Thursday, March 30, 2017

Will Johnson -- Hatteras Night, a Good Luck Charm

I initially wanted to pass on Hatteras Night. Will Johnson, of Centro-matic fame, has produced a tidy collection of songs with a country flare and carefully precise, minimalist production that felt challenging to me. But the more time I spent with it (in preparation for his stint of opening dates with John Moreland), I became drawn to the rich country influences of the album's opener, "Childress (To Ogden)." The choir, the steel guitar, the rich chords feel timeless even as the naturalistic lyrics prove that the song could only be written now.

It was "Predator" that got me falling in love, though. A tender and joyful reflection on "that old time sound," that Johnson revels in on Hatteras Night, this is one of my favorite love songs to music. But it wasn't until I found "Every Single Day of Late," a song I found...challenging, shall we say...stuck in my head that I knew I was hooked. Hatteras Night needs to be listened to all the way through, many times. It's an album of subtlety that will continue to unfold itself for years to come. I'm excited to see what I'll find. This is one of my favorite albums so far this year.

Will Johnson -- Official, Bandcamp

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Kickstarter Time! Roadie 2 and Roadie Bass Guitar Tuner

I recently found out about some pretty cool guitar tech for you players out there. The Roadie tuner can be pre-programmed for various tunings. It fits over the turning gear of your stringed instrument (doesn't have to be a guitar!) and automatically tunes the string to that frequency once it's plucked. The company is releasing a new and improved version for bass guitars and other instruments. It's already fully funded but you can preorder it here.

But if you have money to spend but not $80 on a guitar tuner, why not give me considerably less money on my Patreon? You can get private content, playlists, and if you're a big enough spender, your very own podcast or post!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Podcast Time! -- Reversal of the Muse with Laura Marling

If you're an aficionado of public radio, you have no doubt heard Laura Marling's latest song, "Wild Fire"  and its truly genre- and mind-bending guitar licks.

In addition to wrists and a serious set of pipes, Marling's got a true journalistic instinct. Marling's been performing since she was a teenager, which has led her to many experiences -- both positive and negative -- based on her gender. Reversal of the Muse is a series of interviews of women throughout the music industry discussing their experiences. While there are some amazing musicians featured in the first season -- including Dolly Parton and Emmylou in a single episode, Haim, and others. For me, though the most interesting interviews were with those who sit on the other side of the microphones -- the lone women sound engineers, producers, record execs, and even guitar shop owners.

It's this glimpse into the music industry that very few people get. Not only does it give us laypeople some insight into what the heck those credits on the album (assume we even read those) means, but also how, at every step of the way, the music industry is simply not designed for someone might want or need regular hours or pay -- in other words, someone who wants to raise kids and, for now, that group consists largely of women. All of the industry vets remark that more and more women are joining the ranks of production staff, though, so who knows how ways of doing business will change in the coming decades?

Marling's an excellent interviewer, allowing her subjects to shine as they discuss the art they're passionate about and to take pride in their skills. Even if you don't care about gender (but, like, why don't you?) listening to experts be experts will motivate you to pick up your guitar, your mic, your pop screens, and get cracking on the projects you've been putting off. Marling asks all of her subjects if they believe "female creativity" differs from "male creativity." The answers are as varied as the number of people responding to the question. But one thing remains clear from the first season of one of my favorite podcasts: we won't know the full potential women have -- musically or otherwise -- until their contributions are respected and uplifted.

Reversal of the Muse -- Official, iTunes, Facebook 

(NB: I can't seem to find it on Stitcher but you can listen to it on Soundcloud)

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Monday, March 27, 2017

FREE MUSIC: Old Nobodaddy -- "Bury the Hatchet"

Old Nobodaddy -- nee Ian Francis -- knows how to dig deep into that Southern Gothic feel. "Bury the Hatchet" begins with an eerie, gospel-like chorus and slowly but surely ramps up into a full-on boot stomper. Old Nobodaddy specializes in that creepy blues style that makes you forget you're in your office and sends you to a shack in the bayou. Pairs well with Scott H Biram's The Bad Testament.


Old Nobodaddy -- Facebook, Bandcamp

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Sera Cahoone -- From Where I Started

Sera Cahoone's newest solo album is, in a word, delightful. It serves as an interesting bookend to Caroline Spence's Spades and Roses. Where Spence is hurt and vulnerable, Cahoone's songs come from the same wounds but are playful and healing. I get the sense that Cahoone's coming at these songs from a greater distance, with a little bit of contemplation and self-reflection to help the medicine go down.

Cahoone strikes a delicate and expert balance between folk and country. Shimmery mandolins and soaring string arrangements pair well with steel guitar and fiddle. Cahoone approaches heartbreak and fresh starts with a similarly warm, almost detached approach. Contrary to alienating the listener, these songs feel cozy -- like you could snuggle up in them (or maybe listen to them while you're snuggling up with someone.) Folksy without being folk, down-home without being country, From Where I Started incorporates a patchwork of identities and experiences to create a lived-in, well-realized whole. It's right up there as one of my favorite albums this year.

Sera Cahoone -- Purchase from her official site or Amazon

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Moonage Shine -- Catacombs EP

I never really quite know what to make of a Moonage Shine EP but I always enjoy where it takes me. Catacombs is murkier than the Texas-based band's previous releases. Instead of channeling heat stroke-induced visions, Catacombs asks us to descend deep underwater (or at least that's what I hear.)

As you settle into depths, every so often an intelligible lyric or a detuned country lick shimmers through. Catacombs seems to be invoking an ancient spirit -- someone much more innocuous than Cthulu, but potent nonetheless.

Moonage Shine -- Bandcamp

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Jake McKelvie -- The Rhinestone Busboy

Man, I thought my relationship history was dysfunctional. But compared to McKelvie's L Word-worthy messes, mine are just Sweet Valley. McKelvie's got an aloof self-deprecation that makes these painfully awkward and tense standoffs a little more bearable to listen to. These are war stories, to be sure, but McKelvie revels in using them for entertainment.

McKelvie's got a country crooner voice, which makes lyrics like these all the more incongruous:

At 2 a.m. after two hours I sign off
And no one has come scrape the dead porcupine
Off the road by your house, where you just kicked me out
'Cause I flat-out can't kiss you with food in my mouth 

Instead, we get the sense of a man who's belatedly realizing that the antics of his teens and early twenties maybe aren't so charming anymore, assuming they ever were. Rhinestone Busboy is a refreshing take on realizing that you're getting older -- it's not too self-conscious, serious, or self-deprecating. It just slyly worms its way into your brain.

Jake McKelvie -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

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