Wilco's new A Ghost Is Born is up on Rhapsody. It's surprisingly good, less alt- and more rock. While Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was Wilco's first attempt to disassociate themselves from the alt-country genre, Ghost pulls it off. The album floats cohesively and boasts some of the best guitar solo jams since Mark Kozelek decided he's Crazy Horse. - E.S.

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Went out and saw Railroad Earth at the Independent last night. Really a very good band, more than just bluegrass, great instrumentation, guitarist played dobro, flute and kept switching depending on the song. They are poised to be the next Leftover as they wind down their career. Todd Schaefer's voice is really so soothing, and I love it because it reminds me of yesteryear, when he crooned for NJ natives From Good Homes. Anyway, if it piques your interest, their new album on Sugar Hill, called The Good Life is up for streaming and burning on Rhapsody. Check out the untitled track at the end, Todd and I seem to both agree that "New Jersey ain't what it used to be." Also, their two older albums, Bird In A House and The Black Bear Sessions. I'll drop them a note and see if they want to submit some live shows to JamBaseRhapsody. - TK

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The new June 2004 Jam Rock Rhapsody playlist is up and posted. It's got some old favorites (Hendrix, Neil Young), something new (My Morning Jacket, Dave Fiuczynski), something borrowed (Guster doing the Violent Femmes "Prove My Love" and Umphreys doing the Lounge Lizards "Big Heart") and nothing blue. Give it a listen! - TK

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Material was clearly one of the top highlights of Bonnaroo 2004. All Music Guide says of this project, which formed in 1979, "One of the most high-profile projects of the endlessly prolific bassist and producer Bill Laswell, Material pioneered a groundbreaking fusion of jazz, funk and punk which also incorporated elements of hip-hop and world music well before either's entrance into the mass cultural consciousness."

The Kayceman says, "Material changed the way I listen to music... When I got into Hallucination Engine, my world was rocked into a far reaching galaxy. This record is awesome, but then again, anything Laswell touches is pretty much the shizzzzzzz..." Check it out.

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The newest live Bob Dylan release is up on Rhapsody, it's Volume 6 in his growing Bootleg Series. Live 1964 was recorded on Halloween night at New York's Philharmonic Hall, is Bob Dylan's first all-acoustic live record. This is the peak of pre-electric Dylan, he's happy and charming and personable on stage, his acoustic guitar and harmonica accompanied by only Joan Baez on four tracks. Live 1964 includes the infamous "Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues", which inspired Dylan to stroll off the set of The Ed Sullivan Show earlier that year (network officials wouldn't let him play it on-air) and didn't earn official release until 1991. Dylan, mocking McCarthyism, mumbles, "It's a fictitious story," before jovially belting about his induction into the John Birch society, wherein he scours his sofa, rose bush, chimney, and toilet bowl for "commies," and finally indicts both himself and Betsy Ross (who mistakenly included red stripes in the American flag). This show is a perfect snapshot of Dylan, just before he sheds his folk skin at Newport, taken just before he revolutionizes rock and roll. An important chapter for one of the true masters, and worth a listen. If you'd prefer to sample some Dylan across the ages, click on the
Bob Dylan Sampler that I whipped up with somethin old, something new and 'Tangled Up in Blue'. - TK

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TRANS AM - Liberation

Everyone who writes about Trans Am compares their sound to 1980s video game music without fail. That's because it's true! Blending driving bass riffs and drum beats that keep on keepin' on with Kraftwerk synthesizers and spare, robot vocals makes the comparison absolutely inevitable. That's not to say that what Trans Am does is boring -- it's not. To their credit, they somehow manage to make the stuff rock. Their shows are hip-shaking grin-fests, eliciting deeply nostalgic feelings that most other successful Post-Rock giants take pains to totally bury under mounds of pretension. Basically, Trans Am are just a bunch of nice guys playing geeky music. More power to them.
- Doug R.

