Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What is Kenny Poo thinking?

What is Kenny Poo's thinking, you ask? Well, if you really wanna know, here ya go...

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Good luck charm needed in Buffalo

After a nice 2-0 start, my Sabres have lost 3 straight heading into tonight's game vs Toronto. Buffalo hasn't won a sports title in either the NFL or NHL since...ever. That's right, never ever. What we need is a good luck charm, like the LA Kings have with Star Spangled Stanley Cup Stunner Pia Toscano, to sing our dreaded curse away.

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Back off on the drama bullshit, Nigel!

American Idol auditions are now in full swing, and, sadly, Nigel and company still apparently think very little of the viewer's intelligence. Producers relentlessly promote contrived, edited judge dramas in a juvenile attempt to hook mouth-breathing morons into watching.

If Count Lythgoe had any sense, he'd do away with the phony bullshit and just trust the judges and talent to carry the show, because the show has GREAT singing talent, and, aside from the village idiot that is Randy Jackson, a damn good set of judges. Especially Nicki Minaj. Trust the process, Nigel. Viewers crave authenticity.

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 South Florida...or else!!

Speaking of Idol, Kenny Poo fave Crystal Bowersox (Season 9) is releasing her new album, "All That For This", in March and is scheduling tour dates. Mama should know that I WILL hold my breath 'til I turn blue if she doesn't book a South Florida gig.

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The Official Kenny Poo Super Bowl Prediciton: Ravens over Niners 24-20. Evenly matched teams, but the Ravens are 100% convinced they will win for Ray Lewis, and that intangible will be the difference.

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I just can't seem to convince myself to give a shit about basketball until the playoffs, and even then only if the Heat are making a run. Odds are good that'll happen, so check back with me on that in April.

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In many ways, I feel the Super Bowl is like New Year's Eve. It's an amateur night for non-fans to chatter, party and yap away distractedly during the game, and then shush the room for the fucking commercials and halftime show. God, I hate that bullshit.

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Haley legging it out in the studio

Haley Reinhart. Nothing newsworthy going on with her right now, just spending some time in the studio recording the demo LP she'll market to prospective labels. Still, I always feel the need to keep her name and legs out there as often as possible. Can you really blame me?

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Phillip set to tour with Matchbox 20

Will Phillip Phillips become the first Idol besides Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood to be bigger than the show itself? His LP, The World From The Side Of The Moon, is on its way to platinum and beyond, his single Home will be certified quadruple platinum by next week, and his next single, Gone, Gone, Gone is going to radio in February. He just rapped up a very successful college tour, is heading out for a month to gig with Matchbox 20, and will then headline his own full electric band tour when that's over. He's popular with virtually every demographic, and crosses over multiple radio formats.

He may be as humble as they come, but I say he has a chance to surpass even the holy grail of Kelly and Carrie to become Idol's alltime most successful alum. Still, no matter how big he gets, he'll likely never be embraced by the Idol diva purists, and that's just fine with me.

~Kenny Poo Out

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

American Idol 12.0 Launches Tonight

American Idol's starting up again and I've never felt so old. Time is flying by so fast I can't even keep up with the calendar. Just last month, Mamasox blew me away belting out Natural Woman during Hollywood Week as everyone in the audience sang backup and wildly cheered.

Wait, actually, that was somehow 3 fucking years ago.

Just last week, Haley Reinhart really got my juices flowing singing Oh Darlin' with the hottest, sexiest, sultriest audition I'd ever seen. I thought Steven Tyler was going to jump out of his chair and attack her right on camera, and I practically had to wipe the drool off my flat screen.

Oh, uhhh, hold on... that was actually 2 motherfucking years ago.

Just yesterday, Phillip Phillips tore apart Superstition and Thriller at his audition. I thought to myself, wow, I can't see this guy losing, and sure enough he blew away the field to take the crown.

Never mind, that was actually somehow a full motheruckingcocksucking year ago.

