CD REVIEW: G. Love "Fixin' To Die"

Fixin' To Die [+digital booklet]When a musician has been making music during a career that spans two decades, it's a challenge to keep the music new, exciting, inventive, and cutting edge. For G. Love, whether with or without his band Special Sauce, he has managed to do it incredibly well, with each subsequent release. He has mastered the art of his own hip hop soul and freestyle blues, dabbling in everything from funk to reggae to folk to blues to jazz to rock. He is truly a jack of all trades when it comes to making music. On his latest, and one of his most complete ideas to date, G. Love goes back to his roots with some dirty, funky acoustic blues. Enlisting the help of new friends, and folk music extraordinaries, the Avett Brothers, G. Love set out to make an album of music that showcased where his love for music comes from, where his musical roots lie, and the fun that can be had with stripped down music and instrumentation. The album's title track is among the album's best, and being that it is a cover of an obscure blues classic, it's only fitting that G. makes it great. He also take the Paul Simon classic "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" and smothers it with some funky blues as well, breathing new life into an already awesome song. His originals, both old and new, are some of his lyrical best at their simplest and most complex. "Just Fine" is a G. Love classic and "Milk & Sugar" is sure to become a funky live staple for G. Love & Special Sauce on the road. He resurrects his own "Ma Mere," a song about his grandmother, giving it the treatment and audience it deserves. G. lets the Avett boys have a little lead vocal time as well on the track "You've Got To Die" which not only shows off how fun this album is, but also how much fun was had while G. Love and the Avett Brothers made the album. To have two powerhouse performers, both in the studio and live on stage, collaborate on an album together is always one for the ages, and while this is very much a G. Love album, the sound, the energy, and the performance is accentuated by the Avett Brothers. Now all that's left is for the two bands to share the stage as a supergroup and together, bring this album (which sure to be one of the year's best) as well as their own previous recordings to the masses.

CD REVIEW: Trent Dabbs "Southerner"

Trent Dabbs has been making a music for a long time. He's done it with label backing and on his own, and on his latest independent album, he's finally made his most complete and breathtaking album yet. Rather than just a collection of songs, the entire disc sounds like a complete idea. His quiet folk music takes a back seat for a fuller sound on many songs, including the album's two standouts: "Neil Young" and "Follow Suit." Another great song in the album's lead track "Leave To See" which shows off Dabbs' talents as a songwriter. Trent Dabbs is a warrior when it comes to making music, and although he has has had subtle success throughout his career, it may be this album that finally turns a lot of heads and makes everyone take notice.

CD REVIEW: Jessica Lea Mayfield "Tell Me"

Tell Me [+Digital Booklet]
On her first album she showcased her folk side and her skills with vocal delivery, and her lyricism was well beyond its years. On her newest album she takes all of that to the next level, adding a jazz and blues element to her repertoire that not only elevates her as a musician but shows off her commitment to making great music. Hooking up once again with the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach as producer, she channels the same energy that he brings to his own music and to her first album, blowing away each and every track. "Our Hearts Are Wrong" will become her signature songs, one for which she will be known for during her entire career. But it's not the song on the album that shows off the vibe and energy that is contained within. The lead off track "I'll Be The One You Want Someday" sets the tone for the whole album with it's bluesy feel, and whets the appetite for inventive indie folk and blues rock music. The most surprising track on the album is "Grown Man" which finds itself a little bit in left field with a subtle but evident reggae influence. Jessica Lea Mayfield is a true artist and she takes the singer/songwriter label and crushes it with her ability to think and perform outside of that box.

CD REVIEW: Iration "Fresh Grounds"

Fresh Grounds
Ever since the popularity of Sublime peaked in the mid-nineties, tons of bands from all over the country tried to master the art of the So-Cal reggae-punk that Sublime performed so well. Iration is one of those bands, and they are at the forefront of the movement. Not a Sublime cookie cutter band, Iration blends their own blend and influences from other bands and genres to pop-punk-reggae music like few others. Their previous album put them on the map with several great songs, but it's this new EP that solidifies their spot and showcases the group as artists. This time around it's not just about a great pop song, a good beat, or a catchy hook. They pour their heart and soul into creating intricate, yet familiar music, with emphasis on lyrics like never before. "Summer Nights" keeps the band on the same path, but it's songs like "No Letter" and "Work It Out" that show off the growth and maturity of a small band doing big things. Iration can easily rise to the same heights as Sublime.

New Release Tuesday

New music out today worth checking out:
  • Trent Dabbs - Southerner
  • G. Love - Fixin' To Die
  • Joshua James - Sing Songs
  • The Low Anthem - Smart Flesh