Last year was a busy one in regards to American music, and who could be expected to hear all the fine releases let loose late in the year?
Shakey Graves (aka Alejandro Rose-Garcia) is a moniker that flirts with onomatopoeia; his name really does evoke his sound. An Austin, Texas solo performer born of troubadour campfires and often supported by a lone guitar, he's mastered the one-man band gittup, pounding out beats while he strums in an open G tuned especially for his bluesy style.
The celebratory, spiritual song "Lift Me Up" arises from Brooklyn, New York songwriter Jeremy Bass' personal desolation. Marriage over, house sold, money gone, future prospects dim, Bass did pretty much the only thing he could do: keep writing and making music.
Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland made their name together as Whitehorse by recording well-crafted, textured Americana. But nothing the Canadian duo has released could prepare listeners for the thundering, bluesy fuzz-rock of "Downtown."
Andrew Combs proves the skills of the soul-baring, mellow '70s singer-songwriter are not extinct.
Grammy award-winning artist Sean Watkins began his ascent into the music industry at the tender age of 12 in the group Nickel Creek. Along with his sister Sara and bandmate Chris Thile, they had humble beginnings playing in a pizza parlor every Saturday night in Carlsbad, California. After playing together for a while they were asked to play in a local festival and have been bringing their eclectic mix of folk and bluegrass music to the masses ever since.
"Before the flood, but after the well ran dry/Colors scatter the downtown sky/Waited for an explosion/But I only heard a sigh." Delivered like he has all the time in the world, "Independence Day" by the Last Tycoon (aka John Gladwin of East Atlanta, Georgia) is a brooding, cinematic story, a desert-set film noir in sound and words.