Category: Alt Country

New Video: Introducing the Spectral Sounds and Intimate Visuals for Lola Kirke’s “Not Used”

Lola Kirke is a British-born, New York-based singer/songwriter, musician and actress, best know for starring roles in Mistress America and Mozart in the Jungle, as well as a supporting role in David Fincher’s Gone Girl; but along with that, she’s also the daughter of drummer Simon Kirke, best known for stints in Bad Company and Free and Lorraine Kirke, the owner of Geminola, a vintage boutique known for supplying outfits for Sex and the City. As a singer/songwriter, her self-titled debut EP features four, plaintive songs that Kirke has personally dubbed Cosmic American. 

The self-titled EP’s latest single “Not Used” is about learning to live with a lover’s absence and as a result, the single possesses a visceral longing and ache paired with a spectral yet old-timey, honky tonk-like arrangement . But at its core, is the acceptance of the lingering ghosts of one’s past and the awkward attempt to move forward with one’s life to the best of their abilities.  And interestingly enough, the recently released music video was directed by and stars Lola Kirke’s sister, who spends the entire length of the song vigorously exercising in her small apartment — and as Jemina Kirke explains about the video treatment “Those transitional, soul-level-change moments we experience are never dramatic. Epiphanies don’t really happen. They’re a myth. Real transformation is boring and uncomfortable, like working out on your birthday when you have no plans. Change slips in unnoticed while you’re busy trudging through something pretty unremarkable.” 

New Video: The Gorgeous and Highly Symbolic Visuals for Rogue and Jaye’s “Golden Lady”

Comprised of the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Courtney Jaye, who has spent stints in Nashville, Atlanta, Austin and elsewhere; and Bay Area-based singer/songwriter Zach Rogue, the frontman of indie rock act Rogue Wave, the country music duo of Rogue and Jaye can trace their origins back to a December 2013 songwriting session, in which the duo quickly recognized they had an instant and easy-going simpatico — perhaps based in their backgrounds as songwriters influenced by country, whose material frequently possessed a wistful, late night, drinking in the honky tonk vibe and the results the critically applauded debut single together “Til It Fades.” As Zach Rogue explains in press notes “We have this thing, and I don’t really know know why, it’s just a comfort level. We have this easy spirit with each other, where I like hearing here sing and I feel very comfortable proposing ideas.”

The duo’s debut effort together, Pent Up features a backing band consisting of Bands of Horses’Bill Reynolds (bass), Floating Action’s Seth Kauffman (guitar) and Grace Potter and The Nocturnals’ and Natalie Prass’ Michael Libramento (drums) and was recorded and engineered by Logan Matheny at Bill Reynolds’ Nashville-based Fleetwood Shack Studio and mixed and mastered by Mikael “Count” Eldridge in San Francisco. Officially released earlier this month, the album has been released to critically praise from a number of major media outlets including The Associated Press, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, American Songwriter and others, with Rolling Stone Country recently naming the duo one of their “10 New Artists You Need to Know,” and when you hear the album’s latest single “Golden Lady,” you’ll see why as the duo pair an easy-going, 70s AM rock and late night honky tonk twang with Jaye’s gorgeous yet wistful vocals. And while clearly drawing at Americana, 70s Renegade Country, indie rock and pop without being too tethered to them, the song also finds the duo subtly nodding at psychedelia with some pedal effected guitar.

In fact, much like the sources the duo draw from sonically and thematically, “Golden Lady” reveals the duo’s cool self-assuredness as the single is a recording featuring a bunch of old pros, who’ve made it seem way too easy — but at the same time, there’s an understated emotional honesty; the sort that comes from living a full and messy life of mistakes, foibles, joy, heartache, loneliness, being lost and found and lost again, and profoundly life altering experiences and experiencing them as completely and fully as possible — and with an effortless gracefulness.

As the duo’s Courtney Jaye explains, their latest single details an all-too common frustration with the universe and one’s seeming inability to cope with a personally damaging situation and learning how to be patient, how to be alone and how to love yourself before loving another and learning how to trust yourself and letting things go at the time and pace they’re supposed to. And in fact, the recently released video  Ben Bennett and shot and edited by Stefan Colson is shot in hazy, golden light and throughout Jaye is shot hemmed in and trapped in a person-sized tube and cocooned in fabric. And while Jaye is struggling to break free, there’s a sense that some of this is self-inflicted. In fact, as Jaye explains in press notes, “this video symbolizes being trapped by your own fear, self-doubt and lack of trust in universal timing. 

