R.I.P. Chuck Berry

Music has lost some true legends over the past year and a half. Yesterday Chuck Berry passed away and his loss is seemingly incalcuable. The tributes have already come pouring in from all over and his influence is impossible to comprehend I believe. There will always be a debate who started Rock & Roll but to me Chuck Berry was the truest pioneer. More than Elvis, Little Richard, and Jerry Lee Lewis no one played guitar like that before him and his songwriting was so precise, it encapsulated the very essence of Rock & Roll. All of the platitudes of the genre can be traced back to year zero and Chuck Berry songs.

I’ll leave an excerpt here of a quote from Bob Dylan from a RollingStone interview back in 2009 regarding Chuck Berry. He says it better than I ever could:

“Chuck said to me, ‘By God, I hope you live to be 100, and I hope I live forever,'” Dylan says with a laugh. “He said that to me a couple of years ago. In my universe, Chuck is irreplaceable. All that brilliance is still there, and he’s still a force of nature. As long as Chuck Berry’s around, everything’s as it should be. This is a man who has been through it all. The world treated him so nasty. But in the end, it was the world that got beat.”

 

R.I.P. Chuck Berry

 

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AMERICANARAMA

62674_10151612355235421_1609523347_nLast week the Summer concert series continued as I voyaged to Peoria, IL to catch a sure-fire show of Bob Dylan, Wilco, and My Morning Jacket under the guise of a traveling “festival” named AmericanaramA. The bill was too fantastic to pass up. My favorite artist of all-time in Dylan with two of my favorite bands Wilco and My Morning Jacket.  It was supposed to be a co-headlining venture with British blues veteran Richard Thompson opening for them.

This marked the ninth time I had seen Bob Dylan perform live and the eighth time for Wilco. Both delivered fantastic performances. Wilco delivered an eclectic mix of early material with “Airline to Heaven,” “Via Chicago,” “California Stars,” “I’m Always in Love,” “Box Full of Letters,” and “Kingpin” and latter-day songs from their latest effort, the two lengthy workouts from The Whole Love “One Sunday Morning” and “Art Of Almost” as well as “Dawned On Me.” They had the home-field/home-state advantage closing out the set with “Heavy Metal Drummer,” “I’m The Man Who Loves You,” and “I’m A Wheel” to the delight of their gracious Illinois compatriots.

Bob Dylan filled the main event slot. With as much historical significance and clout as he has (Arguably more than any other North American artist), you can’t argue against that. Dylan sauntered on stage with his spectacular backing band willing and able to follow him down any rabbit hole he dares at a split-second notice. He kicked things off with a rollicking runaway wagon version of “Things Have Changed” before sinking his teeth into the live rarity of Time Out Of Mind‘s “Love Sick.” It was good to hear cuts off Tempest this time around as well with “Soon After Midnight,” “Early Roman Kings,” and “Duquesne Whistle.”  The band roared into a stampeding “All Along the Watchtower” and came back out for an encore of “Blowin’ in the Wind.” Dylan and company soaked up the admiration, stoic as ever.

Make no mistake about it though, the night belonged to My Morning Jacket. There’s a reason they’ve been heralded as one of the greatest live bands of this generation, because it’s positively true. They might just be the best of this generation. The band played for about 80 minutes and it seemed like they were just warming up. They had the audience completely captivated. There was no doubt some individuals, probably older, that were there only to see Dylan and maybe Wilco. Those audience members had to at least have been instilled with a bit of wonderment during the MMJ set. Front man Jim James was awe-inspiring howling passionately in a register that was as ferocious as it was gorgeous. Guitarist Carl Broemel by now has to be considered the co-captain of the band along with James. He’s a classically trained musician and veered from guitar, to lap steel, to sax during the show. MMJ hit the stage with the powerhouse “Circuital” and they poured every ounce of energy they had into this truncated set. The optimistic thunder of “I’m Amazed”, pulsing neon ballad “Smokin From Shootin,” and underwater disco epic of “Touch Me, I’m Going to Scream Pt. 2” capped off a fantastic triad of Evil Urges tunes. Then came my favorite MMJ song “Dondante”, the monumental closer from Z. To me, it’s their “Jungleland” (Even featuring a sax solo!). It’s haunting, ethereal, and transcendent, everything a masterpiece should be. It was a great sight to see a monster jam next with Wilco joining MMJ on George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass classic “Isn’t It A Pity”. They returned for “Victory Dance,” “Wordless Chorus,” and “Dancefloors” before leaving me completely spellbound and I can’t wait to see them again.

