Hailing from Buffalo NY, Ashland Belle - Evan Blankenship, John Rosini, Rob Ferenc - released their new self-titled EP on October 30th. The Zac Maloy produced project contains five tracks; three outside cuts from such notables as Jimmy Yeary, Jim Beavers and Scott Stevens and two songs which were written by the band alongside Maloy (“Mine” and “Girl Behind The Bar”). Mixing country and with a dose of rock, the band’s songs, brought to life by Blankenship’s robust vocals, can be “turn ‘em up and sing along” tunes or serious, thoughtful ones.
Opener “Fastest Car” is a country rocker about a free spirited female who longs to leave the town she calls home. “Way Back” finds him lamenting “everything that’s no good I can’t quit,” being unable to find his way and wondering if it’s too late. Starting off with the act of contrition, stand out “Whiskey Prayers” finds a man struggling with alcohol asking “Can you put a word into the man upstairs because I don’t think he answers whiskey prayers.” Closing out the EP is “Girl Behind The Bar” an up-tempo, fun tune about being in love with the gal who mixes the drinks. Give it a listen.
Swedish singer-songwriter Jonas Carping released his album, Cocktails & Gasoline, on Oct 7th. Largely recorded in a cabin in the outback of Sweden, the album has a dramatic, vast atmosphere. The eleven tracks, all penned by Carping, create an energy that is at times desolate and urgent, yet truthful. The powerful collection begins with “The Last Approval” which recalls an 80’s alternative sound and “Higher Ground” which alternates quiet verses with an explosive chorus. Those tracks that follow mix rock and folk in songs incredibly powerful (“Damn Old World”), sweeping (“Peace of Mind) and gritty (“Dusk of Darkness”) - all brought to life by Carping’s unique vocals.
Watch/Listen to "You Move In A Different Way" here
Founding member of the Nerves, leader of the Plimsouls, and one of the artists who spearheaded the songwriter’s movement, Peter Case returns on October 30th with his first album of new material since 2010’s Wig! Released on Omnivore Recordings, HWY 62 was co-produced by Case and Sheldon Gomberg (Rickie Lee Jones, Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite) and also includes the talents of Ben Harper, Jebin Bruni (PIL), Cindy Wasserman and David Carpenter (Dead Rock West), D.J. Bonebrake (X), Don Heffington (Lone Justice) among others.
HWY 62 takes its title from the highway that connects Ciudad Juarez with Niagara Falls, Ontario. Case was born in the Buffalo area, a block from said road, and has noted, “I always saw HWY 62 as my gateway to the country, my doorway to the west.” The album indeed opens that doorway with troubadour’s tales infused with Americana, blues, rock and folk. Commentary on social issues flows throughout the project which consists of twelve vividly written tracks, all originals except for a rendition of Dylan’s “Long Time Gone.” The journey begins in Pelican Bay, a bluesy protest of solitary confinement before the listener finds themselves in an airport “Waiting On A Plane” which perfectly channels that old time lounge feel. It’s onto the 1960’s in “New Mexico,” the dark west in “Water From A Stone,” which chronicles the plight of immigrants, and the courthouse in the melodically irresistible, “All Dressed Up (For Trial)” which documents a man “terrified to be himself” going to a place where “justice still gets left behind.”
Rounding out the album are stories of displacement on “Evicted,” life and meeting again on “The Long Good Time,” as well as the rollicking “If I Go Crazy” and the soothing, peaceful “Bluebells.” The journey concludes with the all too short instrumental title track leaving you wanting to travel a little longer on HWY 62.
Arkansas native Debbie Cochran may be a relative music newcomer, but her sound is undeniably traditional. Cochran, whose vocals often recall those of Anne Murray, takes us back to earlier times with the release of her new single, “Before We Met The World.” Released to radio on October 26th, "Before We Met The World" brings a welcome perspective to the airwaves in a song that is thoughtful in both lyrics and melody. Penned by Cochran and produced by Grammy-nominated Kent Wells (Dolly Parton), the honest, reflective song ponders with fondness the days of innocence and youth before we left those carefree times to face the world.
