Archive for June, 2010

ReviewShine Wednesday: Hayshaker, Shiny & The Spoon

Posted in Hayshaker, Shiny and the Spoon on June 30, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

Every Wednesday, I feature a brief review of at least one album that has been submitted to me through the ReviewShine website. I have cleverly titled this recurring segment “ReviewShine Wednesday.”

Our first featured act today is a band from Waycross, GA called Hayshaker. Waycross was the childhood home of Gram Parsons, and the band finds some of his spirit still haunting their hometown on this sophomore release. Steel guitars and iron clad harmonies from the husband and wife pair of Chris and Laurie Rider (Chris goes by CC. Yup… CC Rider) form the basis for many of the eight tracks on Tin Roof Snare. Standouts include the Guthrie inspired folk of “As I Slept In,” and the full-on twang of “Swamp County.” The title track also serves as a nice example of their sound.

Hayshaker: Tin Roof Snare (Buy Album)

Our second act today features another male/female vocal pairing in the Cincinnati based ukulele duo Shiny & The Spoon. Amber Nash and Jordan Neff have been playing together as Shiny & The Spoon for a couple of years now and have honed an inviting style with their sparse arrangements, warm harmonies, and gently strummed melodies. Their self-titled album has a light and dreamy feel that makes it a perfect late night, chill-out record. Their musical philosophy is seemingly spelled out in the title to the opening track… “Simple Song.” It works.

Shiny & The Spoon: Simple Song (Buy Album)

Alejandro Escovedo: Street Songs of Love Redux

Posted in Alejandro Escovedo on June 30, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

For those of you who might have missed my audio review of Alejandro Escovedo’s latest CD before it was taken down by the man…

You can now read a more traditional, text based, review of the album that I wrote for the Country Standard Time webzine.

Random Weekend Post: Caution… May Contain Wilco like Substances

Posted in JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound, Wilco on June 26, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

Two related… if bizarre videos today.

The first is Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy giving a dramatic reading of “Single Ladies”…

The second is a cover of Wilco’s “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” by a band called JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound.

I wish I could remember which blog I saw this on first. I can’t. I just remember hating it at first, and then being slowly sucked in as it went along. I think it’s the combination of the infectious groove coupled with the absolute nonsensicalness of the lyrics that left me amused and bemused by this video. It’s actually a lot of fun.

ReviewShine Wednesday: John Cowan, Terri Hendrix, Sara Petite

Posted in John Cowan, Sara Petite, Terri Hendrix on June 23, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

Every Wednesday, I feature a brief review of at least one album that has been submitted to me through the ReviewShine website. I have cleverly titled this recurring segment “ReviewShine Wednesday.”

First up is the new release from former Newgrass Revial member and acoustic music superstar John Cowan. Cowan’s new CD, The Massenburg Sessions, was recorded completely live in the studio with no editing or overdubs under the guidance of producer George Massenburg. It’s a completely organic and acoustic affair that showcases Cowan’s vocal and instrumental chops perfectly while also allowing him to receive some help from friends like Darrell Scott, Luke Bulla, and the Del McCoury Band. Cowan’s unmistakable voice is given a full workout in the album opening, “My Time in the Desert.”

John Cowan: My Time in the Desert (Buy Album)

Up next is another familiar voice in fiercely independent Texas artist, and Grammy winner, Terri Hendrix. For her tenth studio album, Hendrix originally intended to make a strictly jazz record. When she began working on the album, however, her intentions changed and morphed into what she calls a “mix CD” of several styles and influences. Hendrix still satisfies her jazz muse on several tracks, but she also throws in some blues and her more familiar mix of acoustic contemporary folk. Hendrix’s long time producer, the legendary Lloyd Maines, is at the helm once again to guide the journey. Here’s one that features a new sound for Hendrix… a rollicking, drum-machine driven, number called “Slow Down.”

Terri Hendrix: Slow Down (Buy Album)

The final album today is one that I’ve been sitting on for a while now, but was recently reintroduced to. Sara Petite’s new album Doghouse Rose actually came out in November (and I’ve had it almost that long), but has just recently started being pushed to Americana radio. I was reminded of Petite when she played the WDVX Blue Plate Special a few weeks ago. Petite has a natural twang to her voice that is a perfect fit for the rocking country numbers she sings. Petite’s voice and songwriting are the standout elements here, but pay attention to her studio band led by Kenny Vaughn as well. This song, “Baby Let Me In,” features Petite and Vaughn both in fine form.

Sara Petite: Baby Let Me In (Buy Album)

Random Weekend Post: Tift Merritt

Posted in Uncategorized on June 19, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

I’m still gearing up for Tift Merritt’s visit to Knoxville on Wednesday… so I thought I share a couple of her videos today.

First is a song I shared with you yesterday… but I didn’t get to share Merritt’s homemade video that goes along with it. This is “Mixtape.”

And this is a live performance of another song from the new album… “Engine to Turn.”

Don’t forget to listen to Tift Merritt live in the WDVX studios Wednesday afternoon at 5:00 (Eastern)… and don’t forget to register for the Mary Gauthier CD Giveaway contest. I’ll pick a winner Monday evening.

