Narrow Plains S/T by MieKayla Lezjuande

 

As a rock fanatic, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a rock album that just made me want to dance.
Yep, you read that right: the self-titled album of Narrow Plains released by the Spectra Music
Group actually makes me want to dance. Any other time, a rock album (or even just a rock song)
makes me want to just listen and sing along. But, Narrow Plains? Yeah, their album is a real
gem. Matter of fact, this is the first rock album that I can truly say is light-hearted, which is not
something you find much of nowadays.

Now, if I’m going to be honest, the description of Charlie Ferriday’s voice deserves its own
paragraph. But, then again, Why? Simply put: his voice is DISTINCT! It’s so distinct in a weird
kind of way…but, a positively weird kind of way. His voice is literally so haunting that it draws
you to want to keep listening to the album, even when you want to take a break from it and get
busy with something else. Actually, his voice is haunting AND inviting. It’s kind of like coming
across a haunted house that you know you’re not supposed to be in. But, you go into it anyway
because something about it looks so darn inviting. That’s just how different his voice is.
Perhaps the one song I think anybody listening to this album should pay attention to is Ghost.
Why? Simple: everyone needs a guide or a guardian angel…or a best friend, especially to
confide in. To be honest, I think that song needed to be on the album twice because every once in
a while, everyone needs that reminder that they’re never alone, even if it looks like it. Now, I
don’t intend to be the bearer of bad news, but no one likes to go through life’s hardships. The
biggest reason is because hardships tend to drain people…sometimes alive if they’re not careful.
Another reason can be due to the sense of loneliness and feeling like people are on your every
back. But, though it may appear as on the inside looking out, that’s never really the case on the
outside looking in. Yes, there are some cases, whereas people appear to be trust-worthy…only to
find out that they’re the complete opposite. However, not everyone is like so. As a music fanatic
and as someone who’s seen quite enough of life’s tactics, Ghost is very relatable. Matter of fact,
Ghost can be a philosophy of life. Did I mention that Ghost is like a lullaby? I can stress enough
how much I LOVE rock lullabies.

Please do yourselves a favor and give a listen to Narrow Plains. I can promise you you’re going
to end up listening to it for a whole day straight.

4/5 stars

The official site for Narrow Plains may be found at http://www.NarrowPlains.com
Follow Narrow Plains on Twitter @NarrowPlains

 

Soulful, Cosmic, and Lovely, Valerie June’s ‘Astral Plane’ strikes the heart as otherworldly.

Blending folk, soul, blues, and Appalachian traditional elements into a refreshingly timeless sound that sits outside any particular musical era, @TheValerieJune stands in a long and storied line of unique performers in Memphis, a city with a still vibrant music scene even during the 21st century. The daughter of a brick cleaner from Humboldt in the flatlands of West Tennessee, June took quickly to the various local roots music styles in the area, teaching herself guitar and developing her own stylistic mix, interpreting traditional material like it was still alive and breathing, and writing her own material with an eye to the influences of passionate and socially minded songwriters like Bob Marley.

 

“From other worlds, but you can’t say what keeps you here” – Valerie June

 

.@TedoStone was born to play rock and roll. Growing up in a family with a musical father and where brothers handed down bass guitars to younger siblings like old sweatshirts, Stone was fronting a band and playing in motorcycle bars around his hometown of Covington, Georgia, when he was 12 years old.

Now living in Atlanta and with a searing new album, Marshes, due out on September 18 via This Is American Music, Stone is making a name for himself with an enthralling fusion of throwback southern vibes, indie rock hooks and a wall-of-sound resonance.

A lifetime of listening to classic country and soul artists like Patsy Cline and Otis Redding imbued the young songwriter with a retro pop and strong vocal appreciation from a young age, though finding his own voice has been an ongoing process. His 2013 debut album, Good Go Bad, saw Tedo delving into glam jams and alt country rock, though Stone admits he wasn’t fully assured of his sound yet.

