In The Groove
In a career marked by risk-taking and rule-breaking, Simpson has previously challenged genre conventions with 2016’s soul-inflected A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, which won the Grammy award for Country Album of the Year and was nominated for Album of the Year, and 2019’s Sound & Fury, which was nominated for Rock Album of the Year.
The great state of Kentucky is world renowned for many things. Bluegrass music? Of course. The smoothest, best-tasting Bourbon created by the hands of man? It doesn't get any better. One thing that folks don't always associate with Kentucky however is visceral, in-your-face rock and roll. The Cold Stares are determined to change that perception.
Chris Tapp and Brian Mullins have known one another for a long, long time. They grew up in Western Kentucky, just a stone's throw from the border or Indiana, and attended different High School mere minutes down the road from one another. They originally started playing together in their early twenties before going their separate ways only to reunite in another outfit a decade down the line. "We were playing together in 2009 in another band that was doing really well," Tapp said. "It didn't work out, so we both kind of exited that band and contemplated retirement." It didn't take long before they were thankfully disabused of that notion.
That band is an intense amalgam of Led Zeppelin meets Free, Soundgarden meets Black Crowes; rock and roll wizardry where the riffs are hard, the vocals are searing, and the low end is capital "H," heavy. Most of the album was recorded in a single day at Sam Phillips fabled recording studio in Memphis. "That's our second record there, so there was a lot of familiarity going back in," Mullins said. "The thing about that studio is that it's old, and vibey. Sometimes you gotta bang on the gear a little bit to make it work. It's kinda like the Millennium Falcon. It's badass, but you just gotta get it running right."
`Heavy Shoes' is Cold Stares' best record yet, and they know it. It took a lot of blood, sweat, tears and doubt before Chris Tapp and Brian Mullins reached this moment, but it's all the sweeter knowing they did it their way. "We've been through some tough times, and I'd say our band is a pretty good representation for blue collar people in general. People that work hard. We're just a blue-collar American rock and roll band." `Heavy Shoes' is available August 13th through Mascot Records.
- 5th studio album, debut release on Mascot Records.
- 15.8 million+ streams on Spotify, with 179k monthly listeners.
- 15.5k followers on social media.
- Their song "Suffer Me" is featured on the soundtrack for the video game, `CyberPunk 2077'. Recent licensing includes Dodge Motor Company, ESPN, NFL, X-Games, TNT Network, and Monster Energy
Acclaimed singer, songwriter and musician Liz Cooper will release her anticipated new album, Hot Sass, September 3. Produced by Benny Yurco (Michael Nau, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals), mixed by Dan Molad (Lucius, Emily King) and recorded live at Little Jamaica Recordings in Burlington, VT, the new album marks multiple departures for Cooper—from her nine-year home of Nashville to Brooklyn, from her band addendum of the Stampede, and from the genre-based expectations she’s accumulated throughout her career. After heavy touring in support of 2018’s Window Flowers, where her songs stretched out in live settings, she felt constricted by the Americana-adjacent associations that "the Stampede" carried. So with her bandmates’ blessing, she dropped the moniker, pursuing sounds and songs that let her chase the inspiration lent to her by the likes of Courtney Love, Lou Reed, and David Bowie. With these twelve new songs, Cooper comes into her own—both musically and as a person—embracing a newfound sense of independence, honesty, maturity and creativity. In addition to Cooper and Yurco, Hot Sass also features Cooper’s longtime bandmates and collaborators Joe Bisirri (bass), Ryan Usher (drums, percussion) and Michael Libramento (guitar, synthesizer).
Reflecting on the album, Cooper shares, “It’s me learning about what kind of woman I am and it’s not pretty all the time…I’m still processing these songs. Still reflecting. And I think that’s the thing—Hot Sass is just a stamp in time of what was happening in my life. I just want to continue making art that displays myself, the moments, and the people around me.”
