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ha’fway 2017

4th Jul 17 (Tue) Leave a comment

Happy 241st birthday, United States!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Ah, the annual halfway through the year music recap where I rarely post an end of year recap. *eyeroll* Eh… I don’t blog much anymore… regardless, here goes for my Top 10 of 2017 so far…



Artist Album (style)

  1. Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Mulhy & James McAlisterPlanetarium (indie rock)
  2. Burning GhostsReclamation (jazz metal)
  3. KXM (Doug Pinnick / George Lynch / Ray Luzier) – Scatterbrain (hard rock)
  4. Peter MulveyAre You Listening? (singer-songwriter)
  5. SexmobCultural Capital (jazz)
  6. David BazanCare (indie rock)
  7. Ani DiFrancoBinary (singer-songwriter)
  8. Future IslandsThe Far Field (indie pop)
  9. Mostly Other People Do the Killing (with Steven Bernstein of Sexmob) – Loafer’s Hollow (jazz)
  10. Incubus8 (rock)

Honorable mentions…

  • Albums by Lydia Ainsworth, Alt-J, Brian Marsella Trio’s Masada Book Two, Aimee Mann, Dave Douglas’ Riverside, and Throttle Elevator Music (Kamasi Washington).
  • EP – ANOHNI’s Paradise
  • Live – ISIS’ Live VII: 2.25.2010
  • Re-issues – Pink Floyd early years boxset(s), the Beatles Srgt. Pepper’s 50th, U2 The Joshua Tree 30th, Radiohead OK Computer 20th
  • Novelty – A**l Trump’s If You Thought ********* **** Was a Lot of People, You Should Have Seen My Inauguration 5″ vinyl (in “Seth Putnam form,” shall we say).

What’s still to come in 2017…

Claypool-Lennon Delirium 12″ (RSD wider-issue), Spotlights, Antibalas, Steven Wilson, Queens of the Stone Age, Foo Fighters, Mogwai, Radiohead OKNOTOK (physical), Failure live vinyl, Lo Tom (David Bazan, TW Walsh & Starflyer 59 folks), Celldweller, The National, Secret Chiefs 3, Weird Al boxset, plus much more, I’m sure.

Will I continue with blogs in the future? I don’t know. :P

Dan – np: Critters BugginMuti -EP-

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Ashley Peacock… help him make a new solo record in 2013!

16th Nov 12 (Fri) Leave a comment

My good-good friend from the Cincinnati area, Ashley Peacock, is breaking his 9 year silence as a solo musical artist.  His last solo album was 2003’s Precursor EP, which led into his brit-pop band The Times’ 2005 album Begin (link w/ audio samples).  His last album with a group was 2012’s Growing Concern (link w/ audio samples) under the Chance Brothers moniker.

He is long overdue for a solo album, and he’s trying to raise $1,750 via Kickstarter to put the finishing touches on the record.

Ashley Peacock Kickstarter

I’m not sure where he’ll go with his new record.  I love a lot of music, but I know when he’s working on something I need to support it.  I hope you’ll listen to some of his past stuff and give him your attention for what’s to come.

Odds weigh heavily that you’ll like it!  Go to the Kickstarter HERE.

~Dan – np: Over the RhineThe Long Surrender

Double-REVIEW: Beck @ Les Schwab (Bend, OR – 5/27/12) and Jack White @ the Hult (Eugene, OR – 5/28/12)

30th May 12 (Wed) 7 comments

It was a long Memorial Day weekend.  But it was a musically fruitful weekend.  I could have made it more fruitful by adding The Shins / Blind Pilot / Head and the Heart as well as the Tenacious D shows on Friday and Saturday in Bend, respectively; alas, I needed to save some time and energy for Beck in Bend on Sunday and Jack White in Eugene on Monday.  It was still quite a great full weekend for my ears!

 

I had never seen either Beck or Jack White in concert.  I was familiar with Beck’s music fairly well… having all of his stuff.  I was completely unfamiliar with Jack White’s music – outside of some of the White Stripes and Raconteurs that I’d heard.  Needless to say, I was equally excited about both shows.

