Solid singer-songwriter stuff…And it’s free!
I love Americana, and I love indie rock that has a slightly country bent. This has been true ever since I heard The Rolling Stones’ “Some Girls” album. Blackheart Honeymoon are in the Americana tradition, with melodic songs about heartbreak and “real life,” a little bit of twang and piano, real drums, and a lyric about a Mason jar. I especially like how they rotate vocal duties—it really helps the sound stay fresh. What a delicious album!
Beth Bombara’s eponymous 2015 release is not her first album. She’s been kicking around for the better part of a decade already, and it shows. Her songs are remarkably well-written, well-played, and beautifully sung. It’s rootsy singer/songwriter music, for fans of early Shawn Colvin or 10,000 Maniacs.
I loved this album!
If Ryan Adams were doing moody indie rock instead of moody Americana (and Taylor Swift covers), he might sound something like Small Black. And I chose the word “sound” specifically, because lyrically they’re nothing like him. There’s no whiney relationship stuff here (and don’t get me wrong: I love a good whiney relationship song; Counting Crows are one of my favorite bands). In fact, I can’t really say what their songs are about. I just know they create a mood that’s pensive, deep, and powerful. According to press materials, the album is about family and loss–and I definitely feel that–but more importantly it’s a drive-in-the-rain record. There are lines like “death is one thing, to be dead is another/It was the last thing on my mind.” What the Hell that means, I have no idea. But it definitely makes me feel.
In fact, the album feels about as blurry as its cover photo–distant, soft, and full of memory.
I LOVE this record.
Jagjaguwar offers a few direct-download mp3s and a stream.
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When I first listened to this band-submitted album, I thought of Interpol. I was going to start this review by saying, “If you miss when Interpol made edgy, raw music, Fell Runner might scratch that itch.” But then on second listen, I heard less of that. And so much more. Badada starts extremely lo-fi–you can barely hear the lead singer–but ends in a crashing jam session that feels more like jazz improvisation than rock. And Better Isn’t Always Better is the opposite. It starts with free form banging and strumming and builds to the vocal swell at the end. I’m hearing more Pixies. More punk. Something almost tribal.
And then they can do melancholy (Cobwebs), sounding like one of Nirvana’s quieter moments, or something close to pop (Rain Room), or Modest Mouse (60 Seconds).
I guess what I’m saying is, there’s a lot here. You won’t get bored. You will be happy you listened. Yeah, $15 is a bit much for a Bandcamp download, but check it out. I don’t think you’ll regret it.