Rolling Country 2017

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Nashville Scene will publish the seventeenth annual Country Music Critics Poll January 26, 2017. While we're waiting (or not), might as well paste comments I sent them that weren't from RC '16---anybody else got some of those? Or comments on newer releases would be good (still haven't gotten to Natalie Hemby's album, but nice clips).

dow, Thursday, 12 January 2017 01:45 (one year ago) Permalink

Buck Owens’ The Complete Capitol Singles 1967-1966 starts with so-what songs and subdued settings, but his voice is already flexible and on point, mining each note and syllable just enough to check for whatever might be worth extracting--carefully but quickly (2 hours, 12 minutes of music here, and virtually every track is under three minutes, some of the best and worst just over two).
In the booklet he’s the first to assert that these early tracks were not so hot, because he didn’t have the cred to things his way under the success of “Under Your Spell Again” proved his point (several follow-ups glance off its template; whatever the commercial results, takes a while before one sounds nearly as good). It’s still a startling quality bump to a leap, the classic Buck suddenly materializing, declaring (no complaints, not like before). “You’ve. Got. Me. Unn-der, your spellll again, “ doing all the things he does with beats and short phrases in the California melding of country with rock ‘n’ roll appeal----in brief of course, though later he’ll sometimes bring in a suggestion of Latin and/or Caribbean curvature in the held vocal notes and supporting sounds, or, more on the per se country side, wail each note of the chorus over a thin ticky-tocky snare and rhythm guitar pick: this is music from another hit factory, for sure. Starting, as he says, with the rule of treble---no more tracks “where it sounds like the bass player is standing in front of the singer”----and little mono speakers in the control room, to check how the mix will sound on transistors and car radios: he wants it clear, and it sounds like he wants it edgey, baby: the bright metallic “Bakersfield Sound” of money-making machinery, in synch and bouncing off the tin roof sun, with jangling breezes and currents, dust and foliage and the available or at least glimpsed waters: all in in California chrome reflections cruising by.
Cruising by what, you may ask. Well--- not that he spends much time, after label-imposed early stints, hunkered down and brooding, but when he does, it’s all somebody else’s fault. Or, if he gets up and stumbles by the house that used to be his home, where his wifenkids still live, where he mumbles that he maybe kinda blew it---but he paid for it, and there they are, all warm and together and shit---but he can make himself grudgingly acknowledge his sins and thus join them in Heaven someday, after everybody’s dead---and this is all, at most, that taking responsibility etc can get you---so the exception proves the rule.
But he has no flair for “J’accuse!”, nor for guilt and expiation and other whiskey-selling Jukebox Gothic rituals, none of that cobwebbed indoor stuff. This is Cali, dude! Responsibility and wide-opening-mindedness gradually appear organically---transition first noticed in “Mental Cruelty”, where he brings Rose Maddox into a Divorce Court reenactment of how she took him to the cleaners; really nobody’s fault, shit happens, but all she had to do was drop those two little words---one starts with an “M.”, the other with a “C.”---and cha-ching. But, as she recites her part, dryly enough to seem wry, and hollow-toned, suggesting a prisoner-of-war’s forced confession, subliminally conveyed---time enough to devise a code, in that cell, she caps it all by barely bearing down on the mention of his “way of life”, which she declined to participate in any longer...and this is allowed! In a perhaps alternate time, he proposes that they stop “Kickin’ Hearts Around”, ‘cause it’s just too time-and-maybe-other consuming; in “Loose Talk”, he and Maddox rally against a common threat, of a mobocracy of gossiping, even gaslighting neighbors and fremenies: he assures her that the terrible things they tell her he does go ditto for tales of that flaming Rose. This same thing happens in another song on down the line----see, you just gotta keep moving. In yet another possibly alternate-universe turn, he gets turned on, not scandalized, by her going out, “Foolin’ Around”---didn’t know she had it in her, maybe, or maybe his competitive side, gets turned on, in a sporting way---he cheerfully proposes that she “come on home, and fool around with me..” Subsequently, when he’s got “A Tiger By The Tail”, he sounds a bit apprehensive, but also “one hand waving free”, as young Mr. D, can only wish for”--here ‘tis, over the Buckaroos’ rodeo jolt and swirl ( despite a few duds and placeholders, sound quality gets better and better, with more room for instrumental interplay, without stretching out).
The swirl gets get a little braincloudy in the resonant street-wide sunlight of “Waiting In Your Welfare Line”, where an inspired gentleman caller is sure you’ll give him another shot---after all, he gave up everything the first time he saw you, and it’ll all make sense when you bring it back---and if you do so in a “Welfare Cadillac”, that’s gravy---that song isn’t here, but it’s nice the way this one leaves its strictures in the dust of absurdist pop social commentary, if you want to take it as such. Mostly, of course, we get good clean fun---the speedy corn-plucking seasons of Hee-Haw aren’t far away--and here we also have some vocal x instrumental turns that still conjure drooling Byrds, Beatles, Parsons, Mavericks, and certainly certainly Yoakam (for instance).

dow, Thursday, 12 January 2017 01:49 (one year ago) Permalink

Listened to Amanda Shires' 2016 album today, but better give it more spins before commenting. Meanwhile another from Nash Scene ballot reissues:

Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, The Complete Trio Collection: the title isn’t quite accurate, as the Wikipedia article on this round-up points out: several more tracks from the original Trio and Trio II’s 80s and 90s sessions turned up on solo albums, as did a few of the 20 that are included on the bonus disc. Some of the alternate takes and previously unreleased titles (which could have added variety of style, detail, and/or dynamics to the troika’s LP-length albums) sung strictly or nearly solo, seem more effective than the previously released versions: when the song is about and from a solitary place, other voices, at least when they enter at predictable points, can slightly dilute the brew, pad the impact, no matter how much they want you to know, “ You ‘n’ me both, Kid” and furthermore ,” I’m with you, Sister.”
But those responses are never far away, even in the darkest, starkest moments. It may seem, especially given Parton’s weepier tendencies as singer and writer, that they’ll all get stuck on a lover’s cross, and they def have their hang-ups, but don’t we all, and ain’t that country, but mainly there is, often enough (usually every few seconds, only a few DOA, although that’s another country tradition too, of course), at the very least, an implicit yet not too polite strength in self-assertion and solidarity. Which certainly goes with the blend of traditional and modern, in the sounds and sentiments. “Lover’s “Return”, written or anyway copyrighted by principals of the Original Carter Family, is mountain-y and civil, while informing the one who once dumped her, and now comes crawling back, “God doesn’t give us back our youth.” Parton writes and sings “Wildflowers” with folk tropes calmly moving to her wish granted, “the garden set me free.(Had to be, for the garden’s sake as well: “The flowers grew/Too close together.”).
Ronstadt’s robust tones are at their most flexible here, sometimes suggesting Karen Carpenter negotiating the maybe chromatic turns of “Goodbye To Love”, but then again she wisely lets the other two take most of the highest notes, but say if Carpenter had lived to cover “Live To Tell” or something with the same burnished intrigue---not the cheesier 80s….mainly I’m thinking of the 1987 Trio’s version of “I’ve Had Enough”, which is immediately recognizable by its combination of romantic to almost but never quite post-romantic eloquence, blunt and frilly, in lyrics and melody. It sounds sophisticated, wised-up yet still maybe naive and nostalgic at some points, or wanting to be, hoarding the crumbs, the scars, the hopes, the history (in the Wikipedia entry, Parton is quoted as saying they didn’t understand what the hell “After The Gold Rush” meant, and supposedly they called Neil and he said he didn’t know either, but conceptually it’s perfectly, ruefully at home in these sessions, while still sounding a little drippy, as always--though more so here, when Parton changes the candidly confessional “I felt like getting high” to feeling like she could cry). The alternate “I’ve Had Enough” is one of the few easy choices for exclusion, since it draws the harmonists into tiny waves of insular, rainy day consolation around the old upright (no longer the cosmopolitan, note-bending electric on Trio II). This is good as far as it goes,(which is backwards, sonically: they’re not walking it like they talk it), but reminds me of the stylish young Canadienne in an 80s (maybe early 90s) documentary about the McGarrigles, who said that their songs reminded her of “what the nuns used to make us sing,” and why she moved to the big city.
(Perhaps to be included among this year’s Related Reissues, Kate and Anna McGarrigle mine their rich mix of signals in several directions on
Pronto Monto, from 1978: the sometimes exhilarating results are still mixed too, appropriately enough)(wonder what 70s Neil Young thought about them?)
Emmylou Harris’s choice of material is not so striking, but in this context, her solo voice can seem to draw in properties of the other two---who, when they come in, can seem like further definitions, a new mix, of her high and low ends---until the unified effect becomes a sonic spectrum (helps with the nuances and other details too).
As far as left-behinds now adding the aforementioned variety of etc., the hymn “Softly and Tenderly” is just like the title says without cloying or clotting. The Roebuck Staples-co-write “You Don’t Knock” truly and briskly believes in abstaining from timidity at Heaven’s door. “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind” is Parton leading a tailfeather tambourine handclapping parade in the face of and past another no-good ex, with another reminder of what’s being missed on the Hallelujah Trail (a good thing or three).

dow, Friday, 13 January 2017 01:50 (one year ago) Permalink

http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/no-the-randy-rogers-band-is-not-playing-at-trumps-presidential-inauguration/

But Randy Rogers is playing at a long-running event that’s been held since 1953 by the Texas State Society called Black Tie and Boots in Oxon Hill, Maryland that has become one of the most prestigious events leading up to the inauguration for the last 60 years, but has no direct affiliation with Mr. Trump’s official inauguration itself.

curmudgeon, Friday, 13 January 2017 14:53 (one year ago) Permalink

I'm not that big a KK fan, though some of his songs are good vehicles for other singers, and some of his own tracks are okay--- though he's better with other voices, the Highwaymen etc., so some of these guests might help (maybe even Steve Earle, which tells you something about how I hear Kristofferson):

KRIS KRISTOFFERSON: THE AUSTIN SESSIONS

1997 Recording Featuring Stripped-Down Versions Kristofferson's Best Songs
Has Been Remastered And Expanded With Two Unreleased Outtakes

Available From Rhino On February 10

LOS ANGELES - In the summer of 1997, Kris Kristofferson spent a few days in Texas recording stripped-down versions of his best-known songs. Released by Atlantic Records in 1999, The Austin Sessions pairs the acclaimed outlaw country songwriter with a band of studio aces and guest harmony vocalists for intimate versions of classics like "Me and Bobby McGee," "Why Me?" and "Sunday Morning Coming Down."

Rhino Records celebrates these powerful recordings with an expanded version of the album that features remastered sound and includes two unreleased session outtakes. Fred Mollin, who produced the original album, tells the story behind the sessions in the collection's liner notes, which also feature several unpublished photos from the time. THE AUSTIN SESSIONS: EXPANDED EDITION will be available February 10 on CD ($13.98) and digitally ($9.99). A remastered vinyl version of The Austin Sessions will also be available on the same day ($21.98).

Kristofferson recorded The Austin Sessions at Arlyn Studios in Texas with a group of session veterans from Los Angeles and Nashville who were hand-picked by Mollin, who also plays acoustic guitar on the album. Kristofferson's longtime touring guitarist Stephen Bruton appears on several songs as well.

Mollin recalls: "I knew in my heart that I could pull off a great under-produced production and give Kris the album he always wanted to make: one that felt like it had the uniqueness and rootsy feeling that Dylan accomplished on his early electric albums."

Several guests join Kristofferson on the album, including Jackson Browne ("Me And Bobby McGee"), Steve Earle ("Sunday Morning Coming Down"), Vince Gill ("Help Me Make It Through The Night"), Catie Curtis ("Nobody Wins"), and Mark Knopfler ("Please Don't Tell Me How The Story Ends").

Left off the original album, "Best Of All Possible Worlds" and "Jody And The Kid" make their debut on the expanded version. Mollin says the songs show different sides of Kristofferson' songwriting. "One is lighthearted, dry, sarcastic and one of the greatest examples of Kris' humor and storytelling, while the other is just deeply emotional and shows the true aching heart that can be felt like an arrow, from Kris to the listener."

Continuing down the path of his fabled career, the five-time Grammy® winner gained another nomination for Best Americana Album for his LP The Cedar Creek Sessions in December 2016. At 80 years old, the country music legend will kick off a 2017 tour this January. More information on the tour can be found via www.kriskristofferson.com.

THE AUSTIN SESSIONS: EXPANDED EDITION
Track Listing:

1. "Me And Bobby McGee"
2. "Sunday Morning Coming Down"
3. "For The Good Times"
4. "The Silver Tongued Devil And I"
5. "Help Me Make It Through The Night"
6. "Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again)"
7. "To Beat The Devil"
8. "Who's To Bless And Who's To Blame"
9. "Why Me?"
10. "Nobody Wins"
11. "The Pilgrim: Chapter 33"
12. "Please Don't Tell Me How The Story Ends"
13. "Best Of All Possible Worlds" *
14. "Jody And The Kid" *

* previously unreleased

dow, Sunday, 15 January 2017 01:03 (one year ago) Permalink

Been listening to Amanda Shires' 2016 This Is My Land some more, and guess she's trying for a transparent effect, letting and trusting us to make what we will of her crisp, flexible, sometimes prowly, always at least somewhat evocative tunes and words--but she sure keeps a lid on things. 10 songs, 33 minutes could have a classic effect, but some of the narrative and clues stop too soon for caring, the slow tempos get to be too similar in overall effect, despite some hooks and astute turns of phrase, also the accompaniment is constrained; husband Isbell's guitar gets to release exactly two, perfectly placed, unmistakably Isbellian notes, one acoustic, one slide electric; too bad Dave Cobb, though here as always the sympatico producer, couldn't have seen his way to negotiate just a bit more instances of cuttin' loose, here and there, if not, perish the thought, for a whole track.
And her thin, clear, quiet voice (Isbell in there occasionally, but muffled) really is the lid, however transparent; it doesn't shine that much, and may be all she's got to give as a performer, aside from her under-utilized fiddle, which does add a few highlights or glints.
But she can write, and here's hoping somebody (Bonnie Raitt, Miranda Lambert, Jason Isbell) covers her.

