Posts Tagged ‘Bloodshot’

Banditos: Visionland

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017

Southern rockers with twists of garage, psych and more

The second album from these Birmingham-to-Nashville transplants opens with a garage-rock sound that wasn’t as evident on their self-titled 2015 debut. Mary Beth Richardson’s bluesy vocals are given the context of San Francisco-sound powerhouses like the Jefferson Airplane, and though a banjo peeks through the haze, the ‘60s rock vibe is strong. The title track suggests a psych-rock Richard and Mimi Farina, the ballad “Healin’ Slow” has a ‘50s vibe, “Lonely Boy” might have been a country song written in the Brill Building, and the whispery “When It Rains” could be a fondly remembered ‘70s radio hit. The band seems to be democratic in exploring their influences, cross-pollinating without overwhelming the base flavor of each song. They’ve added new spices to the boogie, blues and soul of their debut and shown themselves to have both musical vision and reach. [©2017 Hyperbolium]

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Wayne Hancock: Slingin’ Rhythm

Friday, November 25th, 2016

waynehancock_slinginrhythmThe king of juke joint swing swings the juke joint

Twenty years into his recording career, the most surprising thing about Wayne Hancock is the lack of surprise in his unwavering pursuit of hillbilly boogie. What might have looked like a faddish nod at the start of his career has evolved into the heart and soul of his artistry, transcending the nostalgia that connects him to Hank Williams, Bob Wills, Lefty Frizzell, Hank Thompson and others. His first album since 2013’s Ride is stocked with swinging original material, sublimely selected covers of Merle Travis’ “Divorce Me C.O.D.” and Pee Wee King’s (by way of Hank Williams) “Thy Burdens Are Greater Than Mine,” and steel player Rose Sinclair’s instrumental showcase “Over Easy.”

Hancock is front and center, but he gives his band (Sinclair, electric guitarists Bart Weinberg and Greg Harkins, bassist Samuel “Huck” Johnson and producer Lloyd Maines on dobro) room to stretch out and solo. You probably won’t even notice the lack of a drummer until someone points it out. Hancock writes of a working musician’s fortitude, the toll it takes on off-stage life, and the rewards it pays. Messy homes give way to mistreating and long-gone mates, with “Divorce Me C.O.D.” taunting a soon-to-be ex and the original “Wear Out Your Welcome” kicking the problem to the curb. The few moments of respite include the apologetic “Two String Boogie” and the sweet invitation “Love You Always.”

There’s a conversational looseness to the sessions, with longer songs, such as “Dog Day Blues,” designed to stoke improvisation that suggests the jazz side of Western Swing. The players are up to the task as the rhythm section vamps, the guitarists take their turns in the spotlight and Hancock picks his spot to return to the mic. “Thy Burdens Are Greater Than Mine” closes the set, reframing the album’s travails with the sympathetic observation that someone, somewhere always has it worse. And in Hancock’s case, a lot worse, since he’s found the thing he loves the most – juke joint swing – and carries it with him everywhere. [©2016 Hyperbolium]

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The Flat Five: It’s a World of Love and Hope

Friday, November 18th, 2016

flatfive_itsaworldofloveandhopeUtterly charming harmony group swings pop, jazz and R&B

Though only a part-time congregation, this Chicago quintet has brilliantly combined the cool swing of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, the complex arrangements of Curt Boettcher and the lush harmonies of the Anita Kerr Singers. Comprised of NRBQ’s Scott Ligon and Casey McDonough, the Decemberists’ touring vocalists Kelly Hogan and Nora O’Connor, and session ace Alex Hall, the Flat Five debut a mesmerizing blend of pop, jazz, R&B and folk that is laden with joie de vivre. The opening “Florida” is effervescent with harmonies and a chiming guitar hook, and the R&B “Buglight” sounds like a jivey mashup of the Andrews Sisters, Roches, Mills Brothers, Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks and Coasters.

The album’s ‘60s vibe recalls Boettcher’s work with the Association, Millennium and Sagittarius, along with the sunshine pop of the Free Design and Spanky and Our Gang. There’s a touch of Bacharach in the trumpet solo of “Birmingham,” a McCartney-like bass line on “I Could Fall in Love With You,” and the Latin-styled “This is Your Night” recalls Sergio Mendes and Brasil ‘66. Though to be fair to the latter’s playfulness, it’s unlikely that Brasil ‘66 vocalist Lani Hall ever sang anything like “don’t just sit around and mope / buy yourself a great big bag of dope / it’s a world of love and hope.” Those lyrics, along with those of the entire album, come from Chris Ligon, older brother of group member Scott, and a writer of uncommonly fine senses of melody and humor.

The group’s instrumental sound is the perfect complement to their harmonies, fluidly stretching from the banjo-lined folk of “Bottom Buck” to the languid guitar and accordion of “She’s Only Five” and Emmit Rhodes-inspired “I Could Fall in Love With You.” The waltz-time jazz “You’re Still Joe” has a tasty electric piano solo to complement the swinging rhythm section and a remarkable bell-like vocal round that plays the song out. The closing “It’s Been a Delight” is nominally a farewell from lovers who’ve loved the night away, but it’s also a clever thank you to the record’s listeners, and a fittingly sweet end to thirty-five minutes of vocal delight. This is the biggest, most unexpected and best musical surprise of the year. [©2016 Hyperbolium]

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Waco Brothers: Had Enough

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

Waco Brothers (Dean Schlabowske, Joe Camarillo, Jon Langford, Tracey Dear and Alan Doughty) return with their first full-length album of original material in 10 years. Going Down in History drops on February 26th, but you can stream the first single now!

