Sep 072018
 

kilonovaWilliam Elliott Whitmore is 40, but he has always sounded like a much older man, with a deep, soulful voice that gives everything he sings a certain gravitas.  Think Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, or late Dylan, or most of all, Johnny Cash at his most apocalyptic.  If Whitmore sang “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” you’d still worry, and probably be unhappy.  I first heard Whitmore in 2006, opening for Lucero, at the Bowery Ballroom in New York, and was immediately transfixed by his timeless voice, dark songs, austere banjo, guitar and foot stomping accompaniment, and intense performance.

Born and raised on a 150-acre farm in southeastern Iowa, which he inherited from his parents and still owns, Whitmore grew up singing and playing guitar and banjo, with musical influences that started with country and moved toward punk as he got older.  At a certain point, though, Whitmore realized that he needed to focus on the folky, rustic, blues music that he grew up on–but with a punk edge.

So when Bloodshot Records released Kilonova, an album of covers of (mostly) lesser known songs from many musical eras, the question was, how would such a distinctive artist put his stamp on this block of diverse songs? “Diverse” barely begins to tell the story–artists range from Dock Boggs, to Johnny Cash,  to the Magnetic Fields to Bad Religion.

In short, the answer is, remarkably well.
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Jul 312018
 
Arctic Monkeys – Lipstick Vogue (Elvis Costello cover)

Arctic Monkeys got a lot of attention covering the Strokes last week (especially because on his new album, Alex Turner sings: “I just want to be one of the Strokes”). But I preferred their wonderfully sleazy “Lipstick Vogue” cover, played in honor of Costello as he recovered from cancer surgery. Turner’s a product of his influences; in addition to the Strokes and Elvis, he appears to have his Nick Cave snake slither down cold. Continue reading »

Aug 212012
 

A little over a month ago, we got a sneak peak at the new “Just Tell Me That You Want Me,” an all-star compilation paying tribute to the iconic Fleetwood Mac. We heard renditions of classics such as “Future Games” reinterpreted by MGMT and “Silver Springs” by Lykke Li. The album was officially released in Starbucks across the country on the 14th. If you haven’t had the chance to stop by one of the dozens of Starbucks within the five mile radius of your house (or if you’re not a resident of the U.S.), you’ve lucked out, as the entire album is now available for streaming. Continue reading »

Jul 022012
 

You know the soft rock/world music CDs you see at the check-out point of your local Starbucks? Turns out that these CDs aren’t entirely worth passing up. Starbucks’ label Hear Music/Concord has gathered some of the best and brightest musical talents for the Fleetwood Mac tribute compilation, Just Tell Me That You Want Me, and with producers Randall Poster and Gelya Robb, who were behind the grammy-nominated Rave On Buddy Holly, you know it’s going to be worth adding on to your $4.85 tall skinny vanilla latte. Continue reading »