Sunday, August 21, 2016

Album Spotlight: Blackfoot: Southern Native

Blackfoot has a new album called Southern Native. Rickey Medlocke.

That sentence and that name probably mean nothing to 99% of Americans. Probably 99.9999% of the world.

Blackfoot was a 70's Southern Rock band, heavy on the rock. Contemporaries with Lynyrd Skynyrd, though never nearly as popular. Blackfoot co-founder Rickey Medlocke is now the touring lead guitarist for Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Medlocke put together a new Blackfoot with four new musicians. He produced the album and wrote or co-wrote much of it and played on it. But he's not a member of the band (Gene Simmons, take note).

However they got to this point, and whatever convoluted thread they hold with the original Blackfoot, Southern Native is a good album. In fact, if you grew up with 70s rock and Southern Rock, it's a great album.

I don't know if the new Blackfoot has legs going forward, but if you like Southern Rock with a harder edge, check this one out.

Album Spotlight: Monster Truck: Sittin' Heavy

Released way back in February of this year (2016), Monster Truck's latest album Sittin' Heavy is another prime example of why *rock ain't dead.

Sittin' Heavy by this Canadian quartet is heavy, with melody; rough around the edges but tight. Monster Truck combines 70's arena rock (Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple) with 90s hard rock (Soundgarden, Alice in Chains) in a way that fans of both eras would be pleased.

*There are sites dedicated to saving country music and bringing back glam. My musical tastes are too diverse to dedicate to one thing, but I will be featuring good rock music, always.

Here is "Don't Tell Me How To Live" from Sittin' Heavy:

Saturday, August 20, 2016

New Video: Beth Hart: Fire On The Floor

Don't really know much about Beth Hart other than she did some stuff with Joe Bonamassa. I stumbled across this new song of hers, "Fire On The Floor" and it's too good not to share. Bluesy, smokey, sultry, torchy and swampy.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Artist Spotlight: John Hiatt

After a recent conversation with a couple of other bloggers who also look for stuff outside of the mainstream, I took a deep dive into the music of John Hiatt. Now, I had always been a fan of Hiatt's, I just never realized how underrated his music is until now.

I was very familiar with the album Slow Turning because it has my favorite Hiatt song on it, "Paper Thin". At that time, I was not into digging for stuff like I have been the past few years, so I never really got into his entire catalog.

Little did I know that Bonnie Raitt's hit song "Thing Called Love" was a John Hiatt song. Or that his songs have been recorded by such diverse artists as Three Dog Night, Ronnie Milsap, Iggy Pop, Conway Twitty and the Neville Brothers.

What kind of music does John Hiatt make? Mostly just good music, but if you want reference, look above at who has recorded his songs. Country, Americana, blues, soul, heartland rock, roots. The thing is, Hiatt can't really be pigeonholed into one genre. That may have hurt him commercially, but we, as listeners, get a treat.

If you're reading this blog, you're going to find something in the John Hiatt catalog that you like. He's been at the game for a long time, so for a starting point, go with 1988's Slow Turning and then progress forward or backward. Or if you like what you hear, jump around and explore. You won't be disappointed.

This is the song that introduced me to John Hiatt, "Paper Thin":

And another one of my favorites, "Perfectly Good Guitar":

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Album Spotlight: Chelle Rose: Blue Ridge Blood

Here's the thing about Chelle Rose, you're either going to love her music or hate it. There's not going to be a lot of middle ground. I happen to fall into the former category.

There already have been, and will be more, aesthetically pleasing albums released this year. Rose's Blue Ridge Blood has no soaring vocals or slick production or flashes of instrumental virtuosity. What it does have is grit and groove and Appalachian swamp.

Ray Wylie Hubbard produced Rose's previous album, 2012's Ghost of Browder Holler. Even before I had that nugget of information, I would have said Chelle Rose is what Ray Wylie would sound like as a female.

Blue Ridge Blood is too real to be comfortable, too good to be ignored.

Here is a great interview with Chelle Rose over at Farce The Music.

And here is "Gypsy Rubye" from Blue Ridge Blood:

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Album Spotlight: Rob Baird: Wrong Side of the River

Memphis born and Texas seasoned, Rob Baird brings some cache to his music. His most recent album, Wrong Side of the River, was released earlier in 2016. I just found it about a month ago. I've been sitting on it ever since, not knowing exactly what to write other than "It's really good."

After giving it a fair amount of spins (everyday for the past month) I've come to the following conclusion: Wrong Side of the River is really, really good.

The album sounds familiar and comfortable while pushing boundaries and your comfort level.

There are songs on the album that will please the country purists, there are songs that will appeal to the Texas/Red Dirt crowd, there are songs imbedded in Americana, and there is swamp.

If any of the above appeals to you, Rob Baird can deliver. Enough words, here are some videos.