Beck in Bend was the tail-end of a nice “Bend Ale Trail” weekend for me… sampling some new places for me: 10 Barrel Brewing & Good Life Brewing.  Both highly recommended for their beer and their food!  Bend also had some lovely weather and some odd rainbows in the clouds…

(not photoshopped… photo taken near Deschutes Brewery in Bend, OR)

Metric was Beck’s opener… the Toronto indie rock quartet ripped through a dancey hour-long set.  Their fifth album, Synthetica, comes out on June 12, 2012.  If the way they had the Bend audience going is any indication, the new album should be a crowd pleaser as well.

Beck went on after a short set break… kicking the show off right with some Odelay goodness by way of “Devil’s Haircut.”

Among his two-hour long set, he bounced around his back and “recent” catalog (2008’s Modern Guilt) fairly well.  Every era got some great representation.  As mentioned, I had never seen him live before.  I was pleasantly surprised with the great mix, especially the songs off of Sea Change

Beck’s Setlist: about 2 hours

  • Devil’s Haircut
  • Loser
  • Black Tambourine
  • Soul of a Man
  • Hotwax
  • Sissyneck
  • The Golden Age
  • Lost Cause
  • Sunday Sun
  • Think I’m In Love
  • The New Pollution
  • Modern Guilt
  • Paper Tiger
  • “Song for Bend” [Improv]
  • End of the Day
  • Tropicalia [partial]
  • Jack-Ass
  • Gamma Ray
  • Minus
  • Girl
  • Where It’s At
  • Encore: Soldier Jane
  • Looking Back
  • Mutherfuker
  • E-Pro

Next, on to Eugene…

I missed Jack White’s opener, Quasi.  I’d heard of them before, and would have liked to have seen the show (I like Sam Coomes work with Elliott Smith).  Alas, driving back from Bend and personal commitments made it so we skated into the venue right as Quasi was ending their set… d’oh!

Jack White’s show… what to say, what to say?  Professional, yet muddy.  Loud, yet not necessary.  Thoroughly energetic, yet confusing.  Quite enjoyable, yet painful.

The man writes hooky songs, and plays guitar and piano very well… yet, the sound was cranked through the roof.  It lost so many of the lushness and subtlety that I think would have been suited for this show at the Hult Center.

Another thing that can’t go without mentioning, the “III” imagery abounding.  Sure, rockstars should have iconic imagery.  But a suffix namesake seems like an odd thing to so vehemently brand… unless you’re branding your ego or something.

Several times it seemed as if Eugene wasn’t stroking his ego enough… he quipped that if we didn’t want, they didn’t have to come back out (after their 45 minute initial set).  He tried to get the crowd to do a sing-a-long on one song, but it seemed as if the song had ended already, and it was more of a confusing thing (or so it seemed to me).

The loudness, was, again… unnecessary.  Fantastic musicianship and seemingly intricate things going on with fantastic players… completely lost in the brash, feedback-induced sound cloud.  So many subtleties lost.  So many subtleties lost.

Jack White’s Setlist: two sets, ~45 mins & ~35 mins

  • Set 1: Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground [The White Stripes]
  • Missing Pieces
  • Sixteen Saltines
  • Love Interruption
  • Cannon/300 Pounds of Joy [Howlin’ Wolf]
  • You Know That I Know [Hank Williams]
  • Hotel Yorba [The White Stripes]
  • Weep Themselves to Sleep
  • We’re Going to Be Friends [The White Stripes]
  • Blunderbuss
  • I Cut Like A Buffalo [The Dead Weather]
  • Steady as She Goes [The Raconteurs]
  • Set 2: Freedom At 21
  • Trash Tongue Talker
  • I’m Slowly Turning Into You [The White Stripes]
  • Carolina Drama [The Raconteurs]
  • Seven Nation Army [The White Stripes]
  • Goodnight, Irene [Lead Belly]

(pro photos from Eugene will be posted at jwiii.com)

The bottom line… I really enjoyed the Jack White show.  The flaws that I saw in the show are totally fixable.  Who am I to say what he should do anyhow? :)  I’m just thinking that something that shows off his musical chops, his writing prowess, his voice, his players, and his songs at the forefront – not clouded by sheer volume – could have been far, far, FAR more enjoyable… and probably far, far, far more enjoyable to more to others (not just me).

