Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Pretenders -- Pirate Radio

Released in March, 2006, this sprawling 81-cut CD (with bonus DVD of 19 songs) features every song a Pretenders' lover could conjure up. I don't own it; not yet. Chrissie Hynde's is an artist whose voice immediately conjures a strong falsetto embraced by rock driven alto-istic flats. If one could successfully submerge an opera singer into a glass of stout, you'd find Chrissie's voice. That, and a timbering drawl honed during her days of growing up in Ohio (no offense).

I almost landed a gig fronting a college band with my rendition of "Back on the Chain Gang" so Chrissie will always rank high in my book. It was college music to me in those days and so rife with life that I couldn't overlook the political undertones of the fresh new sound. When I hear her today, I'm transported to those days and yet recognizant of today's innuendo. It's timeless music and from the heart.

And so, when I received an email today from the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust that advertised The Pretenders coming to town, I looked at it for several moments before the news actually sunk in enough for me to squeel with delight! What a musical transcendental experience I have ahead of me this summer!

Not only do I get to see all of the artists posted in my last post for free at the Three Rivers Arts Festival, the Austin City Limits Music Festival line-up (we booked our airline and hotel accomodations Sunday), Aimee Mann, and Ray LaMontagne ... but ... I get to see The Pretenders in a fabulous venue! I'm in musical heaven (or should that be backwards which is the most popular baby name these days ... neveah?) to be sure.

Not to be outdone ... tonight's order from Amazon.com. It's been a while since I placed a huge order from Amazon and tonight made up for it. Does anyone know of a cheaper place to buy with the same selection? Oh, universal musical fund spirits, please tell me.

Slated for delicious Amazon delivery this week: "Greetings From Michigan: The Great Lake State" Sufjan Stevens; "Graceland" Paul Simon; "Illinoise" Sufjan Stevens; "Fox Confessor Brings the Flood" Neko Case; "Eye To The Telescope" KT Tunstall; "You Don't Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker" Willie Nelson; and "I'm Not Dead" Pink.

I figured I'd work my way through Sufjan's state-to-state tribute in order (he started with Michigan and his second effort is Illinois) so I had to order both CD's. *shrug*

Sometimes you have to adhere to the natural law of creation, creationists aside. Did you read about the astounding recent discoveries of the biblical creatures? Some still alive and some just bones? Makes me wonder what auditory discoveries some will make 200 years from now and which will stand out as indicative of our culture. I've got to think The Pretenders will stand out. Which bands/artists would you nominate to be indicative of our culture 200 years from now?

Now, that, is a question to ponder.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Kim Richey -- "Glimmer"

This is one of my all-time favorite slow burn (a.k.a. requiring repeated listening to fully appreciate the brilliance) CD's. That's saying something when you stop to consider I own hundreds of discs and this one was made in 1999 and I'm still listening today. Kim Richey is a great act to see live because by the end of the show you feel like she's an old friend. She talks about her music and her mother and living in the sticks and always hangs around to talk and autograph her CD's. Her father, who died when she was only two years old, is present in her lyrics as the hopeful melancholy that pervades her life but is never spoken about in her shows.

I remember saying something incredibly trite the first time I met her. She's very tall and unassuming; her blonde hair trailing across her face in wisps -- nearly a Meryl Streep look-alike -- oh, that gorgeous nose and sinfully high cheekbones! It was my second time seeing her live and I remarked on how fantastic her voice sounded compared to the first time I saw her -- something about really finding her voice. She just smiled and laughed a forced laugh and asked, "Really? You think I sounded that different?" I retorted with something about her always sounding great but that show was really "spot on" vocally. She seemed to like that response but who knows ... she's a really easy going person to begin with. Not too shabby for someone who's penned number one hits for Trisha Yearwood and Radney Foster.

Her songs are life stories packed with irony and inside jokes and she sings them with force on Glimmer meshed with cleverly spaced chorus up-tones in tempo and nostalgia. On "Lay it Down" you'll hear a voice reminiscent of Mary Chapin Carpenter singing about leaving regrets in the past. This is definitely a CD about turning the corner on a failed relationship and gaining perspective. It's craftier than most and well scripted with plenty of other views along the way.

She has five CD's out to date, the last two on Lost Highway and the first three on Mercury's Nashville division. Glimmer was the fourth full length effort with a collection of her hits issued in 2002. I can hope she signed up for a two record deal with Lost Highway and is considering a sixth release on another label although it's been a mighty long time since we heard from her. Glimmer may leave you yearning for more as it did me. Her self-named debut came out in '95 followed up by Bittersweet in '97 and Glimmer in '99.

Maybe she's reevaluating things and won't put out a follow up to Glimmer but I really hope she keeps making music. Music's in her bones. She grew up in Ohio and got her picks of 45's from her aunt's music store in Dayton. She played in college and traveled a good bit after that both in the U.S. and abroad, landing in Nashville, Tennessee, and then finally Austin, Texas.

Glimmer has so many talented artists that she included a matrix of the song tracks and the artists that contributed. Kim shares co-writer credits with Paul Thorn, Maia Sharp, Randy Scruggs, Tim Krekel, Tom Littlefield, Chuck Prophet, and Bill Deasy (a Pittsburgh native that always plays with her at Pittsburgh shows).

You'll experience hints of Nashville twang on Glimmer but it's more of a pop alternative experience overall and delightfully so. Her voice will hold you tightly in dreams of past loves and losses with a thrill of possibility for new beginnings. Let's hope that she's got good luck in her pocket, and a good shine on her shoes, a silk shirt in her closet that she's not afraid to use, a little fortune cookie that told her help is on the way, and tables turning that could happen any day. (lyrics rendered from Can't Lose Them All)

Kim is an artist that has all but disappeared and leaves me wanting more. I might just have to break down and buy her entire catalogue to tide me over. Maybe I'll see her in Austin at the Austin City Limits (ACL) music festival in the fall. Hell, maybe she'll even play a local venue when I'm there. That would be a sweet treat not to be missed. Maybe she has finally found her home in Austin (A Place Called Home from 2002's release Risen).

ACL's boasting a tremendous lineup this year, as always -- more to come on that . I also have tickets to see Aimee Mann and Ray LaMontagne in Pittsburgh this year. Things are also shaping up for a fantastic line-up at the Pittsburgh Three Rivers Arts Festival as well with Raul Malo, Andrew Bird, Betty LaVette, Roseanne Cash, Buckwheat Zydeco, Soulive, Gov't Mule, the Eels, moe., the English Beat, the Tragically Hip, the Yellowjackets, and Alejandro Escovedo. WOW! All for free in the 'burgh! And 100's of artists for $34/day at ACL. Yee Haw!

Reasons for living and loving life abound. Sorry for the long delay in posts but life caught up with me and too many things that required attention. If you're going to ACL or seeing any Pittsburgh Three Rivers Arts Festival acts, give me a comment and maybe we can hook up for a beer and some fantastic music. Music has a profound way of binding us all together, doesn't it?

Check out Kim's stuff on Glimmer. You won't be disappointed come your fourth listen. Promise.