FolkWorld #44 03/2011

CD & DVD Reviews

Garden of Delight "Sailing with Us"
Broken Silence, 2011

With an acronym logo of G.O.D. where the O is skull, and with songs titled “Five pound Whore”, “Motherfuckers”, and “Heavy Metal Wedding” you may get some immediate first impressions without hearing a note. Lyrically, this does live up to a punk style, but musically things are much more varied. They have released some promotional material calling this celtic rock –pirate folk which gets one closer to the sound, but still not quite there. Yes, there is a Pogues/Gogol Bordello spirit to the proceedings, but the sound is so much more mid tempo and controlled than either of those bands. The lyrics vary from the sophomoric songs mentioned earlier to songs work better with the music. The band almost sounds like Jethro Tull at times, maybe crossed with Echo and the Bunnymen? Ultimately, this is a strange record. There is talent here, but it just may be that the individual members should fragment off into different bands with a better focus. But they have been around together for a few years, so perhaps they and their audience are more comfortable with this material than I am.
© David Hintz

Ted Russell Kamp "Get Back to the Land"
PoMo Records; 2011

I saw Ted Russell Kamp playing bass for Hierophant, the heavy band fronted by Shooter Jennings. Hierophant put on a wonderful show here in the Washington DC area that drove away a lot of people expecting Shooter to sound like his father Waylon. I would suggest that those people check out this album if they want the more Waylon Jennings country-rock sound they were seeking that night. Kamp has put out thirteen songs that may have Country-rock roots, but are pushed forward with nice intensity and conviction. Kamp sings all the songs and plays bass, guitars, organ, piano, trumpet and trombone. He does allow some room for seven other musicians assisting on drums, pedal steel and violin along with some of the instruments he plays. The arrangements and production are solid with clarity and precision showcasing the guts of the performances. It is small wonder that the members of Hierophant are capable of coming up with fine solo work, as Hierophant was truly THAT good. Kamp’s solo record is one I will file right behind Hierophant for an alternative and quality listening experience beyond that style.
© David Hintz

Dan Mangan "Nice, Nice, Very Nice"
Arts & Crafts; 2009

Mangan is from Vancouver, although the first song reminds me of Montreal-based Arcade Fire in that it invokes that propulsive rural pop sound. Mangan continues in a folk-rock vein from the heartland in the manner of the Decembrists and many other bands working these days. He has an assured voice and there is often interesting instrumentation used to vary the mood and tone of each song. Although variance is often enough to interest me an artist, if you have the high skill level of songwriting and crisp execution as Mangan does, then you can really win me over. I believe this record can win over an awful lot of music fans from many different genres.
© David Hintz

Pokett "Three Free Trees"
Dust on the Tracks; 2010

Although from Paris, Pokett has a universal independent rock band sound that could be from America or the UK or most anywhere. They accomplish this with quiet, smooth vocals that remind me of Brewer & Shipley or Magna Carta, but a little lower key. Some songs have really intricate folk guitar, while others have steady electric rock moves. This is a decent record that may struggle to break out from a crowded field, but clearly offers a nice listening experience.
© David Hintz

Puta Madre Brothers "Queso y Cojones"
Rookie Records; 2011

Now my Spanish may not be very good, but even I have an idea of this title’s meaning. And these guys quickly establish they have cojones. Not only is this a nice dose of spirited rock’n’roll, but there is a welcome original feel to it all. From Link Wray’s “Rumble” to Eddie Cochrane to Sergio Leone to grunge production, there are a fascinating combination of influences and styles present. The two-guitar sound present in most songs couldn’t be much different. One has a trebly classic old team garage lead guitar sound, while the other has a deep rumbling, grungy distorted rhythm. There is some rudimentary drumming and trippy vocals. It could be Los Straitjackets, but it is much more strange. Although they sound like they come rural Brazil or Central America, they are actually from the Melbourne area of Australia. But they are headed to Europe, so hopefully they have success in conquering the world with this offbeat and exciting brand of ethnic rock music. When a band can be original and catchy at the same time, they have tapped into something special.
© David Hintz

