The Detroit duo

The Detroit duo “The Whiskey Charmers”

Here’s some music to sink your teeth into!

A friend told me I should check out the debut album by the Whiskey Charmers, an alt-country duo from Detroit. They wouldn’t tell me about it; they said to just listen for myself. That piqued my interest. So I downloaded it from their Bandcamp site.

As I was listening to it, my critic was in high gear. I was curious what they were up to. I was trying to get a handle on it.

At first, I thought, wow… I would’ve liked to have been involved in the production of this album. I’d have some good suggestions.

A line from the first song really jumped out at me: “But then you looked at the horizon – and you vanished into thin air”. Nice… A pretty evocative image. I’m sure we’ve all known a few people like that.

The next song was about a vampire… Hmmm… Okay, I’ve never really been that into vampires; haven’t understood the attraction and fascination. I remember how as kids, my older sister always loved to watch the soap opera “Dark Shadows”, about the vampire Barnabas Collins. I get it now – he was mysterious and sexy…

The “Neon Motel Room” has “a nice little quaint highway view.”

The song “C Blues” got my pulse going. It was a nice musical change of pace. Though very short, it seems like a good genre for the duo.

“Can’t Leave” has some very nice guitar figures that really grabbed me. Kind of Spanish/arabesque stuff like John Cippolina might’ve played.

I listened through to the end of the album; and then started from the beginning again.

I thought about production. What does that word mean? Everybody involved with the making of a recording is – in some sense of the word – ‘producing’ it. I marveled as I thought about how much is actually involved in putting out an album like this.

And as I continued to listen, it started dawning on me what was going on here.

It’s a dramatic, spooky, thematic collection of songs; nicely woven together. It has, in fact, been produced just as it should’ve been! The album continues to grow on me.

Saints and sinners; rattlesnakes; vampires; rusted chains on feet that have been there a thousand years… ghosts maybe? The singing, the low key ‘production’… All very nice. I could listen to this album over and over. I continue to do so. It’s a kick.

Okay, one reviewer called it country noir. Nice. That’ll do as a label. Kind of Goth, even – but with a sense of humor, imagination and a light touch. If it is in fact country music… Well, what a great way to mix up genres! This is original and fresh.

Also – there is a tradition and precedent in country music. Much of the country music from an earlier era – The Louvin Brothers’ “Knoxville Girl” comes to mind – came from traditional English, Scottish or Irish ballads. And we all know how the Irish love their ghost stories, right? Listen to “Sit Down By The Fire” by the Pogues for the modern equivalent.

One of the first songs that grew on me is “Vampire”. It’s such a great metaphor for how a moment’s passion can lead to a lifetime of misery. But what I love most about this album is how well the songs all go together as a whole.

Check it out! For your listening pleasure! Lullabies for the dispossessed! (Or even for the
possessed!)  Now available:  “The Whiskey Charmers”

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Bandcamp Download and Streaming Link:
https://thewhiskeycharmers.bandcamp.com/releases

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Website:

wwww.thewhiskeycharmers.com

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I think Dave Edmunds is one of the great under appreciated talents of roots rock ‘n roll. How would I describe his music?

I like upbeat, up tempo rock music – a lot. I like virtuosity on the guitar; clever songwriting; expressive singing; and good interpretation and arrangement of others’ work, where it eclipses the originals or adds something ineffable.

I saw him play at a nice small auditorium during one of Seattle Center’s Bumbershoot festivals, some years back, playing solo with just an acoustic guitar. What a talent!

I put together a playlist on Spotify called Edmunds, Lowe and Rockpile. Some of my favorite, stand-out tracks from the playlist are: Standing At The Crossroads; Born Fighter; Home In My Hand; Halfway Down; It Doesn’t Really Matter; I Love Music; Girls Talk; Almost Saturday Night; Three Times Loser; When I write the Book; and You Ain’t Nothin’ But Fine.

Nick Lowe is a great talent, too. I love his voice; he’s a fantastic singer! He brings a great sardonic sense of humor to his singing and lyrics.

Rockpile and some of Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe’s ‘solo’ work are all basically the same band. Nick Lowe played bass and sang. Edmunds sang, as did guitarist Billy Bremer. Terry Williams played drums. Wow! What a band! They put out an impressive collection of work.

I like trying to guess whether it is Lowe or Edmunds singing on some tracks. Their voices are sometimes similar; and sometimes have their own interesting nuances. This is particularly evidenced on their note-perfect interpretations of Everly Brothers tunes. It’s obvious to me that they influenced and complimented each other tremendously, as musicians.

The Blasters – including the brothers Phil and Dave Alvin – and the solo work of Dave Alvin – also rate high on my current play list. I also made a playlist for them on Spotify: The Blasters and Dave Alvin.

Dave Alvin is one of the primo, number one, undisputed great writers of Americana music. And he’s always a threat on guitar! He’s collaborated as Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women with two of my favorite female singers – Christy McWilson of The Picketts (check out their 1993 album, Paper Doll) and Laurie Lewis (Another fine songwriter! Check out her albums Earth and Sky: Songs of Laurie Lewis and True Stories.)

Phil Alvin – what can I say?! He’s one of the classic vocalists of the Americana genre. His voice conveys excitement and joy. It’s a little similar to Kim Wilson of The Fabulous Thunderbirds and Malford Milligan of Storyville. Very expressive and soulful. One of my current faves.

Finally, a word about John Doe. I saw him do a free short set at Easy Street Records in Seattle, around the time of his solo album Keeper, in October 2011. Wow. As a fan of the band X‘s album Under The Big Black Sun since the early ’80’s, the great dissonant blend of his and Exene’s voice – and the great instrumentation – was a part of my DNA.

He had another female singer with him. It was all acoustic, I think. But wow. That voice! His presence! It made me think I’d died and gone to heaven; moved me to tears; and made the hair stand up on the back of my neck – all at once! I was working hard and didn’t have the energy to go see him at The Tractor Tavern later that night. But I just want to testify! – if you ever get a chance to see him solo – do yourself a favor – Go!!

Check out my playlists at Spotify –   Search for:  Amy8Trak and then click on fair_choice for additional ones.

Now available! My playlists on Spotify. Enter Amy8Trak in the search box. Then click on fair_choice to see more lists. Then click on “See All”