"Run of Good Luck"

"Wrong Side of the River"

Friday, July 29, 2016

Album Spotlight: Jennifer Westwood and the Handsome Devils: Greetings from This Town

Doing this as a hobby, sometimes stuff slips past me. I try to keep as current as possible, but life happens. Greetings from This Town by Jennifer Westwood and the Handsome Devils was released in May of 2015. I just found it earlier this month. But, as the saying goes, good music never goes out of style.

Jennifer Westwood and the Handsome Devils are a bluesy country rock outfit from Detroit. Or maybe a country blues rock band. Or maybe a rockin' country blues band. Whatever you want to call them, their music is good.

From the blues rock opener "Bad Luck Charm" to the foot stompin' high energy country of "Divorcee" to the the straight-up country of "Sinner Part Time" to the smoky, bluesy swamp of "Wade in the Water" Westwood and her band can bring it.

Here are a couple of my favorite tracks.
"Bad Luck Charm"

"Sinner Part Time"

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Album Spotlight: The Temperance Movement: White Bear

Southern psychedelic grunge rock. It took me a while to find the right descriptors for The Temperance Movement's new album White Bear. This is another in my quest to prove that rock is indeed not dead.

Living on the harder edge of Southern Rock (yes, I know they from the UK, but Southern Rock has been around for 40+ years and is a fairly ubiquitous term that can be applied regardless of locale of origin), White Bear takes you on a psychedelic rock journey that makes a lengthy stop in Seattle for some Soundgarden/Alice in Chains inspired 90s rock.

Here is the song "White Bear" from the album:

While the album is chock full of rockers like "White Bear", when you get to last song the nuance and depth increases dramatically. "Time Won't Leave" reminds me of a song that would not be out of place on any of the Eagles iconic records. Have a listen to this live acoustic version.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

More Substance Than Bro Country, More Country Than Sam Hunt

On Sirius the other day I heard the d.j. say that she had heard The Eagles would be considered “country” today. Which is funny ’cause I have recently been thinking about that. I loved The Eagles. They’ve dabbled in country for years. The truth: they would NOT get played today because they are “too traditional.”
 That quote came from the comments section on an article on the website Saving Country Music from a user identified only as Justin.

It got me to thinking that a lot of 80's hair metal power ballads are more country than what you hear on mainstream country radio today. So of course I went down that rabbit hole. And then I got stuck on Cinderella. At their core, Cinderella was really more of a blues rock/Southern rock band than a hair metal band. But they had the look and played the part. But the music told a different story.

I could mine ten songs from the Cinderella catalog that would make a more country album than you could get from taking ten songs from eight hours worth of mainstream country radio.

But I digress from the main point. Taking individual songs (and yes I know, that's cherry picking) from artists such as Cinderella, Motley Crue, Poison, Warrant, Faster Pussycat, Guns n' Roses, and L.A. Guns, just to name a few, you can find songs more country than anything Sam Hunt has done.

And here's the real kicker. While the demise of the glam/sleaze rock scene was mired in misogyny and shallowness, there is more substance to be found there than in the bro country scene. Want proof? Glad you asked. I made a Spotify playlist of songs with more substance than bro country and more country than Sam Hunt.

Granted, none of these songs are really country in the true sense of country music. It's more of an exercise than anything else. And yes, I have an affinity for 80's hard rock, what I grew up with.  And yeah, I took some liberties including KISS and a Lita Ford cover of an Alice Cooper song. It's my playlist.

If you Spotify, enjoy:

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Album Spotlight: The Wild Feathers: Lonely Is A Lifetime

Sometimes I'll hear a new album that inspires me so that I have to get an "Album Spotlight" out as soon as possible. Sometimes it takes time for an album to grow on me. Sometimes I find something a few months after its releases. And sometimes life just happens and you forget.

The latter was what happened with the Wild Feathers' Lonely Is A Lifetime, released in March of 2016. I fully expected to have a piece written three plus months ago, then life happened and then I forgot out it (I don't take very good notes).

Nashville's The Wild Feathers is... a rock band? Probably, but when I think rock, I think AC/DC. Pop? Pop tendencies, sure, but you can't have an eight minute song and be pop. Americana? Not really, though you could make an argument for that on some songs. And those of you who read regularly know I really don't care about genre anyway.

Lonely Is A Lifetime is a collection of eleven really good, fairly diverse songs. While you can hear influences ranging from Tom Petty to Pink Floyd, The Wild Feathers definitely have their own distinct sound highlighted by three vocalists, each taking their turn on lead with Eagles-inspired harmonies. Oh, and there is the definite Gram Parsons vibe on a few songs.

Lonely Is A Lifetime seems like a natural progression from The Wild Feathers self-titled 2013 debut album. While the debut record is good, it's more in the straight up Southern Rock/Country/Americana vein. The new album is more experimental in nature. And the experiments turned out well.

Here is "Overnight" from Lonely Is A Lifetime:

And because there is a shortage of good eight-plus minute songs in the world right now, here is "Goodbye Song":