Album Reviews

Reviews of recent albums

Jack Grelle - Steering Me Away

St. Louis, Missouri's country, folk, and honky tonk artist Jack Grelle has a brand new ten-song album out on Big Muddy Records as of October 10, 2014. Titled Steering Me Away, this collection of songs is not just an exercise in writing and playing quality roots music but also an important overall statement: radio pop country can go to hell; this is how it is really done! Steering Me Away navigates the roadways and highways of past and present roots music, rolling through outlaw country ("Wyoming Street"), folky terrain ("Lazy Love"), stopping for a honky tonk barnburner off the beaten...

Counting Crows - Somewhere Under Wonderland

The long, mournful trumpet-and-piano intro to “Palisades Park,” the atmospheric opening track on Counting Crows’ first new studio album in six years, suggests that we’re in for something different. In fact, though, much of the rest of the CD should sound rather familiar to longtime fans. Containing nine tracks (a deluxe edition adds acoustic demo versions of two of them), the program does slip in a few minor musical surprises. Mostly, though, it relies on the same elements that characterized the group’s earlier efforts: Adam Duritz’s introspective lyrics about fame, love and alienation; his...

Americana in DC, Stars by South Rail

When my friends and I think or talk about the DC music scene, it is Ian MacKaye, Dischord Records, Fugazi, et al. that comprise the epicenter of our conversations. Hell, it’s no accident that I live three blocks from the Dischord House[1]. DC is a punk town – at least musically. Or it used to be a punk town; but, the bastardization of the DC punk scene is a story for another day, and probably for a punk site and not an Americana site. Regardless of the current state of DC’s music scene, I doubt many think of Americana music when DC is mentioned. However, South Rail, a DC area band, is...

Elliott Brood Grows Up on Work and Love

The first time I saw Elliott Brood, they were live on a side stage at Pickathon, outside of Portland, OR. Three guys making the largest full-band sound I reckoned I’d heard in some time. Sitting there, trying to extrapolate individual sounds (as I tend to at least try to do), was difficult. Sure, there was the strummy banjo that often started the song. But then the band would hit, and it was like they were channeling the thunder and the rain and the wind itself, to sweep up the hill and fill all our senses. I couldn’t tell what they were singing about, but it didn’t really matter at the time...