New CDs for 4-26-13

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The Bills - Yes Please

Genre: Roots, Alt-Country, and Celtic

From Canada's west coast the five-piece ensemble, The Bills, have been around since 1996. Although at first they were the Bill Hilly Band, they shortened their moniker to "The Bills" in 2005. Their first album on Red House Records, "Let Em Run," won a Juno (the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys) and there's no reason to think that "Yes Please" won't achieve the same level of success. With an infectious energy level, clever tunes, fine musicianship, and tight three-part harmonies, the music on "Yes Please" epitomizes modern "roots" music.

Rating (0- 10): Overall - 8, Sonically - 8



Alex Snydman - Fortunate Action

Genre: Jazz

Drummer Alex Snydman's latest release, "Fortunate Action" features a fine group of musicians, including Chris Pattishall, Miro Sprague, and Doug Abrams on piano, Alec Derian and Tyler Heydolph on bass, and Carl Clements on tenor and soprano saxophone. Recorded over four days in June 2012, the music has a delightful combination of ethereal sonics with breezy but definitely not lite, jazz. Alex deTurk at Masterdisk's mastering job preserved a wonderful sense of air and space around all the instruments. This sure beasts "Jazz at the Pawnshop."

Rating (0- 10): Overall - 8, Sonically - 9


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The Steel Wheels - No More Rain

Genre: Americana, Roots, Folk

For their third release Steel Wheels opted for recording in a one-room 19th century barn that was converted into a recording studio. This four-piece band calls their genre "original mountain music," which seems 100% appropriate All but one of the tunes on No More Rain were written by Trent Wagler, who sings lead and plays guitar and banjo. The single cover is Tom Waits' "Walk Away," which serves as the disc's opening cut. If you're going to be near Mount Salon, VA in mid-July, you might want to check out the Steel Wheels' Red Wings Roots festival.  

Rating (0- 10): Overall - 8, Sonically - 8



Marty Raybon & The Full Circle - The Back Forty

Genre: Bluegrass

If there ever were an archetypical "bluegrass voice" it would belong to Marty Raybon. From the first measures of the opening cut, "Janie Baker," to the last strains of "Mountain Love," Raybon and his fine band deliver authentic and heartfelt "meat and potatoes" bluegrass. Five new Raybon original tunes, combined with classics such as John Schweers' "She's Just an Old Love Turned Memory," make this album a fine fortieth anniversary release for Raybon.

Rating (0- 10): Overall - 8, Sonically - 8



The David Mayfield Parade - Good Man Down

Genre: Pop, Rock, Folk

Recorded in two of Nashville's legendary studios, RCA's Studio B (Elvis), and The Quonset Hut (Patsy Cline, George Jones), David Mayfield's second solo album combines idiosyncratic tunes with lush sonics and quirky arrangements. All but one of the tunes are Mayfield originals. Funded through a Kickstarter funding campaign, top-echelon premiums included a live house concert and Mayfield's help producing an album. Musical guests on this release include Seth Avett, Dierks Bentley, and Doyle Lawson. Here's one parade worth watching.

Rating (0- 10): Overall - 8, Sonically - 8



The Daughters of Bluegrass - Pickin' Like a Girl

Genre: Bluegrass

Here's a box set that should be on the "must have" list for anyone who considers himself or herself a bluegrass aficionado. With four discs, sixty-nine songs, and one hundred and thirty-three musicians, it will take more than one sitting to digest all the music in this album. Produced and recorded by Tom T. Hall and Dixie Hall (who also wrote a majority of the tunes) "Pickin Like a Girl" spotlights the many talented female bluegrass musicians, including Laurie Lewis, Tina Adair, Pam Gadd, Kathy Kallick, Rebecca Frazier, Missy Raines, Pam Tillis, Sierra Hull, Wanda Vick, as well as many others. In the words of Bill Monroe, "Son...!"

Rating (0- 10): Overall - 8, Sonically - 8

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