Thursday, July 31, 2008

CD Review: Benji Hughes "A Love Extreme"


Benji Hughes

A Love Extreme
New West Records

Imagine a collaboration between Beck, the Flaming Lips, Electric Light Orchestra, Badfinger, the Eels, Todd Rundgren, and the Beatles.  Maybe throw in a dash of Neil Diamond or Engelbert Humperdinck and various other influences too numerous to mention. Make it a double album, no less, with 25 tracks.  Factor in that the creator wants it to be "the kind of record you can throw on at a party."  Imagine that it works quite wonderfully, with lyrics ranging from the hilariously cynical to super sweet love ballads.  You're ready to spin Benji Hughes' new release, "A Love Extreme."
At the hilarious end is the rockin "You Stood Me Up" where our hero gets stood up at a Dairy Queen and while waiting for his date consumes a Blizzard, burger and fries.  There are numerous ballads at the sweet end but one of my favorites is "Girl in the Tower" which is set in the Age of Chivalry.  As a stand-in for Our Hero, Benji Hughes is a combination of mostly modern anti-heroic qualities: he looks like a younger version of Leon Russell with his shaggy beard, long strawberry blond hair and ever-present sunglasses, all of which obscure his face, combined with a Jerry Garcia physique.  
The straight version is that the album was written in Los Angeles with producer Keefus Ciancia in four months.  In a video interview with the two regarding the song, "Where Do Old Lovers Go?" Keefus prompts, "... When you were at that retirement home?" Benji answers, "I have a thing for mature women.  I don't we should get into that...."  They laugh.  And here I thought that was a love song that would resonate with anyone who has fond memories of old lovers.  Whatever the songs may or may not be about, both discs are fantastic.  Every song works on more than one level. Once heard the songs work their way into your brain, demanding to be heard again.  Its useless to try and name just one or two standouts.  
In the age of iTunes the ultimate subversion is for an artist to come out with 25 tracks on two CD's that are all great. It undermines the reason iTunes exists: most albums only have one or two good songs so why pay for the whole album when you can only buy the good song for 99 cents?  In this case if you bought the good songs you'd pay $25 whereas the album retails for a heck of a lot less.  Either way Benji Hughes has the last laugh because you can tell that not only does he have a hit album but he had a helluva a good time making it.  


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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Tracy Shedd's Cigarette and Smoke Machines (Teenbeat)

I have a little secret to tell you. There is a band in town that relatively few people seem to have discovered. They are not only good, but they are world-class good. The band is Tracy Shedd, fronted by Tracy Shedd (vocals), with James Tritten on lead guitar, Becca Hummer on electric bass, and Tasha Sabatino on drums.

Tracy Shedd has a new album out called "Cigarettes and Smoke Machines." I was able to get an advance copy last weekend, and I have been listen to it ever since, sometimes while dancing in my living room. The album was recorded right here in Tucson at Craig Schumacher's Wavelab Studio.

This is smart pop, pop music in the best sense of the word. The most prominent feature of the music is Tracy Shedd's smooth, melodic vocals. There is something calming about her voice, something reassuring. The lyrics are based on conversations and describe everyday situations. "Whatever it takes, don't let them break you down. And whatever it takes, don't let them talk to you this way." sings Tracy Shedd.

Tracy Shedd's smooth delivery is juxtaposed by James Tritten's exuberant electric guitar, played on a black Fender Telecaster that delivers that crunchy surf sound. James Tritten's guitar lead is another voice. His guitar sings along with Tracy, harmonizes, and then at times takes its own way only to meld seamlessly once again with Tracy's steady vocals.

Tracy Shedd has assembled Tucson's finest with Becca Hummer on electric bass, and Tasha Sabatino on Drums. There is chemistry on stage between these four fine Tucson musicians. They are having fun, doing what they love. The only thing missing right now is a solid fan base, and I have a feeling that is soon to follow. The album has just been released to radio stations around the country and the excellent reviews and blogs are already rolling in.

The album "Cigarettes and Smoke Machines" will be released in October, 2008 and there will be a true CD release party at Club Congress. If you want to get a preview of their songs, listen in to Locals Only at 91.3FM KXCI on Monday, July 21st at 8pm and I will be sure to play one song. Or, you can visit Tracy Shedd's Myspace Page. Tracy Shedd will play live on Sunday, July 27th at Plush, opening for touring musician Eef Barzelay of Clem Snide (Nashville, TN).

