Amy Speace (W/John Fullbright) – “The Sea And The Shore”

May 2nd, 2013

A love song performed as a duet from the perspective of the sea and the shore with a guest appearance from the moon doesn’t sound like the recipe for a breakout hit and I guess it won’t be to the larger music world. But to me, in my small corner of the music world, it’s in the running for song of the year. The song is credited to Amy Speace of course (since it’s on her new record How To Sleep In A Stormy Boat) but it is John Fullbright’s deep voice (as the sea) that kicks the song off. Fresh off his Grammy nomination Fullbright adds an amount of solemnity and gravitas that sets a somber mood for the song. Once Amy comes in (as the shore) with her apologies for hooking up with the moon I’m all in and completely hooked.

You can and should purchase the whole new release here. Other guests include Mary Gauthier and Ben Sollee.

The Sea and The Shore [Download]

One more time with the video for “The Sea and The Shore” for good measure

The Backsliders lost ep from 1999 “Hictopia” (RIYL The Bottle Rockets, The Del Lords, Tom Petty)(Plus Amy Speace with John Fulbright and the song of the year)

May 1st, 2013

Well this is fun and unexpected. The Backsliders have released a long lost recording as an EP called Hictopia. It contains five songs that were produced by the great Eric Ambel but left off their last record (Southern Lines, Mammoth Records, 1999). The music (and the promo photo above) bring me back to the day when there were fewer releases, more quality stuff, and vinyl. The band broke up shortly after this release but members went on to play in or form bands like Two Dollar Pistols and Whiskeytown.

As of 2012 the band is mostly back together and performing shows in and around their howetown of Raleigh, NC. Pick up the free ep (though tips are appreciated) here at Bandcamp.

Restless Heart [Download]

P.S. It seems John Fullbright is the man of the moment. He’s been featured on a couple albums, was nominated for a Grammy and is even scheduled to appear at Bonnaroo. Here’s a duet he did with Amy Speace for her new record How To Sleep In A Stormy Boat. Buy it here. I’ve already heard talk of this tune for song of the year and although it’s early I can’t argue with that.

Howe Gelb (Giant Sand) – New record “Dust Bowl”

April 29th, 2013

Over the years Howe Gelb has explored just about every nuance and every square inch of the rock landscape. With Giant Sand he has played noisy experimental rock, rootsy folk, instrumentals and choir music. He’s explored spanish music by collaborating with a Band Of Gypsies, country rock with his band Band of Blacky Ranchette, and as simply Howe Gelb he has performed solo in a style that could be called desert folk. The desert and the Tucson surroundings are always present in his songs whether it’s obvious through the lrics or more subtle through the soundscapes he employs. On the new Howe Gelb record Dust Bowl he has captured the lonely sounds of the desert through the use of reverb, piano, banjo and guitar. Here’s the title track. The album is availble on Bandcamp for $3.33.

Dust Bowl [Download]

New record from Old Timey duo The Quiet American

April 24th, 2013

The Quiet American is a husband and wife duo from the great northwest. Aaron used to be in the band Boulder Acoustic Society but left to get back to basics. On this new record they explore the story of “Wild Bill Jones”. Musically you’ll hear everything from ukelele to jug band sounds. There are similarities between this group and Pharis and Jason Romero – most notably they both are duos, both are exploring old time country music and both make their own instruments.

You can buy Wild Bill Jones here via Elderly Instruments. Here’s the song “Keys To The Kingdom”.

Keys To The Kingdom [Download]

David Ramirez – “The Rooster” EP (May 6)

April 19th, 2013

David Ramirez is an acclaimed singer-songwriter based out of Austin, Tx who has somehow hovered just outside my awareness. With several full length albums and a couple of EP’s under his belt David has made a name for himself as an honest songwriter who captivates live and ensnares victims with his intimate songs.

The new record is an EP called The Rooster that will be available exclusively on iTunes on May 5. According to David he’s taken some sonic risks and altered his sound somewhat on this ep. As a new listener I hear some of that sonic experimentation but by and large it bubbles under the surface. On “The Bad Days” David sings about his love and how even on his bad days she is there for him.

Catch David on a co-headlining tour with Jay Nash from May 22-June 15.

The Bad Days [Download]

“The Forgiven” also from the new EP The Rooster

New/old song from Gina Villalobos – New album on the way (riyl Lucinda Williams, Mary Gauthier)

April 11th, 2013

Gina Villalobos is working on a new record which should make you happy. Sounds like it is being mastered as we speak. In the meantime she has released some b-sides that for some reason never made it on to disk. I’m partial to this song, “You Took all My Shine”.

