Listening to Kathryn Williams and Neill McColl is like lying on your back outside on a sunny day, watching the clouds go by. The music is so tranquil that I couldn’t concentrate on the work I was trying to do – and instead, gave up and am now writing this review …
Listening to Kathryn Williams and Neill McColl is like lying on your back outside on a sunny day, watching the clouds go by. The music is so tranquil that I couldn’t concentrate on the work I was trying to do – and instead, gave up and am now writing this review.
Their new album, ‘Two’ is out in March 2008, but I’m lucky to have it early and am happy to tell the world about it. The harmonies and musicianship throughout ‘Two’ is superb – it’s the most hypnotic and relaxing music that I’ve heard in a long time. Kathryn’s voice is gentle, and seems to float in amongst the chords of the acoustic guitar.
‘Two’ is a generous album, with 13 songs, most of them co-written by Kathryn and Neill. It was recorded in an intimate setting, and the album was unbelievably written, recorded and mixed in just over two weeks.
Opening track, “6am Corner” features Neill’s subtle vocal harmonies – just enough to add ‘a little color’ to Kathyrn’s lead. The instrumentation is tight – albeit at times the melody reminds me of the Beatles’ “Let It Be”, but only briefly. On the quaint “Innocent When You Dream” (Tom Waits), Neill and Kathryn harmonize throughout, and apparently, the song was recorded in just one take.
“Come With Me” is the first single release off of ‘Two’. The lyrics are enchanting, and the song as a whole draws me in with each note. Like some sort of spell is being cast. A brilliant choice for the first release.
“Frame” is one of my favorites, a clever song, and is the one song on the album that makes me think, “Joni Mitchell”. Maybe it’s Kathryn’s vocal phrasing, or the lyrics that include, “look at that painting on a hotel wall, seen by lonely eyes. Don’t go into hotels lookin’ for dreams, don’t go into them with thoughts of your life” – either way, it’s a stand out track. I love the story – very touching and unique.
The rustic feel of “Armchair” could be a number straight out of Gram Parson’s repertoire. Perfect around a campfire at night – and surprisingly includes a particular swear word. Excellent!
Kathryn Williams and Neill McColl’s album, ‘Two’ is highly recommended, to be consumed in it’s entirety. One of my favorite albums of the year.
I’ve been listening to country singer Gary Allan’s latest album, ‘Living Hard’ the last couple of days. He has a cool voice and the songwriting and musicianship on the album is superb …
I’ve been listening to country singer Gary Allan’s latest album, ‘Living Hard’ the last couple of days. He has a cool voice and the songwriting and musicianship on the album is superb.
The ‘Living Hard’ CD is actually my first introduction to Gary Allan and his music. For some reason, I had never known too much about him before. You would think that I would have, considering that he’s been on the country music scene since 1996, when he released his first studio album, ‘Used Heart For Sale’ through Decca Records. Since then he’s released seven studio albums – with three of them going platinum as well as #1 hit singles under his belt.
There’s obviously quite a few Gary Allan fans out there, but with all that he’s done with his career, I wonder why he wasn’t high on my country music radar like other male singers in his genre? Does he not get as much attention in the media because he’s considered an outsider, as he’s originally from California? Also, his music has more of a rock edge to it than your ‘typical’ country sound – but that’s not really a new thing in modern country music.
That rock edge to Gary Allan’s music does appeal to me and he’s a bit of a chameleon – and seems to have an open mind, musically. Like the way he’s singing on “We Touched The Sun”. Makes me think that Elvis could have done that song justice as well. Then there’s “She’s So California”, with a Tom Petty vibe.
“Watching Airplanes” was the obvious right pick for the opening track and first single release off of ‘Living Hard’. It’s a great song and is most certainly worthy of a Country Music Award.
“Like It’s a Bad Thing” is ‘in the pocket’ with a rocking groove. “Learning How To Bend” could easily be a contender for a Country Music Charts hit. “Wrecking Ball” is a fun song with heavy guitar riffs, high quality musicianship, with lyrics about a guy who can’t get enough: “she blows into town, loves me up and down just to watch me fall. She picks me up and then knocks me down again I’m a wreck y’all, she’s a wreckin’ ball”.
