Tag Archives: Uncle Tupelo

My Top 40 at 40!

Recently, and by recently I mean yesterday February 2nd, which just happens to be my day of birth, a buddy of mine threw down the musical gauntlet.  I have briefly and succinctly paraphrased the challenge below:

Top 40 Artists of your life. Not simply a list of 40, but a ranking from 40 to 1. You have to do it. It must be done. It’s your personal Hall of Fame. This is your preference, your jukebox, regardless of genre or generation. This isn’t educational or time relevant. It’s YOUR Top 40 of all time.

This did indeed get the blood rushing and made my musical pants go a little crazy.  I started to brainstorm a list (and by brainstorm I mean immediately sat down and pounded out 40 names, clarified his initial challenge, perused my list again, and started typing the first sentence you read. 

The initial list was not a difficult as I thought.  The ranking of 1-40 took a little bit of time as did my annotations (those are in my tiny, little head) as to why the band/musician made the list.  The list that lies before you is organic in nature and I believe it to be fairly finite to the time that it was written.  The list is not to be likened to a doctoral thesis, packed with statistics that verify the respective placement, resourced with renowned critical fawning, or any type of research other than my ears and their time on earth. 

Be mindful of the fact that there are only 40 spots on this list.  I can tell you that there are probably some glaring omissions on this list.  Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Bob Marley, Waylon, Willie, and the boys, did not make the list as well as a litany of other great, well deserving artists.  This list is completely subjective and the omission of anyone is not meant to be a form of disparagement.  It is quite simply a list of bands/musicians that I have loved over the years and also value their contributions to the musical world. 

The final piece of the musical puzzle for this list was really a late night revelation.  I realize it has only been a moment or two since you began reading this but I actually have been running the various scenarios of greatness in my head all night.  And then it hit me, the true measure of an artist’s greatness is my personal commitment to that particular artist. 

  •  How much of myself have I invested in the artists? 
  • What percentage of their catalog do I own? 
  • Would I take the time to see them live if the following were aligned:
    • They are still alive
    • They band is still together
    • The venue was geographically conducive to seeing them live
    • The cost of the ticket did not require me selling my 1st born child.  Although at 15 years of age and being really good at being 15 I would be willing to barter for a really good show right now.

Oddly enough, this revelation did not greatly alter my original list, there were a few additions and subtractions of artists and then the harrowing process of ranking them, with reason, was underway. 

No musicians were harmed in this list.  Of course, egos might be slightly bruised if they ever happen to stumble upon this little read blog and realize their spot on or omission to the list.

So, I give to you my Top 40 at 40!

  1. The Beatles
  2. Bob Dylan
  3. Bruce Springsteen
  4. The Rolling Stones
  5. Led Zeppelin
  6. The Who
  7. Pink Floyd
  8. Tom Petty
  9. The Eagles
  10. Eric Clapton
  11. Elton John
  12. Jimi Hendrix
  13. The Doors
  14. U2
  15. Metallica
  16. Pearl Jam
  17. Van Morrison
  18. Billy Joel
  19. R.E.M.
  20. Rush
  21. Lynryd Skynyrd
  22. Simon & Garfunkel
  23. John Mellencamp
  24. Stevie Ray Vaughan
  25. Prince
  26. Nirvana
  27. Uncle Tupelo
  28. Eminem
  29. Nine Inch Nails
  30. Beck
  31. The Dave Matthews Band
  32. Rage Against the Machine
  33. Robert Earl Keen
  34. N.W.A
  35. The Black Crowes
  36. The Beastie Boys
  37. The White Stripes
  38. Ryan Adams
  39. Ben Harper
  40. Joe Purdy

 

Great music awaits!


Tune In Tuesday: 6/22/10

Welcome back to another installment of Tune In Tuesday.  Today’s six albums are pretty diverse in regards to musical genre and over all style but have the commonality of not sucking at all. 