Comprised of the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Courtney Jaye, who has spent stints in Nashville, Atlanta, Austin and elsewhere; and Bay Area-based singer/songwriter Zach Rogue, the frontman of indie rock act Rogue Wave, the country music duo of Rogue and Jaye can trace their origins back to a December 2013 songwriting session, in which the duo quickly recognized they had an instant and easy-going simpatico — perhaps based in their backgrounds as songwriters influenced by country, whose material frequently possessed a wistful, late night, drinking in the honky tonk vibe and the results the critically applauded debut single together “Til It Fades.” As Zach Rogue explains in press notes “We have this thing, and I don’t really know know why, it’s just a comfort level. We have this easy spirit with each other, where I like hearing here sing and I feel very comfortable proposing ideas.”

The duo’s debut effort together, Pent Up features a backing band of Bands of HorsesBill Reynolds (bass), Floating Action‘s Seth Kauffman (guitar) and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals’ and Natalie Prass‘ Michael Libramento (drums) and was recorded and engineered by Logan Matheny at Bill Reynolds’ Nashville-based Fleetwood Shack Studio and mixed and mastered by Mikael “Count” Eldridge in San Francisco. Officially released earlier this month, the album has been released to critically praise from a number of major media outlets including The Associated PressRolling Stone, Entertainment WeeklyAmerican Songwriter and others, with Rolling Stone Country recently naming the duo one of their “10 New Artists You Need to Know,” and when you hear the album’s latest single “Golden Lady,” you’ll see why as the duo pair an easy-going, 70s AM rock and late night honky tonk twang with Jaye’s gorgeous yet wistful vocals. And while clearly drawing at Americana, 70s Renegade Country, indie rock and pop without being too tethered to them, the song also finds the duo subtly nodding at psychedelia with some pedal effected guitar.

In fact, much like the sources the duo draw from sonically and thematically, “Golden Lady” reveals the duo’s cool self-assuredness as the single is a recording featuring a bunch of old pros, who’ve made it seem way too easy — but at the same time, there’s an understated emotional honesty; the sort that comes from living a full and messy life of mistakes, foibles, joy, heartache, loneliness, being lost and found and lost again, and profoundly life altering experiences and experiencing them as completely and fully as possible — and with an effortless gracefulness.

 

 

 

 

New Video: The Comic Visuals for Old 97’s “Good with God”

Comprised of primary songwriter Rhett Miller (vocals, guitar), Murry Hammond (bass), Ken Bethea (guitar) and Philip Peeples (drums), the members of renowned alt-country quartet Old 97s can trace their origins back to their formation in Dallas, TX back in 1993. Initially, a very popular band in Dallas’ scene, the band quickly caught the attention Bloodshot Records, who released Wreck Your Life, which later caught the attention of the folks at Elektra Records, who signed the band in the hopes that the then-Dallas-based quartet, along with bands like Uncle Tupelo, Drive-by-Truckers, Whiskeytown, The Jayhawks, Bottle Rockets and others, which were at the forefront of the alt-country sound would be the next big thing after grunge’s decline. However, unfortunately for both Elektra and the members of Old 97s, despite receiving a fair amount of critical applause, the band and its sound didn’t quite catch on commercially in the way that the label expected, and they were subsequently dropped from the label.

And although being dropped from a major label, can have a devastating impact on a band and their career, the band has managed to build a cult-favorite status and in the iTunes and blogosphere era, building up a devoted and supportive fanbase will provide you with an attainable and sustainable level of professional success. The band’s latest effort Graveyard Whistling reportedly deals with both life and mortality — but with the band’s distinctive and ironic sense of humor and heartfelt tenderness.

Graveyard Whistling’s latest single “Good with God” is a collaboration with renowned labelmate Caitlin Rose, and its a swaggering track that sonically owes a debt to Sun Records and renegade-era country and rockabilly; while thematically, the song’s narrator talks about being a wild badass, who has made a certain level of peace with his life, as he’s fucked things up and “made his bed and will lie in it,” and while he’s made peace with God, he isn’t sure if God has accepted it. So one level the song expresses the acceptance of a full and messy life, but an uncertainty of what happens once we’re no longer here.

