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.
(Winter Bare will be released on April 14th.)
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.
Josephine Foster released an album last year called I’m A Dreamer (my review of which can be read by clicking here) and a video has been made for one of its songs. This one is for “Pretty Please”, which may seem eerie (if not creepy) at first but let the music blend in with the images and it will eventually make sense.
This is yet another album that has a very nice and wholesome rock/pop feel, and I hope this silent movement will continue to happen. I’ve been a fan of David Bronson for a short time but I have enjoyed his music quite a bit and in Questions (Big Arc) he is continuing on his music to make passionate songs that sound like something you want to remember and even turn into personal scriptures. This time around, Bronson sounds a lot like Jim Messina. In fact, listen to the Messina songs on albums by Loggins & Messina or Poco and you will hear the sensibilities I’m hearing here, where the lyrics have a lot to say or you’re wanting to appreciate what Bronson went through in order to write music like this. The nice addition of guitarist Carlos Alomar, wife Robin Clark and their daughter, Lea-Lorien Alomar is more than welcome and compliments Bronson’s voice and playing, and hopefully they will bring more people into this collection of songs that, in a better world, would be considered for the album of the year. Allow it to be one of your personal favorites of 2015, as it is mine.
(Questions will be released on January 13th.)