Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Blue Mountain Reunited and Reborn on New Album

2008 has seen some of the founding insurgents that have been credited for the Alt-Country movement have released albums this year. Names like the Old 97’s, Alejandro Escovedo, Gary Louris, Jason Ringenberg among others have proven that, in spite of rumors to the contrary, alt-country (or whatever you want to call it) is alive and well. You can now add a reunited Blue Mountain to that list. They have actually released two albums this year. Omnibus contains remakes of classic material. Midnight in Mississippi is an album of new work and the focus of this review. Folks Blue Mountain is back with a vengeance. The gang from Oxford, Mississippi has released an album that has a Southern Gothic masterpiece. Steeped in Southern Rock, Country and Hill Country Blues, the album like great Southern literature is at once dark and beautiful, a dichotomy which makes the album so compelling.

There are songs on the album that are mid-tempo Southern Rock. These songs, like “Groove Me,” “By Your Side” and “Gentle Soul,” provide an undercurrent from which other songs can spin off. “She’s a Wild One” is a story song set in Mexico. The title cut is a dirty blues influenced cut about a night that begins in Junior Kimbrough’s club and ends in violence in a cheap hotel. (Have you ever noticed how many country and blues songs involve cheap hotels?) The most fun song is the blues romp “Skinny Dipping” that closes the album. Blue Mountain was missed while they were gone and Midnight in Mississippi is a welcome return.

Listen on MySpace

This review also appears on Twangville

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Best of 2008 So Far

This is my Fourth list of the year. It is based on releases through August 19th. The Truckers are still #1 but almost got knocked off by The Hold Steady who debuted at #2. The other top debuts are Reckless Kelly at #5, Alejandro Escovedo at #7 and Chris Knight at #8. Anyway as always leave comments and tell me what an idiot or genius I am. I've been called a lot worse. The list follows:

1) Drive By Truckers - Brighter Than Creation's Dark
2) The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
3) Tift Merrit - Another Country
4) Hayes Carll - Trouble in Mind
5) Reckless Kelly - Bulletproof
6) Old 97's - Blame it on Gravity
7) Alejandro Escovedo - Real Animal
8) Chris Knight - Heart of Stone
9) My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges
10) The Waybacks - Loaded
11) Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
12) Shawn Mullins - Honeydew
13) The Whigs - Mission Control
14) Ashton Shepherd - Sounds so Good
15) Band of Heathens - Self-Titled
16) Drew Emmitt - Long Road
17) Infamous Stringdusters - Self-Titled
18) Wild Sweet Orange - We Have Cause to be Uneasy
19) Sonny Landreth - From the Reach
20) Justin Townes Earle - The Good Life
21) Griffin House - Flying Upside Down
22) The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely
23) The Steeldrivers - The Steeldrivers
24) John D. Hale - Lost
25) Jakob Dylan - Seeing This
26) John Mellencamp - Life, Death, Love and Freedom
27) Teddy Thompson - A Piece of What You Need
28) The Waifs - Sundirtwater
29) Donna The Buffalo - Silverlined
30) Gary Louris - Vagabonds
31) Heybale - The Last Country Album
32) Kathleen Edwards - Asking for Flowers
33) Sierra Hull - Secrets
34) South Austin Jug Band - Strange Invitation
35) Eleven Hundred Springs - Country Jam
36) Jim Lauderdale - Honey Songs
37) Dr. Dog - Fate
38) The Stills - Oceans Will Rise
39) Black Crowes - Warpaint
40) Beck - Modern Guilt
41) Del McCoury Band - Moneyland
42) Chatham County Line - IV
43) Abigail Washburn & the Sparrow Quartet - Self-Titled
44) Have Gun Will Travel - Casting Shadows Tall as Giants
45) Allison Moorer - Mockingbird
46) R.E.M. - Accelerate
47) Railroad Earth - Amen Corner
48) Widespread Panic - Free Somehow
49) John Hiatt - Same Old Man
50) Stephen Malkmus - Real Emotional Trash
51) The Avett Brothers - Gleam II
52) Rhonda Vincent - Good Thing Goin'
53) Ben Sollee - Learning to Bend
54) Willie Nelson & Wynton Marsalis - Two Men with the Blues
55) Ralston Bowles - Rally at the Texas Hotel
56) Paul Thorn - Long Way from Tupelo
58) George Strait - Troubadour
59) American Gun - The Mean and the Machine
60) Twilight Hotel - Highway Prayer

