Sunday, August 11, 2019

American music takes front and center on new releases

This coming weekend marks the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock so it's the perfect time to celebrate that legendary festival with a listen of Creedence Clearwater Revival's aptly-titled Live at Woodstock. Three other essential albums from American artists are also featured this week.

Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Title: Live at Woodstock (Craft Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: John Fogerty, Creedence Clearwater Revival
Tell me more: One of the biggest names to appear at Woodstock in Bethel, New York in August 1969 was North California-based Creedence Clearwater Revival. The quartet  better known as Creedence or CCR delivered an inspired set that has finally been released in its entirety. Live at Woodstock includes many of the band's most beloved tracks. The Aug. 17, 1969 performance fully stands the test of time with singer-songwriter/guitar great John Fogerty leading the rock outfit through 11 classics. The Delta-friend "Born on the Bayou" opens the set, with the band kicking up the energy for "Green River," "Bad Moon Rising," "I Put a Spell on You," the blistering blues-flavored "Keep on Chooglin'," and an extended take on the set-ending "Suzie Q." Information:

Artist: The HawtThorns
Title: Morning Sun (Forty Below Records)
You might like if you enjoy: The Civil Wars, the Jayhawks, Kasey Chambers
Tell me more: Shimmering songwriting and top-tier vocals take center stage on Morning Sun, the brilliant debut from the HawtThorns. Featuring the talented husband and wife duo of singer-acoustic guitarist KP Hawthorn and singer-guitarist Johnny Hawthorn, the HawtThorns somehow blend the best of the Laurel Canyon California sound, modern Americana and melodic rock without missing a beat across 11 winning tracks. The luxurious melodic gems "Shaking" and "Morning Sun," tender countrified ballad "The 405," ambitious dream pop of "Come Back From The Stars," and amped up folk rockers "All I Know" and "Steady Fire" are among the terrific songs on the disc. Information:

Artist: Blue Highway
Title: Somewhere Far Away (Rounder Records)
You might like if you enjoy: bluegrass, Infamous Stringdusters
Tell me more: Bluegrass music lovers will find plenty to love and discover courtesy of the outstanding new Blue Highway album Somewhere Far Away. The group's gifted lineup features Tim Stafford (guitar, vocals), Wayne Taylor (bass, vocals), Shawn Lane (mandolin, fiddle, guitar, vocals), Jason Burleson (mandolin, banjo, guitar, vocals) and Gary Hultman (resophonic guitar, vocals). From the beautiful harmonies-adorned "Dear Kentucky" and wonderful instrumental "Orville's Webb" to the driving  "Cochise County" and haunting "A Place I've Never Seen," the original songcraft and stunning virtuoso musicianship makes listening to "Somewhere Far Away" pure joy. Information:


Artist: Psychic Rain
Title: World Ironic (Greico Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Gin Blossoms, Goo Goo Dolls, Toad the Wet Sprocket
Tell me more: In the 1990s Orange County, CA had an explosive music scene that generated countless artists ranging from punk and ska to power pop and Americana. While No Doubt, Sugar Ray and Lit scored platinum album sales, the region's most talented acts included art rockers Altered State, singer-songwriter Michael Ubaldini, countrified power pop greats Walter Clevenger & the Dairy Kings, genre-defying duo Bright Blue Gorilla and melodic rock quartet Psychic Rain. Led by singer-songwriter/rhythm guitarist Greg Stoddard and master guitarist Brian Stewart, Psychic Rain was championed by local radio station KLOS-FM and was briefly signed to Warner Bros. Records. The band's masterwork is the 1996 LP "World Ironic," a nine-song effort featuring a band able to rival contemporaries including the Gin Blossoms and Toad the Wet Sprocket. Like those better-known troupes, Psychic Rain's sound is built around songs that are literate, feature incredible arrangements and are bolstered by glorious choruses, top-tier lead vocals and musicianship. There are nothing but should-be hits on this collection including the unforgettable "Without a Sound," irresistible "Spun Out," yearning rock ballad "Whisper" and driving "Wrong." It is difficult to track down this rare title but it's well worth it. Information:

Robert Kinsler

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