Friday, January 24, 2020

Adobe & Teardrops: Episode 98

The big move! My name in print! Grammys gonna Grammy! It’s episode ninety-freakin-eight of Adobe & Teardrops, featuring the likes of: 
  1. Proxima Parada -- “Paying For It” (Kind Reminder)
  2. Paige Cora -- “The Good Side of Desire” (Instant in Time)
  3. The Lil Smokies -- “True Blues” (Tornillo)
  4. Big Shoals -- “The Kid” (Still Go On)
  5. Bandanna -- “Epilogue” (Single)
  6. Flor de Toloache -- “Si No Eres Tu” (Indestructible)
  7. Will Johnson -- “Cornelius” (Wire Mountain)
  8. Jack Marion and the Pearl Snap Prophets -- “Wolves” (When the Well Runs Dry)
  9. Luke Powers -- “Impending Doom” (Single)
  10. Chelsea Williams -- “Red Flag” (Single)
  11. Uncle Leon and the Alibis -- “All My Crazy Friends Got Old and Lame” (Wild Ways) 
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Friday, January 17, 2020

Adobe & Teardrops: Episode 97

I had fun at the latest Queer Country Quarterly and wrote about it on Country Queer, went house hunting, and unsuccessfully confronted my frustrating office mate.

  1. Alan Barnosky -- “Ain’t It a Shame” (Lonesome Road)
  2. Mylo Choy -- “Meet Me in the Middle” (Night is Like the Tides)
  3. Marcus King --“One Day She’s Here” (El Dorado)
  4. Brooks Dixon -- “Let Go” (Pocketful of Dreams)
  5. John Bohn -- “Where I Belong” (Single)
  6. Ron Addison -- “No Damn Good” (Testify)
  7. Black Suit Devil -- “Heart of Sin” (A Matter of Time)
  8. Mrs. Henry -- “All I Can Do” (Live at the Casbah)
  9. Two Cow Garage -- “History Now” (Brand New Flag)

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Friday, January 10, 2020

Adobe & Teardrops: Episode 96

Love to feel uncomfortable in your home, watch the L Word, and recall strange summer camp music festivals? This is your podcast. This. Is. Your. Adobe & Teardrops.

  1. Carman AD -- “89 Johnstown” (Wilderness)
  2. Alec James Payton -- “Honesty” (Skin I Feel No More)
  3. Sarah Ryder -- “Pullin’ Weeds” (Single)
  4. Joe Kille -- “Sisters in the Wind” (Silo)
  5. Erin Anne -- “Bedroom Track (Carrie)” (Tough Love)
  6. Hey Judy -- “Hot Shot Trucker” (What Now)
  7. Tan Sanders and the Derelicts -- “Another War” (Wretched Ole Freedom)
  8. Bootstrap Boys -- “Strong Drinks For Heavy Hearts” (Between the Hat & the Boots)
  9. Warren Garrett -- “First Time” (Single)
  10. Paul Sanchez and the Rambling Road Show -- “Emotional Equity” (Reclamation of the Pie-Eyed Piper)
  11. Langhorne Slim and the Law -- “Song for Sid” (The Way We Move)
  12. Ballroom Thieves -- “Unlovely” (feat. Darlingside) (Single) 

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Thursday, January 9, 2020

Mercy Bell -- Mercy Bell

Western culture really likes to catalog things. Scientific taxonomies, historical periods, gender, music genres. It's comforting to think that it's possible to list and organize everything in the world. But nature isn't like that -- and neither is Mercy Bell's self-titled album. Bell describes herself as a queer Filipino-Americana. With a bi-coastal upbringing and certain fractured relationships (which she goes into in her songs), Bell is used to living in between clearly defined lines.

