Seattle’s Western Centuries keep the fire alight for real honest to goodness honky tonk country music. Dale Watson would be likely to say “that’s a real country song”. But the band’s members—Cahalen Morrison, Ethan Lawton, Jim Miller—come from vastly different musical backgrounds and all bring something unique to the table. Morrison comes from the Americana scene with a youth spent playing in New Mexico conjunto bands, while Lawton is a Seattle native who was devoted to punk and hip-hop before he fell head-over-heels in love with bluegrass. Meanwhile Miller was a heavy in the jamband world, founding the highly popular Donna the Buffalo. And they all meet to make first class authentic country music.
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East Tennessee’s Derik Hultquist did what lots of musical dreamers do… he headed straight to Nashville after graduation. Like most, he worked the odd jobs to support himself while working hard on developing his songwriting as well as discovering his true singing voice. Hultquist has released a number of EPs over the years as his music progressed and now, after 10 years in Nashville, he is set to release his full-length debut album, Southern Iron, coming June 17th via Carnival Music/Thirty Tigers. Southern Iron is a well-crafted set of Hultquist’s original songs living in the country/pop sphere with songs that occasionally feature elements of psychedelic and roots rock.
Pryor Stroud: In “Vapour Trail”, Lone dexterously melds a muscular hip-hop beat with a fidgety, chrome-coated electronic melody, forging a unique sound that seems, at once, anchored in cracked concrete and suspended in the clouds. As the track progresses, the reduplicated, half-legible vocal sample begins to assume a hypnotic quality—that is, it begins to pull you deeper into the track without announcing its intentions. This opens up a set of questions: where is Lone taking us? Where does this vapour trail lead? [7/10]
Pryor Stroud: Charged with gargling synths, metronomic percussion, and a vocal ripped straight out of the ‘80s fem-rock playbook, “Never Going to Die” is the debut single from Mary Jane Dunphe’s new synthpop project CC DUST. While on the surface this is a relatively straightforward electro-punk ballad, the details here deserve additional scrutiny: the foregrounded synthesizer drones are rough-edged, thick, even dirty, and Dunphe’s voice—a hoarse, up-from-the-gut warble—seems determined to fight against them. It’s as if she’s trying to free herself from the track’s sonic muck and, by extension, the oppressive sense of mortality that has begun to feel like a shackle against her skin. [7/10]
Australia’s CW Stoneking grew up in a remote part of the Northern Territory, but he fell in love early with gospel music, blues and ragtime and those first loves have been with him ever since. Stoneking notes that when he first heard blues he “thought it was kinda funny music because it was so deconstructed and not really adhering to any rules that I’d been told music [should] fit into.” Robert Johnson and Son House are among Stoneking’s influences, which makes sense given Stoneking’s raw, unvarnished, passionate form of the blues. That rawness has always been a part of country blues at least and it melds well with Stoneking’s somwehat punk sensibility.