Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Emily Mure -- Odyssey

If her voice doesn't get you, her lyrics will.

This is a quiet album. Don't expect any flashiness here. But that's because Mure doesn't need flash. She's confident in herself and she has every right to be.

Odyssey is muted and contemplative, but it's not without emotional pull. Mure's smoky voice and spare arrangements make for an arresting combination. It helps that she's classically trained and has studied music for pretty much all of her young life. She picked up a guitar in college, fell in love with Irish music, and never looked back.

There's a bit of a Celtic breeze blowing through these acoustic songs, but for the most part they belong in folk music alongside artists like Ani DiFranco -- introspective, unorthodox, and powerful.

Emily Mure -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Jonny Grave -- The Hammer

It's a little unfortunate that I'm writing this review in the midst of Anthony Weiner's latest scandal -- the jokes I could make are just a bit too easy.

But that's not the kind of hammer Jonny Grave is referring to on his latest acoustic album. A self-described bluesman, Grave explores the quieter side of the blues on The Hammer, and it's refreshing.

We've come to expect heightened emotion from blues music: yowling, swaggering sexuality, keening in despair. But that's not really what people feel like when they have, well, the blues. We tend to be a little quieter, a little slower, a little more melancholy. The Hammer, with what I believe are a mix of originals and traditional songs, paints a more honest portrait of the blues.

Jonny Grave --Official, Bandcamp

Monday, July 29, 2013

Genticorum -- Enrigistre Live

I try to avoid reading press releases before listening to an album, but this time I was too curious not to. What was the deal with this band's name? What does "enrigistré" mean?

Turns out, Genticorum (JAWN-ti-corum) plays Quebecois folk music, and "enrigistré" means "recorded." Also, it turns out, that even though Genticorum is internationally acclaimed for their music, this album, recorded in 2013, is the first time they played their hometown. Ever.

Not that the music wouldn't be pleasant or spirited performed elsewhere, but audience matters. It's a pleasure to hear Genticorum's happiness. So even though this is not the kind of music normally found here, I thought it was worth bringing to your attention. This is an uplifting recording, and it belongs here.

Genticorum -- Official, ReverbNation, Facebook, Spotify, Buy Enrigistré Live from Groove-Inc (North America), Propper Music (UK and Europe), iTunes

Friday, July 26, 2013

Whitney Lockert -- Songs Of An Afternoon

I'll keep this short and sweet, given yesterday's post. (This is what happens when I go for a long walk before writing.)

I saw Whitney perform with Robb and the Handsome Few, and all of the nice things I said about them apply to Whitney. He's a consummate performer, and Songs From an Afternoon shows that his songwriting skills match his showmanship.

The guy's got a helluva voice and a deep appreciation for old-school country. Some of these songs are straight-up rockers, others are ballads. "Rupert Murdoch" is a quirky little protest ballad, or something. But it's what brought me in to see the bands perform regardless. According to his Facebook page, Whitney's working on a new album. I'm looking forward to more of his gems seeing the light of day.

Whitney Lockert -- Facebook, Myspace, Bandcamp

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Abby Brown -- Go All In

Before I tell you how great Abby Brown's debut album is, I think it's time we had a little talk.

We need to make a new genre of music here. We're going to call it Cool Butch Blues (and I'll be hashtagging it, because I'd really like it to be A Thing.)

In my two-ish years nosing around the nation's alt-folk and -country music, I've found a growing number of young queermo ladies who have a similar sound, and these ladies tend to be masculine of center (or MOC). It's not a coincidence, but more on that in a minute.

Like all genres, it has a pioneer: Amy Ray. Let's face it, she's the more dynamic half of the Indigo Girls (though neither of them are as good apart as they are with each other.) She's also taken a fairly aggressive stance on her MOC identity, often referring to herself as a man in her songs. This is why, say, Melissa Etheridge isn't part of the group. I'll explain the "butch-ness" aspect in a second. Lastly, Ray has directly inspired and/or befriended many of the women I'd put in this box -- most importantly, Brandi Carlile, whose impact on the rising generation of queer songwriters can't be overstated.
Brandi Carlile and Amy Ray, complete with vest and tie. Obviously.
Today's Cool Butch Blues singers blend Brandi Carlile's folk and Tegan and Sarah's pop sensibility. I had the revelation when I realized how similar Brown's new EP is to another album I reviewed recently, Mo Kenney's debut. That's not to say either artist is derivative -- they're obviously coming from the same place, and that place deserves a name.

