Country & Folk

New album: Generifus || Rearrangel

Generifus is the DIY project of Washington State native Spencer Sult, a prolific local hero who has put around twenty releases on his resume since 2005, and isn’t done yet. “I’m not changing, just rearranging // Rearrangel, bless and save me,” is what you hear in the title track of Rearrangel, his latest full-length album. The ten folk-pop songs here tell about life in the Pacific Northwest, an emotional mix of spiritual vision, road stories and bumper sticker wisdom. Or as sung in standout track Didn’t Even Look at the Mountain: “Take different words and mix them up into the bowl” (while violins weep gently). Get ready for 42 minutes of subdued melancholic music, with lush and sunny instrumentation, and characterful vocals.

Rearrangel, produced by Zach Burba and enigeered by Vin Christopher, is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Anything Bagel and Bud Tapes. Featuring Spencer Sult, Lee Baggett, Zach Burba, Wilson Caicedo, Vin Cristopher, Andrew Dorsett, Liam Hindahl, Anna Jeter, Casey Klep, Laith Scherer, Collin Stackhouse and Henry Wilson.

Add to wantlist at Bandcamp: Anything Bagel || Bud Tapes || Generifus

New EP: Sin City || Something’s Cookin’

It was one of my favorite stories last year, how Sin City and their music came to be. Songwriting duo Nick Armstrong (vocals, pianos, bass, guitar, percussion) and Jack Beesley (vocals, guitars, percussion) moved from Auckland, New Zealand to Melbourne, Australia, where they* recorded the Something’s Cookin’ EP. These four fresh songs should ease the wait for their second full-length, which is expected to be released at the end of this year. Their mix of rock ‘n’ roll, country and soul – tough but charming – is at its best live, but these studio versions are also great to consume at home, especially if you can grab some Belgian beer from your fridge.

The Something’s Cookin’ EP, produced by Delaney Davidson, is out now digitally. *Also featuring John Segovia (lap steel guitar, Telecaster), John Egenes (pedal steel on Fringes of Life), Alistair Deverick (drums), Dave Khan (fiddle), Delaney Davidson (guitar, bass) and Takumi Yanai (bass).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Dusted || The 10 Best Cover Songs Of May 2023

Not all new music is really new, as many artists cover songs. Sometimes these are songs by their favorite artists, eg as a tribute to such a musical hero for a special reason, or they simply feel that a song deserves to be dusted and polished to reacquaint fans with great songs from the past. Other times, bands cover songs as a parody. Regardless of intent, some of those cover versions are so good or so much fun, we’d like to put a spotlight on them. Chosen from a wide range, here are – in random order – ten of our favorite covers from last month – links to the pages where you can add them to your wantlist included.

May brought us new cover releases of Munlet (Plays Devo), Dropkick Murphy’s (Okemah Rising, with lyrics by Woody Guthrie), Leftover Salmon (Grass Roots), Jarko & the Kandy Jar Joyride (Vagabond’s Delight), Healing Potpourri (Lagniappe Session) and Murder By Death (As We Wish), and various artists doing cartoon theme songs (Saturday Morning Lineup) and T. Rex (Elemental Child – The Words and Music of Marc Bolan). There was much more to choose from, but we would like to give the following ten tunes a prominent place on our stage. Perhaps our most eclectic selection to date?

Tall Cool One || Cover: Thomas Lauderdale & The Pilgrims || Original: The Wailers
In 1997 Portland, Oregon-based jazz orchestra Pink Martini released their debut album Sympathique. Reportedly, their bandleader Thomas Lauderdale also collaborated with the surf musicians – fellow townsmen – of The Pilgrims in the same period. The 13 tracks they recorded at the time are finally seeing the light of day: Thomas Lauderdale Meets The Pilgrims (Heinz Records) is out now digitally and on vinyl LP. It includes this showy cover of The Fabulous Wailers’ Tall Cool One, a favorite instrumental from the early days of garage rock – both the original and cover still sound contemporary.

New EP: Lee Cleaveland & The Lefthand Band || Live From Western Sound Studios

Lee Cleaveland is a one armed guitar player who doesn’t sound like he’s missing anything at all, but with the help of the aptly named Lefthand Band – Kevin DeClaire, Will McPeek, Aaron Meredith and Nick Russo – he rocks even harder. Last year they released their pretty good debut LP Tech Support, which gains even more eloquence on stage. On the Live From Western Sound Studios EP – both in audio and video available online – you can hear and see four of those songs that burst with fun and enthusiasm. It’s an infectious mix of old school rock ‘n’ roll and modern indie rock, with forays into alt-country and punk. Very nice.

Live From Western Sound Studios, recorded/mixed/mastered by Dustin Kellerman, is out now digitally (self-released).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Jingles || “BLESSED & FAVORED”

Warren Zanes wrote an interesting piece in The NY Times this weekend on how imperfections can make a record great. This definitely applies to “BLESSED & FAVORED”, a 10-song record by Jingles that raises more questions than it answers. Like: Who is behind this? How can something so stripped down sound so powerful? And, are those tape delays in the recordings intentional or not? The album is out now in a very limited Tape run (20 copies only) by Glad Fact, a label out of Baltimore that has a talent for finding and releasing outsider acts that take a familiar sound in exciting new directions. If you need an example, make sure to check Workers Comp from the label’s roster. Or, check out this Jingles album.

