Joe’s Truck Stop – American Dreams

I first came across Joe’s Truck Stop with the 2014 EP release called Free Showers.  It came out around the height of the punk fueled string band craze and it fit in well with that genre.  It felt like a bajo fueled country record with some attitude. Fast Forward to 2018 and the band are finally releasing their first full length album called American Dreams.  There have been many lineup changes since the EP, but they’re still very much a banjo fueled country band. The music is calmer and more country with a western swing feel to it this time around.  This is a good change as the scene has changed since 2014 and more traditional country is more popular than the punk fueled country that was featured on the EP.

One of my favorites on this record is “Banjo Pickin’ Tobacco Spittin’ Gal”.  It’s a bluegrass fueled country song that has humor and is just plain fun. This one will have toes tappin’ at live shows for sure.  “Don’t Go To College” is a cautionary tale about learning more about the world before diving headfirst into it. It’s a lesson we could all learn eventually.

“The High Road” is another fast country tune that is a fun toe tapper.  I love the duel solo by Andrew McPheter’s banjo and Ben Sweeney’s lead guitar on this one.  “(Don’t) Put A Nickel In The Jukebox” goes into full on honky tonk territory with a sad country song about not being able to stand hearing sad country songs.  It doesn’t get sadder than that. “Knockin’ Boots” is a good dancing song, however you like to dance. Finally, “American Dreams” showcases Joe Macheret’s songwriting abilities.  I love the reference to Hank Snow’s “I’ve Been Everywhere”. It seems like something the band could have fun with live.

American Dreams shows what could be a promising future for Joe’s Truck Stop.  Hopefully we won’t have to wait another 4 years for the next release because I look forward to hearing more.  I highly recommend this album to anyone looking for a good traditional country record with some killer banjo playing that really sets this band apart

Stanley Brinks – Peanuts

Sometimes you just run out of ideas and names and you call your album Peanuts. I’m okay with it though Stanley Brinks certainly doesn’t need my approval. The songwriter’s been having a blast recently, making folksy good-time records with the Wave Pictures; this solo record offers an all alone iteration of his quixotic anti-folk troubadorings.

Stanley Brinks sets the bar high when it comes to artistic independence, freedom, tradition and avoiding fashionable trends. In 2006, André left his band, Herman Düne. Now based in Berlin he releases timeless albums, playing them live in small venues where he can remain true to his musical ideals

 

Moore Moss Rutter – III

 

The rule of three has been observed in art and society since antiquity. Omni trium perfectum runs the Latin phrase: everything that comes in threes is perfect. The three movements of a classical concerto; the three ghosts in A Christmas Carol; the tripartite nature of any fairy tale worth its salt. Triads are inescapable: even the previous sentence adheres to the rule. Moore Moss Rutter seem well-attuned to the power of three. They are – as you’ve probably guessed – a trio, and their third album, simply titled III, is expressly crafted as the final act in a musical trilogy. This fact makes us aware of the group’s sense of purpose, of their concerted vision, even before we have heard a note.

They hail, fittingly, from three diverse corners of England. Tom Moore is a fiddle and viola player from Norfolk who is currently studying for a masters in creative music at Goldsmiths. Melodeon player and teacher Archie Churchill-Moss lives in Bristol. Jack Rutter is a guitarist from West Yorkshire who has previously worked with Jackie Oates and Seth Lakeman. Plot their homes on a map and you will come up with a roughly equilateral triangle. That may be coincidence but I prefer to call it synchronicity.

 

And synchronicity is an important factor in this album’s appeal. Producer Andy Bell – who as always does an excellent and typically sympathetic job in the recording studio – mentions it in his liner notes when explaining how III was recorded at close quarters and as complete live takes. And you can hear the closeness from the first few bars of opening track The Iron Bell, a Moss-composed piece that morphs from a graceful, fiddle-led tune into something much more blustery and percussive, in which Rutter’s disciplined guitar provides a backbone around that allows the other instruments to play and wander.

 

The trio – who won the BBC’s prestigious Young Folk Award in 2011 – are adept at taking an object, place or event and interpreting it, but they use the interpretation as a musical jumping-off point rather than an end in itself. It’s a refreshing approach which yields results that are varied, surprising and crammed full of ideas. Hilly Fields/Blakeney Point takes two very different places as inspiration for two tunes that sit perfectly together. Hilly Fields (named after the South London park saved from redevelopment in 1896 by National Trust founder Octavia Hill) is a bright, brisk Moore/Moss co-composition that taps into elements of English folk dance to highlight the joy of shared experience, while Blakeney Point – that wild spit of sand, samphire and seals on the north Norfolk coast – is presented in a way that is complementary but subtly different: looser and somehow freer.

