Tag Archives: Country

RIP Jessi Zazu of Those Darlins

It’s with great sadness I share news of the passing of Jessi Zazu (aka Jessi Darlin) of Those Darlins.  The 28 year old lost her battle with cancer yesterday.

For those of you who have checked out this blog for many years, you’ll know I was a fan of Those Darlins from the start.  Having seen them not only in Cleveland multiple times but also at Bonnaroo, I got to interact with her more than once and she was always as nice as could be.

She never hid the fact that she had cancer and was very open about her fight with it.  This news came as a complete shock to me.

I’m lucky enough to say I saw her play in a band that she loved and was even able to capture some photos of her doing so.

RIP Jessi Darlin.

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Album Review: Ethan Daniel Davidson – Crows

I’ll openly admit that I had never heard of Ethan Daniel Davidson until Pete at Blue Arrow Records asked me to check out his latest release Crows.

I am so stoked he did.

All I was told about Davidson was that he was from Detroit and played folk music.  Furthermore, I had no idea that this Americana folk album bordered outlaw country.

Crows is Davidson’s latest full-length and has been released on Blue Arrow Records.  He has been playing music for years now and has released quite a few indie/folk albums previous to Crows.  I learned that he is married to Gretchen from Slumber Party and once moved out to Alaska to record.  He toured for years until he had a family and is known for offering up his music (downloads) for free.  He’s also the adopted son of the late Pistons owner, Bill Davidson.

Just by looking at the album cover of Crows, I instantly thought of Billy The Kid as the photo of Davidson looked rustic and almost criminal.  I was instantly intrigued before even hearing one song.

“My Crows” opened up the album with an almost warped sound to it.  Davidson’s singing was welcoming and just caught my attention.  Having expecting more of a folk style, I really dug this country style.  The collective singing midway about love just made it that much more inviting.

“My Own Bad” was one track I really enjoyed.  This song was more of a cowboy memoir full of twang that was fueled by evil tendencies.  This is a track I wish I could have listened to when I lived out in the desert, it would have complimented my evenings so well.

“And The Never Saw Him Coming” was more of a 40s country telltale tune that I easily got sucked into.  I adored the banjo with the slow drumming that carried me along for the ride.  Davidson slowly sung about a mysterious natural born killer ending right at the climax leaving for plenty of interpretation.

“I Might’ve Been Wrong” was an eerie gospel-like track about a punished man with a conscience.  Davidson did not hold back with his descriptive lyricism on this track.

“Close To The Gallows” kept on the with the demeanor and easily could be put in a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack – seriously, this track ruled.

“Love can go to hell” started off the twangy, tender song “Fade”.  This little jam was not necessarily a romantic story, but more of a strung out, timely appreciation.

As someone who has an appreciation for real country music and not that pop crap, I loved every moment of Crows.  It was a complete shocker of an album to hear and as I previously mentioned, I’m thrilled Pete told me to check it out.  This is going to be one of those albums I play for the rest of my life.  With that said, I think I should probably check out Davidson’s catalog, something tells me I am going to enjoy it as well.

This album is perfect if you like alt-country but are looking for something a little slower and more on the dark side.  Check it out for yourself:

Darius Koski Solo Debut To Drop April 7th

Hey Swingin’ Utters fans,  Darius Koski is about to debut his solo album.  Before you start throwing down assumptions that the guy is going acoustic just to to make a quick buck, please see what he had to say about the whole solo route:

“I’ve been wanting to have an outlet for it for so long—for longer than I’ve been with the Swingin’ Utters, basically. And I just hadn’t done anything with it. I didn’t really know how I was going to release it, I hadn’t done much live, I have problems remembering lyrics… So I’ve been putting it off for so many years, but it’s finally coming together, and I’m thrilled about it. I’m totally going to go for it.”

Now that you’ve read that, how about you take a listen to one of this new songs:

You’re weren’t expecting that much twang were you?  I know I was not, but I will tell you this, I love it.

Dropping on April 7th, Sisu, is in a genre really of its own with a plethora (yes I said plethora) instrument playing including guitar, piano, banjo, accordion, violin, glockenspiel, vibraphone, melodica, ukulele, and percussion.  This is not just some solo album.  This is years of built up creativity by Koski finally being released property.

I know I am stoked to hear this.

Pre-orders are up at Fat Wreck as of today.  Hurry up and get you some.

Album Review: Restorations – Restorations

It just occurred to me this evening that I have not once talked about a band that I adore.  This is one of those bands I feel everyone should have heard about by now, and for all I know, you have.  I was introduced to them a few years back and pretty much have adored them since.  The band I speak so highly of (I know the anticipation is killing you) is none other than Philadelphia’s post-punk indie rock outfit Restorations.  Seriously, how in the hell did I NOT review these guys before?

Yes, I am a wee bit late on this one, but you know what?  Screw it.  So what if their self-titled debut album dropped in 2011 on Tiny Engines and was repressed on vinyl last summer because so many vinyl junkies ate it up?  I feel the need to share this amazing group in hopes that they score one more fan per my recommendation and I am pretty certain that will be happening.