“For old time’s sake let’s just get away
Let’s take a memory ride to clear our minds
For old time’s sake
Let’s pretend I’ll be her and you’ll be him
Back in love again before we met the world”
Robby Johnson's new single, "Hate Me Tonight" is from the singer's upcoming album, Don't Look Back, due next year. Written by Jason Massey, Ryan Griffin and Mark Carson, the slow and steady melody of the verses leads to an up-tempo chorus in a song that finds him asking a lover to face their problems head on, so that in the morning all will be well again--kind of like the old adage not to go to bed angry....and in this case alone.
Entirely relatable and utterly irresistable, "Hate Me Tonight" is a song you'll be humming long after it finishes playing.
"You know I ain't one to pick a fight
And the last thing I want to do is see you crying
But if we go round and round pretending like everything's alright
We're gonna wake up in an empty bed replaying what we should have said
Reliving ways that we could have saved it"
The thirteen track James Stroud produced Don't Look Back arrives January 12th, but will be available for pre-order starting October 30th. All pre-orders will include instant access to "Hate Me Tonight" as well as four other tracks - "1, 2, 3, 4," "Shady," "Together," and "I Ain't The Guy."
For more on Johnson visit www.robby-johnson.com.
Singer-songwriter and Studio Gold Nashville artist Scott Brantley, who counts George Strait, Alan Jackson and Keith Whitley among his influences, is releasing his first single to country radio, “Good Thing Going.” Written by Brantley alongside his brother David and good friend Trent Jeffcoat, the mid-tempo song cleverly sums up the old adage that opposites attract. Recalling early Brad Paisley, the humorous lyrics in the verses - “She’s all yogurt and granola, I’m scrambled eggs and cheese” - contrast the couple who, despite their unlikely pairing, go hand in hand. “Good Thing Going” is a sweetly romantic, fun and refreshingly different song that would be a welcome addition to any station’s playlist.
“Sometimes I just look at her
Sitting right by my side
I can’t help but to think of how lucky I am
To have her along for this ride
Most folks they just wonder around wondering what loves all about
If there’s one thing for certain what we got’s working gonna keep on truckin’ with the windows down”
“My gratitude is far higher than my expectations ever were.”
Beloved Texas troubadour Ray Wylie Hubbard’s new book a life….well, lived will be released on November 2nd via his own imprint, Bordello Records. Written with Thom Jurek the portable, relatively short tome chronicles Hubbard’s life thus far from boyhood in Oklahoma and Dallas to include well, as much as Hubbard wanted to write. It's a memoir that you can't put down, but one that you don't want to end.
a life....well, lived has an extremely unique three piece alternating format. There are the pages written by Ray: free flowing road stories, with minimal punctuation and void of capitalization (for a glimpse check out his FB posts) told as he writes, “the way i kinda remember it,” then there are those chapters written in traditional narrative form and finally, there are song lyrics that fit nicely with what follows.
With his guitar, Hubbard is not only musician, but poet and storyteller... something that translates extremely well here. The same intimacy and integrity that is present at his live shows emanates from the pages and will have you feeling as if he is talking to you face to face. He is witty, incredibly dry and naturally funny so be prepared--there are copious one-liners and many, many occasions when you will literally burst out laughing (particularly the “whore dog gig” and the Baptismal font story).
In addition to the humor, there are the heartfelt and honest to God touching moments. One learns of his childhood, working in New Mexico, his time as a member of the Cowboy Twinkies and playing sets in between lingerie shows. Then there’s the death of his father which finds him going deeper into booze and drugs, “I thought cocaine was the answer to my drinking problem, but it just gave my booze legs.” Ultimately, he joins AA, experiences a spiritual awakening and turns his will and life to a higher power to guide his actions and thoughts. In the midst of completing the twelve steps, Hubbard meets Judy and eventually has a son (the love and admiration he has for the two of them pours off of the page), takes formal guitar lessons and begins to see his career moving in the right direction.
