These releases among others are available to request at wyce.org/request or call (616)742-9923 For a complete list of everything we add visit: grcmc.org/wyce/music/library
Billy Strings – Home
Michigan audiences have watched Billy Strings rise to a new tier of fame on his touring travels. Recently awarded “New Artist of the Year” & “Guitar Player of the Year” from the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), he has earned his place in the current, respected artists referenced on the bluegrass music circuit. Having witnessed this talent firsthand when I was part of his New Year’s Eve residency at Flagstar Strand Theatre this past year, it’s nice to see his spirited performances up close. While he is known for dazzling technical facility on the acoustic guitar, it is his songwriting that has also been featured on his latest release, Home. Continuing to push the boundaries of the genre, the album features explorative tracks, well written lyrics, and an album fueled by the energy of his live performances and partially shaped by collaborations with artists like Molly Tuttle, Lindsay Lou, and Ronnie McCoury. Fast-picking moments expand to psychedelic soundscapes on tracks like “Highway Hypnosis,” capturing the innovative spirit thousands of fans have experienced in live performances. There is a spirit of creativity that comes so naturally to Billy Strings, and with a stellar live band supporting new creations, it’s clear why so many folks dying for change in an often-assumed stagnant country/bluegrass scene are gravitating towards this young star from Michigan. For a more track-by-track description of the record, feel free to dive into an article by Relix and check out a behind the scenes video from his YouTube page.
Highlights: Must Be Seven, Away From The Mire, Everything is the Same
New Pornographers - In The Morse Code Of Brake Lights
Bands operating for more than 10 years often reach a point where members start to take other priorities, and with this latest record, much like their previous release in 2017, the New Pornographers are without their vocalist/songwriter Dan Bejar. However, this does not diminish the creative spirit of this veteran group, as they continue to seamlessly blend bubblegum pop elements with added strings, electronics, vocal harmonizations, and chord progressions that are reminiscent of a by-gone music generation. Within these textures are lyrics centered on lovers, commentary on being performers in this current generation of live music, humanity, and some anxiety-focused lyricism on the current state of the world. The staying power in this group comes from the ability to weave these disparate parts (critical lyricism with happier instrumentals) into catchy hooks, driving tunes, and colorful arrangements. If you’ve been a long time fan of the group or if you’re starting with this album and working your way back through their catalog, you picked a great time to explore their music!
Highlights: Falling Down The Stairs of Your Smile, One Kind of Solomon, Colossus of Rhodes
Beth Hart – War In My Mind
While often scene on stage with artists like Jeff Beck or Joe Bonamossa, Beth Hart has firmly planted herself in the American blues music scene as a stellar vocalist and performer. War In My Mind centers around her piano playing and vocal styles, informed by pop styles, thanks to her producer Rob Cavallo (Green Day, Goo Goo Dolls, etc), but centering on the blues and emotionally charged vocal performances. There are some fantastic moments on this record, from soaring choruses found in “War in My Mind” to more intimate performances like “Without Words In The Way” or “Woman Down.” The level of expertise behind the songwriting is further exemplified in the performances, it makes me as a listener want to seek out a live experience to interact with these things firsthand. Beth Hart shines on this record, it’s a fantastic example of what time, perspective, and performing/recording experience can translate to on an album.
Songs to check out: Bad Woman Blues, Without Words In The Way, War In My Mind
Temples – Hot Motion
Hot Motion is the third release from English rock group Temples, and with the release they continue to expand on the psychedelic soundscapes and catchy rock anthems that made up their previous albums. The title track, which kicks off the album, is reminiscent of MGMT-style sonic textures with a thumping rock pulse reminiscent of The Black Keys, and it immediately sets the tone for the rest of the album. Songs like “The Howl” create an anthemic rock chorus begging for a roaring audience while songs like Atomise are slower burns that lead into fiery rock moments. The performances and production elements on this record are strong, showcasing the technical knowledge and skill behind the members of this group, and it’s a perfect compliment for fans of groups like My Morning Jacket or The Flaming Lips. If you’re a rock aficionado needing something from across the pond, give these guys a listen!
Jimmy “Duck” Holmes – Cypress Grove
For those who listen to and follow The Black Keys, Dan Auerbach has become known as a skilled producer working with a variety of blues and rock artists over the course of his career. One aspect to the clients that he tends to work with on the blues angle is that they are legacy musicians, often living historians performing a rural style of the blues that adds to the rich tapestry of the genre. With Cypress Grove, Dan produced artist Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, a performer of a style of blues known as Bentonia blues. The songs capture the sound and legacy of the Holmes Blue Front Cafe, one of America’s longest running juke joints. Jimmy’s voice resonates with the wisdom of generations of blues musicians, and his guitar playing grooves and foregoes flashy guitar solos for a more lyrical solo approach with sparse, well-placed notes interjecting the song structures. The added instrumentation, whether it’s a simple drum groove, bass line, or layering of various acoustic and electric guitars, serves the music so well. The record doesn’t try to shoehorn the style into the current generation, but rather tries to amplify its characteristics for listeners to enjoy. Blues fans wanting to dive into regional histories should start with Jimmy “Duck” Holmes and then explore other bluesman in Dan Auerbach’s production catalog to enjoy a rich tapestry of musicians that continue to shape American music.
Highlights: Catfish Blues, Train Train, All Night Long