This year winter has been one of the coldest and snowiest in Chicago’s not-overly tropical history with the third polar vortex of the season currently camping out over the area through at least the end of February. Fortunately, in the middle of this Chiberian ordeal local sextet the Lemons (not to be confused with the early ‘90s Seattle alt-rockers) dropped a debut album that positively radiates toasty mid-summer happiness.
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After a quick listen, it’s clear Sturgill Simpson has the standard honky-tonk tools: a boozy baritone that recalls Waylon Jennings, the rooted mindset, a powerful, punchy delivery. But, when listening to him at length, it’s apparent there’s so much more to the Kentucky native, who used to front Sunday Valley. These skills and tendencies shine on his new single, “Living the Dream”, a desperate, rhythmic realization with piercing metaphors and layers of brilliant country guitar work. He has a ragged believability and this incredible gift to capture everyday struggle like few others. His forthcoming album, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, drops on May 18th.
A rich country-infused, Caribbean-splashed folk-rock track, “Hundreds of Ways” is the first single off Conor Oberst’s forthcoming album Upside Down Mountain, which will drop on May 20. As it moves and breaks, the genre-jumping gem is deeply wordy, yet incredibly driving. In support of the new record, he hits the road in May. According to Oberst’s website, Dawes will open and act as his backing band during the tour. The dates are below.
Anna Domino’s Mysteries of America (1990) went largely unnoticed by the general public (like much of her other work). It was a shame, since the album contained some of the most beautiful compositions put together by a recording artist at that time. Today the album still stands the test of time, its ethereal, autumnal warmth radiating the kind of gentle sensuality reserved for Eric Rohmer films. Americas’ most gorgeous number was “Paris”, a lovely paean to the city of lights that featured the most popular elements of chanson (chiming guitars, accordion) and was built upon a circular, hypnotic rhythm of Latin percussion.
I had the pleasure of listening to “Top Notch”—the new digital single from Manchester Orchestra, out earlier this month—way back in April of 2013. The band previewed a few tracks from the then-untitled album COPE at a concert sponsored by HTC in Los Angeles. COPE is finally due out April 1, 2014, a full year later. That show was an absolute treat, and remains the best argument I can think of for buying an HTC device, but I ramble.
As we were jostled around by the folks dancing up front, I turned to my wife and said, “This album is going to be heavy.” “Top Notch” seems to confirm that hypothesis.