Tag Archives: Blue Arrow Records

Album Review: Ethan Daniel Davidson – Crows

I’ll openly admit that I had never heard of Ethan Daniel Davidson until Pete at Blue Arrow Records asked me to check out his latest release Crows.

I am so stoked he did.

All I was told about Davidson was that he was from Detroit and played folk music.  Furthermore, I had no idea that this Americana folk album bordered outlaw country.

Crows is Davidson’s latest full-length and has been released on Blue Arrow Records.  He has been playing music for years now and has released quite a few indie/folk albums previous to Crows.  I learned that he is married to Gretchen from Slumber Party and once moved out to Alaska to record.  He toured for years until he had a family and is known for offering up his music (downloads) for free.  He’s also the adopted son of the late Pistons owner, Bill Davidson.

Just by looking at the album cover of Crows, I instantly thought of Billy The Kid as the photo of Davidson looked rustic and almost criminal.  I was instantly intrigued before even hearing one song.

“My Crows” opened up the album with an almost warped sound to it.  Davidson’s singing was welcoming and just caught my attention.  Having expecting more of a folk style, I really dug this country style.  The collective singing midway about love just made it that much more inviting.

“My Own Bad” was one track I really enjoyed.  This song was more of a cowboy memoir full of twang that was fueled by evil tendencies.  This is a track I wish I could have listened to when I lived out in the desert, it would have complimented my evenings so well.

“And The Never Saw Him Coming” was more of a 40s country telltale tune that I easily got sucked into.  I adored the banjo with the slow drumming that carried me along for the ride.  Davidson slowly sung about a mysterious natural born killer ending right at the climax leaving for plenty of interpretation.

“I Might’ve Been Wrong” was an eerie gospel-like track about a punished man with a conscience.  Davidson did not hold back with his descriptive lyricism on this track.

“Close To The Gallows” kept on the with the demeanor and easily could be put in a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack – seriously, this track ruled.

“Love can go to hell” started off the twangy, tender song “Fade”.  This little jam was not necessarily a romantic story, but more of a strung out, timely appreciation.

As someone who has an appreciation for real country music and not that pop crap, I loved every moment of Crows.  It was a complete shocker of an album to hear and as I previously mentioned, I’m thrilled Pete told me to check it out.  This is going to be one of those albums I play for the rest of my life.  With that said, I think I should probably check out Davidson’s catalog, something tells me I am going to enjoy it as well.

This album is perfect if you like alt-country but are looking for something a little slower and more on the dark side.  Check it out for yourself:

Album Review: Bad Luck Jonathan – Bad Luck Jonathan

Bad Luck Jonathan is the band your father probably told you about that never actually existed.

Sounding like they are straight out of the 70s, this Jon Langford project carries the fuzz, the soul, and plenty of the mean deviation of a progressive space rock act that could fool any naive music listener into thinking that this band is an obscure band from the past.

For those who have not heard of the name Langford, you should probably stop what you are doing and go check out a few songs from  his first band, The Meckons, a punk band that took root 40 years ago.  The dude is a fricking legend, but be forewarned, Bad Luck Johnathan is a lot more astray from what Langford once started with and mind you, the Meckons were all over the place.

I should probably mention that Bad Luck Jonathan is not just Langford though.  Former Whiskeytown guitarist, Phil Wandscher and Martin Billheimer joined forces with Langford along with the Waco Brother’s very own Joe Camarillo and Alan Doughty (who also happened to be in Jesus Jones).  It’s been said they came together on an island off the coast of the Pacific Northwest in very specific circumstances.

Realizing they were on to something good, the band, with help from Cleveland’s very own Blue Arrow Records, dropped a spacey, sludge rock self-titled album.  That descriptor alone right there just sounds bad ass.  Well, so is the album.

Album opener “3 Eyed Piranaha” was a space rock blues jam that pretty much opened the gates of what was to come on this album.  It was like listening to Mike Watt, Suicidal Tendencies, Beck, and Stevie Ray Vaughn all smashed together.  It was beautiful.

“Bad Luck Jonathan” carried a very Doors-y feel at the beginning, but went the path of Bowie and beyond.  “Strong Engine” was a mysterious sounding track with some catchy guitar lines backed by smooth bass playing that erupted halfway into a full-fetched jam.

“Clowntown Collapse” closed the album down with a distortion-driven almost cowpunk sounding track that I really got a kick out of.  I could only imagine this song being played live in a dark, small venue, especially by the end when Langford commented into the mic, “that was great” as the song ended.

Clocking in at just over 30 minutes, I can tell you this is not just some quickly thrown together album.  Personally, by the end, I was hoping for more as it was a hell of a listen.  There is a lot of talent thrown into these six tracks and I’ve personally listened to it over a few times now as it carries a unique sound I am really digging.

The LP version of this album was pressed by Gotta Grove Records and looks killer thanks to the red opaque color of the wax.

If you want to snag a copy, head over to Blue Arrow Records.

