The Avett Brothers – Mignonette

ARTIST: The Avett Brothers         220px-Mignonette_album

TITLE:  Mingonette

YEAR RELEASED: 2004

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Swept Away

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: There are three more ‘Pretty Girl’ songs

LINEUP: Seth Avett, Scott Avett, Bob Crawford, Bonnie Avett Rini

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Avett Brothers are solidly in a folk / bluegrass idiom with great harmonies and songwriting featuring sister Bonnie. But it’s LONG.

 

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It’s great that a band has a lot of material – but in the CD era, it led to excesses. At 73 minutes, this record demonstrates that even with a lot of good to great material, it’s best to trim off the fat.

 

There are a couple of tracks that can go – silly goofs that add nothing to the proceedings, given that the band sounds like they are having fun with fun songs anyway. Those tracks just get in the way of everything and disturb the flow. Fortunately, those tracks are the minority.

 

As for the others – there’s great banjo and mandolin picking, great harmonies, and it sounds like a backyard party. Good times.

 

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The song “Signs” was written by their father Jim Avett, in the 70’s

 

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 

GRADE: A-: Trim it a bit, and it’s an “A”. Heck of a fun time.

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King Curtis – Soul Twist: The Complete Enjoy Sessions

ARTIST: King Curtis                                                                    king curtis

TITLE:  Soul Twist: The Complete Enjoy Sessions

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Soul Twist (#17, #1 R&B), Wobble Twist

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Piping Hot

LINEUP: King Curtis, the Noble Knights

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Jazz and session sax player moves to soul and R&B full time and hits it with the lead single.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After recording as a jazz sax player, and before he became the go-to in the Atlantic / Atco soul stable, King Curtis branched out and recorded a set of sides for the Enjoy label. One track, “Soul Twist”, made a big impression on the R&B and pop charts in 1962.

The rest of the tracks are in the same mode. Curtis’ sax wails but doesn’t overtake the sound of the Noble Knights, his backing band, especially on their version of “What’d I Say”. Curtis’ playing has a lot of jazz elements, of course, but stays within the soul / R&B idiom.

Curtis would later record for Capitol and then Atlantic / Atco before his unfortunate death in 1971. This was the introductory tracks to the pop market and it served well.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: He moved away from jazz to make more money. His career choices were always about getting paid.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: B: Great for those who love 60’s souls sax.

Fleshtones – Hexbreaker!

ARTIST: Fleshtones                   220px-Hexbreaker!

TITLE:  Hexbreaker!

YEAR RELEASED: 1983

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Right Side of a Good Thing

LINEUP: Peter Zaremba, Keith STreng, Bill Milhizer, Jan Marek Pakulski, Gordon Spaeth

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Party album by party band seems flat as it goes along.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: When does a party get boring? When the same thing happens over and over again.

The 60’s loving party band with a great energy and spirit and fun live shows didn’t translate well to vinyl, even with the exuberance of the band. Sax, organ, driving rhythms, and garage guitar give the band their basic sound. Peter Zaremba tries his best to keep the party going, but the issue is the relative same-ness of the material.

“Right Side of a Good Thing” is one that you’ve heard. Maybe the title cut. Anyway, same thing really. Chanted backing vocals, fun atmosphere, but it gets flat a bit and old.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Their first EP and LP aren’t streaming, which may be an issue with IRS Records old rights, and neither is their compilation of the IRS years.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: B-: Individual cuts are great for mixes. But the album as a whole gets a bit wearing.

Broken Social Scene – Feel Good Lost

ARTIST: Broken Social Scene          220px-Broken_Social_Scene-Feel_Good_Lost

TITLE:  Feel Good Lost

YEAR RELEASED: 2001

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: That’s a big no

LINEUP: Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning, Brodie West, Justin Peroff, Charles Spearing, Bill Priddle, Jessica Moss, Evan Cranley, Leslie Feist (barely).

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A mostly instrumental (and the vocals are just ethereal really) record that’s good to put on while cleaning your bathroom, but that’s not a recommendation.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: At first, they were an ambient instrumental group founded by Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning and they gathered some friends and recorded this record of ambient doodlings.

It’s alright if you’re into that kind of thing, but I kept waiting and waiting for something to pop out at me and give me a reason to keep going. I didn’t find it.

Obviously, they’d change up and become the big ol’ Toronto collective histpers now and nod to, but this…this isn’t it.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The duo formed the band in 1999 and it took a couple years to get this made.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: C: Be my guest if you like ambient noise scapes.