dow, Wednesday, 18 January 2017 20:18 (one year ago) Permalink

So on among my Scene ballot's added, made-up categories, I gave this first place in About Half Good (40-60%), because some of it really does work, as individual tracks, def. good for mixes and radio shows.

dow, Wednesday, 18 January 2017 20:26 (one year ago) Permalink

So the band Alabama are still together, I see. The Prez-elect tweeted about them and Lee Greenwood

curmudgeon, Thursday, 19 January 2017 17:57 (one year ago) Permalink

finding the Natalie Hemby album a bit more understated than I'd imagined, haven't found a way in yet really

lex pretend, Thursday, 26 January 2017 16:33 (eleven months ago) Permalink

x-post from the poll's singles chart

8. Jon Pardi, “Head Over Boots” (Valory/Capitol)

I came to really like this track near the end of the year and it made my Pazz & Jop poll singles list. I was the only voter for it there though.

curmudgeon, Thursday, 26 January 2017 17:42 (eleven months ago) Permalink

I meant to check that out, will do so sometime. Now approaching xpost Hemby with some trepidation. Here's my Scene ballot (also posted, with comments: http://thefreelancementalists.blogspot.com/2017/01/from-lifes-other-side-2016-releases.html. though most comments are from RC 2016 and this thread)

TOP TEN COUNTRY ALBUMS OF 2016:
(just in the order they come to mind)
1.Loretta Lynn: Full Circle
2.Lori McKenna: The Bird and the Rifle
3.Chely Wright: I Am the Rain
4.Robbie Fulks: Upland Stories
5.Tomi Lunsford: Come On Blue
6.Austin Lucas: Between the Moon & the Midwest
7.Western Centuries: Weight of the World
8.Willie Nelson: For the Good Times: A Tribute to Ray Price
9.Miranda Lambert: The Weight of These Wings
10.Maren Morris: Hero

TOP FIVE COUNTRY REISSUES OF 2016:

1.Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt: The Complete Trio Collection Deluxe Edition
2.Buck Owens: The Complete Capitol Singles: 1957-1966
3.Merle Haggard: Live In San Francisco 1965
4.Hart Valley Drifters: Folk Time

COUNTRY MUSIC'S THREE BEST NEW ACTS OF 2016:
1.Maren Morris
2.Aubrie Sellers

Made-Up Categories:
HON. MENTIONS:
Willie Nelson: Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin, Kelsey Waldon: I've Got A Way, Brandy Clark: Big Day In A Small Town, Charlie Daniels: Night Hawk, Aaron Lewis: Sinner, Dwight Yoakam: Swimmin' Pools, Movie Stars…, Randy Rogers Band: Nothing Shines Like Neon, Carrie Rodriguez: Lola, Various Artists: Southern Family

ABOUT HALF GOOD (60-45%)
Amanda Shires: My Piece of Land, Wynonna Judd & the Big Noise: Wynonna & the Big Noise, The Honeycutters: On The Ropes, Colvin & Earle: s/t. Aubrie Sellers: New City Blues, Dolly Parton: Pure and Simple, Hank Williams Jr.: It's About Time, Margo Price: Midwest Farmer's Daughter, John Prine: For Better Or Worse, Corb Lund: Things That Can't Be Undone

AMERICANA/COUNTRYOID/RELATED:
1.Lucinda Williams: Ghosts of Highway 20
2.Elizabeth Cook: Exodus of Venus
3.Freakwater: Scheherazade
4.Sturgill Simpson: A Sailor's Guide To Earth
5.Lydia Loveless: Real
6.Shovels & Rope: Little Seeds
7.Peter Stampfel and the Brooklyn & Lower Manhattan Fiddle/Mandolin Swarm: Holiday for Strings
8.Minute2Minute: Postcards From El Bossa

RELATED HON. MENTION:
Aaron Lee Tasjan, Silver Tears

RELATED REISSUE:
NRBQ: High Noon--A 50 Year Retrospective

dow, Thursday, 26 January 2017 18:08 (eleven months ago) Permalink

From Himes data mining in the Nashville Scene poll: not a surprise, but interesting nonetheless

Some artists sold a lot of albums without impressing the critics. The discrepancy was especially noticeable for Joey + Rory’s Hymns (No. 2 Billboard Year-End Country Albums/No. 61 Best Albums Poll), Blake Shelton’s If I’m Honest (No. 3/No. 65 Scene) and Jason Aldean’s They Don’t Know (No. 12/No. 110). Remarkably, Florida Georgia Line’s Dig Your Roots, the No. 11 album for Billboard, failed to win a single vote from any of the 89 critics participating in the poll.

• On the other hand, some artists impressed the critics without selling many records. Seven of the Top 10 finishers in the poll’s Best Album category failed to show up in Billboard’s Top 50: Miranda Lambert’s The Weight of These Wings (No. 1), Margo Price’s Midwest Farmer’s Daughter (No. 2), Brandy Clark’s Big Day in a Small Town (No. 3), Lori McKenna’s The Bird and the Rifle (No. 6), Robbie Fulks’ Upland Stories (No. 7), Drive-By Truckers’ American Band (No. 8) and Lucinda Williams’ The Ghosts of Highway 20 (No. 115). To be fair, the Lambert album probably would have made the Billboard list if it hadn’t been released so late in the year.

curmudgeon, Thursday, 26 January 2017 19:55 (eleven months ago) Permalink

finding the Natalie Hemby album a bit more understated than I'd imagined

great sell - listening now, sounds good! Production reminds me a bit of Musgraves' debut

niels, Friday, 27 January 2017 11:44 (eleven months ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Kinda liked the 2014 Sunny Sweeney album (old-school themes with a bit of pop punch) and see her new one "Trophy" is coming out March 10th. She's on a US tour now too. I was at a different gig, and missed her DC show in a small barbeque place's basement.

curmudgeon, Monday, 6 March 2017 17:40 (ten months ago) Permalink

NPR and others like the new Sweeney album, I haven't heard it yet.

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 8 March 2017 19:18 (ten months ago) Permalink

I've been surprised by how well the new Little Big town album has been received. I generally like them and have gone to bat for them over the years, but the album is just ungodly dull and plodding. Nearly every criticism of monotonous Americana albums applies to it tenfold.

