I’ve been thinking a lot about genres in music. Overall, I think they are dumb. That’s just my opinion, and I do understand that it can be important for a band trying to get into a venue or festival or to get played on this or that station to have a clearly defined genre label. When I need to use a genre label, I try to defer to the band’s own description.
Don’t even get me started on sub genres and sub sub genres, and all the pseudo genres that some clever music journalist invented. I hope that artists will just continue to make great music and only after the fact and only when necessary worry at all about picking a genre or genre to categorize their sound. Because that is really all genre labels are really is a way to put everything in a neat little pile.
It always annoys me when people say I hate _____ (fill in the blank with a genre label). When I hear that, I always think to myself, and what do you mean by ______. And usually there is some specific type of music that they don’t like, and they are arbitrarily eliminating a whole bunch of really good music from ever entering their consciousness. It doesn’t make sense to me, but I’m kind of weird like that.
Here at Ear to the Ground, we don’t set any restrictions or limits on the music we feature, and really we go out of our way to add a variety of different genres and types of music to our playlists.
Today’s mix begins and ends with the Blues (or at least some variation of that clear yet still indistinct genre label.)
JUMP TO THE MUSIC
“The Devil You Know” by Tommy Castro and the Painkillers from Alligator Records:21stCentury Blues and Roots/The Devil You Know
I like the term “Roots” when it comes to music. To me “Roots music” is not a genre, but rather it labels the music as pure and natural (or at least more so than most music). The influences may be mixed and varied, but the pure essence is still present. The Devil You Know is a Blues songs and it rocks. Tommy Castro is a California based guitarist who has been active since the 80s, and who released his latest album this year on the Alligator Records label. This isn’t throw-back music, but it definitely has a solid foundation in the basics of all American music.
“Let the Records Play” by Pearl Jam from Lightning Bolt
There is a definite Blues influence in this Stone Gossard penned song from Pearl Jam’s 10th studio album. With came my way via my friend Ronnie B’s annual mix CDs.
“Coast to Coast” by Waxahatchee from Cerulean Salt
Singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield records folk inspired indie music under the name Waxahatchee which comes from the name of a creek in Alabama. She is based in Brooklyn, and her 2013 album Cerulean Salt has garnered quite a bit of attention. Cerulean is a color which is rooted in the color blue. So maybe that makes Waxahatchee blues based music….
“Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold” by the Lone Bellow from The Lone Bellow
Another Brooklyn-based band that has been getting a lot of attention from people whose tastes in music I admire is The Lone Bellow. They make great music which spans several different musical genres. They played the Americana Festival in Nashville in 2013, so maybe they are an Americana band, but you don’t even want me to start in on the idea that Americana is a “genre” of music.
“Back Door Man” by Tomas Doncker Band from Moanin’ at Midnight: The Howlin’ Wolf Project
window.amznpubstudioTag = “eartothegro00-20”; http://ps-us.amazon-adsystem.com/domains/eartothegro00-20_3dcd3a52-1a1a-4afe-a2fd-aaba8e251afc.js
It is pretty unambiguous that Howlin’ Wolf and Willie Dixon were Bluesmen. So this song penned by Dixon and originally performed by Howlin’ Wolf is pretty unambiguously a blues song. And believe me when I say, Tomas Doncker and his band do not make any attempt to dilute or disguise the blues. It would be a pretty fruitless and unappetizing exercise to try. But what Tomas Doncker does on this song and indeed on the whole Moanin’ at Midnight album is to infuse this timeless and well established music with his own unique vision of Global Soul music – which is really not a genre either, but rather an attitude and a feeling swirling around not only his own music, but on all of the music put out by his label True Groove.
WATCH TODAY’S PLAYLIST
Do some Shopping with #E2TG