Country & Folk

New album: Hope Dunbar || Sweetheartland

Now this is a new Americana / country folk album from the Nebraska plain that deserves more attention. Sweetheartland, the second full-length by small-town preacher’s wife / singer-songwriter Hope Dunbar, is an accomplishment. Beautiful songs, visual lyrics, powerful flawless vocals, mood-enhancing musical accompaniment, great production. Listen below to the infectious earworm What Were You Thinking? (‘No, a gift card to a gas station is not a Valentine’s present’), and the uplifting tribute John Prine (‘I wish your songs were mine’), two of the standout tracks from an album worth listening to.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Hope Dunbar Shop

New album: Miko Marks & The Resurrectors || Our Country

About 15 years ago, Miko Marks was considered “Nashville’s Hottest New Country Star”, loved by the audiences but not so much by the music industry, which reportedly struggled with a black woman in country music. Disillusioned, a long overdue hiatus from music followed, but fortunately the singer-songwriter is back. With co-producers Steve Wyreman and Justin Phipps (Founder of Redtone Records) she wrote songs reflecting hard truths and the expansive emotions they were all feeling, which she subsequently recorded with Redtone’s house band The Resurrectors. This new LP, Our Country, is out now through Redtone Records and streaming across all platforms. A strong collection, rooted in sounds from country, blues, soul, and roots music, which fits Miko Mark’s distinctive vocals well. Below the official performance video for the track Hard Times. Maybe album closing track Not Be Moved is even better.

‘This album is overall a heartfelt prayer for honesty and reflection. I hope it evokes a sense of urgency around systemic racism, injustice and economic disparity that plagues the underprivileged in our country. I hope the message of compassion and unity rings true and encourages listeners to identify, digest the fullness of the music in a transformative way.’ – Miko Marks

Add to wantlist: Miko Marks Shop

New album: Melissa Carper || Daddy’s Country Gold

This is an album that not everyone will appreciate. To be honest, I was a bit confused myself when I put it on (this sounds like music from long before I was born, why is it on the list with new releases? whose voice is this? why don’t I hear a blend of country and jazz more often? are those goats in the distance?), but it did intrigue me, so I kept listening and it turned out to be pretty good. And brand new! Daddy’s Country Gold is a collection of 12 original songs about love and a desire for the simple life, by singer / songwriter / upright bassist / wayfarer Melissa “Daddy” Carper, recorded in Nashville. It combines melancholy and humor and sound both musically and vocally like a mix of Dolly Parton and Billie Holiday. This is one for late at night, when you sip a glass of whiskey, something else that not everyone will appreciate, with dimmed light. The album is out now digitally, on CD and on vinyl LP through Mae Music.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Wolf van Elfmand || All Blue

American songwriter / performer / producer Wolf van Elfmand not only has an intriguing, beautiful name; he knows how to write atmospheric songs, he has a pleasant voice, he is a great guitarist, and he also knows how to use the Ultrabeat Drum Machine. His new album All Blue counts seven good, atmospheric songs in the corner of country, folk, rock & roll, and blues, songs about sweet regret, a little sadness and Norman Rockwell. As said, Wolf van Elfmand himself is a good musician, but the guests who play bass, pedal steel, (real) drums, and harmonica take the tracks to an even higher level.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Dan Wriggins || Mr. Chill

American songwriter / musician / poet / lobster fisher Dan Wriggins previously played in alt-country band Friendship, but the EP Mr. Chill is his debut release under his own name (despite the title, this is not chill-out music – the artist explains that it has a different origin: ‘I’ve gotten “hey man, your music is so chill “a lot, and I’m like what the fuck? I thought it was dire’). These are five songs with quiet drums, classical guitar, and melodic organ (but no bass), five songs that had to sound like Kath Bloom or Vic Chesnutt, and that worked out quite well. Out now through Orindal Records on cassette (with previous single Dent / The Diner as bonus tracks) and digitally.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Scratch-Offs || The Scratch-Offs

