Roo & the Howl – Me/We

rooandthehowlSo I have a habit of clicking on the supporters of an album to see their collection, something I’m sure we all do. I tend to be more interested in people whose taste only vaguely corresponds with that of my own, because that’s a way of seeing through a window I wouldn’t have otherwise looked through. And by doing that, I listened to Roo & The Howl, a great artist name by almost any standards you can possibly care to mention.

For reasons I’m not entirely sure of, I haven’t listened to much music lately. What I have listened to hasn’t formed any coherent thread, either. Even so, a very tastefully produced country flecked indie-americana album would not have been high on my list of suspects as ‘worth dusting off my blog’ for.

If you imagine a mellower, country-er Heron Oblivion then you’ll be getting somewhere close, at least given my very limited knowledge of this particular field, a limitation which makes it impossible to give you any further references. Maybe I’ll edit some in later.

I’m not sure if she’s got anything else coming as the website seems to have not been updated in a while, but if she does, I’ll be most interested in seeing which way she travels.

Creech Holler – The Shovel and the Gun

 

crehol   This was probably my favourite album of 2008. Probably. I don’t honestly have an exhaustive list of albums released in 2008, and I’m not sure I’ve got round to listening to all of them yet anyway.

This is lo-fi shit-kickin back porch electrified alt-country gospel blues at its rawest and finest. They do versions of standards like John the Revelator and The Cuckoo, but they also write some cracking tunes of their own too, such as Devil’s Eyes and The Color of Bone.

Because there doesn’t seem to be a page where you can listen to the whole album, I’m going to find you some YouTubes. Unlike the other day, I doubt I can find the whole album…

Raymond Lee:

Devil’s Eyes:

Jeff Zentner did an acoustic version of this on this album

John the Revelator:

Live version of The Cuckoo:

Live version of When the Temptor Calls:

 

I think you can listen to all the album at Last FM, but I think you may also need a spotify account which is a new restriction and yet another reason to pay it less attention, as I no have that account and nor am I likely to get one. Also, I’m on an enquiry desk again so I can’t actually test it.

Creech Holler don’t seem to have released anything further since this album, their preceding work With Signs Following, was very nearly as good. Jeff Zentner’s solo stuff is much more mellow, being predominantly acoustic.

Big Blood

Now, you may have to stay with me on this one.

When I die, as I realise I must, and go to heaven, as I know I will,* I will be hearing ‘A Watery Down Part II‘ on the escalators upwards, and probably constantly afterwards.

Unlikely Mothers‘ is flat out the best (as in, my favourite) album of 2014. I love it so much that I even bought the double vinyl LP despite having no means to play such an item (I’m giving it to my friend who does – his initial reaction to it was, shall we say, less enthusiastic, but he’s beginning to enjoy them now. Hence my opening caveat).

Big Blood create an eerie, unique sound, which perfectly matches the vocal styles created within. They find a groove, and they stick with it, except for the occasional instance when the song demands it. In some ways the music is quite ethereal, but it is more often ecstatic.  There’s an angels-getting-their-hands-dirty feel about this album. They are also quite clearly having a ball.

It is not just ‘Unlikely Mothers’ which so unrelentingly floats my boat. Check out their page on the Free Music Archive – I particularly draw your attention to the album ‘Dark Country Music.’

http://freemusicarchive.org/swf/playlistplayer.swf

On this 11-track album, there are 5 utter classics. Let me tell you, I’m very fussy about naming a song an utter classic. For an album to have 2 is rare enough, 3 is proper unusual – but 5?!?!

I’ll also point you to ‘Old Time Primitives‘ too, as there are some stunning songs on there too.

The two albums mentioned above are much more country, more ‘New Weird America’ (remember that?). The songs are generally shorter, but still with the same ecstatic vocals, although I have to single out ‘Coming Home Pt III‘ off Dark Country Magic as possibly the most heartbreaking vocal performance I’ve ever heard. Utterly transcendent.

Colleen Kinsella sings like an angel, pure and simple – not one of those sanitised, Aled Jones singing the snowman type (that’s not the work of angels – maybe cherubim. I don’t know, my theological taxonomy is non-existent) but an angel that has lived. Raw, passionate, at times absolutely deranged, at others transcendentally beautiful. In possession of the full realisation of the fact that in order to understand what you’re singing about, you have to live it first, and live it truly. If you want a reference point, Joanna Newsom and Kate Bush trying to outcompete each other, but effortlessly. Caleb Mulkerin has a decent style too, although equally far from the conventional.  It is fair to say, though, that to some ears, the vocals will be a dealbreaker.

In fact, as has been demonstrated above, this band is so good they make me write like a fool.

They have an etsy page where they sell some stuff, and also stuff by other people in their scene.

*I inserted that phrase specifically for the benefit of my friend for whom I’m buying the album, because I know he will appreciate it :0