Mojo

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

This is Mr. Petty’s first studio album in eight and is well worth the wait.  The tunes are refreshingly reflective of the bands thirty plus years in the business. The songs have an air of fun and a cohesive quality that have always been a trademark of the Heartbreakers.  Heavy on the sweet southern rock sound, the songs have a classic vibe that sounds fresh yet familiar.  Petty’s voice is in fine form with the light, nasally, southern drawl, Campbell’s guitar playing is as tight as ever, and Trench’s ability to tickle the ivory brings it all together.  The album reminds you why Petty is so great and why he can take eight years off and come back just as relevant to the music scene.

Key Tracks: Running Man’s Bible, Something Good Coming, Takin’ My Time

American Slang

The Gaslight Anthem

This is the third album for the New Jersey band and a pretty dramatic departure for the heartland punk rockers.  It seems that the urgency and tension of the first two albums has dissipated and allowed them to grow as a band.  Obviously influenced by Springsteen, American Slang is a more mature sound for the band and allows them to better connect to their audience as well as bring new folks into the fold.  Don’t get me wrong, the band still rocks and a few songs have the speed and antagonism of their previous two albums.

Key Tracks: Bring It On, American Slang, Orphans

Fly Between Falls

Animal Liberation Orchestra (ALO)

Animal Liberation Orchestra (ALO) is the hippie, trippy, California band that brings the good time vibe to everything they play.  The band was formed by high school buddies Zach Gill, Steve Adams, Dan Lebowitz.  They all share vocal responsibilities and play a variety of instruments. 

Their debut album “Fly Between Falls” was originally released in 2004 and rereleased when ALO signed to Jack Johnson’s Brushfire Records in 2006.

This album is just plain fun.  Each song is up tempo and quirky yet sucks you in a little deeper each time you listen. 

Key Tracks:  Girl I Wanna Lay You Down, Wasting Time (Isla Vista Song), Barbeque

I and Love and You

The Avett Brothers

The Avett Brothers are the folksy, rocking, alt/country with a tinge of bluegrass band from North Carolina.  With such a diverse pedigree, is it any wonder the Rick Rubin took notice, signed them to his label, and produced their major label debut “I and Love and You”?

The album is sonically rich with harmonies provided by Scott and Seth.  The melodies are tight and the musical arrangement has a certain level of complication but not in an overly dramatic fashion.

Key Tracks:  Ten Thousand Words, Kick Drum Heart, January Wedding

One Fast Move Or I’m Gone

Jay Farrar & Ben Gibbard

Jay Farrar (Son Volt, Uncle Tupelo) and Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie, The Postal Service) teamed up to write and record an album for the documentary “One Fast Move or I’m Gone: Kerouac’s “Big Sur”

With Kerouac’s connection to jazz, both Farrar and Gibbard seem to be an odd choice to write and represent the spirit of Jack.  However, given the tragic nature of the book and Kerouac’s immersion into the depths of alcoholism and debilitating depression, Farrar with his naturally dour vocal styling and proclivity to writing deep emotionally damaged lyrics was a competent selection, while Gibbard seemed an awkward fit with his more melodic voice and previous synth heavy work with The Postal Service. 

Given the inspiration for the album it is no surprise that musically, the album is steeped in Americana with acoustic, electric, & steel guitar, lap & pedal steel, harmonica, piano, and percussions.  A majority of the lyrics were taken from Kerouac’s 1962 novel “Big Sur” and Jack gets writing credit on all of the songs except Gibbard’s lyrical contribution on the title track.

The irony of this project is that as dark and damaged as Kerouac was; the album is hopeful with a vulnerable beauty etched in the music and lyrics.

Key Tracks: California Zephyr, One Fast Move or I’m Gone, Big Sur, San Francisco

One Day as a Lion

One Day as a Lion

One Day as a Lion is the musical collaboration and eponymous debut EP of acid tongue, fire and brimstone, anti politico Zack de la Rocha (Rage Against the Machine) and drummer Jon Theodore (Mars Volta). 

The overall vibe on the EP is not an exodus sonically or lyrically for either musician.  The lyrics are politically and emotionally charged, the music is in your face antagonistic, and the overall delivery is the equivalent of a sledgehammer.  Bombastic drums and hypnotic keyboards bolster the fiery vocal release of de la Rocha.  The album has urgency to it in both the spirit of the music and the delivery of the lyrics. 

