Posts Tagged ‘Arizona’

There is an amalgam of young female singer-songwriters these days, but every now and then another one pops up that you really don’t want to miss, which is absolutely true of Danielle Durack After hearing her new album I was sold Danielle Durack’s “No Place”. It’s a great performance by the young singer-songwriter from Phoenix, Arizona, because there has been quite a bit of appeared in this genre in recent years and the bar is now anxiously high. As far as I’m concerned, No Place by Danielle Durack is easy to distinguish from everything that’s already there. She has a very pleasant voice, she colours her Americana pop songs in a beautiful but also special way, she can play in several genres and also writes personal lyrics that are packed into appealing songs. 

No Place is the third album by this Danielle Durack, “Mistakes”, the album’s opening track, only lasts just a minute, but it’s a minute that immediately convinced me of the talent of the young American musician. It is a track with some sober, but also beautiful and special sounding guitar chords, a beautiful clear voice with a gently raw edge and a slightly southern tongue trap, choruses consisting of several layers of this voice and in the text the announcement of a breakup album.

They are ingredients that all return to the rest of the album, although most of the songs on the album are much fuller than the opening track. Danielle Durack joins a big pile of albums of ilk with No Place, of whom I would at least mention Phoebe Bridgers.  The instrumentation on the album stands out when listening to No Place, with influences from the folk, country, pop and rock. It is an instrumentation that not only sounds dark, but also a bit sweltering and adventurous.

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It’s  a surprisingly versatile album that is also full of excellent songs. They are songs with a love break as a central theme, which makes No Place a personal album, but Danielle Durack certainly doesn’t make it an overly depressed album.
Danielle Durack pays for her modest musician existence with a job in a pizzeria. Surely that’s got to change very quickly. 

Thanks to De krenten uit de pop

Tucson, Arizona interdisciplinary artist Karima Walker walks a line between two worlds. Aside from her long resume of collaborative work with artists in the diverse fields of dance, sculpture, film, photography and creative non-fiction, Walker has long nurtured a duality within her work as a musician, developing her own sonic language as a sound designer in tandem with her craft as a singer/songwriter. The polarity within Walker’s music has never been so articulately explored, or graced with as much intention, as on her new album, “Waking the Dreaming Body”.

Waking the Dreaming Body was written, performed and engineered entirely by Walker, with the exception of some subtle upright bass from C.J. Boyd on the song “Window I.” Producing the album on her own wasn’t Walker’s original intention, though; after flying to New York in November 2019 to develop some home-recorded tracks with The Blow’s Melissa Dyne, a sudden illness forced Walker to cancel the sessions and return home to Tucson to recover, and soon after, the COVID-19 pandemic ruled out the possibility of a return trip to New York. Instead, Walker decided to finish the album herself in her makeshift home studio. She spent the following months recording, processing and arranging her self-described “messy Ableton sessions” into densely harmonic arrangements of synthesizer, guitar, piano, percussion, field recordings, tape loops and her own dulcet singing voice, allowing trial, error and intuition to guide her way. The final result is a 40-minute dream-narrative of her conscious and subconscious minds that oscillates between the rich textures of her ambient compositions (as in the instrumentals “Horizon, Harbor Resonance” and “For Heddi”) and the melody and poetry of her melancholic, Americana-tinged song writing (as in the lyrics-focused tracks “Reconstellated” and “Waking the Dreaming Body”), their ebb and flow recalling liminal states of half-sleep where images and emotions are recalled and forecasted from the previous night’s dreams. Night falls in regular intervals throughout the album, forming a natural dialogue between waking and dreaming.

Walker explains:

“I wanted these songs to stand alone as complete worlds, and this required a shift in my usual way of writing. I found myself trying to escape from an excess of interiority by exploring outward, by thinking about the mirroring that happens when you seek connection to others and to the natural world—when you try to bring the outside in. I sought to make arrangements that swell at certain moments and barely hold together at others, moving with my breath and other rhythms connecting my body to the natural world. Ultimately, I was seeking to draw myself out, to reconstruct my personal narrative.”

