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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Review: Patrick Sweany – That Old Southern Drag

Patrick Sweany: That Old Southern Drag (Nine Mile Records, 2011)

I probably know more about underwater rugby than I know about blues music, but there’s no doubt in my mind that Patrick Sweany’s soulful blues rock is just damn brilliant.  That Old Southern Drag is Patrick’s fifth album. I haven’t heard the earlier ones. A couple of them were produced by Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys and even on the new album some of the songs fall around the same neighbourhood as The Black Keys. However, Patrick’s blues-rock is often more old-fashioned and soul-tinged and therefore someone like James Hunter is a closer match at times. The key thing is the variety. 50’s rock’n’roll, old blues, soul, indie rock and country. It’s all there and everything sounds extremely convincing. Every song is a winner. Check out a couple of samples below and stream the album at Bandcamp or Spotify.

Patrick Sweany Website
Patrick Sweany at Bandcamp

And a big thank you to Now This Sound Is Brave for turning me on to Patrick Sweany.

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Review: The Mommyheads – Delicate Friction

The Mommyheads: Delicate Friction (Dead Frog Records, 2011)

The Mommyheads concert at klubi, Turku has been one of the highlights of the year. They played for a long time and sang so beautifully. I loved it to bits. I’m not as thrilled about their latest album Delicate Friction, because it’s not style-wise totally my kind of stuff. I love their great pop singles, but at times they get a little too ambitious and progressive for my taste.  It didn’t matter at all during the live concert, but at home their music doesn’t completely fall into my comfort zone. As you know, I’m a narrow-minded pop freak who prefers simple things and runs into the corner and yells for mom every time he encounters something that contains more than three chords and has lyrics that aren’t about the girl/boy the character of the song loves, has loved or is dreaming about. This is obviously my own problem and if was an objective rock magazine I would praise their ability to mix Jellyfishque pop music and 70’s prog elements. However, there’s a lot of stuff that I do love. For example that opener I Wanna Stay that reminds me of Jellyfish a bit, the wonderful pop single Another Crowded House, the really beautiful last song Hello Friends and the amazing title track Delicate Friction that contains enough greatness for two or three songs. And even the songs that I don’t love that much as a whole contain some really magical moments, so I do like the album a lot even though it’s not totally my cup of cheese cake.

The Mommyheads Website
The Mommyheads at Facebook

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Review: Buffalo Tom – Skins

Buffalo Tom: Skins (Scrawny Records, 2011)

Some indie veterans should have stayed in the 90’s, because they can’t come up with anything even half as good as back in the day. However, this is not the case with the Buffalo Tom. This legendary indie  rock group continues to impress. Three Easy Pieces was a really good return four years ago and Skins might be even slightly better. Sure there’s a couple of mediocre songs  in here and maybe nothing rises as high as Taillights Fade. But then again. What the hell does. That’s one of the best songs of the 90’s. Skins is a great record full of melodic high-quality alternative rock and especially Guilty Girls and She’s Not Your Thing rank high on my imaginary best songs of the year 2011 list.

Buffalo Tom Website

Listen to Guilty Girls:

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Review: Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – Here We Rest

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit: Here We Rest (Lightning Rod, 2011)

The previous Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit album had 3-4 fantastic songs, but as a whole I didn’t love it that much. This is not the case with Here We Rest. Now Jason gets pretty much everything right and releases an album that is full of wonderful songs. Ok, to me the quality drops a tiny bit after the first six songs, but this is mostly because the first half is perfect and contains pretty much the best music released during the year. This is captivating, soulful and warm american music with insightful lyrics and it proves that Jason Isbell can still write equally great (if not even better) songs than during those years with the Drive-By Truckers. In fact, I think Here We Rest is the best album both Drive-By Truckers or Jason Isbell have released since they parted ways. And yeah, I know, it’s stupid, pointless to even get into that subject. It’s not a damn competition and we are just damn lucky that we have songwriters such as Isbell, Cooley and Hood all continuously writing wonderful songs.

Listen to Alabama Pines:

Jason Isbell Website

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