Jerry Jeff Walker – It’s About Time

Throat cancer nearly felled Jerry Jeff Walker last year as he wrapped recording for It’s About Time. That brush with mortality now adds a reflective tinge to the progressive country stalwart’s first album in nearly a decade. Even as his voice settles into a lower key, Walker continues spinning gorgeously easy melodies and true narratives on a life now more front porch than rowdy bars. “It took me years to give it up, but I felt I might lose her love, or myself,” Walker acknowledges on sobriety ode “Rain Song,” reeling hard-earned epiphanies. Opening trifecta “That’s Why I Play,” “California Song,” and “Because of You” all gracefully take stock of what matters, as does a turn on Guy Clark’s “My Favorite Picture of You.” Walker maintains an ear for others’ songs, most notably on dusky ballad “South Coast” and barrel piano roll “Ballad of Honest Sam,” while his son Django’s “Somethin’ Bout a Boat” – covered by Jimmy Buffett – gets a Seventies Hill Country makeover.

 

The Vagaband – Something Wicked This Way Comes

Based in Norwich, The Vagaband are a nine-piece crew whose punning name aptly sums up their wandering musical pathways. The politically satirical title track gets things rolling, an uptempo fiddle-driven slice of Laurel Canyon close harmony folk rock that calls CS&N. Hanging around the same era, once past the intro,  Bright Are The Stars, which features The Arlenes on harmonies, recalls the melody line of The Byrds     I Am A Pilgrim. And then there   s One For The Road which evokes the same queasy narcotic disorientation of Three Dog Night   s Mama Told Me Not To Come. That was, of course, written by Randy Newman and the same influence can be heard on the lazy New Orleans piano rag and brass styled Spiritual Man.

Then, that   s surely Dylan circa Desire underpinning the scuffling Not My Day To Die while, featuring Morganway   s Yve Mary Barwood on vocals,  the bluesy An Eye For An Eye flirts with spaghetti western moods with its tolling bells and desert parched guitar twang, even if the line about getting back to the garden is clearly pinched from Joni   s Woodstock.

In contrast, things come closer to home with the strummed guitar ballad Through The Back Doors which sails close to Lennon   s Jealous Guy and There   ll Only Be One Elvis (Costello not Presley) has a touch of Oasis lurking behind its Americana sway. However, it   s back to swampier climes for the low key sung, Mexicana doped and dobro shaped Black Eyed Sally.

Musical echoes of Lennon   s I Heard The News Today in evidence, it finally ends with the nostalgia-themed Zoetrope. Frontman Jos    McGill says the album   s about    American cultural imperialism on our own turf   , acknowledging the irony that much of their music appropriates this while still planting its feet in British roots rock soil. Wickedly good.

Andrea Colburn & Mud Moseley – Easy, Sleazy and Greazy

Debut album from the self-proclaimed King & Queen of the Hillbilly Underground featuring a carefully selected group of tunes incorporating Honky Tonk, Blues, Rockabilly, Garage Rock and Surf music. Like Doc Watson and the Cramps had a love child.

 

 

Junior Sisk – A Brand New Shade Of Blue

When Junior Sisk decides to take a step back and assess his
musical direction, one must never question his motives again.
Simply put, Brand New Shade Of Blue is the record Junior has
been wanting, needing to make for years. “When I first started
performing professionally, my goal was always to present
traditional bluegrass,” says Junior. “With the loss of so many great,
traditional Bluegrass artists of late—Ralph Stanley, James King,
Dave Evans, and Melvin Goins—I really want to make a strong
effort to keep their sound alive, as well.” That opportunity
presented itself organically when Junior’s long-time band,
Ramblers Choice, had a change in personnel at the end of 2017.
“When Jason Davis and Kameron Keller moved on to create a
new band, I really felt like it was the perfect opportunity to regroup
and put more focus on my original goal. I’ve had these songs
stashed away for a while and they were perfect for this record.
They are modern songs featuring a traditional vocal treatment.”
Junior may very well have made one of this year’s best albums,
possibly the best of his career, with Brand New Shade Of Blue.

To do so, he relied on the help of some stellar vocalists who fit his
own style perfectly. Del McCoury sings tenor on “The Guilt Was
Gone,” a sure-fire vocal collaboration that is well overdue. The
sweet songbird voice of Heather Berry Mabe melds with Junior’s
Appalachian sound like none other and creates a match made in
heaven for a duet on “Backwards And Forwards.” And who better
to bring a soulful duet vocal on “God Did Good” than Marty
Raybon with his brother Tim joining in to create a three part
harmony structure. Songwriting stalwart Tim Massey, who has
contributed several great tunes to Junior’s repertoire over the
years, sang tenor on his self-penned “Honey Do List.” And another
award-winning writer, Daniel Salyer, equally known for his high
lonesome sound, rounds out the bulk of the harmony on the
project. But one of the best collaborations is that of Junior and The
Lost And Found’s Allen Mills on “By Now I Would Be Dead.” Noone
performs tongue-in-cheek songs better than Allen Mills and
bringing him into the mix on this song is pure genius. But for all the
highlight tracks featuring guests that make this album special, the
standout star continues to be Junior with his heart for a song that
shows every time he opens his mouth to sing a note. Brand New
Shade Of Blue is quintessential Junior Sisk music and an album
that bluegrass enthusiasts will no doubt embrace with open arms.
Friends, Junior Sisk is back!