“Yesterday’s Rain” is an outstanding ballad, and closing track “Living Hard” captures the energy of a live band playing to a packed to the rafters bar, but with the polished Nashville sound that you would expect from Gary Allan.
‘Living Hard’ – highly recommended.
Track listing with songwriting credits:
1. Watching Airplanes (Jim Beavers, Jonathan Singleton)
2. We Touched the Sun (Gary Allan, Odie Blackmon, Jim Lauderdale)
3. She’s So California (Gary Allan, Jon Randall, Jaime Hanna)
4. Like It’s a Bad Thing (Neil Thrasher, Tony Martin, Wendell Mobley)
5. Learning How to Bend (Gary Allan, Matt Warren, James LeBlanc)
6. As Long As You’re Looking Back (Scotty Emerick, Dean Dillon, Aaron Barker)
7. Wrecking Ball (Keith Gattis, Audley Freed)
8. Yesterday’s Rain (Gary Allan, Matt Warren, James LeBlanc)
9. Trying to Matter (Gary Allan, Odie Blackmon, Casey Beathard)
10. Half of My Mistakes (Radney Foster, Bobby Houck)
11. Living Hard (Gary Allan, Odie Blackmon, Bob DiPiero)
It’s raw and emotional. It’s freight-train-to-nowhere lonely. It’s hard-rockin’, no-apologies country music that has traded in its twang for a gravelly growl millions of fans recognize as the voice of Gary Allan …
It’s raw and emotional. It’s freight-train-to-nowhere lonely. It’s hard-rockin’, no-apologies country music that has traded in its twang for a gravelly growl millions of fans recognize as the voice of Gary Allan. And with ‘Living Hard’, his latest release from MCA Nashville, Allan once again proves that, though times may change, the thread of truth at the center of his music remains the same.
“I think the fans are gonna feel that this record is different,” he says, “but the most important thing is that what I do is authentic. I’ve never pushed for a certain image. I’ve just always done my own thing.”
This time around, Allan says, that includes letting listeners ride along through his personal landscape over the past year. “The record has taken about a year to make,” he says, “and I think the whole thing reflects change. I think every record sort of reflects where I’m at, and I’ve made a ton of changes this year, just mentally and in how I’m approaching everything. “Oh,” he adds with a grin, “and I think it’s much more rockin’ than anything I’ve done.”
Allan decided to crank it up musically. “I just felt like I was growing so much and wanted the music to reflect that. I think the result has more of an edge.” More edge, from the man who’s already got a reputation as a bit of a Nashville outsider? “Hopefully country music feels like they need somebody like me in the fold just to shake things up,” he laughs.
Not that this was all his idea – Allan feels some of the changes come from the fans themselves. “It’s not like I was trying for a new direction, it’s almost audience driven, too. l feel like I’ve got this young crowd with me now, I’ve got these rocker kids in my audience. And I grew up with that music, too,” says the California-bred singer, “so to me that stuff is right alongside Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings. The people really dictate the music, too. I feed off the audience, whatever they’re really wanting is what they drag out of me. I’ve got the edgy side of the country crowd – and I want to keep them.”
No danger of losing them – ‘Living Hard’ is an all-out rocker with a heavy Rolling Stones influence, and in “Like It’s a Bad Thing” he lets it rip with a song that reads like a Gary Allan bad boy manifesto. “That song does sound like me, doesn’t it?” he says. “I think if anything, that sort of renegade spirit is even more prevalent on this album. We’ve always danced to our own tune.”
Gary Allan, whose life is a whirlwind of hard-driving touring, also made a conscious decision to carve out more songwriting time for this album than ever before. “It’s the most I’ve written on any album,” he says. “I usually only write on my time off because I’m going so much that I hardly have time to ponder and sit around enough to want to write. Last year I sort of forced myself into it early so that I could write more for the record.”
He was pleased with the result: “I’m usually more critical on my stuff,” he says, “but I feel like I’m writing better, and obviously the more you’ve been through, the more you’ve got to say and the deeper you can express those emotions.”
If you’ve been to his shows, Allan says, you know that when he sings about “baring my soul for the price of your ticket,” he’s not just blowing smoke. Since his last studio album, 2005’s ‘Tough All Over’, which drew on his experiences coping with the death-by-suicide of his wife, Angela, in 2004, Allan has become known for putting all his emotions on the line in his songs. “I’m exactly the same on the stage as I am off the stage,” he says, “and what I found is, the bigger the arena, the more you’re standing in the middle of those people, the more transparent you are. You can tell when somebody’s not authentic or they’re trying to be something they’re not.”
