Hey guys! Sorry for the massive delay. But have no fear — Chemical Highway is still very much alive. We are, however, in the process of possibly moving domains! As exciting as that is, there’s a lot of crunchy odds and ends that need to be worked out. Don’t worry, we’ll keep you fully updated along the way. Thanks for hanging in there during our time of transition. Expect some big changes up ahead!
In the mean time, I’ll leave you with a cut from my personal favorite blues guitarist of all time, the legendary Mr. Buddy Guy. While many people push Buddy Guy further down on their list of contenders for the title of “the greatest blues guitarist of all time”, I would like to point out Mr. Guy’s indubitable influence on such musicians as Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. You know, no one important or anything… And I will steadfastly assert (and defend to the death) that Buddy Guy is the greatest blues concert performer of all time. Electric, soulful, and undeniably fun, the 76-year-old Buddy Guy always lights up the stage with his amazing showmanship. God I miss that polka-dot guitar! Take a bite off of this one and let me know what you think.
What Kind of Woman is This? (iTunes)
Yes, yes I know I disappeared again for a while and I sincerely apologize for that. Life has a lovely little habit of violently uprooting any plans you have and scattering them all to shit… But I assure you that I am still very much alive. So let’s get to it!
Don’t have much to say so I’ll keep this post short. I stumbled across the lovely Anna Calvi relatively recently and have become absolutely mesmerized by her work. Her eponymous debut album dropped in early 2011 to well-deserved critical acclaim. While drawing many different comparisons to other musicians, I find Calvi conveys a far darker, seductive, sexually-charged, and almost ravenous aura that is unrivaled by any of her contemporaries. With her intensely played Fender Telecaster and harmonium accompaniment, it’s as if Calvi is rendering up a strange cocktail of seductive, sumptuous, Gypsy jazz pop rock that gets better and better with each sip. Continuing to turn heads in the industry, Calvi is definitely a talent to watch. Check her out!
Here’s two for your entertainment:
Anybody remember A Perfect Circle? Of course you do. The alternative metal/rock supergroup that kicked it around at turn of the century with three albums before going on hiatus in 2004. After some lineup changes and a few concert dates in 2010 and 2011 the band seems to have disappeared again. Rumor has it that the group is working on new material but that remains to be seen. Nonetheless, I always enjoyed much of the work that Keenan and Howerdel have put out (save a few butcherings here and there, ahem). Particularly their take on the 1929 blues piece, “When the Levee Breaks” made famous of course by Led Zeppelin in 1971 and countless others to follow. Slowed into a pensive, tranquil, almost dreamy pulse, A Perfect Circle’s “When the Levee Breaks” stands out as being one of their better efforts and surprisingly (yet pleasantly) absent of the aggression and callousness typified by their other work. With a piano accompaniment weaving its way in and out like rainfall on spiders’ webs, this is the perfect track for driving around on a gray and stormy day — enveloped in fog and crashing raindrops while you’re nice n’ toasty in your car. If you don’t know it already, take a listen!
When the Levee Breaks (mp3)
Portland resident Matthew Cooper has been recording under the appellation Eluvium since 2003. A subtle style that can be described as a blend between synthetic textural sounds and classical instruments, Eluvium is a gentle meditation on the ambient genre. Early albums saw exclusively instrumental pieces that ranged from pure ambience (complete with the glow of pulsating waves and droning layers) to almost classical compositions featuring Cooper on piano. Delicate, atmospheric, introspective, and betraying a sense of yearning and absence, Eluvium soars with emotion. The perfect music for writing, reading, meditating, and falling asleep. For those of you who read and write frequently, Eluvium provides the perfect emotional pulse to accompany your endeavors. While Copia (2007) might be his most celebrated album, Similes (2010) marked the first time Cooper’s voice joined his arrangements. Quiet and meditative, Cooper’s vocals aptly echo the emotions of his work. Eluvium recently released Static Nocturne (composed of just one track fifty minutes long) and Some Days are Better Than Others (soundtrack to the film of the same name and released under his real name, Matthew Robert Cooper) last year.
Here’s is one of Eluvium’s more ambient pieces taken from Talk Amongst the Trees (2005):
New Animals From the Air (mp3)
My personal favorite, Cooper took to the piano for his sophomore effort An Accidental Memory in Case of Death (2004):
Cooper’s vocals joined the fray in Similes (2010):
The Motion Makes Me Last (mp3)
After over a year of swirling rumors and a little bit of internal drama, it looks like Bloc Party is indeed getting back together… and I can’t wait! A blurb on the band’s official website states, “Bloc Party is still Bloc Party – See you soon”. With their ever-evolving sound and range of influences, Bloc Party has run the gambit from rock, to pop, to electronic and everything in between. Coupled with their constantly empathetic, intelligent, and often wounded lyrics, Bloc Party has had a profound impact on me over the years (and I’m sure with their countless fans as well). With a new album expected to drop sometime this year, let’s hope Bloc Party is indeed still Bloc Party!
Here are a few favorites of mine over the years that deserve another listen (yes, there are a million more but I can’t post them all here). I can’t keep track of the number of nights I’ve spent driving on empty roads and highways with these guys playing in the background. Incredible.
Blue Light (mp3)
Little Thoughts (mp3)
So Here We Are (mp3)
Nothing like a little country-rooted indie rock to get your day going (especially some banjo and mandolin action)! I’ve had this one kicking it around on a couple of my playlists for over a year now. A product of the super group from Portland, this is the perfect tune for strolling around town and for drumming along on your thighs. Here’s “Blue Sunshine”, first released on Blue Giant’s Target Heart – EP in 2008.
Blue Sunshine (mp3)
Short post today. Here is the music video for “Holocene” off Bon Iver‘s self-titled album released in June of last year. I know this is already wildly popular but I can’t seem to stop watching it. Nothing can be said to do justice to the work Justin Vernon and company have created over the past few years. This truly is music taking you to a higher level. With it’s haunting and introspective lyrics, “Holocene” seems to be a reflection on the vastness of the universe and one man’s place after realizing it all. Take a listen, let the images sear into your mind, and allow your emotions to pull you in ways you never thought possible.