Thursday, February 27, 2014

Album Review: Sturgill Simpson - High Top Mountain

With the recent announcement that Sturgill Simpson plans to release a new album in May, I decided it time to listen to his critically acclaimed 2013 debut release: High Top Mountain. And yes, the buzz is accurate - this is timeless country - part outlaw, part honky tonk, part "hillbilly soul" - all a freight train ahead rolling forward. The first track (Life Aint Fair and the World is Mean) is a perfect introduction to the album. And then pick your track, You Can Have The Crown or Water in a Well, driving or ballad, these are authenticate songs and all incorporate that timeless old school country sound. The most powerful songs are Hero and Old King Coal - both relating to the major industry in his native Kentucky. I've read a lot of references comparing Sinpson to the late 70's Waylon Jennings - but I think this is the new outlaw country. And boy, I would love to hear a co-bill between Simpson and Mark Stuart of The Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash. Pair with Kentucky's Old Pogue Distillery - a contemporary Bourbon based on historic roots. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Album Review: Amy Speace - How To Sleep In A Stormy Boat

I'm about a year behind this album, but I just got word that Amy Speace is releasing a new deluxe edition of How To Sleep In A Stormy Boat which includes the companion CD, Same Old Storm - for $25. This is a serious compilation - particularly in the songwriting; but also fragile in its composition. Speace has an enchanting voice - Bring Me Back My Heart - and she can delivery it in multiple fashions - folk, celtic, bluesy - all gracefully.  Being a Baltimore native, pair with the elegant Pinot Noir from Elk Run Vineyards. Cheers.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Free Songs from Dean Fields - Any Minute Now

Recently I signed up on Dean Fields newsletter and received a link for free songs from his latest release Any Minute Now.  These are honest songs some with soothing backing vocals; others with a soothing string orchestra. This is simply an enjoyable collection of songs.Check out Fields tour schedule because in the next few weeks he is scheduled to appear with Levi Lowrey, Ari Hest, and Matthew Mayfield.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Cabinet's 2nd annual Susquehanna Breakdown Music Festival

We've been listening quite a lot to This Is Cabinet – Set II; the most current live release from Cabinet and now we have a chance to see these songs live at the 2nd annual Susquehanna Breakdown Music Festival. The festival will occur at The Pavilion at Montage Mountain on Saturday, May 10th and features the following acts:  Cabinet, Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds, Marco Benevento, Floodwood featuring Al Schnier & Vinnie Amico of moe., Terrapin Flyer featuring Melvin Seals & Mark Karan, Driftwood, Leroy Justice, And The Moneynotes, Coal Town Rounders, East Bound Jesus, Kalob Griffin Band, The Brummy Brothers, Blind Owl Band, Tom Graham, FMO, and The Schooley Mountain Band.

Tickets are on sale now and available at, The Pavilion Box Office (1000 Montage Mountain Road Scranton/ normal box office hours will resume in the Spring), Ticketmaster Outlets, or by-phone at 800-745-3000. Tickets are: $20 (GA), $25 (GA day of show), $55 (VIP), $60 (VIP day of show), $20 (Camping), $25 (Camping day of show). Additional fees may apply to tickets.

While listening to This Is Cabinet - Set II or at the festival pair with The Lion Brewery from neighboring Wilkes Barre. Cheers

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Album Review: Cahalen Morrison & Eli West - I'll Swing My Hammer With Both My Hands

All it takes to appreciate I'll Swing My Hammer With Both My Hands, the latest from the acoustic duo Cahalen Morrison & Eli West, is to listen to the first track Fiddlehead Farm.The song includes all the attributes that I have come to appreciate from these two: outstanding picking, melodies, and balanced harmonies. What a song. The rest of the album mixes gospel, Appalachian themes, and Irish folk, with special guest fiddlers Ryan Drickey and Brittany Haas as well as bassist Erin Youngberg played bass, and Tim O’Brien. In fact O'Brien produced the release, ensuring a CD well worth grabbing - all you need is a Pocket Full of Dust (my 2nd favorite track).  Since it was recorded in the Colorado Rockies, pair with Fort Collins based Odell Brewing Company or New Belgium Brewing Company. Cheers.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Album Review: Cody Jasper's Selfy Rocks

My friends at McGuckin Entertainment PR have a habit of sending me music that is completely suited to my musical tastes - which range from rock, blues, bluegrass, gospel,  and alt-country. Cody Jasper's soon to be released self titled album is a rock'n amalgam of these and starts with perhaps my favorite song of the year - Black Cadillac. The song starts as a gospel chant reminiscent of the chain gang music in O Brother, Where Art Thou? and then slowly adds in some bluesy guitar and keyboards punctuated by Jaspar's deep soulful vocals. His bio states that he loves Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Otis Redding, and Sam Cooke and this songs seems to roll all into one.

The next two tracks, Cherry Pie and Evil Woman segue completely to classic rock n roll with smokn' slide guitar in the former and am Aerosmith infused rhythm in the later. Jasper's bio also stresses his fondness for Waylon and Shooter Jennings and their influences seem to show with the ballads Holy Water and Mona Lisa. Rosemary might be my second favorite track - wish I was more technical - would like to know the time of the beat. But love the pattern.