Lollapalooza is right around the corner as the Summer concert series hits Chicago next!

P.S.- Welcome back Kings of Leon. They released their first single from their new album Mechanical Bull (Out September 24th) yesterday entitled “Supersoaker.” From the sound of things, the talk of them rediscovering the raucous magic of their first three records is true as this seems like a return-to-form of the full-throttle angst they broke onto the scene with while still retaining an arena-ready size:

Kings of Leon- Supersoaker

BOB DYLAN’S TEMPEST

 

 BOB DYLAN- TEMPEST

9.6 / 10

 

THE STORM IN ALL ITS RAGING GLORY:

Bob Dylan’s newest masterpiece Tempest is his best record since Blood On The Tracks

“Listen to that Duquesne whistle blowin’, sounding like it’s on a final run.” Bob Dylan sings on record opener “Duquesne Whistle” from the enigmatic bard’s 35th studio album Tempest. But could that lyric and the album title be an omen? The world began to over-analyze and scrutinize this as they usually do with any new Dylan record. People wondered if this would be his final studio album as a tip of the cap to William Shakespeare who called his final play The Tempest. Dylan dispelled those rumors to The Rolling Stone as merely a coincidence, even citing Shakespeare’s play has “The” in front of it. How foolish we are! Quite the opposite, Dylan seems like he’s not even close to running out of steam as he conjures Old Testament wrath before you even listen to Tempest. Simply the word tempest is defined as a violent windstorm or tumult and that was probably his idea all along as this is Dylan’s darkest record ever. Dylan convened with his ace touring band earlier this year in Jackson Browne’s recording studio in Santa Monica, California and once again produced the album himself under his pseudonym Jack Frost. Dylan’s brilliance and his creativity haven’t diminished at all, and the result is another modern day masterpiece as astonishing in scope as any record he’s ever done.

Dylan remains a musical chameleon, out of time, out of step. He was once considered the cutting edge of Rock & Roll at the zenith of his powers and prowess in the mid-60’s, a pioneer forging bravely and boldly into new frontiers fueled by uncanny genius, chaos, and amphetamines. It may be a little startling however for people just being introduced to his modern recordings. His new sonic direction can actually be traced back to two overlooked instances. His two modest covers albums of old-time folk and blues standards with As Good As I’ve Been To You and World Gone Wrong released in the early 1990’s. Ever since “Love and Theft” this has been thoroughly emphasized by Dylan and he has been retreating back into the mist with the ghosts of early forms of American music, a melting pot of influences. Some long-forgotten, whether it be Jazz, Western-swing, folk, parlor & murder ballads, blues, or the exciting primal dawn of Rock & Roll from the 1950’s. Dylan rediscovered his muse with the cacophonous eclectic roots of American music giving his career a much needed rejuvenation. His ventures into the past have revitalized his career and he owes a great debt to his latter-day Renaissance to a sound that’s familiar yet refreshing.

Then there’s the voice. His voice is as raspy and rugged as ever, there’s no denying that. Many people listening may say his voice is shot. But chances are if you came to Bob Dylan looking for a “conventional” singing voice, then Bob Dylan’s universe probably never has, and never will suit you. If you’re looking for that, you can go buy those Mp3s (Or steal them more likely) from American Idol “talents” with their music and radio-ready voices devoid of any real substance.  What people fail to realize is Dylan can still deliver a line with such phrasing and inflection that it’s more visceral and can cut deeper than any pop star crooner. His voice is a striking resemblance to legendary blues shaman Howlin’ Wolf more than anything else. His weathered voice, battered by the elements suits the abundant decay of morality and society within the world of Tempest. Dylan plays the prophet of doom barking fire and brimstone from his eschatological pulpit. Nothing’s been settled, this is a terrifying world Dylan paints with the brush strokes of a true master.

