Jam Central Station 2.22.14: Buzzworthy Album Review - John Butler Trio - Flesh and Blood Posted by Jeff Modzelewski on 02.22.2014
The first album from the John Butler Trio in 4 years
So, first off, I'm sorry about missing last week. I actually had a column (this column) done, and somehow I didn't post it correctly. Of course I didn't really go on line all weekend, so by the time I realized, it was too late to make up for it. Sorry about that! Anyways, check out my review of the new John Butler Trio album!
The John Butler Trio have been on a steady rise in the United States over the past few years. Their 2010 release April Uprising helped the band continue their crossover appeal between jam and rock, and the trio has successfully toured behind the album for over 3 years. While a new album hasn't been exactly overdue, fans were definitely ready when the band announced the release of Flesh and Blood. Butler and his trio have made a career out of taking the best elements of jam rock and modern adult contemporary rock and harnessing it into catchy jams that have enough pop sensibility to achieve widespread popularity mixed with more than enough overall musical talent to satisfy hardcore fans. Butler's songs have ranged from simple love songs to scathing political insights. So, after four years, how does the band's new album stack up?
Butler has typically set a tone for an album right with the first track. "Revolution," "Better Than," and "Treat Yo Mama" are all classic JB3 songs and all helped define their respective albums. "Spring to Come" does the same for this album, although it's in a completely different vein. The song is very personal and introspective. While this isn't a departure for Butler in his songwriting (he can be very introspective at times), opening with a quiet acoustic song is new for the band. It's a beautiful, simple song, very well written. It also succeeds in setting a new tone for this album, which is much less focused on issues of the day and is more storytelling in its nature. "Livin' In The City" is a great first-person account with a very funky feel that should translate very well live. "Cold Wind" takes a more serious turn, although it's far from the in-your-face social commentary that Butler has done in the past.
"Bullet Girl" is probably the one song on the album that I really couldn't get into. It's pretty cliche lyrically, and it's nothing special musically. Add that to the bullet/gun imagery that I just didn't understand, and it's a pretty weak song for the first half of the album. Things pick up again though with "Devil Woman," another fun jam in the same vein as "Funky Tonight" or "Don't Wanna See Your Face." It's a fun drum-based jam that'll be easy to sing along with or jump around to in concert. "Blame It On Me" is led by a great bass line that would get anyone to groove. "Only One" is the most "poppy" song on the album, just a nice little love song. It makes sense as the first single from the album since it should have some good crossover appeal. It's the type of song that Butler's done at least once on pretty much every album, and there's nothing wrong with a fun little love song every now and then.
The album does start to drag a bit at the end, with another quiet acoustic song in "Young and Wild" followed by "Wings are Wide." They're both good songs, but again more poetic than pointed. They're good songs, just not very energetic, and they create a bit of a lull having them next to each other. "How You Sleep At Night" picks it up quite a bit and is the most direct social commentary on the album, although still not as strong as some songs off of previous albums. "You're Free" is a nice closing piece for the album, very dark but melodic.
Overall, I enjoyed the album quite a bit. It has solid songwriting, and obviously the music is top-notch. I know that some people have been less than thrilled with the more sentimental turn and the fact that there's less of a direct social message on a lot of the songs. While I certainly love songs like "Revolution" and "I'd Do Anything," and I've always seen Butler's message as a breath of fresh air, I also have no problem with this style. The album does lack a climax, however. There's no great high points, no great message, just not the type of power I'm used to seeing from the band. On the other hand and some music is just music to dance to and make you feel good. There's a lot of that on this album. I think this will be another success for the band, and it has enough variety to continue bringing in new fans.
Bonnaroo announced their 2014 lineup this week. Headliners include Elton John, Kanye West, and Jack White. Other performers include Vampire Weekend, the Avett Brothers, Phoenix, Skrillex (who will also be leading a Superjam), Vampire Weekend, The Flaming Lips, Neutral Milk Hotel, John Butler Trio, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Chromeo, Umphrey's McGee, Yonder Mountain String Band, and many others.
Electric Forest announces lineup
The 2014 Electric Forest lineup was announced last week. There had been some speculation on the future of the festival this week, but the event closed the week with a massive lineup. Along with three nights of The String Cheese Incident, the festivl will feature 2 shows of STS9, Zedd, Ms. Lauryn Hill (as well as a Ms. Lauryn Hill Incident), EOTO, Anders Osborne, Xavier Rudd, Papadosio, The Revivalists, Stephen Marley, and many others.
DelFest announces lineup
DelFest announced their lineup for this year's festival. The event will be held over Memorial Day weekend in Cumberland, Maryland. The festival will feature The Del McCoury Band, 2 sets of The String Cheese Incident, Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby, Yonder Mountain String Band, Railroad Earth, Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, Greensky Bluegrass, and many others.
