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The Listener's Coffee Companion

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Album Review

The Listener marks 20 idiosyncratic years of Howe Gelb on his own. His first solo effort, the cassette-only Incidental Music, hit the streets in 1983 and although he's issued other solo works since, he remains best known as the man behind Arizona's equally idiosyncratic Giant Sand and OP8 with Lisa Germano. Recorded primarily in Denmark (from where his second wife, Sophie Albertsen, hails), Gelb sounds as Southwestern as ever (even if he actually grew up in Pennsylvania). His distinctive voice has always come across like a dust-blown cross between Lou Reed, Neil Young, and Lee Hazlewood, but there's more jazzy piano and understated brass and strings here than rock & roll or country guitar. On "Felonious," Mr. "Home" as he's billed himself, even acknowledges the debt to Reed, while wishing he could play the keys more like Duke Ellington or Thelonious Monk — even if the melancholy number sounds more like Young's "After the Gold Rush." The overall mood is casual, laid-back, and relaxed. Just as Lee Hazlewood once titled an album, Cowboy in Sweden, The Listener could as easily have been titled "A (Space) Cowboy in Denmark." ~ Kathleen C. Fennessy, Rovi


Born: 1956 in Scranton, PA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

It took singer/songwriter Howe Gelb nearly 20 years to receive the type of attention upstart indie rockers routinely obtain by their second album. During those two decades, Gelb released an abundance of material at the helm of his group, Giant Sand, presenting a highly original take on Southwestern roots and garage rock. He rarely stepped off his wayward musical course and onto even ground for any length of time. Combine this with inadequate promotion and distribution from a number of independent...
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The Listener's Coffee Companion, Howe Gelb
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