Monday, January 28, 2008

Hidden Gems Part 2 - Jewly Hight

Previously I identified Twilight Hotel as a gem that could be easily missed in the plethora of releases on July 29th. The other one is Jewly Hight - Darlin' Understand. Hight is a music critic who is releasing her first album. In fact, you have probably read her in No Depression. Well, she needs to consider putting down the pen and picking up the microphone full time. She is a talented songwriter. Additionally, the arrangements and influences she includes in her compositions allow her to stand out in the crowded female singer-songwriter marketplace. Lyrically you would expect a writer who lists Flannery O'Connor as one of her biggest influences to deliver, and she does. The songs range from Blues to Gospel to country to rock all wrapped in a sort of Southern Gothic package. Some songs like "White Knuckles" are more ethereal others like the Gospel of "Answer" are more upbeat. The Rock numbers range from the guitar heavy "Wheels Come Off" to the Southern Soul of "Poke Salad." Her voice, which sounds similar to Rosanne Cash, allows her to pull off all of these style changes without a hitch.

If you are not convinced yet, check her out on MySpace

This review also appears on Twanville

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hidden Gem Part 1 - Twilight Hotel

As I've already mentioned Tuesday is going to be a big day for new releases. Because of this fact, a couple of Gems releasing on 1-29 that could easily get lost in the Hoopla. Twilight Hotel Highway Prayer is the first one I would like to point out. This Winnipeg based male-female duo enlisted fellow Canadian Colin Linden to produce the album, However, the project was recorded in Nashville with a stellar group of musicians. The band's version of Americana can be a little dark, but Linden did an excellent job of producing the album and it is certainly no downer. For example the Rockabilly influenced opener "Viva La Vinyl" Kick things out of the chute. Overall though, the album is typified by a mellow and contemplative brand of Folk and Americana.

"Viva La Vinyl"

This review is also posted on Twangville

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

1-29 Addendum Oop!! I missed one!!!

A shout out to my buddy Large Benjamin who informed me of this new release that is garnering a lot of buzz. VW's sound is infectious this should be good release.

Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend

Monday, January 21, 2008

1-29 Releases

January 29th appears to be the first big day of the year for new releases. There is a lot coming out that day but I thought I would highlight a few of the releases.

Shelby Lynne - Just a Little Lovin' Shelby doing a Dusty Springfield tribute Need I say more.

Willie Nelson - Moment of Forever Okay this album was produced by Kenny Chesney which makes me skeptical but the first single "Gravedigger" is excellent and it is on Lost Highway. Not to mention it is Willie so I bet it is good.

Listen to "Gravedigger"

Malcolm Holcombe - Gamblin' House "Rich in idiosyncratic epigrams with echoes ranging from Guy Clark to Bob Dylan, Holcombe (with "Jelly Roll" Johnson's ever-ready harmonica adding emphasis) delivers elusive tales of a life that may not have always been wisely lived, but was always worth writing about." Billboard Magazine

Sample it on his website

Dailey & Vincent Dailey & Vincent - One of the most highly anticipated Bluegrass debuts in recent memory. Dailey is along time member of Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver. Vincent has been playing with Ricky Skaggs for 10 years.

Sample at Rounder records

Joe Jackson - Rain Heard a cut off this one on Reg's Coffeehouse sounds like it will be a good one. Welcome back Joe.

Blind Boys of Alabama - Down in New Orleans After forming over 50 years as kids in a deaf school in Alabama, The Boys have garnered 4 Grammys in four years and recorded with a lot of different artists like Ben Harper. This records takes them quite obviously to the crescent city where they team up with Allen Toussaint, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the Hot 8 Brass Band.

There are also a couple of releases from artists you might not have heard before:

First is:

Twighlight Hotel - Highway Prayer This band out of Canada plays a brand of roots music that is sometimes haunting but always steeped in the traditions of American music. I encourage you to check these guys out. I will do a full review in a few days.

