My favorite album so far this year (Run the Jewels 3 dropped in 2016) has been a total left-field selection. Country music doesn’t normally get my attention though the Americana genre being heralded is on my radar. But for whatever reason, when NPR’s First Listen hosted Natalie Hemby‘s Puxico (GetWrucke Productions) I queued it up and found myself hooked. At that time there was little fanfare elsewhere on the web for the singer/songwriter’s debut album but since then she’s been covered by Rolling Stone, The New York Times and more.
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It’s easy to mistake the Accidentals for a much older group of people in a much older band. For a trio having just hit their 20s—and for one who have only been doing what they do for almost five years—their megaton “genre-bending” talent has already seen them receive a bounty of acknowledgments and accolades.
Spanning SXSW showcases, sold-out shows at renowned theaters like the Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and performances with the likes of respected veterans of the biz like Andrew Bird, the Wailers, and even Joan Baez, there’s no doubting that the precocious Sav Buist, Katie Larson, and Michael Dause are scaling great heights as they continue to quickly charm audiences throughout the States.
Sometimes a singer’s work is too conveniently packaged. Is this one simply a stylist dedicated to carefully approximating their genre? Is that one an innovator? In the case of Sharon Jones, who died last November after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, the truth is somewhere else.
Having released 12 albums in as many years, one would think Electric Six would by now be running out of ideas, stamina or things to sing about.
Instead, as anyone who listens to their new album Fresh Blood for Tired Vampyres will tell you, it’s as if they discovered the fountain of youth. Their latest is a collection of electro-disco numbers that incorporate metal riffs, spoken bits, and sound effects that would seem welcome in an Ed Wood film. It’s impossible to listen to the album without wanting to throw a block party, their mastery of dark themes with infectious beats a welcome antidote to a world that just keeps getting darker. What remains surprising is how they’re able to inject life into situations that seem uninteresting, their ability to see magic in the mundane as always being their best asset.
Sadler Vaden released his debut full-length solo album in August 2016, which is now available on vinyl. His DIY effort morphed and was scrapped then re-imagined and recorded over a few years. What ultimately became this upbeat, pop-influenced rock record demonstrates Vaden’s expertise gleaned from fronting his own band in the early ‘00s for eight years, playing for Drivin N Cryin, and most recently for Jason Isbell. Even his cover of John Moreland’s song, “Nobody Cares About Songs Anymore,” becomes Vaden’s own, filtered through Big Star and Vaden’s sensibilities.