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The Songs of Townes Van Zandt

Steve Von Till, Scott Kelly, and Wino

Written By Ian Gerber for The Soda Shop

From the beginning of my foray into writing for The Soda Shop I have had a compulsion to try and point out the kinship of various artists and singer-songwriters with our modern “doom” and “stoner” scenes.  Conveniently, three monolithic figures of the scene have made a record that brings this idea directly to the table with the new tribute to Townes Van Zandt to be released on Neurot Records. (more…)

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Sun Gods in Exile – Thanks for the Silver…reviewed

Written by Ian Gerber

For The Soda Shop

I’m sure that most of you are familiar with Portland, Maine’s hard rocking, beer drinking heavy blues rockers Sun Gods in  Exile.  Besides having a wicked cool name, these guys also have a talent for making a kick ass rock record.  ‘Thanks for the Silver’ was cut in late 2010 by the incomparable engineering mastermind Benny Grotto, who also produced the record, at Small Stone Record’s go to house of recording, Mad Oak Studios.   (more…)


Epic Album of the Week – Strangers in a Strange Land

Written by Ian Gerber for The Soda Shop

Fancy an independent Epic Album?  Yeah, me too. (more…)


Epic Album of the Week – Leo Kottke “6 & 12 String Guitar”

Written by Ian Gerber for The Soda Shop

I must admit that my first intent for this week’s Epic Album was for something a little heavier.  However, as true to form, inspiration hits you at unexpected times.  I wonder how many of our readers have listened to this record.  This record’s story is one of radical independence at a time when there weren’t many “independent” record lables, or not at least as we know them today.  Released on the eccentric genius John Fahey’s Takoma record.  Fahey himself is a guitar virtuoso known for combining what we call today “Americana” with improvisational tendencies accented by modal ideas similar to Indian ragas.  Apparently he had an eye for talent.  Leo’s blazing fingerpicking style is something that even seasoned musicians have trouble copping.  With an obstinately dry sense of humor and instantly recognizable sound, “6 and 12 string Guitars” is one virtuoso performance after another.  Personally, I feel that this album is just as much as an anti-thesis to folk as an electric Dylan set at Newport, but there is no doubt that many folkie’s ear was turned to deep tones and percussive attack that blended Rev. Gary Davis’s piedmont blues, Ralph Stanleys rapid fire banjo rolls, Neil Young’s dark mood, and the dexterity of an Andres Segovia performance all worked into a record with with an armadillo on the cover.

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Epic Album of the Week – A Love Supreme

Written by Ian Gerber for The Soda Shop

A few weeks back I wrote about Miles Davis’s ‘Kind of Blue’, which featured the brilliant jazz icon John Coltrane on saxophone.  ‘Kind of Blue’ gave stylistic direction and set a nearly unprecedented high water mark for jazz as a genre.  Five years laters, in 1964, John Coltrane made a record that, musically speaking, could be a companion to the record.  ‘A Love Supreme’ was recorded in one day.  Based in the form of hard bop but propelled by the exciting thoughts of free improvisation, or ‘free jazz’,  ‘Kind of  Blue’ transcended the ideas of jazz as musical expression into the idea that jazz could serve as a medium for spiritual enlightenment and expression.  Coltrane’s lyrical, free flowing, lines were not just notes played for effect but rather a lyrical thought expressed through his horn.  It is his expression of joy and thankfulness for being able to bring the essence of his soul to an artistic and jubilant statement in hope of guiding the listener through his own personal musical journey.   (more…)


Epic Album of the Week – Booker T. and The MG’s “McLemore Avenue”

Written by Ian Gerber for The Soda Shop

It gives me great pleasure to write about this album.  There is so much awesome contained on it that I can hardly contain myself every time I listen to it.  Let’s get into it, shall we?

Either you know Booker T. and The MG’s or you don’t.  While they themselves did not have much time to record and release their own music, they certainly hit pay dirt on such classics “Green Onions”, “Hip Hug-her”, and “Jelly Bread”, these giants of soul are best known as the house band for the legendary Stax Records label.  If you have ever heard Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”, you have heard these soul men at work.  It’s safe to say that without them, rock and roll would have probably sounded different.  Also worth mentioning is the fact that they were an “integrated” band at a time when that wasn’t the best idea for someone trying to make it in the music business, much less trying to get a seat at the local diner.  This amazing ‘melting pot’ of musicians were the real deal and proof that real music, and any art for that matter, comes from the soul  and the color of a person’s skin doesn’t have a damn thing to do with it. (more…)


Review – Howlin Rain “The Russian Wilds”

Witten by Ian Gerber for The Soda Shop

It’s been a while since I have been really excited about a new release.  To those who follow The Soda Shop, it’s no secret that I’m not the biggest fan of the super macho, growled vocals and amps that are turned to 11…all of the time.  I love singers who can sing, guitar players with dynamics, and clean sounding records that leave a certain “headspace” that is not so easily achievable with stacks of Marshalls, Ampegs, and vocals that push red on the meter.  So when Howlin Rain put their new album up on Rdio.com for a sneak peek, I was a little more than curious.  I never like to buy into the hype of a record with a larger than average promotions budget that comes with being on a label like American Records.  They usually fall flat (El Camino anyone?).  Some of you might remember Howlin Rain’s frontman, Ethan Miller, from the underground psychedelic mindfucker that was Comets on Fire.  I can honestly say that Miller’s progression, while completely logical, is a radical departure from the chaotic, free jazz inspired, psychedelic freak outs that were the trademark of Comets on Fire.  ‘The Russian Wilds’ is a completely organized and well thought out studio performance.  If you watch the short film they recently put out to promote the band and the record, this is due in no small part that the album’s producer, RICK FUCKING RUBIN, didn’t want to make the record until the band had rehearsed and toured the material extensively.  Good work usually comes with practice and dedication and it is evident here. (more…)