While hanging out in Athens, Georgia and playing with the endless array of talented young musicians there, Stone realized his songs were sounding different live, evolving into a mixture of Dinosaur Jr’s wailing guitars and Neil Young’s raw emotion; and he liked it. Taking that new energy into the studio last year, Stone recorded Marshes straight to tape, live in a room with a core group of friends. Under the guidance of producer and engineer Drew Vandenberg (Deerhunter, of Montreal), Stone this time around establishes himself as a pure rock and roll songwriter, with invigorating rhythms, addictive hooks and keenly layered guitars.

Certain tracks throughout the album, like “By Your Side” and “Home to It” seamlessly infuse myriad musical elements at once, simultaneously echoing 60’s sock hop riffs, T. Rex-styled big amp fuzz and soaring post-rock solos, all while Stone fearlessly croons with a fierce timbre. Reflecting the swampy mires that Stone grew up around, Marshes is an album of deep grooves and assured writing that will find its way into your rotation with an endlessly repeatable appeal.

 

.@ClareMeans is known in the LA music scene for her smoky voice, memorable melodies and thought provoking lyrics. She’s about to release her fourth studio album, Sidewalk Astronomy, a cohesive patchwork of musings on life in Los Angeles, love, forgiveness, and the recent loss of her estranged father.  As Clare says, “Most of the songs were written over the course of a couple years and were sparked by a variety of moments in my life… the day I found out my father was sick, when I fell in love, when I knew my relationship was doomed, when I got my heart broken, the day my father died, and when I woke up from a strange dream about sheep.”  Clare’s quirky take on life is fresh and comforting at the same time.

Part of what makes Clare stand out as a performer is the unconventional path she has taken. Always a go-getter, Clare has made a name for herself as one of LA’s most popular, hardest working street performers. She’s built a dedicated following by being one of the very few performers to perform almost exclusively original music. While most depend on covers to stop foot traffic, Clare learned to work on her songwriting craft and challenged herself to capture audiences using her own songs.  Clare’s street performances are musical experiments in which she interacts with the colorful and chaotic scene of the environment. In September of 2015 Clare began live streaming her daily performances on Periscope. She is now one of Periscope’s most watched musicians and has made it onto the Periscope trending list multiple times. Clare has independently sold thousands of copies of her albums through her live streaming, street performances and while playing shows at various venues across Los Angeles and touring the US, Canada and Europe.

Review from NoCountryforNewNashville.
It was Liz Cooper & The Stampede’s turn to put it down. This version of their lineup was a three piece, and I was immediately struck by how full and tight their sound was; chilled out psychedelic work, with tasty elements of jam mixed in for good measure. Liz is a super talented player, and was orchestrating the arrangements in this wonderful laissez faire yet intentional manner that was cool to watch; in complete control, while still keeping the jam fluid. By the last song of their set, they were completely in the zone, until their time came to an end. It was obvious they could have gone for at least another thirty minutes… or more! I look forward to seeing them again in the future, when they can keep the vibes going even longer.

 

NORWALK — The stacks of boxes throughout the empty apartment were Devan Mulvaney’s only company as he mixed his first album in August 2015.

“I like to turn up the sound when no one else is around,” opens a slowly rolling, dreamily textured track titled “Oh Those Damn Butterflies.” “Don’t forget your mother, don’t forget your father, don’t forget your sister …”

 Two years later, he recalled the experience as the loneliest in his life. “There was this feeling of displacement,” Mulvaney said.

He was in father’s recording studio, located in the basement of his parents’ Brooklyn house. They had recently sold the place — hence, the boxes — but were out of town with his sister to help high school summer campers write and perform their own musical, something the Mulvaneys did every year. The resulting play, known as the “God Show,” was also shown in Norwalk, where Devan Mulvaney had grown up and the family was still involved.

 Mulvaney often helped with the camp, but that year he had stayed behind. He had just finished recording an album, and it was often difficult getting uninterrupted stretches of studio time for mixing — his father and sister, both musicians, needed the space as well. “I wanted to use the time wisely, or what I thought was wisely, and mix in the empty house,” he said.

