Patrolled By Radar

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”Do you know a love song that rights all wrongs? There’s got to be one to sing when we can’t get along.”

New Album

New Album

Put on Cool Your Jets (released May 1), the new album from under-sung Los Angeles club veterans Patrolled By Radar, and the longer it spins the more it casts a spell, the ideal band for an imaginary saloon where Highway 61 Revisited-era Dylan hobnobs with a fresh faced Doug Sahm and a gaggle of curious night dwellers shuffling contentedly as they try to make sense of this wicked world.

Patrolled By Radar moves with barroom honed muscle, a group that’s earned their stripes fighting for attention over clinking glasses, cell phone tapping, and post-work chatter. And PBR’s songs really do snag one’s focus, though often in sly ways, the fun and skip of them in the foreground with all sorts of cool, thoughtful bits bouncing around in the background. This band swings hard but backs up their punches with brains and a well-seasoned perspective on the ways of men.

Patrolled By Radar

Patrolled By Radar

That their latest release ends with a pitch perfect rendition of Randy Newman’s “Ghosts” just signals songwriter-singer-guitarist Jay Souza’s kinship with that insightfully jaundiced, perversely romantic American treasure. Souza uses language with the same humor dipped scalpel sharpness as Newman with occasional flashes of genuine good humor – “Rally” on the new album is a shit-day mood-enhancer of the highest order. And the whole band – Bosco Sheff (guitar), Preston Mann (organ, piano), Ben Johnsen (drums, vocals) and Peter Curry (bass) – serves the songs in an integrated way that’s short on solos and long on a warmly enveloping group dynamic.

Cool Your Jets reminds one of Americana’s first great flowering, an album that sits comfortably next to Wilco’s A.M., The Jayhawks’ Hollywood Town Hall and Son Volt’s Trace – all worthy descendents of the roots-influenced, energized, off-handedly skillful rock tributary stemming from The Band. Like the best children of Levon, Robbie, et al. Patrolled By Radar possesses a unique, hard to pin down individual spark, extenders of a tradition rather than mimics, where something heartfelt and quietly moving wanders the curved roads and smoky haunts of their tunes. Heck, even ol’ Lawrence Welk makes a champagne cameo so you know it’s good!

DI asked PBR’s Jay Souza to ponder DI’s quasi-philosophical questions, and here’s what he had to say.

Cake, ice cream and enlightenment!

Sherman Baker

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”Stand still long enough and maybe you’ll find yourself.”

Sherman Baker

Sherman Baker

Sherman Baker is a keen observer, a songwriter able to carve out the right details for his songs about all our all-too-human stumbling and groping for connection. His new self-titled album [a steal at just $7 bucks] moves with unforced elegance, the small things of a day put into empathetic focus. This is the kind of album one returns to when they’re ready to sink into contemplation, meditative and melodic but never sleepy, a space where disrespected knaves and born riders can wheel about unafraid to show off a spot of melancholy.

Despite hailing from Sacramento, CA, Baker has an English lilt – Perspex Island/Globe of Frogs-era Robyn Hitchcock springs strongly to mind – melded with the finely carved bedroom symphonies of X/O period Elliott Smith. The care and time of his music’s gestation shows in the details, in the smooth, unexpected shifts and melodic sweetening that elevates his uniformly good songs to greatness more than a few times on his lovely eponymous album.

Baker has been an interesting, gifted singer-songwriter since his woefully overlooked 2004 debut, Carry Me Home, but the intervening decade has refined his talents and given his work an appealing romantic edge, a quiet glimmer in the corner of his naturally skeptical eye, a thimble of hope despite his understanding “how far we’ll go to get outside ourselves.” 10 years in, Baker now sits comfortably with contemporaries like Conor Oberst, Daniel Martin Moore, and Field Report.

DI asked Sherman to join our lil’ philosophical roundtable, and here’s what he had to say.

Be good to the animals!