Nicky Swann "Matches & Dispatches"
Own label; 2010

This singer/songwriter varies her songs from folk to lounge to American country and often sounds more American than British. Although I love variety, I tend to separate the songs into the ones I like which turns out to be the more classic sounding folk songs vs. the rest. “Amy’s Waltz” is a lovely song that could be easily be covered by any fine folk singer, although Swann’s singing may outshine anyone else’s attempt. Swann is helped out with some additional guitar and violin on several songs, which is just enough help to liven up the songs, while allowing simple folk arrangements to be the key component of the album. There is an interesting slow folky version of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” which worked better than I expected. There is some nice potential here, not fully realized yet, but this is a good start.
© David Hintz

John Shipe "Villain"
Involushun Records; 2010

Within seconds I am greeted with the line “Everyone’s a critic, but I’m the one who did it. So why don’t they all get out of the way?” Well, I would be happy to get out of the way, but your label sent this my way for a review, so here goes. This is singer-songwriter material, slickly recorded with nice production and arrangements with many instruments including strings. A song like “Some Hidden Things” is quite excellent and is the closest to the folk style. There are some country styles and classic light rock songs. All of this is competent and why not? Shipe has written 250 songs and released ten albums over his run. A couple of songs appeared on an AOF award-winning soundtrack for “Vicktory to the Underdog”. Sounds good, but I had to look up AOF to find it was some film festival in Pasadena, California. Still, there is nice material on this album. Lyrics are complex enough to require more than one listen to try to pick out the irony. There are traces of bitterness, but more often than not there is some interesting thoughts present. Musically this does not overwhelm me, but it is smart and interesting.
© David Hintz

The Phoenix Foundation "Buffalo"
Memphis Industries; 2011

I tend to give extra credit for the bands from Australia and New Zealand in their attempts to expand their audience in Europe and/or the United States. The geographical challenges are obvious and there is always a crowded field in the music world on almost every continent. This New Zealand band has toured Europe on the strength of this album. And they have created a strong album with this, their fourth album. It comfortably fits into some of the contemporary pop/rock categories being created by the likes of Arcade Fire, Spoon, and many other bands on the average 20-something year old’s IPOD. There is just enough variety to keep a skeptic interested. “Bailey’s Beach is the most interesting song for me. It is a lovely little pop song with a folk feeling at times and a distant psyche vibe at others. This band is capable of creating a buzz among a whole lot of people if they find their audience.
© David Hintz

Nick Parker "The King of False Alarms"
Own label, 2010

This CD starts off far too slowly. It is singer songwriter material that seems to struggle with the ability to match vocals to something that grabs hold of a listener. There are moments, but they just do not fully come together. Fortunately, I kept listening and the song “Blackmail” had a nice pop melody with a subtle chiming acoustic guitar and a good violin part. There are some nice folky parts with nods to classic UK sounds at times that do lift the songs somewhat. This is decent and some may like it, but it did not resonate with me like many of the others I have heard recently.
© David Hintz

Meadowland "Harbours"
Oaks of Mamre; 2010

Meadowland has a full band sound with male and female vocals. It sounds like many of the bands working the indie rock circuit these days. I was initially worried that this might not arise to a level of interest when it began, but I soon changed my mind. They have a steady pace and a smooth sound that creates a contemplative atmosphere. “Bring to Me” had me involved and “Buttercups” reminded me of some of my favorite lighter folk-rock songs of old. The melodies are good, the acoustic guitar patterns are involving and the male/female harmonies bring it all home. The songs vary between folk-rock and light moody rock pieces, similar to a band like Midlake. And I had been resisting calling this Americana, since there was something more worldly about it. As it is, they are from Sweden, although with the English vocals, that would be almost impossible to guess. This is a fine album that showcases good songwriting and excellent arrangements. They are better than some of the bands getting raves in the major magazines. Hopefully they will capture some of these critical ears.
© David Hintz