You get the picture. It's just so hard for me to believe that another year has come and gone, and a new crop of newbies are already about to begin their Idol journeys. Is this even possible?

I've skipped all the other singing shows, because what's the point? I tried to watch them last year, and became incredibly bored. They're all just poor imitations of the undefeated, undisputed, singing contest champion of the world and I'm not about to waste my time on a bunch of wannabe pretenders and their never-will-be singers.

However, Idol is the real deal. In the past 3 years I have had the pleasure of 3 spectacular artists (Crystal, Haley and Phillip) deliver 4 spectacular albums that I consider among the very best in my music collection. Without Idol, odds are I'd have never known of them, and that would really have been a shame.

Beyond the thrilling three, I've also bought wonderful albums from Casey Abrams and Tim Halperin. I could go back to Season 8 and earlier, too, but I won't because I didn't really get hooked on anyone's music enough to buy their albums with the notable exception of original recipe Idol, Kelly Clarkson. I've got two of her albums.

Oh, and this doesn't even take into account some of my favorite Idol alumna with yet to be released albums. I've been waiting forever for the stunning Pia Toscano to dish out an album, and am open to other former Idols who can offer authentic music that goes beyond the overproduction dance pop bullshit, or cartoonishly stereotypical country that bores me.

Which brings me to tonight. A new season begins and I have no idea what to expect. My hope is that like the past 3 years, I find at least one contestant who has a sound that I dig, and a post-Idol album that really delivers.

Oh, you notice I'm not talking about the judges drama, joke auditions, or any of the other peripheral, contrived bullshit? Because I don't care about it, and, thanks to trusty Mr. DVR, I will FF thru all of that crap. I stick to watching the singers and their singing, period.

So, with that, here's a toast to the Season 12 talent crop. May you be worthy of the glass of Chivas I'm raising in your honor, and cheers to another great season!

~Kenny Poo

Monday, January 14, 2013

Interview: March For Crystal Bowersox's New Album

Crystal "Mamasox" Bowersox, the deeply introspective, contemplative and gifted singer/songwriter/guitarist with the pristine voice, rearview dreads and big blue eyes, just finished recording her yet-to-be-named sophomore album set for release this March. With only the final mixing and remastering touches remaining, Kenny Poo had the honor and privilege of sitting down with Crystal and her hubby (Brian Walker) for an insightful, candid, face-to-face, fictitious interview about life, music and whatever else popped into our heads.

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Kenny Poo: First off, thank you so much for taking time out of your super busy life to hang out with me on your porch shooting the shit over some beers. What a thrill!

Crystal: Of course! I've been looking forward to it! Besides, anything for Kenny Poo.

Brian: Yeah, we both have both been excited for this. Just keep your hands off my chickens, wing man!

Kenny Poo: Ha! Well, I'll try...but after a few cold ones you know visions of a deep fryer will start dancing in my head. Anyway, Crystal, you've been playing guitar, singing and songwriting since you were a child. Your first album, Farmer's Daughter, and your recent EP release, Once Upon A Time, are both mainly composed of songs from the darkest periods of your life. Now that you're in a much better place, will your new album reflect that positive energy?

Crystal: Well, certainly the tone of the album will be representative of my current reality, but I'd prefer to let the album speak for itself and have listeners draw their own conclusions and meanings. Besides, this whole interview is just a figment of your imagination, so anything I say is really just you pulling thoughts out of your ass and typing it out as if I'm doing the talking.

Kenny Poo:  Excellent points, Crystal. So, we now know Jakob Dylan, Bob Dylan's son and a singer/songwriter in his own right, will be making an appearance on your album. How did this come about? I'd imagine with you being first and foremost a folk singer, having the talented son of a music legend in this genre performing with you must have been a dream come true.

