shows

COLORADO ARTISTS

* Mosey West, Vaca Money
Our first of two FoCo artists, the alt.country trio Mosey West was granted studio time and an EP release as victors of a contest sponsored by Marquee Magazine. Especially for a group that hasn’t played together for all too long, Vaca Money is a fine first effort. There is unexpected depth in the lyrics and arrangement of the five songs featured here. Between the whiskey-rough vocals, the buzzing electric guitars and the pedal steel, this is classic sounding stuff. Mosey West will present a CD release party on October 15 at Road 34.
Produced by: Mosey West & Evan Reeves
Label: Self
File Under: Americana / Local

* Kathryn Mostow, Rich Girl
Just in time for last weekend’s CD release party, Rich Girl marks Fort Collins’ Kathryn Mostow’s third studio effort. As she acknowledges in her liner notes, it is also her first album in seven years, having taken lots of time to move and begin a family. The results reveal the time and care she invested, as well as sparkling, clean production from John McVey. Mostow’s tunes often touch on personal stories, walking the line between contemporary folk and americana a’la Nanci Griffith. Mostow is also in excellent vocal form, able to raise goosebumps at the turn of a phrase.
Produced by: John McVey
Label: Self
File Under: Americana / Local

OTHER ARTISTS

* Tom Russell, Mesabi
Tacked onto the end of Mesabi is a stellar take on “Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall”, interpreted by Tom Russell, Lucinda Williams and Calexico. While the somewhat lengthy song is the highlight of Russell’s umpteenth album, Russell is such a worthy songwriter and storyteller that his own songs hardly pale by comparison. The inclusion of Dylan’s tune is also appropriate, given the fact that the album’s title refers to the Mesabi Iron Range of Minnesota, in whose shadow Robert Zimmerman was born. As with his other recent CDs, Russell here name-checks figures from throughout our popular history, as well as painting broad-stroke portraits of his beloved El Paso – Juarez borderlands. One of Russell’s finest efforts to date.
Produced by: Tom Russell & Barry Walsh
Label: Shout Factory
File Under: Americana

* Lera Lynn, Have You Met Lera Lynn?
Debut CD for this talented Georgia songwriter who took flight as a member of the folk-rock outfit Birds & Wire. Now on her own, she applies her sultry country voice to music she calls, “honesty, simple, sultry and dark.” The album was also mastered by Brian Lucey, who has worked most recently with Black Keys. One of the album’s stronger moments, “Good Hearted Man,” is ripe with profanity, so please be sure to play it from the “clean” single included. For fans of Neko, Jessica Lea Mayfield, Alela et al.
Produced by: Lera Lynn & CK Koch
Label: Slow Records
File Under: Americana

* RMutt, Leash On Life
While these Milwaukee bar rockers have been around since 1988, I only recently tripped across them online. Call it country- or roots-rock, electrified like DbTs and working class like Bottle Rockets, best served with canned beer. Even after all these years, this seems to be only the band’s fourth album. Their online bio says it all, “We’re a rock and roll band born in a pool of old tap beer in a Milwaukee basement in 1988. Watch for us in your local dive or juke joint.”
Produced by: Trevor Sadler
Label: RMutt
File Under: Americana

* Wood Brothers, Smoke Ring Halo
Released officially back in August, and available loosely before then, I’ve been trying to snag us a copy of this release for months. Now that the Wood Brothers have played through FoCo, here it is. Still, it’s worth the wait, a rootsier sound than they’ve ever demonstrated, and well produced by Jim Scott. What impresses me about Wood Brothers is that Oliver (from blues band King Johnson) and Chris (bassist from jazzers Medeski Martin and Wood) are able to bring skills from their day jobs to their collaborations, while managing to create an entirely new sound. Recommended.
Produced by: Jim Scott
Label: Southern Ground
File Under: Americana

* Pieta Brown, Mercury
Long before the release of this, Brown’s seventh album, she escaped the shadow of being “Greg Brown’s daughter”. Not just a gorgeous voice, she is also a strong writer (albeit having inherited Daddy’s “less is more” theory of wordcraft). Mercury was recorded, as all her albums, with guitarist, cowriter and producer Bo Ramsey, backed here by Mark Knopfler’s touring band (Knopfler himself adds guitars on one cut). The results are frequently sparse and bluesy.
Produced by: Pieta Brown & Bo Ramsey
Label: Red House
File Under: Americana

* John Prine, Singing Mailman Delivers
This double-CD set proves that Prine was brilliant from square one. On the 40th anniversary of his self-titled debut, Oh Boy releases these 1970 recordings, one live and one studio, set to tape before his debut was committed to vinyl. While the recording quality varies, especially on the live cuts, the song quality is undisputed. Almost all the songs eventually made it onto a formal Prine project, but it’s great to hear them this way, when the man was just a 24 year old postman.
Produced by:
Label: Oh Boy
File Under: Americana

* Megafaun, Megafaun
This North Carolina band is perhaps best known as the band Justin Vernon abandoned to become Bon Iver. Their third formal studio album (matter of fact, recorded in the studio where their former bandmate’s celebrated debut took form) continues their ongoing flirtation with the fringes of country- and folk-rock, fitting comfortably in the same musical bin as Band of Horses and My Morning Jacket, where banjos and harmonicas cross paths with studio wizardry and feedback. While a couple tracks dial up the spacey content, most are rooted in a post-American Beauty Dead vibe.
Produced by:
Label: Hometapes
File Under: Rock

* Jason Boland & the Stragglers, Rancho Alto
Truth is, a good deal of what falls into the americana bin is nothing more (or less) than true country music, ignored by the genre’s misguided mainstream. Over the space of 5 studio and 2 live albums, Boland has proven to be a special writer and a strong country vocalist, ghettoized into what remains of the Red Dirt movement. After a couple recent setbacks, their first album in 4 years is an especially good collection. Extra points for some nice fiddle and pedal steel moments.
Produced by: Lloyd Maines
Label: Proud Souls
File Under: Americana

-Albums reviewed for KRFC by Scott Foley, Host of Routes & Branches