.@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.

Jacob Needham & The Blue Trees: “Southern Americana Groove Rock” by Eileen Shapiro

Nashville based Alabama raised band, “Jacob Needham & The Blue Trees” have recently released a sexy, bluesy, rock n’ roll single via Spectra Music Group, entitled “Alabama Baby”, which is accompanied by a salaciously fun-loving video. “Alabama Baby” is the first single off their debut album being released on April 6th  called, “Procrastinated Memoirs”.

I spoke with the band as they explained their music in depth and why it’s so much fun…they not only have a lot to offer the world musically, but also came up with some of the best conversation I’ve ever had with a band…

Why don’t we begin by you all properly introducing yourselves?

Jacob: My name is Jacob Needham, I’m the singer and the rhythm guitar player.

Ben: Ben Trexel, the leader of the pack so to speak. I co-produce and play the bass.

James: James Cody, I’m the lead guitar player, co-writer, co- producer.

RaShaun: I’m RaShaun Whetstone, and I play the drums.

How’d you all get started?

Jacob: We formed I guess around three years ago. The band has been together for two, but I met James and we started playing and doing some songwriting stuff. Then Ben the producer came on but also played the bass, and then RaShaun came on, and it’s been a steady climb ever since.

Who wrote “Alabama Baby”, its very sexy and a lot of fun?

Ben: We all pretty much write together. Someone will have a seed of an idea, and we just work it out organically. I feel that that’s sort of one of our unique qualities. We are able to bring all our influences to the table when we write a song, so it comes out sort of unique.

What influenced this particular one?

Jacob: “Alabama Baby”, …we were in Cleveland Ohio, and we were playing a show there. It was cold, and it snowed, and we were in the room one night…and some of our songs come spontaneously. Someone will play a riff, and we’ll tell them to keep playing it. So, it just kind of came. We were all jamming, and the idea of Alabama just came into my mind. Lyrically I was thinking of another way of thinking “Sweet Home Alabama”. Not that it takes the place of “Sweet Home Alabama”, but just something that gives something to Alabama again, and Alabama has beautiful women and we’re all from Alabama. So, then I thought, “why don’t I write something about that”? That’s kind of how that song came into our playing rotation.

James:  Yeah, Jacob and the band…how we write is very unique. We’re able to just get in a room and can write a song in about 5 to 10 minutes. We are just very fortunate to have that magic, and that cohesiveness among all four of us. We just gel, we’re very fortunate to have that in today’s world.

Ben: Each of our songs have a different type of feel to it. “Alabama Baby” is sort of fun, and light. We like to share that side of our band, but we also have a more serious side. We have a pop side, we have a harder edge side, we just allow different songs to embody the different approaches. I think when our album comes out it’s going to take people to listen to it more than once to really get a full idea of what we are. If you listen only to “Alabama Baby” you won’t get a full picture of what the band is, but then that’s the case with almost every song, so you have to sort of hear a combination of songs to hear where we’re coming from. That’s why we were so proud of this first album.

“Procrastinated Memoirs” is your debut album?

Jacob: We had done a little demo album a year and a half ago, and we never did anything with it. Then Spectra Music came a long and wanted to work with us, so we signed with them and this is going to be our debut. So, we are really excited, we’ve been working really hard just to get to this point.

Ben: We also realize that in today’s world a record is just a part of your product, but it’s not your entire product. So, we’re going to have to play for everyone over the country and sort of take our product out there and let people know who we are. That’s our goal.

Do you plan on heavily touring?

Ben: We plan on lots of touring this year. Lots of touring.

You guys have really cool accents…

James: We are all from Birmingham Alabama. We moved to Nashville this past February, so we’ve been up here about a year. It’s been really cool, I would say about half of our album we wrote within the span of the year. Just being in Nashville and how the different environment effected our growth as musicians and our sound. We call our genre, “Southern Americana Groove Rock”. We have a little southern influence, a little rock influence, a little groove influence…we like to have fun, we like to rock out, so it’s just sort of our self-pinned genre.

