Many bands suffer from the second album slump” after having a successful debut. It’s common because while you often have years to write, revise, and road test songs that end up on the first record, the hustle to do a follow up without the luxury of being able to revise and road test the new tunes can lead to something less-than-stellar. It can be a humbling experience, or it can break a band. For The Pretenders, it seemed like it was neither when Pretenders II came out in 1981, but it certainly ended up breaking the band about a year later.

From the band’s formation in 1978, to the debut of their self-titled album in 1980, The Pretenders had time to both refine their sound with addition of James Honeyman-Scott on guitar and (then boyfriend) Pete Farndon on bass. Drummer Martin Chambers didn’t join the group until the band’s original drummer, Gerry Mcilduff, was replaced after releasing “Stop Your Sobbing” in 1979. Lead singer-songwriter and rhythm guitar player Chrissie Hynde’s songs captured a kind of punk, sexually liberated, and sometime feminist view that was lacking in the new wave of rock music at the time. Oh, and it didn’t hurt that The Pretender’s sound — while rooted in rock — spanned the range of rock, post-punk, and pop in 12 tightly written songs.

Coming out of the proverbial gate with such a strong debut plus the rigors of touring meant there was very little time to write songs for their follow-up. Drummer Martin Chambers noted as much in a 1983 with Trouser Press magazine: “Our first LP was very special. The second album was more difficult, because Chrissie had no time to write. She has to be relaxed to write, and we were on the road all the time.” Even with all that pressure on Hynde to write a hit follow-up, Chambers noted, “I’m quite happy with it (Pretenders II). I listen to the first and second albums with equal enjoyment.”

The band certainly changed by 1981. They not only had a successful debut, but they released an EP with two great songs (“Message of Love” and “Talk of the Town”) in March of ‘81 that also included two outtakes from the first record (“Cuban Slide” and “Porcelain”) and a blistering live version of “Precious.” The EP (titled Extended Play) seemed to be a teaser for all the great things to come in the second full album. Alas, Pretenders II at times succumbed to the dreaded  Slump when it was released five months after the EP in August 1981.

As to why Pretenders II didn’t match the debut, much of it has to do with the fact that “Message of Love” and “Talk of the Town” were released months before, and including them on the full album felt more than a bit like filler. Had the band not released the EP, and included “Cuban Slide” and “Porcelain” on the full record, the reaction to Pretenders II would have been very different. Indeed, if those four studio songs had been sequenced into the album’s tracklist in a tasteful way, critics would have been falling all over themselves with praise for the record. It’s not like Pretenders II is a stiff, it’s just that the songs don’t quite pop like they did on the first record –excluding “Message of Love” and “Talk of the Town” of course.

The Adultress” does indeed rock with a lot of confidence, but the message of the song seems more about guilt and loneliness than Hynde’s previous view of sexuality. “Bad Boys Get Spanked” seems forced — like Hynde is trying to be sexually controversial with the lyrics. However, musically, both songs are really fantastic. The band is playing with a lot of confidence and Honeyman-Scott’s guitar work has a heaviness that signals a shift toward the rock side of things. Pete Farndon’s bass work and Martin Chambers’s drumming on “Bad Boys…” propels the song forward in a way that allows Honeyman-Scott to add some tasteful colour on the guitar. And while lyrically the song doesn’t shock as it intended, no one can doubt the sheer ferocity of Hynde’s scream at the end.

“Message of Love” is noted for 1.) being a big hit for the band. 2.) being mostly a band composition. When Chambers and Farndon were interviewed on MTV in 1981, both noted that Hynde came into the studio with some sketches of a song. And although the band rarely did this, they devoted two hours of studio time to take the sketch and make it into “Messsage of Love” that’s rooted in a trade-off of A and G chords between Hynde and Honeyman-Scott. Lyrically, it’s a bit thin, but Hynde really elevates the song by her unique phrasing that kind of shuns a defined melody in favour of a talkative approach in the verses. Still, it’s an interesting enough composition that stands out for its unconventional approach to the song’s structure. There’s no lead break, but rather a kind three chord bridge in the pre-chorus that leads into “Me and you, every night, every day.”

“I Go To Sleep” is a Ray Davies song that’s been covered over 25 times. Hynde is clearly a musician whose 1960s musical influences inform her own, and this cover by Davies — whom she would have a long term relationship that produced Hynde’s first daughter, Natalie — certainly continues her love of his work. The band’s execution seems mostly by the numbers, with the addition of a french horn for extra colouring. It’s the next song, “Birds of Paradise” that’s one of those deep tracks in the group’s catalogue that appears very autobiographical — even though Hynde rarely divulges the inspiration that informs her lyrics. “Talk of the Town” is kind of the other half of “Birds of Paradise.” The former is a reflection of early love and wanting to reconnect with an old boyfriend — even though they never do. The latter is about being infatuated (maybe even in love) and making those feelings known in public — and then kind of regretting it as the rumour mill makes her object of love the talk of the town in the end.

If this were the LP version of Pretenders II, “Talk of the Town” would be the end of side one. Side two begins with a song Hynde wrote with Honeyman-Scott. “Pack It Up” explores a side of love that’s never pleasant:  the break up. But it’s a break up with a rather unsavoury character whose Porsche, ugly trousers, “insipid record collection,” video center and “the usual pornography makes him, in John McEnroe’s famous phase, “the pits of the world.”

“Waste Not Want Not” and “Jealous Dogs” are okay songs, but they kind of drag the album down. It would have been better if these were b-sides for the singles “Day After Day” or “Louie Louie” — while “Cuban Slide” and “Porcelain” were slotted into the album. Doing so would have added more variety to the second side in terms of song styles and minimized the sound alike factor. And really, it’s the last two songs on the record where things start getting interesting again. “The English Roses” is a pretty sad song in, well, a parade of them. But this one has a chorus that begins with “This is a story” and ends either with the fruit cut from the vine before its time and left to rot, or with a girl “Looking for someone to hold.” Again, Chrissie Hynde isn’t the kind of songwriter who likes to talk about the autobiographical roots of her lyrics, but it’s not difficult to read into “The English Roses” as the story of Hynde being disappointed by relationships that failed to bloom (“A thousand broken dates”), or is the girl whose “wish made on a star” brought her to the courtyard.