This is the type of album I wish more artist's were making - seems like we are losing rock to a more psychedelic sound and Jasper returns it to its more classic roots of blues, soul, and original country. The album's official release is February 18th so start planning to attend one of the CD release shows if in Texas or pre-order online. Pair with Taos Mesa Brewing in El Prado New Mexico where Jaspar will be performing March 6th. Cheers

Friday, February 7, 2014

Levi Lowrey & Friends Fire Up an Awesome CD

Levi Lowrey first crossed our radar a few years back, when he replaced Bryan Simpson for a short stint with Cadillac Sky. Yes, that period was short, but Lowrey says it was not only beneficial to his career, "but it was even better for my personal life. I made lifelong friends during that time." Once Cadillac Sky diss-banded, Lowrey returned to songwriting -- at times collaborating with Zac Brown and Clay Cook.

With all this material, he recently spent two weeks at the Southern Ground Studios in Nashville recording and collaborating with a stellar set of musicians including Cook, fiddler Ross Holmes (Mumford & Sons/Cadillac Sky), Oliver Wood (The Wood Brothers), and the acclaimed Mac McAnally. Even former Cadillac Sky members Matt Menefe and Bryan Simpson joined the party. Add in Zac Brown acting as the executive producer along with co-producers Matt Mangano and Cook and that's a nice pedigree for a final product.  The self titled album official release date is February 25th but I was fortunate to receive an advanced copy. 

I've been listening for a couple weeks now and one of the beauties of this album is how diverse each song sounds. Lowrey responds that "Every song has a different personality. I don't like to get in the way. My band and I like to let the songs go where they want to go." The diversity is not only the songwriting but the style - rock, country, blues, gospel, bluegrass - bits and pieces of each genre are well represented.  And there's power and purpose to the music - it makes ya think.

The opening track, Picket Fences (makes a solid defense when you just want to go back home), is a rhythmic rockn' song with jammin' guitar solos. The rest of the album is Lowrey laying out his soul. Everyone who's had a bad year - or two - can relate to December Thirty-One (It's been a long year) and as a parent of a boy - Trying Not To Die - hits home. That Is All is a rootsy blues number with a powerful finish, sandwiched between two ballads that feature Lowrey's steady vocals. Want some alternative gospel? I've Held The Devil's Hand. The most powerful song is Urge for Leaving - a biographical tale on the hurdles of having basically three parents - just listen.  And keep listening to the end as the album finishes with a wonderful ballad in What She Don't Know, my new anthem, Barely Getting By, and some flying fiddles and guitar in Flywheel and more rock n' roll in War Pigs. This is a awesome album period, and for someone like me that enjoys all genres of music - much appreciated.

Lowrey has a several tours scheduled this year in support of the album, starting with a stint opening for the Zac Brown Band and a CD release party at one of his favorite venues the Red Clay Theatre in Duluth, GA on the 25th. Then in April his calendar has aligned with Clay's for a CLAY vs. LEVI: ROUND 2 tour where "We will both walk out on that stage. But only one of us will walk out with the title. You know what I'm talkin' about, Mean Gene!!?". Yes I do Hulk Hogan and I'm looking forward to the match on April 9th at Jammin Java. And while listening, Lowrey recommends pairing with Nashville's Yazoo Brewing Company, in particular, their Gerst Amber Ale -"At least, it was used in the recording process." Cheers.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Plethora of New Music in the Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine's Trail Mix

Last month we stumbled upon Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine's Trail Mix series where they feature musicians tailored for the great outdoors. We have recently reviewed many of these songs or they are waiting in our cue for a later review. (Annie Ford Band, Chase Gassaway - Certain Circles, The Farewell Drifters - Tomorrow Forever, Levi Lowrey, Cahalen Morrison & Eli West, Charlie Parr, The Steel Wheels, and Travis Book) Put them in your cue now - we guarantee you will enjoy it. Click the images to download the entire month's songs or each link for single mp3. Cheers.

  1. Odessa – I Will Be There
  2. Adrian Krygowski – Roam
  3. Cahalen Morrison and Eli West – James is Out
  4. Charlie Parr – Clearlake
  5. Chase Gassaway – Feeling Good
  6. Dirk Powell – Rollin’ Round This Town
  7. Drive-By Truckers – Pauline Hawkins
  8. Hurray For The Riff Raff – I Know It’s Wrong
  9. Jimbo Mathus & The Tri-State Coalition – White Angel
  10. Lake Street Dive – Bad Self Portraits
  11. Levi Lowrey – Picket Fences
  12. Lydia Loveless – To Love Somebody
  13. Naomi Wachira – Burn Me
  14. Nate Jones – Another Night, Another Town
  15. Nicole Atkins – Girl You Look Amazing
  16. Peggy Sue – Idle
  17. Robert Ellis – Only Lies
  18. Scott Biram – When I Die.mp3
  19. St. Paul & The Broken Bones – Call Me
  20. The Deer Run Drifters – Burn
  21. The Far West – On The Road
  22. Farewell Drifters – Modern Age

  1. Railroad Earth – When the Sun Gets in Your Blood
  2. Annie Ford Band – Buick 1966
  3. Blackie & The Rodeo Kings – South
  4. Elizabeth & The Catapult – Like It Never Happened
  5. Iain Matthews – Ghost Changes
  6. Leo Welch – Praise His Name
  7. Lone Justice – Nothing Can Stop My Loving You
  8. Los Lonely Boys – Blame It On Love
  9. Mode Moderne – Baby Bunny
  10. Sleepy Sun – Galaxy Punk
  11. The Blushin’ Roulettes – Purple Clouds
  12. The Pixies – Blue Eyed Hexe
  13. The Railsplitters – Jackson Town
  14. The Sacred Shakers – All Day, All Night
  15. The Steel Wheels – Winters Coming
  16. Travis Book – 50 Miles of Elbow Room