Bravo Johnson "Come Taste the Sun"
Stone Junction; 2010

Bravo Johnson "The Crooked and the Straight"
Stone Junction; 2008

I received the last two Bravo Johnson albums at the same time, so we can focus on the new album and compare it to the old one immediately. Bravo Johnson is the singer/songwriter who plays guitar and all keyboards. He is assisted with a guitarist and rhythm section. The music is good independent Americana styled folk-rock. I like his vocal work, which is akin to the soft side of Neil Young. The vocals and music do remind me much of the American west coast scene in the late sixties. There is that California laid-back vibe as the rhythm section lays it down and the guitars snake in and out of the melody. This is quality material that is easy on the ear, but with plenty going on, which leads me to future listening.
The 2008 album is similar in style to the newer one with its nice evenly paced Americana folk-rock. I even sense a Mighty Baby type sound on some of the vocal-guitar patterns and sounds. This material does take me back, but fits in quite well with contemporary times. There is a bit more Byrdsian “jangle” in the older record and maybe some Flying Burrito moves, but it still has a good balance or rock music with the folk. I swear I even hear Led Zeppelin in one guitar riff. The key to Bravo Johnson’s sound is the assured tempo of the delivery, especially on the newer record. He is fully capable of bringing out every nuance of his fine songs.
© David Hintz

The Sonnenhof Songs "…from the
therapy couch …from higher ground"
Own label; 2009

I have to admit that at first glance this review looked like a chore. This is a self-released double CD containing 33 songs recorded from 2001-2009 by a folk duo. The arrangements consist of a male and female voice, acoustic guitar and some guest bass guitar at times. Thankfully, this turned out to be a really fine record where it was enjoyable to listen to all 33 songs in a row. These two have a classic folk style that I do not hear nearly as often as I would like. The male guitarist/vocalist is from Scotland and he has a nice resonant world-weary voice with a good guitar style to keep things interesting. His wife is from Germany and has a strong voice that has some of the strength of Sandy Denny. She can pull it back at times which can really bring out the dynamics of the songs. This is not quite up to the heights of Michael Raven & Joan Mills, but it is close enough for me to want to listen further. What a pleasure it is to hear something that could have been made in 1972, but sounds fresh and invigorating in this century.
© David Hintz

Akron/Family "S/T II: The Cosmic
Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT"
Dead Oceans; 2011

This band has been one of my favorites since their debut in 2005 on Young God Records, the label that brought us early Devandra Banhart, Michael Gira albums (Swans and Angels of Light), and Wooden Wand. Akron/Family was a good fit with their off-kilter eclectic free folk music. Their albums began mixing psychedelic folk and rock with some heavier moves as well. A live Akron/Family show is a highly enjoyable experience with all kinds of fun sing-alongs and crazy songs mixed in with an occasionally recognizable song. They have been a three-piece for a while with one member retiring and both live and on this album they still have a lot to offer. “Island” has that folk approach like a more laid back Incredible String band while “Fuji I” and “Say What You Want to” are spirited psychedelic romps. As they have gone a bit more electric over time, they do sound like they fit more closely with the Flaming Lips than Devandra Banhart. “Fuji II” offers a light folk approach that is close to traditional as they get. There is a little something for everyone and these are some of the rare musicians that can vary their approach dramatically and still pull even skeptical listeners into their world. They remain an integral part of my musical world and I highly recommend them whenever I get the chance.
© David Hintz

The Bad Shepherds "By Hook or by Crook"
Monsoon; 2010

We have a three-piece with mandolin, fiddle/banjo and Uilleann pipes/bouzouki being the main instruments with vocals and guest double bass from former Steeleye Span member, Tim Harries. Simple enough to figure out what this will sound like, right? Well, yes it is. It sounds like traditional folk music with an Irish touch. But of course there is a twist to this record. The music of choice is cover songs with some traditional tunes medlied into the mix. And the intriguing part is that the cover songs are mostly punk and post-punk songs by the Sex Pistols, Ramones, Buzzcocks, Clash, XTC, Motorhead and the Smiths. I even had to look up “Sound of the Suburbs” a fine song I remembered, but had forgotten was by the Members. For someone like me who knows 1960’s and 70’s UK folk and folk rock AND knows punk rock so intimately, this should be a great match. Oddly enough, it is not nearly odd enough. The music is so straightforward folk, that Ewan MacColl purists may like it more than I did. Well, that may be stretching it, but this is very normal folk music. Still, this is an interesting idea that is not a bad listen and does confirm their position that punk songs were good songs. I would rather support a challenging odd concept like this as opposed to listen to some safe pop music. The more I think about this, the more I like it.
© David Hintz