Her feelings about relationships are reflected in the names she assigns her main characters. It’s not difficult to see that the English Rose, The Adultress, and most every other song on the record are allusions to lousy relationships Hynde has had. What has she learned from them? Well, besides heartbreak feeling like the crack of whip, there’s more than a whiff of romanticism and longing lurking in the lyrics. And that romanticism (as in idealizing the past) comes out full throttle in the album closer, “Louie Louie.” Louie seems to be the last in a string of men who “made his mark” on Hynde’s “tender heart.” The aquiline way he moves, the smell of his shirts, “The Jamaican moon”…yeah, she had it bad for this cat. Musically, “Louie Louie” does not suffer from lack of energy. It’s a wonderful album closer with its upbeat tempo, tasteful horn section, and Hynde’s vocal delivery that comes together in a song that looks at the past in a more loving than wistful way.

Overall, Pretenders II does suffer a bit but it doesn’t entirely fail in its endeavors as a follow up to the band’s debut. Though the lyrics were rushed, and the band sometimes sounds less inventive in the middle part of the album, all four members played with greater level of accomplishment and confidence than they previously had. Part of that was undoubtedly the amount of touring they were doing. The other part was that they were good players who just got better over time. Alas, this was the last record to feature Hynde, Honeyman-Scott, Chambers, and Farndon. On June, 14th 1982, Pete Farndon was fired from the band due in large part to his drug addiction. Two days later James Honeyman-Scott died from cocaine-induced heart failure. Farndon would die on April 14th, 1983 from a heroin-related drowning. Or as Hynde tells it in a 1984 interview with Rolling Stone, “The guy blew it,” says Chrissie. “He shot up a speedball and drowned in the bath.”

The band would continue with Chambers — in and out of the band in its various incarnations from then on. However, it’s clear while there were good records by The Pretenders that came after the first two, Hynde and her rotating group of players were never able to capture what Honeyman-Scott and Farndon brought to the table that made The Pretenders one of the more exciting bands to emerge out of the British post-punk scene of the early ‘80s.

an image of Gregory Uhlmann

Singer-songwriter and guitarist Gregory Uhlmann, a member of Perfume Genius, Fell Runner and the genre-bending improvising trio Typical Sisters, has in the past found loveliness in dark places. His acclaimed solo album of 2016, Odd Job (Dog Legs Music), blended “lush, hypnotic, minimalist chamber-pop with compelling, introspective folk melancholy,” per the Big Takeover. The Chicago Reader had equally high praise for Uhlmann’s “tender singer-songwriter album,” a collection of “beautiful melodies with somber, baroque arrangements.”
For Uhlmann, Odd Job came from a place of yearning and longing—an expression of a young songwriter looking back, often in sadness or regret or angst. But his new project, Neighborhood Watch, while also rich in melodic and textural allure, comes from a place of contentment. Consider it a meditation on domestic bliss experienced in early adulthood, an expression of the sweetness, good humour and fond reflections Uhlmann is compelled toward at this happy place in his life. “Neighborhood Watch” is a cozy portrait of grains of sand, cats, ants, getting colds, letting loose, feeling shy, watching movies, and being in love,” the songwriter says.

It’s also, somewhat ironically, a brilliant team effort involving several of Uhlmann’s favorite musicians and most trusted collaborators: Josh Johnson, keys; Anna Butterss, bass; Tim Carr, drums and voice; Matt Carroll, percussion; Lauren Baba, violin and viola; and April Guthrie on cello. Consistent with the majority of Uhlmann’s work, the songs on Neighborhood Watch match consummate musicianship and thoughtful songcraft with an innate gift for melody, and that lyricism is channelled through Uhlmann’s unique singing voice—soft and balmy yet also direct and affecting. Ultimately, the results summon up a number of touchstones in smart, studio-conscious orchestral pop, psychedelic folk and indie-rock: Think of Van Dyke Parks, the Zombies, Cate le Bon, and Bill Callahan.

In the end, however, it is Uhlmann’s life and sound reflected intimately in this music. “Bed” finds the songwriter reconciling his single, independent life with a newer version of himself who desires to settle down. “Benny” is a character study of sorts, and an opportunity for Uhlmann to vicariously throw caution to the wind. Jump-cutting from discordant, brazen sonics to gorgeous strings and supple melody, “Cool Breeze” is lyrically a curio about L.A.’s unforgiving summer heat; “Neighborhood Watch,” based in part on a fellow resident of Uhlmann’s Echo Park, is similarly droll. “DNA” delves into the idea of being in love but having uncertain goals, while “Spice Girls”—title courtesy of Butterss—ruminates on the challenges of falling in love and learning to give of yourself. “Hourglass” finds inspiration in the verse of the late poet W.S. Merwin. Uhlmann enlists vocal help from Meg Duffy (Hand Habits) on “Santa Fe,” a charming reverie in which the songwriter warmly ponders the spring-break trips he took to visit his grandparents. “Coupon” is another poetic travelogue of sorts, this time about a family sojourn to New York.

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Raised in Chicago and currently based in L.A., Uhlmann earned a BFA in jazz-guitar studies from the California Institute of the Arts in 2014, also studying composition and various world musics. He has since pursued engaging work in a variety of musical and creative disciplines. Uhlmann’s c.v. includes music for chamber ensembles; scores for dance, film, television and online media, including credits for Vogue, Netflix and the Moth podcast; an ongoing cross-disciplinary collaboration with the poet David Baker; and performances and recordings with many, many remarkable bands and musicians. In 2016, he and Tim Carr (Haim/The Americans) cofounded the production company Dog Legs Music. Prior to Neighborhood Watch, Uhlmann’s most recent release was Hungry Ghost, by the trio Typical Sisters. “This is improvisation-driven music, right at the corner of jazz and post-rock, but there are none of the showy, full-band mis-directions that have become so typical of jazz today,” the New York Times wrote of the album. The paper later called the music “group exploration with little flexing or hurry, electric guitar melodies that sound like open promises.”

But Neighborhood Watch is Uhlmann’s most definitive—and private, and fulfilled—effort yet. “This album reflects where I’m at in my life. It feels more grown up, but still contains a certain level of uncertainty and searching. I think I’ll always be looking for answers, but I’m more comfortable with the idea that there are not always clear cut solutions and that’s ok,” he says.

Released July 24th, 2020
Band Members:
Gregory Uhlmann – compositions, arrangements, production, guitars, vocals, keyboards, percussion
Tim Carr – drums, percussion, vocals
Anna Butterss – bass, vocals
Josh Johnson – keyboards
Elizabeth Baba – violin, viola
April Guthrie – cello
Matt Carroll – percussion
Meg Duffy – vocals (on Sante Fe)

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David Crosby’s now classic debut solo album “If I Could Only Remember My Name” featured members of CSN&Y, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Santana on the illustrious guest list. If I Could Only Remember My Name was regarded as one of the best sounding albums of the early 70s but this is some of the coolest Crosby you’ll ever hear.