And so he was alone among his family’s boxed-up possessions when a BMW veered onto the median of the Taconic State Parkway near Yorktown Heights, N.Y., as his parents and sister drove home. The vehicle went airborne and landed on two cars in the southbound lane. One of them was the Mulvaneys’.

Devan Mulvaney’s mother and sister, Ledell and Katherine Mulvaney, were killed in the collision. His father, Don Mulvaney, went into a medically induced coma and died a month later.

Mulvaney described the period that followed as chaotic stretch of endless logistics, changing apartments and going through possessions. He and his girlfriend moved first to Weston to be close to the hospital while his father remained unconscious, then moved to Austin, Texas, where he had spent a summer in college.

“We were like, we’ve got to start our lives again, or at least begin to,” he said.

But throughout the tumult, the album gave him a sense of direction.

“It was a total saving grace to have a project to work on that entire time,” he said. “It helped ground me in the real world where everything else was spinning.”

Mulvaney booked a studio for a week to finish mixing the album, then went back to Brooklyn in January of 2017 to master it with Paul Gold, who has helped fine-tune the works of artists such as LCD Soundsystem, Animal Collective and Surfjan Stevens.

While Mulvaney finished recording before the crash (any seeming references speak to the universal quality of his lyrics), he said the album’s meaning has since evolved.

“It was important not just for myself, but in honor of my family, to try to continue their legacy of music,” he said.

The album, “Whippersnapper,” came out Friday. Mulvaney will come to Easton on Oct. 21 to perform at Fiddledale and to New York City on Oct. 23 to perform at Rockwood Music Hall. Doors for the Easton show open at 7 p.m., and doors for the New York show open at 5:45 p.m.

For his performances, Mulvaney stands on the stage alone and recreates the layers of his music by playing some of the parts from a drum machine and looping his own performance live.

“It is important to me in my healing process to play shows and get this stuff out there and try to build a life again,” Mulvaney said. “It’s me trying to continue my family’s legacy and follow my dreams.”

Interview from www.clevescene.com .

MEET THE BRO DYLAN: Alex Zinni (vocals/guitar), Matt Burtonshaw (bass) Mike Miller (drums)

SCHOOL DAYS: The members of this local act first met when they were in third grade. “We all wanted to be in a band so I assigned roles to the guys,” says Zinni. “I learned guitar and we formed a band and played for a couple of years and then broke up.” About year ago, after not playing together for seven or eight years, the guys met up and booked a few gigs and started playing locally.

A NOD TO DYLAN, SORT OF: The name was chosen on a whim. “We had some gigs booked and the day before the show we didn’t have a name so we made it up on the fly,” says Zinni. “We’re not huge Dylan fans. I like the hits. We’re not crazy Dylan fans. We were referencing Bob Dylan, but it’s half of a joke and half of a desire to create an alter ego for the band.” The band cites Lou Reed and Velvet Underground, Miles Davis and Death Cab for Cutie as inspirations. “We like anything that has a loose, free-form vibe to it,” says Zinni. “We’re not crazy about nailing everything down. We used to do a lot of jamming, but we got bored with that. Now, we play the songs as you hear them on the record, though there’s a new element.”

WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: The new album, Crisis, is a concept album about a character struggling to find hope in his “vapid existence.” “[The album is about] getting lost in the material world and then realizing that we’re on a physical plane,” says Zinni. “The crisis is that the main character is working for the man and going through all this stuff and what is it worth. Each song is more or less its own little crisis.” The garage rock-oriented “Quiet” has a White Stripes vibe to it, and “Lock the Deadbolt” features howling vocals and a noisy guitar riff. The group effectively slows the tempo for “Getting Even,” a woozy ballad. The band recorded the album locally at Lava Room. “Basically, I had a lot of songs written for a while. I brought them to the band and the process for some of them was spur of the moment,” says Zinni. “You don’t want to record and write on the spot, but it turned out really well. We recorded in under 15 hours.” The band has a few songs ready for the next record. They plan to take a “more deliberate approach” for that album, which they hope to release sometime next year.

