All posts by Jamie Lee

Jimmy Landry: Sing Your Own Song

Piano man Jimmy Landry had a novel problem when adding his new release, Sing Your Own Song, to iTunes. What genre is fitting for a record with such a wide berth of styles and influences?

It’s not a bad problem to have, and it is validated given just one spin through the album’s 10 accessible, piano-driven tracks that tap into a world where heart and soul are on full display. Kicking off with “Where the Love Is,” Landry demonstrates a fine-tuned approach and a deft ear for textured orchestration, particularly when the track’s funky keys give way to a reggae groove. He assumes Todd Snider-like spoken word above an achingly upbeat piano melody on “Let’s Get Together,” and takes a lounge-y approach to the heartbreak of “Proved Me Wrong.” Regardless of the lyrical subject matter, the compositions roll with a playfulness that is kissed by the sun and salt air of his coastal South Carolina home.

Sing Your Own Song marks Landry’s first release since his 2008 debut, New Day, and he delivers in spades when it comes to both style and execution. And about that genre problem? Who really cares. Sing Your Own Song is truly difficult to categorize, and that is its strength.

Sing Your Own Song is self-released and out now. Buy it here!

The Travelin’ Kine: Change In The Wind

It would be perfectly understandable for those not in the know to believe that country music is dead. In the mainstream, it has felt this way for the better part of the last three decades. But the sparks of a few real songwriters – with influences like Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Merle Haggard – are building to a full-blown fire. And while Jamey Johnson, Sturgill Simpson, and Chris Stapleton, are leading the charge, there are upstarts in cities around the country who are kicking up true country songs filled with the sweat and grit of yesterday. One of them is The Travelin’ Kine.

These troubadours from Charleston, South Carolina, have now delivered their first album, entitled Change in the Wind, and although the title and title track don’t necessarily allude to the current state of country music, it seems apropos given the emergence of musicians that harken back to the good old days of the genre. And the band delivers an eight-song set that is straight-talking, compositionally adept, and soaked in spirits from some backwoods still.

“Change in the Wind,” written on the day frontman Slaton Glover’s divorce papers were signed and he dedicated his life to music, rides the brisk rhythm section of bassist Brent Poulson and drummer Jim Donnelly, giving momentum to his yearning. “I’m Not As Smart As You Look” spotlights Glover’s clever wordplay with sinewy lead guitar from Scottie Frier, “I Hate You” is a scornful wish for a former lover, and “Bad Bad Man” is a roadhouse rally cry accented by flourishes of harmonica and mandolin, courtesy of Mark Davis and David Vaughan, respectively.

At the heart of the album’s eight tracks is Glover’s adept songwriting. There are no frills here, and that is just right.
The Travelin’ Kine are yet another new voice in a country music chorus that is growing louder, and if there is such a thing as “real” country music today, it can be found on Change in the Wind.

Change in the Wind is independently released and out now.

Tedeschi Trucks Band : Made Up Mind

Tedeschi_Trucks_Made Up Mind

Following their 2011 Grammy-winning debut album, Revelator, and 2012’s rollicking live record, Everybody’s Talkin’, the Tedeschi Trucks Band have done it again with their newest endeavor. Made Up Mind is a highly-anticipated collection of songs that melds the considerable talents of this sprawling 11-piece outfit in a way that will satisfy fans and critics alike.

The instrumental, vocal and songwriting expertise of Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks fuses with their bandmates in a way that shows creativity and confirms that they’ve hit their stride as a group. That musical understanding of one another results in a sound reminiscent of both Stax Records and Muscle Shoals Sound with elements of jam and funk thrown into their signature blues/soul mix.

Known for their extraordinary assemblage of musicians, the Tedeschi Trucks Band truly shows no signs of weakness on Made Up Mind. The album’s stellar lineup includes Kofi Burbridge (keyboards, flute), Tyler Greenwell (drums, percussion), J.J. Johnson (drums, percussion), Kebbi Williams (saxophone), Maurice Brown (trumpet), Saunders Sermons (trombone and vocals), Mike Mattison (harmony vocals) and Mark Rivers (harmony vocals). Along with the instrumentation, further collaboration adds to the album’s success with co-writers Doyle Bramhall II, Eric Krasno, Gary Louris, John Leventhal and co-producer Jim Scott.

The album showcases Trucks as the guitar virtuoso to which we’ve become accustom and adds in Tedeschi’s signature raspy vocals in a way that is both gritty and sensual.  In a mature leap forward, Made Up Mind shows a more polished and intentional instrumentation than the group has previously delivered. Each track beams with layers and textures of their southern soul groove, leaving the listener with great hooks, catchy tunes and exquisite guitar.

When speaking of the current state of the band, Trucks says, “It makes a statement that this band knows what it wants to do and is here to stay. Take it or leave it, this is what it is.”

We’ll take it.

Made Up Mind is out now on Sony Masterworks.

