Circle Round the Signs
Bloodshot Records, 2016
At this point, I don’t remember how long Bloodshot has been around blessing us with Alt-Country of every possible variety that you can imagine. I do remember eating vegan dogs at the Bloodshot BBQs in New York during CMJ at the now defunct Brownies in the East Village to see many early legends, including Ryan Adams, with a rolled up farmer’s shirt and acoustic guitar, before his star shot into the stratosphere, and on South Congress in Austin during SXSW. Those BBQs were legendary and I hope I am able to attend another in the future.
Al Scorch is new to me, and since I have a little time to kill and Bloodshot keeps sending me emails, I figured Scorch and Bloodshot deserved a review, or what passes for one from me in 2016.
Flowers and Grass
When I first moved to Atlanta from Asheville I somehow managed to find a Facebook listing for a show in a small club featuring Newman. It’s still one of the most memorable intimate shows I have attended in Atlanta. She’s still recording and just released Flowers and Grass. As a creative, I never like boxing other creative when doing so is narrow-minded and limiting. For those that care about such things, Flowers and Grass is all over the place.
Ghost of You
Glacier and the City
Indies Scope, 2015
Simultaneously sweeping and minimalist at once, Ghost of You has been touring and playing festivals for the last few years, honing their musical chops and only stopping to release an EP in 2012. While it is trivial and trite to say this album sounds like nothing else out there, especially since even the most original music must build on the innovators that have come before and evolved to help us all reach this moment in musical time, Ghost of You is not playing and recording music by the numbers as I am wont to refer to bands that rise and fall by the strength of cover songs that sound exactly like their originals. No, these are wholly original, and while influenced, are not derivative.
Self-Released 23 August 2011
It’s a Catch-22, more or less. You’re a buzz band that’s impressed the hipsters with an effective Publicity Machine. Or you’re an underground band that only a few are aware of, and those few tell as many of their friends as possible, and somehow, it’s still an open secret from the rest of the world. Where is the fine line that allows for the hipster dollars and the underground credibility for the true music fan? Rarely do we have both, and only a few friends have been able to do it: Regina Spektor, Kimya, Adam, and their Moldy Peaches, Elizabeth Harper and her Class Actress. Even Nicole Atkins. But then there are artists like Joie Dead Blonde Girlfriend, The Teenage Prayers, and Gloria Deluxe, brilliant musical creators, that cause me to shake my head and wonder why the rest of the world has not yet caught up to what the rest of us have always known.
Rosie Flores And The Pine Valley Cosmonauts
Girl Of The Century
Bloodshot Records 2009
I remember my first Rosie Flores album as a discovered gem in a corner of one WFMU semi-annual record fair. It was Rockabilly Filly, her tribute to Rockabilly, which has always had a strong vein throughout all of her music, but this one had a few duets with a few greats, including Janis Martin. There have even been several opportunities to attend live shows in Austin as well as a few New Year’s Eve shows the Rodeo Bar in New York City. I have no regrets in this life, but regret missing them all.
Sally Tomato’s Toy Room: A Rock Opera In Four Acts
Directed by Wesley J. Turner
Music by Sally Tomato And Carlos Severe Marcelin
Severe Enterprises 2010
Rock operas in the tradition of the Who’s Tommy are frequently attempted and translated into album format, and frequently they are watered down versions of a former classic, but few are as ambitious and introspective as Toy Room seems to be here. Few writers of any art ever dare to look so deeply into themselves and thrive enough to emerge as spiritually evolved as the character Sally seems to have done. Friends and colleagues have successfully attempted smaller personal projects to process and to heal, showing only a few friends or writing a song or two, but Toy Room, in the expanded form of a musical is something rarely seen and even more rarely attempted.
The Cocker Spaniels
Live at Noni’s Bar and Deli
13 November 2010
Sean Padilla, AKA The Cocker Spaniels, is a musical powerhouse, causing comparisons to Raymond Scott who finally eschewed band members when they couldn’t satisfy Scott’s heightened sense of spontaneity and musical perfectionism. Padilla declares on his web site that he will take on a live band when he finds one worthy of his expectations. Once that happens, the dynamic of his live performances will certainly change. But a band won’t change the endless supply of energy that he brings. In some ways, the size of the audience doesn’t matter because Padilla gives everything to each performance, to every composition. Sean Padilla is an optimist.