The moment “Nonlocality” started with the laid back intro, I just knew I was in for something good.  The gritty, raw opener brought a certain country folk feel to my ears and then everything changed for the better when the singing started and the hypnotizing guitar solo floated in the background.  With just one song in, I was sitting there pointing to it as my favorite.  “West River” followed carrying that same intensity that impressed me from the get go.  The songs really reminded me what would happen if Goo Goo Dolls and Hot Water Music collaborated, yeah I know, weird.

“Canadian Club” had an Against Me! feel to it at the start but soon mellowed into a great jam.  I really loved vocalist Jon Loudon’s raspy singing style on this song but have the feeling that this track was intended to be heard live by all.  “Sideways House” leaned more towards a 90s alt-rock that was welcomed to my ears.  “Broken Vacuum”, I feel, showcased the band as musicians well.  Hearing the distorted bass at the beginning  joined with the drums and guitars just moments later sounded so good.  So many songs these days are written so quickly that you sometimes miss hearing a well put together track.  The same goes for the closing track “When You’re Older”.  It was not just an end song, it was a crowning achievement by the band and any listener will be able to hear that.

Restorations combines the right bunch of genres of music including rock, country, and punk making for one hell of a listen.  You say like Elliot Brood?  Listen to Restorations.  Lucero?  Listen to Restorations.  Gaslight Anthem?  Yeah, listen to them, I seriously doubt you will regret it and if you do, sorry.  I am surprised this album is not bigger than it already is and I can not wait to hear what they come out with next.  I am predicting something amazing.

Album Review: Tim Barry – 40 Miler

If I had to describe Tim Barry in one word, that word would be “real”.  This former punk rocker turned folk rock hero is about as real as they get and I am not just saying that.  He is a talented musician and a wholesome human who just lives life day by day.  Barry, who used to front the legendary Richmond punk rock act Avail, has been going his own route since about 2004 playing solo shows all over the world.

In his fifth release, 40-Miler, Barry seemingly has taken his acoustic guitar and played from his hard-working heart.  The album was put out by Chucksaah Records.

It’s an honest and to the point album where Barry talks about his previous involvements in bands, travels, and personal reflections on the life he has lived.  The album leans more country driven than that of past releases by the man known to hitch rides on trains the old-fashioned way.  The result is hands down his best release I have ever heard to date.  It is safe to say that Barry may have created his own masterpiece without even thinking about it.

“Wezeltown” starting off the album with a soulful yet poignant Barry declaring “I pity the beautiful as the beautiful, they do pity me.”  Fueled by hand-clapping and realization, this song was more than an opening track, it was a preach aimed at all the hardworking folk out there who don’t take everything for granted.  “Driver Pull” was more like a personal conversation between the listener and Barry on a front porch moments before he hitches a ride out of town.

The title track “40-Miler” continued with the Barry’s storytelling and did not disappoint.  Reminiscing about his traveling times in boxcars and tour vans, Barry also states he has “nothing but miles and miles” to continue on.  I especially loved when Barry declared ” I’d rather stay broke than play fake ass shows.”

“Adele and Hell” was heavy on the country rock and perfect in every way.  The duet between Barry and longtime friend and local Richmond recording artist Julie Karr was a match made in heaven.  Karr gets down on this track with Barry that sings about a broken relationship.  The harmonica playing aside the twangy guitar accompanies the signing so well.  Hands down, this is one of the better tracks on the album.  I was floored when I heard it.

Barry pays tribute one of his bad ass friends who plays in Lucero as well as in Glossary in the track titled “T. Beene”.  This track, to me, was the country answer to NOFX’s “Punk Guy” with Barry recalling some crazy ass memories of a talented man who had lead an interesting life.

My favorite track on the album, “Fine Foods Market”, actually pokes fun at Barry as well as many of his fans who have “ironic mustaches” and drink PBR.  I loved when Barry sung “oh look there goes another hipster kid”.  He may have been making fun about everything, but was also quick to wonder how it all came about.

“Amen” was another amazing track full of Barry’s personal attributions and thanks accompanied by harmonica and acoustic guitar.  From singing about breaking his hand in Ottawa to almost making it to every scheduled show, Barry sang about his life on the road and even admitted sometimes he would rather just be home.  I especially got a kick out of the part where he praised a certain New Jersey band for letting him hitch a ride on their tour bus.  It was not just a song sung, it was a celebration of all the hard work Barry has ever done.  “Kick me in the head, watch me get right back up again” ends the album as almost a promise from Barry proving he is in this for the long run.

In a recent interview I did with Barry, he stated he actually erased 40-Miler from his he memory once it was completed.  He said , “when I am done with an album I step away from it.  This helps me gain perspective and hear it freshly.”  He called it a “recording detox”  and continued with, “I never have an intention with my albums. They come out the way they come out.”  How can you not love this man?

Tim Barry is currently touring in support of 40-Miler.  It is not a show to be missed.