The Yardbirds – Little Games

ARTIST: The Yardbirds                       220px-Ylittlegames

TITLE:  Little Games

YEAR RELEASED: 1967

CHART ACTION: #80

SINGLES: Little Games (#51)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Drinking Muddy Water

LINEUP: Keith Relf, Jimmy Page, Chris Dreja, Jim McCarty with session help.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: They fired Jeff Beck but had Jimmy Page. They hired Mickey Most as producer. The latter was a big mistake and basically ended the band.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Mickey Most was a long-time producer in the UK and created some classic hit singles, but when he was brought together with the Yardbirds it was a mismatch.

The record company wanted hit singles, but the band had moved, on stage, to more of a blues-rock improvisational vibe, utilizing the strengths of Jimmy Page. They lost Paul Samwell-Smith, who was the musical director of the group, and that no doubt hurt them in the studio.

The singles (which only one appeared on the album) were by outside writers and not at all in the style of the band, and the other cuts were rushed through the entire process in just three days since Most thought albums were a waste. There’s not really much to recommend here, which is sad. The title track was OK, and a couple of tracks have good guitar and melodies, but it’s really short and incomplete.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This wasn’t even released in the UK after the single “Little Games” stiffed.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A couple. There’s one with outtakes, and demos, and one with the last singles appended (“Ha Has Said the Clown” (#45), “Ten Little Indians” (#96), “Goodnight Sweet Josephine” (#127). 

GRADE: C-: Only a couple will escape the exiling. This is just a sad way for the Yardbirds to leave the stage.

Drive By-Truckers – Pizza Deliverance

ARTIST: Drive-By Truckers                220px-Pdeliv

TITLE:  Pizza Deliverance

YEAR RELEASED: 1999

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Bulldozers and Dirt

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Maybe at shows, but this wasn’t widely released until they hit it big.

LINEUP: Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley, Rob Malone, Matt Lane. Help from John Neff, Barry Sell, Earl Hicks, and Adam Howell.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After some turnover, the DBT’s second album shows Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley solidifying the sound and story idioms of the band.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: There’s more rock here in this second effort by the Drive-By Truckers (“Nine Bullets”), but still the band is rooted in the traditional country music vibe using mandolins, banjos, and former member John Neff’s pedal steel guitar. The DBT’s Patterson Hoods; view of the South and the USA from the perspective of the south carries through this album.

Hood’s wry sense of humor is present in “Too Much Sex (Too Little Jesus)” and other cuts, and his story telling about small yet memorable events is put forward as well with “The Night GG Allin Came to Town”.

Still, this record could have used some editing and trimming. Again, the songs linger perhaps a bridge or verse too long, and that makes some lose interest as the album goes forward.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: After this album, the marathon DBT’s tours started across the country.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: B: An improvement as the band moves toward the well-known DBT sound.

 

Metric – Live It Out

ARTIST: Metric                             220px-Live_it_Out_-_Cover

TITLE:  Live It Out

YEAR RELEASED: 2005

CHART ACTION: #37 Heatseekers, #44 Independent

SINGLES: Poster of a Girl, Monster Hospital (#55 UK), Empty

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not here

LINEUP: Emily Haines, James Shaw, Joshua Winstead, Joules Scott-Key

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Straddling new wave, indie rock, and alternative rock, the Canadian band’s second release utilizes the strengths of vocalist Emily Haines and producer / guitarist James Shaw.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Around this time, there was a movement of bands emulating some of the post-punk bands from the UK, and it may be tempting to throw Metric on that pile, but their mix has more to do with the US new wave crossed with grungy guitars than anything else.

Shaw and Haines, also part of Broken Social Scene, move Metric into a unique direction here, with the sound building on their earlier work with more synth work and colorful production. Haines vocals belie her sound. Even though she sings in a high range and can sound delicate, her vocals are powerful and carry a lot of the songs messages through.

This release got them notice outside of Canada, and grew their touring base past Ontario. It’s well worth multiple spins – it holds up.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Haines was born in India, but she grew up in Ontario.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Japan, Germany, and France. 

GRADE: A-: Not really revivalism, but a mix of 80’s and 90’s sounds into something unique.

Blitzen Trapper – Blitzen Trapper

ARTIST: Blitzen Trapper           Blitzen_Trapper_(album)

TITLE:  Blitzen Trapper

YEAR RELEASED: 2003

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nah

LINEUP: Eric Earley, Brian Adrian Koch, Michael Van Pelt, Drew Laughery, Marty Marquis.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After a name change, Portland folkie-indie rocker amalgamation releases its first actual record you could find in stores.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Starting out as Garmonbozia, the Portland quintet led by Eric Earley sold music at their shows until 2003, when they set up their own record company, changed their name, and released this debut record.

