Monday, September 27, 2010

The Tallest Man on Earth - The Wild Hunt

I can't listen to folk music everyday; I'm a blues man, but something about this album, this musician in general, just does it for me. Kristian Matsson, under the moniker "The Tallest Man on Earth", is the epitome of 'a man and his guitar', and man can he play guitar. His finger-picking style rivals that of Nick Drake and that is not an easy thing to do in my book. Despite his stage name, Kristian is NOT the tallest man on earth, as a few sources put him in the 5'5 to 5'7 range.

The Wild Hunt FEELS like a wild hunt. It's low-fi undertones and open tunings make it easy to get lost while listening to this album. If you have never heard Matsson's voice before, it may take a minute to adjust to as it is unconventional and gritty, but compliments his playing style perfectly. Like the previous two posts, this is an album that is hard to describe due to the originality of the style and the pure guitar playing and singing.

The Tallest Man on Earth

Title track video

Another Video

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Albert King & Stevie Ray Vaughan - In Session 1983

If you know anything about blues music, you know how good this album is regardless of whether or not you've heard it. Despite the two huge names, I've met a decent amount of blues fans that have never heard this, let alone know there was a lengthy, recorded collaboration between the two. Simply put, more people need to know about this album, which is why I'm throwing it up here. This session was originally recorded live for television in 1983 and was not put into album form until 1999. According to wikipedia, the dvd of this session will be released on September 28, 2010 (tomorrow).

Before almost every track, you will hear a 61 year old Albert King opening with either a story or a word of advice to the man that respected him most: Stevie Ray. You can sense the respect SRV has for the man through his responses to King and also through his playing; he seems to hold back within the first few songs until really coming out (after King more or less encourages him to) during the 6th track, titled "Blues at Sunrise".  During this track, King tells a story of when he played this song in the 60's with Janice Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, making this album not only great musically, but also just interesting to listen to for a blues fan.

So if you're in the mood for some guitar virtuosity and some good ol' howlin', give this a listen.

Videos of session


A Decade With Duke (feat. Justin Vernon)

A Decade With Duke is a collaborative effort involving Justin Vernon (of Bon Iver) and Eau Claire Memorial Jazz 1, which, correct me if I'm wrong, is a Wisconsin-based high school jazz band. Justin Vernon was a student of this program while in high's all coming together now. It's hard to believe 16-18 year old kids can be this talented, but they don't  fail to deliver. It starts with "Lump Sum", a Bon Iver original, which holds true to its minimalist composition while still being different enough to be it's own interpretation of the song (and a good one at that). The album takes a jazzy turn, opening in track two with a perfectly lazy saxophone melody giving you the impression that you just walked into a 1940's jazz know...the kind that always has a sassy woman laying on a piano. The band plays a few more, then goes on to play a jazz-infused version of "For Emma". No description of this song will do it justice, just go listen to it. All of these feature the lovely falsetto that Justin Vernon is known for. Lady is a Tramp pays tribute to a show to from the 30's, complete with Justin Vernon sounding EXACTLY like Frank Sinatra. It's almost awkward for a minute, listening to him sing in his normal voice but it is 100% worth a listen. This is probably my favorite song on the album. Vernon takes over on the last song, bringing it down a notch with "Satisfied Mind".

In its entirety, this album is a good combination of modern folk and jazz and if you don't listen to this, you are missing out. If you are a Bon Iver fan, a jazz fan, or a just a fan of ridiculously good music, you will give this a listen. Actually, no, go buy it. It's only $7.92 on iTunes.

A Decade with Duke gets 9 out of 10 apples. 