The Waco Brothers’ Going Down in History

The Waco Brothers
Going Down in History
Bloodshot Records, 2016

If I am not mistaken the last Waco Brothers album was years ago.  Having seen them live at a few Bloodshot BBQs, nothing seems to have changed but the seasoning has, perhaps become stronger.

“DIYBYOB” opens the album, declaring that “this is the first track from the last album,” perhaps as an obscure homage to Cheap Trick’s Live at Budakhan or the Beatles’ Live at the Hollywood Bowl, but I may be stretching things a bit. There are hints at apathy, DIY, and going on with existing, rather than living, and an election season filled with circus antics that are probably no worse than what we’ve seen in the past. This may be the closest they have ever come to a stereotypical country song.

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Al Scorch’s Circle Round the Signs

Al Scorch
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.

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Robbie Fulks’ Upland Stories

Robbie Fulks
Upland Stories
Bloodshot Records, 2016

Regrettably, I don’t think I have ever seen Fulks in concert, though I really need to.  While he isn’t a songwriting factory like Ryan Adams (though brilliant a factory he is), Fulks is a great songwriter, and I am happy to see he continues to create.  While most may not remember this, one of my favorite tunes is “F*ck This Town” chronicling his experience as a singer-songwriter in Nashville and their lack of appreciation of his talents.  He was originally signed to Bloodshot early on, and left with great fanfare to a major label.  After releasing one album on an unappreciative major label, he returned to Bloodshot and has never left.

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Leaf Newman’s Flowers and Grass

Leaf Newman
Flowers and Grass
Self-Released, 2016

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.

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Nèro Scartch’s Piece of My Life

Nèro Scartch
Piece of My Life
Deska Records, Indies Scope Distribution, 2015

Here we venture into musical territory that I need to explore more with a project influenced by Nine Inch Nails and Prodigy, so this review will be a challenge, but I like challenges and never run from them, though they may slow me down once in a while like this one does. This one’s a puzzle though because of my lack of exposure to more from this genre.

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Mydy Rabycad’s Glamtronic

Mydy Rabycad
Glamtronic
Indies Scope Distribution, 2015

Frankly, as much as I am not dancing tango or anything else at the moment which is overdue, way overdue, even I will admit that dancing is good for your health and your soul, and in the case of Mydy Rabycad’s Glamtronic, dancing is contagious, even in a chair, if not mandatory, and at that, it should be.  And even chair dancing may be impossible after a while as you are compelled to rise and move uncontrollably.

The combination is quite incredible and listenable, on repeat, which this album received several months back.  And still, happily, this album is difficult to get out of my fertile imagination where dancers are flying and dancing with each other to infinite heights around me...

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Ghost of You’s Glacier and the City

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.

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Čankišou’s Supay

Čankišou
Supay
Indies Scope, 2015

While it’s difficult to comment on lyrics sung in a language I don’t speak or understand (as it will be over the next few albums from a favorite European label, Indies Scope), I can comment on the melodies and the vocal impressions upon the musical moods and mine.  The band and the album are new to me, but Čankišou’s Supay is evolutionary in ways that attract me to World Music and Rromani-influenced music in particular. While this isn’t Rromani specifically, the band and the label are Eastern European-based so the influence is probably there, and it is a nice and chaotic, musically cacophonic interlude.

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Offhensky & Pleq’s A Thousand Fields

Offhensky & Pleq
A Thousand Fields
Infraction, 2015

No matter the day, no matter the year, Infraction releases are always a pleasure to receive, like some natural herb electrified through years of necromancy. They are all ambient, ethereal and wonderful in every way, but; given that I am not as avid a follower of such mindfulness music as I should be (and I obviously should explore the genre), this review will be challenging.

After you listen a few times, you may be overcome with the feeling of free floating just above the surface of a freshly-rained wide open field where the forest dwellers have just emerged after a storm.  Yes, it is quite peaceful.  And while it will remain for you to discover your own field of sanctuary as you listen deeply, the music continues to seep through all of us, becoming part of us in tiny little ways.  And for those of you who are not stricken with slight synesthesia as I am, enjoy the music without all of the imagery.  You may not know what you are missing, but enjoy the music anyway.

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Randi Russo’s Fragile Animal

Randi Russo
Fragile Animal
Hidden Target Recordings/Olive Juice Music
Released 29 March 2011

Long before Fragile Animal, Randi Russo released her second album, her first that wasn’t a CDR, the that one she decided to have mastered (Solar Bipolar), unlike most of the Antifolk class at the time.   Her first release was completely lo-fi, un-mastered, brilliant, and flawed in it’s own way.  This second album had been given the professional treatment.   She handed it to me, hesitant about the way it had been finished, but what an incredible difference the mastering had made.  Since then, we have stopped concentrating on the production values and focused on the more important lyrics and melodies, painful, heartfelt, and visceral.

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