“I see myself as an in between person I guess,” Walker continues. “Though I haven’t very explicitly brought my own personal history into my music, I think it’s there, and it continues to show up in its own ways and time. I am Arab, half North African/Tunisian on my mother’s side, but was raised in a very white context, with a lot of white passing privilege, especially as I’ve gotten older. But my journey into making music was so different. I kept falling in love with musicians and artists for a while before I realized that maybe I wanted to be so close to these people because they were doing something that resonated deeply in me. So there’s a way in which making music has been a way for me to overcome divides that I couldn’t quite articulate in other ways.

“Waking the Dreaming Body” is out February 26th, 2021 on Keeled Scales / Orindal Records

All songs written, performed, mixed & produced by Karima Walker

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From rural Casa Grande, Arizona, Joy Oladokun is the daughter of two Nigerian immigrants. Weekend concert binge-watching with her older sisters inspired her love for music. At 10, she heard Tracy Chapman solo with guitar in hand, which prompted her to pick one up herself. She pursued her path to LA to make music and then wound up in East Nashville, finding common ground among the creative community. From quarantine isolation, Oladokun released her latest album, “in defense of my own happiness (vol. 1)”, an examination of emotion and empathy. The album features a song for the Black Lives Matter movement, co-written with Natalie Hemby, “Who Do I Turn To?” and another one railing against systemic racism, “I See America.” As she finds her footing in a Southern city as a Black queer folkie, Oladokun is a fierce voice demanding equality. 

“if you got a problem” streaming everywhere now

It’s the era of grunge. ‘Smells like Teen Spirit’ and its accompanying video clip is a revealing slice of high school unconfidential. Tattoos and tantrums, guitars set to overload, America is all about Seattle’s rainy realism. It’s 1992. Nothing will ever be the same again. Further South, the heat is on. Rainer Ptacek’s debut solo album was released – he’d already dallied with Das Combo and impressed both ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and Kurt Loder at Rolling Stone – “Quite delightfully rough but well worth hearing.” Alone, maybe a little lost. Rainer is soaked in the blues. Dripping with aching emotion.

“It was recorded in two days in a shed under the blazing sun of the Arizona desert, featuring nothing but Rainer´s voice and 1933 National Steel guitar, it is an album of intimate, slow-burning intensity,” exclaimed the Tuscon Citizen. “He applies the methods of Robert Johnson or Skip James to modern times, exhibiting a dedication to the archaic that renders the usual questions of white-boy blues authenticity quite meaningless,“ reasoned The Independent.

“His touch is eerily authentic: a finger-picking country blues style that clanks and drifts out of time, intercut with a steel tube glissandi that soars like hope on the wings of a dove,” shrieked The Times.

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It’s a million miles from Seattle. There’s no streetwise bravado, ‘Worried Spirits’ is all about life’s raw and rough experiences and what’s spat out the other side. ‘It’s A Long Way (To The Top Of The World)’ is a dead ringer for Ry Cooder circa ‘Boomer’s Story’ or ‘Into The Purple Valley’, and ‘Waves Of Sorrow’ does exactly what it says on the can – it’s a tearjerker that broods magnificently.

“He’s capable of reviving the archaic spirit of Bukka White and Son House with just the help of his reso-phonic National Steel, Rainer Ptacek must be remembered not only for his frisky rockabilly déjà-vu performed with the so called Das Combo, but mainly for ‘Worried Spirits’ (’92) and Nocturnes (’95): two blues gems, one of the best example of blues in the ‘90ss, lyric, harrowing and definitive like only a few other artist of the period could sound,” added No Depression magazine some years later.

“The highlight is a setting of Langston Hughes´s poem `Life Is Fine´, so harrowing that it´s fully five seconds after the last note dies away that you dare draw another breath,” gasped Mat Snow in Q magazine.

That interplay of Rainer’s soulful guitar and Hughes’ keenly observed words make for fine if abrasive bedfellows.

`Worried Spirits´ is parched and beautiful – the true song of the desert,” concluded The Independent on Sunday.

