felice brothers

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Cowboy Junkies; At the End of Paths Taken (Zoe) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Cowboy Junkies; At the End of Paths Taken (Zoe) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

When the Cowboy Junkies' breakthrough album The Trinity Sessions arrived in '87 music was getting noisy and Guns'N Roses stomped the planet. But the Junkies' famously cheap album -- recorded in a church for a couple of hundred dollars apparently -- captured the imagination, especially their version of Lou Reed's Sweet Jane. The mood of the...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007: Watermelon Slim and the Workers; The Wheel Man (Southbound)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007: Watermelon Slim and the Workers; The Wheel Man (Southbound)

To be honest I didn't quite "get" the last, self-titled, album by this rough'n'ready bluesman, but I was clearly in the minority: the album won the Mojo magazine and the Independent Music Awards for blues album of the year, got six nominations at the Blues Music Awards and so on. And this album -- which I have to say I...

The Felice Brothers; Tonight at the Arizona (Shock) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

The Felice Brothers; Tonight at the Arizona (Shock) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Although perhaps too referencing of Dylan and the Band holed up in the basement of the Big Pink, that doesn't mean this shakily delivered collection of Americana from these three brothers and a bassist isn't without considerable charm and lowkey impact. And nope, there is no problem with your stereo during Hey Hey Revolver, that drop-out is...

The Pines: Sparrows in the Bell (Elite)

The Pines: Sparrows in the Bell (Elite)

If these young guys had been around 35 years ago and come out with this album they would have been pegged as yet another "new Dylan". And even now that's a tag they would seem happy with: the opener has the refrain "world gone wrong" which was Dylan album title, and Dylan's slower delivery is everywhere in these...

James Luther Dickinson: Killers From Space (Memphis/Elite) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

James Luther Dickinson: Killers From Space (Memphis/Elite) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

In a cover which looks like it was thought up by a couple of drug-addled on-line kids -- and with a title from a B-grade movie -- comes the latest album by one of the great ignored/overlooked/wayward talents from the South. This is a man for whom a never-recorded, whiskey-soaked Sun session overseen by a voodoo priestess with Mick'n'Keith (c...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Drive-By Truckers: Brighter than Creation's Dark (New West/Elite)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Drive-By Truckers: Brighter than Creation's Dark (New West/Elite)

The Truckers inspire passionate loyalty for their Southern-framed country rock'n'roll and literate, sometimes provocative, lyrics. They often make you want to crack the top off a beer and kick back, but the words touch some deep and dark places as well. Here they open with a weary song about a guy at the gates of Heaven ("two...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Ryan Bingham: Mescalito (Lost Highway)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Ryan Bingham: Mescalito (Lost Highway)

We live and we learn -- and I have been living and relearning by repeat plays of this exceptional debut by someone called Ryan Bingham of whom I know nothing. And in a way, I'm grateful he has lived whatever he has in my place. The hard lessons he seems to have learned, I'm happy to just hear from this distance. I hear dark alt.country,...

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Dig Lazarus Dig (Mute)

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Dig Lazarus Dig (Mute)

My guess is that by this time in his career (and your life) you are either for Cave or couldn't care less. If you are with him but have your critical radar alert you might not concur with the extreme approval some reviewers have given Dig Lazarus Dig. After the very amusing Grinderman project -- which really was rack-it-up music -- this one...

North Mississippi Allstars: Hernando (Songs of the South)

North Mississippi Allstars: Hernando (Songs of the South)

These Allstars aren't really, but two of them are the sons of the great James Luther Dickinson whose last album was one of the Best of Elsewhere 2007: a swirling implosion of country, psychedelic rock, blues and cornmash liquor. The boys haven't fallen too far from the tree but sometimes bring a swag more gritty psychedelic blues into the...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008:  Hayes Carll: Trouble in Mind (Lost Highway)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Hayes Carll: Trouble in Mind (Lost Highway)

You'd think with strip malls, fast food franchises, saturation low-cost reality television and the widespread levelling out of mainstream culture that guys like Carll would have been ironed out of American life But he's one of those crinkles in the texture, an alt.country-cum-trad.country guy who is a little early Steve Earle and Joe Ely,...