Dr. Dan, Host of 91.3FM KXCI's Locals Only, 8pm Mondays


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Friday, July 11, 2008

Today's One Cup? A Super Big Gulp

Friday's One Cup of Java Challenge:
With today being July 11th - or "7-11," our One Cup of Java Challenge question this morning asks you to name the decade in which the 7-Eleven company first started using that name.

Answer:
Would you believe the 40s? Specifically 1946.


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Thursday, July 10, 2008

KXCI Powered Down: July 10 Update

As work continues for other stations co-located on Mount Bigelow with KXCI, we have been informed this morning (Thursday morning) that KXCI will be completely off the air for about 20 minutes while a power switch is changed out. There is no set time for this 20 minute outage, and there may not be any warning.

If/when KXCI goes off the air, we will continue free webstreaming at KXCI.org.

If the outage occurs during the Democracy Now! program, we will switch to music during the outage (at KXCI.org only) and continue with the Democracy Now! program past its usual 1pm end time.

Thank you for your time and patience!


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Thursday's One Cup Of Java Challenge

Thursday's One Cup of Java Challenge:
Vice presidents, or at least potential ones, are in the news a lot lately. Our One Cup question today tackles the office, asking you to name the last U.S. president to have had more than one vice president (obviously, not at the same time!).

Answer:
Not as far back as you might think - Richard Nixon had both Spiro Agnew and, briefly, Gerald Ford.


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Wednesday's One Cup Of Java Challenge

Wednesday's One Cup of Java Challenge:
Spencer Eldon is celebrating his 17th birthday today. Not that we’d expect you to be too excited by that news, or for that matter, know Spencer Eldon’s name. You also probably wouldn’t recognize him in a photo taken today, but you do probably remember a photo taken when he was only a few months old. That photo was on the cover of one of the best selling albums of 1991. Your One Cup of Java Challenge this morning: name that album and the band who released it, a band that had a much shorter life than Spencer Eldon has had to date.

Answer:
Nirvana’s Nevermind


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Monday, July 07, 2008

Hey Mr. Tambourine Man, Win Some Concert Tickets For Me

Monday's One Cup of Java Challenge:
A legendary solo recording artist in his own right, Leon Russell has also recorded with many other artists, and often on their hit songs. Your One Cup challenge this morning: Leon Russell, under a pseudonym, played piano on a song that became a #1 hit in 1965, was the first #1 hit for the band that recorded it, was one of only two #1’s they’d ever have, and was a cover of a Bob Dylan song. Your challenge this morning: based on the clues provided - name that band, name that song.

Answer:
The Byrd’s Mr. Tambourine Man

Leon Russell is in concert Wednesday night, July 9th at the Fox Tucson Theatre downtown. Learn more at their website (http://foxtucsontheatre.org/mainhome.php). Your final chance to win tickets to see Leon is Tuesday morning on the One Cup of Java Challenge at 8:20am.


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17th Street Band, July 15th

The 17th Street Band returns to Barrio Brewery on Tuesday, July 15th for their monthly KXCI benefit concert.

A “who’s who” of local musicians, the 17th Street Band performs blues, rock, jazz and soul covers and originals. The fun starts at 7pm on July 15th.

$5 gets you in the door, with all proceeds benefiting KXCI.

The 17th Street Band, July 15th from 7 to 9pm at Barrio Brewery, 800 East 16th Street. Learn more at 17thStreetBand.com or the events page at KXCI.org.


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Saturday, July 05, 2008

KXCI Powered Down: July 5th update

Repair work has been ongoing on transmitters that are co-located with the KXCI transmitter on Mount Bigelow. While no work is being done for KXCI, the work on other stations has required us to power down at times over the past two weeks.

No more daytime reductions are planned at this time. However, beginning Tuesday night, July 8th, at midnight (technically, Wednesday morning!) we will be powering down to 50% power to permit overnight work. We will be at reduced power until 5am Wednesday morning.

We will also power down Wednesday night at midnight, and more than likely Thursday night at midnight, while repair work is completed.

Again, no further daytime power reductions are planned.

While KXCI is at 50% power, many home and office radio receivers will not be able to receive KXCI. During those times, please visit us online at KXCI.org for free webstreaming (click "Listen Live") or, if you are a Tucson cable TV customer, visit Access Tucson public access television and use your television's SAP function to switch your television audio to KXCI.

Thank you for your continued patience!


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