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Straight No Chaser

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Archive for February, 2011

CD Review – The Builders and the Butchers

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Dead Reckoning

Badman Recording Co.

I recently watched a documentary on Johnny Cash and there were dozens of people interviewed including country rebels Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard. That got me thinking, “Where did all the rebels go?” Now I know. They became The Builders and the Butchers. These four anti-heroes have combined to make music that would make The Highwaymen proud.

On “Rotten to the Core,” the heavy guitar beat cuts to a four-part acappella chorus of “The whole world is rotten to the core.”  “It Came from the Sea” is something that could easily fit on a Decemberists album. (It also doesn’t hurt that lead singer Ryan Sollee sounds very similar to Decemberists front man Colin Meloy.) 

Taking a cue from the recording style of the 1950s and 60s, the group recorded the songs one-at-a-time with little-to-no overdubbing. Each song is like a mini live experience. The best experiences are the pulsating “Cradle on Fire” and the call-and-response of “Family Tree.” 

Rebel rousers who are itching for something to blow up the “alt-country” tag, need to look no further than The Builders and the Butchers latest.

CD Review – Kasey Anderson & the Honkies

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Heart of a Dog

Red River Records

When Kasey Anderson released his last solo album, The Reckoning, his sounds was a brooding roots-rock album that was one of the better roots albums of the year. This time, Anderson did a complete 180 degree turn. He kicked up the sound, added a bunch of friends and made an album that is much more upbeat, rockin’ and down-right fun.

Anderson enlisted bassist Eric Corgan from The Long Winters, guitarist Andrew McKeag (The Long Winters, The Presidents of the United States of America) and drummer Mike Musburger (The Posies, The Fastbacks, The Supersuckers to form “The Honkies” and together, they sound like they have a blast making everything from radio alt-rock (“Exit Ghost”) to rebel country ala Kris Kristofferson (“The Wrong Light”) to the piano-led ballad “Your Side of Town” which sounds like it could have easily fit on any of Anderson’s solo records.

Anderson also has a myriad of guests helping out including The Decemberists’ accordian maistro Jenny Conlee, I Can Lick any SOB in the House’s David Lipkind and Lewi Longmire. The amount of people involved is exponential compared to Anderson’s solo work and it shows. The album is more diversified and rockin’ than any of his previous work. He may not like the tag “alt-country,” but this is where the album fits in. And there is nothing wrong with that.

http://www.kaseyanderson.com

CD Review – Floating Action

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Desert Etiquette

Park the Van Records

Apparently you can combine lo-fi, folk, electronica, and sitar together to make something good. Floating Action’s third album begins with all of that and then elaborates from there. The tribal beat of “Well Hidden” is dotted with bits of sitar and swells that would make Band of Horses proud. Ironic? Only after you find out that Band of Horses bassist Bill Reynolds mixed the album. So this must make him proud.

Floating Action is Seth Kaufmann. He wrote, recorded, performed and produced the entire record on his own. Whether it’s the instantly memorable surf-guitar touched ballad “The Balance” or the refreshing 50’s troubadour sounding “Rincon,” Floating Action has a feeling of familiarity about it. These songs are new, but they seem like tracks that you haven’t heard in years. Floating Action’s third album is perfect for those who are on a long drive to nowhere looking for something that will take your mind off the desolation you’re driving through.

http://www.floatingaction.com