Category Archives: Music Today

Wakin’ Up with Donovan…

Love me some Frankenreiter….Happy Weekend.

  Lovely Day

  If It Don’t Matter

  Swing On Down

  Call Me Papa




Posted by on August 1, 2009 in acoustic, Music Today


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New Finds…Share and Compare

Some stuff I’ve recently been exploring…thanks to Shrew on Ellis & KJ…she’s been busy. 

Somebody to You, Lelia Broussard

  Hurricane Angel, Ellis Paul

  Little Mary, KJ Denhert

Share your finds…Post some of your “finds” in the comment section.  After all, word of mouth is what “sells” these indie artists.


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Gives You Hell…

From the Mini DD Playlist comes the All American Rejects…

  Gives You Hell

The boy has acclimated quite well….



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Posted by on February 24, 2009 in Music Today, Travels


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In 36 Years,…..

Some things don’t change that much…

Some things change ALOT…

  Brandy, Looking Glass — #1 Song on August 21st, 1972

  Disturbia, Rihanna  — #1 Song on August 21st, 2008


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Current Country

Felt it was time to touch base on the Country front.  Unlike other music genres, there’s some pretty good music still coming from Nashville.

Currently, the #1 Country song in the land is Good Time, by Alan Jackson.

I really like this song because it’s fun and upbeat.  And, the catchy refrain is infectious…G with an O, O with a D, T with an I and a M and a E.   Good stuff.

Alan Jackson has proved to be a great songwriter over the years, with simple, heartfelt lyrics that really grab the listener.  His last hit, Small Town Southern Man, is a song about his father but it could have just as well have been about my own father.

As I have said before, Country is the new “Pop” music.  Many songs that are considered Country would have been classified as Country 20 years ago.  Also, many songs now cross-over from Country to Mainstream Pop and vice versa.  The #2 song in Country today is a cover of Michael Buble’s Home, performed by Blake Shelton:

One of my all-time favorite Country singers is George Strait.  For 25 years, George has been on or near the top of the business.  Despite the fact that he is some fine eye candy, he also provides songs that are simple, to the point and resonate.

His latest hit, I Saw God Today, is a sweet anthem that pays homage to the simple things in life:

I have often said that when you look into the face of a newborn baby (particularly your own), you look into the face of God.  George’s song echoes that.  The song hits on the kinds of emotions that resonates with virtually all who have been through having a child.

And finally, a ballad from Kenny Chesney…just because I like it.  True to form, Kenny hits the mark with an easy tune and a powerful lyric.  Wonderful in it’s simplicity.

  Better As a Memory

I move on like a sinners prayer
And letting go like a levee breaks
Walk away as if I don’t care
Learn to shoulder my mistakes
Or built to fade like your favorite song
Get reckless when there’s no need
Laugh as your stories ramble on
Break my heart, but it won’t bleed
My only friends are pirates
That’s just who I am
But I’m better as a memory than as your man

Never sure when the truth won’t bend
And pretty good on a lonely night
Or move on the way a storm blows through
And never stay, but then again, I might.
I struggle sometimes to find the words
Always sure until I doubt
Walk a line until it blurs
Build walls too high to climb out
But I’m honest to a fault
That’s just who I am
I’m better as a memory than as your man

I see you leaning, you’re bound to fall
I don’t want to be that mistake
I’m just a dreamer and nothing more
You should know it before it gets too late

Cause goodbyes are like a roulette wheel
You never know where they’re gonna land
First you’re spinning, then you’re standing still
Left holding a losing hand
But one day you’re gonna find someone
And right away you’ll know it’s true
That all of your seeking’s done
It’s just a part of the passing through
Right there in that moment you’ll finally understand
That I was better as a memory than as your man
Better as a memory than as your man

Country appears to be live and well….YEE HAW!

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Posted by on July 30, 2008 in Country, Music Today


Is YouTube Down the Tube?


In the on-going battle between media moguls Viacom and YouTube/Google, Viacom has had to take the defensive and quell fears of invasion of privacy of hordes of internet video purusers of the wildly popular YouTube.  It seems that as part of the $1 BILLION dollar copyright infringement lawsuit filed by Viacom against YouTube and its parent, Google, a judge ruled that YouTube must turn over it’s vast database of videos and the usage data along with it.  This data would include user names, IP addresses and profile information that users have included such as hometowns and even names. 

