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Various Bluegrass, Blues and Jazz Albums

Review By Steven Stone
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The Band of Heathens The Band of Heathens

The Band of Heathens purposefully cultivates rough-hewn musical identity. Their music balances on a knifepoint edge between studio-slick and devil-may-care sloppiness. With equal parts southern rock, 50's RB, and Louisiana swamp-rock wrapped in a punkish swagger, they conjure up a musical gumbo best described as post-modern roadhouse roots rock. Produced by Texas legend Ray Wylie Hubbard and with cameos by Stephen Bruton, GurfMorlix and Patty Griffin, this debut album establishes the band as a the next big thing from Austin. 

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Caroline Herring Lantana

Caroline Herring's Southern Gothic music will grab you by the end of the first line of her opening song. Her quiet intensity is a throwback to the halcyon days of the mid-sixties folk explosion. With original songs that float ethereally on a bed of carefully recorded acoustic guitars, courtesy of her longtime producer, Rich Brotherton, Herring creates a musical landscape full of dark spaces, bittersweet images, and otherworldly moments.   

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Interstate Cowboy There's a Road

With their funky oversized cowboy hats you might think that Interstate Cowboy is merely another traditional Western Swing band, but it ain't. Tim Champlin's original songs' hypnotic melodic swagger leaves you in musically uncharted territory located halfway between country and surf music. Guitar whiz Grant Gordy's phantasmagorical lead guitar solos combine with veteran steel player Dick Meis' floating melodic filigrees to create musical juxtapositions unlike anything you'll hear elsewhere. Their version of "Lady Be Good" kills. There's a Road has some wild, wonderful stuff.

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The Wilders Someone's Got To Pay

You want energy? The Wilders deliver old-timey/roots rock with a Bacchanalian frenzy that would leave Pan feeling queasy. These hillbilly wild men delight in playing "heinous fiddle tunes" and "whatever we want" with the fervor of men possessed. All but one of the tunes here are newly penned, but they all have a antique flavor that conjures up images of Model T's rattling down dusty roads ten miles over the speed limit driven by drunken rednecks.

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Rain Perry Cinderblock Bookshelves

Rain Perry's guileless lyrics and infectious melodies remind me of Dar Williams' best work. But Rain's songs are more adult and less cutsey. Her song "Yosemite" won the John Lennon songwriting contest. One listen and you'll understand why. It's a powerful tune. Produced by Mark Hallman, who worked with Carole King and AniDiFranco, the arrangements on Cinderblock Bookshelves add just the right organic ornamentations to the songs without drawing attention away from their innate power.

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