Country & Folk

New album: Midwestern Medicine || The Gold Baton

Midwestern Medicine are not an easy band to put a label on. Sure, they are from Portland (Maine) and they have the classic indie rock line up of drums, guitars and bass with the addition of keys, banjo and piano. But sonically, the band is all over the guitar landscape. Their new record The Gold Baton is at times punchy and rockin’, at times hushed and full of introspection, at times Jets To Brazil and Promise Ringesque emo-rock, then switching to country and Americana influences, before moving into ’90s college rock and alt pop. The diversity is what I like most about the record. Like an octopus changing colors amidst different backdrops, Midwestern Medicine pulls off genrebending songwriting in any direction their mood takes them. It’s a major part of the appeal of The Gold Baton and makes for a fun record to explore. Want to find out more? Read this track-by-track guide at New Noise Magazine and check out the band’s playlist of recommended listens.

The Gold Baton is out now on LP.




Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Uplifting Bell Ends || Super Giant IV

Australian psych-folk outfit The Uplifting Bell Ends (aka The Bell Ends) conclude their “Super Giant saga” with their new (fifth) full-length album, Super Giant IV. In the ten new original songs here, Chet Tucker, James French, Luke Moroney and Jack Whittingham revive bluesy country rock from the late 60s and early 70s. You’ll hear stories of travel, nature, isolation, love and longing for connection, written in the desert during the pandemic. The sound is melancholic, warm and atmospheric, for example beautifully reflected in That Old Familiar Feeling: ‘As the dust settles I start thinking // If we can put back the pieces ever again // I’m a man that doesn’t mind changing / / But if I can I can’t say when.’ Life is good Travellin’ Home this way: ‘Nah nah nah nah no // Hey hey hey hey // Oh yeah // Hey hey hey hey.’

Super Giant IV is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through Third Eye Stimuli Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Third Eye Stimuli

Dusted || The 10 Best Cover Songs Of September 2022

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.

In September we heard Rita Wilson’s Now & Forever cover LP featuring duets with Willie Nelson, Smokey Robinson, Elvis Costello and other big names, Aquarium Drunkard’s Lagniappe SuperSession featuring 33 artists interpreting the music of James Toth (Wooden Wand), Geoff Palmer’s version of Dee Dee Ramone’s Standing In The Spotlight album, the 15-track Sea Creatures compilation as a homage to the songwriting of Jeffrey Lewis, a sponsored Old Man cover by Beck that Neil Young was unhappy with, and previously we wrote about releases from Herman Hitson, Hayley And The Crushers, Crocodile Tears, Dangüs Tarküs and The Manges with some successful cover versions. We actually saw too many other cover versions come along, most of which were slow and subdued – apparently fall has has caught up with music too. Below is a selection of songs that haven’t yet received the attention they deserve.

I Just Wanted To See You So Bad || Cover: Quivers || Original: Lucinda Williams
On the flip side of their new single If Only, Melbourne four-piece Quivers cover a hidden gem of Lucinda Williams’ 1989 self-titled LP, sung by Bella Quinlan: “It felt so good to have a bit of a shouted call and response.” Out on red colored vinyl 7″ through Ba Da Bing!.

New album: Lee Baggett || Anyway

A year after his “long-awaited, long-lost” Just A Minute LP, American singer-songwriter Lee Baggett (aka Lee Gull) is back with a new full-length album called Anyway. The ten new songs of the seasoned musician – performing and recording since the 1980s – are more outspoken and more diverse than his previous output (and luckily still a bit shaky), making this a captivating listening experience. At times you might think Strange Boys are covering the Stones (lead single Fruit Dog) or that you hear a rare country classic (the swaying Highway Roll), but more often it has laid-back vibes like Kurt Vile is sending out into the world. Lee Baggett (vocals, guitar, piano) is backed by Zeb Zaitz (drums), Sam Farrell (bass guitar), Nick Aives (electric guitar, banjo), Cory Gray (keyboards, piano, trumpet), Bob Thayer (acoustic guitar, harmonica), Sterling Schlegel (acoustic guitar, mandolin) and Wiley Laufman (acoustic guitar), together they have made a timeless indie folk rock / cosmic country record, melancholic, honest and atmospheric.

Anyway is out now digitally, on cassette and vinyl LP through Perpetual Doom.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || Perpetual Doom

PS  Lee Baggett also just made a notable contribution to The Lagniappe Sessions, covering Def Leppard, English Beat and Van Halen.

New album: Kim Ware and The Good Graces || Ready

There’s no shortage of female-fronted indie pop bands bringing good music and witty lyrics, but American singer-songwriter and drummer-turned-guitarist Kim Ware (The Good Graces) plays in the champions league of this category. Laughter and tears alternate on her new, quite personal full-length Ready, in 13 folky songs that are sometimes dreamy and sometimes very awake. The instruments deliver atmospheric and mesmerizing melodies, the poetic stories keep you on your toes. “Some people love to get used, I just love to feel needed // I guess to make up for // The things that I lack” (from Bird in One Hand) is a good example, but there are countless memorable phrases here. A wonderful album.

