Monday, September 3, 2007

Country Corner

Nic and I spent the weekend camping, so that entailed cold nights and lots of hours in the car with artists like Van Morrison, The Band, and any other AM radio-esque anthem we could find. I took the time to listen to a few promos that arrived, and trying to stick to the theme of our weekend getaway, here are two that fit the bill:

Shuyler Jansen - Today's Remains
Wow. Talk about a lead off hitter. The opening number, Pegasus, clocks in at 5:15 seconds and still somehow feels too short! Shuyler's narrative about a down on her luck young female who gets hit hard by life makes the epic fly by like a page turning novel. Unlike his last release - the genre crossing Hobotron -Shuyler stays true to the elements (infidelity, lost love, regret and addiction) and sounds (dusty trail guitar work and nice female harmonies) of traditional country on Today's Remains.

He still adds some interesting elements to modernize the songs (like the keyboard work on Today's Remains), but the focus of this record is definitely Shuyler's lyrics. There are countless ways to try to describe his lyrics, but in reality, he's just a good story teller. Don't Ask Why and Cowgirls use more nice keyboard work to really kick them up a notch, but the songs don't need the extra help. Shuyler can lure you in with simple guitar driven ditties like Jealous Girl or Chief. For fans of good country music, Shuyler would be a nice addition to your collection.
MP3:: Jealous Girl

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The Payola Reserve - 200 Years
The opening harmonica of Grade A Television helps you settle into the road trip mode. The lyrics - it's an anti television anthem - are ok, but the feel you get transports you back to when bands traveled from festival to festival, jamming in between sets, and just living as musicians.

The band tries a lot with this release - some straight up knee slapping blue grass (Jugband Joan), AM road rockers (Lost Wind Craze), 60's pop (Ode to Bobbie) and straight forward country (200 Years) - and it plays like a tribute record to times gone past. I have to admit, the record is hit or miss for me, but when they get it right, like they do on All Things Are Better in Heaven and Long Wind Craze, the results are enjoyable.
MP3:: All Things Are Better In Heaven

web site :: myspace

Posted at 12:30 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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