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Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson got into a bit of trouble not too long ago. Officers who pulled over his tour bus ran across a couple of bags of unsavory substances. For anyone even remotely familiar with Willie Nelson this was no surprise.

The music legend treated the incident with the same humor and attitude he has treated everything else in his life. Willie got back on the bus and went back to roaming the country like the long-haired, guitar-strumming, immortal gypsy that he is.

As a country artist, Willie Nelson has a reserved space in the hall of heroes. Beyond country music, Willie Nelson is an incredible fixture of Americana. His style and voice are unmatched in popular music. His activism is inspiring, and at the age of 73 he has done just about everything there is to be done in music.

With Songbird, Nelson made a few changes. Ryan Adams and the Cardinals provide backup and Adams stepped into the producer's chair. The alt-country Adams owes his livelihood to Willie Nelson, so he works extra hard to give Nelson something memorable to work with.

The Cardinals give Nelson more of an electric sound, but never fail to stretch out into many moods and genres. They groove on the upbeat rock/country tracks and step back into a beautiful melancholy on the slow songs.

Adams brought a range of songs for Nelson to sing. Willie has been interpreting songs his whole life and his effortless performance is picture perfect on this album. Willie Nelson could sing your grocery list and it would be fantastic.

A good batch of songs only makes the record better. Three of Nelson's classic recordings come back with an immediate, bluesy production. Nelson claims this is the Ryan Adams project but the album is anchored around several of Nelson's memorable compositions, including "Rainy Day Blues", "We Don't Run", "Sad Songs and Waltzes" and a brand new Nelson original, the haunting, harmonica inflected "Back to Earth".

Adams contributes one of his own originals, the gospel-flavored "Blue Hotel". The highly underrated Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac contributes the gorgeous "Songbird" and Willie nails it out of the park. Each track is incredible and far ranging, from the Grateful Dead's "Stella Blue", Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", Gram Parson's "$1000 Wedding" and Harlan Howard's "Yours Love". Each song becomes Willie's own.

Nelson and Adams drag out the most overdone spiritual ever, "Amazing Grace" and give it a completely fresh arrangement. It is perfect as the closer on quite a remarkable album.

Not much else can be said. Willie Nelson is and has always been marvelous and Adams and the Cardinals give him a sound that is both familiar and fresh.

Willie is an essential artist. You can't go wrong.
Participating artists for The Voices and Faces Project Vol. 1 include: Neko Case, Jesse Sykes, Joseph Arthur, Motion City Soundtrack, Fielding, Garrison Starr, Neilson Hubbard, Kelly Hogan, Nora 'O Connor, Michelle Anthony, Bird York, The Strays, plus more to come. The CD will be released early this summer and will be put together by Barry Goldberg, whose work in the studio runs the gamut, from Smashing Pumpkins to Fleetwood Mac.

Please visit the website when you have a chance and check out what Anne Ream (founder/rape survivor) and hundreds of other survivors are accomplishing in the battle against sexual violence.

*100% of all profits will go to The Voices and Faces Project.

The History Of Cut Nails In America
Engineered by Craig Schumacher (Calexico,Friends of Dean Martinez, Howe Gelb, NekoCase, etc)The most heartfelt and intense Americanmusic comes from a tradition of national sor-row. The longing for home embodied in the lowmoan of the blues. The traditional musicians ofAppalachia playing the music of the old worldin the new and promised land. The eventualunion of the two in early rock and roll, thesmokey stomp of the juke joint blues and thehigh wail of back woods country. An unbrokenlineage built upon our national guilt and sorrow. A tradition that is evident in the music ofShortstack.They write murder ballads, they write stories of redemption and songs of persecution withhaunting biblical overtones. They use the native instrumentation of American music: drums,guitar, lap-steel and upright bass. They draw upon musical traditions of this country from theearliest of country and blues through the birth of rockabilly to the rock and roll of contempo-rary revivalists. They are not, however, aping musical genres. Somehow they’ve happenedupon a means of expression that draws upon all the unique musical heritage of America. Ofcourse, when it comes down to it, Shortstack is simply four young men who play their ownmusic honestly and well. Perhaps what makes it all so authentic is their lack of stylistic striv-ing. They seem to have chanced upon this vein of painful truth. Without realizing it they satdown to practice and played the only music they could.These songs came to fruition during a demo session held at a farm outside of Slainsville, WestVirginia. The band had previously rented the property for writing and brainstorming sessions,finding that the solitude and close quarters created a fertile ground for songwriting. Theyplayed relentlessly by day, and listened to the cicadas at night. Months later, the band tookanother journey — this time to the desert to bring the completed album to life. The final ses-sions took place at Wavelab Studios in Tuscon, Arizona. Wavelab was chosen because of engi-neer Craig Schumacher’s work with Calexico, Friends of Dean Martinez, Howe Gelb, and NekoCase. After eight days, Shortstack boarded a plane for home with a finished album in theirhands.• Recorded by Graig Schumacher (Calexico, Friends of Dean Martinez, Howe Gelb, andNeko Case) at Wavelab in Tuscon, Arizona.• First release on the new GYPSY EYES RECORDS (home of Revival, Brandon Butler, andother bands that will sell lots of records).• Full press and radio serviced by Advanced Alternative Media (AAM).• Available for instore appearances.• Previous release (“S/T”) on Planaria Recordings received positive reviews including afeature on National Public Radio (NPR).• Massive plans for touring all year. Have headlined at the prestigious 9:30 Club• Good looking chaps that can all ride bikes!

