Nathan Bell’s music comes from a place of exhaustion. His mellow, world-weary folk music chronicles the endless grind of all shades of the working person in America, from mine workers to middle managers. Bell writes from personal experience: his musical career bookends a 15-year hiatus in the ‘90s and ‘00s, during which he worked as both a manual laborer and a phone company manager. He’s been involved in both blue-collar and white-collar life, and understands that both lifestyles are uniquely draining. His new album I Don’t Do This For Love, I Do This For Love examines the different stripes of dead-end Americana over guitar and mandolin.
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Brooklyn’s Elenna Canlas and Peter Matson are a bedroom production team working under the Big Everything moniker. Their music springs from the fertile wellspring of New York club culture and incorporates soul, funk, and hip-hop into the electronic mix and the end result is the Big Everything Mixtape. This is their first release and it’s mainly new material surrounded by a few classics from Janet Jackson, Nate Dogg, and Genesis. Meanwhile, Big Everything has brought some exciting guests into the project, including Bajah (Sierra Leone rapper) and female rappers Awkwafina and Tierra Whack. It’s all a great bit of fun loaded with summery grooves.
Seminal Americana band Marley’s Ghost is celebrating their 30th anniversary this year with the new release The Woodstock Sessions coming July 15th via Sage Arts. Marley’s Ghost are true Americana musicians in the sense that Americana is made up of multiple roots genres and this band can play all of them with virtuosic skill. Rock, country, bluegrass, soul, blues, these guys combine all of these into a delicious stew of American roots music.
Nashville singer-songwriter Jerry Castle has taken a novel route to mental enhancement as a means of sparking creativity. He’s not talking about cannabis, but rather sensory deprivation tanks, which have afforded him the opportunity to feel like he’s floating in space. Castle says, “there really is nothing like it. When I go into the tank, it takes me to another area. It definitely has opened me up as a songwriter. Music and lyrics come to me quicker. I can remember ideas longer and my music sounds pretty different.” Trippy. Castle really knows how to pen empathetic songs full of emotion like “She Kills”, which drops the male gaze in looking at his female subject and focuses on carefully relating to and telling her story. The music itself, gentle but fully laden with textures, carries off a feeling of floating just like those sensory deprivation tanks.
If there’s any one musician who truly personifies that always ephemeral definition of Americana music, it’s Bill Kirchen, who founded what many consider to be the original Americana band, Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen back in 1972. Blending together country, R&B and rock together, Kirchen has led a storied and rich career, including 30 years he’s spent collaborating with pub rock legend Austin de Lone. This August the two roots rock masters unite for an amazing new album recorded in Austin and London called Transatlanticana. By way of preview, “Hounds of the Bakersfield” is a song that Kirchen originally wrote as a tribute to Merle Haggard, a tune that’s timely again given Haggard’s recent passing.