Saturday, September 29, 2007

Mary Gauthier - Between Daylight and Dark

When you think of the great storyteller songwriters certain names come to mind. Names like, Guy Clark, Joe Ely, Robert Earl Keen, Townes Van Zandt, Kris Kristofferson, Jerry Jeff Walker and Chris Knight just to name a few. These people have one thing in common. They are all men. I have news for these gentlemen. The doors to the "old boys club" have been busted down and Mary Gauthier has just ordered a round for the house.

The best story songs, though often tragic, can be redemptive and healing to the listeners as they get lost in the narrative of the song. While the listeners may not directly relate to the extremity of the situations in which the characters on Between Daylight and Dark exist, they can still find plenty of common ground among less extreme but common circumstances in their own life. Sadness and tough circumstances come into contact with everyone at some point. Some people have more than their fair share of heartache.

The brokenness that scatters the landscape of this album is offset by characters who maintain some form dignity in their circumstances. Out of their sadness hope begins to grow. For example, "Last of the Hobo Kings" sings of the life of a man who was part of the train hopping sub-culture that no longer exists. Gauthier seems to suggest that the end of the Hobo era points to a greater loss of spirit and adventure in our country. She points to the wisdom that the hobo gained in his travels by saying he "knew how his nation was doing by the size of a sidewalk cigarette butt." "Thanksgiving" follows a grandmother taking her grandchild to see her father in prison on Thanksgiving. Growth is seen in "I Ain't Leavin." In this song the main character decides to stay and fight for a relationship when previously she would run away. "Broken on the inside is what I used to say. Then I'd pack my bags raise a white flag and drive away. I thought that's what made me strong, but I was young and I was wrong."

Every song on this Lost Highway release has similar impact. She wrote or co-wrote all the songs on the album. My favorite collaboration on the album is "Snakebit," which she co-wrote with Hayes Carll. Joe Henry produced the album and kept things simple and understated in a way that lets Gauthier shine in a way that makes this the best release of her career.

Listen to the Full Album Stream

This review also appears on: Twangville

Monday, September 24, 2007

Friday, September 21, 2007

Releases September 25th

There are a number of good releases slated for Sept. 25th but here are a just a few I am most excited about:

Bettye LaVette with Drive-By-Truckers - Scene of the Crime. Recorded at the vaunted Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The combination of Lavette's soul and the Truckers' grit is a recipe for success.
Click to Hear Samples

Billy Joe Shaver - Everybody's Brother. This album was produced by John Carter Cash. From the samples I have heard, he did a nice job of adding production value without taking away Shaver's live feel.

Video of "Get Thee Behind Me Satan" with John Anderson:

Iron & Wine - The Shepherds Dog. Judging by the first single, "Boy with a Coin," Sam Beam is at again with his atmospheric folk music and transcendent lyrics.
Stream at Sub-Pop

Pieta Brown - Remember the Sun. Read my previous review to see what i thought of this mesmerizing release by the daughter of Greg Brown.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Under the Radar: Oakley Hall & Alberta Cross

There are a couple of recent releases by Indie rock bands that have a significant Americana Alt-country influence. I am referring to Oakley Hall’s I’ll Follow You on Merge records and Alberta Cross' The Thief and the Heartbreaker a seven song EP on Geffen records.

Oakley Hall was formed in 2002 by Pat Sullivan, who plays guitar and sings vocals. After going through a few lineup changes, the Brooklyn based band has settled on a combination that gives them a very tight electrical sound with heavy fiddle in the mix. Female vocalist Rachel Cox completes the lineup. The vocal interplay between Sullivan and Cox is reminiscent of John Doe and Exene Cervenka of X. The songs range from Countrified Indie Rock like, “Rue the Blue”, the psychedelic influenced title cut “I’ll Follow You,” and even the chamber pop intro of “First Frist.” While the album shows the alt-country influences of Son Volt, Old 97’s and others; Oakley Hall has their own formula that really works. Fresh off a tour with Bright Eyes, Oakley Hall may not be under the radar too much longer.
Stream the Album

London based Alberta Cross is the brainchild of songwriters Peter Ericson Stakee and Terry Wolfers. The EP The thief and the Heartbreaker was released on september 11th. They have a clear Americana influence. Influences of Blues, Folk, Gospel and Country abound. However, they mis these influences with atmospherics not unlike the Shins or the Decemberists. The result is something that sounds very original and will almost certainly lead to bigger and better things.