While the five songs seem to play quickly, what the album lacks in length, it more than makes up for with the strength of each song.  It also brings the realization the potency of de la Rocha’s delivery and the void that has existed musically since the disbanding of Rage Against the Machine.

Key Tracks: All 5 Songs!

 Great music awaits!


You should be listening to Jay Farrar!

Jay Farrar is the incredibly gifted singer/songwriter/musician who has been part of the creative process for two influential bands (Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt).  He has also had a nice solo career and most recently ventured out with Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie) on the soundtrack for “One Fast Move or I’m Gone”. 

Musically he is just as adept in the sparse folksy acoustic of Americana music or the powerful roar of rock and roll.  In addition to the guitar, Farrar also knows his way around the harmonica. 

Jay Farrar Discography:

  • Sebastopol (2001)
  • ThirdShiftGrottoSlack (EP 2002)
  • Terroir Blues (2003)
  • Live EP (2004)
  • Stone, Steel, & Bright Lights (2004)

Upon the demise of Uncle Tupelo, Farrar formed Son Volt and released three albums before going on a six year hiatus.  Upon return in 2005, Farrar was the only original member of Son Volt and the newly designed band released an additional four albums. 

In 2006 Farrar and Anders Parker created Gob Iron and released one album while he was in the process of recording another Son Volt album. 

Farrar’s distinctive vocals are the glue that holds all of his music together.  While he has respectable writing and musical skills, it is his voice that puts the energy and emotion into the songs.   At times, it is low and deeply emotive, conveying the world weary troubadour.  Others times, it is painfully hidden behind the weirdly tuned guitar.

Top Five Jay Farrar Songs:

  1. No Rolling Back (Terroir Blues)
  2. Damn Shame (Sebastopol)
  3. California (Terroir Blues)
  4. Feel Free (Sebastopol)
  5. Station to Station (ThirdShiftGrottoSlack)

Check out Jay Farrar at www.jayfarrar.net

www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9UNSyisYG8

www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9N4fDkSLUE&feature=related

Great music awaits!


Uncle Tupelo

Today we celebrate the short but impressive career of alt/country pioneers Uncle Tupelo.

Uncle Tupelo Discography and best song from Album:

  • No Depression (1990)
    • Whiskey Bottle
  • Still Feel Gone (1991)
    • Still Be Around
  • March 16-20 1992 (1992)
    • Moonshiner
  • Anodyne (1993)
    • Slate
  • 89/93: An Anthology (2002)
    • I Wanna Be Your Dog

Best Uncle Tupelo Album:

  • Anodyne

Top 10 Uncle Tupelo Songs:

  1. Slate
  2. Moonshiner (This is a cover song but man is it great)
  3. Whiskey Bottle
  4. New Madrid
  5. The Long Cut
  6. Criminals
  7. Black Eye
  8. Anodyne
  9. Outdone
  10. Life Worth Livin’

Read, review, and respond.

Great music awaits!


Missed and Must See Concerts!

So, this week has focused on music in a variety of, genres, decades, degrees of greatness and what some might call an assault to the auditory senses.  To wrap up this fine week of blogging, I am going to take my writing cue from some of the responses to the Concert Blog.

Over the course of my musical life, I’ve been extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to see all of the shows I’ve seen.  In addition to that, I’ve had the ability to create a personal library of considerable size in both CD and digital format.  However, being a music devotee, I want more.  I want more CD’s, more digital files, and more opportunity to catch live acts.  I look back at the missed opportunities to see some amazing shows and kick myself for being too lazy, too late, or at times even too responsible to attend certain shows.

Today we are going to talk about concerts in both past and future terms.  Confused yet?  Good, me either.  I will keep this in a Top 10 format and will list the concerts that I missed or at least wished I had the opportunity to see and I will also list the concerts that I want to see before I am unceremoniously taken from this lovely thing some call life.

