Monday, July 15, 2019

Hey! Listen: Zach Kleisinger -- "You Should Hold Me"

It doesn't get much better than Zach Kleisinger's "You Should Hold Me." I am first to complain if a country song is longer than three minutes, but you won't notice the time as Kleisinger's ballad comes into its own gracefully and inexorably. Kleisinger's classic story of unrequited love from afar skillfully marries the tension in his words with a catharsis in his music. Truthfully, it feels like a mini-symphony, where Kleisinger's repetition of his simple, heartfelt lyrics is simple another musical theme in the unfolding drama.


Of course, I'm deeply drawn to minimal compositions that feature pedal steel -- and Kleisinger's world-weary warmth makes his music all the richer. (Bonus points if the music comes from Canada, evidently.) This is Kleisinger's follow-up release to his similarly austere I Hope It's Calm, Then from last March. Kleisinger is touring in Canada and the UK to support the EP. Hopefully he makes it down to New York before heading home.



Zach Kleisinger -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

Friday, July 12, 2019

Adobe & Teardrops: Episode 70

Some July 4th misadventures, a few more Thoughts on Pride, the burdens of extra responsibility at work...and some music I’m really excited about! 
  1. Jake Riley and the Social Workers -- “Drown” (For All and None)
  2. Alisha Pace -- “Naked and Lazy” (Single)
  3. Jamie Lynn Vessels -- “Cloak and Dagger” (Single)
  4. Julia Heart -- “Jungle” (Julia Heart)
  5. Rich Layton and Tough Town -- “Live to Rock” (Salvation Road)
  6. Your Heart Breaks -- “Our Forbidden Country” (Drone Butch Blues)
  7. Ren Geisick -- “If You Can Take Him, You Can Have Him” (Ren, Love Song) 

Rachel wrote a comic! Check it out here! Send us music via SubmitHub. Send us money via Ko-fi or Patreon. Contact Von via linktr.ee/vonreviews and say hi to Rachel on Twitter @adobeteardrops

PREMIERE: Saddlemen -- "The Bend"

What do you get when you throw a bunch of jazz musicians into a jam session at New York's famed the Bitter End?

Well, some country rock, of course.

That's how New York-based band Saddlemen coalesced around a shared love of music. I wrote up their second release, "Indiana," a few months ago. Now I'm excited to see them come back around for their very first EP, which is out today. "The Bend" might be about pressure, but there's no mistaking the joy the band derives from playing together. The song goes in a lot of directions, but it never meanders. In fact, the combination of experimentation and tight instrumentation calls to mind another roots jam band that called the Lower East Side its home: God Street Wine.


According to the band, here's how it all came together: "We used to introduce this one at gigs by saying "we don't know what to call this." Everyone in the group had a different name for it. We felt like it was hard to categorize a song that had such a frenetic quality. It also proved difficult to find a title that accurately represented both the vintage instrumentation (plus we try to record live [together] as many instruments as we can and rarely use midi or click tracks) with a more modern, insecure lyricism. One day Austin rather typically had a moment of clarity and realized that it should be called "The Bend" — after the guitar string bends at the top of the first and second verse. It clicked for us: the idea that we're all at all times bending (and sometimes breaking) under different pressures. After all, the song is about how we're all operating in various states of "losing-it" — and a frustration with those people who refuse to acknowledge that very human phenomenon. We want this to resonate with folks — especially given the social fissures we see so often today. Ultimately, we hope this frenzied song sounds just right after a few drinks and a long week."



Saddlemen -- Facebook

Hey! Listen: Rupert Stroud -- "Along the Low"

Sometimes, you just need a song that makes you feel like you can take on the world. Well, Rupert Stroud's got one for that. It's not the kind of song that will pump you full of aggression, or even hype you up. Stroud's "Along the Low," rather, uncurls itself gradually and inexorably. Musically, the song echoes its theme: the importance of patience and delayed gratification.


“The song has a very uplifting, summery, anthemic vibe to it - but the truth is when I wrote the song I was feeling very low,” explains Stroud. “The lyrics were inspired by long journeys and late nights to and from home on the road, in all weather conditions. By the time I recorded the song my mood had lifted but the meaning of the song still remained. It’s a song about perseverance and positivity in striving for success and achieving your goals. Ultimately, doing what you want to do with your life - regardless of the ups and downs - following your passion and never giving up. The life of a troubadour.”