The aforementioned “Duquesne Whistle” begins with delicate, almost Caribbean-flavored guitars like they’re gently humming through an old Crosley cathedral-style radio before giving way to the jitterbug boxcar shuffle of his band. The song isn’t as raucous as more recent album openers like “Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum”, “Thunder on the Mountain”, or “Beyond Here Lies Nothin’”. Rather, it’s a long lost train-line song with a carefree arrangement and it swings like a cut from “Love and Theft”.  It’s the perfect opener for the record as it sounds like the beginning of the journey that is Tempest and a great juxtaposition from what’s to come. This is the start of the ride on the rails with Dylan serving as the conductor. “Duquesne Whistle” dabbles in deception as the locomotive winds around the bends there are ominous clouds looming down the line. Dylan actually co-wrote the song with the Grateful Dead’s lyricist Robert Hunter and they show the early elements of darkness as Dylan bellows in his signature gravelly howl that this whistle is “Blowing like it’s gon’ kill me dead” as the train passes through another no good town. Make no mistake about it the music for this opener really stakes the claim. Dylan allows his band ample breathing room as they play with reassured charismatic cool and authenticity that’s rare in music these days. Dylan would scoff at the idea of ProTools, if he’s even heard of ProTools.

This is the case for the entire record. It’s the most musically diverse Dylan’s made perhaps ever. Certainly since his career rebirth beginning with Time Out Of Mind. “Soon After Midnight” is a lovely lilting number akin to “Spirit On The Water” from Modern Times that at first feels like a gentle swooning serenade but inauspicious nature creeps in again as Dylan sings that he’s been down on the “Killing floors” and threatens to drag the corpse of a character named Two-timing Slim through the mud. “Narrow Way” is a rousing roadhouse rocker that shakes all the dust off the Old Guard and where the body count on Tempest really begins to pile up. “There’s a bleeding wound in the heart of town” from the British burning the White House down as Dylan proclaims, “This is hard country to stay alive in/ Blades are everywhere and they’re breaking my skin/ I’m armed to the hilt, and I’m struggling hard/ You won’t get out of here unscarred”. It’s a rarity on this record but Dylan adds a little humor here talking of his “Heavy-stacked woman” and that he’s going to have to bury his face between her breasts. “Long And Wasted Years” is a heartbreaking ballad of a deteriorated relationship amongst other things and recollections of better days from the past. Dylan’s destruction becomes sensationalistic as he proclaims, “I think that when my back was turned, the whole world behind me burned”. He even drops an autobiographical line yelping, “I wear dark glasses to cover my eyes/ There’s secrets in them that I can’t disguise”. He’s certainly playing it close to the chest for a man that’s spent a large portion of his career shrouded behind the veil of Ray-Ban Wayfarers and Aviator sunglasses.

“Pay In Blood” features Dylan singing in perhaps an all-time scorched-earth venomous snarl with lava-like phlegm. The music is far more deceptive with the warm twang of pedal steel guitar and a spirited marching piano. The lyrical attack is a brutal savaging however, an evisceration. Dylan slings loathsome lines like, “I got something in my pocket, make your eyeballs swim/ I got dogs could tear ya, limb from limb” and declares, “Legs and arms and body and bone/ I pay in blood, but not my own”. Then he finally pulls you close and says in your ear, “You bastard, I’m supposed to respect you?” as he sticks a blade into your guts and twists. After all, he “Came here to bury, not to raise”. When Dylan draws a line in the sand with his sword, you want to be on his side.

(Darkness past the break of noon: Bob Dylan’s Tempest)

