Posts Tagged ‘Alt-Country’

Trevor Beld Jimenez

Country-psych veteran Trevor Beld Jimenez has been a name kicking around rosters for years — popping up on Fruit Bats, Kacey Johansing, and DIOS recordings. He was found hunkering down with Neal Casal and Brent Rademaker in GospelbeacH, and with his songwriting partner Tim Ramsey in Parting Lines and Tall Tales & The Silver Lining. For his solo debut on Rademaker’s Curation Records, the songwriter digs deeper into the tie that seems to bind them all – the salt-flecked sundown shimmer of California calm. Rooted in ‘70s songwriter hallmarks, the songs here are swinging from wounded Petty and Nilsson to the AM gold of Bread and America. The album shares a lot of ground with the musical foxholes of his past, feeling like many of the songs wouldn’t be out of place in any of the bands that bear his name, though it might hew closest to the feeling of Parting Lines. Like the songs on the Lines’ debut, there’s a porch-at-dusk feeling to I Like It Here and its hard not to give in to the familiarity.

More AOR than cosmic country, though, Jimenez is steeped in the well-shined pop that’s hovering a bit above the usual twang-flecked purveyors that populate Raven of late. That he’s been around the Fruit Bats crew isn’t surprising, Jimenez shares a lot of pop impulses with Eric, D. Johnson, and its not unexpected that the Bats songwriter lends a hand to the record. Also finding their way into the mix are contemporaries and cohorts, Clay Finch (Mapache) and Pearl Charles along with studio heavy players like Nelson Bragg and Bob Glaub. While Jimenez can sometimes kick up a bit of dust, the record’s speed is often found sinking into the horizon, heavy with a sigh of the past and a drink at half mast. It’s not always a bad place to be. It’s certainly comfortable while it lasts and when the alcohol wears off, the head swim of melancholy lingers for the night.



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David Nance

November just keeps giving musically and the new release from David Nance is hard proof. The Omaha artist switched his setup towards full band and knocked the gears to heavy on his last LP, but he’s back to basics for Staunch Honey and while I miss the UV burn of Peaced and Slightly Pulverized I appreciate the unfettered and unfiltered version of Nance all the more this time around. A ragged county blues that’s ripped out of some alt-American version of a national songbook, the record is the sound of dust storms whipping through vacant cul-de-sacs abandoned after the housing crisis hollowed them out. It’s the sound of scarred lots in Detroit built with blight but hosting an outdoor noise show. Its the sound of catharsis, sweet and simple — the rumble of mufflers over the horizon harmonizing with the amplifiers to create a grit-ground vision of Americana if there were no longer pretensions attached to the term.

Nance has tapped down deep into something singular, secular, and universal. The dust in his veins is pure, and it’s beat down into every note of Staunch Honey. The shift between Peaced and this record is palpable. Everything has slowed to an amber glow that gives the titular substance weight on the record. The riffs are run through finest local batch, then countrified and clarified until they’re something ragged, raw, and unmistakable. If we were in need of a cleanse in 2020, Nance has stepped up to the challenge and brought the blacklight backbeat that douses the masses in a deluge of blues — enough to buff out the buildup from a half decade of bad vibes. Nance brings the lights low, lets the bar crowd die down and then lays out the 2AM shakes like an old aficionado. Make no mistake, Staunch Honey is rarefied air and you’d do well to breath it in deep.




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Pearl Charles – “Imposter”

The new LP from Pearl Charles keeps giving with a third single out this week that’s splashed with just a touch more AM gold than on the past two. Still weathered with the California cool that permeates her new album, the new song bounces on a sunny beat but gets caught the heartsick swirl of keys, a vertigo tug of guitars, and Pearl’s sighed vocals that betray a lostness that’s easy to relate to. The song’s based in feeling like a fraud, sure to be found out at anytime by peers and friends at any moment. The harsh self-reflection and knowing doubt bump against the song’s seeming calm with a slight tension, though this still fits nicely into the album’s wood paneled wonderland.

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Sean Thompson’s Weird Ears – “Sun’s Hiding”

Oh, quite nice. This is something a bit different from Sean Thompson. The Nashville songwriter has been clamoring up the cosmic vine lately, but the second volume of Weird Ears For Weird Times offers a narcotic, nocturne vision of slinking pop with ice in the veins. The song’s anchored by Thompson’s reedy delivery, roughed at the edges but with a feeling of road wear seeping in between the sighs. Anchored by a slouched organ exhale and boasting some nervy guitar lines that are as far from the silvered cosmic vein he’s been harboring than could ever have been expected. The single is paired with a slightly more straightforward ramble under the name “Distraction,” but the songs make for a nice pair from a songwriter who has only been getting better these days. New LP is reportedly on the way soon, but this should tide ya over until then.




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Trevor Beld Jimenez – “Comeback Kid”

The past few years have been a blessing of cosmic country, often leaning towards an embrace of the past — landing between the Burritos’ blurred swagger and Crazy Horse’s toughened wander into the rough hills. Veteran songwriter Trevor Beld Jimenez slips between the salt-scrubbed breezes to bring a vision that’s pulled away from this Kodachrome prism of ‘70s country rock. He’s still reaching into the auburn arms of the California sun, but this is steeped in a more AOR, AM radio softness. “Comeback Kid” turns away from the glare that others embrace to find itself aligning with an unlikely love of Bread and America. The former’s Baby I’m-A Want You feels like it’s left a particular impression on Jimenez. As a contributor to several RSTB faves (GospelbeacH, Dios, Fruit Bats) Trevor’s no novice when it comes to the sounds that touch the wavy end of the country spectrum, but the clarity and care he imparts to the song gives a new life to the rock radio staples that sometimes wind up maligned in hindsight.

