Friday, January 31, 2014

Porter and the Pollies -- Porter and the Pollies

In case you missed it, the Daily Beast named me one of the best music blogs on the Internet! (Or if you came here from the site, welcome!)

Howard Wolfson had some nice things to say about the blog. He pointed out that I tend to go for a "twangy, lonesome" sound.

Fact is, I've been wanting to move away from that for a while. I started this blog to discover (and help others discover) the kind of rock that gets your blood pumping, that has a "if I can't set the world on fire I'll rule the ashes" attitude.

Porter and the Pollies bring it.

If you've been here a while then you're already familiar with this ensemble. This seven-song EP is the product of a sad, drunken recording session with Chris Porter from Some Dark Holler and Muscle Shoals supergroup The Pollies. The songs were recorded live and, I suppose, in one take. The band deigned to clean up the mixes to leave the songs as raw and messy as when they were recorded. The album absolutely sounds like a rowdy concert. If it doesn't get your fist in the air, nothing will.

The Pollies -- Official, Facebook, Buy Where The Lies Begin 
Some Dark Holler -- Official, Facebook, Buy Hollow Chest (For a paltry $5!)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Nudie -- Remember This

Sometimes a song or an album falls into your lap that so perfectly captures your mood or current life predicament, you didn't know how you were able to manage without it.

For better or worse, that song for me was Nudie's "Sex Kisses," a tale of the misadventures of what us millenials like to call "friends with benefits."

"Sex Kisses" has a pleasantly rockabilly tinge, but Remember This is pure cowboy. Songs of loss, cheating (all Nudie), and regret. It's good for a Sunday afternoon meditation. The songs could've come from the golden age of country, unless you listen closely enough to pick up the references to smart phones and the Internet. Nudie's got a whip-smart wit. Remember This is worth at least five to fifty (plus) listens.

Nudie -- Official, Facebook, Amazon

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Jazz Mills -- Jazz Mills

Jazz Mills' debut EP is short and sweet, so I'll have to leave the review that way as well.

Mills deftly weaves influences from throughout 20th century American music, giving each song a unique quality. You feel you've heard it somewhere before, but it's also completely unlike anything in your musical lexicon. Plus, she's got an unreal voice to boot.

The EP is up for sale on iTunes.

Jazz Mills -- Official, Facebook, Soundcloud, iTunes

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Marina Rocks -- Three Wishes Video

I waxed rhapsodic about Marina Rocks' sophomore album, The Comeback Kid back in December. In case you need more coaxing, here's Marina's latest music video.

Marina Rocks -- Official, Amazon, iTunes, CDBaby

Monday, January 27, 2014

Concert Review: Fifth on the Floor and Cowboy Mouth @ BB King's

I haven't written a concert review in a good long time. But this one felt worth reflecting on. However, it's also a bit of a personal essay and who really cares about my relationship with music, right? So if you want to skip the self-indulgence, I've put the salient details about the concert in bold.

When I saw that Fifth on the Floor was opening for Cowboy Mouth I was pleased and confused. Fifth on the Floor is a down-and-dirty Southern rock bar band -- the kind of pained intensity we know and love here on Adobe & Teardrops, Ninebullets, Americana Rock Mix, etc. etc etc. It's been a good couple of decades since Cowboy Mouth and most of their audience has been there. They're also not the kind of band who typically opens for the Mouth. I'd give any amount of money to find out how that booking happened. But it piqued my interest -- is Cowboy Mouth trying to return to its Southern roots?

The first thing to know is that BB King's manages to be a large venue that builds intimacy. There's a dance floor near the stage that is surrounded in a horse shoe by a few dozen plush leather booths as well as a bar that's half as long as an average New York City block. I don't think it's the most appropriate venue for a band like Fifth on the Floor, even with a receptive audience; there's too much space and it's just too cushy. That being said, the audience was not receptive. It was pretty much me, three other people (who I think were friends with the band), and a photographer. The rest of the crowd wanted their dinners or were saving their energy for Cowboy Mouth. Neither of these things are excuses.

