The Maureens “Something in the Air” (Meritorio Records, 2019)

The Maureens’ third album, ‘Something in the Air,’ sharpens this four-piece from Utrecht, the Netherlands’ obsession with jangle-pop to a fine sepia-toned point.  Guitars ring, vocals tightly meld, choruses stick to the ears like aural confections.  The vocal harmonies of guitarist Hendrik-Jan de Wolff and bassist Wouter Zijlstra evoke both the seamless sibling connection of the Everly Brothers as well as the more playful stylings of the Turtles’ Howard Kaylan-Mark Volman variety. Continue reading “The Maureens “Something in the Air” (Meritorio Records, 2019)”

Boo Ray “Tennessee Alabama Fireworks” (Soundly Music, 2019)

There’s a wide billboard on the side of interstate 24 headed westbound pointing the way to Tennessee Alabama Fireworks in Marion County, TN.  That’s a thing in the southeastern United States:  big fireworks’ stands, truck stops, motor inns, convenience stores, gift shops – practically little towns – resting on or near the borders between states.  (The one on I-95 at the North and South Carolina border is famously known as “South of the Border” and displays a giant sombrero-wearing mascot named “Pedro,” with billboards along the way that read “Pedro says ‘chili today, hot tamale!’” But I digress…)  Continue reading “Boo Ray “Tennessee Alabama Fireworks” (Soundly Music, 2019)”

Katie O’Malley “Never Be The Same” (Independent, 2019)

With a steady clock-like tempo provided by a snare rim and shaker, we enter the world of Katie O’Malley.  The song is ‘Heart of Gold,’ and it’s fueled by subtle acoustic strumming, dirty slide guitar, bass, understated keys, and O’Malley’s tender yet pained delivery.  She’s had enough of men using her to their advantage.  She may have been born with a heart of gold, but it seems to have now lost its luster.  The track slowly, quietly builds to a boiling point only to simmer down again before quietly retreating back into the shadows.  It’s quite an opener. Continue reading “Katie O’Malley “Never Be The Same” (Independent, 2019)”

Joe Blanton “Good, Bad, Right or Wrong” (Underground Treehouse, 2018)

It’s easy to get lost in the weeds these days as we find new ways to compartmentalize and format music. Rock and country seem to be endlessly hyphenated.  Sometimes we need to stop the chin scratching, step out of the woods, and crank up the amps.  Thankfully, Joe Blanton seems to do just that with his first solo effort, ‘Good, Bad, Right or Wrong.’ Continue reading “Joe Blanton “Good, Bad, Right or Wrong” (Underground Treehouse, 2018)”

Danny Burns “Low Country” (Bonfire, 2019)

The first sound your ears catch upon hearing ‘Low Country,’ the debut from Irish folk singer Danny Burns, is the unmistakable dobro of Jerry Douglas. Soon after, the legendary Sam Bush’s fiddle and mandolin envelop the opening track, ‘Let it Go’ (not the Disney ditty). Lyrically, you’re transported to New Orleans in a sort of newgrass version of ‘Life in the Fast Lane’ – the same amount of cocaine, but without the Joe Walsh. Continue reading “Danny Burns “Low Country” (Bonfire, 2019)”

Rosali “Trouble Anyway” (Scissor Tail Records/Spinster Sounds, 2018)

Philadelphia’s Rosali builds upon the ethereality of her debut – 2016’s acclaimed ‘Out of Love’ – on the ghostly ‘Trouble Anyway,’ recorded and mixed by Jeff Zeigler, who has worked with The War on Drugs and Kurt Vile among others.  On her sophomore outing, Rosali enlists a group of musicians that share her love of mood and texture, including Charlie Hall (War on Drugs), Paul Sukeena (Angel Olsen), Mary Lattimore, Mike Polizze (Purling Hiss), Nathan Bowles (Steve Gunn, Black Twig Pickers), Gretchen Lohse (Carol Cleveland Sings), and Dan Provenzano (Purling Hiss, Writhing Squares). Continue reading “Rosali “Trouble Anyway” (Scissor Tail Records/Spinster Sounds, 2018)”

Joshua Burnside “Wear Bluebells In Your Hat If You’re Goin’ That Way” (Quiet Arch, 2018)

Billed as a “deluxe EP,” Northern Ireland folkie Joshua Burnside’s ‘Wear Bluebells In Your Hat If You’re Goin’ That Way’ pairs his 2013 EP ‘If You’re Goin’ That Way’ with four new tracks and an acoustic version of one of the original EP’s tracks, totalling an even ten songs. The sequence of the original EP has been shuffled slightly for this release.  Where ‘Desert Wine’ launched the 2013 EP, this deluxe version kicks off with ‘Little Blind’ and is all the better for it. Continue reading “Joshua Burnside “Wear Bluebells In Your Hat If You’re Goin’ That Way” (Quiet Arch, 2018)”

Ben de la Cour “The High Cost Of Living Strange” (Flour Sack Cape, 2018)

Want a backstory?  How’s this:  Brooklyn native starts singing in dive bars with his brother a full decade before he can legally drink, drops out of high school, spends a year in Havana training with the Cuban national boxing team, then tours Europe – again with his brother – and their doom metal band, Dead Man’s Root, before it implodes and Ben de la Cour finds himself again stateside, this time armed with an acoustic guitar case full of songs he’s dubbed Americanoir. Continue reading “Ben de la Cour “The High Cost Of Living Strange” (Flour Sack Cape, 2018)”

Carter Sampson “Lucky” (Horton Records, 2018)

Carter Sampson’s voice rolls across these songs as the winds across the great plains of her native Oklahoma.  Sounding simultaneously innocent and world-weary, her voice can at times recall the breathy yet powerful delivery of a Midwestern Natalie Merchant.  Sampson lives inside the lyrics she sings.  You get the feeling she’s experienced every word.  Continue reading “Carter Sampson “Lucky” (Horton Records, 2018)”

Nathan Bowles “Plainly Mistaken” (Paradise of Bachelors, 2018)

Drawing on Appalachian textures and filtering them through a trio format, acclaimed banjoist Nathan Bowles delivers his latest album, ‘Plainly Mistaken,’ with the addition of fellow band members Rex McMurry on drums and Casey Toll on double bass. Opening with a version of Julie (Driscoll) Tippett’s haunting ‘Now If You Remember,’ Bowles invites us along on a journey of ethereal soundscapes while stretching the limits of the instruments on display. Continue reading “Nathan Bowles “Plainly Mistaken” (Paradise of Bachelors, 2018)”