In songs like “Learning How to Bend,” he admits he’s still exploring some rough terrain as he makes his way back into everyday life and the possibility of a new relationship. “I think my favorite song that I wrote on this album is “Learning How to Bend” he says. “I woke up one day with that title. And it’s me, you know – I’m still learning, learning how to bend.”
And in “We Touched the Sun” he moves forward while looking back at the beautiful times he shared with Angela. “There’s a small circle of us that write songs together, and it’s like group therapy,” he says with a chuckle. “And the result is it’s real. We rented a house in Costa Rica just to write, and “We Touched the Sun” is one of the songs that came out of that session. It’s a very reflective song, looking back at Angela. But it could be anybody you loved, just all the fond memories.”
Thanks in part to all of that musical therapy, says Allan, these days “I’m in a good place, definitely happy.” And, he assures his fans, if you’ve been through tough times yourself, or you’re just wondering how he’s coping these days, all you have to do is listen to his music. “I don’t really talk to people about my situation,” he says, “but I feel like since I do write about my life and where I am, you can watch me heal through my music. It’s lots easier on me, and I do hope that the music speaks to you.”
With ‘Living Hard’, Allan is sure to find his music speaking to an ever-growing number of fans. “I want to reach even bigger audiences,” he says. “I feel like I’ve got so much to say and so much to do right now and things are moving so fast. It’s great to have something new to throw at people.”
Most of all, he says, he just wants people to come along for the ride – and hear the sounds of a life in progress. “It’s a good listen, I think,” he says. “I’m excited for people to hear it. It’ll take you through a whole range of emotions, and I think it’s going to take you on a journey. That’s my goal.”
Dates could be added or changed! Go to Gary Allan’s Official Website for the latest tour dates and information.
January 18 2008 – Kinder, LA @ Coushatta Casino Resort
February 16 2008 – San Antonio TX @ AT&T Center
March 15 2008 – Sydney, Aus @ CMC Rocks the Snowys
March 19 2008 – Toowoomba, QLD, Australia @ Empire Theatre
March 20 2008 – Tweed Heads West, NSW, Australia @ Seagulls Club
Leon Jackson, the 2007 winner of The X Factor, appeared on GMTV’s LK Today this morning. Lorraine Kelly talked to Leon about his win last Saturday night December 15th, his nerves throughout the show …
Leon Jackson, the 2007 winner of The X Factor, appeared on GMTV’s LK Today this morning. Lorraine Kelly talked to Leon about his win last Saturday night December 15th, his nerves throughout the show and the fact that he had just started singing publicly in January of this year. Karaoke was his schtick before his appearance on the show, and after being crowned the winner, Leon is now a part of X Factor history.
Leon’s new single, a cover of the Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey hit song “When You Believe”, is now available for download and will be in stores December 19th, 2007 on Sony BMG. We’ll have to wait and see if it will make UK Christmas #1.
He sang “When You Believe” on LK Today along with a choir, and after performing on The X Factor Saturday night and probably getting little sleep, he sounded pretty good for a Monday morning. I like the tone of his voice, and at times it reminds me a bit of Jamie Cullum. Even though Leon, who hails from Whitburn, West Lothian, Scotland, is only 18 years old and hasn’t had much experience performing in public, he seems a natural on stage.
With Dannii Minogue as his mentor during The X Factor (UK series 4), it seemed apropos that he would sing a duet with her sister Kylie on the night of his win. They sang her hit, “Better The Devil You Know”. I wonder if that will ever be released as a single?
For years, I had heard of the band Godsmack, but never really knew much about them. A friend of mine here in England recently read Godsmack frontman/founder Sully Erna’s autobiography, The Paths We Choose – and it was funny to find out that Sully comes from Massachusetts and now lives in New Hampshire – my old state…
For years, I had heard of the band Godsmack, but never really knew much about them. A friend of mine, here in England, recently read Godsmack frontman/founder Sully Erna’s autobiography, The Paths We Choose – and it was funny to find out that Sully comes from Massachusetts and now lives in New Hampshire – my old state. The band was pretty much in my backyard the whole time, but it took someone in England to turn me on to them.
