Lots of new music added to The Promise lately and not a lot of time to talk about it...
I’ve been playing Afferent Cue for... It seems like years. Their new EP is called “Drinking with Hemingway” and I’ve got to tell you, this is miles away from the demos they sent me so long ago. There isn’t a weak song among the four tracks, the production is excellent and... and... it just sounds great. If you close your eyes, you can hear a little Natalie Merchant, some Indigo Girls and maybe some Shelby Lynne. But Bill and Starr have their own style that transcends the “copy cat artist” label. Probably my favorite track is “Louisiana” a song about an aging parent. It is beautiful and sad and moving; everything you hope for from a song. You can find them on Facebook, Myspace and http://www.reverbnation.com/afferentcue .
Willie Nile’s latest, “The Innocent Ones” from 2010 may be his best. Another great piece of work from an under acknowledged performer.
Jesse Malin & the St. Marks Social have a 2011 release called “Love it to Life” and it is a rockin’ group of tunes. Highly recommended.
Fitz & the Tantrums, “Pickin’ up the Pieces” from last year is a classic. Had I heard it in 2010 it would have been in my top 5. A cross between blue eyed soul and 80’s pop. Great songs and loads of energy.
You are going to have to see Hamell on Trial in concert to get the “Best of” CD. It is hand made with no real packaging; and it doesn’t matter. Part humorist, part punk rocker with an acoustic guitar, Ed Hamell serves up a social piece of pie that will make you laugh and think.
The Civil Wars are another Boy/Girl band. And like so many others, they have pooled their talents and created a strong CD, “Barton Hollow”. Not really folk. Definetely not Country. It is just good music.
Abigail Washburn plays banjo, but “City of Refuge” isn’t a bluegrass album. It is a blend of many styles and the results are at times incredibly beautiful. If you love cross genre CDs, head over and pick this one up right now.
I’ve never seen Todd Snider Live and after hearing “Todd Snider Live - The Storyteller”, I cannot wait. He is funny and socially relevant, telling his tales of mushrooms and football and getting beat up in school. His in-between talks are as much fun as the songs themselves.
Baseball season is well underway and time for another batch of songs from “The Baseball Project”. This one, titled “Volume 2: High and Inside” continues with the tales, both touching and outlandish, about baseball. The band includes Peter Buck and Steve Wynn. If you love baseball songs, how can you not love this.
Each time I go to Austin I try and fit in a Matt the Electrician concert, and always fail to see him. Now that I have heard his “Is Alive” CD, I will try even harder next year. Wonderful songs with great players. Sort of a folky, banjo-y, Scrappy kind of album.
Drive-By Truckers have a new CD called “Go-Go Boots” and they continue to tell their small town stories. Another solid CD.
Joan Armatrading’s new CD, “Live at the Royal Albert Hall” is her best live CD in 30 years. Joan, for the first time, really shows us how good a guitar player she is. But this isn’t just a guitar album as most of the hits are included. Nicely recorded, with her best live arrangements since she stripped down the size of the band. Required for all Joan fans.