Dave Olney
David Olney has always been one of Nashville''s most respected singer-songwriters, a man revered by the likes of Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Rodney Crowell and Steve Earle. Since Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt started including his material in their repertoire, he is widely recognized as one of America's most important tunesmiths. Olney's amazing originality as a writer is only equalled by his stunning powers as a performer, and LENORA his fourth and best live-album to date is quite simply, a major event. Recorded over the last two years in several intimate venues in Holland, the new CD captures this most versatile of artists at the height of his abilities. During the 2004 tour, Olney's was back up by Thomm Jutz, and during the 2005 tour by Mark Sergio Webb, two of today's finest acoustic, and electric lead guitar player in the scene.
1.Speak Memory 2. Birds 3. My Lovely Assistant 4. I Washed My Hands in Muddy Water 5. The Song 6. No One Knows What Love Is 7. Two Kinds of Love 8. Jerusalem Tomorrow 9. Lenora 10. Chained and Bound to the Wheel 11. Vincent's Blues 12. Upside Down / Gonna Wait Here For the Cops 13. Revolution

The Lonesomes
Quick Fixes & Power Trips
Urgency and insurgency are at the root of The Lonesomes` "Quick Fixes & Power Trips," the Portland quartet`s rocking follow-up to their breezier 2004 debut "Circling The Sun." Bolstered by the addition of lead guitarist Mark Dybvig (Thrillbilly), The Lonesomes have delivered 12 varied takes on 70s rock that are both sweet and searing. Literate and character-driven in a way similar to early Springsteen, the tunes put a modern spin on timeless themes of war, God and love, at times echoing the disappointment of an American public that feels duped. The overall sound, though, is much more early Jayhawks and Velvet Crush. Produced by 44 Long`s Brian Berg (John Doe, Robert Pollard), who lends keyboards and occasional backing vocals, "Quick Fixes & Power Trips" is an edgy romp in the vein of Drive-By Truckers and Son Volt, where intimate story-telling meets heavy guitar licks, fish-hook bass lines and machine-gun drum rolls. (self-released)

The Kennedys
Songs Of The Open Road (Appleseed)
The very latest album from the exuberant Pete and Maura, everybody's favourite jangle merchants, sees them forsaking self-penned material for the first of possibly a projected series of albums of covers. Here they present transcendent new versions of what they term their “favourite travelling music” (hence the album's title, which also takes its cue from a key Walt Whitman poem), songs written by others that they really appreciate, some of which often form the backbone of their ongoing satellite radio show. The vast majority of them are the classic products of West Coast-based writers whom the Kennedys are proud to honour with their re-creations. Not all are especially well-known, perhaps, but you can hear why Pete and Maura rate them so highly. Their covers are faithful and affectionate reassemblages; to be fair, they're not attempting to offer any radical new slant or interpretative departure, and taken on those terms they're perfectly satisfying, for the Kennedys' feel for the songs is tangible, communicated as much by the entirely appropriate musical arrangements as by their expressive and forthright vocalising. Eight Miles High is given a very typical approach, with glittering psychedelia incorporating electric sitar and multiple twelve-strings, while Pretty Girl Why (the Stills/Buffalo Springfield number) settles easily into a soothing bossanova groove. The Byrds/Burrito connection is cemented with covers of Sin City and Gene Clark's achingly tender, elegant Gypsy Rider (there's that mournful electric sitar again!). Jimmy Webb's Galveston is elevated from the somewhat middle-of-the-road twang of Glen Campbell's hit version into a thoughtfully oblique commentary worth paying more attention. And one of my personal favourites here is the yearning jingle-jangle folk-pop treatment of Dave Carter's seriously beautiful Gypsy Rose, one of two of Dave's songs that the duo tackle for this project. This Moment (the Victoria Williams song, not the Mike Heron classic) opens proceedings in deceptively tranquil mode but provides an ideal foil for the tracks that follow. Some more contemporary West-Coast writing is represented by Nanci Griffith's Late Night Grande Hotel (the album's finale), and John Stewart's wistful Jasmine (written only last year). One or two of the choices might surprise if you don't know the Kennedys' live work, but Nick Lowe's Raging Eyes proves ideally suited to the duo's gutsy twang'n'roll (and some might say that Maura does a fetching Debbie Harry too!), and Bob Neuwirth's enigmatic Eye On The Road receives a treatment wholly worthy of its cautionary aspect. The only track that doesn't work for me is the Mahalia Jackson cover, which in its attempt to emulate Mahalia's monumental reading fails by trying to ascend to heaven through a never-ending series of progressive modulations that become rather tiresome. But the rest is pure gold – so get out there onto that open road and crank this disc up high, it'll prove your ideal travellin' companion too.
David Kidman, November 2006