What do you do when you’ve just formed a band and are excited about the songs you’ve been writing, but a pandemic leaves no room to perform? The Scratch-Offs, a garage-country-r’n’r-hybrid from Madison (Wisconsin), decided to use their free time to record their self-titled debut. The Scratch-Offs may be a new band, but they hardly lack experience: the band consists of past and current members of Jane Rose and the Deadend Boys, Westernwhere, Psychic Drag and the Smells. That experience pays off in the opening track WIS-60. The band cites the Stones and CCR as their influences and this song could be the lovechild of those two classic bands. It may be my favorite song on the record. The second track (Shit Attitude) offers some pleasant old tyme rock, with an infectious chorus. It’s followed up by the fun Chuck Berry indebted Down On A Thing. The rest of the album has plenty to offer as well. Justin Perkins mastered the record – does that guy ever sleep? But still, there’s that naggin’ feeling. I can’t help but feel how this particular brand of music is best experienced live in sweaty bars. Let’s hope we will be able to see this band perform rather sooner than later. The record is out digitally today, with LPs scheduled at the pressing plant, and CDs and cassettes in the works (pre-orders coming soon).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Daniel Young || The World Ain’t Gonna Wait

Daniel Young is a versatile musician from Salt Lake City, Utah, who grew up on the side of a tall mountain, and that sense of forceful elevation informs all of his work. To outline the setting: on the sunset side of the ground floor of his home studio, there’s a window that frames a long, straight road, and if you catch it when the light’s right, you could swear that road goes on and on through the mountains – not hard to imagine if you listen to his music, a successful combination of Americana, country, folk, and rock. On The World Ain’t Gonna Wait, Young’s third album out today on all streaming platforms, LP and CD, it seems you do your hardest traveling at home sometimes. Written on the late-night back porch, the new songs chronicle the urgency and uneasiness of the everyday emergency, the undeniable sense that you may be living your last day on the world you’ve known. There are some pretty good songs on the new album, with pretty good musicians and pretty good instrumentation (b3 organ! mandolin! fiddle! lap steel! accordion!). Standout tracks are the previously shared title track and Take It Or Leave It (listen below), which brings Natural Child into mind. Great music for a road trip that goes on and on.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

GIMME 5! || Jacob Lewis (Western Threads) Shares Five Albums That Inspired ‘Cowboys in Montmartre’

With ‘Gimme 5!’ we take a peek into the collections of artists we admire. The premise is simple: artists WE like share 5 records THEY love.

Collecting records is not only about the sound, but also about the visual aspect. So browsing through the endless stream of new music on Bandcamp I’m more likely to give it a listen if the cover art is cool. Usually the expectations that an image creates are not fulfilled, but sometimes you are pleasantly surprised. That’s how I discovered Cowboys in Montmartre, the debut album by indie pop band Western Threads that will be released at the end of this month. Great music, great design.

I am very honored that Jacob Lewis, who together with Christopher McBee, Ainsley Richter, and Michael Sherer make up Western Threads, and is also responsible for the cover design, is willing to share with us some of the albums that inspired Cowboys in Montmartre. Click below to read and listen. Jacob added short explanations for each pick. We added YouTube videos and Discogs links so you can add these records to your wantlist. Thank you very much Jacob!

New single: Ma’aM || Cruisin All The Time / A Horse Is A Corpse

The tags on Ma’aM’s Bandcamp page include country, outlaw, cowpunk, and garage rock, leaving plenty of room to put their music in whatever corner you prefer. Wat I do know is this: Cruisin’ All the Time, the A-side to their latest single, has an earworm chorus that I don’t mind at all. Out now on a hand cut clear 7″ lathe record.

So I’ll get into my car and drive away // Cruisin up and down the highway // Thinkin’ about the things I shouldn’t say // And I’ll be quiet

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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