The Slapstickers "Sonic Island"
Own label; 2010

Good dancing music is the order of the day on this record. It is somewhere in the ska/dancehall neighborhood and the 14 songs are all nicely paced dance numbers. There is a bit of heavy guitar, but mostly it is solid rhythms, brass and vocals carrying the songs. There are some keyboards and rhythm guitar as well as the sound is full, but not overpowering. The band is solid and it is pretty hard not to tap your toes along with this music. I do not sense there is anything here that will rival the fine songs of Madness, the Specials or the Beat, but this is well-executed music that is worth a listen if you like your ska music. And if you are really a fan, you will get a bonus DVD with this CD, which has a 90-minute documentary and some bonus footage.
© David Hintz

The Stagger & Sway "Break Til You Bend"
Working Stiff Records, 2010

I really do not like using the term “alt country”. I do not mind when someone else uses it and I can usually understand its application. But it gives me the shakes every time I might think it is appropriate and I usually fall back on over-using Americana. Well, let us just say that both labels may apply here. And there is some nice rock moves and even some songs that are country without a whole lot of “alt” to them. The band has plenty of guitars, bass and drums and there is one guest musician playing lap steel and some nice keyboards. The songs are decent enough, but vary a little bit in style and the ability to grab the listener’s interest. Nothing unusual in that, but the highlights are worth checking out. “Barrel Rolling” has one of the finer rolling drum rhythms and melodies that remind me a bit of the classic “Rawhide” theme. “Up and Go” has a nice country-rock rhythm and a nice chorus with some nice bridges, too. This is an interesting band that at its worst, falls into a comfortable easy going pattern that I equate with the negatives of country music, but at its best shows a flair for arranging an interesting song.
© David Hintz

Jack Bruce and the Cuicoland Express
"Live at the Milkyway"
Flaccid Parrot Records; 2010

If the back-up band has Vernon Reid (Living Colour) on guitar, Bernie Worrell (Funkadelic) on organ, and three drummers/percussionists that have worked with Tito Puente, Santana, and Dizzy Gillespie, I believe many music fans would be very interested regardless of who the front man is. Now put legendary bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce to stage center and you have one of the more intriguing line-ups I have seen. This is a two-CD set recorded live in Amsterdam in 2001. The tapes were set aside and finally digitally converted and mixed and released just last year. And I can report that it was well worth the effort. There is nearly two hours of music here featuring a very hot band that is long on percussion with the expected guitar heroics of Vernon Reid. This may not be Cream, but the percussion and guitar work is about as good as you could ever hope to get in this century. And there are Cream classics like “White Room”, “Sunshine of Your Love”, “Politician” and the fabulous “We’re Going Wrong”. It is fun to see this band tackle those classics with all the power, new rhythms, and an amazing psychedelic vibe on the latter. Jack Bruce’s voice is still emotive and in good shape. He shows a bit of age, but hits all the high notes with a delicate grace and only pulls back a bit on the screams. His bass work is still first-rate as well. And the songs are all original songs that he has co-written with Pete Brown and Kip Hanrahan—no traditional blues song here. This is a nice discovery and if any of these great performers interest you, I do not think you will be disappointed with this concert recording. But keep in mind that it is a concert recording and I would love to hear cleaner, stronger instruments, but the mixing does show great care to obtain decent enough live sound.
© David Hintz

Marshall Lawrence "Blues Intervention"
Own label; 2010

Well, if the title doesn’t tip you off as to the music herein (and of course it does), then the photograph of three different dobros or resonator guitars on the back is a giveaway. This is the blues with the rich metallic dobro sound. Laurence sings to all his guitar playing and has stand-up bass assistance and a bit of harmonica. So this is stripped down blues, mostly original aside from a few songs, traditional or Robert Johnson and so forth. He picks well, plays a mean slide and has a pretty decent voice, although perhaps it is a little too decent as it does not sound as whiskey-drenched or worn-down and dirty as many blues singer’s voices end up. And he even tosses in some mandolin and banjo to throw a few curves. Although I hear a lot of blues and I find it hard to pick out something that stands out, this one does sound better than average with the quality playing and the more naked arrangements. It is a good sound and I would not mind hearing it a few more times.
© David Hintz

