I received two discs in the mail this week that give, as good any, an indication as to the state of the music industry. The first is the much ballyhoed (at least in the americana music world) debut from The Steeldrivers on Rounder Records. The second is the relatively unknown Portland based band Mighty Ghosts Of Heaven and their self titled, self released lp. While the digital music wars are ongoing and music distribution unclear, and despite the success of the Radiohead experiment, it’d be great to be able to say each band has an equal shot at success. But we’re not there yet. Of these two bands, regardless of quality, the band with the label connections will probably still come out ahead, but the time is coming when that will no longer be true.
With regard to these two groups you may have already guessed which side of the fence I come out on. For all it’s sonic purity, quality musicianship and stellar cast of characters The Steeldrivers left me cold. Meanwhile Mighty Ghosts of Heaven had my foot sompin’ from the opening track. The band’s instruments include ukeleles, mountain dulcimer, fiddle, tenor banjo, guitar, standup bass and an eclectic assortment of percussive instruments and effects. The Steeldrivers seem to be trying too hard to meld rock, soul and blues with bluegrass, whereas Mighty Ghosts of Heaven update the standard bluegrass/old timey sound with diverse arrangements, beautiful duets and a honest sense of fun.
Normally I’d leave with you a song from each, but The Steeldrivers are on Rounder, a label notorious for not “getting” music bloggers, so I fear a cease and desist if I were to post something. The “true” indie sound of Mighty Ghosts Of Heaven is available for all to hear though. Their release will be available soon and has a street date of October 30. The Steeldrivers self-titled record will be available in all the big boxes, Walmart’s and digital music hubs of the world beginning January 22nd.
Here’s two from Mighty Ghosts Of Heaven upcoming release: