Terry Lewsader’s Beanfield Blues hits the sweet spot of country rock cross over. On some songs you get a midnight rambler kind of rock and roll feel, other songs are slow sweet twangy heartbreakers. It’s interesting that the lead artist on the CD is Terry Lewsader, but lead vocal duties are carried by 4 or 5 different singers, most notably Lydia Salnikova and David Upton whose voice sounds like a ragged Kris Kristofferson. Highlights for me are “The Lesson,” “Sad Song,” and “Stop Breaking Down.”
When the CD starts out with “My Baby Tastes’ Like Pork Chops” you know your’ in for a ride. Sticking to a happy upbeat ragtime sound, The Two Man Gentleman Band write clever, modern lyrics that put you in a foot-tapping mood. Highlights for me are “Please Don’t Water It Down,” “Two Start Motel,” and “Cheese and Crackers.”
Two Man Gentleman Band web site.
Lisa Biales’ release, Just Like Honey, highlights her stellar voice. She is in total control on every song, whether it’s a slow burning blues number, a ragtime jazz song, or a hair raising anthem. Her voice alone would command attention for this CD. But she also wrote three of the tracks as well. And every aspect of this CD makes you feel like this CD is a labor of fun. Highlights for me are “Just Like Honey,” “Sugar,” and “Damn Your Eyes.”
Dr. John’s latest release, Locked Down, was produced by Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys and it turned out just like you’d expect from such a collaboration: trippy, atmospheric, jazzy, urban, funky, garage, 70′s soundtrack kinda music. This CD could make anyone want to live on the streets of New Orleans. Highlights for me are “You Lie,” “Ice Age,” “Getaway,” and, best of all, the title track, “Locked Down.”
Guys love their cars and the Brothers Comatose love their van so much it has its own email address on the band site and they paid tribute to it in their latest Album, Respect The Van. The Brothers Comatose play high-energy, traditional sounding string band / roots music in the same vein as the Avette Brothers, and with the same modern sensibility. They aren’t playing for the 1860′s. They are playing for today. Songs about modern temptations and modern decadence. Highlights for me are “Feels Like The Devil,” “Modern Day Sinners,” and “Pie For Breakfast.”
The Cornell Hurd Band’s latest release, Drop In On My Dreams, continues the feel good honky tonk, western swing, rockabilly they’re known for. Fun to sing along with. Fun to dance to. Fun to cry into your beer to. Reminds me a lot of Raul Malo. Kind of a crooner. Highlights for me are “Jezebel Jones,” “Nightfall,” and “The Old Part of Town.” But there’s so many strong tracks on this CD it’s hard to pick.
Woody Pine, with just four band mates, have managed to put out a short EP, You Gotta Roll, that covers Ragtime, Country, and Blues and make it all hang together. This Ep has a couple of traditional tunes, a Hank Williams cover, a Ledbelly cover, and a Doc Boggs cover. And it’s amazing that it all fits. Highlights for me are the swing tune, “Long Gone Lost John,” and the cover of Ledbelley’s “Ham and Eggs.”
On their latest release, Not The One, DL Marble and his band serve up good gritty slice of life americana. Their songs are full of characters that you’d like to have covering your back in a bar fight. Produced by Eric “Roscoe” Ambel who also plays lead guitar. D.L. Marble name checks Hayes Carll on one of the tracks and I have to say that’s who he reminds me of. Highlights for me are “Lucky Tonight,” “Two Lane Highway,” and “Maybe It’s Best.”
I’m thinking the folks in Alabama Shakes must have done internships and odd jobs at every studio in Muscle Shoals because they know all the tricks, all the ins and outs, all the elements that make great southern soul music. And on Boys and Girls it all comes spilling out. Brittany Howard takes center stage on the CD with a voice that can be as strong as Candi Staton or as emotional as Etta James’. Her band mates Zac Cockrell, Steve Johnson, and Heath Fogg know to give Brittany plenty of room in the music. But like the great sudio musicians, they know just the right spots in the music to drop a guitar riff and just how to lay down a rhythm that pays off at the end of a song. Highlights for me are “Hold On,” “You Ain’t Alone,” “Boys and Girls,” and “I Ain’t The Same.”
Does the most hyped up band of the past year, live up to their pre-billing? Maybe. No doubt they are a super strong band and as my friend Ann put it, “They’ll be great if they don’t flame out.” That works for me.