“I take my heartache with a little bit of ice,” announces Muscle Shoals-raised Hannah Aldridge on “Burning Down Birmingham,” one of several stand-outs from her latest release. Electric guitars lead the charge, sometimes chugging with an insistent stoicism and other times unleashing a spirited fury.
Dark shadows hang over many of the tracks on Gold Rush, a tone clearly set in the album opening “Aftermath” when Aldridge sings, “I wanna love you but I’m caught in the aftermath.” Yet she somehow makes the edginess seem uplifting on tracks like “Shouldn’t Hurt So Bad” and the ferocious “No Heart Left Behind.”
The bottom line – If you’re looking for some commanding whiskey-soaked rock and roll, look no further than Hannah Aldridge.
Austin-based singer-songwriter Whitney Rose is staking her claim as the heir apparent to the classic country sound of Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn and Dusty Springfield. Rose’s sound is as much timeless as it is retro, immaculately crafted country pop songs infused with emotion. The themes hearken back to what certainly seem like simpler times and cover classic country.
She tackles failed relationships with both sobriety (“You Never Crossed My Mind”) and feistiness (“I Don’t Want Half (I Just Want Out)) and tells tales of a trucker’s life (“Tied to the Wheel” and “Trucker’s Funeral”). The latter might also explain two songs about American states – “Arizona” and “Wake Me in Wyoming”. Musically she runs the gamut from pedal-steel drenched ballads to dance floor rave-ups. It’s a welcome reminder of how authentic country music is supposed to sound.
Daniel Romano is, quite simply, on a creative tear. He follows up 2016’s Mosey with another rollicking gem of an album. These are pop songs at their core, which Romano infuses with an idiosyncratic spirit. The result is something infectious, sometimes with a touch of swagger (“Dancing with the Lady in the Room”) and other times with a psychedelic edge (“I Tried to Hold the World (In My Mouth)”). At times the style shifts within a single song, as it does on “The Pride of Queens,” which starts off reminiscent of The Band but has a chorus that bursts into a The Ramones power chord fury.
Austin’s David Ramirez continues to grow – and become more engaging – as a songwriter. Although his earlier albums tended towards more acoustic fare, he plugs in on the exhilarating We’re Not Going Anywhere. He does so, however, without losing any of the emotional intensity of his writing. Ramirez continues to fearlessly tackle troubled times, whether they are of his own making or those encountered in the world around him. “Don’t say I got a good heart while everything is falling apart,” he sings on “Good Heart before ripping into the political realm on the intense “Stone Age”:
Well I’m tired of waitin’ on the world to change, funny how the future is looking more like the stone age, we’re building walls, shootin’ guns, paintin’ the streets with blood, Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty moved to San Fran to run a startup.
No punches pulled, for sure. But isn’t that what we should expect from artists – the ability to shine a reflective light on the world around us, hopefully taking us to a better place. I certainly think so.
British singer-songwriter was a welcome discovery at SXSW several years back. His impassioned vocals pack a punch, especially when combined with the urgency of his songwriting. His earlier work has focused on the politics of interpersonal relationships, but on this single he turns his attention to the tragic death of Jean Charles de Menezes, wrongly identified as a suspect in the 2005 London bombings. The song is a teaser for a promised – and eagerly anticipated — forthcoming ep.
I’ve you’ve never seen Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers live, you’ve missed out on one of the best good time rock and roll experiences. I mean the guy has his own brand of tequila.
Whereas some hard-charging live artists have a tough time when they step into a studio, Clyne and crew have mastered the transition. It starts with Clyne’s songs, filled with meaty guitars and rousing sing-along choruses that the band brings to life with an infectious energy. The songs tend to focus on the good times, either finding them or enjoying them (and sometimes both). It’s Clyne’s own brand of three chords and the truth.
I suppose that it’s a punk rock tradition to zig when people expect you to zag. That doesn’t lesson the surprise that unfolds on em>Boy In a Well, the latest release from Denver’s The Yawpers. The album is a concept piece set in France during World War 1 that tells the tale of a mother abandoning her unwanted newborn child.
I gotta tell ya, it works. The band for the most part stays true to themselves, setting the story against their in-your-face ramshackle sonic blast sound. They stretch themselves on several tracks, such as the more restrained “A Visitor is Welcomed” and the more pop-oriented “Reunion”. Singer Nate Cook jumps from a whisper to a scream as the story unfolds, adding to the intensity.
Sure, you’ve undoubtedly heard these Dylan songs before but you’ve likely never heard them like this. It’s not that the arrangements stray that far from the originals, although some are driven by more up tempo beats. It’s more that they’ve been Willie Nile’d – infused with the infectious energy that Nile brings to every song he sings. Don’t believe me? Give this classic a digital spin.
There’s a lot to be said for authenticity. It’s a spirit that infused – and infuses – true outlaw country, a no bullshit attitude that carries through the songs and songwriters. Nevada’s Hellbound Glory, aka Leeroy Virgil, is a primed to carry on the tradition. One need look no further than “That’s Just What I Am.” “I wasn’t born down South, I was raised out west,” he sings at the opening before continuing, “I’m still a good ol’ boy as my mama will attest so if I’m pissin’ people off, that’s their problem I guess.” In true outlaw fashion, he’s comfortable enough in his skin to take an introspective view of the lifestyle. “I don’t drink from the bottle, the bottle drinks from me,” he reflects on “Empty Bottles.” Outlaw country is alive and well… and in capable hands with Hellbound Glory.
About the author: Mild-mannered corporate executive by day, excitable Twangville denizen by night.