It speaks volumes when some of Americana’s leading lights are, pardon the pun, singing an artist’s praises. Such is the case with Oklahoma boy Moreland. Perhaps they are captivated with his profound storytelling, simple tales that overflow with emotion and meaning. Or maybe it’s a voice that aches with authenticity and hard-worn experience. More than likely it’s the combination of the two that make href=”http://www.amazon.com/dp/B06WVB3YF3?tag=twangville-20″ target=”_blank”>Big Bad Luv one of this year’s most potent albums and Moreland one of our most promising emerging artists.
(See Chip’s take on John Moreland’s latest here.)
If the Clash were around today – and were raised in Alabama – they’d sound a lot like Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires. The band follows up 2014’s fiery Dereconstructed with a sprawling chronicle of life in the modern South, the songwriter expressing both his frustration with aspects of the Southern heritage as well as his aspirations for what it could become. The songs arrive at breakneck speed, 17 in all, nearly all delivered with a sonic fury that will knock you down with its unbridled intensity. It’s perhaps no surprise that six of the song titles end in an exclamation point. Although the punctuation really isn’t necessary, the furious guitars provide all the emphasis needed.
Of course, of all the tracks on Youth Detention, I’m most drawn to this more subdued (at least by Bains standards) track.
(See Chip’s take on Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires’ latest here.)
Banditos may hail from Alabama but they might as well be from 1960’s San Francisco. They strike a chord with a blues-based, psychedelic tinged sound that was a hallmark of that time and place. They channel everyone from Janis Joplin (“Healin’ Slow”) to the Jefferson Airplane (“Fine Fine Day”) all the while infusing their own personality into the mix (not to mention a tasty banjo to usher along the otherwise electric guitar-driven songs).
Nashville by way of Memphis troubadour Drew Holcomb built his reputation the working-class way, releasing a steady stream of albums and connecting with listeners through continuous touring. Despite the band’s Tennessee roots, their latest flows with a Colorado air, relaxed and free flowing. Songs like “Rowdy Heart, Broken Wing” glisten with, if not a world weary vibe, a world wizened view. All the while the band infuses the songs with an uplifting air, making for a fine summer evening soundtrack.
Missouri’s Ha Ha Tonka continue to expand their sound on their latest long-player. While their earlier albums were a more rootsy reflection of their Ozark Mountain upbringing, they re-emerge on with an expanded line-up and a broader musical palate on Heart-Shaped Mountain. Some of the long-standing qualities remain, such as verses that build to grand harmony-laced choruses – but the production is slicker and the arrangements fuller.
As much as I enjoy the newer sound, I still gravitate towards the acoustic sound and lyrical charm of this track. “Turn off your phone, you’ll be glad that you did.”
About the author: Mild-mannered corporate executive by day, excitable Twangville denizen by night.