Monday, October 19, 2020

Anthony Presti -- Different Places

It's -- a review? Back on the old Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule? Let's see what happens!

Speaking of blasts from the past, I last heard from Anthony Presti back in 2015 with his charming album Clarity in Hindsight. There are some other albums in between then and 2020's Different Places, but one thing is a constant: Presti's gentle form of country rock ("A Fire Inside") -- like if John Mayer met the Old 97s.

The album's opening track, "Waiting for Tomorrow" combines the SoCal pop punk of Presti's youth with laid-back, sleepy/weepy guitars of his folk and country present. Presti has a knack for hooks and strong melodies, but the playfulness of his guitar licks throughout the album are a real highlight like they are on "Heartstrings." He's not afraid to get a little weird with it: "Your Town" is a fun little jazzy number with a strident saxophone track.

Like any good punk rocker, Presti has a political streak. "Fight the Good Fight" is not quite the strident political song you'd think it would be in an election year -- and that's fine. I have a relative who is, by choice, crashing with a friend because the renovations she paid extravagently for in the apartment her parents bought in the 1960s. In an e-mail today she referred to herself as "displaced person" while acknowledging her privilege. Meanwhile, I have students who are doubled up in shelters with no clear date as to when they can have access to permanent housing. And they're attending online classes.

I digress, though -- "Fight the Good Fight" is about resilience when things get tough, and that is a valuable reminder for comfortable people in any season.

On the other hand, "Fake News" works as a pop-punk number -- just the right amount of snide and disillusionment as we await the fate of the Twitter presidency.

For me, Different Places is strongest when it embraces more of a country sound, like the tragic "Wanted." The song forces all of us -- Presti, his band, his listeners -- to focus on the lyrics. In this case, they almost don't need the wailing guitar: just two voices filled with longing.

Anthony Presti -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp, Instagram

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Adobe & Teardrops: Episode 141

It’s episode 141 and Rachel has the sensitivity of a Victorian lady. Also, great music from fabulous people.

Album of the Week: CF Watkins -- Babygirl
CF Watkins has found that sweet spot between pop and Americana -- a brass ring that many recent artists have shot at and missed the mark. It helps that Watkins’ lyrics are astute and journalistic in their approach to detail. If you put them down on paper, these would be intricate and observant character studies of women and girls on the precipice of society’s expectations.
Watkins brings a distinctly feminine perspective to her songs: these are stories of women -- specifically -- bound up in the expectations of others. Women who fearfully, casually, or confidently slash those bonds. Babygirl reminds me of Erin Rae’s stunning Putting on Airs: the observations of someone who takes pleasure seeing just how far outside the lines she can color while proudly resisting the instructions in the first place.
  1. Natalie Schlabs -- “Eye of the Storm” (Don’t Look Too Close)
  2. CF Watkins -- Come Around (Babygirl)
  3. WRENN -- “Maggie Gyllenhaal” (Single)
  4. Gim Kordon -- “Joskus mä pelkään” (Single)
  5. Jerry Castle -- “Worried Man” (Midnight Testaments)
  6. William Elliott Whitmore -- “Put it To Use” (I’m With You)
  7. Jonas Friddle -- “Under the Weather” (Single)
  8. Proud Country -- “Small Town U.S.A” (Single)
  9. Hayeden Leenhouts -- “The Band” (216 Miles)
  10. Mink’s Miracle Medicine -- “Beautiful Losers” (Thumbs Up Angel)
  11. Dead Nettles -- “If Drowning…” (Single)
  12. Will Hawkins -- “Punching Walls in Flats and Rentals” (Single)
  13. John K Samson -- “Fantasy Baseball at the End of the World” (Single)
  14. St. Ove -- “See You Later” (Single)
  15. The Belle Curves -- “Waltzing Will” (Single)
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Friday, October 9, 2020

Adobe & Teardrops: Episode 140

Rachel’s students are getting creative, but not in the ways you’d want them to. Also, hi everyone in India!

