Album Reviews


Photo Credit – Pooneh Ghana

The Districts are one of the best young bands out there today and one of the best live acts you’ll have the pleasure of seeing live. After 2015′s A Flourish And A Spell, my hopes for Popular Manipulations were pretty high. In my mind, I wanted another dozen ripping bluesy Americana tracks with Rob Grote pouring his soul out.

But upon first listen, Popular Manipulations was different. Grote’s vocals sounded different. Song structures didn’t sound similar. Synths were introduced. Like a spoiled child, I was pissed. I wanted what I wanted and I wanted it now. Yet after a few listens, it slowly started to connect; the growth of the band and the brilliance of the album started to show its face to me. Upon reflection, it was eerily similar to my reaction towards Z after It Still Moves; another album that I was put off upon first listen.

The band veers towards a more indie rock sounding album; bands that came to mind were Wolf Parade and Modest Mouse. Two bands I’ve always respected it but would never call myself a massive fan. Upon the many spins, the tunes that jumped out at me were Violet – a tune that seamlessly works synths into the fuzzy, swirling guitars of Grote and Pat Cassidy. The track captures the angst of Grote with more ups and downs than a mountain range.

Point is another blistering track. Sounds blend into each other, around each other, fight with each other as Grote fires off his lyrics. It is a hot mess of a tune that captures the mood of the lyrics so well. Every time I listen to it, I envision Grote flailing around the stage. The penultimate track, Rattling Of the Heart, has a is built on a haunting guitar lick before emerging into something dark, yet beautiful.

These guys are one of the best young band out there today. Their live show is something to behold. Popular Manipulations might have gave me pause at first, but sometimes the great albums do.

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The Districts are here

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Tyler Childers – Purgatory (album review)

by Woody on August 4, 2017


A few years back, I saw Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires perform in the backyard of The Blackheart during SXSW. The music was arresting, literally demanding your attention. It was clear that his music had moved on to a different plane. That’s happened a couple of times these last few years when hearing an artist for the first time – Margo & Sturgill immediately jump to mind.

Reason I bring that all up is I had that same reaction with Tyler Chiders and his full-length debut, Purgatory. While I am new to his music, the Kentucky born Childers has been around for a few years. That led to him hooking up with Sturgill Simpson to co-produce his album with David Ferguson.

Throughout the whole of Purgatory, Childers tells stories of Eastern Kentucky. Whether it be a tale of murder, the Appalachian-folk Banded Clovis; the title track; a bluegrass take of a Christian that lost his way; or a country-thumper in Whitehorse Road in which the protagonist tells tales of his hell-raising; Childers delivers the goods.

Purgatory is a stunning debut. One that propels him into the rarefied air of Isbell, Price and Sturgill. To imagine where his career will head is enough to make you dizzy.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Tyler Childers is here



Photo by Nick Jost

It took me a while to come around on Katie Von Schleicher’s debut. It isn’t an album that jumps up and demands you take notice. It takes a few listens to notice some of the nuance of Von Schleicher’s writing and production. While her music has hints of Angel Olsen and Sharon Van Etten, the production reminds me of the debut by The Love Language.

Like Stuart McLamb, Von Schleicher takes some good songs and makes them better. Whether it be distorted drums, squalls of feedback or a layer of fuzz, Von Schleicher transforms her pop into something special. Overall, the theme of the album is of uncertainty – feeling as if you are inadequate. Some of my favorites include Paranoia, Lie’s A Lie and Going Down.

Give this a few spins and really enjoy the effort put in to transform this vintage pop into something special.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Katie Von Schleicher is here


Bedouine – s/t (album review)

by Woody on July 20, 2017


photo credit: Polly Antonia Barrowman

Bedouine, traditionally spelled as Beduoin, has the meaning of a nomadic Arab of the desert. In this instance it is the moniker of Azniv Korkejian, an Angeleno that has born in Aleppo, Syria and spent time in numerous ports in between. Working in the sprawling entertainment industry, Korkejian was writing songs as part of the close-knit community of musicians in Echo Park without any preconceived notions of a career in music.

The tone of her music is 60′s Laurel Canyon Americana with some Latin flavors mixed in. And those flavors come courtesy of Matthew E. White, Trey Pollard and the folks at Spacebomb. I have been infatuated with White and Spacebomb since hearing his music a few years back. Korkejian had White in mind as she was writing these tunes, and the marriage of her tunes with Spacebomb’s flourishes is a thing of beauty. So much is added to each track, yet never stepping on her toes; her honeyed voice floating to the top on every track.

All in all, this is a lovely album to get lost in. Some of the standouts include One Of These Days, Dusty Eyes and the closer Skyline. Simply put, this is one of my favorite debuts of 2017.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Bedouine is here


Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires – Youth Detention (Nail My Feet Down To The Southside Of Town) album review

July 17, 2017

A few weeks back, Jason Isbell was interviewed by Trevor Noah on The Daily Show. At one point during the interview, Noah acknowledges his preconceived notions of what Isbell’s beliefs should be based on his Alabama accent. It was an interesting observation and one that also translates to the music of The Glory Fires. Bains [...]

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Sheer Mag – Need To Feel Your Love (album review)

July 11, 2017

Photo by Marie Lin From the moment Steven Hyden told me to start listening to Sheer Mag, they have become a staple in my listening diet. Led by the force of nature, Tina Halladay, the Philly 5-piece deliver an abundance of riffs on this homage to 70s rock and punk. Over the course of three [...]

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RIPS – s/t (album review)

July 10, 2017

RIPS are a four-piece out or Brooklyn that has built a reputation on their live performances over the last four years. Their s/t debut is out and it feels like a love letter to New York music. From Lou Reed straight to Parquet Courts (In fact, Austin Brown from Parquet Courts produces the album), the [...]

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James Elkington – Wintres Woma (album review)

July 6, 2017

Photo by Tim Harris A few weeks back my buddies and I took in the Will Johnson and John Moreland show at Thalia. During the Will Johnson set, I asked my buddy Adam who plays guitar why he couldn’t play like Will. His response shut down my smart-ass questions quickly and efficiently, “It’s too hard.” [...]

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The Deslondes – Hurry Home (album review)

June 30, 2017

The Deslondes don’t seem to do much of anything in a hurry so it is a bit ironic that their sophomore effort is titled Hurry Home. The opening track, Muddy Water, by the New Orleans quintet sees the lyrics pour out of Riley Downing’s mouth like molasses. That notwithstanding, the band cleared up the confusion,“It’s [...]

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Banditos – Visionland (album review)

June 28, 2017

Photo by David McClister I loved the 2015 debut by Banditos. It was a whiskey-soaked, ramshackle blast of Americana that was so loose that it felt like they just made it up as the six-piece poured out of the van. I love those type of albums but a band can only run on that aesthetic [...]

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