Check them out on myspace:

Check out the video to "Hard Breaks"

Thursday, September 13, 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 Sept. 3rd
1) Subdudes - Street Symphony
2) Kelly Willis - Translated from Love
3) Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger
4) Lyle Lovet and His Large Band - It's Not Big It's Large
5) Doug Spartz - The One Who's Leaving
6) Gourds - Noble Creatures
7) Kane Welch Kaplin - Kane Welch Kaplin
8) Walt Wilkins and the Mystiqueros - Diamonds in the Sun
9) Lori McKenna - Unglamorous
10) Terri Hendrix - The Spiritual Kind

11) Steve Earle - Washington Square Serenade
34) Jason Eady - Wild Eyed Serenade

XM Ch.12 Cross Country - Cross Checking week of Sept. 3rd
1) The Gourds - Noble Creatures
2) Kelly Willis - Translated from Love
3) Jason Isbell - Sirens of the Ditch
4) Blackie & the Rodeo Kings - Let's frolic
5) Kevin Deal - Roll
6) Various Artists - Wounded Heart of America Songs of Tom Russell
7) Walt Wilkins and the Mystiqueros - Diamonds in the Sun
8) Richard Thompson - Sweet Warior
9) Terri Hendrix - The Spiritual Kind
10) Subdudes - Street Symphony


FMQB AAA Non-Commercial - Airplay Week of Sept. 3rd
1) Ben Harper - Lifetime
2) Josh Ritter - The Historical Conquest
3) Subdudes - Street Symphony
4) Rilo Kiley - Under the Blacklight
5) SPOON - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
6) RYAN ADAMS - Easy Tiger
7) Over the Rhine - Trumpet Child
8) New Pornographers - Challengers
9) Lyle Lovet and His Large Band - It's Not Big It's Large
10) Toots and the Maytals - Light Your Light

11) Steve Earle - Washington Square Serenade
25) Mark Knopfler - Kill to Get Blood

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Twang Nation exposes Big Label Fraud

Twang Nation has posted a link to a Wall Street Journal article that exposes a major label scam that makes music pirates look like saints. They tried to create buz about one of their signed artist artists bypassing him off as an unsigned artist on YouTube. Are the big labels so hard up for record sales. Apparently they are. Well in my opinion the major labels made thir bed and now they need to sleep in it. In this case it is Hollywod records owned by none other than Disney. I am so glad they got exposed.

See the story from WSJ online video:

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Teddy Thompson - Up Front and Down Low

Teddy Thompson's new album Up Front & Down Low is a self-produced collection of classic country covers released by Verve Records. Thompson is a folk singer by trade and birthright. He is the son of legends Richard and Linda Thompson. Teddy says his parents raised him on country music. He says, "it's the music that is closest to my heart." Even in these genre bending days, country cover albums can often go awry even turning into parody. But Thompson's love of country music is apparent. He respects the songs as he interprets them. He uses string arrangements on most of the songs that add a richness to the traditional tunes. He doesn't simply re-record the songs and he also doesn't throw tradition away in his revisions. These are all versions the original creators would approve.

He does songs like George Jones' "She thinks I Still Care," Ernest Tubb's "Walking the Floor Over You," Merle Haggard's "(My Friends are Gonna be) Strangers" and a Lesser known Dolly Parton song "My Blue Tears." He also has one original tune "Down Low." Guests on the album include Greg Leisz on Pedal Steel and Dobro. Guest vocals include Iris Dement, Tift Merrit and Jenni Muldaur. Thompson is a crooner who can sing with Nashville's best and the musicianship and arrangement of the album are superb. If you love the classic Country Country this is one to own. If you don't then by this album and you will learn to love it.

Listen to Teddy sing George Jones:

Check out his interview on CMT:

This review also posted on:

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Highlights of Upcoming Releases

Sept. 11th :

Joe Henry - Civilians

Supposedly more stripped down than his previous efforts this album I am hearing is an instant classic. Scott Register of Reg's Coffeehouse and the Coalitoin of Indepndent Music Stores says it is incredible and played great song off of it this morning on his show.

Oakley Hall - I Will Follow You

One of my favorite releases back in early 2006 was their album Second Guessing. This is their debut on Merge Records. It was produced by Peter Katis (The National, Interpol). Stream it on the Merge records site.

