alt-country Archive

30 Days Out, March 2021 #2: Pleasure Chest, Brother Smith, Empire Strikes Brass, 49 Winchester

The globe observed (certainly it didn’t celebrate) the one-year anniversary of the pandemic last week. While people continue to get sick and die from the infernal virus, the news does in fact get better with each passing day. And live music continues its slow, tentative return. If you’ve had your shot and are willing to

Album Review: John Magnuson – Barely Noticeable

It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I take notice: every now and then, one or another friend sends me an album with a Post-it affixed, sporting a message along the lines of, “You need to hear this.” It happened recently with the new album from John Magnuson. Living as I do in Western

Album Review: The 81’s — 2 Things & 118 Others

The 81’s (that’s their punctuation, not mine) make a Crazy Horse-styled, shaggy rock that bears the influence of folk (in the lyrical approach) and punk (in the guitar textures). Music without artifice, 2 Things & 119 Others is sold rock with lots of impassioned (but not overwrought) guitar solos. The songs are more than mere

Gold Rose’s Kevin Fuller: Making ‘The List’

It’s not unusual for a singer-songwriter to pen raw and emotionally honest lyrics. But some subjects remain largely taboo. Yet that didn’t dissuade Gold Rose singer, guitarist and songwriter Kevin Fuller from writing and recording “The List,” a song about suicide sung from a first-person perspective. That track is a standout cut on his band’s

Hundred-word Reviews for December 2019, #2

With the end of 2019 on the horizon, I figure now’s as good a time as any to bring things up to date with another batch of quick reviews. In this edition: all new music, ten titles. Blues, powerpop, jazz and more. All worth your time. Maybe even a Great Gift Idea™. Happy holidays! Coco

Ian McDonald: From Prog to Arena Rock to Alt-country, All in Style

Most people will know the name Ian McDonald from his work with King Crimson and Foreigner. But his body of work extends well beyond pioneering progressive rock and ’70s arena rock. His current project is, in fact, a far cry from both of those styles. A superb multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, McDonald lends his talents to

Hundred-word Reviews for September 2019, Part 1

Once again, it’s time for a passel of quick reviews. Twenty in all – ten today, as many tomorrow. All deserve a listen. Titles on vinyl are noted as such (LP). Waiting for Henry – The Gospel of Moby Grape As a serious fan of the star-crossed band name-checked in the title, I had to

Penny and Sparrow: Rosé Rock vs. Emo-country

The crystalline instrumentation and emotionally resonant vocal harmonies of Penny and Sparrow have earned the Austin, Texas folk duo both critical plaudits and a dedicated following. But Penny and Sparrow are about much more than indie-folk: their latest album, Finch, draws from a wide (and perhaps unexpected) array of styles, most notably rhythm and blues.

Dwight Yoakam: Honky Tonk Man

Dwight Yoakam launched a life in music at precisely the wrong time. But over the ensuing decades, he helped bend country music – or at least a significant part of it – in the direction he pursued. For his efforts, he has become a commercially successful and critically acclaimed artist, winning two Grammys and awards

Gold Light + Snakemusk: Shadows and Light

The first recorded project from Gold Light + Snakemusk – the duo of former Kovacs and the Polar Bear multi-instrumentalist Joe Chang and singer-guitarist Beau Campolong – is a new album, Shadows in the Shallows. The duo digs deep into a country duo sound that recalls Johnny and June Cash as well as Gram Parsons