Honorable Mention: Whisky Myers, The Weepies, Shelby Lynn, Wes Charlton, Jeb Loy Nicholls, Mando Saenz, North Mississippi All-Stars, Tim O'Brien, Black Mountain, Carlene Carter, James McMurtry, Willie Nelson, Jackie Greene, Langhorne Slim, The Hollyfelds, Malcolm Holcombe, Jason Collett, Firewater, Tab Benoit, Marah

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The EPicecenter of obscurity

Recently I have come across some EPs and MySpace pages that intrigued me. Take listen and who knows, you may be able to say I heard them when.

Chris Milam - Tin Angel: This one blew me away from the first note Power Pop with a twist. He mixes in horns on a couple of tunes that give a feel of Memphis Soul or even big band. However make no mistake he is a mature songwriter as the title cut showcases. Get past the fact that he looks 14. Listen to Only One

Jeff Michael - "The Other Side": Produced by David Cobb (Shooter Jennings), this SoCal Songwriter crosses country and mid-tempo rock. Think Tom Petty, Shawn Mullins or Pete Droge. MySpace or His Website

Town & Country - My Blue Heaven: Jangly guitars with good hooks and a tough of The Byrds. The collaboration of a Math Prof. (Arnie Kim, a graphic designer (Scott Gagner) and a writer (Dan Weir). Should such educated people write the following lyric? "First you suck then you lie. If there is a hell I think you qualify" MySpace

Treva Blomquist - As it Should Be: She gained a reputation in several songwriting competitions. She is not just a writer though. She is a singer with a capitol "S." It is only a matter of time until she is on a major label. Website

John Wyatt - Godshock - John is friend of mine who, after enduring some personal pain recently, picked his guitar back up after years of neglect and found it full of songs. He is working on a project titled Godshock. On MySpace MySpace John has some rough cuts of a few of these songs he has written. Listen to Baby Gone

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Lucinda Williams New Album and Mood Change

I've written before on AWT that I was no fan of Lucinda's previous release West. The whole girl gets done wrong by a loser then gets dark and dreary act was old on on the album. There were few great songs on the album but what worked on World Without Tears slid into a disturbing creepiness on West. I say all of this because Williams is absolutely one of my favorite artists. I am not one of these people wanting Carwheels II. I like her eclecticism. I just want her to do what she does best by mixing styles and moods.

Based on a review I stmbled upon on, I may get my wish. Her new album, which will be titled Little Honey, is coming out in October. Here is an excerpt from the review and interview done by >MusicRemedy

Lucinda Williams has always been adept at painting landscapes of the soul, illuminating the spirit’s shadowy nooks and shimmering crannies -- but she’s never captured the sun breaking through the clouds as purely as on her new Lost Highway release, Little Honey. “I’m in a different phase of my life, so there are more happy moments on this album,” the singer-songwriter says of her ninth studio set...Williams wastes no time signaling that mood change, leading into Little Honey's opener, “Real Love” with a false start riff that's the six-string equivalent of a friendly wink – then sidling into the tune's hard-rocking vibe with a sensual slink that underscores the passion of finding exactly what that title indicates. The bluesy physicality of that tune is echoed in several of Little Honey's tracks

Bring it on! I can't wait.

Here is live video of her doing the first song off the ne album Real Love (Warning the Audio is poor):