I've written and podcasted about Bell in the past. If you have the good luck to see her live, you know that she has a joyful, charismatic presence that evens out her somber songwriting. Mercy Bell, which was funded by a grant from her employer, combines some of Bell's older songs with a few new ones she's written since moving to Nashville. The re-recordings needed to happen: Bell lay these tracks down at the Bomb Shelter and added string arrangements to her country-tinged confessionals. "All Good Cowboys" gets the pedal steel it was destined for, while "Home" is accompanied by a heartfelt string arrangement. Whichever recordings you listen to, though, good luck getting any of these songs out of your head. They're written with such acuity and performed with such emotion, they're the kind of songs that feel like they've been in your bones your whole life -- and Bell is simply conjuring them to the surface.

The newer songs, by contrast, represent Bell's interest in the Nashville standard of co-writing. They're more pop-oriented and, to me, are representative of Bell's resurfacing after the tragedies relayed in her older material. "Skip to the Part" is the best example of these -- a track that, in a just world, would be a staple at the lesbian bars that are becoming increasingly scarce. Even in playfulness, Bell's deep yearning is the leyline of the queer experience. Couched in confidence, the narrator's fear of rejection is a sort of cosmic microwave background that gives the song more depth.

More importantly, Bell's rejection of easy categorization is a personal statement against the way the machine typically works. In an industry -- and world -- that demands we subsume our identities into marketable boxes, Bell refuses to do so -- and has fun in the process.

Mercy Bell -- Facebook, Bandcamp, iTunes

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

VIDEO: William Lawrence -- "Slow Dancing on a High Wire"

I was really taken by this song on Episode 84 of the podcast. Lawrence's melancholy vocals and hopeful tone brought to mind a sort of country-tinged Fountains of Wayne. Lawrence is the drummer for the Felice Brothers, so he's had plenty of time to absorb indie rock-leaning Americana at the hands of some of the best in the game. "Slow Dancing on a High Wire" is a quiet masterpiece in that sense.

The new music video, directed by Ian McGuire, allows the delicate song to unfold with real drama. It details the quiet desperation of a tense couple on a night out at the dive bar in a snowy upstate city. (Kingston? New Paltz?) The video focuses on the suspense of the psychological dance -- the death-defying feat of resolving long-simmering tension. The subtle movements captured by the camera beautifully accentuate Lawrence's delicate lyrics. You definitely find yourself rooting for the couple by the end of the video.

Enjoy a little sweetness and what is somehow, one week in, already turning out to be a nightmare of a year!

William Lawrence -- Bandcamp, Facebook

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Adobe & Teardrops: Episode 95

It’s bonus songs for everyone on this top 10 of 2019! Also, Rachel has a hot tip for apartment cleaning that’s more effective than Mari Kondo. She also discusses trans representation in country music. Here’s to a great 2020, y’all!
  1. M Lockwood Porter -- “Get Back to the Wild” AND “Communion in the Ashes” (Communion in the Ashes)
  2. Karen and the Sorrows -- “Far Away” AND “You’re My Country Music” (Guaranteed Broken Heart)
  3. Yola -- “Love All Night, Work All Day” AND “Faraway Look” (Walk Through Fire)
  4. An American Forrest -- “Lady Godiva” AND “Rawhide” (O Bronder, Donder Yonder)
  5. Catherine the Great -- “Hungover at Dollywood” AND “Bones” (Jigsaw Puzzles & Pink Wine)
  6. Jason Hawk Harris -- “Cussing at the Light” AND ““Grandfather” (Love & The Dark)
  7. Micah Schnabel -- “Remain Silent” AND “New Shoes” (The Teenage Years of the Twenty-First Century)
  8. Brittany Howard -- “Tomorrow” AND “Baby” (Jamie)
  9. Our Native Daughters -- “Barbados” AND “Black Myself” (Songs of Our Native Daughters)
  10. Abigail Lapell -- “Sparrow For a Heart” AND “Leningrad” (Getaway)
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Friday, December 27, 2019

