Tag: Americana

1993, Music

August and Everything After (1993) by Counting Crows

I was talking to a guest of the podcast a few episodes ago and I described how my “alternative” junior high school had been just full of alternative rock, pardon the pun, even though I was firmly into “oldies.” I mentioned the grunge usual suspects, which I do remember hearing for the first time at …

1988, Music

Lucinda Williams (1988)

I was going to say that there’s something about a debut that tempers my expectations in a way that doesn’t happen with other albums. But this record wasn’t her debut; I hadn’t realized she put out two records way, way earlier, in 1979 and 1980. So I guess the positive spin on this is that …

1993, Music

Fuzzy (1993) by Grant Lee Buffalo

I decided to talk about this record, rather than any number of other records from 1988 and 1993, in part because Michael Stipe once claimed it was the best album of 1993. Now, I don’t necessarily share musical states with the lead singer of REM, but I do feel like he had an important role, …

1987, Music

At My Window (1987) by Townes Van Zandt

Though I know of the legend of Townes, I’ve seen the documentary and I’ve heard a fair number of songs through covers, this is only the second album of his I’ve ever managed to get to. And so I cannot evaluate it against his other records,except for the one I’ve heard. That one, his debut, …

1997, Music

Joya (1997) by Will Oldham

Though I have heard far from all – not even half – of Will Olham’s music, I think it’s safe to say that Oldham is one of my favourite songwriters to debut in the 1990s. He may be my favourite. Something about his lyrics connect we me, even though I don’t always recognize his situations, …

1987, Music

Robbie Robertson (1987)

When I was growing up my dad had a Robbie Robertson album, I don’t remember which one. When I discovered the Band, I had a hard time reconciling the memories I had of his solo music with The Band’s music – they seem to have been made by two totally different people, or at least …

1972, Music

American Gothic (1972) by David Ackles

Ackles has a really idiosyncratic style, combining the confessional storytelling of other songwriters of his era with a huge does of musical theatre, particularly cabaret and American musicals, with borderline novelistic lyrics. It’s a weird amalgam that mostly doesn’t just work but wows.

1991, Music

Still Feel Gone (1991) by Uncle Tupelo

Before Uncle Tupelo, I feel like alt country (such as it was) was so much cleaner. Despite the ostensible punk influence on the genre, the alt country records I’ve heard from the last 80s are all pretty much straight up country rock. There’s more of an edge here, even if it isn’t much of one …

2003, Music

Dragging Wonder Lake (2003) by Janet Bean and the Concertina Wire

The debut solo (and only?) album by the drummer/occasional songwriter of Eleventh Dream Day is better than I ever would have imagined. This is a really solid set of songs (including two good cover choices) draped in a classic Americana/country rock sound (shockingly produced by the leader of Tortoise?!?!). Though the covers maybe reveal Bean …

2009, Music

Townes (2009) by Steve Earle

I can’t say that I am much of a fan of Steve Earle at this point, as most of his stuff I’ve heard I’ve found underwhelming. And I can’t say I am much of a fan of Townes Van Zandt either; the only album of his I’ve ever heard was horribly – perhaps even offensively …

2010, Music

National Ransom by Elvis Costello (Hear 2010)

Costello seems to be attempting a similar project to Dylan at this stage, but unlike Dylan Costello is writing his own songs instead of reinventing old ones and pretending they’re his own. It’s not as raw as Dylan’s stuff, obviously, but it still involves sort of a genre cherry pick of traditional American music styles. …

2007, Music

My Name is Buddy by Ry Cooder (Nonesuch 2007)

Cooder is trying to do the same thing here he did with Chavez Ravine only with new (but related) subject matter and this time his main sources are American folk-based (though like with Chavez there are loads of genres at play). I find this slightly less effective if only because of the cat conceit. I …

2007, Music

Invitation Songs by the Cave Singers (Matador 2007)

So it took me a while to get into this. The lead singer sounds a little bit like he is trying to be a country-ish young Lou Reed (you know, the guy you hear on those early Velvets demos). And the affectation (can I really believe he sound like this when he speaks?) is fucking …

2006, Music

Fox Confessor Brings the Flood by Neko Case (Mint 2006)

The songs take some time to grow on you, but this is because they’re not exactly conventional in structure. And the hooks are subtle. I like subtle. Her voice is fantastic and the backing musicians are uniformly good. I haven’t yet come to the point where I would regard this as any kind of masterpiece, …