That doesn't mean Fifth on the Floor didn't give it their damnedest. When you're performing at a level that makes the hairs on this audience member's arms stand up for each and every song, you're doing everything right. I mentioned a few days ago how I was completely out of my element at a dance party in Brooklyn. I felt right at home here, even though I was dancing by myself.

As singer Justin Wells noted in his completely adorable interview on Ninebullets, he's a deadpan, scary-looking dude. But the audience eventually warmed up once they realized Fifth on the Floor wasn't actually all that scary. I didn't get a chance to talk to them after the show, but if they see this...job well done. I hope they earned a few more fans out of the trip.

Contrasting Fifth on the Floor with Cowboy Mouth made me realize why my love for Cowboy Mouth has cooled over the last few years. Fifth on the Floor is, as my students would say, in "the struggle." They're touring like dogs and have built a solid reputation, but they're also young and Dealing With Things. Cowboy Mouth seems to be making an extremely comfortable living playing music --  they've got a nice tour bus, and every so often they'll post videos shot in Fred and Griff's homes. I was in preschool when Jenny broke Fred's heart. Now I use the old songs songs to self-medicate my breakups. As much as their music sustained me through adolescence, the newer stuff doesn't speak to me because it's...comfortable.  

The fact is, I could've seen Cowboy Mouth last year. I had seen Tow Cow Garage the previous night, and it could've been a kickass rock and roll weekend...but I chose to hang out with some friends instead. What did I need a Cowboy Mouth concert for when I had just exorcised my demons with my new rock'n'roll heroes?

The fact is, that was a tragic mistake. Cowboy Mouth shows are simply a good time. Running on three hours of sleep, a full day CPR certification class, and the usual 20-something bullshit, I found the energy to commit to the show's rituals for the entire 90 minutes. I jumped and screamed and danced until I was nauseous -- always the hallmark of a Cowboy Mouth concert, but not a sensation I've felt in a good long time.

As far as the show itself, Griff was down for the count with the cold I'm now coming down with. It was interesting to see the reality of what long-time critics have often said about the band: the Fred LeBlanc show Featuring Some Other Guys. It certainly changed the dynamic (Lord love him, Matt Jones is a better guitarist than singer), but it was a different good time. It was interesting to hear Matt's take on the solos that Griff has played for the last 20 years.

An exciting piece of news, though, is that the band has just signed a record deal with Universal (according to Fred) and has recently completed recording on their 10th (I believe) studio album. The new song they played made my head spin a little. (I regret not recording it because I can't seem to find it on YouTube.) It was...really good. It begins with a jazzy, walking bassline and transforms itself into pop punk song before you realized what happened. It's all of the best elements of Fred's songwriting.

My problem with most of the band's recent output is that the music exists for the show. They're pop songs without the airplay. They're there to entertain and get people dancing and having a good time. There's nothing wrong with that. But we search for music we connect with. We consume and produce art for the uniquely human desire to express ourselves. When you lose that, you get pop music. Sure it's serviceable. But is that what's really at the heart of rock'n'roll? And that's why I chose Two Cow Garage over Cowboy Mouth last year: I needed rock'n'roll exorcism, not healing. Cowboy Mouth has made peace with their demons. 

But there's something to be said for the consistency of a Cowboy Mouth show. I've been going to their concerts since I was 12. Cowboy Mouth was the first rock concert I ever saw, and it set a high standard for my expectations of what a rock and roll concert should do. I've been to these shows with friends, an ex-boyfriend (!!!), and an ex-girlfriend. High school, college, grad school, teaching, in the closet, out of the closet, in love, out of love. It's now at the point where I can have flashbacks of where my headspace was the five or six previous times I saw them play X song live, during Z point of the song, at Y venue (usually BB King's which, unlike Fifth on the Floor, really is the best venue for them.) There were songs that I don't even remember desperately connecting with until I heard them last night. Let's face it -- ninth grade was a long time ago.

