Tag Archives: Brett Bickley

Cherokee Red : Self-Titled

Cherokee Red - Self Titled

What can be said about the new self-titled album Cherokee Red? For starters, it is a cool, ethereal record that will haunt you even after you’ve stopped listening. Its wispy sung lyrics and haunting instrumentation will echo deep within your cerebellum as you drift off to sleep at night. These are the songs of which dreams are made.

Hailing from the music mecca of Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, Cherokee Red have crafted a style of their own that at times makes one think of Mazzy Star and Galaxie 500, purveyors of American dream pop who also knew how to write a cool laid back lullaby. Within songs like “Holy Jam”, “Leviathan” and “Vaya Con Dios,” the listener cannot help but to close their eyes and let their minds try to reach a whole new level of awareness. Yeah, I know. Not to sound all hippy-dippy, but Cherokee Red is a totally sonic mind trip.

Cherokee Red is out now.

Moreland & Arbuckle : 7 Cities


The beauty of being based in the heartland of America is that you are pretty much centralized and set to absorb influences from so many different genres of music. And, if you’re a band like Moreland & Arbuckle, Wichita, Kansas, is the “perfect storm” for these influences; it is perfect fodder for an album like their latest release, 7 Cities. If this record was any more American it would come packaged in the stars and stripes.

Essentially a concept album, 7 Cities is a modern day look at the explorer Coronado’s search for the Seven Cities of Gold in Kansas over 300 years ago. Through these songs Moreland & Arbuckle create a sonic tapestry that draws upon delta blues, rock, Americana, and country.

Guitarist Aaron Moreland and harpist/vocalist Dustin Arbuckle, along with drummer/vocalist Kendall Newby, can be compared to another great American trio of musicians known as ZZ Top. When just three guys can great music like this, you realize to your bones that they are the real motherfrakkin’ deal.

The production of 7 Cities makes you feel the expansive Kansas plains in songs like “Quivira,” “Kow Tow,” and “Red Bricks.” Kick ass cuts like “The Devil and Me” and “Tall Boogie” are fit to be cranked in a pickup truck driving down a dirt road as the sun sets. But, the kicker on this record is their cover of Tears For Fears’ “Everybody Wants To Rule The World.”

7 Cities is out now on Concord Music Group/Telarc Records.

Dumpstaphunk : Dirty Word

Dumpstaphunk - Dirty Word

When your last name is Neville and you pursue a career in music, the world is going to have some mighty high expectations for you, whether playing live or on record. So, it’s no surprise that on Dumpstaphunk’s latest release, Dirty Word, they have not only raised the bar of funk but that of New Orleans music. In other words, Dirty Word is the stankiest, greasiest, most bodacious album to come of the Big Easy in 2013. And, quite possibly 2014, 2015, and 2016.

It’s sad that it took the devastation of Hurricane Katrina to draw national attention to just what an incredible jewel and historical landmark the city of New Orleans is to America. It should be a government mandate that every citizen of the United States visits this place at least once in their lives. It’s bands like Dumpstaphunk that prove the amazing quality of artists who are born, bred, and developed there. Like the Marsalis clan, the Neville family tree only gives root to the strongest and beautiful entities in the music business.

Dumpstaphunk claims not just one Neville in keyboardist and vocalist Ivan, but also in Ian on guitars. Newest member Nikkie Glaspie has played with everyone from Beyonce to Big Sam’s Funky Nation, and she has folded herself into the mix as only a professional of her caliber can. How do you get your funk this sweaty and mindblowing? Simple … two bass players. The double-decker deuces of dirty devastation are Tony Hall and Nick Daniels III, and they carry on a birthright of bass playing that can be traced back to the godfather of New Orleans bass players, George Porter, Jr.

We pause for a moment of silent prayer to the majesty that is George Porter, Jr.

Dirty Word is the final proof that Dumpstaphunk is the legitimate heir to the great Parliament/Funkadelic. This, of course, makes you immediately ask, “Does that make Ivan Neville the next George Clinton?” Um, hell-to-the-yes! It is records like this that make you want to scream at urban radio station programmers to quit playing the disposable pablum that passes for R&B these days (I’m looking at you, Chris Brown and Ne-Yo) and put Dirty Word on hourly rotation. This is easily the best way you can spend an hour if you believe in the power of the funk.

Recommended If You Like: Curtis Mayfield and Allen Toussaint, Abita beer, shrimp po’ boys, being drunk on Bourbon Street at 4 a.m. during Mardi Gras, and dinner at your Grandma’s house on Sundays after church.

Dirty Word is out now on Louisiana Red Hot Records.

Guy Clark : My Favorite Picture of You

GuyClark - My Favorite Picture of You

When you listen to a Guy Clark album, there is no Internet, no civil unrest in the world, no Snowdens on the run from their own government, no reality TV full of middle-aged women with botox and fake boobs. When you listen to a Guy Clark album, there is nothing but one voice, six strings, and a million stories painted with lyrics. With My Favorite Picture of You, Mr. Clark continues to add to a 40-plus year career with another album that is pure America to the bone.

If you call this album a country album, you really mean America. Does it contain fiddles, banjos, acoustic guitars and a beautiful female backing vocalist? Damned right it does. But this record is, once again, a sonic portrait of the USA painted in music, much like Norman Rockwell painted this great country in oils on canvas. My Favorite Picture of You is comprised of a suite of songs that not only makes you feel the warm sun on your face, but you’d swear you can actually see the dandelion fluff floating through the light.

My Favorite Picture of You is out now on Dualtone.

