Monday, July 23, 2007

Re: Issue of Ryan Adams

From the Desk of Jordan Sowards, RB Semiregular Guest Blogger

There are those who might suggest that Ryan Adams' now-infamous prolificacy is a bad thing. Who would say that the quality his music suffers from the breakneck pace at which he writes and records? These people are foolish.

Dude's always going to have his detractors. After all, his public persona is one of somewhat of a horse's patoot, he's probably just a(n angle)hair too popular for most indie kids' comfort, and some are repelled by his serial genre-drifting. Personally, I don't know that I can think of a single other artist whose new releases I still anticipate as much today as I did five years ago.

Today finds me celebrating (almost) the entire Ryan Adams back catalog. That's because they are reissuing new, 180-gram vinyl pressings of Gold, Demolition, Rock N Roll, Cold Roses, Jacksonville City Nights, and 29. That's right, you can cancel your outrageous $175 bid for a copy of Gold on eBay (yeah, that's real and people do it), because tomorrow it can be yours for a much more reasonable $14.99 or so. If you already paid that much for yours-—sorry.

Heartbreaker was already reissued last year, but the gorgeous and elusive 2x10" Love Is Hell is inexplicably neglected this time around. In my mind, I see the oddly small-looking Love Is Hell running out to his mailbox to check on tiptoes one last time for his copy of the invitation to the party. Just then, the carpool containing all the other records goes speeding by and blasting Whiskeytown, and Easy Tiger is hanging out of the sunroof and pouring champagne all down the front of Parker Posey and Lindsay Lohan. Everyone laughs in slow-motion. And I just wish so badly I could make him a cup of chai tea or something, but he just goes inside to be so alone.

Paragraphs like that are the reason they don't let me give blood ever. But I can still go to Laser's Edge today and go crazy on the LPs. And I will. Here come corresponding digital goodies.

Sylvia Plath (live 11.21.02) from Gold
So Alive (live) from Rock N Roll
Strawberry Wine (live 5.16.05) from 29

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Levon Helm Band at the Ryman Auditorium

Well, folks, a few days ago on July 18, Red Blondehead took a mid-week trip to Nashville to catch The Levon Helm Band at the Ryman Auditorium. Thanks to RB friend Wyatt, we scored AMAZING seats, and if you were there you might have noticed a long-haired blonde girl smiley stupidly for the entire performance. That was me.

I think anyone who has enjoyed a record by The Band or anyone who has enjoyed The Last Waltz would have loved this concert. The Levon Helm Band, featuring Levon Helm, multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell, and guitarist Jimmy Vivino, among others, played many Band classics, blues standards, and favorite covers. Special guests throughout the night included Emmylou Harris, Little Sammy Davis, Buddy Miller, Sam Bush, Ricky Skaggs, John Hiatt, and Sheryl Crow.

All talented musicians, the Levon Helm Band pulled off many Band classics such as "Chest Fever," "Tears of Rage," and "Ophelia." The finale and encore were "The Weight" and "I Shall Be Released," respectively, and both performances recalled the glory of the star-studded performances on The Last Waltz.

Highlights were the Helm/Harris duet "Evangeline" and Helm favorite "Ophelia," which featured a stripped-down horn section. We were warned that Helm's vocals weren't "what they used to be" due to his recent bout with throat cancer. However, despite his frail appearance, one would hardly know they weren't hearing the Helm of yesteryear.

As to be expected, the show was bittersweet. While listening to Jimmy Vivino tackle the vocals on "Tears of Rage," I couldn't help but notice what was missing, or rather, who was missing: Richard Manuel's soulful vocals are that song's trademark, and during the show he was never more missed than during the opening bars of that song. Rick Danko, too, was conspicuously absent; again, with a voice so distinctive, it's hard not to imagine his ghost onstage.

This show was worth it, though, despite the sad moments that were bound to occur. As a gal born about twenty years too late to witness the original lineup of The Band, I think this was as good as it gets. Catch this show if you are lucky enough to have them tour near you!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Starlight Mints contest...

Starlight Mints will be returning to Birmingham next Monday, July 16, for a show at Bottletree and we've got 10 tickets to give away! The Mints put on a great show when they played here last year, so I'm looking forward to seeing them again.

Send us an email at with your full name and a haiku to enter. Yes, haiku. We'll pick our 10 favorites and those people will be our winners.* Amaze us with your creativity. The deadline for entries is July 16 at 3 pm.

An example of haiku:
Free wifi at home
I discovered late last night!
Don't tell the neighbors.

*Each winner will only receive one ticket and it is non-transferable.

Starlight Mints - Pumpkin
Starlight Mints - Inside of Me

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

beauty and the macabre and the roadside graves

Red Blondehead got a little taste of New Jersey last weekend when The Roadside Graves drove through Birmingham to play with Blue Mountain. Needless to say, Blondehead was left happy and hankerin' for more. So.... I picked up a copy of their latest release, No One Will Know Where You've Been and was immediately smitten. These fellas play and record as a seven-piece and so reasonably have a very full sound. There's always something to entice the ear, whether it is clever lyrics delivered in lead singer John Gleason's shaky vocals or a sweet piano fill c/o Mike DeBlasio.

I can't pretend to always understand the lyrics on this record, and maybe that's a good thing since a quick press search turns up accounts of Gleason' inherent misogyny. I like what I can hear, though. Any potentially offensive lyric I've heard stands out moreso for its gritty and sensual realism--almost Faulknerian in its ability to curse its subject and marvel at it in fascination simultaneously.

Ah, the wonderful feeling of finding a record among countless others that you can really get into. Here's the opener, and probably my favorite track:

Family and Friends

This track is thematically and musically reminiscent of one of my favorite songs from Music from Big Pink. Can anyone guess which one?!

The Black Hills

And finally, one I can make out all the words to and one to make out to:

Live Slow

Pick up your copy here. You'll have a hard time putting it down, I'll bet.

it's a miniminimix

Thanks to everyone who entered! Congrats to Matt.

Completely unrelated but here's a few songs for this Tuesday the 10th (but not 10 songs, sorry).

Stars - The Night Starts Here
Maps - To The Sky
Art in Manila - Our Addictions
Kenna - Better Wise Up
Eastern Conference Champions - The Box