A nother change of partners, this time inheriting part of former Manassas-mate Chris Hillman’s backing band with new members Donnie Dacus, Russell Kunkle, and Leland Sklar. Stills (the album) is mellow country-rock with some bittersweet guitar pickin’, high harmonies and an occasional flash of teeth. New guitarist Dacus is given a good share of the spotlight (he’s even featured on the back cover with Stills), cowriting a couple of tracks and slipping in several nice leads. Although Stills’ Columbia recordings (of which this is the first) marked a decline in product, it’s a pretty subtle decline here. The record includes a lot of music, some of it very good (“As I Come of Age”) and some of it no more than a soulful standing in place (“My Angel”). You have yet to read a positive account of this record, which makes me wonder what critics expected. While might give the nod to Illegal Stills, this record has too many good qualities to dismiss out of hand. There’s an earthy spirituality in Stills’ music that invites comparison to Neil Young, the Grateful Dead, Joni Mitchell, and Crosby & Nash. He may not reach their high plateaus here, but a cool vibe underpinned by muscular playing makes the time pass quickly.
American Primitive music is flourishing right now. Electric and acoustic guitarists like William Tyler, and all have stellar releases out or on the way in 2013, and each digs different paths into this blues-based style. Tyler’s Impossible Truth turns his Nashville home into a hypnotic oasis, Gunn’s Time Off is a chooglin’ good time and Jones’ My Garden State is the unassuming and quiet picking-on-the-porch record that’ll take you by surprise if you let it.
Like the work of his fellow pickers, Chuck Johnson’s second album, Crows in the Basilica, somehow bests his already-impressive discography — which spans several film scores, as well as his work in different experimental groups. Joyful yet cerebral, the new record spirals melodic phrases in and out of the depths; it’s like a gentle hurricane at sea. At eight minutes, the deceptively quiet “On a Slow Passing in Ghost Town” is a raga that rages moodily.
Produced by Eric Ambel, and with a track by Don Dixon/Mitch Easter, the Backsliders’ recording comeback is strong. Singer/songwriter Chip Robinson, a trailer park denizen from Raleigh, NC, had an auspicious early-’90s debut before he got sidelined after his band went up in smoke. He bears a slight vocal resemblance and songwriting style to Steve Earle; the hard country roots are what drive the songs about small towns and lost love, and just like Earle, it’s easy to take Robinson’s bits of broken imagery and well-worn trails as gospel. But it’s the classic and acoustic ballads (“It Rained on Monday,” and the hidden songs that end the set) which set Robinson apart from the pack of contemporary Southern rockers.
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“Scorched” is certainly old-school, but blasts barrelhouse piano & great boogie-woogie. The opener “I Think About You” rocks with T Jarrod Banta pounding the ivories and Cari crooning that she gets a thrill. Dan Torosian’s saxophone storms like a classic 50s rock cyclone and ignites a driving beat, “You know the kind of loving that […]
Youngblood Hawke are the Los Angeles based quintet of anthemic pop makers that have taken the world by storm with their hit single ‘We Come Running’. Their sound brims with boundless energy, air-tight pop hooks, racing guitar riffs, brights synth and raucous energy that is unavoidably infectious. They are pop music at it’s very finest. […]
Walter Becker and Donald Fagen were remarkable craftsmen from the start, as Steely Dan’s debut, Can’t Buy a Thrill, illustrates. Each song is tightly constructed, with interlocking chords and gracefully interwoven melodies, buoyed by clever, cryptic lyrics. All of these are hallmarks of Steely Dan’s signature sound, but what is most remarkable about the record […]
My Garden State was written in the New Jersey home where Glenn’s family moved in 1966, while he was caring for his mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s. The songs and sounds on the album are reflective, but never dour or sad. My Garden State was recorded by Laura Baird in Allentown, NJ. Laura joins Glenn […]