Thursday, February 7, 2013

Bill Mallonee - Amber Waves

Bill Mallonee's 50th release (that is not a typo by the way.) is one of his most impassioned. I realize that is a bold statement when the referenced artist has such a large body of wok. The lyrics on "Amber Waves" are full of pain and loss. However, there is an underlying hope in these songs. Faith is certainly a theme that is the  undertone of the music that has defined his career. However, he never paints faith as an easy road. To the contrary, his writing usually characterizes faith and hope as an uneasy battle. "Amber Waves" is no exception.

My personal favorite is a song called "Faith (Comes Soaked in Gasoline". It was influenced by Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath". His portrait is of the discrimination and degradation felt by the residents of depression era Hoovervilles. Not constrained by time, those analogies are just as relevant today. Loss is a central theme on "Amber Waves". In the song "Long Since Gone" he says, "In a sea of progress history doubles back to shake hands with you. When you've got nothing to trade've got nothing left to lose".

Though not as heralded, Mallonee's songwriting is on the level with Dylan or Springsteen. The lyrics on "Amber Waves" strike the soul.  The musical arrangements are for the most part Americana. Although he does employ a Mellotron, which is something you don't hear very often. He does not lose sight of the fact that a listener wants a good melody as well as impactful lyrics. After all, it may be the lyrics that give a song meaning, but the tune is what keeps it in your mind. In short, good tunes accompany the message, and the combination of the two is what makes "Amber Waves" so special.

Visit him and get a sample on BandCamp

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Kris Kristofferson - New Album

Kris Kristofferson will be releasing his first album in 4 years. "Feeling Mortal" is garnering a lot of advance buzz. Combine the aforementioned praise with the simple fact that it is Kris Kristofferson receiving it, it will likely be worth buying without sampling.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

American Authors

The American Authors are a band emerging from the Brooklyn scene. Their first single "Believer" is in the top 20 on Sirius/XM Alt-Nation chart. It is an infectious Power Pop song. Check out the link below and listen:

Friday, January 11, 2013

AWT - Best of 2012

As it seems to be the case every year, there was way too much good music produced in 2012. I try hard to keep up with new releases, but it is often at the expense of time that would otherwise be spent on my favorites. However, for the purpose of  "cussing and discussing" here is my attempt to rank my favorite albums of 2012:

1. Chris Knight - Little Victories:  This may be a bit of a surprise, but this album really meant something to me. There is an honest and heartfelt message of perseverance and hope. His message of survival in hard times derives from his roots. Plus he calls Little Debbies groceries, and that puts "Little Victories" over the top.

2. The Lumineers - Self-Titled: The way they took the musical world by storm is really amazing. Hype usually turns me off. In this case I am glad to see that a group that can put together a body of excellent songs can get this much notice.

3. Mindy Smith - Self-Titled: A brilliant singer-songwriter released what is perhaps the best album of her career. Her lyrics are  moving and profound, but it is her rich vocals and passion give life to her words.

4: Sons of Bill - Sirens: The song "Santa Anna Winds" hooked me on my first listen. Every song after that kept me listening. A true Americana Rock masterpiece. The Sons of Bill  have an almost universal appeal.

5.Alabama Shakes - Boys and Girls: I could almost say "See The Lumineers above". The Shakes also came out of nowhere to receive a lot of fan fare. They recorded in and hail from the Muscle Shoals area, and the geographic influence shines forth. Their music is both Southern and Soulful, with a balanced mix of tempo.

6. Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale - Buddy and Jim: These old friends should have recorded together a long time ago. Let's hope there is more to come.

7. Mumford and Sons - Babel: They set the bar high on their previous released. On this release, they raised it. I can't wait to see what they do next.

8. Tift Merrit - Travelling Alone: "Bramble Rose" and "Another Country" are two of my favorite female Singer-Songwriter albums. She may have beat them both this time around.

9. Shovels and Rope - O be Joyful: I was joyful from the first listen. Every song is excellent. They take traditional Americana and make it feel like Rock.