Banditos: Banditos

Saturday, October 17th, 2015

Banditos_BanditosNashville-resident Alabamians surge with boogie, country and soul

No doubt Mary Beth Richardson’s heard enough Janis Joplin comparisons to last a lifetime. But her Joplin-like fervor is arresting, and only one of the ingredients that makes up this Alabama band’s insurgent stew. The flavors are Southern – boogie, country, rockabilly, blues, R&B and soul – but they’re blended loosely rather than mashed together, and each gets a turn in the spotlight with one of the group’s three lead vocalists. The band shows off their instrumental talents and stylistic diversity, but never wanders too far from the gritty, stage-ready drama that is their calling card. The vocals beseech, the guitars buzz, and the band barrels down the track with a load tightened up in a hundred second sets. This is a powerful debut that surely plays well on the road. Make sure to buy the singer a drink and request “Still Sober (After All These Beers).” [©2015 Hyperbolium]

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Whitey Morgan and the 78’s: Born, Raised & LIVE From Flint

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

WhiteyMorganAndThe78s_BornRaisedAndLiveInFlintOld-school outlaw honky-tonk, live from Flint, MI

Though the 78’s lineup has revolved a few times since the group took their name in 2007, singer, songwriter and guitarist Whitey Morgan (nee Eric Allen) has proven himself a consistent leader across the group’s recordings and live performances. Their latest release snapshots the band in 2011, laying down hardcore honky-tonk in Morgan’s home town of Flint, and sounding like Waylon (and the Waylors) on a good night. Flint may be physically closer to Saginaw than Nashville, but its rust-belt living lends a lot of grit to the band’s music. Morgan performs with a swagger that resonates with a crowd ready to celebrate hard-drinking tunes like “Turn Up the Bottle,” “Another Round” and the ironically titled “I’m Not Drunk.”

Morgan touches on several of country’s favorite topics – women, drinking, cheating, and how women and cheating lead to drinking – and shows why they’re perennials. He’s fatalistically accepting of both cheating and drinking on the two-stepping “Cheatin’ Again,” but lets his loneliness drive as he seeks another chance with “Prove it All to You.” The band’s low-key take on Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” is surprisingly effective, as are covers of Johnny Paycheck’s cautionary “(Stay Away From) The Cocaine Train” and Dale Watson’s Billy Joe Shaver tribute, “Where Do You Want It?” The 78’s are a tight unit, with Brett Robinson’s steel and Mike Lynch’s piano really standing out. If you can’t catch the band live, make sure to play this loud at your next party. [©2014 Hyperbolium]

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Barrence Whitfield and the Savages: Dig Thy Savage Soul

Sunday, September 8th, 2013

BarrenceWhitfieldAndTheSavages_DigThySavageSoulHard R&B recalls tough frat rockers from the late ’50s and early ’60s

After a healthy run in the latter half of the 1980s, Barrence Whitfield and the original lineup of the Savages left the scene. Fast forward a decade and Whitfield and guitarist Peter Greenberg were back with a new lineup for 2011’s Savage Kings. Whitfield’s delivery is as wild as ever, with growls, howls and shouts, and the latest edition of the Savages rocks even harder than the original. This is equal parts soul and garage rock, lending it the feel of sweaty Northwest frat rockers fronted by a hard-soul vocalist who’s next gig you’d make a point of catching. Greenberg’s incessant rhythm chords and twanging riffs drive from the top, but the rhythm section never takes a breather and the sax and B3 squeeze themselves into whatever space is left (or, when there’s no room, they just push everyone else out of the way). Whitfield borrows Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ incredulous histrionics for “I’m Sad About It,” but the album’s mix of covers and originals is never less than original. You can set your volume knob low, but this one will still play LOUD. [©2013 Hyperbolium]

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Wayne Hancock: Ride

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

WayneHancock_RideJuke-joint swing, twangy honky-tonk and hot rock ‘n’ roll

Wayne Hancock’s been making great albums since he introduced himself with 1995’s Thunderstorms and Neon Signs. His vocal similarity to Hank Sr. hasn’t abated a bit in the subsequent eighteen years, nor has his fealty to the basic elements of Williams’ brand of twangy honky-tonk and haunted sorrow. But Hancock is more a man out of time than a throwback, and though his music takes on a nostalgic tint amidst Nashville’s contemporary style, he makes the case that the sounds he champions are timeless. He sparks terrific performances from his guitarists (Eddie Biebel, Tjarko Jeen and Bob Stafford), steel player (Eddie Rivers) and bassist (Zack Sapunor), and he sounds happy to be singing,l even when he’s singing the blues.

Hancock’s spent the past few years touring, riding his Harley and getting divorced. The latter has turned his music into an essential salve, and though he sings “it’s best to be alone than be in love,” he’s more likely to pine than actually swear off romance. The album opens at highway speed as Hancock tries to outrun his heartache with an open road, a full throttle and dueling electric guitar solos. He’s soon again singing the blues, low-down and alone, but the tears in his voice can’t disguise the pleasure he gains from vocalizing his troubles, a pleasure shared with anyone who gives this album a spin. [©2013 Hyperbolium]

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