Monday, July 30, 2012

Song of the Week: Back When by the Carper Family

"Back When" is a roots-Country, lover's lament from The Carper Family. With beautiful vocal harmonies and expert musicianship, "Back When" (from the album of the same name) takes listeners on a musical journey to back when Country music was fresh and new. Like a modern day Andrews Sisters singing covers of Bob Wills, these three Southern sirens (Melissa Carper, Beth Chrisman and Jenn Miori) evoke feelings from another era. No electric guitars, no vocal effects, no post production trickery; The Carper Family delivers hearfelt and well honed roots Country at its best. Singing of love's later stages, after the bloom has left the rose; The Carper Family wonders aloud why the love letters no longer come. Pondering love's fading passions, they sing "why can't back when happen again." Many critics of modern country music may be tempted to ask that same question. But thanks to the Carper Family "Back When" can indeed happen again.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Curmudgeons Rejoice!

Since before Elvis first shook his pelvis onstage, there has always been a small but very vocal portion of music fans who have insisted that older songs are better. Well now, those of us who fall into that category can shout a hearty "I told you so!" as MSN Music News reports that for the first time ever old albums are outselling new ones. (So that's where our album sales are going!) According to Nielson music analyst, David Bakula, the primary catalyst for the trend is cost: Catalog albums are usually priced between $5.99 and $10.99, while new albums are often $13-$18. "I really, truly do believe that there probably is a consumer that is buying music here that wasn't buying music in the past," Speaking of which, for today only you can pick up your very own digital copy of Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison for only $2.99 at Amazon.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Album of the Week: Now & Then by Westbound

Westbound is an amazing musical duo from Houston Texas. Consisting of one-man-band John Stoll and musical songbird Rebecca Ferguson, Westbound plays authentic American roots music. While Nashville and Austin fight over the face of Country music, Westbound beautifully represents the heart of Country. Without overdoing production or attitude, Westbound gets right to the essence of the music. With an organic sound that seems to bubble up from the earth itself and flow clear and pure as a mountain stream, Now & Then is a trip in time to the very beginnings of American music. Like T Bone Burnett's masterful production of the Oh Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack, Now & Then represents a time and place before mass communication, when singing was only done by those with something to say. Even so, Rebecca's voice brings these songs to life in the present tense. Her haunting portrayal of the jilted lover in "Railroad Boy," makes you feel the pain of lost love when she sings how she died "to show the world that I died for love." Her lilting, yet powerful voice is used to wonderful effect in the revival-like songs, "Go Down Moses" and "Wayfaring Stranger." She brings full emotional impact to each of these songs of love and love lost, and sin and salvation. The sparse, melodic rhythms of John's acoustic guitar and banjo perfectly pair and blend with Rebecca's earthy voice. And although much of the album tells of loss and regret, one of the highlights is "At Dawning (I Love You)." Simple, yet elegent Rececca sings, "When the dawn flames in the sky, when the birds wake and cry, when the day shines anew, I love you." This is as honest and sincere a confession of love as I've heard put to music. Westbound has created a beautifully harmonious blending of voice and instrument, of lyric and song and of past and present. You can bet that I'll be listening to this album more than just "Now & Then."

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Original Honky Tonk Angel Gets Her Wings

Family Reunion is saddened by the passing of Kitty Wells. The "Queen of Country Music" She is the original trailblazer for women in country music. She scored her first number one hist in 1952. She was named the Country Female Artist of the Year an unparalleled 14 years in a row. Every female country artist from Patsy Cline to Tanya Tucker to Carrie Underwood have reached their heights by standing on her shoulders. God bless you Kitty. You will be missed and remembered!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

CMT salutes One Star Flag

We told you about our friends in Casey Donahew band in our review of Double Wide Dream. Now CMT is taking note as well. Their video for One Star Flag has just premiered on CMT. Congratulations to Casey and the band! We know this is just the beginning for you!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Song of the Week: How How How by Turnstile Junkpile

Hope everyone's summer is off to a good start. As you can tell by our light blogging, we've been enjoying the lazy days of summer as well. But we'll try to get back in the groove of things. To help kick things off, we'd like to share a band we recently discovered from the deep south - of England! Tunstile Junkpile is an alt-country band from London who describe themselves as "a four-piece band influenced by alt-country, sixties soul, southern twang, a healthy disregard for the ageing process, and the finest Polish lager that their corner shop sells." No matter how you tag them, we like them. We're especially fond of "How How How" from their debut EP Everything Is Cheaper Than It Looks. The song has an irresistable banjo and drum driven melody with some nice bass and harmonica thrown in for good measure. If I didn't know any better, I'd swear these guys were another great alt country band from the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. But knowing their true British identity, I detect the faint influence of Beggar's Banquet era Stones or Muswell Hillbilly Kinks. In fact if Ray Davies played banjo, I'm sure he would sound a lot like Tunstile Junkpile - and I mean that as a complement to them both. Like a Ray Davies song, "How, How How" has its share of cynical wit. Thumbing their noses at some unidentified son of privelege, they taunt, "Hey, hey, hey your daddy's gone away. Sixteen and boring and nobody wants to play." And if the message doesn't come through clear enough, they double down with, "It's time you realize your not God's only son..." They swagger through the rest of the EP showing off their self described influences of rock, country and soul to varying degrees. Although the EP may be "Cheaper than it looks," the music is every bit as rich as it sounds.