Directed by Lee Kirk and produced by Michael Kristoff, the recently released video for “Good with God” features Jenna Fischer as an MTV-like VJ doing a prototypical 120 Minutes-styled interview; however, the band’s drummer is missing and Fred Armisen, who just happens to be at the studio is recruited to play the role of the band’s drummer. And although the show’s director tells Armisen’s character to just sit there and look like he was in the band, he can’t help himself from interrupting and eventually taking over the interview, much to everyone’s exasperation. As an interviewer myself, it’s painful and hilarious. Of course, it’s followed by a blistering studio performance of the song with Armisen actually playing drums.

New Video: Canadian Singer/Songwriter Terra Lightfoot’s Gorgeous Rendition of a Christmas Season Classic

Lightfoot’s sophomore effort Every Time My Mind Runs Wild was released earlier this year through Sonic Unyon Records and if you’ve been frequenting this site, you may recall that I had written about the Canadian singer/songwriter’s bluesy and heartfelt single “All Alone,” a single reminiscent of a more muscular version of Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” and “Walkin’ After Midnight,” complete with the same heartache at its core. Just in time for the holidays, Lightfoot released an understated solo rendition of the Christmas season classic “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” which she played for the first time at CBC’s Sound of the Season last year and she recently recorded live at McMaster University’s LIVELab. Interestingly, Lightfoot’s self-accompanied guitar arrangement draws from Chet Atkins’ instrumental rendition.

As Lightfoot explains in press notes about her rendition of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas: “I think I feel comfortable delivering a song like ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’ because I can really live inside that gentle mood and melody. The heartfelt lyrics, that sense of fragile security. The melody and chords are stunning, but as a songwriter I also appreciate the uncertainty and underlying tension in the plot: you’re not sure if you’ll make it home, or maybe your home is long gone and you’re wishing you could go back. I don’t know if I would be able to deliver a song like ‘Joy to the World’ with quite as much conviction. ” Interestingly, in some way the tension within the song shouldn’t be surprising as the song was originally written from the perspective of troops separated from their families by war — and considering that families are being uprooted from their homelands and separated from each other by seemingly unending conflict or from politics, Lightfoot’s understated rendition gives the song a subtly modern context, while sounding as though it could have been released in 1957.

Personally, I think what makes Lightfoot’s rendition one of the more compelling renditions I’ve heard in some time is that the Canadian singer/songwriter’s voice conveys a painfully lonely ache and longing — the sort of longing that comes from lengthy periods apart from loved ones and from home.

Initially started as a one-off vehicle to release a record for a friend, Portland, OR-based indie label Fluff and Gravy Records has established themselves as arguably one of the most unique and difficult to pigeonhole labels in the country as they’ve released  albums that have run the gamut from Americana, indie folk, punk rock, indie rock, garage punk, alt country and even British folk from a diverse and eclectic set of artists including JOVM mainstay Drunken Prayer, Hillstomp, Jeffrey Martin, Fernando Viciconte, The Evangenitals, Anna Tivel and several others. To celebrate their fifth anniversary, the Portland-based label is releasing the Five Years of Gravy compilation — and according to the folks at the label, the compilation isn’t a mere retrospective; in fact, it’s a compilation of new and unreleased tracks from 17 of the label’s artists that they feel offers a glimpse of where the label and its artists have been and where they all are going. But the label and its artists also see the compilation as a way of giving back as the proceeds from sales of the album will benefit The Jeremy Wilson Foundation, a musicians’ nonprofit health and services organization that assists individual musicians and their families throughout the Pacific Northwest during medical emergencies — and is supported by fans, musicians and friends. Certainly, the work of charitable organizations such as The Jeremy Wilson Foundation will see even greater importance in light of President-elect Donald Trump’s threatened plans to cut Obamacare and with most musicians being independent contractors, access to affordable healthcare for musicians and their families will be critical.

Now, earlier this year you may recall that I had written about the Argentina-born, Portland, OR-based singer/songwriter Fernando Viciconte, who performs under the mononym Fernando. Viciconte first came to attention as the frontman oft he Los Angeles-based rock band Monkey Paw, and when the band broke up, Viciconte relocated to Portland where he began to focus on a solo career that began in earnest with the 2006 release full-length debut Enter to Exit, an effort which was critically praised by a number of major media outlets including BillboardMagnet (which named Fernando, one of the best, new artists of 2006), PasteThe OregonianNo Depression and MSNBC.com, among a lengthy list of others. Just as Viciconte’s profile and career were  set to explode into the national scene, the Argentina-born, Portland-based singer/songwriter suffered through several major health issues, which nearly resulted in the permanent loss of his voce — and as you can imagine, his health issues prevented him from touring. Fortunately for Viciconte and for us, after going through a number of doctors, it was revealed that his illness was misdiagnosed and the root cause of his issues, a hiatal hernia that caused heartburn and acid reflux, which bathed his vocal vocal chords in his stomach acid, was fixed surgically.