Privacy advocates went ballistic, accusing Viacom of trying to acquire the names of YouTube uploaders and viewers in an attempt to pursue, in the vein of the RIAA’s prosecution of those downloading illegal music.  Viacom suddenly was thrust into a PR nightmare and had to substantially back-pedal and qualify that they only wanted the usage data to either prove or disprove that the majority of YouTube’s content is user established and proprietary to uploaders, rather than copyrighted programming.  As such, YouTube agreed in principle to provide the data “masked” through other naming or numbering to hide the actual user names and information from Viacom.  This may or may not appease the ACLU-types, as masking doesn’t necessarily protect users if they can be tied via a usage pattern to other databases that could provide user data.

It is interesting to me that Viacom had no real issue with YouTube until Google and their deep pockets made the scene.  Perhaps Viacom sees this suit is an easier money maker than, say, providing quality programming that would attract more and better advertisers. 

No, Viacom has chosen to pursue a company that has repeatedly shown that it proactively tries to prohibit copyrighted material from its servers and has always complied with taking down material upon request.  That complies full with the DMCA — the law by which this case is governed.  Confused?  Perhaps this video can shed some light.

In the meantime, there is speculation that Steven Colbert and Jon Stewart will actually be called as witnesses in the case.  Why?  I have no idea.  Perhaps it will be to lament how their pockets are being picked by wanton pirates who are uploading their shows, as well as nefarious viewers who are illegally watching their shows through YouTube instead of on The Comedy Channel, where advertisers pay hordes of money to Colbert and Stewart, by way of Viacom, for viewers to tune in there.

Here is a NEWSFLASH.  Viacom, along with many other media companies have MISSED THE BOAT.  Again.  Instead of joining forces with YouTube to further distribute their programming and broaden their audiences, they are once again, shooting themselves in the foot by trying to cripple or destroy one of the outlets that are actually helping them to sustain viewers.

Go through this with me.  Let’s use The Daily Show for an example.  Now, certainly, there are people who watch The Daily Show every day.  They consider Jon Stewart a god and tune in every day at x:30 to soak up his sardonic witticism and sarcastic political diatribes.  Let’s say that he gets a 10 share or 10% of American TVs were tuned in (a generous number, here).  That leaves 90% of us who are not watching him or maybe not watching anything, for that matter.

Common sense tells us that unless they happen to miss an episode, the loyal 10% are not relying on YouTube to provide their Jon Stewart fix.  So, YouTube is really a big, ole billboard for The Daily Show in that people like me may tune in to a YouTube video linked onto a blog that I read or that someone emails me.  Then, perhaps, Mr. Stewart intrigues or entertains me enough to take a real interest in what he has to say.  Well, I will want to hear him say it at x:30 on the days that he’s on and if I can’t make it, I can always set my DVR to record it.  Regardless, I am going to the source to get my content.

Let’s face it, old movies and TV shows don’t make YouTube until they’ve already been played on TV.  How does this affect my viewership of something like The Daily Show on The Comedy Channel?  They aren’t running every show in re-runs for me to catch up.  Some networks like NBC do provide episodes of their TV programs to watch via their websites, so I can understand their beef.  But, again, isn’t YouTube simply providing trailers for people to find these shows?  Very rarely are you going to find ALL of the episodes of a particular TV program on YouTube.  But, a snippet of one might just cause you to seek out the TV program (on its network), if you are appropriately stimulated to do so.

I also find it interesting that The Daily Show can be found on the front page of, so evidently they are not above having viewers watch their show on a competing network’s vehicle.  (Hulu is owned by NBC/Universal.)  While I understand that they are getting paid, why not try to strike a similar deal with YouTube.  YouTube actually approached Viacom about cutting a deal that would allow them to broadcast Viacom shows and in return, YouTube would build filters (similar to their porn filters) that would block material from Viacom projects from being uploaded without consent.  Viacom views this as strong-arming and has declined.  It just appears a bit hypocritical to me that Viacom agrees to sell its programming to Hulu (a competitor) and won’t work out a deal with YouTube and Google.  Sadly, what they miss is that if they did, they would be viewed as pioneers of progress and amply rewarded by increased viewership. 

