“Christmas Morning” by Jim Fusco – FREE mp3 Download! – Day 14 of 14

By Jim Fusco:

And here it is- the end of the line.  I can’t believe we’re already through all 14 days of my Rock’n’Roll Christmas celebration!  Remind me to never do this again. 🙂

Today’s song is my original Christmas tune, “Christmas Morning”, that I wrote back in high school!  I personally think every artist has ONE good Christmas song in them.  And, to be honest, I’m not exactly sure that I’d ever be able to come up with another one as catchy as this one, so I don’t think I’m going to try!

I recorded this song for the first time back in 2004 for our Christmas album, “Our Christmas Gift To You”.  At the time, I was just getting used to playing the guitar and recording with my digital 24-track.  I had basic microphones, too.  Now, I have a Cab Clone to record my guitars, various tube amps, high quality mics, compressors, preamps, and…the same 24 track mixer.  But, if you’ve heard both versions, you can really tell a big difference.  I’ll probably end-up recording this again in the future after my equipment gets even better!

My wife Becky helps me sing on this tune, too.  I was going to have my brother Mike help out, but he was sick when he came home for Thanksgiving, so he couldn’t sing on it.  Next time, though!

I hope you’ve had as much fun reading and listening to these Christmas songs as I have making them.  It’s a pretty big accomplishment for me to do all of this while being so busy otherwise.  I hope I can maybe just do one song a year from now on, just to keep me into the recording process.  Enjoy “Christmas Morning” and have a Merry Christmas!

The Other Half: A Look Back at Ten (Officially Released) Jim Fusco Rarities – PART TWO

By Chris Moore:

Last week, I brought you the first five in a list of ten Jim Fusco rarities in preparation for the release of his new album Halfway There this “new music Tuesday,” April 7th, 2009.  After all, there’s no better way to anticipate an upcoming release than to go back and enjoy all previous releases in a series.

In the case of Fusco, there has been quite a variety of musical projects over the course of the past eight years.  There have been six solo studio albums, three band albums, four releases (of 20 tracks each) in the Laptop Sessions acoustic mp3 series, a single, a greatest hits disc (with accompanying music video DVD compilation), and assorted demos, covers, and other tracks.  Now that I’ve officially finished listening to all the Bob Dylan tracks in my collection (almost 700!), I’ve embarked on my “Jim Fusco Catalog” playlist.

Clocking in at “only” eleven hours or so, this should be much easier to tackle than my Bob Dylan playlist!

For those of you Jim Fusco faithfuls, I hope you’ll enjoy the final five tracks on this second installment of “A Look Back at Ten (Officially Released) Jim Fusco Rarities” worth remembering…

A Look Back at Five More (Officially Released) Jim Fusco Rarities…

6)  “The Red, White, and Blues” – This is yet another album starter that I love.  It is Fusco’s first foray into direct protest songwriting.  Indeed, his March 2008 Laptop Sessions version stirred up some controversy in the form of comments left on the site.  It was nice to see that at least some people listen to the lyrics, even if they misread and/or disagreed with their message.  As he wrote in the blog post, this was the first and last “protest” type song of its kind.

7)  “The Second Time” – All I have to say is: this better be at the wedding reception!  In 2003, Jim recorded and released Formula, an album whose material was clearly inspired by his now-fiance Becky Daly.  She joins him near the end of this track, offering up a preview of 2/3 of the Chris, Jim, and Becky trio that would go on to perform around the state and release a “live in the studio” album.  While this isn’t necessarily one of my favorite Jim Fusco songs, it’s always been one of my favorites from Formula and — if it’s not “best of” material, then — it’s “top ten rarities” material.

8)  “Sideshow” – There are so many different tracks that were up for inclusion on this list of rarities — there’s the simple, piano-based vulnerability of “My Angel” or the folky storytelling style of “Vision of Cobblestone Town,” to name just a couple.  “Sideshow” earns a spot in the top ten for its unique sound.  There’s something about this track that is controlled and yet sort of wild; it’s one of those songs whose sound truly meshes with and contributes to the meaning conveyed by the lyrics.  In addition, as the penultimate track on What About Today?, it’s truly the point at which the recurring instrumental section comes to a climax before the first chords of “Harmony” and the close of this concept album.

