Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dolly Parton and Tift Merritt Full Album Streams

The folks at Spinner have

Full Album Streams of the new Dolly Parton and Tift Merritt Albums. Check them out.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What is your favorite Wilco album?

My friend Ben pointed this out to me from the Washington Post This guy ranks Wilco albums in the aftermath of their week long Chicag0 gig in which they played their entire catalogue. (I wish I had been there.) The author is a "New School" Wilco fan who downplays their alt-country side, which also makes him a tool in my opinion. You can identify these folks because they are the ones who derided Sky Blue Sky as if the Americana influence was some new direction. Well here is my ranking. I would like to see yours. It is really hard to do because all Wilco albums are great to me, but here goes:

1) Being There
2) Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
3) Sky Blue Sky
4) Summerteeth
5) A Ghost is Born
6) A.M.

It might seem hypocritical to rank A.M. last but to be fair it has a few weak tracks while the others don't. Now let me see your list.

American Gun - The Means and the Machine

As many of you know I also write for Twangville. Todd Mathis is a fellow Twangville contributor and front man of the up and coming alt-country band American Gun, along with friend and fellow songwriter Donald Merckle. They recently released The Means and the Machine and it is an album with hooks that will grab you right away. However, for those that demands instant credibility, American Gun Delivers it. The album was mixed by Chris Stamey, (The DBs, Whiskeytown, Caitlin Cary, Alejandro Escovedo, Yo La Tengo, Tift Merritt)and Al Perkins (Flying Burrito Brothers)provides pedal steel. The album is full of great hooks and melody. As compared to their previous release Dark Southern Hearts, the new effort shares stylistic similarities; but it is a bit more fine tuned with harmony vocals, keyboards and of course Al Perkins on Pedal Steel. According to Todd these refinements were largely the suggestion of Stamey.

The songs on the album are a fun listen. On the song "Drunk Girls" they describe how the social division of every bar in America is determined by different types of drunk girls and where they stand. It is a true and hilarious observation of the co-ed sport of drinking. They, also show us their theological side on the song "Jesus Gave Us Rock and Roll." This is a song to which all the people can say Amen. "Girl Done Gone" is a dark tale that would make Patterson Hood proud. Hooking up with Stamey was a really great idea for American Gun. He expands their sound and they will likely expand their audience.

Sample songs on their website.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Alt-Country in 1 Minute

This is on the DL on Spinner

It is a one minute history of Alt-Country it is really good and pretty humorous.

Check it out on Spinner

The Story of another Country

Tift Merritt's new album Another Country is aptly named because she literally went to France and rented a flat to write the songs for this album. My impression is that this will be her best album yet.

Listen to the story of Another Country

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

No Depression - RIP Old Friend

No Depression Ceasing Publication

This is sad, shocking and I can't believe it as I write it; but No Depression will be ceasing operations after the May/June issue. They will still have a presence online but it will in no way replace the definitive Americana magazine. The Americana bible as far as I am concerned. The term Alt-Country was invented, defined and re-defined by Grant Alden and Peter Blackstock. I first started reading ND in 1996 when my friend David Deter introduced me to it. I bet I can count on one hand the number of issues I have missed in the last 12 years. In fact I am such a geek I still have the majority of the issues I bought. I can't bring myself to throw them away. The magazine covered the gamut from Roots Rock and Twang infused Alternative music to Traditional Americana, Country and Bluegrass. They also have increasingly spread their wings by including a diverse array of alternative bands that showed originality and creativity in their songwriting.

Moreover, No Depression was one of the last bastions of excellence in music journalism. While most music publications have eschewed excellense in writing, ND celebrated it with in depth and well written feature articles. In an era where two paragraphs can now constitute a feature story in some magazines, ND enlisted great writers to employ well crafted prose to draw you even closer to the artists they covered. I will never forget the issue where one of my favorite authors, Silas House, wrote an article on Lucinda Williams that was as enjoyable to read as it was informative.

The accountant side of me understands the economic realities that have led them to this decision. The music fan side of me laments the fact that the magazine, which resisted the influence of the rapidly shortenning attention span of our culture, will no longer be with us. No Depression you will be greatly missed.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Gary Louris releasing 2-19

Vagabonds the new album from former Jayhawks frontman Gary Louris is out on Tuesday. I have a feeling this is going to give the Truckers a run for the money at the top of my first list which I wil post in a couple of Weeks.


Other releases of note on 2-19

Jim Lauderdale - Honeysongs
Allison Moorer - Mockingbird
Ray Davies - Working Man's Cafe
Mountain Goats - Heretic Pride

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentines Day: Business Time

For those of you who took the advice below. You know what time it is?

It's Business Time!!!!