Adobe & Teardrops: Episode 94

Sorry, pals. Not feeling up to recording this week so you can read what I have to say about all of these wonderful people in the show notes! Hope you all have had and are having a wonderful holiday week!
  1. 2 AM Wakeup Call -- “I Don’t Know What’s Bad For Me” (This Is Enough)
2 AM Wakeup Call has been making music since 2017, describing his music as “Southern Emo.” What calls me to these two songs are his deep-cutting vulnerability (it’s not enough you see a man talk about feeling physically used) and playful instrumentation.
2. Ella Marie Salter -- “White Flag” (Beverly)
Hailing from Southern Alabama, Salter has a truly impressive voice. She belongs in the pantheon of country music’s great singers -- and her songwriting ain't bad, either
I wrote this song up a few months ago for The Boot! As a queer writer, I think it’s really important to lift up all LGBTQ voices in the roots music community. I look forward to more allies joining me this year! Speaking of allies, I love that Rachel Hurley and Frank Keith at Sweetheart PR are going above and beyond to work with queer artists, even if they’re struggling financially.
As for Michelle Brooke, she’s another addition to that pantheon of great voices. A self-described theater kid growing up, she brings that Broadway pizzazz to the barnhouse. This song is so cathartic in so many ways and is about the end of her first same-sex relationship after coming out.
4. The Strangemakers -- “Shot Down” (Off the Floor)
The Strangemakers are a decorated folk rock band from Canada. You can hear the assurance in their groove on “Shot Down” and it reeled me in. Patreon listeners will hear “Wait On Me,” which sounds really familiar to me, but I couldn’t figure out if it was a cover and didn’t have time to ask them. Anyway, it’s been stuck in my head for a whole two weeks.
5. Stephanie Anne Johnson and the Hidogs -- “Take This Love” (Take This Love) 
You may know Stephanie Anne Johnson from The Voice; on this album she enlists some of Seattle’s best. And yeah -- one more for that pantheon. I love the warmth in her lyrics and confidence in her performance! 
6. El Cantador “My Way” (Translation Wave)
This is one of my deep dives into the ol’ Adobe & Teardrops vault. Translation Wave came out in 2013 and it seems to be their last release; the band was led by Heath Underwood, who now has a band called BUNCH, whose 2015 album I wrote up
7. “Lay Me Down” -- Brendan Kelly and the Wanderers (Too Late to Pray: Defiant Chicago Roots)
Bloodshot Records just celebrated their 25th anniversary with this fantastic comp album. It shows the beauty and diversity of Chicago’s roots music scene.
8. Nilufer Yanya -- “In Your Head” (Miss Universe)
I was gobsmacked after Nilufer Yanya’s performance on World Cafe. Anyone who thinks rock’n’roll is dead needs to shut their soundhole.
9. Sid Kingsley -- “Sweet Viriginia” (Single) 
Kingsley grew up playing jazz in a small town. When he joined the Coast Guard, he was encouraged to continue playing sax. After leaving the Coast Guard and moving to Richmond, VA, he found that he couldn’t avoid his calling anymore and took the plunge with his first album. So far, it’s shaping up great.
10. Lizzie Huffman and Her Brother’s Band -- “Tumblers and Tea” (Lizzie Huffman and Her Brother Band)
Another one from the vault. I can’t find any online presence for Lizzie Huffman, so if you know where she is please let her know there are still people enjoying her music. Meanwhile, you can tell how old this song is because she talks about tight jeans -- as a good thing! Pretty sure it’s from 2011.
11. Stevie C. Bowen -- “Be Kind” (Music From the Rooms of My Head)
Hailing from Brooklyn and with a moustache that might make Von feel jealous, Bowen doesn’t have much biographical info out there. But maybe that’s because his guitar needs to speak for itself.
12. Adam Hill -- “Magnetic North” (Water in the Draw)
A couple weeks ago I mentioned on Twitter that I was finally getting more honest-to-goodness alt-country through SubmitHub. Adam Hill is one of those people. While Hill describes himself as an inventive musician, he’s sticking to three chords and the truth here and I love it.