So why does the butch part matter? Butch identity is a lot of awesome, complicated, beautiful things. It probably escapes most people's notice, really. One of my straight guy friends and I were checking out women while waiting for a train in Germany, where femininity isn't really a priority for most women. There's just a swagger that certain women have -- not all lesbians, and not even all butch women, but I've never seen a straight woman who has it. It's a cat-like grace, a confidence in yourself, that you've truly claimed who you are. Then combine that with the allure of a guitar.... Suffice to say, it's enough to make any lady-loving-lady go weak in the knees. There's a reason that most of us (un)consciously style ourselves after sensitive badasses like Elvis and James Dean. (As to whether or not Justin Bieber styles himself after lesbians or vice-versa, that's a Zen koan for the ages.)

It comes through in music. As I've said before, men and women tend to sing from a different place emotionally. Frankly, I find men's emotional space more interesting to listen to. Queer women tend to sing from that same space. They don't apologize for their feelings, and they're very conscious of their outsider status -- much like working class white dude music.

I'm not saying I like Abby Brown's music because I think she's hot (though, lezbehonest, it never hurts...and, according to her Autostraddle interview, she's super adorkable.)* This is gut-punching stuff that makes you feel feelings -- a rare accomplishment for anyone, let alone for someone's first album. The opener, "Gamble," could describe my own life, so I assume it applies to most 20-somethings or people who were once 20-somethings. "Angelina" is a heartbreakingly sweet love song (heartbreaking if there's someone you used to be sweet on, sweet if there's someone you are sweet on, and awesome if you haven't felt that way about anyone yet.) There are so many perfect lyrics in these songs it'd be unreal if I didn't already know that John Moreland existed (yes, I'm comparing the two favorably.)

I should really shut up now. But tell me, music nerdlings, do you agree with me? And do you know of anyone else who sings the Cool Butch Blues?

Abby Brown -- Official, ReverbNation, Facebook, CDBaby, Amazon, iTunes

*She's never going to speak to me ever again.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Gas Money -- Untethered

Guys. Why don't I just move to Philadelphia? There's brewpubs out the wazoo and then there are bands like Gas Money.

Oh yeah. They have a completely dysfunctional public education system. No way I'd be able to find work there.

That's really my loss, because I'd haul ass to every single Gas Money show.

Gas Money has been doing what they do for a good long while now, and it shows: thundering rockabilly, sticky-sweet country ballads, toe-tapping swing. They're like a time machine to a 1950s roadhouse far deeper into Pennsatucky than the Schuykill.

Gas Money hangs with other Adobe & Teardrops favorites The Sparklers, The Miners, and Larabee. There's clearly an alt-country tour de force brewing in the City of Brotherly Love. Buy Untethered and maybe they'll share some of that love.

Gas Money -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Maynard and the Musties -- West

Maynard and the Musties sound like kicking road dust off your boots and spitting out the grit of your teeth. Tough stuff, but satisfying because you know you've reached your destination and you're about to pour yourself a tall tumbler of whiskey.

If you're lucky, you're the hero of this western: the mysterious stranger with a thousand stories behind your eyes. Or maybe you're just a wino. But at least you're sitting.

Either way, Maynard's tales of love and woe will keep your cup filled and make your eyes a little teary. The four songs in West have an enigmatic, careworn atmosphere so palpable you could cut it with a knife. Congrats to Maynard and his Musties. May a full-length album be forthcoming.

Maynard and the Musties -- ReverbNation, Facebook, Bandcamp

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Breton Sound -- MAPS

Actually, the full title of the album is MAPS (or cartography and the art of generalization) but I didn't want to break Blogger.

