Album Reviews


The voice of Greta Morgan, the woman behind Springtime Carnivore, really began to grow on me with her excellent set of punk covers with La Sera’s Katy Goodman. Hearing the lead track of Midnight Room heightened my expectations for her sophomore effort.

For the most part it delivers. The album kind of works somewhere between Neko and Lucius, and that’s a good place to me. Written during a stretch of sleepless nights after a breakup, the album belies that stressful time as the album has this breezy, easy-going feel for the most part.

This album has a been a nice fall album for me. I walked to the office the other day with this in my ears and I actually showed up with a smile. In addition to the title track, Under The Spell and Face In The Moon are among my favorites.

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Springtime Carnivore is here


Jonny Fritz – Sweet Creep (album review)

by Woody on October 17, 2016


In anticipation of Jonny Fritz’s new album, Sweet Creep, Fritz just had what could be the quote of the year in this article on Rolling Stone.

“Recording outside was Jim’s idea. He’s fucking nuts,” laughs Fritz, who doesn’t put much stock in high-end studios. “My list of how to record music is the songs are Number One. I don’t care if you have just an iPhone. If you’ve got good songs, I’d rather hear that than some goddamn Americana oil-money-funded record cut in [Nashville's historic] Studio B.”

The Jim he references is Jim James; he of MMJ fame. Along withe Goldsmith brothers and fiddler extraordinaire, Josh Hedley, they’ve just cobbled together Jonny’s best album to date. Fritz has always walked the edge between tunes about the quirky every day events and heartbreaking tunes that touch your soul.

Sweet Creep is no different. Happy In Hindsight and Cries After Making Love are the tunes that will tug on your heartstrings, especially the latter. Fritz celebrates the road on the excellent I Love Leaving. Fritz’s excellent and unique voice and the excellent fiddle of Josh Hedley allows him to bounce all over the place without ever missing a beat. Chilidog Morning and Chihuahua Rescue are excellent looks at what good be construed as silly subjects.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Jonny Fritz is here



Photo by Matt White

For those not in the know, Justin is the lead voice and 1/3 of HearYa favorite, Water Liars. With Water Liars, their tunes tend to vacillate between quiet moments and crashing sound all the while showcasing life’s difficulties. On his solo debut, Justin dials back the sound for in giving you something that feels like a confessional.

Kinkel-Schuster has never been shy of his admiration for the late Jason Molina. And that shines through as this has the feeling of some of Molina’s more mellow work. Painting Houses is a gorgeous melancholy track that examines the struggles of everyday. The finish beginning at 2:40 ooozes Molina greatness and I don’t throw those words around easily.

Kinkel-Schuster’s vocals continue to shine. It is nice to see in a slight different fabric on his solo album. Headed South and Milky South are among his best work. The songs just seem to dig up some hurt.

While I am chomping at the bit for a new Water Liars album, this was a nice way to pass the time in between.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Justin / Water Liars are here

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I rarely listen to regular radio because for the most part, it sucks*. But when I do listen to music it winds up being XRT here in Chicago. But that station has become so crappy lately as it is an adult contemporary station. They must play that X Ambassadors song or Kids by MGMT almost every hour as if adults can’t handle anything they’re not familiar with.

What does that rant have to the excellent Heart Like A Levee. Because, this is the type of music that regular radio should be playing. Its intelligent, challenging music that used to be the stuff that radio was built around. Not to mention that, Hiss Golden Messenger (aka Michael Taylor) just keeps getting better with every release, constantly growing as a person and musician. His time touring with MMJ seems to have rubbed off with tracks like Like a Mirror Loves a Hammer and Ace of Cups Hung Low Band.

For his sixth album and second on Merge, Taylor delves into a subject Field Report dealt with on Marigolden. Taylor, like Chris Porterfield found success later in life, after they both were married and had kids. All of sudden, both were highly in demand here in the US and abroad. Naturally that takes a massive toll on your home life and your psyche- feeling like you’re missing out on so much at home. Buoyed by mandolin and Tift Merritt and Alexandra Sauser-Monning on backing vocals, Taylor explores the subject with such grace and style on the title track.

But as much as Taylor misses the home, he does find time to celebrate his time on the road with As The Crow Flies and Cracked Windshield. The latter is stunning. It starts with just Taylor strumming on an acoustic as some gentle synths keep the song propped up before the rest of the band joins in. Phil Cook has delightfully restrained licks on this track. I don’t know what else to say; it is just brilliant. Go listen to it.

Joined by the aforementioned Merritt and Sauder-Monning, Matt McCaughan on drums and the Cook Bros on guitar and bass, Heart Like A Levee is one of the best albums you’re going to hear this year. Haw our 7th rated album in 2013. Lateness of Dancers was #2 in 2014. I guess they’ve got nowhere to go but #1.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Hiss Golden Messenger is here

*NPR and Pat & Ron calling the Cubs are excluded

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Julia Jacklin – Don’t Let The Kids Win (album review)

October 5, 2016

Julia Jacklin is a 25 y/o artist from Australia. Her path to releasing one of my favorite debuts of 2916 is a funny one. Inspired by Britney Spears as a 10 y/o, she began taking singing lesson – classical singing. From there she transitioned to banging out Avril and Evanescence tunes in high school. It [...]

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Shovels & Rope – Little Seeds (album review)

October 4, 2016

On albums past Shovels & Rope. Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent, shared a similar trait with DBT; in using third party narratives to drive their stories forward. Little Seeds sees the married duo turn the light on themselves in what is their most personal album to date. The birth of their first child coinciding [...]

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Nick Waterhouse – Never Twice (album review)

October 1, 2016

Never Twice is Nick Waterhouse’s third album. Waterhouse is not one to chase trends. He strikes me as a man deeply committed to his vision and his craft. I envision him hearing every note in his head and then surrounding himself with the best possible people that will help his vision come to life. For [...]

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Drive-By Truckers – American Band (album review)

September 23, 2016

DBT has never shied away from how they felt. Their music has always had a hint of their political leanings but never hit you over the head. But as the band turns 20 and our country stands on the precipice of voting in a racist Oompa Loompa, DBT has thrown down the gauntlet on an [...]

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Natural Child – Okey Dokey (album review)

September 21, 2016

If there is a better band to listen to on your back porch after a long day of work, then I don’t know of them. I don’t care if you’re shuffling papers all day or doing back-breaking work, sitting outside with a glass of bourbon as the sun sets with this Nashville trio easing out [...]

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Goon – Dusk of Punk EP (album review)

September 20, 2016

Goon is the project of LA-based musician and visual artist Kenny Becker. Becker suffers from severe polyps in his nose that affects his smell and his hearing. That sounds about as shitty as it comes but Becker has managed to cope with this and crank out a really enjoyable debut EP. What does it sound [...]

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