The Appropriate Linkage:

Next show for me… Emily Wells @ WOW Hall on 6/3.

~Dan – np: Sigur RósValtari

Over the Rhine on The Portland Sessions

5th Jan 12 (Thu) 1 comment

Last November, Cincinnati-based folk-Americana band Over the Rhine stopped by Portland, Oregon.  Their show at the Aladdin Theater on 11/17 is recounted at my post HERE.

From the stage, singer Karin Bergquist mentioned that they had stopped by and recorded in-studio with The Portland SessionsTPS wasn’t up and running yet, but it is now posted… enjoy all 26 minutes!

They play “The King Knows How” (dedicated to Elvis), “Oh Yeah by the Way,” the new song that I’m unofficially calling “On The Sacred Ground,” the Good Dog Bad Dog classic “Latter Days,” and end it with a Q&A.

Follow Over the Rhine: WEB / FB / Tw
Follow The Portland Sessions: WEB / FB / Tw

~Dan – np: Year of the RabbitYear of the Rabbit

REVIEW: Over the Rhine @ Aladdin Theater (Portland, OR – 11/17/11)

20th Nov 11 (Sun) 4 comments

FYI… PHOTOS of the SHOW at the BOTTOM

Prior to the show, we fought against the horrid Portland traffic, dodged rain and ducked into a fine meal at Portobello Trattoria, a creative vegetarian establishment that is fast becoming my new favorite SE Portland dinner spot.  Their cocktail list is impressive (apple-infused vodka ginger hot toddy), their bottle list is impressive (Russian River… yum), and their menu is the kind that is frustrating due to having too many things you want and one that a meat-eater wouldn’t even notice or care.  Check it out sometime.

After dinner, we got to the venue a little bit before the opener… we had a little bit of time to catch up with Kentucky-based friend / Over the Rhine photographer Bill Ivester.  He’s helping them out on this tour with merch and social media, and photography.  After briefly catching up, we found some seats for the opener…

The Milk Cartoon Kids were a fantastic guitar duo.  Based on their name, I was going in hoping it wasn’t going to be a repeat of “The Children’s Hour” opener for Over the Rhine a score ago.  Well, I was greatly pleased.  They played about a half hour set of mellower folk songs.  Fitting for fans of Paul Simon.  Excellent guitar chops and quite humorous between songs, as well.  They also have all of their recorded music available for free mp3 download (go here for free music).

Over the Rhine hit the stage at 9pm.  Karin & Linford had Nick Radina with them again on drums/percussion/cuatro, as well as a slide guitar player Jason Goforth.

The set seemed somewhat similar to last year’s tour, a lot of The Long Surrender tunes.  But this time, the album was officially out.  It was nice to hear those tunes more in a live setting.  I get thrown off that it’s technically a 2011 release, I think I’ve had it too long.  Anyway, it’s a beautiful record, and it’ll wind up somewhere at the top of the pile for 2011, for sure.

Setlist: 1 hour 45 mins

  • The Laugh Of Recognition
  • Rave On
  • Undamned
  • The King Knows How
  • Suitcase
  • I’m on a Roll
  • Infamous Love Song
  • Only God Can Save Us Now
  • Latter Days
  • “On The Sacred Ground” (new song, currently untitled)
  • Jesus in New Orleans
  • Trouble (with drum solo)
  • All My Favorite People
  • Encore: Hallelujah [Leonard Cohen]
  • Born
  • Drunkard’s Prayer

My favorite tunes of the night were “Trouble” and “Latter Days,” and the lead-in of “Laugh…” through “Undamned” is a great start to the show as well.  The new currently untitled song is great… it seemed quite poetic and moving.  Karin was about to give out a tentative title, then stopped.  I’ll go with “On the Sacred Ground” for now, but I doubt that’s it.  I wish I had more listens to digest it.

