Monday, May 20, 2013

Dark Americana Briefs, Part 7

Home and Far Away

Riitaoja: Mantereelle (2013)
3.5 out of 5 stars

Now here's something a little out of the ordinary for this series: a Finnish band with Finnish lyrics. But the fact it's Americana is undeniable, with Western-sounding electric guitars and banjos, plus a bit of harmonica, and an overall American folk vibe through most of the music. The promo spiel referred to Wovenhand (possibly because the promoter was catering to me specifically?) but it's a fair comparison. That's not to say the European-ness is absent. The vocal style (both female and male) is decidedly un-Americana, and a few lighter tracks sound very Euro. Complete with bass and understated drums, the best songs on here are fantastic, even bordering on heavy (as the title track). Besides the great songs there are also a few very good droning tunes, as well as some weak ones that might sound like lullabies or lifeless indie rock. Overall, much more good than bad.

Bruce Springsteen: Nebraska (1982)
4 out of 5 stars

Named for my home state, and released in my birth year, The Boss's Nebraska should have been something I checked out ages ago. I never got around to it because I just don't like Springsteen. But this album is different. It was literally recorded on a 4-track in a bedroom, which really works for these dark guitar ballads. It's more "and the Bad Seeds" than "and the E Street Band." There's a reason it's regarded as one of the best albums of the 80's (like "Atlantic City"), but it does have its weak links (like "Mansion on the HIll"). The title comes from "Nebraska," a song from the perspective of spree killer Charles Starkweather, but if you've ever seen a picture of him with his shit-eating grin you'd have a hard time reconciling the song with the reality.

Wino & Conny Ochs: Labour of Love (2010)
3 out of 5 stars

Scott "Wino" Weinrich and Conny Ochs are both singer-songwriters who impress me a good deal, so why not a collaboration? There are some very cool songs here, including a Townes Van Zandt cover and a couple of dual acoustic instrumentals. Most of the vocals are provided courtesy of Wino's grizzled throat, but Ochs takes the lead on one song and harmonizes elsewhere. I can't bring myself to give it a higher score, though, because it doesn't really feel like a cohesive, collaborative album or a split. Ochs's voice is just so different it sounds like I've got a playlist going instead of a record.

This live version is pretty faithful to the album.

1 comment:

  1. some more finnish dark americana / folk, sung in both finnish & english. some post punk songs in the mix as well. check it out.