I first heard of Pinegrove via Steven Hyden’s excellent Celebration Rock podcast. And the hard reality is that I only clicked on this podcast because he had Amber Webber from Black Mountain on. And man, did turn out to be fortuitous; as I was won over after his talk with the lead singer and chief songwriter, Evan Stephens Hall.
Hyden described them as such – merging DIY punk with country and folk on the recent album Cardinal. Maybe it’s because of that description but I was immediately reminded of early Lucero when I first spun Cardinal. They don’t sound like them per se, but Cardinal combines this heart-on-your-sleeve ethos with this feeling that they are pouring ounce of their being into their music. And they also have this knack for breaking your heart, like some of Lucero’s best.
The album’s four track, Aphasia, is pretty damn amazing. Its heartbreaking in that protagonist is finding it hard to connect with the world around him but slowly finds his voice which coincides with the bridge that builds with a rousing chorus and crunching guitars, leading into a nice guitar outro. If you don’t feel anything after that you’re either dead or you listen to shitty music.
This album came out of nowhere for me. Morby played bass in the band Woods for a few years, and while I enjoy their music; him leaving didn’t register to the same affect as when Isbell left DBT. By that I mean, I wasn’t counting the days for his solo releases. But based on this album, maybe I should have.
The thing I love most about this album is the variety. Every song is unique in its own way but all bound by Morby’s vision. A vision born on a piano that was left at his new rental in a small town outside LA. From there Morby got together with Sam Cohen clear across the country in Woodstock with a host of talented people to bring this vision to life.
The lead track, I Have Been To The Mountain is my favorite song of 2016. If hipsters every create a drug where I can feel like I’m tripping for just 5 minutes, this would be song I’d reach for right now. It is song born from rage but seems to have a hopeful hint at the end. Destroyer, which oddly enough reminds me of a Destroyer tune, is another winner.And the album closes on the rambling twangy Water. He couldn’t have ended the album any better.
Run, don’t walk to pick this one up. It is truly brilliant.
In light of the truly disgusting laws that North Carolina and Mississippi recently passed, the fourth track, Heaven Sent, on The Very Last Day hits home. In the tune, Milsap takes the part of a gay man asking for acceptance from his Evangelical father. It is a heavy tune and Milsap hits it out of the park; sort of feels like a tune that Isbell would write.
The exploration of religion and its impact of on our daily life was something that Milsap explored on his phenomenal 2014 debut. And that theme is on hand here as well. The opening track, Hades Pleads is a bluesly barnburner where Milsap explores life and love in the underworld. It seems the devil has his eye on a gal and he’s ready to make her Queen. And the closer, Tribulation Hymn is an Irish-tinged folk track where Milsap explores the end of the world.
Milsap really ups his game on The Very Last Day. This is some of the best Americana you’re going to get this year and one of my favorite albums of 2016.
Last year, I fell in deep like with Summer Flake’s EP, Time Rolls By. It was part of my year of down under when I became enamored with a number of acts from Australia and New Zealand, highlighted by Courtney Barnett.
Summer Flake is the project of Stephanie Crase and she’s apt to draw comparisons to her fellow Aussie as they both draw influence from 90s indie pop. Whereas, Barnett’s guitars are more straight forward and crunchy, Crase’s are bathed in reverb, reminding me of Widowspeak.
One area where the comparison is spot on is their lyrics. Both Crase and Barnett write brilliant lyrics. There’s a heaviness that Crase seems to be unloading here. Look How Far We’ve Come is a real gem at the front of the album. The lead single, Shoot And Score, is hypnotic and the closer Wine Won’t Wash Away is a nice to end the album, upping the tempo a bit.
Hello Friends isn’t going to jump out and grab you like some of her female contemporaries. But give it a few listens and you’ll find it infused into your being.
Upon learning that Austin Jenkins and Josh Block had permanently left White Denim to join Leon Bridges, I had reservations about the future of the band. As good as Jenkins is, it was Block that I was really going to miss. His chemistry with bassist Steve Terebecki always left me in awe. Their ability to [...]
In twenty years when I own a spaceship and I am zipping around the universe drinking space grog and hanging with space luminaries, Black Mountain will be the house band for my ship. I know of no better way to describe Black Mountain than that fantastical image. IV, their first album in six years delivers [...]
This album reminds me so much of Patterson Hood’s Heat Lightning Rumbles In The Distance. Not so much for the sound. And while the lyrics are brilliant on both, that’s not it either. Its that both artists are typically associated for having a guitar in their album. Yet both of these albums are centered around [...]
“Wait, who’s this again,” seems to be a common response when you play someone her music. Unfairly labeled as the female savior for real twang, most people throw out country’s classic female artists when they hear a few tunes. But the most interesting one I heard was, “sounds like what Waylon would sound like if [...]
I played a buddy of mine their lead single, Domino, and his response was, “I dig it. Sounds like a funky Elliott Smith.” That comment really stuck with me and after spending some time with Shoo, its apt for the whole album. This isn’t Parliament style, mind you. it is easy-going with tasty songs grooving [...]
Dori’s label, Free Dirt Records, emailed me and asked if I would like to review her album. I clicked on a video with my first thought being, “she’s cute.” My second thought followed soon thereafter, “She has the voice of an Appalachian angel,” which dovetailed nicely into my third and final thought, “Yes, I would [...]