Music Review: Meade Skelton’s “Meade Music” album satisfies like a glass of “Sweet Tea”

Originally posted 2012-07-11 21:52:29. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

As a “Yankee” from up here in Connecticut, I honestly had no idea if I would be able to relate to Meade Skelton’s new album, “Meade Music”.  With song titles like, “Sweet Tea”, “Old South”, and “Me And My Horse”, would I really understand the sentiments Meade was trying to convey in his music?  Up in Connecticut, sweet tea is bought pre-brewed at Stop & Shop and I see a horse about once a year grazing in some rich person’s sprawling yard.  As I said, I really wasn’t sure what to expect…

So, I started to play the album…and smiled.  It only took one listen for me to realize that the smile on my face was due to Meade’s sincerity, piano-playing skills, and and songwriting ability.  But, we’ll get to that soon.  First, some background:

Meade Skelton is a singer/songwriter/piano player from Richmond, VA.  This is not the first of his albums reviewed here at the Laptop Sessions music video blog, but it’s the first one I’ve reviewed, so his music was a new experience for me.  Meade and his Meadow Street Band are a very active group, and I can see why.  One look at “Meade’s Place” (the name for his website at http://www.meadeskeltonsplace.com) and you can see the passion Meade has for his music.  His dedication is inspiring, actually.

There are a few stand-out elements of Meade’s album.  First is his superb piano playing.  He plays with passion.  He also plays to fill the sound out (there isn’t much guitar on the album, save for a really great lap steel guitar here and there), but he never does too much.  The jangly upright piano style is perfectly suited for his little bit country/little bit rock’n’roll music. Probably the best element of this album is Meade’s singing voice.  It’s strong in the right places, but he never screams.  It’s got a clear sound with just the right amount of melancholy.  He uses that down-south vibrato at times, but thankfully he never over-does it.  The only element I’m not too fond of on the album is the drumming, as it’s off-tempo at many times, which detracts from the listening experience.  If a more country sound is what Meade was going for on this album, then a bona fide country drummer would’ve been better than conforming a rock drummer to that alternate style. Though, I would love to hear these songs played with a rock drum beat, just for the heck of it.

The overall style of sound on “Meade Music” reminds me of the Byrds when they went into their country phase.  It’s a sophisticated sound that sounds like country at first, but really has many elements of a rock’n’roll background.  But, the best part of Meade’s songwriting actually harks to a different style of songwriter: Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys.  You see, upon first listen, many Beach Boys classic songs can be written off as “happy fluff”.  But, Brian Wilson always had a great knack of integrating a sadder undertone to his music.  It showed that his music came from the heart and a place of innocence.  Meade may be singing about memories of the bus he used to take in “Old Bus 48”, but the minor chord changes Meade throws in throughout the album give the listener a feeling of a somber remembrance- it’s the feeling that, while Meade looks back with fondness, he also misses those good ol’ days.  I think that’s what gives “Meade Music” some great staying power.  And, the fact that he uses his reflection on the past so well made me relate to the songs I thought were way out of my comfort-zone, like I mentioned earlier.

My favorite track on the album is “Before You Go”, a late-album gem.  The general sound reminds me of The Turtles’ classic “Eleanore”.  The subject matter is a little more serious than on the rest of the album, that is, “Before You Go” is more upfront about it.  This is the song I would play for any prospective listener first.

Meade’s new album is available everywhere, but you should look for it on Amazon.com (mp3 digital download here) and at CD Baby (on CD here).  Also, available in August 2012, you can purchase the album on vinyl, which I think would suit this album wonderfully.  You should definitely give this album a listen and check out the rest of Meade’s Music on his website!

The TOP TWENTY ALBUMS of 2011 (The Year-End Awards)

Originally posted 2012-02-05 02:00:04. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

It is the best and truest mark of artistry in the music industry, and sales are no indication of significance.  Sequencing and thematic continuity, sonic experimentation within a basic set of familiar parameters, a healthy range of types and topics: these are the standards by which to judge an album.

The album.

It ascended into an art form in the mid-sixties under the careful work of artists like the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and the Beach Boys.  It was taken to new heights with the experimentation of later bands, from the concept albums of the Moody Blues to the spin-off success of artists like Bruce Springsteen.  The album – and rock in general – saw a rebirth in the nineties, with the work of those like Weezer, the Wallflowers, the Barenaked Ladies, and a slew of others who led a surge of excellent rock music.

These days, the album has faced a crossroads.  Specifically, with the advent and surge of digital sales, the physical formats of music are on the chopping block.  Still, with the rise of vinyl sales even as CD sales continue to decline, there is hope yet.  And, contrary to an army of naysayers, there are still excellent albums being made.  This year, as with the past several years that I have been tuned into a vast array of albums, I would say there are about five albums that will undoubtedly stand the test of time and compete for top spots when I eventually get around to my Best Albums of All Time list.  Which, at this point, might have to wait until I hit retirement.

