Category Archives: folk

Review: Tippy Canoe and the Paddlemen – Parasols and Pekingese

Label: Late Bloomers Works Released: May 31, 2008 One look at the cover of Parasols and Pekingese leaves little doubt where the album is going. It mixes art deco style with the painted effects of a pre-linen postcard. As the cover suggests, Tippy Canoe and the Paddlemen look back to simpler, more honest times. There’s nothing new in that. Americana… Read more »

Review: Violent Femmes – Crazy

      No Comments on Review: Violent Femmes – Crazy

Label: The Secret of Life Records Released: June 24, 2008 The Violent Femmes return the favor to Gnarls Barkley (who covered “Gone Daddy Gone” on 2006’s St Elsewhere) with this EP containing a cover of “Crazy.” The trouble with Gnarls Barkley’s offering was that it left the song entirely too intact. It sounds fine, but simply does too little to… Read more »

Review: Liam Finn – I’ll Be Lightning

Label: Yep Roc Records Released: August 6, 2007 Liam Finn has a Beatlesque knack for writing great pop songs. Perhaps that comes from his father Neil of Crowded House/Split Enz fame, but Liam walks his own path, making the connection to his father more trivial than musical. The singer-songwriter thing can be pretty limited, but Finn’s generally folky pop has… Read more »

Review: Mike Seeger – Early Southern Guitar Sounds

Label: Smithsonian-Folkays Recordings Released: 2007 New Lost City Rambler Mike Seeger (half-brother of Pete) serves up 28 traditional songs, some with vocals, some without. These are old songs, songs that have been around awhile, songs that Seeger probably learned from old scratchy 78s. Seeger approaches these songs with love, appreciation and authenticity. Some of the guitars he used are as… Read more »

Live: The Bowmans

      No Comments on Live: The Bowmans

March 12, 2008, Baltimore Chop Books, Baltimore, Maryland This was a night of endangered and lost arts: folk music, storytelling, community…and geography. That’s right, geography. Over the course of an intimate night of folk music in a small (and very cool) independent book store, Sarah and Claire Bowman, through the stories attached to and included in their music, illustrated the… Read more »

Review: Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly – Folkways: The Original Vision

Label: Smithsonian Folkways Released: April 25, 2005 It’s interesting how sometimes, two completely different artists can embody the greatest facets of an entire style of music. For example, take a look at The Beatles and The Rolling Stones; one is the hopeful and adventurous warmth of daylight, while the other is the nihilistic swagger of darkness. And while rock fans… Read more »

Review: Lead Belly Sings for Children

      No Comments on Review: Lead Belly Sings for Children

Label: Smithsonian Folkways Released: March 23, 1999 Lead Belly is widely considered one of the greatest influences on modern American music, yet I know few who actually listen to him. That doesn’t diminish his influence, but it does call into question whether he is directly relevant today or a generation or two removed. The follow-up question would then be, if… Read more »

Review: The Bowmans – Far From Home

      No Comments on Review: The Bowmans – Far From Home

Label: Mother West Released: April 10, 2007 The Bowmans aren’t your typical Americana band. Like the more widely known Avett Brothers, they work from a broader palette than many of their peers. The Bowmans maintain a rootsy feel throughout despite breaking away from traditional folk style and augmenting their sound at times with electricity. The vocals are the centerpiece of… Read more »

Review: Dusty Rhodes and the River Band – First You Live

Label: SideOneDummy Records Released: October 9, 2007 With the popularity of the whole folk-punk thing, whether it draws on American folk music like Defiance, Ohio or European folk like Gogol Bordello, it isn’t surprising to see another band throw their hats into the ring, but it does beg the question, “What does this new band bring?” Dusty Rhodes and the… Read more »

Review: Sound Neighbors

      No Comments on Review: Sound Neighbors

Label: Smithsonian Folkways Released: October 23, 2007 When listening to a Smithsonian Folkways release, it’s important to keep in mind that their mission is far different from a strictly commercial label. Their eyes aren’t on Billboard, but on culture. There is always a clear educational goal on their albums that is incidental at best when it exists elsewhere. Still, they… Read more »