Earl Pickens & Family "Gathering"
Own label; 2010

German CD Review

This band previously released a complete reworking of U2’s “The Joshua Tree” performed in their bluegrass/alt country style. That audacious move certainly garnered them some notice. But can their ten original songs released as a follow-up get the same kind of buzz? It will be difficult, but if people give this a fair listen, this band is easily capable of making a name for itself on the strength of its songwriting and comfortable playing. The first song “Time” has a subtle approach to some of the lyrical trickery between ending and beginnings of lyrics that Arthur Lee employed on Forever Changes. There is consistently a nice lyrical melody and rhythm throughout with plenty of the usual heartland stringed instruments supporting well on top of a nice rhythm section. They remind me of a good local band I follow called Stripmall Ballads and they have a sound close to many even more successful alt country acts, so hopefully they will not get lost among the high quantities of bands playing this style. The songs here are good enough to stand out from the pack.
© David Hintz

Eden Brent "Ain’t got no troubles"
Yellow Dog Records, 2010

Eden Brent has that great torch singer quality working for her and on top of that, she leads the jazz-blues band with here skillful piano playing. The accompanying musicians turn in slick professional jobs in creating a smooth lounge blues set with heart. Although I prefer the slide guitar swampy style blues, it is nice to take in this version as a nice alternative. Brent has a sensitive yet gutsy voice that sounds a lot older than it is. She has a resonance similar to that of folksinger Karen Dalton, which is quite effective. Often, an instrumentalist who is lead vocalist has extraordinary skill at just one of those disciplines. Here, Brent seems top of the class at both the piano and singing. “If I Can’t” even offers a rather straightforward folk song with voice and acoustic guitar, which gives a nice bit of variety. If you like this type of jazz-blues music, I would say this would be one of the better releases you would find. I always enjoy this type of music in a club setting and this record recreates some of those good feelings I have had there. That is no easy task, but it is accomplished here.
© David Hintz

Amos Lee "Mission Bell"
Blue Note Records; 2011

Amos Lee’s fourth album is another fine testament to great songwriting. His style goes from straightforward folk such as “El Camino” to a light rock incorporating thick production with nice guitar sound in “Windows are Rolled Down”. “Jesus” and “Hello Again” are wonderful songs as he shifts tempos and arrangements slightly song by song. What is consistent is his clear, reliable vocals and storytelling ability. This album may join Josh Ritter’s most recent album as a couple of the best albums featuring the highest level of songwriting out there in the near-folk world. There is not much more to be said. There is no filler here, so most of these twelve songs should reach most listeners who give them a chance. I will be able to give his live a chance this April and am looking forward to that.
© David Hintz

O’Hooley & Tidow "Silent June"
No Masters, 2010

The duo in question are both female vocalists with the former also playing piano (very well). O’Hooley writes most songs with some help from Tidow along with a couple of arrangements. I was expecting another lounge jazz-folk sound from the look and the first notes, but am surprised when I am reminded of Mellow Candle. There is not the powerful full-out Mellow Candle sound, but with two female voices and high quality piano, it does resonant with some great memories in my head, stored after many listens to Mellow Candle’s “Swaddling Songs”. The traditional “Spancil Hill” has a rich arrangement and great Irish feeling to it. And they sound a little like the Unthanks, when they hit the more traditional notes here. However, the seven and one half minute “Hidden from the Sun” creates a magnificent epic soundtrack to some unknown movie with mysterious vocals, evocative piano, and a sharp violin and piano battle at the end. This may not be for everyone, but for something new and quietly exciting, this one may surprise. I think folk listeners who like creativity may not be surprised that much.
© David Hintz

Luke Powers "Hwy 100"
Phoebe Claire, 2010

Luke Powers blends country, folk and the blues in an agreeable manner on this album. I found his “The Ballad of the Minie Ball” to be the gem of this album with its classic “topical folk” feeling, although this topic is a historical story from the Civil War. “Wolfman” is a likable rock song as well. The album gets a little long for me with its 16 songs and the feel-good country rock style sometimes gets a little too locked in for my tastes. Guitar fans may be interested that Richard Lloyd from Television is on this record and I detect a few of his guitar solos a bit too buried in the mix. This is not a bad effort, depending on your taste.
© David Hintz

