Spaghetti western guitar riffs. Train beat percussion. Deep, rumbling vocals. Songs about death and tequila. No, it isn’t the soundtrack to an unreleased Quentin Tarantino movie; it’s Year Of The Dragon, the newest release from Brent Amaker and the Rodeo. Clocking in at 13 tracks, Year Of The Dragon walks a fine line between straight-faced country and tongue-in-cheek pastiche… and it takes the best parts from both sides.
Grey Reverend is set to release his new studio album ‘A Hero’s Lie’.With more music being made than ever before, it’s often the simple things which stand out. No one will ever craft an entirely new chord sequence, but sometimes the familiar can still be striking.
Brooklyn’s own LD Brown seems to have taken this to heart, with his songwriting focussing on simple, unfussy and yet oddly moving elements. Bumping into Jason Swinscoe at a local coffee shop, the then-unknown songsmith was invited on the road with The Cinematic Orchestra.
Becoming a close collaborator, LD Brown began using the name Grey Reverend. A debut album followed, released on Swinscoe’s Motion Audio imprint, before LD Brown opted to take a back seat.
Well, now he’s back. New album ‘A Hero’s Lie’ will be released later this year, with Motion Audio once again providing the songwriter with safe harbour. Newly announced single ‘Everlasting’ is a powerful return, part of a four track document which demonstrates the breadth of Grey Reverend’s songwriting.
Mat Riviere creates inspirational music on ‘Not Even Doom Music’. Consisting of two sides the music blends into a kaleidoscope of various styles, ranging from post-rock to something akin to pop. What comes out is a rather ramshackle sort of music. Yes it has heart. Acoustic instruments litter the whole thing. Vocals are honest, not pretty. Things sound incredibly direct. Everything comes through with little in the way of effects. In some ways the approach is almost a positive take on ‘A Silver Mount Zion’. Where A Silver Mount Zion has despair and sadness, Mat Riviere offers hope in an unconventional way.
The son of longtime Lees-McRae College theater department head Dr. Janet Barton Speer, Carroll is now based on the West Coast, but has just released his fourth album, titled “Avery County, I’m Bound to You.”
In his distinctive, literary style, Carroll relives his days in the North Carolina mountains, with an emphasis on mixing fact with fiction.
“On my previous albums, I definitely prescribed to the notion that fiction is the only place where you can tell the truth: what (director) Werner Herzog calls ‘the ecstatic truth,’” Carroll said. “The truth of narrative, rather than the lifeless quality of facts and data. So far, it has made me feel a lot more free at the writing table.
“But my method changed with this record. And while I would still insist that the stories and details are too nebulous to be literal, the title of the album is ‘Avery County, I’m Bound to You.’ And I did, indeed, grow up in Avery County, N.C. And I do, indeed, feel bound to that place.”
And, indeed, the High Country is a notable influence on the lyrics of Carroll’s new album, with references to a girl from Boone and a traditional sounding ballad, titled “The Beech Mountain Waltz.”
Mike Zito’s life has taken him from St. Louis to Key West to southeast Texas. A deeply personal and sincere bluesman, Gone To Texas is Zito speaking — or singing, really both figuratively and literally about his long road to not only redemption, but also outright triumph.
The ace singer, songwriter and pretty-damned-good guitar player had made appearances on this space before. I loved his record label debut Today so much, it was an easy pick on 2008′s Best Of list. Nick Deriso dissected 2011′s Greyhound and was impressed with how it “moves with impressive force between acoustic story songs, and these grinding, hellhound-chased blues-rock numbers.” We skipped over Pearl River (2009) but the blues authorities didn’t and awarded the title track co-written with Cyril Neville the Blues Music Award for Song of the Year in 2010. He’s also formed blues/roots supergroup with Neville and Devon Allman, The Royal Southern Brotherhood, that actually lives up to the billing.
But for now, Zito’s mind is on that new record he made with a newly assembled dream band he calls “The Wheel.” They debut on Gone To Texas, and like Zito’s three prior records, it’s a bit autobiographical and based on the circumstances, it could have easily been called Gone To Texas and Louisiana: The album was taped at Zito’s favorite studio, which happens to be in Maurice, LA, New Orleanian Susan Cowsill — the youngest member of the fabled band of her namesake — serves as a backup singer for some tunes, and Lafayette’s own Sonny Landreth sits in on a song.
