Boudin Barndance favorite new releases & reissues of 2012


Kelly Hogan – I Like to Keep Myself in Pain (Anti)

Kelly Hogan knows a good song when she hears it. She grabs it, pulls it into her innards and spits out this passionate and typically masterful interpretation. She does it in spades on this record which is for all moods and moments.

Heartless Bastards – Arrow (Partisan)

The emotive voice of Erik Wennerstrom comes from a place so very deep in the soul. Heartless Bastards fans know that for a fact. It is a band that rocks in a way few others do with Arrow just one more piece of evidence. Four longplayers in, Ear Bliss highly recommends you take the HB Kool-Aid and discover this band.

J.D. McPherson – Signs & Signifiers (Rounder)

Old school rock & roll, rockabilly, and blue-eyed soul. This guy’s appearance at last summer’s Green River Festival was the single best performance I saw all year (and I saw a ton). If you are rock and roll, this album is more convincing than your preacher.

Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls (ATO)

Can’t recall a band that ascended as quickly as this small town Alabama bunch. Singer Brittany Howard is a force to be reckoned with and her band lockstep on this garage soul masterpiece.

First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar (Wichita)

These two gals from Sweden had the masses in the palm of their hands at last summer’s Newport Folk Fest with their mesmerizing vocals and harmonies. The Lion’s Roar does the same.

John Fullbright – From the Ground Up (Blue Dirt)

Only in his early twenties, Fullbright has the songwriting soul of someone three times his age. Can you say Townes Van Zandt? Here’s hoping he’s not one and done.

Winterpills – All My Lovely Goners (ATO)

When folk meets pop in a big sound kind of way, critics revert to calling it “chamber pop.” If that’s what it is, Winterpills from Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley prove themselves experts on this gorgeous record.

Patterson Hood – Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance (ATO Records)

Via his work with the Drive-By Truckers, Patterson Hood has proven time and again the ability to put a story to song in a captivating way. On this solo turn, he strips it down but with as satisfying results as the best of his DBTs work.

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Meat + Bone (Boombox)

After a nearly decade hiatus, the 1990s blues punk stalwarts return with Meat + Bone. It is pure, unfiltered R&R with a vengeance from a trio in as fine a form as ever.

Dead Fingers – self-titled (Big Legal Mess)

Quirky may be putting it lightly for this Alabama-based husband-wife duo. Call their self-tilted debut blues with a Southern twist from a twosome that digs in with slide guitar and off-kilter vocals just this side of John and Exene fame. Listen and you just want more.

Mark Cutler – Sweet Pain (75orless)

On Sweet Pain, local hero Mark Cutler (The Schemers) wears influences well. Tom Petty, The Band, you hear traces of both in his music. Pretty good touchstones, if you ask me, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. An Ocean State treasure and bona fide original on this outing.

Lambchop – Mr. A (Merge)

The “other-side-of-the-tracks” Nashville collective had been absent for four years. Mr. M carries forward many of the elements of Lambchop past, a mix of gentle soulfulness and cracked lyricism from quiet-voiced front man Kurt Wagner. It’s a record that sneaks up on you, in a good way.

Amy Allison & David Scott – Turn Like the World Does

Beautiful songs, impeccable harmonies, guitar work that makes the hairs on your neck stand up, Turn Like the World Does is masterful pop tunes in the here and now with a Brill Building core.

Honorable Mention: Bob Kendall – Midnight Flowers (75orless); Kevin Gordon – Gloryland (Crowville); Iris DeMent – Sing the Delta (Flariella); Cory Branan – Mutt (Bloodshot); J.P. Harris & the Tough Choices – I’ll Keep Calling (Cow Island); Janice Martin – The Blanco Sessions (Cow Island); Megan Reilly – The Well (Carrot Top); James Low Western Front – Whiskey Farmer (Union Made); Jesse Baylin – Little Spark (Blonde Rat); Andrew Combs – Worried Man (Coin).


