Welcome to A&A. There are 12 full reviews in this issue. Click on an artist to jump to the review, or simply scroll through the list. If you want information on any particular release, check out the Label info page. All reviews are written by Jon Worley unless otherwise noted.

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A&A #340 reviews
September 2012
  • Alameda Procession (False Migration)
  • The Asteroid Shop Distant Luxury EP (Spectroscopic)
  • J. Allen Wonder City (self-released)
  • Crooked Cowboy and the Freshwater Indians Annalog and Her Hopeful Diaries EP (Neurotic Yell)
  • Decomposure Eating Chicken (Blank Squirrel)
  • Arizona Dranes He Is My Story: The Sanctified Soul of Arizona Dranes book/CD (Tompkins Square)
  • Fadensonnen White Night (Fadensonnen Records)
  • Lymbyc Systym Symbolist (Western Vinyl)
  • Pan These Are Things I Love and I Want to Share Them With You (Post-Echo)
  • Sci-Fi Romance The Ghost of John Henry (self-released)
  • Worsel Strauss Unattention Economy (VicMod)
  • Zen Widow featuring Wadada Leo Screaming in Daytime (Makes Men Forget) (pfMENTUM)
  • Also recommended: The best of the rest


    Alameda
    Procession
    (False Migration)

    Dishing out heavy dose of what has come to be known as chamber folk, Alameda fleshes out its acoustic guitar-driven pieces with clarinet, cello, banjo, piano and some special guests. The result is an emphasis on delicate lines and tight songwriting.

    Indeed, my only complaint is that Alameda might be just a bit too tightly-wound. Maybe. The songs are gorgeous, and the minimalist sound (though extensive arrangements) brings out the best qualities of the music. Nothing gets in the way of intricately-constructed simple joys.

    Alameda has a lot more in common with the prog-folk of the late 60s and early 70s than today's americana movement. The sound may be restrained, but these really aren't rootsy songs. Even when the banjo comes to the fore. Rather, they're compositions. Pieces that have been carefully (and lovingly) honed.

    Completely brilliant. Alameda plays a style of music that isn't heard much these days. More importantly, the band does it quite well. A little more emotion would put this into legendary territory. As it is, I'm very impressed.

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    The Asteroid Shop
    Distant Luxury EP
    (Spectroscopic)

    Fuzzy pop-rock. Sort of a moody, modern version of 80s indie rock. The Asteroid Shop definitely keeps up a dark facade, but these songs hardly inspire dread. Rather, they're pretty warm and sticky at the center.

    Just enough distortion provides a protective scrim, allowing the Asteroid Shop to indulge its inner rock god. This is a nice job of channeling GvB, albeit with a rubbery (rather than locked down) rhythm section.

    Indeed, there are plenty of modestly proggy moment here, and more tangents than yer average indie rock outfit might choose to follow. That's cool. These folks are on their own path, and it's a good one at that.

    Buy: A&A aStore (digital)


    J. Allen
    Wonder City
    (self-released)

    J. Allen dabbles in folk and americana, but what he really likes to do is deconstruct the entire notion of the singer/songwriter genre. Yes, he sings the songs, and yes, he writes them, but these pieces rarely follow any particular form.

    Sometimes they're loud, and sometimes they're soft. They're generally not too fast, if they exhibit much of a tempo at all. Some songs are short and some are long, though I imagine you wouldn't notice the difference if you didn't have the information shoved in your face.

    The sound is kinda rootsy, with plenty of reverb. There's something of a western haunted house feel to these songs, which makes sense given Allen's general disregard for convention.

    My (possible) complaints here are compliments. Allen does a masterful job of creating music that has few peers. Most folks don't even attempt psychedelic americana, and even those people aren't crazy enough to further tear down the conventional structures that define such a sound. Allen not only does all that, he succeeds gloriously. Yes, it's a bit of a strange trip, but an utterly rewarding one as well.

