REVIEW: Hook & Anchor’s self-titled debut album

 photo HookampAnchor_cover_zpseaa62837.jpg What is American music in 2014? Ask anyone and you’ll get a multitude of answers but regardless of what style it is, it is rooted in the earthiness of the stories and the voices that tell them. This is what Hook & Anchor are about and what they share on their brand new, self-titled debut. Their style of music is a mixture of country and bluegrass, but they also go towards the Americana way of life, which means you may hear a bit of Black Crowes, a pinch of Wilco, maybe even some Black Crowes in how they present their songs and all comparisons would be close-to-accurate. The songs not only tell stories, but you want to be able to figure out the stories not only as they’re told, but how you’ll interpret them into your own life, along with those you’re closely associated with. Maybe this is what would be distinctly Americana music but it is a part of the fabric that partly makes us who we are, a mixture of the happiness, the sorrow, the hopes, dreams, and anticipation of a better tomorrow. These guys very much pull their moniker towards their listeners and hope you’ll stay with them throughout their duration. I look forward to more music from them in the years to come.


FREE MP3 DL: Jess Williamson’s “Native State”

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New year missions and anticipations for what will become new year music, and anticipating the new year is Jess Williamson, an Austin-based singer/songwriter/musician who looks forward to releasing Native State (Brutal Honest), her debut album that will be out on January 28th. The press material states she makes the kind of folk and country music you may not expect because it is haunting, but I think sometimes the best music is not what you expect from it, and it’s all about the human emotion and what we have to deal with in order to get from one place to another. Williamson makes the kind of songs that will get you from here to there, and it may move you to stay for awhile, only to look forward to whatever journey lies ahead. Listen to one of those excursions below with the title track to Native State. The album will be made available on vinyl, with only 300 copies being pressed up.

RECORD CRACK: Panopticon’s “Kentucky” gets a new vinyl reissue

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With a split LP out now between them and Vestiges, the guys in Panopticon have chosen to reissue their Kentucky album. Original pressings on Handmade Birds/Pagan Flames in 2012 came out either on green or black vinyl variations. For this new one, you’ll be able to pick up a standard black pressing, but also a nice green/yellow/black splatter pressing. The album is available now from

REVIEW: Red Tail Ring’s “The Heart’s Swift Foot”

 photo RedTailRing_cover_zpsad806383.jpg Red Tail Ring are a duo whose goal is to share the tales, stories, and histories of the places they’re from and where they’ve been, and the people who have become a part of their lives, including one another. The Heart’s Swift Foot (Earthwork Music) is played with guitar, banjo, and fiddle, and that’s it. It’s bluegrass, it’s country, and it’s very much Americana and I could see these two become a much bigger success in England than in the U.S., simply because I feel Red Tail Ring is a step outside of the modern country music norm even though the style that they play is more to my liking. It feels like, what would be the right word for this? Music kinmanship. “Katy Came Breezing” has the feel of something you’d find on an early 1970’s album while “My Heart’s Own Love” is something that everyone should sing to someone at least once in their lives, it’s that type of compassionate song. May their …Swift Foot allow them to move forward towards more.

REVIEW: Silveroot’s “Big Difference”

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Normally I don’t start a review off with the word “I”, so I’m not. Instead, it will start the second sentence.

I last heard of Silveroot last year with a great album called Full Measure, and arguably the world was very different in the spring of 2008. A lot has changed since then, but then again maybe they haven’t, at least within the United States. I state this because while they celebrate the best of Americana and what it means to live in this country, it’s more of an album about the human condition and what we must do with and amongst each other in order to survive in peace. This is one of the underlying themes on Big Difference (Silverado), as the group continue with their well-executed mix of country, bluegrass, rock, pop, and on this album a number of worldly influences, most notable in teh final song “Last Night In Marrakech”, which sounds like a cross between Led Zeppelin, Loggins & Messina, and something you’d hear on a Folkways album. The smell of good food can be imagined in “Home Cookin'”, where Flynn imagines the delicious goodies found in New Orleans while creating a song that is reminiscent of The Band.

Most of the vibe on the album is down home music, but as the old saying goes, “wherever you lay your hat, that’s home”. It looks inward, but in “Brazil” there’s a slight tropicalia feel where vocalist Patrick Flynn and violinist Emily Palen unite in a celebration of the sunlight in Rio. The way the song is put together, it might help cross them over into a much bigger audience, sounds like a song that could be covered by The Dave Matthews Band or even Clara Hill.

Exploration is a key element here, or at least Flynn and friends are being motivated to open the door to their musical world to see what else lurks down the road, and Big Difference is indeed just that. A very strong statement.

REVIEW: Albert & Gage’s “Dakota Lullaby: The Songs of Tom Peterson”

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Christine Albert and Chris Gage have returned with an album called Dakota Lullaby: The Songs of Tom Peterson (MoonHouse), which honors the man in question with songs that define in many ways what Americana and in truth country music is all about.

The songs here are about life and living it, good or bad, and they are story songs sung by storytellers who know what it means to pass on a story from one generation to another. I’ve become a greater fan of Albert’s over the years, and with Gage by her side they create the kind of charm and substance that has often been one of country music’s trademarks. Whether it’s songs like “Hell Or High Water”, “Tender Loving Care” or “Does She Have A Future With Me”, they come off than a set of singers and musicians honoring another, this is just life reaffirmed with the kind of family feeling that is sorely missing in other styles of music.

By the end, you start to not hear this in terms of genres, but just damn good music that you wish more people would be into. It’s like comfort food, you can be full up to your neck but you’re always going to go back for more. Both Albert & Gage should have wide national attention, and it is truly a crime that they aren’t in that scope.