Neko Case’s album Middle Cyclone garnered numerous accolades last year picking up two Grammy nominations for Best Contemporary Folk Album and Best Recording Package, as well as being named album of the year by Amazon.com, the critical accolades were backed by commercial success as the album rode high on the Billboard Top Ten. I’ve been a fan of Ms Case after first hearing her debut album The Virginian released back in 1997, there’s a great article from No Depression here, not one to rest on her laurels she has in the period since released six further full lengths and an EP Canadian Amp featuring a cover version of Neil Young’s Dreaming Man, as well as collaborating with The New Pornographers on four albums and Canadian singer-songwriter Carolyn Mark and The Sadies amongst others. Neko’s style has changed and developed but through this the quality of the music has remained consistently high, if you were after nominations for Americana artist of the decade then Ms Case would surely make the short list.
I’ve featured some of Neko’s work previously on Beat Surrender and have another handful of tracks here for you, from Neko’s performance on the World Cafe back in September 09, the set features a wonderful version of Vengeance is Sleeping.
Hailing from Oakland CA and describing their music as “slow southern folk” The Shants are – Skip Allums (guitars,vocals,piano), Samuel Tokheim (pedal steel) , Carver Cordes (bass) and Adam Burstein (drums) with Maggie Morris on harmony vocals.
The lead off track from their debut EP Russian River Songs sets the tone nicely and fits easily into the Americana genre, the mood created by the pedal steel and acoustic guitar set against the weary vocal and hushed harmonica fitting the song perfectly.
The EP was created in a cabin in the redwoods near the Russian River, recorded live to tape in one or two takes and has that natural organic sound that fits the songs well. As the album progresses the clear winner for me in this 8 track 30 minute song cycle is the steel playing of Samuel Tokhein that weaves through the songs offering a perfect foil for the laid back vocals of Skip Allums.
This album may not shout out to be noticed but it manages to subtly win over your attention, check out more from the band at their website
The band have plans to record and release a full length album soon – watch this space for updates.
San Francisco born actress and singer-songwriter Daisy McCrackin came to my attention through a recent email along with a link to listen to her current EP The Rodeo Grounds released through Astronaut Records the six track release proving to be a thoroughly enjoyable listen, Daisy’s voice, fragile and ethereal lending itself to her self penned brand of indie folk pop with it’s stripped down production and delicate acoustic arrangements, a mellow and thoughtful collection of love songs. Opening track Tell Her is my favourite from EP, advice from a girlfriend to her married lover.