“Scarlet Town” is the name of the town borrowed from the traditional folk song “Barbara Allen”. You can picture “The Man In The Long Black Coat” from Oh Mercy as a wraith prowling the streets of Scarlet Town as a forlorn banjo trots and a fiddle weeps in the background.  It’s a town populated by nefarious beggars, insidious misfits and lascivious maidens. It feels like a biblical overcast of locusts rolling into the neighborhoods as it teeters, trapped in purgatory between utopia and dystopia with the end being near yet it’s also where the seven wonders of the world dwell with “The evil and the good, living side by side” in Scarlet Town. The “Mannish Boy” bluesy romp of “Early Roman Kings” is dominated by David Hidalgo’s accordion pumping Tejano ventilator blues into its lungs, similar to “My Wife’s Home Town” from Together Through Life. Dylan tells of the early Roman kings as infamous tyrants, “They’re lecherous and treacherous”, but looking so good as monsters in their shark skin suits, bow-ties, high-top boots, wearing fancy gold rings with all the women going crazy for them. Dylan wails with a craggy hubris, “I ain’t dead yet, my bell still rings/ I keep my fingers crossed like the early Roman kings”. Dylan bangs his gavel unapologetically singing, “I can strip you of life, strip you of breath/ Ship ya down, to the house of death”. And when you try to barter for your freedom, his reply? “Ding dong daddy, you’re comin’ up short”.

The nine-minute “Tin Angel” may be the most merciless and callous song on the record. A hypnotic, churning murder ballad that could be from Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ album Murder Ballads. It’s that malignant. It’s a brooding nocturnal saunter similar to “Ain’t Talkin’”. “He was a man of strife, a man of sin/ I cut him down and I threw him to the wind” flows with furious contempt. You can picture the moonlight creaking through the room illuminating thick pools of blood in an eerie shimmer where the three-way murder-suicide happens in the climax. “All three lovers together in a heap/ Thrown into the grave, forever to sleep”, the gruesome scene and dark recesses of humanity will resonate with you long afterward, as grainy and grizzled as “The Ballad Of Hollis Brown”.

The centerpiece of the album is the mammoth title track “Tempest”. Draped over it, an elegant waltzing Irish melody reworked from an earlier version of the tale of the Titanic by The Carter Family. It’s as majestic and hallowed as some of Dylan’s latter day epics like “‘Cross The Green Mountain” and “Red River Shore”. Historical accuracy is irrelevant here Dylan has done this before many times. Take his cut off Bringing It All Back Home “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream” as he dreams he’s on the Mayflower, but there’s also a pay phone in there, and he alludes to a truck when he apparently meets Columbus himself. It’s cinematic and gargantuan, as bold as James Cameron’s film adaptation of the Titanic. Even Leonardo DiCaprio pops up a couple of times as “Leo” before being badly wounded and losing his mind, supposedly meeting the same demise in the icy waters of the Atlantic as he did in the movie. “Tempest” is a lyrical tour de force, a staggering 14-minute 45-verse odyssey with no chorus. Line after devastating line pouring from Dylan’s mouth, a marathon of carnage of the legendary Maritime disaster. Leo first discovers something’s awry when he gets to a flooded quarterdeck and there’s “Dead bodies already floating in the double-bottomed hull” and the engine has exploded. Later on we find chaos spreading as “Brother rose up ‘gainst brother, in every circumstance/ They fought and slaughtered each other, in a deadly dance”. Elsewhere, “There were traitors there were turncoats, broken backs and broken necks”. Ultimately the death toll rings out a final tally, “When the reaper’s task had ended, 1600 had gone to rest/ The good, the bad, the rich, the poor, the loveliest and the best”. There’s also something to be said about the character simply called The Watchman, dreaming of foreboding visions of the Titanic sinking. Is he simply a restless passenger denying his harrowing dreams? Is it God or some other deity? Or is he the same man who was once a youthful 24-year-old peering his weary head out too far on Desolation Row 47 years ago? We’ll never know for sure as the final image is him seeing the Titanic sinking “Into the deep blue sea”.

The closer “Roll On John” is a slight reprieve from all of the malevolence nearly bubbling over that came before. It serves as a gorgeous paean for John Lennon. A man up until his assassination was seen as an equal to Dylan, but more importantly to Dylan, he was a friend. Even though it’s nearly 32 years later, Dylan still laments and grieves over the loss of his beloved peer and time passed hasn’t diluted the power of song. Dylan sings in a smoldering sorrowful rasp as a graceful liquid organ courses through the heart of the song. There’s still the death rattle lingering that plagues the rest of the album with detailed accounts of Lennon’s murder. Dylan even alludes to a few of The Beatles’ songs written by Lennon including, “The Ballad of John and Yoko”, “A Day In The Life” and “Come Together”. Dylan stated that he originally set out to make an album of religious songs, but the end result was the turbulent Tempest. “Roll On John” is an ethereal hymn however that is a successful venture into a spiritual sound, religious intentions or not.

