So hey, who needs another dose of "Nashville's not just country"? Nashville 2.0: The Rise of Americana — not to be confused with that controversial love letter to ourselves, For the Love of Nashville, which aired on ABC Nov. 3 — aired Nov. 22 on PBS. As noted at the PBS site, Nashville 2.0 explores what the public broadcasters call "the vibrant Americana music scene," which "draws inspiration from country, folk, bluegrass, R&B, blues, roots rock, bluegrass, gospel, rockabilly, honky-tonk, alternative rock, folk rock and punk." The 53-minute doc features performance and interview footage of Dawes, Billy Bragg, Buddy Miller, Jim Lauderdale, Rosanne Cash (saying "Nine Inch Nails," for one reason or another), the Scene's very own music scribe extraordinaire Jewly Hight, fucking Mumford & Sons, The Mavericks, The Avett Brothers, Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, Richard Thompson and ... well, hell. Dozens more. You can't expect me to list everybody.
Anyhow, all of Nashville 2.0: The Rise of Americana is now available to stream in high resolution on Vimeo. If you've got a spare hour, give it a look above. Then report to the comments section — I want 1,000 words from each of you on the definition of "Americana." As noted music journo Robert K. Oermann puts it (in what is almost certainly a nod to the famous quote from Justice Potter Stewart regarding the definition of pornography), "I can't describe it exactly, but I know it when I hear it."
As Old Man Winter descends upon Nashville, I doubt I could conjure a better bill than one featuring the shoegazing producer/songwriter Ernest Greene — performing with his wife and others as Washed Out — and the ascendant local duo Jensen Sportag. Who else could warm our blood and bones with more groove-oriented mirth? There are few. In August, Washed Out continued its auspicious run with the release of Paracosm, a rich collection of earthy, hypnotic pop that should dispel any notion of Greene as a one-trick chill-waving pony. Paracosm builds on Washed Out’s strengths — the dusty, romantic somnolence, the “Feel It All Around”-isms — and shows the Georgia native to be a competent songwriter too. As for perennial smooth operators Jensen Sportag, well, we can’t stop extolling their immaculate, adventurous debut Stealth of Days, which was just released to the pleasure of experimental pop enthusiasts everywhere. Neither, for that matter, can The Wall Street Journal, Pitchfork, Vogue and many, many others. Read my recent review of Stealth of Days here.
Tonight's show at Exit/In starts at 9 p.m., and admission is $20 at the door.
Cash, feeling — as he describe in 1997’s Cash: The Autobiography — “invisible,” retaliated against Columbia by cutting the intentionally atrocious, self-parodying novelty number “Chicken in Black.” Though the song was intended to punish Columbia, country music fans also suffered. Call it collateral damage. His unequivocally worst song, “Chicken in Black” tells the convoluted tale of a three-way brain transplant ordeal between Cash, a slain bank robber and a singing chicken, or something. The plan worked, and the label dropped Cash in 1986.
In the latest dead-tree edition of the Scene — our annual Year in Music issue — contributor Jewly Hight points out that native Texan turned Nashville star (and former Nashville Star) Kacey Musgraves "introduced an astute, millennial voice to the country conversation" with this year's Same Trailer, Different Park. "She dared address the constricting side of small-town existence and raise a joint to expressions of difference," says Jewly.
Perhaps none of Musgraves' songs raises that metaphorical joint higher than "Follow Your Arrow," the third single from Trailer. Musgraves has a brand-new video for the tune (watch it above), which was shot in Joshua Tree, Calif. Fact: If you shoot your country music video in the Yucca Valley area, I will post it on the Cream (example 1, example 2). "Follow Your Arrow" is a philosophically populist (or at least humanist) take on living that I think we can all identify with. "When the straight-and-narrow gets a little too straight," Musgraves sings, "roll up a joint. Or don't. Just follow your arrow wherever it points."
On Friday, the nominees for the 2014 Grammys were announced, and it turns out Musgraves is up for four awards — Best New Artist, Best Country Album and twice for Best Country Song. Congrats to Musgraves! Now, roll up a joint (or don't) and dig the video above.