Top 10 missed opportunities:

  1. Pink Floyd Momentary Lapse of Reason Tour
  2. U2 Joshua Tree Tour
  3. Guns N Roses & Metallica (I realize that tour was plagued with problems but at long as I am dreaming, if I had attended, it would have been a flawless, musical love fest with duel encores)
  4. Bruce Springsteen Born in the USA Tour (I’ve seen Bruce on several occasions but this tour was sort of a revival and they went all out and played monster sets (3-4 hours).)
  5. Uncle Tupelo (This band was such a tinder box of musical genius that there was no conceivable way for it continue.  I’ve seen both bands from the former temperamental leaders (Jeff’s Wilco & Jay’s Son Volt) and would have loved to catch them early.)
  6. Led Zeppelin Reunion (This was never an option or an opportunity but man what a treat that would have been.)
  7. The Black Crowes (I had free tickets at Will Call for an early show they did in Dallas when they opened up for ZZ Top.  I never made it to the show for various and sundry reasons.  Looking back none of the reasons were reasonably worth what I missed.)
  8. 2002 Austin City Limits Music Festival (This was the inaugural musical voyage for ACL and it had a great lineup of bands on the rise as well as the ARC Angels reunion show.)
  9. Farm Aid 1 1985 (A great event with a stellar line up.  Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, Neil Young, Billy Joel, John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, B.B. King, Waylon Jennings, to name a few.)
  10.  Nirvana (Just to be part of that bit of musical history.)

Top 10 Must See Acts:

  1. My Morning Jacket (Amazing live shows and wicked cool music)
  2. Red Hot Chili Peppers (I just dig them)
  3. Neil Young (Musical icon)
  4. U2 (They are awesome)
  5. John Mellencamp (Great catalog even when he was Johnny Cougar, John Cougar, and John Cougar Mellencamp)
  6. Phish (Ultimate Jam band that took the torch from the Grateful Dead)
  7. Paul McCartney (Come on, he is a friggin’ Beatle)
  8. Lyle Lovett (I like all his music even the song from the Stuart Little soundtrack and well, he was married to Julia Roberts!)
  9. Counting Crows (I realize that despite their latest release, they are in the twilight (or beyond) of their career but I really dig their live albums and think they would be fun to see live)
  10. The Eagles (I am a huge fan and begrudgingly have never seen them.  In my defense, their exorbitant ticket price is one key factor to this dilemma.)

So dear reader, who is on your concert list?

 Great music awaits!


You should be listening to Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard!

Jay Farrar (Son Volt, Uncle Tupelo) and Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie, The Postal Service) teamed up to write and record an album for the documentary “One Fast Move or I’m Gone: Kerouac’s “Big Sur”.  While originally set to record a few songs, the process and collaboration was so fruitful that it turned into a full length album which is named after the movie.

With Kerouac’s connection to jazz, both Farrar and Gibbard seem to be an odd choice to write and represent the spirit of Jack.  However, given the tragic nature of the book and Kerouac’s immersion into the depths of alcoholism and debilitating depression, Farrar with his naturally dour vocal styling and proclivity to writing deep emotionally damaged lyrics was a competent selection, while Gibbard seemed an awkward fit with his more melodic voice and previous synth heavy work with The Postal Service. 

Any trepidation I had concerning the pairing was quickly assuaged as Gibbard vocals leapt off the first track “California Zephyr”.  I was amazed at how natural he sounded reciting the words of Farrar who wrote eleven of the twelve songs on the album.  Gibbard wrote the title track “One Fast Move or I’m Gone”. 

Given the inspiration for the album it is no surprise that musically, the album is steeped in Americana with acoustic, electric, & steel guitar, lap & pedal steel, harmonica, piano, and percussions.  A majority of the lyrics were taken from Kerouac’s 1962 novel “Big Sur” and Jack gets writing credit on all of the songs except Gibbard’s lyrical contribution on the title track.

The irony of this project is that as dark and damaged as Kerouac was; the album is hopeful with a vulnerable beauty etched in the music and lyrics.

Check out Jay Farrar & Ben and Ben Gibbard:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXfUSmdGa6E

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNIWA5esH4o&feature=related

Great music awaits!


You should be listening to Wilco!

And from the ashes of Uncle Tupelo, Jeff Tweedy and Wilco rose like a phoenix!  Created in 1994 after the demise of the oft contentious Uncle Tupelo, the original line up of Wilco consisted of the entire band of Uncle Tupelo minus Jay Farrar.  Wilco was named after the voice procedure idiom “wilco” meaning “Will Comply” which Tweedy found to be an ironic choice for a rock band.