10. Corb Lund - Cabin Fever: Pure Country from rural Canada. The duet with Hays Carll, "Bible on the Dash", and "Gothest Girl I Can" are also the two funniest songs of the year

The next Ten:

11. Steep Canyon Rangers - Nobody Knows You
12. Wrinkle Neck Mules - Apprentice to Ghosts
13. The Avett Brothers - The Carpenter
14. Jack White - Blunderbuss
15. Justin Townes Earle - Nothing's gonna change the way
16. Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball
17. Dr. Dog - Be the Void
18. Old Crow Medicine Show - Carry Me Back
19. Ryan Bingham - Tommorrowland
20. Whispering Pines - Self-Titled

To compare this list to my compadres at Twangville  Click Here

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Tift Merritt - Travelling Alone

Tift Merritt has outdone herself. She just released the best CD of her career. I am not kidding. Bramble Rose was her ground breaking first release. Another Country equaled Bramble Rose, but it didn’t best it. With the release of Travelling Alone, she has set a new standard for herself. The album is truly a masterpiece in every way.She chose Tucker Martine to produce it. His other credits include My Morning Jacket and The Decemberists. Many of the songs are unembellished and simple. However, they have a feel that is evocative of Emmylou Harris’ Wrecking Ball. There is a subtle dreamy echo on many of the songs, and that sound fits the theme of the album. The title track opens up and lays out an interesting premise. Merritt redefines the word alone. Alone is not isolation. Alone happens in relationships and community. It happens when you are among or with others.

“Drifted Apart” is an excellent emotional but subtle duet with Andrew Bird. In this song there is loneliness is a faltering relationship. In truth our significant others have the ability to make us feel completely insignificant. “I am going to lose everything I love, only for a minute just to be alive”, she sings on “Spring”. Later as the song begins to cut loose with some up tempo ethereal blues riffs she says that “Beauty is defiance in the face of death”. It is a powerful metaphor and certainly not how beauty is thought of by the general public.  
In addition to great production, she enlisted an all-star cast of musicians including Rob Burger (Lucinda Williams, Iron & Wine, Rufus Wainwright), John Convertino (Calexico), Eric Heywood (The Jayhawks, Son Volt, Alejandro Escovedo). As for the songwrting, there is only one writer. We can thank Tift Merritt. She wrote them all on her own, but hopefully not alone.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Whispering Pines

It is a digital world, mp3s are our music, the internet provides our news, and we can read on multiple devices. Oh and by the way we are connected wherever we go. Digital communication is the best …. Or is it? Along comes Whispering Pines. They take us to their world of analog recording. The band is based in California, and their music brings to mind The Byrds, The Band and Gram Parsons. Listening to the self-titled second album by Whispering Pines, makes the listener revisit the days when Country and Rock were becoming kissing cousins. There are all out slide guitar rockers like “Fine Times” and songs that utilize Byrds influenced Harmonizing vocals. “Love is Free” is an up tempo Jam that brings the keyboards to the front. While “Come and Play” is the most singular representative of the music on the album. It begins as a country song and gradually evolves into mid-tempo Rock and Roll. The opening song “Move On” will reach out and grab you. Then the songs that follow will not let you go.

It is not a long album. It clocks in at just under 40 minutes and has only 10 songs. In fact, four of the songs are less than 3 and a half minutes. Whispering Pines would not be able to claim their California roots if they did not know how to jam. Fortunately “Purest Dream” shows that indeed they are fully immersed in the California Roots Rock tradition. Perhaps the most impressive aspect is that all four band members write and sing their own songs on the album. Such virtuosity allows every song on the album to stand on its’ own. However, Whispering Pines do not lose site of the fact that they are a band. Thus all of the songs work together and fuse the individual talents of the band members together.

So go down to your local record store and hit the vinyl section. Read an actual newspaper, and get a book that requires you to physically turn pages. (You can steer clear of listening to eight track tapes though.) Whispering Pines has provided a reminder that digital is not always better.      

Monday, August 27, 2012

La Resistance - Philosophy

Sometimes gaining momentum is better than a sprint. Greg Summerlin has passionately pursued his craft for years. As a solo artist his songs have been used in numerous TV shows. He has even owned his own record label. His new band, La Resistance, is an ambitious undertaking evocative of bands like Joy Division and Echo and the Bunnymen. “Philosophy” is permeated with atmospherics but without the loss of melody that some indie artists fall into. Momentum also characterizes the music on the album. The songs generally begin with a thematic synthesized undertone and uses the guitar to build up to something much more complex. 