Now with 14 out-takes and alternative versions, some 25 years later and 20 years since Rainer’s untimely death, ‘Worried Spirits’ still rattles and distorts, it hums with a strange intensity, like it’s held together with those steel strings alone. 

Originally released November 17th, 2017

Old Flowers

On her third album for both Fat Possum and Loose Records, Courtney Marie Andrews has pulled in to one package all the song-writing skill, vocal prowess, and musicianship displayed on previous albums, into one career defining statement. A break-up record for sure, though due to Courtney’s extraordinary storytelling gifts, more of a modern day
coming-of-age tale of love won, love sustained, and unfortunately, love’s inevitable dissolution.

To celebrate, I’d like to share some personal sentiments regarding these songs…on ‘Old Flowers’:

You can’t water old flowers. Yes, you fall in love, you make mistakes, and so do they. You run through blackberry fields in the summer of your youth, dream in passenger seats gazing past towns and fields, imagining a future life where everything works out. I fell head over heels in love at nineteen. The kind of love where you call up your best friend and say, “I think I’ve found my soulmate.” The pull towards that first true love is strong. It consumes you, makes you question your own dreams.

We taught each other, grew up together, we were family. We fit just right, for a time. Then one day, after a long and rocky nine-year road, life changed and became a complicated mess too hard to untangle. We couldn’t get our love back, no matter how many dreams that shadowed this hard truth. We grew resentful, selfish, harbouring past mistakes and holding them up like armour from every blow. We grew up and our paths diverted.

On New Year’s Day, 2018, a great horned owl dropped dead at my exes’ feet in my mother’s yard. It felt like a daunting omen, ushering on change for the both of us. We were distraught. We couldn’t afford the taxidermy, so we placed it in a big blue plastic garbage bin. Now it felt so cheap, that mystic creature in a plastic coffin. That’s how love feels sometimes – like we don’t serve it the ending it deserves.

The omen was true. That year, I started to see the woman I could be, the woman I wasn’t yet. Anytime I felt like myself, I was alone and wandering, and I knew that was a sign that it was time for change. New Year’s Day 2019, I said goodbye to my first true love and moved across the country. Losing someone you spend every day for nearly a decade with is intense. We talked in our dreams. I knew where he was, even before I entered a place. He’d always be there if I had a feeling. Humans are connected in unexplainable ways.

I was writing a lot after we broke up as a healing technique, preserving each memory like an emotional archaeologist. Late one night, I woke up from a dream where I was searching for him, my ex, at a carnival. It was so vivid. I woke myself up to write a song on my piano. The next morning, he reached out to me for the first time in months. We went out, had a drink, caught up, and he told me that the hardest part about our separation was a reoccurring nightmare where he searched for me at a carnival. In that moment, I knew, humans have ways of connecting beyond words and touch. I truly believe that. We had the same dream, without seeing each other for months.

Even with all the mystic symbolism that year presented, this is an age-old story I can’t make up. We fall in love, we grow up, we change, and they don’t change with us. ‘Old Flowers’ is about heartbreak. There are a million records and songs about that, but I did not lie when writing these songs. This album is about loving and caring for the person you know you can’t be with. It’s about being afraid to be vulnerable after you’ve been hurt. It’s about a woman who is alone, but okay with that, if it means truth.

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This was my truth this year – my nine year relationship ended, and I’m a woman alone in the world, but happy to know herself.
These songs came to me alone, late nights in Bisbee, Lisbon, Nashville, and London. Sometimes I’d just cry and sing, and a song would come out. I drank too much wine while writing this record, lit too many candles. You could say this was my attempt to summon the muse, but that’s bullshit, because she was just standing there naked looking me in the eyes. So I told her the truth.

This is my story of the most heart-breaking, but soul-revealing, year of my life. I drove myself mad. I drove to the smoky mountains just to drive back. I danced with a Portuguese boxer and cried on his shoulder in a Fado cafe. I did everything an artist is “supposed to do.” But at the end of the day, beyond all the romance, these songs are my truth. I think they might be yours too.

