The Wiyos—Broken Land Bell: The Wiyos own a signature sound and it’s that of a 1920s-1930s country blues, western swing and experimental pop blend. Not only that, but they include the sounds of NYC beat boxer Adam Matta and the talents of circus and theater composer Sxip Shirley, so really, when it comes down to it, the album includes the warm sounds of all the touch-points of America’s musical history. Employing the simplicity of a harmonica and an acoustic guitar to Mills Brothers style of vocal harmonies they go form blues-rock all the way through to urban/street influences. Strange, but true. Imagine a collision between the worlds of Bob Willis, The Washboard Rhythm Kings, The Roots, Blind Willie McTell and Beck and you’re somewhere in the territory of the Wiyos. The band is so unique that they are opening for big namers such as Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp (the summer 2009 tour) and were featured on the BBC documentary “Folk America-Hollerers, Stomers and Old-Time Ramblers.” This is their fourth full-length album, but the first offering of totally original material. The band’s name is no mistake. It’s a nod to an Irish street gag (The Whyos) that ruled the lower east side of Manhattan during the 1800s (they reign from NYC). Their music is rough and tumble enough to deserve the name and the group brings an exuberance and intensity to such a vintage style. 5.0 McRiprock’s
Eric Woolfson—The Alan Parsons Project That Never Was: This album is a collection of ten previously unrecorded Project songs by the songwriter/lyricist of the Alan Parsons Project, Eric Woolfson. The songs were written when Eric and Alan were actively creating the Alan parsons Project recordings tat would go on to reach 5 0 million album sales, 9 Grammy Nominations and over 50 Gold and Platinum Disc Awards and nine Top 10 Hits world-wide with radio play galore. What a feat for a band that never toured or performed live to promote their work. It was an interesting collaboration. The songs on this album were constructed from different pieces recorded and at different times in different places, however, the final mixes were completed by Austin Ince in Abbey Road Studios (where Woolfson and Parsons met in 1974.). 4.5 McRiprock’s
Amanda Pearl Shires—West Cross Timbers: Ms. Shires is currently touring, but coming nowhere near Austin anytime soon which is a damn shame. Her Myspace page gives her an indie labeling, but with Shires on fiddle, vocals, baritone ukulele, David Henry on cello, pianos, and organs, Rod Picot on guitars, Paul Slivka on bass, Steve Byam on pedal steel, Rich Malloy on drums and chain, it hard to believe that all she has to offer is a indie sound. Straight out of Nashville, her debut recording was produced, recorded and mixed by David Henry at True Tone Nashville and mastered by Jim Demain at Yes Master in Nashville. Although born in Lubbock, she’s moved on to a town that fits her sound a bit better… that of a true singer/songwriters with the fiddle dominating. She honed her Western Swing sound perfectly working side by side with Tommy Allsup and the Texas Playboys whom she started playing with at the young, bright age of 16. She co-founded the rowdy Texas indie rockers, The Thrift Store Cowboys, but has recently shifted her focus to this solo album. “I’ve worked gigs for Billy Joe Shaver, Buzz Cason, Will Kimbrough, Justin Earle, Rod Picott, and lots of other folks. I enjoyed that life but now it’s time to write and play my own music. For me that took moving away from where I was comfortable. It took waiting tables, being scared, getting lost—it took turning gigs down and staying home versus fiddlin’ on the road. And it took going at it with all my intention and all my heart, ” says Shires. A gutsy moved that’s paid off beautifully with lots of review praise and tour dates. There’s an obvious bit of grit behind her solo album that she co-produced with frequent collaborator Rod Picott. It’s sparse and intimate at the same time. Ballads like “I Kept Watch Like Doves,” exemplify this profoundly and is complete with birdsong flowing from the tree outside the studio. She’ll put you in a trance with her insight, lyrics and fiddle. 5.0 McRiprock’s.