Lyrically there is a blunt spirituality in each song. The words are not hopeful, but they are not hopeless either. The songs seem deeply personal with simple observations of reality. After initial creative acclaim, La Resistance is starting to travel the country. From their hometown of Birmingham, Alabama to Manhattan and Missouri they beginning to be heard by a wider audience. The album was released last year, but it their growth has been organic . Recognition has come gradually, but they are now expanding their geographic reach. Like I said … momentum.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Video: Corb Lund

A lot of great music comes from north of the border, and Corb Lund is one of the best. A great songwriter and ambassador for Canadian Country music, he is finally starting to get his due down here in the lower 48. Well deserved critical acclaim has been directed at his new album, "Cabin Fever". Here is a video so you can hear why:

Friday, July 6, 2012

Mindy Smith's New Masterpiece

Mindy Smith’s new self-titled album finds her moving back to her roots. She delivers the music in a way that is truly her own. It is a rare quality to be able to exude this kind of passion so overtly. However it is natural for Smith, the emotions of each song rise up from  inside of her, and then overtake the listener like a Geyser. For example, on the Blues and Soul infused “Don’t Mind Me” she expresses a loneliness that she needs to experience and work through. It is ironic, but while loneliness is painful, the words of others aren’t always the best help, healing must start from within. The album is full of such brutal honesty. The message is delivered in many forms. There is the upbeat Country-Swing of “Tin Can”, melodic mid-tempo songs like “Pretending the Stars”, and more mellow and atmospheric songs like “The Devils Inside”. The latter song says ”Those devils inside, those demons you hide, they keep your angels inspired. Thank God for the devil’s inside”. When an artist can combine such deep and thoughtful lyrics with careful musical craftsmanship the result is usually a masterpiece. That is certainly the case for Mindy Smith’s current project.

The album opens with an excellent but more radio friendly song “Closer”, which is in rotation on CMT. I just hope fans and listeners dig deeper than their TV screens. The young songwriter, who took the world by storm with her rendition of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and followed it up with her own highly acclaimed song “Come to Jesus”, has recovered the raw emotion and spirituality from her early recordings and created the defining masterpiece of her career. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Jason Eady to tour with Flatlanders

The new Jason Eady album AM Country Heaven is the best pure country album released this year. It is getting great reviews and recognition. Eady has been a Favorite of mine for a while. Glad to see he is getting the recognition he deserves. Further street cred for the album is the producer, Kevin Welch.

Now Eady has been asked to tour with the Flatlanders during June. They will be playing some great venues:

6/12-Kunckleheads in Kansas City, MO

6/13-Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis, MN
6/15-Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, IL
6/16-The Ark in Ann Arbor, MI
6/17-Grand Valley Dale Ballroom in Cleveland, OH
6/19-Beachland Ballroom and Tavern in Cleveland, OH
6/24-Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, MA
6/25-BB King’s Blues Club in New York City
6/27-YMCA Boulton Center for the Performing Arts in Bay Shore, NY
6/28-Sellersville Theater 1894 in Sellersville, PA
6/29-Birchmere in Alexandria, VA
6/30-The Shed in Maryville, TN

Here is an Acoustic version of the title cut which is a "kiss off" to Nashville:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Jason Heath and the Greedy Souls - Packed for Exile

LA based Jason Heath and the Greedy Souls release their new album Packed for Exile on July third. It is an impressive release with a blend of Americana roots and 70's Album Rock. Interestingly, the band's keyboardist is Jason Federici, who is the son of the late E Street Band member Danny Federici. The band may be from the West coast, but Heath's lyrical themes play to the American heartland. The songs deal with emotional, romantic and spiritual struggles. However, this is not an album stuck in some neurotic depression. It is about day to day struggles seen universally throughout the lives of everday people. At times,the album is also upbeat and hopeful, capturing the circadian rythm of the ups and downs of life.

The music is not lost in the message. In fact, the musical arrangement of each song conveys the message of the song as much as the lyrics.  A perfect example is the song "A Fighter's Lullaby", which attempts to infuse hope into pain by using a beautiful melody, that builds from a slow tempo to a culmination that exudes the hope found within the lyrics. "Packed for Exile" is a cohesive collection of songs that delivers what the artist intended.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Wrinkle Neck Mules - Apprentice to Ghosts

The Wrinkle Neck Mules are back again, but this time with a little bit of help from a celebrity Gecko. (Down South we think that is just a fancy name for a Lizard, but I digress.) The song “Central Daylight Time” is straightforward Honky Tonk and apparently the folks at Geico liked it so much they made it the background music for a commercial filmed in a Country bar. The folks at Geico are even sponsoring the video which will of course, feature the little green celebrity. 2012 may be the end of the world after all, The Wrinkle Neck Mules have gone commercial.