Album of the Week: Izzy Heltai -- Father

 I’ve been a supporter of Izzy’s since he first sent me a song through SubmitHub all on his own. For his first album, though, Heltai pulled out the big guns -- and deservedly so. Father is nothing if not emotionally naked -- a study in painterly lyrics, and Heltai’s theatrical delivery doesn’t hurt either. What stands out most, though, is the album’s lush production, an impressive demonstration of vision and control for a debut album. My interview with Izzy will be out on Country Queer Spotlight in a few weeks, and there you’ll be able to learn more about his workman-like approach to writing, and how his experience as a trans man has impacted his work as a musician.
  1. The Savants of Soul -- “Swell” (The Savants of Soul)
  2. R McClure & Tall Shadows -- “If Your Heart Starts A Wanderin’” (Never Love Me Again)
  3. Jean-Luc Swift -- “Uncle Bill’s New York City Lament” (New York City Lament)
  4. Buck n Sunny -- “We Were Meant to Be” (The Absolute Truth)
  5. Olivia Ellen Lloyd -- “Emily” (Single)
  6. Drayton Farley -- “Keep Country Music Sad” (Sweet Southern Sadness)
  7. Great Peacock -- “All I Ever Do” (Forever Worse Better)
  8. Ron Pope -- “A Little More Love” (feat. Von Grey) (Single)
  9. Dawn Riding -- “The Difference” (Single)
  10. The Roland High Life -- “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both Of Our Sadness” (Songs About Comic Books & Mid-30s Malaise)
  11. Izzy Heltai -- “Songbird” (Father)
  12. American Darling Valve -- “No More” (Eclipse EP)
  13. Greater Bird of Paradise -- “Uriel” (Single)
  14. Front Country -- “Amerikan Dream” (Single)
  15. Malena Cadiz -- “Hey There, Oblivion” (Single)
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Thursday, October 8, 2020

HEY! LISTEN: Drea Rose & Katie Hargove -- "Talk"

Have you hugged your butch today? Apparently it's International Lesbian Day -- I just learned that and now you have, too! Pop producers Drea Rose and Katie Hargrove have been planning on it, though. The pair's new song, "Talk," is an infectious number with rippling synths and a Disco downbeat. The song celebrates queer love, even as it dives into the aftermath of a lover's quarrel. (Long-term readers will remember Hargrove's country-soul "Be Your Baby" from my 2017 Labor Day playlist.)


 Here's what the pair have to say about the song:

"The song is called “Talk” and we are releasing it for National Lesbian Day (October 8th). Being as we both identify as lesbians, we thought it made sense to release a song about a relationship on a day that we both celebrate. “Talk” was the first song we wrote together and we thought it would be powerful, not only as two queer women singing about love, but also as it’s a song that was written, recorded and produced entirely by two women."


Drea Rose is the sonic declaration of California's laid back and eclectic culture. Los Angeles based artist/producer/songwriter accentuates her sweet and soulful sound from the likes of her roots in jazz, R&B and Motown. Drea has performed with artists such as Jeremy Passion, Melissa Polinar, Sam DeRosa, Gabe Bondoc and more. She has been recognized nationwide for her appearance on Season 17 of American Idol as well as winning the Audio Assemble contest, “Plugged in Online Festival”. As a street performer, she has caught the attention of industry moguls like Snoop Dog, Jordan Fisher, Scott Hoying, The Pentatonix and Sydney Sierota from Echosmith. Drea has been featured in publications like Earmilk, Voyage LA, Californian, The Word is Bond. Aside from producing and writing her own material, she also works with major artists like Tim Atlas and Jesse Barrera.

Katie Hargrove is a writer/artist hailing from Knoxville, Tennessee. Katie’s style is rooted in creating bold melodies influenced by R&B and left-of-center pop. She has performed alongside national acts such as Jason Lancaster of Mayday Parade & Go Radio, Kris Allen, Aaron Carter, Charlie Parr and others. Her self-titled debut EP was released in March 2017 and quickly charted in the Top 100 on iTunes. The album was nominated for “Best R&B Album” by A2iM in June 2018, alongside Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Mavis Staples, Kelela and Jamilla Woods. Katie’s nomination was also featured in Billboard’s June 2018 Pride Issue. She now resides in Los Angeles, CA where she has penned songs for artists such as RUNN, Flavia and Last Heroes as well as co-writing the opening and closing songs for Episode 5 from this season of Vida on Starz.

