This month, Short Cuts features Pinetop Perkins, Teenage Fanclub, Stone River Boys, Susan Cowsill, Tim Woods, and Snow & Voices. Short Cuts is a monthly spin on new releases that just can’t be overlooked.
Pinetop Perkins & Willie “Big Eyes” Smith: Joined at the Hip
Singer Mahalia Jackson once said, “Anybody singing the blues is in a deep pit yelling for help.” At 97 years of age, blues legend Pinetop Perkins has crawled out of that deep pit, and on Joined at the Hip, he sounds like he is having a fine time. The album is a collaboration Perkins and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, and it is a jovial set of blues music. “Cut that Out” is playful with its call and response chorus, “Walkin’ Down the Highway” rolls slow upon fiery guitar and trilling piano, and “I Would Like to Have a Girl Like You” flirts like only a blues man can. These guys make a stellar duo, and this album features a rollicking set of good time blues.
Teenage Fanclub : Shadows
Teenage Fanclub emerged in the early ‘90s with a sparkling indie-pop style that has evolved since the band’s inception, but has remained as achingly beautiful as ever. Gone are the feedback blasts that painted the outro of “The Concept” from 1991’s breakthrough Bandwagonesque, replaced over the years by ringing pop and with layers of harmony. Shadows is the Scottish quartet’s ninth album, and marks a continuation of smart songs that sound like no other. Brimming with jangling pop (“Baby Lee”), shiny guitars (“Into the City”), and cascading, dark psychedelia (“The Past”), Shadows is a stunning collection that proves that Teenage Fanclub’s tenure in the spotlight is clearly well-earned.
Stone River Boys : Love on the Dial
Cow Island Music
The Hacienda Brothers met a tragic end when founding member Chris Gaffney succumbed to liver cancer and died in April 2008. If there is a silver lining to this story, it comes in the form of both the musical legacy that Gaffney left behind, and the new directions chosen by his bandmate David Gonzalez. Gonzalez and friend Mike Barfield are veterans of the music scene, and their debut as Stone River Boys, Love on the Dial, is a rich exploration of American music; from dirt road country to grooving R&B, this album has it all. Love on the Dial is one of the most refreshing albums released this year; melding rock and country seamlessly, the compositions here are retro-fitted for AM radio.
Susan Cowsill : Lighthouse
Susan Cowsill was thrust upon the stage at the ripe age of eight as a member of her family’s band, The Cowsills, which served as the inspiration for The Partridge Family. Her career in music has included stints with her family, backing vocals for a number of high profile bands, and as a songwriter. This year marks the release of her second solo album, entitled Lighthouse, a collection of tracks that are rough around the edges, but full of heart inside. Cowsill’s poise marks each of the tracks and is maintained even when expressing the pain of her home in post-Katrina New Orleans. But her tact and resolve affirm that she is a master at her craft, and she spins Americana yarns that are touching and comfortable. Lighthouse is yet another high point in Susan Cowsill’s long and winding career.
Tim Woods : The Blues Sessions
Tim Woods hails from Southwestern Pennsylvania, but he found his muse in Macon, Georgia. The influence of local luminaries, such as the Allman Brothers Band, crept into his playing, and his blues-rock style beams with succinct guitar playing and Southern swing. The Blues Sessions, his debut, features guest appearances David "Honeyboy" Edwards, Big Jack Johnson, Bobby Lee Rodgers, Jeff Sipe, and Ike Stubblefield, among others. Woods brings swagger to “Deep Ellum Blues,” attitude on “Do the Do,” and riveting guitar on “It Don’t Make No Sense You Can’t Make Peace.” Tim Woods is a true blues man that embodies the perfect balance of passion and flash.
Snow & Voices : Anything That Moves
Elastic Ruby Records
Snow & Voices resembles its name; Lauri Kranz has a gorgeous voice that emanates from vivid, atmospheric orchestration of Jebin Bruni, an angel’s lilt across a snow drift. Anything That Moves is a visceral recording with immaculate production and sensual tone that is tied tightly to the heart. The Los Angeles collective’s third release melts in the ears with longing (“Blue”), loss (“The Letting Go”), and blown kisses (“Swallow Me”). Snow & Voices swims in a deep crevice of emotion, and although the songs threaten to slip under the surface, the buoyancy of hope keeps the nine tracks on Anything That Moves perfectly afloat.