Mayer’s Picks – The Best of 2014, So Far (the Albums)

The year is off to a strong start and I expect that it will only get better. Here, in no particular order, are some of my favorite releases from the first half of 2014. SOMEWHERE ELSE by LYDIA LOVELESS “Simply bad-ass” is the phrase that overwhelms my thinking every time I give this album a […]

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, […]

Bonus Video Playlist — Upcoming Shows in Boston

It’s an embarrassment of riches this week in Boston! As noted earlier, we’re kicking things off with Lydia Loveless and the Old 97’s tonight. Tuesday we’ve got the long overdue return of Matthew Ryan (Atwood’s Tavern). Thursday we’ve got the Curtis Mayflower (Atwood’s Tavern) and The Suitcase Junket (house concert). Friday is the equally long […]

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 […]

Monday Morning Video: Justin Currie

In at least one way, the United States is finally catching up with Europe. Singer-songwriter released the brilliant Lower Reaches in Europe last year. Now music fans in the US are getting their chance. Currie has long excelled at writing alluring pop songs. His sense of melody will suck you in while the intelligence and […]

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 […]

SXSW 2014 — The Sounds, Part 2

DAVE AND PHIL ALVIN I’m a big Dave Alvin fan. Unfortunately for me I discovered the Blasters, the seminal band co-founded by Dave and his brother Phil, after they went their separate ways. I was hooked, though, on their encyclopedic knowledge of American music — everything from folk to country and from blues to vintage […]