    Contact: www.jallenmusic.com
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    Crooked Cowboy and the Freshwater Indians
    Annalog and Her Hopeful Diaries EP
    (Neurotic Yell)

    What starts out as a somewhat wiggy take on Leonard Cohen morphs into God knows what. I don't know exactly what these folks are trying to do with these five tracks, but what is unescapable is the power of the music itself.

    So, yes, there's the whole poetic lounge thing. And the experimental indie pop thing. And then some. Crooked Cowboy (et. al.) doesn't seem to mind the odd meander as long as the sound is cool. And boy, do these sounds pass that test.

    Are five songs enough to figure out what Crooked Cowboy is doing? Hardly. Are these songs absolutely compelling? Indeed. I need a full length to make a full judgment. For now, though, count me a true fan.

    Contact:
    Neurotic Yell
    neuroticyellrecords.com
    Buy: A&A aStore (digital)


    Decomposure
    Eating Chicken
    (Blank Squirrel)

    Caleb Mueller, Canadian, is Decomposure. The sounds are nominally electronic, but Mueller does so much vocal multitracking that it can be hard to pick on that.

    So, no, this isn't alternapop. Not exactly. But Mueller has a fine ear for melody and a solid sense of strong construction. And he uses his vocals as an instrument exceptionally well. So why is he called "electronic"? Dunno. But I can't suggest a better category. There's a lot going on here, and it has been well-orchestrated. Mueller knows what he's doing. And he's crafted some seriously fine pop songs.

    Call this what you like. These songs are impeccably attractive, and they make me smile. Mueller has a fine ear for both music and lyrics, and he's put this album together with verve and care. Well done.

    Contact:
    Blank Squirrel
    http://www.blanksquirrel.com
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    Arizona Dranes
    He Is My Story: The Sanctified Soul of Arizona Dranes book/CD
    (Tomkins Square)

    Back in 1926, Arizona Dranes went to Okeh Records and recorded 16 tracks. She was blind, she sang songs from the Church of God in Christ tradition (a Pentecostal sect), and she played one hell of a piano. She recorded 16 tracks between 1926 and 1928, and that was it as far as studio work went. She toured churches for the next 20 years, but she never recorded again.

    Any church that had a piano player like Dranes would be filled to overflowing, I'd think. She seems to play as if possessed by the Holy Ghost. And who knows? Maybe she was.

    When a gospel singer is feeling it, the results can be amazing. Dranes was not only a stunning piano player but a wonderfully expressive singer as well. She's occasionally joined by some backup singers, and the resulting choir can be riotously joyous.

    Not much has been known about Dranes past the information in the bio in the first paragraph. But Michael Corcoran has written a book that sheds some light on her life, and for good measure he had included all of her recordings. Far too few, to be sure, but utterly astounding.

    Contact: www.tompkinssquare.com
    Buy: A&A aStore (CD + book)


    Fadensonnen
    White Night
    (Fadensonnen Records)

    A certain PD and FD are responsible for the chaos of this album. You should be on your knees. In chains, preferably. This is music of utter bondage. Once you enter the album, you will be defenseless against its charms.

    Charms, of course, is a relative term. The distorted riffage and generally deconstructed lines of the songs (a loose term, to be sure) are aggressive and mean. The sound is abrasive and harsh. The effect is impossibly liberating.

    So you get it or you don't. These are songs, not just tone poems, and they do say something. They probably aren't the future of rock and roll (though I wouldn't rule it out), but they're goddamned thrilling. Chaos abounds and life flows.

    And not inconsiderable brilliance. Absolutely lovely fare, if you construe lovely the way I do. Fadensonnen is mean, rude and avaricious. Totally lovely.

    Contact:
    Fadensonnen Records
    fadensonnen-music.blogspot.com/


    Lymbyc Systym
    Symbolist
    (Western Vinyl)

    The latest electronic musings from Jared and Michael Bell. Perhaps it's just a coincidence, but just as the band has shifted to Western Vinyl and its somewhat more experimental focus, Lymbyc Systym has allowed itself to lose just a little focus.