While the revenue stream for musicians and writers is more convoluted, they are missing the same boat by not embracing the awareness-building outlet of YouTube to gain exposure for their music.  Some artists “get it” and that’s why you’re starting to see YouTube channels like Radiohead, AliciaKeys, mayermusic, and AmosLeePodcast.  These guys understand that YouTube is a vehicle for distribution.  To engage the viewer/listener.  To evoke enough of an interest to have that viewer buy tracks, seek out concert tickets, and become A FAN.  Once you’ve got fans, then the word of mouth of people like you and me become more precious than diamonds and gold.  The label is not getting the arist the kind of exposure YouTube and other non-traditional on-line outlets, like blogs, are providing.  Again, why not embrace the change instead of trying to eradicate it.  In the annals of history, there is no-one who has ever stopped progress through limiting technology.  Why try something that has been proven to fail every time?

YouTube may have a bit of a rock road to travel, however because of Google’s deep pockets they are here to stay.  IMO.  If not, I’m going to be really pissed.

Here’s some Tubeliciousness that I came across today.  Imagine being deprived of these?

  Astral Weeks, Van Morrison

  Street Corner Preacher, Amos Lee

  It Take Two to Tango, Aretha Franklin & Ray Charles

  Slip Slidin’ Away, Paul Simon (live @ Abbey Road)


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And the Winners Are…

If, like me, you did not tune in to watch the Grammys, here is Entertainment Weekly’s List of Winners.

The biggest winner, by far, was Amy Winehouse with five Grammys.  While she couldn’t be there, in person, she rocked the house in London performing her mega-hit, real life drama, Rehab, as well as I’m No Good.

What a great night for real music.  Congratulations to Amy Winehouse for being the standard bearer.  Make no mistake, her wins make a real statement to the industry. 

Lefsetz has a pretty scathing assessment of the travesty of trying to associate Frank Sinatra with the music prowess of Alicia Keys.  To quote Aretha…”C’mon now.  Please.”  Even this is a cry by the industry to harken back the days of good music because, frankly, so little of it is found on today’s charts.

I have to admit that I did flip over from catching up on Jon & Kate Plus Eight on TLC and caught Ree Ree and BeBe Winans singing Never Gonna Break My Faith, which tied with The Clark Sisters to win a Grammy in Best Gospel Performance.

Awesome.  But, lawsy mercy she is large.  This has to be affecting her health.

Although I was extremely disappointed in the status quo with Justin Timberlake beating out John Mayer in the Best Male Pop Performance for that lame-ass song, What Goes Around Comes Around, it seems that perhaps the tide is starting to turn as Daughtry was shut out, even though his CD was by far the best-seller of the year. 

The excitement of the crowd when the legends of great music, like Aretha, Tina Turner, Jerry Lee Lewis, John Fogerty, and the incomprable Little Richard performed indicates that there is a yearning for the great music that built this business.  In my opinion, it also exposes how shallow the current promoted music is.

Sorry, but there is nobody even close to the great Richard Penniman in today’s music.  As usual, makes ma toe shoot up in ma boot!

Alas, my buddy Geno Delafose lost to Zydeco Legend Terrence Simien.  Maybe next year.


Posted by on February 11, 2008 in aretha franklin, grammys, Music Today


So, it’s the Grammys…Do You Care?

Tonight is the vaunted Grammy Awards at 8pm Eastern, on CBS.

This is the 50th Grammy Awards ceremony. Do I care? Should I watch? This flowchart from Vulture in New York Magazine give some great insight to these questions:

I think that the Grammys is a poster child for all that is wrong with the music industry. First, it’s basically monopolized by Clive Davis and the mega labels’ warlords. The major categories — which, let’s face it, are the only ones that anyone really knows about — are full of the same old shite (Beyonce’ and Justin Timberlake) and a bit of new, contrived shite (Chris Daughtry and Taylor Swift) that the major labels have crammed down our throats through obnoxious overplay on the radio and manipulation of record sales and charts.

However, I must say that there a few diamonds in the rough that are shining through. Amy Winehouse, whose Rehab, CD is nominated in six categories. Unfortunately, she won’t be attending because her Visa didn’t come through in time. Perhaps her recent detox will have her better prepared in the future, but this time she’ll likely be accepting via satellite.

