Check Out This Jam: The Apollo Commanders, Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings, The Preservation Hall Benefit Album, Bottomless Pit, The Organ, Neil Young and The Band of Heathens
Welcome to Check Out This Jam!!!, the weekly feature here on DC9 where we shed some light on the music we've been enjoying of late, regardless of the touring or album release schedules that tend to bear the focus of most of our coverage. Also, it's a chance for you readders to get more insight into our own personal tastes. Anyway, don't think too much about it. Just go on and check out these jams, already.
About a year and a half ago, I caught part of a documentary on KERA that detailed the 1970 South Dallas Pop Festival, which brought together many local funk acts inspired by the likes of James Brown, Kool & the Gang, and The Meters.
The music was tremendous, but the footage and the historical importance of the event, which was the one and only South Dallas Pop Festival, trumped even that. The Apollo Commanders, one of the stars of that event, have stuck with me ever since, reminding of the rich musical lineage that sometimes gets overlooked in our city. --Nic Hernandez
I heard Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings' "This Land Is Your Land" on KXT while driving around a couple of weeks ago, then went home and immediately downloaded it. It's hard to beat Woody Guthrie's version, but the funk added to this one gives it an entirely new feel--one that comes off as original and not at all kitschy. --Lance Lester
My jam for this week doesn't come out until February 16th, but I've got a copy, so what the hell? I'm normally dubious about both compilation and benefit albums, but Preservation: An Album to Benefit Preservation Hall & The Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program is a hell of a great listen. Performing with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band are Andrew Bird, Tom Waits, Del McCoury, Ani DiFranco, Pete Seeger, Jason Isbell, Merle Haggard, Dr. John, Steve Earle, Buddy Miller, and nine others. That's a hell of a line-up. Proceeds from the record benefit Preservation Hall, a legendary music venue that's been operating in the French Quarter since 1961. Highlights of the record include Waits (who is in fine form on "Tootie Ma is a Big Fine Thing"), Earle bringing some Texas swagger to "T'aint Nobody's Business" and Isbell's delicate take on "Nobody Knows You." The album comes out on Fat Tuesday. That's February 16th for normal folks. Consider it the perfect music to celebrate the Saints' Super Bowl victory. --Darryl Smyers
Earlier this week, word came down from Chicago (via the band's MySpace page) that Bottomless Pit's upcoming album, Blood Under the Bridge, has been recorded, will be mastered in March, and should be ready for a summer release. Naturally, this means that I have to listen to Hammer of the Gods as much as possible in the coming months. I can't figure out what I love about the album (and the band in general) more: the wonderfully imperfect vocals, its simple but resonating lyrics, or the driving melancholic instrumentation. The opening build of "The Cardinal Movements" never fails to evoke an emotional response from me. Bottomless Pit (which--and for indie geeks of a certain age this will mean something--features Tim Midgett and Andy Cohen, formerly of Silkworm) toured with Magnolia Electric Co. and Denton's Tre Orsi in 2008, but, alas, they didn't join the tour until after Denton. Fingers crossed that they'll remedy that local snub when supporting the new record. --Merritt Martin
Though the band has been playing, intermittently, on my personal playlist for years, I've found myself revisiting The Organ more and more regularly as of late. Specifically, I've been turning to the band's 2004 full-length album, Grab That Gun. Although the Vancouver band hasn't made any new music since its break-up in 2006 (it did, however, release an EP of unreleased material in 2008), its '80s-infused, indie rock songs never seem to grow old. Check out the above video for "Memorize the City," one of my favorite tracks off Grab That Gun. --Catherine Downes
When Neil Young's Archives Vol. 1 box set came out last year, I was confused. Confused in the sense that I didn't know if I should pick up that or the remastered reissues of Young's first four albums: Neil Young, Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, After the Gold Rush, and Harvest. Since I've only had the essential Decade compilation for a decade, I figured the albums would be a better start rather than combing through rarities. I'm not ruling Archives out forever, but for now, I prefer to dig deep into songs like "Everybody Knows This is Nowhere" and "There's a World." (And as for why it's taken me all these years to dig into these albums, the answer is a matter of audio fidelity. If you've ever played Decade on a car stereo, chances are good you've had to wrestle with the volume knob. The songs are fantastic, but the mastering is god-awful. So I waited and waited, and then, last year, I got what I hoped for. I just got way more than I expected between the box set and the reissues.) --Eric Grubbs
Even though itsOne Foot in the Ether
is a solid record that found its way onto many best-of lists for 2009, I keep finding myself reaching for the Heathens' far superior studio debut. The band's seamless meshing of blue-eyed soul, rock, country, blues, and folk leaves little doubt as to why this crack-band has graduated from small clubs in Austin to packing houses literally all over the world. Quick: Name another band with three alternating lead vocalists where there is little to no drop off from one track to the next. Time's up.--Kelly Dearmore
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