Los Goutos (from the album Mighty available as a self-release)
Musically, the sound of Los Goutos is a celebration. The players raise a joyful ruckus, teetering and swaying near the edge of the melody while joining gathering together in a sonic cacophony, the audio equivalent of a tent show selling salvation for the recent Los Goutos release, Mighty. Community vocals shout in harmony as “Can’t Hurt” sends out a plea to the heavens for a clearer understanding of the world we live in while Los Goutos hushes the Country backing to make a request in “Killing Me Kindly” and turns “Over Easy” on a slowly circulating rhythm wheel,
Mighty counts to four as they light a ska beat blaze to give sizzle for “Tequila Set the House on Fire” while the accordion of Los Goutos hops between Tex Mex (“Dawn”) and Cajun (“Down to the Studs”) as it adds flavor and flash to the tunes. Based in Boston, Massachusetts, Los Goutos proudly claim three songwriters within the five core members. A south of the border melody opens the album as Mighty suggests “Steal It, Pawn It, Buy Another” in a mixed language story line, weathers “Blizzard” with assertive chord strums, and kickstarts a rock’n’roll beat for the honky tonk disclosures in “If You’re Gonna Miss Me (You Must Be Pretty Lonely)”. Los Goutos strut alongside “Moscow Mule” as they knock back the brew with a touch of downhome Folk and bring the Blues for a musical come-on to “Louise” as Mighty borders “Rat in a Trap” on a noir mood and hits the floor, creating a new dance step using 60’s sunshine 60’s for “The Corkscrew”.
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Kelly Pardekooper (from the album 50-Weight available on Leisure Time Records)
The politics of oil play across a story screen of “Bloody Gasoline” as Kelly Pardekooper opens his recent release, 50-Weight, by throwing words bombs at companies digging in the sand for liquid gold. The snaking guitar line in the song shifts moods when 50-Weight heads “Downtown” on a dreamy melody, scratches at the door to make an exit on ragged guitar strums and the admissions of a man who reads the room as “No Place for Me” as Kelly Pardekooper tosses out guitar notes that sparkle as they lazily play tag with a dedicated groove that ambles moodily over “Pretty on the Inside”.
Kelly Pardekooper does the math for 50-Weight, the number marking twenty years since his debut album, 30-Weight. Album number nine for Kelly Pardekooper displays the many audio colors he has collected to paint sound on his songs as “Anything” shuffles with a Country gait while tender chords quiet to line the distance between today and the past with tumbling memories for “Call My Mom” and fields questions to pass the time waiting on love’s curtain to fall one last time in “Long Goodbye”. Produced by Bo Ramsey (Lucinda Williams, Greg Brown), 50-Weight was recorded in a rural Iowa barn. Kelly Pardekooper rocks “Baby” on a honky tonk beat and makes a vow in “Love Her So” on a slowly spinning waltz as 50-Weight arrogantly defends a lack of problems as it waves a flag of racial pride with “Lily White”
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LowRay (from the album Friends and the Fakers available on SueQue Records)
Midwest duo LowRay (Daniel Fowlds – guitar/vocals, James Irving - drums) gathered together a group a likeminded Indie-Americana infused musicians at the Terrarium in Minneapolis, Minnesota to record Friends and the Fakers, their latest release. Memories play out in stark black and white images for “Palisade”, the story backed by cascading sonics that crash around a coulda-been tale that has reached a dead end. The title track opens Friends and the Fakers on a bright jangle of guitars with Pop-sweet harmonies and a solid beat as LowRay map out a path to “There’s a Place” with an assured rock’n’roll rhythm, threaten “Sooner or Later” with guitar swagger, and add a touch of Country to pack for the space travel in “Western Song”.
Finding peers in bands whose record collections influenced beyond a one-genre label, LowRay hears a blend of styles in their sound, their own music affected by artists that ‘mix it up with songs that had, say, a country feel, then follow it up with some R&B or soul. I have a pretty wide set of influences—Blues, Jazz, Power Pop—I want to incorporate all these different elements’. Power Pop comes in a three-chord dream as “Waiting for You” hits the chorus with Beatelsque harmonies while Friends and the Fakers spends a “Lonely Tuesday Night” soundtracked with Rock grandeur and stomps out a bittersweet love song with “Track Tapes” while LowRay tenderly offer “I’m Sorry” and watch a spiralling relationship with slowly unraveling rhythms as it rises up to grasp freedom in “Let Me Be”.
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Matt Campbell (from the album The Man with Everything available on The Chicago Talking Machine Company Records)
Matt Campbell delivers his country with a slight dose of humor. Not as a novelty as his performance relies on campy humor to be the bulk of the entertainment, but in a subtle and clever way within his word-play and storytelling. BR549 has done it as has Robbie Fulks… a humorous vision within the narrative capable of making you crack a smile that doesn’t stray from respecting the musician or the song. Campbell is as much storyteller as traveling troubadour, and a story, whether it be lecture, sermon or TedTalk always resonates if some humor is involved. The Man with Everything kicks off on first track “The Night That I Found Jesus (Down at Robert’s Western World)”, a funny tale that references a classic Nashville venue, country music heavyweights, and drinking a beer with a new friend.