Follow Gina on Twitter for her insights on music, lgbt issues and women’s soccer

You Took All My Shine [Download]

The Parlour Brothers debut “Hard Sell” (April 9)

April 4th, 2013

This Kris Kristofferson cover of “Josie” is taken from the debut record from Canadiana band The Parlour Bothers. The bands melancholy style is just perfect for this song of innocence lost and a wayward soul. This is tasteful mid-tempo alt country from a band that will only improve over time.

Buy the new record Hard Sell here.

Josie [Download]

“Josie” live

New record from Nora Jane Struthers – “Carnival” (April 16)

March 21st, 2013

I’m not exactly sure which level of the americana/roots stratosphere Nora Jane Stothers resides in. She is talented, beautiful, and a strong songwriter. Her music has equal parts bluegrass and sing-songwriter elements. That she is difficult to pigeonhole is a plus in my book. Her new record Carnival is due out April 16th. It’s the second full length from Nora Jane.

“Party Line” is a track from the forthcoming release and it showcases both her strong vocal presence as well as the top notch musicanship of her touring ensemble. Preorder Carnival here.

Party Line [Download]

Stella! – “Sorry, Stella”

March 19th, 2013

Well SXSW is over. I had a great time at all the day parties and a few of the events at night. I never see as much as I hope for but I was happy to see Drivin n’ Cryin, Steve Poltz, Spirit Family Reunion and bands I’d never heard of like Telekinis and Hurray For The Riff Raff.

Here’s a group that was not down in Austin but judging from their sound would fit right in any time of year down there. Stella! and their new record Sorry, Stella came out in 2012 but is just now picking up traction and considerable radio play. Stella! consists of singer-songwriters Jen Sygit, Diana Ladio, Laura Ann Bates and Jo Serrapere. It’s a Michigan supergroup of sorts put together by Jo Serrapere one of the founding members of Uncle Earl. You can buy the new record here via the band.

Pay For What You Got [Download]

Down In The Cellar [Download]

SXSW Preview – Branches (RIYL Frontier Ruckus, Avett’s, Mumford, etc)

March 12th, 2013

Branches haven’t left the West Coast very often. As a result I’ve never seen them. That will change this SXSW as they are one of my must see acts of the festival. Their 2012 release Thou Art The Dream has all the handclaps and singalong choruses you could hope to wish for in an indie folk collective. The strained vocals on top of banjos, guitars, violin, pump organ and odd percussion performed by this group of effervescent Californians will have you clapping and singing along.

Join me singing off key at either of their shows. Thursday at the All Together Now showcase at Bayou Lounge at 2pm or for Friday brunch at 11:30 am at the Hipstamtic Showcase located at 509 Brushy Street.

Helicopter [Download]

Helicopter Live at the Sojo Sessions in DC

SXSW Preview – Emily Bell – “Back To The Way I Was”

March 11th, 2013

If you’re at all like me you had a hard time motivating this morning with the time change and Monday morning blues then you’ll need this as much as I did. The only thing that got me going was the new song from Austin based r&b singer and genre smasher Emily Bell. The fuzzy pulsating music topped off by Emily’s roaring vocals had me tapping my foot and clearing the sleepies from my eyes.

This song is available now along with a b-side from iTunes or from Emily’s website in the form of a 7″ vinyle single (with download card). You can catch Emily Bell at her official SXSW showcase at Creekside at The Hilton Garden on Friday the 15th. The new album In Technicolor is out on May 24th.

Back To The Way I Was [Download]

SXSW Preview – Austin band Crooks at The White Horse

March 7th, 2013

Whistling reminiscent of Peter, Bjorn and John, reverb-y americana a la Jim White and fuzzy guitars make this song by the Austin based band Crooks pretty darn likable. Add to that the fact that their showcase is at The White Horse along with the likes of Lincoln Durham, American Aquarium and Jason Eady and you have a pretty great combination. Catch the band Tuesday March 12 at 9pm at their official showcase at The White Horse.

Here’s the title track from their 2012 release The Rain Will Come.

The Rain Will Come [Download]

SXSW Preview – Jonny Fritz is Jonny Corndawg (new record, sxsw dates)

March 6th, 2013

Jonny Corndawg never had a chance. Not with that nomiker and not with his irreverent style of country. Now he’s back but this time as Jonny Fritz and on ATO Records. His new record Dad Country is due out in April. From the single it seems he has kept the wry humor along with the authentic country sounds.

Catch him at SXSW on Thursday at the ATO showcase at Maggie Mae’s or at Rachel Rays party; on Friday he’ll be at “South By Sapparo” and the Ground Control party at the Mohawk. Lots more info here.

Ain’t It Your Birthday [Download]

SXSW Preview – Luke Winslow-King – “The Coming Tide” (Bloodshot, April 23)

February 28th, 2013

Luke Winslow-King is a name that was on the periphery of my musical landscape. On a multiple choice questionaire I’d have been able to pick his name out as the one musician on the list but that’s about it. His music was mostly self-financed and self-released. That’s about to change with the re-release of his 2012 release The Coming Tide on Bloodshot Records. This is a great signing for Bloodshot as LWK is a perfect compliment to label mate Justin Townes Earl. Both have absorbed the New Orleans sound and made it their own. Both are photogenic, young and hip in a good way. And now both are on Bloodshot.

