Wayne Toups, Steve Riley, Wilson Savoy – The Band Courtbouillon (2012)

It’s not often three Cajun accordionists come together as a band, especially when they lead their own aggregations but that’s the case here with Wayne Toups (Zydecajun), Steve Riley (Mamou Playboys) and Wilson Savoy (Pine Leaf Boys). Initially, Savoy’s Pine Leaf Boys performed at a ceremony honoring Toups. Toups then joined PLB for a few numbers and had such a good time that he remarked that he would like to start a band christened Courtbouillon (a tomato sauce used in Cajun cuisine) with Savoy and Riley.Though Toups, Riley and Savoy are the best around in contemporary Cajun music, there’s never any showcases of hot licks and cute tricks; nor are there ever any upstaging cutting contests. Instead, it’s a very intimate affair shared among friends who deeply revere the Cajun music they were weaned on, as evidenced by the selections from Iry LeJeune, Lawrence Walker, Shirley Bergeron and the public domain vault. It’s done in a very acoustic, unamplified folky style that’s 180 degrees away from today’s kickin’ dancehall variety that’s expected to go over the top several times over. Additionally, there’s no smacking, hard-pounding drums; just Eric Frey marking the first beat of every waltz measure with his pulsing acoustic bass.

mp3 VBR~235 kbps | 87 MB | UJ

The Two Man Gentlemen Band – Two at a Time (2012)

Irreverent songwriters, expert instrumentalists, former street-performers, and consummate showmen, The Two Man Gentlemen Band has been barnstorming from coast to coast for half a decade, developing a reputation as a must-see live act on the roots and retro music circuits. A tenor guitar and string bass duo in the tradition of the great Slim & Slam, The Gents have obvious affection for pre-war American Jazz and Western Swing. But they’re no period piece. The decidedly contemporary feel of their lyrics and the hilarious, often ridiculous, improvised banter that peppers their live shows combine with the music for a thoroughly modern ruckus. “It’s as if,” one reviewer commented, “The Smothers Brothers were young today, wore better suits, and wrote hot jazz songs about drinking.” To The Gentlemen, that sounds about right.

mp3 VBR~126 kbps | 27 MB | UJ


The Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten [Deluxe Edition] (2012)

The Gaslight Anthem’s major label debut takes them further away from their independent “punk Springsteen” roots into Boss-sized would-be stadium rock with a nod to Celtic-influenced Brit rockers Big Country and the Alarm. The songs wear broken hearts on checked sleeves, with a “whoah-oh” or “hey-ey-ey” never far away. Opener 45, the stirring Biloxi Parish and the title track are instantly catchy; it’s hard to hear them without imagining rows of arms punching the air. And yet, the album often lumbers where it should be nimble. As ever, sandpaper-voiced Brian Fallon documents youth, death and driving, always with the radio playing, which won’t harm their appeal to US FM stations. He sounds as sincere as ever, but the cliches become self-parody at times. “Desire, desire” is rhymed with “Fire, fire”, girls have “Bette Davis” or “faraway” eyes and even the lovely, acoustic National Anthem can’t resist John Lennon’s line, “whatever gets you through the night”. Thus, their fourth album never steps out of the shadows of their heroes, and may not take them where they want to be.

mp3 320 kbps | 122 MB | UJ