October Starts with Three Winners
This Friday, we have nothing but quality new music from three bands that are both unique and appealing. By “appealing,” I mean you can play them in the car with your spouse or other chosen family member and they’ll probably ask you who you’re listening to.
The Black Lillies
Hard to Please (Attack Monkey Productions/Thirty Tigers)
This Knoxville band has gone through a few personnel changes but remains centered around the excellent vocals and songs of Cruz Contreras. Through four albums, the Lillies have morphed their twangy Americana sound to include a rousing rhythm and blues slant. Any band that can feature a pedal steel guitar and a horn section is usually doing something interesting and adventurous. Contreras is also generous with sharing his songs, letting harmony singer Trisha Gene Brady handle the lead on “The First Time.” Hard to Please is packed with ten good, solid songs, and that’s all you need!
The Bottle Rockets
South Broadway Athletic Club (Bloodshot Records)
After a long recording hiatus, the Bottle Rockets return with a fine collection of hook-filled roots rock. Singer/guitarist Brian Henneman is the kind of clever songwriter who can distill a big idea into simple words while also being amusing. “Dog” is a simple and catchy homage to loving his dog, of course, and “Big Fat Nuthin'” is about sitting around and deciding to do nothin’ “all night long.” Do you really need to know anything else?
What’s more, the guy has a really great, captivating voice. His Missouri accent and singing style always made me assume he was a kind of a wiseass. After seeing the band live at the recent Americana Festival, I can now affirm that he’s more of a smartass, which to me means a much kinder wiseass. Besides, the band just plain rocks.
The Wood Brothers
Paradise (Honey Jar Records)
I’ll finish off this week’s column with the better known of the three bands. The Wood Brothers are just consistently brilliant. This super-talented trio has found its groove and knows better than to change anything since there’s nothing broken. Lead singer Oliver Wood has one of those voices like Neil Young. It’s not a voice that a music teacher would love, but he makes it his own and it is a treat to hear him sing. What’s not to like about these guys?