They’re wrapping up a few more dates this year, culminating in the annual Taft Theatre show in Cincinnati.  Catch ’em if you can!  Oh, Karin also mentioned that they recorded a Portland Session when they were here.  Keep an eye out on the Portland Session Vimeo & Facebook pages for that to be posted in the future (HERE NOW).

many more photos below

The Appropriate Linkage:

Check out more tour dates below.

Next show for me… Dan Deacon at the Branx in Portland on 12/3.

~Dan – np: Sigur RósInní (live)

OVER THE RHINE PHOTOS
all pictures (cc) 2011 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

(click for larger)

Fall 2011 Tour Dates

  • Fri, 2011-11-18 Seattle, WA The Triple Door
  • Sat, 2011-11-19 Seattle, WA The Triple Door
  • Sun, 2011-11-20 Seattle, WA The Triple Door
  • Fri, 2011-12-02 Boston, MA Berklee Performance Center
  • Sat, 2011-12-03 New York, NY (le) poisson rouge
  • Sun, 2011-12-04 Alexandria, VA The Birchmere
  • Mon, 2011-12-05 Philadelphia, PA World Cafe Live!
  • Wed, 2011-12-07 Columbus, OH The Lincoln Theatre
  • Thu, 2011-12-08 Kent, OH The Kent Stage
  • Fri, 2011-12-09 Grand Rapids, MI Calvin College
  • Sat, 2011-12-10 Chicago, IL Old Town School Of Folk Music (7:00 PM)
  • Sat, 2011-12-10 Chicago, IL Old Town School Of Folk Music (10:00 PM)
  • Sat, 2011-12-17 Cincinnati, OH The Taft Theatre
  • Sun, 2011-12-18 Norwood, OH Sunday Soiree @ St. Elizabeth’s

REVIEW: A 3-day string of shows with Peter Mulvey (Eugene & Corvallis, OR – 11/10 to 11/12/11)

13th Nov 11 (Sun) 3 comments

Peter Mulvey takes the craft of American singer-songwriter out of the humdrum of a “guy and three chords on a guitar” into the realm of oft-comedic-oft-sentimental storytelling mixed in with the grit of the road and the shine of fine silver in your grandmother’s dining room.  He plays Tom Waits with humility and charm, and he plays perfectly ear-worm inducing folk-pop originals.  He plays show tunes, rock covers, and Michael Hedges-executed instrumentals.  His music gets stuck in your head, and for me, any time I hear of new music from him, I get it without question.  I also try to see him whenever I can… which brings me to recount the past three days of fantastic music.

from the house concert, 11/11/11
more photos at the bottom

Three Peter Mulvey concerts, three unique experiences.  First up, an interview with Peter Mulvey on KLCC Living Large (stream it here).  He talks about his tentative new standards album (tentatively called “Pocket Diamonds“) and played a few new songs in the studio.

The first of three shows was at Sam Bond’s Garage in Eugene on Thursday, November 10th.  The opener was local musician Michael Conley.  He played a shortish 25 minute set, but I was impressed with his songs… he fit in really well with fans of Peter Mulvey and Jeffrey Foucault.  Good guitar work.  Gritty songs, yet with a pop edge.