High Valley – Farmhouse Sessions

High Valley released an acoustic album, High Valley: Farmhouse Sessions, featuring new renditions of some favorite fan tracks, . The project was recorded in their farmhouse outside of Nashville, and includes their debut single “Make You Mine,” their Canadian No. 1 “I Be U Be,” as well as the duo’s current single, “She’s With Me,” which is Top 15 and rising up the charts.

“We were out on our first headline tour in the US this fall and witnessed so many amazing fans singing our songs back to us,” shared Brad Rempel. “We wanted to be able to share that feeling with everyone so we put together a few of our favorites.”

High Valley opened for Chris Janson last night at his sold-out Ryman show, and are set to head out on a run of overseas dates in the United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands and Australia.

The Boxer Rebellion – ghost alive

Last year’s single ‘What The Fuck’ is a such a lush and mournful opener I had already been asking myself if Ghost Alive could be as good as some of last year’s US releases on the indie-rock scale of sentimental awesomeness, as its gentle strings and whistled outro sweep in on a wave of studio echo and the rest of the record holds up to scrutiny. If you are looking for major chords look elsewhere because this is an album recorded almost exclusively in minor scales. Grown up indie from a dark place. Not depressing, but beautifully realised melancholy.

Tim Buckley-like acoustic runs, simple piano and orchestration throughout conjure landscapes and firstfall. ‘Rain’ grows into an epic green screen of sound and ‘Fear’, with its falsetto, is like ice skating on a frozen lake while companion piece ‘Here I Am’ is a fast rolling terrain of dandelions and moss about falling back in love as spring breaks; its looping three-note piano motif has the natural reverb of a studio as big as the valleys. The overblown similes may be hackneyed but Ghost Alive is so evocative at times in its unconcealed ambition and panoramic reach the grandiose superlatives stick.

At others a workmanlike ballast presides over the chamberal and funereal and this is reflective of the underlying theme, since frontman Nathan Nicholson lost both his parents and his unborn child the band have teamed up with CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) to help spread a message of hope. So, it’s not quite Chris Martin penning Paradise.
Previous Boxer Rebellion albums have suffered in the face of Coldplay-without-the-hooks type criticism and there still remains a lack of an obvious centrepiece despite ‘Love Yourself’ growing gracefully into a ‘Streets of Philadelphia’ moment on any other album but perhaps diluted by the overarching stratospherics of this one.

While the Tim Buckley thing never really goes away the scope and thoroughness, for want of a better word, of Ghost Alive is breath-taking. The gentle brass on ‘Don’t Ever Stop’ is so out of place it takes us out of the story altogether and we are now on the outside looking in (or like recalling a vivid dream) and you suddenly realise how absorbing this record is. Or on ‘River’; again those acoustic runs, an old man looks back on his life still dreaming of being led to the sea from his Steinbeckian perch as the melancholy prevails stopping just short of dipping into a true sadness. A sense of guilt runs through the whole record, as you might surmise given the source material, and it’s only on closer ‘Goodnight’, a simple acoustic lullaby, that this burden is perhaps both literally and figuratively put to bed.

For sure, it’s not going to be the most original album of the year but on this, the band’s sixth, The Boxer Rebellion have hit upon something timeless and placeless, poignant and gorgeous.

Trixie and The Trainwrecks – 3 Cheers To Nothing

FROM BERLIN AND LONDON LED BY TRIXIE AND HER 3 MEN BRINGS US THE RAW AUTHENTIC TRAIN HOPER BLUES TRASH FOLK COUNTRY FROM THE STREETS DIRECT INTO YOUR EARSWAYS

TRIXIE TRAINWRECK:
Wild child, Trixie Trainwreck aka Trinity Sarratt was born in San Francisco and moved to Berlin on a whim when she was 18. She started her musical endeavors in the underground trains back in 1999 and went on to make a name for herself working in and promoting shows in almost every bar in town as well as touring the EU and the USA with a handful of bands (Kamikaze Queens, Cry Babies, Runaway Brides) and most recently with her one woman show as Trixie Trainwreck No Man Band. She’s probably the hardest working girl in showbiz…and a mother, too!!

