by: Hobert Taylor
Hugh Bob and The Hustle - Hugh Bob and The Hustle - (Self Released)
From Butternut, Wisconsin Pop. 300 comes Hugh Robert Masterson and cohorts. Butternut, a town north of Bakersfield. With shades of Dwight, Gram, Tom Petty, we have here some real country songs with a contemporary sensibility. It's good. The hit is "This Bar's a Prison". Twang out with "Blame Me" and "Mess With Me", get nostalgic with "Passenger Side" and "My Truck Feels Like Driving".
LQ Bucket - The Lon Loneliness - (Self Released)
As sparse as a picnic on the Bonneville Salt Flats, this E.P. is fine poetry set to rudimentary and hypnotic (some would say elementary) recurrent guitar figures. "They are Orphans Without You" takes you from A to B via 278. You get it but not because you paid careful attention. I also like "On Horseback and Praying".
Mark Mandeville and Raianne Richards - Hard Times and Woes - (Nobody's Favorite Records)
New Englanders Mandeville and Richards harken back to the trad folk of the 50's 60's. There is some electrification, but these are mostly folk songs with a slight country tinge. "It Won't Be Written On My Grave", "Every Time I Step Down", the well penned eco ballad "Last Tree Standing" and the fine cover of "Farther Along" stand out.
Aldine - lafond - (Self Released)
Homemade to the max with primitive recording techniques. Are they huddled around one mike? These sincere and sweet Minnesotans feel authentic and personable. Picks: "From a Small Town", the instrumental "Mountain Climber" and the ballad "Pale Yellow Rose".
San Lazaro Serendipity - (Hope Street)
Out of Melbourne Australia comes this salsa/cumbia aggregation. I know no backstory, but they sound good. Cuts: "Dilo" and "Madrugada Negra".
Paul Dougherty - River Pearl - (Bake It Black Records)
Recorded in Germany, this Americana record moves from rockabilly to folk and is garnished with a bunch of country blues structured ironic ditties. Some of the lyrics remind me of fifties songs where there is world weariness and resignation with a wink. Cuts: "Honeysuckle"' "Teddy the Dancing Bear", "Rusted Jesus" and especially "The Devil's Spine". The pol ballad "How I Stopped Worrying and Learned To Love The N.S.A." is timely and funny.
Various artists - Acoustic Rainbow Roots Radio Vol. 43 - (Poet Man)
One in an endless cycle of folk samplers...I suspect pay to play/promote. Most of it ranges from mediocre to worse however John Latini's "Koko" (#6) is hilarious,Solos Absurdos "Did it Ever Cross Your Mind?" works for me (#15), and Mike McGuire's "Texas Fireball" (#17), a baseball ode, is just plain old good songwriting.
Sara Jean Kelley - The Waiting Place - (Blue Jean Records)
A lot of women singers sound like Lucinda Williams these days... even Lana Del Ray sometimes, but that's o.k. The semi flat aesthetic, singing slightly behind the beat like Lady Day, and confessional honesty married with an acute awareness of significance held within the "commonplace", ultimately belong to no one, even if Lucinda underscored this styling in direct opposition to the prevailing pop smoothness. So even if in a blind taste test you might think you were listening to Lucinda demos, this E.P. produced by Emmylou Harris guitarist Will Kimbrough contains fully formed songs of honest craft and deep personal sensibility.
Bill Scorazari - Just The Same - (Self Released)
With a voice that sounds like Tom Waits before he's had his morning coffee I almost didn't grok what a talent this New Yorker has. The songs are meaningful, the playing spot on, and there are echoes of the great confluence of lyrics and melody reminiscent of Van Morrison ("It's Hard To Know", and "In The Morning Light"). Other feature cuts included "She Says", "The Awakening", and "Time It Goes By".
Pert Near Sandtone - The Hardest Part Of Leaving" - (Self Released)
I call this azure grass...very light, fast and alternately cheery or pissed off bluegrass played and sung in the upper registers by young'uns. There are some Cajun and other traditional elements, but these folks are to bluegrass what the Drive-By-Truckers are to country, fresh air. This is the seventh release from this Minnesota based conglomeration. Where have I been? A great record.
Tiny Ruins - Brightly Painted One
From New Zealand comes the anti-Lourde, Hollie Fullbrook and her band. Her Lo Fi and deeply personal art songs are shoegaze except the shoes are bare feet. The band will be at the Soda bar in San Diego July 10 and at the Church on York in L.A. on July 11th. Highly recommended.
The Felice Brothers - Favorite Waitress - (Dualtone)
Tenth release from these left wing of Americana darlings. Starting out playing New York subways they will be at the Roxy in L.A. October 1st. Sonically intimate and scratchy, buried vocals and gentle irony are encsconced in fine musicianship. "Bird on Broken Wing" (for Pete Seeger), "Hawthorne" (damn pretty),"Woman Next Door", and "Silver In The Shadow" are my favorites. #5, "Saturday Night" is good too, but
Ten Hand Band - Balval - (Whaling City Sound)
From France comes this acoustic/rock/gypsy/folk five piece. They experiment with the freedom that comes from just having fun playing with no other agenda or expectations. "Insomnia" is speed gypsy music with a free jazz tinge, ""Tear it Down" rocks out, and the Catalan "Song of the Birds" and the Cajun "Balfa Waltz" are super.