Gob Iron
Death Songs For The Living
Gob Iron (British slang for a harmonica) is a brand new side project for Son Volt and Uncle Tupelo founder Jay Farrar. Teaming up with his friend (and Varnaline front man) Anders Parker, Farrar has recorded an album of new takes on American folk standards. Also known as the folk process, these are old songs by the likes of Stephen Foster and The Reverend JM Gates which have been given new lyrics or new arrangements in an effort to re-interpret the songs in a fresh way. Recorded over the course of just two days, Death Songs For The Living represents two craftsmen stepping out and taking a chance on some of the music that they hold most dear. Also included is the brand new Farrar original Buzz & Grind. (Sony/Legacy)
If you have never heard the group before and want to test the water, try 'A Thousand Tiny Pieces', a beguiling evocation of making love, written by Sean Hayes. Accompanied only by her sparse acoustic guitar, Parton sings in a gentle, quavering voice, supported by spine-tingling harmonies from Ford and Klein on the chorus. And what a chorus it is: 'Now my ebb and my flow, my lack of controI. l, turn it on, turn it off, say yes, say no.' If the song's title wasn't printed on the jacket, would we ever figure it out? But having started the song with murky incomprehensibility, Frazey gradually reveals its secrets as her words become clearer.

Now go back to the start, to find Frazey Ford launching the album with her trademark indecipherable mumble on 'Human Thing'. For those of us who have fallen under the spell of the Be Good Tanyas, this is what we need to feed our fix.

Sad to report, the album tails off in the second half, where the three revivals of old songs have rightly been shunted. They might sound OK as part of a live set, but aren't as strong as their equivalents on the first two albums. But there's a sting in the tail. Leave the album running, and the hidden track is Frazey's delicious version of Prince's 'When Doves Cry' that sounds as if it was written to be played as delivered here, on acoustic guitar, banjo, standup bass and brushed snare.

All in all, a typical first album from the Be Good Tanyas; their third.

K.C. McKanzie
The Widow Tries To Hide

McKanzie’s style follows the Appalchian old-time but differs from it in the wider variety of lyrics…We listen to beautiful solistic adds by violin and cello. (The songs) are catchy, even more: they’re captivating…the lyrics fit perfectly into the music.
NewFolkSounds (NL) 108 Dez/Jan 06

This CD is set somewhere between Folk and Alternative Country. McKanzie’s very expressive voice is backed up by her solidly played guitar…her lyrics … tell of much experience and good powers of observation. This is music aside of mainstream for those who want to listen to a musician who’s got something to say…(an) interesting young artist.
Music-Eagle Okt/Dez 06

K.C. McKanzie (Americana-Songwriter) sings with a shy warmth about loneliness and Hobos… . Delicately built songs…float along.
kulturnews Nov 06

Band of Heathens
Live from Momo's
Austin's Band of Heathens call themselves a "loosely knit collective," but there isn't anything loose about their music. This is well-crafted Americana, built on strong melodies and superior musicianship. It don't hurt that four of the six band members are talented singer-songwriter-guitarists (Brian Keane, Colin Brooks, Ed Jurdi and Gordy Quist) or that drummer Eldridge Goins is also a sought-after producer. (Bassist Seth Whitney rounds out the rhythm section.) The group says its influences run from Lyle Lovett to Prince. Okay, that might be stretching it, but it's clear that there are some folk, country, rock and swing overtones to their music, with just the tiniest hint of Southern gospel at the edges.
(Houston Press)

