Mar 242014
 

 2blind

If I compared the music on Adam Faucett’s new record, Blind Water Finds Blind Water, to the novels of Daniel Woodrell would anyone understand what I meant? Would anyone agree or care?

 Woodrell lives and writes about the Missouri Ozark mountains, a town called West Plains, Faucett spent his childhood about 200 miles south in Arkansas. Not exactly neighbors but in the same neighborhood. But that is merely a surface level similarity. Both men produce art that is spooky, haunted and seductive. Throughout Blind Water.. you feel as if you are succumbing to an enormous hole but the ride down is so smooth and beautiful you don’t realize that the razor’s edge is slicing you as you go.

 Faucett’s voice is as compelling and gothic as they come. If he’s using vocal effects they’re at a minimum and it seems as if somewhere deep inside he possesses a natural reverb pedal that’s heartbreaking and terrifying. Listen to “Sparkman” and hear the control he has with his voice. He shifts delivery styles at a moment’s notice and if I hadn’t seen him do it in a youtube video I would think he couldn’t pull it off live.

 In an interview I heard Faucett describe his music as genre-less, slow, beautiful music and that rings true. Like the music of Will Johnson but cutting deeper and rubbing more dirt in the wound.

 This review has been terribly difficult to write. Blind Water Finds Blind Water shifts effortlessly from a few rockers to elegant and unique folkish songs. It is without a doubt Essential Listening but I still feel like I have not done it justice. I mentioned my trouble writing the review on facebook along with this sentence, “Adam Faucett’s new record comes out next week and I can’t wait for y’all to hear it. It scares the shit out of my and makes me question my existence and it comes close to making me cry. Also, I’m trying to figure out how to write a review of it. It’s a hard one.” To which a friend of mine replied, “I think you just did.” So I’ll leave it at that.



Official Site, On Facebook, Buy Blind Water Finds Blind Water

Mar 142014
 

SmallTownHeroesSleeveThere’s a casual effortlessness to Hurray for the Riff Raff’s new record Small Town Heroes. Throughout these twelve songs it genuinely feels like the band is sitting on your back porch with you and running through standards that you’ve heard a hundred times and they’ve played a hundred times. Everything from instrumentation to vocals to lyrics are understated and seductive.

Hurray… incorporates fiddle, banjo, piano, guitar and gentle, but well-placed drums and percussion. They are a folk band completely aware and engulfed in the tradition. Yet, they make no effort to convince the listener that they are the genuine article, either in image or in music. They just are.

Unfortunately, the strength of Small Town Heroes is also its weakness. The combination of understated and seductive instrumentation and vocal delivery lulls me away from the messages within several of the finest songs here. “The Body Electric” deals with the acceptance of domestic violence through the lens of the popularity of murder ballads. “Delia’s Gone,” made famous by Johnny Cash, is name-checked but because the story is told so subtly and the tone is so similar to “Blue Ridge Mountain” (a good song but not one dealing with such a serious issue) it really requires a careful listen to catch the message in the song.

I don’t want you to think I don’t love this record, I do. It’s Essential Listening, but I feel that the punches could be a little harder and the moods more exaggerated. I feel the same way about Gillian Welch records and I also think the stories that introduce some of these songs in a live setting would be more interesting and insightful than the songs themselves. (Think Todd Snider and “18 Wheels of Love”) But despite my criticisms, Small Town Heroes is an amazing record by a band that is in control of their art.



Official Site, On Facebook, Buy Small Town Heroes

Mar 132014
 

cover

The celt-punk scene is one I dabble in more than the rest of the crew here. I’ve often thought I should write more about the music and started to with The Tosspints late last year. You’ve probably read my mini-rants on hating the idea of genres but let’s face it, human beings like to categorize things. So while celt-punk might not fit in to the pigeonhole that I imagine 9B fits in for most you out there, the fact is I like the celt-punk genre and so I’m going to write about it more (which doesn’t mean anyone else on staff will). I mean what’s not to like about music about drinking, fighting, and rebelling? Hell they even have fiddles and banjos. Now with that rant out of the way I’d like to introduce you to The Ramshackle Army…

Celt-punk, in my less than humble opinion, should accomplish three things: first and foremost it ought to inspire one to sing along and secondly it should actually have a punk feel to it, and lastly it ought to make me want to leave work and head down to the pub for drink before noon. Letters From The Road Less Traveled fulfills all of these these conditions quite nicely. As I sit here, typing this instead of working, with these kids blasting in my headphones, I really wish I had a nice Irish whiskey to throw back. While the genre is pretty crowded at the moment, RSA quickly rises to the top when you start comparing what’s out there right now, due to a combination of great song writing (the ability to make people want to sing along) and a strong approach to keeping the Irish inspiration and layering the punk very nicely on top.