 

They pull off a similar effect with The Intrepid/Espresso. One tune is dedicated to a diesel engine, the other to strong coffee, but both convey movement – steady in the first instance and wonderfully jittery in the second. Worrall Road/The Glade is a pair of Moss compositions linking west to east (or more specifically Bristol to Cambridge). They make a bustling combination, allowing Moss to stretch his fingers and prove his ample melodeon talents, while Moore’s fiddle provides a constant counterpoint.

III is not short of genuinely moving moments: on Dougal, Moss pays tribute to a family pet and the result is a truly tender and heartfelt piece given even more power by the intimacy of the recording. All three instruments are given space, and each delicate note of Rutter’s guitar part is traceable. Archer Street/Somerset Safehouse is another pair of place-specific tunes, composed by Moore and Moss respectively, that proves that both have a fine ear for a melody that is simultaneously complex and catchy. But they are by no means limited to their own compositions. Minuet is an interpretation of a Henry Purcell piece, set alongside two French tunes – Soulèvement and La Goulette – and while the contrast is striking, the tunes are combined with such a light touch that you feel they belong together.

 

An interpretation of the Danish wedding tune Brudestykke begins as the album’s most sombre piece (if that’s what a wedding is like in Denmark, what about a funeral?), but builds into something quietly celebratory, as Rutter’s guitar provides a stop-start kind of propulsiveness. Brudestykke neatly dovetails into St. Martin’s Lane, a dance that dates back to 1696. This rendition sounds surprisingly modern, with a kinetic, rhythmic feel provided by Rutter’s punchy playing. The tune builds in urgency as if daring the listener to dance along with it, until its final, abrupt full stop.

 

Rutter’s guitar playing has an important role right across the record, providing a rhythmic and sometimes percussive base around which the other instruments’ melodic flights of fancy can revolve. But on the final tune, Rowler’s Jig/The Beeches the guitar plays a bigger part in the melody itself. The jig is Rutter’s own composition, and on it, all three instruments wrap around each other. As jigs go, this is a sedate one, and its appeal lies in the way the trio interact, the way they instinctively know when to give each other room. They sign off with The Beeches, a joyful tune by Moss that gives his melodeon centre stage. It is a pleasingly upbeat way to finish an album that – perhaps because of how frequently it takes its inspiration from geographical locations, or because of the wide range of emotional landscape it covers – often feels like a journey.

 

Crucially, the journey never feels laboured. There is a different view to enjoy at every turn. The music is so rich in detail and so personally, lovingly crafted that it will reveal new facets and deeper resonances with every listen. It is suffused with pastoral light but anchored in earthy realism, unshowy but technically innovative, driven by emotion but never sentimental. III is a folk album played with the inventiveness of jazz and the control of chamber music. If it is the end of a project, the culmination of something, then it is tempting to ask what Moore Moss Rutter will do next. With any luck, it will be another perfect set of three.

loreena mckennitt – lost souls

Loreena McKennitt’s simple explanation for the 12-year break between new albums of original material is that “life happens” — touring to support her previous releases, caring for her late mother, researching another musical project. But McKennitt is back with the May 11 release of her 10th studio album Lost Souls.

“I had a lot of people ask us, ‘Are you ever going to release anything original again?'” the Canadian songstress — who also released two collections of traditional material following 2006’s An Ancient Muse — tells Billboard. “I figured the quickest way was to go to the cupboard and look at what had been written in the past. Four or five songs existed as little breadcrumbs from the late ’80s to the present, which gave us a good start. So (Lost Souls) is a bit more of a collection, a corralling of pieces than ‘Here’s a creative vision and I want the right pieces to fit that.’ It’s more like a gathering, a collection of morsels.”

The nine tracks on Lost Souls span more than three decades. McKennitt recalls performing “The Ballad of the Fox Hunter” and “Ages Past, Ages Hence” during the late ’80s, while “Spanish Guitars and Night Plazas” was written during the early ’90s. “La Belle Dams Sans Merci” was considered for An Ancient Muse, “Sun, Moon and Stars” has been around for a few years and “Manx Ayre” comes from a melody McKennitt composed during her days of busking on the streets of Toronto.