The Byrds
There is a season
Ten years ago, Columbia began elegantly refurbishing the Byrds' back catalog, reissuing the records with essential B sides and outtakes (and, in the case of Sweetheart of the Rodeo, releasing the Parsons vocals that got wiped from the original disc for legal reasons). Now the label has finally upgraded the band's 1990 box set with this four-CD, ninety-nine-track release. There Is a Season draws mostly on the Nineties CDs but also includes five previously unreleased live tracks. There is, in addition, a fifth disc, a twenty-six-minute DVD -- and it's dated in a way that the Byrds' music isn't. In ten vintage clips, you can groove to artifacts of the era: Roger McGuinn's granny glasses, lots of shimmying go-go dancers and, most improbably, a young, skinny David Crosby.

Riviera`s 2006 release Capital expands their sonic pallet beyond their past by taking a page out of the controlled lysergic moments of Crazy Horse. Songwriters Derek Phillips, Josh Boisvert, and Mick Radichel use this musical tension -- guitars veering towards the edges of feedback before pulling back - as a backdrop for their songs of broken dreams and missed opportunities. Their vocals draw stylistically from fellow mid-westerner Jeff Tweedy. Overall, this album oozes mood and resignation without accepting defeat. -- Jeff Weiss, Miles of Music (Glorious Noise)

No Depression Sept/Oct 2006:
"The back story for this enchanting debut is all about words, about how singer and principal songwriter Mark Ray Lewis was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford and how he won an O. Henry and a Pushcart for his fiction. The images in his songs, from kingfishers and caves to ploughshares and holy ghosts, are plenty evocative, and loaded with spiritual and existential freight. Yet ultimately it's the music that lingers-- a parched, creaky take on rustic verities done up in pump organ, pedal steel, tuba, cello, banjo, and piano. It's a burbling, oompahing wheeze that seems to be groaning, even the gauzy he-she harmonies, with the rest of creation. Pregnant, too, are lines such as, "Floss my soul Esparanza" and "We are math/We are math/ We are a length of cold water," words that portend volumes but beguile as music." --Bill Friskics-Warren

Hail The Size
Side Two (EP)
This comedy music duo of Charles Ezell and Matt North (apparently the William Morris Agent on Curb Your Enthusiasm) plays unspectacular pop songs of varying levels of country influence. The charm, however, lies in the lyrics - which are the work of Ezell, a former writer for The Roseanne Barr Show. "Booze, Pills, & Her" is an Americana-tinged song about drinking, drugs, and domestic violence. "Mean Means I Love You" continues the domestic violence tradition with a country mood, meanwhile "I Can't Hold It In" adds a bossa nova beat to a giggly love song. Slow ballad "The 7/11 Song" is a bit of a toss-off, though "The Ass Kicking Song" has a considerable amount of charm behind it...

The LA Weekly writes: "Lead singer Ezell is a cross between a young John Belushi and John Prine. Maria McKee digs 'em too."

Sooner Or Later In Spain
Marah`s undeniable and legendary live show, often cited by critics as the best now available for human consumption, has finally been captured on both film and tape with their live DVD/CD, Sooner or Later in Spain! Their first ever live release, Sooner or Later in Spain, includes a live DVD with 26 blistering tracks (from a 2005 concert in Spain), containing rare material such as fan favorite Reservation Girl. DVD bonus material includes an appearance and reading by bestselling author Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, About a Boy), who once said of Marah (in the NY Times), "I can hear everything I ever loved about rock music in their recordings and live shows." See for yourself what he`s talking about. The accompanying CD features seven live tracks culled from an assortment of other brilliant Marah shows, including material from their critically lauded albums 20,000 Streets Under the Sky, Let`s Cut the Crap..., Kids in Philly, and 2005`s If You Didn`t Laugh, You`d Cry. It`s like the show without the hangover! (Yep Roc)

Butch Hancock
War & Peace
"He appropriates the title from Leo Tolstoy, but with War and Peace, Butch Hancock crafts his most Dylanesque work to date. It updates the political Dylan of Masters of War and With God on Our Side and does so with a West Texas that plea for sanity, rage at needless war, condemn the guilty, and pray for brotherhood among citizens of the world. It`s all accomplished with typically wry and expansive wordplay, in a multitude of stylized country/folk settings that feature Hancock as a virtual one-man band, except for Rob Gjersoe on electric guitar and harmonies from fellow Flatlanders Joe Ely and Jimmie Dale Gilmore" Jim Caligiuri, (Two Roads Records)

