by: Hobart Taylor
Driftwood - Driftwood (Driftwood)
Every once in a while a band is fully formed, complete. This is as good as it gets in the nether world of songwriterly charm. precision picking, and earnest vocalization. Every song is a marvel. You could play this over and over and over and still feel good. Easy as the crooked snaggletoothed smile of your hippie second cousin from Georgia. All acoustic but rocks out. Innocent but worldly. This is the ultimate good time jam for lovers of the awake. "The Carburetor and the Steam Engine" is a good point of departure and so is "Buffalo Street". Please please listen. FOLK but transcends categorization.
Eric Lambert and Friends - Maiden Voyage (Gnome Tunes)
New Grass... well played a little vanilla but "Maiden Voyage" (no relation to the Wayne Shorter/Herbie Hancock tune) is charming instrumental chock full of changes.
Shantell Ogdem - Better At Goodbye (Hip Farm)
Yeah...a commercial version of Nanci G...trying to crack the Nattyville code but her life experiences shimmer underneath the gloss.. There are three standouts, beautifully constructed songs, "Looking for My Last", "Love Shouldn't Hurt" ( a powerful anti-abuse ballad) and "Better at Goodbye". And if the song "Only God Knows Why" came out in the '70's with Crystal Gayle it would've top the charts. Shades of Martina McBride.
Melanie Devaney - Single Subject Notebook (Self Released)
Another singer/songwriter with simple melodies, country tinged mid tempo ballads and killer stories to tell. "Wake Up Sleepy Johnny" and "Playing Make Believe" are about jerks she can't stop loving, "Greenville" is the prettiest tune.
Action Andy and the Hi-Tones - High and Lonesome: The Fall and Rise of HILO (Relampago-go Records)
A concept record with lots of narration interspersed with mid-tempo rockabilly about a generic south Texas everyman and his good times, bad decisions,and remorse. Out of National City. Not my cup of meat... but I'm leaving it for second opinions. There is a Tex/Mex tune that I think is cool "Devil in her Eyes".
Bobby Joe Owens and Retro Deluxe - Liquor, Love, and Laughter (Rinkled Rooster)
Retro billy good sounding o.k. songs on the novelty side..."My Dickel" " and other parodies are juvenile and mildly amusing but there is a gem here that made me add the whole CD, "Don't Forget To Forget"... this one's worthy of the likes of the the late George Jones. Country. No OPI.
Frank Fairfield - Duncan and Brady/Devil's Dream Medley (Third Man Records)
Authentic ancient Americana (2 songs) by a young'un on Jack White's Third Man Records label. Way cool.
The Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra - Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything (Constellation Records)
Out of Montreal serving good music since 1999..;. collaborators with Vic Chestnutt post punk muddy art music at its finest . "Fuck Off" and "Austerity" are OPI but the vocals are so indistinct that it hardly matters. It's music of a certain purity. I'm putting it in folk so that college indie programmers looking for it will stumble on some other stuff. Folk, OPI cut #'s 1 and 2.
Annie Ford Band - Annie Ford Band (Self Released)
From the streets and Pike's Place Market of Seattle comes this idiosyncratic autodidact with commonplace poetry authentic wisdom and illuminating changes pulsing like the heartbeats of baby birds throughout her songs. The syntax of the last sentence is a weak attempt to imitate the spirit locked in these tunes. They don't all work, but when they do...especially "All Hours", "Dirty Hearts and Broken Dishes" and "Northern Rain". She is also a grand fiddler.
David Crosby - Croz (Blue Castle Records)
Yeah, that David Crosby...at 73 has made a masterfully produced album of complex and thoughtful songs that about 10 people will hear.
Les Claypool's Duo De Twang - Four Foot Shack (Prawn Songs Records)
Primus's primary digs on some roots. Occasionally it's schlock but mostly funny. Some covers "Jimmy Driftwood's "Battle of New Orleans" and a folkabilly Alice in Chains cover "Man in the Box" OPI. but there are some grandly written real songs in the mix, notably "The Bridge Came Tumbling Down" and a live cut "Rumble of the Diesel".