Leaf Rapids – Lucky Stars

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“The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life.” William Faulkner was known not just for long sentences, but also his ability to so luridly set […]

Mayer’s Playlist for March/April 2015, Part 3

ALBUMS OF THE MONTH The Firewatcher’s Daughter, by Brandi Carlile For some, the process of getting off the major label merry-go-round can be a traumatic experience that results in musical purgatory. Not for Carlile, who shifted to ATO Records and returns with another stand-out release. Her voice is as radiant as ever, beautifully complimented by […]

MilkDrive – Places You’ve Not Been

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“Sophisticated” and “bluegrass”.  Not often you see those two words paired.  On Places You’ve Not Been, the latest album from Austin-based MilkDrive, however, the two adjectives clearly belong together.  The disc certainly holds its own blasting as background rolling down the highway on a sunny California day.  But it really rewards you when you take […]

SXSW 2015 — the Sounds, Part 2

THE STONE FOXES This San Francisco-based rock band added a new drummer since the last time that I saw them. The change enabled original drummer Shannon Koehler to step out as the band’s primary front-man. It’s a role that suits him well as he fired up an afternoon crowd, bounding around the stage and through […]

SXSW 2015 — The Sounds, Part 1

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TRAPPER SCHOEPP The Milwaukee-based rocker used a raucous early afternoon set to preview songs from a forthcoming album. With Hold Steady guitarist Steve Selvidge in tow, Schoepp and his band the Shades provided an electric jolt to all those in attendance. Count me among those eagerly awaiting Schoepp’s new release — it’s gonna be a […]

Lilly Hiatt – Royal Blue

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The skeptics tend to come out of the woodwork when the progeny of a well-known musician launches a career. To be true, their caution is often warranted. One listen to Lilly Hiatt’s new release “Royal Blue” silences all doubt. This is her second album; and it firmly establishes Hiatt as a gifted artist who is […]

Hazy Shade of Winter — A Special Boston Playlist

Here is the latest installment in our periodic series highlighting Boston and New England artists. (View the complete series here.) FEATURED ALBUMS Barnstar! (from the Signature Sounds Records release Sit Down! Get Up! Get Out!) I don’t think that it is possible to listen to Barnstar and not crack a smile. Every performance, even the […]

Sons of Bill – Live at Bottletree Cafe, January 15th

The Sons of Bill played for an intimate and enthusiastic audience at Bottletree Café in Birmingham, Alabama. Ironically the next day they boarded a plane to England for a European tour, in which one of the stops in the UK will also be Birmingham. That should set the table for an intriguing linguistic study comparing […]