Wait just a minute, this isn’t 60’s, some commercials actually feature good music these days. (Rhett Miller/Old 97s “Question” was in a commercial too). Simply put, it isn’t “selling out” to sell anymore. Apprentice to Ghosts encompasses the gamut of the Mules styles; Country, Bluegrass, Jam and more. Andy Stepanian’s gritty drawl is as distinctive as ever. What this album adds is solos worthy of a rock anthem. For example, the opening track “When the Wheels Touch Down” slowly builds to a mesmerizing finish. The Mules seem to get better with each outing, and hopefully the notoriety the little lizard offers will bring new fans into the corral.

The Video

The Commercial

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Mindy Smith New Album July 26th

It will be a self-titled release on Giant Leap/TVX records. She joins Giant leap after a string of releases on Vanguard records. She has assembled a band including Brian Sutton on guitar. I hope she will move back toward the raw emotion of her earlier releases. The first single, "Closer", seems very promising. It seems she feeling some freedom on this independent release.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

10 Under the Radar for 2011

Instead of focusing on a best of list, I wanted to highlight 10 albums released in 2011, by artists that aren’t household names. There are so many hard working and passionate artists who deserve to be noticed. The current landscape of the music industry makes it difficult for artist from local and regional scenes to break through. The blogosphere provides a conduit for these artists to be heard, but most bloggers, like those of us here at Twangville, have day jobs  and can’t listen to everything that is submitted to us. However, we try to listen to as much as possible. Listed below are 10 under the radar albums that caught my ear in 2011:

The New Familiars - Between the Moon and Morning Light

The Barr Brothers - Self-Titled

Mark W. Lennon - Home of the Wheel

Hotel Lights - Girl Graffiti

Dan Hubbard and the Humadors - The 
Love Show

Blind Pilot - We are the Tide

Big Fresh - The Moneychasers

River Rouge - Not All There Anymore

Old Californio - Sundrunk Angels
Exene Cervenka - The Excitement of Maybe

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Craig Finn - Clear Heart Full Eyes

Craig Finn has always had a reputation as an accomplished lyricist. In fact, he is as much of a poet as he is a Rock and Roll musician. His lyrics invoke an emotional connection that is evident as the crowd sings along at Hold Steady gigs. After all, this is the man who weaved the suicide of John Berryman into “Stuck Between Stations”. Not surprisingly, Clear Heart Full Eyes brings Finn’s poetic distinction to the forefront.

To be sure, the front man for Hold Steady has not forgotten the importance of the music. For this project, it tends to be more mellow and introspective, but is powerful none the less. My friend David, who has a daughter that is a budding musician at 13, recently made the point that musicians are sometimes far too serious and afraid to make people laugh. In fact, humor is a quality he is trying to encourage in the music of his daughter (Katie Deter). Humor has certainly never eluded Finn, as shown by the song, “New Friend Jesus”. He also invokes religious imagery often on Clear Heart Full Eyes. Consider this verse from “No Future”:

“I’ve been reading about the Calvary. The crucifixion still gets to me. I guess Golgotham meets the mount of execution. The best advice I got comes from ‘ol John Rotten. He said ‘God save the queen’ no future for you , no future for me”.

Finn is a modern day creative genius, and, Clear Heart Full Eyes is the perfect conduit to display his prodigious creativity.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Warren Haynes Rings in the New Year

To celebrate the holiday season, Warren Haynes has released a free streaming version of "Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday" from his new album "Man In Motion". A holiday treat for Govt. Mule fans..Since everyday is a holiday, you have my permission to tell the boss you're taking 2012 off. Good luck with that and happy new year!

Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday - Warren Haynes

Friday, December 9, 2011

Michael Donner & The Southern Renaissance - No Better Time

Just under the wire for 2011, Michael Donner introduces himself on his first solo album.No Better Time. What an introduction! Donner is certainly going to take listeners by surprise when they discover this collection of well crafted songs. This is not only one of the best under the radar releases of the year, it is one of the best releases period.

Donner is from Dallas, but he recorded the album in Alabama. More specifically it was created at the fabled Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. Having a Southern Renaissance in Muscle Shoals is a perfect place considering the plethora of Southern Rock, Country and Soul classics that have been recorded there. Although Donner's music is more of a virtuosity of styles and influences than a renaissance, it is a well crafted work of art by any definition. The album is a mix of Rock, Jam Band, Country and alt-country. However, no song is represented by a single style. Each song is a blend of influences. Whether up-tempo or more subdued, there is no doubt that a talented and emerging songwriter carefully arranged each song. 

No Better Time is an exceptional debut release. Michael Donner has set the bar high for himself, but there is no doubt that he is a truly gifted artist with more to offer in the future.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Barr Brothers

The Barr Brothers are causing a buzz in the Indie world. Their self-titled debut release is a mostly acoustic journey into the duality of human emotion. They explore the context of our true feelings, and the complex emotions that make us betray them. The Barr brothers are not new on the scene, they are the founding members of The Slip. They have dropped the theatrical nature of their former band for a more stripped down, yet complex sound. The album’s ethereal undertone is accentuated by inclusion of the harp played by Sarah Paige.

Though mostly acoustic, there is some gritty Rock & Roll, like the Electric Blues on “Lord I Just Can't Keep From Cryin’”. Another interesting track is “Give the Devil Back His Heart”, which mixes in Native American influences. However, the song that really stands out, and is one of the best songs I have come across this year is the opener, “Beggar in the Morning”. The song is perfectly arranged with poignant lyrics. The song provides a very dark but true picture of how relationships can evolve over time. “Hello I’m a monster too and what poisons me is what poisons you too. Into these animals we grew, but when we were young our eyes were blue”.  Although they are veteran musicians, their debut as the Barr Brothers is impressive and full of innovation.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dan Hubbard and the Humadors - The Love Show

It wasn't that long ago when someone asked me "Why doesn't anyone make Rock n' Roll" anymore?" Like many folks, he quit looking for new music after he graduated college, and was now trying to search the radio for new Rock n' Roll. If he asked that today, I would give him a copy of Dan Hubbard and the Humadors new release, The Love Show, and end his search. This Central Illinois based band, serves up Rock with hooks that latch on from the opener "Don't Take Me Now" and never let go.

Dan Hubbard gets it, Rock and Roll is best when it is uncomplicated. There are no gimmicks or pretenses found on The Love Show, just really great melodies. These are the songs that make you want to crank the volume and go for a drive. Just don't set the iPod on repeat or you may never come back.

As a songwriter, Hubbard follows a similar uncomplicated formula. Guess what indie rockers! You don't have to be an art school student on anti-depressants to write lyrics. Hubbard has a troubadour's gift, creating songs that balance life's tough times with hope and healing. On "This is Your Life" Hubbard sings, "Life isn't fair and that's Ok. It's crazy how much things can change before you even realize. This is your life. Yeah, there's some things you can't control. Yeah, sometimes you have to let go. Yeah, everything is gonna be fine. We're doin' alright baby." What is wrong with plain spoken wisdom?

Stay Away

Friday, October 14, 2011

Mark W. Lennon - Home of the Wheel

Listening to Mark W. Lennon’s new release Home of the Wheel, I felt as if I was transported back to depression era America without leaving 2011. At times it is the music that takes you there, and other times it is the lyrics. Lennon draws the parallels between the Modern and the past with a wide brush of Americana. There are influences from traditional styles and contemporary songwriters like Ryan Adams. In between you will find Country and even some Jam Band riffs. All of these diverse ingredients may sound like a case of creative schizophrenia, and in some hands that would be the case. However, Lennon keeps his many influences contained within his own singular vision. That is no small task, and the result is a compelling sound that will likely end up in many listeners heavy rotations. Fans of Chattam County Line, the Avett Brothers or Steel Wheels will definitely enjoy Home of the Wheel.

The album was produced by Marvin Etzioni, a former member of Lone Justice who has worked with Steve Earle, Counting Crows and Lucinda Williams. Lennon is a North Carolina native but he now resides in California. In the title cut, Lennon gives a powerful portrait of life in post-depression America, and the desperation of the time. Other songs on the album are modern in there setting, but the parallel between then and now is clear. “Blues Forever (in Your Eyes)” is simply one of best songs I have heard this year. A Country tune “California Calling”, presumably refers to his own move to California. The move has been a good one for him, at least musically. His sound is now complete and he is establishing himself as a rising star in the roots music community of the area. Look for the buzz to get louder on future releases. Mark W. Lennon’s music needs to be heard.

“Blues Forever (in Your Eyes)”

Blues Forever from Mark W. Lennon on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Greencards - The Brick Album

It does not seem long ago that the Greencards burst onto the New Grass scene. Almost immediately they captured audiences with music that blended influences from their Australian, European and American heritages. With the release of their fifth studio album, The Brick Album, The Greencards are now one of the most respected bands around. Their musicianship is admired by their peers, and the voice of Australian lead singer, Carol Young, is captivating. On the duet "Heart Fixer", Young is joined by Vince Gill and their voices complement each other with perfection. The album leads off with another all-star guest, Sam Bush, on the song "Make it Out West", which takes the smooth style of the band and adds the kick of Bush's mandolin.

The guest appearances are well chosen, but The Greencards are just as impressive on their own. The Greencards eclectic musical and lyrical brilliance is on full display in each track. The Brick  also captures the energy and passion of the band. Their passion was understated on their previous two releases, but this new project has a live feel. Anyone who has been to a Greencards show knows exactly to what I am referring.

The Greencards are an ever evolving band. With each release the expand their horizon. They don't seem content standing. Instead they continue to push boundaries, which makes room for a growing fan base.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

HA HA Tonka - Finally Getting Their Props

Bloodshot artists HAHA Tonka, are getting a lot of attention with their new release, "Death of a Decade"

Check the links below to discover this band, if you haven't already.

NPR Song of the Day -

Washington Post:
A couple of rootsy, passionate, scruffy groups such as Mumford & Sons did their thing at the Grammy Awards this year, exposing their music to a relatively vast audience in one fell swoop. Mumford’s music is fine, but it’s a shame that Ha Ha Tonka couldn’t have taken that group’s spot. The Missouri quartet is not only authentically scruffy, it tears at the heart of American roots music with every chord like Mumford only pretends to, and its new record, Death of a Decade, basically oozes passion for the craft.

Featured on Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations":

Featured on MTV's The Seven:

Friday, May 20, 2011

Old Californio - Sundrunk Angels

“Cosmic American Music” is what Gram Parsons called his own music. I think the term also fits Sundrunk Angels, the new release by Old Californio. The length of the songs puts them in Jam Band territory. In fact, it is a bit odd that the Jam Band crowd hasn’t widely discovered these guys yet. “Jewels and the Dross” certainly channels the ghost of Jerry Garcia. Old Californio would have fit nicely into the California music scene of the late 60’s and early 70’s, but they are not just a throwback band. Their music intertwines their influences with an original and contemporary approach. They have a strong following in their home state of California and are expanding their fan base eastward. Sundrunk Angels should increase their following in both number and geography.

Songs like “Allon Camerado” start with a mid-tempo hook and then gradually migrate into full on high speed Jam.  It is not uncommon for the studio to fence in a group of improvisational musicians, but that is not the case here. The production of Sundrunk Angels has a live feel no matter if the song has a mellow vibe like the title cut, or an upbeat Country-Rock Jam such as “A Cool Place in the Light”. The time is right to jump on the bandwagon and take a ride.

This Post was first published on Twangville

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Overlooked and Under the Radar Releases

There has been an early flood of great releases in 2011. Below are a few that should not get lost in the shuffle:

Robyn Ludwick - Out of These Blues: Produced by Gurf Morlix, This Rock and Blues album has an All-Star supporting cast. She is the younger sister of Bruce and Charlie Robison. She provides a gut punch of Blues and Rock that should not be overlooked. Download on CD Baby.

Exene Cervenka - The Excitement Machine: See my Review on Twangville.

Brian Wright - House on Fire: This Sugar Hill release features excellent songwriting. Wright even plays all of the instruments himself. An all around Talent! Order on Amazon.

The Only Sons - American Stranger: Country Rock from a band of Middle Tennessee State University students. Their influences are varied, but their future is bright. Website.

Bennet Brier - Scorpio and Me: An Austin Native that delivers raw and, at times, emotionally dark songwriting. The album is a deep soul-searching experience. Website.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Tara Nevins - Wood and Stone

When we last saw Tara Nevins, do her own thing, outside of the Donna the Buffalo "herd", it was an award winning Bluegrass album, but it has been over 10 years since Mule to Ride. On her new release, Wood and Stone,  she showcases a broader stroke of the Americana landscape. On the surface it invokes a similar territory travelled by Donna, but on her current solo project Nevins puts aside the jams. Instead she delivers a Country leaning effort that conjures up a time before the Opry. An era just before Nudie began making his sequined suits for Little Jimmy Dickens and Hank Williams (and a long time before he made the infamous gold lame' suit for Elvis). It is the music sung by and to the rural poor, who lived on the margins of the Post-Depression era economic recovery. People whose lives were defined by their broken relationships.

The earthy tunes on Wood and Stone are captivating. Nevins takes the past and utilizes drums and a steel guitar, to ensure the album is still contemporary. However, the real bridge between past and present is a voice, so singular and beautiful, that it must be heard to be appreciated. Ask any one of the "herd" who has followed her for years, and they will back me up. It has been too long since we heard from Tara Nevins as an individual artist, but the wait was worth it.