Crystal: Well, almost as much of a dream come true as drinking beers out here on my porch with Kenny Poo! [Crystal laughs out loud, clicks bottles with me and Brian, and we all guzzle our beers down]. Seriously, it was a big deal for me. Brian and I both were so excited it actually happened, but how it happened I'll leave to your imagination...just like, you know, this entire interview.

Brian: Yes, it was awesome, though because of him it meant one less tune on the album that I got to appear on, so now I kinda hate him

Crystal: [Elbows Brian] You know not to listen to Brian, right Kenny? He's nearly as sarcastic and full of shit as you are.

Kenny Poo: Well, for what it's worth, Jakob appearing also made it one less song I'm able to sing on your album, so I'm not too fond of him myself. Still, part of me is thinking it might be for the best.

Crystal: Ya think?

Kenny Poo: Anyway, Crystal, back to more serious issues. I saw in a recent interview you mentioning that since your time on American Idol you've learned to not burp and swear as loud in public. Two questions: 1. Does that also include flatulence, and, 2. Does that mean all bets are off here in private?

Crystal: Thank you for asking that, Kenny. I was hoping to be able to elaborate further on this topic, and since you brought it up, allow me to answer with a toast. [Raises beer] Here's to us and here's to them. FUCK them, here's to us!! [Chugs beer, let's out huge belch, and rips thunderous fart that nearly blows Brian off the patio].

Kenny Poo: Good one, Mama!! So, now that you've in a sense cleared the air, let me ask you another album question. Though most of the LP will be your own original compositions, I saw that you'll be covering Here's Where The Story Ends by The Sundays on this album? Did you choose that one because it's not overly iconic, you like the song, and it fit in nicely with the overall sound and theme of the album?

Crystal: Bingo! You nailed it, Kenny. I didn't want to choose a cover song that's an iconic institution because what's the point? You either are a total copy, or insult the song's fans by changing it up. At least, that's what you're typing me to say.

Kenny Poo: In closing, will you be doing any extensive touring to support the album? If so, how about making a stop in Boca Raton and then hanging out for a few cocktails with me and Mrs Poo after the show?

Crystal: Nothing would make me happier, Kenny. Count on it. BTW, can I just say that you have an awesome blog and everyone should follow you on twitter?

Kenny Poo: You just did, Mama. BTW, I still owe Brian a shot, and hopefully he'll be here with you then to collect on it. Anyway, thanks again for sharing your home, beer, and time with me. Can't wait for the album, and I'll be first in line for it when it becomes available in March!

~Kenny Poo

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tragedy Strikes American Idol: Phillips LP Goes Gold

In yet another terrible blow to the American Idol franchise, Phillip Phillips, the world's all time worst singer in the history of all singing, just had his new album, The World From The Side Of The Moon, officially certified Gold. Worse still, his hit single Home, which he sings terribly but just got super-mega-giant lucky, is on the verge of going quadruple platinum!


In addition, there are reports that one of our heroes, Stefano Langone, the former American Idol finalist now serving as the show's unofficial Director of Idol Vocal Ability (DIVA) on twitter, apparently had to be hospitalized and treated for a nervous breakdown after hearing the bad news about Phillips' gold record. Get well soon, Fano, and keep fighting the good fight against horrible, awful, terrible, atrocious, pathetic, heinous singing by totally lame white guys with guitars!

Though there has been no official confirmation, there are sources close to Idol whispering that if Phillips' album goes platinum they may consider cancelling the show if a pop-ballad female singer doesn't take the crown this season. Apparently, the rage on Idol related blogs and message boards over Phillips winning - and even worse, doing so well in sales after the show - has been felt all the way to the top. Word is, if angry comments and posts by fans of other Idols continues much longer, the show's executives may have no choice but to close up shop for good.

