Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Townes Van Zandt in Heartworn Highway: Waitin' Around to Die

Whitey Morgan and the 78's - Sonic Ranch, album review

Another Chapter

This is Outlaw Country in overall sound fully supported with Whitey Morgan and his vocal echo of Waylon. Gettin’ high and hand me the bottle I’m on the highway to hell full throttle are linguistic touchstones in opener Me and the Whiskey adding to the template.

It is a good ol’ boy conglomerate of honky tonk and maudlin ballad, the rudiments of Country as it should be. There is also the contemporary echo of a Chris Stapleton in the lamenting nihilism [but more so vocal] of Waitin’ Round to Die - by Townes Van Zandt - where the alternatives to that waiting are lots of booze and lots of ramblin'. The boozed existentialism that seems to be the lyrical momentum is continued in the fine Scott Biram song Still Drunk Still Crazy Still Blue, and next Leavin Again is a sweet old-school lovelorn song that reminds yet again of another legend, the resonant timbre of Conway Twitty, and this album couldn’t hit more welcome generic buttons if it tried. Love this track.

The acoustic with pedal steel Good Timin’ Man has an expectation which initially sounds a more optimistic note, but that bottle rears its lyrically requisite head, and there is more melancholy. As if we haven’t got the portrait painted and hung firmly enough yet, the next song is eighth, Drunken Nights in the City.

These are the narratives of pain that are Country’s eternal story and it is played and sung with absolute authenticity in this further chapter.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Nebraska 41: Walter Trout - Omaha (Battle Scars)

Ultimate Hot Dog Music

One of my favorite album cover themes featured Hot Dogs, my being a connoisseur of the wiener, and these can be seen here.

But this is the ultimate hot dog album cover, thanks to the independent and irreverent Peaches, here making a typically pointed visual comment on gender identity:

Sunday, 28 August 2016

The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer - A Real Fine Mess, album review

Kings of Blues

A Canadian duo who are by all accounts quite raw and gritty live, this recorded sound still retains much of the dirt blues that one presumes is their stock-in-trade on the stage. Funky blues guitar riffs dominate, with talking harmonica laying further authentic backdrops. There are layers of female vocal too, and penultimate They Don't Make it Like They Used To [deluxe edition] is a leftfield reggae blues that spurts great fun in its grooves. At times sounding like Kings of Leon playing less to the stadium and more a club ambience [Tea for Two and others], this is great sustained stuff. Opener Black and Blue sets the blistering blues strut well, punchy vocal interplays playing.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Hands Music 12

The Black Sorrows - Endless Love, album review

Stunning Worth

There are two albums to be had here, Chapters 46 and 47, from Australian band The Black Sorrows that is essentially - apparently - John Camilleri.

It is a mixed bag in many respects [beyond the eclecticism], but there are a number of absolutely standout tracks: the soulblues of Hard Time Killing Floor; the gospel blues of God Don't Like It; a beautifully measured version of I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry; the latenight sax-sozzled Lonnie's Lament; an evenlaternighttime blues 61 Highway; the James Borwn-esque/Prince funk of Let Me Kiss You, and a stunning version of That's Pretty Good Love sung by Vika Bull.

These alone are worth the listen.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Tami Neilson - Don't Be Afraid, album review

Soaring Tears

Another stunning female vocalist, Neilson is startling across both blues and country, and occasional rockabilly-esque/vaudville frivolity as Laugh Laugh Laugh.

Opener Don't Be Afraid is a slow blues that oozes emotional intensity, driven by the soaring voice which struts across an intentionally lethargic riff, a slow drum hit pounding out an assertive support to the rising tension in the song. Second Holy Moses whips the pace into overdrive, and we have take-off. Brakes halt this immediately for third Lonely, a traditional country lament with pedal steel and its tears, vocal duet contribution from Marlon Williams.

There's more in a mix like this, all excellent, and you'll pick your preferences, my liking the ballads for their depth of feeling, eighth Heavy Heart another Country one, beautiful tone in the rising chorus please stop breaking it.

One further mention goes to another duet, ninth Only Tears where the Country count probably tips it slightly away from the blues, pedal steel again but the tears firmly planted in the title and lyrics, Williams soaring once again on that very word. Wonderful.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Samantha Fish - Wild Heart, album review

Firmly Planted

Guitarist and vocalist Samantha Fish fires up the blues and country stubble in this field of familiar but impeccably ploughed musical furrows.

As in grooves.

Opener Road Runner deceives a little with its Country tinge, but the guitar breaks are rock solid. There are more balladic numbers – and these are fine as Fish sings it true fast or slow – but it is the power that most impresses. And we get this in Highways Holding Me with its classic rock riff; the thudding Turn It Up; a pounding Show Me; a rousing Wild Heart [though as title track this is not the barnstormer one might have expected, keeping the agricultural allusion….], and a lyrically assertive vehicle for more oomph in Bitch on the Run, the penultimate track.

Last track I’m in Love With You demonstrates her impressive range as she swings sweetly if suggestively in an acoustic closer. Like a field of corn blowing softly in a summer wind.

Steering Wheel Music 8

Ryley Walker - Golden Sings That Have Been Sung, album review

Footsie with Jesus

I have my vinyl copy and that does matter, for obvious reasons, but also because Walker reminds so much of the singersongwriter from the 60s/70s and thus nostalgia becomes a part of the vinyl preference and collectability.

And it is a sublime album, musically mesmerising in the jazz-raga rhythms that roll out clever narratives and seemingly confessional truths as well as witticisms: about marriage, having babies, parental preferences - not his own but his father's - and playing footsie with Jesus.

There's delicate finger-picking and psychedelic strumming storms, Rylie whopping and yelping as he does live so there is that stronger sense of this here than on his debut and second albums. The stunning simplicity of the songs' varying impacts is delivered by the paradox of the virtuoso playing, naturally, but it is very much in the building pace of many and Walker's warming vocal, closer Age Old Tale a fine example. The musical accompaniments within glisten in their mix of light orchestral [clarinet start of opener The Halfwit in Me] and psychedelia. The percussive contributions [superb on A Choir Apart] add much to the overall texture.

I have little doubt this will be my album of the year. My other reviews, including the great pleasure of seeing him play live with Danny Thompson, can be read here.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Rachel Drew & The Bitter Roots - Under The Sun, album review


What a strange world is the Music one: so much talent/so much that isn’t; so much that is popular which probably doesn’t deserve to be/so much that is unheard which most definitely should be – and all of this [OK just two obvious dichotomies, but they embrace the significant largeness] decided by the yin yang of personal preference. Some might find this opening salvo of interest; some platitudinous.

Here’s an album with fine songwriting and even finer singing from Rachel Drew with her band the Bitter Roots. It has a country/Americana leaning to which I give it this naming prop, but overall the slower numbers stand out because they showcase the voice, though the uncluttered musical accompaniments are themselves good lessons in restraint.

And the relevance of this album to the opening observation? At the risk of sounding disparaging – but rather trying to establish my point – I don’t believe Drew and her band are that well known, but the real giveaway [pun alert] is the fact that this album is available for free.

That’s a generous offer for good music. It is all about getting established I guess, so I am happy to genuinely promote for both the spirit of its ease of acquisition as well as pleasing ease of enjoying. You don’t need to decide about or even engage in the arguing posited at the start, but I’d bet all I had to spend on this album that you’ll veer to hearing it as residing on the worthy side of the dividing lines.

Get it here [the Noisetrade link].