At 79, nothing is slowing cult hero Andre Williams. His past is as colorful as his music, with Williams hustling for six decades as a singer and performer and… hustler. Hey, that’s what you have to do to spend a life in music and not get hustled yourself by a really tough industry. Williams wears his scars well. Whether he’s been up or down, he’s always been Andre Williams and always able to bounce back and stand strong. And here he comes again with a brand new album, his fifth for Bloodshot Records, the highly respected Chicago-based alt-country and roots music label.
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Americana band Yarn has gone through a lot of changes over the last little while, including relocating from Brooklyn to North Carolina and having relationships end. Blake Christiana explains, “We were dealing with real life issues. Broken relationships, a sense of having to regroup and put some things—and people—behind us. The new songs became kind of a catharsis. Nothing was contrived. We didn’t have to relate to it in the third person. We were living these circumstances, and that gave us the impetus and inspiration to share our sentiments. Ultimately those setbacks and difficulties led to new opportunities and allowed a little light to shine through.”
Pryor Stroud: Writing and performing under the moniker Car Seat Headrest, Will Toledo crafts DIY, indie-punk sketches that sound like alchemical mixtures of the lo-fi noise rock of Cloud Nothings and the guitar-centric alt-pop of Pavement. In “Fill in the Blank”, he wields an indomitably bright and propulsive melody to vent about his existential anxieties, and when he attacks certain notes, yelping them out toward the rafters of the production, you can almost believe that the track has help him reach some sort of catharsis. But the final chorus reveals this belief to be an unequivocal falsehood: “I’ve got a right to be depressed / I’ve given every inch I had to fight it,” Toledo sings, and while he may be resigned to the fact of his depression, it’s difficult not to imagine “Fill in the Blank” as a bit of this fight still left in him. [9/10]
Singer-songwriter Jared Deck labels his music “Midamericana”, a term which accurately describes his blend of Southern roots music, Americana, and heartland rock from the John Mellencamp school. Growing up in small town Oklahoma, a state that produces as many great singer-songwriters as they do oil wells, Deck worked the oil rigs to put himself through school. Then after starting a business and running for political office, he turned his attention more fully to developing his music. Now, Deck is on the verge of releasing his self-titled debut album on May 6th. Rolling Stone Country premiered his first single, “17 Miles”, which they loved and we have the pleasure of sharing Deck’s second single “Grace” with you today. “Grace” is heartfelt, soulful ballad with gorgeous harmonies that is Deck’s most personal song to date.
Pryor Stroud: “Poured Semi Silently Upon You” is an orchestral ambient soundscape that bears the winding impressionistic focus of a Terence Malick film. With spartan production design and minimalistic string flourishes, the track seems to stage kaleidoscopic sagas of hurt, of jealousy and interpersonal disaster, through only a few intersecting instruments. Just before the 6:30 mark, a string of aching piano chords ripple through the space that Gibson has created—a dark space, more air than substance, more color than material—and each one resounds with a secret that could shatter a lifetime. [8/10]