Corrine Bailey Rae is also nominated for Song of the Year with Like a Star. Sadly, she doesn’t stand a chance against the bought juggernaut of Carrie Underwood’s Before He Cheats. Also, ma girl Feist is nominated for best new artist. Riddle me this, how is it that Daughtry is nominated in three or four categories, yet not nominated for Best New Artist? And, Amy Winehouse who has been around a while, is?

As for the men, Johnny Boy is nominated for Belief, and is truly the most deserving of those in the Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. I think Sir Paul’s nominations are nostalgic and a nod of respect, but Memory Almost Full just wasn’t that good. Dance Tonight was cute but Best Performance? And, of course, Justin Timberlake received his obligatory four or five nominations. Wasn’t his CD released, like, two years ago? Strangely, he performs What Goes Around Comes Around at last year’s Grammys and it’s nominated in 2008?

Just how much exposure can they give this guy? This is the best song he’s ever written? Really? That should about say it all.

To me, the organic and worthy music is peeking through sporadically, but the manufactured and over-synthesized productions are still dominating the music industry and award shows. The Grammys are just a microcosm of the celluloid and shallow state of music today. If Britney Spears wasn’t mentally imploding before our very eyes, she would most assuredly would also be front and center, showcasing the Grammys and the music business as it really is.

Clive Davis once again threw his pre-Grammy self-adoration gathering, with his loyal subjects all in attendance and performing at the feet of the master who controls their fate. Obviously feeling some pressure from the fallout of the dying recording industry, Mr. Davis was compelled to throw a a dig at the critics out there (like me) who blame the demise on mediocre music. “How wrong you are!”, the Puppet Master proclaimed, before introducing The Foo Fighters.

The only redeeming thing about the Grammys is that the great Aretha Franklin was honored last night as the MusiCares’ Person of the Year. Lefsetz describes her performance as bordering on a religious experience.  Speaking of religious experience, The Queen of Soul is also nominated tonight for Best Gospel Performance for her duet with Mary J. Blige on Never Gonna Break My Faith, a Music Maven favorite.

Earlier in the week USA Today interviewed Ree Ree about the award and I was particularly struck by her very blunt statement about her thoughts on today’s music:

R&B is “alive and well,” says Franklin, but it’s no match for the music of the ’60s and ’70s. “You had stronger artists, unquestionably. Sam & Dave, Ray Charles, Etta James, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson. C’mon, you know. Please.”

Right on.

On a homeboy note, here’s wishing Geno Delafose good luck tonight in the Best Zydeco or Cajun Music Performance category.


Posted by on February 10, 2008 in aretha franklin, John Mayer, Music Today


Colette’s Corner: In With the New

Sorry for the tardiness in getting this posted. It’s been such a long, short week. New job, business trip, cleaning up Christmas, etc. , but now I’m firmly set to take on 2008. So is our dear Colette, who offers the following submission on several artists that may not be at the top of the charts, but certainly deserve a bit more attention.

I appreciate Colette’s compilations and after all, this is what Music Maven is all about. Finding obscure, unknown and highly talented artists to share and educate. I have a couple to include, but you’ll find them AFTER Colette’s interesting contribution. I encourage you all to share your “deserving artists” for ’08, as well.

Seven who Deserve More Ear Time in 2008

Who do you believe deserves to be heard by many, many more people in 2008?

I know Music Maven and everyone else who follows this blog has their list of under-touted musical favorites, artists whose sounds mean a great deal to you (and other aficionados), but who still are not widely known — even among fellow soundistas. So I want to share a few of mine (and maybe get an exchange started)?

Just to draw some parameters here: I’m not talking only about young music-makers. Nor people who’ve won major, big deal awards; had a huge hit single in recent years; fill large concert halls; get significant national radioplay; or have already had major tributes from MM or other bloggers (including John Mayer, who turned me onto to Brett Dennen among others).

