Leon Russell: Self-Titled

With 50 spam accounts created in the last week alone, the Trump dynasty is proving to be massively successful for PT. In so much as we enjoy being covered in bullshit. Speaking of being covered in bullshit, does anyone else think we are now living on the dystopian set of Back To The Future 2?


Leon Russell has been playing music for 60+ years and this is his first album. Everyone in America should listen to it, or, if you listened to it when it was released but accidentally altered reality after traveling back in time to save your future self from some present atrocity only to realize your mistake upon returning to the present then traveled back in time again to fix said mistake, listen to it again. Easy.

A Song For You kicks off the album with a heartbreaking piano run, the lilting descent of the global psyche.  It finishes with a brilliant Masters of War, Dylan’s anti-war diatribe against chicken-hawking corruption within the system put to mock patriotic anthem.


UPDATE: Leon Russell, Dead at 74 years old this morning. Unspeakable curses.

Paint Your Wagon: Broadway to Hollywood

In 1951, while humanity vicariously ventured to the heights of the universe, under the wand’rin’ stars it’s terrestrial half constructed the heart and soul of one of the most influential moments in entertainment history which would ultimately define 1969 as a year that produced one of man’s greatest stories of Boom, Bust, Bigamy, & Brotherhood.

When the second half of the twentieth century began, playwright Alan Jay Lerner opened his 6th Broadway Musical based on the waining sense of adventure provided by the previous century and birthed the timeless story, Paint Your Wagon.


With typicacy of the stage, the original storyline is a wandering exercise that focused on the mystery of the west, it’s people, and uncertainty, while the music, from Frederick Loewe, mimicked the intricate operatic style of the time.

Fortunately, the show must go on.

For the next eighteen years, Lerner would intrench himself in the entertainment industry writing and producing the award winning shows, My Fair Lady and Gigi among many many others. As he began to understand the way of the world and transitioned his writing from New York’s Broadway to California’s Hollywood, it was only natural to adapt his already successful works and in the late 1960, production began in Oregon.

With help from composer André Previn and writer Aaron Chayefsky, Lerner’s story of the chaotic west was transformed into a story of colossal characters in search of community and meaning in the wilderness of the Californias. (As noted in the brief PaisleyTunes post “Paint Your Wagon: Greatest Musical of All Time” from December 30th, 2012)

Musically, the themes of Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s original score were closely followed, yet allowed for reasonable additions and deletions. The style and tempo experienced phenomenal orchestrate remastering with the inclusion of Preven’s modernized opera. Tony Bavaar’s I Talk To The Trees enjoyed a renewed voice with Eastwood, while Bavaar along with Olga San Juan and all of her numbers, were left out of the new production in exchange for one Jean Seberg tune, A Million Miles Behind The Door. The adaptation of James Barton’s voice by a method-acting perpetually less-than-sober Lee Marvin substantiated the exaggerated characters in a fleeting attempt to sell an exhausted audience on one more zany musical. Coupled with production, I’d consider the score a success. No matter the listener, clean studio recording and eighteen years of advancements in technology will always provide a superior sound.

As Preven modernized the opera, Chayefsky modernized the plot to bring the film into a contemporary light. With his popular ‘slice of life’ genericizing style, he created the entertaining ambiguity of Pardner’s name and facilitated changes that narrowed the focus onto Ben, Pardner, and Elizabeth while strengthening the screen presence of the minor characters to create a real world venue in the mountains. He was also responsible for creating No Name City, formerly Rumson City and certainly didn’t shy from Lerner’s notion that the film would be an outrageous production event featuring wacky sub and parallel plots. Viewers of every kind are engaged and goaded into rooting for characters of all morals means throughout the film. Ultimately the plan cost twice the initial budget, at twenty-million dollars, and involved the complete construction and destruction, by livestock, of their full scale 60-miles remote mountain boom-town.

Where am I goin’ I don’t know,
When will I get there, I ain’t certain.
All that I know is I am on my way.

And after all that, their brotherhood stands …but, of course, you know all this already.

[Paintyourwagon] clint-eastwood-and-lee-marvin-in-paint-your-wagon

Croon – The New PaisleyTunes

Over the past few years the writers and critics here at PaisleyTunes have observed significant trending within the song writing community.

In 1999, spooked by the accidental keytar death of British puppeteer Christine Glanville, PaisleyTunes has witnessed musicians erratically circling modern song-writing, searching for sustenance while staring at the carryon of the disemboweled  electronica below. As the new century came and the aughts turned into teens, artists have slowly found their calling and are flocking, high above our heads, to the nesting place of music in rhythm, melody, and stage presence.

bird calls

In observance of this movement, we’ve attempted to take aim and capture the migration, yet our current guise is more startling than participatory and our gaze has been but into the sun.  So, in order to better meet the growing expectations of our readers we’ve chosen to restructure our critical blind.