Malcolm Holcombe: Gamblin' House (Borders)

Malcolm Holcombe: Gamblin' House (Borders)

Your first response to this gruff-voiced, whisky-stained singer-songwriter may be, "how come I haven't heard of him sooner?"Well, diligent Elsewhere listeners may well have: he appeared on the massive and ambitious Songs of America triple set which appeared here some months back. He sang The Old Woman Taught Wisdom, a song which dates...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: The Felice Brothers: The Felice Brothers (Shock)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: The Felice Brothers: The Felice Brothers (Shock)

These three actual brothers (and a friend) weighed in with the Tonight at the Arizona which made the Best of Elsewhere 2007 list and turned up as many a critic's favourite Americana album.This long-awaited sequel follows an interim album sold at gigs, and a few of those songs are now available on this self-titled album (and some other tracks...

THE BAND; ACROSS THE GREAT DIVIDE BOX SET (1994): Genius all boxed up . . . or maybe not all.

THE BAND; ACROSS THE GREAT DIVIDE BOX SET (1994): Genius all boxed up . . . or maybe not all.

For the record, I turned off the Band around the period they hit the cover of Time magazine in January 1970 - which is to say I never really got into them. This is no brag that when they went commercial I bailed out, more like that guy who yelled “Judas” at Bob Dylan when he plugged in. Just a case of woeful stupidity....

Richmond Fontaine: The Fitzgerald (Southbound)

Richmond Fontaine: The Fitzgerald (Southbound)

Richmond Fontaine come with big advance notices: the indie Americana band from Portland broke big with their rowdy Post to Wire album two years ago, which drew favourable comparisons with the Replacements, but for their follow-up, The Fitzgerald, they have turned the volume way down. Written by guitarist Willy Vlautin while living at...

Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses: Roadhouse Sun (Lost Highway)

Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses: Roadhouse Sun (Lost Highway)

American singer-songwriter Bingham's voice was so lived in and road-hardened on his debut Mescalito (a Best of Elsewhere 2008 album) that he sounded like a man far beyond his mid-20s. He seemed to have literally lived the rough roadhouse life and whisky bars that others could only suggest they had. You didn't doubt his stories of...

The Duke and the King: Nothing Good Can Stay (Shock)

The Duke and the King: Nothing Good Can Stay (Shock)

The singer-songwriter behind this gorgeously tuneful, lyrically probing debut is Simone Felice of the terrific Felice Brothers, two times Best of Elsewhere artists (2007, 2008) for their amalgam of ragged-but-right country which owed huge debts to the early Band and country-styled Bob Dylan, but who put their own stamp on proceedings. The...

Joe Pernice: It Feels So Good When I Stop (RedEye/Southbound)

Joe Pernice: It Feels So Good When I Stop (RedEye/Southbound)

Most of us will be at a disadvantage when it comes to this album by Joe of the very fine Pernice Brothers: these are songs to accompany his debut novel of the same name -- and my guess is it will go largely unread other than by his Serious Fans. No matter perhaps, this should work as a stand-alone item (different idiom) and it largely does as...

Jim White: No Such Place (Luaka Bop)

Jim White: No Such Place (Luaka Bop)

Tom Waits' influence crops up in unexpected places. After his superbly titled Wrong-Eyed Jesus, the man who goes by the unmemorable nom de disque Jim White comes back for a second album of dark narratives, juke-joint folk-blues a la Tom, and disconcerting atmospheric productions on stories which begin, "Long about an hour before sunrise...

Hyacinth House: Black Crows' Country (Phantom)

Hyacinth House: Black Crows' Country (Phantom)

Very belated acknowledgement of an album that was recorded in 2007, came out Stateside in 2008 (to little fanfare) but to the best of my knowledge only appeared in New Zealand in late 2009. This dark, edgy country-rock (and beyond) band with a revolving door membership -- who perhaps take their name from the Doors song of the same title? --...

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (Shock)

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (Shock)

It's instructive but perhaps unfair to put this album from the former member of Drive By Truckers alongside their most recent album, The Big To-Do: after a flawed solo debut Sirens of the Ditch in 07 Isbell here sounds in command again, whereas the Truckers album is pretty ropey in places. Here Isbell and his band (on an album that came...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Wilco, Wilco (the Album)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Wilco, Wilco (the Album)

Although widely regarded one of the great rock bands Wilco -- the vehicle for singer-songwriter Jeff Tweedy -- had its origins in the Illinois-based band Uncle Tupelo which drew from post-punk rock and alt.country music equally. High school friends Tweedy and Jay Farrar steered Uncle Tupelo from the late 80s up to the acrimonious...