Summer Camp adds artists, late nights
Summer Camp rounded out their 2014 lineup this week. There were plenty of additions, including the Zac Brown Band, The Devil Makes Three, The Werks, Greensky Bluegrass, and many others. They also announced their late night artists. Late night shows this year will include Lotus & Beats Antique on Friday, Gramatik & Lettuce on Saturday, and Umphrey's McGee on Sunday
Jam Cruise announces 2015 information
Jam Cruise 2015 will take place from january 6-11. The event will leave from Miami and wead to Roatan, Honduras and Costa Maya, Mexico.
The String Cheese Incident release album details
The String Cheese Incident will release their new album Song In My Head on April 29. The album will feature 10 new songs and will feature Zac Brown on "Colorado Bluebird Sky."
Chris Robinson Brotherhood to release album
The Chris Robinson Brotherhood will release Phosphorescent Harvest on April 29 and will tour behind the album. They released some festival and headlining dates already, with more likely to come.
April 12 Live Oak, FL—Wanee Festival
April 13 Tampa, FL—The Ritz
April 18 Winston-Salem, NC—Ziggy's
April 19 Wilmington, NC—Ziggy's By The Sea
April 20 Atlanta, GA—Sweetwater 420 Festival
April 29 San Rafael, CA—Terrapin Crossroads
April 30 San Rafael, CA—Terrapin Crossroads
May 1 San Rafael, CA—Terrapin Crossroads
May 3 Big Sur, CA—Henry Miller Library
May 4 Big Sur, CA—Henry Miller Library
May 6 Crystal Bay, NV—Crystal Bay Club Crown Room
May 8 Ashland, OR—Historic Ashland Armory
May 9 Portland, OR—Wonder Ballroom
May 10 Seattle, WA—Neumos
May 13 Missoula, MT—The Top Hat
May 14 Bozeman, MT—Emerson Cultural Center
May 16 Denver, CO—Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
May 17 Denver, CO—Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
May 20 Boise, ID—Knitting Factory Concert House
May 23 Solana Beach, CA—Belly Up Tavern
May 24 Pioneertown, CA—Pappy & Harriet's
June 5-8 Hunter, NY—Mountain Jam
Aura Music & Arts Festival
February 14-16, 2014
Spirit of the Suwanne Music Park
Live Oak, FL
Performers include: Papadosio, Lotus, Conspirator, Zoogma, The Werks, The Revivaalists, Particle, Marco Benevento, Dopapod, and many others.
February 19-23 2014
Hard Rock Hotel, Riviera Maya, Mexico
Performers include: Multiple shows from the String Cheese Incident, EOTO< Kyle Holingsworth Band, The Motet, and Prophet Massive.
February 21-23, 2014
Performers include: Greensky Bluegrass featuring Sam Bush, Leftover Salmon, The Infamous Stringdusters, Elephant Revival, Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers, Fruition, and many others.
Jam in the Sand
February 28-March 4, 2014
Dark Star Orchestra will host the event. Other performers to be announced.
Panic en la Playa tres
March 17-21, 2014
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Widespread Panic will perform four shows during the event.
March 20-23, 2014
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oaks, FL
Performers include: Avett Brothers, Punch Brothers, Sam Bush Band, Southern Soul Assembly, Donna the Buffalo, Greensky Bluegrass, and many others
Hoopla in the Hills
Poston Lake Music Park
Performers include: Papadosio, Keller Williams, EOTO, Larry Keel & Natural Bridge, Cosby Sweater, Rumpke Mountain Boys, and many others.
April 10-12, 2014
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oaks, FL
Performers include: Allman Brothers Band, Trey Anastasio Band, Umphrey's McGee, moe., Lynard Skynard, Gov't Mule, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Dumpstaphunk, and many others
Tortuga Music Festival
April 12-13, 2014
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Performers include: Sheryl Crow, Train, Slightly Stoopid, Ziggy Marley, Brett dennen, Delta Rae, Moon Taxi, The Revivalists, and many others.
April 25-27, 2014
Kingston Downs, GA
Performers include: Outkast, Pretty Lights, STS9, Foster the People, Krewella, Big gigantic, Thievery Corp., Griz, Shpongle, Moon Taxi, and many others
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
April 25-27 and May 1-4, 2014
New Orleans, LA
Performers include: Phish, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Santana, String cheese Incident, John Fogerty, Galactic, Avett Brothers, and many others.
Hangout Music Festival
Gulf Shores, AL
Performers include: The Black Keys, The Killers,Outkast, Jack Johnson, Queens of the Stone Age, Pretty Lights, The Avett Brothers, STS9, The Flaming lips, Modest Mouse, Zedd, and many others.
May 22-25, 2014
Performers include: The Del McCoury Band, The String Cheese Incident, Ricky Skags & Bruce hornsby, Yonder Mountain String band, Railroad earth, Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, Greensky Bluegrass, and many others.
