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I am back after an extended time away... When I last posted, storms were on the horizon for Nashville and that appears to be the case today six days later. In fact, as I look out the window, the rain has started.
This is always an odd week. Christmas is over, New Years Eve is still a few days away. There is a sense of winding down of the old year and anticipation of what is to come. In my office, there are many people out this week. The overall pace of life seems just a wee bit slower. But, here at E2TG, we keep pushing to the end. We have more "Earies" to hand out and more shuffles to be shared.
The "Connections" Award.
The premise: Although, I don't always explicitly state it, one of the central themes of Ear to the Ground has always been the thread of connectivity that runs throughout all music. The Shuffle (which to me is more than random) can often serve to highlight those connections. When songs that seem to be incongruous are placed together, they can often serve to reveal previously unseen connections. These connections come in all different forms and can be difficult to explain. Long time readers may recall a post I made a few years ago when I shuffled together the then new records by Imperial Rooster and Black Jake and the Carnies. These two bands came from different regions of the U.S. and were not even aware of each others existence but I found connections.
The Award: So for this award, I thought about artists/bands who have come into my consciousness who have no visible connection but who speak to me in very similar ways despite their obvious differences.
1. Tim Lee 3/Bark - A long time favorite of #E2TG, I first encountered TL3 via Couch by Couchwest. They are based in Knoxville and have roots in Jackson, MS. As I have gotten to know Tim and Susan Lee, I have discovered their deep connection to much of the music I listened to growing up. To illustrate, I found out not too long ago, that Tim Lee produced or co-produced Will and the Bushmen's Gawk album which has been a favorite of mine for a long, long time. In 2015, Tim and Susan celebrated their vinyl anniversary (33 1/3 years) with the release of a new Tim Lee 3 album (331/3) and the very first EP from Bark. I was lucky enough to see both configurations live in 2015. The music of both bands manages to sound both fresh and familiar to me.
2. Susan James - A couple of years ago, I got the opportunity to hear and write about Susan's then new album, Driving Toward the Sun. Susan is based in Southern California. At the time, I saw where D.J. Bonebrake of X (one of my all-time favorite bands) had acted as emcee for a CD release show for an earlier album. In 2015, Susan James released Sea Glass which marked a departure from the Americana feel of her previous two releases. Sea Glass is a wonderful example of California pop music. Several times on the album, the Paisley Underground sound is evoked very effectively. It is an album I want to hear over and over.
Just to put too fine a point on my premise, Tim and Susan Lee have some very deep and personal connections to the original Paisley Underground scene of the 1980s which is evoked so well on Susan James latest album.
On to the shuffle: I am going to be shuffling from the "Featured Music" playlist for the three days I am at work this week. Trying to get through some of 2015's featured music to clear some room for the many new releases expected in early 2016.
"Taste the Ceiling" by Wilco
So, I think I read somewhere that Wilco front man Jeff Tweedy did not know that there was a new Star Wars movie imminent when naming the band's latest album. The album, which was initially offered as a free download, made many top ten lists for 2015. I enjoyed the album as I have much of Wilco's long and extensive catalog.
"More and More" by Bob Margolin
Another track from the new album by Steady Rollin' Bob Margolin. The album is called My Road. This is real deal blues music folks!
"Love to a Ghost" by Brandy Zdan
Nashville singer-songwriter Brandy Zdan recently released her self-titled debut solo album. She was previously a member of the duo Twilight Hotel and the band The Trishas. I was pleased to find a sampler from her new album on Noisetrade. Check it out and if you dig - pick up the whole album at the usual spots.
"Pinyin" (Instrumental Version) by Batkhi Dahn
We may be done featuring the Batkhi Dahn Chritmas EP, but we still have several more songs in our playlist. This is the instrumental version of the latest single.
"Call Out Mellobird" by The Jackals
Another track from People, the latest album from Edinburgh band The Jackals.
"In the End" by Ilana J
Another listen to the highly listenable debut EP, Free Fallin' from the Ground Up. Ilana J is from Birmingham (not Alabama).
"Little Meghan Kelly" by Fendrick and Peck
Fendrick and Peck are a hard travelling, neo-traditionalist folk duo currently residing in Nashville. They released Lucky Penny this year, and it is one of my favorites of the year.
"Pills" by Carl Anderson
Speaking of favorites, we close out this shuffle with another track from Risk of Loss - which is definitely among my top ten albums of 2015 (if I made such a list). Carl Anderson is another Nashville artist having moved here from Charlottesville, VA.