2022 TJ Stocking Stuffers with Truth & Salvage Company, Town Mountain, Effie Zilch, and The Harlem Gospel Travelers

By Brian Rock

It’s finally December and that means it’s time for party throwing, mistletoe-ing, and Ho Ho Ho-ing! We hope this Christmas season brings you a sleigh full of good friends, good memories, and of course, good music. For those looking for a few last-minute gift ideas for the music lover in their lives; or for those who like to include a little gift or two for themselves while shopping for their loved ones (we won’t judge!) here’s a list of some of the latest new releases sure to hit all the right notes for whoever is on your nice list.


For the Soul fan:

Effie Zilch: Trinity Vol. 2

San Francisco based Americana duo combines soul, gospel, rock and folk to create a beautiful sermon-in-song about learning to love one another. With a backing band that rivals the house band at Stax, Effie Zilch moves your feet as well as your spirit with brilliantly written and arranged songs. Lead singer, Evanne Barcenas’ voice is a revelation. At time ethereal and at times gritty, she gives maximum emotional impact to every note she sings. From the folk of “Holy River,” to the rock of “June” to the gospel of “Room For Us All,” Effie Zilch brings a smile with every musical style.

Totally Tinsel Track: Ship Has Sailed”

A gospel/funk fusion about letting go of our ego, respecting each other and having faith in a higher power; the song is a musical ray of sunshine.  |  fb  |  buy


For the Country fan:

Town Mountain: Lines In The Levee

North Carolina Bluegrass faves return for their sixth album of Appalachian-flavored Americana. Taking a strong Bill Monroe influence and combining it with elements of The Band and Chris Stapleton, Town Mountain creates a robust, richly textured “Newgrass” sound. From ballads like, “Lean Into The Blue” and “Rene,” to barnburners like “Firebound Road,” and “American Family,” the band covers a range of tempos and emotions as they explore modern life in the ancient mountains.

Totally Tinsel Track: Lines In The Levee”

Echoes of The Band classic, “The Shape I’m In,” resonate throughout this lively fiddle and banjo driven bluegrass/rock fusion. Like R.E.M.’s “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine),” the song masks pessimistic lyrics behind raucous rhythms.  |  fb  |  buy



For the Alternative Rock fan

Truth & Salvage Company: Atoms Form

After a long winter’s nap (of fifteen years) Truth & Salvage Company reunite to release their third album. Cosmic Cowboy vibes permeate all thirteen tracks on this album as the band moves from rock to outlaw country to ballads. They turn the energy up to 11 on the ironically named, “So Sad.” They turn introspective in “Charm City.” They capture the indie spirit of 90’s rockers like Cracker on “All Stand Tall.” The evoke the lush, Hammond organ infused tones of Whiskey Wolves of the West on “Bird On The Wing.” They pull at your heart strings on the touching ballad, “Special.” Thoughtful lyrics and imaginative arrangements are the hallmark of the DIY attitude that drives this band.

Totally Tinsel Tune: Middle Island Creek”

Piano and guitar drive this Steve Earl flavored high-octane Honky-Tonk. A joyful celebration of a favorite local fishing hole, the song reminds us to focus on life’s simple pleasures.  |  fb  |  buy


For the Gospel fan:

The Harlem Gospel Travelers: Look Up!

Straddling the line between gospel and soul, The Harlem Gospel Travelers evoke memories of Sam Cooke’s early days with the Soul Stirrers.  In this season of comfort and joy, The Harlem Gospel Travelers remind us the reason to be joyful. Expressing their faith in sweet harmonies and uplifting lyrics, the HGT give us hope and encouragement with every verse. From the classic 60’s Soul of “Hold On (Joy Is Coming,)” to the bluesy Nina Simone influenced tones of “God’s In Control,” to the smooth Take 6 style vocals of “Help Me To Understand,” the HGT weave a musical coat of many colors with their various styles and influences. 

Totally Tinsel Tune: I’m Grateful”

Wailing guitar, humming Hammond organ, and clapping hands set the tone for this uptempo praise song that celebrates all the good things in life and gives all credit to God for those blessings.  |  fb  |  buy


For the Bookworm:

The Birth of Rock “N” Roll: The Illustrated History of Sun Records by Peter Guralnick & Colin Escott

Sun Records is simply the most influential recording studio of all time. In its brief history, it introduced the world to Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and B.B. King; among other luminaries. Breaking tradition, Sun Records didn’t just focus on one genre of music. The studio opened its doors to musicians of all styles (and colors.) The confluence of country, blues, hillbilly, and gospel music created the perfect sonic environment for a new form to emerge from this creative cauldron – rock and roll.

This book takes you behind the scenes with firsthand accounts and original, lavishly produced 9 ½” by 12” photos of the monumental moments that made Sun Records a world-wide phenomenon.  The book is divided into three parts: 1. An introduction to the early days of the studio 2. A track-by-track account of the 70 most influential songs recorded at Sun 3. The legacy of Sun Records. But every page is a testament to the spirit and vision of Sam Phillips, the man who founded Sun. He was the first to see the potential of combining Black and White musical styles. He was the first to introduce the “slapback” recording style. He was the first to say yes to Elvis, when so many others said no. He brought people together, and he brought out the best in people.

In his own words, Sam “was looking for a higher ground, for what I knew existed in the soul of mankind.” The music he produced tapped into that essence. The Sun Records songs didn’t just talk about love and loss, they expressed the transcendent joys and soul crushing pains that come with love. The music he helped create tapped into the very soul of the human experience, and music has been the better for it ever since. This book is a fitting tribute to Sam Phillips and his vision of music that speaks to and for us all.  |  buy

Brian Rock

Brian Rock

Brian was raised gypsy style, moving every other year until well after college. As friendships proved to be temporary, Brian found a constant companion in music, wearing the grooves off Beatles and Dylan albums before moving on to Lyle Lovett and Dwight Yokam. Living so often in flux, he has come to value music and lyrics of lasting quality. Not moved by trends or fashion, he is drawn to timeless lyrics and soulful rhythms. Although now settled down, Brian still expresses his gypsy spirit through his writing. He has co-written songs with musician friends he’s met along the way, including several contributions to the 2012 ICMA Album of the Year, Family Album. Brian also writes children’s books and poems, including the Children’s Book Council featured title, The Deductive Detective.
Brian Rock

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