Valentines Day the Foreplay

I hope you guys had the sense to play the new Shelby Lynne CD to your Valentine. If that doesn't get you action, then you are either hopeless or in trouble. This album of Dusty Springfield covers combined with Lynne's sultry voice was sure to have been a winning combination. But if you didn't think of it I hope you enjoyed your KFC takeout and ESPN.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Under the Radar: Death to Anders & The Hollyfelds

I’ve recently received Submissions from a couple of upstart bands I think are worth a look. They are Death to Anders and The Hollyfelds.

Death to Anders has just released a new album Fictitious Business. Their sound has it’s basis in the L.A. Indie Rock scene but it is also heavily influenced early 90’s Sonic Youth. They have a certain atmosphere and distortion layered around their melodies. The sound strikes a nice balance between Indie Pop tunesmanship and atmosphere.

Stream their music

The Hollyfelds have released their album Saratoga. On their website the band self describes their sound as “a country sound...a neo-traditional country sound (tempered with a hefty dose of folk and Americana and just a touch of bluegrass, all anchored by solid pop hooks).” Well that just about sums it up. Except it fails to mention thet the best thing about the group is the beatific harmony vocals of their dual lead singers, Eryn Hoerig and Kate Grigsby. Further the album was produced by Ric Hordinski (Over the Rhine, Robbie Fulks and David Wilcox.)

Stream on their website.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

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

This is a bi-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 og January 28th
1) Levon Helm - Dirt Farmer
2) Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Raising Sand
3) Tift Merrit - Another Country
4) Steve Earle - Washington Square Serenade
5) Willie Nelson - Moment of Forever
6) Ryan Bingham - Mescalito
7) Jesse Dayton & Brennen Leigh - Holdin' Our Own...
8) Mando Saenz - Bucket
9) Drive-By-Truckers - Brighter Than Creation's Dark
10) Will Hoge - Draw the Curtains


23) Paul Thorn - A Long Way From Tupelo
26) Malcolm Holcombe - Gamblin' House
31) Amanda Shaw - Pretty Runs Out
33) Allison Moorer - Mockingbird
34) Blind Boys of Alabama - Down in New Orleans

XM Ch.12 Cross Country - Cross Checking week of Jan. 28th
1) Ryan Bingham - Mescalito
2) The Bridge - Th Bridge
3) Levon Helm - Dirt Farmer
4) Bleu Edmondson - Lost Boy
5) The Sadies - New Seasons
6) Miles from Nowhere - Bloodlines
7) Blue Rodeo - Small Miracles
8) Will Hoge - Draw the curtains
9) Cross Canadian Ragweed - Mission California
10) The Deep Dark Woods - Hang Me Oh Hang Me

47) Drive By Truckers - Brighter that Creation's Dark

FMQB AAA Non-Commercial - Airplay Week of Jan. 28th
1) Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Raising Sand
2) Cat Power - Jukebox
3) Nada Surf - Lucky
4) Radiohead - In Rainbows
5) Jack Johnson - Sleep Through the Static
6) Tift Merrit - Another Country
7) Bruce Springsteen - Magic
8) Sharon Jones - 100 Days
9) Eric Lindell - Low on Cash...
10) KT Tunstall - Drastic Fantastic

27) Nicole Atkins - Neptune City
28) Richard Julian - Sunday Morning in Saturday's Shoes
29) Moe - Sticks and Stones
30) Ray Davies - Working Man's Cafe

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Willie Nelson - Moment of Forever

I have to admit I didn't want to like this album. I was not at all happy with the fact that Kenny Chesney was producing the album. Preconceptions are often wrong. That is a lesson I have learned in my life, and this is one example of that lesson. This is definitely one to have for all Willie fans. What makes this album good is the man himself; in spite of Chesney and not because of him. By this I am referring to the overproduction this album suffers from on a few songs. In particular the opening song "Over You Again." Some other Twang bloggers like Twang Nation and the 9513 have speculated this song sounds like they were trying, unsuccessfully, to go for a Daniel Lanois sound. Well Mr. Chesney I have heard Daniel Lanois and you are no Daniel Lanois. For proof if this break out Teatro and listen to what Lanois accomplished with Willie and compare the two. One more criticism before I get to praise. The choice of the Big Kenny penned "The Bob Song" was terrible and the production was pretty cheesy too.

This album has far more high points though. The understated title cut written by Kris Kristofferson is stripped down and powerful. The Dave Matthews song "Gravedigger" is an innovative arrangement. To be fair, Chesney deserves a lot of credit for that. "Worry B Gone" is a Guy Clark song that makes for a good duet with Willie and Chesney. Although the Clark version only says a "puff of that Worry B Gone," the duet version has Willie puffing and Chesney sipping. I guess Chesney's soccer mom fans can't handle the fact he might have inhaled. If the witty "You Don't Think I'm Funny Anymore" doesn't make you laugh then you have no sense of humor, especially if you are male and married. The album ends on a powerful and transcendant note with a rendition of Dylan's "You Gotta Serve Somebody." So while this album has its flaws, it is still a Willie Nelson album, and in the end that is all that matters.

Willie sings Moment of Forever

This review also appears on Twangville