Out there on the club and honky-tonk circuit are women with skins on the wall, proven talent, and built-in fan bases that go regularly overlooked as options to bring compelling female voices to the big leagues of country. One such artist is the Canadian-born Lindi Ortega, who has just released her latest album through Last Gang Records called ‘Faded Gloryville.’
The Civil Wars
It appeared nearly preordained that The Civil Wars weren’t built to last for the long term when you really pondered how bright they burned each time they took the stage. Now Joy has released a new single called “Woman (Oh Mama)” ahead of a solo project named Venus, and as you may be able to surmise from the titles, it is a very woman-centric foray into the power of the female identity.
How to evolve into a full band setting while still holding onto what won you such rabid grassroots support was the precarious challenge Shakey Graves was asked to pull off with this new Dualtone release And The War Came, and it’s what he accomplishes with such alacrity, the listener remains delightfully unaware any such challenge even existed.
Have you ever been scanning through photos of your favorite (or least favorite) artists and thought, “Hot damn! That dude look just like this other dude!” From eery similarities like Sturgill Simpson and Javier Bardem’s creepy character from the movie No Country For Old Men, to Johny Paul White and Johnny Depp who I am pretty much convinced are the same exact person…
Brian Kelley, Caitlin Rose, Colt Ford, David Allan Coe, Florida Georgia Line, Jason Isbell, Jeremy Fetzer, John Paul White, Kristian Bush, Seth Avett, Steelism, Sturgill Simpson, Sugarland, The Avett Brothers, The Civil Wars, Tyler Hubbard
Though the writing has been on the wall for a while now, today one country music’s most critically-acclaimed modern singing duos officially called it quits. The Civil Wars, who embodied evolved songwriting much more indicative of Americana, spellbinding vocal presentation bordering on the classical or operatic, released a statement today saying the duo is officially no more.
The 56th Annual Grammy Awards transpire tonight at 7 PM Central, 8 PM Eastern, 5 PM Pacific on CBS. This is your rundown for things to watch for, the country performances and collaborations, a rundown of the nominees and my picks and prognostications.
56th Annual Grammy Awards, Blake Shelton, Brandy Clark, Darius Rucker, Dolly Parton, Grammy Awards, Hunter Hayes, Jason Aldean, Jason Isbell, Kacey Musgraves, Kenny Rogers, Kris Kristofferson, Lee Brice, Merle Haggard, Miranda Lambert, Old Crow Medicine Show, predictions, Sarah Jarosz, Taylor Swift, The Civil Wars, Tim McGraw, Willie Nelson
The River & The Thread is an album that was worth waiting for. Produced and co-written with Rosanne’s husband, accomplished musician John Leventhal, this album is exhaustive, thematic, all-encompassing, and compromises nothing when it comes to desiring the highest degree of quality in songwriting and production.
Allison Moorer, Americana, Derek Trucks, John Leventhal, John Paul White, John Prine, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Review, Rodney Crowell, Rosanne Cash, The Civil Wars, The River & The Thread, Tom Waits, Tony Joe White
High Cotton: A Tribute To Alabama gets right what so many cover and tribute albums get wrong, including its 2013 counterpart Alabama & Friends. A good tribute album doesn’t just pay tribute to the band or artist. It should be a 50/50 proposition, with the contributing artists also benefiting from the name recognition the tributee affords.
Alabama, Blind Boys of Alabama, Bob Schneider, Drive By Truckers, Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean, Jason Boland and the Stragglers, Jason Isbell, JD McPherson, Jessica Lea Mayfield, John Paul White, Luke Bryan, Shonna Tucker, The Civil Wars, Turnpike Troubadours
by all accounts, The Civil Wars latest, self-titled album will be the duo’s swan song. Certain undisclosed, but publicly acknowledged irreconcilable differences have officially split the project in two, and almost kept this album from seeing the light of day altogether. But there’s still this business of 12 new tracks that they’ve released into a world.
The recently-split duo is now set to release a new album…though they’re completely open about the fact that they’re not even speaking to each other. How is a music fan, or specifically a Civil Wars fan supposed to perceive this? How can you submit to their music when you know there’s open tension between the two, especially when their music has depended so much on the intimacy in their singing and lyricism?
The question that often comes up about the duo is what exactly does the short, blond-haired Brian Kelley do in the band? The longer-haired Tyler Hubbard seems to be the only voice you hear prominently in the vocal mix, and though Brian Kelley is commonly seen holding a guitar, he doesn’t appear to be handling any of the guitar solos, or really fulfilling any significant function of the Florida Georgia Line sound.
We’ve talked about 7 Men Who Could Immediately Make Country Music Better, now let’s take a look at 9 women who could do the same. It’s been well documented that here in 2013, the women of country are outpacing the men when it comes to the quality of music–women like Kacey Musgraves who’ve seen breakout commercial success.
Ashley Monroe, Cary Ann Hearst, Dixie Chicks, Emmylou Harris, Eric Church, First Aid Kit, Holly Williams, Kellie Pickler, Lindi Ortega, Pistol Annies, Rachel Brooke, Shovels & Rope, The Civil Wars, The Trishas, Valerie June
Many of the bold changes in the direction of popular music begin with artists that are too fey, too polarizing to become popular themselves. So it takes others who understand how to soften music with sensibilities to make it accessible to the masses, and hopefully, if time is on their side, transect the popularity timeline, resulting in superstardom.
