I’ve had the pleasure to explore the music scenes of two cities this year – Boston and Dallas. Both have exceptionally vibrant music scenes. The albums below were my favorites from each city. Love it local.
Fauss takes the listener on a short tour of Americana that stretches from the straight up rock of “Saginaw Paper Mill” to the front porch pickin’ party of “No One to Blame But Yourself”. It’s the strength of his songwriting, not to mention his takes on a few choice covers, that make this a remarkable release.
Additional Twangville coverage of Ronnie Fauss: Who Do I Know In Dallas – A Special Twangville Playlist and Twangville Premiere: Ronnie Fauss covers Merle Haggard
Talk about making a statement. Norwood’s debut album introduces a compelling new songwriter to the Texas Americana scene. The thoughtful details of his lyrics – and the accompanying emotion they convey – give Long Shot tremendous depth.
Additional Twangville coverage of Chris J. Norwood: Who Do I Know In Dallas – A Special Twangville Playlist
It’s hard not to get caught up in the raucous good times of the Vandoliers. They describe themselves as punk rockers who discovered country music, an apt description of a musical style that bristles with energy (not to mention the occasional mariachi trumpet).
Additional Twangville coverage of Vandoliers: Who Do I Know In Dallas – A Special Twangville Playlist and Monday Morning Video – The Vandoliers
Bastoni is a special storyteller, shifting effortlessly from tales that are uplifting to those that are downhearted. Her lyrics blend a sharp attention to detail with an ability to capture the thoughts and motivations of the characters she portrays. She does so with songs rooted in folk and possessing a charming warmth.
Additional Twangville coverage of Lisa Bastoni: Well You Heard About The Boston… Playlist, Part 1 and Mayer’s Picks – the Best of 2017 (So Far), the Albums
One need look no further than the two versions of “Work Hard, Love Harder” that appear on this double album – one performed with by Americana legends the Bottle Rockets and one with harmonizing folk group The Boxcar Lillies – to appreciate the musical diversity of The Hammer and the Heart. Yet despite its range, the album still maintains a cohesive and satisfying feel. More to the point, it showcases the breadth of Cattaneo’s talent.
Klyma brings to bear an encyclopedic knowledge of Americana on Never Knew Caroline, moving seamlessly from the outlaw country sound of “Ex-Girlfriends Cost Less Money Than Ex-Wives” to the tear-jerking ballad “Kristofferson.” The consistent thread across this song collection is a commitment to thoughtful – and well-crafted – songwriting.
The Rationales have long been among Boston’s finest purveyors of power pop but Upstream takes them to new heights. Their hallmark harmonies and addictive melodies are as strong as ever, but what sets this album apart from their previous work is the outstanding musical interplay fueled by electric guitars with plenty of keyboards and pedal steel. You’ll be hard-pressed to not crank it up and lose yourself in rock and roll abandon.
The only thing more colorful than Dan Blakeslee’s songs is the songwriter himself. The Alley Walker radiates creativity, mixing literary storytelling, rootsy arrangements and a theatrical quality that conjures up images of Blakeslee as a modern day wandering minstrel.
Additional Twangville coverage of Dan Blakeslee: Well You Heard About The Boston… Playlist, Part 1 and Monday Morning Video – An Austin Lucas and Dan Blakeslee Show Preview
About the author: Mild-mannered corporate executive by day, excitable Twangville denizen by night.