Peter came on at 9:45 and started off with a normal closing song for him, “Sad, Sad, Sad, Sad (And Far Away From Home).”  As expected, Peter’s set was a great mix of originals and covers.  Despite the large amount of covers that he plays, he really puts his own mark on them.  He also pulls songs out that are classics or memorable favorites but not in the forefront of one’s memory.  A favorite from the night was his take on U2’s “The Fly“…

Eugene 11/10 Setlist: ~80 minutes

  • Sad, Sad, Sad, Sad (and Far Away From Home)
  • Are You Sure? [Willie Nelson]
  • Old Simon Stimson
  • “The Rain Comes Down” [new PM song]
  • The Knuckleball Suite
  • Two Janes [Los Lobos]
  • Come All Ye Fair And Tender Ladies [Maybelle Carter]
  • Some People
  • Lonely at the Top [Randy Newman]
  • Black Rabbit
  • What Else Was It? [new PM song]
  • Lord I Have Made You a Place in My Heart [Greg Brown]
  • The Dreams
  • Blackbird [The Beatles]
  • Charlie
  • The Fly [U2]
  • Kids In The Square
  • Encore: The Book of Love [The Magnetic Fields]

Peter is usually good with a few one-liners or jokes.  Some favorites from the Sam Bond’s gig:

Freedom should be fried.
I had a banjo once, and then someone broke into my car… and they left 12 more banjos.

SO, how do you make a concert experience better?  You invite the musician to your house (or a friend’s house in this instance) and have him play in a living room for 35-40 of your friends.

Well, that’s what we did on Friday, November 11th… we invited Peter to play at a friend’s farm in Creswell (near Eugene).  He played two fantastic sets, with only a little bit of overlap from the night before.  There was much fantastic music, fantastic food (a HUGE vegetarian smorgasbord thanks to host Jenny!), vegan cupcakes (yay Divine Cupcake!), great craft beer and homebrew beers and sodas, and great discussion!

House Show 11/11 Setlist: two 45-minute sets

  • Set1 ~ You Meet the Nicest People in Your Dreams [Fats Waller]
  • “shout the battle cry of freedom” [public domain w/ Beatles instrumental tag at end]
  • Kids In The Square
  • Windshield
  • Pearl Handled Pistol [Jeffrey Foucault]
  • The Knuckleball Suite
  • Shirt
  • What Else Was It? [new PM song]
  • …Plus The Many Inevitable Fragments / Dynamite Bill
  • Set2 ~ Black Rabbit
  • Charlie
  • The Trouble With Poets
  • Trempealeau [new from 2010, not recorded yet]
  • Jockey Full of Bourbon [Tom Waits]
  • “The Rain Comes Down” [new PM song]
  • The Healthfood Girl [new PM song]
  • Sad, Sad, Sad, Sad (and Far Away From Home)
    No Encore

I bought tickets to the Corvallis show (Saturday, November 12th) before I even knew about the Sam Bond’s show and before I could organize the house show.  Was I going to go?  Um… duh!

This was my first time to the Majestic Theatre in downtown Corvallis.  It was a gorgeously remodeled theater, and it looks like they’re ramping up to have a lot more exciting things going on (if you’re local, friend them on Facebook or sign up for their newsletter).

We had a wonderful dinner at Del Alma then dodged the rain to catch the opener Joe Von Appen.  I had only seen a YouTube clip of him prior, and it didn’t grab my interest.  Well, I’m glad I showed up for his set.  He was a mix of thinker/agitator/comedian/one-man freak show.  He was thought provoking, humorous, and frighteningly exciting and entrancing.  He is from Portland, and I hope he makes his way down south sometime again.  He was highly entertaining!

Peter hit the stage at 8:45 and played his longest set of the weekend.  Some repeats (hey, we like re-Petes) and tons of untouched music in the three-day run.  He did one of my favorite spoken word pieces from Letters From A Flying Machine – “Vlad the Astrophysicist.”

A new Mulvey tune “The Cardinal” made its first appearance for me.  It was a touching tune that came along with a seemingly non sequitur story about a squirrel getting into a large batch of THC butter.  Another favorite song he played was a Joe Henry cover… “Richard Pryor Addresses a Tearful Nation“… I think I’ve heard Peter play this before.  Prior to this, though, I was only familiar with Joe’s producer/mixer work (he does a LOT, specifically Over the Rhine’s latest album that I’m currently listening to in advance of their gig this coming week – The Long Surrender).

