Wednesday June 11th 2008, 3:34 pm
Fine Tuning: The Black Angel’s Directions To See A Ghost
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Directions to See a Ghost, out now on Light in the Attic Records, finds theBlack Angels tightening their sound from 2005’s self-titled EP and 2006’sPassover. The result is a focused and methodical effort reminiscent of older songs like “The First Vietnamese War”, but at the expense of the loose and dirty experimentation that energized their previous efforts.


Monday June 02nd 2008, 3:08 pm
Fine Tuning: Dolly Parton’s Backwoods Barbie
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Dear God, one day, when I’m 62 years old, please let me look like the legendary Miss Dolly Parton. On the cover of Backwoods Barbie, she successfully combines a curve-hugging leopard print mini-dress with a flowing hot pink dandy coat while stretched out on some hay. Her platinum-blonde hair is at least a foot tall, and she’s grinning ear to ear with that mega-watt smile that’s broken at least a thousand hearts this side of Appalachia (you’re a lucky man Carl Dean). There’s a reason the woman who famously quipped “it takes a lot of money to look this cheap” has an entire amusement park named after her and it’s got nothing to do with her looks. When it comes to music, Parton’s talent spins you around, lifts you up, and then drops you down in an explosion of glitter, fiddles, and good ol’ honky tonk.

Friday May 16th 2008, 2:07 pm
Fine Tuning: The Black Keys’ “Attack and Release”
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Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney of the Black Keys return for a new album that delivers on the roots of this duo’s true-blues sound, all the while developing a new depth of composition and production. It’s the best of both worlds: Keys fans will dig the integrity of this album as a logical follow-up to 2002’s thickfreakness and 2004’s Rubber Factory, but also appreciate a depth and soul of sound not found on their tightly-structured previous efforts. (continued after the jump)

Saturday February 23rd 2008, 12:07 am
Fine Tuning: International Submarine Band’s “Safe At Home”
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I have an assignment for all you country fans out there. It’s something you ought to know for the sake of all that is good and country in the world. I’m talking about Gram Parsons and his record with the International Submarine Band.

When it comes to Gram Parsons, most people know about his influence in the Byrds, the groundbreaking work with Flying Burrito Brothers, his duets with protege Emmylou Harris, and so on. Now that’s all good and gravy, but I’ve spoken to a surprising number of people recently who, while singing his praises in these other groups, are unfamiliar about his time with The International Submarine Band. So, I would say it’s about time we go about changing that.

YouTube Preview ImageInternational Submarine Band- Blue Eyes (A Gram Parson’s Original)

In 1968, the The International Submarine Band (formed while Gram was a student at Harvard University) released an album called ‘Safe at Home’. This is the earliest Gram Parson’s venture that we have on record and also his most straight-forward country album (mainly due to the fact that it contains more covers of country classics than originals). However, as he sings ” I go get myself stoned” in the opening song “Blue Eyes” , you know that this is going to be anything but a mainstream country album. From his covers of Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash songs to his four original tracks, you can really hear him laying the groundwork for his future sound, as the songs ramble on with more of a kick then most other country groups would dare to have at the time. Click here to check out Chris Goes Rock’s indepth coverage of the album and some very special links that go along with it by clicking here.

YouTube Preview ImageISB- I Must Be Somebody Else You’ve Known (Merle Haggard Cover)


01. “Blue Eyes” (G. Parsons) – 2:50
02. “I Must Be Somebody Else You’ve Known” (M. Haggard) – 2:18
03. “A Satisfied Mind” (R. Hayes-J. Rhodes) – 2:31
04. “Medley: Folsom Prison Blues/That’s All Right, Mama” (J. Cash-A. Crudup) – 4:25
05. “Miller’s Cave” (J. Clement) – 2:49
06. “I Still Miss Someone” (J. Cash-R. Cash) – 2:47
07. “Luxury Liner” (G. Parsons) – 2:55
08. “Strong Boy” (G. Parsons) – 2:04
09.”Do You Know How It Feels to Be Lonesome” (G. Parsons-B. Goldberg) – 3:36
10. “Knee Deep in the Blues” (M. Endsley) – 1:55 [Bonus]

Monday February 18th 2008, 11:45 pm
Fine Tuning: Bon Iver’s “For Emma, Forever Ago”
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Justin Vernon, known to many as Bon Iver, has a voice that is like an icy breeze against your warm skin, which I suppose is appropriate considering that his name translates as “good winter.” His new album, For Emma, Forever Ago, which is being rereleased tomorrow on Jagjaguwar (he had previously self released it), is a stunning debut.

YouTube Preview ImageBon Iver- Flume

From the beginning of “Flume” to the end of the 9-song album he carries a powerful falsetto that is instantly compelling. Even if I couldn’t quite make out all the lyrics, Vernon’s simple acoustic and haunting vocals alone depict both a serene and lethargic man drifting off in his thoughts, while drowning out the noise from the world around him, which is quite appropriate considering that most of the album was recorded in a remote cabin in Northernwestern Wisconsin, where he lived alone for three months. Horns and additional instruments eventually come into the mix for songs such as “For Emma”, but they keep within the mood and structure of the album. In fact, the instrumentation strengthens the sense of solitude and enhances the feelings Vernon professes.

