Review Roundup: Tidal Waves Music’s Link Wray reissues
With Tidal Waves Musicâs reissues of three early Link Wray releases â 1971âs Mordicai Jones, 1972âs Be What You Want To, and 1973âs Beans and FatbackÂ â the label is opening up the iconic guitaristâs music beyond just the swampy instrumentals Wray recorded with the Ray Men in the â60s.
A double album can be an odd duck, but Kansas City’s The Grisly Hand may have unlocked its secrets.
On the surface, the idea of recording 19 songs, putting them out as two separate compact discs (a year apart), and then re-sequencing them as a double vinyl release (now self-titled) sounds overly-complicated, and maybe it is. However, while the two albums which comprise The Grisly Hand’s double LP — last year’s Flesh & Gold, and this year’s Hearts & Stars — are both excellent records on their own, it’s when the two are combined that this music really takes shape.
For every discussion about how Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton are bringing energy and fervor back to country music, while making it “real” again, I can’t help but feel like Nikki Lane is getting shunted to the side. She’s been kicking out albums since her 2011 debut, Walk of Shame, a full three years prior to Simpson’s debut. The title track’s liberated, feminist embrace of the same topics Simpson would get praise for on Metamodern Sounds in Country Music‘s “Life of Sin” three years later should give Lane the same acclaim as her male peers, but for some reason, she’s been quietly relegated to the background when discussion of taking back Nashville comes around.
Read the full recommendation at Modern Vinyl. Published 1/23/17
When In Spite of Ourselves was first released in 1999, it was pretty noteworthy, serving as John Prine’s first album since beating neck cancer. His voice is raspy and worn, if not a little battered by his battle and surgery, and so he’s paired himself with nine different female singers. And these duets hearken back to the era from which Prine has drawn all but the title track. Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, duets were a matter of course — George Jones and Tammy Wynette, Porter Waggoner and Dolly Parton, Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, to name but a few.
It’s tempting to call the Sadies’ music Americana, but that label just doesn’t feel right. First, the Sadies are from Toronto. Second, the quartet’s music incorporates all things twang: country, surf, rock, rockabilly.
The Sadies recently finished recording a yet-to-be-titled 11th album (more, if you count collaborations with Neko Case, John Doe, Jon Langford and Andre Williams), which is slated for a November release. The Pitch caught up with drummer Mike Belitsky about the band’s music as he was driving his son to his first Blue Jays game.
Read the complete interview at the Pitch. Published 8/16/16
The new collection of David Ensminger's interviews, entitled Mavericks of Sound: Conversations with the Artists Who Shaped Indie and Roots Music (out now from Rowman & Littlefield), is a mixed blessing. The insight one gets from the artists with whom he speaks is deep and interesting. It's rare that artists such as Jason Ringenberg of Jason & the Scorchers, the Reverend Horton Heat, or the Nerves and Plimsouls' Peter Case get the sort of deeply-introspective and serious discussion presented here.
To see Ensminger go beyond the superficial interviews most of these artists receive -- if they're ever spoken with at all -- is heartening. Mavericks of Sound is best when it allows these rarely-heard musicians to go beyond discussing their latest album, and dig deep into the influences which shaped them, and the particulars of their journey to now.
That said: Ensminger can go on. When he does something like laying out a lengthy Woody Guthrie quote in his interview with Robert Earl Keen, you're not quite certain as to whether that's meant to elicit a certain response from his subject, or if it's simply meant to show the depth of Ensminger's own personal knowledge. Rarely does it seem that the author achieves much connection with the artist he's interviewing. Reading the short pieces toward the end of Mavericks of Sound reveals a certain terseness of response from some of his subjects.
The final impression I had regarding David Ensminger's Mavericks of Sound is that the author is quote knowledgable, does impeccable research, and has excellent taste in music. That said, his interview style is such that he succeeds in achieving excellent results not so much because of his knowledge and research, but because he's such impeccable taste in subjects. These are people who could tell a good story to a dog on a porch.