What is Perro Sessions? : The Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra is a nickname given to artists who recorded together in the early 1970s. They were predominantly members of Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Crosby, Stills and Nash. Their first album recorded together was “Blows Against the Empire”, when they were known as Jefferson Starship. The name changed to Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra for the next album, David Crosby’s If I Could Only Remember My Name.

During the sessions for Crosby’s album at Wally Heider Studios, the musicians of each band were invited to the sessions and rehearsed hours of material, and everything was recorded. Material played during these recorded sessions in 1971 was used for Crosby’s album (the “Perro Chorus” is credited on the song, “What Are Their Names”) and several other solo albums after Crosby’s . The name Jefferson Starship was later used for Paul Kantner and Grace Slick’s new band formed in 1974. Paul Kantner recorded a solo album in 1983 as a tribute to this time, Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra.

The material on the Perro tapes was very interesting, but had nothing to do with CSNY. There were 4 reels of 2 track mixes made in 1971 during the sessions (obviously there is more that has never been mixed). The tapes were put into storage in Nash’s vault. Paul called Nash in 1992 and requested DATs of those tapes. This was the first time they had been outside of the CSNY organization. They were copied at A&M Post Production audio and my personal DAT was made at that time. The roots of Perro go back a lot further than 1971. 1 guess it had its inception in the early years of the ’60s (prior to the Airplane, the Byrds et al) when Kantner, Crosby and Freiberg used to hang out, play music, get high and rap together around Venice Beach. That was the initial bond, the start of it all.

The “PERRO Chorus” is credited on Crosby’s song, “What Are Their Names” and several other solo albums after Crosby’s. The name Jefferson Starship was later used for Paul Kantner and Grace Slick’s new band formed in 1974. Paul Kantner recorded a solo album in 1983 as a tribute to this time, Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra.

Later, when they were in bands of their own, there were occasional points of interaction – like Garcia sitting in on the ‘Surrealistic Pillow’ sessions, like Crosby giving “Triad” to the Airplane when he couldn’t get the Byrds to record it, like Kantner, Crosby and Stills writing “Wooden Ships”.

Then, as the ’60s drew to a close, two sets of circumstances combined to bring the Planet Earth Rock And Roll Dream a whole lot nearer. One was the opening of Wally Heider’s studio in San Francisco – because now the local SF musicians (Airplane, Quicksilver, Dead) had a place on their doorstep where they could record. This gave item freedom from the corporate studios to record and produce as they saw fit, to come and go more as they pleased and to invite the musical neighbourhood in if they chose. (It hadn’t been so easy when they were holed up at RCA’s or Warner’s studios in Hollywood.) The other catalyst was the state of flux that a lot of bands were falling into by 1969/1970, for Crosby had left the Byrds, the Airplane was a less cohesive force with Dryden out and Hot Tuna splitting off, and Dino Valenti’s arrival had unsettled QMS.

Things had come pretty much full circle by the end of the decade. Kantner was again hanging out with Crosby (quite often on the latter’s yacht) and with David Freiberg – and, when Paul came to assemble musicians to record ‘Blows Against The Empire’, it wasn’t just to his Airplane cohorts that he turned but also to Crosby and Garcia and even Graham Nash – who’d just bought a house in Frisco and ended up producing the whole second side of the ‘Blows…’ album at Heider’s studio. ‘Blows…” was the first album by that collection of musicians whom Paul liked to term the Planet Earth Rock And Roll Orchestra.

The fact that he billed the album as being by Jefferson Starship shouldn’t mislead anyone. Kantner, Crosby, Slick, Freiberg, Nash, Garcia, Kaukonen, Lesh, Casady, Kreutzmann, Hart – these people were the Planet Earth Rock And Roll Orchestra, supporting each other on key projects.

Blows Against The Empire

As Grace recalls, “These sessions were like ‘Uh, do you wanna play guitar on this one?’ ‘No, man, I have to go to the bathroom.’ ‘Okay, David, you wanna play?’ ‘Sure’. Whoever felt like doing something did it. Parts interchanged, people interchanged.”

Graham Nash says “They asked me my opinion and I just jumped right in. Grace, Paul, David – they let me do whatever I heard. I was searching for this kind of environment when I came to America and when I was mixing in the studio our imaginations were running rampant. We were creating virtual kingdoms with music.”
The second such PERRO project was David Crosby’s debut solo album, ‘If I Could Only Remember My Name’, which features all of the above-mentioned Planet Earthers plus the likes of Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Greg Rolie and Mike Shrieve from the band Santana.

They come from sessions at Wally Heider’s San Francisco studios in 1971. Crosby had sailed his boat up to Sausalito harbour. Nash was resident in the Haight. Kantner and Slick had moved out to Bolinas and the Dead were in Mill Valley but they would all head for Wally’s of an evening to work on PERRO songs. Some of these things ended up on Crosby’s solo, a couple on Garcia’s solo, one on Grace’s album, one on Paul’s 1983 ‘Planet Earth...’ album – and some have never seen the light of day, in which case we’ve had to guess at what they might be title.

“Walkin’ In The Mountains” (1′ 47n): A Crosby composition featuring typically attractive chordings, but little in the way of finished lyrics. “All the words we got so far are just ideas of places we’d like to go,- he tells Garcia at the start of this…

> “I went walkin’ out last summer> Tryin’ to find a breath of air.> I went walkin’ in the mountains> A friend had told me I’d find you there”

comprises just about all the words he has, but the feel is so airy and open you can almost smell that mountain air. The sequence makes a surprise reappearance later in the tape, as an intro to version four of ‘The Mountain Song’.

Barncard: Two of the versions are actually the same performance, the second remixed a little better.

Is It Really Monday?” (4′ 55″): Crosby again, and this one begins with his acoustic guitar and the composer scat-singing the abstruse melody. When the lyrics arrive, he asks:

> “Is it really Monday? > I must have been here before. > Is it really Monday? > I think the walls begin to speak.”

The tempo is very slow, in a country blues vein and Garcia adds some restrained picking. The lugubrious bass sounds like that of Phil Lesh.

“Under Anesthesia” (5′ 14″): The timing includes a false start of about 45 seconds, after which Crosby calls a halt and announces ‘No, that’s not it. Started too slow, it’s outta time and I didn’t get the right words!” When he does, it’s another hugely impressive song, the lyrical angle of which is to bemoan the inertia of the common man – who is portrayed as stupefied by beer and TV. At the conclusion, Crosby launches into a brief sequence on guitar and comments ‘I thought I’d try something original…if I write another song in E Minor, man, I’m gonna get fired!’