Friday Notes: Chely Wright, Tift Merritt, & More

Posted in Chely Wright, Jompson Brothers Band, The Steeldrivers, Tift Merritt on June 18, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

It’s been a while since I’ve thrown out a notes column. So… Here we go.

*** First. Don’t forget to register for the Mary Gauthier giveaway contest. I’ve had a nice response so far, but would still like to see more people register. Leave a comment here, send me an email, or comment on the blog’s facebook page to enter.

*** I never really listened much (or at all) to Chely Wright when she was topping the Country Music charts a decade ago with songs like “Single White Female.” I’ll have to admit, though, that all the publicity surrounding Wright’s recent personal announcement and release of her new album Lifted Off the Ground intrigued me. She had a personal story to tell and got Rodney Crowell involved to help her tell it. I’m also always happy to see someone leave behind the pre-fab world of Music Row to make an organic and honest record. And honesty is the key word here. By being honest with herself and her fans about who she really is, Wright is able to be honest with her music as well.

You can go here to read the full review of Chely Wright’s Lifted Off the Ground that I wrote for Country Standard Time.
Chely Wright: Broken (Buy Album)
*** Back in April, I told you officially what I had already known for a while… Chris Stapleton is no longer with The Steeldrivers. While this is devastating news to most, there are a couple of silver linings to the cloud. The first is that The Steeldrivers are continuing as a band with Gary Nichols handling the vocals. Even better news is that, before leaving the band, Stapleton went into the studio with the original group to record their sophomore album.
But, that’s all old news. The new news is that that The Steeldrivers’ sophomore album, Reckless, will be released in September from Rounder Records. I’ll be waiting very impatiently for that album to arrive. While you’re waiting for Reckless to arrive, you can listen to Stapleton wail with his rocking new project, The Jompson Brothers.

*** Finally… You’ll want to be sure to tune in to the Feature at Five this coming Wednesday on WDVX. I’ll be hosting the Feature that day, and I’ll be joined in the studio by none other than Tift Merritt for an interview and performance. Merritt is in Knoxville Wednesday for a concert at The Square Room as part of her tour to support her new album See You on the Moon (listen to my review here).

You can listen to the interview live Wednesday afternoon at 5:00 (Eastern) by following the Listen Live link on the WDVX website. Later that night, Merritt will perform with opening act Thad Cockrell at The Square Room. Cockrell will also perform live on WDVX earlier in the day. He’ll appear on The Blue Plate Special at noon. You can hear that performance live as well.
And just so you know that I listened to those of you who voted in the poll for me to include mp3’s with my audio reviews… this is “Mixtape” from See You on the Moon. Sorry to leave you all hanging last time. Speaking as the kid who used to record songs straight to tape off the radio and still makes an annual “Best of The Year” mix CD each December… I can really relate to this one.
Tift Merritt: Mixtape (Buy Album)

ReviewShine Wednesday: The Avery Set and Last Train

Posted in Last Train, The Avery Set on June 16, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

First… Don’t forget to register for the Mary Gauthier CD giveaway I announced on Monday. The winner will be drawn next Monday.

Now… Every Wednesday, I feature a quick review of at least one album that has been submitted to me through the ReviewShine website. I have cleverly titled this recurring segment “ReviewShine Wednesday.”

Our first band today, The Avery Set, originally hails from Michigan but currently calls Nashville home. The origins of the group can be traced backed six years to when high school friends, singer/songwriter Chris Zehnder and drummer Jake Bartlett, first started playing together. With Brandon Harris on guitar and Shawn Supra on bass, The Avery Set has put together a potent line-up capable of easily shifting gears from rock to country and back.

Their new CD, Returning to Steam, opens with the dreamy travelogue “Wandering Stars,” a song with a simply strummed acoustic melody shining through an arrangement filled with foreboding strings. The strong opener gives way to the rocking “Gotta Move” and the destructive country shuffle of “Salt Mines.” The band continues to slide back and forth between styles, keeping the listener engaged and finding an interesting new sound for each track. Americana-UK called The Avery Set, “Uncle Tupelo for a generation raised on MTV.” That seems appropriate.
The Avery Set: Wandering Shoes (Buy Album)

Up next is another solid country/rock outfit called Last Train. The band hails from Anchorage, Alaska and claims a wide range of influences on its sound… from grunge, to country, to punk. All of those elements shine through in a heavily rock leaning sound that probably does contain a little more grunge than twang. Guitarists/vocalists Mark Ward and Steve Padrick combine with bassist/vocalist Ted Rosenweig and drummer Matt Janssen to craft an energetic set full of roaring guitars and memorable hooks.

What this record also possesses in many spots is a palpable sense of place. The listener becomes fully immersed in the desolate Alaskan landscape in the album opening “Eighteen Wheels” as snowflakes fall on the long lonely highway. It would make the perfect soundtrack for an episode of Ice Road Truckers. Like the wheels on the big rig in the opening track, Last Train continues to run full steam through thirteen tracks on their debut album. TurnAgain is a promising, and rocking, debut effort.

Last Train: Eighteen Wheels (Buy Album)