Cherokee Red : Self-Titled

Cherokee Red - Self Titled

What can be said about the new self-titled album Cherokee Red? For starters, it is a cool, ethereal record that will haunt you even after you’ve stopped listening. Its wispy sung lyrics and haunting instrumentation will echo deep within your cerebellum as you drift off to sleep at night. These are the songs of which dreams are made.

Hailing from the music mecca of Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, Cherokee Red have crafted a style of their own that at times makes one think of Mazzy Star and Galaxie 500, purveyors of American dream pop who also knew how to write a cool laid back lullaby. Within songs like “Holy Jam”, “Leviathan” and “Vaya Con Dios,” the listener cannot help but to close their eyes and let their minds try to reach a whole new level of awareness. Yeah, I know. Not to sound all hippy-dippy, but Cherokee Red is a totally sonic mind trip.

Cherokee Red is out now.

The Horse’s Ha : Waterdrawn

HorsesHa_Waterdrawn

I never, ever use the word dainty, but it comes to mind every time I spin The Horse’s Ha’s new album, Waterdrawn.

It isn’t so much the sound of the word, but its meaning. According to Webster’s Dictionary, the definition is “marked by delicate or diminutive beauty, form, or grace.” And this just about says it all.  James Elkington’s rich baritone and Janet Bean’s concise country-ish lilt fit hand-in-glove on the album’s succinct, stripped down tracks. His easy folk guitar is modest-yet-supple, and her approach complements with delicate phrasing, evident on the dreamy “Dying Tree.”

Waterdrawn is an irresistible songset that is as delicate as it is beautiful.

Waterdrawn is out now on Fluff and Gravy Records.

The Deadly Gentlemen : Roll Me, Tumble Me

Deadly Gentlemen - Roll Me Tumble Me

The Deadly Gentlemen have been revived after a change in the lineup in 2010. The band of talented individuals sat down and decided that the once quirky side project deserved to be the main focus.

The Deadly Gentlemen are comprised of Greg Liszt, the innovative four-finger-style banjo picker who lent his talents to Crooked Still; Mike Barnett, who spent his teenage years touring with Jesse McReynolds, and later became a member of the David Grisman Quintet and played with the Tony Trischka Band; bassist Sam Grisman has also been playing since his teens, learning from one of the music world legends, his father, David; mandolinist Dominick Leslie, who gained recognition from his appearances with The Infamous Stringdusters; and finally, guitarist Stash Wyslouch, a reformed metal head who discovered bluegrass and acoustic music (yet if you’ve seen him play live, you know that his metal side still lives and breaths inside him).

The band’s new album, Roll Me, Tumble Me, is the group’s third for Rounder Records. The batch of 10 songs, all composed by Listz, finds a slightly new style for the band featuring more two- and three-part harmonies. The material features some revamped version of throwback songs from albums ago, including the title track and “Working,” which both are from the band’s self-released debut. For me, the album reaches new ground with the more emotionally evocative songs, like “I Fall Back” and “A Faded Star.”

Overall, fans will find the album easier to sing along with, but in the end, Roll Me, Tumble Me still captures the enjoyment that music must possess on its most fundamental level. It is part of the recipe that has made the Deadly Gentlemen a must see live band for bluegrass fans.

Roll Me, Tumble Me is now available on Rounder Records.

Moreland & Arbuckle : 7 Cities

Moreland_Arbuckle_7_Cities

The beauty of being based in the heartland of America is that you are pretty much centralized and set to absorb influences from so many different genres of music. And, if you’re a band like Moreland & Arbuckle, Wichita, Kansas, is the “perfect storm” for these influences; it is perfect fodder for an album like their latest release, 7 Cities. If this record was any more American it would come packaged in the stars and stripes.

Essentially a concept album, 7 Cities is a modern day look at the explorer Coronado’s search for the Seven Cities of Gold in Kansas over 300 years ago. Through these songs Moreland & Arbuckle create a sonic tapestry that draws upon delta blues, rock, Americana, and country.

Guitarist Aaron Moreland and harpist/vocalist Dustin Arbuckle, along with drummer/vocalist Kendall Newby, can be compared to another great American trio of musicians known as ZZ Top. When just three guys can great music like this, you realize to your bones that they are the real motherfrakkin’ deal.

The production of 7 Cities makes you feel the expansive Kansas plains in songs like “Quivira,” “Kow Tow,” and “Red Bricks.” Kick ass cuts like “The Devil and Me” and “Tall Boogie” are fit to be cranked in a pickup truck driving down a dirt road as the sun sets. But, the kicker on this record is their cover of Tears For Fears’ “Everybody Wants To Rule The World.”

7 Cities is out now on Concord Music Group/Telarc Records.

Drive-By Truckers to resissue ‘Alabama Ass Whuppin” in September

ATO Records will reissue the Drive-By Truckers’ Alabama Ass Whuppin’ on September 10, 2013. Alabama Ass Whuppin’ is the band’s third album. Originally released in 2000, the record has been out of print for years. The album has been re-mastered and includes updated artwork by Wes Freed. This will also be the first time the album has been available on vinyl.

