Normally around the 4th of July I post my top 5 CDs of the first half of the year. Unfortunately, this year I haven't had the time to listen to enough new discs to compile a good list. Even so, I believe I have already found my number one CD of 2008. Shelby Lynne's new Just A Little Lovin' continues the superb streak of releases she has issued starting with I Am Shelby Lynne in 2000. It remains to be seen over the next six months if anyone can top her Dusty Springfield tribute. If someone does it will be quite an accomplishment. Here is the original review.
New albums from this year that I haven't had the opportunity to hear yet are piling up rapidly. One of the many waiting in the wings is Iraq by Black 47. Let's hope one of my favorite bands can recover from their disappointing Elvis Murphy's Green Suede Shoes of three summers ago. Let's All Go To Bed, the third CD from Austin's hard-rocking country band, The Mother Truckers, has just hit the streets and there is also new music from Los Lonely Boys that I'm sure I'll enjoy. Veteran classic rocker, Robert Lamm, the eclectic musical brains behind Chicago, has just issued his long anticipated bossa nova tribute on an independent label. Snippets from Lamm's website indicate that The Bossa Project will continue his long line of fine solo works. Also, let's hope that So Many Nights matches The Cat Empire's previous disc, Two Shoes.
Considering what I've written above it may seem contradictory to say that I've actually heard a lot of new music this year, just not a lot of new complete CDs. The biggest musical influence in my life this year is the XM Radio and subscription I received as a Christmas gift from my wife. For those of you familiar with XM's music channels here are a list of my favorite XM stations.
60s (XM6) - Complete with fast talking DJs and top 40 radio jingles this station is the real deal. They even do occasional tributes to many famous 60s top 40 stations such as WABC, Music Radio 77 from New York City and WFIL, Famous 56, Philadelphia. If you're interested XM also offers the 40s on XM4, the 50s on XM5, and so on. There is a decade for almost everybody.
X Country (XM 12) - The rock 'n roll and outlaw side of country music. Don't expect to hear any of this stuff on commercial FM.
Deep Tracks (XM 40) A classic rock station without the hits. Deep Tracks will play Led Zeppelin 4 but not "Stairway to Heaven" or "Black Dog." However, you may hear "The Battle Of Evermore," "Four Sticks," or "When The Levee Breaks."
Starbuck's XM Cafe (XM 45) This station is advertised as The Sound Of Starbuck's. If you've ever looked at the music sold in one of Starbuck's coffee shops you'll know exactly why the station is so named.
The Loft (XM 50) It's billed as acoustic rock but The Loft is really the softer side of the genre. They play everything from America and Poco to the quieter songs of REM and Radiohead plus a lot of singer-songwriters. The Loft is my favorite XM station.
Bluesville (XM 74) Featured are Bobby Blue Bland, Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton, plus a host of artists most of us have never heard of before. Bluesville is top notch and a real musical education.
Fine Tuning (XM 76) Fine tuning may be the most eclectic station in the XM lineup. In an hour you can hear Beethoven, The Beatles, John Coltrane, the California Guitar Trio, Bela Fleck, Joan Baez, Yes, Gentle Giant, and even some world music. I don't like everything they play but if you're in the mood this is a great place to hear something very different.