Posts Tagged ‘Willie Lane’

RSTB Favorite Reissues of 2020

As always seems to be the case with any year, 2020 was a great year for digging through the past. As much as the site attempts to focus on new music, I’ll always be a sucker for some deep-dive reissues that explore corners of the past I’ve not found myself in previously. Likewise for records that never really got the vinyl shot originally making their way out into the world until it was ready to have them. These are my favorites from the year.

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Wednesday Knudsen & Willie Lane

Back about a year ago, Wednesday Knudsen (The Pigeons, Weeping Bong Band) and Willie Lane (The Golden Road, Elkhorn) released a duo set on Black Dirt Studios in-house label Natch. The set was a highlight from both artists, combining Lane’s slippery guitar blues with Knudesen’s ability to mold atmospherics from electric guitar, alto saxophone, and flute. Their dynamic is symbiotic, each pushing the record further into dark corners of spectral loneliness, fusing folk and psychedelic jazz into something a bit more protean than either. The pieces hang on the air in cold humidity — wounded, weary, but engrossing in a way that’s hard to shake. The pieces feel instantly canonical to something older than the players. Its a record that has hold of the central root of psychedelic sprawl.

The record is the first (of hopefully many) on the new Feeding Tube sub-label Drowned Lands, headed up by Black Dirt’s Jason Meagher. The Natch series alone provides a good amount of fodder, and I’m holding out that the Garcia Peoples and Hans Chew LP is next, but this is as good a place as any to start. The players have deep roots in the Hudson/Pioneer Valley psych scene, and this is too good a set to simply hold sway over the digital realm. With a proper LP entry as mark 001 in the Drowned Lands catalog, this is both a statement of purpose and a deserved pressing of a fantastic document of two top artists at work.




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Willie Lane – A Pine Tree Shilling’s Worth

Starting in 2009 guitarist Willie Lane issued a run of albums on his own Cord-Art label, ranging from fingerpicked folk to ragged blues. The albums, Known Quantity, Guitar Army of One and A Pine Tree Shilling’s Worth all seeped out quietly and went out of print quickly. Thankfully Feeding Tube have sought to correct the scarcity of the originals with a run of reissues over the last couple years and they’re now drawing that to a close with a new version of Pine Tree, which might be the best of the bunch. The LP is far more electric than the other two in the trilogy, leaning in heavily to the ragged blues and experimental feel of the series. The record isn’t tied to genre or feeling, but explores a shifting sense of sound that’s as rooted in the Takoma take on folk as it is in the dirt-caked Philly scene that would surface years later. Lane acts as a bridge between eras and does so without any whiff of overthinking. The pieces on A Pine Tree Shilling’s Worth flow with a loose ramble that weaves between the roots of the now snow-soaked Pioneer Valley.

Lane has been an integral part of the latest wave of psych-folk froth, not to mention the one before it, having collaborated with Elkhorn, Matt Valentine, Meg Baird, Samara Lubelski, Specrte Folk, and Espers over the years. Having this trilogy of releases back in print is a vital link between where Lane has been and where he’s headed. There’s word that another LP is on the way, so perhaps this last reissue will be preamble to the next node of his songwriting. Personally, I’m quite interested in what’s next, though 2019 itself is packed with Lane hallmarks. Besides this reissue, you can hear him on Elkhorn’s Sun Cycle/Elk Jam and Valentine’s Preserves album. If you’re just starting in on his works, I’d recommend beginning with this one and then diving backwards.



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