Sully Erna seems like a cool guy. I watched a couple interviews with him on YouTube and I like his open mindedness towards life and music. When I listen to Godsmack I can’t help but think of Metallica and Alice In Chains, so I’m glad that Sully’s up front about them being his influences – along with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.
Originally a drummer, there’s also footage on YouTube of Sully Erna and Godsmack drummer Shannon Larkin’s drum battle “Batalla De Los Tambores” from Godsmack’s DVD “Changes”. You’ve gotta love the way the drums slide onto the stage. They sound great – and it’s good to hear the Rush segment at the end. (You can also find that video on Shannon Larkin’s Yamaha page.)
“I Stand Alone”, the first single off of Godsmack’s third studio album, ‘Faceless’ was featured on the soundtrack for The Scorpion King and is also in the video game, Prince of Persia: Warrior Within (Watch video), along with “Straight Out of Line”. They’ve had other songs in movies, and I think it’s always good to see bands getting their music in movie soundtracks. I wonder if Godsmack will do more with video games? I think they should.
To celebrate 10 years as a band, Godsmack released their Greatest Hits album, ‘Good Times, Bad Times… Ten Years of Godsmack’ December 4th, 2007 on Universal.
The Greatest Hits album includes most of their commercially released singles along with a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times, Bad Times”. The video for it is fun to watch, but seeing the opening shots of Boston like the bridge, the infamous Citgo sign and the fan wearing the Red Sox shirt makes me feel a little homesick!
1. Good Times, Bad Times
3. Keep Away
5. Bad Religion
8. I Stand Alone
9. Straight Out of Line
12. Running Blind
15. Shine Down
16. The Enemy
+ 75 minute DVD acoustic performance filmed in Las Vegas (check listings).
Musicians on album:
Sully Erna – vocals, guitar, drums
Tony Rombola – guitar, backing vocals
Robbie Merrill – bass, backing vocals
Tommy Stewart – drums
Shannon Larkin – drums
Brad Paisley has released his latest single, “Letter To Me” off of his album ‘5th Gear’. It’s about what he would say to himself at age 17 if he could write a letter to himself today. The lyrics are full of advice and encouragement and I’m sure that the song will touch the heartstrings of many who can relate …
Brad Paisley has released his latest single, “Letter To Me” off of his album ‘5th Gear’. It’s about what he would say to himself at age 17 if he could write a letter to himself today. The lyrics are full of advice and encouragement and I’m sure that the song will touch the heartstrings of many who can relate.
For the filming of the video, Paisley invited his classmates from his 1991 graduating class at John Marshall High School to be involved. Over 140 classmates from his old school participated in the video, as well as one of his most supportive teacher’s, also the policeman who gave him his first ticket and current students from John Marshall.
I think the video concept is a great idea. It just confirms what I’ve been thinking all along – that not only is Brad Paisley a huge talent (keeping in mind his great guitar playing and cool Telecaster guitars), but he also seems like one of the nicest guys in country music today. Inviting old classmates to be in a video is quite the gesture – and I can’t think of many artists that would do something like this.
After watching his performance at the 41st Annual Country Music Awards (CMAs), my interest in Brad Paisley and his music has been reignited. It was good to watch him perform “Online”, also off of ‘5th Gear’, and after being nominated seven times, he finally took home the Best Male Vocalist Award at the CMAs. I found it surprising that he hadn’t won Best Male Vocalist before, but then again, there has been some stiff competition in the Country Male category over the years.
Two songs off of Brad’s latest album ‘5th Gear’ have hit #1 in the Country Music Singles Charts – “Ticks” (watch video), the first single, and “Online” (watch video). Now with third single, “Letter To Me”, it will be interesting to see if he can get another #1.
Sergey Lazarev is without a doubt one of the most successful singers in Russia today. Before going solo, Sergey, a multi-talented singer, dancer and actor, started out in a band called Neposedi which also included Julia and Lena who later formed Tatu…Read the exclusive interview!
Sergey Lazarev is without a doubt one of the most successful singers in Russia today. Before going solo, Sergey, a multi-talented singer, dancer and actor, started out in a band called Neposedi which also included Julia and Lena who later formed Tatu.