Travis Hopper
All the lights in the city tonight
"This record has a ragged sloppy pop charm, like its come from a session in the Westerberg basement, for which Ryan Adams and Tommy Keene showed up and everyone got laughing drunk. Saturday Night Christmas Lights is one of those songs thats so instant you swear it must be a cover, it isnt, but it is a song youll be humming hours after its stopped playing. Similar things occur with I Cant Tell You Why, which is part Buddy Holly, part Springsteen. Shouldve been in Love is like a twangy update of powerpop maestro Dwight Twilley, and lyrics like There were big stars in the evening, we were sitting on the hood of my car, call to mind the great Here She Come. The neat trick of this record is to somehow make its dishevelled naivety appeal to the listener as a major plus, and it most definitely pulls it off." -- Patrick Wilkins, (Travis Hopper)

Angela Desveaux
Wandering Eyes
In a year where the combination of pop, rock, country, and airy female vocals seems to have become the hot new trend, Angela Desveaux’s new album falls right in line.  It may seem strange, and a bit facetious, for someone born in south Montreal to “do” country, yet she spent her early years in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.  And if there’s any place that understands the solace and loneliness that country can bring out, it’s the Maritimes of Canada.  Without even hearing the album, you understand that this album isn’t by some fly-by-night faker, but someone who can truly relate to the soul of country music.

Yet even with the bluegrass and country elements that pervade this album, Wandering Eyes somehow turns into a wonderful little pop album.  The feeling of desolation perfected by artists such as Lucinda Williams, who Desveaux cites as an influence, comes along with, and is often superseded by, an upbeat pop feel.  This isn’t whiskey-stained, tear-soaked sadness; this is more bouncing joy than anything else.  As Desveaux tells it, the work isn’t very acoustic, as she worked with a full-fledged rock band in the album’s creation.  The result is a playful mix of genres, and an entertaining and enjoyable collection of songs.

Bloodied But Unbowed:
Bloodshot Records' Life In The Trenches DVD

Bloodshot Records:
For our FIRST EVER DVD release, we’ve gathered together a feast for the senses. There’s 31 videos and live performances (many recorded at 10 year anniversary parties in Austin and Chicago) from the likes of Ryan Adams, Old 97s, Detroit Cobras, Alejandro Escovedo, Waco Brothers, Deadstring Brothers, Bobby Bare Jr, Graham Parker, Wayne Hancock and many more. There’s 8 short films or documentaries that range from the tear jerking and insightful to the side splitting and weird, and delve into subjects as diverse as Ryan Adams on the road, Chicago honky tonk in the 50’s and 60’s and the venal snake pit that is the music industry. Features appearances and performances from Kelly Hogan, Neko Case, Andre Williams, Ryan Adams, Jon Langford, Sally Timms, Split Lip Rayfield, the Meat Purveyors and the Sundowners. As if that weren’t enough already, rounding out this 3 hour plus package are a Photo Gallery featuring longtime Bloodshot Records shutterbug Frank Swider’s favorite 25 photos from SXSW and a poster gallery.

Bright Eyes
Noise Floor: Rarities 1998-2005

Miles of Music:
A collection of singles, one-offs, unreleased tracks, collaborations, and covers recorded between 1998 and 2005. Variously recorded to cassette four-track, mini-disc, reel-to-reel tape machine, ADAT and computer, these songs trace Bright Eyes` evolution from basement project to band of international repute. Many of these gems previously lost to out-of-print obscurity are hereby resurrected. Track Listing: Mirrors And Fevers/I Will Be Grateful For This Day/Trees Get Wheeled Away/Drunk Kid Catholic/Spent On Rainy Days/The Vanishing Act/Soon You Will Be Leaving Your Man/Blue Angels Air Show/Weather Reports/Seashell Tale/Bad Blood/Amy In The White Coat/Devil Town/I`Ve Been Eating (For You)/Happy Birthday To Me (Feb. 15)/Motion Sickness/Act Of Contrition/Hungry For A Holiday/When The Curious Girl Realizes She Is Under Glass Again/Entry Way Song/It`S Cool, We Can Still Be Friends (Saddle Creek Records)

Grayson Capps
Wail & Ride

Our Scraggly Biker-Folkie Dude Desk is down the hall, but since Grayson Capps’ CD is an unrotten thing to talk about we may as well. Getting tossed from New Orleans to Franklin, Tennessee, by Katrina’s winds has taught Capps to play the disengaged road-hobo well, going by the sound of the title track, a Johnny Cash clump of Marlboro Guy roots-folk storytelling, his drawl and pitch signifying David Lee Roth in a cowgirl-upskirting mood. The guy does everything in his power to discourage pigeonholing, though, and “Jukebox” sees Capps morphing into Hank Williams for a spell as he prepares to blow the levees bulging with his cathartic thoughts on the hurricane, bringing us to the biggest surprise. “New Orleans Waltz” isn’t a Kleenex-wrecker at all but a message of love and hope for his city; Capps squeezes every chicken-fried syllable he can into the song’s three minutes, a spot of unchained goofing that’s like an overdue laugh with a close friend. Capps will play at Milly’s Tavern in Manchester on October 20. C- — Eric W. Saeger

