Kacey Musgraves could easily be contemporary country's next big thing. She's a sharp, detailed songwriter with a little bit of an edge, and while it's tempting to think of her as another coming of Taylor Swift, say, she's got the kind of relaxed sureness about what she's doing as a songwriter and performer that puts her closer to a Miranda Lambert. On her first nationally distributed album, Same Trailer Different Park, she definitely sounds more on the Lambert side of things, with a sparse, airy sound that lets her lyrics shine, and she'd as soon use a banjo in her arrangements as a snarling Stratocaster.
With links to Survivor, Alias, Jeff Paris, Carl Dixon, Jonathan Cain and Russ Ballard, for those in the melodic rock know, the announcement on the 7th of July 2013 that singer and songwriter Brett Walker was to release a new solo album was reason to celebrate. However a mere 24 hours later the tragic news was released that Walker had died, turning those shouts of joy, to tears of sadness. On the insistence of Brett's wife, AOR Heaven went ahead with the release, providing the fans of this unsung hero one last opportunity to be captivated by a songwriter capable of being downbeat in an upbeat fashion, while offering lyrics and melodies to tug at the heartstrings and live long in the memory…
This is effectively the entire studio catalogue, and includes all the American singer-songwriter’s albums recorded as John Cougar, John Cougar Mellencamp and John Mellencamp for various record labels. The set contains a total of 223 tracks and spans 35 years. Twelve of the albums have bonus tracks, sourced from the 2005 re-mastered versions of Mellencamp’s Mercury releases.
Jerry Miller opens up his 2013 album with "Travis Express," a signal that the guitarist owes a significant debt to the great Merle Travis. Then again, most purely instrumental country guitarists do owe Travis a great deal, and Miller doesn't shy away from his love of classic '50s and '60s pickers, using New Road Under My Wheels as a celebration of that whole era, leaning heavily on honky tonk and Western swing to deliver a jumping good time. Perhaps Miller is superficially similar to Junior Brown, another virtuoso country guitarist who also adores roadhouse country, but Brown is a nitro-charged engine throttling down the highway.
The Avant Garde was a coffeehouse in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that played host to a variety of rock, blues, and folk performers in the '60s, and Windy City guitar wizard Magic Sam (aka Sam Maghett) rolled in to play a few sets in June 1968. A local kid with an interest in recording named Jim Charne showed up with a reel-to-reel machine and a couple of microphones, and he captured Magic Sam's show on tape; 45 years later, those tapes have finally been made public on the album Live at the Avant Garde, and given the relatively small amount of material that's surfaced on the late blues legend (who succumbed to a heart attack when he was just 32), this set is a very welcome find. Live at the Avant Garde has a decidedly different feel than Magic Sam Live, which preserved radio broadcasts from 1963 and 1964 and a 1969 appearance at the Ann Arbor Blues Festival; while those recordings blazed with intensity, this captures Magic Sam and his band in more laid-back form, playing a small, booze-free venue rather than a rowdy bar or a festival audience in the thousands.
Midnight Stoppers celebrates the post war blues pianists and explores how their sound had its origins in the '30s and '40s, when boogie-woogie piano and the Chicago-centric small combo “Bluebird sound" held sway. Compiled by blues authority Mike Rowe, Midnight Stoppers presents 70 masterpieces by 34 pianists, including legendary names like Otis Spann, Memphis Slim, Big Maceo, Sunnyland Slim and Albert Ammons, as well as the unsung heroes of the keyboards.