*This song is actually called “You Sit There”

“Loser” (8′ 41″): The timing includes several restarts and Jerry explaining – and indeed demonstrating – the chord progression to his colleagues, who could well be Crosby, Lesh and Papa John*. There’s certainly a violin in here and it works especially well, counterpointing the three guitars most effectively. *Papa John never hung out in PERRO sessions. Possibily David Freiberg on viola.

It’s obviously an early run through the song as Jerry doesn’t have much more than the first verse written. The second crack has more audible vocals, but Garcia still resorts to “da da das” from the second verse on. The bridge is there, at least intact musically, even if the only line Jerry seems sure about is the closing “Don’t let that deal go down” The genesis of a great song.

If I Could Only Remember My Name

“Over Jordan” (3′ 30″): Another Crosby song, replete with a beautiful structure, but short on completed lyrics. It begins with David’s rippling acoustic guitar which is soon joined by that of Garcia for some impressive picking.

> “I’m only going over Jordan, > Just a-goin” to my home”

sings Crosby, but after a couple of minutes he declares that he’s forgotten the changes, so restarts the performance at the bridge. This is a delightful half-song which the composer should really have completed and recorded at some stage. *Also called “Wayfaring Stranger”

“The Mountain Song – 1″ (5′ 11″): This is the first of several attempts at what would eventually become a slice of classic Airmachine. However, at this stage, the only fragment of the song they had to work with was the line “Gonna make the mountains be my home” and the chord-sequence that supported it, so it’s quite amazing that from such a meager base Kantner, Slick, Crosby and Garcia (possibly with Casady and Hart) are able to conjure 23 minutes of undulating beauty. There’s a banjo featured prominently, plus two acoustic guitars and Grace’s distinctive piano. The banjo is Paul K.& the touches are so accomplished, it’s Kantner on the five- string with Garcia and Crosby on guitars. Surprisingly, there’s no trace of Paul’s vocal – though the other three take care of that handsomely enough.

Early on, it’s Jerry singing the line in orthodox fashion, while Grace embellishes with some improvised lyrics around the theme. Then Crosby takes Grace’s place and scats around Jerry’s vocal for a while. As you’d expect, the playing is loose and slightly tentative on this first version, but no less affecting for all that.

“The Mountain Song – 2″ (5′ 17″): Grace is back providing an improvised descant to Jerry’s straight vocal at the start here, and she’s singing about the sky and the river as he eulogizes the mountains. After a minute or so, Crosby introduces his scat and Grace leaves the chorus to concentrate on her keyboards. Her vocal chords are re-engaged towards the close.

“The Mountain Song – 3″ (3′ 44″): This version begins with Jerry and David singing the line and Grace gliding around them. Briefly, Crosby supersedes her in this role but soon the two of them are improvising around the structure as Jerry perseveres in the middle. At the end of this effort, Paul is heard to remark “It sounds like everybody’s going in and out of time” to which Crosby responds “No, no, no, it’s all working – and it works perfectly.” The listener is strongly inclined to agree with him.

“The Mountain Song – 4″ (8′ 20″): As you’ll see, this is the longest version and undoubtedly the most satisfying of the four. This is where Crosby’s embryonic “Walkin’ In The Mountains” suddenly reemerges and he goes through the verse and various chord sequences as an introduction to “The Mountain Song,” to which it bridges seamlessly and beautifully. It’s a remarkable segue which makes the listener keenly aware of how the song could have developed in a very different direction had Crosby stayed to contribute throughout its evolution. Speculation aside, what we do have is a return to the familiar pattern of banjo, guitars, bass, piano and percussion. Crosby reverts to his scatted counterpoint before it slips into a stunning instrumental section. Herein, the music weaves a genuinely hypnotic spell as it rolls effortlessly along the bed of Paul’s banjo and Grace’s piano, with Garcia picking exquisitely. After several minutes of this, the vocal pattern is re-introduced, now in a more restrained vein against instrumentation which has become subdued, with Grace and the Crosby gently dancing around Jerry to the finale of a wonderful excursion.

A definite high point on this portion of the tape Mountains v. 4 reaches its apex (a phenomenal passage in it’s own right), when the band led by Jerry starts coaxing out a proto version of  Loser and a brief reprise of Deal including a pause to recapitulate the chords.  Then there is a cold cut in the tape and Jerry plainly recounts the chord progression: C-Em-Am-G-Am.  At which point they go into Deal proper.

“Wild Turkey” (4′ 20″)(AKA “Leather Winged Bat”): An interesting improvisation with Jorma and Jack at the controls, this may or may not be an early styling of what became the dynamic duo’s “Bark” instrumental. It certainly starts off that way, with Kaukonen roaring out some aggressive electric noise and Casady on a familiar rumble. But soon it settles into something much gentler, employing a more reflective chord progression. Jorma’s playing rises and falls in a fairly relaxed manner – until the finale, when he stirs it back towards the “Turkey” structure with some more  combative lead guitar. It could well be that Jack and Jorma decided the split-mood approach didn’t work and restructured the number as the wholly aggressive strut we encountered on ‘Bark’. Whatever, it’s a nicely balanced piece and a pleasure to hear.

“Jorma & Jerry’s Jam – 1″ (14′ 22″): If the previous outing was a pleasure, this jam is a sensation! As readers will be aware, there’s little recorded evidence of Kaukonen and. Garcia essaying their remarkable skills together, so this is a rare chance to hear the fruits of one such collaboration. Backed up by the supple bass of Jack Casady plus solid percussion (Mickey Hart?), this is a quarter-hour of incisive and responsive musicianship – intuitively structured and beautifully realized. Jorma leads it off on electric guitar, his playing funky and rich in wah-wah, whilst Jerry complements it with a more subdued style. Casady is well mixed and excellent, but it’s Jorma’s sprawling mass of notes which take center stage in this section; hot, handy and winding all over the soundscape in unfettered rampage. Having played a disciplined supporting role for the first half of the jam – his accomplished touches providing the perfect foil to Jorma’s aggression – Jerry assumes control for the second phase. Initially calm after the Kaukonen storm, this movement gradually builds over several minutes into a fabulous jam, delightfully evolved and transfixing the listener as it develops. Jerry’s playing gets less lyrical, more earthy, until it is stylistically much closer to his partner’s earlier contribution. Naturally, Jorma then resumes the lead and steers the ensemble to a nicely judged conclusion. It would be perfectly reasonable to hail this example of superlative sparring as San Francisco jamming at its very finest.