The Harry Smith Project:
Anthology Of American Folk Music Revisited

Miles of Music:
In 1952 renowned musicologist, filmmaker and painter, Harry Smith went through his vast collection of blues, old-time country, Cajun, and gospel 78s to compile the groundbreaking Anthology Of American Folk Music box set, which had a profound influence on musicians such as Bob Dylan, The Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin and Bruce Springsteen.Now, The Harry Smith Project: Anthology Of American Folk Music Revisited, a 2-CD/2-DVD box set culled from a series of concerts staged by Hal Willner that took place in 1999 and 2001, pays tribute to Harry Smith and his influential Anthology. Features Beck, Nick Cave, Elvis Costello, Steve Earle, Beth Orton, Lou Reed, Sonic Youth, Richard Thompson, Wilco and others.

The Hideaways
The Whiskey Tango Sessions
"Americana country rock isn`t for everyone, but this CD belongs in any truck that has primer-gray fenders, a dog in the back, and duct tape peeling off the seat." This El Cajon, California band`s meat-and-potatoes harmony-filled country rock celebrates the blue collar way. These are small town tales of lovin`, cheatin` and drinkin` played by guys who have been there. (Dren)

The Kamikaze Hearts
Oneida Road
Albany's Metroland magazine says, "As the Kamikaze Hearts, these soulful musicians brew acoustified rock & roll magic that blends sharp but offbeat songwriting, rootsy instrumentation and quirky harmonies...(They) have the potential to be big, and we mean that in a nine-point-review-on-Pitchfork, top-ranking-on-the-College Music Journal-charts sort of way... the Hearts also seem to easily attract new fans, including those who aren’t typically drawn to porch-sitting, mandolin-inflected indie rock. At a recent performance, the Hearts mesmerized everyone from punk rockers to metalheads with their addictive melodies, quirky four-part harmonies and the amazing way that they maintain such a loose, shambling vibe while somehow keeping it all perfectly together."

Northampton's Valley Advocate writes, "The Kamikaze Hearts nuzzle close to the indie rock school of Americana revivalism. This book-wormy foursome compose ailing country ballads and silly barnyard rave-ups with accompianament from such lovely stringed instruments as the mandolin, the banjo and the (acoustic bass). They charm effortlessly and, goddamn it they've got ruach (Hebrew for "spirit"). This is campfire music for kids with wire-rims and boxes of spent diaries hiding underneath their beds."

Rebels Rogues & Sworn Brothers
Riding the momentum of last year's album, "Nobody's Darlings," and the bare-boned, band-on-the-road-documentary "Dreaming In America," alt-country outfit Lucero is back with possibly their strongest and most consistent listen yet.

Produced by Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven frontman David Lowery in his Virginia studio, "Rebels, Rogues & Sworn Brothers" finds the Lucero camp in full-on Rock mode. Imagine the groups past two albums spun together with a healthy dose of "Darkness on the Edge of Town"-era Springsteen thrown in for good measure. In a word, the band's performance here is tight.

Added to the group's usual mix of punked-up Southern rock are further atmospherics--most notable and enjoyable: piano and organ.

Nichols' lyrics and rough-hewn delivery carry his standard heart-on-his-sleeve immediacy, plus a little something else. Perhaps age and experience has deepened the singer in a way that is manifesting itself both outward and inward. Whatever the case, you can really feel him on this one--high praise for a singer who's never had a hard time emoting in the past.

Neko Case
live from austin tx

Neko Case struck a classic pose just before the music began: head thrown back, her thick red mane like a curtain around her shoulders, mouth wide open and ready to wail. And wail she did as she stepped into "Fox Confessor Brings The Flood," the title song from her triumphant new album.

It was a pose and voice that probably launched scores of wet dreams later that night, as Case is indeed the hot crush of the moment for the alternative country boys (and likely a few of the girls as well) who packed the joint for her showcase. "Unbelievable!" raved one lad to his friend later in the set. "Her voice hits places other singers never reach."