Alabama Ass Whuppin’ documents a specific time for the band. Recorded from March 1999 through August of 2000 in clubs across the southeast including Tasty Word, The High Hat, The Star Bar, The Caledonia Lounge and the 40 Watt.

“This was our third album and the connecting thread between our earlier work and the band that we went on to become later. It’s a documentation of a period in time that I wouldn’t go back to for all the money in the world, but I’m proud of the shows that we played and the songs that we wrote, “ says Patterson Hood.

The band is currently in the studio in Athens, GA recording their 12th record. ATO Records will release the record early 2014.

 

Track Listing

1.  Why Henry Drinks

2.  Lookout Mountain

3.  The Living Bubba

4.  Too Much Sex (Too Little Jesus)

5.  Don’t Be in Love Without Me

6.  18 Wheels of Love

7.  The Avon Lady

8.  Margo and Harold

9.  (Alabama Ass Whuppin’) Banter

10.   Buttholeville

11.   People Who Died

12.   Love Like This

Shonna Tucker and Eye Candy to release ‘A Tell All’ in October

Former Drive By Truckers Shonna Tucker and John Neff have unveiled their new band Eye Candy with an incredible collection of songs called A Tell All, slated for release October 15th on Sweet Nectar Records. Ethereal vocals, beautiful arrangements and brutal truths characterize this collection of songs recorded by Kyle Spence, who co-produced with the band in their home base of Athens, Georgia. In the days leading up to the release, Eye Candy will showcase during the Americana Music Festival in Nashville on Thursday, September 19th. Additionally, the band recorded a stellar cover of “Roll On” for the new High Cotton: A Tribute to Alabama, to which Lucero, Jason Isbell and Old Crow Medicine Show also contributed songs.

A Tell All features ten songs about love and jealously, nights spent on the road and nights spent in the kitchen, the things men do to women and women do for men. “All these songs came fast, in a few months time,” explains Tucker, ‘There was no theme or plan at all. Inspiration came from what was happening around me and that was a lot of different things. The first single, ‘Since Jimmy Came’ is about a very young and single mom who thought she had found true love until she had her son. The realization of priorities. Nature at it’s finest.”

Eye Candy includes some of the most prolific players in the Athens music scene: Tucker on bass and vocals, John Neff on guitar and pedal steel, Bo Bedingfield on guitar, Neil Golden on keyboards, and Clay Leverett on drums. For nearly twenty years, John has been one of the town’s most sought-after collaborators in the studio and on the road. Bo is singer/songwriter and leader of the Wydelles, and has backed up several other local songwriters on drums and guitar. Clay led the Athens rock band Lona for eight years before starting honky-tonk band the Chasers, and has played drums and toured with Bright Eyes and Now It’s Overhead. Neil, former member of the Glands and Elf Power, also writes and sings for Golden Brown.

Shonna Tucker grew up in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, listening to the same salty-sweet mix of soul and country that made up the Arthur Alexander and James Carr singles recorded there decades before. She played bass in the Shoals scene starting in high school, then began an eight-year stint as bassist and singer for the Drive-By Truckers. During Tucker and band mate John Neff’s time with the band, they released critically acclaimed albums like “Go Go Boots”, which rose to #35 on the Billboard charts and garnered significant praise. They both played on Betty Lavette’s “The Scene of the Crime” which was nominated for a Grammy, followed by “Potato Hole” with Booker T. Jones, which won a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental album at the 52nd awards show. The band made appearances on both David Letterman and Jimmy Fallon’s late night shows, and toured with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

The music she makes today in Athens, Georgia, flows from the same vein as the music she grew up with: songs that haunt and float like Dolly Parton’s “Down from Dover” and ones that pulse and move like Otis Redding’s “Hard to Handle,” rockers that are right at home on the stage of the 40 Watt downtown and folk songs that are at home among the donkeys and hens on her farm outside town.

The record will be released October 15th on Sweet Nectar Records, and the band will hit the road to bring this killer collection of songs to life.

The Get Right Band : Shake

The Get Right Band - Shake

You can immediately tell that The Get Right Band hail from the South. Within the first 30 seconds of “Voodoo” from their album, Shake, the listener is drawn into a laid back, foot-shaking groove that simply screams that it was born and bred on the warmer side of the Mason-Dixon Line. Imagine if Jason Mraz was Jimmy Buffet’s secret love child raised on a steady diet of Bob Marley records and you would have Get Right’s guitarist/vocalist Silas Durocher. Backed by Jesse Gentry on bass and Chris Pyle on drums (both supplying backing vocals, as well), this is a band who could spend their entire career playing beachfront Caribbean bars for free pina coladas and a hammock for the night.

More of an EP than a full album, Shake clocks in at barely 20 minutes, but it is a fun and groovy five tracks guaranteed to have you boppin’ and scattin’ along. This is also it’s only downfall; just as the party gets started it’s over. From “Touch the Holy” to “Fingernails,” this recordgives you the definite impression that you want to party with these Asheville, North Carolina cowboys.

Shake is out now.