We’ve all heard about the iconic vibe of Route 66, the neon lights on Broadway and the ocean air of the Pacific Coast Highway. But there are untold stories emanating from countless blue highways across the land like Interstate 20, which cuts a 1500-mile swath from South Carolina to Texas, and cuts deep into the spirit of those who’ve spent their lives traversing it. Lucinda Williams is one of those people, and with the expansive, enveloping The Ghosts of Highway 20, she brings those stories to life and gives listeners a remarkably vivid look at how the highway has been a literal and figurative backdrop throughout her entire life.
the eighth studio album by the R&B superstar. The album features production and/or musical assistance from Scum, Boi-1da, Jeff Bhasker, Hit-Boy, Travis Scott, Kuk Harrell, Drake, SZA and many others. Includes the single ‘Work’.
co-produced by Elton and T-Bone Burnett and recorded at The Village in Los Angeles. The album includes the first single ‘Looking Up’. Elton has sold more than 300 million records and has more than fifty Top 40 hits, including seven consecutive no. 1 US albums and 58 Billboard Top 40 singles.
This acoustic collection of songs interpreted simply, recorded live, solo or with a small group of friends reflects my relationship between music, songs, the written word and legacy. Blues & Ballads celebrates the American oral tradition of blues and folk songs, not only being passed down and evolving but being transcribed (the original recording technique) and entered into the discipline of written sheet music and songbooks. The songs themselves tell the story of the lad growing up in modern day rural south amongst first generation Memphis rock ‘n rolling, song collecting, folk bohemians, disapproving pre-rock ‘n roll holy rollers, and citified punk rockers and modern day blues giants, experiencing the miracle that was Fat Possum Records and Hill Country Blues in the 90s, singing his song in a language near extinction, barely pre-internet, when community, word of mouth, firsthand experience, books, records and art still ruled. When the elders began passing on the lad realized that his family, friends and heroes should be made into folk heroes and their vernacular and stories should be sung. The CD package contains my handwritten lyrics representing the songwriter’s notebook and the creative process that I love. The vinyl art includes my dream come true – my songbook, a printed collection of my tunes (my life), transcribed and made to look legitimate. The limited pressing makes the legitimacy fleeting and as it should be: rare and underground. I represent the Memphis underground and the mid-south region’s music. This art is not for the masses. It is meant to wither and fade and then rise from the ashes again and again, evolving and mutating. Is it too late to tell your and your community’s tales thru the vinyl groove and the block lettered, mimeographed page? Never! So be it through text messaged fluency of thumb and mp3-ed micro speakers, the lives and legends of modern day folk music heroes will live on and the spirit of American roots rock ‘ n roll will shout to the man, the masses, and disposable pop culture, “F*** off. Even in death, the art lives on.” – Luther Dickinson
the soundtrack to the 2014 documentary about the life and music of indie rock singer/songwriter Elliott Smith. In addition to having at least one song from each of his albums, the track listing contains over a dozen previously unreleased Elliott Smith songs, spanning the length of his career. Heaven Adores You is the first documentary to gain permission to use Smith’s music.
It’s the largest cast and crew they’ve assembled under the Freakwater banner, and as a result, Scheherazade sounds fuller and looser, a bit rougher around the edges, with more rock in the arrangements. It’s their most cinematic album yet, with the music functioning almost as a soundtrack to Irwin and Bean’s short, violent songs. On the very first song, “What the People Want,” somebody throws a baby down a well, accompanied by tense swirls of strings. On “Down Will Come Baby,” they rewrite the old, twisted lullaby “Rock-a-bye Baby,” and the band navigates a series of key changes that lends a vertiginous effect, as though the cradle is in freefall. ~Pitchfork
This may be James Hunter’s fourth album, but it is his first Daptone record. Produced by Daptone’s own Bosco Mann (Gabriel Roth) at Penrose Recorders (Daptone West) near his home in Riverside, California, Hold On! is a perfect portrait of an artist at the top of his game. James Hunter has been on the scene for enough years to acquire plenty of feathers in his cap. Billboard charts, Grammy nominations, and Van Morrison collaborations aside, he has earned an international reputation as a Rhythm and Blues troubadour for his command of the microphone both on stage and in studio. This album, however, is something far deeper than just another notch in his belt. It is truly an artist’s vision come to fruition. Though tunes like “(Baby) Hold On,” “If That Don’t Tell You,” and “Stranded” carry the buoyant energy, crackerjack arrangements, and tough soulful pulse for which the band has become renowned, the true treasures of this LP may lie in the deeper grooves. Rumbas, boleros, bossanovas, and easy rockers, each one swinging more than the last: “This Is Where We Came In”, “Something’s Calling”, “A Truer Heart”, “Light of My Life”, “In The Dark” – no clichéd throwback nods to a-time-gone-by here. These are forever songs crafted with immaculate care and ingenuity, sung with an effortless balance of tenderness and grit. Many will be tempted to describe it as “authentic,” but the word really has no place here. Hunter’s words are truly his own and though at moments his voice may “evoke” Ray Charles or Sam Cooke, there lies an inherent naturalness in these songs that bucks any comparison past or present.