The lyrics on Tempest have an incredible range from tender beauty to horrific apocalyptic visions. His wit and metaphors are sharp with deadly force, leaving naysayers laid low. Dylan’s Tempest isn’t only dark, it’s defiantly dark. The prevailing theme is Bob Dylan is a survivor. He’s walked down some of the nastiest roads and he’s still standing. Dylan says it best in “Pay In Blood” as he roars, “How I made it back home, nobody knows/ Or how I survived so many blows”. Dylan’s last 15 years of mind-boggling success make the 20 uneven and misguided years that preceded it all seem like a ruse. Only one person knows that for sure, and only one person probably ever will, Bob Dylan. His accomplishments and accolades are numerous since the turn of the Millennium alone: An Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, New York Times Best Seller, Pulitzer Prize winner, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom to name a few. Add to that his continuing indomitable Never Ending Tour and incredible body of work since 1997 with Time Out Of Mind, “Love & Theft”, Modern Times, Tell Tale Signs, Together Through Life, and now his best of the bunch in Tempest. Dylan is a national treasure, the most important, profound, and influential musical artist in American history. A new Bob Dylan record isn’t just another release, it’s an event. Dylan is seen as a preacher and prophet in millions of people’s eyes, just as holy as any religious denomination, perhaps holier. Oh preacher, what tricks have you yet to show us? What tales have you yet to tell us? And we sit and once again listen in starry-eyed wonderment and sheer amazement.

(Bob Dylan and his band)

  1. Duquesne Whistle
  2. Soon After Midnight
  3. Narrow Way
  4. Long And Wasted Years
  5. Pay In Blood
  6. Scarlet Town
  7. Early Roman Kings
  8. Tin Angel
  9. Tempest
  10. Roll On John

(EDIT: I initially check marked the top tracks on this record. Looking back, it was wrong, every track is great)

By Matt Ireland

AUGUST 2012: A MOTHERSHIP OF LIVE MUSIC

It’s been a sensational August for live music for me, maybe my best month for live shows yet. It kicked off with The Black Keys in Council Bluffs. The first time I saw The Black Keys live it was a small venue at the IMU Ballroom in Iowa City. Then their popularity exploded and they’ve been playing arenas and headlining festivals ever since. I wanted to catch them after their new found and well-deserved mass popularity in the arenas. I knew I wouldn’t be able to catch them at Lollapalooza as they were going to headline against Black Sabbath, so this was the appetizer before Lollapalooza. They did not disappoint.  They were a well-polished machine and they’ve perfected their amalgamation of gritty blues and glam rock. Partick Carney with his wiry frame bashed the drums with a propulsive primal ferocity while Dan Auerbach played ferocious and dirty guitar licks and sung in his signature soulful howl. The truly great live band, a truly great band. I hope they remain at the forefront of Rock & Roll’s royalty for decades to come.

Next up was my 3rd annual trip to Chicago for Lollapalooza. It was an exciting time to be alive. I think I’ll most remember the legendary set put on by Metal Godfathers Black Sabbath. The band sounded fantastic and it’s one of my favorite live moments ever, I can’t wait to hear what they’ve new record sounds like next year. With Rick Rubin behind the helm guiding the band and producing the record it’s got potential to go down as another classic in their canon. The Red Hot Chili Peppers were another big name legendary band I’ve wanted to see that I can check off the list now. They seem forever young in their live style of play. Flea I swear is the beast incarnate on bass. Jack White closed out Lollapalooza in mad scientist, guitar wizard style with two entirely different backing bands for each of his set. I loved a lot of under card acts as well including: Dr. Dog, The Head & The Heart, The Shins, Delta Spirit, The Tallest Man on Earth, Gary Clark Jr., The Gaslight Anthem, and Of Monsters And Men. The only real crime of Lollapalooza this year was The Gaslight Anthem only getting 45 minutes to play. Ridiculous. I’m going to have to see them on their own at some point.