9)  “Never Taking Your Chances” – This is one of those songs that benefits from my memories surrounding its conception, recording, and release.  I vividly recall my conversations with Jim about the situation that resulted in the writing of this song, and I recall the then-groundbreaking recording methods that he was pioneering.  This is a clear example of early blending between vocals and distortion guitar.  With each album, Jim’s use of guitar effects has become more effective and more interesting, and I can’t wait to hear his latest leap forward on Halfway There.

10)  “Another Backwards Day” – Speaking of guitar effects, “Another Backwards Day” is a track that I always felt was left forgotten about, sandwiched between the live favorites “Can’t Count on Words” and “Sometimes.”  This song is every bit as upbeat and rocking as the other songs around it, and it boasts a Frampton-esque series of guitar solos and riffing.  If “She Waits” (another favorite and one that ALMOST made the list!) demonstrates Jim’s softer, piano-driven side, then “Another Backwards Day” pulls out the stops and allows him to flex his electric muscle.

Best Album Covers of 2012: A Weekend Review Special Edition

By Chris Moore:

The BEST ALBUM COVERS of 2012

 

Even in an age of increasingly digital delivery of music media, album covers continue to be an integral piece of the vision for an album.  In a sense, they are rapidly becoming the primary, if not sole, physical/visual component of the album.  That being said, it also feels like, in many cases, album covers have fallen to the wayside as hastily composed and inspired out of necessity.  Nevertheless, there are always some that stand out of the crowd; this year, there are five that deserve to be honored. 

 

1)  The Sound of the Life of the Mind – Ben Folds Five

2)  Ten Stories – mewithoutYou

3)  Those Around Us – Jim Fusco

4)  The Idler Wheel… – Fiona Apple

5)  Born and Raised – John Mayer

 

Honorable Mention:

Glad All Over – The Wallflowers

Music Review: Jim Fusco’s “Halfway There”

RATING:  4.5 / 5 stars

By Chris Moore:

When Jim Fusco released What About Today? in May 2005, his official website claimed that “this album will prove to be Jim’s best work to date.”  I didn’t think about it much at the time, but that tag of “to date” is key, particularly now — four years later — as he releases a new album.

Now, his website asserts that Halfway There is “his most professional and mature album to date.”

There is certainly something very appropriate about the title of this new release.  Careful listeners will certainly appreciate the conceptual and thematic connections.  In most places on the record, Fusco seems upbeat and generally optimistic, and yet there is a clear feeling of being stuck in a transition phase.  “You go on for miles then you stop,” he sings in “On For Miles,” possibly referring to his fiancee (now only months away from their wedding).  On “Exception,” he sings, “Why can’t we be an exception to the rule?”

Fusco is even more blunt on “I Got You,” as he wails, “I’ll always have you here and shouldn’t that be enough?”

Halfway There is truly unmatched — as promised — in Fusco’s catalog in terms of not only sound quality and “professionalism,” but also lyrical content and overall effect.  This is an album that should draw listeners in and make them feel something.  From the opening track, this is apparent, as much from the snarl of the verse as from the fed-up indifference of the chorus.  The guitar solo is emotive and supported with a classic Jim Fusco — no, better — bass riff.

Go on: I dare you not to get it stuck in your head.

The Best Indie Album of 2009!

The Best Indie Album of 2009!

“Go Back to Him” sets the tone for an album that does what great albums are supposed to do, leading you from highs to lows as you wind your way through its eleven tracks. Perhaps due to his experience with the recording process (and life in general) or an array of new equipment and instruments, Fusco’s vocals are warmer, his guitar effects are more unique and authentic, and the overall sound quality is higher.  The volume level is impressive — sometimes to0 much so, as I’ve had to turn down a couple tracks during pronounced, high-pitched guitar parts.

Indeed, longtime Jim Fusco fans will find traces of sounds here and there that are reminiscent of past work, but this time around there is sense of evolution and a clear progression.  “Our Love Doesn’t Translate” should clearly be the single, as catchy and pretty as it is, weaving a tale of two lovers who don’t always understand each other or see eye to eye.  “A Night Away” is the distortion-drenched track for this album, showcasing just one of many energetic guitar solos and — although he sings “I’d rather be ashamed than proud and angry” — some considerable resentment.

