New Morning Picks, January 10, 2016

The Infamous Stringdusters are the hosts of The Festy Experience (Columbus Day weekend) in Nelson County. Last year’s CD, Ladies and Gentlemen, allowed them to team up with the some of the best female voices of folk and country. The ladies took the lead vocals while the ‘Dusters played the role of houseband. This time around, Laws of Gravity, is all about their ‘force of nature’ as a band of singers, songwriters and players.  The song, “Gravity,” highlights their talents in vocal harmonies. Others show the lightning speed of the picking along with their musicality that we have come to expect over the last decade.

Travis Linville is the “godfather of modern Oklahoma folk.” He helped put together the first John Fullbright album, taught the then 9 year old Parker Millsap guitar, and has been Hayes Carll’s sideman. It is time that this talented musician step forward. He gets come help on Up Ahead from Flaming Lips drummer, Matt Duckworth. “Wishes” has I-hope-for-you-the-best list with some great sounding guitar.

Between 2002 and 2012 Rose Cousins toured constantly, so by the time she was done touring for We Have Made a Spark, she wanted to take a break. She took her creative energy and applied it to her interest in photography. Her return the life of a singer-songwriter is called In Conclusion. WNRN is playing “Freedom.” (Photo: Vanessa Heins)

January 13th, 2017|Anne Williams, Featured, Miscellaneous|

January 2017 Acoustic CD of the Month

The new album from Charlottesville’s own The Hill and Wood, When You Go, is the January 2017 Acoustic CD of the Month.

The music scene in Charlottesville has benefitted from the energy and care of Sam Bush. He came to Charlottesville as a UVA undergratuate majoring in English and Religious Studies. He graduated in 2009. Bush became active at Christ Episcopal Church as a student.  After university,  he joined the music ministry staff as well as curating The Garage, the church’s art space / music venue on 1st Street.  This venue has given hundreds of artists the chance to play. As an example, The Garage gave the Lumineers their first chance to play in Charlottesville.

Outside of Christ Church, Bush has made his mark on the Charlottesville music scene as the frontman and songwriter  for the local band, The Hill and Wood. This band’s sound easily fits with other “soft is the new loud” musicians such as Sufjan Stevens and Damien Rice. It has had several incarnations which can be a whole emsemble or be paired down to Bush by himself or just with Juliana Daughtery. This new album features long time collaborator, Daughtery, as well as other members on bass, drums, guitars, keyboards and pedal steel. The songs do integrate bible imagery including the catchy “Jericho”, but most are about life choices, and consequences.

WNRN presents The Hill and Wood CD release show for When You Go at the Southern Cafe and Music Hall on January 28th. Hope to see you there!

January 4th, 2017|Anne Williams, CD of the Month, Featured, Miscellaneous|

New Morning Picks, December 13, 2016

‘Twas right before the holidays, when all through the station
Not a promoter was calling, not even a tour manager;
The top ten lists were hung by the mixing board with care,
In hopes that new year’s music soon would be there;

Apologies for the parody of the old Christmas rhyme, but this is the last installment of the new morning picks until the new year. Blessed holidays to all!

A favorite Austin band, Band of Heathens, will release Duende on January 13! If this new one is anything like their catalog, high energy, excellent harmonies and great songs are on the way with the new release, but we will have to wait and listen to just this one new song from them, “All I’m Asking” in the meantime. They will be at Gypsy Sally’s in DC on January 21.

Girls, Guns, & Glory released Love and Protest in November. No Depression states this is their best effort to date. Ward Hayden, lead singer and songwriter, says each song on the album is journey that explores love and what comes next, including the Graham Parsons cover, “Hot Burrito #1.” The band asked Duke Levine to sit in on live sessions that created this album. 🙂 We are playing one of Hayden’s songs, “Memories Don’t Die.”

 

December 13th, 2016|Anne Williams, Miscellaneous|

Acoustic CD of the Month for November 2016

John Prine‘s For Better For Worse is the November 2016 Acoustic CD of the Month.

John Prine has released another album of country duets called For Better, Or Worse. Prine teams up with an all-star array of female singers to cover vintage country tunes. In a sense, it is a follow up to 1999’s In Spite Of Ourselves. This album is Prine’s first album since emerging victorious from his second struggle with the cancer. His voice is rougher with time and treatment for the illness, but in this context it serves to make him more like the guy next door.