The title is almost as long as the EP itself, but the EP is as enjoyable as the title is ponderous.

The Breton Sound is backed up by some NOLA music scene royalty. Lead singer on guitarist, Jonathan Pretus, toured with Cowboy Mouth for a little while. Their first EP was produced by Better Than Ezra drummer Tom Drummer, who returned to helm the mixer (or whatever) for MAPS.

If JP will compare the momentary comparison, The Breton Sound pulls off what Cowboy Mouth has spent the last ten years trying to create: '80s-inflected anthemic power pop that makes people feel good about themselves. JP's vocals soar with emotion, and it's clear that the band is, like, having fun playing music they feel good about.

Stephen Turner's searing guitar solos are not to be missed. It's not necessarily to my taste (I really can't stand '80s rock) but it's worth appreciating his skill. If you're into Rush, you'll love the Breton Sound. If you're not, you'll love them anyway -- you'll be carried along by the band's strong melodies and chutzpah.

The Breton Sound -- Official, Facebook, Buy MAPS

Monday, July 15, 2013

Gone Drinkin'

Folks, I'm going to the Land of Beer for a week. (Germany, that is.)

In the meantime, enjoy Charles Hale's weekly radio show, the Ajax Diner Book Club. Charles writes for Ninebullets and is basically the man.

Ajax Diner Book Club

And, of course, there's always American Rock Mix to tide you over.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Dirty Streets -- Blades of Grass

I have not yet finished listening to the Dirty Streets' Blades of Grass, but I can honestly say this is a fucking great album.

The cover art pretty much tells you what you need to know. (By the way, it is definitely the raddest album art we're likely to see this year.) This album is down and dirty and, at times, psychedelic. But don't assume that means Blades of Grass is all over the place. The Dirty Streets' groove is practically precision-guided.

My commentary here is pretty useless. You just need to listen to it and be blown away. This album will almost certainly be on my "best of" list come December. Nice work, gents.

Stay Thirsty

The Dirty Streets -- Facebook, Buy Blades of Grass From Alive Naturalsound Records

Thursday, July 11, 2013

M. Lockwood Porter -- Judah's Gone

It's strange to think that M. Lockwood Porter is roughly my age. You wouldn't be able to tell he's in his mid-twenties just from listening to his songs. There's a lived-in quality that only comes from being a seasoned road warrior. But that's not so surprising -- according to his interview on Ninebullets, Porter's been playing around the Tulsa scene since he was a teen, playing with none other than John Moreland himself.

Like Moreland, Porter's music has a strong classic rock influence. But that's where the similarities between the two stop. Porter seems most in his element with tunes that sound like they could have been sung (and penned) by Neil Young. Lockwood occasionally switches things up stylistically -- "Tonight" is more of an indie rock song and "Darkside" very much pays homage to Porter's Okie roots. These changes felt a little erratic to me -- I don't have a good explanation for why. It's just that Porter's so at home doing his '70s folk thing. That being said, "Tonight" is my favorite song on the album -- it captures the loneliness found in his other songs and transforms it into a more frantic energy, which I guess is where I'm at right now. Throughout all of his songs, however, is a surefootedness that comes from an artist who is truly confident in his work. Judah's Gone is not an album to sleep on.

Lastly, a housekeeping note: I'll be adding a new category to the top of the page (once I figure out how to do it.) There's a lot of great music out there that's almost free (unsurprisingly, the Free Music tab is one of the most frequently visited tabs here.) Any album that's less than $10 will be put in this category. Judah's Gone costs as much as two cups of coffee. Dig it.

M. Lockwood Porter -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Blind Owl Band -- This Train We Ride Is Made Of Wood and Steel

Between their first album and their submission to Couch by Couchwest, the Blind Owl Band was beginning to make a name for themselves as a rowdy, footloose bunch.

Pictured Above: Rowdy and footloose acts.

