The southern roots of The Lone Bellow remained as they made their way to Brooklyn, New York, and while you may not think of country music when you think of the Big Apple, that soon may change as Zach Williams, Kanene Pipkin, and Brian Elmquist make themselves known, something they’ve done in the last few years, originally as Zach Williams & The Bellow. With a name change came more activity, which lead to them being signed to Descendant Records/RED via Sony, and now their self-titled debut album is finished and ready to be heard on January 22, 2013. Their first single is called “You Never Need Nobody”, a radio live performance of which I am presenting here. You get a grasp of what they’re about, if only slightly, and these guys (and lady) are sure to bring in a lot of fans along the way.
I’ll be honest: I’m a sucker for a good and rich sounding harmonica/harp, and when it’s done to my liking, I take to it quite nicely. It reaches the part of me that makes me feel its bluesiness, and Sassparilla do this in the awesome Magpie (Fluff And Gravy).
I should also say this: the harmonica is not the core of what this band is about, but they use it very well in “Two Black Hearts” and the opening track, “Threadbare”. They are a group who are equally adept in playing rock’n'roll as they are in country, bluegrass, and blues, and I think of a band like The Band who did this effortlessly. Sassparilla do this very well too, so if they feel like making a musical shift throughout the album, you are there to hear the stories regardless of the back drop. I love rock bands who are able to understand what real rock’n'roll is about without trying to prove a point, but in the process prove that there’s still much spirit in what makes a band rock. “Star” even gets a bit soulful with some groovy tambourines and a female vocalist who handles the backgrounds a bit, sweetening the journey for everyone involved. Some of this sounds like what happened when Queens Of The Stone Age decided to get deeper into their desert surroundings and ended up smoking the same weed the Black Crowes found while on the road. It’s that kind of album, If Sassparilla become this generation’s version of The Band, that would be great, but I hope that they will remain Sassparilla throughout their journey.
It is welcome when an artist releases a video, but rather than do a simple lip-sync, they’ll add something live to it. I’m not talking a simple live performance (although that’s part of it) but… it’s just different from what you’d expect to hear from an album or downloading an MP3. White Ash Falls have done this with the humble “Tonight I’ll Be Here With You” in a great video shot under the Queensway Bridge in South Humber Park, Toronto with help from director Mitch Fillion.
As for who are White Ash Falls, technically it’s the music of one man, Andy Bishop. While he is the core of White Ash Falls, the “band” expands or contracts as it wants, as he has an open door policy with things. If there are changing line-ups, it is safe to say that Bishop will always be there.
The song is from their By The River Bend album on Light Organ Records, my review of which can be read by clicking here.
There’s something so raw and open about picking up an acoustic guitar and just singing, and when you hear someone do it in a studio, it feels like someone slitting their wrists and waiting for the wound to heal so you can taste its scars. That is one way of comparing the music of White Ash Falls and his album, By The River Bend (Light Organ).
White Ash Falls is the musical mask of Andy Bishop, a Vancouver, BC musician who has done his share of punk over the years, but decided that his love of folk and calm needed to be tended to, and eventually this lead to the creation of White Ash Falls. The album is beautiful and gorgeous like some of those intimate albums you enjoyed hearing from your parents, the stuff you didn’t quite understand but it soothed you. You may hear hints of Wilco and the Black Crowes in “I Can’t Get Tomorrow”, while “Don’t Let It Go Down” sounds like Michael Penn if he decided to hang out in Nashville, with Justin Timberlake in a cowboy hat at the bar, telling you “hey, I’m just sitting here after a long day of schmoozing, and I’m here for a quick drink before the limo takes me back home. Have a listen.” There are songs of love, heartbreak, fear, sorrow, and happiness on this, and it gets to a point where, while you may know and/or understand the influences, the idea of this being your parents or grandparents music slowly fades when you immersed yourself in it to where it becomes your music. These songs could easily be covered by some of today’s country artists, while also being interpreted by today’s pop stars. In fact, White Ash Falls could be a major star if major labels understood quality over quantity, but… their loss, our gain.
Short version: White Ash Falls piles folk, country, and blues in the back of a truck, takes it to a family BBQ, brings in friends, allows everything to slow cook, and the end result is an album that becomes an evening gathering that lasts until the sun comes up.
What I enjoy about hearing a new album is when the first few songs leaves me wondering what these guys are about. I remember reading a book on music A&R where they said that a rule upon submitting a demo is to send in three of their best songs, because that will be the deciding factor on whether or not you’re worthy enough of being signed. Even when an artist is signed, bands will often make those first three songs on an album stand out, in the hopes it will make the listener want to hold on during the duration. That’s what Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound do on a very powerful album called Manzanita (Tee Pee), a healthy mixture of things where the ingredients are thrown out, but the end results are unknown until heard and experienced. There’s a nice mixture of rich rock’n'roll, some crunchy garage rock, blues and R&B elements, country, and pinches of what those outside of this country would call Americana. In tracks like “Blue Wire”, “The Flume”, and “Low Island Blues”, Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound come off like that indie band you’ve been a fan of for years because they made you feel real, they validated your life and existence and you’d stand by/with them, no matter what. When they rock out, it’s complete with grit, oil, and raunchy scents you remember from a less-sane version of your existence. In other words, there’s that careless freedom feel to the guitar work, intense bass work, unified vocals, and that Farfisa that makes you wish you could either join the band or form one for yourself. Manzanita is an album that makes you wish they had a flag so you could pledge allegiance to it every morning. This is rock’n'roll.