The title track is a good example of LWK combining and smashing genres. You’ll hear gospel, blues and folk on the track below. Bandmate Esther Kings’ vocals are a revelation on this song. Lots more info on Luke Winslow-King on Bloodshot here. Catch him and his band at SXSW at The Bloodshot official showcase Wednesday night at the Continental club.

The Coming Tide [Download]

PS You can hear another song from the new record on CMT here.

“The Coming Tide” performed live

SXSW Preview — Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison – “Cheater’s Game”

February 27th, 2013

I’m a fan of both of these artists. They’re americana mainstays, Austin luminaries and now a married couple. Their new record together is called Cheater’s Game. The Bruce and Kelly Show will be playing SXSW at KDHX’s Twangfest along with acts like Kelly Hogan, Mount Moriah, Pokey Lafarge and Dale Watson. Along with the Bloodshot party this is one of the must see parties. Here’a song off the new record that features Kelly Willis as a wounded participant in the game of love.

Ordinary Fool [Download]

Small Houses – “Exactly Where You Wanted To Be” (New record, tour, SXSW)

February 21st, 2013

I sometimes fail to write about releases from Yer Bird but I never fail to listen and have always been impressed by the curatorship of the label. Small Houses is the project of Philadelphia by way of Flint singer-songwriter Jeremy Quentin. A couple of excellent blogs have already done nice reviews/previews of the Feb 26 release of Exactly Where You Wanted To Be. They all focus on the starkness and simplicity of the recording and the songs. I can’t add anything there. They also all link to a song from the record so I’ll avoid doing that too. Instead I have a song from the record that was recorded live at WXPN for Folkadelphia. It’s even simpler and starker if that’s possible. Great to hear every strum, breath, whisper and rasp.

Preorder the new record here and catch the band on the upcoming tour or at SXSW (where I plan to see him).

Oh, Hiding Out [Download]

Bonus track (sort of the title track from the new record)

Our Sweet [Download]

“Our Sweet” Video

Tracy Huffman – “Pieces”

February 20th, 2013

I should have written about this Tracy Huffman record months ago. I apologize to all parties involved. The record was produced by Charlie McGovern and recorded on an 8 track tape machine in Cosby, Mo (population 143). The music positively glows in a way that only an analog recording can. The dynamic range is huge although unlike most rock recordings you’ve literally got to turn this one up all the way to hear all the nuances.

“Pissin’ In The River” off of Pieces has a great almost acapella opening that quickly (d)evolves into a funky little honky tonker. Pick up Pieces (here) for yourself to hear one of the most unsung (and worthy) americana artists performing today.

Pissin’ In The River [Download]

Parquet Courts video for “Borrowed Time” and SXSW

February 15th, 2013

I have, what I think is, an irrational love of the band Parquet Courts and in particular the song “Borrowed Time”. I wrote about them and linked to this song here back in July. They are going to be down in Austin for SXSW and I will be trailing behind them like a lost puppy. Here’s a newish video for the song “Borrowed Time”

Danni Nicholls’ teaser EP “Time”

February 12th, 2013

We’ll no doubt be hearing about Danni Nicholls this spring and summer. She has just finished recording her debut in Nashville with producer Chris Donuhue (Emmylou Harris, Buddy Miller). In Fact I spotted her with Will Kimbrough and Emmylou Harris in some photos on her Facebook page. Chances are we are soon going to be enchanted by this British chantreuse. Why not get a head start with a little ep she recorded in a church in England that she has released as a teaser to the full length.

Danni has really captured that reverb soaked 50′s country sound – these are primarily ballads but she pulls them off with aplomb. Here’s a song off that new ep called “Between The River and The Railway”. Lots more info about Danni and the upcoming full length debut on Pledge Music here.

Between The River and the Railway [Download]

Pharis and Jason Romero – “Long Gone Out West Blues”

February 8th, 2013

It’s hard for me to find out about all the great new releases out there and I’m constantly looking/listening. Imagine how hard it is for even a very informed active music fan. Now imagine your typical NPR listening, Starbucks swilling suburban mom. I know they’ll never hear any of these great artists but I can try, can’t I?

Pharis and Jason Romero are a duo from the British Columbia town of Horesfly. They share their music and their passion for early country music in their recordings and in their banjo building company. Long Gone Out West Blues is the followup to their 2011 release A Passing Glimpse that I wrote about here.

These guys will get all the press and radio coverage they can handle in the acoustic, bluegrass, folk, and old timey country worlds – now if only we can help spread their music far and wide.

Sad Old Song [Download]