Seems like all we have really caerd about for a week or so is the Drew Holcomb album. It hit #1 on our Top 20 Albums of 2013 (so far) list and Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors come in on Top of the Songs of the Week chart with "Another Man's Shoes". We think it applies to current events but we are, among other things, full of opinions. San Antonio Roots-Rockers Blackbird Sing, Indie Roots with The Builders and The Butchers, Detroit's JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound, and the Nicholas Tremulis Orchestra are all part of our Top Ten Songs of the Week for July 9, 2009.
1. Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors - Another Man's Shoes (from the album Good Light) - We chose the Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors album 'Good Light' as the best of the year so far and one reason might be the album's first track Another Man's Shoes. It's a 'go over the books and re-evaluate your own existence before you judge' shuffle with striking harmonies between Holcomb and wife Ellie drifting over a soft melodic bed of Hammond B3 and soothing guitar grooves. Lyrics, melody, production, performance, all nearly perfect and that's just scratching the surface of "Good Light." If there's anything better out there right now I can't wait to hear it.
2. Blackbird Sing – “Friday Night Lightning” (from the album Enemies from Years of Loving) - Blackbird Sing have that Southwest rock’n’roll sound that brought bands like the Gin Blossoms Pop glory. The San Antonio band adds more grit to the music of past peers by giving it an Alt Country twang and a snaking roots rhythms. Blackbird Sing set the backdrop in the song; “Friday Night Lightning” is a seventeen year old hang with the only light coming from nature. The song has the kind of chiming guitars that make anything possible. The instrumental rush supports inspirational lines like “fight the good fight and keep on keeping” with the glory of rock n’ roll.
3. Nicholas Tremulis Orchestra – “Push It” (from the album For the Baby Doll) - As a musician/teacher, the biggest lesson that Nicholas Tremulis has delivered through his music is to expect the unexpected. In their first incarnation in 1982, the Orchestra was referred to as punk jazz, melding punk rock, James Brown funk and Ornette Coleman-era jazz. For their 1985 Island Record signing, the unit had turned in a soul/funk machine. For the Baby Doll, from Nicholas Tremulis Orchestra, keeps the funk rhythm as a guide and flies it with a more space age sound. “Push It” rides the groove amid rapid sci-fi guitar and keys with soulful three-part female harmonies. The Nicholas Tremulis Orchestra allow their music to exist without any need for a format. That choice grants a freedom that can be heard loud and proud on For The Baby Doll.
4. Ashley Monroe – “Like a Rose” (from the album Like a Rose) -On her album cover, Ashley Monroe holds an umbrella to keep long blond locks and a white lace top dry. The impression is of a pretty young woman making music. The image stands as a reminder of the hurdles and dead ends that the lady in the rain has had to overcome to get this far. The character in the title track blossoms like the flower the song champions. The beauty grew from a hard land where she was “only thirteen when daddy died”. The death echoed in mama’s drinking, a brother that gave up and the leading lady leaving town with “what’s his name”. She not only grew despite the bad conditions, but also thrived. Still looking for a better place to take up roots, she takes responsibility for getting this far, and coming out “Like a Rose”.
5. The Builders and The Butchers – “Desert on Fire” (from the album Western Medicine) -The music rises in a gauzy haze like waves of heat in the still air. A parched bass line scratches an opening over skittering rhythm. The violin and voice are the grounding foundations in “Desert on Fire” as the instrumentation crackles around them. The Builders and The Butchers construct a center for “Desert on Fire” that soundtracks the tune in haunted Italian Western guitar note patterns. The Builders and The Butchers started their Indie Alt Country on the streets in Portland, Oregon and have honed the sound over three years of constant touring.
6. Dayna Kurtz – “Go Ahead On” (from the album Secret Canon, Vol.2) - Surrounded by Dixieland horns, marching percussion and a determined message, Dayna Kurtz faces off with the haters in “Go Ahead On”. The tune is an answer song, though not to another ditty. It responds to threats looking for an exit. “Go Ahead On” stares down lines like ‘gonna put you down’, ‘someday I’m gonna leave’, then lifts its chin and draws a lyrical line in the groove moving through the sand. Dayna Kurtz uses boogie and blues to deliver late-night, horn driven messages on Secret Canon, Vol. 2.
7. JC Brooks and The Uptown Sound – “Security” (from the album Howl) - “Security” keeps the groove that brings it to life in place throughout the tune. “Security” is one of those one chord/riff miracles that defy nature. JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound are masters of the beat with one chord or a hundred. “Security” keeps your attention as it weaves and bobs. JC Brooks’ vocals get near a playground sing-song tease with the “I like you, I need you, you bite the hand that feeds you” hook. The rock’n’soul that is synonymous with the name JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound lives on in “Security”.
8. Hot Club of Cowtown – “The Continental” (from the album Rendezvous in Rhythm) - Hey, anybody know how to do The Continental? Hot Club of Cowtown use a dance step to continue the theme set by album title Rendezvous in Rhythm on “The Continental”. HCoC member Whit Smith takes on the vocal chores as he calls the mood and actions for those feeling romantic enough to let their bodies find the steps. Hot Club of Cowtown use upright bass, fiddle and acoustic guitar to keep the dance floor filled with Gypsy Jazz and French Swing circa 1930 on Rendezvous in Rhythm.
9. The Warren Hood Band – “Alright” (from the album The Warren Hood Band) - Who out there is curious about how Warren Hood is these days? Never one to let friends worry, Warren let everyone know immediately on his self-titled album that he is “Alright”. It is good to hear that but, ya know, actions speak louder than words. For Warren, action comes in the form of his band locking into the beat on “Alright”. Warren’s fiddle is joined on the album by fellow Austinite, guitar man Willie Pipkin, and singer/pianist Emily Gimble, granddaughter of original Texas Playboy, fiddler Jonny Gimble. Warren Hood supplies his own heritage chain as the son of Texas music legend, Champ Hood.
10. Black Marmot – “Pennsylvania Home” (from the album The Everyday Seeker) - Black Marmot electrify a mountain spiritual song in “Pennsylvania Home”. Linde Clark, vocalist for Black Marmot, holds onto earthly hurt and heavenly promises of mountain music as it was defined by artists like The Carter Family and the Louvin Brothers. The opening acoustic chords welcome the electric without any disturbance. The electric guitar grabs a porch chair and plugs in like it had always belonged there. Black Marmot makes it feel like that was exactly the right spot for the electric riffs and grounding rhythm section. They integrate genres and styles and brand the results as their own on The Everyday Seeker.
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