According to that video, looks like you like to have fun.

Jacob: It’s a lot of freshness from moving into Nashville….We did some recoding in Fort Knox studio…. just a lot of good things have happened here…I’m really excited about it.

What do you enjoy most about playing live?

RaShaun: Really, the freedom of playing live is just like not having to stick to the one particular script all the time. As long as we just get the music to fit the song and hope that everything else will. I pretty much have the freedom to have as much fun as I want, and I like the energy of live crowds, even though sometimes it makes me a little nervous, I still feed off it. That’s one of the things I like about it.

If you guys could say anything to your fans and followers, what would it be?

Jacob: I would definitely say to get ready for this album, get ready to fall in love with what we’re doing, what we’re creating and get ready this year for seeing some awesome live shows. Just thank you to everybody that is supporting us already, and pushing for us…and to the new people that come on and are following us…we thank you for your support. You’re a blessing to us …without you guys we would not be able to do what we do.

James: I just want to add that when our fans come to see us, we want them to know that we really are an organic, legitimate rock band. We do what we do because you chose us, and we didn’t choose you. We do actually have the passion to be able to pursue what we really want to do, and we are really very blessed to be able to do that. We want the fans to know that it’s completely real and genuine, it’s The Blue Trees.

Jacob Needham & The Blue Trees new single “Alabama Baby” is available now at iTunes, Amazon, Google Music, Spotify and more! Check out the music video for their latest single on You Tube. “Procrastinated Memoirs” will be available worldwide on April 6th, 2018.

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/alabama-baby-single/1318001646

Visit their website at: https://www.bluetreenation.com

Follow Jacob Needham & The Blue Trees on Twitter @JNandTBT

For interviews and radio airplay, please visit www.spectramusicgroup.com

Review from www.seattlepi.com .

After the huge success of Brothers and El Camino, it’s hard to believe that The Black Keys’ debut album was recorded in the drummer’s basement.

On The Big Come Up (2002), Dan Auerbach‘s vocals are as raw as those of Little Richard and Bo Diddley. His lyrics are heavier than Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti,” mourning over the loss of a girl in eight of the 13 songs. They’re typical blues rock lyrics (“Well, my heart goes out to you in your time of need/But you cause me pain most every time you breathe”), but they’re certainly welcome in a time where blues rock isn’t the most popular genre. Like Auerbach’s vocals, his guitar work is gritty with few impressive flourishes. He doesn’t hammer out power chords or spend 10 seconds proving his skill. Instead, he uses his guitar as a supplement to his vocals, sort of as the overdubbed harmony that the mediocre recording devices can’t maintain.

Patrick Carney doesn’t match his partner’s choice of genre, but he does complement it with another historically black style. Rather than settling for the simple beats and heavy toms of ’50s rock and roll, Carney throws in the tang-te-tang cymbals characteristic of jazz. Sometimes he even tosses in a snare to mimic a ’90s New York hip hop feel, especially in “Breaks” and “240 Years Before Your Time,” which include spoken samples that further contribute to the hip hop feel. Carney’s balance of cool snare and popping hi-hat maintains through the next six albums, as the rhythm in “Do The Rump” reappears in Brothers’ “Tighten Up.”

Review from www.dbknews.com .

Since its formation in 2011, Vulfpeck has made the revamping of old-school funk its singular mission, and the band’s Oct. 17 release, The Beautiful Game, shows marginal progress. In the album, the group looks back over its shoulder at a few bygone conventions of funk while delivering lighthearted and easy listening. It does not tread new ground, but when it comes to groove, Vulfpeck has few contemporaries.

The quartet, hailing from Ann Arbor, Michigan, does not wholly sound like a typical funk outfit, which is to its credit. Gone are the multiple-bar vocal flourishes and silly sexual innuendo that passed for lyricism in the 1970s, and in their places are rock-solid instrumentation and groove clearly inspired by Motown’s Funk Brothers.