Viciconte’s eighth full-length effort Leave the Radio On was released last year through Fluff and Gravy Records and although the album took three years to complete, the album has the Portland-based singer/songwriter backed by an all-star cast featuring R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, who has been an early champion of Viciconte’s work; Scott McCaughey as well as members of M.Ward and Elliott Smith‘s backing bands, Richmond Fontaine and The Delines. Of course, if you had been frequenting this site, you may recall act I wrote about Leave the Radio On‘s first single “Save Me,” a bitter and aching lament of a song that evoked the lingering ghosts of one’s life — the failed relationships, the misguided decisions and poor judgements and the crushing doubts that seem inescapable and yet, finding a way to move forward with your dignity, sanity and sense of self intact. His contribution to the compilation “No Regrets” continues in a similar vein to “Save Me” as it’s a mournful lament from a narrator, who looks back on his life with an uncommon clarity and honesty, with the song’s narrator sadly admitting that he may be at fault for the mistakes and poor decisions of his life. Sonically, Viciconte’s aching vocals are accompanied with a country-leaning arrangement of steel pedal guitar, acoustic guitar, gently padded drums and twinkling keyboards — and in some way pairing the song’s sentiment with its arrangement makes the song sound as though it could be the soundtrack of lonely men lost in thought and drinking their sorrows away. And much like “Save Me,” “No Regrets” evokes life’s lingering ghosts — but in this case with a weary sense of acceptance.

 

Of course, if you’ve been frequenting this site, you’re probably well acquainted with Drunken Prayer, the recording project of Morgan Christopher Geer, who currently splits time between Portland, ORAsheville, NC and Louisville, KY — and is a touring member of renowned act Freakwater.  Into the Missionfield, Geer’s Drunken Prayer debut was released in 2012 to critical praise both locally and nationally — Portland’s Willamette Week describing Geer as a “barking ringleader with chops between Tom Waits and The Butthole Surfers‘ Gibby Haynes” and the Portland Mercury describing Geer as Warren Zevon’s medium, showing him the world from the great beyond.” Since then Geer has been rather prolific realizing several lyrically and sonically ambitious albums that have been praised for his signature sound — a sound that meshes elements of the blues, country, folk music, 60s psych and soul music and New Orleans-styled funeral dirges paired with lyrics that explore our existence through the prism of the tragicomic. In fact, Geer’s material suggests something that most of us loathe to admit — that life is often bitterly cruel and ironic. And in those moments, the only option you have is to do as the old song says “Laugh and never let the world know that deep down, you’re crying.”

 

2016 has been a very busy year as Geer released The Devil and the Blues. Featuring Lance Willie (drums) and David Wayne Gay (bass), his former bandmates in The Unholy Trio and former members of The Reigning Sound, as well as guest spots from The Sadies‘ Dallas Good (guitar), Aaron Price (organ, piano and engineering), Anna Trivel (fiddle) and a small horn and section, Geer’s latest effort was Geer’s “party album” — and by party, the material thematically covers and explores sadness, rebellion and redemption in Geer’s signature rowdy, riotous, loutish, proud and somewhat ridiculous fashion. His contribution to the compilation “I Feel Into The Sun,” is an atypical Geer song, as it’s a swooning and infectiously sweet love song with a wicked sense of humor. Yes, underneath all that loutishness and joke cracking is a sweet, aching heart desiring love and its redemption.

