Friday, July 18, 2014

Concert Review: Eric Taylor at Knuckleheads


Eric Taylor threatened to shoot me last night. 

I walked into the back room of Knuckleheads shortly after Taylor's first set began.  I was immediately entranced by the folk songs and halting speech of the Texan.  Even so, I was compelled to respond to a couple text messages about 15 minutes after I took a seat among the audience of ten. 

Taylor took offense. 

In a profanity laced tirade in which he referenced his open carry license, he demanded that I "turn off my f*cking cell phone."  Partly because his stage set consisted of a glass of red wine, a prescription pill canister and an unopened bottle of water, I heeded his warning without objection. 

I passed on appearances by Richard Buckner and Old Crow Medicine Show/Carolina Chocolate Drops in favor of paying $15 to see Taylor for the first time.  Still haunted by my failure to witness a performance by Townes Van Zandt, I figured I'd take a flier on Taylor.  Sure enough, Taylor told a tale or two about his former running buddy.

Taylor's stories were at the core of his two sets.  He spoke about the series of strokes he'd suffered, the deafness in his right ear, the physical pain he associates with abandonment by women, Pentecostal snake handling, heroin and moonshine.  A recording of Taylor's tribute to Bill Morrissey captures the tone of last night's performance.

His approach is in keeping with the Texas troubadour tradition of Vince Bell, Guy Clark, Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett, Billy Joe Shaver and his ex-wife Nanci Griffith.  A glowing profile in The Houston Chronicle serves as a helpful introduction for the uninitiated. 

I called Taylor out on his threat after the show.  He insisted that his ominous warning was merely "a bit" and that the prescription bottle was just a prop that contained guitar picks.  The mea culpa was unconvincing.


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I reviewed a concert by Pat Benatar/Neil Giraldo and Rick Springfield.

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Johnny Winter has died.  His production of Muddy Waters' Hard Again was among my primary entry points to blues. 

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Elaine Stritch has died.

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"Sound Bite" is a track from Ces Cru's forthcoming Ego Stripper album.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Charlie Haden, 1937-2014


Charlie Haden played a crucial role in molding me into the listener I am today.  Here are just three examples of the many ways in which Haden expanded my appreciation and understanding of music.

As a nascent jazz fan in the pre-internet era, I became aware of the provocatively titled Liberation Music Orchestra.  When I finally got my hands on a copy of the 1969  album, I didn't know what to make of it.  It's not "jazz."  Haden helped me to realize that musical boundaries don't really exist. 

The 1991 album Haunted Heart caused me to reevaluate music I'd written off as pablum.  By incorporating old recordings of Jo Stafford and Jeri Southern into Quartet West's concept album, Haden convinced me to drop my bias against pre-rock pop vocalists.  My subsequent flirtation with music by the likes of Tony Bennett and Rosemary Clooney has yet to cease.

Finally, Haden's gorgeous collaborations with Pat Metheny reminded me of the immense power of austerity.  As a lover of noise and groove, I require quiet works like Beyond the Missouri Sky keep me centered.

Haden died last week.


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I reviewed a concert by Gavin DeGraw, Matt Nathanson and Mary Lambert.

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I featured Jorge Arana Trio's Oso at Plastic Sax.

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Here's my Local Listen segment on Ensemble Ibérica.

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The Mahoots' Girl From Topeka is probably my favorite project by my friend Steve Wilson since No Price On Earth, the classic 1982 album by the Thumbs.  RIYL: Alex Chilton, rock and roll hearts, Guided By Voices.

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Dom Chronicles' video for "Get Focused" was shot at the castle-like structure in the Jazz District.

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Stik Figa made a video for "The Book of Chad".

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Tommy Ramone has died.

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After a career filled with good albums, Jim Lauderdale finally made a great one.  I'm a Song is RIYL: Buck Owens, 1965, George Jones.

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Leela James' Fall For You is solid.  RIYL: Anthony Hamilton, adulthood, Mary J. Blige.

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Should Brian Wilson decide to take a naked romp on a Brazilian beach, Sébastien Tellier's L'Aventura would make an ideal soundtrack for the outing.

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David Binney's Anacapa is a wonderful mainstream jazz album.  RIYL: Pat Metheny, imagination, Wayne Shorter.

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Nick Waterhouse's Holly is RIYL: Hanni El Khatib, Uma Thurman's character in Pulp Fiction, The Blasters.

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The Village Voice's examination of the origins of Bob Marley's Legend is fascinating.

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Bobby Hutcherson's Enjoy the View fails to hold my attention.  RIYL: David Sanborn, Blue Note Records, Joey DeFrancesco.

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The cowboy rides away with a gross of $60 million.  The financials of 2014's top tours are fascinating.

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Cyrus Chestnut's Midnight Melodies is a fine live piano trio album. 