The Beautiful Game takes a notable step forward in the group’s production. Its first release, Mit Peck, sounds as if it could have been recorded on an iPhone, but The Beautiful Game continues the band’s improving production-value without sacrificing its staccato, stripped-down sound. All its albums have an improvisational feel – like they were recorded in one take – and even though The Beautiful Game has a bit more polish to it, the record retains Vulfpeck’s signature warmth and cadence.

Prior to The Beautiful Game, the most of the band’s releases were instrumental EPs. In that area, the group excelled. The musical chemistry between the band members was apparent – particularly between the bassist, Joe Dart, and either Jack Stratton or Theo Katzman behind the drum kit – because there were no lyrics to divert attention from their instrumental prowess. That is not the case for The Beautiful Game, and it proves to be the album’s greatest misstep. Trite, comically exuberant vocals plague “Conscious Club” (a lukewarm re-release) and detract from otherwise rollicking tracks like “1 for 1, DiMaggio.” The only exception is the song “Margery, My First Car.” Although it is a re-release of “My First Car,” the gauzy vocals in this iteration add some variation to break the song’s strophic monotony.

Those gripes aside, the tracks are, for the most part, memorable and well-constructed. The sparse keyboard stabs from Woody Goss and Dart’s caroming bass keep the songs fast-paced, with just enough meat on them to satisfy a famished listener. A couple songs like “Daddy, He Got a Tesla,” and “Animal Spirits” are forgettable, anodyne funk, but they showcase the band’s instrumental talents.

And that cannot be stressed enough. These guys are killer musicians, but something is missing. Funk has never been a magnet for capable lyricists or storytellers, but that’s not to say it can’t be. It would have been nice to see a funk band with a thoughtful story to tell, but the goal is to get your foot tapping, not your brain working.

There is not much for you to think about here lyrically, but there is plenty to chew on instrumentally. Although the consistent groove distracts from the lack of thematic content, the album comes off feeling frivolous and unrefined – or unaffected, depending on your point of view. It is a beautiful game, but it is also one without much point.

 

 

Review from www.glidemagazine.com .

Low Cut Connie made their wacky and weird debut in 2011 with the truly fantastic record Get Out the Lotion. With its oddball album artwork and throwback soul songs like “Full of Joy” and “Johnny Cool Man”, no one knew what to make of them. It seemed the Philly-based band had just popped up out of nowhere and satisfied every hankering you never even knew you had. And then, if you were lucky enough, you saw them live, then you got a taste for front man Adam Weiner’s monkey-like showmanship. An insanely energetic leader, he moved from the piano bench to the edge of the back of a chair in seconds, and made the microphone is bitch.

Since then, Low Cut Connie has been busy, but has flown mostly under the radar, releasing their follow up Call Me Sylvia in 2012. But not for long. Their latest Hi Honey is a powerhouse that will no doubt get them the attention they so deserve.]

Initially just Weiner and fellow founding member Dan Finnemore, Low Cut Connie has grown to include James Everhart and Will Donnelly, and you can hear it in their sound. Hi Honey features a more full-band sound, but with that same retro rockabilly soul aesthetic they’ve always done so well. Produced by Thomas Brenneck (Charles Bradley, Alabama Shakes, Black Lips, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings), that soulful sound has been deepened and more polished. There’s a raucousness to their songs, like they’re just completely losing their shit in the best way. Weiner sounds like a wild man on songs like “Taste So Good” and “Danny’s Outta Money.”

Hi Honey has a heavy 1960s vibe to it, which is so well suited to what Low Cut Connie does best. “Danny’s Outta Money” has that old Elton John pop sound, and “Shake it Little Tine”, “Diane (Don’t Point That Thing at Me)” and “The Royal Screw” are theatrical and cheeky. Weiner and Finnemore have always injected a hilarious, often perverted, over-the-top sense of humor into their songwriting, setting themselves apart. “You got extensions in your royal ‘do”, Weiner sings on “The Royal Screw”, putting a high maintenance chick in her place. Weiner’s bellow is Low Cut Connie’s secret weapon, but his band knows how to back him up. “Dumb Boy” is a harmonious explosion of all their sounds, with an almost Britpop edge to it.

