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by PopMatters Staff

27 Feb 2013


The Low Highway is Steve Earle‘s best album since 2004’s The Revolution Starts Now. Earle describes it as his “road album”: “I’ve been on every interstate highway in the lower 48 states by now and I never get tired of the view. I’ve seen a pretty good chunk of the world and my well-worn passport is one of my most prized possessions, but for me, there’s still nothing like the first night of a North American tour; everybody, band and crew, crowded up in the front lounge, eating Nashville hot chicken and Betty Herbert’s homemade pimento cheese, swapping the same tired old war stories half shouted over the rattle and hum of the highway. And I’m always the last one to holler good night to Charlie Quick, the driver, and climb in my bunk because to me it feels like Christmas Eve long ago when I still believed in Santa Claus. God I love this.”


The Low Highway releases 16 April via New West Records.

by Matthew Fiander

27 Feb 2013


North Carolina’s Kingsbury Manx has oft been labeled a folk-pop act, and not without some reason. But as the band returns in March with their sixth full-length, Bronze Age, it’s clear that just folk-pop doesn’t fit anymore. The impressive new record expands their gauzy, shuffling melodies into fuzzier rock turns and edgy atmospherics, sometimes stretching out into layered fever dreams. Nowhere are the band’s strengths as clearly on display as they are on “Handsprings”, a swaying track that glides on cascading piano and perfectly understated melodies. When the chorus opens up in its triumphant close, you think the song has hit its high point. And then the bright sounds bottom out and you’re left with the shadowy negative of those sounds, everything bright and swelling turned dark and spacious. It’s a brilliant turn on an album full of them, and a sure sign that a long-unsung band who been at the top of their game for a long while has somehow found another level. This isn’t just their sound, it’s also the best version of it to date.


Bronze Age is out March 5 on Odessa Records.

by Jane Jansen Seymour

26 Feb 2013


With the advent of the Bonnaroo lineup announcement last week, Daytrotter has curated a 2013 Playlist of their alums who are scheduled to perform this year (June 13 - 16, find info at Bonnaroo.com). Even if you’re not one to head out into the middle of nowhere for these multi-stage weekends of music—it’s still interesting to check out the list of performers, with the simple intrigue of an old fashioned dance card.

Similar to their Coachella 2012 Playlist, this over two-hour compilation is created by Mr. Daytrotter, from their vast archives of stripped-down live sessions collected for the website.  Forty-one songs fill the listening session, including indie stalwarts the National and Grizzly Bear, dream pop duo Beach House, psych rockers Tame Impala, plus folksy types such as the Lumineers and Mumford and Sons. Of course, there’s plenty more where all this comes from, lurking in the full visits with each band.

If you’re not a subscriber of Daytrotter, the two dollars monthly fee will certainly cover access to this playlist and much, much more. Link to listen here.

by Geoff Nelson

26 Feb 2013


A very promising act out of Sheffield, Blessa return with their second single, “Pale”, still firmly lodged in the gauzy sonics that sound like a never-ending loop of the roller coaster scene in Fear. The band builds layers of reverberating guitars and winsome vocals before tipping toward a punctuating chorus, most memorably turning the word “hold” into a three syllable experience. It is love in reverse, memorialized and pretty from far away. The final movement, propulsive and seasick in the best of ways, focuses on the lyric, “it was impossibly easy for you”—which maybe it wasn’t but this doesn’t seem to matter here—all forgotten in the fires of an arrangement in full self-actualization mode.

Reprinted with permission from 32ft/second.

by PopMatters Staff

26 Feb 2013


Chico Mann plays guitar with Antibalas and his solo work shares the funkiness of that band, but ups that quotient ten-fold. Mann will be showcasing his sound at SXSW this March and he has a new EP, Same Old Clown coming 4 March via Soundway Records. Meanwhile Mann’s new full-length album, ‘Magical Thinking’ comes later in March. “Same Old Clown” is a catchy bit of electro-funk sure to make your toes tap.

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