Hubbard doesn’t proselytize. He tells his own story and what has worked for him…but it does make you think about one’s own behaviors. He truly appreciates life’s moments, admits when he is in the wrong, yet won’t stand for being wronged, has happiness, frustrations, and learns life lessons. The biggest take away being something he writes near the conclusion: that the purpose of the universe is to contribute to life by giving. Make a commitment, set goals, take action and amazing things will happen. He writes all of this “metaphysical-spiritual-badass-mumbo-jumbo kind of juju to get your mojo working” in relation to his formula/equation (yes, with multiplication, addition and subtraction) for being a prosperous songwriter, but really it's something that can be applied to us all.
Grit and groove. Tone and taste. They’re here along with heart, soul and gratitude. A life well lived indeed.
Since the release of their self-titled debut album in late August on Stax, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats have quickly ascended into the nation’s musical consciousness aided by a first-rate performance on The Tonight Show.
The seven piece ensemble’s album has a fresh old school Gospel/R&B feel with thumping percussion, profuse horns and organ galore with Rateliff’s soulful, gritty and demanding vocals leading the charge over exuberant melodies - melodies oft accompanied by lyrics to the contrary. Urging one to simply live, the album kicks off with “I Never Get Old” and continues its pace with “Howling At Nothing,” breakout track “S.O.B.” and the visceral punch of “Trying So Hard Not To Know.” There’s remorse and hope “I’ve Been Failing,” regret and pleading “Look It Here” (on which the comparison to Otis Redding cannot be avoided) and the downright sexy “Shake.” Tempo comes down a bit on the thoughtful “Wasting Time,” the romantic “I’d Be Waiting” and “Mellow Out” which fittingly closes out the record.
It’s living, breathing, pulsating, music…..and if you’re not moving and grooving, best check your pulse.
Southern Companion – Darren Hodson (Vocals, Guitar), Simon Johnson (Guitars, Mandolin), Stuart Ross (Bass), Lee Maycock (Keys), and Oliver Richmond Jones (Drums) - independently released their debut album Short Stories and Tall Tales in 2011. In February of this year they put forth their latest record 1000 Days of Rain; a record which finds the UK meeting the US in as Hodson aptly describes it, ‘a Mid-Atlantic sonic whirlpool……a big old blending up of all the great music I love, Americana Folk & Roots meets classic British Pop Rock.’
Produced by multi Grammy nominee Ron Thaler, all of the songs on the project, with the exception of "Heaven Knows," were all penned by Hodson. Opening with their latest single, the folksy “Crash” the ten tracks are personal, insightful and relatable. There is the sweet mid-tempo “Feels Like Years” which deals with the importance of making relationship time with his wife when day to day just gets in the way, the soothing “Lullaby for G” a song written for his daughter who woke from bad dreams, the soulful “Waiting On A Corner” and the reflective, regret filled “Heaven Knows.”
1000 Days of Rain merges alt-rockers “Dead Man Walking,” shuffling old school “The Leaving Kind,” and bluesy 70’s grooves “Wrong Side of The 70’s.” “This Love of Mine” and “Letting You Go” round out the album that may be a sonic whirlpool, but it's one you might not mind getting swept up in.
Rick Monroe’s latest single from his album, It's A Love Thing is "Great Minds Drink Alike." The song is an anthem, an ode to bars and honky tonks, the hard working people that frequent those establishments and the good times that occur there. Written by Monroe and Dan Adams, the song isn’t your typical drinking tune that populates the landscape. Sure it deals with a familiar topic, but “Great Minds Drink Alike” has a propulsive beat, a sing along chorus and a classic honky tonk feel that separates it from the pack.
“What I’m saying ain’t nothing new
Ain’t here to reinvent the wheel
But having a good time is something we all wanna do
I’m just saying what we think and feel
It’s like paycheck Friday and were breaking free
Everybody knows where everybody is gonna be.”
Watch the video, which features some neat cameos, here.