“The Wall Song -1″ (6′ 00″): After a waggish intro from the composer, we’re into a captivating version of a Crosby song which appeared in 1972 on the LP ‘Graham Nash David Crosby.’ On that take, the duo were backed by Garcia, Lesh and Kreutzmann and there’s no reason to suppose that the same trio isn’t in support here. The real distinction between the released version and this is the absence of Nash – though this is more than ably compensated for by the double-tracking of Crosby’s wonderful voice, which provides an imaginative and memorable harmony. But there’s a bonus. Just when listeners familiar with the 1972 record expect the track to finish, there’s a lovely instrumental excursion with Garcia in winning form, shuffling percussion from Bill and a gentle ripple from Lesh. Really, this is so good it eclipses the official release by some distance – and should clearly have been included in the CS&N box of 1991.

“The Wall Song – 2″ (4′ 27″): Again, David is doubly tracked, but this time there’s only his own acoustic guitar in support, and the performance is generally a little lazier than before.

“Eep Hour” (4′ 44″): A very dissimilar reading from the one which appeared on ‘Garcia’ and which had keyboard and pedal steel dominating the sound. This is just the acoustic guitars and bass and has a very Spanish ambiance. Presuming that Jerry isn’t multi-tracked and playing everything himself – as he did on his album – we might take the other participants to be Lesh and either Kantner or Crosby. *Jack Casady plays bass on EEP HOUR

At the close, there’s a whoop of triumph from somebody and what sounds like Kantner’s voice saying ‘everybody just have a little break from their guitar strings!’

“Shuffle” (2′ 20″): Two guitars (one electric), bass and drums glide effortlessly down a four-chord structure for a couple of minutes. The drums shuffle effectively but nothing much happens and the piece sounds more like an intro to something more substantial than an entity in itself.

“Jorma & Jerry’s Jam – 2″ (14′ 29″): This has a slightly longer introduction than its earlier incarnation (i.e. it starts a few seconds before) but is otherwise identical to the first version.

These tapes are a fabulous find, showing as they do the formative stages of some classic songs and hinting at others, notably by Crosby, that could have been among the best things he never recorded.

Personal: David Crosby — guitars, vocals Laura Allan – autoharp, vocal Jack Casady – bass David Freiberg – vocal Jerry Garcia — guitars, pedal steel guitar, vocal Mickey Hart — drums Paul Kantner – vocal Jorma Kaukonen – guitar Bill Kreutzmann — drums, tambourine Phil Lesh — bass, vocal Joni Mitchell – vocals Graham Nash — guitar, vocals Gregg Rolie – piano Michael Shrieve – drums Grace Slick – vocal Neil Young — guitars, bass, vibraphone, congas, vocals

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Jefferson Airplane loomed large among the giants of San Francisco psych-rock, experimenting with folky and druggy sounds on their string of influential ’60s LPs. Their vision crystalized on 1967’s ‘Surrealistic Pillow,’ the first of four records to feature their classic sextet lineup of vocalists Grace Slick and Marty Balin, singer-guitarist Paul Kantner, lead guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, bassist Jack Casady and drummer Spencer Dryden. That album also marked a commercial peak, spawning the definitive hits “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit.”

By the time Jefferson Airplane took the stage at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair on the morning of August 17th, 1969, they were understandably very tired. The San Francisco group had been scheduled to perform the night before, a Saturday, but delay upon delay resulted in their set being pushed back again and again.

Following the Who’s well received set, the Airplane plugged in and woke up anyone who’d dared to fall asleep. “Alright, friends,” Grace Slick addressed the sea of humans, “you have seen the heavy groups. Now you will see morning maniac music. Believe me, yeah, it’s a new dawn.”

With Nicky Hopkins sitting in on piano, the Airplane, who were paid $15,000 for their morning’s work, played to the throng but all of the band members later agreed that their performance was anything but inspired. When the filmmakers assembling the Woodstock documentary later approached the group about being included, they were given the thumbs down.

Best Classic Bands’ editor has interviewed all of the members of Jefferson Airplane who performed on that day, some of whom have since left us, as well as others involved in their appearance at the festival. Some of the following recollections appeared in his biography of the band, Got a Revolution! The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane. Others have never before been in print.

As you’ll see, not all of their stories coincide. Hey, it was a long time ago.

Spencer Dryden (drummer): We drove in from Tanglewood [in Massachusetts], where we’d played with B.B. King and the Who, through the Catskills: real pretty, farmland and trees and rolling valleys. We got into the town of Liberty [N.Y.], where there was a big Holiday Inn where everyone was staying. Everybody was in their rooms talking and in the bar, hanging out with Keith Moon.

Some of the guys in the band went [to the festival site] that night, before the thing started, to check out the stage and see what it was like and they came back with stories about how it was amazing—everybody in the world was there. It had rained the night before and there were worries about whether the show was going to go on.

There was a helicopter that was ferrying people back and forth from the hotel to the site and show times were being changed. They’re saying, “You guys gotta get over here right now.” This was the middle of [Saturday] afternoon.

Bill Thompson (manager): The [Holiday Inn] was the great scene. Everybody was staying there. It was Janis, Grace, Marty, [Jerry] Garcia and Pigpen. Keith Moon was in my room all night, smoking pot. We flew to Woodstock in the helicopter. The [promoters] were hoping to get 50,000 people. They weren’t set up for more people than that.

Spencer Dryden: We couldn’t get a helicopter so we had to drive in.

Grace Slick (singer): We were supposed to go on at nine o’clock at night.

Spencer Dryden: We were supposed to go on at midnight. We finally went on at dawn. And by that time, most of the audience was asleep.

Before us on Saturday night, they had Santana, Creedence Clearwater, Sly and the Family Stone, Janis Joplin, the Who, the Dead. [Before we went on] I went to [promoter] Michael Lang and I said, “Where’s the money?” [He said] “Oh, man, you know, this is so beautiful.” They’d all taken acid and were barefoot. “This is so beautiful, man, all these people; it’s so cool.” “Yeah. Where’s the money?” Finally I went to [managers of other bands] and I said, “Look, these guys are gonna fucking burn us unless we get this. This is bullshit. Look at all this money. They’re making a movie,” and the whole thing. So on Saturday afternoon we demanded the money. And Saturdays, in ’69, used to be like Sundays are now with banks. They weren’t open. But somehow or another Michael Lang got this guy to go in the bank on Saturday and open up the vault and we all got paid. Bill Thompson: We insisted on closing [Saturday night] at Woodstock. We always closed; we were the headliner. We were big enough at that time to get our way. It was amazing how many people were there, 400,000. We couldn’t believe it. It was raining and muddy. These guys [the promoters] weren’t anticipating it.

