Alynda Lee Segarra is a New Orleans songwriter fans of Shovels & Rope, Alabama Shakes, or any unfettered folk-rock might’ve caught word of. She has a dozen YouTube clips and other cuts earning a place at that table, but something uniquely vital lives in this new LP for ATO Records. Small Town Heroes sees a darkness, both with a nod to genre and odd awareness of present-day leaning on long tradition. In that way and others, Segarra — who performs as Hurray for the Riff Raff — recalls PJ Harvey. Here’s “The Body Electric,” a murder ballad in reverse. “Delia’s gone,” she sings, invoking the Cash-continued traditional, “but I’m settling the score.”
Back in September, T Bone Burnett called upon many notable past and current collaborators for a one-night-only celebration of the producer’s latest film soundtrack, Inside Llewyn Davis. Patti Smith, Conor Oberst, Gillian Welch, Elvis Costello, and more answered the call along with two stars from the Coen brothers’ Dave Van Ronk-inspired period piece, Carey Mulligan and Oscar Isaac. Both actors have proven their singing chops in previous efforts (Mulligan in Shame and Isaac duetting with her husband), making the event’s main highlight an impromptu, collaborative throwback to the famed Greenwich Village coffeehouse scene of the early ’60s. Folk standards ran rampant at this thing, but Jack White took a different turn by reworking his own White Blood Cells tune “We’re Going to Be Friends” (aka the last song he and Meg performed live together) with lovely harmonies, banjo, fiddle, and upright bass. Watch his scene from the new concert film, Another Day, Another Time, above.
Secretly Canadian shared a stream today of this track plucked from the cutting room floor of Jason Molina’s The Magnolia Electric Co. LP. It appears on a 10″ single and among other notable demos on the record’s 10th anniversary reissue released last month. Not only is it a fine reminder to give one of 2013′s biggest losses infinite more spins, but it’s also here to help spread the word of January tribute shows performed by Molina’s former bandmates, including longtime friend M.C. Taylor of Hiss Golden Messenger. For anyone who can make it, these are must-sees:
01/08/14 Durham, NC @ The Pinhook
01/09/14 Asheville, NC @ The Mothlight
01/10/14 Indianapolis, IN @ Radio Radio
01/11/14 Chicago, IL @ The Hideout
In the meantime, enjoy an epic piece of vintage heart-on-sleeve Molina above.
Last month, we saw Marika Hackman perform “Cinnamon,” one of three original songs off her new Sugar Blind EP. With help from producer Charlie Andrew (of Alt-J), the London singer-songwriter broadens the hushed scope common among today’s many folk devotees, inflecting a tune’s subtleties with an occasional pop rhythm, synth-scapes, and other off-kilter arrangement choices. This cover of Joanna Newsom’s Have One On Me track “’81″ closes out the EP with less dramatic flair than preceding cuts, though still adding an instrumental depth left unexplored on the solo-harp original. Covering Newsom is no easy feat, but Hackman’s take is moving and lovely, not to mention proof Charlie Andrew’s production work should not go unnoticed going forward. Hear it above and stream the whole set below:
Doug Paisley will follow 2010′s Constant Companion, an excellent set featuring Feist harmonies and keys by none other than The Band’s Garth Hudson — with his most collaborative effort so far early next year. Strong Feelings arrives on January 21st via No Quarter Records. Other details accompany the album announcement, but I’d rather defer to Paisley’s own understated statement that it’s “just 10 new songs,” given that he’s an accomplished songwriter whose tunes simply speak for themselves. Among others, Hudson returns this round, adding the kind of essential keys accompaniments one would expect from a living legend. Hear him glue “Song My Love Can Sing” together on organ above and watch him join Paisley in the studio for “What’s Up Is Down” below:
Just before his renown 1971 Massey Hall set, Neil Young booked a December 1970 stand at New York’s Carnegie Hall with a number of recently written, now classic, tunes in tow. The Toronto homecoming and NYC gig would inevitably help cement his new new material for the ages, but first Young warmed up the solo act in a more intimate club, playing a week at Washington D.C.’s Cellar Door. These shows are notable for many of the same reasons Young fans love the Massey Hall release, though this archival set — out next week — is even more raw and rife with off-the-cuff-energy. Below, hear the first time “Old Man” was performed live, “Birds” (one of my favorite Neil songs), and more from Young’s late-1970 run. “Cinnamon Girl” is played for the first time on piano above.
José González has spent the last few years rekindling Junip for the trio’s excellent sophomore LP. Perhaps this track was cut prior to that collaborative streak, but either way, capping off 2013 with a return to solo work isn’t the most surprising element on this one. As it turns out, his contribution to Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty is the least acoustic, least subdued and by far the most dramatic outing of his catalog so far. We caught a slice of the track in the film’s trailer along with a typically rousing turn from Of Monsters and Men, but now comes the full tune complete with a cinematic arrangement worth a few spins and, perhaps, a trip to the theater. Check it out above.
From Bon Iver’s piano session at AIR Studios to St. Vincent’s psych-rock set in Brooklyn, these 4AD sessions never fail to deliver a fresh portrait of an artist’s live act. While, for example, Annie Clark’s mind-mending guitar work was treated with off-kilter camera angles and a background projection screen, this week’s set from Glasgow takes a decidedly understated approach. Directors Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard put it best:
“The idea behind the session was pure and simple – Camera Obscura are a perfect band, they record their songs all playing live together and there’s a beautiful, unblemished chemistry in that unity.”
Filmed at the band’s hometown Tron Theatre, frontwoman Tracyanne Campbell was far along in her pregnancy during the shoot, which, combined with the fact that they were headed out on tour in support of the Desire Lines LP, brings the clip a palpable degree of nervous anticipation. Watch standout “Fifth In Line To The Throne” above and the whole set here.