For me, the shows have become less of a celebration of the present and more a celebration of how much I've grown. Even on my darkest days where only Micah Schnabel's deepest navel-gazing will do, I've thoroughly internalized Cowboy Mouth's philosophy of optimism, struggle, and success. In my secret heart I view myself as a rock'n'roll teacher with a Cowboy Mouth: I spread the Good News of critical thinking and self-love to my wayward sixteen year olds every day. I'd be plagiarizing if I denied I don't adopt some of Fred's on-stage persona in my classroom.

TL;DR: this is a meditation on the circle of life. Fifth on the Floor is where Cowboy Mouth once was many, many years ago. Cowboy Mouth itself is regaining its edge and I hope the new record deal gives them a boost. It just goes to show that as long as you persevere, you'll get back on top in the end. That's what the band has always taught me, anyway.

There were quite a few preteens at the show. I suspect that for many of them this was their very first concert. Fred called four middle school-age girls onto the stage to help him drum during "Jenny Says." I wasn't watching Fred or the girls so much as bassist Cassandra Faulconer. She always looks like she's having a grand old time, but her grin pretty much split her face in two this time. She saw what I saw: the power of rock'n'roll to bring us -- young and old alike -- out of our shells.

Fifth on the Floor, Cowboy Mouth

Friday, January 24, 2014

Eric Peter Schwartz -- Troubadork

It's impossible to deny the charm oozing out of Eric Peter Schwartz's songs.

But sometimes it's a little too easy to capture my heart. The opening bars of "Tangerine," the Troubadork's lead track, start off like your average folk song. The first line does, too:

He liked the way she rolled the dice

OK, so maybe it's some kind of cowboy love song, even if the guy's voice doesn't really match it.

And the way her character
Always gave his character eyes  

Wait. Is this...?

He was a third level thief


The song has a happy ending, of course. Nerd love. <3 

But that's the kind of guy Eric Peter Schwartz is -- or at least, the guy he seems to be according to these songs, which are so earnest and plainspoken I doubt there's much separation between his stage persona and true self. The songs seem simple on the surface, but they'll catch you by surprise. They're worth a close second or third lesson for sure. And, if all of these songs about sexy times are to be believed, the big takeaway here is that the geek truly shall inherit the earth.

Eric Peter Schwartz -- Bandcamp, ReverbNation, Soundcloud, Facebook

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Old Cabin -- Old Cabin

This past Saturday I went to a lesbian dance party in Brooklyn.

Bear with me. This will be relevant.

At one point I turned to one of my friends and said "What [on earth] is this [sugar honey iced tea]?"

"It's electro-cumbia."

It was too loud to do anything other than raise my eyebrow. For the record, cumbia is a South American genre of music that combines African dance beats and Latin instrumentation. While cumbia is primarily defined by its percussion style it consists of outdated features like"melody" and "rhythm." What we were dancing to (ok, I was white girl swaying to) a kick drum, dubstep bass line, and what may have once been a vocal sample before it was distorted beyond recognition and put on a 2-second loop ad infinitum.

While striking out that night was a blow to my carefully cultivated ego, the most profoundly depressing part of my Saturday was talking to more than one [good-looking] person who approved of the music is a legitimate form of artistic expression.

I have concluded that I will die alone up here in central Harlem, surrounded by the twenty cats I will collect. But at least I'll have hundreds of lonely sad bastard songs to keep me warm.

Fortunately, Old Cabin have loneliness and melody in spades.

The Yukon-based band show an astonishing amount of restraint on their debut album. What struck me most about this album was the band's minimalist approach to folk and Americana. The band has stripped these songs to their bare essentials, giving them a unique yet timeless sound. "Sandstone Daughter" and "Lighthouse" could have come from anywhere in the vast midwestern plains of North America, while "Good Days Bad Days" seems like it drifted to us from the '70s on a magic carpet of spaced out vocals and shimmering guitars.

To me the standout moment is somewhere towards the middle of "The Cave." After singing "Don't give up on us" for the umpteenth time, the music abruptly stops. In any other band, the singer would have sung or screamed loudly, passionately, and that would have been an understandable artistic choice. But Barr is too smart for that. Instead, he allows the silence to illustrate the emptiness and exhaustion that accompanies a dying relationship.

Old Cabin is a remarkable little album. Definitely give it a listen.

Old Cabin -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Pledge Alert: Fire Mountain

I fell in love with Fire Mountain about a year ago. They're finally ready to record their first full studio album and they need our help. Video and links below.

Fire Mountain - Doing Fine from Fire Mountain on Vimeo.

As of this writing (January 16) they've only raised 9% of their goal. You can pledge here.

Fire Mountain -- Official, Bandcamp, Facebook

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tideland -- Lull

Tideland certainly caught my ear.

I owe the band an apology for a relatively short review. I'm just at a loss for words as to what to say.

Tideland's fuzz punk is spacy, dreamy, and unearthly. My English teacher once taught me that using three adjectives to describe something means there's another, single adjective out there somewhere that best fits your meaning. Sorry, Ms. B, that's not the case here.

Lull makes for great background listening, but not because it's dispensible. Lull drifts between songs, rather than making clearcut transitions. It's an album that needs to be listened to from start to finish. It's easy to space out while listening to Tideland's first album, but that doesn't mean it won't take you places. It's not the usual fare for this blog, but it caught my ear. I hope you'll enjoy it, too.

Tideland -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

Monday, January 20, 2014

Careless Hearts -- Alum Rock

Alum Rock starts off conventionally enough -- jangly guitars and drums. But the first couplet is a little jarring:

We're like potatoes in a basement
With tendrils growing in every direction

Uh...what? I thought this was a pop rock song?

It's the little surprises that make Careless Hearts' third album so enjoyable. What's reliable is the quality of each song on the album; Careless Hearts knock it out of the park each time.

Careless Hearts revel in the 90's-style alt rock and country, which means I revel in it too. A rising tide lifts all boats, people. What strikes me about Careless Hearts (or at least this album) is their love of rock'n'roll. "Lifeline" is a ballad dedicated to another inspiring singer-songwriter (one can only guess who.) But I'm in love with "Blown Away." At first glance, it could easily be another song about boozin' and cruisin', but the Careless Hearts are too smart for that.

Get your wallet
Let's roll out
Won't take long to get downtown
All I want is just to get blown away

It'd be nice if we met some girls
But I need something that rocks my world
All I want is a chance to get blown away

Sing me something new
Sing me something true
Pull me right up to the stage
That's all I want to feel
If you do right
I won't let you down

This song captures why I'm here and why you're here.

The Careless Hearts seem to be impressing the heck out of the entire state of California, and it's easy to see why. It's time to let them blow you away, too.

Push the World

The Righteous World

Blown Away

Careless Hearts -- Official, Facebook, Store

Friday, January 17, 2014

Hank Woji -- Holy Ghost Town

Sometimes you just need a bread-and-butter, honest-to-God country song. No tricks, no affectations, no superbly hidden self-consciousness. Sometimes, you just need a song. For those times, Hank Woji is your man.

Though a Jersey native, Woji's clearly in his element in the Texan sun. Whether he's celebrating his new hometown in "Terlingua Blues" or waxing philosophical in the folk rocker "Beneath the Golden Moon," Woji's got the confidence and the chops to effortlessly carry each song's weight. As my kids might say, you get the sense that Woji's been "in it deep." He's got the perfect, road-worn voice that every 20-year-old rock'n'roller would kill to have, but the life experience to temper its edge. Holy Ghost Town is a solid example of today's Americana, and proof of why we should be optimistic for the future of our music community.

Terlingua Blues

Beneath the Golden Moon

Holy Ghost Town

Hank Woji -- Official, Facebook, CDBaby, MyTexas Music

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Music Video: Melaena Cadiz -- Silver Hours

My kids are working on term papers, which means I'm spending most of my day and evenings editing them, which means just about the last thing I want to do is write a review. In the meantime, enjoy this new video from Melaena Cadiz in somebody's totally bomb apartment.

