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Music

Rosie Flores: Working Girl's Guitar

Flores proudly proclaims that she’s “Little But ... Loud.” There’s nothing small about this album.


Rosie Flores

Working Girl's Guitar

Label: Bloodshot
US Release Date: 2012-10-16
UK Release Date: 2012-10-15
Amazon
iTunes

Rosie Flores named her album Working Girl’s Guitar. The conceit of the title song is that Flores sings it from the point of view of the musical instrument. But it’s clear that Flores is singing about herself as a “working girl” in both senses of the word. While she did not write the song, she expresses pride in her labor and artisanship. Flores has recorded more than a dozen top notch albums during the past 30 years. However, Flores knows the darker side of having to please the public. She has bounced from label to label, and despite her talents, Flores still struggles to make a good living.

Flores is an excellent guitarist in the Texas traditions of amalgamated blues, country, rock, rockabilly, etc. She chose to pen a tune about her instrument because she’s so adept at it. While the title cut reveals her ability to slash and strum, Flores’ version of the Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” suggests the softer side of her playing. And despite Jimi Hendrix’s famous warning against surf music, Flores takes on the devil with the instrumental “Surf Demon #5.” There’s no reason to ask what happened to the first four, heh heh heh. Flores’ guitar must of have eaten them whole.

Other cuts reveal what a good singer Flores is, whether she’s crooning a soft duet with Bobby Vee (yes, that Bobby Vee of “Take Good Care of Maybe” circa 1961!) on “Love Must Have Passed Me By” or bopping and growling on Janis (“the Female Elvis”) Martin’s early hit, “Drug Store Rock and Roll”. The song features the immortal chorus:

Jukebox jumpin’, jump-jump

Feet keep thumpin', thump-thump

Drugstore's real gone man

Rock-bop-jump-thump, rock 'n' roll

You don’t have to be a cat to recognize just how cool those lines are. It should be noted that Flores recently co-produced the posthumously released Janis Martin album The Blanco Sessions.

While there are only 9 cuts here that take up a mere 33 minutes, Flores proudly proclaims that she’s “Little But I’m Loud”. There’s nothing small about this album. She knows that it’s better to be a bit hungry than to give “Too Much”, as she sings on her rendition of the King’s classic blues number. On “Yeah, Yeah”, a tribute to her late friend Duane Jarvis. Flores sings that living for day, opening your heart, and such, make a person part of everything. She makes her connection with other musicians here.

Flores sings lead and backing vocals and all the electric guitar tracks, not to mention producing the album. It is easy to forget the other players. Greg Leisz’s tasty slide guitar licks add color to the sound. Red Young’s Hammond B3 organ grounds the tunes in a deep and soulful vibe. Tommy Vee on upright and electric bass rhythms, Noah Levy on drums and percussion, and T. Jarrod Bonta on piano all enter into the mix to give Flores a solid foundation from which she can kick butt. Flores is a working girl whose instrument and voice labor to give you a good time and make you think and feel more deeply.

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Music

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Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

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With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

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White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

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Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

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