Jewly Hight- "Darlin' Unerstand" This album Counry, Soulful and altogether Suthern. As a lyricist she is as inflnced more by Flannery O'Connor than any musician. She is a music jornalist but is also a talented musician. The album is self-released. I will also do a full review of this one in a few days.

Check her out on MySpace

Wednesday, January 16, 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. These are the first charts I am posting for 2008.

Americana Music Association - Airplay Week og January 7th
1) Steve Earle - Washington Square Serenade
2) Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Raising Sand
3) Levon Helm - Dirt Farmer
4) John Fogerty - Revival
5) Ryan Bingham - Mescalito
6) Shooter Jennings - The Wolf
7) Dwight Yoakam - Dwight Sings Buck
8) Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez - Live from Ruhr Triennale
9) Gougers - A long Day for the Weathervane
10) Various - Goin' Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino

33) Tift Merrit - Another Country
37) Sara Cox - Crowded is the New Lonely

XM Ch.12 Cross Country - Cross Checking week of Jan. 7th
1) Ryan Bingham - Mescalito
2) Levon Helm - Dirt Farmer
3) Bleu Edmondson - Lost Boy
4) The Bridge - Th Bridge
5) Miles from Nowhere - Bloodlines
6) Dwight Yoakam - Dwight Sings Buck
7) Shooter Jennings - The Wolf
8) Deadstring Brothers - Silver Mountain
9) Cross Canadian Ragweed - Mission California
10) Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez - Live from Ruhr Triennale

47) Red Stick Ramblers - Made in the Shade
48) Steeldrivers - Self-Titled
49) Marah - Angels of Destruction

FMQB AAA Non-Commercial - Airplay Week of Dec. 31st
1) Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Raising Sand
2) Bruce Springsteen - Magic
3) Iron & Wine - The Shepherds' Dog
4) Radiohead - In Rainbows
5) Neil Young - Chrom Dreams II
6) KT Tunstall - Drastic Fantastic
7) Steve Earle - Washington Square Serenade
8) Eddie Vedder - Into the Wild
9) Spoon - GaGaGaGaGa
10) Levon Helm - Dirt Farmer

18) Jack Johnson - Sleep Through the Static
22) Sheryl Crow - Detours
24) Keller Williams - 12

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Drive-By-Truckers: Brighter than Creation's Dark

When a band has a shakeup in its' lineup critics will often look skeptically at their follow up album. But when the follow up is an epic 70 minute 19 song project, even a reasonable critic has to wonder if they can pull it off. Fortunately for us the Truckers not only pull it off, but they deliver an instant classic. In fact, front man Patterson Hood feels that Brighter than Creation's Dark is their best work. It is hard to argue with him, although I personally love the Truckers music to a degree that makes it hard for me to single out one album as their best.

The loss of Jason Isbell was significant but Hood and Mike Cooley had a recipe for success. Take away one electric guitar (Isbell) but add Pedal Steel (John Neff) and one legendary keyboardist (Spooner Oldham) along with a female voice (Isbell's ex Shonna Tucker). The resulting entree' these ingredients make could make Martha Stewart proud. However, Martha would need to get liquored up and go back to prison in order to truly appreciate this meal.

The album is full of all of the things that make the Truckers great. It is reminiscent in some ways of Southern Rock Opera. Patterson Hood can still tell the story of the struggling Southern working man like no one else. His stories are also able to resonate with everyone trying to navigate their way through this life. Take "Righteous Path" as an example. On this song Hood sings, "I don't know God but I fear his wrath. I'm just trying to stay on the righteous path."

Mike Cooley can still deliver tales of excess and debauchery with the best of them. "Three Dimes Down" and the hilarious country song "Lisa's Birthday" are the best examples of this. But on this album Cooley's lyrics have more depth and self-reflection than ever. On "Perfect Timing" Cooley says "I used to hate the fool in me but only in the morning. Now I tolerate him all day long."