The hot twinkling of Weiner’s piano keys add life to each of the songs on the album, along with his boisterous vocals and totally unself-conscious demeanor. Hi Honey feels the most cohesive out of all Low Cut Connie’s records, with one solid sound throughout. Whereas Lotion had moments of country, moments of pure rockabilly and elements of punk garage rock, Honey is a soul-rock record through and through. “Me N Annie” captures this sound the best, and is a standout  that will warrant countless listens.

If anyone has yet to hear of Low Cut Connie, Hi Honey is the album that will jolt them to awareness. The electric energy coming out of this band is something special, and it radiates through each song on Honey, a serious blast.

Robert “Wolfman” Belfour (September 11, 1940 – February 24, 2015) was an American blues musician. He was born in Red Banks, MississippiWhen he was a child, his father, Grant Belfour, taught him to play the guitar, and he continued his tutelage in the blues from the musicians Otha TurnerR. L. Burnside, and Junior Kimbrough. Kimbrough, in particular, had a profound influence on him. His music was rooted in Mississippi hill country traditions, in contrast to Delta blues. His playing was characterized by a percussive attack and alternate tunings.

When Belfour was thirteen, his father died, and music was relegated to what free time he had, as his energy went to helping his mother provide for the family. In 1959, he married Noreen Norman and moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where he worked in construction for the next 35 years.

In the 1980s, Belfour began playing on Beale Street. Eight of his songs are included on the musicologist David Evans‘s compilation album The Spirit Lives On: Deep South Country Blues and Spirituals in the 1990s, released by the German Hot Fox label in 1994. This led Belfour to Fat Possum Records and record his first albumWhat’s Wrong With You, released in 2000.

The album Pushin’ My Luck followed in 2003, receiving a positive critical review.

Belfour died on February 24, 2015, at the age of 74.

Review from www.nodepression.com .

Junior Kimbrough died four years ago at the age of 67. His was not a death by misadventure, but from heart failure after a life of hard work in a region of the country where the median income dips precipitously low and the work days run back-breakingly long. His juke joint in Holly Springs, Mississippi, known simply as Junior’s Place, served as the de facto headquarters for a motley assortment rural bluesmen (R.L. Burnside, Asie Payton, T Model Ford, etc.) who all wound up recording for the Fat Possum label in the 1990s. Within a couple years of Kimbrough’s death, Junior’s Place followed suit, burning to the ground.

Though music coursed through the full of his life, he had recorded only five songs prior to the sessions for his first album, All Night Long, in 1992. This set commences with the rare 1969 single “Release Me”, on which Kimbrough is joined by Charlie Feathers. Jumping ahead nearly 25 years, there’s a seamless consistency to Kimbrough’s approach in every regard. His songs are all slowly undulating grooves — not the urban boogie of John Lee Hooker, rather the unfolding rhythmic swirls of Africa and the Mississippi Delta.

Electric, but less overtly amped-up than the music of his longtime friend and rival R.L. Burnside, Kimbrough’s music oozed danger and sex. It’s all deep wants and teeth-clenched insistency. Included here, from his last session, is 1996’s “Most Things Haven’t Worked Out”. The title, adhered to a six-minute instrumental, is what makes this music so relentlessly powerful. As his singing danced between whispers and wails, it shut out every other outside force in his world. It’s as if the most sustaining breaths in Junior Kimbrough’s life were all recorded during the takes of these dozen songs.

Review from www.relix.com .