LINE UP :
Trixie Trainwreck: vocals & rhythm guitar
Charlie Hangdog : blues harp
Paul Seacroft: lapsteel & lead guitar
Bruce Brand: drums & percussion

 


THE RECORINGS:
When Dylan Walshe introduced Trixie Trainwreck to Charlie Hangdog on the premise of playing around London, no one could have predicted what would happen next. After a handful of shows and what may have been a one- off session with Bruce Brand (Thee Headcoats, Milkshakes, Holly Golightly, Hipbone Slim) and Paul Seacroft (The Selector, played with members of Jim Jones Revue, Urban Voodoo Machine, Prince Buster) they would end up recording a whole album with Ed Deegan at the amazing Gizzard Studios for Voodoo Rhythm Records! Well, that’s just what happened and this is what we got just 3 action packed days later! Recorded 99% live and analogue, here comes 13 overdriven-long-gone-broken-hearted-country-blues-trash numbers from the wrong side of the tracks. And it feels so right. “3 Cheers to Nothing” sums up the last 18 years of the San Francisco born, Berlin based Trixie Trainwreck in exile, taking you along on her personal adventures and inner struggles with the ghosts of yesterdays past, angels, demons, and everything in between. The sound is just as unexpected as the rest. We call it Trainwreck Blues!

Buffalo Rose – The Soil & The Seed

Folk and Soul-grass with soaring vocal harmonies.

 

 

 

The Soil and The Seed by Buffalo Rose is a well-produced, cozy folk record with soulful harmonies. Vocalists Mariko Reid, Lucy Clabby and Shane McLaughlin join together to create a wall of sound, with the gently plucked guitar (McLaughlin), dobro (Malcolm Inglis), bass (Jason Rafalak) and mandolin (Bryce Rabideau). In 12 tracks, Buffalo Rose energetically tackles a variety of  Americana-ish songs, ranging from boisterously upbeat (ripe for singalongs) to gently sweet and tenderly sad.

The album-opener, “God Willing,” is a fun stomp- and clap-heavy number, but the band shines brightest on tracks like “Poison Oak.” It’s a bittersweet number about learning from heartbreak, and finding light and a home after the hurt. The beautiful female vocals softly sing: “I opened up the blinds and let the sun in,” an affirmation about inviting happiness back into your life.

Craig Duncan & The Appalachian Orchestra – Smoky Mountain Fifties

Pop hits of the 1950’s featuring Hammered Dulcimer.

Performed on authentic mountain instruments. Includes bluegrass inflected renditions of “Sixteen Candles,” “All I Have To Do Is Dream,” “Bye Bye Love,” and more.

Craig Duncan is no stranger to the Nashville music community. His talents on violin, fiddle, hammered dulcimer, mandolin, guitar, bass, and viola can be heard on numerous Nashville recordings. A graduate of Appalachian State University and Tennessee State University, Craig is a member of the North American Fiddler’s Hall of Fame and Who’s Who in Music and Musicians.

Pony League – A Picture of Your Family

This album is a peek into the space between the moments that have shaped us, both as people and a band. It’s a spring cleaning of emotional baggage, dusting off neglected cracks and corners only to find a comforting beauty in the accidental symmetry of what’s been left behind. A Picture of Your Family. Please enjoy!

Love,

Pony League

I love a good cinematic songwriter. I want to be completely transported into the world that you’re creating with your music– include all the minutia of your daily life if that means that you can paint a picture so crystalline that I can’t help but see myself lost in it. I’ve talked ad nauseam about the way I think Jake Ewald has perfected the craft– but where would he be if it weren’t for acts like Billy Joel or Bruce Springsteen? Those two men spared no detail and made sure to include whatever necessary to help the world they were creating come to life. That’s a quality that I’ve come to cherish as I’m getting older, and it’s one that I’m happy to report I’ve found in a band called Pony League.

The band recently announced their new record, A Picture Of Your Family, will be released on March 23rd through hometown-hero record label Break Kids Recordings and I couldn’t be more excited to share the title track with y’all! There’s something about this track that just draws you in– I don’t know if it’s the vulnerable nature of the vocals and piano or if it’s the drawl that helps make the story-telling feel authentic and serene. It’s one of those songs you can’t stop listening to because you love the fact that you feel something when you’re listening to it. You’re taken out of your own head, the negativity of real life slips away, and in a true Walking In Memphis kind of way– you can’t help but feel a little somber but somehow full of joy.

When asked about the song, vocalist Gus Fernandez said: “‘A Picture Of Your Family’ is an attempt to capture the fleeting emotions that come rushing during unexpected moments of quiet or “in-between moments”. You know when you’re at home at a time where you’re usually at work or school, and the light peeks through the window in ways you’ve never noticed? Or if you’ve ever booked a really early flight and found yourself in a cab before the sunrise looking out the window while the world still sleeps. This song is about the buried treasures that pop into your mind (or at least my mind) in that unexpected state of rest. In my case, it started with a glance at an old family photo that I walk by every day. On this particularly quiet day, the photo sent a rush of nostalgia through me and I found myself wondering how I’d gotten here.”