Mayer’s Playlist for July 2012, Part 2

ALBUMS OF THE MONTH

Still Wanna Fight by Mic Harrison and the High ScoreStill Wanna Fight
There is something extremely satisfying listening to some straight-forward, guitar-driven rock and roll. The best of it holds no pretense, just an energy that is genuine and invigorating. Mic Harrison and the High Score make that kind of music.

The record opens with Harrison telling a soon-to-be ex-lover, “don’t change your plans for me.” A persistent rock beat provide a matter-of-fact finality.

“Out of the Blue” tends towards the jangly end of the spectrum, propelled a foot-tapping pop melody. A subtle yet forceful guitar solo paves the way for a harmony-enriched close. Pop with an edge.

Harrison and crew reach for some powerful Southern rock on “Ruin of my Days,” calling to mind the electricity of classic Lynyrd Skynyrd. “This Is a Notice” has an entirely different vibe, a garage rocker led by snarling vocals.

The next time that you’re craving some good ol’ rock and roll, set your sights on Mic Harrison and the High Score. You won’t be disappointed.

Audio Download: Mic Harrison, “Don’t Change Your Plans”

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THE PLAYLIST
I’m a Memory, Sara Watkins (from the Nonesuch Records release Sun Midnight Sun)
Watkins continues to expand her musical palette beyond the bluegrass of her Nickel Creek years. Her latest solo release is filled with songs that, while clearly rooted in an Americana music style, overflow with a pop elegance. As if to prove the point, Watkin’s injects an (ironic?) joyfulness to this Willie Nelson classic. “Close your eyes, I’m a memory.” (See Shawn’s take on Watkin’s release here)

Audio Stream: Sara Watkins, “I’m a Memory”

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The Good Life, Will Gray & Reva Williams (from the United For Opportunity ep The Renegade)
The musical collaboration – and friendship – between Gray and Williams, chronicled in the documentary Broke*, continues with a special ep release. Check out this easy-going and jovial track, the perfect addition to your summer soundtrack. “It ain’t easy, but it’s a pretty good life.”

Audio Download: Will Gray & Reva Williams, “The Good Life”

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Stuck in Washington, Davidson Hart Kingsbery (from the Fin Records release 2 Horses)
Here’s a tasty bit of honky tonk from Seattle. Singer-songwriter Hart Kingsbery weaves an autobiographical tale of life as a struggling musician in the Pacific Northwest, set against a Doug Sahm-style arrangement.

Audio Download: Davidson Hart Kingsbery, “Stuck in Washington”

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Guest of the Government, Admiral Fallow (from the Nettwerk Records release Tree Bursts In Snow)
There’s a slight dark overtone to the music that this Scottish quintet make, but it can’t overshadow the uplifting spirit that imbues their songs.

Audio Download: Admiral Fallow, “Guest of the Government”

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Great Awakening, Southeast Engine (from the Misra Records ep Canaanville)
Southeast Engine’s 2011 release Canary was an impressive thematic piece chronicling an Appalachian family in the Great Depression. The band returns to the subject with this four-song “appendix” to the story. This song, in particular, stands out with a sound recalling the music and storytelling of the Band.

Audio Download: Southeast Engine, “Great Awakening”

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Outsider, Jimmy Cliff (from the Universal Music Enterprises release Rebirth)
Sure, Cliff is known as a reggae superstar and the creative mind behind the classic The Harder They Come. His latest release, his finest in years, threads together multiple music genres with a masterful touch. Of course there is Cliff’s reggae-tinged take on producer Tim Armstrong’s Rancid classic “Ruby Soho,” but I’m drawn to this track that could easily be a lost Motown classic.

Audio Stream: Jimmy Cliff, “Outsider”

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Last Man Standing, Tujacques (from the self-released The Art of Living)
Americana from Dublin? Yup. Songwriter Matthew Causey, a Louisiana native now in Dublin, and his mates serve up a release with echoes of everyone from Tom Waits to the Violent Femmes. I’m partial to this track, a ballad with a gentle sway anchored by a pedal steel guitar.

Audio Download: Tujacques, “Last Man Standing”

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About the author:  Mild-mannered corporate executive by day, excitable Twangville denizen by night.


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