And that voice was indeed at its most potent yet touching as Case wore her alt-country queen crown with a regal magnificence. It was also in stark contrast to her last Austin festival show in 2004, where she rocked hard but frequently sang flat in front of a massive Austin City Limits fest crowd, much to the frustration of this listener, who was wishing to be won over. This time, she fulfilled her promise and more, and did so in a set that of stately and graceful songs, most of them mid-tempo, atop which her sexily dusky vocals soared and swooped in full flight.

Rust Kings
Hotel West Virginia

Miles of Music:
The 2006 release -- their first full length in 7 years -- from West Virginia`s Rust Kings emphasizes the band`s acoustic playing and three-part harmonies. Jeanne Hoffman, who joined the band in 2003, added a soft counter balance to Allen Sizemore`s hearty vocals. The band`s move to a mountain sound, dropping the drums and `roots-rock` of their last release, suits this lineup of music veterans. Recorded in a living room, around a couple of mics, playing off of each other`s energy with limited overdubs, Hotel West Virginia captures the feeling of a warm summer night out on the porch, picking with family and friends. -- Jeff Weiss, Miles of Music (Dren)

The Sadies
Soundtrack: Tales of the Ratfink
Tales of the Ratfink
March 8, 2006, 9:13 am

A Film About Big Daddy Ed Roth with music by The Sadies

Look for the soundtrack on Yep Roc, Fall 2006

Canadian filmaker Ron Mann's bio about Renaissance man Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, who engineered a shift in mid-twentieth century culture with his customized cars, "monster" T-shirts and America's alternative rodent - "Rat Fink," features a soundtrack by Yep Roc artists The Sadies. Yep Roc will release the soundtrack later in 2006.

The film features John Goodman, Theo Rosnick, Alex Xydias, Paul LeMat, Ann-Margret, The Smothers Brothers, Steve Austin, Jay Leno, Bill Weinstein, Marilyn Weinstein, Robert Williams, Billy F Gibbons, Tom Wolfe, Brian Wilson and Matt Groening.

An accompanying art exhibit, "Rat Fink's Revenge: The Custom Monster Collection" will feature over 50 customized Rat Fink statues created by various artists, and some very rare original art pieces by Ed Roth. The opening will be Friday night March 10,
next to The Continental Club, 1315 South Congress Ave., Austin, Texas.

The film will premiere at the South by Southwest festival in Austin.

Solomon Burke

Miles of Music:
Solomon Burke, an important soul pioneer, continues he late-career resurgence with an album of country songs. Country songs? His early work brought in not only soul, but also country, gospel, blues, rock... you name it Solomon can sing it. His two "comeback" albums `Don`t Give Up On Me` and `Make Do With What You Got` began to show diminishing returns by the end of the latter. This time, with the help of producer Buddy Miller, Burke pairs up magnificently with Dolly Parton, Gillian Welch, Patty Griffin, Patty Loveless, and Emmylou Harris. Choice songs, including tracks by Parton, Welch, Griffin, Jim Lauderdale, Buddy & Julie Miller, and more. Solomon Burke, an important soul pioneer, continues he late-career resurgence with an album of country songs. Country songs? His early work brought in not only soul, but also country, gospel, blues, rock... you name it Solomon can sing it. His two "comeback" albums `Don`t Give Up On Me` and `Make Do With What You Got` began to show diminishing returns by the end of the latter. This time, with the help of producer Buddy Miller, Burke owns these specially selected songs. He pairs up magnificently with Dolly Parton, Gillian Welch, Patty Griffin, Patty Loveless, and Emmylou Harris while effortlessly conquering the solo tracks. Choice songs, including tracks by Parton, Welch, Griffin, Jim Lauderdale, Buddy & Julie Miller, and more. Country rarely sounds this soulful. Tracks That`s How I Got to Memphis / Seems Like You`re Gonna Take Me Back / Tomorrow Is Forever / Ain`t Got You / Valley of Tears / Honey Where`s the Money Gone / Atta Way to Go / Millionaire / Up to the Mountain / Does My Ring Burn Your Finger / Vicious Circle / We`re Gonna Hold On / You`re the Kind of Trouble / `Til I Get It Right -- Jeff Weiss, Miles of Music (Shout! Factory)

Miles of Music:
Original Children's Music from six of Austin's finest singer/songwriters - Jon Dee Graham, Bob Schneider, Steve Poltz, Matt the Electrician, Scrappy Jud Newcomb, and Billy Harvey. TRACK LISTING: Matt the Electrician - In the Castle / Scrappy Jud Newcomb - You Can Never Tell / Jon Dee Graham - Hippopotamus / Matt the Electrician - Rising Moon Ranch / Bob Schneider - Jump, Shake Your Booty / Steve Poltz - I'm Not A Marsupial / Billy Harvey - When You Grow Up / Steve Poltz - The Spider & the Bumblebee / Bob Schneider - A Little Love / Scrappy Jud Newcomb - I Like My Friends / Jon Dee Graham - How Much I Love You / Billy Harvey - Clap Your Hands