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Phish | Undermind is now available for streamin on Rhapsody. So far, I like "Nothing." In fact, the good news continues, as there's a boatload of the Phish studio catalog available for stream. Let's hope it stays live this time. Have fun at dinner and a movie! -tk

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Bill Frisell is a genius of guitar tone, the master of his own sound. Finally, a playlist that shows the various sides of this genius, from acoustic and mellow borderline country guitar to nasty avant electric almost pedal-steel like guitar. Where so many conventional jazz guitarists define themselves by how many notes they can play, Frisell has carved his niche by the notes he does not play, making every one virtuous and perfect. Albums like the 'Tales From the Far Side' Quartet and Nashville and Bill Frisell with Dave Holland and Elvin Jones are different and equally palatable and beautiful, depending on your mood. If you're not familiar with Bill, dive in and turn up the tonemaster. - TK

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Ray Charles passed away today at age 73. He was a pioneer of soul music, blending gospel, jazz and blues together on the piano. He was born Ray Charles Robinson, but dropped Robinson from his name so he wouldn't be mistaken for the boxer "Sugar'' Ray Robinson when he started gigging. Once he got going with Atlantic Records, Frank Sinatra called him "the genius of soul."

"I've known times where I've felt terrible, but once I get to the stage and the band starts with the music, I don't know why but it's like you have pain and take an aspirin, and you don't feel it no more," he once said. Charles was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and won 13 Grammy Awards. Honor the man who was so much more than the Ray's Music Exchange salesman in the Blues Brothers. Play this Ray Charles Sampler on Rhapsody. -TK

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I haven't even listened yet, but everyone should check out Velvet Revolver's Contraband. Velvet Revolver, is comprised of Duff "Rose" McKagan, Slash , Matt Sorum, Scott Weiland. AKA, Stone Temple Guns N' Roses. Axl must be convulsing with envy in his hotel room wherever he is.... - G$

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Thrill Jockey, one of the best indie labels out there has just added a good portion of their catalog to Rhapsody. It is some of the most cutting edge music out there. Check out the new releases from Tortoise, Trans Am and Sea & the Cake: Thrill Jockey Playlist. The new Trans Am Liberation is blowing me away right now. Talk about dark and evil, really pretty powerful stuff. - G$

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On their fourth studio LP, Split the Difference, Gomez amplify their strengths -- bluesy vocal harmonies, three visionary songwriters, rootsy old instrument tones, and catchy lyrics -- for an album with a super-sized sound. There's also a slight emphasis on the British psychedelic pop of yesteryear. It comes together really nicely, possibly more cohesive than the last effort of In Our Gun. - E.S.

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Stevie Wonder sampler on JamBaseRhapsody! Give this Stevie Wonder sampler a listen, it is sure to help brighten up your day. Here are some facts on Stevie to share with you that I gleaned from AllMusic.

Stevie Wonder is one of the greatest contributions to music, an indisputable blind genius. His heightened awareness of sound helped him create vibrant, colorful music teeming with life and ambition. Nearly everything he recorded bore the stamp of his sunny, joyous positivity; even when he addressed serious racial, social, and spiritual issues or sang about heartbreak and romantic uncertainty, an underlying sense of optimism and hope always seemed to emerge. Much like his inspiration, Ray Charles, Wonder had a voracious appetite for many different kinds of music, and refused to confine himself to any one sound or style. His best records were a richly eclectic brew of soul, funk, rock & roll, jazz, reggae, and African elements.

His most prominent works were Fulfillingness' First Finale, Talking Book, Innervisions, and Songs in the Key of Life. Innervisions is a concept album about the state of contemporary society that ranks with Marvin Gaye's What's Going On as a pinnacle of socially conscious R&B. The ghetto chronicle "Living for the City" and the intense spiritual self-examination "Higher Ground" both went to number one on the R&B and pop charts, and Innervisions took home a Grammy for Album of the Year. Wonder was lucky to be alive to enjoy the success; while being driven to a concert in North Carolina, a large timber fell on Wonder's car. He sustained serious head injuries and lapsed into a coma, but fortunately made a full recovery. I did not know that.

After those classic albums, for the next two years, Wonder retired to his studio and created his masterpiece, Songs in the Key of Life, a sprawling two-LP-plus-one-EP set that found Wonder at his most ambitious and expansive. Some critics called it brilliant but prone to excess and indulgence, while others hailed it as his greatest masterpiece and the culmination of his career; in the end, they were probably both right. Stevie Wonder was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, and remains a living legend. Check out his 23 albums on JamBaseRhapsody. - TK

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