Saturday, June 20, 2015

Bucky’s Bandcamp Bonanza – Hootenanny edition

Sorry to those who don’t do the country, Americana, Folk thing but this rendition of the bonanza might change your mind. If you’re patient and take a listen you might actually like what you hear. For those like myself that don’t stick to one genre or style and are constantly rotating from heavy to soft and everywhere in between, this one goes out to you. Here are several albums that are sure to get your toes tapping and hootenanny hollering.

Side note: my kids pre-school just had an end of the year “Hootenanny” themed party, so it’s fresh in my brain and undeniably brings a smile to my face just to say. J

Have Gun, Will Travel – Fiction, Fact, or Folktale? / Science from an Easy Chair
This band was in my wishlist for years it seemed. I finally got a notice that the band was putting out a new album and revisited the page and, as it was meant to be, I ordered both on vinyl. I’d been hesitant for over a year at the $10 digital pricing. Lesson learned: be patient and you will end up spending 3 times as much for the same music, but will be able to hold it in your hands.

Basing off the previous album, it’s none other than fact, that the new one has high expectations. Sounding somewhat like a bluegrassy Jerry Garcia/Tom Petty hybrid at times, yet more tailored towards the hootenanny crowd, Have Gun, Will Travel nails the bullseye and is cocked and loaded with a brand spanking new one out at the end of July. I can’t wait.

Bianca Caruso – Bravado
This cool record label site I stumbled upon has quite a few gems within including the featured album here, Bianca Caruso. “Randm Records is an Independent record label offering up, well, randomly great music. Americana, Blues, Country, Bluegrass, Rock, Folk, and whatever else we like”  I love finding legit small label bandcamp pages. We have recently upgraded the Ripple page to feature all our bands and more and more small independent labels are opening accounts and taking advantage of the power and convenience of bandcamp to share their music with the world. Bianca Caruso is quite a handful of soulful vocals, bluesy pop and an almost contemporary backbone that will appeal to a wide range of people. I have played this one out on my wishlist and will eventually pull the plug and purchase. This is very good. Kick back, relax, pour a glass of wine and gaze upon the stars while listening to Bravado.

Benchmarks – American Night
Although I haven’t even listened to this album yet, I can highly recommend it. Consisting of front man Todd Farrell Jr. and guitarist Eli Rhodes who both have impressive solo outfits of their own, Benchmarks is somewhat of a supergroup in the country/punk realm. I lump it into the Hootenanny edition simply because I feel the punk/country crossbreed is utterly fantastic and holds up well mixed with both punk and country and anywhere in between. Give this a shot and while you’re at it, check out Todd Farrell Jr. and Eli Rhodes solo efforts attached below. Both amazing artists!

The Paychecks – Honky Tonk Suicide
Getting more into the traditional country roots, The Paychecks keep it real with songs about whiskey, heartache, lost love, and overcoming and/or giving into struggles. Honky Tonk Suicide brings a great modern Texas country reminiscent of the greats Hank Williams, George Jones, Merle Haggard and well, Johnny Paycheck, which may or may not have been a factor in the band name.  

Norma MacDonald – Burn the Tapes
No not the male comedian Norm MacDonald, but rather another diamond in the country/blue rough, coming to us from Nova Scotia. She definitely has a beautiful voice, with rough and tough alt country flair. I’ll just post her description here for lack of a better word.  “Norma MacDonald likes Gram Parsons records, potato chips, talking to strangers, David Lynch movies and swimming in the ocean. Her fourth album, "Burn the Tapes" was recorded over 13 months in rural Upper Musquodoboit, NS.” Check it out.

John Moreland – High on Tulsa Heat
Moreland has released a strong contender for year-end lists in the country/singer songwriter category this year. Holding his own alongside greats such as Jason Isbell, James McMurtry, and Chris Stapleton, Moreland brings the heat on his latest album. The songwriting is superb and this has been one of my top country albums of the year. Listen to the song American Flags in Black and White for a bone chilling taste.

Great Peacock – Making Ghosts
Saving the best for last and perhaps growing into being one of my top albums of the year in any genre, Making Ghosts continues to stun me each round I press play. I’ll tell you what folks; we are all going to be hearing more about these guys sooner rather than later. They deserve national attention in my opinion. Here’s what I say on bandcamp, “Indeed this is a little bit rootsy, a whole lot of Americana, and a bit of country pop rock! Do yourself a favor and give this a chance. One of my most played albums of the year! Excellent!! Favorite track: Arms.”
Read the description on their page, both guys coming from hard rock roots, and decided to start a folk band. This is a whole lot more than folk guys; it is sheer perfection and a stunning debut album. I picked up the 2LP on blue vinyl. I think you’ll thank me later after you get yours in the mail too.

Hope you made it to the end and found time to check some of these albums out. Feel free to spice up your own personal hootenanny by adding them to the playlist. Next round I’ll probably go with some super uber-doom metal, since it was likely what came up next on my playlist after one of these country/folk albums. Whatever it may be, I will be back with more recommendations soon.

 -The Huntsman

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