Sept. 18th
Mary Gauthier - Between Daylight and Dark

Gauthier just keeps getting better I am sure this one will not disappoint.

Jim Lauderdale - Bluegrass Diaries

Supposedly Lauderdale is going to release 3 albums in the next year. This is the first of the three. It was debuted on XM14 Bluegrass Junction to rave reviews. 2008 already looks like a good year.

Stream blue Mule Below:

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Peter Case: I wish I was there

I have received 2 Voice Mails in the last week from friends going to the Peter Case show at The Nick, which is going on as I write. Too bad I am out of town. Have a good time gang. Sorry I couldn't join you. Bummer!!!

Best of 2007 a Video Companaion

Here is some video to go along with some newer entries into my Best of 2007 List:

First is a promotional video for giant Bear:

Here is some video of Grace Potter from LA. Tom over at Twangville is responsible for turning me on to her:

Eilen Jewell live at the Lizard Lounge:

The Derailers doing Buck Owens:

Brandi Carlile Video of "The Story:"

Okervil River on Conan:

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Best of 2007

This is My updated Best of 2007. Wilco is still #1. The highest debuts are Peter Case at #14, Giant Bear at #23 and Josh Rouse at #24. I expanded the list to 50 this time but it will get no longer for the rest of the year. Things are going to have to start coming off with any further additions. Also, as usual, I did some rearranging based on further reflection. I finally got the Brandi Carlile album so it is a late entry to the list at #40. However, even in a year full of great releases by female singer songwriters it deserved a spot. Lyle Lovett released this week. However, I have only listened to part of the album so it will wait until next month. Enjoy the list and feel free to tell me how you agree or disagree. Also, make no hesitation to trash me or my intelligence in any way you see fit. I'm used to it.

1) Wilco - "Sky Blue Sky"
2) Patty Griffin - "Children Running Through"
3) White Stripes - "Icky Thump"
4) Kelly Willis - "Translated From Love"
5) Wrinkle Neck Mules - "Wicks Have Met"
6) Jason Isbell - "Sirens of the Ditch"
7) Assembly of Dust - "Recollection"
8) Kane, Welch, Kaplin - Kane Welch Kaplin
9) Hackensaw Boys - "Look Out"
10) The Shins - "Wincing the Night Away"
11) Ryan Adams - "Easy Tiger"
12) John Doe - "A year in the Wilderness"
13) Son Volt - "The Search"
14) Peter Case - "Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John"
15) The Broken West - "I Can't Go on I'll Go on"
16) Elliot Randall - "Take the Fall"
17) The Basement - "Illicit Hugs and Playground Thugs"
18) Paul McCartney - " Memory Almost Full"
19) Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles - "Diamonds in the Dark"
20) Kim Richey - "Chinese Boxes"
21) King Wilkie - "Low Country Suite"
22) Modest Mouse - "We Were Dead Before he Ship Ever Sank"
23) Giant Bear - "Giant Bear"
24) Josh Rouse - "Country Mouse, City house"
25) Feist - "The Reminder"
26) Olav Larsen and the Alabama Rodeo Stars - "Loves' Com to Town"
27) Elizabeth Cook - "Balls"
28) Grace Potter and the Nocturnals - "This is Somewhere"
29) Willy Mason - "If the Ocean Gets Rough"
30) Dale Watson - "From the Cradle to the Grave"
31) Spoon - "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga"
32) The Gourds - "Noble Creatures"
33) The National - "Boxer"
34) Charlie Louvin - "Charlie Louvin"
35) Infamous Stringdusters - "Fork in the Road"
36) Nathan - "Key Principles"
37) Adam Hood - "Different Groove"
38) Steep Canyon Rangers - "Lovin' Pretty Women"
39) Rocky Votolato - "The Brag and Cuss"
40) Brandi Carlile - "The Story"
41) Eilen Jewell - "Letters from Sinners and Strangers"
42) Pela - "Anytown Graffiti"
43) Joe Ely - "Happy Song from Rattlesnake Gulch"
44) Cadillac Sky - "Blind Man Walking"
45) Martin Sexton - "Seeds"
46) The Derailers - "Under the Influence of Buck"
47) Piets Brown - "Remember the Sun
48) Two Cow Garage - "Three"
49) Okervil River - "The Stage Names"
50) Hoots & Hellmouth- "Hoots & Hellmouth"