What were the best records to come out this past month? Look no further than our new Record Roundup, a monthly compilation of our five favorite slabs of wax from the past 30 days (complete with a nice little playlist sampler). Behold new albums from the Wood Brothers, Son Little, Edward David Anderson, the Bottle Rockets, and Promised Land Sound.
Edward David Anderson
Lower Alabama: The Loxley Sessions
(Royal Potato Family)
Illinois-born singer/songwriter Edward David Anderson was quite surprised when he decamped to Lower Alabama and found that producer, instrumental everyman, and Neil Young sidekick Anthony Crawford lives just up the holler. It seemed only natural, then, that Anderson would literally walk up the road to Crawford’s Admiral Bean Studio to record this set of nine new cuts of country comfort. With Will Kimbrough adding electric guitar, Crawford’s wife (Savanna Lee) creating gorgeous harmonies, and Crawford, himself, playing almost everything else, these songs slip on as easily as pair of your favorite jeans. There’s a little bit of everything here — from robbery (“Jimmy & Bob & Jack”) to romance (“Firefly”) — and they’re all easy on the ears … and good for the heart.
Son Little sounds less like a guy and more like a gang, a host of soul-savvy kids banging from record shop to record shop, crate-digging sounds from down the street and across the big blue ocean. The first cut, “I’m Gone,” with its gargling vocals, street-smart lyrics, and sparse arrangement opens the record with the flick of an ear … and things just keep getting more interesting with every subsequent song. “Nice Dreams” echoes with ideas of Prince pushed through a '50s-era Wall of Sound. “Toes” stomps across the soundstage with the boldness of an '80s anthem. “Carbon” grinds black soul against a rolling stone. “Lay Down” gathers gospel in its arms and lays it at the feet of love and romance. Every cut here pricks up the ears and pushes the limits of what it means to make American soul music.
Promised Land Sound
For Use and Delight
(Paradise of Bachelors)
Let’s acknowledge the white elephant in the corner of the room right from the git’ go: Singer/bassist Joey Scala couldn’t sound more like Tom Petty if he tried, and PLS’s debt to Petty’s influences — flying burritos and free fallin’ byrds — couldn’t be more obvious. Songs like the jingle-jangly “Push and Pull (All the Time)” and the feverish “Through the Seasons” fit snuggly in the Heartbreakers’ mold of “Running Down a Dream (Parts I and II)." Elsewhere, though, Scala and his brother Evan and their pals take licks at a lysergic lollipop (“She Takes Me There”) and meld a bit of Laurel Canyon with Laura Nyro (“Canfield Drive”). They also whip up a pretty sweet high mountain love song, as on “Through the Seasons.” Mixed in with their musical predecessors or not, this is a charming record filled with '70s psychedelic sunshine.
The Bottle Rockets
South Broadway Athletic Club
And now for something completely different. Missouri’s men of musical mayhem don’t make a lot of records — just a dozen over the course of twice as many years — but when they do, we’re always quick to rip the wrap and fire up the CD player. This one delivers exactly what we’ve come to expect from Brian Henneman and company: whip smart lyrics (“Monday (Every Time I Turn Around)”), entertaining stories (“Big Lotsa Love”), big ass guitar riffs (“I Don’t Wanna Know”), and plenty of humor (“Big Fat Nuthin’”). There’s nuthin’ fancy here, just good, old-fashioned American rock 'n' roll … with extra attitude.
The Wood Brothers
There may be some bands out in the barn who are better known to the masses than the Wood Brothers, but none have stayed truer to their edgy ethic than Chris and Oliver Wood and their compatriot, Jano Rix. This record, which is already burning up three different Billboard charts, rocks hard (“Snake Eyes”), rocks harder (“Singin’ to Strangers”), then rocks gently (“Two Places”). The lyrics are stellar (“In the Army, he was Major … disappointment …") and the playing, as always, matches tempo against temperament to near perfection. A record we can’t get enough of.