With Phillips about to release his next big single, Gone, Gone, Gone (that will get tons of unjustified marketing at the expense of Jessica Sanchez), plus the real possibility of him winning multiple Grammys next year (despite his totally gross singing and unstylish clothes), there is every reason to be concerned for the future of American Idol.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

~Kenny Poo

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Music Review: Heritage Blues Orchestra

I consider myself to be a pretty big blues fan, but I must confess I'd never heard of Heritage Blues Orchestra until I noticed they received a Grammy nomination for Best Blues Album of 2012. The name of the band intrigued me, so last week I felt compelled to check out their album, "And Still I Rise", to see what the buzz is all about.

What I found was a remarkably diverse, perfectly named group with an album that's a magnificent tribute to black-American roots music. While blues based, it's also steeped heavily in gospel/revival, chain gang, brass jazz, slide guitar, with elements of classical and folk. It's a virtual celebration of early 20th century black music in America, with the benefits of some modern polish and pristine recording technology to clean up the scuffs.

Here's a brief, song-by-song breakdown.

1. Clarksdale Moan - Swampy, harp blowing, acoustic, foot-stomping Mississippi Delta blues tune originally recorded in the early 1930's by Son House. HBO (Heritage Blues Orchestra) has upgraded it substantially with powerful vocals from Junior Mack and some amazing instrumentation. Only criticism would be that the horns were a bit distracting on this arrangement. Everywhere else on the album, however, the brass kicks ass.

2. C-Line Woman - An old folk song dating back to the 1920's, this was most notably covered by Nina Simone in 1964. From start to finish there is a thundering African beat with impressively raw vocals by Chaney Sims. That said, despite my appreciation Sims' vocal tone I'm just not a big fan of traditional African music beats.

3. Big-Legged Woman - Written in the 1930's by Johnny Temple, and popularized in the early 60's by Muddy Waters, this Delta blues monster is another down-and-dirty swamp stomp. Horns swell powerfully with the guitar and harmonica, and you can't help but slap your leg and rock your head to the music.

4. Catfish Blues - A Muddy Waters classic that swings and jives. Horns really soar, harp is sick, vocals deep and rugged, and your feet will force the body up and dancing.

5. Go Down Hannah - Now we transition from the Mississippi Delta to the chain gain. This is an old prison song, performed 100% a Capella, and very powerful. Originally recorded by Leadbelly back in the early 20th century.

6. Get Right Church - Originally credited to the Rev. James Cleveland back in the early 60's, this church blues number is powered by slide guitar, harmonica and group harmony vocals led by Bill Sims. It's contagious.

7. Don't Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down - Originally composed by Eric Bibb, think Freddie King's Sweet Home Chicago goes to church with Stevie Ray Vaughan's Empty Arms. Bluesy swing jazz with a smokin' lead guitar by Junior Mack that's a dead ringer for BB King.

8. Going Uptown - Traditional black experience song, Grinding, straight forward, slower tempo blues that gets the job done.

9. In The Morning - Being a white Jewish guy, I've never been to a black church before. That is, until now, and it was fucking awesome!! [oops, sorry, didn't mean to cuss in church]. In The Morning is a full blown gospel revival in which all 3 lead singers: Junior Mack, Bill and Chaney Sims (father/daughter), take turns whipping us congregants into a frenzy! Raise your arms and dance with the spirit of the lord, people! Can I get a witness??

10. Levee Camp Holler - A Capella song telling of the traditional black hardship experience. Raw, organic, real and unfiltered.

11. Chilly Jordan - Gospel hymn infused with folk and country. Toe tapping flow that is very engaging. One of my favorites on the album.

12. Hard Times - Closing the album with a 3 suite masterpiece, this song starts with with a simple, haunting, traditional black experience vocal by Chaney Sims, transitions into a classical brass arrangement, before migrating to a rock edged guitar and vocal jam by Bill Sims that culminates with powerhouse horns and a smoking jazz sax solo. Awesome sauce. Check out the must-see live version below.