The standout track of the album is “I Got You.”  It is placed perfectly on the album, just past the halfway point.  It begins as a quiet song, just an electric guitar, then a bass, and finally a lead vocal.  When the drums shake and roll into place about a minute in, the song picks up speed and continues its slow assault until just over a minute and a half in when Fusco belts out the first chorus.  The lyrics are my favorite on the album; indeed, this would be the first song I would discuss with him if I were to sit down for an interview.

The album closer, “Ruins,” makes a final and interesting statement on the overall theme of the album.  Using the metaphor of ancient historic ruins for a relationship, Fusco sings, “There was a time when everyone had admired you from afar… But nature has a way of tearing apart what we’ve built, and if it stands, it’s eroded away.”  He leads up to the conclusion in the chorus, “I guess that’s what you call progress.”  The song itself is a dark, haunting number, and you won’t find a better mix anywhere on the album.

As “Ruins” fades, you are left with a momentary silence before a quiet hum fills the speakers.  Almost a minute later, a guitar fades in to the pop powerhouse that is “Winning You Over.”  Not officially included on the album, all I can say is that this song fits firmly into the company of such songs as America’s “Here and Now” and the Wallflowers “Empire In My Mind” — all quality tracks that make you wonder, “Why not include this on the album proper?”

Fusco has said the song was recorded much later than the other songs and didn’t really fit into the album as a whole, which does make sense.

Halfway There is easily his best, most accessible and enjoyable album to date — it is clearly a prime time for Fusco to attract new listeners while impressing his current fanbase.

In his review of Jeff Copperthite’s 2008 album Greenlight, Fusco wrote, “As an independent artist, I’ve found that people don’t take our music seriously. They won’t listen to it in the car like every other album they own. They won’t recommend it to their friends and write online reviews. It just doesn’t happen very often.”  Halfway There is an infectious record.  I’ve already listened to it a half dozen times in the car alone, not counting just as many iPod listens, and I don’t see a time coming when I will want to take it out.  (Well, maybe when the Dylan album is released later this month… :-))

Oddly — perhaps sadly — this level of mastery comes at a time when Fusco, for the first time, has eschewed all the frills, including music videos, enhancedCD content, and even his own original design for the album cover.

Fusco at work in the Meriden, CT-based FMP Studios

Fusco at work in the Meriden, CT-based FMP Studios

This is yet another visible sign of advancement — he brought in talented and accomplished painter Ben Quesnel to design and create an original work that would be used for the cover.  If you watch Fusco’s Laptop Session for “Our Love Doesn’t Translate,” you can see the painting in all its glory.

The album isn’t perfect, though.  The fourth track, “Write it All,” is both a writing collaboration and a rare duet — his first since My Other Half.  Fair warning: that second voice is disconcerting and may lead listeners to frisbee-toss their discs out the windows of moving cars.  (Actually, that second voice is me!)  In all seriousness, “Write it All” is perhaps my favorite collaboration I’ve ever written and performed — and there have been many — with Jim, and I think fans of MoU will especially appreciate this track.

Another notable collaboration showcased for the first time on this album is with longtime friend Alberto Distefano.  “Go Back to Him,” “Our Love Doesn’t Translate,” and “Ruins” were written while on vacation in Italy, and the influence of a new environment with a rich history and unique language is apparent in the writing.  His previous album may have been “purely Jim Fusco from top to bottom,” but the injection of a second perspective seems to have sparked new and different ideas and perhaps even a new era for this already established, accomplished songwriter.

If you’ve made it this far in reading my review, there really isn’t much more that can be communicated in words.  The bass is bassier.  The guitars are crisper, more jangly.  The vocals are as ambitious as ever.  Truly, this is an album that deserves your attention —  it’s only the second great album of 2009, in league with Bruce Springsteen’s Working On A Dream.

Click HERE to listen to the album for free!

Trust me, you’ll be glad you tuned in.