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Good on Metallica.

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Sage Francis is very angry.  Copper Gone is RIYL: Mac Lethal, sour grapes, Aesop Rock.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Album Review: Radkey- Spotify Sessions


My friends look at me as if I'm a heretic every time I mention Radkey's striking resemblance to the Misfits and Glenn Danzig.  I guess I didn't get the memo that pointing out the obvious characteristic of the St. Joseph trio is forbidden.  I happen to adore Danzig, so my taboo commentary isn't an indictment.  My primary concern about the young band's prospects are related to the quality of their songs.  The raw power of Radkey's live performances, however, is incontestable.  That's why the new Spotify Sessions is my favorite Radkey recording.


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I would have enjoyed last week's concert by François Rabbath even more if the woman next to me hadn't been chomping on gum.  Here's my review.

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I reviewed a concert by Sarah McLachlan at Starlight Theatre.

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I review Everette DeVan's new album at Plastic Sax.

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D/Will's 13-minute mixtape Ready. Aim. Beautiful is nice.

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The blasphemers behind the Studio Rio project have extracted the original vocals from iconic songs and recast them in Brazilian settings.  Listen to them mess with Billie Holiday's "You've Changed".  Welcome to the future.

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Drums are dumb.  That's my takeaway from Scott Feiner's A View From Below.  A Brazilian hand drum replaces a drum kit on the fascinating release.  The trio's keyboardist provides the low end while the fusion-happy guitarist is given plenty of room to meander.

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Lizzo's new album LizzoBangers is delightful.  RIYL: Lazerbeak, honesty, Missy Elliott.

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I can't believe that I'm infatuated with a Judas Priest album in 2014. Redeemer of Souls is surprisingly solid.

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As a concept album, CunninLynguists' Strange Journey, Volume Three is terrible.  As pure entertainment, it's very good.  RIYL: Grieves, rhyming dictionaries, Aesop Rock.

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Mournful Congregation's Concrescence Of The Sophia is RIYL: funerals, Tombs, 20-minute death metal jams.

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Kendrick Lamar parodied ignorant rappers on "Backseat Freestyle."  Most of These Days, the new album by his label mate Ab-Soul, sounds like the moronic music Lamar mocked.  Largely because it could have been great, the project infuriates me.  Here's Lamar's contribution to the mess.  RIYL: Kendrick Lamar, darkness, Jay Rock.

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Ginger Baker's Why? is RIYL: Charlie Watts' jazz, Charles Mingus, Jack Bruce's jazz.

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A lot of the cool kids are touting Forgetting the Present, the latest release by the Mogwai-affiliated Remember Remember.  My verdict?  It's a propulsive new age album.  RIYL: Shadowfax, the healing properties of crystals, Nightnoise.

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Bill Frisell goes surfing.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Bobby Womack, 1944-2004


I was late to Bobby Womack's party.  By the time I purchased the CD pictured above in the early '90s, I'd already become conversant with the works of most soul greats.  Hearing songs like "Lookin' For a Love," "That's the Way I Feel About Cha" and "Across 110th Street" for the first time was stunning.  I wondered how these gems weren't played alongside familiar radio hits by James Brown and Al Green.  After finally catching up with Womack, I was able to enjoy subsequent albums as new releases.  Womack died last week.  Here's Raphael Saadiq's new tribute song.

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I reviewed Saturday's concert by Tech N9ne, Freddie Gibbs, Jarren Benton and the Psych Ward Druggies.

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I reviewed Ray LaMontagne's concert at Starlight Theatre.

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I yakked about music on KCUR's Up To Date last week.  Here's the stream.

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Lee McBee has died.

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Tech N9ne made a video for "Fear."

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Here's the trailer for Arrows Into Infinity, a new documentary about Charles Lloyd.

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I'm a Led Zeppelin freak but I'm not an apologist.  Here's essential documentation of LedZep's transgressions.  The insidious ads are a small price to pay.  (Tip via There Stands the Glass reader Phil.)

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Har Mar Superstar stars in the excellent video for Trampled By Turtles' "Wild Animals."

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Jimmy Cobb's The Original Mob bores me to tears.  I suppose that makes me a bad person.

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It's not exactly funky, but Worry Later by the unapologetically geeky jazz trio of Ben Goldberg, Adam Levy and Smith Dobson is a sublime tribute to Monk. 

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Mastodon's latest release sounds exactly like another Mastodon album.  Here's the video for "High Road".  RIYL: size, The Mars Volta, volume.

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It takes 2 hours and 35 minutes to play the new compilation Role: New Sounds of Brazil.  Much of it is exemplary.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Love Never Felt So Good: Music Midway in 2014


Top Shows of 2014
When I look at the list of my favorite live performances of the first six months of 2014, I'm certain that I'm one of the most fortunate people on the planet.