“Christmas in Nashville” is a shuffling holiday number, an ode to a non-musical Nashville in Indiana that decorates The Man with Everything. “It’s Ours” is the love song of the bunch, a nod to making a home with what little you may have. Campbell also covers the Dylan classic “Simple Twist of Fate” with little deviation from what you may know, aside from slight atmospheric pedal steel played throughout, and it’s great. Nashville has never been a place void of a surplus of choice musicians, and this album proves that. Matt Campbell reached out to some regular band-mates and some Nashville session players, the result is a top-notch outfit that helps bring Campbell’s stories and songs to life. (by Bryant Liggett)
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Frenchie’s Blues Destroyers (from the album Love is Blood available as a self-release)
Dues have been paid by Frenchie as the guitarist made he way west from Nimes, France, landing in Los Angeles with a guitar, a backpack and two hundred dollars answering six-string want ads before landing a band gig with Shooter Jennings. As Frenchie’s Blues Destroyers, the guitarist takes center stage, a role that was a new skin, Frenchie recalling that ‘I’ve always been a guitar player for hire, this was my trade. So to sing the songs I wrote is a big thrill. But in the beginning it was a little scary’. Love is Blood, the recent Frenchie’s Blues Destroyers release, plays host to Frenchie’s songs, backing the tracks with raw guitar and drums (“Get Through to You”), wandering lead guitar lines cruising late night streets of rhythm (“Can’t Stand Missing You”) and tangles Blues licks, packing them in a traveling beat that is “Bound for OKC” as the album sings a song for “Juju Boo Bunny” on a frenzy of percussion.
Frenchie’s Blues Destroyers is a guitar/drum duo, Frenchie’s guitar and voice joined by Brother Pete. A bandmate in backing Jack Ingram, Brother Pete was the push Frenchie needed to land him center stage. Love is Blood crackles with energy, the pair pummeling Blues Rock into form that they wind around “Beautiful Mess”, brushing a out a rhythmic resume for “Little Bit Crazy” while Love is Blood taps out a pace in click-clack percussion for the title track and rips down the highway on a Country romp in “Behind the Wheel”.
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Bishop Gunn (from the album Natchez available on Farm2Turntable Records)
The story of a soul changing hands at the crossroads has moved between myth and reality for decades. Bishop Gunn return to memories of Robert Johnson and Charlie Daniels as the Mississippi-based band does the reveal for the demon in their songs in “Devil is a Woman”. Bishop Gunn title their recent debut release Natchez for the town where band members grew up. Forming around a mutual love and respect for both the history and sounds of the Delta, Bishop Gunn (Travis McCready - vocals, Burne Sharp - drums, Drew Smithers – guitar, and Ben Lewis - bass) grew putting a lot of Southern into their Rock, infusing the cuts on Natchez with healthy doses of Southern Soul (“Shine”), Gospel Blues (“Alabama”), and dark Americana (“Silver Street”).
The members of Bishop Gunn create a safe place for their sound to mature, co-habitating in a farmhouse outside of Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee, writing and recording in a home studio with rehearsals taking place at a nearby re-purposed grocery store. Natchez speaks for the freedom of the open road when one of a character hero takes to the highway with a smile as long as the stretch of blacktop out the windshield in “Wheels”. Bishop Gunn stomp into the album, singing a story of the south in the first cut “Southern Discomfort”. Natchez chews on a Blues groove asking “Baby, What You Want Me to Do”, finds a heart that beats in time with “Right There with Me”, and gives it up for an older lover for “All the Ways” as Bishop Gunn cruise down “Silver Street” with heavy beats parting the curtains of a death waltz circling on the concrete.
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Hymn for Her (from the album Pop-N-Downers available as a self-release)
It’s difficult to predict what sounds Hymn for Her will pull out of their back pocket. When they sing a line like ‘you may never be here again’ in the cut “Scoop” on Pop-N-Downers, the latest release from Hymn for Her, they could also be referring to an audio area they’re occupying in that second, a space with a certain sound they’ll inhabit briefly, leaving quicker than it took to get there. Soon after Hymn for Her surface somewhere else in a world soundtracked by Blues or Indie-Rock, Psychedelic Folk or Lounge Music, where a ukulele is kin with a banjo or cigar box guitar while metallic tin taps from a kid’s toy piano jingle underneath.
