Saturday, May 7, 2011

The SteelDrivers

I am starting to get a little amped up for Grey Fox in July and was listening to the new SteelDrivers CD Reckless.  I was a little concerned that there would be a let down in the future without the vocals of the amazing Chris Stapleton.  Those fears were unfounded if Gary Nichols continues to sound like he does in this video.  Good stuff indeed.

The Black Lillies - 100 Miles of Wreckage

Cruz Contreras (formerly of Robinella and the CCstringband) formed the Black Lillies along with Tom Pryor (pedal steel), Jamie Cook (drums), Robert Richards (bass) and Trisha Gene Brady (vocals) back in 2008 and they released their debut album, Whiskey Angel, in 2009.  In April they released their sophomore effort 100 Miles of Wreckage.  The new album is everything that their fine debut was and more.  There is no doubt that this one gets the Oldrockr1 Seal of Approval for 2011 and I expect it to be on my best of at the end of the year.

Americana is a big tent for music in 2011 and the Black Lillies most definitely belong there.  Touches of country and bluegrass abound.  There is also some very fine pedal steel playing courtesy of Mr. Pryor.  I love the mournful sound it gives The Arrow.  There is a bit of a melancholy feeling to the record which was recorded by Sparklehorse drummer Scott Minor that may be the result of the suicide of Sparklehorse founder Mark Linkous during the recording.  The record is not, I repeat not, a downer; rather there is a sense of loss that pervades the album.

Styles merge and flow throughout the disc.  One surprise for me was the track Tall Trees which  starts out as a lovely acoustic track and it turns slowly into a country jam track with some good old fashioned gospel along the way.  That's at least how I would describe it.  Doesn't much matter what it is, what matters is how good it sounds.

2011 is shaping up to be another excellent year for music from off the beaten path.  The Black Lillies have released a standout for this or any other year.