Ready is out now digitally and on CD through Fort Lowell Records. Kim Ware (acoustic guitar, vocals, electric guitar, whistling) wrote all songs, Jerry Kee played almost everything else and produced the LP.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: Sean Keel || Corn Palace

“I’ve got four records on Bandcamp; basically no one has listened to any of them; and now I’m putting one out with a record company. An actual record company!” Speaking is Austin-based singer-songwriter Sean Keel, whose debut single has now been released by Swedish boutique music label Icons Creating Evil Art. That’s something to be very thankful for, because it doesn’t get much more beautiful than this. It may be my somewhat gloomy mood today, but the poetic, tear-jerking lyrics in combination with the distinctive, emotion-charged vocals and the spare folky arrangements hit me hard. Fragile and powerful at the same time. Close your eyes, listen to the two tracks here – Corn Palace and We Rolled Up The Rugs – and give yourself goosebumps all-over. Keel is realistic: “This music is not for everyone. I’m positive most people aren’t gonna like it. But I’m pretty sure there are loads of people out there that would.” He’s absolutely right.

Sean Keel, nearly 60, has made folk/jazz records with his family band Bill the Pony, he wrote a sword and sorcery novel, short stories and poetry, and he is also a long-time research professor of mathematics at the University of Texas. His single Corn Palace, previously self-released in another version, is out now digitally trough Icons Creating Evil Art. It’s the first taste of full-length album A Dry Scary Blue, produced by Gabriel Rhodes, which we can expect later this fall.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: The Midnight Confessions || The Midnight Confessions

Look what a cool new band I found today! Here are The Midnight Confessions from Brooklyn, New York, featuring songwriter Anna Blumenthal (guitar, vocals), Holly Nance (guitar, vocals), Sacha Chernoff (bass, vocals) and Meredith Klein (drums, vocals). On the three songs of their self-titled debut EP you can hear their love for 60s girl groups, 70s power pop, rock ‘n’ roll, country, glam and garage rock, but the way they combine those influences is fresh and uplifting. They wrote and recorded three delightful tunes, with catchy melodies and powerful vocal harmonies, that leave you wanting more.

The Midnight Confessions EP is out now digitally via Secret Family Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Dusted || The 10 Best Cover Songs Of August 2022

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.

In August we heard A Tribute to Lifted by Bright Eyes, a 15-minute version of Planet Caravan (Black Sabbath) by Psychic Temple, Borrowed tracks by Grey DeLisle, More Cover Songs from Guards, and cover EPs from Valerie June and Kid Chameleon, but there were some tunes that were even more special than that. Be prepared for an eclectic selection.

Another Saturday Night || Cover: M.U.T.T. || Original: Sam Cooke
“How I wish I had someone to talk to // I’m in an awful way.” There are several ways to sing the lines from Another Saturday Night. In 1963, Sam Cooke did it soulful with an amused undertone, and countless artists followed him in that (Gene Vincent, Lou Rawls, Cat Stevens, Sam & Dave, etc.). But in 2022, Californian four-piece M.U.T.T. (a continuation of Culture Abuse) gives it an intensity that actually fits the lyrics much better. The punk band’s version is dangerous and catchy at the same time, as a Saturday night should be. Out digitally via Quiet Panic.

New album: Tim Knol || Lightyears Better

Dutch singer-songwriter Tim Knol already had a lot of music and countless performances to his name, solo and with garage rock outfit The Miseries and with Blue Grass Boogiemen, and also presents himself as a photographer, record label owner and expert of American roots music. That busy life (or actually the unhealthy lifestyle that often goes along with it) took its toll. He changed course, and look where that leads: the fresh and improved version of Tim Knol, fitter and happier than ever, rises above himself on a new LP with the telling title Lightyears Better. It’s an artisanal americana album about change (you could even file it under the self-help section), with 13 clear-sounding songs approaching perfection (the successful single Wandering Heart from late last year, which we thought was the prelude to this record, is missing). Highlights next to the title track are You Don’t Wanna Miss The Show (it could have been a Tom Petty track, with Bruce Springsteen on harmonica) and Love Lines (a wonderfully waltzing tune, with singing pedal steel and great lyrics), but actually there are no weak moments here. On each of the recordings you can hear how much fun the musician has playing them, and rightly so.

Lightyears Better is out now on CD and vinyl LP through Excelsior Recordings. Add to wantlist: Discogs || Excelsior

New album: Starry Skies || Small Wonders

Scottish folk-pop outfit Starry Skies are back with their fourth album Small Wonders, featuring ten new sympathetic songs that are mostly slow and subdued, and partly faster and uplifting (below are two highlights from the latter category), but all suitable for late-summer. Songwriter Warren McIntyre (lead vocals, guitar), Jenny Lunan (cello, vocals), Heather Phillips (violin, vocals), Sophie Pragnell (viola/vocals), Johnny Rooney (lead guitar) and Adam Scott (bass) know how to handle both tasteful acoustic americana as well as catchy powerful rock, beautifully sung and played with an ear for perfection. The album title is well chosen, you’ll hear ten small wonders here.

Small Wonders is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Foxstar Records, distributed by Proper (UK) and Redeye (US).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Last Night From Glasgow

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