 

 

 

New Video: The Atmospheric and Cinematic Sounds and Visuals of RF Shannon

Born and raised in the Pineywoods Region of East Texas, singer/songwriter Shane Renfro writes and records under the moniker of RF Shannon — and as RF Shannon, Renfro’s sonically specializes in sparse, atmospheric and lush sound that he has dubbed “desert blues” as its largely inspired by his current obsession with the Trans-Pecos region of West Texas — while also nodding towards classic country and Americana, and as you’ll hear on “Had A Revelation” off his Other Trails EP, the single thematically focuses on a lonely man morosely drifting about burdened by his own regrets, helplessness and thoughts under a vast and uncaring expanse of sky and blacktop. Sonically speaking, the song pairs Benfro’s plaintive falsetto croon fed through gentle amounts of reverb, with shimmering pedal steel, steady yet minimalist drumming to create a sound that nods at Caveman’s shimmering, enveloping sound, psych rock and 70s singer/songwriter rock but with a moodily cinematic feel.

The recently released video follows Renfro throughout the course of a long day and night of lonely contemplation broken up by drinking at bars, dancing in strobe lit clubs, riding amusement park rides and playing with cows — and the one consistent thing is that the video’s protagonist is extremely lonely.

Over the past couple of months, Philadelphia, PA-based indie rock quartet Oldermost, led by its frontman Bradford Bucknam have received attention across the blogosphere and this site in particular for a sound that draws from  Nick DrakeWish You Were Here-era Pink Floyd and 70s AM radio rock as yo would have heard on the band’s first two singles “Honey With Tea” and “Finally Unsure.”

The band’s third and latest single is a cover of Graham Nash’s “I Used To Be A King.” And as Bucknum explains in press notes “Songs for Beginners is not necessarily a unique find in a record store bin, but the record still feels like a special discovery when you first set on eyes on the simple and somewhat lusterless album cover. ‘I Used To Be A King’ starts with a tempo just slow enough to hold the listener in a state of suspension. You think: there is a release on the horizon. And then Nash sings ‘It’s alright …’ and the song picks up, but only to build more tension and then there is the most rewarding part of the song at the tail end of the chorus—’No one is going to break my heart again’—where the listener experiences that sweet release. This track also seemed like a great opportunity to highlight the string arrangements that have helped make our musical output stand apart. There’s also a sweetness and a melancholy to the song and it takes a healthy dose of both to mix up an Oldermost song.” While being a fairly straightforward cover, it’s a shimmering, gorgeous cover that emphasizes the bittersweet nature of the original.

 

 

 

 

Bonnie Whitmore (vocals, bass) is a Denton, TX-born, Austin, TX-based singer/songwriter, who can trace the origins of her musical career to when she started playing in her family’s band, Daddy and the Divas. Shortly after that, a teenaged Whitmore picked up gigs playing in several Dallas-Ft. Worth area bands; however, her first professional band The Brent Mitchell Band lead to studio work with an impressive array of artists including Susan Gibson, Shelley King, Mando Saenz, Justin Townes Earle, Hayes Carll, Colin Gilmore and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Aaron Lee Tasjan and Sunny Sweeney. As a solo artist, Whitmore’s work is influenced by Tom Petty, Bonnie Raitt, Fleetwood Mac, Roy Orbison and The Replacements while drawing from deeply personal experiences — although her her third and latest album Fuck With Sad Girls, which features a backing band comprised of Scott Davis (guitar), who has worked with Band of Heathens and Hayes Carll; Craig Bagby (drums), who has worked with Sherman Colin Herman; and Jared Hall (keys), who has worked with Velvet Underground and Colin Gilmore, the album thematically focuses on the social and cultural stigmas placed on “imperfect” women.

 

Fuck With Sad Girls‘ latest single is “Fighter,” and the gorgeous song has Whitemore, Davis, Bagby and Hall pairing twinkling keys, accordion, lap steel guitar, gentle pads of percussion and Whitmore’s expressive and plaintive vocals in a song that manages to be psychologically revealing, vulnerable and honest as the song’s narrator admits to living a full, complicated and messy life, a life full of joy, mistakes, regrets, difficult and uneasy decisions and compromises, and throughout the song’s narrator reveals herself to be a resilient, modern woman — the sort of woman you’d likely known and encountered in your own life.

 

 

 

 

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New Video: The Film-Noir Sounds and Visuals of Seattle’s Evening Bell

The recently released, film-noir-ish video features the band’s Hart Kingsbery and Caitlin Sherman as a pair of haunted and star crossed, almost lovers, whose love may never be completely consummated despite their efforts — and it features a ton of lonely and contemplative, late night driving in gorgeous, vintage cars and waiting around in idling cars for someone, who may not be paying attention or want them. And as a result, it gives a swooning, Romantic song a bittersweet tinge of unfinished and unfulfilled business.