 

Review from www.pitchfork.com .

Following the release of their debut, the Oxford, Miss., band the Colour Revolt were dropped by local label Fat Possum, and three of the five members bolted. The remaining musicians, Jesse Coppenbarger and Sean Kirkpatrick, recruited a new group and recorded The Cradle, so titled to suggest a new beginning. Coppenbarger recounts the whole ordeal on opener “8 Years”, in which he sends dispatches from low-level indie touring: sharing stages with Q and Not U, watching lesbians make out on the mechanical bull, endless treks between shows, and pointless nights of drinking, playing, and puking. This cautionary tale is by turns anguished and ridiculous, insightful and unbelievable, and the band makes it sound like a violent venting of disappointments, regrets, and recriminations. Avoiding the easy romance of the road, Coppenbarger refuses to glorify the Colour Revolt self-destruction, instead wondering why the hell they even bothered. What did those eight years bring them, except the opportunity to do it all again?

With its ballsy cynicism and Coppenbarger’s disgruntled performance, “8 Years” not only represents the Colour Revolt at their absolute best, but it introduces a band that would appear to have risen stronger and more strident from its own ashes. Sadly, that appearance is deceiving, and The Cradle never lives up to that first impression. Instead, Revolt 2.0 settle back down to being a workmanlike blog-rock band. The guitars reach for indie-rock transcendence but never grasp it, and Coppenbarger’s self-questioning rants become self-absorbed groans. As a songwriter, he ignores the rigors of band life and assays the type of vague lyrics that signify import without ever delivering. His pseudo-profundities might make Interpol scratch their heads: “If love is blind, where’s your harness?” he poses on the molasses ballad “Everything Is the Same”, “If love is seen, where’s your illness?”

Rather than a confident album by a road-tested band, The Cradlesounds like the debut of a group that doesn’t really know itself yet. Perhaps it’s a transitional album, and the Colour Revolt’s follow-up will find them developing their own sound. “8 Years” is about making sure all the effort, all the disappointment, and all the hell a band can put itself through in search of an excited audience is worth it. But here it sounds like they went through all that just to make one memorable song and nine forgettable ones.

Review from www.consequenceofsound.net .

The title of Katie Crutchfield’s new album as WaxahatcheeOut in the Storm, might ring familiar to her longtime fans. After all, it was a snowstorm that once left the songwriter stranded in her parents’ Alabama home, an imposed seclusion that directly led to her project’s brilliant, trembling debut, American Weekend. The songs on that softly strummed record, according to Crutchfield, were about “being young and having a clumsy moment learning how not to be in a relationship anymore.” It’s a breakup record, sure, but the type of youthful parting and pain that we can look back on and almost smile at knowingly years later. There’s far more peril out in the titular storm of Crutchfield’s new album, a set of 10 autobiographical snapshots not about coming in from the storm to find someone waiting, but fleeing the bad weather altogether and, in the process, finding herself all over again.

Crutchfield opts not to call Out in the Storm a breakup record, perhaps not to pigeonhole the album; however, the beauty of breakup records is that while they often resonate, they’ve also yet to exhaust the different types of anger, devastation, and even liberation that may coincide with the dissolution of a relationship. Here, Crutchfield taps into the familiar rage we’ve all felt, but she doesn’t stop there. While aggressive garage rockers like “Never Been Wrong” and “No Question” can be scathing and sonically sound like a fist through a plaster wall, they’re as much about her admitting the shame she felt due to her ex’s put-downs. Likewise, the airy amble of “8 Ball” doesn’t merely portray a condescending boyfriend who draws bright red circles around all her flaws and fuck-ups; it’s a song that instead sees Crutchfield finally embracing those same messy moments and accepting herself as good enough anyway.