    That simply leads to greater flights of imagination. There are fewer samples, less emphasis on beats and a greater use of melodic keyboards. Maybe this stuff is more focused even as it moves away from its center.

    It's easy to get confused about such things. More clear is the ringing electronic sound that the brothers have embraced here. What beats that are here trend more toward the laptop, which leaves a lot more room in the upper register for the melodies to reverberate.

    There are a lot of instrumental electronic artists out there, and few come close to these guys. Another superlative effort.

    Contact: Western Vinyl
    www.westernvinyl.com
    Buy: A&A aStore (digital)


    Pan
    These Are the Things I Love and I Want to Share Them With You
    (Post-Echo)

    The band's debut EP was titled Post Rock Is Not Dead, and this full-length follows in that tradition. Pans takes vaguely proggy instrumentals that borrow from the best of 80s and 90s indie rock and blend them together into modestly fist-shaking anthems. Oh, and some of the songs have vocals. Occasionally.

    So if you can imagine Ween playing June of 44 songs with the attitude and recklessness of the Minutemen, well, you might be in the ballpark. Pan isn't nearly as accomplished as any of those acts, of course, but give the boys time.

    The sound on this album is almost relentlessly shiny, which works for these amazingly bright songs. Perhaps the EP should have been titled Post Rock Is Not Totally Dreary.

    It's not, of course, but Pan is endearingly joyous as it bounds and rebounds through these meadows. Gorgeous and surprisingly moving.

    Buy: A&A aStore (digital)


    Sci-Fi Romance
    The Ghost of John Henry
    (self-released)

    Veering from the jaunty punk-country of mid-80s Mekons to the more lurching, dirgethemic sounds of 16 Horsepower, Sci-Fi Romance digs some serious furrows in the americana sound.

    Definitely not happy-go-lucky. Even the more uplifting songs tend to be downers (thus the obvious references to Nick Cave in the press notes), but like the blues, that simply lifts the spirits of the listener. Sci-Fi Romance sings about the dark places, but addressing these themes seems to suggest that there might be light just around the corner. Even if the corner seems like it might be miles away.

    An original take on this sub-sub-genre. The stripped-down, minimalist punk sound brings a haunted feel to these songs. The darkness is certainly intentional. And it brings even more depth to these songs.

    Lovely in its terror, The Ghost of John Henry leaves a mark with its passing. I imagine it will do so with repeat listenings. I can't wait.

    Contact:
    scifiromance.net
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    Worsel Strauss
    Unattention Economy
    (Vicmod)

    The press notes for this album are absolutely silly. And I think that's the point. Strauss's use of electronic minimalism encourage unconventional responses.

    At times the sounds here sound almost spontaneously-generated by one machine or another. And maybe they are (within the bounds of programming, of course). But the melodies are certainly human-derived. The larger question--who cares?--is worth asking.

    That is a central query within this album, I think. Some folks like to delineate between noise and music. Worsel Strauss doesn't bother with labels. There's plenty of electronic noise (pleasant modulations as opposed to harsh feedback, but noise nonetheless), but also some lovely melodies.

    I lean toward calling all organized sound music. Makes things easier for me. Worsel Strauss doesn't make anything easy, but these songs are wonderfully stimulating.

    Contact:
    VicMod
    P.O. Box 1653
    Ventura, CA 93002
    www.vicmod.net


    Zen Widow featuring Wadada Leo Smith
    Screaming in Daytime (Makes Men Forget)
    (pfMENTUM)

    While this album is extremely hard to categorize, I'll try: The three guys in Zen Widow got Wadada Leo Smith to sit in on a series of semi-improvisations on themes from the work of tenor saxophonist Glenn Spearman.

    The pieces are long and rambling. They have the sound and trappings of "normal" jazz, but the improvisations quickly take these pieces to the limits of that genre. Rather than manic riffs on this or that, however, these pieces are contemplative and often languid. There's no hurry, even within the occasional freakout.