This past Sunday I caught Dawes in the Englert Theatre in Iowa City. What a band. I was truly captivated by frontman Taylor Goldsmith. He’s rapidly blossoming into a world-class songwriter and his guitar playing was phenomenal. They played a couple new songs. I liked both of them but there was one that had this darkened lounge feel, like a Dire Straits song that I thought sounded terrific. Can’t wait for record #3 from these guys. They may be poised for a huge run, let’s hope so.

Finally came Bob Dylan on Tuesday night up in Rochester, MN. This was the seventh time I’ve seen Dylan now and I think I can honestly say, this was my favorite. I made the trip to the show by myself but that didn’t dampen my spirit when Dylan and his band took the stage. Bob and co. tore into a smoldering “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” to kick off the show. Then things got interesting. I read about how Bob was bringing a grand piano with him on tour, sure enough that grand piano made it to Rochester. And for his first song on it, “Love Minus Zero/No Limit” I was floored. The depth of the song. Dylan’s piano playing added an entire other level to the song. It also showed how much of a gifted piano player Bob truly is. Bob snarled and growled his way through classics and nuggets, I thought it was one of his best vocal performances. Bob sounded great and looked great. He seemed to be in high spirits, gesturing and flaunting on the piano, high stepping and marching around the stage while singing and playing harp, and cracking up with his bandmates. Some of my favorites included hearing “John Brown” for the first time. One of my favorite non-album cuts and Donnie Herron’s banjo playing really added to the ominous soundscape. Later on came an incredible surprise when Dylan busted out “Visions Of Johanna”, the song I’ve most wanted to hear at his last few shows. A few days ago I was clamoring for him to play “Desolation Row”, but this was an even bigger surprise and it sounded magnificent. Bob and his band then tore the roof off the place with the ferocious roadhouse blues of “Highway 61 Revisited” that really took on a new life with Bob’s piano playing. Dylan then strapped on a guitar for “Simple Twist Of Fate”. And for anyone that wondered if Bob could still play guitar? Not only can he play guitar, but he was ripping off solos and playing leads and gnarly fills like a true blues guitar master. Bob then took to center stage and preached to a willing congregation the unsettling apocalyptic “Ballad Of a Thin Man” before tearing into “Like A Rolling Stone” and “All Along The Watchtower”. For the encore Dylan came out and I got to hear for the first time as well arguably his first historical song, “Blowin’ in the Wind”. It was done masterfully with a full band, I love Bob on piano and Herron’s beautiful fiddle. Bob and company then stood at the end of the show, just soaking in the adulation like the always do. Because they’re bad asses and they know it. Nothing gets cooler than that. They left me salivating for more and I think I have no choice now but to pull the trigger on getting tickets for his Omaha show in November with Mark Knopfler. Also I can’t wait (even more so) for Tempest to be released. Get here soon September! Below is the setlist:

Rochester, Minnesota

Mayo Civic Center

Taylor Arena

August 21, 2012

1. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat

2. Love Minus Zero/No Limit

3. Things Have Changed

4. Tangled Up In Blue

5. Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum

6. John Brown

7. Summer Days

8. Spirit On The Water

9. Rollin’ And Tumblin’

10. Visions Of Johanna

11. Highway 61 Revisited

12. Simple Twist Of Fate

13. Thunder On The Mountain

14. Ballad Of A Thin Man

15. Like A Rolling Stone

16. All Along The Watchtower

(encore)

17. Blowin’ In The Wind

Band Members

Bob Dylan – guitar, keyboard, piano, harp

Tony Garnier – bass

George Recile – drums

Stu Kimball – rhythm guitar

Charlie Sexton – lead guitar

Donnie Herron – violin, banjo, electric mandolin, pedal steel, lap steel

…Well I’m off to Apple River now. If I survive I may have some tales for WordPress world. Stay tuned folks, it’s gonna get weird up in Somerset, WI.

BOB DYLAN: EARLY ROMAN KINGS

This is Bob Dylan’s first released song from his much-anticipated new album Tempest out September 11th. The song is titled, “Early Roman Kings”. The song is a bluesy dirge most similar to “My Wife’s Home Town” from Together Through Life. The prominent instrument is David Hildalgo’s accordion. The accordion was a prominent fixture on Together Through Life. Bob’s lyrics are lysergic and it’s a small dose of the darkness we may be in for on Tempest. Bob’s voice is gravelly as usual but his phrasing and inflections are top notch. A good start!

TEMPEST!

It’s impossible to describe how excited I was this morning when news broke of Bob Dylan’s new studio album getting an official release date and title. It swept me up from the doldrums and had dopamine levels increasing. There were heavy rumors of a September release which is already a stacked month for new albums (The Avett Brothers, The Killers, Muse, Mumford & Sons, Green Day, Band of Horses) and now we know that for a fact on September 11th Dylan will release his 35th studio album entitled Tempest…

It may be too early to read into details, but judging by just the title alone it has the potential to be another latter-day masterpiece in Dylan’s  unmatched canon. The dictionary describes ‘Tempest’ as:

“1. a violent windstorm, especially one with rain, hail, or snow.
2. a violent commotion, disturbance, or tumult.”

When it comes to apocalyptic visions and doomsday prophecies, no one does it better than Dylan. No one comes close. I already covered this more extensively in the previous post but this could be yet another timeless record to add to Dylan’s staggering run in the past 15 years. Even just looking at the tracklist and some of the song titles has me salivating as well. The previous rumor of a 14-minute song about the Titanic seems to now be confirmed as the epic tale will be the title track. There’s also buzz of a John Lennon tribute song, the final song titled, “Roll on John”. Here’s the rest of the tracklist:

1. Duquesne Whistle

2. Soon After Midnight

3. Narrow Way

4. Long and Wasted Years

5. Pay In Blood

6. Scarlet Town

7. Early Roman Kings

8. Tin Angel

9. Tempest

10. Roll On John

Bob’s sure to immediately contend for album of the year upon the release of Tempest and there’s even been rumblings in the industry of people that have heard the album that it is Dylan’s best “For quite sometime”. What the hell does that mean!? I cannot even fathom it being better than “Love & Theft” or Modern Times as I believe those to be his best albums since Blood on the Tracks (Time Out Of Mind is nipping at their heels). But my God, if it is? Okay that’s enough gushing admiration for Dylan and his new record for now, but damn it sounds promising. Excited for September for sure.

On other music frontiers, as of last night another record has risen to the challenge to battle for the prestigious Matt Ireland #1 Record Of The Year, Handwritten by The Gaslight Anthem. It isn’t officially released in the U.S. until next Tuesday (7/24) but I’ve streamed it about five times now on NPR.org, and it only gets better with each listen. I don’t think it will reach the lofty heights of their break-through smash of The ’59 Sound but it’s a close second place. I discussed this with a buddy earlier today and what’s mind-bending about The Gaslight Anthem is that they haven’t released a single bad song on their first four records. That is an amazing feat for sure. At this point it’s a three horse race for #1 with everyone else trailing distantly. Not a knock on the other records of 2012, that’s just how good these three are. The three at the top are Bruce Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball, Japandroids’ Celebration Rock and the aforementioned Handwritten. I’d say Wrecking Ball  is still #1 at this moment, but this Gaslight Anthem record came to dance. Competition is a good thing and no matter who comes out on top at the end of the year, the fans will win for sure.

(Changes)

Still waiting for my diploma in the mail. Apparently they’re supposed to be mailed this week. Alright University of Iowa and USPS, don’t blow this!

On a different note. I may have stepped foot in 5420 Gordon Ave. for the last time today. After 27 years, my parents are moving out and into a smaller apartment/condo.  Makes sense, no more kids in the nest. Plus it was so rundown, I think this will be good for them. I lived there for 20 years of my life. A lot of memories to say the least. Helping them move this weekend was daunting, but I’m glad I helped. One final send off for 5420…

 

 

 

Elsewhere, I’m getting very excited for the albums coming out this Summer/Fall. Yes, I’m obsessed with music. But you know what? Music is so great. At least the kind I listen to anyway. There’s no shortage of juggernauts coming out, but I’m always on the look out for new artists on the rise too. Just a few notables include new records by The Gaslight Anthem, Band of Horses, The Avett Brothers, Green Day, The Killers, Muse, Mumford & Sons, Soundgarden and The Flaming Lips. There’s also numerous other rumored records to be released, most notably Bob Dylan. This is sounding like a lock, but not 100% guaranteed. There hasn’t been a lot of information released regarding the record, but the stuff that has been, has got me salivating. Dylan is a master when it comes crafting lengthy songs and there’s a rumored 9-minute song as well as a staggering 14-minute song, supposedly about the Titanic. That would be his second longest song ever recorded on an album behind “Highlands” which runs longer than 16-minutes. The record is also said to be around 68 minutes. I’m a sucker for long albums too, the more Dylan the better.