I don’t have much info on this mysterious one-man operation. I could describe his music as alternative americana or outsider country, but I’m not sure it covers the experience of listening to “BLESSED & FAVORED”. It’s basically just one guitar, one mesmerizing voice and one defective recording device, or so it seems. Every now and then the recording slows down, like the tape either gets stuck or starts to unwind. It’s part of the magic of “BLESSED & FAVORED”, a record I can’t stop playing. Jingles plays songs that claw their hooks in your skin, evoking a lot of emotions and feelings, sounding simultaneously eerie, haunting and heartbreaking. Goosebumps? Check.

I reached out to Glad Fact to find out more about Jingles. The response only added to the mystery. Apparently, Jingles is a guy who knows the family of Glad Fact’s founder. Jingles had this to say: “recorded it on the DL at [stripmall pizza place] kind of in secret i think back in February turns out the cameras do work even tho dennis said they didn’t so i got the loading dock job now.” I’m still trying to decipher that message. Jingles definitely is something else.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Murlocs || Calm Ya Farm

And here’s the 7th full-length album from Melbourne-based 5-piece The Murlocs. The starting point of what has become Calm Ya Farm*, was “to create a quintessential country-rock record with sublimely mellowed-out songs.” But Ambrose Kenny-Smith, Callum Shortal, Matt Blach, Tim Karmouche and Cook Craig wouldn’t be themselves if they didn’t lay down their signature garage-psych sound as a foundation. With a touch of rhythm & blues added, it turns out to be a combination that works very well. What is even more striking is the awesome production: all instruments in the 12 compelling new songs come to the fore doing their own thing, yet everything gets the attention it deserves and forms an organic and balanced whole. This still is unmistakably a Murlocs record – recognizable out of thousands by the distinctive vocals and infectious harmonica – but just another impressive step forward.

Calm Ya Farm, mastered by Joseph Carra and mixed by John Lee, is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through ATO Records. *The title is “something my partner always says to me when I’m feeling stressed-out or anxious. It made sense with the whole country theme of the record, but it’s generally a good reminder for day-to-day life,” so explains Ambrose Kenny-Smith (vocals, guitar, harmonica).

Add to wantlist: ATO || Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: Langkamer || The Noon And Midnight Manual

In an interview in the most recent issue of Mojo Magazine, Colin Blunstone talks about The Zombies’ first session in a professional studio, recording She’s Not There: “A conversation between Rod and me went along the lines of: If you are totally committed to your performance, it can’t be wrong.” Although in a different genre, I have the feeling that this was also the approach to the creation of The Noon And Midnight Manual, the sophomore full-length by Bristol (UK) four-piece Langkamer, released almost two years after their debut LP West Country. Anyway, it’s a good one.

It has been scientifically proven that smiling is contagious; the ten new songs here sound like the musicians have played them with big smiles, which also makes us listeners feel better. Using influences ranging from slacker rock ‘n’ roll and fuzzy garage rock to Vampire Weekend-like jaunty summer pop and melancholic alt-country, the band has found an attractive and varied own sound in which an eye for detail and clever lyrics go hand in hand with original melodies and uplifting harmony vocals. Highlights include singles Sing At Dawn and Hatchet, but also tracks like Sarah and Vanity Fair are very likeable.

The Noon And Midnight Manual, produced by Tim Rowing-Parker, is out now digitally, and on cassette, CD and vinyl LP, through Breakfast Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Breakfast

New album: Alfie Firmin || Absentee

On his third solo album Absentee, Southend-on-Sea (UK)-based singer-songwriter Alfie Firmin chronicles the experience of a long-planned move to Sweden gone awry amidst a global pandemic. You’ll hear ten original indie pop tracks with a 70s folk rock feel – laid-back, melancholic and autumnal. The music is soulful and jangly, the vocals heartfelt and engaging, all together earning the stamp of classic quality. RIYL: Tobias Jesso Jr., Josh Rouse, Bonny Doon.

Absentee is out now digitaly and on vinyl LP through Bobo Integral.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Bobo Integral

New single: Mikey Boy & The Yee-Haws || Mikey Boy & The Yee-Haws

Honky tonk from Bilbao, Spain? Yup, leave that to Mikey Boy & The Yee-Haws. Mikey Boy (vocals, rhythm guitar), Patri Metralla (lead guitar), Tony Juárez (bass), Dirty Jonco (fiddle), Manu Steeler (pedal steel) and Juantxu Domenech (drums) have just released their debut single, on which you can only can respond with a sincere Yee-Haw. Both A-side Feelin’ Blue and B-side Driving Way of Life last less than two minutes, but that turns out to be enough to make a raging whirlwind pour out of your speakers.

Mikey Boy & The Yee-Haws is out now digitally and on 7″ vinyl through Brutal Arratia Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: David Wax Museum || You Must Change Your Life

Whether it’s the sound, the cover art or the band members themselves, colorful and creative are the labels you can’t ignore when it comes to David Wax Museum. The “Mexo-Americana” outfit featuring husband-wife duo David Wax and Suz Slezak have thirteen new pieces of artsy adventure for you on another eclectic album, one with a clear message: You Must Change Your Life (“It’s never too late, never too late // What are you waiting for?”). This is an uplifting indie folk record with a 70s feel, layered and groovy, linking traditional Mexican instruments to the timeless theme of passionate and physical desire. Has Mexico ever been so nearby in American music?

You Must Change Your Life, produced by Dan Molad, is out now digitally on CD and vinyl LP through Nine Mile Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || David Wax Museum

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