jon_oh, Wednesday, 8 March 2017 22:20 (ten months ago) Permalink

Sunny Sweeney's only made three albums, def. timeworthy quality over quantity, despite the unevenness of albs 1 and 3. Number 2, Concrete is the one to start with so far. Nash Scene ballot/blogged comments for 3, AKA aforementioned 2014 release Provoked (I was a little too hard on it overall, but basic complaints still apply):
Sunny Sweeney, Provoked:
Seems like 7, maybe 8 keepers, out of 13 (in 47 minutes, a reasonable running time for that many tracks): not too shabby a ratio, but dammit, Concrete set the bar high/spoiled me, and---in terms of country-pop elegance and emotional impact, nothing here grabs my attention and sails around the room with it like, say, "From A Table Away" did. Although "Uninvited" comes close: it's an almost understated little chiller, as the well-mannered witness arrives at a social occasion, " moved through the room and the crowd divided/Somebody should have told me I was/Uninvited"--but that's not the worst of it.
All the songs I like so far, incl "Bad Girl Phase" ( currently enjoying the Southern Rock tinge, and the jaded vocal: she's been here before, knows we have too), "Second Guessing," "Can't Let Go," (though it clones the original, which might make more sense if she were trying to turn Country Radio listeners onto Lucinda, but c'mon it's a Kickstarter; the NPR audience isn't exactly unfamiliar with LW),"My Bed" (one that drops the blurry double tracking which eventually undermines several other ballads, for a good duet ritual with Will Hoge), maybe "Sunday Dress" (which could be the morning after "Uninvited"'s nightmare: she's still awake--but oops the double-tracking slips in, adding a little too much entrophy), definitely "Used Cars" (yay, uptempo again, where even double-tracking--chorus only, I think---adds a nice abrasion): "Just when I thought/All of the good ones were gone/Found another woman's wreck and made him someone I could/Depend on"(not the best rhyme, but it sounds like a good make-do fixer-upper: patchy in a good way), and "Backhanded Compliment" (like "You must have such confidence, to wear that dress!"---but she also makes a Note To Self: do not say "It's my personality that makes me hot!"), all those seem like they could be fragments of scenes from the same marriage (also the good kinda patchy) Maybe the tedious ones are too, but they seem just plain tedious.
Oh yeah, and "the world goes to hell in a feel-good song" is not really much of a problem, as I feel sure the world would agree.

dow, Thursday, 9 March 2017 00:21 (ten months ago) Permalink

Can't find a Nashville thread but I'm here for a day and looking for something country-centric to do if anyone has any recommendations.

Heez, Saturday, 11 March 2017 14:23 (ten months ago) Permalink

You can drive up and see Johnny & June's grave site. It's in a fairly anonymous looking cemetary up in Madison, TN.

Ⓓⓡ. (Johnny Fever), Saturday, 11 March 2017 14:33 (ten months ago) Permalink

Cool. Thinking about checking the "bob Dylan, johnny cash and the Nashville cats" exhibition at the cmhf. Looks like it's got stuff on Cinderella studios and that era

Heez, Saturday, 11 March 2017 15:09 (ten months ago) Permalink

Yeah, several travelers have told me that was worth checking.

dow, Sunday, 12 March 2017 21:16 (ten months ago) Permalink

Yeah it was. Cool little listening stations and bios for each of the side players

Heez, Sunday, 12 March 2017 21:29 (ten months ago) Permalink

that Sunny Sweeney album's good, the title track (Lori McKenna cowrite) especially.

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 14 March 2017 18:17 (ten months ago) Permalink

holy shit, the Sunny Sweeney album

lex pretend, Thursday, 16 March 2017 14:42 (ten months ago) Permalink

"Bottle By My Bed" floored me

lex pretend, Thursday, 16 March 2017 14:42 (ten months ago) Permalink

aw hell yeah i'm excited for a good new sunny sweeney record

the raindrops and drop tops of lived, earned experience (BradNelson), Thursday, 16 March 2017 15:01 (ten months ago) Permalink

Only made it half way through the new Sweeney til I had the thought that the whole taking pills/crazy ex-girlfriend cliches of recent female country are starting to wear thin.

Heez, Thursday, 16 March 2017 15:30 (ten months ago) Permalink

but "pills" isn't a twist I've heard before (I haven't parsed all the lyrics but it sounds like it might actually be about Ecstasy rather than pain pills?) and there isn't a crazy ex-girlfriend song on the album

lex pretend, Thursday, 16 March 2017 15:47 (ten months ago) Permalink

the sunny sweeney record is GREAT

the raindrops and drop tops of lived, earned experience (BradNelson), Friday, 24 March 2017 20:32 (nine months ago) Permalink

Sounded pretty good on 1 and a half listens, wasn't wowed by all, but by a lot of it.

curmudgeon, Monday, 27 March 2017 13:57 (nine months ago) Permalink

Sweeney's intonations on "Pills" are killer -- she doesn't sing like her contemporaries.

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 27 March 2017 15:00 (nine months ago) Permalink

"I play jazz when I am confused
Country whenever I'm lost
Bird’s saxophone yeah, just won’t sound right
I feel like Hank Williams tonight"

This one sounds a bit more forced, but the chorus works

curmudgeon, Thursday, 30 March 2017 14:22 (nine months ago) Permalink

that's a cover. written by chris wall, recorded by jerry jeff walker. i love sweeney's version.

fact checking cuz, Thursday, 30 March 2017 19:38 (nine months ago) Permalink

(also, it rhymes! second line of that chorus is "country whenever i lose.")

fact checking cuz, Thursday, 30 March 2017 19:40 (nine months ago) Permalink

I sensed it was a cover, just not quite as wowed by her delivery as you. The Austin-based Sweeney co-wrote 8 of the tracks I see, and turned to Texas folks like Wall on that one, plus Texas songwriters/singers Brennen Leigh and her husband Noel McKay on "Pills"

curmudgeon, Thursday, 30 March 2017 21:05 (nine months ago) Permalink

Still don't get Chris Stapleton. He was so barband rock in his performance on the Academy of Country Music Awards tonight.

curmudgeon, Monday, 3 April 2017 03:48 (nine months ago) Permalink

Miranda Lambert got a number of awards (well at least 2-- best album, and best female vocalist)

curmudgeon, Monday, 3 April 2017 14:00 (nine months ago) Permalink

Forgot to dvr this and missed the opening hour--Wonder if its on youtube or elsewhere (sounds painful)-- Co-hosts Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley teamed with Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh to pay tribute to the late Chuck Berry with "Johnny B. Goode."

25 performances in the show

http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/academy-country-music-awards-performances/story?id=46535619

curmudgeon, Monday, 3 April 2017 14:58 (nine months ago) Permalink

longtime LA Weekly writer Jonny Whiteside (a fan of honky-tonk country and punk-country) takes his shots at "Americana" acts he does not like including Lucinda Williams, Jason Isbell, Gillian Welch and others. Sometimes I agree with him, other times he invokes an "authenticity" type argument that doesn't work.

http://www.laweekly.com/music/10-lamest-americana-acts-8051478

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 4 April 2017 19:52 (nine months ago) Permalink

