Category Archives: Alt-country

Michael Rank And Stag – Horsehair

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Have featured all four of Michael Rank’s previous albums starting in 2012 on Beat Surrender and it’s a pleasure to write about his latest release Horsehair as the prolific songwriter continues to ride a rich vein of form – once again he has collaborated with a bunch of talented local musicians including John Teer (Chatham County Line on fiddle), John Howie Jr. (Two Dollar Pistols) and Nathan Golub (Mandolin Orange),  in-keeping with previous recent releases Rank partners with a female vocalist for the album to temper his own rough-hewn style and this time it’s Heather McEntire of Mount Moriah who’s contribution is central to the albums appeal providing the perfect foil for Rank’s compositions, at times it almost as if her voice is the thread that’s holding the songs together as the melancholy frays their edges and pulls at their seams. Highly recommended.

You can read a bit more about Michael’s music and creative process in a recent interview with IndyWeek here.

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Michael Rank & Stag / Facebook / Twitter

STATE CHAMPION – FANTASY ERROR

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‘Slacker Americana’ from Kentucky / Chicago based State Champion, the bands new release Fantasy Error is out later this spring on Sophomore Lounge, both the bands previous releases are in my record collection and have featured on Beat Surrender, Stale Champagne in 2005 and Deep Shit in 2011, the new album is also available on vinyl too.

Clocking in at a vinyl optimum of 45 minutes the band have infused the critical elements of rock and alt-country into a wonderfully tumbledown creation, that shakes, rattles and rolls itself along a meandering musical path.



State Champion

State Champion / Facebook / Twitter / Sophomore Lounge

Michael Dean Damron – When the Darkness Come



When the Darkness Come is the latest release from Micheal Dean Damron which is set for release on the 24th of May. The former boxer, member of the 101st Airborne and frontman of punk-country band I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch in the House, brings to bear his life experiences to create an album of heavy gravitas on which he tackles personal demons, loss, death and advocates to the right of the US political spectrum; as well as his own songs there are a couple of covers Were Getting Closer to the Grave (Luke the Drifter,a.k.a. Hank Williams) and Am I The Only One Drinking Tonight ( Doug Stanhope and Mishka Shubaly).



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Porter – This Red Mountain

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The plot.
Road-weary troubadour, moves from Alabama to Texas kicking off of a new chapter in his life with muse and musical co-conspirator Bonnie Whitmore. Falls-in with an A-team of players who become instrumental in helping him turn this corner of his life and career.


The cast.
Chris Masterson- Guitars, Pedal Steel, Vocals, Sparkle Pony
Eleanor Whitmore- Violin, Viola, Tenor Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals
Falcon Valdez- Drums, Percussion, Paint Cans
Bonnie Whitmore- Bass, Vocals
Jon Dee Graham- Lap Steel, Wisdom, Guidance, Cigarettes
Will Johnson- Vocals, Organ, Static (production)
Chris Porter- Vocals, Guitar, Songs



Spoiler alert…………..creates alt-country album of the year.

Porter / Facebook / Twitter

The Dreaming Spires – Searching For The Supertruth

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In the few days before I started to write this post the music news was full of the rather farcical judgement in favour of Marvin Gaye’s family by a US court surrounding the alleged plagiarism of the great mans song Got to Give It Up by Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke, if this is a test case for future suing and counter-suing, and I was Oxford brothers Robin and Joe Bennett then I’d maybe be expecting a few letters in the post from various legal representatives of the great and good of the music business as the siblings latest album, recorded with Jamie Dawson (drums and percussion) and Nick Fowler (guitars) as The Dreaming Spires, at one point or another sounds like any number of songs from the past, whether they originate from the West Coast of the US, South East of Glasgow  or Muswell Hill.

The truth of the matter is that despite the surface familiarity that manifests itself throughout this album, revealing and uncovering its influences and inspirations, that in order to convey a true reverence to the past then the resulting songs must resonate in the here and now with a  deeper level of appreciation – in their quest for the supertruth The Dreaming Spires have reinforced the point that there are only really two types of music and this ten song collection falls into the ‘good’ category – highly recommended and what’s more it available in a rather nice vinyl package too from the guys at Clubhouse Records

The Dreaming Spires – Dusty in Memphis

The Dreaming Spires / Facebook / Twitter