Review: Shotgun Jimmie – Transistor Sister

Shotgun Jimmie: Transistor Sister (You’ve Changed Records, 2011)

I often praise only the 90’s power pop groups, but those indie rockers like Pavement, Sebadoh, Guided By Voices did some equally great things back then. Shotgun Jimmie from Canada and his new album Transistor Sister brings to mind some of those north american indie rock heroes from the 90’s. The album is filled with short, quirky and extremely enjoyable indie rock songs that make you smile. It’s got some really fantastic songs like Suzy that ranks among the very best songs of the year 2011 and the title track Transistor Sister. The only minor problems that I have with the album are that a) those less than a minute long soundscapes seem rather pointless and almost annoying b) the album feels a little front-loaded. With some minor editing, this would have a been a five hearts mini-album.

The great openening track Late Last Year:

Wonderful music video One Trick Pony (this is from an earlier EP though, it’s not on the new record):

Shotgun Jimmie Website

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Album of the Month: Dawes – Nothing Is Wrong

Dawes: Nothing Is Wrong (ATO, 2011)

Oh my. Time Spent In Los Angeles and If I Wanted Someone. That’s one hell of a way to start an album. Two songs that both easily qualify to the “hey, this must the best song ever” -category. At first, it almost seemed like those two songs are just too damn brilliant and the rest of the album just can’t live up to them. Thankfully, this is not the case and the rest of the album is also mostly stunning even though those two beauties remain as my biggest love affairs.

Dawes’ debut album North Hills already featured on onechord.net’s best albums of the year 2009 list, but Paste’s wonderful live premiere of this second album Nothing is Wrong was the final eye opener. After watching them play Time Spent in Los Angeles I was already completely in love with them, bought the album the next day and since I’ve been shouting their name from the rooftops.  Of course, I had been following them since the debut, but before Nothing Is Wrong they were still just another really great band. Now they are a huge favourite of mine. During the recent years, hardly anyone has created something equally brilliant from the 70’s folk rock and California sound influences as Dawes does on Nothing Is Wrong. Pretty much only Beachwood Sparks comes to mind right now, but it’s already eleven years from their amazing debut. While Beachwood Sparks flavored their west coast cake with psychedelic things, Dawes’ other main ingredients would be closer to soulful americana.. and the shelf that contains soft rock albums and even 70’s am pop singles is also within reach. The frontman Taylor Goldsmith is an excellent songwriter and I love his mellow voice. Oh and the harmonies are gold throughout the record. Jackson Browne and Benmont Tench make guest appearances on the album and it would be hard to picture anyone more suited for the job.

I kind of understand if someone thinks Dawes’ mellow folk rock is just indifferent and pleasant background music, but I could never feel the same. This is extremely close to perfection in my book.  There are a couple of songs that are nothing that special, but in the end, I love the album so much that giving anything other than full five hearts would feel more painful than watching a Steven Seagal movie marathon.

Time Spent In Los Angeles – Live in the Bing Lounge:

If I Wanted Someone – Live in an alley:

Dawes Website

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Review: Hezekiah Jones – Have You Seen Our New Fort?

Hezekiah Jones: Have You Seen Our New Fort? (Yer Bird Records, 2011)

Lately I’ve been getting more and more addicted to Hezekiah Jones. It’s a Philly-based folk collective led by Raphael Cutrufello. Their latest album Have You Seen Our New Fort? came out a couple of months ago on one of the best labels there is Yer Bird Records. They don’t have the financial muscle to release a huge amount of stuff, but each and every release is like a handpicked little treasure.

Hezekiah Jones have more instruments and more people than I can name and that could lead to a horrible mess, but that is not the case, because they are all there for the sake of the song. Have You Seen Our New Fort? is definitely another little treasure and contains beautifully arranged alternative folk music. My favourites are the beautiful and slow folk tunes like Lift The Shadow From This Heart and The Last Parade On Ann St that somehow brings to mind another album that I really love, Norfolk & Western’s Dusk In Cold Parlours. It’s all pretty fabulous (apart from Some Things To Help You maybe) and makes you wonder why such a talented guy like Raphael Cutrufello is still relatively unknown. Hopefully this new interest towards folk music means that wonderful folk musicians like Chris Bathgate and Raphael Cutrufello will soon get the recognition they really deserve.

Listen to Lift The Shadow From This Heart:

Listen to a absolutely stunning new song Borrowed Heart

Hezekiah Jones at Facebook

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