Can't find my ancient Rolling Country 200? comments on Sweeney's debut, Heartbreaker's Hall of Fame, which came out on Big Machine, big at the time, but may have dropped the ball promotion-wise, since a certain big name, country-compatible crit had never heard of it---I got the promo and he didn't, which tends to bassackwardsness---or maybe, Big Machine being so cool, they deliberately dropped the ball soon after starting the usual rounds, maybe sharing Sweeney's opinion, that she didn't know what the hell she was doing in the studio back then. Au contraire---it's uneven, sure, like most of hers (maybe all; I still need to hear the new one), but all are worth checking out. The debut sounds like an alt-universe, low-budget CD Baby Nat Maines, one who never hit the big time, but hits the big notes to kill (bastard) time, still spinning her wheels in the backside of Texas, muddy rumbling echo and all. Consult your local thrift store:https://www.discogs.com/Sunny-Sweeney-Heartbreakers-Hall-Of-Fame/release/5456280

dow, Monday, 10 April 2017 18:29 (nine months ago) Permalink

Re the Whitside link: haven't heard Outlaw and Grelle, true that Wayne Hancock can be tiresome with the retro, though much more in the studio than live, ditto Gillian Welch, occasionally ditto the others, but despite their unevenness, Lucinda Williams, Shovels & Rope, and Isbell are always worth a listen.
PS: Boland's 2015 album is not so bad, as mentioned on RC and my blogged Nashvile Scene ballot:Jason Boland & the Stragglers, Squelch: social commentary, which can seem self-righteous and lazy in its way, especially since he's always reliant on basic Waylon-to-Sturgill templates, but sometimes it really works, the more personal-is-political he gets (and not nec. "political" in the usual sense; like there's one about finally making it out of a small-minded smalltown, to New Orleans, which is "buzzin' like a sign," and it doesn't go at all like I thought it would).

dow, Monday, 10 April 2017 18:51 (nine months ago) Permalink

I like the Sunny Sweeney record! It is very good.

I am about to get on a plane to Nashville and I am extremely excited. Except the line-up at the Opry the night I was going to go is... Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban. Both have songs I like but not very many.

oh, boy, .GIF! That's where I'm a Viking! (edwardo), Tuesday, 11 April 2017 09:21 (nine months ago) Permalink

Have fun there anyway.

Lauren Alaina's #1 country hit "Road less Traveled" is not wowing me musically on first few listens (co-written with Meghan Trainor and Jesse Frasure) . Alaina was an American Idol runnerup in 2011.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 11 April 2017 15:43 (nine months ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

This Ann Powers blurb almost makes me not want to hear the Charlie Worsham album. But I guess I will listen and give it a shot. He's on tour now with Brandy Clark

Beginning Of Things is one of the most intelligent and skillfully crafted albums of the year so far. It's also pure fun; Worsham is as great with a joke as he is with a guitar or a banjo. Part of the new generation that's reviving the best elements of country music — its intense songcraft, great playing and generous heart — Worsham will be making major waves in 2017.

http://www.npr.org/sections/world-cafe/2017/04/20/524886771/world-cafe-nashville-charlie-worsham

curmudgeon, Thursday, 27 April 2017 15:20 (eight months ago) Permalink

First listen to Worsham's take on Nashville country didn't wow me.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 2 May 2017 12:57 (eight months ago) Permalink

Worsham's becoming quite the critic's fave. Here's a Jewly Hight feature on him for NPR. Maybe I will give him another listen...

http://www.npr.org/2017/05/02/526558502/charlie-worsham-wants-to-tell-you-the-truth

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 3 May 2017 18:55 (eight months ago) Permalink

Going on a trip from NYC to Vegas, couple of canyons, to LA and San Francisco! Am looking for country tips! Bars! Concert agenda's, concerts, festivals, record stores etc!
Any guidance would be deeply appreciated!

rizzx, Wednesday, 10 May 2017 11:08 (eight months ago) Permalink

Heard some nice tracks from Lee Ann Womack album.

Also listened to that Nicole Atkins one-- definitely hear the 60s Nyro, Dusty In Memphis influences

curmudgeon, Monday, 6 November 2017 18:05 (two months ago) Permalink

Now I'm listening to Margo Price's All American Made---no hyphen in there; it's "We're all American made", compartments and all, as she looks for something in herself, something she's stashed between the hangover, the thought-loops, yadda-yadda---she's gotten past the Loretta Lynn imitations on the debut, which were seeming too slick even before the actual LL showed up with a good new album---key line (tho' farmed out to duet podner Willie) here might be "How trails have I been down/For no reason", trying to escape from him/herself---now they're "winning by learning to lose", copping to limitations and other self-knowledge, also and trusting the realness of questions over answers.
So she finds a Lynn-worthy stance after all, shifting gears between the more typical "Pay Gap"-extended- working woman (incl. wife-parent-other) POV and that of a rising female star/upgraded pro, making her(and her band's, and others') money on the road after the fall of the record biz/same as it ever was for most musos, no matter how risen---no Behind The Music melodrama; she may be going "Nowhere Fast", but she'll take it, apprehensions and all. Plenty shadows here (not quite the usually bright bandcamp sound, tho' appropriately so, and never murky), but her matter-of-fact can be droll enough, even and especially with "Bein' born is a curse/Dyin' young is worse." Margo Price & The Price Tags; I'll go see 'em after all. https://margoprice.bandcamp.com/releases

dow, Monday, 6 November 2017 18:13 (two months ago) Permalink

"How *many* trails", that is!

dow, Monday, 6 November 2017 18:14 (two months ago) Permalink

I just got to the Nicole Atkins, dow. Lee Hazelwood influence is powerful.

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 7 November 2017 17:44 (two months ago) Permalink

CMAs last night

Keith Urban won the evening's first award for best single for his song, "Blue Ain't Your Color." Then, Taylor Swift, who wasn't at the show, won the award for song of the year for Little Big Town's hit "Better Man."

Later, Chris Stapleton took home the award for Album of the Year with his "From a Room: Volume 1."

Miranda Lambert, who was nominated for more awards than any other artist won the award for female vocalist of the year.

curmudgeon, Thursday, 9 November 2017 15:21 (two months ago) Permalink

Outside the CMAs, Sturgill Simpson who had earlier in the year blasted the CMAs, and was apparently not invited--

Sturgill Simpson, the popular country singer who is largely ignored by mainstream country industry, showed up outside Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena — where the awards were taking place — to play guitar; raise money for the American Civil Liberties Union; chat and take pictures with strangers; and make jokes about how he wasn’t allowed in the ceremony.
...

Meanwhile, on Wednesday night, Simpson fielded all kinds of questions, including who he wanted to win a CMA. He said it would be great if his close pal Isbell won (nominated for album of the year), and that if he had to choose, he was also rooting for Chris Stapleton, Miranda Lambert and Keith Urban.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2017/11/08/sturgill-simpson-mocks-cma-awards-as-he-busks-outside-the-show-in-nashville/?utm_term=.196dbaebd7f6

curmudgeon, Thursday, 9 November 2017 18:56 (two months ago) Permalink

You cats might want to get in the line early, go look into a singer/songwriter from Kentucky named Tyler Childers. He's been around for a few years but has gotten pretty popular around here and is probably next at the plate to go after Sturgill Simpson for the golden songwriter ring around here.

Childer's has one of those voices that cuts. I think he's pretty damn good.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Lwzn5nLRPw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QzcrflqDCg&list=RDSpxT9Casovk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Lwzn5nLRPw

earlnash, Friday, 10 November 2017 03:59 (two months ago) Permalink

This guy Colter Wall is pretty cool too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCebq5lLgos

earlnash, Friday, 10 November 2017 04:03 (two months ago) Permalink

also check out the whitney rose, it's a lovely record
--Brad Nelson

ooohhh yeah
https://whitneyroseband.bandcamp.com/album/rule-62

dow, Tuesday, 14 November 2017 05:21 (two months ago) Permalink

Rough Trade Record store already has their top 2017 albums list out, and Colter Wall is is near the top

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 14 November 2017 21:38 (two months ago) Permalink

Speaking of Tyler Childers, he's a good guest star on Colter Wall's version of "Fraulein"; would like to hear them doing more covers. Wall's solemn Saskatchewan aural presence is clear and deep and seasoned and always distinctive, as his lyrics tend to be undistinguished, although I haven't yet distinguished all of 'em, but he's usually headed from Marlboro visions of boxcars and bar rooms to back issues of Mojo and Uncut and No Depression via "Woody Guthrie Street," where tunes x voice meld me into the vinyl shadows well enough: can wander 'round them words, no harm, come on back, and if I were still a drinkin' man I'd order another round. Mind you, he does have some tales to tell, especially on the strong-enough finale, "Bald Butte": hot lead, chill reverie, such as Woody Guthrie might in fact approve. So I'll listen closer to the others, keep on "zingin' zongs", CW.

dow, Thursday, 16 November 2017 18:24 (two months ago) Permalink

"vinyl shadows" even via plain ol' free Spotify, so yeah got the "aural presence" strong enough.

dow, Thursday, 16 November 2017 18:27 (two months ago) Permalink

lmao i just got informed of the existence of this hank jr. cosplay lookin ass motherfucker

http://www.digitaljournal.com/img/5/3/0/4/9/8/i/2/7/9/o/Wheeler_Walker_Jr..jpg

Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Friday, 17 November 2017 20:11 (two months ago) Permalink

i've heard a few jason isbell albums and i wouldn't exactly classify it as country or countryoid (kind of alt country i guess) but he is a very talented songwriter. he's more of a singer-songwriter but with more interesting chord progressions

his 2015 song 24 frames is very good and his new album is pretty good too

i n f i n i t y (∞), Friday, 17 November 2017 20:15 (two months ago) Permalink

it = them

i n f i n i t y (∞), Friday, 17 November 2017 20:15 (two months ago) Permalink

who the hell is the Randy Rogers Band? they're playing some relatively big rooms in my area, which ain't exactly country music territory.

alpine static, Wednesday, 22 November 2017 20:43 (one month ago) Permalink

related: are they any good

alpine static, Wednesday, 22 November 2017 20:43 (one month ago) Permalink

They can be, at least on record, never seen 'em. Wrote this last year:

Randy Rogers Band, Nothing Shines Like Neon: Mostly not terribly hooky, although "Old Moon New" and "Meet Me Tonight" are back-to-back exceptions, being Toby Keith-worthy prom ballads. Rogers doesn't seem to have the vocal range of Keith, but he knows he can finesse it, so doesn't strain. And that's how it all works out: journeyman smarts and skills, with an insistence that doesn't oversell, just finds familiar ways, fresh enough here, to get through more gray days and nights, especially nights, with another dance, or another sway, limber and tight enough. Lots of restlessness, discontent, wry self-awareness, "Things I Need To Quit," and "Take It As It Comes,"the one song about being satisfied and even laidback, for the moment, is also the most cranked-up. Guest Jerry Jeff used to spend all his time "chasin' life, but tonight I'm livin' mine"---before mentioning "ridin' deranged" rather enthusiastically, like he might be working his way back to that (he's sitting down, but not still). On "Actin' Crazy," Jamey Johnson does his best Merle---but that's about it; this ain't no guestfest ---okay, Alison Krauss and Dan Tyminski show up on another one, but these unoriginal stalwarts never get upstaged. So,“Pour One For The Poor One”, and know like they know: they got something to be modest about.

dow, Thursday, 23 November 2017 00:26 (one month ago) Permalink

More to the Related side o' life, I just tweeted this:

Still buzzed on guest shots of @brandicarlile and @NicoleAtkins, opening @shovelsandrope 's collaborative set. But sure seems like covers of C. Blonde, L. Cohen, Breeders, GnR, Hollies, Willie etc. mostly do work as post-Space Age folk rock http://ew.com/music/2017/12/01/shovels-rope-busted-jukebox-volume-2/

(often twangy acoustic gtr, drums and/or loops, visitor vox up front, going for "creaky yet lush" and other fx)

dow, Monday, 4 December 2017 23:22 (one month ago) Permalink

I wonder if Southcomm firing folks at the Nashville Scene will impact their country music coverage?

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 5 December 2017 15:15 (one month ago) Permalink

For those compiling your year-end lists, this playlist includes all the available tracks on this thread, organized roughly chronologically in order of mention:

ILM's 2017 Rolling Country Thread Spotify Playlist

Chocolate-covered gummy bears? Not ruling those lil' guys out. (ulysses), Thursday, 7 December 2017 18:17 (one month ago) Permalink

the Jaime Wyatt album is great. 30 minutes, no nonsense.

Simon H., Thursday, 7 December 2017 18:49 (one month ago) Permalink

In some sane lost alt-universe, John Moreland's Big Bad Luv is just about all crossover hits: he's the wounded woodsmokey distiller of romantic atmospheric imagery(verbally and instumentally generated) in catchy toons, sometimes to kind of a hip-hop beat, but ho auto-tune or hick-hop verses--more like a young Billy Joe Shaver (not too many years after Elder Shaver's country disco "Jesus Is Still The King"), also Sturgill still with grievances but not an attitude, if you can imagine such a thing. "God's up there makin' deals, while we;re down here spinnin' our wheels, usin' up the little bit of life we got," yadda yadda but in some "deadend driveway" he meets yew, and decides "There ain't no glory in regret, and I ain't dead yet."
Also there's more variery in the music than I indicated, like a The Bandesque ballad I could live without, just because The B. didn't have that many good albums, but enough for my taste. Still, it's solid, good of its kind, and must admit the drummer delivers his homage to Levon Helm like few can do.
A more appealing sidetrip is just his slightly thick voice, fingerpcking acoustic guitar, country parlor piano and eventually organ: "Ah'm sorry for what I did, you're my favorite latchkey kid...so won't you tell me how the story goes," child is father to the man, maybe---he can also be kind of Townes VZ/L.Cohenesque re their poppier sides. "and if that don't work, paint two crosses on mah eyelids and point me outta touch." Roll on Jawn.

dow, Saturday, 9 December 2017 01:51 (one month ago) Permalink

NO auto-tune or hick-hop verses, I meant to say.

dow, Saturday, 9 December 2017 02:00 (one month ago) Permalink

i like the new Moreland, but imo his album from a few years ago, In The Throes, is an all-timer. check it out if you haven't already.

alpine static, Saturday, 9 December 2017 05:47 (one month ago) Permalink

so, what's up with Caroline Spence? This is a great song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lY_h4z1MQDo

niels, Saturday, 9 December 2017 14:29 (one month ago) Permalink

Yep and it's s gooc of example of how her little & wiry voice can put one over the plate with no excess effort: she says that when she invades the boys' team, it ain't gonna be softball no more, and she's right. Not seeing personnel credits for Spades and Roses, except for a mention of the drummer(-arranger of the occasional, never-overdone strings) also being the producer. He discreetly keeps thing moving right along, even when there are no drums, plus she's got the supple tunes and words ("Southern Accident"!), although "You Don't Look So Good (Cocaine") seems too naggy. wouldn't change my way of life for sure. Overall, reminds me a bit of early 70s Emmylou and Neil (incl. mix of acoustic and electric, although no big solos), but it's all life lived, incl. some straight thought-talk to self and other, also bits of wistful thinking, incl. looking ahead & back ("There might have been some eloquence/In the very last words I said...")
Not on bandcamp, though her 2015 album is; I found this one. on Prime.