Released July 24th, 2020

Newly remastered double LP beautifully repackaged gatefold sleeve with new artwork and expanded liner notes. Second disc includes the Mad Dog Studio sessions from 1991

A firm fan favourite, Giant Sand’s essential 1991 album ‘Ramp’ was the second of three revered albums the band released in the early 90s. Now set for a remastered special indie store exclusive, the new edition released on 17th July comes beautifully repackaged in a gatefold sleeve with new artwork and expanded liner notes from MOJO’s Dave Henderson.

‘Ramp’ is a magical trip with a host of guests including Victoria Williams, Rainer and Pappy Allen. Featuring piano lounge music for an off-world colony interrupted by an onslaught of guitar when needed. Reverb on, fuzz friendly. Up to 11, it’s light and dark and the better for it, a musical journey on a road less travelled. All sounds are welcome; banjo, dobro, pedal steel, plaintive harmonica, whistling all wrap themselves around the flow of consciousness; those truly memorable words. With Gelb’s lyrical invention to the fore: “His thoughts unfold in long, rolling sentences that don’t always follow conventional rules of grammar or syntax.” (The Quietus).

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The Tucson sound at it’s very best.

Releases July 17th, 2020

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The Resonars solidified their sound once guitarist/vocalist/producer Matt Rendon decided to quit trying to play with other people and started working on his own with an old 4-track recorder. Once alone, he concocted an approach that blended the snappy melodies of the British Invasion with the powerful punch of mod bands like the Who. He added some garage rock swagger and recorded the songs with unvarnished arrangements and a bit of fuzz. The group’s first album, 1997’s The Resonars laid out the template and each record that came after followed it closely. With stays on labels like Get Hip, Trouble in Mind, and Burger Records (where they released their finest albums in the 2010s), the band carved out a space for themselves where garage, power pop, psychedelia, and mod all happily converged.

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Another Solid release by one of my Favourite bands of the last 10 years. Producing some of the most catchy 60’s style pop rock with some great guitars and super catchy vocals. Songs such as Don’t Ever Disappear, Brown Baby and I Wonder are so bouncy and catchy its not funny. Easily one of my favourite records of 2020 and another solid release.

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Released April 21st, 2020

Deer Tick guitarist/vocalist John McCauley unveiled a studio version of Courtney Marie Andrews‘ “Rough Around The Edges.” Andrews returned the favor by sharing her take on McCauley’s “Goodbye, Dear Friend.”

Courtney Marie Andrews is currently on tour as support for Deer Tick. Last Tuesday, Andrews joined Deer Tick for a cover of Jennifer Warnes & Joe Cocker’s “Up Where We Belong.” Courtney originally recorded “Rough Around The Edges” for her 2018 studio album May Your Kindness Remain, while Deer Tick’s original “Goodbye, Dear Friend” can be found on 2010’s The Black Dirt Sessions.

Courtney Marie Andrews‘ acoustic cover of Deer Tick’s song, “Goodbye, Dear Friend”.

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Released May 2nd, 2019
Performed by Courtney Marie Andrews.
Written by John J. McCauley III.

‘May Your Kindness Remain’ is a year old today. It has been a magical and wild journey of a year. Thank you to all who’ve been a part of it.

After a decade spent at the height of the music industry, touring solo and with large pop bands, she realized her desire for a place to come home to. She found that in a small rural town in the deep forests of Washington State. There, she posted up at a local bar, slinging drinks, basking in the simplicity and reflection it allowed.

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Thank you to Rolling Stone magazine for naming my song “May Your Kindness Remain” the number one country/americana song of the year. I write music with the intention of connecting with myself and others through words and feelings, and I’m so happy to know this song has resonated with so many folks this year.

releases May 17th, 2019

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Tow’rs is led by husband and wife Kyle and Gretta Miller, who aren’t terribly concerned about blowing out their string-infused folk-rock songs to fill arenas. Listen to the wistful “Girl in Calico,” and you’ll hear key ingredients of a powerhouse anthem — luscious strings, a crisp guitar line, rich vocal harmonies and none of the rafter-rattling grandiosity. Instead, every sound is impeccably rendered in the service of tender, ornate quietude.