    The sound is what makes this album sound most jazz-like. The warm tones lend these songs the veneer of jazz, a veneer that never quite gets sanded away.

    It takes a while to get the real feel of this album. But when it hits, there's no escape. You'll simply have to deal with the aftermath.

    Contact:
    pfMENTUM
    P.O. Box 1653
    Ventura, CA 93002
    www.pfmentum.com


    Also recommended:

    Best Practices The EP LP (self-realased)
    For those who like their hardcore served up with a soupcon of melody, may I present Best Practices. The riffage is like All or Descendents run through a concrete mixer, and the vocals are just as harsh--but with a nod toward something musical. For a real old school reference, think Ff. Wonderfully loud and aggressive, and simply lovely to boot. I had a fabulous time.
    Contact: bestpractices.bandcamp.com

    Black Cadillacs Run (Young Giant)
    If the Kings of Leon are classic rock these days, the Black Cadillacs fit right into that arena. Kinda bluesy, kinda just 70sy, y'know, that chill out and get moderately depressed kind of music. Done very nicely, though I get the feeling I've heard these songs somewhere else, if in a different key. These boys need to refine their sound just a bit. The talent is there; now the writing must follow.
    Buy: A&A aStore (digital)

    PJ Bond + Brian Bond Brother Bones/Baby Bones EP (The Black Numbers)
    The brothers Bond have made their own names on the americana circuit. Last year they decided to get together for an album. Each wrote four songs and they both played on all of them. Fans will quickly note the distinctive musical styles of each (PJ has the first four songs, and Brian the second, if you want to know), but the two work quite nicely together here. Okay, so they didn't exactly come together. This is a worthy set, nonetheless.
    Buy: A&A aStore (digital)

    Boy King Islands Sun Worship (Plustapes)
    Zachary Mastoon (Caural and others) and Jason Hunt have been wandering through the lands of anthemic electronic-tinged rock for almost a decade. This set finds the guys trafficking in some lovely lo-fi fuzz and gauzy melodies. A bit too peppy to be called shoegaze, but pleasantly introspective in any case.
    Buy: A&A aStore (digital)

    Raymond Byron & the White Freighter Little Death Shaker (Asthmatic Kitty)
    Bringing an eclectic minimalist americana feel to proggy pop (or perhaps it's the other way around), Raymond Byron isn't afraid to mix and match his sounds. The songs themselves can be a bit clunky, but that rough-hewn ethos just adds another layer. Sure, I'd like to hear a bit more coherence, but throwing in a safety net would take all the fun out of this album.
    Buy: A&A aStore (CD)
    A&A aStore (digital)

    Cari Clara Midnight March (Deep Elm)
    Eric Deidrichs of Moth is Cari Clara, though he's put together a band for live shows and some recording. No matter the personnel, these pieces still retain that one-man single-mindedness, but I kinda like that sort of obsession. This album is a bit more anthemic and dramatic than past outings (if I recall correctly), and the high points are positively enthralling.
    Buy: A&A aStore (digital)

    Cemeteries The Wilderness (Lefse)
    Ringing pop with the benefit of minimalist rootsy backing. Cemeteries exists somewhere between those two ideals, and it's a lovely valley. Solidly-written and performed with just the right amount of off-handed glory.
    Buy: A&A aStore (CD)
    A&A aStore (digital)

    Choongum Fantasy EP (self-released)
    Loopy electronic fare that features clicky beats and melodies with a decided soft focus. The four songs here are great; they bend their way around all sorts of ideas. I'll have more, please.
    Contact: choongum.bandcamp.com
    Buy: A&A aStore (digital)

    Conduits Conduits (Team Love)
    Conduits may be from Omaha (and feature members from semi-famous Omaha bands), but this album sounds a lot more coastal. Lots of big rock sounds filtered through layers of distortion and electronics. I wouldn't worry too much about peeling the onion here; it's the final product that impresses the most.
    Buy: A&A aStore (digital)