dow, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 21:03 (one month ago) Permalink

Also gets a bit folkie-solemn with the hopefulness sometimes, but goes with the lost evenings w wine, guys--she's concisely candid enough about impulsive and compulsive elements.

dow, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 21:33 (one month ago) Permalink

Philosophy as drug: see those xpost 70s West Coast associations

dow, Wednesday, 13 December 2017 21:38 (one month ago) Permalink

colter wall's album is really nice. canadian boy to boot

at 22 years old though how many packs of cigarettes did he have to smoke to sound like an 80 year old dying man i wonder

best track off the album is transcendent ramblin railroad blues imo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ryqh1pd7LdQ

infinity (∞), Thursday, 14 December 2017 03:46 (one month ago) Permalink

I just finally got around to the Colter Wall album today. It's almost too throwback for me, but his voice is neat.

Johnny Fever, Thursday, 14 December 2017 04:44 (one month ago) Permalink

xp dow, that's exactly the kind of answer I was looking for

niels, Thursday, 14 December 2017 07:21 (one month ago) Permalink

Listening to xpost Margo Price again, making payroll and other adventures along the way---Price Tags def. earning it,with every note: https://margoprice.bandcamp.com/releases

dow, Friday, 15 December 2017 18:49 (one month ago) Permalink

Alex Williams' Better Than Myself is more reinforcement for my impression that several of the best younger artists this year, like Price and Rose, who come across as lead singers of first rate bands---comboa who may in some cases be augmented or replaced or even composed of (Atkins' crew) by session players, but the albums all sound pretty organic---which is why I'm thinking "lead singers" instead of "band leaders" first of all, though obviously they're the latter (and not too dependent on or mistrustful of solos and other instrumental effects).
Anyway, Williams says right off that somebody (the drummer of his previous, failing band, according to interviews) told him his songs were better than him, and he takes this as a compliment: they're all "candy from the jukebox, spawnin' down in hell." Got his own sense of pop, like Moreland and Atkins and Rose: retro but adapted for self-expression, which in his caee can involve outlaw self-mockery, that side of his heero Waylon, but in both cases a way of not taking himself too seriously and getting enough distance for glimpses of perspective, though not enough to interfere with the more wtf side of his ramblin' life, his "Mickey Mouse ways," as Waylon put it.
Haven't got all the lyrics yet, though the country-with-bluesy-rock-appeal, and the voice, which I'm so glad does without imitations of Waylon's manly vibrato-warble (worked okay, but one voice like that was enough)---but I get the sense that this Belmont drop-out, refusing the usual slog 'n' fog, with so many of his peers now dealing with college debt and ageing out of their family's insurance coverage, just for two examples, still finds himself (and other members of his "fucked-up generation") still in the working and playing and self-medicating cycle (traditionally working and drinking, the latter enthusiastically mentioned here, though he later assures us that he's now "too stoned to pour a drink").
Some related social commentary, or comments, as he continues to make the barstool rounds, rolling another number for the road---also some gas station coffee seems involved. this stays fairly sparky.
Picks up some good advice from a barfly! "Take the good with the bad"---not too much country or fatalism in the mix, don't forget the pop and other gratifications.
Not specifically displaying himself for sexual purposes, but there is a love song: coming off a lawng, McConauheyesque-sounding winning streak---"Yes, these are diamonds around my neck, whut did yew expect?", he says it's a new day, and though "Ah'm not shore how much of this is true, but Ah do know Ah cain't get enough of yew." A bit mellower than most of these, but not out of character after all.

dow, Sunday, 17 December 2017 19:36 (one month ago) Permalink

Combos, not "comboa."

dow, Sunday, 17 December 2017 19:36 (one month ago) Permalink

Talking about Caroline Spence: she's doing a residency in January here at the Basement. Wrote this about her recently:

Virginia-born singer-songwriter Caroline Spence released a remarkable track about the limits of Nashville songwriting on her 2013 EP You Know the Feeling. “Whiskey Watered Down” takes down a shallow tunesmith who, Spence declares, will never be “Parsons, Earle or Van Zandt.” What makes “Whiskey Watered Down” a definitive song about a particular strain of Music City songwriting is her choice of role models, but the tune also equates bad songwriting with bad relationships. A Nashville resident since 2011, Spence continued to work in classic singer-songwriter mode on her 2015 full-length Somehow, which includes a full-band rendition of “Whiskey Watered Down” that I find less effective than the acoustic reading she performed on the 2013 EP. I admire Spence’s writing on this year’s album Spades & Roses, which contains the excellent track “You Don’t Look So Good (Cocaine)” and the equally fine “Softball,” about sexism and what it takes to become a big-league songwriter. Spence, who recently released a five-song EP called Secret Garden, has potential — she bears watching. EDD HURT

I didn't vote for Nicole Atkins' new one in the Scene poll I just finished. Not even tangentially "country," which makes sense for a Jersey-bred singer who sounds like Cass Elliot. But a really good album. I like her; she's tough and funny. Did this piece on her in July: https://www.nashvillescene.com/music/features/article/20867860/nicole-atkins-explores-the-joys-of-organic-songwriting-and-production

eddhurt, Tuesday, 26 December 2017 11:22 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Thanks! Well, some of us heard Atkins' latest as having kind of a Dusty In Memphis vibe, not country but some urban country appeal and sensibility (broody and drinking and poised after midnight)--sooo, I put her in my gratuitous made-up motley Countryoid/Americana/Related category on the Scene ballot, which I'll post on RC 2018 when the issue comes out.
Kind of off-putting that Spence or whomever harps on this "not as good as such-and-such" bit; once when I was stressing over comparing myself, a photog friend said, "Well I know I'm not the best, but I just want to drink and take pictures." It's worked out pretty well for him.
(And as usual, Earle's latest made my gratutitous made-up About Half Good category; both Earles did, although I may have been too kind to JT, who's convened some motorvatiing musicians, but is so abashed and maybe wasted [on abashment, at least] that he usually sounds like a bug on the windshield of life).
Back to Spence, thanx also for reminder of the new EP, which I think is acoustic? Will check.

dow, Thursday, 28 December 2017 17:21 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Oh, and I got tired enough of the "sounds like" aspect, even on so many of my favorite albums---self-expression via retro seemed especially prevalent this year--that I took Langford from Related to the real Top Ten, because he doesn't sound like anybody else, even or especially in Muscle Shoals, where he also sounds at home.

dow, Thursday, 28 December 2017 17:31 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I thought Robert Ellis' piano playing made the Atkins album. Yeah, Langford's Norbert Putnam record transcended local color but barely. "Natchez Trace" is good, "Snake Behind Glass" the best song on the record. I saw him play here this fall. I also found some things to say about Chris Gantry's 1974 album, which is a beatnk kinda thing. Far better guitar player than singer or even songwriter--Motormouth, from '70, is just something else entirely and not necessarily a good thing, but I admire his gusto. https://www.nashvillescene.com/music/features/article/20982813/chris-gantrys-longshelved-lp-at-the-house-of-cash-is-progressive-even-by-2017-standards