Moondoggies: Tidelands (Hardly Art)

Moondoggies: Tidelands (Hardly Art)

Their name might not inspire much confidence -- the sort of band name 12-year olds think up -- but this rootsy, alt.country and indie-rock outfit from Seattle on a SubPop imprint label have a mainline connection to the same core of music (Neil Young, the Band) as informs the Felice Brothers, early Wilco and Richmond Fontaine. They certainly...

The Duke and The King: Long Live the Duke and The King (Shock)

The Duke and The King: Long Live the Duke and The King (Shock)

Hilarious. If there's another Austin Power movie and our spy gets dropped into the early Seventies in California -- the time of all those self-centred, earnest singer-songwriters in the Canyon -- then the formerly interesting The Duke and The King already have a few songs here which sound like pitch-perfect parodies of the style. Okay,...

The Thomas Oliver Band: Baby, I'll Play (Rhythmethod)

The Thomas Oliver Band: Baby, I'll Play (Rhythmethod)

As with his fellow Wellingtonian Darren Watson, Thomas Oliver is a finalist in the blues category of the International Song Writing Competition to be judged in April 2011. The song is Goin' Home - which kicks off this rootsy, bluesy and alt.country-tinged album -- and the video of it released a year ago was named among the top 30...

Sean Rowe: Magic (Anti)

Sean Rowe: Magic (Anti)

Because of the nature of his burred baritone -- and these profound and emotionally deep songs -- it would be wrong to say this debut by New York singer-songwriter Rowe is "exciting". That might give the impression of pulse-racing music  . . . and this isn't like that at all. Quite the opposite, it can be heart-stopping. But...

Bill Callahan: Apocalypse (Drag City)

Bill Callahan: Apocalypse (Drag City)

After his last exceptional album Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle (a Best of Elsewhere 2009 album) it was hard to imagine how this Americana singer-songwriter -- who previously recorded as Smog -- could remain on the margins of mainstream acceptance. That the album demanded, but also commanded, attention might just have put him once more...

The Felice Brothers: Celebration, Florida (Spunk)

The Felice Brothers: Celebration, Florida (Spunk)

While it's interesting to read in a promo slip that this new album by the so-far fascinating Felice Brothers "casts scenes of dreamy characters and stories interwoven like a block of primetime TV", this is promo-hype. It presumes you will actually be engaged enough to listen with unswerving intensity through the sonic haze of...

Drive-By Truckers: Go-Go Boots (ATO)

Drive-By Truckers: Go-Go Boots (ATO)

Despite doing well on the charts, the last album by the Truckers -- The Big To-Do -- was a disappointment: perhaps the knocked-off-quickly feel worked against it, you wouldn't attribute it directly to the loss of one of their songwriters Jason Isbell to a solo career (although many felt that). Its occasional rowdiness had undoubted appeal,...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Wilco: The Whole Love (Warners)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Wilco: The Whole Love (Warners)

Artists who make lurching changes of direction often revert to prior form after a while: Certainly after U2's darker trilogy -- Achtung Baby, Zooropa and Pop -- they went back to their familiar stadium-shaped mainstream ballads, and Radiohead's most recent output has been more accessible than the unsettling Ok Computer and Kid A. Even David...

The Wood Brothers: Ways Not To Lose (Blue Note/EMI)

The Wood Brothers: Ways Not To Lose (Blue Note/EMI)

The trio Medeski, Martin & Wood have been one of the most innovative and consistently interesting jazz (and beyond) bands of the past decade or so. But here upright bassist/singer from the band Chris Wood teams up with his singing/guitar playing brother Oliver (a dab hand on slide among other things) for an album of lowkey acoustic charm...

James McCann: Where Was I Then (Torn and Frayed/Border)

James McCann: Where Was I Then (Torn and Frayed/Border)

McCann was once in the Australian rock band the Drones who get my vote for their great album title: Wait Long By The River & The Bodies Of Your Enemies Will Float By. (Don't we wish?) The Drones make dark and dramatic bluesy-rock which owes debts to diverse sources from Tom Waits and Neil Young, to fellow Aussie rockers the Triffids and...

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