In Case You Missed It
Boulderganic Fall 2009
Student Guide 2009
Boulder Weekly Sweet 16 Anniversary
Summer Scene 2009
Best of Boulder 2009
Annual Manual 2009
Newspaper of the Future
Kids Camp Guide 2009
Wedding Marketplace 09
Student Guide 2008
Best of Boulder 2008
Annual Manual 2008
Join Our Mailing List
South Austin Jug Band, Strange Invitation
by Dale Bridges
If you’re anything like me, there’s a certain type of music that you expect to hear from a group called the South Austin Jug Band (hint: it ain’t hip-hop). For one, I expect jugs. For two, I wouldn’t be surprised by washboards, kazoos and even bovine backup singers. However, SAJB isn’t that kind of band. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a definite country twang going on here, but it’s an Austin-twang, not a Dallas-twang, if you know what I mean. For starters, not many country/bluegrass bands cover Beck’s “Jack Ass.” Also, I’ve never seen a picture on the cover of a Toby Keith album that shows an armored tank about to run over an old dude in a tuxedo.
Strange Invitation is a subversive little CD that offers a few surprises. James Hyland’s vocal timing brings to mind some young Bob Dylan licks, and bandmates Dennis Ludiker and Brian Beken are both solid players (although it feels as though they’re holding back at times). Melodic compositions like “Wheatfield with Crows” and “Come to Me” demonstrate a mature hand in the recording studio, but the funky, atonal opening of “Po Boys in the Glovebox” is really where the fun starts. The songs are all easy on the ears and the themes appear to be local, but you can tell SAJB are just itching to dip their toes in the political pool with songs like “Neutral Ground” (There’s bodies on the neutral ground / Not everybody gets to leave this town) and “Avenue of the Americas” (The world keeps spinning, nobody even slows down / I feel like I’m falling, I feel like I should leave this town). This is a mature, radio-friendly album, and I wouldn’t be surprised if these guys start throwing more punches once they are more firmly established in the musical boxing ring.
(South Austin Jug Band will perform at 8 p.m. on Friday, May 30, at the Waterloo Icehouse, 809 South Main St., Louisville, 303-993-2094.)
Al Green, Lay It Down
by Dan DeLuca
Let’s be clear: Al Green is never again scaling the supersexy, ultra-vulnerable Memphis-soul heights he reached under the aegis of Willie Mitchell on Hi Records in the early 1970s. But Lay It Down, produced by Philadelphia soulmeisters James Poyser and Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson, is as close as Green has gotten to that high-altitude soul Valhalla in decades. Unlike his overrated reunions with Hi producer Willie Mitchell on I Can’t Stop (2003) and Everything’s OK (2005), Lay It Down combines plush, cushioned R&B grooves with deeply relaxed love songs that live and breathe. Green’s upper range is still in finely expressive condition, and more important, the easily distracted soul man sounds focused on coaxing convincingly real emotional content out of songs like “Too Much” and “All I Need.” The guest appearances, by Corinne Bailey Rae, Anthony Hamilton, and John Legend, plus the Dap-Kings Horns, are all sharp and to the point, and ably assist Green in his effort to reveal the old-school tricks he’s still got up his sleeve.
Bun B, II Trill
by Michael Pollock
Perseverance, thy name is Bun B. But when friend and musical partner Pimp C was discovered dead last December from a codeine overdose, you wondered how much more the man could take.
That recent somberness shows up on “Angel in the Sky,” one of the best tracks on II Trill, Bun’s second solo album. Another tribute, “Pop It 4 Pimp,” isn’t nearly as bittersweet but is nearly as good. And it illustrates the divide Bun so masterfully walks across: He’s as good at making heartfelt tribute tracks as he is at making dirty club tracks. (He’s also good at making friends — other standouts include the woozy posse cut “You’re Everything,” the Lil Wayne back-and-forth “Damn, I’m Cold” and the Young Buck-assisted “If I Die II Night.”)
But II Trill reveals a new talent — Bun B as judge and jury. Having embraced his role as rap’s elder statesman with humility and grace, Bun lets loose on “Get Cha Issue,” mowing through crooked preachers, crooked police and crooked politicians. It’s the clear highlight, and nothing else on the album comes close in terms of social commentary. But nothing else needs to. Bun’s good at moving on.
Foxy Brown, Brooklyn’s Don Diva
by A.D. Amorosi
Foxy Brown, now that you’re out of jail and your hearing problems are on the mend, what are you gonna do? Make a fine comeback, from the sound of this first CD in seven years.
It’s not amazing; not as curt and cutting as when Foxy was Jay Z’s protegee and they recorded “I’ll Be” together or as blunt and stunning as 2005’s “Come Fly with Me.”
Foxy was renowned for her swaggering flow and a lyrical take on her swanky wardrobe, her punching prowess and her sexual wiles.
So Brooklyn’s production occasionally feels rushed, generic — beneath a vixen vet of Foxy’s status. Brown’s lyrics about Louis Vuitton and Boucheron seem nothing more than product placement.
But the femme MC leads the way when it comes to facing off against reggae toasters like Movado, Morgan Heritage and Lady Saw. And her lyrics to tracks like “Too Real” allow Foxy to ruminate on the hard-luck life she’s lived of late. “Look beyond my fur coats and Chanel purses / Put aside the Christian Dior / Look inside my soul / See I’m just a little insecure,” goes a verse from “Star Cry.”
It’s a welcome return. She’s just got to work harder.
Julie Ocean, Long Gone and Nearly There
by Steve Klinge
Jim Spellman likes his allusions: his former band, the charming Velocity Girl, took its name from an early Primal Scream song. “Julie Ocean” was a great new-wave pop single from Ireland’s Undertones, which tips to one of the musical roots of this DC band.
Released on local label Transit of Venus, Long Gone and Nearly There is a terse (10 songs in 25 minutes) blast of nostalgia for the jangly, melodic guitar pop of the ’80s, from early-decade new wave to mid-decade Brit Pop to later lo-fi underground America, from those Undertones to the Wedding Present to Guided by Voices.
Although it might help, one doesn’t have to be history-minded to love the ecstatic harmonies of “#1 Song,” the power-pop hooks of “Here Comes Danny,” and the zippy guitar riffs of “At the Appointed Hour.”
James McMurtry, Just Us Kids
by Nick Cristiano
The son of Texas novelist Larry McMurtry, James McMurtry has long proven himself to be a keen-eyed heartland bard whose songs never offer up any easy romanticism. And the same goes for his delivery.
Just Us Kids presents more of McMurtry’s sharply sculpted tales of alienation and regret, restlessness and resignation, occasionally spiced with sardonic wit and framed with lean, muscular roots-rock (Ian McLagan, Jon Dee Graham and C.C. Adcock are among the accompanists). As he has in the last few years, McMurtry also continues to broaden from the personal into the political, with the scathingly ironic “God Bless America” and an unsparing portrait of the soldier as pawn, “Cheney’s Toy.”
back to the top