Year in Slack!
by James Mann
Even though I reviewed around 60 titles this year, doesn’t mean I got to write-up all the great stuff I heard over the last 12 months. So, here’s a few I didn’t get a chance to cover.
Porter & The Bluebonnet Rattlesnakes
Don’t Go Baby It’s Gonna Get Weird Without You
Cornelius Chapel Records
This should have been the year Alabama native Chris Porter made a name for himself, but tragically, he died in a wreck on the highway in October of 2016. Porter, who founded such groups as Back Row Baptists and Some Dark Holler bashed out Don’t Go Baby It’s Gonna Get Weird Without You in four days. With Centro-matic’s Will Johnson producing and drumming, Drive-By-Trucker alum Shonna Tucker on bass and John Calvin Abney on guitar, the album is a rowdy slice of life with moments such as “Stoned In Traffic” and “Shit Got Dark”, now a bitter-sweet memoriam to a talent snuffed out too early.
All American Made
Third Man Records
Margo Price’s first record, Midwest Farmers Daughter caught the ear of any self-respecting country fan, as well it should. Sounding – both in voice and attitude – much like Loretta Lynn, Price turns her songwriting prowess to matters of state on All American Made. From “Weakness” to a Willie Nelson duet on “Learning to Lose” and the riveting title cut, this headstrong East Tennessean takes no crap.
Here Come The Warm Jets, Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy, Before and After Science
I get tons of promo emails, and I generally toss 99.9% of ’em. But when I got the press release of yet another Eno reissue series I figured what the heck, go ahead and request them. Well, I must have been living right, because I got 3 of the 4 titles, and these aren’t run of the mill CDs. Nope, these are 45 RPM, 180 gram LPs mastered by Abbey Road. Finally, a presentation worthy of the material. They sound flawless, with an almost 3D stereo image. And the albums? Only some of the most adventurous works of art ever released, in the definitive editions. Worth picking up a turntable just to experience the mind-melting “King’s Lead Hat”.
Big Bad Luv
Big Bad Luv is the Oklahoma-born Moreland’s fourth major release, and it continues his string of “songs to make you cry”. From the rollicking “Sallisaw Blue” to heart-breaking “Lies I Chose to Believe”, Moreland reminds you of fellow Okie J.J. Cale on some cuts, or a red-dirt Elliot Smith on others. He’s got something rare and true.
Paradise of Bachelors
James Elkington is one of those six-string wunderkinds, but like a Bert Jansch or Richard Thompson, (who he’s played with), Elkington writes actual songs, not just 3 minutes of fretboard fury. Wintres Woma sounds as if Pentangle went indie rock with moments such as “Make It Up” and “Any Afternoon”. Pick it up for the dazzling guitar work, but play it again for the 11 cuts of great songwriting.