Third Coast Kings Invade

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Feb 272013

Put on some grinding, driving, screaming funk and you will see me transform into a different person.  I listen to most music with an analytical ear, immersing myself in the nuances of the recording, the lyrics, the solos, the meaning. No matter how many times I attempt to listen to funk this way I fail. Funk makes me move, it takes over my body like an ex with a voodoo doll. I lose all control.

thirdcoastkingsFunk isn’t there to be dissected, it is meant to get you horizontal as soon as its hypnotic powers let you step off the dance floor. There is no other form of music that throbs, swells, and drives the ways funk can. We are fortunate that funk is seeing a bit of rejuvenation. Thanks to my very good pal McBoozo, who resides in the funk friendly, classic rock room Ya Dig!, I am now a huge fan of Ann Arbor funktastic band Third Coast Kings. I just finished their self titled album and I love it.

Under normal circumstances I would follow my usual format and discuss the stand out songs, the flow of the album, ya know the reviewer stuff. The only thing I can say in this regard is that every song is funkalicious, equally so and from beginning to end you are simply there for one awesome ride.

We need more bands like Third Coast Kings and The Bamboos, an Australian group with a tad stronger soul lean than Third Coast Kings. I get excited when I hear what these bands are doing, how they are taking my beloved funk into the future. On top of all this, they have a vinyl release and that puts me terribly close to euphoric.

I won’t keep you any longer, you should be downloading Third Coast Kings album right now and for the rest of your life, when you get the urge to be lifted from your safe place and let someone else take control of your body, you will drop the needle here and prepare to get horizontal.

Who are the funk bands that could make you write a paragraph length sentence?

Jan 142013

Chicago has always been an important part of blues history. It is where people first began to buy blues recordings in significant numbers. The demand sent every man with a microphone into the fields of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas recording any and all musicians they could find. Often the recording took place right in the field while men picked cotton, hoed rows, or cut hay to the rhythm being recorded.

calvinCalvin Conway recently released an EP titled By Rail which is the product of a personal journey that in many ways mimicked the trip from Chicago to Texas so many men looking for blues gold followed early in the 20th century. It seems this period of reflection and discovery so moved Calvin that he wrote and recorded By Rail while the memories were still at the front of his mind.

Living in Austin I can certainly understand how immersing yourself in the music of Texas would get the creative juices flowing. Calvin is a talented harp player with songwriting skills and a laid back, easy blues voice. All four songs on By Rail are upbeat, easy songs that sound much like I suspect his journey felt like most of the time.

Calvin discusses his trip on his website, and he was in Texas during the drought, heat, and fires of recent years. This has influenced a darker blues sound that he says will be available on a later release.

Calvin also talks about his love of tube equipment in his recording process and it is evident even on the MP3 recordings, the only version I could find. While the EP is immersive and well recorded I can only wonder how much of his care is lost in the compression process. I found the dynamics to be exceptional for an MP3, another sign of care throughout the process, but I can’t shake the feeling that on my main system at least, some of the detail was missing.

All in all this is one heck of a start for Calvin and I look forward to his next release. I am also selfishly hoping for an Austin tour date one of these days. Do yourself a favor and drop a few bucks for a man who pays attention to the details in both his writing and his recording. By Rail will put a quick smile on your face and set your toes to tapping.

Oct 262012

After issuing their first album in nine years earlier this summer, the well-reviewed “Americana,” Neil Young and Crazy Horse appear to be on a creative rampage. The band announced it will release another new record, the double-CD “Psychedelic Pill,” on Oct. 30.

Americana,” as its name implied, served up a rustic slab of reinterpreted, old-timey classics such as Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land,” Stephen Foster’s “Oh Susannah,”  “Tom Dooley” and “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain” (under the title “Jesus Chariot”). The only thing seemingly missing was “The Star-Spangled Banner,” although the record did include a cover of the British national anthem, “God Save the Queen.”

Oct 012012

On October 1, 1982, the first commercial compact disc, Billy Joel’s “52nd Street,” was released in Japan. Since then billions of shiny discs have filled shelves, littered the floors of cars, spun blindingly from rear view mirrors, and spun countless hours inside CD players.

Happy Birthday!

Anyone who reads this blog knows how I feel about CD; I hate it but also accept that for the moment it is almost always the best option from a quality standpoint. That isn’t because it sounds perfect, it just sounds so much better than MP3. DVD-A is pretty much dead, SACD and Hi-Res FLAC see far too few releases, and the format that should be champion, Blu-ray refuses to become a serious player.

So let’s raise a glass to the CD, not because we should celebrate it but simply because I need a reason to drink today… To my frenemy the CD, I hope you live long enough for the public to finally see just how much they miss when listening to MP3.

How many CD’s do you own? I stopped counting when I hit 1k.