Friday, January 29, 2010

Nothing old..but a lot "new"

Nothing forgotten this week, due to the fact I wrapped up (finally) my favorite of 2009 records. If you care to check them out, they are on my other blog, but the direct link is here.

We shall return next week. Anyone got any ideas?

Friday, January 22, 2010

FDF Volume 2 Isssue 170 - Los Lobos : How Will The Wolf Survive?

By: March

Album - How Will The Wolf Survive?
Artist - Los Lobos
Key Players - Louie Perez - drums, guitar, quinto. Cesar Rosas - lead vocals, guitar, bajo sexto, mandolin. Conrad Lozano - bass, guitarron, vocals. Steve Berlin - Soprano/Tenor and Baritone Saxophone, percussion. David Hidalgo - lead vocals, guitars, accordion, lap steel, percussion
Produced By - T-Bone Burnett and Steve Berlin

Release Date - 1984

What caused me to blow off the dust? - I've slowly been getting more and more into this band, and had this on cassette tape for ages, even before this new found interest. Anyway, I found the cd in a used bin and quickly grabbed it. The tape is far dustier than the cd that is for sure.

Overview - Los Lobos formed in 1973 and slowly built up a following. This led to them being signed to a major label (Warner Brothers) and they released "How Will the Wolf Survive" in 1984. The album was hearalded by critics and fans alike. Rolling Stone magazine rated it (in 1989) as the 30th best album of the 80's. It also was part of the magazine's top 500 greatest albums of all time at #461. All that aside, the band would become even more widely known when they provided much of the music for the film "La Bamba". The band has continued to write and tour, all with the same members. Their latest record is an album of Disney movie covers that came out in the fall of 2009.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - The album opens up with a deep groove on "Don't Worry Baby". The vocals are gruff, and the guitar has a both buzzy yet jangle to it. The second solo comes over the top after the verse and each guitar has a nice run on the solo. It has an almost rockabilly feel to it. The band doesn't have very long songs on this record. "A Matter of Time" at 3:55 is the second longest song on the record. This track has a little more of a laid back feel with the band following the lead of the drums and percussion. The guitars and bass follow suit and never get overzealous. The horns are heard for the first time and offer a really full sound to the track. The band hits on its "Chicano" groove on "Corrido #1". The accordion and horns are really the showcase on this track. The guitars are missing allowing the bass and drums to hang on with the horn/accordion portion. The lap steel accompanies the accordion at the intro on "Our Last Night". The guitars are still missing allowing for a very non traditional "rock song". There is a decent lap steel solo after the verse that stands out on the track. The band returns with the deep 12 bar blues guitar work on "The Breakdown". The accordion is once more a strong presence in the track. The bass and drums hold the steady rock bottom groove allowing the band to spread its wings. We hear guitars, horns, accordion on top of them all..including hand claps. Another very fun track (a trend on this record) is "I Got Loaded" a foot stomping, hand clapping and general revelry. The sax solo that comes up is very strong, the strongest solo on the album to this point for the instrument. It actually feels long, but its perfectly placed, and very well played. Its so good, we get a second one! The first track sung in Spanish is "Serenata Nortena" and it lets the band fly its colors. At the time (and still today) this is probably an eye opener to the music of their culture. Think back to 1984, music like this on a major American label debut? It probably confused some, but wowed most. The guitar and horn section open up "Evangeline". The band has gotten comfortable with their sound and direction allowing the horns to blend well with the short guitar bursts. Cesar is in fine voice as always. "I Got to Let You Know" opens with a very choppy drum line hammering over the top of the horns repeating the same runs of notes. The accordion and bass pave the path for another strong saxophone solo, before the band crashes in once more. The shortest track on the album "Lil' King of Everything" (1:19) follows. The lone guitar opens the song before it fills out with a second. This is probably the Baja Sexto (look it up looks like a guitar) and it is a pretty instrumental. The album closes with the title track "Will the Wolf Survive?" (well close to the title track). The drums are prominent at the outset before the whole band comes in on guitars/bass. You hear the mandolin shrill over the verses. There is a great musical interlude after the second verse and when you hear the track (if you never had) you get a very strong representation of the band and their sound. A fantastic track.

Where are they now? - The band still writes, records and tours. See the links below for the tour information in your city.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I have never seen the band live. Getting in to them more over the last few years has me longing to do so.

FDF Overall Take - This is one heck of a major label debut. A perfect introduction to the band as some of the later records become a little more eclectic (at least what I have found so far). This is a fun record. If you own it, dig it out and check it out in full and proove me wrong. This could be a great BBQ disc as well. I'll have to give that a shot.

Official site is here and myspace is here.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

The Mp3's have been taken down:
A Matter of Time
I Got Loaded
Will the Wolf Survive?

Tracks taken from "How Will the Wolf Survive" which you can buy here.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.

