Sunday, March 30, 2014

Dark Americana Briefs, Volume 13

Things Aren't All Rosy

Songs of Townes Van Zandt Vol II (2014)
3.5 out of 5 stars

Here is the follow-up to 2012's Songs of Townes Van Zandt, an album I loved. This time around the contributors are John Baizley (Baroness), Mike Scheidt (Yob, etc.), and Nate Hall (USX). Each of them has at least one strong contribution, but really, it's kind of hard to screw up such magnificent songs as "St. John the Gambler" (Baizley) and "Rake" (Scheidt). The real winner of them is Hall, who superbly covers "Waitin' Around to Die" and "Our Mother the Mountain." Some of the split’s modern touches are nice, like the echoing percussion on "St. John the Gambler," but Baizley's characteristic guitar tone on his solos is just a bit too heavy-handed. Overall I like this, but it just doesn't hold up to the excellent Steve Von Till/Scott Kelly/Wino record that preceded it.

Neurot Recordings

Bill Callahan: Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle (2009)
2.5 out of 5 stars

Not the much-maligned former head coach of the Huskers, this Bill Callahan plays some really gentle indie rock. There were moments when I thought it was something greater than that--"All Thoughts Are Prey to Some Beast," for instance--but in the end, it turns out to be little more than that, and nothing special.

Wovenhand: Live at Roepaen (2012)
4.5 out of 5 stars

I've declared my love of Wovenhand so many times on this blog it's hardly surprising this is rated so highly. But the live record is worth noting because the performance is quite different from the studio albums. It's naked, focused, and perhaps even more intense. It also has a more even, almost droning feel that's quite powerful. David Eugene Edwards lobt den König der Könige.

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