Album Reviews

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photo credit: Diana Lee Zadlo

The opening line of Denney and The Jets’ bio reads as follows – Denney and The Jets play an unbridled brand of hip-shakin’ Rock & Roll with heavy Soul and Country influences. I’ll verify that statement as Mexican Coke comes out of the gate with a swagger of a band that ground their teeth in some dank and dark clubs as opposed to some polished studio. Fronted by Chris Denney and surrounded by some of Nashville’s best, their debut is a rollicking ride full of the things that make rockin’ cool.

Denney and The Jets emerged from the Nashville scene that has produced PUJOL, Natural Child and Promised Land Sound to name a few. While those acts all have members that have backed Denney at one point or another, they have also released at least one album prior to Denney releasing his debut. Thankfully the wait has proven worth it.

Denney’s tunes dig into tales of hard-living and excess. Tracks like Pain Pills, Hooked and Broke don’t leave much to the imagination. But the direct lyrics go down easy with the soulful riffs that remind you of Exile era Stones. These are the types of albums I love. Brash, genuine rock and roll. Mexican Coke took a while but hopefully it is the first of many.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa

Denney and The Jets are here

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I’ve had the pleasure of having Divisionary for a couple of months now. It hooks you in with some bouncy melodies and wonderful harmonies. The tracks were uplifting and the lyrics delivered a positive vibe that left you feeling good all over.

But none of that prepared me for seeing them live at SXSW. Ages and Ages are a seven-piece out of Portland – 4 dudes and 3 women. They play a brand of folky orchestral pop that bubbles with optimism reminding me of Typhoon. But while Typhoon’s live shows are all about this cathartic process where the songs slowly build into these giant moments; Ages and Ages leave you slack-jawed as all the members sing on every tune. Harmonies abound at every turn, sometimes with three different sets going at one time.

The exuberance of the album made possible by the members of the band working their way through difficult moments. Lead singer Tim Perry spent some time at a silent meditation retreat. And while I might be putting one and one together and getting three, that introspection has allowed Perry and the band to move forward. And move forward in a way that makes you feel like things will be better moving forward. A act that isn’t hidden by the album’s opening line – All I wanna say are the only words with any meaning/and I feel that way even though there‚Äôs some who feel nothing at all.

As I mentioned, I had listened to Ages and Ages before seeing them at SXSW. I was unaware at how much the songs had bore their way into me. I found it impossible to sing and scream at the top of my lungs to tunes like I See More, Do The Right Thing, Our Demons and others. It was so good the first time, I fueled up on Lone Stars and caught them again at Homeslice.

Go get this album and then make it a point of seeing them live. It will be one of the more enjoyable shows you’ll see all year.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa

Ages and Ages are here

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By now, I am sure you’ve read countless reviews and hopefully spent some considerable time with this gem of an album. If not, go get it right now, I’ll wait. OK, welcome back.

From the minute I heard the lead track, Red Eyes, you knew you Lost In The Dream was the album where Adam Granduciel and company were going to take the leap to the next level. I’ve read a bunch of good pieces on him and this album; the best of the bunch were on Aquarium Drunkard and Stephen Hyden’s on Grantland.

With that in mind, I figured I would spare you from breaking down this album. As I said to their PR firm, you obviously don’t need my half-assed review to help the momentum on this album but I feel the need to pen something. And honestly, if one person reads this and is compelled to go listen to it – mission accomplished. This is one of those albums that you just want to shake strangers on the street and beg them to listen to.

But don’t listen while doing chores around the house. Hyden goes into detail on the long and arduous creative process that led to Lost In The Dream. Anything less than your full attention and you’re doing the band and yourself a disservice. While the minutiae might have brought Granduciel to the breaking point, its that minutiae that makes it such an amazing listen. And its not just all of us dipshit bloggers getting weak in the knees. There have been hordes of musicians chiming in on Twitter. Patterson Hood tweeted, “I’m in love with this album. Highly recommended.”