The new record follows Cooper’s 2018 full-length debut album, Window Flowers, which was released to widespread critical acclaim. Of the album, NPR Music praised, “a gorgeously arranged and performed bouquet of psychedelia-tinged folk-rock,” while Rolling Stone hailed, “Cooper pushes her strand of folk rock deep into psychedelic territory by merging her idiosyncratic vocal style with swirling, droning guitar effects and lacerating solos that feel dusted with otherworldly magic,” and Paste declared, “If we’re lucky, we are going to hear a lot more artists in the future like Liz Cooper.” Originally from Baltimore and now based in Brooklyn, Cooper has continued to tour consistently since her debut, performing alongside artists such as Dr. Dog, Shakey Graves, Bermuda Triangle, Lord Huron and Phosphorescent as well as special festival performances at Austin City Limits, Newport Folk Festival, BottleRock Music Festival, Lockn’ and more.
Cooper will also continue to tour throughout 2021 including upcoming performances at Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, Railbird Festival, Telluride Blues and Brews, Sea Hear Now Festival and Freakout Festival, with additional headline dates to be announced soon.
Watch the music video for the album’s first single, “Slice of Life,” directed by Daniel Yocum on YouTube.
Aaliyah is the self-titled third and final studio album by the "Queen of Urban Pop." Originally released in 2001 by Blackground Records, the album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 albums chart. Cited by critics as one of the best R&B records of it's time, the album is a reflection of herself as both a young adult and matured vocalist. Standout tracks include "We Need A Resolution," "More Than A Woman," and "Rock The Boat."
Focusing on their craft, staying out of the fray, and holding fast their faith to find new ways to express the discord and delight of being alive, to turn the duality of existence into hymns we can share, Low present HEY WHAT. These ten pieces—each built around their own instantaneous, undeniable hook—are turbocharged by the vivid textures that surround them. The ineable, familiar harmonies of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker break through the chaos like a life raft. Layers of distorted sound accrete with each new verse - building, breaking, colossal then restrained, a solemn vow only whispered. There will be time to unravel and attribute meaning to the music and art of these times, but the creative moment looks FORWARD, with teeth. HEY WHAT is Low's thirteenth full-length release in twenty-seven years, and their third with producer BJ Burton.
CD: $13.95 Buy
I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to the Velvet Underground & Nico, is a contemporary tribute to the Velvets debut, with each of the album’s songs performed by one of the band’s noteworthy artistic descendants. Featured artists include Kurt Vile & the Violators, Sharon Van Etten, Iggy Pop & Matt Sweeney, Michael Stipe, Matt Berninger of The National, Courtney Barnett, King Princess, Fontaines D.C. and more.
Pokey LaFarge’s 7th studio solo album, In the Blossom of Their Shade, showcases the positivity of coming out of the darkness and into the light. When the 2020 global pandemic hit, LaFarge’s rigorous work ethic powered him through the potentially challenging creative period. As days became a couple months, songs blossomed from embryonic ideas into full-formed ones and he was ready to move on, which typified his mindset as a working artist. With this record LaFarge captures the thematic notion of being the perfect summer afternoon soundtrack...the type of music you want to listen to while having a cocktail with your significant other. It makes sense musically as well — LaFarge intentionally crafted songs that created space and have melodies that can glide throughout a composition that’s a far cry from the swing and blues-infused songs of his earlier work. LaFarge is an artist who refuses to rest on his laurels and compromise. He’s always motivated and ready to create. With In the Blossom of Their Shade the album is one of LaFarge’s strongest and most mature efforts to date.
Mute are excited to announce the release of José González’s fourth studio album Local Valley, out September 17th on limited edition indie exclusive green vinyl, black vinyl, CD and digital formats.
Local Valley is a natural continuation of the styles that José has developed over the years both solo and with his band Junip. The album strikes a balance between stripped back arrangements—just Jose’s intimate vocal and exquisite nylon string guitar work—and tracks driven by groovy drum machine loops and other percussive elements.