Rupert Stroud -- Official, Facebook

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Hey! Listen: Mary Milne -- morningtown

You know that insurance commercial that makes fun of the idea of a "she shed"? It's not really a joke, when you think about it. When Virginia Woolf called for a "room of one's own," she understood the importance of having a physical place for women to set aside their other obligations to pursue their creative passions. After giving birth, Canadian singer Mary Milne found herself turning towards music that could be created (and played) around the needs of a tiny human. While Milne followed a new interest in electronic music, she was also pulled towards calm, contemplative folk music. 

While "morningtown" has a sing-song, lullaby-like quality, its themes are quite mature. "As we get older our perceptions are constantly changing-how we see our parents, our lovers, our jobs, our art forms," Milne wrote to me. "Morningtown looks at the freedom that comes with gaining a new perspective as well as the nostalgia we can still have for things we know aren’t meant to be.” 





“It was the first song I released after a long time. I chose to record a very simple one-mic version of it because I realized I had gotten too caught up in both trying to make music more electronically and also trying to chose songs that I thought might have the right algorithms & would make it onto a playlist. I realized I was drifting from the essence of why I love songs and songwriting. Morningtown seemed like the right place to start.” 

That honesty shines through for me. I know there's not much of my own commentary here, but I think the song is so delicate, yet so strong and assured, that it speaks for itself. I was so taken by the lyrics, I asked Mary to share them with us.

I used to look for you in mirrors
in darkened window panes
to see what your faded heart was doing
and try and make mine do the same

you used to call me after midnight
when you were feeling in between
the darkness and the morning light
the real girl and the dream

fallalalalal what could I say
gather up those feathers and fly away

oh take me down to morning town
so I can see things clear and plain
I used to think you were the whole ocean
but you were just one drop of rain

these days I look for you on sidewalks
or in those cars that pass me by
and I wonder if I should go and find you
for one more round of
hello and goodbye

but seasons change and something keeps you
up there in my rearview mirror
along with all those other objects
that may be closer than they appear

tralalalalala what could I say
gather up those feathers and fly away

oh take me down to morning town
so I can see things clear and plain
I used to think you were the whole ocean
but you were just one drop of rain


Mary will continue to release one song a week throughout the year.

Mary Milne -- Official, Facebook

Monday, July 8, 2019

Hey! Listen: Ben Atkins -- "Banty Rooster"

"Who is Ben Atkins? I'm still trying to figure that one out. I probably always will be," writes Texas songwriter Richie Bates. "As an artist, he's always evolving and working on something new. Whether it's rebuilding guitars and amps, painting, carving, or just practicing with his instruments, Ben is always working, and to watch him, he makes it look like play. His most recent music is at a level I have never personally heard from him before. It seems like he's having fun and that is nice to see."

You might remember Atkins from his 2000 album Small Town Things, produced by Lloyd Maines. Whether or not your knowledge of Texas songwriting lore stretches back that far (mine doesn't), you're going to a get a kick out of "Banty Rooster."


Ignoring the photo above, Atkins simply shreds it on this track. Not just his guitar, not the harmonica, but also the unadulterated joy in his performance. Like a lot of blues songs, it's not about the lyrics (they're...pretty literal) so much as the guts and swagger your pour into it. Atkins has that in spades. If you want a song that BOPS and a song that makes you feel like you can beat up ten men all at once, here you are.

Atkins is releasing seven songs throughout this summer so you'll want to make sure you follow him on Spotify.



Ben Atkins -- Official, Facebook

Friday, July 5, 2019

Adobe & Teardrops: Episode 69

Rachel’s a bit worse for wear on her first solo episode, but she has tales to tell from Pride! Also, what’s she been doing with her hands??? (Not like THAT, weirdo.) And, of course, some of the best country, punk, and country-punk around!
 

  1. B. Wood -- “Lost & Found” (Learning Curves)
  2. Marissa Kay -- “English Moonlight” AND “Hard Times” (Continental Divide)
  3. Adam Winn -- “Suzannah” AND “Drowning Slow” (Roots)
  4. The Southern Gothic -- “Let It Ride” (Single)
  5. Daniella Cotton -- “She Too” (Single)(SH) -- link in SH
  6. Nathan Seeckts -- “Beast Beneath the Bed” (Single)
  7. The Couldn’t Be Happiers -- “Sarah” (Start Here)
  8. Mariel Buckley -- “Casting Stones” (Single)


Rachel wrote a comic! Check it out here! Send us music via SubmitHub. Send us money via Ko-fi or Patreon. Contact Von via linktr.ee/vonreviews and say hi to Rachel on Twitter @adobeteardrops