Release Date: Mar 23, 2010
Record label: Drag City
Genre(s): Indie, Rock, Live
Bill Callahan's first live album reflects his approach to music. It's a 2xLP set (also available as a download, no CD), and the packaging is minimal-- two slabs of vinyl, no notes, and all credits and recording info are printed on the disc labels. The functional nature of the package says, "The music is what's important here." Callahan kicks off the album by mumbling, "We're gonna get right down to business," and then he and the band-- guitar, bass, drums, violins-- proceed to do just that.
It often feels awkward when a writer in full tabloid swing attempts to denude or sketch out the blanks of a musician’s personal life in an effort to expand on what the artist has already been willing to offer up in song or interview. Laura Marling has spoken recently about the uncomfortable nature of having male, middle aged hacks effectively casting a cheap magnifying glass over the love life of an 18-year-old girl, and Bill Callahan has said that he has ‘long begged off the question of my albums reflecting where I am "at" personally’, concluding that ‘there is more inaccuracy in that approach than accuracy. ’ Lucky then that Marling has recently been speaking so eloquently and engagingly about her life in relation to her music, and in turn her latest album often acts as a clear window into the personality that guides each song.
SHARON JONES & THE DAP-KINGS “I Learned the Hard Way” (Daptone) The retro-soul queen Sharon Jones comes by her authority naturally, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t worked for it. As the voice of Daptone Records, Brooklyn’s own funk factory, she has devoted countless hours and an even greater share of kinetic energy to an evangelical task: the practice of a gritty, time-warped strain of R&B. “I Learned the Hard Way” is her fourth album with the Dap-Kings, and to say that it does nothing differently from its predecessors is essentially, among Daptone believers, high praise.