500 Miles To Memphis pours Sunshine In A Shot Glass

500 Miles To Memphis – “Sunshine In A Shot Glass” mp3

I want sunshine in a shot glass. Who wouldn’t, really? Instant liquid photosynthesis and a natural tan? I’m for it. Today’s pick is a country-fried, slide  git-tar on fire lament that could only ever have been made in middle America. Fans of Cracker, Old 97s, Drive By Truckers, Social Distortion and even Soul Asylum will drink down 500 Miles To Memphis hungrily without any concern for the consequences. Morning? What morning? Nihilistic, self flagellating country doom rock at its very best.

500 Miles To Memphis
“Sunshine In a Shot Glass” (mp3)
from “Sunshine In A Shot Glass”
(Deep Elm)

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Ox – “Burnout” mp3

Ox – “Burnout” mp3

In the best tradition of modern Americana, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada’s Ox delivers an unhurried, wide as the sky ode to futility. The guitar work here is stellar, shiny and stark, accompanying a delicate lyric that could fall down so easily in one misplaced word, but it never does. Gorgeous harmonies and a full, superb lead vocal, lift this from a simple lament to something far more glorious. I don’t often find myself in the mood these days, for sad country music, but when I do, it has to be this good.

Ox
“Burnout” (mp3)
from “Burnout”
(Weewerk)

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The Mountain Movers’ epic “When I Die”

The Mountain Movers hail from New Haven, Connecticut, which is under mountains of snow right now, so I guess they have their work cut out for them. A friend recently described their record “Let’s Open Up the Chest” to me as “hipster church music,” which sounded promising but I wasn’t sure exactly how. Pleasantly surprised I am – what we have here is big, wide open country rock, with shades of Camper Van Beethoven / Cracker as well as a bit of Cake and Mother Hips. Going back further, this actually sounds a lot like The Band.  On the single “When I Die,” a massive Hammond organ grows tornadoes around a miles-deep-in-the-pocket bass and drum groove, with rootsy guitar and piano accompanying sublime, chill vocals like a sunset over calm seas. Quite lovely.

The Mountain Movers
“When I Die” (mp3)
from “Let’s Open Up the Chest”
(Safety Meeting Records)

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The Mountain Movers – “When I Die”

Ox’s graceful “Burnout” wins me over

Ox – “Burnout”

In the best tradition of modern Americana, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada’s Ox delivers an unhurried, wide as the sky ode to futility. The guitar work here is stellar, shiny and stark, accompanying a delicate lyric that could fall down so easily in one misplaced word, but it never does. Gorgeous harmonies and a full, superb lead vocal, lift this from a simple lament to something far more glorious. I don’t often find myself in the mood these days, for sad country music, but when I do, it has to be this good.

Ox
“Burnout” (mp3)
from “Burnout”
(Weewerk)

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The Mother Hips’ One Way Out

The Mother Hips – “One Way Out”

Easily mistaken for a “jam band” at first listen, The Mother Hips are on closer inspection a tight, country flavored rock unit in the tradition of The Band and other 60’s and 70’s masters of song arrangement and organic, live combo playing. Plopped as they were by fate in the early 90’s, the Hips’ sweet guitar serenades and soulful harmonies were in contrast to the flood of Nirvana sound-alikes which came to dominate the airwaves then. Signed to Rick Rubin’s American Records for a while, then back to indie life, these generous and talented musicians remained true to their art through it all, never straying from their vision nor trying for to fit into any style but their own. Commendable, but more importantly, their music is gr8. This single, “One Way Out” is from their most recent album, “Pacific Dust,” and it’s a gem.

The Mother Hips
“One Way Out” (mp3)
from “Pacific Dust”
(Camera Records)

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Curtis Harvey’s lovely “Box Of Stones”

Curtis Harvey – “Oldertoo”

I swear if Paul Westerberg were born in the Appalachians instead of Minneapolis, he would have started a hillbilly band and recorded this song. Or I could say, if Bill Monroe were a young New Yorker, he might have done. These are compliments to all parties, if there’s any wondering. Curtis Harvey, at the time of this writing, has a whopping 47 myspace friends for his brand new solo outing, in which he emerges from a respectable run as a multi-instrumentalist with Rex, Pullman and others, to take the leading role. Listen to the beautiful guitar and banjo arrangement, and picture perfect lyrics of the single “Oldertoo,” and I’m sure you’ll agree this was an idea whose time had come. A gr8 new music find, folks, from a brilliant under-discovered artist, on the visionary Fat Cat Records label. Enjoy.

Curtis Harvey
“Oldertoo” (mp3)
from “Box Of Stones”
(Fat Cat Records)

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Graham Lindsey’s new old school country folk

Graham Lindsey – “Old Roger”

Graham Lindsey‘s latest album, “We Are All Alone in This Together” is one of the freshest country records to come along in recent memory – a hard left and several states away from your standard Nashville fare. Lindsey’s first brush with fame came at the tender age of 12 as a member of the punk novelty trio, Old Skull, and he has since grown into a full fledged singer-songwriter with a distinct and original voice. On “Old Roger,” the troubadour’s punk roots shine through as clearly as his love for Bob Dylan and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot. A gritty work of great imagination.

Graham Lindsey
“Old Roger” (mp3)
from “We Are All Alone in This Together”
(SPACEBAR Recordings)

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Amy Allison’s dreamy walk down “Sheffield Streets”

Amy Allison – “Why Must It Be”

“What’s all this about walking on air?” asks Amy Allison in her quietly stunning revelation about love, “Why Must It Be?” Allison’s unique voice and unpretentious melodic inventions have brought her recognition amongst country pop aficionados, including Dave Allen and Elvis Costello – both of whom collaborated on her latest full-length of original material. The musical combo is top notch, the production simple yet tastefully inventive. Unexpected fat sax section parts sit beautifully atop a sultry swing country drum shuffle, all of it providing spotless accompaniment for the song’s nakedly honest lyrics. GR8 work, as pretty as it is real.

Amy Allison
“Why Must It Be?” (mp3)
from “Sheffield Streets”
(Urban Myth)

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Ass Ponys Pony Up

Ass Ponys – “Your Nothing Day”

Ooh ooh ooh! I found a promotrack by the Ass Ponys. One of America’s unsung musical heroes, the Ponys simultaneously live up to their name and render it a trivial afterthought. It sounds like the name of a joke band, but no, their music is actually quite brilliant, and sincere, and I daresay sophisticated. Yes it’s true. And in the case of this lovely track off a comp from Tokyo Rose Records, I would even go so far as to use the word “sweet.” A nice lazy Sunday drive around the back streets of Americana in an old rusty Chevy.

Ass Ponys
“Your Nothing Day” (mp3)
from “iLove/Where The Kids Are Goin’ Tonite”
(Tokyo Rose Records)

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The Mother Truckers Go To Bed in Atlanta

The Mother Truckers – “Streets of Atlanta”

Oh my, what a GR8 song. The Mother Truckers never fail to raise the little hairs on the back of my neck, with their passionate, sexy and original (yes original!) take on rootsy American rock and roll. There’s just there’s n0thing not to love about the dashing married couple of Josh Zee and Teal Collins, and their miles-deep songwriting, singing and instrumental talents. If you luv ya’s some roadhouse rockin’ don’t come a knockin’ bed sock hoppin’ then be warned! Once you hear this you may have to pick up all their records. I did.

The Mother Truckers
“Streets of Atlanta” (mp3)
from “Let’s All Go to Bed”
(Funzalo Records)

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