    Darlingside Pilot Machines (self-released)
    Mandolin, cello, violin, guitar and drums. These folks style themselves a "string-rock quintet," and I'll go along with that. Songs full of quiet intensity and orchestral complexity. I'm a fan of atmospheric pop, and Darlingside delivers.
    Contact: www.darlingside.com
    Buy: A&A aStore (digital)

    Ethan Daniel Davidson Silvertooth (self-released)
    Rollicking folk-plus songs. Davidson has been doing this for a while, and his take on up-tempo acoustic stuff is impressive. Oh, and he's pretty damned funny as well. Throw in some clarinet (b-flat and bass) and some other intriguing instrumentation and you get quite the concoction.
    Contact: ethandanieldavidson.com

    The Daydreamers With Your Love EP (self-released)
    Pretty jangle-pop that takes its folky roots quite seriously. These folks are somewhat adventurous, and those side trips are entertaining, if not particularly enlightening. I'd like to hear what comes next.
    Contact: www.thedaydreamersmusic.com

    Dikembe Broad Shoulders (Tiny Engines)
    Apparently Dikembe is something of a comer in punk circles. I can hear why. The band is utterly proficient in its playing, and the songs are both ultra-earnest and occasionally funny. Musically, this lies somewhere in macho emo retread territory, but the overall effect is pretty solid. If these be comers, life could be worse.
    Buy: A&A aStore (digital)

    Diva Moon Moods (Critical Heights)
    More experimental electronic pop from Diva. As a genre, I'm not sure what to make of this. But I like the way this meanders around. The album exists in a dream state, which doesn't make it entirely coherent. But therein lie the charms.
    Buy: A&A aStore (CD)
    A&A aStore (digital)

    Eclectic Mayhem Eclectic Mayhem (self-released)
    Lovely, punchy fare from Cleveland. Even the more contemplative pieces are cut like gems. Precision is the key, and it provides plenty of definition for these songs. Eclectic Mayhem winds its way through many sounds without losing grasp of its own identity. Quite engaging.
    Contact: eclecticmayhemmusic.com
    Buy: A&A aStore (digital)

    Johan Ess vltrahex (self-released)
    I'm not sure how someone so down with such a wide variety of electronic sounds could be from Asheville. On the other hand, why not? In any case, Ess blasts his way on a round-trip journey through house, trance, and whatever they're calling ultra-accessible experimental electronic stuff these days. Feel the throb, if you dare.
    Contact: www.myspace.com/johaness

    The Farewell Circuit In Our Bones (Princess)
    Raucously eclectic post-indie rock (is that a genre? It should be). The Farewell Circuit rarely gets close to a roar, but these songs have plenty going on inside. Sometimes the proceedings almost tear themselves apart (in the most delicate fashion), but by and large the band holds it together. I've always liked the sound of impending collapse.

    Josephine Foster Blood Rushing (Fire)
    I remain a bigger fan of Foster's partner, Victor Herrero, who really makes the music come to life. But this collection of Foster's songs is truly engaging--moreso than her renditions of folks songs past. These songs meander around the folk traditions of different continents, but Foster's unique voice provides a solid touchpoint. That voice is a point of contention for some, including me, but her affected singing works very well with her compositions.
    Buy: A&A aStore (CD)
    A&A aStore (digital)

    Greencarpetedstairs Greencarpetedstairs (Fake Four)
    Chilled out experimental fuzz electronic. Sometimes the beats are sprinkled, and sometimes they thunder. Neil Ewing has a fine feel for creating mellow epics. Let them run down the night.
    Buy: A&A aStore (digital)

    Jacob Felix Heule/Bryce Beverlin II Intersects (Eh?)
    A couple of performances of percussive and electronic experimentation. The boys are quite inventive, and particularly toward the middle of the pieces (performances?) they create some astounding sounds.

