Album Reviews 23/05/25

album covers

The Waymores, Greener Pastures (Chicken Ranch Records)

This one comes with a backstory that’s kind of encouraging for artists slogging away in more remote, less arts-centric areas of the country. We’re talking about throwback-country/bluegrass stuff here, the real deal, and this duo’s success came about when they released a two-song demo featuring Marty Robbins’ “Don’t Worry” and Buck Owens’ “Under Your Spell.” Their hayseed sound is so close to Tammy and George’s that it caught the ear of actor Howard Zinn, who passed it along to a music producer buddy, Shel Talmy, a 1960s fixture who’d done The Who, Bowie and The Kinks among others. All of a sudden there were heavyweight session players all over the pair’s orbit, and this record, their third full-length, comes as a result of all that. Dave Pearlman (who’s worked with Merle Haggard, Hoyt Axton and all those guys) is on steel guitar, creating a large proportion of the magic; the songs weave a tapestry of old-school country and pop that’s at times reminiscent of Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, that kind of thing. Good for them. A+

Michael Dease, The Other Shoe: The Music of Gregg Hill (Origin Records)

There are jazz-heads who read this space, watching like lonely lost puppies, ever hoping I’ll finally get back to giving the genre some love, and the guilt does weigh mildly heavy, so let’s do this one, from Georgia trombonist Dease, whose previous 15-odd records as a bandleader were mostly on Posi-Tone Records, with guest shots scattered in his oeuvre with the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band and others. Here he pays tribute to equally fruitful Michigan-raised jazz composer Gregg Hill, who grew up on swing and big band stuff as a kid and went on to cobble 150 pieces starting at age 39 (see? It’s never too late, folks). All About Jazz called this one of the year’s best LPs to date, to which I can only rejoin with a meek “sure, why not,” given that I’ve been such a bad apple this year (again, my apologies). Dease has rearranged some of this stuff, which may have led to its being more mathematically interesting; “Wake Up Call” evokes Monk and leads to what sounds like a post-bop outing for the most part. Flashes of keyboard brilliance stand out, but Dease does hold down the melodic focal points. Nice blend of echo-bop, for lack of a better term. A+


• Onward, my scamps, on we go, to May 26 and the albums that will sally forward thence; the moon will enter its first quarter phase the next day, May 27, bringing with it laments of regret from the record-buying world, as they give a listen to the things they purchased this Friday! O Fortuna, no store returns on CDs that have been opened, abandon all hope ye who blah blah blah, so let’s do some reconnoitering, so your money won’t be used on musical nothingburgers, I am here to help you! Ha ha, look what’s first on the docket, a new album from the Spinal Tap of techno, Sparks, titled The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte, I can hardly wait! No, you know what, Sparks isn’t like Spinal Tap, they’re more like ManOWar, that band that used to dress up like Conan the Barbarian, like they have this stubborn fan base that insists their limp tunes are the best ever, because good taste can’t be taught to people, but it doesn’t matter because they’re already a parody of themselves, which leaves them impervious to snark attacks from mayhemic jerks like me, whose sense of duty calls on us to remind people that Sparks and ManOWar are really stupid bands and that it’s OK to give up on that one friend who believes otherwise; not everyone can be saved, is what I mean, like some people who voted for Vermin Supreme for president weren’t being ironic, they literally believed he was going to give everyone a pony or whatever it was. OK, now that I’m almost out of room for this nonsense, it’s time to go listen to the title track from this new Sparks album, and — wait, Cate Blanchett is in the dumb video? Hellooooo nurse, heart-eyes emoji, I’ve had a crush on that lady forever, let’s see if she can change my mind about Sparks! Oh, for Pete’s sake, no, she can’t, the tune is their usual Devo-krautrock with Cate Blanchett standing still throughout the video and breaking into a boomer dance every 30 seconds, this is so stupid that I wouldn’t be surprised if the Stupid Stuff Society sends Sparks a cease-and-desist order. Why on earth would someone even do this?

• Moving on, it looks like all of today’s “artists” have names that rhyme with “snarks,” because here we are with a new LP from Nigerian R&B/indie-folk lady Arlo Parks, titled My Soft Machine! It’s her second album; 2021’s Collapsed In Sunbeams suffered from a lack of touring owing to Covid, but it did chart pretty well everywhere. So let’s check out the new single, “Pegasus,” which includes a guest appearance from Los Angeles-based indie-folkie Phoebe Bridgers. Well, well, the song is really nice, sort of a trip-hop-pop hybrid recalling Kate Bush in mellow mode but with some drum glitch and stuff like that. Nothing wrong there, let’s push our luck and move on.

• Next, it’s More Photographs (A Continuum), the latest album from Kevin Morby, a Texan who was formerly with the bands Woods and The Babies and is eight albums into his solo trip as of this one, which I assume is a bunch of remixes lifted from his 2022 LP, Photographs. The single, “This Is A Photograph II,” is like a cross between Wilco and ’70s disco, and there’s lots of edge to it, believe it or not. Cool stuff, I can deal with it.

• And finally, we have Canadian hard-indie band The Dirty Nil with a new full-length, called Free Rein To Passions! Teaser single “Nicer Guy” is an amalgam of Weezer and Foo Fighters, which shouldn’t be too hard to imagine, and it’s pretty decent overall, because the singer sounds angry but awkward. Wow, I wasn’t mean to any bands this week, was I? Wait, no, I was, to Sparks, never mind.

If you’re in a local band, now’s a great time to let me know about your EP, your single, whatever’s on your mind. Let me know how you’re holding yourself together without being able to play shows or jam with your homies. Send a recipe for keema matar. Message me on Twitter (@esaeger) or Facebook (eric.saeger.9).

Author: Eric Saeger

Local bands seeking album or EP reviews can message me on Twitter (@esaeger) or Facebook (eric.saeger.9).

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