With songs sung in English, Spanish and Swedish, Local Valley invites us to look beyond our tribal instincts and join together in a more harmonic state. The album explores our shared humanity and the scientific-based existential questions we face together on our quest to understand ourselves and our place in the cosmos.
José González has tallied over 1 billion streams, 150+ licensed TV, film, and video game uses, and has a major presence at radio stations around the globe. This year, he has been selected by National Geographic to be an Earth Day Ambassador alongside Willie Nelson, My Morning Jacket, Yo Yo Ma, and more.
The album cover and physical packaging of Local Valley showcases the beautiful hand drawn artwork of Swedish designer Hannele Fernström.
José plans to tour with Rufus Wainwright in the Fall of 2021.
The album cover you’re looking at might lead you to conclude Charley Crockett is on one hell of a roll. You wouldn’t be wrong. Ten records in six years is some kind of prolific. The latest, a double album, suggests the artist has some songs worth paying attention to. It’s clear that he’s invested as much time in the studio, recording storytelling songs, and making storytelling videos, as he has barnstorming around the United States and Europe playing live shows.
Not bad for a thirty-seven-year-old late bloomer.
Charley Crockett has been a fairly remarkable artist to follow. He’s got a sound. He’s got something to say. He has a look. And there’s a gauzy veil of mystery surrounding him suggesting he knows more than he’s letting on.
All those records in such a short amount of time have come with a “No Two Alike” guarantee, particularly the last three releases: the darkly prescient Welcome to Hard Times; the semi-autobiographical, hard-core country-roots The Valley; and 10 for Slim, his tribute of songs by the obscure and wholly authentic Texas honky-tonk maestro James Hand.
His voice is one-of-a-kind. His distinctive, plaintive vocals crack unapologetically with emotion, and he phrases his lines around the beat like a jazz singer, while he expounds upon personal relationships and the world beyond.
Now comes Charley’s tenth album in his six-year career. In the Crockett tradition, it is as ambitious and ground-breaking as each piece of recorded music he’s put out so far. And it’s not just an album. It’s a double album of Charley Crockett originals, each song going the distance to further define this singer-songwriter-performer-artist who came out of the proverbial nowhere.
Charley has endured the collapse of the recording industry, no money, petty crime, societal ennui, the Covid-19 pandemic, open heart surgery, one-night stands, long distance rides in a van, loud truck stops and diners serving stale lukewarm coffee to get to where he is now.
His reward – and yours – is this collection of Charley Crockett originals.
Sad, uplifting, hard, and sweet, complex and delicate all at once, his songs are like life its ownself, just like the songs’ creator: like nothing you’ve heard or seen before, a genuine Texas original.
JOE NICK PATOSKI
Riddy Arman opens her debut album from La Honda Records with a song called “Spirits, Angels, Or Lies” inspired by the true story of her father’s passing. In the lyrics, she examines the human tendency to interpret the unknown. The story she weaves details the final moments and visual hallucinations experienced when Johnny Cash visited her father on his deathbed. Long-time fans of Arman will recognize the song from her viral performance video, shot by Western AF in a Montana rail link boxcar, where the world was introduced to her distinct, sultry lope.
Against the bucolic and industrial backdrop of the video, Arman is clearly in her element, clad with ranch worn clothing. It is obvious she lives a lifestyle many romanticize, but few truly understand. However, Arman is more than just a cowboy, singing her lonely songs. The chapters of her life so far make for a story much richer than a common western archetype. Unafraid to take new paths, Arman has traveled across the country — from the farmlands of the Midwest to the bustling streets of New York City — writing songs, working as a ranch hand, and practicing an Agrarian lifestyle. It was during her childhood, full of folk and country music, in rural Ohio that she was first drawn to the guitar. Her deep dive into songwriting didn’t happen until her early 20s when she moved to central Virginia to resume her interest in horsemanship and agriculture on a friend’s small farm.