1. Bettye LaVette- Knuckleheads
2. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds- Midland theater
3. Pat Metheny Unity Group- Topeka Performing Arts Center
4. Marijuana Deathsquads- RecordBar
5. Kraftwerk- Sony Centre (Toronto)
6. Tony Bennett- Muriel Kauffman Theatre
7. Pharaoh Sanders- Blues Alley (Washington D.C.)
8. Nicola Benedetti- Folly Theater
9. Wolf Eyes- Riot Room patio
10. Pusha T- Midland theater

11. Suicidal Tendencies- Uptown Theater
12. Thy Art Is Murder- Aftershock
13. Regina Carter- Helzberg Hall
14. John Cale- Lawrence Arts Center
15. St. Vincent- Liberty Hall
16. Ladysmith Black Mambazo- Liberty Hall
17. Fitz & the Tantrums- KC Live
18. Allen Toussaint- Folly Theater
19. Black Label Society- Penn Valley Park
20. Bahia Orchestra Project- Helzberg Hall

21. Maze- Municipal Auditorium
22. Brad Mehldau Trio- Folly Theater
23. Jaleel Shaw with the Jeff Harshbarger Trio- Take Five Coffee + Bar
24. Brendan Kinsella- Grant Recital Hall
25. John Scofield- Folly Theater 

Top 50 Albums
Few things provide me with a bigger thrill than listening to an album for the first time.  Digital streaming, consequently, has been a godsend.  I've already listened to 234 new releases in their entirety in 2014.  My 50 favorites are listed below.  Here's a corresponding Spotify playlist.

1. St. Vincent- St. Vincent
2. Kris Bowers- Heroes + Misfits
3. Da Cruz- Disco e Progresso
4. Toni Braxton and Babyface- Love, Marriage & Divorce
5. Kelis- Food
6. Young Fathers- Dead
7. Danilo Pérez- Panama 500
8. Down- Down IV: Part II
9. Ambrose Akinmusire- The Imagined Savior Is Far Easier to Paint
10. Joyce Yang- Wild Dreams

11. Rick Ross- Mastermind
12. Drive-By Truckers- English Oceans
13. F*cked Up- Glass Boys
14. Takuya Kuroda- Rising Son
15. Skating Polly- Steilacoom
16. Ledisi- The Truth
17. Guided By Voices- Motivational Jumpsuit
18. Vampire- Vampire
19. Souljazz Orchestra- Inner Fire
20. Bohren & Der Club of Gore- Piano Nights

21. Against Me!- Transgender Dysphoria Blues
22. José James- While You Were Sleeping
23. Coltsblood- Into the Unfathomable Abyss
24. Jason Eady- Daylight & Dark
25. Juilliard String Quartet- Elliott Carter: The Five String Quartets
26. Angelique Kidjo- Eve
27. Regina Carter- Southern Comforts
28. The Pretty Reckless- Going To Hell
29. Perfect Pussy- Say Yes To Love
30. Leon Russell- Life Journey

31. De La Tierra- De La Tierra
32. Simone Dinnerstein- Bach: Inventions & Sinfonias
33. Pharoahe Monch- Post Tramatic Stress Disorder
34. Pat Metheny Unity Group- Kin
35. Future- Honest
36. Jack White- Lazaretto
37. Joshua Redman- Trios Live
38. Stephen Malkmus- Wig Out at Jagbags
39. Tech N9ne- Strangeulation
40. The War On Drugs- Lost In the Dream

41. Ume- Monuments
42. Bixiga 70- Ocupai
43. Diverse- Our Journey
44. Mike Dillon- Band of Outsiders
45. Lord Mantis- Death Mask
46. Michael Jackson- Xscape
47. Beck- Morning Phase
48. My Brothers & Sisters- Violet Music, Vol. 1
49. Zara McFarlane- If You Knew Her
50. Pharrell Williams- Girl

Reissues, Compilations and Soundtracks
1. Haiti Direct: Big Band, Mini Jazz & Twoubadou Sounds, 1960-1978
2. The Sound of Siam, Volume 2- Molam & Luk Thung Isan from North-East Thailand 1970-1982
3. Miles Davis- Miles at The Fillmore: Miles Davis: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 3
4. Wheedle's Groove: Seattle's Finest In Funk & Soul 1965-75
5. Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton (soundtrack)

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Opry Lament


The Grand Ole Opry took a lot of my money in the 1990s.  I felt like a doofus every time I joined the throngs of tourists for the Opry's cheesy skits in the soulless environs of the Opryland Hotel complex.  Yet those were the only times I saw legends including Roy Acuff, Little Jimmy Dickens, Jack Greene, Jimmy C. Newman, Johnny Russell, Hank Snow and Porter Wagoner perform.  Newman died on June 21.  Here's scratchy old footage of "Alligator Man."


