Mayer’s Picks: The Best of 2014, So Far (the Songs)

Rubicon, Chris Mills (from the Loud Romantic Records release Alexandria) Mills lulls you in with a lilting melody before unleashing the jaw-dropping emotion of lyrics and voice. The results are heartwrenching. Really Wanna See You, Lydia Loveless (from the Bloodshot Records release Somewhere Else) This is the way rock and roll is supposed to sound: […]

Mayer’s Playlist for June 2014, Part 2

ALBUMS OF THE MONTH Trouble, by The Howlin’ Brothers The Nashville-based Howlin’ Brothers expand their musical palette with their latest release. Sure, it has plenty of the traditional bluegrass upon which they’ve established their reputation. The unexpected treat, however, are the shades of reggae and pop that make an appearance. They kick things off in […]

Mayer’s Playlist for June 2014, Part 1

ALBUM OF THE MONTHS Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, by Sturgill Simpson It’s easy to take pot-shots at what passes for country these days. You know what I’m talking about: the feel-good, truck-drivin’, beer-drinking music makes for great stadium concert sing-alongs. If that’s your scene, then more power to you. Some of you, like me, […]

Mayer’s Playlist for May 2014

ALBUM OF THE MONTHS All Or Nothin’, by Nikki Lane Nikki Lane’s sophomore effort caught me by surprise. I’d be lying if I said that I had more than a cursory exposure to her 2011 debut, but the just released All Or Nothin’ has grabbed my attention. Lane’s songs are rooted in country, albeit with […]

More Than a Feeling: A Special Boston Playlist*

FEATURED ALBUMS Smith & Weeden, by Smith & Weeden It’s always a treat to stumble across a band that, quite simply, sounds like they are having fun. Such is the case with the Providence-based quartet* Smith and Weeden, whose songs run the gamut from harmony-laced country to guitar-fueled rock. In the country category are ambling […]

Mayer’s Playlist for April 2014, Part 2

ALBUMS OF THE MONTHS Parker Millsap, by Parker Millsap What is it about Oklahoma? As if the state’s musical credibility weren’t long ago established, there’s been a surge of great young artists emerging from the state. Count Parker Millsap among ‘em. Millsap blends gospel, bluegrass and folk to perfection all the while filling his songs […]

Mayer’s Playlist for April 2014, Part 1

ALBUMS OF THE MONTHS Till Midnight, by Chuck Ragan There seems to be a symbiotic relationship between punk and Americana. While punk has its raw intensity and Americana its musical sincerity, both styles are rooted in emotion and authenticity. The latest to prove the point is Chuck Ragan who takes the rock intensity that he […]

Mayer’s Playlist for Feb/Mar 2014, Part 2

ALBUMS OF THE MONTHS English Oceans, by Drive-By Truckers I suppose that this review could be titled “Cooley Steps Out.” The band co-founder, who has historically contributed only a couple of songs per release, is credited with six songs on English Oceans. Ever better, they are some of his strongest songs in years. The opening […]

Mass Ave – A Special Boston Playlist

FEATURED ALBUMS Good Luck, by Girls Guns and Glory Girls Guns and Glory have always been a fun live band, mixing up originals with choice covers ranging from Elvis Presley to Hank Williams. They’ve captured that energy – and then some – on their latest release. The Boston quartet traveled to Brooklyn to record the […]