Pop-N-Downers finds the Hymn for Her covering all that ground and more. The duo of Lucy Tight and Wayne Waxing can bang out noise and play something appealing on a plethora of levels; there is musical sophistication and some simple riffs within the dirty Folk and hints of Psychedelia. The album kicks off with the dreamy “Blue Balloons” and the contemplative rocker “Human Condition”…..‘you’re born crying, you live complaining, and you die disappointed’. Lyrical brutality comes via one of the catchiest tunes on the album. “November” is beautiful; Lucy Tight’s vocals crisp over a simple ukulele rhythm with a bluesy slide guitar while subtle snapping plays background. “Dingle Town” begins with simple banjo and kicks along like a punk-rock sea shanty. Followed by “First Clown on the Moon,” these 2 come like a one-two punch in the up-beat and dirty category. They walk a fine line between dreamy and mellow, rocking and raw; undefined by instrumentation, whether a banjo, simple kick drum or simple piano Hymn for Her finds each one its place. (by Bryant Liggett)
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Vintage Trouble (from the E.P. Volume II available on McGhee Entertainment)
The excitement of an old school Soul show, backed by the crisp, to-the-point Rock’n’Soul of Vintage Trouble has gotten the Los Angeles, California-based band attention on a world-wide stage. Opening tour slots for The Who, The Rolling Stones, AC/DC, and Bon Jovi, as well as television appearances on Later… with Jools Holland, Jimmy Kimmel LIVE!, and four The Tonight Show in one year put Vintage Trouble in front of an massive audience. The band gives credit to their performance as an entry to a career, looking to get the same feel of live shows in the studio. Vintage Trouble frontman Ty Taylor knew that ‘we wanted to take something from the past and put it in contemporary framing. That was the impetus. We decided to play what felt like pop songs would be with rhythm & blues and rock ‘n’ roll tension. There’s a different life to the music. That was the entire mission behind this new phase’.
The result is Volume II – EP I, Vintage Trouble packing a full show into five cuts, barreling through “Can’t Stop Rollin’” on an effervescent rhythm, slowing for a dramatic sound tracking “My Whole World Stopped Without You”, and pushing a powerful groove made of a thick backbeat and sweeping strings to march through “The Battle’s End”. Using a three-piece powerhouse (Nalle Colt - guitar, Rick Barrio Dill - bass, Richard Danielson - drums) to lay a path for the vocals, Vintage Trouble plant a noir edge into the street smarts story of “Crystal Clarity” as Volume II - EP I opens with first cut “Do Me Right” stepping into life with a funky swagger and sass.
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Oxlip (from the album Wolves! cried the maid available as a self-release)
Much like the music she creates, the flower that Oxlip chooses as a name grows in the woods and meadows, harnessing the power of the nature around us. The sound of Wolves! cried the maid, the latest release from Oxlip, is Folk music born in fantasy, ethereal sounds that drift and take form from the landscape that surrounds the stories. Oxlip delicately unpacks a storyline from a soft Folk Rock wrapping in “Prophet from St. Paul” as heavy sonic footsteps diligently march through the dreamy audio wisps of “The Well (that never runs dry)”. Wolves! cried the maiduses faith in government as the ink that writes the pleas of Oklahoma farmers in “Dust” and gazes out on “Two Lovely Swans” gliding on the low rumble of guitar distortion and ping/pong vocals.
Oxlip crafts songs that offer a glimpse into a different world, a through-the-looking-glass domain, decorated with bright colors and scents against a stark musical landscape in “Garden of Roses”. A weight descends in the trance rock rhythms of “This Dark Hour” as “Lark in the Morning” rises up on thick rolling sound clouds. Oxlip utters a prayer to forest gods on vocals that entreat as they echo through canyons and over vast open expanses of desert with “Children of Zion” while Wolves! cried the maidtakes a cue from a rigid rhythm to stay vigilant with its intentions as resolve weakens in “Outshine the Devil”.
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Sugarcane Jane (from the album Southern State of Mind available on ArenA Recordings)
Divisions are made based on personal decisions and invisible walls are built based on the way we view the world politically. In an us against them game, we need to remind ourselves that our environment is not the people around us, it is the beauty of the land on which we walk. Sugarcane Jane start the conversation as they embrace the joys of living in their Alabama home with a new album, Southern State of Mind. Ragged guitar chords move the clouds aside when “Rainbow” spreads a message of hope as Sugarcane Jane pick up the rhythm to plow through the working day to gather around with friends and music in the evening hours around “Campfire”.
Anthony Crawford and Savana Lee (Sugarcane Jane) provide all the vocals for Southern State of Mindwith co-producer Buzz Cason lending harmony. Recorded at Admiral Bean Studio in Loxley, Alabama, Southern State of Mindwith Wanda Vick adding banjo and fiddle to the instrumental backing for the recording, all supplied by Anthony Crawford. A dark melody and a steady pace to the beat and story gives “Man of Fewest Words” an air of prophecy while a persistent thump builds four walls of rhythm around “Cabin on the Hill”. Southern State of Mindkeeps homefires burning for a man away from the land he loves in the title track as Sugarcane Jane follow “Destiny” on an infectious groove as they offer words for hearts with the advice of “The One Before Me” and the cautious steps of “Red Flags Warning” as they sprinkle optimism and wonder along a path leading into tomorrow with “We Can Dream”.
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