Album Reviews

Michigan Rattlers – EP (album review)

by Woody on February 20, 2017

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Photo by Shelby Goldstein

I don’t know know how I stumbled across Michigan Rattlers, but Lord am I grateful that I did. Consisting of Graham Young and Adam Reed, the duo are wonderful storytellers. The fact that those stories are told with some rocking Americana flavor is all the better.

Sweet Diane feels like an Isbell tune. The story of a widow finding new love is so simple in its premise but they just knock it out of the park. Illinois Sky is the story of a protagonist who leaves Illinois for the West Coast. Strain of Cancer, a song some from the perspective of a jilted ex has the lyrical quality of a Cooley tune,

My only complaint about the EP is that it is only five tunes. These guys are going to be down at SXSW and I can’t wait to see them live.

Michigan Rattlers are here

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Strand Of Oaks – Hard Love {album review)

by Woody on February 17, 2017

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As Tim Showalter’s stature in the music world has grown; a steady stream of very interesting pieces are written about him. During the release of HEAL, Steven Hyden did a phenomenal piece on Grantland ; as did Spin. With the success of HEAL and the upcoming release of Dark Love, Stereogum did a piece that left me exhausted. These pieces portray a conflicted version of Tim; a man stuck between a full-fledged rock star and a homebody happy to hang with his wife at home.

And that struggle is at the center of what makes Hard Love such a worthy encore to HEAL. From On The Hill, a track inspired by an acid-induced awakening that changed the direction of this album to the album’s emotional centerpiece – Cry; a piano ballad that sees Tim pouring his heart out; there seems to be an inner struggle on what Tim wants with his life. And it is all out there for you, the listener, to disect.

And then there’s Taking Acid And Talking To My Brother, an eight minute opus dealing a medical emergency his brother suffered in Indiana. As Tim was trying to balance the hedonistic mind-altering life of a rock and roll star with the day to day domestic responsibilities of making a marriage work; his life was turned upside down due to his brother’s ailment. Spending two weeks sleeping in the hospital as his brother lay in a coma was as his press release stated, “represents Showalter’s last-ditch attempt at reconciling his personal life and his impulsions.”

To me, Tim is a larger than life rock ‘n’ roll personality but does he want to be. Sharing that struggle with us in a such a raw manner is what makes his music so special.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Strand of Oaks is here

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Molly Burch – Please Be Mine (album review)

by Woody on February 16, 2017

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Photo: Dailey Toliver

There are occasions when I become enamored with an artist from the first time I hear them. Thirty seconds into the first track and I’m sending pleading emails to their PR rep asking for the full album. That is precisely what happened with Molly Burch and upon receiving the full album, my enchantment has only heightened.

Molly Burch isn’t reinventing the wheel. Her music is a nice blend of retro pop and Americana. And on every track, Burch’s smoky vocals are lent a helping hand by tasty guitar licks delivered by Dailey Toliver. While not sounding alike, I’m reminded of the dynamic that Heather McEntire and Jenks Miller share in Mount Moriah.

What I love most about her vocals is that for the most part, they seem effortless; but man when she needs to give a track a little more punch, she nails it every time. The second track, Wrong For You, illustrates that perfectly. The title track is another standout in an album full of them. Its a slow burner and after listening to it, it isn’t hard to see why she’s oft-compared to Pasty Cline.

Please Be Mine is hopefully the beginning of a long and fruitful career. Burch will be down at SXSW, hopefully will Toliver in tow. She’s on my can’t miss list.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Molly Burch is here

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Horse Thief – Trials & Truths (album review)

by Woody on February 1, 2017

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Horse Thief, the cosmic Americana 5-piece from Oklahoma, are back with their sophomore effort; Trials & Truths. The effort shows the band moving forward; something that lead singer Cameron Neal attributes to the band playing to their individual strengths. “We had more time to dwell on these songs, as the first record was written and recorded really quickly. We’d toured Fear In Bliss for 18 months, which really helped us get to know each other’s styles, and where to take the new songs. It means this album is closer to the sound that we want.”

As with Fear In Bliss, the band does a wonderful job creating these musical tapestries for Neal’s vocals to weave their way into. After spending a good deal of time in Colorado ski towns over the last month, Mountain Song has really stuck with me. It a song about love or being in love with nature; or falling in love surrounded by beautiful nature. Whatever it is, it works for me. The track that follows, Million Dollars, is an mellow atmospheric tune that due to the title and vocal delivery reminds me of Middle Brother’s Million Dollar Bill, one of my all time favorites.

All in all, Horse Thief continue to deliver the goods. I slapped this on the other night while I was making dinner and I felt enveloped by the music; like I just slipped a warm sweater on. Make sure to go see these guys live. You won’t be sorry.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Horse Thief is here

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Dead Man Winter – Furnace (album review)

January 27, 2017

This is the second LP by Dead Man Winter, the “side project” of Trampled By Turtles front-man, Dave Simonett. While the first, Bright Lights, was an enjoyable listen, it felt like a diversion from TBT to play some electric guitars with a backbeat. Furnace is much more than that. Fueled by the dissolution of his [...]

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Stef Chura – Messes (album review)

January 26, 2017

The thing that always draws me to Chrissie Hynde is that she has this swagger about her that made me feel that she is the coolest person in the room. It was some of her demeanor but mostly it was how she sung. I’m not going to anoint 22 y/o Stef Chura as the next [...]

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Priests – Nothing Feels Natural (album review)

January 20, 2017

Last year, I took on the ambitious task of reading City On Fire. A big portion of the story centers around the nascent punk scene in Lower Manhattan circa 197x; even before I started going to shows. While I can’t validate how accurate Garth Risk Hallberg’s portrayal is; in listening to Priests I kind of [...]

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Foxygen – Hang (album review)

January 18, 2017

Photo by Cara Robbins After Bowie passed away, his legacy and our ears were slowly tortured by a collection of half-ass artists doing over-the-top covers of his music during award shows. With every complaint I issued, people would ask, ” If not so and so, then who?” My response was consistent, “I’d roll the lunatics* [...]

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The Molochs – America’s Velvet Glory (album review)

January 13, 2017

Released on California’s Innovative Leisure label, you are expecting the album that is going to be influenced by the sounds of 60s. Sometimes those expectations can limit a band. With America’s Velvet Glory, I don’t feel that way at all. If anything, it gave the band a focus from which they branched out from there. [...]

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Wolf People – Ruins (album review)

November 23, 2016

A.D. 2016 and England is in flux. This bastard island is divided, shot through with doubt and self-loathing, ruled by the feverish egos of passing power hungry-dilettantes, two-bit aristocrats and smiling psychopaths. Swathes of the country have been sold off, paved over, neon-lit. England is at war with itself and this time the enemy is [...]

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