Hard Times - simply a masterpiece

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To conclude, I found this to be an incredibly authentic, refreshing album that spans so many different genres, yet never strays from the celebration of the rich, black musical heritage that effectively defines all relevant American music to this day. Kenny Poo scores And Still I Rise a MUST GET, and, with apologies to the great Ruthie Foster, will be cheering for HBO on Grammy night to win that trophy they most richly deserve.

~Kenny Poo

Monday, January 7, 2013

Haley Reinhart Does Real Music Live

Oh my does Haley bring the heat, peeps.

Caught my girl Haley Reinhart on Real Music Live, and damn was she looking and sounding FINE! She's a free agent in music and love right now, so for those record labels looking for hot talent, and dudes who look like her celebrity crush James Franco, check out her performance from the show (roughly 3:00-8:00 marks) and go get her while you can. With that voice, that hot bod, that pretty face, and that charming little minx personality she won't be available for long, so act now!

If you're just a righteous dude (or dudette) like me, but don't happen to be a record label executive or her celebrity crush, well, you should check it out anyway. She's really fucking good, people. Her debut album Listen Up! (released in May) was very well received, and even placed Top 3 in the highly prestigious Kenny Poo Top 10 albums of 2012!

The song she performed on the RML show is Oh My! (Haley has a thing for exclamation points), which might be familiar to you college football fans because it's been regularly featured on ESPN's game telecasts. The version she did here has a sultry new bridge she helped pen as a replacement for the B.O.B rap interlude from the original version, and it's a big improvement if you ask me. Well, even if you don't ask me I'm telling you anyway. Remember, pal, it's my blog and I'll do and say what I want, damn it!

As far as what she's up to next, Haley's mentioned she's going to spend some time in the studio banging out some hot new songs for her next album. Looking forward to hearing what that will be, but I'm personally hoping this sexy siren slays some jazz & blues numbers this time around. She OWNS that genre, people!

Anyhow, go check out her fabtastic sangin', and as a special added bonus enjoy those beautifully tanned, sexy shoulders at no extra charge.

Peace out, peeps.

~Kenny Poo

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Music: Stefano - "Yes To Love"

Former American Idol finalist (Season 10) Stefano Langone has announced that Hollywood Records will be releasing his second single, "Yes To Love", in February. His first single was the ridiculous, club-douche track, "I'm On A Roll" (perfectly befitting of his self absorbed 'tude), and garnered just marginal sales and airplay.

To say he's fortunate to be given a second shot would be an understatement.

Anyway, since Team Stefano provided us the official studio track via YouTube (see above), I figured I'd check it out with an open mind and see if there's any reason to believe it'll fair better than his first go around.

Unfortunately for him, I don't see it happening. At least "On A Roll" was over-the-top douchey, and had a bit of an edge. This is about as forgettable as it gets.

Stefano has actually performed "Yes To Love" live in past promo gigs (check here), and though I'm not a big fan of pop ballads I could at least appreciate it's tender, simple, melodic piano and smooth vocal. It was organic, had substance and feeling, and seemed to have real potential to become a hit. However, this version got synthed to the max, was slapped with a fresh coat of overproduced douche beat, and was gutted of all its authenticity.

It's as if Fano attended Bieber 101, was asked to turn in all his originality, and came out of class with the same bland, generic, boy-band single all the other pop star wannabes are handed straight from the studio assembly line.

Now, admittedly, I've never been a fan of Stefano's girly, high pitched voice, douchey style or narcissistic attitude (i.e. bashing Phillip Phillips, talking trash about Pia Toscano, letting Haley Reinhart get thrown under the bus, etc. SEE: Phillip Phillips Punks Haters). However, even if I never heard of him before, I'd pan this dreck. I don't like this style of music, don't like the overproduction, don't think the lyrics fit the beat, and find it almost creepy that a grown, 23 year old man is making tweenage girl music. 

Kenny Poo Meter: Giving this tedious fluff 1.5 stars out of 5. The shame is, if he'd released a version like the stripped down original I'd have given him a solid 3 stars.

~Kenny Poo