Tuning: Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Tennessee Pusher”
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Old Crow Medicine Show has released their first album since relocating to Nashville, Tennessee Pusher (out now on Nettwerk Records). I had the chance to catch them live last Friday with the (very good) Carolina Chocolate Drops at the historic Ryman Auditorium. The tone and feel of their music certainly has developed in a manner that will surprise you, especially if you’ve previously dismissed them as an ol’ timey bluegrass gimmick.

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Friday August 22nd 2008, 6:16 pm
Fine Tuning: Dr Dog’s “Fate”
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If you bother to read reviews for music online, perhaps you’ve noticed that Dr. Dog’s latest album, Fate, is drawing alot of …um, well… comparisons. The AV Club dismissed it as a mash-up of the Beatles and the Band. iTunes claimed a cross between the Beatles and the Beach Boys. Pitchfork said… well, let’s just say someone is a crabby apple. Say what you will about Dr. Dog, but critics LOVE to ponder how they arrived at their sound.



Friday July 11th 2008, 5:20 pm
Fine Tuning: The Rosewood Thieves’ “Rise and Shine”
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The Rosewood Thieves’ Rise & Shine is the best summer album that you’re probably not listening to right now. This effort is a meticulous slight of hand that manages to sound new and fresh, and somehow does so despite lots of borrowing from Bob Dylan and John Lennon’s solo work. When a young songwriter follows in the footsteps of such musical giants, the potential for an overly ambitious crap fest seems inevitable. What results here, though, is an immediately likable and nuanced pop sound that rarely feels trite or wooden. (more…)