    The Illegitimate Sons American Music (self-released)
    Well, yes. I suppose there's some value in calling your album of songs in the key of americana American Music. Even if Johnny Cash went there 20 years ago. Anyways, these songs ramble and bramble on in a mostly pleasant vein. They hit all the high points (suicide, murder, evil women, etc.) with twang and a smile. Like the title, I've kinda heard it all before, but this is a solid effort.
    Contact: theillegitimatesons.com
    Buy: A&A aStore (CD)
    A&A aStore (digital)

    La Armada La Armada (Fat Sandwich)
    Deciding that Chicago was a better fit than their native Santo Domingo (D.R.), the members of La Armada brought their uncompromising brand of Spanish-language political hardcore stateside. My high school Spanish is pretty rusty, but my kids assure me that these songs are angry. I know they're loud. The sort of buzzsaw we need in an election year.

    The Loyal Opposition Under the State (Music Ration Entertainment)
    Solid throbbing industrial electronic dance fare. If you remember the days of Birmingham 6 and KMFDM's Giorgio Moroder stage, well, this might make you smile. Just don't stop moving.
    Buy: A&A aStore (digital)

    Ming and Ping The Darkness of Night EP (Bao Vo Creative)
    The brothers are back with the first part of a supposed "twin EP." This seven-song set contains a heavy dose of the dreamy, dense electro-pop that is a hallmark of these boys. Is there any progression? Probably not. But the songwriting remains top-notch, and the production is lush and gorgeous. Fun as always.
    Buy: A&A aStore (digital)

    Kalen Nash Ukred (Normaltown)
    Nash is better known for fronting Ponderosa. This set is much more deep in the woods than that, and there's a lovely reverb in the sound that provides some great resonance. Wander down the trail and see what appears.
    Buy: A&A aStore (digital)

    Point Juncture, WA Handsome Orders (Mt. Fuji)
    A new set from this west coast band that seems bent on redefining indie rock. The rhythms can be sedate or punchy, and the influences range from Bacharach to Ryan Adams to Superchunk to Stereolab. Perhaps its this polymathic approach that makes these albums hard for me to process. I like them, but I haven't fallen in love yet. Maybe this one will do the trick in a few months. Time will tell.
    Buy: A&A aStore (CD)
    A&A aStore (digital)

    Raf Riley Dog UnitEP (Mad Decent)
    Three crazily thrilling electrobeat packages. When assembled, they make Dog Unit. The cinematic nature of these pieces creates an almost-unstoppable rush. Over the top, and brilliantly so.

    St. Van Cortlandt & the 101 Songs Without Faces, Friends Without Words (self-released)
    Daniel Van Cortlandt is a fine songwriter, and he's solo on this disc (he fills out his sound with a live band, apparently). There's a bit of a heavy emphasis on the clever rather than the wise when it comes to the lyrics, which leads to a superficial glibness at times. The music, on the other hand, is uniformly outstanding. These songs connect quite well.
    Contact: stvc101.bandcamp.com
    Buy: A&A aStore (CD)
    A&A aStore (digital)

    Jen Schande 19 (Songs For & Inspired by Valencia: Chapter 19) (self-released)
    One listen and you know this is one of those female-led west coast things. Schande and the band (which was once called Schande, I believe) touch on grunge, the riot grrl sound of the 90s and more modern themes. But it still sounds, you know, like what it is. Which is pretty good.
    Contact: allthingsschande.bandcamp.com
    Buy: A&A aStore (digital)

    The Scutches Ten Songs, Ten Years (PAF!)
    Lovely, tuneful hardcore surf punk. Kinda like Screeching Weasel. Or the Queers. Or any of the Mass Giordano projects. Expertly played and recorded. Ride the wave. Dude.
    Buy: A&A aStore (CD)
    A&A aStore (digital)

    Shmu Discipline/Communication (self-released)
    Sam Chown is half of Zorch, a San Antonio-based band that thrives on chaos. As Shmu, Chown delves into his smooth and orderly side. More Steely Dan than strict shoegaze, these songs are as eclectic as those of Zorch, but they generally stay on the well-trimmed side of the hedge.
    Contact: www.shmusix.com
    Buy: A&A aStore (CD)

