Gordie Tentrees – North Country Heart (2012)

Gordie Tentrees is a man who doesn’t fit easily into any particular genre, with his ability to play hard country music, country rock, blues, a little folksiness and even on this album a track that is pretty close to cowpunk! He is too close to all of these generic fields to call a ‘roots rocker’ so perhaps we have to settle for ‘alt. country plus,’ as he often finds himself at least around the edges of this catchall phrase!This is the fifth album by a man who really should be a household name thanks to the excellence of his vocal and writing skills and his ability to create atmospheres and arrangements perfectly suited to his writing, something not all great singer songwriters are able to master. The fact that he isn’t a household name is certainly not a reflection on his talent, he has more than his
fair share of that, but certainly reflects badly on record companies and ‘country music’fans, who go for nice safe music rather than something that actually needs listening to in depth and might actually provoke some thought! He is assisted on this recording by Juno award winning producer Bob Hamilton and some tremendous musicians, Ken Hermanson on banjo, lap steel, guitar, Bob Hamilton, upright bass, pedal steel guitar, Patrick Hamilton on drums, Annie Avery plays piano and organ and Sarah Macdougall on backup vocals, a lineup that handles the variety of styles and tempos with ease, from gorgeous slow ballads to uptempo bluesy rockers.

mp3 160 kbps | 53 MB | UL

Us Rails – Southern Canon (2012)

It’s practically impossible to handpick individual highlights from this multi-faceted, complex, expertly sequenced whole – the quality is consistently high. Still, the album’s dynamic opener, Scott Bricklin’s “Heart Don’t Lie” is a standout track since everyone gets to sing a verse. And his power ballad “Carry Your Weight”, blessed with an irresistible chorus, has all the potential in the world to become a hit. Tom Gillam’s “Same Old You (Same Old Me)” reminds us once again of Joe Walsh’s qualities while the closing, piano and guitar-based ballad “Old Song On The Radio” delivers the most beautiful Eagles-type harmonies. The semi-acoustic, rocking “Do What You Love” features Ben Arnold’s raspy vocal, reminiscent of Randy Newman or Procol Harum’s Gary Brooker and “You’re My Home” is a midtempo number with a soulful gospel flair. It cannot surprise that Joseph Parsons delivers the album’s most introspective moment, the s ow, somber “Take A Long Time”. He also gives proof that he can be a more powerful troubadour with the catchy “Night Bird”.

mp3 VBR`187 kbps | 70 MB | UL

Various Artists – Big Star Small World (2006)

During their all too short lifespan, Big Star were a brilliant band who could not catch a break (their influence is still wildly out of proportion with the size of their audience), and for years this tribute album didn’t seem destined for a brighter fate than the group who inspired it. Compiled by an independent label called Ignition Records with the participation of original Big Star drummer Jody Stephens, Big Star Small World was scheduled for release in the spring of 1998, but Ignition went under before the album ever made it way into stores, and the project sat in limbo until Koch Records obtained the rights to the tapes in 2006. As a result, Big Star Small World features tracks from three bands who no longer exist (the Afghan Whigs, Whiskeytown, and Idle Wilds), while two others have managed to split up and reunite during the eight-year waiting period (the Posies and the Gin Blossoms). One can be excused for wishing that after such a long gestation Big Star Small World would be some sort of landmark in the land of the tribute album, but that isn’t quite the case. While pretty much everyone onboard sounds pleased as punch to be paying homage to Alex Chilton and his partners in power pop, too many of the performances on Big Star Small World sound like slavish covers of the original recordings (especially Juliana Hatfield’s “Don’t Lie to Me,” the Gin Blossoms’ “Back of a Car,” and “The Ballad of El Goodo” from Matthew Sweet). The best tracks tend to be the ones that put a new spin on the songs, such as the Afghan Whigs’ ominous stroll through “Nighttime,” Teenage Fanclub’s sprightly and Byrds-ian take on “Jesus Christ,” and a cover of “What’s Goin’ Ahn” from the Posies that suggests they remembered well the lessons on Frosting on the Beater. And while neither Kelly Willis nor Wilco add anything especially unusual on their contributions, they get over on the strength of their delivery, with Willis’ gorgeous country pipes buoying “When My Baby’s Beside Me,” while Jeff Tweedy is all glorious wonder and confusion as he sings “Thirteen.” Big Star Small World’s anti-climax comes with what was supposed to be its most important moment — Big Star cut a new song for this, their first studio material since their 1993 live reunion, but “Hot Thing” is an uninspired R&B pastiche that has little in common with the pop genius of the group’s salad days. There’s just enough good stuff on Big Star Small World to justify its belated release, but not enough to make it essential to anyone besides obsessive fans of either Big Star or the artists included.

mp3 320 kbps | 89 MB | UL