Dexateens

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Impounded_Dexateens_Album

”Loving my enemies don’t feel so right. Loving my enemies feels like another fight. But vengeance, oh sweet vengeance feels alright.”

There’s an almost Platonic rock perfection to Sunsphere (pick it up HERE), the relentlessly right-on new EP from Alabama hard charging warriors the Dexateens, which binds the ground zero energies of Elvis Presley and Little Richard to the barbed, spitting ferocity of The Sonics and Flamin’ Groovies and fist-in-the-air bravura of early Grand Funk Railroad and Nirvana, and then intercuts the whole affair with the sorta brains and sharp songwriting that make folks love Joe Strummer so damn much.

Dexateens

Dexateens

The first new studio work from Tuscaloosa’s finest since 2009 balances rollicking dustups with honestly touching reflective moments, each side of singer-bandleader-guitarist Elliott McPherson coming across as legit, sincere expressions of a thoughtful pit fighter wrestling with life’s challenges, domestic and otherwise. Taking its title from the centerpiece of the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville, TN, Sunsphere strides through history with confidence, showing that the past is ever present, even if it’s as ancient as Roman Emperor Constantine.

That this shit still rocks your balls into a firestorm is a measure of the Dexateens’ talents and instincts. They mostly play hard and fat free – lean ‘n’ nasty is the rule here, the children of mean, cracklin’ juke blues and Exile-era Stones – except when tenderness is called for, and then all they nail that just right, too, sometimes in the space of a few bars in the same song – “Vengeance” is a beautiful study in striking contrasts and the challenge of loving one’s enemies, and banjo dappled “Broken Objects” is quietly haunting even as it reminds us to “pay attention to the wind, be patient with the rain, be grateful for the sunshine beating down on your face.” As much as the Impound has dug the band’s earlier work, Sunsphere is the most addictively listenable, downright fun salvo yet from a band ably doing their part to live up to their simple, laudatory Facebook Page call to arms: “Save rock and roll.”

McPherson agreed to puzzle over the Impound’s light philosophical inquiry, and here’s what he had to say.

hang with Troubled Christ!

The Bye Bye Blackbirds

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The Bye Bye Blackbirds

The Bye Bye Blackbirds

With the Breaking Bad finale reintroducing a new generation to Badfinger this week, it seems timely to spotlight a contemporary torchbearer for the kind of gorgeously crafted, giddily passionate pop-rock that Pete Ham, Tom Evans, Joey Molland and the lads proffered. Oakland’s The Bye Bye Blackbirds are pro practitioners of finger-snap ditties with a classic rock ‘n’ roll rumble with ringing kinship to Cheap Trick, The Velvet Crush, Village Green-era Kinks, Buffalo Springfield, and early Nick Lowe.

The band’s forthcoming new long-player, We Need The Rain (arriving November 12 – listen and pre-order here) is a concisely carved treat that reminds us how far radio fare has fallen in recent decades and what a swaying treat it once was. Every tune practically shimmies out of the speakers, cool small details etched into ceaselessly ear-snagging melodies as sweet, gently yearning voices sing about love and the weather in ways that make both seem brand new. See, that’s what really good pop-minded music has always done, make the world sparkle in a fresh way through the minor miracle of relatable, smartly built songs. Every time the Impound puts this on we flash back to a time when folks spun 45s in their bedrooms and danced with mad joy because of the new sounds flooding the air around them.

Baby_ByeByeBlackbirds_Album

While many mining the past for their sound would settle for homage and imitation, The Bye Bye Blackbirds, anchored by chief songwriter-singer-guitarist Bradley Skaught, inject a bit of rattle and tempered noise that cements this as modern stuff, always walking that fine line between admirers of greats and aspirants to greatness, making them contemporaries to quality rockers like Kelly Stoltz, Dr. Dog and The Dirtbombs – i.e. circumventers of clichés that also grok the master strokes of classic pop. The growling, expansive spirit of Crazy Horse emerges in fab closer “Spin Your Stars,” and the Blackbirds show a pleasing willingness to muddy their guitar sound in general. Taken together, We Need The Rain is the sort of record that’s readily welcoming but built to last, where one gets a little something neat out of every spin, the richness and pleasure of the album steadily increasing as its words, tunes and performances slowly settle into the listener’s bones.

