In the world of Rock ‘n’ Roll, it is rare for a band to hit the 31-year mark with all original members intact. Big Head Todd & The Monsters is one of those rare beasts. Formed in Boulder, Colorado in 1986, Todd Park Mohr, Rob Squires and Brian Nevin (along with longtime member Jeremy Lawton, who joined the original trio in 2003) have achieved commercial and critical success, sold boatloads of albums, traveled the world and built up a huge, devoted following. And on their 2017 album NEW WORLD ARISIN’, they prove that they still have something to say.
From the haunting a capella opening track, “Old Churchyard,” you can tell that there’s something special happening on FIFTEEN, the fourth full length studio album from Canadian Folk trio The Wailin’ Jennys. Celebrating their 15th anniversary – hence the album’s title – the three hugely talented ladies that make up the band create a sound that is both intimate and spacious. Nicky Mehta, Ruth Moody and Heather Mass have recorded an album of covers that they have most definitely made their own. It is a delectable treat for the ears and the soul.
This compilation offers a fascinating peek into the Japanese Folk and Rock movement of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Though influenced by Western music, the music contained on EVEN A TREE CAN SHED TEARS: JAPANESE FOLK & ROCK 1969-1973 is undeniably infused with a deep connection to their very own Japanese culture.
TRUTH OR DARE:
STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: TAKE ME APART is just about to be released. How are you feeling about the way the album turned out and the reaction to it so far?
KELELA: I feel great about the way the album turned out. I spent so much time on the album to make it be exactly what I wanted to hear so that’s been very gratifying. The reaction to the album has also been really positive but I definitely think of it as supplementary. I try to make things I like to hear myself and then hope somebody digs it. I’m trying to make something that is sincere and so it’s just an extra plus that anybody else is vibing with it.
It has been forty years since Neil Finn made his recorded debut on Split Enz’s 1977 album DIZRHYTHMIA. Although he only provided guitar and backing vocals to that album, he certainly
made his presence known. His own compositions started showing up in 1979 on the band’s FRENZY album. While his big brother Tim handled a bulk of the Enz’s material, it was Neil who penned their first global hit, “I Got You,” which was released in 1980 on the TRUE COLOURS album. Over the course of the next few Enz albums, Neil wrote more highlights including “One Step
Ahead” and “Message To My Girl.”
STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: Before starting Yep Roc, were you an avid music collector? Were there any particular genres that you focused on personally?
GLENN DICKER: I would say that I was very much a music collector since I was a little kid. I got very interested in collecting 45’s when I went around to garage sales with my parents and as I got older that spread to full albums when I could afford it. Early on I was into ‘60s music, mostly what would be considered classic rock these days like The Beatles, Stones, Who, Kinks, etc. But as I got a bit older I got caught up in the punk rock thing, mostly the English bands. My favorite was The Jam. When I got out of school and went to work for Rounder Distribution, I got turned onto so much more that really opened my mind to all kinds of great stuff that I had previously only dabbled in like World Music, Blues, Jazz, Folk, Bluegrass, etc. Once I get into an artist, I usually want everything.
A SILLY PHASE I’M GOING THROUGH:
It is quite possible that you have something by Eric Stewart in your music collection at this very moment without even realizing it. Eric was a member of Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders, eventually singing lead on their 1966 hit “Groovy Kind Of Love” after Fontana had left the fold. By 1969, with the Mindbenders in his rear view mirror, Stewart was recording backing tracks for Bubblegum hits at his Strawberry Studios facilities. His recording mates included hit songwriter Graham Gouldman and multi-instrumentalists Lol Creme and Kevin Godley. In 1970, Stewart, Creme and Godley released the surprise hit “Neanderthal Man” under the group name Hotlegs. Two years later, American singer/songwriter Neil Sedaka arrived in the UK in hopes of recording new material and making a comeback. His backing band featured Stewart, Gouldman, Godley and Creme. Sedaka and this quartet of talented musicians recorded two albums together, both directly responsible for the enormous success that Sedaka and 10cc would achieve within a few short years.
While he may be classified as a Blues artist, Albert Castiglia will certainly appeal to more than just that genre’s enthusiasts. Fans of Alt-Country, Roots Rock and Americana will most certainly fall under the spell of Castiglia and his 2017 album UP ALL NIGHT, which hits stores on October 6. His name may not be familiar to some but he’s been raising the roof since 1990 when he joined Miami Blues Authority. Discovered six years later by Blues legend Junior Wells, Albert became his sideman until Wells’ death in 1998. Working as a sideman for a variety of other artists, Castiglia didn’t step into the solo spotlight until he released his debut album in 2004.
British Jazz/Soul vocalist and songwriter Zara McFarlane returns to the scene with her third album, ARISE, the follow-up to her 2014 album IF YOU KNEW HER. Like her first two albums, ARISE is available on the beloved Brownswood Recordings label. Brownswood was founded by Gilles Peterson, the respected French-born British DJ who was also responsible for the Acid Jazz and Talkin’ Loud labels. Anyone familiar with Brownswood’s eclectic roster and Zara’s first two albums will already know that she is a musical force to be reckoned with and that ARISE does not disappoint on any level.
Jon Langford is a rarity in the music business. I can’t think of another artist that can be called a pioneer of British Post-Punk (with The Mekons and The Three Johns) AND a beloved Americana singer/songwriter. But don’t misunderstand the man: this is NOT a case of an artist changing musical styles to chase fame and fortune! In fact, one can find traces of the American musical landscape in the early Mekons releases although they are buried amongst the many shadows that the band were prone to throw during their inspiring career. Over the years, Langford traveled many different musical roads, all of which lead to the glory that is FOUR LOST SOULS.