Standing at the crossroads of modern bluegrass and newgrass, The Infamous Stringdusters are a band that is “stretching [bluegrass] from within” (New York Times). For their sixth studio album, Ladies & Gentlemen, the band invited a dozen of their favorite female singers to join them. The list of featured guests includes some of the most dynamic and innovative artists from across the roots music, Americana and country worlds: Nicki Bluhm, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Jen Hartswick, Sarah Jarosz, Claire Lynch, Aofie O’Donovan, Joan Osborne, Joss Stone, Sara Watkins, Abigail Washburn, Lee Ann Womack and Celia Woodsmith. Each artist guested on a different original song or tune written by the members of the band specifically for this project. Ladies & Gentlemen was produced by Grammy-winner Chris Goldsmith and shows the breadth of The Infamous Stringdusters’ musical vision and talents. Band members Andy Hall (Dobro), Andy Falco (guitar), Chris Pandolfi (banjo), Jeremy Garrett (fiddle), and Travis Book (upright bass), play alongside the vocalists with the circuital unity of the seasoned bluegrass band that they are. Big harmonies and exploratory compositions, along with the band’s profound commitment to presentation, seem bound to inspire traditionalists and newcomers to stomp their feet on common ground. With a new voice for every song, world-class instrumental backing, captivating song structure and unexpected combinations, Ladies & Gentlemen is sure to please at every turn.
Dr. Dog’s ninth album, and third studio release with ANTI- Records. Most of the songs were among the first ever written together by Scott McMicken and Toby Leaman and an assemblage of friends and musical cohorts that would evolve as Dr. Dog over the years. This early endeavor of writing a concept album helped shape their creative process as they became a label-defying multi-hyphenated indie-psychedelic-rock-folk-Americana-basement-touring band. The Psychedelic Swamp could very well have been Dr. Dog’s first album. It could have been their only album; or it could have never been made at all. It’s either a refined culmination of 15 years of collaborative music-making or the raw instrument on which they cut their teeth. This chicken vs. Egg debate will be for historians to decide; fact is that if The Psychedelic Swamp was half-baked back in 2001, it has been reborn in 2016, fully baked.
the 10th studio album by British rock band The Cult. Hidden City is the final part of a trilogy that began with Born into This (2007), and the band’s first album with bassist Grant Fitzpatrick, making it The Cult’s first album since their 1994 self-titled album not to feature Chris Wyse. It also marks the fifth time Bob Rock has produced a Cult album.
There are no Peel sessions anymore that tradition was buried in the pyramids with John Peel himself upon the great man’s passing. Of the thousands left in the wake, six are ascribed to Bonnie Prince Billy and of those six, three have been combined to form the deeply congruous experience of Pond Scum. A span of eight years is covered, in reverse, and many chestnuts are rolled out, freed of former contexts with sparse arrangements. ‘(I Was Drunk at the) Pulpit’ feels, ten years from inception, more vividly worn; ‘Death to Everyone’ is loosed from it’s frame, the bones decoupled and spread out, giving the song a reflective air (as opposed the biting declamation of the original); ‘Arise, Therefore’ adapts it’s metronomic base, the evangelic twist of it’s roots made palpable. With the center of the performance in stark relief, the gnomic qualities of two Get On Jolly pieces are intensified. Further accenting the devoted spirit of this collection is the inclusion of ‘When Thy Song Flows Through Me’, from the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda, as well as the previously-unreleased original’ Beezle’. Bonnie’s lone shadow casts over this lot, accompanied on the first four tracks by David Heumann, but otherwise playing solo through a set of original songs (and two covers) representing a decade of progress in the almost unbearably intimate-yet-unknowable manner that was so often the vibe of those strange and wondrous days. Peeling backwards through time produces a curious hypnosis that we may not have felt for some while (we don’t actually recall) and may not feel again (who knows?) until we skim another essence-laden dipper-full of Pond Scum.