The Headlocks "Cuckoo Bird"
Own label; 2009

This one begins simply enough with a very modern “indie rock” feeling. At first, there is not much I cannot hear on hundreds of other albums released recently. As I listened further, more variety crept in like “The Round Up” which sounded like the Rolling Stones with some nice horn arrangement in the mix. I also enjoyed “Freeze the Frame” which had a nice hook to it. Ultimately they do a nice job of coming up some creative arrangements for their mostly roots-oriented songs. Perhaps my favorite example is “I Freak Out, too” which has a great funk-rock pace throughout with blasts of horns and guitar. There is a touch of folk here, but it leans more heavily on roots oriented rock with some R&B moves, too. And more often than not, they are successful in their efforts.
© David Hintz

Saoirse Mhor "Thursday Asks"
Own label; 2008

German CD Review

Saoirse Mhor is an Irish singer-songwriter. His eleven songs, comprised of originals, traditional, and covers, are acoustic based with a light folk-rock band accompanying them. Some are closer to straight folk outings with lighter touches on acoustic guitar and some piano. He has a nice sensitive voice, which carries the songs more than any instrumental prowess, although he shows nice touch on acoustic guitar. His original songs “The Gregory Girl” and the title cut are every bit as good as his decent covers of Shawn Phillips’ “The Little Tin Soldier” or Neil Young’s “Captain Kennedy”. There is even a version of the old chestnut “Try to Remember” which I recall hearing from about 30 different artists when I was young. By album’s end, it got a little monotonous in pace and tone, but there were not any overt problems here and some nice tunes. So I would place this in the lightly likable category, and it did leave me in a pleasant mood.
© David Hintz

Francesco Lucarelli "Find the Light"
Route 61 Music; 2010

We have a singer/songwriter from Rome who sounds more like he has spent the last 50 years in southern California. The sound is a near-perfect match for that light western Americana-rock sound that made Jackson Browne and many others famous. There is a western US connection with some of the players on this album, such as guitarist Jeff Pevar, bassist Kenny Passarelli (I did not know this fellow Denver-ite was still around—he’s played with Joe Walsh, Dan Fogelberg and Elton John), and the legendary Graham Nash (on one song). So with players like this, you can expect the studio work to sound good and it does. There is great balance in the sound and a smooth transition between the dynamic changes in the songs. There are plenty of nice subtle backing vocals, which give songs like “After the Twilight” a nice dreamy sensation. Lucarelli has a good voice, some nice songs and took great care in the presentation here. This album could easily appeal to mainstream music fans, but will easily fill the needs of the fans of Poco, Flying Burrito Brothers, CSNY, and Jackson Browne.
© David Hintz

Ladysmith Black Mambazo "Songs from a Zulu Farm"
Proper, 2011

What more can you say about a world institution? This is an a cappella collective has been around in some form since 1960; and in its present form, since 1964. There are nine members and are still lead by founder Joseph Shabalala. This group continues to bring their quality male vocal work to recordings and stages throughout the world. Paul Simon may have helped them make a name for themselves, but they have continued to grow their audience long since “Graceland”. On this outing, they deliver sixteen songs that cover the agricultural history of South Africa. There is a mix of traditional songs along with original music continuing this theme. Certainly this is an excellent topic as the band formed while the original members were living and working on a farm. I particularly enjoyed the vocal percussion effects on “Wemfana” (Bad Donkey). “Imbongolo” (The Donkey’s Complaint) was also quite moving, and it completed their vocal discussion of donkeys. The skills are of such high quality, I can even listen to their Zulu styled version of “Old McDonald” all the way through. Not too many bands can pull that one off.
© David Hintz