Drea Rose -- Official, Twitter, Spotify

Katie Hargrove --  Official, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Adobe & Teardrops: Episode 139

 I was super late getting this one out, so everyone gets to hear the Patreon songs! Also, found poetry!

Album of the Week: Lydia Loveless -- Daughter

 Daughter finds Americana stalwart Loveless at the ebb of significant upheaval: a divorce, a relocation, a cathartic but tumultuous outing of bad practices at her previous label, Bloodshot Records, the reverberations of which are still being felt three years later. 
But all of that has led to one thing: out with the bad, and in with the good. On Daughter, Loveless is searching for answers amidst a way forward. She’s continuing to explore that sort of disco pop that’s marked her last few releases, though that sense of freedom has also drawn her to explore some back-to-basics Americana with much more sure-footed songwriting. It’s still a Lydia Loveless album, after all, and there are plenty of albums to cry, sip, or smoke along to: whatever it is that helps you feel washed clean after a good bout of searching the bottom of your soul.
  1. Johanna Rose -- “A Nite Like This” AND “Only Good” (Only Good Nites)
  2. Concetta Abate -- “A Bit of Rain” (Mirror Touch)
  3. Lydia Luce -- “Dark River” (Single)
  4. Lydia Loveless -- “Wringer” AND “Daughter” (Daughter)
  5. Emily Zuzik -- “Stay Wild” AND “Chinese Food and Donuts” (Torch & Trouble))
  6. Phillipa Cookman -- “Greasy Mabel” (Single)
  7. Girls on Grass -- “Spill Your Guts” (Spill Your Guts/Who’s Gonna Cry? 7”)
  8. Al Holbrook -- “Guru Lover Star” (Rocket Ships For Dreamers)
  9. Bonnie Whitmore -- “Fine” AND “Flashes & Cables” (Last Will & Testament)
  10. Bison Bone -- “Downtown” AND “Drinking To Do” (Find Your Way Out)
  11. Mike West -- “Rock Ferry” (The Next Life)
  12. Jensen Sisters -- “Beat of a Bad Habit” AND “On the Fringe” (Yellow Shades)
  13. Brendan and the Strangest Ways -- “Anxiety” (Single)
  14. Olivia Ellen Lloyd -- “Emily” (Single)
  15. Bette Smith -- “I Felt It” (The Good, The Bad, The Bette)
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Friday, September 25, 2020

Adobe & Teardrops: Episode 138

Listen to the Amythyst Kiah episode of Country Queer Spotlight.

 This is your last chance to back the Rainbow Rodeo Kickstarter!
Album of the Week: Bette Smith -- The Good, The Bad, The Bette

 Bette Smith is a Bed-Stuy native -- and Southern soul seems to course through her veins. At least, that’s how it sounds on her debut album, produced by Drive By Truckers’ Matt Patton. Smith is gifted with a unique, almost carbonized singing voice, but that’s not the only part of her music that stands out. Smith is able to embody her songs in a way that will send little thrills up and down your spine -- assuming you aren’t transported along with her.
Note: This episode was recorded before the Breonna Taylor ruling, though Tyler’s song and album absolutely speaks for itself and is regrettably more relevant than ever. I linked to Tyler’s YouTube message in the show notes.
  1. Bette Smith -- “I Felt It Too” (The Good, The Bad, And The Bette)
  2. Jake Winstrom -- “Come to Texas She Said” (Circles)
  3. Liz Longley -- “Finally High” (Funeral For My Past)
  4. Multimagic -- “Manic Daze” (Manic Daze)
  5. Raye Zaragoza -- “They Say” (Single)
  6. Michael C. Duguay -- “This City is a Grid” (The Winter of Our Discotheque)
  7. The Rivergods -- “Long Way Down” (Passages)
  8. Durango Blue -- “See You Home” (Single)
  9. Hannah Lee Thompson -- “Handsome Ugly” (Single)
  10. John Calvin Abney -- “Shine Like a Friend” (Single)
  11. Bug Martin & Co. -- “Just For the Hell Of It” (All That Is and What Ain’t)
  12. Maple Run Band -- “Borderline” (Maple Run Band)
  13. Charles Ellsworth -- “Paranoia (A Nü Start)” (Single)
  14. Thomas Stajcer -- “Who Will Listen to Country Music When the Trucks Drive Themselves?” (Single)

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