Tag Archives: americana

Richmond Fontaine ‎- I Can’t Black It Out If I Wake Up And Remember (2016)

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Portland’s beloved Richmond Fontaine disbanded in 2017 before frontman Willy Vlautin wrote a fifth novel (Don’t Skip Out On Me) and convinced his pals to reunite to write an instrumental soundtrack for it. So the band’s last real album was 2006’s You Can’t Go Back If There’s Nothing To Go Back. The band may have reached their peak with 2003’s americana masterpiece Post to Wire, but a slow-burner track like ‘I Can’t Black It Out If I Wake up And Remember’ was a reminder of the wistful and widescreen landscape they are able to create in sound.

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Cass McCombs ‎- Sleeping Volcanoes (2019)

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This morning, it’s another track off Tip Of The Sphere, Cass McCombs’ ninth studio album from last year. The Californian troubadour knows how to create an intro.

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Alberta Cross ‎- Find A Home Out There (2018)

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I am a fan of Brooklyn-based, Swedish-born Petter Ericson Stakee. The singer-guitarist has announced a tour this week after a run of recent single releases: ‘We Lose Each Other’, ‘Keep The Damage To Myself’, ‘What Are We Frightened Of?’ and the most recent ‘Something Real To Defend’. The flurry all started with last year’s all started last year’s ‘Find A Home Out There’ that got a feature on the ABC drama A Million Little Things. I think that we can expect a new LP from Alberta Cross soon, the first since 2015’s self-titled album. Lest we forget this is an americana band that was Born in London. Stakee has travelled a long way.

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Uncle Tupelo ‎- Anodyne (1993)

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Looking through yesterday’s post on the sounds of the 1990s, I notice my affection for americana doesn’t reveal itself until Wilco’s release of Summerteeth in 1999. To these ears, the fine balance between alt rock and country is best heard through the output of Jeff Tweedy. In 1987, Tweedy and Jay Farrar founded alt-country trailblazers Uncle Tupelo. Their catalogue is thin, influential and no better than on the title track of 1993’s Anodyne, their major-label debut. The LP was a parting gift, but Tweedy and Farrar’s competitive relationship would yield Wilco and Son Volt, respectively.

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Cass McCombs ‎- The Great Pixley Train Robbery (2019)

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For those of you that like a spoonful of country with your rock, look no further than Cass McCombs’ latest recording Tip of the Sphere. The second track is the rollicking ‘The Great Pixley Train Robbery’ with its thick lick of southern rock and video that features one of the classic sequences from Once Upon A Time In The West. Tick. Tick.

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The Handsome Family – Far From Any Road (2003)

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Husband-and-wife duo Brett and Rennie Sparks explore some dark, wistful americana on their 2003 album Singing Bones. With its mandolin and trumpet, ‘Far From Any Road’ evokes dusty backcountry, far removed from The Handsome Family’s Chicago.

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Midlake – The Old & The Young (2013)

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midlake-2013

Has it really been a decade since Midlake released their sublime second album The Trials of Van Occupanther? To my ears, they have never again reached those high sounds. That said, in 2013, the troubadour in them had a momentary return. From their fourth album Antiphon sprung ‘The Old & The Young’ with its echoes of the psychedelic side of Laurel Canyon.

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Richmond Fontaine – The Warehouse Life (2005)

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willy-vlautin-2016

Last Friday, I went to a Richmond Fontaine gig in London. Love songs, art songs, folk songs, smart songs, Willy Vlautin’s narration always sounds like a man ruminating about modern life. The flannel shirt helps that impression. It is what alt-country should sound like before Jeff Tweedy turned it on its head. ‘The Warehouse Life’ was the opening track on 2005 album The Fitzgerald.

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Grandaddy – He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s The Pilot (2000)

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Grandaddy

Jumping a decade, the new millennium had hit and The Flaming Lips had released their brilliant LP Soft Bulletin to top off the 1990s. And so, it was no coincidence that I was lapping up all things americana and psychedelic. Released in May 2000, The Sophtware Slump is the second studio pressing from Grandaddy. The opening track ‘He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s the Pilot’ is lush, conceptual and multi-layered. Have a great week.

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The Delines – Colfax Avenue (2014)

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The Delines

In 2014, The Delines created a sound that was undoubtedly the work of Richmond Fontaine’s Willy Vlautin. But this time, his songwriting prowess was complemented by the vocals of The Damnations’ Amy Boone. Soulful americana followed.

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Bill Callahan – Jim Cain (2009)

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Bill Callahan 2009

From one opening cut to another – ‘Jim Cain’ kicks off Bill Callahan’s 2009 Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle. “I started out in search of ordinary things/How much of a tree bends in the wind/I started telling the story without knowing the end/… I used to be darker, then I got lighter, then I got dark again…” Apart from some airborne sting arrangements, it’s a delightful spoonful of gentle self-indulgence.

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Whitney – No Woman (2016)

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Whitney

Chicago-based Whitney is fronted by former Unknown Mortal Orchestra drummer Julien Ehrlich who sings the lead on the forlorn ‘No Woman’. Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado worked on the production; Max Kakacek provides the all-important and effortless guitar. I really like this sound.

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Lambchop – Is A Woman (2002)

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Kurt Wagner

‘Is A Woman’ is the title track off Lambchop’s 2002 long player. The album sealed Kurt Wagner’s move away from alt-country. The dry sing-speak voice is the same, but in this single – the closing track on the album – Wagner turns his hand to a touch of reggae. As if Randy Newman was backed by the Wailers.

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Kurt Vile – Pretty Pimpin (2015)

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Kurt Vile 2013

I love this track. The boogie rock chord progression – it has more than a passing similarity to the rhythm guitar solo in The Outlaws’ ‘Green Grass and High Tides’. But I’ll more than forgive Mr. Vile for that good spot, because not only did he take the best bit, but also he brings this week full circle. Unusually, I notice the lyrics about his familiar encounter with a bathroom mirror. “I woke up this morning\Didn’t recognise the man in the mirror\Then I laughed and I said, ‘Oh silly me, that’s just me'”. Have a great weekend.

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Phosphorecent – The Quotidian Beasts (2013)

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Phosphorecent 2013

‘Song for Zula’ may be the signature track on Phosphorescent’s 2013 release Muchacho, but the 7-minute + ‘The Quotidian Beasts’ is a harder rocking number. And within it, Matthew Houck is able to convey a dark slice of americana. “She laid her claws all upon me and she found me a glass/I know I’ll be up early, I mean you drew me up bad/And the beast came upon me, I guess it wasn’t so bad.”

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