Friday, April 24, 2015

DK and the Joy Machine -- Shy One

I'm not sure how many more times I can tell you that Karen and the Sorrows' Queer Country Monthly showcase is one of the best things to do in New York City. The sense of community is palpable and wonderful. There's nothing better than a late night set where everyone knows each other, and you're all caught up in the music.

One of the biggest contributors to QCM is DK and the Joy Machine (otherwise known as a dulcimer.) (Incidentally, you should check out her monthly Songbird Series.) DK's songs are delightfully eclectic -- swinging from love songs to feral cats, love songs to feral women, traditional folk, punk (yes, on the dulcimer), and poetry by William Butler Yeats. It all hangs together on DK's wry sense of humor and crooked smile.

DK usually performs by herself at QCM, so I enjoyed hearing a band flesh out her sound on the album. It's especially vivid on "Four Walls" and "Lay Me Down Easy." DK's isolation stands out in stark contrast to the soundscape that softens the least a little bit. These emotional crests are softened by sillier songs like "Stay Cool" and "Fuck You, Dad!" It's a collection of great music. Aaaaaaaaaand if you're in New York you can hear it all live at DK's release party on Monday, April 27th at 7 at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 3. (Order your tickets now because that room is itty bitty!)

DK and the Joy Machine -- Official, Facebook, CDBaby

Also win some free music from Anielle Reid here! Today is the last day to enter!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Pops Staples -- Don't Lose This

The backstory for Pops Staples' posthumous release is almost as interesting as the album itself. To be honest, I only really knew about -- and appreciated -- Mavis Staples with her "comeback" album You Are Not Alone. (My parents pretty much only listened to the Beatles. No R&B for me.) But I know her main body of work was created with her father and siblings as the Staples Singers. Don't Lose This was the last album Pops recorded. Recently, Staples unearthed the masters with her longtime collaborator Jeff Tweedy to finish the album, adding rhythm guitar, vocals, drums, and bass.

The album itself is a treat to listen to. Tweedy kept the arrangements sparse, featuring Pops' vocals and guitars. However, it's easy to tell which parts were laid down after the fact. I don't think this is a bad thing, though -- it gives Pops' warnings against temptation a ghostly, ethereal quality that makes them all the more meaningful. The man lived a long and storied life -- he speaks with authority about the bad times and about the strength and faith you need to get you out of it.

Pops Staples -- Official Page on Anti- Records, Purchase from Anti-, Spotify, iTunes, Amazon

And get some free music from future living legend Anielle Reid here!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Whiskey Charmers -- The Whiskey Charmers

A while back I directed you to the Whiskey Charmers' Kickstarter page. If you're one of the people who was kind enough to donate, then you', you lucky duck, already have had a chance to hear the band's debut album.

One of the reviews on the Bandcamp page describes the album as "Lucinda on LSD." That's pretty apt. Carrie Shepard's sultry voice ripples over forlorn steel guitars and mystical lyrics about bedding vampires and sending chain-bound ghosts to the great beyond. It's not all Southern gothic, though. "C Blues" will tickle that deep-seated part of the brain that loves pentatonic scales, and "Sidewinder" is a treat on its own. The Whiskey Charmers bring a fresh take to the more melancholy side of alt-country, and they do a damn good job.


The Whiskey Charmers -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

Want some free music? Check out our giveaway here

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

FREE MUSIC: Joplin Rice -- Low Hum

If you want a splash of pop with your melancholy, Joplin Rice's Low Hum is the perfect cocktail for you. Rice's sunbathed, dreamy melodies just barely hide the acid bite of his lyrics. The opener "Arrow" kicks off the tone:

i made a million things last week & i love them
but no one can ever touch them
i'm not leaving here soon
but loneliness don't call from this room

There isn't a song here that doesn't operate that way. But sometimes Rice's songs are less a blunt tool and more a twist of the knife. It's easy to bliss out on the innocuousness of the music, but there's always something that reminds you: the world's not such a great place.

everything is fair
everyone can change
you're wasting all your time
dying inside
& no one even cares

it has to be the cold
driving you insane
just wait until the spring
& you'll be smiling
& nobody will know

everything is fair
everyone can change
you're wasting all your time
dying inside
& no one even cares

Maybe Rice finds solace in his music. I know I feel at peace listening to it, in spite of the subject matter. The album was released through Practice Tape Records, the official record label of one of my favorite blogs, the modern folk music of america. (A blog that has its own record label? Hmmmm...) You can name your press for the digital version on Bandcamp, or score a cassette if you're a hipster like that.

Joplin Rice -- Facebook, Bandcamp

Want more free music? Enter to win Anielle Reid's new album here!

Monday, April 20, 2015

MUSIC GIVEAWAY: Anielle Reid -- Ain't Like 'Em

Overall, the banjo is a severely underrated instrument. At last night's Queer Country Monthly, I had the pleasure of watching AJ Lewis tear it up. But those were old time-y songs. Anielle Reid, on the other hand, has found the sweet spot between old-time sounds, indie folk, pop, and R&B and has charted a course for where the banjo can (and should) go.

Reid's quick-witted songwriting sensibility and velvety voice reveal an artist who understands her path and knows exactly where she intends to go. Reid's not necessarily interested in overturning preconceptions about any of the genres she summons forth. My favorite song, "Secrets," is a fun, seductive tune of self-recrimination. It also reminded me of this Amy Schumer sketch (NQuiteSFW -- includes some gore). Instead, it's the best way for her to express her worldview. Ultimately, it's quietly revolutionary music that makes for great listening.

Anielle's giving away a free copy of the album. If you're interested, please leave a comment with your favorite banjo song below! It goes without saying that you should sign in with your e-mail address. I'll randomly select the winner on Friday and get in touch with you!

Anielle Reid -- Official, Facebook, Name your price on her site

Thursday, April 16, 2015

VIDEO: Jeffrey Martin -- "Newborn Thing"

Jeffrey Martin impressed me a few months ago with his album Dogs in the Daytime. Here's the accompanying music video for his observational ballad "Newborn Thing." If you dig archival footage of train tracks, this is the perfect music video for you.

Jeffrey Martin -- Official, Purchase

VIDEO: Saint Agnes -- A Beautiful Day for Murder

Gothic blues duo Saint Agnes has another song to share. I dig the ominous beat in the background and Pixies-inflected guitar fills.

Saint Agnes -- Official, Facebook, Soundcloud, iTunes