Melaena Cadiz -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Abramson Singers -- Late Risers

I sat on Late Risers for a while. Too long, really.

As a listener, I enjoy digging into an artists lyrics, thinking about what the song means, imagining what inspired it. But in The Abramson Singers' latest album, the lyrics take a back seat.

The Vancouver-based band is led by Leah Abramson, who has a voice for the ages. She reminds me of a hybrid of Kathleen Edwards and Dolores O'Riordan of the Cranberries. (Whatever you think of their music, none of us can deny the fact that she's a vocal powerhouse.) Abramson's lyrics slip over and under us, mostly because we're captivated by her voice. The rest of the band's performances are gorgeous and tight-knit, but they know better than to outshine Abramson.

While grounded in folk, Late Riser is very much influenced by the indie rock of the early 2000s. Some instrumental interludes, like the opener, may be off-putting to those of you here for the folk. The first 45 seconds of the album certainly made me skeptical. But "Liftoff Canon," a haunting, a capella round, grabbed my attention and set me gently down at the end of the final track. Ultimately, this album is all about atmosphere: sad, longing, and wistful.

The Abramson Singers -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Show Ponies -- We're Not Lost

Normally a band's album should speak for itself. But if this video of the Show Ponies performing the duet "Whiskey and Wine" doesn't win you over, you're dead to humanity.

Most of the songs are a little slower, a little more melancholy, but there's just as much class and confidence as We're Not Lost's lead single. It's a coming of age album for us young'ns in our 20s. But before you roll your eyes and back away, know that the Show Ponies embrace the uncertainty of this stage in life and take things as they come. It's a mature outlook on things -- clearly they've come through the other side. As they recount the sad and happy times, though, you'll be with them every step of the way.

The Show Ponies -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

Monday, January 13, 2014

Niva the Soul Diva -- Unrivaled

A lot of people like to describe this blog as eclectic. I guess that's true -- I feel like it's all pretty much spun from the same cloth. I do my best to ensure that there's diversity here -- not just in terms of genre or region, but in terms of gender as well. But there's one area where the eclecticism is notably absent. Other than the funk and soul reissues from Alive Naturalsound, the adobe on here is pretty whitewashed.

My writing about Niva is not really intended as tokenism, but maybe it is. Really, it's about favoritism. I noticed that her PR rep had a 718 number (ie, Brooklyn or the Bronx) and thought I'd give her a spin. What does it say about our culture that I find myself better able to relate to a folksinger in Saskatchewan than someone who lives a couple of miles from me? Or is that a bad thing?

So here's a novice's take on Niva's R&B. Personally, I preferred the slower songs like "Look Inside Your Heart" and "Come On And Dance With Me." That has more to do with my personal tastes, though; the more hip-hop-oriented tracks are a little old school for me. With all due respect to Niva's producers, I'm sure my students would have a thing or two to say about the beats.

Niva is able to adapt herself to a whole spectrum of R&B genres (which I'm not going try to list), so it's worth taking a listen if the tracks provided here pique your interest but don't necessarily click with you. But the album compensates for where it lacks in production value with the one commonality shared by all of the artists featured here: pride and commitment.

Look Inside Your Heart

Come On And Dance With Me

You Broke Me Apart

Friday, January 10, 2014

Chad Kichula -- The Whale's Back

When you have a singing voice like Chad Kichula, you have a moral obligation to sing country. Unfortunately, that hasn't always been easy for Mr. Kichula; as the owner and laborer in a forestry company located somewheres up north, Kichula's recording schedule has often taken a back seat to his day job.

The Whale's Back is the fourth product of Kichula's labors, and it's something else.

Kichula's original tracks are the kind of high and lonesome that suit his voice perfectly. His covers of "Alone and Foresake" and "Folsom Prison Blues" are equally compelling; Kichula was born to sing country and does these greats justice. I'm listening to some of his older music as I write this review. The Whale's Back shows us a songwriter in his prime: not only is Kichula confident on this album, you can tell he's never been prouder of his work. It's definitely worth it.

