October’s First Sunday Six

Iris DeMent – Photo by Pieta Brown

Iris DeMent (California) – Sixteen years have gone by without an album from Arkansas-born Americana gospel goddess Iris DeMent. That streak ended last week with the release of Sing the Delta (Amazon MP3 & Spotify). DeMent, the celebrated solo artist who also backed up John Prine for year, got a profile boost from the Coen Bros who featured her cover of “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” at the end of True Grit a few years back. At 51, DeMent wasn’t sure if she would even record another album, but pieced this twelve track record together with songs that she had written at various points in her life. Much like Lifeline, DeMent’s previous album, Sing the Delta is mostly piano based, but most songs feature a full band (including drums). DeMent’s distinct voice isn’t for everyone, but to me, I don’t know a more authentic southern gospel sounding voice than hers. The album is flawless from start to finish. Of note on this album where DeMent questions her faith are songs “The Kingdom Has Already Come” and “There’s a Whole Lotta Heaven.”

Ben Schneider (a.k.a. Lord Huron) – Photo by Ben Schneider

Lord Huron (Los Angeles) – Michigan-born songwriter Ben Schneider grew up playing music around the campfire on Lake Huron. After stints in NYC and France, he settled in LA and began mixing music with visual art, starting a project under the name Lord Huron – inspired by his early days at the lake. This week marks the release of Lonesome Dreams (Amazon MP3), Schneider’s first full length album which was previewed on NPR Music this week. The album adds orchestral sound effects on indie folk, for a resulting Fleet-Foxes-meets-a-cowboy sound. The album holds a great spirit of adventure and makes for a strong road trip soundtrack.  Schneider and his band perform at the Mercury Lounge on Tuesday night.

Angel Snow – Photo by Fairlight Hubbard

Angel Snow (Nashville) – As we mentioned a few weeks back, Angel Snow has been working on a record with badass bassist, producer and brother to Alison, Viktor Krauss. That self-titled album (Amazon MP3 & Spotify) was released on Tuesday and is currently climbing singer songwriter charts on iTunes. The album is gorgeous – stunning and infectious all at once. In a pool that’s spilling over the brim with singer songwriters, Snow’s unique and gentle voice on tracks like “These Days” and “Gasoline” sets her apart from the crowd.

Calexico – Photo by Jairo Zavala

Calexico (Tuscon) – Joey Burns and John Convertino of Calexico tried to take a few steps away from their standard Arizona-influenced “indie folk with a hint of mariachi” sound with their latest album ALGIERS (Amazon MP3 & Spotify). The album was recorded in New Orleans and named for Algiers Point. It’s still Calexico, but you can feel setting of NOLA in many of the songs. This is a new favorite. Be sure to check out “Splitter” and “Maybe on Monday,” my favorites.

Dwight Yoakam – Photo by Randee St. Nicholas

Dwight Yokham (Los Angeles) – We don’t say much about country music on this blog. However, there are a few aren’t afraid to claim that genre and still make more than decent music. LA’s iconic cowboy Dwight Yoakam released 3 Pears (Amazon MP3 & Spotify) in September. The album has the standard Yoakam outlaw country sound.  Of note is “Long Way to Go,” which features the twang that I like the most about this guy.

Tall Heights

Tall Heights (Boston) – Tim Harrington and Paul Wright (a.k.a. Tall Heights) used to play for tips in Boston’s Faneuil Hall Marketplace, but since releasing their first EP last year, they’ve become rising stars in the New England folk scene. The cello and acoustic guitar duo release their sophomore EP this week – The Running of the Bulls (Amazon MP3 & Spotify). With memorable harmonies and great instrumentation, these guys are pretty legit and I think we can expect them to stick around. Catch them at Rockwood on October 16.