The “Lost Souls” track, meanwhile, was the album’s most recent song, written last year and inspired by CBC lectures published in Ronald Wright’s 2004 book A Short History of Progress. “(Wright) has studied civilizations as one might study the black boxes of aircrafts that have gone down,” McKennitt says. “In his view it seems as a species we have a tendency to get ourselves into progress traps. When he wrote this lecture series it was coming as much from an environmental concern as anything else, but I put the connection to new technologies. I think they are very quickly and drastically changing everything we have known in such a fundamental and a quick way that I worry we may be in a progress trap here, too.

“Those were the ruminations that underpinned that song. I didn’t want to get into it too literally, like many artists, so I wrote in a cryptic or metaphorical way so people could relate to it even if they didn’t understand where I was coming from.”

McKennitt will support Lost Souls’ release with in-store appearances May 16-18 in Germany and the Netherlands. She plans to begin touring in earnest during October, with a two-year global campaign the will kick off during October in South America. Meanwhile, McKennitt already has her sights on her next album, a set that will examine the connection between Celtic and Northern Indian cultures that she began working on some years ago.

“It continues to morph each passing day, almost too dangerous to time,” McKennitt says. “I took a wonderful trip (to India) to start working on this and got plenty of inspiration, and I would love to feel I can go and do another. It’s very interesting but very challenging because of the way the music business has changed so much in the last 10 years or so, when we released Ancient Muse. The creative side is the least of my worries; It’s more, ‘Is there going to be a proper return for the time and money invested in this. Will people actually BUY something when it’s put out?’ So there’s much to study and learn and evaluate.”

Bryony Griffith – Hover

‘Hover’ is Bryony Griffith’s brand new solo album of Traditional Tunes for an English Fiddle player.

Recorded by Ian Stephenson at Simpson Street Studios, Northumberland and featuring him on guitar and double bass.

Bryony Griffith is a highly respected fiddle player and distinctive singer with a broad repertoire of traditional English Dance tunes and songs. She is among the few fiddle players whose repertoire draws almost exclusively on traditional English tunes, with a particular passion for the more uncommon dance tunes of her native Yorkshire and surrounding counties.

Her skills and enthusiasm encompass solo performance, duo work with her husband, Will Hampson and extensive experience of playing for folk dancing, including her role in the BBC Folk Award-winning Demon Barbers and the ceilidh band Bedlam. She was also a member of the much-missed acappella quartet The Witches of Elswick.

With over 20 years’ experience researching folk material and devising innovative ways of presenting it for use in performance and education work with children, young people and adults, Bryony’s down-to-earth and relaxed style of teaching and performing is much in demand.

Following the success of her debut solo album, ‘Nightshade’, the release of her solo album of fiddle tunes ‘Hover’ coincides with 25 years of performing on the UK folk scene.


“Bryony Griffith has established herself as one of the most powerful and distinctive vocalists to emerge in the past decade, with fiddle, viola and piano work that send a shiver down the spine.” R2 magazine

“A solo album of great power and magnificence. She sings beautifully and knows how to kick out a song and does it brilliantly. Wow, what a great voice.” – Mike Harding

Storie Grubb – The Swill Herds

Americana Folk Rock music with Indie World Pop Sensibilities.

Album Notes
‘The Swill Herds’ has no standard 6 string guitars on it. All the leads, hooks and distortion parts you hear are from my ukulele. I wanted to challenge myself and create an album that had a strong ukulele foundation mixed with heavy percussion and bass with a lo-fi, pop twist. My old friend Matthew Vorhies plays accordion on a few tracks, adding breath to the body. It was written, recorded and mixed in my basement in Boise Idaho from January- March 2018.
I threw in an old Pink Floyd song that I have always wanted to cover called Fat Old Sun. I hope I did it some justice.

Ian and Dylan – Into the Laps of Pool Traps

Displaying prodigy level musicianship and profound lyricism, the young duo “Ian & Dylan”, is composed of Ian Graham (Vocals,Multi-instrumentalist) and Dylan Vance (Percussion, Multi-Instrumentalist). Ian and Dylan draw influence from bands such as “alt-J” and “Bright Eyes” to bring forth a genre blending sound containing components of alternative, indie, jazz and folk music. 

Jamie Lee Thurston – The Window

Jamie Lee Thurston has an axe to grind.