Chad Kichula -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Lo Carmen and Peter Head -- The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree

Australian songstress Lo Carmen's voice dances so nimbly with Peter Head's winsome gruffness, I knew there had to be some kind of emotional connection between the two. I suppose the title should have given it away, but I'll show my hand here and say that listening to this father-daughter duet is the best thing about The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree.

Peter Head is as deft a storyteller as he is a pianist. He serves as a solid counterweight to Lo Carmen's near-unearthly whisper of a voice. Between their covers of jazz standards and their original Prohibition-era tales of love and gangsters (see "My Sweet Orchard"), it's easy to feel like you're in another time. The Heads clearly approach their music with vim and vigor and it's a joy to listen to.

Lo Carmen and Peter Head -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Collisionville -- The Revenge of Two-Gun Pete

I know that things have become a little mellow around here. That's why I was thrilled to come across Collisionville. From the first crash of symbols and distorted guitars to the last, I was hooked.

With a flare for the dramatic and the intensity of a hardcore band, Collisionville makes some fine rock'n'roll. The album is based on lead singer Stephen Pride's own family history. Apparently, his grandparents bullied the great Hank Williams himself as a kid. The album captures Williams' angry spirit...or you can ignore the backstory and enjoy the ride. According to the band's website, this is Collisionville's first commitment to incorporating country and blues into their sound. I think it's definitely working out for them.

Collisionville -- Official, Facebook, Name your price on Bandcamp, CDBaby

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Wells the Traveler -- One for the Dreamers

The British are taking over. Again.

It'd only be fair, since guys like Danny McGaw deserves to be on everybody's radar. A former pro soccer player, the Englishman found himself in Kansas City with some songs and a band. Wells the Traveler combines the plainspoken English folk we love so much with Midwestern rock. Think of a Frank Turner who isn't trying to impress us with his wordplay or, better yet, a Mumford and Sons with power and soul.

McGaw's impassioned vocals are never forced or cheesy. I don't know what it is, but his tales of love and loss are immediately relatable in a way that few songs are. Maybe it's because he means it.

Wells the Traveler -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

Monday, January 6, 2014

Mount Moriah -- Miracle Temple

Just in case you thought things were getting dudely in here, go ahead and treat yourself to Miracle Temple.

There's a reason I picked this to be one of the top albums of 2013. It's grand and passionate and beautiful, and that's just not something we see enough of in the world today -- particularly when it comes to music.

Miracle Temple is about singer Heather McEntire's struggling with her own (queer) identity and small-town Southern upbringing. You can hear the gentle Appalachia more readily in Mount Moriah's first, self-titled album, but Miracle Temple is full-on Southern Gothic. You can feel McEntire's searing urgency in "Miracle Temple Holiness," the emotional climax of the album. I haven't read any Faulkner novels, but I imagine Mount Moriah's sound and fury would be an apt backdrop for reading his work. Meanwhile, songs like "Those Girls" and "Younger Days," which treat being closeted more directly, are heavy with repression and suffocation.

McEntire's powerful vocals are ably matched by Jenks Miller and Casey Toll. I saw the band open for Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside a few months ago. Even though the sound wasn't totally up to snuff, there was no question that something amazing was happening on stage. Toll handled that bass guitar like a baby while Miller was a lighting rod of intensity. Certainly see these folks live but, barring that, purchase the album.

Younger Days

Miracle Temple Holiness

Those Girls

Mount Moriah -- Official, Facebook, Purchase

Friday, January 3, 2014

J Kutchma and the Five Fifths -- Pastoral

When the last notes of "I Will Not Be Denied" rang out I had to drop what I was doing. That's it. We're done here. I thought. Here's the best album of 2013.

If you saw yesterday's list then that pronouncement isn't exactly a spoiler alert. I don't have a real explanation as to why I dallied on writing this review, but I'm more than pleased to begin 2014 with it.

Pastoral is everything anyone could ever want in music: gentle melodies, gorgeous lyrics, and heartfelt musicians who collaborate to make you Feel Things. Kutchma has a rare talent: making the plainspoken truth soar like poetry.

