It’s funny what happened to punk rock. What started out as songs of rebellion and revolution morphed into bubble gum pop. What was once scary and forbidden became mainstream, accepted, and for commercial gain. Everything against the original punk ethos of music over profits and do it yourself. Well, the glass is half full, I tell ya. Here come the Flesh Eaters with I Used To Be Pretty. No only a new album, but a new lineup that is actually their 1980 lineup. It is a who’s who of LA punk and Americana: John Doe, Dave Alvin, Chris Desjardin, Bill Bateman, Steve Berlin, and DJ Bonebrake.
I know I ask a lot of rhetorical questions in my reviews but indulge me for one more. Why is Amelia White not a household name? After you listen to Rhythm Of The Rain in its entirety, I am certain you will draw the same conclusion I do. The writing and music are among the tops. And production and mixing is a 10 out of 10. I never realized how important those things are until I started listening with a critical ear.
My Love/Hate relationship with Spotify oscillated back toward Love as the end of the year came along. The Love part is grounded in my ability to find and sample an extraordinary amount of new music that satisfies my “fresh water through a shark’s gills” need to find new artists. The Hate part is derived from my view of Spotify as a platform that enables a modern day “musician’s sharecropper” business model given the paltry and unequal royalty payout schemes they employ.
Another very strong release from this husband & wife duo that hails from Florida. The reason that geographic location is noteworthy because of the mood the music evokes. Swampy, heated, and channels the heart and soul of the blues. Their timing is impeccable, as they maintain the symmetry by releasing an album every two to three years. Drive Till U Die was their 2016 release which seemed to really pave the way for Pop-N-Downers. I was trying to listen to both releases to see if there were any noteworthy departures from one release to the next. What I discovered is that Drive Till U Die is the bridge that allowed Hymn For Her to be in the creative position to release Pop-N-Downers.
Jesse Daniel’s 2018 eponymous release on his Die True Records label is a rollicking, thoughtful, melody-and-hook laden gem of a record that mostly belies an explicit accounting of thepersonal challenges that Jesse has overcome. But maybe the name of his record label gives a hint. Jeff Tweedy famously highlighted in his lyrics to Wilco’s War on War release in 2002, “You have to learn how to die, if you want to want to be alive.” This album feels more like a rebirth, a fresh start filled with acceptance and optimism coupled with matter-of-fact lyrical expression of life’s basic travails that portends a bright songwriting future for the Santa Cruz, California-based artist.
Hot damn! Just what the doctor ordered. This is serious outlaw, honky tonk, hell raisin’ music. And it should be played loud. All I know is that when I hear that pedal steel, it gets the blood flowing. And there is plenty of steel on Smokin, Drinkin, & Gamblin. Yes, it is very much 1977. That is the golden age of outlaw so ’77 is a good year to target. Craig has that perfect country voice with a bit of twang and a very strong set of pipes.
This came out in January so I am a little late. But this album is so good that it needs to be heard. This is true classic country both in musical stylings as well as the song topics. This is true tear in your beer country. With song titles like Bar Fight, Bullies Win Again, Frail Shadow, End Of The World, etc., you know this is going to be a multi tissue listen. Maybe I like tragic stories or maybe misery loves company, I don’t know. What I do know is this, I Want To Believe is absolutely irresistible.