Jorma Kaukonen (lead guitarist/singer): We went on like 18 hours late, something ridiculous. My wife was there but I had this girlfriend who had also shown up, so I was really concerned with keeping the two of them as far apart as possible. My ex-wife used to claim that one of the reasons I played so long was that I was afraid to face her when I came offstage, and there could have been some truth to this. I could hardly wait to get onstage at this particular venue.

Marty Balin (singer): Woodstock was a lot of fun. It was a muddy mess at times. I remember it being something really spectacular for me, the stage and the lights at night and the performances. But we didn’t get to go on until morning, and by then we had been drunk and re-sobered up and drunk again and sobered up. I mean, it was terrible by the time we went on. The sun was coming up, people were asleep in the mud. It was a corny time.

Grace Slick: Woodstock everybody remembers with a little more fondness than I do. I have a bladder about the size of a dime and you couldn’t get off the stage to go to the bathroom. It was not that well organized. I don’t think they expected as many people as they did.

Glenn McKay (light show operator): I always had a bad taste about Woodstock. I waited the whole fucking night. I even cut holes in my $2,000 screen so that the wind wouldn’t take it away. And then the Airplane comes on and the sun comes up. [A light show] can’t compete with that.

Spencer Dryden: Paul [Kantner, guitarist/singer] had said, “Well, if we can’t go on at midnight, we want to go on as the sun comes up.” Unfortunately, the Who were playing and they were in the middle of their set when the sun came up and they didn’t care a whit whether the sun was coming up or not.

Jorma Kaukonen: I wish that I had more significant memories of Woodstock. I didn’t have any grand epiphanies or moments of extreme clarity. But I do remember thinking, this truly is unbelievable. Because it was, just the mass and the feeling of “usness.”

Paul Kantner (guitarist/singer): It was a little harsher than normal but fun, interesting. The edge, dealing with the unexpected. I like that, particularly if you deal with it semi-successfully. We didn’t necessarily deal with being onstage semi-successfully. We were pretty ragged.

Bill Thompson: Paul killed [the band’s appearance in the documentary film]. He thought the performance was bad, because they had taken every fucking drug around them. He was very adamant about it. So we didn’t get in.

Marty Balin: It was a mess for our performance but it was the beginning of what music can do politically and as a force.

Jack Casady (bassist): There were plenty of things wrong with it, but basically Woodstock was a great event that was full of chaos and full of aspects where nobody knew quite what was going to happen next. It became a media phenomenon. It’s not my most favourite performance, by any means. Everybody’s dog tired, out of tune and had been awake for about 24 hours. It wasn’t the optimum time. I guess we played OK.

Spencer Dryden: I don’t remember it being one of our best shows. I do remember [pianist] Nicky Hopkins being on there [sitting in with the band], which was nice, because if anything else, he helped glue the band together. And then I remember that we drove back to the hotel, no more helicopters, and Nicky didn’t have a room so he stayed with me and [Spencer’s wife] Sally. And Nicky is the loudest snorer I ever heard in my life.


Spencer Dryden:
 [After Woodstock], we got back in the cars and we had to go to New York to do The Dick Cavett Show that night. Hendrix was supposed to do it but he couldn’t so Joni Mitchell did it because she couldn’t get to Woodstock, so there was just this big multi-proportional screw-up, logistics gone bad. Joni was very afraid and had stage fright and David Crosby kind of helped calm her down. Nicky Hopkins (guest pianist): I did the [Airplane’sVolunteers album, then they said, “Can you come and do this open-air concert with us in the east? It’ll be about three days.” I sort of liked the idea and I said yeah, I’ll come down. So I went with them and it turned out it was Woodstock. I sat in with them—there was some talk at that point about me joining them, which never happened. Then I did a TV show with them afterwards.

Grace Slick: Woodstock was unique in that there were a half million people not stabbing each other to death. That was its main claim to fame. And it was a statement of, look at us, we’re 25 and we’re all together and things ought to change.

Jorma Kaukonen: I think it would have been hard to overhype Woodstock, just because of what happened there. Woodstock was a significant event.

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It’s devastating in more ways than one as bdrmm launch into their debut album ‘Bedroom’ at Hull venue, The Dive. Firstly, there’s the sound itself that knocks you for six; pulsing synths, emotive guitar lines and agony-steeped vocals, you’re instantly left longing to be in the same muggy room as the shoegazers.

Then there’s the reminder of the devastation felt by local venues across the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This showcase to raise funds comes on the same night as the We Make Events Campaign lights up venues across the country red, raising awareness for the situation facing the events industry. Hull has seen first hand the severity of this crisis, with pillar venues The Welly and The Polar Bear recently closing its doors for good.

An enthused presenter hosting the live stream announces that 2020 was to be this particular band’s year and it’s hard to disagree. After all, NME declared it a “modern shoegaze classic” as they earned the five-star treatment back in July. A quick interview before they commence details the weirdness of dropping a record four years in the making without any live shows to keep momentum flowing. “Of course we wanted to be playing shows,” says frontman Ryan Smith. “We had a tour sorted which fell through, all you’ve got to do is keep optimistic and keep pushing it back until we actually can do it.”

bdrmm on their meditative debut: “It’s a hybrid of relationships, mental health and growing up”

Tonight such worries are cast aside and we’re gifted the band’s first live performance since their album dropped in July, and it’s mesmerising stuff. Instrumental opener ‘Momo’ is a gripping introduction, deeply pensive whirling guitars set a tone much like that on the album itself – the band are animated and locked into the impactful whirring groove from the get-go. The haunting ‘Push / Pull’ follows with a brooding tone matching some of the stark themes on the record, which range from substance abuse through to unplanned pregnancies and mental health issues.

Ryan Smith brings to mind Nothing’s Dominic Palermo throughout with his painfully soft vocal lines – much like those noise-rockers, the fragile moments are pulled into heavier, scrappier territory here. Perhaps it’s due to the heatwave but the band themselves look stifled after a couple tracks, something in itself which is a reminder of the power of intimate gigs, crammed in with only the warm dregs of a pint for hydration. We’d take it right now.
The number of textures on the album are done justice throughout this seven-song set, and a quick peak at the array of pedals framing the stage demonstrate just how meticulously-crafted this sound is. ‘A Reason To Celebrate’ delivers their most towering and commercial punch, with a piercing chorus to dredge up all sorts of feelings.

This is a profound encapsulation of those intimate shows bdrmm would have been playing, and here they prove just how staggering those moments will be once they can return. A wholesome and brutally nostalgic live stream for an imperative cause, ultimately showing that bdrmm can summon all the power of their stunning debut in the live setting.

