Posts Tagged ‘Alt-Counry’

Sean Thompson’s Weird Ears – “Never Wrote A Love Song”

A nice little surprise this week knocks out of Nashville from Sean Thompson’s Weird Ears. The solo/collaborative project of Sean Thompson hasn’t released all that much, but like fellow country-rock killers Teddy and the Rough Riders, its worth keeping an ear to the rail for the bits that surface. This EP in question is a three-song recording of a house party, backed by longtime collaborators Ornament. The band and Thompson find an unshakeable groove on two new songs and give a bit of a live once over to an old fave from the Time Has Grown A Raspberry EP from last year. Thompson admits that while the instrumentals are live in the room he gave the vocals a “Europe ’72” studio treatment after not getting the results on the tape. The combo makes these click. The harmonies are crisp and melancholy and they pair well with the ripple rollicked run-through that the band lays down. There’s a dearth of live energy going ‘round these days so I’d recommend getting in on it when it hits. Let your ears get weird.




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Jess Williamson – “Wind On Tin”

Very glad to see that the country croons of Jess Williamson have returned this year. In her absence there’s been a wealth of great voices added to the sunset striains of alt-country, but her’s has always been a welcomed voice in the genre. With a subtle swish of the cosmic fabric, Williamson wields melancholy through the stardust whispers of the wind. “Wind On Tin” is a spiritual sojourn born out of grief in a dessert town. Williamson claims she’s heard god on the wind, “God” or something else — nature, the vibrational thrum of the earth, the strings of the cosmos. Whatever was on the wind is strung with the fiber of the universe and her song ruffles the same hairs on the neck that may have sprung to life in her hearing. The video, directed by friend and collaborator Eli Welbourne plays into the myth of the mournful cowboy, but its saturated with just the right amount of divine light. Williamson’s new album is out May 15th on Mexican Summer.

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Shana Cleveland – “Face of the Sun”

The La Luz frontwoman already had a formidable catalog behind her when she struck out solo as Shana Cleveland and the Sandcastles back in 2015, but the stripped-down record showed a more lonesome side of her songwriting than ever before. Now, with LL’s best album to date in the rearview of last year, she aims for a solo stab once again, dropping the Sandcastles crutch and embracing a more fully formed solo persona. Her solo works tend to be calmer and more pastoral than the dark current of surf that pervades La Luz, but on “Face of the Sun” she combines both forces into a noir ballad tinged with seaside air and regret. The moonlight slide of guitar that winds its way through the track shifts seamlessly between tropical and country, honing in on a lost ‘60s charm that she only ramps up with her Laurel Canyon delivery. As an added bonus (for me at least) the track comes with an animated version of the cover done by Indonesian psychedicist Ardneks.

The album is out April 5th from Hardly Art.



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New Rose

Its been a solid year for country hued indie. From Aussie exports to homegrown US acts, there’s been plenty of mournful slides and a ton of twang among the best of 2018. You can now add to that clutch of releases the latest LP from New Rose. The Brooklyn band embraced country’s cradle on their previous album, Morning Haze, and they’ve settled nicely into the valley of the bittersweet bend for Crying Eyes. Recorded between Nashville and two visions of New York – the city and various upstate locales – the album is an autumnal comedown that’s seasonally adept with its heartache hues and mournful sighs. Where their last album found them in a state of transition, they’re now on a clear path to the depths of the human condition as rendered in the sunset’s golden glow.

On the new album the band taps into a ’70s vision of California as their core of inspiration, more-so than any Texan tropes or Nashville niche. While they pick up a bit of the latter from their studio time in country’s capitol city, essentially they’re drawing their grey skies from the Western whiles of the West Coast class this time around. There’s a languid approach to their drawl, unhurried, unfussed, but not unaffected. There’s a sense of loss and a resigned sigh to the band’s approach. The world has ground them down but not out and they’re here to give solace to others in the same sling of damnation.

While it might be hard to give the Laurel Canyon cred to a bunch of East Coasters who skewed closer to Gun Club than Gram Parson just a few short years ago, it has to be said that the band has put in the work. With their second foray into the cradle of croon they’ve smoothed out the kinks and found a buttery soul that’s hard to ignore. The record comes across more than just ten gallon dress up and nickle bourbon charms. They’ve spent some time wallowing in the sorrows of their ’60s country-psych predecessors and, even if its just osmosis working its magic, New Rose seem to have found sweet relief on Crying Eyes.



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Ornament – “It Must Be The Season”

Ran across Nashville’s Ornament when the band was just working out photos through Nashville scene photographer Emily Quirk. Her coverage usually spans some great up and comers that roll through the town. I was sad at the time that they hadn’t really had much recorded output clanging around but now it seems that the band is releasing their debut single, “It Must Be The Season” b/w “Family Happiness.” The double shot positions the trio on the edge of indie/precipice of country in a wide-skied ’70s fashion that’s been bleeding more and more into the preferred fashion of late. Tip in bit of psych smoldering at the edges and I’m pretty much sold.

The A side has a loping ramble that works chiming guitars to great effect before sliding through a twanging solo that’s pure amber tones grafted to AM haze. The track’s a strong starter that’s putting them in league with EZTV or Ultimate Painting. The flip takes things to an even lusher locale with the sunset hues creeping high in the sky and a swell of strings making this feel much larger than their humble roots would suggest. Definitely a band to keep tabs on and a solid single top to bottom.




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