Drive-By Truckers "Go-Go Boots"
ATO Records; 2011

It is so nice to see a major band release two albums a year apart. That just does not happen often these days, whereas in the 1960s that would be considered too slow a pace. The interesting back-story on this release is that the band recorded 25 songs in 2009 and 2010 and decided to release them on two records, “Go-Go Boots” being the second album. The band also decided to make 2010’s “The Big To-Do” into the more rocking album of the two with the more rural country songs saved for “Go-Go Boots”. I really enjoyed “The Big To-Do”[42] as did most other music critics and fans, but was skeptical of this release as I am a bit more averse to country music than most people. The good news is that it still has the high quality song writing you expect from the band. There is some rock and swing in the first few cuts on the album and the intriguing title cut. However, once the three Mike Cooley songs, Shonna Tucker song, and two Eddie Hinton covers kick in, the country music takes over. Some of it rocks, but much of it goes into a steady country pace. The band plays it well, as these musicians are extremely talented, but unlike the live shows with their display of different styles, this album just gets too comfortable and safe. But if you really like the slower songs and the Cooley songs (and many, many people do), perhaps you will like this one more than “The Big To-Do”. Even a few of the Patterson Hood songs veer off toward country, but he still is the songwriter I turn to in this band such as in “The Thanksgiving Filter” with its addictive folk-rock rhythms. This is a high quality band that has earned the right to do it there way and music fans can choose a wide variety of styles in their albums or just see the excellent live show like I did a few weeks back and get a nice slice of the Truckers’ varied history worked around the newer songs.
© David Hintz

Victoria Vox "Exact Change"
Obus Music; 2010

There was a lot of dead space for the ukulele between Tiny Tim and recent years where the tiny instrument was exiled in Death Valley. But Victoria Vox and many others have rescued this nice feel-good instrument from obscurity and let it even take the lead in delivering original folk music. Vox is assisted on piano, bass, and drums often and sometimes has a bit of guitar and keyboard help. Still the ukulele is ever present along with her playful voice. I saw her play a solo show at a folk club some time back, and she could carry the show solo if needed as her songs and voice are that good. There is one trick that I may have overlooked here if I had not seen it with my own eyes. She is credited on a couple of songs here with trumpet. However, it is also credited as “mouth trumpet” which would be confusing had I not seen Vox is pinch her lips together and do an uncanny impersonation of a trumpet with just her voice (Find the Youtube video if you need proof). It was amazing. But even without that impressive sound, she can really deliver nice folk and folk-rock songs with the best of them. She varies the pace well and changes moods as needed based on her lyrics. The live show is great, but this CD should easily hold your interest until she comes to your town.
© David Hintz

Various Artists [Samplers, EP's & Demo CD's]

Tina Lie "Twilight Hour" (Single, Siwu Music, 2010). Unfortunatly only one song. Norwegian roots rock - Fats Kaplin is listed among the back-up[34] - with promising Tina-Turneresque vocals. Don't fade away into the twilight hour please ...

Elle Osborne "Good Grief" (EP, Folk Police Recordings, 2010). 4 track EP preceding a forthcoming longplayer from this Lincolnshire singer and fiddler, ft. Scott Smith (banjo, lap steel, harmonica). These are folk based original songs (e.g. "Time of the Small Sun" draws on the Irish air "Sean O Duibhir a Ghleanna," delivered with fragile vocals and incorporating sound collages. Haunting...

Maini Sorri "Someday" (EP, Reya Music, 2010). Middle-of-the-road singer-songwriter pop that could have been something wasn't it drowned in violins and synths. The one Scandinavian song works better than the English language ones (which originally were written in Finnish as well).

Riccado Tesi & Banditaliana (EP, 2011). Not having heard anything from Italian accordionst Riccado Tesi on these web pages for a long time. With this Tuscan crossover band he has already three albums to his credit, these are two tracks from the forthcoming album "Madreperla" to be relased in March 2011. First, a joyous mediterranean song, second, an instrumental oriental/klezmir sounding track.

Various Artists "No Masters Co-Operative Twentieth Anniversary Sampler" (CD, 2010). The northern England song-writing co-operative formed by John Tams and Jim Boyes in 1990 is celebrating its 20th anniversary! This 7 track sampler introduces ist artist rooster from recent releases: Ray Hearne,[42] Jo Freya,[44] Coope Boyes & Simpson,[44] Chumbawamba,[42] O'Hooley & Tidow.[44]

Various Artists "100% Music Songwriting Contest" (CD, 2011). Article: Connecting 100% Promo CD introducing the 8 winners of the (French based) 100% Music Songwriting Contest, including US singer/songwriter Rachel VanSlyke and French The Thing, winner of the Acoustic and World music category, respectively.

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