.357 String Band, Bill Monroe, Bob Dylan, Doc Watson, Flatt & Scruggs, Foghorn Stringband, Goddamn Gallows, Jimmy Martin, Ketch Secor, Larry & His Flask, Marcus Mumford, Mumford & Sons, O Brother Where Art Thou, Old Crow Medicine Show, Ralph Stanley, Split Lip Rayfield, The Avett Brothers, The Civil Wars, The Devil Makes Three, The Hackensaw Boys, Trampled by Turtles, Wayne Hancock
One of the most remarkable music events of 2012 must be how Nashville and some of its biggest, most bloated and notorious corporate citizens did the inexplicable: they began to tackle the issue of the massive talent glut in American roots music. All of a sudden the big boys in the media business are playing a part in re-populating the country and roots music farm system that for years has been anemic and ignored.
Like them or not, The Civil Wars were able to effect massive exposure onto the alternative to mainstream country. Being nominated for Vocal Duo of the Year by both the CMA and ACM Awards, and being nominated right beside Taylor Swift for their work on the Hunger Games soundtrack, were historic moments when independent music was placed right beside its mainstream counterpart.
Wednesday night (9-12-2012) country music’s mother church The Ryman Auditorium was alive with the sounds of The 2012 Americana Music Awards that saw an always talented, eclectic (and sometimes confusing) flock of musicians, songwriters, and performers amass to give credit to the best and brightest of the year.
Alabama Pines, Alabama Shakes, Bonnie Raitt, Booker T Jones, Buddy Miller, Cary Ann Hearst, David Hood, David Rawlings, Deep Dark Woods, Doc Watson, Don Was, Drive By Truckers, Earl Scruggs, Gillian Welch, Hayes Carll, Jason Isbell, Jim Lauderdale, John Hiatt, Levon Helm, Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, Patterson Hood, Richard Thompson, Scott Borchetta, Shovels and Rope, The Band, The Civil Wars, Traci Thomas
Love ’em or hate ’em, it’s hard to dispute that the CMA Awards are the most important night in country music every year. The nominations announced last week had a few interesting wrinkles including Kelly Clarkson for Female Vocalist of the Year, so let’s take a in-depth look at what’s coming up on November 1st and make some predictions.
2012, Blake Shelton, Brantley Gilbert, Carrie Underwood, Chief, CMA Awards, Dierks Bentley, Dirt Road Anthem, Eric Churck, Jamey Johnson, Jason Aldea, Jason Isbell, Kelly Clarkson, Kirs Kristofferson, lionel richie, Miranda Lambert, Snoop Dog, Taylor Swift, The Civil Wars, Willie Nelson, Zac Brown Band
The hints of what Taylor Swift had in store for her new album were subtle, but seemed to be leaning towards a maturing of her music. She talked openly about how her next album would be a “darker” album. And then she premiered the first single from the album “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and even the most devout Taylor Swift apologists were reminded very starkly that Taylor Swift is just a pop star.
Shovels & Rope are The Civil Wars for the rest of us. Not pretty, not polished, no Johnny Depp look-alikes here. Just two oddball musicians smashed together in a strange, yet weirdly-intuitive pairing to make music like we like it: raw, untethered, and rabidly infested with emotion. The chemistry of Shovels & Rope is what makes them shine.
This Saturday, April 21st with be the 2012 installment of Record Store Day, the annual event started in 2007 to help the struggling independent record store. 2012 will go down as the year when country came busting through the Record Store Day scene with full representation, with so many projects being released taking stock of it all can be dizzying. So here is your 2012 Country Music Record Store Day Field Guide.
Blitzen Trapper, Bonnie Prince Billy, Buck Owens, Caitlin Rose, country, Everley Brothers, Justin Townes Earle, Lydia Loveless, Ralph Stanley, Record Store Day, Ricky Skaggs, Ryan Adams, Sara Watkins, The Civil Wars, The Pistol Annies, Tony Rice, Townes Van Zandt, Uncle Tupelo, Will Oldham
Yeah, that’s right. I said it. I don’t care if T-Bone Burnett, or anybody else with a famous name produced your album. What I am concerned with is if it is good. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying T Bone Burnett is a bad producer. It’s just at some point hype far exceeds substance, and I think we have passed that point with the “T-Bone Burnett” name.
Just like how Taylor Swift’s big 2009 sweep of the awards caused a dramatic pop-oriented shift in the genre, an Aldean sweep could cause a shift to Aldean’s calling cards of checklist songs and country rap. And a win for the song “Dirt Road Anthem” would all but make the formation of the mono-genre complete.
South by Southwest last year was my first full on experience with the event that brings over 8,000 bands from all over the world to Austin for 5 days of musical mayhem, and it went great. With proper pacing and maybe a little luck, I got everything out of the experience I could ever want. 2011 was one of those experiences you hear many people talk about that is proceeded by “…and I will never go back.”
Amanda Shires, Apache Relay, Bloodshot Records, Caitlin Rose, Drag The River, Eddie Spaghetti, Ha Ha Tonka, Hayes Carll, Hellbound Glory, Jason Isbell, Jessica Lea Mayfield, Leroy Virgil, Muddy Roots Festival, Otis Gibbs, Possessed by Paul James, Robin Wiley, Ruby Jane, Shake It Like A Caveman, Slim Cessna's Auto Club, Soda, Ted Russel Kamp, The Civil Wars, The Harmed Brothers, The Waco Brothers, Trampled by Turtles, Two Cow Garage, Whitey Morgan & The 78's