Shonna Tucker contributes and sings three songs on the album. Her voice is good and has a touch of a rough soulful quality that fits nicely on the album. You can especially hear the soulful edge on "Home Field Advantage."

Patterson Hood's song "man I Shot" is a song about a soldier in Iraq that I think anyone can appreciate. Much like Jason Isbell's "Dress Blues" the tragedy of war is shown in a way that is moving no matter your political affiliation. Also true to form for the Truckers, drug addiction in rural America is discussed in a few songs like "You and your Crystal Meth." Indeed the Truckers have mixed what has always made them great with some new twists that show they are going to continue to be great for some time to come.

Check out a few of their new songs on the DBT MySpace Page

This review also appears on Twangville

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Bluegrass Mecca in the OC

The organic and social nature of Bluegrass is one of the main attractions of the genre. As a culture we are losing our sense of community and our pace of life seems to be ever accelerating. That is why this "Hillbilly Music" is now attracting such disparate participants. There are few better ways to find connection than "roots" music.

Consider this quote from the Orange County Register:

"But those looking to gawk at hillbillies wearing straw hats, sporting gap-toothed grins and playing washboards should look elsewhere.

'We are not one-shoulder strapped overalls, minus teeth and no education. … We don't go around making the pigs squeal,' says Spiegel, a Southern California fiddle champion.

A 'good 70 percent' of the people who play bluegrass music have college degrees, says Spiegel, a fiddle teacher who's counted doctors, lawyers and scientists among her students."

Read the Full Article online:
Bluegrass Mecca in an Archery Range

Sunday, January 6, 2008

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

The Overall Charts for 2007. Links to all of these charts are found to the right in the AWT favorite links list. Expanded lists are available there

Americana Music Association - Top 10 of 2007
1) Lucinda William - West
2) Ryan Adams Easy Tiger
3) Kelly Willis - Translated from Love
4) Son Volt - The Search
5) Patty Griffin - Children Running Through
6) Marty Stuart - Compadres
7) Jay Boy Adams - The Shoe Box
8) Joe Ely - Happy Songs from Rattlesnake Gulch
9) Various Artists - Endless Highway: Music of the Band
10) Greencards - Viridian

XM Ch.12 Cross Country - Cross Checking Top 10 of 2007
1) John Fogerty - Revival
2) Lucinda Williams - West
3) Kelly Willis - Translated Fom L:ove
4) Jay Boy Adams - The Show Box
5) Blackie and the Rodeo Kings - Let's Frolic
6) Bill Kirchen - Hammer of the Honky Tonk Gods
7) Son Volt - The Search
8) Southern Culture on the Skids - Countrypolitan
9) Jason Isbell - Sirens of the Ditch
10) Kendel Carson - Rearview Mirror Tears

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New Year Releases

The New Year releases will get kicked off a little slowly but there are several that have cought my eye. So since Dick Clark rang in the year in all of his Nipped, Tucked and Botox glory you can focus on some early year releases. By the way he co-hosting this year with Ryan Seacrest. So your Rockin' Eve was hosted by the ageless one and the classless one. As for me, I watched Superbad instead and ignored the whole damn embarassing spectacle. Back from my Digression let us talk about new music.


Marah - Angels of Destruction! Does anyone rock with more passion than the kids from Philly?
Check out a couple of new Tunes on MySpace

Rhonda Vincent - Good Thing Going Supposedly more country and less traditional it will be interesting to here this one.

Sample at Ronder


Drive-By-Truckers - Brighter than Creation's Dark - More on this later. I will be posting a review thia weekend. However, it is yet another great one from the Truckers.

The Preview on myspace

Norh Mississippi Allstars - Hernando I'm fired up for this one. The Allstars and the Truckers on th same day! It needs to be declared a national holiday.

Sample tracks Here

Matt Costa - Unfamiliar Faces This will be the first good Singer-Songwriter albums of 2008.

Check out Mr. Pitiful on his website.