Noticing a bit of a trend in this latest super-sized set of ten jams. I've moved away from some of the heavier psychedelic stuff and more towards Americana a roots. Is there meaning here or just coincidence? You decide...
1. First up is a another in a long line of tunes about good old Saturday Night. There are more than one way to convey "grit" on a rock record and Natural Child has landed squarely in the fun camp with this sly rocker, "Saturday Night Blues".
2. It's been awhile since I posted this one as my jam, and in the meantime, the site has published some incredible (and incredibly personal) reporting on The War On Drugs' recent visit to Chicago. That's great, because I know their last album is a huge favorite on multiple of our writers' lists. The slow burn of "Under Pressure" tells you exactly what you need to know about these guys.
3. Here's a band that I've been recommending to a bunch of friends whose tastes run a bit more mainstream than most of the stuff I'm really in to these days. That said, despite its infectiousness, there's nothing particularly "safe" about it. The sound is original and they've got some balls. Nice common ground. I suspect that these guys are going to be huge. Moon Taxi, "The New Black".
4. One of the litany of bands to take a band name from the Beatles drummer, Gringo Star just maybe the only one you need to know. Kind of a funny little pop-psych tune (is there such a thing?), "Shadow" has just the absurdist, somewhat unsettling video to go with that.
5. Seth Walker is a performer and songwriter who fits right in stylish southern roots traditions of his hometown of Austin and city of musical inspiration, New Orleasns. "Trouble (Don't Want No)" shares many similarities with the classic tunes in that mold. A quick walking funk, a touch of the blues, and an unforgettable chorus. It will be interesting to see where Mr. Walker goes from here.
6. Spanish Gold is a supergroup of sorts -- it's most renown member is probably My Morning Jacket drummer Patrick Hallahan. He is joined by guitarist Adrian Quesada (Grupo Fantasma) and guitarist and lead vocalist Dante Schwebel (formerly of Hacienda), who sums up the band nicely as follows.
It became evident that we were still children of the MTV era. We grew up with MTV when it was still a music channel. The way that the programming crossed genres from R&B to hip hop, rock, soul and pop music is how we approach records. It’s an album of all those styles. Like watching a random hour of MTV programming circa 1986-1996. It's a nod to Michael Jackson, Dr. Dre, Madonna, the Beastie Boys or Tom Petty, all with a Texas border town setting.
Here's "Out On The Street".
7. The jangly guitar that open's Belle Adair's "Golden Days" might be construed as retro -- and there's plenty here which evokes sounds of the past -- but count me in if it takes looking backwards to make modern music such a pleasant blend of instrumentation, that enhances a songs natural vocal hooks. This one's a pure charmer.
8. One of these days, the beloved Slip will reunite. But for now, we can rejoice with another Barr Brothers album forthcoming, and I don't hear too many complaints about that. "Half Crazy" picks up exactly where they left off with The Barr Brothers in 2011, a slightly milder version of sonic soup of the Slip, but with the Barr's signature tunecraft nonetheless.
9. So, in the intro to this post, I mentioned a turn away from psychedelia towards Americana in this edition of My Jams, and I'm sure you've gotten your fill through the first eight entries. But, Sturgill Simpson represents an interesting case. It truly is a psych/Americana hybrid, but not in the way that most bands that operate in this space are. His Americana is pure country, a slice of Waylon Jennings with a late 60's filter applied. A sound unlike anything else I've heard. "Turtles All The Way Down".
10. Sometimes you make the list of jams because you're new and different. Sometimes you make it because you're old and awesome. Hot Rize will hit the road this fall (including a stop at Chicago's City Winery) so they hit my radar. I had to get this one in, especially given my love for Phish's cover version. Here's "Nellie Kane".