Cowpunk, Folk-Blues, and Good Songs Abide
There’s lots of really good new music out this week, so let’s just get to it:
The Supersuckers – Holdin’ The Bag
Years ago, let’s say in the mid-’90s, every city had a couple of bands whose members were guys with skinny cowboy hats and tats, and they all played Johnny Cash songs really loud and fast. Well, there aren’t many of those left, especially since Bloodshot Records is not putting out those kind of records anymore. But the Supersuckers still walk the earth proudly, with shades and trucker hats, swearing up a storm. They’ve been waving the cowpunk flag for over 25 years, and the best thing about this new album from them is that they sound better than ever, with a bunch of really great songs. The only downside is that lead Sucker Eddie Spaghetti has been diagnosed with Stage III cancer. We can only wish him the best. Here’s to The Supersuckers and the Waco Brothers and the last of the hard-twang country bands. Somewhere, Country Dick Montana of the Beat Farmers is tipping a beer.
Jeffrey Foucault – Salt As Wolves
There’s been a trend recently with folksinger types moving toward a grittier, bluesy sound. It seems like a natural progression that just might go back to the folk/blues era of the early ’60s with artists like Josh White, Leadbelly, and Lightnin’ Hopkins. I’ve noticed it quite a bit with Ray Wylie Hubbard, Greg Brown, Lucinda Williams, and others. New England-based folksinger Foucault has been dabbling in this style since 2006’s Ghost Repeater. He has an innate gift for saying a lot with a few words. On this new album, lead guitarist Bo Ramsey and drummer Billy Conway (from Morphine) only help to emphasis the beauty and minimalist sound of this album. On “Blues for Jessie Mae,” for Mississippi blues/gospel singer Hemphill, the chorus simply goes, “The only way I can get to heaven is to love everybody.” I think that just about covers it.
Edward David Anderson – Lower Alabama: The Loxley Sessions
This is the second solo effort from the frontman of Backyard Tire Fire, and it’s a more stripped-down, roots-based affair. That’s probably due to the fact that it was recorded in the rural town of Loxley, Alabama, close to the Gulf Coast, with producer Anthony Crawford. Crawford is in Sugarcane Jane and Willie Sugarcapps with Will Kimbrough, who also is on this album. If you like any of these artists, I think you’ll love Lower Alabama. I don’t know what this guy is doing, but he’s doing it right, with just plain cool songs and great arrangements.
Josh Ritter – Sermon on the Rocks
I know many people who love Josh Ritter but I’ve yet to catch the wave. There is no doubting his talent with catchy melodies and lots of witty words. This is not exactly Americana music — zero twang is evident here — but I like it. I don’t like all the songs, mind you, but enough to recommend this album.
In the coming weeks we’re looking for new musc from Peter Case, The Cox Family, Ryan Adams, Drive By Truckers, Steve Martin & Edie Brickell and more.