It’s my belief that there is enough unmined, underexposed musical talent in this country to jack the music scene way, way up, to save it from its plastic-overhyped-underwhelming-overcommercialized current self. If I ruled the world, these are artists who you could hear every day on your car radio:

1) Ryan Shaw

Maybe the next true Soul Man? Not rap, hip-hop but back-to-the-Marvin/Stevie/Jackie soul singing — this young Georgia-bred artist is a godsend: handsome, exuberant, and wildly impassioned. Can he ever get into the heart of a tune, with a voice that pleads, croons, promises, and lifts into gospel heights — while making you want to dance. Really love him, and again am looking for that national tour that brings him to me. Until then, there’s his debut album (“This is Ryan Shaw”), and the occasional TV appearance….it’s clear a lot of people in the biz like him, so what’s next?

On the TV show “Ellen” – why the hell isn’t this a monster hit??

His great tune “We Got Love” on Martha Stewart’s show

And, channeling a little Otis:

2) Tyrone Wells

A young Spokane native now based in L.A., this bald, gangly, extremely talented young singer-songwriter has written the best anti-war song of the era: “What Are We Fighting For?”. And one of the catchiest ballads: “Sea Breeze.” He gigs low-rent halls all over the place, like so many Internet wonders, and always pays homage to his own favorite influences — including Bill Withers and Stevie Wonder. In another period, I imagine he’d be snatched up by a smart scout for a big label and his supple songs would be covered everywhere. As it is, he has a solid campus following, almost entirely through music sharing and the Internet.
Tyrone Wells singing “Sea Breeze”:

Tyrone, in a funky home-made live video, doing “What Are We Fighting For?” — such a passionate plea…..”. Love teaches the way to overcome hate/Weapons of war…..”

3) Tuck and Patti.

Patti Cathcart is a black woman with a big, warm voice and a rare ability to scat-sing. She also creates the superb arrangements for herself and her white husband Tuck, a guitarist extraordinaire who can make one electric guitar sound like an orchestra. This sublime jazz-pop duo has made glorious sounds together for three decades, often with me in the audience (during the past 15). They have a loyal US falling, but are much bigger in Europe & Japan. And way too many friends I’ve turned them onto have never heard of them (or have the wrong idea about them).

They do a lot of scrumptious covers, well-chosen tunes from Gershwin to Jimi Hendrix, originals too, and they truly care about the messages in their songs as well as the musical values.

T & P’s beautiful cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” —

The song my hubby and I fell in love to — “You Take My Breath Away:”

And here they are, boppin’ and jivin’ to a groovy jazz standard — “Better Than Anything”:

4) Bettye Lavette

Talk about lives of the R & B saints! Bettye was a rising soul singer in the 1960s and 1970s, but pretty much fell off the American pop radar for a long period afterward. She came roaring back with “I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise,” a fantastic 2005 album of gritty, fierce tunes by women singers/composers. (Do you remember when albums were very carefully composed and meant to be heard in entirety? This is one of those!) Watching and listening to Bettye on video, you can’t help but feel that this is what Amy Winehouse is aspiring to — if she has the strength of soul and will to triumph over adversity. I’ve never seen Bettye live, and fervently hope I’ll get that chance. Meanwhile, this 60-something woman is on a tear.

Her raw, exquisite cover of “Close As I’ll Get to HEaven” makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. What a deep, deep scorching take on this song:

Just as fabulous, her version of Dolly Parton’s “Little Sparrow.” It ain’t a song, it’s a novel!:

And from her new album of “greasy blues,” titled “Scene of the Crime,” here’s “The Battle of Bettye Lavette,” during which she tells her up-from-the-bottom saga:

5) The Be Good Tanyas

Maybe these Canadian gals are better-known and I’m just discovering them (thanks to a 20-something friend who recommended their music). There’s a lot of wispy-quirky female acoustic music out there in the cosmos, a development I welcome though it can feel sorta faddish. But I do so like the Tanyas’ soothing/sultry/searching blend of string acoustic instrumentation and lovely harmonies.

Here’s “Light Enough to Travel”:

Their very sweetly bluesy “The Littlest Birds”:

6) Eric Bibb

Eric is a young but very old school troubadour, from the folkie-blues era that made a star out of his wonderful father, the great (and still alive & singing) Leon Bibb. Eric performs on guitar and voice with great conviction, touching on the matters that are meaningful to him — love, faith, peace, brotherhood and (of course) the blues. He’s a throwback, yeah. Or you could say his brand of music is “classic” — wherever there’s a porch, a guitar and a song, it’s gonna get sung.