The Weeks : Dear Bo Jackson

The Weeks - Dear Bo Jackson

Imagine if the The Strokes and Alabama Shakes had a baby. That would give you an idea what The Weeks’ Dear Bo Jackson is like.

It is modern and hip with old-school, bluesy soul. Smart songwriting with quirky vocals mixed with sharp, anxious, no-holds-barred playing create an album that is so freakin’ hard to pigeonhole, it would be frustrating if it wasn’t done so gosh darned well!

One can only hope that the general populace finds and hears this record. Why? With all the crap that the world buys and downloads, quality music like this deserves to be appreciated and embraced. The Weeks are damned good at what they do, and this commitment and skill deserves to be rewarded.

P.S., The track “Brother In The Night” is easily one of the best songs of 2013, hands down.

Dear Bo Jackson is out now on Serpents and Snakes Records.


JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound : Howl

JC Brooks - Howl

The greatest thing about the music scene these days is the plethora of spectacular young soul/R&B bands and artists recording and performing. People like Nigel Hall, Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, The Soul of John Black, and JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound have embraced and improved upon the old school music of Motown and Staxx. These were studios that gave the world some of the greatest American music of all time.

JC Brooks & The Uptown Sounds’ Howl may have been recorded in 2013, but it could have just easily come out in 1968. In other words, it’s modern and retro all at the same time. Brooks’ vocals hold their own with the Sound’s smooth and groovealicious rhythm,s making the listener unable to stop bobbing and tapping. This record makes you want to get out on the dance floor and shake your booty until you are soaked in sweat and they turn on the lights at last call.

Howl is out now on Bloodshot Records.

Jason Boland and the Stragglers : Dark & Dirty Mile


Dear Nashville,

When you’re done trying to push and sell pretty boys and over-produced albums, do everyone a favor and expose your fans to music like what is found on Dark & Dirty Mile. Jason Boland and the Stragglers are so country, if you were to cut them, they’d bleed whiskey, grits, and warm sunny afternoons out in the backyard with a pretty girl. Never has fiddle playing made this reviewer so proud to be an American; it carries a double ONK for HONKY and TONK.

Encompassing the best of people like Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys playing-wise and the vocal skills of the great Keith Whitley, Dark & Dirty Mile is a record meant for people who still walk into their local Wal-Mart and pay their hard earned money for an album. This is not music to just be downloaded. These are songs that are meant to be played.

Dark & Dirty Mile is out now on Proud Souls/Thirty Tigers.

Deadstring Brothers : Cannery Row

Deadstring Brothers - Cannery Row

If you’re an Americana/alt-country band, you need to know a little bit about sadness and being down on your luck. Hell, the entire alt-country side of the music business is built on songs of achey0breaky busted heart songs. And if you are such a band, and you are from Detroit,  you certainly know a thing or two about life sucking.

Cannery Row by Deadstring Brothers carries on with honest strength and sincerity that make each song come across like a proclamaition of faith and redemption. Much like the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, this band is as much Grateful Dead as they are Gram Parsons/Flying Burrito Brothers.

Much like the recent Leroy Justice album, Above the Weather, the songs on Cannery Row  come off as musical versions of short stories by writers like John Steinbeck or Charles Bukowski, so it’s no small wonder that they named the record after one of Steinbeck’s greatest novels. Fans of Steve Earle, Son Volt and The Mother Hips will find this right up their alley.

Cannery Row is out now on Bloodshot Records.

Hadden Sayers : Rolling Soul

Hadden Sayers - Rolling Soul

Hadden Sayers’ new album, Rolling Soul, shows that the blues don’t have to be depressing. It sounds like an oxymoron, but once you listen to this record, you will have to agree.

Originally from Texas, Sayers now makes his home in Ohio, where he has honed his chops playing small clubs and dives. This experience surely give songs like “Something Wrong In The World” and ” “The Man I’m Supposed To Be” their grit and girth. Do you need to live a hard life to write songs like this? Yes, you do, and yes, Sayers has. But that doesn’t mean he lets those hard times have beat the hope and happiness out of his music. Rolling Soul shows that the light at the end of the tunnel is not only bright, but it’s incredibly uplifting and redeeming.

The production found on Rolling Soul stands out as much as Sayers’  engaging voice and well-crafted songs. It is everything a real music fan and a hardcore blues-lover should need.

Rolling Soul is out now on Blue Corn Music.

Il Sogno del Marinaio : La Busta Gialla

La Busta Gialla

Mike Watt has never let himself be seen as “just” a bass player, nor has he ever been a man to hang his flannel shirt on just one singular musical peg. Whether it was the groundbreaking music he created with the legendary Minutemen or fIREHOSE, his bands the Secondmen or the Missingmen, or the work he has done with everyone from Porno for Pyros to Dinosaur Jr. to The Stooges, Watt is a musician who is anything but a “one trick pony.” This is why his latest project, Il Sogno del Marinaio (The Sailor’s Dream), and new album, La Busta Gialla (The Yellow Envelope) is as intriguingly interesting as it is off-the wall.

Channeling, at times, the work Mike Patton has done with Italian musicians, Watt and fellow players Stefano Pilia (guitars) and Andrea Belfi (drums) have crafted an album that plays like the soundtrack to a movie that the listener must create in their own imagination. Comprised of instrumental tracks that slowly build as the album plays, the final payoff is in the songs with vocals. If you’re a fan of the quirky and the different side of life, you will definitely enjoy La Busta Gialla.

La Busta Gialla is out now on Clenchedwrench.