With their debut album A.M., released in 1995, Wilco was still well-established in the Alt/Country sound, however, their musical evolution has found them experimenting with alternative rock and pop.  The band considered the album a failure due to the modest reception by critics and fans alike and the fact that Jay Farrar’s new band Son Volt had released their debut album Trace and it fared better both critically and commercially. 

Being There was the overly ambitious (19 songs) sophomore effort that was released as a double album but sold for a single album price.  This was accomplished by Tweedy agreeing to give the label (Reprise) Wilco’s share of album royalties.  It is estimated that the band lost more than half a million dollars.  The album was a hit with critics and reached 73 on the Billboard album chart. 

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was released in 2001, after much turmoil and confusion, and eventual dismissal from their previous label. It became their best selling album and to date has sold almost 600,000 copies.  In addition to the commercial success, critics raved and Billboard ranked it 13 on its charts and Rolling Stone Magazine listed as one of the 50 best albums of the decade.  With the follow up release of A Ghost is Born Wilco received a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album and became the bands first top ten album. 

Wilco discography:

  • A.M.
  • Being There
  • Summerteeth
  • Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
  • A Ghost is Born
  • Kicking Television (Live in Chicago)
  • Sky Blue Sky
  • Wilco (The Album)

Top 5 Wilco Songs:

  1. Either Way (Sky Blue Sky)
  2. Box Full of Letters (A.M.)
  3. Sunken Treasure (Being There)
  4. Jesus, Etc. (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot)
  5. Theologians (A Ghost is Born)

Wilco, in the face of their career long major label affiliation, is seen more as an indie band and have been categorized as alt/country, alternative rock, pop, and roots-rock.  Critics have even referred to them as an Americanized adaptation of Radiohead; this is in large part to the diversity of their sound and catalog.  The diversity has certainly been enabled by the rotating members of the band.  Since their inception, Jeff Tweedy and bassist John Stirratt are the only original members. 

Whatever the comparison or classification, they simple truth is that Wilco is a great band that has maintained their integrity while staying relevant.  As fickle as critics and consumes are, this band has persevered and in many ways influenced countless bands along the way.

Check out Wilco at www.wilcoweb.com.

Wilco’s music is available at iTunes, record stores, and www.wilcoweb.com.

Great music awaits!


You should be listening to Son Volt!

Son Volt is the band that Jay Farrar formed upon the demise of Uncle Tupelo in 1994.  While their debut “Trace” was met with critical acclaim, as where the follow ups “Straightaways” and “Wide Swing Tremolo”, Son Volt was not as commercially successful as some of the bands that were emerging on the music scene in the late 90’s. 

While often lumped in the Alt/Country genre due to his early work with Uncle Tupelo, Farrar expanded the sound of Son Volt in to a more traditional Americana type sound.  Son Volt’s use of steel and acoustic guitars, pianos, organs, and Farrar’s lonesome vocals conjure up visions of America of long ago. The stylized texture provides an organic feel to their music and further distances them from the Alt/Country scene.  This is really evident on their latest release “American Central Dust”.

Early rumors and speculation that surrounded Son Volt’s demise were unfounded despite the solo albums and tours of Jay Farrar from 2001 – 2003.  In 2005, a retrospective was released and shortly thereafter, Farrar recruited some new band members and released “Okemah and the Melody Riot” in 2006.  As it stands today, Jay Farrar is the only original member of Son Volt. 

In 2009, Farrar team up with Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie) and recorded the album “One Fast Move Or I’m Gone” Music from Jack Kerouac’s Big Sur.

Son Volt Discography

  • Trace
  • Straightaways
  • Wide Swing Tremolo
  • A Retrospective 1995-2000
  • Okemah and the Melody Riot
  • The Search
  • American Central Dust

Top 5 Son Volt Songs according to Butler (Albums listed to right of song):

  1. Methamphetamine (The Search)
  2. Windfall (Trace)
  3. World Waits For You (Okemah and the Melody Riot)
  4. Circadian Rhythms (The Search)
  5. Back Into Your World (Straightaways)

Check out Son Volt and let me know what you think.