Friday, January 15, 2010

FDF Volume 2 Issue 169: The Sundays - Reading, Writing and Arithmetic

By: March

Album - Reading Writing and Arithmetic
Artist - The Sundays
Key Players - Harriet Wheeler - Vocals, David Gavurin - Guitar, Paul Brindley - Bass, Patrick Hannan - Drums
Produced By - The Sundays and Ray Shulman

Release Date - January 15, 1990 (for the first time ever I've got a cd reviewed on the day it came out??!)

What caused me to blow off the dust? - It is a new year, and it has been ages since I've listened to this disc. I've been on the fence about going back to it because this record I recalled really liking, but their other efforts I didn't seem to be blown away with.

Overview - This was the first record from the London based band "The Sundays". The band were an instant hit with the press and the fans quickly followed. The band would enjoy chart success as well as sales success on the record (going Gold in the US). The band would keep fans ravenous for new material (only three records would be released) and the band would tour sporadically, creating even more of a frenzy.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - The album opens with "Skin & Bones" and sets an immediate tone. Gavurin has a subdued, but jangle to his guitar. Wheelers voice punches off the speakers and Brindley and Hannan offer a strong rhythm section for the lush layers of the vocals. The song doesn't have a strong hook but Wheeler sets the tone for what is to come. One of the big early singles from the band is "Here's Where the Story Ends", the song that got me to buy the record. The lush vocals over the top of acoustic guitars still sound as "hip" today as they did 20 years ago. Hannan picks the right time(s) to hit that splash cymbal and the electric guitar over dub on the chorus is perfectly placed. The band comes together as a great unit on the final verse/chorus with Wheeler pushing herself more and it all ending on a strong note. The chime of that electric guitar returns on "Can't Be Sure". It is mostly Wheeler and Gavurin at the outset with some tambourine hits sprinkled in for good measure. Wheeler and the guitar slowly build to a crescendo before the bass and drums come in. It never gets over the top rocking, but Wheeler seems to really be pushing herself on the track vocally. The acoustic is back front and center once more on "I Won", and once again gets some electric guitar over dubs deeper in to the track. Hannan keeps the drums at a marching band tempo but Brindley's bass seems to be lost of the track until he runs a bass fill with Gavurin after the second verse. The band gets to show off a little during an instrumental break down. Its the first time there are really any "solos" and the band seems to embrace it and lock into the zone. Brindley runs his bass fill once more and Wheeler comes back in to sing the final verse. Using a very "mathy" feel is "Hideous Towns". On this track Hannan and Brindley get to really show off their timing with the guitar and Wheeler keeping a more straight line approach. This was always one of my favorite tracks on the record from a musical standpoint. Its almost impossible to tap your feet to the beat of the song during the verses, which, is sorta neat. The track gets that urgent push later, making it a real stand out track, its so good, they do it twice. We mellow out again (a trend it seems) on "You're Not the Only One I Know". Acoustic guitars, with the finger slides amplified abound at the outset. The song is sort of "run of the mill" with not a lot of new ground being broken. "A Certain Someone" opens with a quick drum riff before the trademark chime of the guitar comes in. The bass and drums feed off each other while Wheeler coons over the top in a whispered tone. Gavurin gets a little more flashy as the song grows deeper, but barring that it seems to maintain the course. The shortest track on the record is "I Kicked a Boy" at 2:16. The band keeps it, as indicated, short and to the point. The vocals once more are hushed and the guitar and band are very "full" at this time. Its a pretty song, a song that almost needed to be longer. Goal archived I guess, leave us wanting more. Another college radio track was "My Finest Hour". Gavurin really knows how to set the mood with his guitar and his work always compliments Wheeler vocally. Hannan and Brindley once again keep it pretty straight forward with the rhythm section allowing to Wheeler to spread her wings vocally at the chorus. The album closes with "Joy" a track that lets Hannan and Brindley to take the lead. The bass and drums slowly build up before the guitar joins and then Wheeler on vocals. The bass has a nice full chorus sound to it, and it plays well with the guitar line, filling in at the right time. This song slowly builds to about as "quick a pace" as the band will lay down for the whole record. It all ends on a pretty strong upswing, leaving you wishing for more than just 10 tracks.

Where are they now? Gavurin and Wheeler married and have children, and by all reports, that is their focus. Brindley and Hannan are still active in the music business (see the links below).

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I never saw the band perform live.

FDF Overall Take - I find this record to be a "mood" record. A late evening record for sure. Not something you'd put on to get a party started, but played at the right time could really make the night all the more perfect. It had been a very long time since this got the old "front to back" but I hope it won't be as long before the next time. This band is what the Cranberries wished to be..there I said it.

There is not really a band web page, but they are on Facebook and there is a fan page. Paul is on mypsace as is Patrick

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

The mp3's have been removed...
Here's Where the Story Ends
Hideous Towns
My Finest Hour

Tracks taken from "Reading, Writing and Arithmetic" which you can buy here.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.