Today we launch the wing-tip of listener reviews


 Croon – a place for song as it began.


Ladysmith Black Mambazo: Always With Us

Paul Simon‘s one-and-only Graceland is the defining album of my childhood. More than any other music, those 11 tracks transport me back to our rickety Volkswagen bus: the brothers “grab-assing” as we slowly traversed the arid Central Valley – Yosemite so close, yet so far for an incorrigible seven-year-old. From 1986 on, there was one cassette perpetually in our tape deck, various Beach Boys mixes came and went, but for me, Graceland is, and will always be, the best album of all time.  Continue reading “Ladysmith Black Mambazo: Always With Us”

Crover, Plummer, & Willis: Hew Time

It was 1952 when jazz impresario Norman Granz (founder of Verve records) recruited Gene Krupa to join Buddy Rich in his long running Jazz at the Philharmonic series. After the two played together for a few months, Granz envisioned a captivating drum-off, the two super-stars battling it out in a spectacular exhibition, which ultimately proved so popular the event was replicated in future JATP shows, on television, and in two studio albums, the first of which, Krupa & Rich, inspired my early drumming days. Continue reading “Crover, Plummer, & Willis: Hew Time”

The Colourist: The Colourist

The day has finally come: the first Colourist album is here.

Fresh and more polished than their Lido EP, their first full length album is sonically poignant – a return to the hard rocking days of the 70s & 80s without Gen X & Y’s natural cynicism, in fact, quite the opposite. Adam Castilla (guitar & lead vocals) sets up exquisite melodies – his soft voice a perfect foil for the brightness & optimism of Maya Tuttle‘s (drums & vocals) harmonizing (especially on softer tracks such as Stray Away). Continue reading “The Colourist: The Colourist”

Mark Mothersbaugh: The Lego Movie

Everything is Awesome, except maybe that song. Maybe.

With stunning stop-motion-esque digital animation, almost every Lego character we know and love, comes to live with the same yellow-headed always-happy-go-lucky personas we’ve manufactured for ourselves. The world abounds with serialized parts, new and old, ubiquitous and rare. Water flows and buildings crumble same as if they were under the bed. Scenes are a wonderland of classic color and sound and the viewer is torn between the feeling of participatory transformation and the existential existence of the legos before them.  Trauma, elation, and character prowess evolve for each character as if they were in our hands, with time precisely imaginative and death separate from mere disembodiment

Contrary to the vague trailers, the plot is somewhat harsher than anticipated, but trite enough to enjoy the twists and turns of the adventure. As Emmet, the main character, begins his journey, the viewer enjoys the perfect sense of order that is demanded of any self-respecting lego city and is comforted by the familiar comrade shared by the identical characters in building perfection around them, to which Emmet participates directly. However, tensions build as Emmet is exposed the the truth behind a world of mini-figures and structures built to standards and perfection. 

Enter the Master Builders, representing the lingering cadre of creative genius, consequently, the life-blood of all lego cities, who directly and obviously, oppose all that stand for order. The Master Builders, collected from the robust Lego mini-figure line foreign to many ‘retired’ enthusiasts, give the requisite nod to many of the special characters throughout time, delivering personas appropriate and realistic and jokes worth laughing at. They are also the core of the adventure and the road map of the journey. 

I don’t think it’s too much to give away saying that the good guys win, but keep in mind, it is worth enjoying the film to the headers of close-to-home conflict, where the audience is left with a suitable compromise and yet terrified of their own future.

Enjoy the film, but beware the theme song that embeds it’s self in you life like a flat one by one on a building plate. 




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Busman’s Holiday: A Long Goodbye

A recent announcement by Joyful Noise Recordings has me excitedly checking the mailbox.  A new album by Busman’s Holiday is on it’s way. Entitled A Long Goodbye, the album isn’t out until April 1st (just kidding). Seriously, it will be released April 1st.

Busman’s Holiday – the concept of doing on vacation what you do at work – is a side project of sorts for two musical brothers, Lewis & Addison Rogers, who each play in other, well respected bands, so this is, in effect, the holiday of a couple highly talented musical busmen.

In the spirit of the times, the brothers play acousticy folk-esque rock – and while mere weeks ago I’d have argued that the time has come to bleed this genre to death – the two Rogers have persuaded me with a single track preview.

Check it out and let us know what you think in the comments. PTwest has already pre-ordered the vinyl and you can too right HERE. The pair have a collection from 2008 available on their Bandcamp page.