In 2008 and 2009 I wrote about the top 10 albums of the year. Stepped up my game a bit in 2010 and wrote about the Top 25 albums of that year. Then I went a little further in 2011 and did a top 30 albums. This year, for 2012? I’m aiming for 50. 50 records to write about! I just may be able to pull this one off. Most people probably don’t even buy 50 records in 2-3 years, let alone 50+ in one year that they have to narrow it down to. I’ve already started to keep track of records and have a rough sketch of the top 20 so far. So far Bruce Springsteen is still #1 with Wrecking Ball, a spot he’s held onto since early March. The only record to come close to challenging it is the surprising surge of the all thrills no frills, all killer no filler of Japandroids’ Celebration Rock. Man they really knocked my wind out with this record, it’s phenomenal, not a bad second on it. I’ve raved about it over the past month. Can’t say enough good things about it. I’d say they’re the Cinderella story of the year, knocking it out of the park ahead of some of the established giants in rock & roll. Anyway, you know the top two, here’s the complete top 20:

1. Bruce Springsteen- Wrecking Ball

2. Japandroids- Celebration Rock

3. The Tallest Man on Earth- There’s No Leaving Now

4. Ben Kweller- Go Fly A Kite

5. Jack White- Blunderbuss

6. The Lumineers- The Lumineers

7. Of Monsters And Men- My Head Is An Animal

8. The Hives- Lex Hives

9. The Shins- Port Of Morrow

10. The Walkmen- Heaven

11. The Smashing Pumpkins- Oceania

12. Delta Spirit- Delta Spirit

13. Fun.- Some Nights

14. Heartless Bastards- Arrow

15. Silversun Pickups- Neck Of The Woods

16. The Beach Boys- That’s Why God Made The Radio

17. Andrew Bird- Break It Yourself

18. Alabama Shakes- Boys & Girls

19. Trampled By Turtles- Stars And Satellites

20. Vintage Trouble- The Bomb Shelter Sessions

There’s a lot of other records I’ve purchased too, but I whittled it down to 20 for now. It’ll be tough to knock The Boss out of that #1 spot, but with these rumors swirling of Dylan’s album being a monster, he could definitely do it. And not because of a Dylan bias since he is my favorite artist, because I try to be as objective as possible. In 2009 Dylan’s Together Through Life, although a very good record, did not even crack my top five that year. The reason is because, well, Bob Dylan has been on a roll for 15 years now including three masterpieces in a row with Time Out Of Mind, “Love & Theft”, and Modern Times. That and his brilliant collection of outtakes and alternate takes of latter day recordings with the bootleg series Tell Tale Signs. On those records and bootlegs are some of the finest moments in Dylan’s career, and that’s saying a lot. If Dylan’s feeling up to it, he can topple anyone, including Springsteen with another marvelous record. Not a knock on Bruce, but there’s only one Bob Dylan. Anyway I’m rambling, just really excited about the prospects of this Dylan album.

Continuing on the music circuit, sort of, can August get here yet? I am taking 10 days off in August, it’s going to be great. What do I have on my plate? A gauntlet of greatness. August 1st: The Black Keys in Council Bluffs, August 3rd-5th: Lollapalooza in Chicago, August 19th: Dawes at The Englert, Bob Dylan in Rochester on August 21st, and then Apple River to close it all out from August 23rd-26th. Yeah, August is going to be great.

Let’s not forget, shortly after that… Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band in Chicago, Wrigley Field on September 7th. Nuff said. Can’t get anymore epic than that.

Well, that’s all for now on the ramblin’ trail…

wait!