Tag Archives: Neil Young

Wrapped With Realness, Matt Epp’s Album Shadowlands Delivers Stand-Out Sound

9 Jul

With Matt Epp’s latest album Shadowlands, one can sense the tone of Americana and nostalgia all wrapped into one sound. Epp cited this collection of tracks as something very personal and different from his nine other albums that he’s released. When listening to the lyrics of this album, you can definitely sense the theme of being on a journey, self reflecting, and the inner challenges along the way. The unique and humbling aspect of the track Runaway is the rawness and realness that it has attached to it. Epp explains that it was written with his wife and in her perspective on witnessing the ups and downs that he has gone through. Having that unique approach, point of view, and twist on writing makes his music standout even more and allows listeners to connect even more to something that is so personal. Connecting on themes, important messages, and significant experiences, Epp effortlessly wins over audiences through the stories of his life.

For more listening:

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A Window to Honduras – San Pedro Sula Sessions

1 Aug

What happens when you combine Americana beats with troubadour inclinations, take the intriguing combination to the warm, mountainous highlands of Honduras, and base lyrics off of historical narratives that you just happen to be teaching to children in the country. Well, much in line with the album cover above, you get this odd mixture of brush strokes and colors that form a piece of artwork, both delicate and brusque, almost Hemingway-esque.

The Blind Window is led by multi-instrumentalist Brian Katz, a semi-finalist in the 2011 International Songwriting Competition, who created this blend of inspired music while working as a history teacher in Honduras from 2010-2012. In his surroundings, he found enough isolation to devote time to developing his craft. In his subject, he found ideas that he molded into songs of pain, expired youth, and loss.

His music is endearing. It mixes the midwestern Americana branded by Tom Petty and Neil Young with modern Dylan-inspired folk created by bands like Fleet Foxes.

San Pedro Sula Sessions is The Blind Window’s first EP. Released in mid-July, the album is being toured in the Toronto area. I want to target two tracks that I think you all will like, both of which (like the entire EP) are available for free download at The Blind Window’s Bandcamp.

In order to understand the lyric of “William Walker” it is first important to understand who Mr. Walker was. Let me brush up a bit on my history, and, Mr. Katz may need to help me a bit. Walker was a filibuster (idea of conquering Latin American land and creating new slave states to join the Union) who became president of the Republic of Nicaragua in the mid-19th century. He ruled until he was defeated by a coalition of Central American armies, and was executed by Honduras in 1860. Ah, so now the lyric, “Shot at the firing wall by Honduran guns,” makes sense. The song’s introduction combines a staccato acoustic rhythm with synth. It would be a disservice to just say it’s Indie. I catch a noticeable scent of modern Mountain Goats. The band layers elements before the vocals begin.

Katz’s vocal is certainly Neil Young-like. His voice can get up there and it rises in the verse skillfully and melodically. I absolutely love this crescendo. He possesses a vocal talent much like some of the better folk artists, and this elevates the music to an excellent level.

Now, with William Walker’s history in your mind, read the lyrics of the piece. In a small frame, Katz speaks on Walker’s last days, reminiscent and nostalgic. And, there are gem-lines like, “When I am freed, from this penitentiary, I will reach, my divine finality.”

“Lost Between the Lines,” begins with soft ahs much like Iron and Wine’s “God Made the Automobile.” This continues and rises over a guitar riff until it fades into a perfect harmonica. Gosh, Katz’s voice really does remind me of Neil Young. Sorry for repeating it, but I really think he has a similar voice. The song moves at a great pace, the harmonica fill my favorite portion. It is not difficult to recognize the talent of The Blind Window, and I look forward to hearing about them more soon.

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Sad News Clarence Clemons Stroke and Same Artist, Different Place

13 Jun

Sad news in the wide world of music today. Clarence Clemons, long-time saxophonist for Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band, has reportedly suffered a massive stroke. At 69, he has since had two brain surgeries at a Florida hospital and is currently in responsive and stable condition. It was earlier reported that Clemons sustained full paralysis of the left side of his body, but latest news suggests that he has been moving his left hand. This is excellent news and the next few days will be vital to the healing process. We send our best wishes to this rock saxophone pioneer and wish him a speedy recovery.

The news about Clemons got me thinking about the other members of the E Street band. Clemons has performed with Springsteen for 40 years now and his body of work is extraordinary. But what about some other long-time E Street band members? All of the original 1972 members of the E Street Band can mark the Springsteen-led band as their first major musical appearance. So we need to dig a little later to find a candidate for the new Music Court category Same Artist, Different Place.

Guitarist and vocalist Nils Lofgren has performed with the E-Street Band since ’84, but Springsteen was not his first major gig. At 17 years old Lofgren was recruited by Neil Young to play piano and guitar for After The Gold Rush despite his inexperience. Youthfulness did not prevent him from performing capably during the production of the album. He earned himself a brief role with Crazy Horse and played on their self-titled premiere album. Here is a Lofgren original entitled “Beggar’s Day” which is track four on the album.

Rolling Stone Helps Preview Fall Music

25 Sep

Fall is in the air. Well, right now it actually is not. It’s steamy out. Come on Binghamton, it is time to get cold and stay cold. Seriously, my body will thank you. Well, don’t get too cold. Okay, let me stop debating with myself. Tonight (it was tonight but wordpress bugged out on me) I would like to release from information that Rolling Stone was happy to share with the world here: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/photos/28431/207313

Fall music previews are among us and as foliage takes over so does new music. This list has everything from new creations to freshly pressed goodies. Let’s explore some of my thoughts on these releases.

I knew it! Leon Russell is Santa Claus

Elton John and Leon Russell: The Union (Oct. 19)

Intriguing. Two piano men sharing the trade. I am interested. The 16-track record features some rock and soul and also guest musicians Neil Young, Booker T., Don Was and Brian Wilson. Man, this record is going to be oozing talent. Keep an eye out for this one…it may be very good.

Bob Dylan: The Bootleg Series Vol. 9, the Witmark Demos. (10/19)

There is a humorous video on the web that shows an actor portraying Bob Dylan, who wrote every song in the modern era. If the bootleg series is any indication, he may have wrote every song every written. The body of work this man has done in his career is just remarkable and these early recordings are just more examples. “This box set will be the first time that Dylan’s eight earliest albums, from Bob Dylan (1962) to John Wesley Harding (1967), have been released in their original mono mix in the CD format,” as reported by Variety and Wikipedia. The albums will also be released on vinyl. The set will include 47 studio versions of songs recorded between 1962-1964. Keep going Mr. Dylan.

Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger: Acoustic Sessions (10/26)

It figures that this would be the name of John Lennon‘s sons folk duo. Sean Lennon and his girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl pulled a John and Yoko and recorded songs for the LP in their apartment. That is keeping the family tradition alive. I am looking forward to hearing this combination.

Jimi Hendrix: West Coast Seattle Boy (11/9)

Rarities and live cuts will make up this album portraying Hendrix’s journey to fame in a four-CD set. It’s Jimi. How can it be bad?

I wrote about the upcoming Guster album here: https://musiccourt.wordpress.com/2010/08/09/the-weepies-and-guster-are-touring-and-releasing/

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