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Saturday 29 October 2011

ReviewShine Round-Up

What with moving house, going on holiday and assorted technical problems it has been a couple of months since the last round-up of some of the albums I get sent via ReviewShine. Which means that my standard apologies - to the artists I have not been able to feature, and to you for not being able to feature them - are even more sincerely meant than usual.

Here is a taster from seven of the best. I would encourage you to check them all out further.

First up are Some Velvet Evening, a duo from Detroit better known to their friends and families as Carrie Shepard and John Holk. With a name like Some Velvet Evening they are presumably trying to evoke the spirit of Lee Hazlewood, but to me they are more of a mixture of traditional honky-tonk and a Laura Cantrell sound (particularly strong on the track I have chosen) - which makes for a pretty good combination. Their album is called "No Law Against Talking" and it is out now on Hole-Key Records.

"Springtime" - Some Velvet Evening

If you take the same formula but mix in some Neil Young to give things a draker edge, then you would not be a million miles away from the sound of Boca Chica. A Pittsburgh combo led by the clearly very talented Hallie Pritts, their third album "Get Out Of Sin City" comes out on 15 November. Independently released in the US, it will also be issued by Indiecater Records in Ireland. The Irish know a thing or two about country music and singer-songwriters, and they have picked another winner here.

"Cowboy Hat" - Boca Chica

Next up is Leslie Krafka, whose self-released "The White Cat Sessions" I am featuring for two reasons. Firstly, her sister has exactly the same name as me ("Ernie" in her case presumably being short for Ernestina). Secondly, and much more importantly, it is a bloody good record. Leslie is based in Houston and has been featured at the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival amongst others. This is her first album, and hopefully the first of many.

"A Little White Lie" - Leslie Krafka

Now I realise that we at 27 Leggies are in no position to criticise anyone for having a silly name, but could I just say to Sinful Savage Tigers: lads, have a think about the name. I nearly passed on their album "Last Night Of The Revels" because I assumed it was going to be some dreadful "comedy country" album. Which would have been a real shame because there is some great stuff there. They describe themselves as an "art-first pop string band". I have no idea what that means, but if you like country mixed with a bit of folk and bluegrass you might well like this. The album is available from as well as the usual outlets

"End Of The Horse Drawn Zeppelin" - Sinful Savage Tigers

This next one is a bit of a cheat. Willie Nile is hardly a new name - his first album came out thirty years ago - and "The Innocent Ones" isn't really a new record, having first been released last year. But it is getting its first official release in the US next month and that is a good enough excuse for me. Those of you who know Willie will know what to expect - perceptive and powerful stuff from the same school as Springsteen, Steve Forbert and Graham Parker. Those of you who don't are going to like him a lot.

"Far Green Hills" - Willie Nile

This next one is also a bit of a cheat, because it is an album I got sent back in June and forgot to share with you then. It is England's own Mr. Plow with "Joyful In Song Are We" which came out on PinkBox Records way back when. It is a lazy comparison to say his sound is a mixture of Nick Cave and Johnny Cash, but it is a comparison everyone else has made so I will too. I would add that it is proper "boom-chicka-boom" era Johnny Cash here, not the American Recordings version. As you can tell from this track.

"I Am The Boss Man" - Mr Plow

Mr Plow sets us up nicely for the other big name act in this selection, Southern Culture On The Skids. If you ever get the chance to see them live you should take it. They are the only band I have ever seen that called women onto the stage and got them to hurl pieces of fried chicken into the audience while at the same time doing the shimmy (or it may have been the frug or the jerk - I was too busy dodging flying chicken to be sure).

Their new album, "Zombified", is even less new than Willie Nile or Mr Plow. Most of the tracks were originally released in Australia in 1998, but they have added some new songs and put them all out on Kudzu Records just in time for Halloween. To get you in the mood, here is the title track.

"Zombified" - Southern Culture On The Skids

SCOTS are also responsible for one of the greatest party songs ever made. This one. With the mariachi band and the Raul Malo lookalike on accordion it is everything "Dance The Night Away" should have been.

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