 Lyrically, Crutchfield returns to the levels of earnestness and vulnerability of American Weekend and Cerulean Salt, only with a more polished gift for economy and tackling her openness. On “Brass Beam”, she snarls, “I had to go/ I put it out like a cigarette,” branding the image of a smoking butt being trampled before elaborating, “I’d never be a girl you’d like or trust or you’d respect.” These lyrics reveal the meticulous word choice of a poet paired with the frankness of an artist with a punk pedigree. Again, on “Recite Remorse”, she balances the ability to describe her paralysis as a “rerun” with openly divulging her own insecurities and habit of selling herself short in relationships: “See, I always gravitate to those who are unimpressed.” Even as she turns decidedly inward, Crutchfield remains increasingly relatable. She’s that poet friend who could bury her thoughts in overwrought imagery but would rather you know how she feels.

And that feeling is surprisingly jubilant for a breakup record. Part of that stems from Crutchfield having tackled her relationship after it had ended. These songs come from her diary-like memories and capture the moments of shame, clarity, and courage that it took for her to finally escape a toxic relationship. In that sense, Out in the Storm really is a record about freeing oneself rather than someone painfully recalling or reliving their recent trappings. One of the truly beautiful, liberating moments of the record comes on “Sparks Fly”. The song recalls a night out in Berlin with her twin sister and fellow artist, Allison Crutchfield, in which Katie realizes she’s fading within her unhealthy relationship, reduced to seeing herself through the condescending gaze of others who aren’t good for her. But then she grounds herself in the moment: “Tonight I’ll laugh, I’ll say whatever I want/ Stay in the bar ‘til the sun comes up/ And I see myself through my sister’s eyes/ I’m a live wire, electrified.” It’s such a rare moment for a pop song to capture. The sparks flying, of course, aren’t romantic, but a recharged electricity that can only come from within and a little help from her best friend.

Like on Ivy Tripp, Crutchfield has arrived at a place as a songwriter, musician, and bandleader where she can make a collage-like record that draws from all the stepping stones of previous albums. Some critics will point out that she adds a lot of production polish and flourishes with the help of producer John Agnello without breaking new ground like the poppy “La Loose” or full-throated “Air” did on her last record. That’s fair, but the vocal accents on the burning “Silver” and naked, confessional atmospherics during the opening of “Recite Remorse” more than atone for any extra production elbow grease. Even slight strummer “A Little More” finds Crutchfield trying on a softer, elongated vocal with a convincing country lean should she ever contemplate that direction.

“I laid down next to you/ For three years shedding my skin,” Crutchfield sings matter-of-factly over a steady strum on closer “Fade”. “Dreaming about the potential/ The person I could have been.” It’s a devastating analysis – that squandering of precious time and self – but one most of us can relate to. Crutchfield’s gift remains her honesty, her generosity to lay pieces of herself out on the carpet and allow listeners to pick and choose which scraps they recognize in themselves. While her songwriting hasn’t quite made the same leaps that prior records have shown, Out in the Storm offers a unique perspective: that of someone happier and stronger for the pain endured.

 

Review from blog.musoscribe.com .

Seattle area composer-arranger-violinist Andrew Joslyn has made a (slightly underground) name for himself lending his myriad talents to the work of other, more high-profile artists. He has worked with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Pedro the Lion’s David Bazan and Mark Lanegan, among many others. Joslyn also leads the Passenger String Quartet, and has done a great deal of film work. On Awake at the Bottom of the Ocean, Grammy Award-winning Joslyn enlists the help of a long list of musicians, creating a rich tapestry of baroque-leaning (yet not overly fussy) pop songs. Soul vocalist Will Jordan and regional sensation Shelby Earl are among the vocalists who expertly front the Autumn Radio Orchestra on this collection of a dozen lush originals. Wordless numbers like “She’s Gone to California” are achingly beautiful. Joslyn’s film background positions him well to create emotionally manipulative soundscapes (and that’s meant in the best possible way).