The Texas-based duo of Anthony Farrell and Andrew Trube were steady members of JJ Grey & Mofro, before focusing on their own eclectic funk and soul outfit Greyhounds, whose third album, Change of Pace, couldn’t have a better title. In what tends to sound like at least two albums stitched together, Pace displays the duo’s ability to expertly mesh Farrell’s rich keyboards with Trube’s blues-fueled guitar, while, at the same time, switching from the former’s deep, soulful vocals to the latter’s more straightforward, mid-range singing style, with each song bringing another facet to the group’s sonic texture. The album opens with “Devil’s Eyes,” a funky, percussive tune sung by Trube that is quickly contrasted by Farrell’s “Walls,” a Bill Withers-meets-Marvin Gaye public service announcement tune. Tracks like that one and “Before BP (The War Is on for Your Mind)” reinforce this socially conscious streak in the group, with Farrell delivering lyrics like “The ass and the elephant have become irrelevant/ The dollar’s the only vote that counts.” It’s not all seriousness with these guys, though, as illustrated by the following song, “Late Night Slice,” which seems to be Trube’s tongue-in-cheek attempt at semi-comedic romancing.

This international collaboration finds noted guitarists Viterbini (from Rome) and Turchi (from Memphis, Tenn.) coming together as a duo. The two have a minimalist, dark blues chemistry overflowing with earthy delta slide and dark pulsing electric guitar. No rhythm section only adds to the tracks’ late-night jam session feel, seemingly leaving them locked in conversation with no one else to listen or judge. Highlights include the relatively upbeat “Cottonmouth Drag” and the soulful rave-up “Gira,” as well as the spooky “Latitudes.”

To study Joel Gion is to study the mystery and history of rock and roll itself. Rock and roll itself is an element indefinable at its core, no matter how deeply one investigates either the mystery or the history – in fact, it’s likely to gain less definition the further one delves.

Joel Gion himself is an element indefinable at his core, no matter how deeply one investigates either his mystery or his history (be it time spent with The Brian Jonestown Massacre, the celluloid anti-hero working out some kinks in the documentary “Dig!” or simply his repeat rankings in the ongoing competition for “Coolest Motherfucker on Earth”) – in fact, he’s likely to gain less definition the further one delves.

With regard to his lush new eponymous album on Beyond Beyond Is Beyond Records, we should all be so lucky to suffer from such a lack of definition. If we take “definition” here to mean a rigid adherence to expectation and narrowness in scope, the album is almost void of definition completely. In its place, we find instantly invigorating hooks, we find an unhurried pace matched with an unworried tone, we find a captivating collection of California calm mixed with self-command, with General Gion standing at the helm of an army of talented musicians, flutes and reverb pedals at the ready.

The word “symphonic” is perhaps too staid a word to describe the album’s almost meditatively meticulous charm, although it makes sense in the context of Brian Wilson’s oft-quoted remark about aiming to create a “teenage symphony to God.” Gion’s no teenager, however (look no further than the album’s “The Nihilist” for the warning), and his music suffers not a moment for its distinct lack of adolescence. Rather, Gion manages to stretch out the sweetness in Wilson’s statement like some sort of sonic saltwater taffy – and there’s plenty to share.

There’s the slow-burn splendor of the album’s opener, “Zig Zag,” as pleasing a smile-generator as anything every tightly rolled in its namesake. There’s album-highlight “Partner,” as certain an alternate-universe psychedelic-salsa hit-single as your ears have ever heard, with the instrumentation creating a crisp and clean holiday hammock for Gion to lay down an almost whispered baritone (Gion’s voice shows a perhaps unexpected flexibility throughout the songs, bordering on chameleon-esque). There’s the transistor-radio friendly album-closer, “Mercury In Retrograde,” aligned like “Psychotic Reaction” on codeine syrup, the fuzz not necessarily frantic, but beautiful.

Unraveling the history and mystery of rock and roll is half the fun, and Joel Gion has been responsible for far more than his fair share of fun. The other half of the fun is giving yourself over to that same mystery and history, wherever it may take you, definitions be damned.

Ladies and gentlemen, Joel Gion is floating in space.

 

Review from blog.kexp.org .

