I don’t know if Dan Whitener and his colleagues in the bluegrass / hip hop band Gangstagrass want to consider themselves prophets, but a listen of their brilliant new album No Time For Enemies does make you feel that it was written in the heart of a 2020 that has shook up the world from more than one direction, even if it was largely in the bank before its July release.
“We recorded the first three songs fully in the studio in late-January, early-February,” said the vocalist / banjo player. “So we got those first three songs and those were the singles, so people heard those and those were all ready to go. And the rest of the album we recorded all from lockdown in our own homes. Most of the album was influenced by the time that we were in. One song in particular, ‘Do Better,’ has a guest verse that came in from Randall Wyatt and he even has a line in there, ‘Please hold your laughter, unless you have a really funny meme about this whole disaster.’ …
Let’s get this out of the way right at the start. If you listen to “Billy” on Swamp Dogg’s latest album, Sorry You Couldn’t Make It, and your eyes don’t start to get a little misty, well, you may not have a heart.
“It’ll bring you down,” said Mr. Jerry Williams Jr. aka Swamp Dogg, in the understatement of 2020.
To be able to garner that kind of reaction these days is a rarity, but Williams is a rare individual in the music biz these days, a true craftsman with the ability to work magic with his songwriting and voice in whatever genre he chooses to step into. …
It’s no secret that in today’s music world, all is not always what it seems. That’s a tip of the hat to technology and what it can do to make singers sound a lot better than they are in reality.
Listen to AJ Smith on his latest single, “Billy Joel”, and you wouldn’t be too out of line to suggest that the singer-songwriter was born like this, gifted to deliver tunes that get in your head and stay there, accompanied by memorable performances both vocally and musically.
You would also be wrong.
Sure, the soon-to-be Nashville resident has talent. That’s clear. But getting the most out of that talent comes from a couple things easily forgotten in so many walks of life these days, and that’s work ethic and respect for his craft.
The work ethic part came easy thanks to his family. …
What would you think of in the moments before you died?
We can all speculate, but no one has ever come back to tell us. That’s the nature of dying.
Unless you’re Matt Lovell, who took a bullet to the chest in the middle of a carjacking in 2017 and lived to tell about it. And as he looked for someone to help him after the Nashville shooting, his thoughts were clearer than he ever could have imagined.
“Two things were on my mind — one was I might not see my mom again and the other was, I might never release this damn record.” …
It’s bad enough that Doug Clifford is one of the great rock drummers of all-time. Now he had to go and clean his garage to make us all look bad. And not only that, while cleaning he found some old tapes from the mid-80s that turned into the recently released Magic Window album.
“I can’t take the credit for that,” laughs Clifford when it comes to the cleaning the garage part of this tale. …
I like Emily Cavanagh. It would be impossible not to, as she may be one of the nicest folks you’ll encounter in or out of the music business.
How nice? In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the singer-songwriter’s gigs and festival dates put on pause while she’s in Chicago and her band is in New York City, her first thoughts about living on lockdown aren’t about her situation, but about everyone else’s and what she can do to help them.
“It’s the weirdest time ever,” said Cavanagh, who appreciates the opportunity to be back in her childhood home for the past few months with her parents, but who also knows there are so many who aren’t as lucky. And she’s seen the stories on the local news every night of those who died alone, unable to say their last goodbyes to their family and friends. …
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Summer of 2020 will be like none other. Thankfully, though, New York’s SUSU has given us a summer song that can remind us of how things used to be before the new normal.
And as Liza Colby, Kia Warren and their band tear through The Buzzcocks’ “Ever Fallen in Love,” ah, what a beautiful sound that captures everything rock and roll is about. And yeah, we need that more than ever.
“I think right now, what we’re doing is super needed,” she said of what basically amounts to a NYC Supergroup consisting of Colby from the Liza Colby Sound and Warren from Revel In Dimes. If you’re from the Big Apple, you know what these ladies bring to the table. Now the rest of the world gets their chance to find out, with Europe getting a little sneak preview earlier this year that included exhaustive 90-minute gigs over a five-week tour that wasn’t exactly planned out months in advance. …
Despite living in New York, Sasha Dobson still has a dose of that California optimism. Just take her spin on my complaint that her great new EP, Simple Things, is simply too short.
“It definitely is a short one, but when you get the vinyl, it’s this amazing experience,” she said, not missing a beat. “Even though it’s short, it’s very old school because you hear these two songs and then you flip it over and it’s two songs and you just keep flipping it over and it’s this cool thing where I didn’t really anticipate it being this way, but I’m such a teenager when it comes to vinyl. …
There are probably worse times to release an album than in the middle of a pandemic. I just can’t think of any at the moment.
Neither can Alex Salcido of The Harmed Brothers, whose band put out their fifth LP Across the Waves on June 5th, smack dab in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis.
“That was all us — we were the ones who came up with that plan,” laughs Salcido. “Every band needs a good gimmick, you know.”
Humor can be the best medicine at a time like this, when the world is still largely on hold, with the music industry getting more than its share of hard knocks. As far as Salcido and his bandmates (Ray Vietti, Matthew McClure, Ben Knight, Andrew Aragon) were concerned, the ball was already rolling for the late-spring release when the coronavirus hit, and they figured it wasn’t going to be what it became. …