Son Volt’s music is available is available on iTunes, record stores and www.sonvolt.net.

Also, if you have a facebook page, you can become a fan of the blog.

http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#/pages/Music-you-should-be-listening-to/261897107787?ref=ts

Great music awaits!


You should be listening to Whiskeytown!

Whiskeytown is an Alt/Country band that was formed and fronted by mercurial singer/songwriter Ryan Adams in 1994.  Whiskeytown was one of the most influential and successful bands that helped define the Alt/Country sound of the 90’s along with Uncle Tupelo, The Jayhawks, and The Old 97’s.  Much like the aforementioned artists, Whiskeytown gradually expanded its sound beyond the confines of Alt/Country.

Their full length debut “Faithless Street” was released in 1996 and earned considerable recognition and praise from the Alt/Country press.  By the time they released their sophomore effort”Stanger’s Almanac” in 1997, they had a new rhythm section.  In 1999, they completed their third and final album “Pneumonia” but due to label mergers it was not released until 2001.  By this time, Adam’s had released his solo album “Heartbreaker” and was receiving critical acclaim which sent him further down the solo path. 

Whiskeytown, much like their contemporary, Uncle Tupelo, had a short lived career as a band due to the volatility of lead singer Ryan Adams.  In five short years, they put out three albums with a revolving door of musicians.  Only Ryan Adams and violinist Cary Caitlin appear on all three Whiskeytown albums.

Whiskeytown Discography

  • Faithless Street
  • Stanger’s Almanac
  • Pneumonia

Top 5 Whiskeytown Songs according to Butler (Albums listed to right of song):

  1. 16 Days (Faithless Street)
  2. Jacksonville Skyline (Pneumonia)
  3. Inn Town (Stranger’s Almanac)
  4. Don’t Wanna Know Why (Pneumonia)
  5. House on the Hill (Stranger’s Almanac) 

Since the early demise of Whiskeytown, there have been consistent rumors of a reunion, the most recent, and coming from Ryan Adams himself, in 2009. 

Check out Whiskeytown and let me know what you think.

Whiskeytown’s music is available is available on iTunes, record stores and www.whiskeytownpneumonia.com.

Also, if you have a facebook page, you can become a fan of the blog.

http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#/pages/Music-you-should-be-listening-to/261897107787?ref=ts

Great music awaits!


You should be listening to Uncle Tupelo!

Uncle Tupelo had a short lived musical career as a band but had a huge impact on the Alt/Country scene.  While they were not the first to lay claim to this genre, they did it with style and dignity.  Their authenticity was so evident, that Peter Buck of R.E.M. fame saw them in concert and offered to produce their next album “March 16-20 1992”.  This all acoustic album combines original Uncle Tupelo material with well chosen traditional covers such as the brilliant “Moonshiner”.

 Like any dysfunctional marriage, Uncle Tupelo lasted only a few short years. Led, and ultimately killed, by the brilliant Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy.  Their debut “No Depression” was released in 1990 and their final tour was in 1994. 

 Uncle Tupelo Discography

  • No Depression
  • March 16-20 1992
  • Anodyne
  • Still Feel Gone
  • Uncle Tupelo 89/93 An Anthology

 Top 5 Uncle Tupelo Songs according to Butler (Albums listed to right of song):

  1. Slate (Anodyne)
  2. Moonshiner (March 16-20 1992)
  3. Whiskey Bottle (No Depression)
  4. New Madrid (Anodyne)
  5. Life Worth Livin’ (No Depression)

 The early demise of this band, however unfortunate, laid the foundation for bands like Whiskeytown to continue down the Alt/Country road.  Both Farrar and Tweedy went on to lead and have successful careers with other bands, Son Volt and Wilco respectively. 

 Check out Uncle Tupelo and let me know what you think.

 Uncle Tupelo music is available is available on iTunes, record stores and www.uncletupelo.com.

Also, if you have a facebook page, you can become a fan of the blog.

http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#/pages/Music-you-should-be-listening-to/261897107787?ref=ts

Great music awaits!