Triple album – you read that right – en route for the early summer.
By Fred Mills
It’s not a particularly close-kept secret that a number of folks here at the BLURT brain trust are staunch fans of North Carolina’s Michael Rank; just put his name into the search box on our home page and you’ll no doubt get more than a few hits, including a review of his most recent album, 2016’s Red Hand. The erstwhile Snatches of Pink frontman is, not to put to fine a point on the matter, prolific.
If he’s not worried, we’re not worried, so let’s dive right in with the first single off the new album, “Be Alright.”
It’s a classic/classy slice of blue-eyed soul, a bit of a departure from Rank’s frequent forays into twangy Americana. The video also features Brian Dennis (who produced the album with Rank) and Bobby Patterson, both formally of NC Triangle heroes DAG. As Rank explains, “The album plays like my ’70s love letter to Sly Stone, D’Angelo, Curtis Mayfield, Shuggie Otis and Prince.”
No argument there, brutha. We knew you had the ivories skills, but that’s one sweet falsetto, too. Everyone else – enjoy.
Title track from the songwriter’s new album, out next week.
By Blurt Staff
Recognize the name Hunter Simpson? If not, you will soon. The guitarist/vocalist for eclectic NYC trio Daytona, whose self-titled LP for the Ernest Jenning Record Co. notched numerous critical kudos, is prepping the May 12 release of solo record Goldmine, also on Ernest Jenning, and we’ve got the title track to unveil for your video-hungry eyes. Check it out:
Simpson was original from North Carolina and nowadays he splits his time between Brooklyn and Copenhagen. He also stays busy playing guitar in the Wild Yaks. He did, however, carve out time to make a southern sojourn early last year to Fawn Forest Studio in Chatham County, NC, to work with producer Ari Picker of Lost in the Trees on his solo debut. Musical contributors to the album include Matt Douglas of the Mountain Goats and The Hot At Nights (saxophone) and Hunter’s father Bland Simpson of The Red Clay Ramblers (piano).
The label describes Goldmine as “a smooth, contemplative collection, its eight songs flowing languidly from a wellspring of fingerpicked nylon-string guitars, nimble saxophone runs and tender melodies sung with conviction—the title track is a prime example of these principles in action.”
Although distaff rockers Warpaint have kept a somewhat low profile the past few months, they earned the right to do whatever the eff they wanna do last year with the release of Heads Up, one of 2016’s hands-down best albums. As our reviewer put it, the album “elaborates upon the Warpaint signature dreampop while bringing in purposeful elements of dance-pop and post-rock… look for the band to be headlining larger and larger venues along the way.”
It would appear that prediction is coming true, as the group will be on a fairly huge tour this summer as opening act for Depeche Mode. Meanwhile, though, the ladies made a stopover at the Ellen show yesterday (April 25) in order to play DeGeneres’ personal request, “Whiteout,” from the 2016 album. Check it out, below — everybody looks more than just a little stoked, the perfect summit.
Fire dance with me: you might say it’s somewhat NFSW…
By Fred Mills
Sex, witchcraft, human sacrifice, Satanic rituals — just another day in the life of the Afghan Whigs, whose new album Spades drops next week, May 5. Just another video too, eh? This time around, though, with director Amy Hood at the helm, it’s decidedly more surreal and almost drug-informed than any previous surreal/druggy Whigs vids. Take a look at “Oriole” below. It follows last month’s “Demon In Profile” video, which had its own elements of spookiness and sexuality.
It’s directed by Matt Yoka, stars Ty Segall, features guest appearances by Fred Armisen, Henry Rollins and Jack Black, and centers around destroying guitars. Just another day in the life of indie rocker Segall, eh? Watch the new Drag City video for Segall’s “Break A Guitar,” below.
No truth to the rumor the band will be opening on the summer 2017 Banana Splits reunion tour, however.
By Blurt Staff
If you’re not familiar with the Dexateens, you will be in a moment. These rock ‘n’ roll primates aren’t just aping popular styles and trendy fads—they’re positively simian in their approach to music. Hailing from the urban zoo of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the band serves up a Southern brew of garage punk and dirt-road boogie, and it’s no surprise that they got started on the legendary Estrus Records label, going on to work with the likes of Patterson Hood and David Barbe as well as Tim Kerr – no strangers to primal primate sounds. They took a hiatus from 2010 to 2013—go here to read a review of their 5-out-of-5-stars record from that comeback year—but since then it’s been full speed ahead.
Here’s a fresh taste:
According to guitarist Elliott McPherson, “The song is about going to church as a child, hitting puberty and getting obsessed with the bad girl on the back pew. The moral of the story is that sometimes the church itself can become a place where the evils of the world can creep in and contaminate what is supposed to be a righteous experience….. and that maybe the true church is the act of genuine love and not a place with doors.”
Boy howdy to that. Look for 2016’s Teenage Hallelujah in fine stores everywhere, and keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming Stars In Bars. The band is touring (in Tupelo tonight, in fact), and you can find out more about ‘em at their official website. Trust us, they are no chimps, er, we mean, chumps.
4/20 The Thirsty Devil – Tupelo, MS
4/21 Proud Larry’s – Oxford, MS
4/22 Spring Fest – Huntsville, AL
5/4 JJ’s Bohemia – Chattanooga, TN
5/5 Barley’s Taproom – Knoxville, TN
5/6 Trailfest 2017 – Woodstock, GA
5/19 Martin’s Bar – Jackson, MS
5/20 Historic Downtown Anniston w/St Paul and the Broken Bones – Anniston, AL
Join with me, fellow Paisley Underground acolytes and proto-Americana devotees, in casting our minds back to the heyday of the aforementioned PU—and, in particular, to the mighty Cali twang-rockers the Long Ryders. Yesterday the group—which still continues to tour and perform periodically even though all the members have their own pursuits; Sid Griffin’s Coal Porters were reviewed in these very pages not long ago—released its first new studio track in three decade and it is, as our British brethren might put it, a corker.