Band Members:
Ryan Smith,
Jordan Smith,
Joe Vickers,
Danny Hull,
Luke Irvin,

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Cardinal Fuzz and Little Cloud Records are delighted to bring to you ‘Northern Songs’. Hyperbole is never our thing but we need to shout it loud that this latest Asteroid No.4 LP is chock full of irresistible hooks and trippy shimmering jangles that will not be able to shake (and why would you want to) – Astereoid No.4 have created the perfect blend of neo-psych for strolling and losing yourself to in the late Summer Sun (anytime / season will work).

‘Northern Songs’ is the band’s tenth full length record, following up the ‘Collide’ LP in 2018. Here, the 12-string folk-rock jangle of the mid-60’s Byrds is overlaid with the washed-out vocal harmonies of Ride and topped off with psychedelic drones familiar to Spacemen 3. This is a hypnotic hybrid of several different genres filtered through the kaleidoscope of all things psychedelic.

On this new album, they did all writing, playing, recording, mixing and mastering in their own studio. This is the first time they’ve gone fully DIY since their fourth album ‘An Amazing Dream’ (2006), where the band finally found their own trademark sound. “This is a first for us as we’ve always had at least guest musicians or someone else mix or master. It was an experiment on what we could do ourselves and testing our new studio in San Rafael, CA for the first time. Our sound is primarily rooted in the British indie music from the 80s and 90s. This is the music we grew up on, we still listen to today, and what happens as a natural result of our songwriting,” says Scott Vitt.

“Lyrically there’s reference to what is happening both socially and politically in the world around us. We wanted to make an album that brought an air of calm or even nostalgia, to remind people that there was a time, not all that long ago, when things seemed way more normal compared to what we’re experiencing today.”

Considered stalwarts of the modern ‘psych’ genre, they are known for their prolific discography of reverb-drenched recordings and liquid-projected live performances. With a sound all their own and neo-psychedelic / shoegaze learnings, they are often compared to acts like Spacemen 3 and Paisley Underground kingpins The Rain Parade.

A dynamic live act, The Asteroid No.4 integrate multi-textured guitars and reverb-drenched vocal harmonies over an unwavering rhythm section. Their prolific output has earned them a dedicated fan base within the flourishing underground psychedelic scene, with over a dozen compilation appearances, digital-only rarity releases, and multiple singles and EPs.

Named after Vesta, the brightest asteroid in our solar system, their moniker is an obvious nod to Spacemen 3, one of the band’s main influences. In fact, one of the group’s earliest recordings was a faithful cover of their ‘Losing Touch with My Mind’. Released via UK label Rocket Girl’s tribute compilation to the 80’s legends, Pete ‘Sonic Boom’ Kember himself named the song as a stand-out track in an interview with Magnet Magazine.

The Asteroid No.4’s new album “Northern Songs”. LP and full digital album available July 2020 from Little Cloud and Cardinal Fuzz Records.

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With their debut album a now imminent prospect, we’ve been blasting Sea Girls at every sunny opportunity. In particular, ‘Closer’ is a great track to add to your playlists for a brilliant dose of indie joy. With trilling guitars and an infectious chorus, the tune remains one of their best.

Well here we are! Our debut album ‘Open Up Your Head’ is finally out. We’ve played music together since we first started learning instruments (however badly) in our teens and its so humbling that it’s lead to this. This has been the craziest journey of our lives and whilst it hasn’t always been a smooth ride all of our experiences have led us to this moment and it’s an honour to share this album with you. This band has taken us to so many amazing places and given us the chance to pursue what has felt like a fevered pipe dream at times. Ultimately we’re just four guys who love music and it’s every one of you that makes this band what it is, thank you for being with us every step of the way. We’re privileged to have a community that supports us and each other and the connection we feel with you guys is truly special. So let’s turn the music up fucking loud and enter the Open Up Your Head era together. 

We’re so excited to announce we’re going to be hitting the road again in November for a run of special intimate record store shows! Pre-order ‘Open Up Your Head’ from these independent record stores for tickets. You’ll get an album, you’ll get a ticket and we get to see all your lovely faces again!.  Nottingham, Bristol and Marlborough tickets will be available from tomorrow.

Band Members
Henry Camamile, Rory Young, Andrew Dawson & Oli Khan

‘Open Up Your Head’ The debut album Polydor Records

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David Crosby has the distinction of being a founding member of both the Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash who has survived drug busts in Texas, a hit-and-run driving accident, possession of a concealed pistol and drug paraphernalia, an arrest for driving into a fence in Marin County, a transplanted liver, the ire of Graham Nash, and fathering two children by Melissa Etheridge. He is a bit of a lightning rod to be sure. Love him or hate him, Crosby, now 78 years old, has had a stellar career. A singer-songwriter and guitarist, he wrote or co-wrote classics like “Wooden Ships,” “Eight Miles High,’ “Deja Vu,” “Guinnevere,” and “Lady Friend,” among many others. In addition to performing on the Byrds first five albums (their best in my opinion), he also played on eight Crosby Stills & Nash albums including three with Neil Young), made six solo albums, and collaborated with Graham Nash on five long players.

The man is prolific. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash

David Crosby: “Remember My Name” is a 2019 documentary about the musician David Crosby. It was directed by A.J. Eaton and produced by Cameron Crowe. The title is a play on the title of Crosby’s 1971 album If I Could Only Remember My Name. The film had its festival debut at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. It is distributed by Sony Pictures Classics.

As the movie opens, Crosby is telling a story from back in the day when they were playing a gig in Chicago. Let’s just say, it involves drugs (of course!). Along the way we learn that he is now 76 (when this was filmed in 2017), and that he regrets having wasted so much time “smashed on drugs” (Crosby’s words). He is getting ready for another tour (as a solo artist). “I love singing but I hate leaving (home)”, Crosby confesses. “Me no music? Never. I NEED to tour.” At this point we are less than 10 min. into the movie.

Couple of comments: even though the film is technically directed by a certain A.J. Eaton, Cameron Crowe’s fingers are all over this, including as producer and also having interviewed Crosby back in 1974, when he was all of 17 (that interview comes up in this documentary). The basic premise of the film is as simple as it is revealing: let the man talk, and add archive clips where there are available (easier said than done). Crosby turns out to be a master story teller, and he does not mince words, including about himself. “I have been selfish and I’ve hurt a lot of people”, Crosby admits. Byrds band mate Roger McGuinn puts it this way: “Insufferable”, wow. Along the way, we get treated to an outstanding amount of audio and video clips of his music. Quite a collection when you line it up like that. I enjoyed this documentary overall, and feel it is a nice companion to the “Echo in the Canyon” documentary from earlier this year.