YouTube Preview ImageBon Iver- Skinny Love

The stand out track on the record is the song Skinny Love, which was immediately placed into heavy rotation on my itunes playlist when I first heard it a couple of months back. The unhinged double tracked vocals paired with an Iron and Wine-esque guitar based accompaniment is the perfect off kilter mix for a song that pleads “Who will love you? Who will fight? Who will fall far behind?” Well, we definitely won’t fall far behind and neither should you. Go out and get this brilliant record tomorrow, find some place where you can lay down your head and then prepare to lose yourself in thought. Then go see him live as his North American tour begins today and takes him across the US and Canada with the likes of Black Mountain and Phosphorescent.

02/18/08 Chapel Hill, NC – Local 506 w/ Megafaun
02/19/08 Washington, DC – The Rock and Roll Hotel w/ Black Mountain
02/20/08 Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brenda’s w/ Black Mountain
02/22/08 New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom w/ Black Mountain
02/23/08 Brooklyn, NY – Glasslands w/ Black Mountain
02/24/08 Boston, MA – Middle East Upstairs w/ Black Mountain
02/25/08 Portland, ME – The Space Gallery w/ Black Mountain
02/26/08 Muncton, NB – The Manhattan w/ Black Mountain + Nordic Nomadic
02/27/08 Halifax, NS – The Marquee Club w/ Black Mountain + Nordic Nomadic
02/29/08 Montreal, QC – La Sala Rosa w/ Black Mountain + Quest for Fire
03/05/08 Toronto, ON – Lee’s Palace w/ Black Mountain + Quest for Fire
03/06/08 Cleveland, OH – The Grog Shop w/ Black Mountain + Nordic Nomadic
03/07/08 Louisville, KY – Headliners w/ Black Mountain
03/08/08 Newport, KY – Southgate House w/ Black Mountain + Nordic Nomadic
03/09/08 Knoxville, TN – The Pilot Light w/ Black Mountain + Nordic Nomadic
03/10/08 Nashville, TN – Exit/In w/ Black Mountain + Nordic Nomadic
03/11/08 Little Rock, AR – Sticky Fingerz Chicken Shack w/ Black Mountain + Nordic Nomadic
03/18/08 Tucson, AZ – Plush w/ Phosphorescent + N. Lannon
03/19/08 San Diego, CA – Che Cafe w/ Phosphorescent
03/20/08 Los Angeles, CA – The Echo w/ Phosphorescent
03/21/08 Santa Barbara, CA – Muddy Waters w/ Phosphorescent
03/22/08 Visalia, CA – Cellar Door w/ Phosphorescent
03/23/08 San Francisco, CA – The Independent w/ Phosphorescent
03/24/08 Portland, OR – Holocene w/ Phosphorescent
03/25/08 Vancouver, BC – Media Club
03/26/08 Seattle, WA – Nectar w/ Phosphorescent
04/04/08 Indianapolis, IN – The Vogue w/ Margot & The Nuclear So & So’s
04/07/08 Columbia, MO – Mojo’s
04/09/08 Urbana, IL – Canopy Club
04/10/08 Chicago, IL – Lakeshore Theater
04/11/08 Madison, WI – Orpheum Theatre – Stage Door
04/12/08 St. Paul, MN – Turf Club
04/14/08 Fargo, ND – Aquarium
04/15/08 Duluth, MN – Kirby Rafters

Wednesday January 30th 2008, 4:00 am
Fine Tuning: Cat Power Claws the Classics
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Jukebox is the much-anticipated, gutsy, new collection of covers from Cat Power (aka Chan Marshall), ranging from reinterpretations of her own original songs to covers of old standards and country favorites. Marshall’s take on these well-known tunes is both disarming and soulful – the album evokes a dim lit lounge near the end of closing hours, and the opening cover of Sinatra’s “New York, New York” indicates right away that these will not be faithful replicas of the old classics.


Wednesday January 23rd 2008, 8:21 pm
This Week’s Fine Tuning: Black Mountain’s “In The Future”
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Released January 22 on Jagjaguwar Records

Led Zeppelin returns! Oh wait a sec. My mistake. Although it comes off as a lost album from 1975, what I’m headbanging to here is actually Black Mountain’s sophomore album “In the Future”. I can only assume that the band’s concept of “Future” is just another version of the past as the album is full of 70’s rock bits, especially Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, (well okay, the track “Angels” actually reminded me of a little Oasis as well). Not to say Led Zeppelin was completely original; “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” is just one example of their partial blues rip-offs, but the infamous Robert Plant and co brought a whole lotta extra to the table while Black Mountain simply pays tribute without adding much else. Some songs, such as the sixteen-plus minute “Bright Lights,” go a little excessive in their quest for epic, and don’t succeed as far as say Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” or Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.” Regardless, the album is by no means a failure and any similarities to rock’s greatest are highly enjoyable. The rolling riffs of “Stormy High” are sure to be a hit on the next Guitar Hero, and the ominous beats in “Tyrants” are fantastically catchy. The ambiance of mellower tracks like “Wild Wind” are mesmerizing, and Doors enthusiasts may enjoy “Queens Will Play” and the wicked psychedelic synthesizing of “Wucan”.

In a Nutshell: Not necessarily original, but great and rock-out worthy nevertheless.