Titled “Bear In the Woods,” it’s described by songwriter Tom Stevens thusly:
“The message is complex. I wrote this song about a bear, a friendly one, approaching it like a children’s song. But what emerged under its surface was different. I likely had the state of politics on my mind. The bear in this song may not be the friendly, all-knowing guru that he appears. But in real life, it’s up to us to seek our best hopes and not our worst fears in our gurus. Lately I feel that too many have done the latter.
“Thirty years on and the band still sounds wonderful–mature, familiar yet new, and all very much The Long Ryders. It’s brand new musical scenery in our long ryde, and we’re all enjoying the view.”
Boy howdy to that, Tom. Let’s get cracking on a new album, gents. Incidentally, the band kicks off a brief West Coast tour next week—tour dates and more info here. (See below as well.)
Track appears on songwriter’s third album, out this week, April 21.
By Blurt Staff
Indie rocker Cait Brennan got soul—so naturally she went to Memphis, to the ever-estimable Ardent Studios, to cut her third album, which she subsequently titled Third. Yeah, we know, we know—cheeky of her. But it’s appropriate, as Brennan and her collaborator Fernando Perdomo brewed up a cheeky blend as well, combining straight-up pop rock and edgy R&B befitting of the record’s origins. It’s released April 21 on Omnivore Recordings and we’re rather pleased to unveil a new video for the BLURT readership, album track “Bad at Apologies.” Check it out:
Explains Brennan, of the tune, “‘Bad At Apologies’ was the second song we recorded on our first day at Ardent. Fernando and I had basically just walked through the doors of this space that is so sacred to both of us, where so many of the records that changed both our lives had been made, and then Jody Stephens came in and said hi and gave us this amazingly encouraging talk. [Engineer] Adam Hill rolled in the actual Big Star Mellotron, and Alex Chilton’s Hi-Watt amp, and Chris Bell’s cherry red Gibson, and then we had to get to work like this was just another day at the office.
“I used to take pains to tell people all the songs were fictional, but it’s ridiculous, of course they’re not, and nobody else’s are either. This pretty much happened as written, and was intended as an actual apology until I very quickly realized it sounded like anything but, which is why it’s called what it’s called. When I sing “yeah, I’m the asshole who stile your boyfriend” it’s not me being proud of myself, I felt really bad about it despite the rationalizations that follow. Love makes you do crazy things, as Lindsey and Stevie can tell you. Many of the songs on the album are about the relationship that ensued, so you can tell how that all worked out. “It’s all fodder for more songs” as the line goes.”
The record includes the talents of no less than Memphis stalwart (and Big Star pal) Van Duren and Robert Mache from the Continental Drifters, with multiinstrumentalist Perdomo handling the lion’s share of the playing and Brennan weighing in instrumentally as well while serving up expressive lead vox and plenty of harmonies (she’s got a four-octave voice). Brennan, from Los Angeles by way of Phoenix, is transgender with experience in acting and journalism, but was eventually coaxed back into music, releasing her first album in 2012. A chance meeting with Big Star drummer Jody Stephens at Ardent during a Grammy Museum celebration of the facility’s 50th anniversary led to an invitation to record there, and the rest is history.
Brennan will have an album release show this weekend, and on May 9 she’ll do a special show in Memphis featuring Jody Stephens, Adam Hill, Van Duren, Vicki Loveland, Candace Mache and more. Full details at her website: http://www.planetcait.com/#third
The veddy proper rock band The Upper Crust just dropped a new album, Delusions of Grandeur, and they’ve also announced tour dates (with more to come – apparently with the Supersuckers). Now they’ve got a fresh video for fans, “Little Castrato,” and you can view it below.
Live at the Rockwood Music Hall this week, Australia channeled Ireland and much ale was hoisted. Below, check out a couple of videos, courtesy Perfect Sound Forever.
BY JASON GROSS
Irish punk-gone-trad music is almost as old school as Irish traditional music nowadays with the Pogues’ landmark early albums over three decades old now. The boozy torch has been carried along by the likes of Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys and more recently, an Aussie quartet who picked up on the music of their fellow British outliers.
The Rumjacks date back to 2008 with three albums and a bunch of singles under their belt, making their way across the States for a tour, including stops at SXSW and NYC. For their Yankee trek, singer Frankie McLaughlin was laid up sick so their mandolin/bouzouki player (don’t laugh- the Mekons have one) Adam Kenny ably took over, using a music stand cheat sheet for the lyrics. With bassist Johnny McKelvey as the jovial MC (“this is the earliest and sober-est we’ve played so we’ll be the drunkest later”), they led the crowd through their catalog, including a stop at the Scottish ballad “Wild Mountain Thyme.” Reflecting the cross-current of the music, the crowd switched from jig dances to moshing in the blink of a song, even with a guest tin whistle player thrown in (Chiara De Sio from the Clan).
Blurt Exclusive: The Feederz "Stealing" (from new Slope Records 45)
Blurt Exclusive: Parson Red Heads "Coming Down" (from forthcoming June '17 album)
Blurt Video Exclusive: Twinkle Star "Wasting Life Together"/"Release Yourself"
A Blurt Video Boot Exclusive: Vieux Farka Toure - live in Beijing 1/15/17)
Blurt Exclusive: James Johnston "Heart and Soul" (live)