Tagged: the watson twins

Various Artists – Louisville Covers Christmas

louisvillechristmas_albumartLouisville Covers Christmas

This Man Records – November 18, 2016

I’m totally a sucker for Christmas compilations – it’s fun hearing bands convert generally traditional sounding songs to fit their own sounds. Louisville Covers Christmas is a collection of eleven previously written holiday tracks recorded to the liking of eleven bands and musicians out of Louisville. Brenda does a cover of Lady Gaga’s “Christmas Tree” – a really fun take that is noisier and heavier than original. That’s followed up by a calm, cool setting of “Winter Wonderland” as performed by The Watson Twins, set to a softly grooving bassline and electronic, shuffling beat. Billy Nelson‘s “White Christmas” sounds just like it would fit on his recently released Water Sports – the melody plays on delayed synths before being joined by Billy’s spacey-sounding self-harmonies. A favorite of mine from the compilation is a beautiful, calming cover of Joni Mitchell’s “River,” contributed by Fire the Saddle, set with acoustic guitar, mandolin, and male // female harmonies. Later in the album is a bizarre take on the hymn, “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence,” by Maximón – it’s complete with darkly pulsing synths, affected vocals, and samples from a Malcom X speech. Plastic Bubble closes the compilation with “All I Want for Christmas is You,” a jangly, uptempo rendition complete sleigh bells and background choirs singing ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ to add some extra texture. Compilations like this are a great way of finding out about several bands you’d never heard of in a short time – at least 6-7 of these bands were new to me (including some of my favorites of the release). Treat yourself to some locally-source holiday cheer and grab a copy of the compilation from This Man Records – proceeds from sale of the record go to benefit Star Duck Charities.

Tracks I Liked: Brenda (“Christmas Tree”)!!, The Watson Twins (“Winter Wonderland”)!, Billy Nelson (“White Christmas”), Fire the Saddle (“River”)!!!, Maximón (“Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence”)!, Plastic Bubble (“All I Want for Christmas is You”)

Ben Southworth – December 18, 2016 – Kenwick Place

 

Jason Howard – “A Few Honest Words – The Kentucky Roots of Popular Music”

9780813136455

Published 2012 – University Press of Kentucky

As the director of Kentucky music at WRFL for the last year or so, one of the most appropriate books that I’ve been given in a long time – Jason Howard’s A Few Honest Words – profiles over a dozen popular and current musicians from Kentucky. Spanning a wide variety of artists – from Jim James, Chris Knight, Joan Osborne, and Nappy Roots – the book takes a look at the lives of some of Kentucky’s most influential music makers of today, and offers a unique and personal account of (and from) each of them. Like myself, and to a much greater degree, Howard is a lover of the music being made in this state, having been involved in the music and art community for quite a while. Not only is his writing informed by his meticulous research of those profiled in the book, but by in-person experience with each of them – he weaves his knowledge and feelings about each musician with quotes from personal interviews. This mix of writing styles is further bolstered by his ever creative ways of transitioning between them, something I imagine isn’t easy to do. The ability to move through a chapter about Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore – going from their conversation over a cup of tea, to a synopsis of their discography, to a description of a performance on WFPK’s show, “Live Lunch,” and back to the same conversation over tea – makes for read that is both informative and thought-provoking. It gives the musicians a personality, a history, a relatability, making them seem less like unapproachable superstar products of our state, and more like the rest of us – Kentuckians. As an homage to two of my favorite things – music and my home state – this book does very well at making me even more excited for what is to come from the musicians in this state. There is no shortage of stories to tell, and Kentuckians are famous for their ability to tell them – Howard’s wonderful ability to tell the stories of those storytellers makes this a very valuable read.

– Ben Southworth