It was there, knee-deep in barn chores, that she found inspiration in female songwriting icons. The quiet isolation led to inspiration and a tangible way to heal through story. “Singing is my meditation, and I learned that in the imagery of Virginia,” Arman says of her growth during that time of her life. “It sets the stage for healing.”
With the encouragement of friend and fellow musician Kiki Cavazos, Arman began to feel more comfortable with a guitar in her hand. They often played together when passing through, and Arman credits Cavazos as her main inspiration. After Virginia, she headed west, taking a job at a farm in California where she spent four years working the land and learning livestock agriculture. In the sunburnt hills of ranch country, Arman fell in love, fell out of love, and found the beginning of her new record. Looking for a change of scenery, she found herself in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where many of the songs that would make up her self-titled debut record first came to life.
In the midst of this intensely creative period, Arman’s close friend overdosed. She headed to New Orleans in the wake of this loss and surrounded herself with the support and inspiration of several of her oldest and dearest friends. While in the Crescent City, Arman often joined her friend Nick Shoulders, playing shows around the Lower 9th Ward and downtown New Orleans. These stints on the stage served to bolster her confidence to perform and became just the catalyst Arman needed to keep going.
As fate would have it, Arman was invited to ranch sit in Montana, where she was contacted by content creators at Western AF at the behest of several New Orleans musicians. Not too long after the unexpected success of her Western AF session, Arman began an intensive six-day recording session at Mississippi Studios in Portland, Oregon. Hopeful, and longing to capture the essence of deeply personal stories from her life, she teamed up with producer Bronson Tew (Dom Flemons, Seratones, Jimbo Mathus) of Dialback Sound and tracked nine songs.
“Recording these songs brought me back to the times that inspired them, but instead of reliving the pain, the studio magic empowered me to overcome it,” Arman says of her experience.
The first song she wrote for the record, “Half a Heart Keychain,” started off as a slow and somber breakup tune. With the help of Tew, the track morphed into a triumphant and transformative anthem for women. Moving forward from some of life’s most painful moments is in many ways the thread that ties each song together. Songwriting became part of Arman’s dialog with life, translating the experiences in not only lyrics, but also performance.
“Most people would try to find a therapist, but at the time that wasn't something that I had access to, so I just started playing music because it was cathartic,” she explains. “It’s very, very meditative for me.”
While tracks like “Half a Heart Keychain” and “Too Late to Write a Love Song” allowed Arman to heal, her debut LP is far from just a breakup album. Her songs are rooted in the poetic imagery of country life, from the beauty of its simplicity to the isolation and loneliness that can often overtake its inhabitants.
“Old Maid’s Draw” is a song about the landscape where Arman has worked, an area mythologized by locals with the tale of a woman who lived alone in the early settling days of Montana. “Problems Of My Own” is rooted in classic country songwriting, exploring the darkness that can lurk within family life. With simple references to classic scenes, such as bacon frying in cast iron pans, the song explores the urge to escape.
Arman’s take on Kris Kristofferson’s beloved classic “Help Me Make It Through The Night” fits perfectly alongside her originals, with her aching vocals at center stage. “Barbed Wire” was written during her time working as a ranch hand and wisely recalls the seclusion and longing that can come while living on the range.
“A lot of folks distract themselves with work. It is a common trait of cowboys and ranchers alike,” Arman says. “In the song ‘Barbed Wire’ the cowboy understands who he is, but not how he relates to other people, so it is easier to be alone.”