Everyone has (or should have) a definition of what “down home” is. When it comes to music, it’s hearing it and feeling as if you’ve known it all your life. Not bad for a musician who calls jazz his music, and one who is from Austria. Sprechen sie jazz? Otmar Binder does, and he takes it on with the very nice Boogie Woogie Turnaround (Preiser).
Binder, along with bassist Alexander Lackner and drummer Michael Strasser, create music that sounds like they were raised in the United States, especially the south, as they’re not afraid to turn their jazz into some wicked boogie woogie stomps mixed in with a bit of honky town country. Years ago, you would never be able to hear these styles of music together unless you were invited into a secret after hours rendezvous, but it’s here as natural intended it to be. You’ll play this and you’ll want to dance to their sounds, and I think no matter who hears it, it will definitely be “down home”, whether it’s in Macon, Georgia, Austin, Texas, or Bratislava, Austria. I’m sure some American musicians would be overwhelmed to hear how the Austrians do it, but then again, maybe not so much. Quite a remarkable recording.
Shy-Anne Hovorka is a singer/songwriter who had released two albums under her full name, but for Interwoven Roots, she wants to be simply known as Shy-Anne. Haven’t heard of her yet? Good reason to listen and learn now. With this video, she displays a modern country touch with a bit of pop crossover appeal, but with that foundation, listen and try to imagine what else she could do.
If you want to also see her on stage, check out where she’ll be next by clicking here.
This one was recommended by Buzzov•en vocalist/guitarist Kirk Fisher, and I decided to check it out. If you like your Southern rock that is rich in the traditions of blues and country, you’re going to like The Cadillac Black of Nashville, Tennessee as they celebrate bummed out days and nights with a bit of “Whiskey Soaked Redemption”. Pour out your favorite whiskey, especially if it’s homemade, and listen to the richness. If you wish to listen and see the richness in person, you are in luck, as they have a number of shows coming up, opening up for some great bands so show up early:
September 7… Scarborough, ME (Scarborough Downs) */**
September 8… Mansfield, MA (Comcast Center) */**
September 9… Erie, PA (Jerry Uht Park) */**
September 12… New York, NY (Beacon Theater) **
September 14… Cincinatti, OH (Riverbend Music Center) */**
September 15… Maryland Heights, MO (Verizon Wireless Amphitheater) */**
September 16… Kodak, Tennessee (Smokies Stadium) */**
September 19… Ardmore, OJ (Two Frogs Grill)
September 20… Denton, TX (Rockin’ Rodeo) ***
September 21… Waco, TX (Wild West) +
September 22… Lubbock, TX (2012 JABFest, Lone Star Amphitheater)
September 28… Chicago, IL (Joe’s On Weed Street) @
October 14… Nashville, TN (Dierks Bentley Miles & Music for Kids, Riverfront Park)
November 15… Nashville, TN (Exit/In) @
* w/ Lynyrd Skynyrd
** w/ ZZ Top
*** w/ Whiskey Myers
+ w/ Bart Crow
@ w/ Florida Georgia Line
Steve Stubblefield and his band Starlings, TN will be gearing up to tour the southern United States in support of the album Heartache In 4/4 Time (Chicken Ranch), which will include a stop at the Hopscotch Music Festival in Raleigh, North Carolina. When he returns home to Austin, Texas mid-September, the shows he’ll do that month will lead into a one-month residency at Flipnotics Coffee Space.
September 3… New Orleans, LA @ The Saint 9PM
September 4… Covington, LA @ House Show (private show)
September 5… Atlanta, GA @ Star Bar 9PM
September 6… Greesboro, NC @ The Green Bean 8PM
September 8… Raleigh, NC @ Hopscotch Festival – Deep South Bar 11PM
September 12… Memphis, TN The Lampighter 9PM
September 13… Ruston, LA @ Sundown Tavern 9PM
September 20… Austin, TX @ Flipnotics Coffee Space 6PM
September 25… Austin, TX The White Horse 6PM
September 27… Austin, TX @ Flipnotics Coffee Space 6PM
October 4… Austin, TX @ Flipnotics Coffee Space 6PM
October 11… Austin, TX @ Flipnotics Coffee Space 6PM
October 18… Austin, TX @ Flipnotics Coffee Space 6PM
October 25… Austin, TX @ Flipnotics Coffee Space 6PM
Until then, have a free track from Starlings, TN. You can read my review of Heartache In 4/4 Time by clicking here.
There is really no reason why The Green Pajamas should not have the same kind of popularity that bands like Wilco and Pearl Jam have had and gained over the years. Here’s why. In terms of musical diversity… well, it’s a term that is often thrown around a lot, but for these guys it applies. They not only release albums that change with each release, but with Death By Misadventure (Green Monkey), it’s from song to song. You’ll hear a bit of blues-based rock, then another song that has that kind of jump and jive jazz that made Royal Crown Revue popular among fans, and then they’ll take things down a country path. Within the same song, you might here a bit of new wave or pop sensibilities that made them quite popular in Seattle and the rest of the Pacific Northwest in the 80′s. The fact that a band like this can still commit and play great music in 2012 is one reason why these guys should be playing festivals across the U.S. and the world. Add to that the lyricism that comes off like reading a forgotten book you found in a basement that somehow feels as if was meant to be found by someone like yourself: it’s just in tune, as in “it fits”, “it’s just right”, it’s the kind of rock’n'roll that needs to be celebrated. Plus, with 16 tracks on Death By Misadventure, it feels like a statement is being made and you’re wanting to listen to each song and figure out what that is. If not a message in its words, then at least a courageous story in how they’re doing it. If this is meant to truly represent death by some type of misadventure, then in the word of the California garage rock band The Mummies, what a way to die.