May 22-25, 2014
Three Sisters Park
Performers include: moe., Umphrey's McGee, Trey Anastasio Band, Bassnectar, Primus, Yonder Mountain String Band, Zac Brown Band, Lotus, EOTO, The Devil Makes Three, Greensky Bluegrass, and many others
Dark Star Jubilee
May 23-25, 2014
Performers include: 3 nights of Dark Star Orchestra, Yonder Mountain String Band, Galactic, Keller Williams & More Than A Little, Anders Osborne, The Werks, The Wailers performing Legend, and many others
Sasquatch! Music Festival
May 23-25, 2014
Performers include: OutKast, The National, Queens of the Stone Age, MIA, Foster the People, Kid Cudi, Neko Case, Violent Femmes, and many others.
May 29-June 1, 2014
Performers include: The Avett Brothers
June 5-8, 2014
Performers include: The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, STS9, Umphrey's McGee, John Butler Trio, Flaming Lips, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Lettuce, Dr. Dog, Papadosio, and many others.
June 5-8, 2014
Hunter Mountain, NY
Performers include: Gov't Mule, Bob Weir & RatDog, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Gov't Mule, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Umphrey's McGee, Pretty Lights, and many others
June 6-8, 2014
New York, NY
Performers include: Outkast, jack White, Vampire Weekend, The Strokes, Skrillex, Interpol, and many others.
June 12-15, 2014
Performers include: Elton John, Kanye West, Jack White, The Avett Brothers, The Flaming Lips, Neutral Milk Hotel, Zedd, Umphrey's McGee, John Butler Trio, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Yonder Mountain String Band, and many others
Snowmass Mammoth Festival
June 13-15, 2014
Snowmass Village, CO
Performers include: LEftover Salmon, chris Robinson Brotherhood, Xavier Rudd, Les Claypool's Duo De Twang, The Motet, Bonerama, and many others
Telluride Bluegrass Festival
June 19-22, 2014
Performers include: Sam Bush Band, Bela Fleck & The Colorado Symphony, Brandi Carlile, Yonder Mountain String Band, The Del McCoury Band, Leftover Salmon, Greensky Bluegrass, and many others.
Firefly Music Festival
June 19-22, 2014
Performers include: Foo Fighters, Outkast, Jack Johnson, Imagine Dragons, Pretty Lights, The Lumineers, Weezer, Girl Talk, Tegan and Sara, and many others.
June 26-29, 2014
The Double JJ Ranch & Resort
Performers include: The String Cheese Incident (3 nights), STS9 (2 nights), Ms. Lauryn Hill, Stephen Marley, EOTO, Anders Osborne, The Revivalists, Nahko & Medicine for the People, Rising Apalachia, Zedd, and many others.
July 3-6, 2014
Sasquatch! Music Festival
July 4-6, 2014
Performers include: Soundgarden, Kraftwerk, New Order, Frank Ocean, Neutral Milk Hotel, Spoon, Tegan and Sara, Gogol Bordello, Atmosphere, and many others.
Northwest String Summit
July 17-21, 2014
North Plains, OR
Performers include: Yonder Mountain String Band, The Motet, Steep Canyon Rangers, Fruition, Dead Winter Carpenters, The Rumpke Mountain Boys, and many others
July 23-27, 2014
Performers include: Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite, Ms. Lauryn Hill, ray LaMontagne, Thievery Corporation, Ziggy Marley, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Buddy Guy, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, and many others
Gathering of the Vibes
July 31-August 1, 2014
August 8-10, 2014
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA
Peach Music Festival
August 14-17, 2014
Performers include: Allman Brothers Band (2 nights), Bob Weir & RatDog, Trey Anastasio Band, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Lotus, JJ Grey & Mofro, The Revivalists, Dopapod, The Infamous Stringdusters, papadosio, and others.
August 29-31, 2014
Snow Ridge Ski Resort
Performers include: moe. (3 headlining nights), Lotus, O.A.R. Les Claypool's Duo de Twang, Soulive, Twiddle, Aqueous, and others.
Lockin' Music Festival
September 4-7, 2014
Performers include: The String Cheese Incident, The Allman Brothers Band, Phil Lesh & Friends, Widespread Panic, and Bob Weir & Ratdog
Phases of the Moon Festival
September 11-14, 2014
Kennekuk County Park, IL
Performers include: Widespread Panic (2 nights), Tedeschi Trucks Band, Gov't Mule, Galactic, Leftover Salmon, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, and many others.
September 5-7, 2014
Harvest Music Festival
October 16-18, 2014
January 6-11, 2015
Departs from Miami, FL
Thanks again for stopping by. I'll be back next week with more jam. Until then, check me out on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute concert announcements. Until next week, Jam On!