Tag Archives: Neal Casal

ALBUM OF WEEK 14: EASY TIGER

I’ve just realized I’m too late updating the album of the week. This time you can blame Easter and my 11-day holidays for it. Yesterday at the office I took a look at the wall calendar and discovered this is week 17!

I’ve been listening to much random stuff which makes a bit difficult to decide which album to talk about, especially because I’ve also been recovering some old ones such as Blues Funeral, Hearts & Arrows, Death & Joy and I’m still hooked to Earth Rocker and Clutch in general.

Finally I’ve chosen Easy Tiger as the album of the week.

easy tiger

For many it’s not one of his finest works, however this was the definite album which finally defined me as a diehard fan of the artist, together with the following EP released, Follow The Lights / Everybody Knows. Moreover, I buried the hatchet at the end of the same year both were released, 2007, when I attended a beautiful performance of Adams with The Cardinals at Hammersmith Apollo in London. The show lasted more than 2 hours and including the encore, they played 29 songs. Believe me, it was a great evening!

Another funny fact I’ve just remembered is that I didn’t buy this album, he #whocannotbenamed gave me this album, together with Neil Young’s After The Goldrush (one of my favorite of Young’s)as sort of, allow me to be cruel, a consolation prize when we (he) broke up, probably because he was feeling guilty, and on the other hand as a symbol of something we loved so much. It also made me realize I had to start my new collection of records because I was losing access to hundreds of CDs at that instant. Luckily I’m not the kind of person who hates and tries to avoid any kind of music which I might relate to my ex, otherwise I’d be fucked by now, which is not the case.

Sooooooo, yeah, let’s get back on track. Easy Tiger is actually a very easy listening work. I find it a good one to start with Ryan Adams if you haven’t done it yet. Short and simple songs, yet beautiful pieces, define this album. Acoustic guitars to fall in love with in These Girls. Neal Casal’s  adorable backing vocals in Oh My God, Whatever, Etc., again proving that Casal-Adams is one of my favorite musical tandems (can’t get enough!). The fantastic development f very evocative atmospheres thanks to the arrangements made with pedal steel parts and banjos in Tears of Gold or Pearls on a Strings.

And then, in capital letters I must remark Two, Everybody Knows  and a quite often forgotten pearl, Rip Off. I find its final part subtle magic with that killer piano in crescendo.

Easy Tiger is an album you can listen to any time, but for a more pleasant experience I suggest you listen to it in a nostalgic or a bit low mood. I don’t know, its songs bring relief o something like that. It has that dreamy thing that makes you sighto feel completely relaxed right after. And from time to time that mini emotional release cannot be bad for your health, don’t you think?

ALBUM OF WEEK 45: THE MAGIC DOOR

I won’t justify the missing updates related to albums of past weeks. This time I can say I’ve been listening to much stuff I’ve already commented. For instance, spent lots of time listening to Abandon Jalopy’s Death and Joy before the show, I recovered American Slang to warm up too, and have been playing  Born to Die and Blues Funeral, starting to consider which 2012 released albums are my favorite. Still I had my personal favorites  for the last weeks, I’ll be posting this days.

magic door

Some time ago I realized the musical presence of the talented Robinson bros, Chris and Rich, is kinda essential for the world keeps balanced. It’s been many years since The Black Crowes, have been amusing us, the music lovers, giving complete sense to rock, by means of bringing back its genuine roots, and adapting it to modern times and styles.

Not so long ago, the brothers decided to change the status of the band to inactivity. It’s kinda fun the term used for this “vacation”, hiatus. The band hasn’t officially split up, however their members are getting a life, far from each other, taking care of their own business  and personal projects.

Many people see these projects with angry eyes, as an obstacle preventing a possible The Black Crowes comeback, however I like them, in fact I encourage certain artists, especially bands whose main members are brothers, to split at least for a while, and develop their own creativity without the typical brotherhood boundary. Perhaps you think I’m talking nonsense, but let’s say I used to be close to one of these brother and brother bands, and on one hand, it’s true that complicity is outstanding, however at the end of the day, in order not to piss the other off, one eventually might get frustrated not being able to release all their creativity. Crash of egos is another risk, competition and some sort of rivalry.

Anyway, since I heard Neal Casal was joining Chris Robinson Brotherhood, I started paying more attention to upcoming news.

The word Brotherhood makes me smile, especially coming from Chris, a genuine stoned hippie. It’s like a “Hey bro! It’s time we spread and share some love” or something like that. Brotherhood means something warm and close to me.  Truth is that the reason for the birth of this brotherhood was Robinson’s desire of having a band appointed to play just in Cali, with no pressure, giving him the chance of playing freely just for pleasure.

CRB

This year two albums have seen the public light. First was Big Moon Ritual, released in June, and this second, The Magic Door, which came out in September. Regardless the different dates of release, both were recorded simultaneously. It sounds weird, but considering the extended length of the songs, I find the split of the albums quite reasonable.

The Magic Door also includes 7 songs. There are a couple of remarkable things. On one hand discovering  that the opening song, Let’s Go, Let’s Go, Let’s Go, is a cover, is surprising, and on the other, that two late Black Crowes songs are revisited, Appaloosa and Little Lizzie Mae, is shocking. You can understand this in many different ways, as if he wasn’t satisfied with the result when recorded with the Crowes, or just the opposite.  Usually whenever a member of a prominent bad decides to go on solo, seems that they want to cut the ties and not to be so related to the previous project, but in this case, the usual tendency does not apply.