The Sheepdogs are a rootsy, Americana influenced band from the open plains of Saskatchewan. They’ve been writing playing and touring across the US and Canada since their formation in 2006. In 2011 they became the first unsigned band to be on the cover of Rolling Stone by winning a “Choose the Cover” contest, beating out 15 other bands to clinch the spot. This lead to performances on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Bonnaroo and Osheaga Festival, showing their signature lead guitar harmonies to a wider audience than ever before. They’ve since had placement in commercials, television series and even at the 2015 IIHF world championship hockey performance with the single “Feeling Good” blasting over the speakers after every goal scored by Canada’s National team.

The band tours constantly and strongly believe in the power of winning over a crowd with a tight, energetic live performance. Their newest release, “Future Nostalgia”, was produced by lead singer and songwriter, Ewan Currie who strove to replicate the band’s original loose and lively sound. It showcases the Sheepdogs’ experience as players, featuring clean, ripping guitar work and a six song medley featuring solo contributions from each member to close the record. It’s a retro, “good-time” record that bridges the gap between garage, rock n’ roll and Americana. 

Review from www.americansongwriter.com .

Twenty years into their career, the word “sellout” remains a foreign concept to America’s diehard retro boogie masters, the North Mississippi Allstars. That’s true even as they cozy up to the suits on the group’s debut for the multi-national behemoth Sony corporation, a company that probably spends more on lunch for their executives in a week than the Allstars gross on a tour.

Brothers Luther (guitar/vocals) and Cody (percussion, piano, etc.) Dickinson are the stripped down members of this aggressive, uncompromising group whose dedication to the raw, rural blues of R.L. Burnside and Mississippi Fred McDowell (both of whose songs they cover here), along with the backwoods fife music of Otha Turner, has informed eight previous albums and helped make Luther a sort of go-to guitarist for bands, like the Black Crowes, looking for some rootsy credibility. Even though the Allstars have occasionally mixed rugged hip-hop and psychedelic rock into this dusky stew, they have never abandoned the gutsy soul at their core and the duo’s credentials remain impeccable.

Despite the jump to a major label, that doesn’t change on Prayer for Peace, the hard touring band’s eighth platter and first studio effort since 2013’s suitably titled breakthrough World Boogie is Coming. Instead of shifting towards a commercial middle ground, the twosome doubles down on their dusky, swamp infested, high wattage basic blues and boogie. It’s an approach made clear on the opening title track that, with its driving drums, Luther’s grinding guitar, darkly bubbling bass from ex-Allman Brothers Band member Oteil Burbridge and pulsating fife, sets the disc’s murky tone.

Luther heads into Hendrix “Hear My Train A-Comin’” territory for the electrifying “Need to be Free” and “Bird Without a Feather,” slithers into Johnny Winter land on a riveting cover of McDowell’s classic “You Got to Move” (a sassy duet with the soulful Danielle Nicole), takes an excursion down ZZ Top’s on-ramp for the driving, slide guitar infused “61 Highway” and references Cream’s version of “Crossroads” with the crowing “Run Red Rooster.” The pile-driving version of Burnside’s “Long Haired Doney” is another in a series of highlights that turn the heat of Luther’s guitar into an explosive device. They unplug for a peppy cover of the Gus Cannon classic “Stealin’” and close with a sweet take on the traditional spiritual “(We) Bid You Goodnight,” a Grateful Dead favorite, where Luther’s slide emulates both Jerry Garcia’s lofty floating lines and Duane Allman’s singing sound.

Even though the tunes were recorded in no fewer than five different studios, including about half co-produced by the legendary Boo Mitchell at the similarly legendary Royal Studios in Memphis, the album hangs together as a well-crafted whole. To their credit, the Allstars show no interest in expanding or compromising their style to attract others beyond the dedicated base they have acquired over two decades.

There aren’t any revelations on Prayer For Peace, but the energy, excitement and intensity poured into every performance makes this a standout in an impressive Dickinson brothers catalog that doesn’t have any weak entries.