When I caught Lillie Mae, I was fresh off the high of seeing Tommy Stinson’s band Bash & Pop play at Hotel Vegas. As I bounded down Red River singing On The Rocks, I thought there was no way that Lillie Mae would hit those lofty heights.
She did and this album dies. Lillie Mae has been a performing musician since the age of nine, and Forever And Then Some sees her stepping out from Jack White’s touring band. The crux of this album is Americana but she seems to ease in and out of so many facets of the genre, sometimes within the same song, with such ease that you almost take for granted how stunningly talented she is.
There are numerous highlights throughout the album. Loaner is flat-out gorgeous weeper; reminds me of some of the beset heartbreaking tunes that The Everybodyfields put out a few years back. Her fiddle playing is out of this world on this track.
Over The Hills And Through The Woods shows off Mae’s feisty side. This was a highlight of her SXSW set and you can see why in the Conan video below. Honky Tonks And Taverns is a catchy upbeat weeper that feels radio-ready; you know if country radio didn’t insist on playing shit all the time.
During her set, my friend Scott looked over to me and simply said, “She’s the real deal.” I couldn’t agree more.
I was familiar with Gallo’s work with his band, Toy Soldiers. It was solid enough but I can’t say it ever cracked my rotation for long. So the announcement of his solo debut was met with little fanfare by myself. But sooner or later, the album crossed my path and we became fast friends.
Heavy Meta is chock full of meaty hooks and Gallo has a swagger that belies his age, as he tears through 11 tracks blending punk, garage and glam. Throughout the albums, Gallo tackles a wide variety of interesting subjects. I love the Kill The Medicine Man seems to take a swipe at America’s penchant for over-medicating themselves. The album closes with All the Punks are Domesticated closes the album and is smart take down of Gallo’s contemporaries. Why Do You Have Kids? lays out a thought we’ve all had about someone who’ve you seen on in your day to day.
Heavy Meta is an album you enjoy more with each listen as you dig deeper into the lyrics. It is easy for the lyrics to get lost in the riffs but they’re well worth the effort.
I slept on Combs’ 2015 release, All These Dreams. But right before SXSW, Canyons Of My Mind wound up in my inbox and I decided to dig in anticipation of taking in a set. It wasn’t long before Combs moved from the “Maybe I’ll catch a set list,” to the “Must-see list”
Combs, a 30 y/o Nashville resident has really come into his own on his third LP. On Canyons Of My Mind, Combs has put an album together that showcases a varied number of textures and subjects. A distressed Combs shows off his chops on Dirty Rain, a song in protest to the gentrification of Nashville and how we constantly shit on our environment in the name of “progress.”
He steps into the political fray with Bourgeois King, probably the most rocking tune on the album and a tune he just slayed at SXSW. “We’ll build a wall to block the enemy/ build a wall to keep us free” is sung repeatedly about midway through the tune before the band launches into a tasty jam.
Combs is easing into the next phase of his life. He’s married, has a house and a baby on the way. His comfort and growth is on display throughout. Make every effort to catch him live. He’s got a killer band on the road with him.
Gold Star, the moniker for singer-songwriter Marlon Rabenreither, was someone we just stumbled across during out latest SXSW adventure. For someone who meticulously plans his SXSW; it’s still nice to wander into a venue having with no expectations and be blown away.
Gold Star took the stage on the Thursday night backed by his excellent band and the troubador produced a wonderful set of easy-going twang. At the conclusion of his set, I was happy to learn that Big Blue was being released right after SXSW. And I’m even happier to state, that it lives up the billing of his set. Rabenreither’s music comes across as genuine and soulful, without ever coming across as overdone or over-produced.
The tune below, Sonny’s Blues, really reminds me of the early Wilco days. Rabenreither’s lyrics remind me Tweedy’s observational side. And musically, it could slip onto Being There without a second thought.
I felt sunlight shine right between my eyes/I’ve seen lightning strikes my whole life/I felt the stars outside shining in my veins/I met the big blue light face to face.
Rabenreither also mines heartbreak on a few tracks. My favorite among the bunch being Deptford High St. with the lyrics,
But I left her standing, somewhere on Signal hill, I left my baby, you know she is there still, she is there still.
All told, this is wonderfully written, wonderfully produced and wonderfully executed album. I’d make it a point to take in a set if the opportunity arises.
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