Peter also busted out not one, not two, but three Tom Waits tunes – the last one as the encore, sung off-mic.  He has a side gig in The LPs, and they play Tom Waits’ Rain Dogs front to back!  I’d LOVE to see that gig…

Corvallis 11/12 Setlist: ~1 hour 40 min

  • Kids In The Square
  • “man I’m broke and I’ve got nowhere to go” [Mississippi John Hurt, unidentified title]
  • Black Rabbit
  • Oh What A Beautiful Morning [Rodgers & Hammerstein Oklahoma! teaser]
  • The Dreams
  • Charlie
  • Shirt
  • “The Rain Comes Down” [new PM song, guess on title]
  • Richard Pryor Addresses a Tearful Nation [Joe Henry]
  • Girl in the Hi-Tops
  • Old Simon Stimson
  • Jockey Full of Bourbon [Tom Waits]
  • Hang Down Your Head [Tom Waits]
  • The Cardinal [new song]
  • What Else Was It? [new song]
  • Some People
  • Vlad The Astrophysicist
  • Mailman
  • Sad, Sad, Sad, Sad (and Far Away From Home)
  • Encore: Goodnight Irene [off-mic] [Tom Waits]

Some gems of info… Peter was once in an all-rollerskate version of Oklahoma!  Also, apparently, scientists have a difficult time showing THC toxicity in small animals.  A new expression Peter uttered… “the nickel of espresso dropped.” (explaining when the caffeine kicks in).  I dig it!

Peter has a new guitar duets CD out now, Nine Days Wonder, with long-time collaborator David “Goody” Goodrich.  It’s a fantastic record (click the image to the right for samples) – though it’s not really indicative of his live show.  Based on the amount of new material he played this weekend (five songs not on a PM record yet), it looks like he has a good start on a new studio record.  Here’s hoping!

In the meantime, check him out on Facebook, iTunes/Amazon, YouTube, etc… and go see him live if you get a chance.  He plays upwards of 120 live gigs a year all over the US (and sometimes in Europe, too).

I can guarantee you’ll like him (I’ve yet to hear someone who doesn’t love him when I drag them along to shows). :)

The Appropriate Linkage:

Next shows for me… Cirque du Soliel presents Michael Jackson: The Immortal (Eugene 11/15), rapper Chali 2Na (Eugene 11/16) and the Americana duo Over the Rhine (Portland 1/17).

~Dan – np: Over the RhineThe Long Surrender

PETER MULVEY PHOTOS 11/10 to 11/12/2011

 

Ani DiFranco – Which Side Are You On? (Jan 2012)

3rd Nov 11 (Thu) 1 comment

This just in… new album from Ani DiFranco called Which Side Are You On? comes out January 17, 2012.  It’s her first album in over 3 years (or 1,204 days – but who’s counting?).  And, yay, Anais Mitchell & Skerik are on it!

Update 11/18 Tracklist (below) and pre-order info (ships 12/23 for the 1/17 release date):

Pre-order from RBR http://store.righteousbabe.com/departments/product/anidifranco/
Pre-order from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0060GVI2C/

Here’s the official press release:

ANI DIFRANCO RETURNS WITH HER FIRST NEW ALBUM IN MORE THAN THREE YEARS

Powerful collection features array of iconic guests, including Ivan & Cyril Neville, Anaïs Mitchell, and the legendary Pete Seeger   JT

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Ani DiFranco has announced the upcoming release of her eagerly awaited new album. Which Side Are You On? arrives via the Grammy-winning artist’s own Righteous Babe Records on January 17, 2012.