The song appears on the upcoming I Like It Here which ropes in a large roster of impressive talent Clay Finch, Pearl Charles, Nelson Bragg, Bob Glaub, Kacey Johansing, and Eric D. Johnson. The record lands November 13th on Curation Records.



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Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn

The last few years have seen Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn kick out an enviable catalog of works on his own Cosmic Range Records and 2020 shows no sign of flagging with the arrival of Rain, Rain, Rain. Dunn’s name might ring familiar with a few folks around here — he’s been a longtime MV&EE collaborator in addition to showing up on records from fellow Canadians U.S. Girls, James Matthew VII, and Jennifer Castle. Not to rest easy he also heads up RSTB faves Sacred Lamp, The Cosmic Range, and Stonegrass. While his sidework tends to toe heavily into the psychedelic, on his own works he’s cultivated a bar-beaten singer songwriter countenance that’s washed in last call whiskey and delivered with a heart-heavy sigh.

As with his impeccable run from the last few years, Dunn’s songwriting here is touched a slight echo of ‘70s Van Morrison and Open Road era of Donovan. He’s soaked his records in the honeyed AM air that infected folk rock with a taste of cosmic croon and country-tumbled tangents as ’72 tumbled off of the calendar. That feeling runs heavy as ever over Rain, Rain, Rain. “Cold Wind” sways with jukebox twang and a lover’s embrace that’s only deepened on “Chance.” “Last Goodbye” brings a touch of Southern Soul in the background vocals, feeling like the tape might have run through Muscle Shoals before making its way back across the border to mellow in the Northern sun. As he dips into the distance on closer “Listen To The Rain” he lets the fog overtake the album, fading guitar cries into the soft patter rising on the wind.

There’s been a long kinship with his collaborator James Matthew VII. The artists have often graced each other’s records and Matthew shows up here once more to add in a good dose of buttered slide and tremolo ache. While JMVII lifts into the shimmer of ozone in his own works, here the pair ground Dunn’s record in the feeling of long-paced pavement, late-night lamentations, and last looks over a town before its left behind for good. The mark of a true country-folk gem is how much ache it can hang on a heart, and in that regard, this one’s as gold as they come. With each new solo work Dunn’s building a reputation as a Northern troubadour that shouldn’t be missed.




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Pearl Charles – “Take Your Time”

Today finds us left with another tender single from the upcoming Pearl Charles LP. The record pushes her away from some of the disco skip of her last record and into the full sway of the sunset stretches of ‘70s Canyon nights with a light scent of Cosmic Country on the breeze. “Take Your Time” is more at peace than “What I Need” — laced with the soft twang of guitars, a tumble of last call piano, and Charles’ heart-stung vocals. The song’s a reminder to slow down and drink in the moment, which is perhaps a helpful reminder while we’re all preoccupied with the crumble of Western Civilization. Yet it still bears some weight that a comfortable autumn afternoon with the right kind of air and a ripple of wind through the leaves can let most anything wait for an hour or so. The new album is out January 15th from Kanine.




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Little Gold – “Rear House”

2020’s full of surprises and this little gem from previously thought defunct Athens band Little Gold is certainly one of them. With Christian DeRoeck (Woods, Meneguar, Shepherds) and the band back at it, this finds them in an introspective mood, kicking at the alt-country crossroads that so many of his peers seem to be finding around the same time. The first cut, “Rear House,” seems like an allusion to his time with the NY crowd, sharing a name with the studio that many in the Woodsist orbit found themselves calling home. With a Jayhawks saunter, the song hits a nice whiskey burn that’s built on bar band looseness and some guitar bite that mows down the melancholy and tears away with the windows locked low. Its easy to see how this was a set of songs that spurred him to get the band outta hock and back to the studio. The new LP lands on Sophomore Lounge November 20th.




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Pearl Charles – “What I Need”

There was an inkling of change that snuck into the subtle EP that slipped out from Pearl Charles earlier this summer. The reworking of “Night Tides” from a disco romp into a country cool down was an unexpected treat this year. Charles’ new LP for Kanine follows suit in the best ways, trading off the ‘70s sweat of a dancefloor hangover for a quiet twilight in the bungalow alone, spinning the euphoria of the night into a melancholy melt that tugs at the suede center of the soul. Hung on a slouched organ line and sundown slides, the first single “What I Need” sums up the album nicely — a lone saunter down the strip with a chill in the air, smoke and sweat escaping into the atmosphere. The buzz of the night is coursing through the veins right up until the moment when a bittersweet lump forms in the throat. While it’s quite naturally about how this feeling might arise in the end of a relationship, the analogy works the same as any whirlwind night. There’s a knowing feeling that washes over you, an ache that enters, knowing that its over before you hit the sheets, stuck between bliss and the emptiness of a lonesome morning. Her last album waded into several pop waters, but this one dives into the deep end with a confidence that’s hard to shake. The record arrives January 15th on Kanine.



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Mixtape: Goodwill Cowboys Ride Again

At the end of last year I put together a mixtape that shifted the focus of the series from more archival offerings to something that wrapped up newer artists. Some Cowboy You Turned Out To Be took a look at a new wave if indie, alt, and cosmic country and now I’m offering up a sequel that expands the spectrum, reaching back a couple of years to nab some I’ve missed and including a crush of new songs that have found their way out in the last year. The wave of Cosmic Americana is still going strong and there are a lot of new names here and even a couple that cropped up on Cowboy that have already let new gems out in to the air. The last time the mix had a bit of a heavy heart, but there’s a bit more jubilance this time around. Continuing with the cowboy theme, I’ve nabbed a bit of phrasing from Michael Chapman for this mix.Check out the trackless and stream below.

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