I got a kick while reading an interview with Lone Star Music Magazine and felt the need to share.  Langford joked about working with Blue Arrow by saying, “we made an album that’s coming out on Blue Arrow Records in Cleveland; their only other artist is Jonathan Richman, so they only work with artists with Jonathan in their name.”

Langford is a trip, and judging by the video below, so are his live performances.  I really need to check these guys out live next time they roll through Cleveland.

 

Album Review: Jonathan Richman – Ishkode! Ishkode!

Jonathan RichmanI recall the very day when I was first introduced to Jonathan Richman.

Sometimes I wish I could say it was because I came across a Modern Lovers album at a young age, but the truth is, I learned of him in the mid-90s thanks to Repo Man on VHS.  As many of you know, there was a Modern Lovers song on the soundtrack and I fell in love with it instantly.

That was a long time ago and I have never stopped being a fan.  So I am sure you can imagine how stoked I am to have been given the opportunity to review Richman’s latest release titled Ishkode! Ishkode!.

I have to admit though, I have been sitting on this review for a few weeks now as I wanted to make sure I said the right words as this artist is so important to me.

So here I am pondering and making a big deal about an album by a guy who has inspired me to be myself.  After listening to this album probably for the 100th time, I felt today was the day to share.

Ishkode! Ishkode! dropped last month on Cleveland’s very own Blue Arrow Records.  This is Richman’s first release in over six years and was well worth the wait.  Assisting Richman on this release was Tommy Larkins, Lisa Marie, Kelly Brown, and a handful of other friends.

Starting off the album was “Woah! How Different We All Are!”, a more underground, beatnik sounding track that had Richman and crew taking a darker approach.  Not goofy by any means but certainly something Warhol would have been a fan of.

“Ishkode! Ishkode!” carried the style Richman has presented over and over I have grown to appreciate.  I loved when Richman, once warmed up, just went on a mini tangent with some amped up guitar playing.

I heard “Wait! Wait!” last year when Richman dropped a pair of 45s via Blue Arrow Records.  This track is so fun it is ridiculous.  I hate to repeat myself, so go check out what I said about it previously.  I also talk about “O’Sun!” too.

“‘a Nnammurata Mia” which translates to My Beloved, was easily my favorite track off the entire album.  I felt like I was on vacation listening to it as Richman swooned me away in Italian and English.  Seriously though, Richman displayed himself to me in a new level on this song while blending the two languages so perfectly.  It was beautiful.

The love fueled “Let Me Do This Right!” should be the soundtrack for all mantra.  Even though it was the quickest song on the album, it was gentle, repetitious, and honest.

“Outside Oduffy’s” just had me smirking the entire time the song played.  This was a comical track that just had me visualizing Richman talking to a girl outside of a pub, falling head over heels in 10 minutes.  This was Richman storytelling at it’s finest.  Having the ladies sing along made it that much better.

“Longtemps” returned back to that vacation feeling I had earlier with the versatile Richman showing his true talent in a different tongue – French to be exact.  Originally written by Charles Trenet in 1955, Richman covered it quite well.

Closing the album was “Mother I Give You My Soul Call”, a chant written by Paramahansa Yogananda.  It is beyond why Richman chose this song to cover, but it was absolutely captivating to listen to.  The sitar playing over the low toned instrument that escapes me at this time (please feel free to help me out here) was calm and relaxing to listen to while Richman recited the chant.  This was an incredibly unique listen.

For anyone who is a fan of Richman, listening to this album was an experience of its own.  At first, I could not place my finger on some of the tracks and felt Richman was just doing something different because he can, but as I listened more and more, it made sense to me.  This album was Richman continuing his legacy as a musician and merely enhanced his talents.  It’s a fantastic release.

Head over to Blue Arrow Records to order a copy of Richman’s new album.  If you are lucky enough to live in Cleveland, just take some time and visit their brick and mortar store.  You will not be disappointed.  I always enjoy my visits there and you can just pick up a copy of the LP yourself.

7-Inch Reviews: Jonathan Richman – “O Sun” & “Keith”

Sometimes a review is tough to start.  I find myself sitting here trying to think of how I am going to select the right words to create an introduction to the musician or band that I would like to share with the world.

I find this blog entry particularly a little more difficult to start out with not only because I am a huge fan of the musician of the EPs I am about to talk about, but I am equally a huge fan of the label that has put them out.

Blue Arrow Records is not only a brick and mortar staple in Cleveland thanks to their amazing selection of vinyl, music memorabilia, and other vintage goodies, but they are now a record label.

Makes complete sense to me.

I have been a fan of Blue Arrow since they first set up shop in 2009 and think the world of owners Pete and Debbie.  Not only do they run one of my favorite stores in my neck of the woods, but they are also quality humans.  I am lucky to know them and was floored when they told me they were going to start their own record label and first on the roster was none other than Jonathan Richman.

Jonathan Richman

I adore all things Richman.  Chances are if you are reading this, you might too.  If you do not, I highly encourage you to check out anything Modern Lovers or just jump into Richman’s solo material.  His style is unforgettable and almost always is in the most upbeat approach.  Richman always has seemed to put me in a good mood.

