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I wanna be Brando in "The Wild One."
3 Out Of 5 Stars

I am having a really hard time with this new fangled album by Ray LaMontagne. Producer Dan Auerbach wandered in and Black Keyed the guy under layers of psychedelia, echo chambered voices and murky sound. And LaMontagne's voice, a buttery tenor that threads a needle between James Taylor and Van Morrison, is held back on the bulk of "Supernova." Ray has such a naturally beautiful voice, it seems a waste to have him sing in whispers and, on "Airwaves," gasping and gulping like a drowning man.

Fortunately, it's Ray's talents that save "Supernova" from being a total bow-wow. The title track rides Ray's singer-songwriter skills with a nifty hook, and he gets to sing in his full voice. The opener, "Lavender" successfully nicks from The Zombies' "Time Of The Season," but finds Ray's voice buried in whispers and reverb. If you're looking for a reason why fans of the guy (I've been a fan since seeing him at the Newport Folk Festival right after "Trouble" was released) have viewed him as a vanguard of the new singer-songwriters, "Supernova's" closing song makes the case. "Drive In Movies" finds Ray wondering about his past, when he and his friends hung out stealing smokes and being "the guy that breaks all the rules, but the cops let him go because they think that he's cool," before admitting that he's old enough to have to buy his cigarettes and whiskey and gaze upon the empty space where his Drive-In used to be. Again, it's also one of the songs where Ray's voice is allowed to rise above the convoluted production and shimmer the way it's supposed to. In fact, as far as the songwriting is concerned, everything here had the potential to come out as great. But there's that production issue again...

I'm a fan of both Ray and The Black Keys, but this was not a match made in heaven. After the fine and even at times funky "God Willin' and The Creek Don't Rise," "Supernova" feels like a miscalculation. If he tours, I hope Ray keeps the Pariah Dogs from his last album on stage and lets these songs take a more natural course.



   
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maxauburn 's birthday is today!
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ednixon's birthday is today! Great to talk to you this week.
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sfopanda's and andybr's  birthday is today!
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ursusnoir's birthday is today!
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My good friend Thom Magister has just released a new book, "Biker Bar." Subtitled "Bikes Beer and Boys," its a playfully illustrated history of how men's biker and leather bars have changed through the ages.  You can check it out on Amazon by clicking the cover.

Here's what I had to say about it for the back cover:
“On back streets and down alleyways. In neighborhoods many feared to tread. Often behind doors marked so only those in the know could open them. That’s where you would find them: lone wolves, strangers, friends, and bikers, banding together with the smoke, the jukebox, and the beer at their bars. Join these men, comrades in arms, as they take us on a leather-jacketed ride through time. See the biker bar change through the decades as chronicled by Thom Magister, a man who witnessed these establishments come, go, and be reinvented.”
Tim Brough, author of Skin Tight, First Hand, and other popular BDSM books

I am proud and feel lucky that I got to witness this book in it's gestation form. The finished work is wonderful, too.


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Happy birthday, Jason!!
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The Return of Outlaw Country
5 Out Of 5 Stars

"Every cowboy's got a story and a secret he's learned to hide/Maybe he's tough in chaps and leather with a different kind of pride."

So says Canadian Cowboy Drake Jensen on his second full length studio album, "Outlaw." Comprised of 11 songs, including three of which Drake wrote or co-wrote, "Outlaw" reminds me alot of the the new country acts I was writing about and giving radio play to in the early 90's, before the "kids in cowboy hats" phenomenon kicked in. Drake has a full, rich voice that is often reminiscent of Randy Travis or George Strait, and his band plays full-bore modern country. Touching on topics from good lovin', fine livin' and not backing down from a challenge.

Nowhere on "Outlaw" is that fight more plaintive than its emotional centerpiece, "Scars." Drake has said in interviews that the abuse he suffered as a school student was so severe that he dropped out by 8th grade. He channels every bit of emotion he's got into this powerful song, and its corresponding video will throw you for a loop. Too many country singers are afraid of anything remotely controversial, but Drake walks into the fray till he's boot deep in it. In my opinion, the best message song of the past several years.

Even with something that serious to tent-pole the CD, Drake is not afraid of some good timing. "Fast Enough For Me" (one of the songs Drake shares writing credit on) requests that love takes its easy to be certain, but having a good time along the way is just fine. Then there's my other favorite on the CD, "Midnight Forest Cricket Chorus." It had me by the title alone, but then contemplates how a peaceful night where getting away from the noise and flashing neon could be one of life's sweetest experiences.

There's plenty to love on "Outlaw," from the wish to slow the world down in "I Don't Want To Know" to the strong "When It Hurts Like That," which kicks the album off with confidence. Drake Jensen may still be flying under the radar at the moment, however, that's no reason he should be off of yours.

http://www.drakejensen.ca

https://www.facebook.com/drakejensenmusic


   
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Drake Jensen is a Canadian country singer, who just happens to be gay and out. I've been enjoying his CD "OUTlaw" for a couple of weeks now. Should you think the gent is easy on the eyes, I can also add that he's easy on the ears. He has two terrific videos from the CD,

The first, for "Scars," takes on the very serious topic of bullying, and doesn't mince words. With powerful imagery, I find both the video and the song itself riveting.



Then there's the more fun side of Drake, in the recently released "Fast Enough For Me." Go on, admit it. You've been there.



Like I said, I am really enjoying his music. You can find out more at drakejensen.ca (which is were I copped this photograph).


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