I also investigated the work of producer-songwriter-singer Norro Wilson, who died this year. Worked on a bunch of pivotal '70s country records by Wynette and Jones. Undoubtedly one of the savviest singers in "country," a pop-country genius whose '60s and '70s solo records are country, folk, Atlantic-style r&b, West Coast pop, shlock-pop-country in the style of Dickey Lee, Billy Swan or Bergen White. Amazing shit. Got to find his Smash LP Dedicated to: Only You. This is from the '70s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80DECm61mIE

eddhurt, Saturday, 30 December 2017 02:26 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Tyler Coe, one of David Allan Coe's children, has been putting together excellent podcasts about country. Maybe the best so far is on Shelby Singleton, but the Bobbie Gentry episode is really good too. Coe gets the business side of the equation really well, is hardheaded. He also provides transcriptions if you just wanna read: https://cocaineandrhinestones.com/

The highlight of my Americana-fest experience was seeing Little Bandit, a kind of Charlie Rich-depressive-funny band featuring Alex Caress, the brother of former Nashville bassist-singer Jordan Caress. Comes at his "country-soul" from a queer perspective. Breakfast Alone made my Scene ballot. Another hit at the fest I didn't see was the War & Treaty, a gospel-soul duo. Their EP is promising:

CRITICS' PICK
The War and Treaty
This event is over. The High Watt
Lord have mercy, here’s another soul-gospel-pop Americana amalgam. Husband-and-wife duo The War and Treaty, who recently moved to Nashville from Albion, Mich., performed a well-received set in town at this year’s AmericanaFest with backing from Nashville guitarist Buddy Miller’s band, and Rolling Stone gave their turn at the festival a glowing review. Ohio-born singer Michael Trotter Jr. honed his piano chops while serving as a soldier during the Iraq War (somewhat improbably, he practiced on Saddam Hussein’s piano while his unit was encamped in one of the former Iraqi president’s palaces) and met singer Tanya Blount, a Washington, D.C., native, when he returned home. They’ve released their debut EP, Down to the River, which combines their gospel-influenced vocals with tough blues and soul grooves. Not everything works — the duo tends to approach their performances head-on, which sometimes obscures the quality of their songs. Still, material such as “Down to the River,” which features slide guitar, and “Hit Dawg Will Holla,” a stop-time blues shuffle, suggests they could develop into songwriters who know how to work an amalgam. EDD HURT

eddhurt, Saturday, 30 December 2017 02:46 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I think Carson McHone, who didn't make an album this year, deserves notice, up there with Whitney Rose, whose record I like a lot. Anyone else hear her?

The ongoing battle over the soul of country music seems like a necessary activity that tends to overstate the danger that commercialism poses. Time and time again, country music has demonstrated its ability to absorb folk, rock, country-rock, schlock, disco, patriotism and regionalism, and young singers continue to discover new ways to syncretize the music of Williams and Wells with pop without pandering to the let’s-save-country ideologues. Hailing from ostentatious Austin, Texas, singer Carson McHone is a young country singer who expresses herself through the form while avoiding the formalism that etiolates the work of many country purists. In other words, she controls an aching break into her head voice that marks her as a stone country vocalist, and her 2015 album Goodluck Man brims with tunes that evoke the spirit of early-’70s country without wandering off into retro. McHone has been working on a new album in Nashville with Spoon producer Mike McCarthy — let’s hope it’s commercial as hell. EDD HURT

eddhurt, Saturday, 30 December 2017 02:52 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I nommed the Whitney Rose on the ILM poll (I think???) I came across her while browsing year end lists. Love her album.

omar little, Saturday, 30 December 2017 03:22 (three weeks ago) Permalink

yeah, and her other 2017 release, South Texaz Suite, an EP. Kinda wish she'd saved the best tracks for the full-length, but it's worth checking out for sure, especially "Three Minute Love Affair."

dow, Saturday, 30 December 2017 03:58 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Texas, that is.

dow, Saturday, 30 December 2017 03:58 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Want to hear The War and Treaty, also Carson McHone.

dow, Saturday, 30 December 2017 04:04 (three weeks ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

Now, starting to look ahead:
https://www.rollingstone.com/country/lists/2018-country-music-preview-30-most-anticipated-albums-tours-w514999/loretta-lynn-wouldnt-it-be-great-w515083

here's one:
Loretta Lynn

Album: Wouldn't It Be Great
Release Date: TBA
The Country Music Hall of Fame vocalist delayed the release of her already-recorded new album Wouldn't It Be Great until 2018 after suffering a stroke last May. Like the Grammy-nominated Full Circle that preceded it, the LP was co-produced by John Carter Cash and Lynn's daughter Patsy Lynn Russell and cut at Johnny Cash's cabin studio in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Boasting new songs like "I'm Dying for Someone to Live For" and "Ruby's Stool," written with songwriter Shawn Camp, Wouldn't It Be Great also includes new versions of Lynn staples "Don't Come Home a-Drinkin'" and "Coal Miner's Daughter." "You can't get them anymore," Lynn told Rolling Stone in 2016 of her decision to update her classics. "You've got fans that want it. So we will give them to 'em."
Full Circle was a satisfying blend of old & new, glad she's still in the circle game.

dow, Monday, 15 January 2018 19:19 (five days ago) Permalink

brother colter wall's new one was my album of the year by the way

infinity (∞), Monday, 15 January 2018 19:28 (five days ago) Permalink

He made it into one of my Best New Artist slots on the Scene ballot. I still need to check his Imaginary Appalachia EP, have you heard it?
Another one from the Stone link. She's always sounded like she probably likes Elton John, David Bowie, Patsy Cline: "Americana"? OK!

Album: By the Way, I Forgive You
Release Date: February 16th
On her sixth studio album, Americana heroine Brandi Carlile ramps everything up a notch, working with Waylon Jennings' rebel-yell son Shooter, who co-produced with Dave Cobb. She takes deep dives into her family history ("Most of All") and offers up an anthem for the downtrodden ("The Joke," a chin-up call to arms for anyone feeling oppressed, was blasted out in a recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!). While largely adhering to her unplugged, modern-Appalachian approach, Carlile also pushes a few musical envelopes: "Harder to Forgive" is swoony, luxurious pop, "Hold Out Your Hand" has a wall-of-drums wallop and "Party of One" wraps up with shivery orchestration. D.B.

dow, Monday, 15 January 2018 19:32 (five days ago) Permalink

I keep confusing him with music writer Seth Colter Walls in searches (still not quite sure they're two diff people).

dow, Monday, 15 January 2018 19:34 (five days ago) Permalink

ha

definitely different people

and i have heard IA a few times actually, yes

it's good but i like his self-titled release better, though sleeping on the blacktop is equally as good as say thirteen silver dollars (similar vibe)

infinity (∞), Monday, 15 January 2018 19:38 (five days ago) Permalink


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