In the summer of 2009, if you had only one dance tune to soundtrack your adventures to day and night, you could do a lot worse than Classixx tune “I’ll Get You”. With a gloriously upbeat vibe and Jeppe Laursen of Junior Senior on the joyful bass-loving vocals, “I’ll Get You” was a song you could put on infinite repeat and still dance to it on the 200th listen. But alas, the release was minimal, and we didn’t see any new original material from the band for a while. Sure, there was a remix here and there (including a great one of Phoenix track “Lizstomania”), not to mention a great DJ set in quite a few cities across the nation, but fear dwelt in my heart that Classixx would be a one trick pony. But in 2011, through Mountain Dew’s Green Label Sound, Classixx released “Into The Valley”, a soulful disco track with Karl Dixon on the vocals. Once again, the band had made a hit that you could play at any party in the world and start a riot, but much like the release of “I’ll Get You”, there was no word on a record any time soon. Yes, LA dance duo Classixx have kept us in the dark for a couple years now, but after traveling the world and settling down just long enough to string together a record, we now have Hanging Gardens, their debut full-length that has more style and swagger as a whole album than we could have ever anticipated. Hanging Gardenswas entirely worth the wait, and it is the perfect introduction to this fantastic dance duo, who will not remain in the dark for much longer. That is for certain.

Classixx is made up of two really interesting dudes. Tyler Blake and Michael David grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles and have known each other since middle school. After David tried out a couple other musical endeavors and Blake dropped out of Berklee, the two took their craft to a new level, bringing east coast dance trend of harking back to disco, funk, and new wave to west coast dance halls itching for something new. The result is Classixx, an indelible blend of old and new – retro without rust, progressive without distancing, and hopefulness and passion without cheese. Perfecting their live set, Blake and David started traveling the world, playing shows wherever they could, and even taking an extended leave in Australia to act as weekly resident DJs on Triple J. Now, the band has remixed and joined the ranks of YACHT, Gossip, and others that aren’t afraid to get past the grimy surface of dance music’s dark and sweaty exterior. Classixx bring a fresh vibe and fresh sound to the dance-floor, and you’ll be worse off missing out.

Hanging Gardens is a fitting and accurate exhibit of the culmination of Classixx’s work thus far. Here, you’ll find “I’ll Get You” in a more refined form alongside some new dancehall anthems, like the bittersweet glory of “Holding On” and all the sultry attitude “All Your Waiting For”, vocally led by Nancy Whang of LCD Soundsystem. These two will certainly be the breadwinners of the record, as they are indubitably fit for any summer DJ set across the globe. Words can’t express how fun “Holding On” is. The disco bass line and the powerhouse build are perfectly paced, but the passionate outcry of “I can’t take it any more” creates an emotional connection to the track up and beyond its danceable prowess. It’s a prime example of a Classixx hit. “All Your Waiting For” is maybe the most polished piece of work the band has created yet. It’s a complex disco masterpiece that puts them in league with their heroes.

But when the album ventures past the singles into more unknown territory, Classixx really start to show their stripes. The two part soundscape of “Rhythm Santa Clara” and “Dominoes” shows a telling characteristic for the band. The former is a funky rhythm dance mixer that could be thrown into the middle of a set as the hard and dirty breakdown between more melodic tracks. But the beat digresses into gorgeous melody at the start of “Dominoes”, maintaining the same rhythmic groove, but adding the bright, warm Classixx atmosphere to the mix. This makes “Dominoes” one of the strongest offerings on the record, but it wouldn’t be half as strong without the fitting introduction of “Rhythm Santa Clara”. In this way, Classixx show themselves to be DJs who, while young, know the rules of the game and want to play them to the limit. Classixx have a unique vision to offer the dance floor through their vast, hopeful sound that keeps the energy building while giving the listener something more euphoric to experience.

Through the rest of the record, Classixx continue throwing new and unique sounds towards the listener that soar through their wide array of influences and interests. The chill house vibe of “A Fax From The Beach”, the electro-funk breakdown of “Supernature”, the quiet trance-induced exit of “Borderline” – all of these fit onto a Classixx record perfectly with a grace and a eclecticism that few other new acts could muster. Hanging Gardens is a record that should not be missed, and will give you summer tunes for many seasons to come. With their full-length debut, Classixx have not faltered from the instant classics of their past. Rather, they’ve built on their energy with prestige, and we can’t wait to see where the road takes them next.

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.