Israel Nash: Silver Season
Sometimes I can understand why certain musicians fly under the radar, despite my own personal love for their music. With Israel Nash, though, I just don’t see any reason why this guy isn’t a bigger deal. Last year’s Rain Plans was a personal favorite, but his follow-up Silver Season is even better. Nash combines the best qualities of Neil Young: the beautiful folk of Harvest with the anything- might-happen rock-out attitude of Crazy Horse. Nash has the voice, the songs and the sound (not to mention some superb pedal steel) – I just can’t get enough of this one.
Kontiki Suite: The Greatest Show On Earth
Listen to The Greatest Show on Earth, the new album from Kontiki Suite, and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re hearing an unearthed Crosby/Nash recording from 1970 or some Laurel Canyon contemporary. Nope, actually, they’re a modern-day Americana act from the UK and while they sound like throwbacks, with their songwriting, harmonies and a surprising amount of pretty great rock-out jams, they’re full of up-to-date surprises.
Phil Cook: Southland Mission
The opening of Phil Cook’s Southland Mission sets the stage from the start: the opening track “Ain’t It Sweet” mixes country slide guitar, bar-band piano licks and some zesty church-organ to evoke the kind of soulful, magical Americana mix that made groups like The Band and Little Feat so great. Cook is a member of Megafaun who take a share of their sound from various folky influences, but this album goes a step further – banjos and gospel harmonies feel right at place rubbing elbows with each other. The backing band shifts and rearranges track-to-track, Cook sometimes a supporting player on his own album, giving the LP a small-yet-big feel that suits these songs just fine.
Gospelbeach: Pacific Surf Line
Gospelbeach is simultaneously a brand new band and a veteran band. They’re helmed by Brent Rademaker who fronts Beachwood Sparks and features battle- tested folk like guitarist Neal Casal, amongst others. Their debut album Pacific Surf Line has the feel of guys playing the music they want to play and having a blast doing it. Between the band members’ musical history, their band name and the album’s title and cover art, you kinda get the idea: this release is a whole lotta fun 70’s California FM rock with healthy dollops of folk, country and psychedelic. A perfect dose of musical sunshine for these dark days of winter.