Austin, Texas musician Craig Marshall has released his new album (his sixth) called After All (Big Ticket) and if you are someone who likes their brand of music on the down home side with hints of country, folk, and an acoustic spirit, you’ll really like this.
What I like about this is it reminds me immediately of music I am familiar with and enjoy, be it Neil Young, Wilco, Little Feat, and Wilco, and it leans very much on the country side of things, or what many will call Americana, an old school spirit. These are songs that are well written and produced, and they tell the kind of stories that you want to believe not only to hear it from Marshall, but because they feel like something you can relate to it because they’re a part of your story too. He cites Bucks Owens and Merle Haggard as influences and as someone who is a huge Owens fan, I can hear it in songs like “The Only Sound” and “In Can’t Begin To Know”, where the adventures told are part of the experience, the other is to hear how the stories are explained. The songs that I got into are those featuring harmony vocals from Betty Soo, those stood out beautifully well (including the opening cut, “Standing Still”) but you’ll also hear Marshall joined with Jason Garcia, Shane Cooley and Noëlle Hampton throughout.
As the bio for the album states, this is song-driven music, for those who still believe in the power of a song that moves you. After All will become the album you’ve been searching for for awhile.
Julie C Myers is someone who has a deep love for blues and rock’n’roll, and it sounds like it throughout her latest album but the truth behind her voice is that she can simply sing, regardless of genre, However, if you love your blues and rock as well, have a listen to Rock On: Fearless Journey (Wild Heart). The covers she does are quite nice, there’s even a country twist in her rendition of Electric Light Orchestra’s “Destination Unknown”, but says she does it in a Robert Palmer fashion. If you know Palmer’s love of rock and soul, then you know this approach can’t be anything but good, and it is. She also does a cover of “”Dancing In The Moonlight” and David Essex’s “Rock On” but the originals are satisfying to the point where you want to take her music home with you. What I like in a good voice is the richness of it, not being fearful, and there’s a lack of fear in each and every song. You may not hear her on the radio as much as other artists but she could easily outshine anyone today. Take this one to the bank, the supermarket, the bakery, and anywhere else that comforts you.
Willie Nelson has released tons of records in his career, and that’s not a lie. Deep fans can name a year and tell you what he released and when. For the sake of this article, let’s go to 1998 and some fans will say “that’s the year he released Teatro, the album he did with producer Daniel Lanois in Oxnard, California”. Those fans would be correct and those fans also know the album was only released on compact disc via Island. Next month, through Light In The Attic, Teatro is getting its first ever vinyl pressing, this one as a 2-record set pressed on “gold” vinyl with a deluxe cover and booklet. One of the bad things about album releases in the 1990’s is labels did deluxe things for the CD pressing while vinyl was primarily ignored. Now, it’s a chance to fix the error. Head to your favorite record shindigs on April 18th and pick up a copy while you can and by all means, play the record too. I know there’s a generation of record buyers who merely buy it to hoard and collect but open the cellophane and pop the record on.
Rashie Rosenfarb (vocals, mandolin, bass) and Matt Francis (drums, guitar, pedal noise) formed Feral Conservatives four years ago and found that their formula works together quite well. They’re about to release a new EP called The Feeling Noise Becomes (EggHUNT), so you are able to hear their acoustic pop that has a subtle punk influence to it. If you enjoy the music of Mugwump & Sons, you may find Feral Conservatives to be the next progression to your listening habits.
If Winter Bare (self-release) tells the tales of a man who fares and hates the moods of what winter can provide to the mind, then Jeremy Bass knows exactly how to get those stories and tales out of his head and into musical form, as a means to turn around the occasional melancholy and see better times in the forthcoming season. By the time this album is released in April, it will have been spring for almost a month but Bass is someone who takes to his pop with elements of rock, folk, and country to turn up a style of music that is rootsy, warm, and rich with the kind of textures where you’re able to see it breathe and watch its pores expand. Part of the reason why songs such as “One More Cigarette”, “Winterlude (Banjo For Annie”) and “Lift Me Up” sound as strong and powerful as they are is because they were written during a downtime in Bass’ life, including getting divorced and selling the home they lived in. Putting those feelings in words and music can be a rough one but we’re able to here what he was going through and what he did in order to get from an end to new beginnings. It’s a bit like listening to an album by The Band you had never heard of before but recognize the cover, only to realize this album should’ve been part of your life as a kid. His next album is set to be full of bossa nova influences but for now, listen to what a cold life can feel like when the only thing you’re able to is throw in a log in the fireplace, one by one, to let you feel the madness but hope that it is all you need to get by for now.
“Bit By The Fang is the first solo album from singer/songwriter John Andrews and his imaginary back up band “The Yawns.”
That’s the first sentence in the press release for this and I’m thinking whoa, this guy has an imaginary band. Will “they” ever go on tour? Then I read the second sentence:
“John began recording the album in 2013 while working at a Salvation Army in the Amish country of Lancaster, PA, his home at the time.”
I only know Lancaster as a place where a guy whose podcast I listen to is from, and the town is close to the Hershey chocolate people. On top of that, he worked at the Salvation Army so he has conviction and determination. I had to find out more.
Andrews was a member of both Quilts and Woods, although initially I thought Quilts and Woods were two pseudonyms of his. But he was a member of two groups and I had assumed that a person named Quilts and another person named Woods would be part of his “imaginary band”. No. Andrews played different roles with both groups and now he is doing more on his album, which will be released on Woodsist on April 14th. As a preview, have a listen to a song of affection (of sorts) called “I’ll Go To Your Funeral (If You Go To Mine)”.
Now that Sonic Youth is officially over, we’re able to hear material from the other members, perhaps in a slightly different light. For Lee Ranaldo, perhaps it’s another way to hear his music and lyrics in a different way, away from the noise, the heaviness, and the occasionally ugliness although his music has always been very distinct from Thurston Moore’s and Kim Gordon’s. For Acoustic Dust (El Segell Del Primavera), the title basically tells the story, as the album has him playing acoustic guitars while being accompanied primarily by other acoustic instruments. It is his third album with The Dust, and if there’s something that makes these songs unique (if you want to call it that), it’s a distinct and simplified sound. One way to compare it is with the covers that are on here: Neil Young’s “Revolution Blues”, The Monkees’ “You Just May Be The One”, and Sandy Denny’s “Bushes And Briars”. You might expect to hear this at Farm Aid or the Bridge School Benefit, and perhaps jamming with Tom Petty or maybe choosing to do some ki ho’alu. Ranaldo sounds very comfortable in this mode but he has always done well with coverage a wide range of different textures, but it’s his stories that help pull you deeper into these songs and want to hear them over and over, or know that they will be there for you in the future when needed.
If you are in need of a remarkable voice, get to know Kate Copeland. She is about to release her debut album very soon and if you listen to “Breaking”, you may think it’s a country song or something bordering on Americana. Then the music shifts and becomes something much more. It’s quite elegant and I look forward to hearing more from her in the years to come. The full album will be out this summer.
David Bronson released his latest album last month called Questions (my review of which was posted on December 31st and can be read by clicking here), and his new video is a bit of comfort and perhaps something delicate. Check out “Life Is Long” and see if you agree.
Singer’s Grave A Sea Of Tongues (Drag City) is the current album from singer Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and he has released a new single (his third) for it, this one called “Blindlessness”. The song happens to be the B-side of his “Mindlessness”, so you are witnessing (or are about to witness) a video for a B-side. Consider yourself proud. The single will be released next week Tuesday, you may pre-order it directly from Drag City Records.