Which Side Are You On? marks DiFranco’s first studio album in more than three years. The collection features 11 new songs alongside a radically reworked rendition of the classic title song, famously popularized by the one and only Pete Seeger nearly five decades ago, but no less relevant today. Backing DiFranco is a remarkably diverse line-up of stellar musicians, including members of her own crack touring band as well as such guest players as Ivan and Cyril Neville (of New Orleans’ first family of funk and R&B, The Neville Brothers), avant-saxophonist Skerik (Pearl Jam, R.E.M., Bonnie Raitt, The Meters), acclaimed singer/songwriter (and Righteous Babe recording artist) Anaïs Mitchell, guitarist Adam Levy (Norah Jones, Tracy Chapman, Amos Lee), and a host of New Orleans-based horn players known for their work in such outfits as Galactic, Bonerama, and The Rebirth Brass Band.

What’s more, Ani is joined on her stunning new version of Which Side Are You On? by the aforementioned Pete Seeger, whom she praises as “my elder, my forefather in folk music and political song.” DiFranco was inspired to record the famed protest anthem after being invited to perform at Seeger’s 90th birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden in May 2009. She contributed her own straight-from-the headlines verses to the song and has used it to close her own live shows ever since. The newly recorded version of Which Side Are You On? is a funk-fueled epic, incorporating not just Ani’s band, but Seeger himself on banjo and vocals alongside The Rivertown Kids, a Hudson Valley-based children’s chorus, and The Roots of Music Marching Crusaders, a brass band consisting of students from The Roots of Music, a music education program for at-risk middle-school students in New Orleans.

“All of my musical community, my comrades, are in there,” says Ani of the cross-generational recording. Which Side Are You On? was co-produced by DiFranco and her longtime collaborator Mike Napolitano over a series of sessions in 2010 and 2011. The basic tracks feature two slightly different versions of Ani’s touring band, recorded at Bogalusa, Louisiana’s renowned Studio In The Country, Brooklyn, New York’s Brooklyn Bridge Studio, and her own New Orleans home studio, The Dugout.

The album represents an extraordinary snapshot of DiFranco’s own life as well as her sense of where the country stands at this particular moment in time. The long gap since 2008’s acclaimed Red Letter Year offered an array of new opportunities, including a backlog of songs and the ability to painstakingly fine-tune new recordings. Many of the songs featured on Which Side Are You On? are reflections on growing older and being totally okay with that process. As she sings on “If Yr Not,” “If yr not getting happier as you get older/then yr fucking up.”

Elsewhere, Ani tackles some of the many crises that are currently confronting the nation and the world, spanning environmental disaster, government inaction, and a culture hooked on comfort and acquisition at any cost. Songs such as “Amendment” and “J” see DiFranco addressing these issues with a directness that is striking even for an artist long known for her activism and outspoken point of view.

“I’m testing deeper waters with the political songs on this album,” she says. “I feel a little bit frustrated, politically desperate. After having written hundreds of songs over decades, I think, ‘Now what? How far can I go with this? Can you sing the word ‘abortion,’ can you sing the word ‘patriarchy’ – what can you sing and get away with? I guess I’ve been pushing my own boundaries of politics and art. Seeing what people have the ears to listen to. How big is my mouth? What can I get out of it successfully?”

The last two decades have seen DiFranco staking a historic claim on popular music, spanning 16 studio albums and countless live recordings (including 1997’s RIAA gold-certified Living in Clip), EPs, and compilation contributions. Along the way she has amassed a devoted fan following, received numerous awards and nominations, earned rapturous reviews, and basically rewrote the rules of the recording industry.

Now Ani’s recommendation about the album’s opening track “Life Boat” can be said to apply to Which Side Are You On? as a whole: “Just listen, drop your idea of who is singing and what you already know they’re saying, and go somewhere else, open yourself up to a new story.”

CD, vinyl and mp3 digital download release.

Tracklist

  1. Life Boat
  2. Unworry
  3. Which Side Are You On?
  4. Splinter
  5. Promiscuity
  6. Albacore
  7. J
  8. If Yr Not
  9. Hearse
  10. Mariachi
  11. Amendment
  12. Zoo

~Dan – np: The Unbelievable TruthAlmost Here

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