“David Crosby: Remember My Name” premiered to immediate acclaim at this year’s Sundance film festival.  If you are a fan of David Crosby or interested in rock music history, I’d readily suggest you check this out, be it in the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.

Meet David Crosby in this portrait of a man with everything but an easy retirement on his mind.

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one of the most indelible musical icons of the past 50 years, David Crosby casts a presence that’s seemingly inescapable. In the ‘60s, it was his image of a beaming young man in a cape and fur hat with a mischievous look in his eyes and a kind of beatific attitude that first drew attention on the cover of the early Byrds albums. After parting ways with the band as they grew tired of his controversial comments, he grew his hair into a lion’s mane, doning a fringed buckskin jacket to pose on a coach besides his brothers in harmony for the cover of the first Crosby, Stills & Nash album. Later he shifted personas again, taking on the role of a defiant, paranoid druggie who railed against authorities with absolute indignation.
However, as years went by, all essence of amusement drained from his persona. He was the emaciated-looking man, ruined by the ravages of drugs, who made a plea for redemption from the pages of People magazine. Later, as a stone-faced, glassy-eyed mannequin he became little more than a token prop as he attempted to hold himself together onstage with Crosby and Nash.
Then there was the shock of seeing the newly shorn ex-con managing a smile on his release from the pen following his conviction for illegal possession of a handgun. More recently, he’s had the look of a benevolent, snowy-haired granddad happy to be immersed in harmony. A steely-eyed elder statesman, he readily shares his knowing smile.

It’s the latter persona that he projects on the phone, an eager, energetic enthusiast filled with exuberance and exhilaration because he’s still allowed to do the thing he loves, singing songs that satisfy him in a spiritual sense. Projecting that irrepressible optimism, he dutifully answers a reporter’s inquiring questions while speaking from his home in Santa Barbara. In fact, he comes across as earnest, affable and animated as an old pal you’re reconnecting with after far too many years. He’s so damn friendly and down-to-earth in fact, that two minutes into the conversation you abandon any obligation to call him Mr. Crosby and settle instead for just plain Dave.
That excitement was especially obvious when the subject turned to his new album, Sky Trails, the third in a series of recent releases following Lighthouse and 2014’s Croz.

We practically have a columns devoted to David Crosby’s incredible, inexhaustible, and curmudgeonly Twitter presence, but we rarely take an opportunity to highlight the man’s music, even though he’s making it at a regular, even-prolific pace. The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, and Nash alum’s solo oeuvre is a mixed bag, especially dependent on how much you categorically get into music definitely recorded at orgies. But his song “Sell Me a Diamond,” is a deathly-smooth, meditative miniature, and fully worth your time if you’re a devotee of ’70s Joni and Steely Dan. (We know from both rock’n’roll historyand Crosby’s tweet-storms that he is, too.)

Dipping into a throatier, conversational Donald Fagen cadence instead of sticking to his soaring CSN tenor, Croz sings about trying to negotiate the perfect, “conflict-free” diamond sale, and then gifting it to worthy, pure “souls.” Later, there’s a bit about the merits of turning off the grim news and “listen[ing] to children laughing” instead. As NPR notes, Crosby co-wrote the enigmatic song with his son, and the two are definitely working with some oblique metaphors. But over the shimmering ride-cymbal backbeat and steel guitar, it doesn’t really matter what it all means. It just sounds good as hell.

With an unexpected vigour, David Crosby’s late-career renaissance continues as he delivers Sky Trails, his third solo effort in four years. Arriving hot on the heels of 2016’s Michael League-produced Lighthouse, Sky Trails splits the difference between its predecessor’s spare acoustic ruminations and the singer/songwriter’s fascination with jazz. Produced by his multi-instrumentalist son, James Raymond, much of this set brandishes a full band as Crosby and his collaborators explore Steely Dan-style grooves on the funky opener, “She’s Got to Be Somewhere,” or politicized jazz-folk on the harmony-stacked “Capitol.”

On the gentler, more introspective side, piano ballads like “Before Tomorrow Falls on Love” and the excellent “Home Free” distinctively recall the mid-’70s experimental heyday of long time friend and peer Joni Mitchell, whose gorgeous “Amelia” Crosby faithfully covers here. Tonally and instrumentally, quite a bit of Sky Trails shares a kinship with Mitchell masterpieces like Hejira and The Hissing of Summer Lawns, utilizing fretless bass, jazz piano, soprano sax, and unconventional chord structures. On the folkier side, another highlight is the lovely acoustic title cut, co-written and co-sung by North Carolina singer/songwriter Becca Stevens. As a whole, Crosby touches on a number of pleasing themes and sounds on Sky Trails, lending his sweet tenor and trademark harmonies to material of surprisingly high quality given his recent prolificacy.

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The Wakefield indie favourites return with their first album in over three years.

The Cribs are back and on blistering form, brandishing their brand new eighth album, “Night Network”. The self-produced 12-track album was recorded at the Foo Fighters Studio 606 in Los Angeles in the spring / summer of 2019.Night Network is as fresh, cathartic and vital as anything they’ve ever put out. There’s no weariness, no bitterness, just a clear desire to get back to doing what they do best – that unique blend of bittersweet melody, brutal lyrical honesty and riffs for days.

It’s wall-to-wall Cribs bangers, the fruit of that special, symbiotic relationship between the song writing, singing brothers, drawing on the boiled-down influences they felt had always been there: The Motown stomp of Never Thought I’d Feel Again and Under The Bus Station Clock, red and blue album-era Beatles (Running Into You and In The Neon Night, respectively), melodic 70’s style pop on Deep Infatuation, and even early work by their own band.

The Cribs feat. Lee Ranaldo “Be Safe” lockdown live session June 8th 2020

The Cribs are romantics and they’re realists, and the balance, for a hot minute, nearly tipped in the favour of the latter. But now they return empowered, beholden to no one, on the greatest form and still screaming in suburbia. Following a slew of legal battles, The Cribs nearly called it quits in the time between their last album in 2017. They found an unlikely friend in Dave Grohl who encouraged them to continue as a band and invited them to record the album at his LA studio. Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo makes it two appearances on a Cribs album with a slew of distorted riffs on the track ‘I Don’t Know Who I Am’.

The Cribs have been out of the game for some time  – no fault of their own as they were bogged down in legal battles. What it does mean is that they’ve had time to refresh and to write a whole batch of new songs. They’ve recorded them at Foo Fighters studio and with Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth guesting on a few tracks. A welcome return for this much loved band.