While other artists use duets or cover albums to a strategically attempt to make themselves commercially relevant again, Prine has been recording for his own label since the 1980s and answers to no one. The cast on this new CD includes a ‘re’-pairing of Prine along with Iris DeMent and Fiona Prine. The talent also includes Alison Krauss, Kacey Musgraves, Susan Tedeschi, Amanda Shires, as well as Miranda Lambert, Lee Ann Womack and Kathy Mattea.

Prine sings one of the three Hank Williams songs with Hank’s granddaughter Holly Williams in “I’m Telling You.” He also takes on the Ernest Tubb/Loretta honky-tonk classic “Who’s Gonna Take Your Garbage Out.” On a happier note, the pairing of Morgane Stapleton and Prine on “Look At Us” reassures us that there can be songs about domestic bliss that fit into this profile of partnership.

Although some fans may miss hearing new songs from Prine, he does use his voice and delivery to bring these songs to life as if they were his own. This fan is grateful for the new role John Prine is playing: curator of classic country music at its best. (Photo: Josh Britt)

November 1st, 2016|Anne Williams, CD of the Month, Miscellaneous|

Acoustic CD of the Month October 2016

Hiss Golden Messenger’s Heart Like a Levee is the Acoustic CD of the Month for October 2016.

Hiss Golden Messenger return on October 7 with Heart Like a Levee, their 7th studio album, the first in two years. WNRN added “Biloxi” this summer and has been anxiously awaiting the whole album.

M.C. Taylor says about Heart Like a Levee, “I wrote these songs during a time of transition and doubt. The process was raw, but also joyous. I spent a lot of time with these words and chords in all types of weather. In the end I learned more about myself making this record than any in the past, and that’s one important way for me to gauge whether an album was worth making.”

The new release was self-produced by Taylor and Bradley Cook and recorded in Durham, NC, with Taylor’s close-knit North Carolina collaborators: brothers Phil and Bradley Cook on piano and bass, respectively; Matt McCaughan on drums; Tift Merritt and Alexandra Sauser-Monnig on backing vocals; and Matt Douglas and Michael Lewis on horns.

There is so much to dig into on Heart Like a Levee. The songs deal with leaving and returning, belief and trust, guilt, honesty, and life on the road. “Say It Like You Mean It” sounds like the next radio single.

October 1st, 2016|Anne Williams, CD of the Month|

New Morning Picks, September 20, 2016

No matter if you call him Modern Bakersfield Country or New Traditionalist, Dwight Yoakam has been releasing good music from LA since 1986. (He has also been on the big screen in Sling Blade and Panic Room.) The newest is a new bluegrass record, Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars…. There is a country ballad version of “Purple Rain.” Who knew Prince could write a country song? Dwight turns it into one. We play his bluegrass version of the classic “These Arms” that was originally released on A Long Way Home in 1989.

A year after the birth of her first child, Amanda Shires is out with a new release, My Piece of Land. Known as a fiddler and singer, she does a majority of the songwriting on this new release. Some on her own as well as with her husband, Jason Isbell. She gets help from Isbell’s producer, Dave Cobb, who seems to bring out the best in her voice and songs. Mornings will features “The Way It Dimmed.”

Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin is the producer of the new (pronounced green sky) Greensky  Bluegrass CD, Shouted, Written Down & Quoted. Trying to straddle the line between the highly disciplined bluegrass genre and the long form jam world has been hard to translate onto a record. Steve Berlin made that happen. WNRN plays “Merely Avoiding.” You can catch them at the National in Richmond on September 28.

Stand out live folk band of the 1960s, the Jim Kweskin Jug Band blended country, ragtime, jazz, and rock ‘n’ roll. Geoff Muldaur got his start there as a singer and guitarist. Kweskin and Muldaur reunited the jug band for a tour in 2015. They follow up with their own CD and tour this year. Listening to the new CD, Penny’s Farm, is trip through folk classics with their signature playing style. I hope you dig into this one and hear their version of traditional ‘Down On Penny’s Farm’ and Vera Hall’s ‘The Boll Weevil.’ (Vera Hall is the voice that is sampled on Moby’s Play CD singing ‘Natural Blues.’) “Sweet to Mama” is a bluesy number that captures the exquisite playing and singing of Muldaur.

 

 

September 20th, 2016|Anne Williams, Miscellaneous|

New Morning Picks September 13, 2016

A Nashville songwriter and distant cousin of producer extraordinaire, Dave Cobb, makes his debut with Shine on Rainy Day. Initially, Brent Cobb resisted coming to Nashville. It took Luke Bryan calling him and asking him to come in 2008. Brent Cobb debuts on WNRN with “Solvin’ Problems” from his October 7th release. In this song, Cobb takes an ordinary moment and allows transcendence and truth to shine from a balcony on Music Row.