But, for the moment, you have my Best Albums of 2011 list, and if you’re interested in reading more about any of these albums, you can access my Weekend Review report (including star rating, production info, and a full review) by simply searching the album title and band name in the search bar above.  And, of course, if you see reason for disagreement or any gaps in my list, it’s up to you to leave comments below.

1)  The Whole Love (Wilco)

2)  The King is Dead (The Decemberists)

3)  Last Night on Earth (Noah & the Whale)

4)  Wasting Light (Foo Fighters)

5)  Bad As Me (Tom Waits)

6)  Unfortunate Casino (Gerry Beckley)

7)  The King of Limbs (Radiohead)

8)  Yuck (Yuck)

9)  Lasers (Lupe Fiasco)

10) W H O K I L L (The Tune-Yards)

11) The Graduation Ceremony (Joseph Arthur)

12) Vol. 2: High and Inside (The Baseball Project)

13) Collapse Into Now (R.E.M.)

14) Move Like This (The Cars)

15) The Valley (Eisley)

16) Cloud Maintenance (Kevin Hearn)

17) I’m With You (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

18) Alpocalypse (Weird Al Yankovic)

19) No Color (The Dodos)

20) Nighty Night (8in8)

 

Honorable Mention:

The Way It Was (Parachute)

The Dreamer, The Believer (Common)

Bob Dylan Discography: 1961 – 1969

Originally posted 2008-06-25 22:40:31. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

A couple years ago, a friend at work asked me for some information about Bob Dylan and his work in the 1960s. Little did she know I would not only give her son as much verbal information as he required, but I would also type up a brief discography of his albums. I just came across it today, and I figured I would share it with you all!

Bob Dylan Discography

– The Sixties

1961 – January: Moves to New York

1962 – March: Bob Dylan

-Very folky album, mostly comprised of covers. His early original “Song to Woody” (for his hero, Woody Guthrie) is notable.

1963 – May: The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan

-His first big success and one of his true classics! This is the album that made bands like the Beatles stand up and take notice of him.

1964 – January: The Times They Are A-Changin’

-Deep in the heart of his “protest song” era, this topical album solidified his standing with the folk artists of the 1960’s.

August: Another Side of Bob Dylan

-In this album, Dylan’s desire to break away from topical songs and write more personal material—“My Back Pages,” etc.—becomes evident.

1965 – March: Bringing It All Back Home

-Dylan begins to “go electric” with this half acoustic, half electric album.

August: Highway 61 Revisited

-This is where Dylan pulled out all the stops and made a sound that was all his own. Best known for its lead-off song, “Like A Rolling Stone.”

1966 – May: Blonde on Blonde

-Dylan pushes his sound a step further with this album; widely considered to be among the (if not THE) best album of his career.

1967 – December: John Wesley Harding

-Following his motorcycle accident in 1966 and the cancellation of his upcoming tour dates, fans were somewhat thrown by his return to a more folky sound.

1968 –

Records in a basement with the Band; those widely bootlegged takes were later
released as The Basement Tapes

1969 – April: Nashville Skyline

-Making the transformation complete, he released this country rock album with a new version of “Girl of the North Country” (originally from Freewheelin’) as a duet with Johnny Cash.

Ranking every Beach Boys album/song: “Shut Down Vol. 2” (by Songwriter Jim Fusco)

Originally posted 2008-02-20 11:44:18. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Each song gets a ranking out of a possible 10.

ALBUM – SHUT DOWN, VOL. 2

Fun, Fun, Fun – 8
The Warmth of the Sun – 10 (doesn’t get much better than this)
Don’t Worry, Baby – 10 (see last song)
Pom Pom Play Girl – 4 (too Jan and Dean for me)
Why Do Fools Fall in Love – 6 (again, not a big fan of covers, but this one is very well done, especially that vocal break in the middle)
*I Do – 6 (even though the verse is a clear re-tooling, the chorus is pretty amazing)
In the Parkin’ Lot – 8 (I really like this song- it’s got great harmonies and I love the tag at the beginning and end)
This Car of Mine – 6 (I love Denny’s vocals on this one!)
Keep an Eye on Summer – 9 (just wow)
Louie, Louie – 1 (ugh- why guys, why??)
Shut Down, Part II – 3 (okay, but only because Carl wrote it!)
“Cassius” Love vs. “Sonny” Wilson – 2 (Can this even count? They can’t even get the jokes right! But, it is cute.)
Denny’s Drums – 4 (I hate that Dennis doesn’t get a lot of credit for his drumming, but he clearly has the chops here)

** You have five or six songs that are not only great, but classic on this album and it makes this album a great listen. In my opinion, the Boys really honed the harmonies on this album- not a bum note to be found. Plus, showing off the talents of Dennis (singing and playing) and Carl (writing and playing) is just great. Brian was truly in his prime starting with this album. I find it hard to talk down to any album with the likes of Don’t Worry Baby and The Warmth of the Sun on it. Their greatness truly cancels out any mediocrity the few clunkers on the album express. **