Rock Water Cooler – Things to talk about to appear really smart…. Top 10 – This week’s Americana chart
1 ROBERT PLANT Band of Joy
2 RYAN BINGHAM & THE DEAD HORSES Junky Star
3 RAY LAMONTAGNE & THE PARIAH DOGS God Willin’ & The Creek Don’t Rise
4 JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE Harlem River Blues
5 MARTY STUART Studio B Sessions
6 LOS LOBOS Tin Can Trust
7 MAVIS STAPLES You Are Not Alone
8 OLD 97S The Grand Theatre
9 JOHN MELLENCAMP No Better Than This
10 KIM RICHEY Wreck Your Wheels
There’s three impressive album releases of Americana music this week. Jamey Johnson has the most ambitious offering – a double-disc CD garnering triumphant reviews – and it is primed to make him a reluctant country music (and more) superstar. Robert Plant follows his Raising Sand masterpiece with a solo record, aided by Americana guitarist/singer/songwriter Buddy Miller. Justin Townes Earle continues to build a career worthy of the Earle name, and may have the most accessible, joyous record of the three. It’s a warm, retro sound for his third album of literate country, folk and rock music.
Jamey Johnson – The Guitar Song Review: “It’s a stunning, varied and far-reaching set of 25 hardcore country songs, sonically and thematically integrated into a musical journey designed to be experienced, optimally, in sequence, from the first, generally darker “Black” disc on through the more upbeat sounds of hard-won redemption in the second “White” disc. It’s a country album, and one as ambitious in its intentions and successful in its execution as country music has seen in decades, able to hold its own with albums conceived as such by Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash.” – Wall Street Journal Read full review at WSJ.com Great in-depth piece with Johnson from Peter Copper from tennessean.com
Justin Townes Earle – Harlem River Blues Review: “The album offers an impressive variety of styles. While the title track sounds like gospel music that’s been kicked in the backside by Elvis, Earle follows it with what might initially seem like the standard “I’ve lost my love and I’m sad” kind of ballad. But it’s really a metaphoric slap in the face — a call to stop wasting time with those who aren’t willing to give us what we want or need.” – NPR Read full review at NPR Hear the album via NPR Lengthy, revealing interview from Michigan’s mlive.com
Robert Plant – Band Of Joy Review: “Three years after Raising Sand, his collaboration with country diva Alison Krauss, Robert Plant shuffles a little more in the direction of his beloved gospel-soul-blues with this album, named after his first band. Read what you like into that fact, but the 62-year-old is carving out a future rather than recalling the past with this intense, challenging and frequently brilliant collection. If Krauss’s crystalline voice and T-Bone Burnett’s production were key last time, then guitarist and co-producer Buddy Miller is the main man here. But the band has many strengths, including the remarkable Patty Griffin on vocals.” – Irish Times Read full review at IT Former Rolling Stone writer Alan Light’s interview with Plant in NYTimes
American Aquarium has a new record, as the North Carolina band has released Small Town Hymns. It follows 2009’s Dances for the Lonely . The Whiskeytown connections continue on the new album, which finds Caitlin Cary returning for backup vocals. North Carolina has produced some damn fine alt-country/Americana bands (or key members of those bands) recently – Truth & Salvage Co., Old Crow Medicine Show, Ryan Adams, and bands like the Flat Duo Jets and Southern Culture on the Skids made the Chapel Hill scene worthwhile in the 80’s. American Aquarium is one to check out.
Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett revealed details of a new band, The Dead Peasants, on his website. He’s got them playing Americana and classic country. Look for the band’s debut on July 12. The debut album was recorded in Foo Fighters’ California Studio 606 over December and January, and features the Mavericks’ guitarist Eddie Perez. Added Note: Shiflett (and his brother Scott) are members of the quirky cover band Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. “One of my favourite kinds of music is old country and old rockabilly and modern Americana like Son Volt, Wilco and Ryan Adams, I love all that stuff,” Shiflett told the NME.