 While "End of the World" and "Every Good Boy Does Fine" are fantastic songs alone, "Teenage DMZ" is what truly caught my ears.

They say You need an education
They say This boy just needs some ambition
And they say Boy you just need some salvation
I don’t understand
Cause they stand there with their prescriptions
And their goddamn televisions
The got their augmentations
Their ammunitions
All I do is go


Kutchma owns this song -- he's just about to explode with the invigorating energy of good music. You can't help but join him. And, if we're being perfectly honest, Kutchma perfectly captures the youthful frustration I face the brunt of every day.

The band is able to mellow out, of course, but that doesn't mean their quieter songs are less powerful. "Don't It Figure Better" is as self-defeating as "Teenage DMZ" is empowering. The band inhabits all areas of the emotional spectrum with ease and confidence. Pastoral is an album for any mood and every day.

J Kutchma and the Five Fifths -- Official, Facebook, Purchase on Last Chance Records, Bandcamp

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Top 10 of 2013

Adobe and Teardrops's third anniversary (on December 12) completely passed me by! Happy birthday to me!

Between my own blogger bubble and my kids' insistence on listening to the Drake channel on Pandora in class, I don't really get to hear what passes for top 40 rock these days. (Side note: we reached a detente on the last day of class. We switched between my Two Cow Garage channel and Drake. The first song on the TCG channel was Tim Barry's "thing of the past." I pointed out that since we both listen to songs about getting drunk and getting high, we're not so different. They pointed out that they hate country music.) 

 So when I went to the gym today (for the fist time in months) I was surprised to hear how many new bands there were that were clearly intended to be follow-ups to the Lumineers' (deserved) success. One band (American Authors) was even from Brooklyn. Even the melody to Katie Perry's "Roar" steals from "Hey Ho"'s melody. These bands (or their producers) took the whole hand-claps-chorus-real-drum-kit Brooklyn hipster sound and added a little autotune and a bit of distortion.

But if you're reading this, then you know that that stuff, while pleasant, is wishy washy at best. Here are the top 10 bands and musicians who weren't afraid to take a stand in 2014.

10. Uncle Leon and the Alibis -- Wild Ways

Brooklyn-based Uncle Leon gave us the year's party rock anthem, "Whisky and Weed and Big-Titted Women" as well as a bunch of fantastic boot-scuffing rockabilly tunes.

9. The Miners -- Miners' Rebellion

"Norton's Pond" still gets me every time. The Miners are part of a growing group of bands in Philly that stick a little more to their routes than the '90s alt-country they clearly draw inspiration from.

8. Sans Abri -- Shelter

I've already showered a lot of love on these guys, but here's some more. Sans Abri's lyrical acuity is something to behold. I get something new out of this album every time I listen to it.

7. Quiet Hollers -- I Am the Morning

This is an album about fighting for your humanity as a means of survival. "Road Song," without my realizing it until I gave the album a fresh listen, has been stuck in my head since June. Considering how much music I listened to this year, that should tell you something about its staying power.

6. Mount Moriah -- Miracle Temple

Look out for my full review next week. Suffice to say, Mount Moriah brings it with the passion and fury we should expect from all rock and roll bands.

5. Melody Walker and Jacob Groopman -- We Made it Home

The husband and wife duo bring joy, sorrow, grief, loneliness, and spirituality to life on their first album together. It's truly a triumph.

4. Ben Trickey -- Rising Waters

I am still fangirling so hard about this album right now I can't even. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.

3. Doc Feldman and the LD50 -- Sundowning at the Station

Doc Feldman's breakout album wowed many a blogger and fan alike. His world-weariness and determination to survive -- just to spite whoever's making his life tough -- is badass. So are his minimalist folk songs.

2. Two Cow Garage -- Death of the Self-Preservation Society


1. J Kutchma and the Five Fifths -- Pastorals

The full review will be up tomorrow. Yes, it stole first place in my heart from Two Cow. Yes, it's that good.