    Skyline Drive Topanga Ranch Motel (self-released)
    A couple of americana lifers (I guess that's possible these days) get together to make some comfy music. Derek Thomas (60 Watt Kid) and Erik Kristiansen (who has worked with Ryan Adams among many others) have the cred, and they've put together some nice songs. Perhaps a bit too mannered for my taste, but lovely to the ears in any case.
    Contact: skylinedrive.bandcamp.com
    Buy: A&A aStore (digital)

    Silent Rider Silent Rider (self-released)
    Ringing melodies that glisten in an electronic universe. Kinda trippy and kinda mellow. I prefer the former to the latter, but there's plenty of intensity nonetheless. Strap on your space helmet and take a ride.
    Contact: www.silentridermusic.com
    Buy: A&A aStore (CD)
    A&A aStore (digital)

    State Lines State Lines 7" (Tiny Engines)
    Four muscular melodic punk pieces. Raggedy harmonies abound, and so do the good feelings. Nothing spectacular, but this one goes down quite easily.

    Suit of Lights Shine on Forever (self-released)
    Joe Darone has plenty of help on this disc. And when that help includes Trevor Dunn and Steve Pedulla, you might get the idea that this gets out there. Not really. Darone is a disciplined songwriter, and while these pieces have their proggy moments, he keeps a tight rein throughout. I think this one will wear very well for me.
    Contact: suitoflights.com
    Buy: A&A aStore (digital)

    Harry Taussig Fate Is Only Twice (Tomkins Square)
    Coming only 47 years after the release of Fate Is Only Once, Harry Taussig has finally put out another album. After the reissue of that album in 2005, Taussig picked up a guitar for the first time in 35 years. He later bought a National Steel, and now we have this album. In short, listening to these songs is like listening to a conversation. Taussig's easy way around the instrument make this album a joy to hear. Truly beautiful.
    Buy: A&A aStore (CD)
    A&A aStore (digital)

    Allen Thompson Band Allen Thompson Band (Palaver)
    Solid songwriting and a first-rate taste in influences. These songs roll nicely down the river. Perhaps not the most distinctive album around, but one that is easily likeable. Settle into a comfy chair.
    Buy: A&A aStore (digital)

    UN NU Recoupements (Eh?)
    Guitar and bass taken to their illogical extremes. Pascal Battus and Banjamin Duboc play at the far reaches of sound and music. This is not entirely comprehensible, but I'd say that's part of the point. Ride the rumble and see where you go.

    Wilkinson Blades 4:00 a.m. (Shiftone)
    Fine western americana. A bit more rockin' than most, and a bit more twangy as well. The songs are almost aggressively engaging, a fair mix of the Byrds and early Uncle Tupelo. Not that great, of course, but awfully fine in any case.
    Buy: A&A aStore (CD)
    A&A aStore (digital)

    Wickerbird The Crow Mother (self-released)
    Blake Cowan isn't afraid to throw a little reverb into his primitive folk songs. He overdubs his vocals to create something of a breathy choir sound, and the overall effect is quite soothing, with just the slightest creepy undercurrent. I like that.
    Contact: wickerbird.bandcamp.com
    Buy: A&A aStore (digital)

    Windsor Drive Wanderlust EP (self-released)
    Reminds me of the faux-rock, electronic-driven pop of the mid-80s. A bit peppier than Howard Jones, but somewhere in that range. In truth, this is kinda middling even as that stuff goes, but I am a child of the 80s and this speaks to something in my core, however sad that might be.
    Contact: www.windsordrivemusic.com
    Buy: A&A aStore (digital)

    Bill Wilson Ever Changing Minstrel re-issue (Tomkins Square)
    Sometimes people and music just get lost. Columbia Records released this album in 1973. It went nowhere. Wilson's sound is a bit closer to the Allmans than Gram Parsons, though he plays a simply acoustic, rather than any slide guitar. Boy, could he write some songs. Here's hoping this re-issue brings more people to Wilson's music.
    Buy: A&A aStore (CD)


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