After hearing the lead track, Red Eyes, I tweeted that I wanted to take this song out for a romantic dinner, take it home and try to get frisky with it. Upon countless spins, this album is marrying material. Some albums might come and go but Lost In The Dream is one that will be a cornerstone in my collection for years to come. Simply put, it is just that fucking good.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa

The War On Drugs is here.

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Nick Waterhouse – Holly [album review]

by Woody on March 20, 2014

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I watch a lot of soccer. At home, at the office, at bars; you name it. It is hands down my favorite sport. Sometimes during a game, a player can unleash a thunderbolt of a shot making him an instant hero. Truth be told, it can be a great player or a decidedly average player who just caught lightning in a bottle. Either way, it is amazing and captures the eyes of even those who scoff at soccer. Then there is the player who spends 90 minutes using his guile, experience and God-given abilities to carve out space, spray passes around and generally dictate the pace of the game. While not noticed by the casual fan, true fans of the beautiful sport marvel at how they just ooze class with every touch of the ball.

What does that have to do with Nick Waterhouse’s sophomore effort? Nick’s debut album, Time’s All Gone, was almost like that thunderbolt goal. With tunes like Say I Wanna Know and Is That Clear, combined with his live shows; Waterhouse came on like a house on fire. But could he follow up with a solid follow-up? My answer is yes and the beauty in the album is that it oozes class in such subtle fashion.

Waterhouse is an avid fan of music from a time past. His social media makes it inherently clear that this isn’t some passing fancy for Waterhouse, where he tries to tap into a fad. Seeing him referenced in an article about that assclown, Robin Thicke, made any purist cringe. Waterhouse is a true student of the game and his love of 60s R&B and Soul show throughout the album. That not only permeates in the songwriting but in the production as well. Waterhouse knows his away around the knobs as evident of his work with the Allah-Lahs. And on top of all that, he’s an ace with the guitar.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa

Waterhouse can be found here.

Nick Waterhouse “This is a Game” from Aram Stith on Vimeo.

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Lydia Loveless – Somewhere Else (album review)

March 19, 2014

Long time HearYa pal, Jefe has had Lydia Loveless on his radar for years. He traveled clear across Austin last year to catch a set at The Continental Club. For whatever reason, her music hadn’t clicked with me. But upon getting the advance copy of Somewhere Else, I dug in; figuring my broseph must be [...]

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Drive-By Truckers – English Oceans [album review]

March 3, 2014

David McCLister Photography I haven’t been this excited for a new DBT release since A Blessing and a Curse. For the most part, that album was a bit of a letdown. Brighter Than Creation’s Dark followed and that was another decent effort. There were a couple of gems on those albums but there was also [...]

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Natural Child – Dancin’ With Wolves [album review] SXSW Act

February 28, 2014

Natural Child’s songs sound like they are made up on the spot in the truest sense of rock and roll. “You boys ever have a day where you lie around all day getting laid. You have! OK follow me and we’ll figure it out.” Boom, we have a tune called Don’t The Time Pass Quickly. [...]

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Yellow Ostrich – Cosmos [album review]

February 26, 2014

In the lead up to Yellow Ostrich’s album, lead singer Alex Schaaf immersed himself in the studies of Carl Sagan and Frank Drake. During this time, drummer Michael Tapper spend countless hours looking at the stars on a sail from Mexico to Hawaii. I’d also have a guess that the boys listened to Local Natives [...]

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New Madrid – Sunswimmer [album review]

February 24, 2014

We stumbled across these guys right before SXSW last year. My buddy, Jefe and I caught a late night set and SafariMan saw them on a boat, of all places. All of us had the same reaction – damn good and full of untapped potential. Apparently, New West Records also took notice as they signed [...]

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St. Paul & The Broken Bones – Half The City [album review]

February 19, 2014

St. Paul & The Broken Bones’ debut album is up against the same challenge that The Alabama Shakes faced when releasing their debut album. Both bands fronted by a dynamic singer with a voice from yesteryear. Both bands built their reputation on the backs of scintillating live show where the vocalist captivated the audience while [...]

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