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I reviewed Monday's concert by Peter Murphy, Ringo Deathstarr and Cinemaphonic.

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Why isn't Charlie Hunter a star?  Hunter and Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey performed at the Brick last Thursday.  Here's my review.

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"Hometown", a collabo between Kansas City's Skiem Hiem and Oakland's the Jacka, may be the definitive Kansas City music video of 2014.

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Stik Figa represents Topeka in the video for "Knowhere."

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Take me to the river.  Mabon "Teenie" Hodges has died.

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I comment on the late Horace Silver's connection to Kansas City here

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Gerry Goffin has died.

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I adore songs about God, Satan and Elvis.  Nick Cave's performance at the Midland on Wednesday, consequently, made me deliriously happy.  Tim Finn reviewed the show.

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I would pay good money to watch a comment reconstruction depicting the moronic chatter attached to a video of T.I. and Iggy Azalea's "No Mediocre".

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A lot of critics are hailing Willie Nelson's Band of Brothers as a comeback album.  Longtime readers of There Stands the Glass know that I'm quite fond of many of his recent releases.  Band of Brothers is merely adequate.  Here's the video for the title track.

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The Roots' …and then you shoot your cousin is a strange album. RIYL: N.E.R.D, middle age, De La Soul.

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"Release your wiggle!"  Big Freedia's Just Be Free is RIYL: 5th Ward Weebie, New Orleans, Sissy Nobby.

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José James' No Beginning, No End was my #5 album in 2013.  I have yet to make up my mind about his new While You Were Sleeping.  RIYL: Roy Ayers, risk takers, War.

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Because I've long admired Ian McLagan, I'm predisposed to love everything about his (average) new album. United States is RIYL: pubs, the Faces, taverns.

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Joshua Redman's Trios Live is fire.  RIYL: Sonny Rollins, live albums, James Carter.

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Raise your hand if you've been waiting decades for Jonathan Richman to quit goofing around and finally make another album in the vein of the Modern Lovers.  The members of Parquet Courts have taken matters into their own hands.  Sunbathing Animal is RIYL: Lou Reed, wondering what happened to Jonathan Richman, Pavement.

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Die Antwoord's transgressive Donker Mag is surely a sign of end times.  RIYL: Rob Zombie, drone strikes, 2 Live Crew.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Event Review: PorchFest KC

I attended two ambitious new festivals in Kansas City last weekend.

Boulevardia resembled a Plaza Art Fair for millennials. While I had a good time hanging out with my friends, I wasn't drinking or eating, disallowing me three-quarters of the pleasures noted in the large-scale event's description as "a nation rich in beer, food, music and beer." Most of the bands from elsewhere didn't appeal to me either. Maybe next year I'll be able to quench my thirst while listening to headliners I enjoy.

PorchFest KC, however, was right up my alley. Dozens of porches in the neighborhood southeast of the intersection of State Line and Westport Road served as stages for an eclectic mix of performances by amateur and professional musicians.

Kids, dogs and friendly adults wandered from yard to yard taking in the sounds. A psychobilly trio had a loud PA that attracted a correspondingly large crowd. I heard the dudes in the top photo play groovy versions of "Friend of the Devil" and "I Know You Rider." Timbers, an Americana band, pleased an enthusiastic audience. The tango/classical duo in the photo below played the best music I heard Saturday.

Lots of people were drinking beer at PorchFest.  But unlike my experience at Boulevardia, I didn't feel like I needed to down a few alcoholic beverages in order to relax.


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Bettye LaVette's outing at Knuckleheads on Monday is my new favorite show of the year. Here's my review.

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I reviewed the Knuckleheads debuts of Judy Collins and Don McLean.

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I saw Pharaoh Sanders at Blues Alley in Washington D.C. last week. My notes are at Plastic Sax.

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Casey Kasem has died.

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The Rainmakers shred. (Via BGO.)

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Wussy's Attica! is RIYL: Vic Chesnutt, small towns, Drive-By Truckers.

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Jack White is the Led Zeppelin of the new millennium. Lazaretto is RIYL: Led Zeppelin I, Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin III.

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Willie Watson's stark Folk Singer, Vol. 1 is RIYL: Doc Watson, the Smithsonian-Folkways label, Furry Lewis.

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If I'm ever forced to listen to a Conor Oberst project on repeat, I'd like it to be his new Upside Down Mountain. RIYL: Fred Neill, Omaha, Tim Buckley.

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Our Year, the latest from Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison, is delightful. RIYL: Conway & Loretta, the old Austin, George & Tammy.

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The Everymen's Givin' Up On Free Jazz is RIYL: The Hold Steady, New Jersey, Meatloaf. Here's the ridiculous video for "Spain."



(Original images by There Stands the Glass.)