Stephen Stills ‎– Stills (1975)

STA nother change of partners, this time inheriting part of former Manassas-mate Chris Hillman’s backing band with new members Donnie Dacus, Russell Kunkle, and Leland Sklar. Stills (the album) is mellow country-rock with some bittersweet guitar pickin’, high harmonies and an occasional flash of teeth. New guitarist Dacus is given a good share of the spotlight (he’s even featured on the back cover with Stills), cowriting a couple of tracks and slipping in several nice leads. Although Stills’ Columbia recordings (of which this is the first) marked a decline in product, it’s a pretty subtle decline here. The record includes a lot of music, some of it very good (“As I Come of Age”) and some of it no more than a soulful standing in place (“My Angel”). You have yet to read a positive account of this record, which makes me wonder what critics expected. While  might give the nod to Illegal Stills, this record has too many good qualities to dismiss out of hand. There’s an earthy spirituality in Stills’ music that invites comparison to Neil Young, the Grateful Dead, Joni Mitchell, and Crosby & Nash. He may not reach their high plateaus here, but a cool vibe underpinned by muscular playing makes the time pass quickly.

24bit/96kHz + Covers |  812 MB | UL | TB

Chuck Johnson – Crows In The Basilica (2013)

chAmerican Primitive music is flourishing right now. Electric and acoustic guitarists like William Tyler, and all have stellar releases out or on the way in 2013, and each digs different paths into this blues-based style. Tyler’s Impossible Truth turns his Nashville home into a hypnotic oasis, Gunn’s Time Off is a chooglin’ good time and Jones’ My Garden State is the unassuming and quiet picking-on-the-porch record that’ll take you by surprise if you let it.
Like the work of his fellow pickers, Chuck Johnson’s second album, Crows in the Basilica, somehow bests his already-impressive discography — which spans several film scores, as well as his work in different experimental groups. Joyful yet cerebral, the new record spirals melodic phrases in and out of the depths; it’s like a gentle hurricane at sea. At eight minutes, the deceptively quiet “On a Slow Passing in Ghost Town” is a raga that rages moodily.

mp3 VBR~177 kbps | 54 MB | UL | CL

The Backsliders – Southern Lines (1999)

bProduced by Eric Ambel, and with a track by Don Dixon/Mitch Easter, the Backsliders’ recording comeback is strong. Singer/songwriter Chip Robinson, a trailer park denizen from Raleigh, NC, had an auspicious early-’90s debut before he got sidelined after his band went up in smoke. He bears a slight vocal resemblance and songwriting style to Steve Earle; the hard country roots are what drive the songs about small towns and lost love, and just like Earle, it’s easy to take Robinson’s bits of broken imagery and well-worn trails as gospel. But it’s the classic and acoustic ballads (“It Rained on Monday,” and the hidden songs that end the set) which set Robinson apart from the pack of contemporary Southern rockers.

mp3 320 kbps | 117 MB | UL

Cari Lee And The Contenders – Scorched (2005)

MI0001790824“Scorched” is certainly old-school, but blasts barrelhouse piano & great boogie-woogie. The opener “I Think About You” rocks with T Jarrod Banta pounding the ivories and Cari crooning that she gets a thrill. Dan Torosian’s saxophone storms like a classic 50s rock cyclone and ignites a driving beat, “You know the kind of loving that fine man can brew; Love so hot, it burns me up; Thrills me through & though.” “Burnt Toast & Black Coffee” & “You Shock Me” are great retro rockers. The CD rocks to a conclusion with two great tracks, “Little Red Rooster” & “Now I’m Gonna Roll.” “Scorched” is a set whose title is aptly chosen.

mp3 320 kbps | 67 MB | UL

Youngblood Hawke – Wake Up (2013)

youngYoungblood Hawke are the Los Angeles based quintet of anthemic pop makers that have taken the world by storm with their hit single ‘We Come Running’. Their sound brims with boundless energy, air-tight pop hooks, racing guitar riffs, brights synth and raucous energy that is unavoidably infectious. They are pop music at it’s very finest. We are proud to premiere the very intimate performance of one of my favorite tracks ‘Stars (Hold On)’. The hazy warmth of the track lures you in, while the uplifting lyrics and intimacy of the performance envelope you.

mp3 320 kbps | 109 MB | UL | CL

Steely Dan – Can’t Buy A Thrill (1972)

stWalter Becker and Donald Fagen were remarkable craftsmen from the start, as Steely Dan’s debut, Can’t Buy a Thrill, illustrates. Each song is tightly constructed, with interlocking chords and gracefully interwoven melodies, buoyed by clever, cryptic lyrics. All of these are hallmarks of Steely Dan’s signature sound, but what is most remarkable about the record is the way it differs from their later albums. Of course, one of the most notable differences is the presence of vocalist David Palmer, a professional blue-eyed soul vocalist who oversings the handful of tracks where he takes the lead. Palmer’s very presence signals the one major flaw with the album — in an attempt to appeal to a wide audience, Becker and Fagen tempered their wildest impulses with mainstream pop techniques. Consequently, there are very few of the jazz flourishes that came to distinguish their albums — the breakthrough single, “Do It Again,” does work an impressively tight Latin jazz beat, and “Reelin’ in the Years” has jazzy guitar solos and harmonies — and the production is overly polished, conforming to all the conventions of early-’70s radio. Of course, that gives these decidedly twisted songs a subversive edge, but compositionally, these aren’t as innovative as their later work. Even so, the best moments (“Dirty Work,” “Kings,” “Midnight Cruiser,” “Turn That Heartbeat Over Again”) are wonderful pop songs that subvert traditional conventions and more than foreshadow the paths Steely Dan would later take.

mp3 320 kbps | 109 MB | UL | CL

Glenn Jones – My Garden State (2013)

GMy Garden State was written in the New Jersey home where Glenn’s family moved in 1966, while he was caring for his mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s. The songs and sounds on the album are reflective, but never dour or sad. My Garden State was recorded by Laura Baird in Allentown, NJ. Laura joins Glenn on the first proper song, “Across the Tappan Zee” on banjo, interweaving her plaintive melodies with Glenn’s gentle picking. Laura’s sister Meg, who was a founding member of Espers and plays with Laura as The Baird Sisters, also joins in on the final minutes of “Going Back to East Montgomery,” an eight minute long composition that showcases Glenn’s ability to craft a long form piece that is at once expansive and immediate.

mp3 320 kbps | 95 MB | UL | CL