Lee Hazlewood – The LHI Years (Light in the Attic)

His calling card was first as the songwriter and producer behind twang guitar wunderkind Duane Eddy and then later Nancy Sinatra and her smash “These Boots are Made for Walking.” His record label, Lee Hazlewood International Records, otherwise known as LHI Records, was where the late cosmic country icon Gram Parsons’ first band The International Submarine Band made its debut with its one and only album. A raconteur of sorts, the late Lee Hazlewood was arguably the original cosmic cowboy and testament to that designation can be found on this compilation which gathers recordings made for his own LHI Records.

Wendy Rene – After Laughter Comes Tears (Light in the Attic)

Wendy Rene wasn’t even 20 when she called it quits as a recording artist for Stax Records and its Volt subsidiary. After Laughter Comes Tears presents the entire enchilada of Rene’s recording history for those labels which amounted to the 1964-65 time period. Gorgeously packaged with 22 tracks and meaty liner notes, it includes singles, rarities, and her work with the Drapels. It is Southern soul in all its splendor.

Alex Chilton – Free Again: The “1970” Sessions (Omnivore)

In the interim period between his teen star turn as the deep-voiced lead singer for mid-to-late 1960s chart toppers The Box Tops and then front man for cult rock and roll demigods Big Star, the late Alex Chilton was in a musical void which as the recent collection Free Again: The 1970 Sessions will attest, drew from each stage. It hearkens back to 1969 bringing together some 20 post-Box Tops / pre-Big Star works from the quixotic genius.

Janice Martin – The Blanco Sessions (Cow Island)

A rockabilly filly who shaked her hips with Elvis in his 1950s prime, little did Janice Martin know that when she entered a Central Texas studio in April of 2007 to make a comeback record, she would succumb to cancer just five months later. Her death resulted in the shelving of the resulting recording project. Thanks to the perseverance of musician Rosie Flores and the help of record label Cow Island Music, The Blanco Sessions finally saw the light of day this past September. On it, the sixtysomething Martin delivers a performance for the ages that spans rockers to a spine tingling version of the Patsy Cline classic “Sweet Dreams.”

Rodriguez – Searching for Sugar Man motion picture soundtrack (LITA/Legacy)

The cult phenomenon of the year is an aging folksinger from Detroit who made a couple of beautiful, but lost-in-the-shuffle albums in the early 1970s. Thanks to this past year’s superb and highly recommended documentary film Searching for Sugar Man (and the unbelievable story it tells), Sixto Rodriguez is on the comeback trail. This soundtrack packages the best of those two early albums.

Michael Chapman – Rainmaker (Light in the Attic)

English guitarist Michael Chapman defied the folk genre in 1969 with his debut recording Rainmaker on which he brought significant shades of psychedelia into his meticulous playing style. This remastered reissue features the 11 songs that comprised the original album plus six rare bonus tracks.

Old 97s – Too Far to Care (Omnivore)

Dallas-based Old 97s first piqued ears with their supercharged cow punk as found on the 1995 indie release Wreck Your Life. Released in 1997, Too Far to Care was the band’s first foray for a major label in Elektra Records and was chock full of infectious twang pop at full gallop. This deluxe 15th anniversary reissue combines the original 13 tracks with 15 additional tunes 11 of which are previously unissued demo recordings from the Too Far to Care sessions. See what the fuss was all about.

Dan Penn – The Fame Recordings (Ace)

The songwriting genius behind such iconic treasures as “I’m Your Puppet,” “The Dark End of the Street,” and “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man.” Dan Penn’s own recording career has often been overlooked. This 24-track mindblower of a compilation offers an insightful look into the birth of Penn as a recording artist zeroing in on a three year period in the mid-1960s while working as a staff writer for the legendary Fame Studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

The Flatlanders – The Odessa Tapes (New West)

More a legend than a band was how The Flatlanders – Lubbock, Texas-based singer/songwriters Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock – were described when they re-emerged in the 1990s after recording only a single album in 1972 for Plantation Records which saw extremely limited release on 8-track tape only. That album disappeared quickly and was not heard again until seeing reissue as More a Legend than a Band for Rounder Records in 1990. The Odessa Tapes features the original 14 songs recorded to reel –to-reel tape that day in 1972with their patented blend of campfire-styled country and folk with a cosmic halo hanging over all of it.