We invited Bradley to tackle DI’s quasi-philosophical round table, and here’s what he had to say.

now what?

Greg Humphreys

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Humphreys plays New York City next Wednesday, September 25, at The Bowery Electric before late October dates in North Carolina and shows in NYC (11/6) and Phoenixville, PA (11/9). Dates and details here.

Greg Humphreys and Friend

Greg Humphreys and Friend

Greg Humphreys is a perennial pleasure, an ever-blooming example of what dedication to one’s art and a fierce resistance to abandoning exposed heart and simple, sincere emotion can produce. Since emerging with cult beloved Dillon Fence in the 80s and then busting onto the groove rock scene with Hobex in 1990s, Humphreys has steadily built up the kind of catalogue that marks him as the next generation behind utterly reliable pros like Nick Lowe, Willie Nile and John Hiatt, and as a peer to high quality contemporaries Johnny Irion, Ed Anderson and Neal Casal. With a voice as smooth as 70s Motown yet country as hell when it wants to be, Humphreys is a classic crooner, understanding it’s the singer AND the song that really seals the deal. And Humphreys’ tunes are crisp, clear and Tin Pan Alley awesome, the sort of fare that shows how hard it is to work, even on the edges, of the same field as song masters like Paul McCartney and Loudon Wainwright III. Humphreys pulls it off with easy aplomb, a natural in the Fantastic Mr. Fox sense.

This old sea will throw you around/ Make you feel like you’ll never be found/ But a star in the night will show you a light/ And one day love will abound.”

New Album

New Album

Bohemia (released May 7, listen and pick up CD here) is Humphrey’s fourth solo album, and kids, it’s a corker. “While You’re Away” brings the bubbly, romantic bounce Les Paul & Mary Ford to today, “Jubble on, Jubbly” is finger-picked dust road, nonsense blues that suggests what Capt. Beefheart might have sounded like in a lighthearted mood, and “Shelby, I Told You” is sadly sweet country jukebox perfection – and this is just one three song run on an album that feels richly diverse despite its brevity. See, Humphreys is such a solid gold champ he can get the job done in half the time with twice the impact of lesser singer-songwriters.

His reach here dabbles in Ink Spots-esque acoustic pop (“Sweet LaRue”), gentle railroad picking (“Railroad Bill,” where he’s joined by Phil Cook of DI Super Faves Megafaun – Cook also plays some tasty slide dobro on “Jubble on, Jubbly”), earnest classic R&B (“Someday, I’ll Have Mine” where Humphreys’ Sam Cooke echoes reverberate loudly), Bill Withers style folk-soul (“Sayin’ What You Mean”), and sparkling California dappled rock “(Across the Ocean, Mama,” where one can easily imagine Topanga Canyon denizens rolling a number and inhaling Greg’s vibe). One can point to a lot of classic touchstones listening to Greg Humphreys but it’s not because he’s emulating anyone. He just operates on a simpatico plain, offering up serving after serving of truly well crafted, beautifully delivered music that goes down smooth.

We invited Greg to pull up a chair at DI’s philosophical roundtable, and here’s what he had to say.

jammin’ with Jesus!

Nathan Moore

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”Lord knows it’s hard to fail when you’re just along for the ride. I’ve been building a hobo’s home. It’s going wherever you want to go and never ever having to hide.”

Nathan Moore by Andrew Quist

Nathan Moore by Andrew Quist

Not many open their arms wide to the world, and fewer still resist the instinctual urge to flinch when what jumps into their arms isn’t what they expected. It may be that Nathan Moore isn’t entirely fearless but the singular Virginia singer-songwriter bravely hit the road for an extended anything-goes gypsy five month ramble, broadcast live on the interwebs 24/7, that took him coast-to-coast and then some and found Moore making music and mischief with a rogue’s gallery of America’s best and oddest. It’s the sort of journey that’d snap most men but it mostly exposed his bounteous spirit and seemingly endless capacity to inspire creativity and barefoot-minded fun in others.