Another thing that sets RSA apart is that, for the most part, they aren’t singing Irish rebel songs. While the music is celt-punk the themes in the songs are from a distinctly Aussie view. To me this makes them even more interesting. Any band can invoke images of Athenry or Oulart Hill and try to bring a tear to the eye but it takes something extra to play the music and put your own experiences in to the lyrics. So while Letters From A Road Less Traveled is decidedly celt-punk it’s also something more. Of course there’s also the songs about drinking which we all know I love so it’s got that going for it. At the risk of upsetting the 9B purists out there (yes they exist) I declare this Essential Listening. Now while you listen to the tracks below I’m going to try and figure out the quickest way to get a drink in me today, sláinte!

I might be a fool
But at least I’m self aware
I might be a tool
But at least I’m useful

Anchors Aweigh
Drink it Dry
Signs of Rain

No go follow these kids on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram then buy their record on iTunes

Mar 102014
 

Jamestown Revival

In Hollywood it’s very easy to assume the worst of folk bands: once you’ve seen one group of long haired, hat wearing, fitted vest adorned troubadours you feel like you’ve seen them all. Charming stage banter, tight vocal harmonies, polished album production…all of these can easily feel stilted, staged, and engineered. Once in a while, though, something unexpected comes along.

Jamestown Revival is a band from Texas that moved to California and then recorded an album in another western state’s mountains. That eponymously named album, Utah, is Essential Listening.

They seem too good to be true. Too pretty, too talented, too young, too appreciated to live up to any hype. Well fuck that. Don’t let this train pass you by. Whether it’s a barn burner like “Revival” or a slow ballad of a song like “Heavy Heart”, Utah is full of tracks whose melodies and harmonies will be lodged in you long after they’ve stopped playing. Of special note is “Golden Age”, a swan song for an era of country music long gone:

“Good times are over, didn’t you know?

Well I heard it on the radio”

The core of the band is Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance, and these two friends work together exceptionally well. They share singing and songwriting duties, with Jon on guitar and Zach on keys. Live, Jamestown Revival is electric. They play for the joy of playing, not for the audience, and they sweat and swear and take shots with the best of them.

Too often in niche music, success is equated with falsehood and disingenuousness. Give Jamestown Revival a chance, catch them while they tour through your town. These are eleven solid tracks, and if you can honestly say there isn’t a single one on this album you love I’ll Paypal you a dollar**.

You can buy Utah by Jamestown revival on iTunes, from their Bandcamp, or grab a physical copy from Amazon.

Golden Age
Revival
California (Cast Iron Soul)
**yeah I said it, chumps

Mar 072014
 

cover

You may have seen me cover Jeremy Steding a couple of times in the past. Well he just released a new album and not a lot has changed. What I mean is that he’s remained true to the sound that drew me to him in the first place. That means that My Own American Dream is an album that’s pure country and western without being apologetic about it. While I love his lyrics, I think his real strength is that he loves the music he’s making. He doesn’t waver from that traditional old school, honky tonk sound. Whether it’s a song like “Stay” making you want to put your arms around your girl and watch the sun come up or a track like “Lyin’” making you want to knock back a whiskey in effigy to a certain ex it’s all country from start to finish.

Jeremy is really proud of this album and it’s easy to see why. The lyrics and vocals are outstanding. There’s something about the lilt to his voice along with the twang in the music that brings them together to be more than the sum of their parts. Just listening to this album you can tell that he loves what he’s doing and that’s even more obvious when you see him play live. In person Jeremy has a fresh faced optimism that belies having spent more than five years trying to make it in the music industry. His smile is disarming and the twinkle in his eye when sings will get the most cynical music fan to sit up and listen.

One of the reasons I love Jeremy’s music is because it reminds of the music I grew up on. Most of the new music I listen to is pretty raw these days and leans towards a different side of life but albums like My Own American Dream serve to remind me, and I hope you as well, that good clean country still exists and that it’s still a damn good ride and sometimes, like this one, even Essential Listening.

Four Hour Gig
Stay
Oh Darlin’

Visit Jeremy’s official site, keep up with him on Facebook, buy My Own American Dream and the rest of his albums on iTunes