“In My Father’s House” — recorded in London, where Bibb lives. Not surprisingly, perhaps, the Europeans honor Eric more than we do —

I really like Eric’s duets with a fine acoustic guitarist Brian Kramer. Here they do a lovely spiritual, “Now is the Needed Time”:

7) Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings

OK, I’m cheating a little here. Most of us know of this killer soul band, fronted by a middle-aged pistol of a soul gal. So why haven’t they graduated into big venues yet? Let’s get it started! Sharon is a glorious throwback to early funky Tina Turner, and the Dap Kings were the backup band for Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good.” They are FABULOUS live, do not miss them if they make it around! and they’re getting some significant push on the tube. So why why why……oh the state of the music biz makes me crazy…..

the title tune from their latest hot disc (“100 Days, 100 Nights”):

the funkiest cover ever of “This Land is Your Land”:

and Miss Jones singing an amazing “Amazing Grace”:

Small point of clarification — Bettye Layette WAS actually showcased in Divas Got the Blues post. In my preamble to Colette’s submission, I include Bettye as part of the wonderful documentary on PBS.

As for my recommendations, they ALL hail from the great state of Louisiana, a/k/a God’s Country. First, I give you Geno Delafose. Geno is from Eunice, LA and actually started his musical journey at the feet of his father, John, when he was 10 years old and joined the band on the rub board. He was nominated this year for a Grammy Award in the new category of Cajun and Zydeco Music. His musical and cultural heritage is very rich.

Mr. D and I actually met Geno at the world famous B.B. King’s on Beale Street about ten years ago, when we lived there. We had our company Christmas party there that night and Geno just happened to be the entertainment. Of course, sensing a kindred Cajun spirit, we made our way to the stage after a mean Cajun Jitterbug and introduced ourselves. He loved that there were other South Louisianians there and even dedicated a song to us. He threw in an autographed CD, personalized to us, that I played for a long time and just recently came across. I’ve ripped it to my iTunes and now have a Geno Delafose playlist on my iPod. One of the things that I admire about Geno is that he is a relatively young guy (35) who is working hard to keep Cajun music and language alive.

Geno is like Charlie, “he’s just happy to be here”. Every year, for ten years now, Geno throws a huge “fan appreciation” party in his hometown. It’s BYOB, but they provide all of the food and naturally, hours of great music. Of course, like many musicians and genres, Geno is much loved and better know in Europe where they really appreciate the music.

at the Cajun & Zydeco Festival in Saulieu, France.

Another up and coming young Louisiana artist is Amanda Shaw. Amanda hails from New Orleans, where she is supposed to be a Senior at Mount Carmel Academy (love those Catholic roots). However, she has foregone her Senior year to tour and play music. She’s most well know right now for co-narrating the IMAX film “Hurricane on the Bayou” with Tab Benoit.

A classically trained violinist who made her soloist debut with the Baton Rouge Symphony when she was seven, Amanda yearns to play all kinds of music and has embraced her Louisiana roots.

At this year’s Voodoo Festival

Here’s Amanda talking about her voyage, so far:

Shrew tells me that petite Amanda is become quite the sensation up North and I fully expect that, with tracks like these, she’s positioned perfectly to give Carrie Underwood a run for her money.

My last contribution is a tip from Cajun Boy @ Cajun Boy in the City. Sons of William are from the Houma, LA, and consist of brothers David (drums) and Joe Stark (guitar) along with Jen Janet on bass. Their name is self-describing, paying homage to their father, William, who was an early musical influence.

Their attention to classic blues and rock is evident in this Clapton cover of Bell Bottom Blues:

However, this ain’t your typical Louisiana band. As illustrated in this sample, Sons of William have a compelling, “now” sound. A little Cat Stevens, a little Hootie, their subtle harmonies and strong melodies on Easy to Love really draw the listener in.

And, finally, tell me you don’t hear The Beatles’ influence on Smile:

I’ll have more to come on the state of the music biz in 2008, but I have to say that with emerging artists like these, there is no shortage of talent — if you just look for it.


I Want You Back

Just had to share this wonderful K T Tunstall find.

There’s some real crap out there in music today, but there’s also some real talent hiding in the weeds.


Posted by on January 2, 2008 in music chicks, Music Today