two sentence reviews of reasonably new albums i listened to in august

spider bags @ all day records

Short on numbers, long on excellence!

Rhett Miller — The Dreamer: Rhett always saves some of his strongest songwriting for his occasional solo records — “I Need To Know Where I Stand”, off the self-titled, would have made a killer 97s rock anthem, except that instead it’s a gorgeous acoustic plaint — and his June release is no exception. It’s a bit twangier than his previous solo stuff, sounding more like early 97s demos with better production, and every track is catchy as hell. Wonderful as always. Rhett’ll play a solo set at the Cradle on 10/27, opening for the 97s on the Too Far To Care anniversary tour.

Archie Powell & the Exports — Great Ideas In Action: Archie and the Exports put out one of my favorite belated 2010 releases, the note perfect ’60s pop Skip Work, and they’re back with another slice of delicious retro pop on this record, albeit a little fuzzier and a lot noisier, in the best possible way. Powell is a dynamic frontman and his band are fantastic musicians, and if you’re sitting on discovering these Chicago rockers, you should cut it out. In a few years, they’re going to be famous, and I recommend it as a great idea in action to get in on the ground floor of loving them.

The Fresh & Onlys — Long Slow Dance: I know zero about the Fresh & Onlys, except that they’re starting to get some good buzz on their record, it’s worth the buzz, and it’s incredibly misnamed; this one isn’t a long slow dance, it’s a shining indie dance pop gem with great guitar work and disgustingly hooky choruses. They sound way more like their name and way less like their album title, and this is a phenomenal late summer release: part Beach Boys, part My Morning Jacket, part Buddy Holly, it’s deserving of its buzz and it has staying power. The Fresh & Onlys play Kings Barcade in Raleigh 11/6 with Quilt.

Johnsonville City Nights — Johnsonville City Nights: toe-tapping, ass-shaking rockabilly with punk sensibilities and great songwriting, these guys are one of my favorite out-of-nowhere discoveries of this year. (I think I picked up the record on the recommendation of songs:illinois, maybe?) Great harmonies, fuzzed out guitars, and, seriously, if you can listen to this record without wanting to be tipsy on whiskey and dancing with a cute dude and/or lady in a dopey hat on somebody’s front porch, I think you might be doing life wrong. Grab it at the band’s bandcamp.

Some Dark Holler — Hollow Chest: you know how sometimes dogs start to look like their owners, or maybe owners start to look like their dogs? Well, Some Dark Holler is the epitome of a band that sounds like their name: minor keys, odd and haunting orchestrations, lonely scratchy vocals, and songwriting that sounds like having your heart broken under the heel of a boot on the sawdust floor of a no-name bar somewhere in the mountains of Tennessee. Think about what a band called Some Dark Holler should sound like, multiply that by 5 to get how much they actually sound that way, and then if you dig the idea, go get this, SDH’s full-length debut, from This Is American Music.

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