The Walcotts are an Americana Roots band of nine members from LA. They take their two singers, a horn section, a fiddle player, a pedal steel guitarist, a pianist, and a rhythm section and not only pay tribute to their influences like Little Feat and The Band but create songs for their dynamic live shows. They received praise for opening for Chris Stapleton in 2015. The debut CD, Let the Devil Win, gives us “Should’ve Been Me.”

September 13th, 2016|Anne Williams, Miscellaneous|

New Morning Music for September 6, 2016

The new Devil Makes Three is half “darker” gospel songs and half songs of vice called Redemption and Ruin. WNRN grabbed a gospel number, “There’ll Be A Jubilee.”  We look forward to their show at the Jefferson Theater in January 2017.

John Prine put out his first coed country duets CD, In Spite of Ourselves, in 1999. For Better, Or Worse (out Sept. 30) could be called In Spite of Ourselves Volume 2. Prine jokes that he was “kinda tricked” into recording it. Alison Krauss, Amanda Shires, Lee Ann Womack, Iris DeMent and other female country singers lovingly add their voices to this project. On “Color of the Blues” Prine is joined by Susan Tedeschi.

North Carolina’s Americana/bluegrass band, Chatham County Line, has release their seventh studio album, Autumn. Dave Wilson produced and wrote the 11 songs. “Show Me The Door” highlights the songwriting, arrangements, and trademark harmonies.

Claire Lynch pays homage to her favorite Canadian songwriters on North by South. After her recent marriage to a Canadian, Lynch dug into the catalog of songs written by Canadian songwriters. Lynch’s cover of Gordon Lightfoot’s “It’s Worth Believin'” featuring Jerry Douglas on dobro and Brian McDowell on vocals.

 

September 9th, 2016|Anne Williams, Miscellaneous|

September 2016 Acoustic CD of the Month

The Head and the Heart’s third album, Signs of Light, is the Acoustic CD of the Month for September 2016.

The story of The Head and The Heart maybe familiar to you. Richmond, Virginia’s Jonathan Russell and Tyler Williams met some fine Seattle musicians there and form this band. They have put out two albums on Sub Pop (one’s cover art features a WNRN tee shirt). They have stepped up musically and joined Warner Brothers for this new one, Signs of Light.

All the key ingredients are there in the new album: excellent songwriting, their own unique sound that shows the influence of the Beatles, Americana and country rock, harmonies and the showcasing of each member’s talents. In a note to fans, THATH shares, “during the writing in Stinson Beach, … we were able to explore new sounds and indulge each other’s ideas. It’s the latest step in our band’s evolution.”

What is clear to this fan’s ears is the gigantic step forward they took in the production of the songs and ideas. From the first notes of “All We Ever Knew” you can hear the difference. The first half of the album is a stream of “hit after hit,” guaranteeing its place in this years “best of” list for me. This string of potential radio songs tells of its longevity in fans and newcomers playlists from this point forward. The latter half of the album lets us hear the band’s more experimental side providing songs that need more attentive listening. We will get more from them each time we listen.

Right now, the closest The Head and The Heart will play is DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, DC on October 22.

September 1st, 2016|Anne Williams, Miscellaneous|

August 2016 Acoustic CD of the Month

The Acoustic CD of the Month for August 2016 is Caveman’s third album, Otero War.

This five piece indie rock band from Brooklyn came together in 2010 after the dissolution of the members’ former bands. Caveman has been compared to Wilco, the Shins, and Tears for Fears because of its use of synths and rhythmic guitars to create cinematic, heady, melodic indie folk-rock. The reviews of the first two albums praise the quintet with creating complex musical ideas with grabbing melodies and atmospheric warmth.

The cover art of Otero War looking like soundtrack to a sci-fi movie just adds to the idea of the cinematic quality of Caveman’s bright melodies and dystopian lyrics. Any of the songs would easily fit behind movie or tv scenes. “Never Going Back” has a great hook and shows that talent for writing songs that stay with you. Matthew Iwanusa vocals are one of the highlights throughout the album, including “Life Or Just Living”, “Human,” “80 West,” and “All My Life.”

You can check out the recent interview that WNRN’s Melissa Goode did with Caveman at: http://www.wnrn.org/?s=caveman

August 1st, 2016|Anne Williams, CD of the Month, Miscellaneous|