The Texas Sapphires
Valley so still

Houston Press:
The Texas Sapphires are a wonderful illustration of the differences between Nashville and Austin. Youngsters following their muses and dreams flock to both cities in search of kindred spirits. Myriad ensembles form, shift, disband. Inevitably, though, Nashville winds up making stars out of a neo-schmaltz pop outfit like Rascal Flatts while grinding down the likes of Joy Lynn White and Phil Lee. Meanwhile, Austin has managed to spawn and nurture the Texas Sapphires.

While their style is different, the Sapphires are reminiscent of another young band that came to Austin looking for something it hadn't found anywhere else: Asleep at the Wheel. In spite of its terrible title, the Sapphires' debut album, Valley So Steep, has a sprightly gumption and a Western spirit that transports listeners forward -- into the past. The fact that these youngsters can drop a stone-cold honky-tonker like "Driftin' In" (complete with vintage Don Helms cry-baby steel) while avoiding the swerve into shtick speaks volumes about their musical comprehension. Throughout the disc, the Sapphires manage to tip their youthful hats to the sacred ancient texts of prophets Wills, Williams and Parsons while capturing something new and exciting that manages to be both entirely theirs and completely pop. If honky-tonk has a future, hopefully it will sound a lot like "Driftin' In" or "Bring Out the Bible (We Ain't Got a Prayer)."

Tramps & Thieves
Spittin into the wind

Miles of Music:
TRAMPS & THIEVES - Arizona`s Tramps & Thieves` mix of rock, country, folk, and rich harmonies is best described as "scruffy" in the most complimentary of ways. This 16 track CD moves the band into more rock terrain since their 2004 EP. Topics like war, outlaws, and the desert favorite, hallucinogenic are fueled by the band`s aggressive riffing and seemingly endless energy. In an era where the art of loud guitar playing has been co-opted by "punk rock" it is a pleasure to hear a sloppy, extended, but not jammy and self-indulgent lead. Spittin` Into The Wind seamlessly mixes the college-rock sound, with country without dipping sound into the "polite" sound that flaws so many "Americana" releases. -- Jeff Weiss, Miles of Music (self-released);
When it comes to a pure Texas swing sound, there's few who do it as well as Wayne "the Train" Hancock. Now, I'm not sure how Wayne comes by his nickname, but I'd venture a guess that it has to do with that "lonesome whistle" sound of his voice, which is as honest and real as they make 'em, solidly uncompromisingly traditional and wholly and completely modern in approach, theme, and style. His swing is punctuated by thumping doghouse bass (played by Chris Darrell) and whining steel (Eddie Rivers), all working together to make a disc that's a long way from "retro." The approach is traditional, the sound is real, this is the proof you don't have to be synthesized pop, you don't have to Pro Tools to the ends of the earth, you don't have to dance on tables. Just make good music, and folks will listen to it. They don't call Hancock the King of Juke Joint Swing for nothin'. Hancock asks for nothing but appreciation for his band, and these guys can play. In addition to Darrell and Rivers, Hancock is backed by Eddie Biebel, Paul Skelton, and Dave Biller on lead guitars, Bob Stafford on trombone, and John Doyle on clarinet (you read it right, no drums at all), produced by the legendary Lloyd Maines.

Bloodshot Records:
Wayne’s latest effort, Tulsa--his third for Bloodshot Records and first studio record since 2001--is a testament to the version of America he loves; one decorated with lonesome desert highways, cheap hotels, dancehalls, and lost loves along the way. Wayne Hancock personifies the two great American inventions of jazz and country and creates his own style of uncompromising western swing; as much Gershwin as Hank; equal parts Art Blakley and Bob Wills.

*And don't forget*
JerryGarcia, Townes van Zandt
Gram Parsons,Hank Williams,
Bill Monroe,Lowell George
TammyWynette, Rose Maddox,
WoodyGuthrie, Carter Family
Carl Perkins, Jimmie Rodgers, 
Roy Huskeyjr., Shel Silverstein,
Hoyt Axton,Doug Sahm, 
Rick Danko,John Hartford,
Fred Neil, John L. Hooker,
ChetAtkins, Mimi Farina
Dave vanRonk,Waylon Jenning,
Alan Lomax, Dave Carter, WarrenZevon,
June Carter, JohnnyCash

and so many others