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Lady Lamb the Beekeeper

Every once in a while, I avoid the cat videos and strange stories about human deformity on YouTube, and stumble upon some great new music. As a beekeeper myself, I couldn’t help but be drawn to her band name, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper. Aly Spaltro, the lady, is a soulful, tiny girl from Maine who began writing and recording music in a basement DVD store in Brunswick, ME at age 18. Aly sets herself apart from any other gal+guitar in several ways. 1) Bold vocals that she’s not afraid to let crack and slip and vibrate in ways that on occasion smash your eardrum in unfamiliar, unsightly ways, but they let you actually feel what she’s singing to you 2) Speaking of what she’s singing, she’s a great lyricist. She can be pretty graphic and dark, but always romantic. It reminds me a lot of Andrew Bird and his obsession with internal body parts. I mean, they both talk about bone marrow. 3) She sometimes plays a unique instrument that is built like a banjo, but strung like a guitar. Neat!

Like a lot of artists that I discover before they are signed and produced, I end up liking a lot of their older acoustic stuff best. This is the case with Lady Lamb. My favorite song of hers is Between Two Trees, an amazing video of which is below.  That said, the new album,  Ripely Pine, is a really fun compilation of pieces, most with a full, energetic, eclectically pieced band. Each song is a new and different show of talent. For example, in Florence Berlin, her vocals are sweet and melodious, reminding me of Feist, with simple guitar accompaniment. The very next song, Bird Balloons is rocking with electric guitar and drums.

Keep your eyes on Lady Lamb the Beekeeper. She’s young and just beginning. Check out her website for more info, some fun interviews and videos about how she got started, AND an opportunity to donate cut-out images to a new stop motion video she is creating with her best friend, credits will be given!

The Head And The Heart

My six-year old friend turned me onto The Head and The Heart this week and I’m satisfied.  Then I learned they’ve been around since 2009; seems word within the kindergarten circuit isn’t as quick as I’d expected.

The Head and The Heart is a harmonizing, soulful soft-jamming sextet with a mindful oscillation of instrumental emphasis, rolling through their ensemble with measured precision. I can’t help but believe, in some respects, they’ve attempted to reincarnate major Cobain themes into the folk-pop harmony-drone, drawing the aging grungers who left urban Seattle for Liliwaup and Gold Bar.  Lead vocalists, Josiah Johnson and Jonathan Russell, sing in the familiar style of the show-tune tempo’d Mumford and Sons forte-front man, Marcus, yet their music delivers a greater dynamic and appealing texture.

So too said the fans it seems. After forming, they settled into great (relative) success self-promoting ten-thousand copies of their debut eponymous album release in 2009. Since that release, they’ve grown with astoundingly invasive-grassroots velocity. They rolled through DayTrotter back in 2011 and have opened for a plethora of names I regularly see on appealing playlists and pandora stations.

Their album The Head and The Heart features a wide range of viable tunes, many already well regarded beyond this echo-chamber, including  Down In The ValleyLost in My Head, and six-year-old favorite Rivers and Roads. Have a listen and look for their newest offering, Let’s Be Still. Visit: The Head and The Heart 

*Special Concert Note: For those of you near PT-West, they’ll be at The Fox, in Oakland on December 5th of this year. Check ’em out.


Newton Faulkner: Gone In The Morning

My recent search for Sailing Naked turned up a great deal of porn.

I’d really really like that to be the extent of my post, but alas, this is about introducing a well known up-n-coming (or going); Newton Faulkner.

I’m have no evidence that he sails naked, nor endorses the hobby, but with a name like Newton, one would expect only fig leaves. (waka-waka-waka)

Faulkner is an amalgamation of music we’ve been listening to for the last decade-plus. With four Studio Albums between 2007 and 2013, Faulkner is the accumulation of many uneventful production exercises. His songs are wildly inconsistent, in the style of Creed-crappy, Dispatch-jazzy, chatty-beat-box-Maraz, Christian comfortable, and almost always lyrically-disappointing. I’m Not Giving Up Yet, is an unfortunate four minutes of trite soulfulness and 3rd grade insight and She’s Got The Time is an blatant rip off of a beloved retrospective childhood theme. Who knows, maybe the joke is on me, but as a SinoPopaphile I’m hard pressed to think my standards are too high.

Fortunately, between his 2007 album Hand Built By Robots and Studio Zoo (2013), Newton did produce at least one track worth it’s airplay. Gone In The Morning (2007), is a fun, uncomplicated tune that has the likable qualities necessary for success; including dynamic vocal trills, a catchy chorus, bright guitar, airy percussion, and periodic rhythmic disruption. The song doesn’t challenge the listener or Faulkners vocal range, or ask too much of the listening environment. It’s a play anytime, anywhere kind of song and it sets the bar appropriately low for Faulkner to achieve with grinning success.

Keep in mind, this listener is still not through the Faulkner collection. For the sake of Newtons street cred, I’ll be sure to deliver any exceptional updates as I hear them.

Visit Newton Faukner

Until then, enjoy 5 Tips For Naked Sailing: