1. Josh Gondelman Physical Whisper
I was at the taping for this, and Gondelman was very much on his game. He’s a sharp writer (his day job is on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver) and this is a fine introduction for the uninitiated, and a treat for those who already know him. Preview “Surprise” on his BandCamp site.
2. Reformed Whores Don’t Beat Around the Bush
Head Primus oddball Les Claypool loves the Reformed Whores. People who enjoy the name “Washington Redskins,” not so much. This is what Colonel Les had to say: “Cloaked in a veil of beauty, innocence, and country twang, the gals have created an album of material that could make Charles Bukowski blush.” If you like country and double entendres (okay, some of them are single entendres), check out album.
1. Grant-Lee Phillips The Narrows
At my first opportunity tonight, I will be at my local record store (they still exist!) picking this up. Phillips has been a favorite since his Grant Lee Buffalo days. “Smoke and Sparks” is a good example of why. He’s an evocative lyricist with a rich voice. There is beauty and wonder here.
2. Iggy Pop Post Pop Depression
It’s Iggy Pop. You’ll get it or you won’t. But it might interest you to know that Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age produced it, and it was recorded at his studio with QOTSA’s Dean Fertita on keys and guitar and the Arctic Monkeys’ Matt Helders on drums. From the sound of the sampler, they did good work together.
3. Dave Cobb Southern Family
Dave Cobb had an amazing 2015, producing two Grammy-winning albums in Chris Stapleton’s Traveller and Jason Isbell’s Something More Than Free. Southern Family is an impressive collection of songs that shows the breadth of Cobb’s work, from Isbell and Stapleton to Shooter Jennings, Miranda Lambert, Zac Brown, and John Paul White. But it’s not just a resume, it’s a concept album in which some of the most talented songwriters and performers in contemporary country and Americana explore their roots. Here are a couple of samples.
Anderson East “Learning”
John Paul White “Simple Song”
4. Richmond Fontaine, You Can’t Go Back If There’s Nothing To Go Back To
Willy Vlautin is one of my favorite storytellers, as a musician with Richmond Fontaine and as a novelist. He brings the same eye for characters trying to find some thread of hope to hold onto and lonely landscapes to both endeavors.