Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Under the Radar: Elliot Randall


Elliot Randall is gaining notoriety on the West Coast and is becoming a popular act in the San Francisco Bay area. He is also getting love from the California press. Recently, he was featured on legendary Bay area radio station KFOG’s local scene and is going to be appearing at the station’s local scene kickoff party on August 3rd. The national exposure has not come yet. However, he was recently featured on an AmericanaRoots podcast, which is an AWT favorite. Hopefully more exposure like this will come for Randall. He certainly deserves it. Based on my correspondence with Elliot he seems like a heck of a nice guy and I am certainly rooting for him.

Though he lives in the Bay Area, he is originally from Charleston, South Carolina and told me he spent most of his time growing up in the Carolinas. His Southern roots really show as he mixes Roots Rock with a more Classic Rock and Roll sound. He is an excellent songwriter whose musical style has the ability to appeal to a wide audience. On his new album Take the Fall Randall plays mid-tempo songs like “How to Grow Old” as well as full out rockers like “Second Time Around.” Both musically and lyrically Randall’s music is very accessible to the listener. All of the songs on the album show the various influences he has. Whether the listener’s preferences lean more toward Rock or Roots or Singer-Songwriter, this album will satisfy.

MP3 Links Below:

http://www.fileden.com/files/2007/5/29/1124526/01%20How%20To%20Get%20Old.m4a

http://www.fileden.com/files/2007/5/29/1124526/03%20Second%20Time%20Around.m4a

This review also appears on: http://twangville.com

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Settin' the Woods on Fire: This Week's Charts

This is a weekly feature in which I post on AWT the top albums and debuts in the airplay charts from Americana Music Assoc., XM Cross Country and FMQB Non-Commercial Adult Alternative chart. Links to all of these charts are found to the right in the AWT favorite links list.

Americana Music Association - Airplay Week of July 16th
1) Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger
2) Kelly Willis - Translated from Love
3) Marty Stuart - Anthology of Duets
4) Jimmy Lafave - Cimmaron Manifesto
5) Adrienne Young - Room to Grow
6) Sarah Borges and The Broken Singles - Diamonds in the Dark
7) Amy Lavere - Anchors and Anvils
8) Son Volt - The Search
9) Gurf Morlix - Diamonds to Dust
10) Doug Spatz - The One Who's Leaving
Debuts
35) Jason Isbell - Sirens of the Ditch
37) Terri Hendrix - The Spiritual Kind
40) Walt Wilkins & the Mystiqueros - Diamonds in the Sun

XM Ch.12 Cross Country - Cross Checking week of July 16th
1) Gurf Morlix - Diamond to Dust
2) Jed and Kelley - Song to Take Home
3) Various Artists - Anchored in Love
4) The Basement - Illicit Hugs and Playground Thugs
5) Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers - No More Beautiful World
6) Jimmy Lafave - Cimmaron Manifesto
7) Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadors - Trailercana
8) Swampdawamp - Swampdawamp
9) Pete Berwick - Aint No Train Outta Nashville
10) Jason Isbell - Sirens of the Ditch
Debuts
None

FMQB AAA Non-Commercial - Airplay Week of July 16th
1) Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger
2) Suzanne Vega - Beauty and Crime
3) Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
4) Wilco - Sky Blue Sky
5) Crowded House - Time on Earth
6) White Stripes - Icky Thump
7) Feist - The Reminder
8) Paul McCartney - Memory Almost Full
9) Sarah Borges and The Broken Singles - Diamonds in the Dark
10) R.Thompson - Sweet Warrior
Debuts
25)Interpol - Our Love to Admire
26) Polyphonic Spree- The Fragile Army
29) Lori McKenna - Unglamorous
30) Kelly Willis - Translated from Love

Kelly Willis - Translated from Love

After taking a few years off to devote to her children, Kelly Willis has returned. With the help of her Producer and friend Chuck Prophet and of course her husband, the accomplished singer-songwriter Bruce Robison. This was not business as usual for Willis. In fact, this is a Rock and Roll album with a little bit of Country roots. Kelly Willis wrote or co-wrote 6 songs on on the album. Co-writing with Bruce and Chuck Prophet. However the choice of Chuck Prophet came about, he was the perfect producer. With his history in music and his friendship with Willis and Robison, he understands the roots of where she comes from and where she wants to go. It is obvious from the first listen to Translated from Love that all parties were on the same page.

The first song on the album is a cover of Damon Bramblett's "Nobody Wants to Go to the Moon Anymore." She follows it up with "Sweet Little One" which feature a country vocal style. However, Prophet uses subtle keyboards to give the song a rich texture that hints at what they are trying to accomplish on the album. "Teddy Boys" is a rocker that is a little bit raunchy and definitely shows the influence of Prophet. Willis did not totally walk away from Country Music. For example, "Losing You" is a solid Country Song. Although, listening to a Pop song like "The More That I'm Around You" it is apparent that Kelly Willis' voice could fit just as easily in Rock or Jazz as country. In the end, what Chuck Prophet accomplished with his production was to show the diversity of Willis' voice more than any other album in her under-rated career.

Sample her music on:
http://www.kellywillis.com/flash/

http://www.myspace.com/kellywillismusic

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Gourds - Noble Creatures


By now we know what to expect from The Gourds. Noble Creatures fortunately delivers The Gourds full package, quirky hook laden roots music that mixes tradition with foot stompin' contemporary jams. Of course this is all delivered with the requisite humor. After all, this is the band that managed to fuse Compton and Appalachia when it covered Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice."

There are a few things that are added on the album, like the Hammond B3 background on "Kicks in the Sun." Overall the album has a little bit more of Grateful Dead influence than normal but it is still a typical Gourds album. That is a good thing when you do what you do as well as the Gourds. The Cajun stomp of "Cranky Mulatto" is familiar territory for the band. Their Texas Red Dirt Roots are highlighted on "Moon Gone Down." I expect "All in the Pack" to be the live hit that will get the fans dancing on the tables, which where they belong at a Gourds show. Hopefully we can all be dancing at their live shows for many years to come.

Stream the full album:
http://www.yeproc.com/artist_info.php?artistId=957

This review also appears on: http://twangville.com/

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Settin' the Wodds on Fire: This Weeks Charts

This is a weekly feature in which I post on AWT the top albums and debuts in the airplay charts from Americana Music Assoc., XM Cross Country and FMQB Non-Commercial Adult Alternative chart. Links to all of these charts are found to the right in the AWT favorite links list.

Americana Music Association - Airplay Week of July 9th
1) Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger
2) Kelly Willis - Translated from Love
3) Marty Stuart - Anthology of Duets
4) Jimmy Lafave - Cimmaron Manifesto
5) Adrienne Young - Room to Grow
6) Sarah Borges and The Broken Singles - Diamonds in the Dark
7) Amy Lavere - Anchors and Anvils
8) Wilco - Sky Blue Sky
9) Gurf Morlix - Diamonds to Dust
10) Kendel Carson - Rearview Mirror Tears
Debuts
21) Subdudes - Street Symphony
30) Chris Knight - The Trailer Tapes
33) Max Stalling - Topaz City
37) Tab Benoit - Power of the Ponchatrain
40) King Wilkie - Low Country Suite

XM Ch.12 Cross Country - Cross Checking week of July 9th
1) Kendel Carson - Rearview Mirror Tears
2) Robbie Fulks - Revenge
3) Gurf Morlix - Diamond to Dust
4) Jed and Kelley - Song to Take Home
5) Various Artists - Anchored in Love
6) Jimmy Lafave - Cimmaron Manifesto
7) Red Dirt Rangers - Ranger Motel
8) Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadors - Trailercana
9) Avett Brothers - Emotionalism
6) Dale Watson - From The Cradle To The Grave
10) David Olney - One Tough Town
Debuts
46) Hackensaw Boys - Look Out!
47) Tab Bemoit - Power of the Ponchatrain

FMQB AAA Non-Commercial - Airplay Week of July 9th
1) RYAN ADAMS - Easy Tiger
2) SPOON - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
3) WILCO - Sky Blue Sky
4) PAUL MCCARTNEY - Memory Almost Full
5) SUZANNE VEGA - Beauty and Crime
6) FEIST - The Reminder
7) Sarah Borges and The Broken Singles - Diamonds in the Dark
8) R.THOMPSON - Sweet Warrior
9) GRACE POTTER - This is Somewhere
10) WHITE STRIPES - Icky Thump
Debuts
11) Subdudes - Street Symphony
27) Van Morrison - Best of ... Vol. 3

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Jason Isbell Review on Twang Nation


Twang Nation has an excellent review of former Drive-By-Trucker Jason Isbell's new album. Keep an eye on him I think good things are in his future.




Check Out His MySpace Page:

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Kim Richey and Adam Hood - Live on Reg's Coffeehouse

Check out this link to Kim Richey performing live on Reg's Coffee house

http://www.myfoxal.com/myfox/pages/Entertainment/Detail?contentId=3778881&version=1&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=VSTY&pageId=7.3.1

Also Adam Hood performed on the Coffeehouse. I talked to him for a while at City Stages this year. He is a super nice guy and one of my favorites. See my previous review here on AWT and check out this video. He is a really good songwriter.

http://www.myfoxal.com/myfox/pages/Entertainment/Detail?contentId=3778857&version=1&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=VSTY&pageId=7.3.1

Sunday, July 15, 2007

King Wilkie vs. The Avett Brothers

The new King Wilkie album Low Country Suite has the band adding other influences to their traditional Bluegrass with excellent results. Compared to the Avett Brothers, who made a similar move with Emotionalisdm, I feel the King Wilkie album is far superior. I admit that I am on an island when it comes to the Avett Brothers new effort. Every magazine website and blog I have seen gushed with praise for Emotionalism. I seem to be the lone dissenter. However, I feel the Avett Brothers lost their edge on the album. The edgy Bluegrass they played became pop with no attitude on emotionalism. The album sounded like a knock off of early Beatles records. I expected them to break out in a "Love Me Do" cover at anytime.

How could the Avetts have expanded their music and made it work? Listen to King Wilkie's Low Country Suite and you have your answer. A likewise edgy bluegrass band, they went in some new direction without losing their identity. Somehow they have managed to cross the American songwriting landscape in a way that was honest but doesn't try to deny where they started. It is not an easy thing to do. But King Wilkie succeeded where the Avetts did not.

Click here to take a listen:
http://kingwilkie.com/flash/

Check out this YouTube clip of Wrecking Ball:

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Basement - Illicit Hugs and Playground Thugs

The Basement generated a lot of hype among the UK press before they released their first album. Early singles hinted at something special and they generated quite a following among fans. For some reason the buzz has been a little slower to build in the US, but they have released their first US CD on Zealous Records, Illicit Hugs and Playground Thugs. A recent article in No Depression should help also. The album is an instant classic mixing Americana influenced Roots Rock with British influenced Pop. The songs by the Irish born Liverpool based quartet are infectious. The album bridges a gap between their British and Irish upbringing and Americana Twang. It is evocative of the way Gram Parsons tried to fuse rock and country in his day. In fact you could alter Gram’s description of his own music slightly and call it “Cosmic British-American Music.”

The album starts out with the Alt-Country of “Do You Think Your Moving On.” Other songs like “Summertimes” have more of a Pop style. The Basement is influenced by Old 97s as can be heard on 2 tracks in particular, “When Tomorrow Comes” sounds like Satellite Rides Pop, while “Just a Dream” is redolent of earlier Old 97s. One of the band’s key attributes is the ability to sound upbeat even when using melancholy lyrics.

Check out some of their music:
http://www.zealousrecords.com/thebasementplayer/index.html

This review also appears on: http://twangville.com

Settin' the Woods on Fire- This Weeks Charts

This is a weekly feature in which I post on AWT the top albums and debuts in the airplay charts from Americana Music Assoc., XM Cross Country and FMQB Non-Commercial Adult Alternative chart. Links to all of these charts are found to the right in the AWT favorite links list.

Americana Music Association - Airplay Week of July 2nd
1) Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger
2) Kelly Willis - Translated from Love
3) Marty Stuart - Anthology of Duets
4) Jimmy Lafave - Cimmaron Manifesto
5) Adrienne Young - Room to Grow
6) Gurf Morlix - Diamonds to Dust
7) Sarah Borges and The Broken Singles - Diamonds in the Dark
8) Wilco - Sky Blue Sky
9) Son Volt - The Search
10) Elizabeth Cook - Balls
Debuts
20) Antsy McLain and The Trailer Park Troubadors - Trailercana
26) Gourds - Noble Creatures
31) Hackensaw Boys - Look out!
37) Steve Forbert - Strange Names and New Sensations
40) Nick Lowe - At My Age

XM Ch.12 Cross Country - Cross Checking week of July 2nd
1) Kendel Carson - Rearview Mirror Tears
2) Robbie Fulks - Revenge
3) Gurf Morlix - Diamond to Dust
4) Elizabeth Cook - Balls
5) Avett Brothers - Emotionalism
6) Dale Watson - From The Cradle To The Grave
7) Jimmy Lafave - Cimmaron Manifesto
8) Jed and Kelley - Song to Take Home
9) David Holt and The Lightning Bolts - Self-Titled
10) Todd Snider - Peace, Love and Anarchy
Debuts
47) Max Stalling - Topaz City
48) Jason Isbell - Sirens of the Ditch
49) Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger

FMQB AAA Non-Commercial - Airplay Week of July 2nd
1) WILCO - Sky Blue Sky
2) RYAN ADAMS - Easy Tiger
3) SPOON - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
4) PAUL MCCARTNEY - Memory Almost Full
5) SUZANNE VEGA - Beauty and Crime
6) WHITE STRIPES - Icky Thump
7) FEIST - The Reminder
8) R.THOMPSON - Sweet Warrior
9) TORI AMOS - American Doll Posse
10) Sarah Borges and The Broken Singles - Diamonds in the Dark
Debuts
NONE

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

AWT on Vacation


A little R&R with the Fam somewhere my cellphone won't even work. I'll be back on Monday. Happy 4th of July fellow Twangers.

Under The Radar: The Wells

When Tom at Twangville gave me The Wells Outcasts Will Make a Strong Nation cd for review, he told me I would like it because it reminded him of X and John Doe and he knows what a big fan I am. He was absolutely right. The harder songs especially have the stripped down punk with a little twang style of X. When using female backing vocals you can definitely visualize John Doe and Exene singing together. Other songs are more roots influenced but still have rock undertones. Lyrically, the album is full of dark and haunting folk tales of people gone astray not unlike characters that have haunted John Doe’s songs over the years.

The stories in the songs on Outcasts are literary in nature, which is not surprising since songwriter Robert Loss has an MFA in creative writing and teaches English in their home base of Columbus, OH, home to other alt-country acts like Two Cow Garage. Talk about anti-heroes, we have characters here that Cormac McCarthy would love to create. We have someone, who murders the Steinbeck folk hero Tom Joad for a loaf of bread and parlays it to a successful political career. We also find a nomadic loser sabotaging a Pentecostal tent revival to keep his girl from getting saved. Is nothing sacred? The answer is no. I hope these guys don’t stay under the radar for too long they deserve to be found. A lot of bands are jumping on the Americana band wagon these days but The Wells definitely deserve attention.

Check out their MySpace page:


This review was also posted on: http://twangville.com/

Monday, July 2, 2007

Kim Richey - Chinese Boxes

It has been almost five years since Kim Richey released a new album. Clocking in at 33 minutes, Chinese Boxes is worth the wait. The short length of the album is appropriate for the conceptual simplicity of the lyrics. The imagery Richey uses in her lyrics allow her to provide the listener a conceptual framework that doesn't require much narrative. On the title cut of the album she uses "Chinese Boxes" (empty boxes inside of bigger empty boxes) to signify a relationship with someone that seems to be enduring but is really not substantial. This type of imagery is used over and over again on the album often to poignantly describe relationships that aren't what they appear to be.
This lyrical minimalism doesn't apply to the instrumentation which is beautiful, textured and draws the listener to the word pictures she is framing. Richey wrote or co-wrote all the songs on the album, including "Drift" which she penned with Mindy Smith. The earlier songs on the album are slower in tempo setting the atmosphere, while the second half of the album picks up the tempo a bit. No matter the tempo of the song the results are the same. The album will be released July 10th by Vanguard. Don't miss it!
See the link be low to sample 2 songs off of the album.

Justin Trawick: Live 9:30 Club DC

My friend Tom, who runs AWT's favorite blog Twangville, which I write for under the name "CrackerSoul," turned me on to Justin Trawick. Tom and I went to see him at the 9:30 Club friday night, June 29th. It was a great show. The 9:30 Club is also a great venue. Trawick is a real up and comer who has already developed a loyal following in the DC area. Here is a link to the Twangville review and a link to video Tom shot during the show:

http://twangville.com/580/justin-trawick-rocks-the-930-club/