It’s fitting the punctuation mark on this glorious run-on sentence would include a sprawling cast of pros and fans accenting and enlivening Moore’s already lively, heart-strong compositions penned and honed during the Hippy Fiasco. Trying to catch a Jesus and dream surfing on rollaway beds, Moore and company chew over the rambling life where pioneers, both bohemian human and stalwart snail, blaze trails on Hippy Fiasco Rides Again (pick it up HERE). The quandaries of crossing the same river twice and the mundanity of travel (or simply waiting for one’s life to unfold) are puzzled over in a graceful manner that belies how many moving parts and disparate contributions lay behind each track.

Impounded_HippyFiasco

The flow is all with this album, and one feels compelled to put their hand out the window to scoop up the wind and sunshine as if they were riding alongside Moore, Chad Galactic, Liz Bunny and Gypsy the cat in the van on the way to somewhere. The unknown is less frightful than it usually is in their company, and this song cycle splits one open with its off-handed philosophizing, the entrails of one’s life easier to read with these tunes as divining rods.

The cast of characters includes Greensky Bluegrass’ Paul Hoffman and Anders Beck, Nathan’s Surprise Me Mr. Davis bandmates Andrew Barr and Marco Benevento, ALO’s Dave Brogan, DI fave & Moore’s Staunton, VA homie Bryan Elijah Smith, Tea Leaf Green’s Reed Mathis, Trevor Garrod and Cochrane Mcmillan, and lots more (full roster here). But the individual contributions aren’t spelled out in detail, so all one knows is these folks had some hand in cooking this beautiful potluck feast. There’s something delightfully egalitarian about this choice, and also an acknowledgement that we can’t always account for all those who influence and shape our lives and creative output – we are the sum of ALL our encounters and influences, even the ones we cannot remember or pinpoint.

The battle-scarred tin kazoo – a fixture around Moore’s neck on a leather cord throughout the Fisaco – that adorns the cover exudes a mojo hand quality, a traveler’s talisman with powers beyond music – though really what is beyond music? It symbolizes the playfulness and rugged roads of the Hippy Fiasco well, and as such works as a gateway into this chapter of Moore’s ongoing adventures, where, as the liner notes state, he “threw himself to the mercy of the wind, and, thanks to song lovers everywhere, he flew higher than ever before…and brought us all along for the ride.” This album allows those who were there – in person and online – to relive these times, but more importantly it represents the next phase in Moore’s growth as one of this new century’s finest troubadours and thrift store Buddahs – an inspired conduit for workaday wisdom, unguarded laughter, and cleansing tears.

We asked Nathan to tackle DI’s ongoing philosophical roundtable.

freewheelin’ dyslexia!

The Wingdale Community Singers

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The Wingdale Community Singers

The Wingdale Community Singers

Night, Sleep, Death (released February 19 on Blue Chopsticks), the third outing from The Wingdale Community Singers, is a wise breeze blown in on the “mystical, moist night air,” a subtle, elemental current filled with secrets and everyday wisdom waiting for anyone that lets it flow over them, heart open and mind ready to spin. Principles singer-songwriters Hannah Marcus and Rick Moody with guitarist-singer David Grubbs weave tuneful, intimate ruminations with echoes of a more bedraggled Simon & Garfunkel, the folksy side of Elliott Smith, early John Martyn, and California hidden gems The Moore Brothers with a sprinkling of Oar Skip Spence in the subtle, moody atmosphere. Mortality is front and center, both the emptying hourglass variety and the more personal corpses of people we used to be, but Night, Sleep, Death is no gallows affair. Quite the contrary, in fact, the long black veil is pulled back to reveal how much of our suffering is self-induced, a construct that can be undone by laughter and a well placed, “So what?”