  Imagine my surprise when their sophomore album opened with a somber tune called "Sailor's Song." It sets the tone for the rest of the album -- hard-driving and determined. That's not to say that the Owls have lost their sense of fun. There are plenty of boot-stompers on here. To the contrary, the Blind Owl Band is showing off their newfound maturity. But unlike other bands who create morose second albums to show off their Depth, the Blind Owl Band is simply devoting their manic energy in another direction. They still pick like it's their job, and they still sound like they've just arrived from the depths of Appalachia.

If you're fortunate enough to be in upper New York or Vermont, you should see the Blind Owl Band in action as they tour in support of the new album. (City-dwellers: we can catch them at The Knitting Factory on the 28th and 29th.)

You can name your own price for their first album here.

Sailor Song
Davey Johnson
Highways Long

The Blind Owl Band -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tedo Stone -- Good Go Bad

I know that you're supposed to judge art on its own merit, but sometimes an artist's backstory makes for good reading. And it makes their work that much better. Tedo Stone's debut album, Good Go Bad, is one of those works.

According to the press materials, Stone's whispy voice and obvious adulation of '70s rock captured the ears of famed producer Matt Goldman at a late-night recording session. The rest, as they say, is history.

But that's not what's compelling about Tedo Stone's story (though I'm glad it happened.) To raise money for the record, Stone worked at his brother's medical supply company, delivering oxygen tanks to elderly people coming home from the hospital. The side job led to the nuanced perspectives on youth and mortality presented on Good Go Bad.

This is a hell of a debut album. The songs sound great, sure. But unlike most '70s glam rock, Stone's music is smart and will make you think about Things. And that's a great place to start.

Good Go Bad

Tedo Stone -- Official, Facebook, Purchase from This is American Music

Monday, July 8, 2013

Brothers of the Last Watch -- Brothers of the Last Watch

I blared this album in the staff room a few weeks ago. It was the end of the school year and I had no "cares" to give anymore. One of my colleagues raised an eyebrow and I offered to turn the music down.

"Oh. You call this music?"

It's OK. He's, like, 50 years old. I understand that there are frequencies that only young people (or maybe people who have seen too many bar bands) can hear.

Brothers of the Last Watch reminds me of a particularly effective scene from The X-Files. There's an episode in season 7 called "Signs and Signifiers." It compares the sermons at a creepy, snakehealer tent revival shack and a much more sedate Southern Baptist church. The snakehealer is manic, spitting verse at the top of his lungs while his congregants stomp their feet and sing gospel songs with acoustic guitars.

Brothers of the Last Watch is that sermon.

Brothers of the Last Watch is comprised of two beloved musicians whose ouvres Your Author has not yet explored: Scott Macdougall and a gent named John Johnson from a band called Hillstomp. Brothers of the Last Watch ensures that this mistake will soon be rectified.

This is lurching, herky-jerky, electrifying rock. It'll make the hairs on your arms and neck stand up. And it'll leave you believing in the saving power of music.

Just like a good sermon.

Brothers of the Last Watch -- Official Site, Facebook, Bandcamp

Friday, July 5, 2013

Nick Ferrio and His Feelings -- Half the Time

This little 7" packs quite a punch.

Nick Ferrio has garnered acclaim throughout his native Canada as a harbinger of old-school country. Half the Time proves that reputation to great effect.

The A side, "Half the Time," showcases the warmth in Ferrio's voice as he chides himself for falling in love prematurely. It also displays his band at their most energetic. I imagine they're fun to see live.

Side B, "The Other Side of Town" leads with a growling steel guitar and foretells the dangers of post-breakup jealousy.

I'll make a deal with you. Let's spread his name around Stateside, and then maybe he can play for us here. Sound good? Thought so.

Nick Ferrio and His Feelings -- Official, Bandcamp, iTunes

Thursday, July 4, 2013

NEW VIDEO: Safe Haven

Happy July 4th! To celebrate, here's a song to get your booze on.

I've already told you about Safe Haven's badassitude.

Here's a video of them being badasses (and maybe a little camera shy.)