This month, Blue Arrow Records is releasing two 7-inch singles by Jonathan Richman including four songs: “O Sun”, Wait Wait”, “Keith” and “They Showed Me the Door to Bohemia”.  These are the first releases by Richman in five years.

I need to pause for a second and let you all know that I have been holding off on reviewing these 7-inches until I could literally just down and spin them endlessly next to me.  With luck on my side this past Friday, I was able to set up a listening station of sorts by my desktop with the full intention of listening to these releases and reviewing them.

Moving along…

The 7-inches are both beautifully pressed with “Keith”/”They Showed me the Road to Bohemia” in white (33rpm) and “O Sun”/”Wait Wait” in turquoise with light hints of red (45rpm).

“Keith” paid tribute to the one and only Keith Richards.  I loved the line Richman said regarding Keith’s style was “not exactly the blues cause it’s sorta European too.”  “The Showed me the Road to Bohemia” was a spoken word jam by Richman that was relaxed yet joyless.  Richmond can’t always be a ray of sunshine folks.  He is human after all.

“O Sun” carried a more vintage beachfront island sound that I really was not expecting but completely loved.  It was nothing too technical and quite repetitive, but mysterious like something you would hear in an old school James Bond movie soundtrack.  “Wait Wait” really reminded me of the young Richman post-Modern Lovers I had adored for so many years.  Plenty of clapping and good times were thrown in this jam with thanks to Juanramon Jimenez, a poet who Richman claimed “helped me express a feeling.”

I know I tend to tell everyone what I like and honestly, that is the whole premise of this little blog I have been holding onto for a while. If  can find just one person out there who has not heard of Richman yet and they turn into a fan, then my job is done.  I do this because I want to and there is no other reason.

Both 7-inches only have me excited even more for the full length that Blue Arrow Records aims to release this fall.  Until then, you can stop in the shop and pick up both copies or click on the album covers below to place your order today at Blue Arrow Records ($10 each + shipping):

O Sun 7-Inch Single  Keith 7-Inch Single


I find my posting of this appropriate with the statement that Pete released about Blue Arrow Records and their involvement with Record Store Day.  If you have not read it yet, please do.  It is a highly well-written discussion about his somber decision to not partake in perhaps the most popular retail event for independently owned record stores.

My thoughts about RSD are not as strong as they once were and I blame the greedy (the labels and the flippers).  Where I love to see people standing in line to buy limited pressed releases, I feel it has gone too far and has turned into just another way for big business to make their money as well as shady flippers who throw them up on eBay and make a killing (sometimes even before RSD).

There are too many releases to even count this year and honestly, there were only maybe two that I might have raised an eyebrow about.  What I am trying to get at was that I wasn’t excited about this year’s RSD offerings.  Hopefully not everyone agrees with me and still will be lining up at their favorite local shop next week.

There may not be new pressings coming out that I give a crap about, but there are stores like Blue Arrow Records with tons of old and previously loved releases that I will happily flip through with hopes of finding a gem.

Don’t dismiss RSD.  Remember it is about records, not just the new re-re-re-repressings on an 138 gram glitter-gold pressing with hologram download cards.  Go out and support your local record store and find something that you can call your own.

Cleveland’s Blue Arrow Records To Release Jonathan Richman Singles

JoJo_17-hr_photo_credit_Rory_EarnshawI am so stoked to be able to share this:

Cleveland’s Blue Arrow Records have started their own record label with the same name and first on their roster is the amazing Jonathan Richman.

Seeing that I am huge fan of them both, I could not help but stop what I was doing tonight to share the good news.

Jonathan Richman is easily one of my favorite singer-songwriters out there.  His career reaches all the way back to the 70s with the Modern Lovers and has continued over the years with him turning more into a solo artist.  I have always appreciated his upbeat outlook on life as well as got a kick out of seeing him in There’s Something About Mary and Kingpin.

Blue Arrow Records is a brick and mortar record store staple on Waterloo in the East Cleveland neighborhood of Collinwood. Owned by the good folk Pete and Debbie Gulyas, the store has been selling vinyl and other music related formats/memorabilia since 2009.  I adore that store (and the owners) and have found some incredible gems there over the years including a lot of Richman’s catalog.

The Gulyas’s actually used to own a shop on Coventry in Cleveland Hts. and met Richman in the area some 18 years ago.

Over the years, a friendship was formed between the Gulyas’s and Richman.  Just a few years back, Richman asked the Gulyas’s to help sell merch on an East coast tour.  It just makes sense that this is happening.

On March 1st, Blue Arrow will release 7-inch singles by Richman, “O Sun” and “Keith”.  There are plans for a full length to drop in the Fall as well as extending the label to other acts in due time.

Click on the album covers below to place your pre-order today at Blue Arrow Records ($10 each – Ships in April):

O Sun 7-Inch Single  Keith 7-Inch Single

Richman is actually playing the Euclid Tavern on March 8th with Tommy Larkins on drums.  If you know what is good for you, you will make it and see him perform.  It is a show not to be missed.