Music is not a hobby to Thurston. It’s the only thing. The act of performing music is how he enters and relates to the world. And when you watch him live, it’s as if you’re witnessing a red giant of a star form before you, drawing in all of the stardust and matter of the immediate universe to power its very being…even if only for a fraction of time.

Most musicians are great at one, maybe two parts of the musical quagmire, leaning in to those roles so far that the band and the creators and the pizazz surrounding them carry the rest. It is an admirable and well-orchestrated feat, to be sure, and one that’s been perfected for many decades of recorded music and live performance history. Music enthusiasts everywhere applaud their accomplishments, and love them all the same.

Thurston stands out as one of those rare performers that has achieved the next-to impossible: The Quadfecta.

He has perfected the multi-faceted roles of an entertainer, a vocalist, an instrumentalist, and a producer – an accomplishment unknown to most. And while he’s great at all four aspects at any given time, to see him achieve them all at once, live from the stage, is a truly monumental experience.

It stands to reason that all music is good music as long as it finds its way to the one person who enjoys it. And in Thurston’s set, there is truly something for everyone. His performance satisfies even the most varied tastes, covering classic and story-based country, and his exceptional abilities on guitar takes audiences where they least expect to go – on a ride with AD/DC, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bad Company, The Doors, Jerry Reed, and Deep Purple, to name a few.

Nine studio albums later, Thurston’s story is a parable of endurance and a triumph over mediocrity. His career started with a white-hot flash bang, and continues to steadily burn, taking him and his fans on a long-haul journey.

His dedication to his craft and his love of entertaining surprises the newest of fans, and continues to thrill those who’ve carried him the whole ride. But, as with every other star-crossed story, it did not happen overnight.

In fact, he’s spent more of his life performing on stage than not, a fact that most people don’t know

Thurston grew up with a milk bottle in one hand and a microphone in the other, “accompanying” his father’s band during rehearsals, and eventually at gigs. He made his first live performance at just three years old.

Anyone can imagine, then, after more than 30 years on the road, that he’s amassed some stories. And boy, has he ever. Fans of Thurston’s, otherwise known as The Thursties, live for the storytime parts of his sets because this is a man that has seen more than most and lived to sing about it.

His talent has taken him through the Nashville music industry and label machine at Warner Brothers, where he turned out singles for Montgomery Gentry, Rodney Atkins and Trace Adkins, including Rodney’s chart-topping fan favorite, “15 Minutes.” And he’s shared stages with country music’s biggest acts, such as the Waylon Jennings, Roger Miller, the Dixie Chicks, Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley, Billy Currington and Charlie Daniels.

He continues to burn up the road, and he’s enjoying his recent entry into Europe and the UK, crossing the pond at every opportunity.

He’ll keep fighting the good fight to play that solid, high-quality country and straight-up rock ‘n’ roll for the people who most want to hear it. And he’ll wield his Les Paul Gold Top as his weapon.

After all this time, he’s just getting started.

Scott Southworth – Hey Hillbilly Singer!

Whiskey soaked, all new, original Traditional Country Music recorded in Nashville TN…no rap, loops or auto-tune. Just real pickers laying it down and going to town! Country Music for grown ups.

Album Notes
“Hey Hillbilly Singer!” is the anticipated full length follow up to his successful 2016 Traditional Country release. Scott says “It was amazing to find out that so many people around the world wanted to hear new, original “Old School” Country Music! Once I realized that, it only made sense to hit the studio as soon as possible…I have written tons of this music over the years for myself and I am so excited to share some more with you all!

“To say I was surprised by the success of 2016’s “The Last Honky Tonk In Town” is the understatement of the year!” Almost immediately after it’s August release there were rave reviews across Europe and the UK! Country Music People Magazine named Scott their September 2016 “Honky Tonker Of The Month” and his songs “Whiskey Bottle” and “Whiskey In Heaven” were tied for the #1 spot on the UK’s “Kicking Cuts Chart” as compiled by CMP in September 2016!

In late October that year, Scott’s first official single “Whiskey Bottle” was released to European radio and in November debuted at #27 on the Irish Country Music charts, made it up to #3 on the SwissTex charts as well as being picked up by several BBC UK presenters. The CD made several radio presenters and publications “Top Album Lists of 2016. Scott has been nominated twice (2016 & 2017) by the Academy of Western Artists Awards in the categories of: “Pure Country Album of the Year”, “Pure Country Single of the Year” and “Pure Country Male Vocalist of the Year”.

