Reviews

TURNSTYLED: Haymaker, The Wood Brothers, Emily Herring, Erich McMann, Sam Hadfield

TURNSTYLED: Haymaker, The Wood Brothers, Emily Herring, Erich McMann, Sam Hadfield
Written by Jonathan Shifflett

Haymaker

Haymaker
Now Now Now
(Self)

On their new album Now Now Now, Haymaker channels the bright sound of Tom Petty and the country-fried blues of the Black Crowes. The veteran rockers hail from Long Beach, Ca and owe their repertoire to the collaborative effort of songwriters Mike Jacoby and J.W. Surge. Providing solid tunes with catchy hooks, Now Now Now is a workingman’s soundtrack, steering clear of pedantry and sticking with perennial themes of heartache, loss and good humored easy living.

A product of living room strumming, the new album considers relatable topics with generous and often self-deprecating perspectives. “Stomp The Gas” cruises along to a grimy guitar boogie and spits a patronizing message to the ubiquitous ‘you.’ To their credit, the ‘you’ is revealed to be a ‘me,’  a perspective shift which indicates maybe there’s a Dostoevsky novel on their practice room bookshelf. Their only recorded ballad, “Lie In Bed” navigates minor chords with a lament for miscommunication while “Marisol” fondly recalls, with a Rick Springfield-worthy chorus, how a lover “made me think, ‘I don’t know what I think.'” Jacoby and Surge aren’t pretending to have answers. Rather, they admit their own imperfections and stick to the infectious rock rhythms, witty hooks and squealing guitar solos that make you wanna raise your glass and say, “heck yeah!”

Regular performers in the LA bar scene, Haymaker had their record release show for Now Now Now on Friday, November 8 at the Silverlake Lounge.

haymakerband.com

 

TheWoodBrothers

The Wood Brothers
The Muse
(Southern Ground)

Brothers Chris and Oliver Wood and recent addition, percussionist Jano Rix, comprise the Americana powerhouse, the Wood Brothers. The Muse adheres to the sound with which we’ve come to associate the Nashville trio – Americana songwriting combined with bluesy soul and swampy undertones. Produced by musician Buddy Miller and engineered by Nashville veteran Mike Poole (Richard Thompson, Robert Plant), The Muse, their fourth studio album, provides a stereoscopic view of an intelligently gritty trio that can’t seem to miss a beat.

For the most part, the Wood Brothers are up to their old tricks. If you remember Medeski, Martin & Wood, the growling bass lines that Chris employs in “Keep Me Around” and “Who the Devil” need no introduction. On the other hand, “Neon Tombstone” and “The Muse” rely on Oliver’s restrained sense of harmony and tough-guy poetry. Their combined influences come out in “Honey Jar,” a Memphis breakbeat that transitions into a half-time, Texas blues drag. Rix, when not drumming like a junkyard cat, decorates the tunes with vocals harmonies, melodica lines and syncopations from his customized “shuitar” – A shitty guitar modified like a portable drum kit. The trio undoubtedly earns credit for their big sound, but occasionally producer Buddy Miller will wave his hand out from behind the curtain. On “Sweet Maria,” he injects cinematic arpeggios and mournful tinkles from a ramshackle piano into the mournful ballad, breaking from the album’s stark realism. The Muse stands as a near perfect example of when obscene musical talent meets sound production wizardry.

thewoodbros.com

 

emilyherring

Emily Herring
Your Mistake
(Self)

Electric guitar, dobro and and pedal steel sparkle like cadillac chrome on Emily Herring’s latest album, Your Mistake. The twelve tracks span the Texan musical territory from Honkytonk to Country blues while she asserts her Lonestar individuality around every chord change.

A born Texan, Herring developed her performance chops in Portland, OR before making her home in San Marcos, TX. Her songwriting recalls a Texas state of mind where the best advice is to toughen up and the best cure is to start dancing. Courting outlaw poetry with clean, Country picking, Herring portrays herself as a frontierswoman, ready to outdrink any man until the last song is sung and the remaining poker chips are piled in her favor. The ace up her sleeve is her smooth yodel that ornaments the ending phrases and adorns her feminine sentiments. “Turquoise Earrings” is a steel guitar-swathed ballad of beauty queen’s in 85′ F-150’s whereas “One Sip of Water,” laced with dobro lines, calmly maintains, “you thought I just wanted one little sip of water, but a Southern girl is a tidal wave.”

Herring’s music isn’t for fakers. Although she is tactfully avoids disparaging the rest of America, don’t expect her to swap recipes with Californians any time soon. Gasoline-powered and hickory-smoked, Your Mistake reminds us all that Texas pride ain’t going nowhere.

emilyherring.net

 

ErichMcMann

Erich McMann
The Last American Songbook
(Self)

Erich McMann wrote The Last American Songbook after a week of silent reflection in a Missouri motel. Witnessing the impoverished condition of small town America contrasted against the splendor of the Ozark Mountains inspired the veteran songwriter to explore the themes of “truth, love and the American spirit.”

His repertoire, as McMann states, is comprised of “simple songs, sort of like ‘The Red River Valley'” that float between Folk ballads, honky tonk struts and Blues forms. Imitating the fervor of a street-corner preacher, McMann’s songwriting features a top-down approach that favors raw expression over diligently crafted words and melodies. “I Don’t Need No Woman” swings to a good-natured, surf beat while the singer warns a pretty hitchhiker not to tell him how to drive. “My Heart Pounds” references Lefty Frizzell, and doles out schoolboy sentiments and vintage Honkytonk fills. When departing from minimal textures, however, McMann is less successful. “The Time Has Come,” making bold use of budget chamber reverb, channels Waylon Jennings via David Bowie at cowboy karaoke night. Perhaps the most convincing tune is ” The Branson MO Blues,” where his expression of wit and cynicism against the American dream is accompanied by furious, campfire strumming.

Falling somewhere between haphazard ditties and masterpieces of simplicity, The Last American Songbook is nevertheless a bold statement against America’s increasing estrangement from its down-home sentiments and rural roots.

erichmcmann.bandcamp.com

 

SamHadfield

Sam Hadfield
Livin’ With Free Livin’ On My Mind
(Self)

Sam Hadfield, left the Kentucky countryside and settled in Austin, TX to pursue the life of a musician. Blending Folk and Country Blues, don’t be surprised if some Bluegrass dirt still clings to his Dylan-inspired roots.

His first full length album, Livin’ With Free Livin’ on My Mind, boasts lyrical melodies that never fall below a hoarse rant. Hadfield may not be the grittiest or toughest of the bunch but he knows how to throw down with a scrappy dog attitude – be tough enough, or maybe just crazy enough, to keep the bigger dogs at bay. “Sleeping with the rats on a burlap sack, eat them when I can, ” he says in the vagrant lament “Born in New York Town.” Hadfield’s reedy voice portrays a late night gigger who’s ready for the next one and the one the night after. Reminiscent of Kristofferson’s bedraggled optimism, “Brook Street” reels and totters, juxtaposing a contented disposition with a pitiable state. With the band’s early Rockabilly vibe and Hadfield’s ear for turning simple phrases into memorable rhythms and melodies, his tunes are sure to turn any barroom attendee into a devout follower. Told with rough-hewn realism, Sam Hadfield’s tales are smart, funny and relatable, albeit a little cooler than your own.

samhadfieldmusic.com

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