But it’s the bliss Zito has found from hanging out with the Cajun-kissed Texas music and culture of his adopted hometown of Beaumont and its environs (he found his bride in nearby Nederland) that’s given him ample inspiration for the words and music he’s put together for his latest long player. The laid-back, down home title song with its classic style blues lyrics and anthemic strain is instantly likeable. “Rainbow Bridge,” referring to the big span near Port Arthur, TX, is a rowdy stomp powered by The Wheel’s rhythm section of Rob Lee on drums and Scot Sutherland on bass with RnB supplied from the band’s saxophonist Jimmy Carpenter and swamp blues from Landreth’s singular slide. On “Voices In Dallas,” Zito sings of his past drug abuse using a gooey mix of slide, organ (from guest keyboardist Lewis Stephens) and Carpenter’s baritone sax.
It’s not all Texas themed, but it’s all just as alluring, and Zito never plays the same kind of song twice. “I Never Knew A Hurricane” is a gritty soul blues lament with s fine harmony vocal from Cowsill. “Don’t Think Cause You’re Pretty” is Robin Trower style hard blues rock with a real sleazy Billy Gibbons kind of lead guitar from Zito, immediately followed by him on what must be a National Stel acoustic guitar playing Delta blues on “Death Row.”
“Don’t Break A Leg” is a James Brown styled funk approach to blues that makes you realize how close Zito’s gravel in his voice isn’t too far removed from Brown’s. Funk, the syncopated kind, is also the order of the day for “Subtraction Blues,” the kind you might find on a Dr. John song. A badassed psychedelic blues riff pervades “Hell On Me,” aided by Stephens’ cool organ and Zito’s wah wah guitar.
Delbert McClinton is the special attraction on “The Road Never Ends,” trading lead vocals with Zito on this stomping honky tonk number. They also trade off supreme blues guitar and harmonica for a no-frills, fun-filled get-together.
Josh Nuni: Vocals, Ukulele, Sitar, Guitar, Jaw Harp, Throat Singing, Harmonium, Washboard, Shruti Box, Shakers, Conch
Deepak Ramapriyan: Bass, Violin, Didgeridoo, Pinocchio Flute, Wooden Bongos, Cymbals, Shakers, Tambourine, Maracas, Togo Seeds, Vibraslap, Bucket
Cooper Madison: Tabla, Harmonium
Clayton Campbell: Cajon, Djembe
Christo Pellani: Djembe, Pandero, Tambourine, Shakers
Denise Kaufman: Harmonica
Roger Lipson: Shehnai
Arjuna O’Neil: Manjeera
Mitch Budd: Congas
Eddie Young: Upright Bass
Chorus: Deepak Ramapriyan, Giuliano Pizzulo, Sam Sugarman, Kyrie Maezumi, Tracy Sachs, Emma Tolkin, Ryan Brewer, Daniel Wolfberg, Annemarie Brown, Sindy EdwardsStephanie Lana Ramapriyan, Brandon Fox, Stephen Harvey
Blues singer, musician, and songwriter Ray Bonneville is a Juno Award winner originally from Canada. Before he reached his teens, his large family moved to the United States; a few years later, when they returned to Canada, Bonneville stayed in the States on his own. He found work as a member in different bands and as a studio musician, playing both the harmonica and guitar. When he discovered being a musician wasn’t paying all of the bills, he studied flying and put in enough hours to get his pilot’s license. He was influenced by and performed with great bluesmen like the legendary Muddy Waters and Bukka White. In 1993, Bonneville finished his debut recording On the Main. It was followed by 1997’s Solid Ground, which underscored his growing writing and playing skills.
L.C. Ulmer plays a South Mississppi backwoods boogie style akin to its Northern relative, the hill country blues of North Mississippi. His music reveals the raw roots of rock n’ roll, the meeting between country blues and electricity, white and black rural songbooks. Ulmer comes from the part of the world where the “raw roots of rock n’roll” emerged via the Graves Brothers of Hattiesburg, Mississippi over a decade before Ike Turner’s “Rocket 88” and the official introduction of this new music.
L.C. Ulmer – guitar, voice, banjo, mandolin
Jimbo Mathus – drums
Wallace Lester – drums
J. Showah – bass
A dazzling combination of sloe-eyed country ballads, heavy psychedelic staring contest, and shamanistic chants forms the basis of Headdress’ debut album, Turquoise. Reissued from a limited CD-R, Turquoise captures the sound of this young Austin duo in the midst of the desert evening, threading lonesome guitar leads across the cosmos. Far from the freak-folk banner and the artists who’ve been curdling its once sweet waters, Headdress plays with a solemn, measured dedication to the loneliest, windswept blues, American to its core and reaching out to connect with similarly lost souls. Mexican Summer offers this stunning collection in a one-time pressing of 500 copies.