I was walking down the road/ When I came across a bunch of people having a good time/ And the reason was a friend of theirs they really liked had just died/ And I realized that everything, everything is just how you decide to see it.

New Album

New Album

The blend of voices here is further bolstered by guests Jolie Holland and Tanya Donelly, the sound of folks who like to sit close and see how their singing intertwines, at times massed and lush and others a solitary sound with frailty and hope worn on its sleeve for all the world to see. Moments are redolent of sea shanties and Renaissance English rounds but the language and ideas are pleasantly modern, the mundane and majestic each having their say over the course of this moving song cycle. Each instrument, mostly stringed ones including some really lovely violin work, has a presence that’s uncluttered, the vibrations leaping from the speakers in an almost visual manner, a skipping companion to the singing, which takes center stage throughout. There’s always just the right amount of instrumental accompaniment, the perfect skeleton to dance with all the rich ideas, cogent observations, and quivering tongues.

Moody is a hell of a novelist (Garden State, Right Livelihoods, The Ice Storm) that brings ringing tenderness to his pieces on Night, Sleep, Death, proving the rare exception to the general awfulness of most author bands. His sincerity and open delivery combined with the inescapably philosophical nature of he and Marcus’ compositions is a catalyst for the listener to drop their guard and muse vulnerably along with the Wingdale gang. Everything about this set – including Marcus’ wonderfully flowing, captivating voice – seems to encourage closeness and shared introspection, the subject matter and the form it’s delivered to us in reaching big stuff through less traveled pathways.

Attention to detail is always important with The Wingdale Community Singers but never more so than with their latest salvo, which could painlessly whiff by careless listeners yet rewards hugely those willing to shut out the hubbub and endless digital connectivity that’s become the modern norm. A truly special album riddled with enlightenment, beauty, and the ache of the human condition. If they only make a new album every 3-4 years let it be as great as Night, Sleep, Death. It’s well worth the wait.

David Grubbs, Hannah Marcus and Rick Moody were kind enough to tackle DI’s ongoing philosophical roundtable, and here’s what they had to say.

stuffed dormouse & quaaludes!

Krista Polvere

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Impounded_Krista_Album

A compelling fire burns, both smoldering and raging, on the end-to-end excellent Reservoir Drive, the sophomore outing from Adelaide-based Krista Polvere. There’s heat to her songs that warms and scalds in all the right places as this Aussie shows off an understanding of Americana ways that bests a great deal of her Stateside competition. Produced by Marc Ford (Ryan Bingham, Steepwater Band, ex-Black Crowes) and his longtime collaborator Anthony Arvizu, Reservoir Drive is by turns intimate and believably tough, a combination that puts her in the good company of touchstones like prime Linda Ronstadt and Bonnie Raitt and contemporaries like Nicki Bluhm and Julie Miller.

Krista Polvere

Krista Polvere

This set is a lovely balancing act of material ideal for radio play and album cuts that speak of depths the mainstream airwaves don’t dabble in anymore. Polvere is totally convincing rocking out, as on the Ryan Adams aided single “Looking For Love,” but she’s often most affecting when she whispers in our ear, her naturally warbled voice making one sigh and close their eyes as bluebirds fly around our head.

The arrangements and instrumentation on Reservoir Drive are pitch perfect, mandolin and electric guitars each having their say with Polvere skipping and swaying over it all. Recorded at Compound Studio in Long Beach, the album carries a lil’ California shimmer, the ghosts of Topanga Canyon and 70s Asylum Records twang touched rock flying in the background of this quite charming update of the very winning formula of dead solid songwriting, quality musicianship, tasty production and a front woman with impactful pipes filled with genuine personality.

We asked Krista to tackle DI’s ongoing philosophical roundtable to get to know this promising new artist a bit better. And peep the video directed by Impound favorite Bryan Elijah Smith below along with some duets the two captured while Smith played dates with Polvere in Australia last year.

stuffed dormouse & quaaludes!