The songs here are a bit shambolic, ranging from harmonic pop rock songs, to a dirty sounding folk, and everything in between. Earley’s lyrics and song titles (the song titles!) are kind of all over the map, but somehow they blend in well with the overall song.

Blitzen Trapper’s secret weapon is Marty Marquis, a multi-instrumentalist who can contribute anything needed to fill in the sound and keep the listener on their toes. It’s not perfect, as it’s a bit ragged and doesn’t always flow well, but it’s a decent enough introduction to the band.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The name of the band was based on Earley’s junior high girlfriend, who had a favorite reindeer (Blitzen) and kept a Trapper Keeper with her drawings of Santa and reindeer on it.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, for record store day 

GRADE: B: Not always cohesive, but there’s some really good pieces and parts here.

OutKast – Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik

ARTIST: OutKast

TITLE:  Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik 220px-Outkast-southernplayalisticadillacmuzik

YEAR RELEASED: 1994

CHART ACTION: #20, #2 R&B

SINGLES: Player’s Ball (#37, #12 R&B, #1 Rap), Southerplayalistcadillacmuzik (#74, #41 R&B, #9 Rap), Git Up Git Out (#109, #59 R&B, #13 Rap)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Ain’t No Thang

LINEUP: Andre 3000, Big Boi with Big Gipp, Sleepy Brown, Preston Crump, the Goodie Mob, Marq Jefferson, Craig Love, Mr DJ, Organized Noize, Peaches, T-Mo, Rico Wade, Colin Wolfe, Kenneth Write, Society of Soul, and more

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Southern Hip Hop goes national.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It was all East Coast vs. West Coast until OutKast came out of Atlanta and hit the charts. Working around the LaFace Records orbit with TLC and Organized Noize production, OutKast’s debut album broke the dichotomoy of East vs. West.

There’s a mix between East and West, using funk and tongue twisting raps as well as hooks and melody. But there’s also unique sounds and style that later defined the Southern style. Big Boi and Andre 3000’s rhymes and flow are impressive, and the production, samples, and hooks are inventive and infectious.

Lost a bit in the mainstream (white) music press thanks to the East Coast vs. West Coast, OutKasts’ debut showed music a third hip-hop way, the Southern way.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Organized Noize’s production team hit it big with TLC’s debut album before tackling OutKast.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: A: Even the segues and skits make sense here. A strong hip-hop album, especially for a debut.

The Ruts – You’ve Gotta Get Out of It

ARTIST: The Ruts                         R-378405-1519852396-4830.jpeg

TITLE:  You’ve Gotta Get Out of It

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: In a Rut, Bablyon’s Burning (#7 UK), Something That I Said (#29 UK), Jah Wars, Staring at the Rude Boys (#22 UK), West One (Shine on Me) (#43 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Probably not

LINEUP: Malcolm Owen, Paul Fox, John Jennings, Dave Ruffy

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Compilation featuring singles and the first album from an exciting UK punk band snuffed out too early due to the untimely death of Malcolm Owen.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: With their first single (“In a Rut”), the Ruts got noticed by John Peel and others in the industry, and with “Babylon’s Burning”, the UK took notice of the group that combined punk energy with some reggae flashes. 220px-Ruts_-_The_Crack_CD_album_cover

Malcolm Owen wasn’t the most tuneful singer, but his lyrical smarts, passion and energy carried the band far. The band has a lot of versatility, able to play reggae and dub along with standard punk rock, with bassist “Segs” Jennings doing yeoman’s work. It’s a shame that Owen struggled with addiction and health issues, and died of a heroin overdose soon after sessions were completed for their second batch of singles. Ironica220px-Ruts_-_Grin_And_Bear_It_album_coverlly, the b-side of their first single was “H-Eyes”, which Owen told of the effects of heroin use. (“H-Eyes gonna fuck your brain…”)

This compilation contains singles, and their entire first album The Crack, as well as the singles that were compiled in a second record soon after Owen’s death.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The band carried on, in a different direction, as The Ruts DC (as in Da Capo –from the beginning)

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: There is a version with three additional B-sides. 

GRADE: A: Gone too early, the Ruts could have carried the punk / reggae crossover further into the 80’s.