New Zealand folk artist Jackie Bristow released her fourth album, Shot of Gold, back on October 7th and garnered praise from Stuff, who said “her tunes have a dark, classic quality to them, set off by haunting melodies and thoughtful acoustic guitar chording. The songs are so perfectly formed that their titles sing themselves.” Bristow seems primed for success on the now global Americana scene with beautifully composed music and straight from the heart lyrics that should thrill fans of Holly Williams, Ashley Monroe, and Angaleena Presley. Having previously opened for the like of the Steve Miller Band, Bonnie Raitt, John Oates, John Waite, Marc Cohn and Rick Springfield, Bristow’s profile is sure to rise over the coming year as she tours extensively with Raitt. Here’s hoping we see her next September at AmericanaFest in Nashville as she’s sure to find scores of new fans there as well. Check out her amazing, atmospheric sound on this live take of album highlight “Whistle Blowin’”.
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Last Friday, Grant-Lee Phillips released a digital-only deluxe edition of The Narrows, which we gave an eight and named a PopMatters Pick back in March when the record came out. The new edition includes four previously unreleased demos and to celebrate Phillips is releasing a new video for album highlight “Smoke and Sparks”, a track that we called the album’s bread and butter, an “introspective, memorable, slow-tempo ballad”. Indeed, it’s that and Phillips shows music shows a renewed confidence following his family’s move from the Los Angeles area to Nashville. “Smoke and Sparks” is a stunner, a truly gorgeous, spare song with a beautiful video that suits the music to a tee.
“Well, we should call the internet and find out as much as we can about these people.”
What a weird way to open an episode! Supernatural viewers were likely wondering just what the heck was going on in the first few minutes of this week’s episode, as it opened with the rather unlikely sight of Sam Winchester (Jared Padalecki) and Lady Antonia Bevell (Elizabeth Blackmore) in bed together. Just as we’re starting to wonder if Sam’s bad taste in women had struck again—in case we’d forgotten, Bevell did point out later on that one of his last serious girlfriends was Ruby the demon (Genevieve Cortese)—the show reveals this was all just a drug-induced hallucination (and an excuse to show a shirtless Sam). Bevell threatened to torture a lot of characters tonight, so it’s not surprising that fans of the show generally dislike her character. The events of the rest of the episode, however, certainly seem to hint that she won’t be much of a recurring character.
San Diego’s Rafter, otherwise known as Rafter Roberts, concocts little, brilliant nuggets of off-kilter pop with an experimental spirit. No two songs on Rafter’s new album XYZ sound alike and ideas aren’t repeated as the album exhibits a real flash of originality blending Beatles, XTC and Queen influences with electro pop and really inventive rhythms and texture. Tossing a bit of R&B into the mix as well, XYZ is a super fun album that should be a true delight to all pop fans who appreciate out-of-the box thinking.
There’s a well-worn adage which states that great art can be born from pain. That’s certainly the case with Solas, the latest from the Answer. Coming off a 2015 tour, the band returned to Northern Ireland to face dire circumstances. The members faced dire emotional and financial circumstances that drove the collective to the precipice, wondering if there would ever be new Answer music again. Eventually, the collective returned to what it had done for the previous 15 years, making music. Determined to come back with a stronger effort than ever before the quartet set about making Solas. Taking its name from the Gaelic word for light, the LP shows a markedly improved and mature band examining both the light and the darkness that light has to offer.