Valerie June takes a moment or two to get, to appreciate, but once you do you’re hooked. Sometimes she sounds like a 50s goddess of soul, other times bayou princess, sometimes wild voiced, gospel, R&B, 60s, blues, jazz.... Forgot to mention bluegrass...and folk, and American music, roots, and... Somehow it all works together; it’s that voice. What a wonderful bit of realism and not a hint of Auto-Tune, thankfully—especially with a voice like this.
I encountered The Milk and Honey Band because I was wondering what XTC great Andy Partridge was up to. He’s up to a great deal indeed, including running Ape Records and signing wonderful groups like The Milk and Honey Band. Obscure may be an understatement for this group. They appear to have had as many as four albums, all released between the years 1995 (forming in 1994) and 2009 and are currently on what is a hiatus of at least five years.... And that’s too bad, 2009’s Dog Eared Moonlight, complete with the cozy and inviting cover referencing the old orange and cream Penguin publications, has become one of my favourite albums. It’s time for some more.
Wilkes and the Dirt Daubers sound a lot like Charlie Musselwhite and Sallie Ford got together—and that’s rowdily brilliant. It’s probably American music, roots rock, something or other. But, what’s important is that this is great music by a band that has no pretentions to AM stagnancy. Wilkes and the Dirt Daubers are the real thing, the voices you hear are not filtered through electronic charcoal and the guitars, drums, and keyboards are...well...those very instruments.
The Rides rock on every level and they are out of their time, more akin to some of the best blues rock of the past than what is happening now. Still, they probably won’t be appreciated by us old dudes or found by the new walkman crowd...that’s right, walkman crowd. See, The Rides are a multi-generational band and at least one of their members would remember Walkmans as revolutionary. Stephen Stills, Electric Flag keyboardist Barry Goldberg, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd form the core band, though it is difficult to think of the sound without the addition of Kevin McCormick (too many credits to name here, though recently bass player on Coz!) on bass, and Chris Layton of Double Trouble fame on drums. So how do they sound?