“Hey Hillbilly Singer!” picks right up where his last CD left off, with high energy Honky Tonk songs, Texas Swingers, Two Steppers, Truck Stop Rockers and Tear in your Beer Ballads that will transport the listener into a dark, neon lit dive bar with sawdust on the dance floor and ice cold long necks in a bucket.

The title track idea was actually born in the studio as another song was being cut: “As we were all listening to my rough guitar vocal reference track, guitarist Brent Mason came around the corner and exclaimed “Hey! Who’s That Hillbilly Singer?” while clapping me on the back. As I drove home that night, Hey Hillbilly Singer just kept rolling around in my head and wouldn’t leave me alone until I got to writing, then called my pal Marc Alan Barnette to help me wrap it up!”

The tongue in cheek “I Ain’t Leaving Town” was never meant to be recorded. “I presented the idea to my co-writer Heino Moeller as a song just to sing at writers rounds because nobody would ever let this on the radio! We were cracking up the whole time we wrote it…but a funny thing happened when we played it out. Everybody would be singing along by the second chorus! One day at a songwriter festival I saw Traditional Country Music recording artist Bobby Marquez in the audience and he was singing at the top of his lungs and cracking up, so I asked if he’d want to record it as a duet (sure that he’d say no thanks) and he jumped right on board!”

When describing the production style incorporated by Scott and Buddy Hyatt, Scott says: “We record fast and loose with the best of the best pickers Nashville has to offer. And given the Pop Country style that’s all the rage in sessions these days, these musicians are energized and excited to dig into the type of music that made them move to Nashville in the first place…that enthusiasm shines through in the recordings and raises my vocal performance as well! We don’t go for perfect…we want emotion and energy. There’s a lot of laughter, friendship and trust in each other in the studio…I hope the listener feels that from the first note to the last!”

Samara Lubelski – Flickers at the Station

Biography:

Samara Lubelski… Songwriter, Singer, Multi-Instrumentalist, Improviser, and Engineer…

With a voluminous musical pedigree, the list of artists (individually and collectively) that Lubelski has played/performed/recorded with, reads out like a best-of the who’s who of the art, noise, free, improv, experimental, etc. Hall of Fame, The Tower Recordings, MV and EE, and Thurston Moore are just a few to mention.

Her first solo outing, 1997’s “In the Valley”, was a major installment in the recorded legacy of experimental string music, a dense exploration of drones and resonance. The Fleeting Skies followed in 2004 with a full-band recording of lush psychedelic folk-rock. Since then, Lubelski has released a wonderfully colorful series of albums: “Spectacular Of Passages” (2005), “Parallel Suns” (2007), “Future Slip” (2009), “Wavelength: (2012), and “The Gilded Raid” (2016).

Ms. Lubelski has also studio-engineered records for Double Leopards, Sightings, and Mouthus, amongst many others. Her current projects include an improvisational duo with Marcia Bassett and a long-standing collaboration with German collective Metabolismus. Additionally, Ms. Lubelski has worked with the prolific Thurston Moore on a variety of outings, including playing violin on Mr. Moore’s solo records “Trees Outside the Academy” and “Demolished Thoughts” and recording and touring with his band Chelsea Light Moving.

Her most recent collaborative album is with Body/Head’s Bill Nace, which came out on Nace’s Open Mouth imprint earlier this year. “Flicker At the Stations” on Drawing Room represents Lubelski’s most current full-length offering. 

“Flickers At The Station”:

There are experimental musicians that know how to well craft the best of pop music, and there are pop musicians that know how to experiment at upper echelons of instinct. Samara Lubelski is both of these musicians in one. It may be a bold statement, but yes, it is true, every word. Her breadth of experience in both of the otherworldly sides of these spheres grants her an enlightened gift in song writing. It is elegant and transporting, and it coalesces in that golden new age of purple and orange psychic pop music that ducks its head into the present realm from time to time.

“Flickers At The Station” is an album that showcases Lubelski at a creative apex. Beautiful and breathtaking, it is a forever keeper of a baroque pop record. It’s late evening music. It’s early morning revelation music. It’s a glorious day unto itself. The pure connection between Lubelski’s outré improv and instrumentation and her pop–psychic songwriting is in complete harmony.

Recorded in 2017 in Germany with Lubelski’s forever time collaborators, Metabolismus, and others, “Flickers At The Station” is an essential statement of baroque glory. It’s a cerebrally sensed listening expedition with all future endings open and most hopeful. Bless yourself with this one.

credits

released May 11, 2018