Thursday, February 7, 2013

Bill Mallonee - Amber Waves

Bill Mallonee's 50th release (that is not a typo by the way.) is one of his most impassioned. I realize that is a bold statement when the referenced artist has such a large body of wok. The lyrics on "Amber Waves" are full of pain and loss. However, there is an underlying hope in these songs. Faith is certainly a theme that is the  undertone of the music that has defined his career. However, he never paints faith as an easy road. To the contrary, his writing usually characterizes faith and hope as an uneasy battle. "Amber Waves" is no exception.

My personal favorite is a song called "Faith (Comes Soaked in Gasoline". It was influenced by Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath". His portrait is of the discrimination and degradation felt by the residents of depression era Hoovervilles. Not constrained by time, those analogies are just as relevant today. Loss is a central theme on "Amber Waves". In the song "Long Since Gone" he says, "In a sea of progress history doubles back to shake hands with you. When you've got nothing to trade've got nothing left to lose".

Though not as heralded, Mallonee's songwriting is on the level with Dylan or Springsteen. The lyrics on "Amber Waves" strike the soul.  The musical arrangements are for the most part Americana. Although he does employ a Mellotron, which is something you don't hear very often. He does not lose sight of the fact that a listener wants a good melody as well as impactful lyrics. After all, it may be the lyrics that give a song meaning, but the tune is what keeps it in your mind. In short, good tunes accompany the message, and the combination of the two is what makes "Amber Waves" so special.

Visit him and get a sample on BandCamp

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Kris Kristofferson - New Album

Kris Kristofferson will be releasing his first album in 4 years. "Feeling Mortal" is garnering a lot of advance buzz. Combine the aforementioned praise with the simple fact that it is Kris Kristofferson receiving it, it will likely be worth buying without sampling.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

American Authors

The American Authors are a band emerging from the Brooklyn scene. Their first single "Believer" is in the top 20 on Sirius/XM Alt-Nation chart. It is an infectious Power Pop song. Check out the link below and listen:

Friday, January 11, 2013

AWT - Best of 2012

As it seems to be the case every year, there was way too much good music produced in 2012. I try hard to keep up with new releases, but it is often at the expense of time that would otherwise be spent on my favorites. However, for the purpose of  "cussing and discussing" here is my attempt to rank my favorite albums of 2012:

1. Chris Knight - Little Victories:  This may be a bit of a surprise, but this album really meant something to me. There is an honest and heartfelt message of perseverance and hope. His message of survival in hard times derives from his roots. Plus he calls Little Debbies groceries, and that puts "Little Victories" over the top.

2. The Lumineers - Self-Titled: The way they took the musical world by storm is really amazing. Hype usually turns me off. In this case I am glad to see that a group that can put together a body of excellent songs can get this much notice.

3. Mindy Smith - Self-Titled: A brilliant singer-songwriter released what is perhaps the best album of her career. Her lyrics are  moving and profound, but it is her rich vocals and passion give life to her words.

4: Sons of Bill - Sirens: The song "Santa Anna Winds" hooked me on my first listen. Every song after that kept me listening. A true Americana Rock masterpiece. The Sons of Bill  have an almost universal appeal.

5.Alabama Shakes - Boys and Girls: I could almost say "See The Lumineers above". The Shakes also came out of nowhere to receive a lot of fan fare. They recorded in and hail from the Muscle Shoals area, and the geographic influence shines forth. Their music is both Southern and Soulful, with a balanced mix of tempo.

6. Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale - Buddy and Jim: These old friends should have recorded together a long time ago. Let's hope there is more to come.

7. Mumford and Sons - Babel: They set the bar high on their previous released. On this release, they raised it. I can't wait to see what they do next.

8. Tift Merrit - Travelling Alone: "Bramble Rose" and "Another Country" are two of my favorite female Singer-Songwriter albums. She may have beat them both this time around.

9. Shovels and Rope - O be Joyful: I was joyful from the first listen. Every song is excellent. They take traditional Americana and make it feel like Rock.

10. Corb Lund - Cabin Fever: Pure Country from rural Canada. The duet with Hays Carll, "Bible on the Dash", and "Gothest Girl I Can" are also the two funniest songs of the year

The next Ten:

11. Steep Canyon Rangers - Nobody Knows You
12. Wrinkle Neck Mules - Apprentice to Ghosts
13. The Avett Brothers - The Carpenter
14. Jack White - Blunderbuss
15. Justin Townes Earle - Nothing's gonna change the way
16. Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball
17. Dr. Dog - Be the Void
18. Old Crow Medicine Show - Carry Me Back
19. Ryan Bingham - Tommorrowland
20. Whispering Pines - Self-Titled

To compare this list to my compadres at Twangville  Click Here