He then went on to form pop duo, Smash!! with childhood friend Vlad Topalov. They were signed by Universal Music Russia, had five Number 1 hits, airplay on MTV Russia, numerous awards and millions of copies were sold in Russia, CIS and South East Asia.
Sergey’s debut solo album ‘Don’t Be Fake’, released in Russia, instantly sold more than 300,000 copies which led to the prestigious Russian National Music TV Channel’s MUZ TV Award as “Best New Act” in 2006.
After having recent success in the UK club charts, Sergey is now set to release his latest single, “Everytime” on December 3rd, 2007 in the UK.
Sergey was gracious enough to take some time out for this exclusive interview with me for BandWeblogs.com.
Jenny May: Can you tell us about your latest single, “Everytime”? How it came to be your next UK release?
Sergey: “Everytime” is the second single from my new album. The first single “Shattered Dreams” is very dynamic, so I wanted the next one to be kind of sad, and especially the fall is the time of the year that has something melancholic about it in the air. But the remixes of “Everytime” will make everyone jump up.
Do you write your songs? If so, what is your song writing process like? Or if not – how do you select your songs?
I have lots of ideas about music, the ways it should sound, its concepts and creativity, but as for writing music it’s kind of difficult for me so far…that’s why the songs for me are written by professionals. But I always take an active part in the process.
Who are your musical influences?
There are many artists whose work I respect and I listen to their songs a lot. I have over 100 cds of different artists and music styles in my car. What I really like are the artists who make an incredible and bright show out of their performance on stage. I respect and admire artists who have a lot to say by their work, real leaders, artists who are not afraid of experiments and radical changes…
What are your views on western music?
I think that Russian music and show business in general have a lot to learn and to look up at…I think there’s such a massive stream of new music coming and it’s very hard for young artists to make their ways without the support of a serious big label. And the audience is becoming very picky – it’s very hard to surprise it with something.
Have you toured the UK and/or the US? Do you have any plans for a large scale tour?
I have this idea in my future plans. But there’s so much to be done before I go on a big tour. So far I have a lot of concerts around Russia and other neighboring countries. I have a perfect team of dancers and musicians from Britain with me. And of course my dream is to perform with my new show in Britain.
Do you keep in touch with your old Neposedi band mates, Julia and Lena (who went on to form Tatu)?
Of course we do. We are good old friends. Julia and I are very close…always supporting and helping each other. She is like a sister to me.
What is your favorite style of music?
As for me, the right style of music is the one which is best to your mood and situation at a specific moment…
Do you have plans to act in more projects in the future? If so, what?
I have taken part in many projects in my life – different TV projects as well as contests. The last two of them were Dancing on Ice, where I took the 2nd prize and Circus with the Stars, where I was the winner. I used to spend lots of time training and as you can see the results speak for themselves. But at the moment I am 100% in music.
Do you prefer to act or sing?
I just love being on stage…I feel totally comfortable there. I remember myself singing since childhood and I can’t imagine my life without music at all. Music under my skin…by the way, the song with the same title is in my new album.
How and/or why did you start singing and performing?
Since childhood I was a very energetic kid: was doing something, jumping, running around all the time – and never had a minute of rest. When I turned 6 years old my parents took me to a sports school, but because of the injury I got, I had to leave professional sport at the age of 8. But except for being a very sportive child I was good at singing, that’s why after I had to quit gymnastics, I started taking vocal classes…and since then I have been singing…
Since you started in the music business at a young age, what are your feelings about child stars and do you think you’ve coped well in the business?
It is obvious that it is very hard to be in the centre of everybody’s attention since a very young age. At a certain point you are getting used to being very successful and it’s hard to surprise you with anything, and you start to want more and more, which you don’t get all the time, as success is a very unsteady thing, so sooner or later you start lacking it. Then the panic starts, sometimes you get depressed, you don’t know what to do and which way to go. I have been through that. At a moment like that, it is very important that your close friends and your family are with you – they can always help you to go through hard times.
Do you prefer the recording process or performing live?
I really enjoy recording songs at the studio. But there’s nothing compared to a live concert. I love touring. And now when I have an incredible team of dancers and musicians that I work together with – it is even more exciting!!!