Arman herself has chosen to take a different path, embracing isolation and interpreting her life through the rural landscape that adorns her lyrics. With fierce honesty and a voice that immediately commands attention, on her debut record, Riddy Arman has proven herself as much more than a cowboy.
bLOW is Colin Linden’s fourteenth solo album, following the first, Colin Linden Live, by forty years. It is his first electric blues record.
bLOW will bring you to the dance floor, or up your highway speed by ten or fifteen mph, but it’s also worth listening to in a more contemplative way. Most classic blues songs were written by more than one person over more than a few decades, and that’s what gives them their gravity. Colin has steeped himself in this tradition, on advice he got, at age eleven, from Howling Wolf: if you want to play this music, listen to the people I listened to. On 78 records, you might think, but a lot of those old bluesmen were still around in the 1970s, so Colin got to know and learn from Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Muddy Waters, Johnny Shines,Blind John Davis, Son House, and Robert, and Sam Chatmon, who invited him to Mississippi and got him started on his first journey through the South.
A Beautiful Life is the first new music from Heartless Bastards since 2015’s Restless Ones. The album was produced by Kevin Ratterman (Strand Of Oaks, Jim James, White Reaper). Album performers include Andrew Bird on “The River,” Greggory Clifford (White Denim) on drums, Jesse Chandler (Mercury Rev, Midlake) on keys, flute, clarinet; David Pulkingham (Patty Griffin) on guitar, Bo Koster (My Morning Jacket) on keys. The music is a melange of blues rock, rock and singer-songwriter which surround themes about self-love and awareness, mental health, the environment, and consumerism.
GRAMMY-winning UK artist James Blake has announced his first new full-length album in 3 years, Friends That Break Your Heart, due out September 10 via Republic Records and featuring the new single, “Say What You Will.” Blake calls this a concept album and worked closely with artist Miles Johnston to design cover art that is a visual encapsulation of the emotions brought forth throughout the body of work. James Blake has also announced dates for his 2021 Fall Tour. Indie Exclusive Signed CD
Mild High Club makes a long-awaited comeback with Going Going Gone, the band's first solo album since 2016"s cult favorite Skiptracing.
An album that speaks directly to the times we live in, Going Going Gone sees Mild High Club blending the psychedelic pop of earlier albums Skiptracing and Timeline with influences from around the world, especially Brazilian avant-garde music from the '70s and '80s.
Eternal Blue - Spiritbox - After being named among Exclaim!'s New Faves last year, Spiritbox have detailed their debut album. The Victoria, BC-based metal outfit will share Eternal Blue from Rise Records.
The 12-track Eternal Blue includes previously shared singles "Holy Roller," "Constance" and "Circle with Me." "Yellowjacket" boasts a feature from Architects' Sam Carter, while the latest to arrive from the LP, "Secret Garden," can be heard alongside a music video below.
Vocalist Courtney LaPlante said of the song: "I think this is the most scared I've been to put out a song... I want to continue to showcase the fluidity that is inherent in heavy music, and even though this is just one part of a full body of work that may not sound exactly like this song, it is a song that we love and are obsessed with. I celebrate variation."
LaPlante added of Eternal Blue, "I must say that although we never intended to wait so long to do this record, I think it did help the songs become stronger... We have had enough time to release the exact music we would like to put out into the world, with no need to compromise. Every single note and every single syllable is the music that we have always dreamed of making and we are very proud of it."
SPIRITBOX / ETERNAL BLUE
Over the last four decades, Bela Fleck has made a point of boldly going where no banjo player has gone before, a musical journey that has earned him 15 Grammys in nine different fields, including Country, Pop, Jazz, Instrumental, Classical and World Music. But his roots are in bluegrass, and that's where he returns with his first bluegrass tour in 24 years, My Bluegrass Heart. My Bluegrass Heart is the third chapter of a trilogy which began with the 1988 album, Drive, and continued in 1991 with The Bluegrass Sessions. The project features a who's who of some of the greatest instrumentalists in bluegrass music's history alongside some of the best of the new generation of players mandolinists Sam Bush, Sierra Hull, and Chris Thile; fiddlers Michael Cleveland and Stuart Duncan; celebrated multi-instrumentalist Justin Moses, bassists Edgar Meyer and Mark Schatz, and the amazing Bryan Sutton and Molly Tuttle on guitar.