My favorite song of this album no doubt is Vibration & Light Suite. From pure groove and great vibes, with mellow melodies and a beautiful chorus, the song evolves into something more psychedelic, and harder,  mainly thanks to the amazing work on synthesizers and the solo guitar. It’s kind of a trip for the senses, and also time travelling to the age of psychedelia. Delightful!

The Magic Door is pretty easy listening, suitable for everyone, and the experience is very pleasant. Guess it’ll be difficult to attend a show of CRB if they are not up to tour Europe, they must be terrific. I’d put them in my 2013 wishlist, you never know…

NEAL CASAL BROUGHT ME RYAN ADAMS & THE CARDINALS TO THE HELLHOUSE

I haven’t talked about live music photography yet, and to be honest, if I had to choose a field to develop my poor skills in, or focus my work onto, live performances and street art would be my main targets.

I find really difficult to capture those intense moments coming from the spontaneity of the band members, the feelings, the passion, and the workspace  is usually terrible. Lights, shades, angles, jacks, annoying mic stands, and even these mobile video units. Now I’m thinking of a picture of Nicke Royale with Imperial State Electric, which could have been awesome but it was completely ruined because of this huge  video mobile arm. It was one of these “Fuck My Life” moments, believe me.

I will refer to outstanding photographers covering this field very soon, but now I’d like to talk about something more special and intimate, Neal Casal achieved through hundreds of pictures, many of them included in his book Ryan Adams & The Cardinals: A View of Other Windows.

This compilation of pictures means trespassing the threshold into the inner world of one of my favorite artists, Ryan Adams, and the band he formed and fronted for approximately 5 years, The Cardinals, which Neal Casal joined in 2005.

Their world, including the writing and recording processes and methods, the band on the road, the relationship among members, the good and bad moments, from happiness to exhaustion, euphoria and solitude, is beautifully reflected here, in a humble way, with no ambitious aspirations but to catch and keep part of their lives and experiences for good.

I’ve always thought Neal Casal is a very emotional artist, with a taste for the beauty in a discrete manner. Whenever I listen to his solo stuff it evokes me some kind of peace. The tandem formed between Neal and Ryan is really complementary, as if the second provided the passion and the guitarist was there to balance and keep things under control.

The fans know by know about Adams’ shyness and mood swings, he’s quite a borderline personality, in my opinion essential to be the genius he is. Casal, seems to be the witness of all his extreme behavior, close enough as not to disturb him either, which hasn’t to be very easy.

The relationship among the members of the band is also interesting. So far, so close, everything changes depending on the circumstances. Being part of a band which spends long time on the road must be rough and strenuous. We have no idea of what two hours show means in terms of effort, work and sacrifice. It’s like a family but implying a responsibility towards a different audience every night, and bread on your table. Your working day doesn’t mean 8h at the office, or the factory, but playing eating, travelling, sleeping…

Adams appreciated the talent of Casal right away, and the covers of Easy Tiger and Follow the Lights Ep are credited to him, together with the albums artwork featuring some of the pictures.

I have to remark another personal issue which makes this book more special, and it’s the fact that there are plenty of pix referring to the European tour in 2007. I was lucky to attend to one of the shows in November 2007, a thrilling and absolutely wonderful night, in which I signed not only a peace agreement with Adams, my filthy hair boy, but also my unconditional love for the rest of my life.

Ryan Adams and The Cardinals split ways in 2009, for many reasons, among others, Adams’ retirement announcement caused by the Ménière’s disease, and later on,  the loss of the bassist Chris Feinstein.

Neal Casal has just released a beautiful album named Sweeten the Distance, keeps on taking pictures which have been published in many established magazines, and nowadays he’s part of Chris Robinson’s Brotherhood. Let’s cross fingers and wait if he manages to let us into this family through his lens.

ALBUM OF WEEK 22 – CARDINOLOGY

Again this week, it’s been difficult to choose just one album because  I’ve been listening to Cardinology and Furnace Room Lullaby by Neko Case and Her Boyfriends, nonstop on a daily basis.

Cardinology might not be my Ryan Adams’ favorite album but it’s special for many personal reasons and was a good soundtrack during my stormy days last year.

By the time it was released, in 2008, I was a diehard fan of the guy in dirty hair already, and had enjoyed an amazing show in London one year before. I wasn’t too convinced of the style when I first listened to it, Ryan’s voice in certain moments showed kind of carelessness and imperfection I wasn’t familiarized with. Considering previous works were Easy Tiger and the amazing Everybody knows EP, this was like a decline in quality.

Fortunately, as with many other things, you cannot trust your first impressions 100% and have to give another chance, plus some time later, Adams announced he was retiring due to pressure and hearing issues. Sad news and the prospect of no more releases for long time, encouraged me to listen to Cardinology in a more loving way. And I discovered another treasure.

Starting with Born into the Light, gotta say I love Neal Casal’s guitars, his elegance and sensibility are perfect for supporting Adams’ tunes. Anyway, a bunch of beautiful songs follow after another, I don’t really think any of them is avoidable. Personally, Fix It, Natural Ghost and and Sink Ships are my favorite.

Not having the slightest idea about  what stuff he’s gonna play in Oporto in two weeks, I think these two are being the Ryan Adams’ weeks, for me to make up my mind that I’m gonna see one of my favorite artists back on stage again. Couldn’t be happier, and I really can’t wait!!