The Spin arrived at local house-show spot The Other Basement a bit late on Monday night — or so we thought. When we finally touched down around 10 p.m., the ground was literally ice and the backyard resembled a vast, frozen wasteland, save the dozen or so people huddled around the door. Upon walking inside, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the opening act, Casting Couch, had just begun, and that the basement was packed.
Bowling Green natives and current (partial) Nashville residents Cage the Elephant are still grinding along on their Melophobia album cycle — it's a cycle that began with a super-secret album-preview performance, continued with some dates opening for arena-progsters Muse and chugs along now with television appearances and dates with English indie rockers Foals. Last night, Cage chugged right on along to Jimmy Kimmel Live's Sony Outdoor Stage (hey, what label are they signed to again?), where they played a pair of Melophobia tunes: lead single "Come a Little Closer" (watch above) and album cut "Take It or Leave It" (after the jump). Points to that clutch auxiliary man over there in the wings, providing some extra instrumentation and doubled vocals. Sounding good. Enjoy!
The phrase “young coed folk-pop group” has the power to strike fear of “Ho Hey” retreads in the hearts of many. And while it’s technically an accurate descriptor of Wild Child, it’s also kinda misleading. Co-fronting the Austin septet is the songwriting duo of Kelsey Wilson and Alexander Beggins, who frequently serenade each other with conversational crooning. (And no, they’re not twee She & Him imitators either.) Borne on their wispy, playful melodies are subtly gleeful jabs. It takes close listening to their new Ben Kweller-assisted album The Runaround to pick up on the wryness of their dynamic, but it’s right up front when you see them live, bantering with the salty, vaudevillian affection of a new-school George Burns and Gracie Allen. Beggins’ main ax is a baritone ukulele, and Wilson’s a violinist who grew up playing bluegrass with Sarah Jarosz and now contributes lush string passages with the help of cellist Sadie Wolfe. There are jazz and piano-pop flourishes here and there, too. It all adds up to a very welcome and pleasing surprise.
Also performing tonight at The High Watt will be Nina Diaz (of Girl in a Coma) and Holiday Mountain. The show starts at 9 p.m. and costs $12 at the door.
From The Department of All Things Caitlin Rose and Holy Fucking Shit, Nashville’s favorite neo-country indie darling just got a gig to kill for — opening up for tireless mutton-chop champion and noted Canadian Neil Young (Crazy Horse included!) at London’s Hyde Park on July 12 as part of the imaginatively titled British Summer Time festival.
As you can see from the flier above, Rose appears alongside lovably mopey lit-rockers The National, fellow Southerners Phosphorescent, British indie-pop troubadour Todd Odell and equally limey up-and-coming indie funksters Flyte (who sound sort of like a modern-day Style Council and who are presumably not named after this local establishment) on the rock-solid bill. “Many more acts” are still to be announced for the four-stage festival.
In 2010, West Coasters Local Natives rolled through Nashville (The Basement) in support of their debut Gorilla Manor, and I called the band "blog darlings" who make "Afrobeat-fetishizing, harmony-rich, mildly folky indie-rock that Grizzly Bear, Yeasayer and Animal Collective fans will likely find most palatable." Last year, they came through town again (Marathon Music Works) in support of their sophomore release Hummingbird, which contributor Stephen "Goose" Trageser said "retains the complex but dance-friendly rhythms that marked their 2010 debut Gorilla Manor, as well as the big vocal harmonies that earned them justifiable comparisons to Fleet Foxes." Who's dying to know what we'll say about them next time they come through?! Well, you'll have to wait about four-and-a-half months.
Local Natives — continuing that trend of graduating to higher- and higher-capacity venues each time they come to town — have just announced that they'll play the 2,362-seat Mother Church of Country Music on April 30. Tickets — which will run you $29.50 plus service charges — go on sale right here Friday, Dec. 13, at 10 a.m. Watch a video of Local Natives none-too-subtly nodding to one of their primary influences after the jump.
Yes, yes I can.
Conversely, the definition of "funk" is fancy people in white boots.
White people in fancy boots.
Cash's sense of humor is criminally over-looked. Thanks for this.