Hear them be badasses here: Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Elway -- Leavetaking

You've got to an admire a band that elevates the genre.

For me, one of those band's is Fort Collins's Elway. I'm not punk scholar, but it would be fairly easy to see these guys as pop punk: strong melodies, pretty harmonies, songs (usually sad) about girls. I suppose it would easy to write them off based on that description alone. But I've already waxed poetic about frontman Tim Browne's work before: so there's a reason I'm bringing this to your attention.

Leavetaking is very much a young person's album. Its main themes are crises of faith, defiance, heartbreak, and resolution. In short, I love it. While I haven't necessarily experienced the lows Browne has, this is the kind of music that gets you through the day, year, month, decade, what have you. It captures what it's like to be in your 20s in a scant 33 minutes. While that's an accomplishment itself, Elway's songs have a literary quality that put them on par with Two Cow Garage: for every raw emotion, there's a smart lyric that goes with it. Never too clever or obscure, Elway hits its mark every time.

Highlights include "One Flew West," a full-band reworking of "Hopefully" on the Soviet Bear EP that really soars. "Someday, Sea Wolf" has Gaslight Anthem-esque riffs and melodies, though Elway avoids Gaslight's inadvertent heavy-handedness. The album opener, "The Great Divorce," is a fantastic example of storytelling through song.

There's an interesting track-by-track commentary by Browne here, but avoid it if you like attaching your own meanings to songs.

One Flew West
Someday, Sea Wolf
The Great Divorce

Elway -- Facebook, Buy Leavetaking,Spotify

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Dead Professional -- Don't Be Cruel

I'll talk about Dead Professional's music in a moment, but first I'd like to thank him for spurring me to action. His music has been sitting in my "to write" queue for months now, but I really should have told you about it right away. I get dozens of solicitations a day. Lot of it is chaff but Don't Be Cruel is certainly wheat.

So to make sure I get you your Wheatina promptly, I'm going to try to make Adobe & Teardrops a daily blog. Part of the reason I didn't write every day is because, initially, I wasn't receiving enough music that I wanted to say nice things about. If I get more submissions like Dead Professional, that will change.

John Harouff, aka Dead Professional, is a Virginia-based singer-songwriter. Armed with a drum machine and his own bad self, the three tracks on Don't Be Cruel strip pop and classic rock to their most basic elements. But the sound is far from mechanical. Dead Professional highlights the core elements that make us love these genres and exploits them to devastating effect. I just wish the EP was longer.

Dead Professional --Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

Monday, July 1, 2013

Hurray For the Riff Raff -- My Dearest Darkest Neighbor

I'm not sure if this story made the news outside of NYC. But a few months ago, a few tour guide companies were shut down. They existed to bring idiot tourists to the South Bronx in the early hours of the morning to gawk at food pantry lines, graffiti, and empty playgrounds. Because apparently poverty doesn't exist in Japan and Europe.

One of the articles I read featured alternative tour suggestions, particularly focusing on the Bronx's strong musical tradition. Sure, there's plenty of rap, hip-hop, and Latin music here. (Also, I kid you not, a HUUUUUGE Dominican pop scene.) But here's an unsung daughter of the Bronx who adds even more flavor to the borough's tradition.

Hurray For the Riff Raff (Alynda lee Segarra) is now based out of New Orleans,  and the influence shows in her music. Known for her bluesy approach, Hurray For the Riff Raff most recently released an acclaimed country album. For her fifth swing at the study, Hurray For the Riff Raff has released a collection of covers that hold personal to her.

The source material is diverse -- there's a little Joni Mitchell on here, Hank, Lucinda Williams, and other greats. She's also included two originals as well -- attempts to continue the story where other writers left off.

Whether she's singing a traditional folk song or pop, Segarra's voice soars. She could rival Patsy Cline or sing circles around the folks she's covering. This is a fantastic album. Make it yours today.

Angel Ballad (Alynda lee Segarra)
People Talkin' (Lucinda Williams)
Black Jack Davey (Traditional)

Hurray For the Riff Raff -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp, Purchase from This is American Music