February 20, 2015
Wave Pictures – Great Big Flamingo Burning Moon (2015)
It takes a lot of patience to be a classic rock aficionado. You’re kinda stuck listening to the same 100 or so songs until newer stuff properly ages enough that you can stop saying it isn’t as good as rock was in our day.
The Wave Pictures, a semi-pro English band that hasn’t been subsumed by the London hipster scene, has the answer with a fun, clever and irreverent album that’s a bit Kinks, a bit CCR, a bit garage, and a lot Jonathan Richman.
Call it pre-aged; you don’t have to wait 30 years to enjoy it!
February 17, 2015
Mark Erelli – Milltowns (2014)
Bill Morrissey was a Robert Frost of folk music, capturing the natural beauty and harsh realities of New Hampshire and its decaying mill towns.
Mark Erelli, an accomplished northeastern folkie in his own right, was noodling around one evening and started playing a Morrissey song. Not bad, he thought, and tried another. And thus was born Milltowns, 12 covers and an original, the title track, about his relationship with the man himself.
Milltowns is – no exaggeration – an album no folk collection is complete without.
February 17, 2015
The Delines – Colfax (2014)
One night while on tour with the band Richmond Fontaine, backing singer Amy Boone got drunkenly courageous enough to ask frontman Willy Vlautin to write her an album – and he didn’t say no. Instead, intrigued, he went to work shaping a fictional life for Boone in Colorado and assembling an all-star Portland band to tell the story.
Boone’s character, for it is a literary work, is a restless soul with responsibilities. She has a war vet brother with PTSD who regularly goes missing, a husband who works out of state on the oil rigs, and a boss who checks her till in front of staff when she cashes out.
Vlautin, who also writes short stories and novels, insists he’s not in the league of American realists like Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy or his hero Raymond Carver, but this a rich portrait of how millions of the working poor in America live, and the slow bluesy delivery is flawless.
February 17, 2015
Gretchen Peters – Blackbirds (2015)
The grit in Gretchen Peters’ songs can be lost if you polish them up too much (ahem, 2012’s Hello Cruel World), and with a few opening bars of crunchy guitar, Blackbirds declares itself as anything but Cruel World II.
It’s the same team that made Cruel World, but you’d be excused for thinking otherwise. Cruel World was lush and melancholic. Blackbirds is bold and brassy, a daring departure for Peters, who said after Cruel World that “Woman On the Wheel is the closest to rock you’ll hear from me.”
But rock on she does, with judicious use of spiky guests (we hear you Jason Isbell & Kim Richey) and crafty triumphs of electric guitar, fiddle, piano, mandolin, and banjo. And Peters, fresh off her well-earned induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, gives a career-high vocal performance that, mea culpa, I didn’t think was there.
Blackbirds seems to have inspired all to pour out every ounce of heart, soul and skill they could muster. I’m impressed.
December 29, 2014
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,000 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.
Click here to see the complete report.
July 23, 2014
This week’s Spill blog letter challenge asks for an eclectic mix of songs by bands and singers who start with the letter L.
Labelle – Lady Marmelade: Voulez vous dancez in the discotheque avec moi, ce soir?
Abbey Lincoln – Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?: Her two gifts: singing and social activism
Little Feat – Cold, Cold, Cold: Bonnie Raitt makes a great band celestial
Austin Lucas – Alone In Memphis: Found under hard roots in the Glossary
Lifter Puller – I Like The Lights: I’ve tapped Craig Finn for F (Finn), L (Lifter), and H (Hold Steady). I’m an admirer, ok?
Lissie – To Ramona: Dylan wrote this for her to sing. It’s about Baez and Lissie wasn’t even born yet, but whatevs
Louisiana Funky Butts Brass Band – Les Bon Temps Rouler: Chosen for the name? Moi?
Peggy Lee – Fever: Pop perfection
David Lindley – Twist and Shout: Music needs more gifted eccentrics
Mary Lou Lord – His Indie World: Evoking memories of Jill Sobule is a very good thing
Ray Lamontagne – God Willin’ & The Creek Don’t Rise: Nose singer, but with such feeling
Jim Lauderdale – Janis Jones: Who wants him picking on their album? EVERYBODY
Loretta Lynn (w Jack White) – Portland Oregon: Jack endeavouring to reinvent all music genres
Low – $20: Sublime lo-fi