Posts Tagged ‘Alt-Country’

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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Trummors

Over the course of their last few albums, Trummors, the duo of David Lerner and Anne Cunningham have carved out their personal cavern in the space of Cosmic Americana, well before the current wave began to crest. The pair ditched the East Coast for New Mexico, trading packed streets for pure air, vista views, and a closer handle on the alt-country confines they were beginning to inhabit. With their previous album Headlands they’d pretty much cemented the sound that crops up here, but there’s something alchemical about Dropout City that marks it among their best endeavors to date. The band struck out from the desert back to the sweltering streets of L.A. for the sessions that would birth Drop Out City and it was as far from their secluded surroundings as possible, embracing an air of collaboration that called in contemporaries to help shape the easy air that radiates around the album.

Once in the studio friends showed up and sat in, with the album blossoming into the kind of communal, comfortable ‘70s canyon classics that were spun out of late night sessions wrought from a high concentration of talent with tape to spare. Colby Buddelmeyer (The Tyde), Derek W. James (Mazzy Star, Lia Ices), Brent Rademaker (GospelbeacH, Beachwood Sparks), Clay Finch (Mapache), Dan Horne (Grateful Shred, Cass McCombs) and Eric D. Johnson (Fruit Bats) all lend a hand somewhere on Drop Out City and it quickly becomes clear that this is a record that’s special because of not only the talent of Lerner and Cunningham as songwriters, but also due to the inclusive environment they carry with them that brings so many into their fold with such open ideas.

The record captures a classic country sound — flirting with the heavy-hearted, but formative voices that lent credence to the ‘70s crossover out of psychedelic troupes. There’s a shade of Emmylou here, and by turns Graham. The honesty that surges between David and Anne is born out of that school of tradition meets turmoil and even though they seem at ease, it’s as deeply felt as anything the fabled pair might have made. Even more so, there’s the feeling that Trummors are leeching their love of the country corners to their peers, the way Parsons couldn’t help but make but instill a passion for twang among his brother Byrds. As David has already shared here, bands like Cowboy, circling the Allmans stable are heavy on their mind and that Byrds connection gets deeper with a cover of “Tulsa County.” The Byrds lifted their version from songwriter Pamela Polland, who released solo works in the early ‘70s following her work with The Gentle Soul. This song is almost a talisman of the album, a reclaimed nugget of weary country given back its voice after years of sitting among a more celebrated band’s back catalog. Drop Out City is just such a record — reverent, relevant, and full of a bittersweet bite that makes moments easier to endure with each note that wafts from the speakers. This one should shuttle to the top of your 2020 necessities.




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Bobby Lee

Been greatly enjoying the sun-in sounds of this album from Bobby Lee. The Sheffield guitarist grapples his strings around a hook of of worn-denim instrumental psych country that’s pulling from JJ Cale, Golden Gunn, and the Natch sessions of Michael Chapman, with smoke tendrils of Bruce Langhorne threading through the mix. With Guy Whittaker (Sharron Kraus, Jim Ghedi, Big Eyes) on drums and percussion and Mark Armstrong on bass, Lee balances the band against the primitive snap of a drum machine that keeps time like white lines on the highway. The record is lent a grizzled cinematic feel that dredges up cheap motel rooms and dusty roads that are hardly traveled in the deep afternoon heat. There’s danger, there’s pain, there’s lament, but that’s reductive, there’s moments of peace here as well.

“Palomino” is a lonesome, picked number that dances around its own comfortability with the tenderness of a rider missing his or her horse.”Listings” is a three-way standoff between the night, Lee, and the amps. Bobby moves from the traditional — melding spirituals with Springsteen and letting Warren Zevon boil down into a sweatbox slink out of the record. Shakedown in Slabtown is slightly molten, shifting easily from swagger-stung confidence to trepidation and reserve. He ties it together well, though. Lee’s making his mark here, spinning classics into his own essence while crafting an album of personal mediations that spurn the impulse to sit still.



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David Lerner of Trummors on Cowboy – Reach For The Sky

I’ve been particularly excited for the upcoming Trummors LP, Dropout City. The LP sees David Lerner and Anne Cunningham perfecting their wide-skied country-folk approach with an album that’s sunburned and bittersweet. The album slides in on buttery leads, breezy harmonies, and a sense of ease that’s hard to resist. The band’s been building up to a record that sounds this effortless and lived-in over the past few years, but it’s hard to deny that this is a high-water mark for their brand of alt-country saunter. I asked David to lock in a pick for the Hidden Gems series and it sidles in nicely alongside their new LP. I love it when artists pick an album I’m unfamiliar with, but his one’s gonna be an album to get acquainted with pretty quick. Check out Lerner’s take on Cowboy’s 1970 debut below.

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Cut Worms – “Sold My Soul”

With a nice string of singles trickling out, Cut Worms’ Max Clarke finally announces an upcoming LP to collect them all in one place. With a delicate slide into the auburn arms of country, Clarke aims to release the bittersweet Nobody Lives Here Anymore on October 9th. The latest single doubles down on the cool air country swoon that he’s been courting over the last couple of months. “Sold My Soul” is a quicksilver slide slung chapter of storyteller country-folk and he wears the mantle well. His Everlys harmonies have begun to fold behind the horizon, but there’s still a nice warm glow about Clarke’s songwriting. Echoing fellow Clark’s (minus the ‘e’) Gene and Guy, Cut Worms aims to let us all deal with sadness and loneliness on our own terms. The video is a nice piece of surreal pulp that lends itself well to Clarke’s sunburned saunter.

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Pearl Charles – “Night Tides (Alternate Version)”

Oh this one came out a few weeks back, but timelines has never been my strong suit. Pearl Charles has been capturing a cross-section of ‘70s pop, folk, and country for the past few years and it feels like a new album is on the air soon, but this is a nice treat to tide ya over. While she had a standalone single that played up the country angle last year, this alternate cut from her 2018 album Sleepless Dreamer does the shift better, eschewing any sense of sleek appeal for a more hip-slung approach. The original version of the song clips along with an almost disco beat, just slipping this side of the genre into ‘70s AOR — but here “Night Tides” is recast as a late-night country come on, full of humid air, clove smoke, and dim lights. The rougher delivery fits her, and here’s hoping that wherever Charles goes next this kind of tousled delivery follows her. The new version appears alongside a few other demo and outtake cuts as Between Dreams and is out now.




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Le Ren – “If I Had Wings”

Been easing into the upcoming EP from Montreal’s Lauren Spear under the name Le Ren. The EP is draped in a bittersweet soul, informed by loss and the lingering regrets that lead on the road to resolution. “If I Had Wings” is a slow saunter into the summer air, flecked with a mournful slide, laconic strums and Spear’s heartbreaking delivery. The song ebbs into the strands of downcast country that have been working their way into constant rotation around here. While the release is only four songs strong, each is a universe of quiet despair and newfound hope. The EP lands on Secretly Canadian July 31st.



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