Top Picks From 2014 So Far: Loveless, Greyhounds, Arc Iris, The Sea The Sea and more

I have been meaning to share some thoughts on a bunch of music that have impressed me so far this year. So without further ado…

Lydia LovelessSomewhere Else (Bloodshot)

Loveless is a torch & twang firecracker and her new album revs up as a fun and fierce joyride. For newcomers – think Neko Case with a punk/garage rock engine. On an earlier album, she had a great tune called “Steve Earle” and then time around she has one entitled “Chris Isaak” although the song I prefer is “Wine Lips”

www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTjF3Tt0JDA

Irene KelleyPennsylvania Coal (Patio Records)

Is the other end of the twang spectrum from Loveless. A veteran songwriter, Kelley’s new CD is the first one in too-long of a while. It’s filled with songs where all the pieces (lyrics, hooks, heart) fit together exquisitely.

IreneKelleyPressPhotoByDeoneJahnke1-231x300

The Sea The SeaLove We Are We Love

The Sea The Sea is yet another duo and yet another good one. Chuck E. Costa and Mira Stanley create this brand of melodic Americana ala the Lumineers and it’s damn fine stuff. The gorgeous title track stands out here and is one you’ll hear on soundtracks if you haven’t already.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywdPqnvpLP0

Jonny Two BagsSalvation Town (Isotone Records)

Jonny Two Bags (aka Jonny Wickersham) is the long-time guitarist for Social Distortion. His solo debut makes you go – dude, why did it take you so long to make an album? Salvation Town comes populated with rough-hewn roots rock (think the Del-Lords) and colorful storytelling.

jonnytwobags

Your FriendJekyll/Hyde EP (Domino)

Taryn Blake Miller is Your Friend. I don’t know much about her except that she lives now in Lawrence, Kansas. I’ve only heard one tune off of her debut EP but “Tame One” is a keeper. It starts all lo-fi and builds slowly into something untamed and memorable.

Your-Friend

Liz Green – “Where The Rivers Don’t Flow” video

Another musician I’m just discovering. She’s from Manchester, England and has an intriguing dark music hall/cabaret vibe to this song from her upcoming CD Haul Away on PIAS Recordings. It’s the stop-motion animation in this video that makes it so awesome.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpAOw6haD3A

Cloud Nothings – “I’m Not Part of Me” (Carpark/Mom+Pop)

This band from my old hometown Cleveland has had a buzz around them for the past few years. This track from their upcoming Here And Nowhere Else will excite those longing for the next great Replacements(ish) tune.

cloudnothings

Line & Circle – “Mine Is Mine”

Similarly, “Mine Is Mine” will put a smile on those who still have a soft spot for pre-Warner Brothers REM and other jangle-pop bands from Georgia and/or I.R.S. Records of the ‘80s. Nostalgia done right by this L.A.-based group.

line-circle-band

Greyhounds – “What’s On Your Mind” (Ardent Music)

This Austin-based band comprised of Anthony Farrell and Anthony Trube, who toured in JJ Grey’s group. On this song they take some classic soul elements roughen them up with some blues rock grit and create something that exudes a laidback cool. It really whet my appetite for their debut Accumulator that is due in early April.

greyhounds

Arc IrisArc Iris – Anti- Records

Arc Iris is the solo project from Jocie Adams, who used to be in the Low Anthem. From the couple of the tunes I’ve heard, Adams has a lighter touch with music than her former band. There’s a charming appealing to her eclectic sound that dips and swirls around styles (and her videos are very cool too). Arc Iris’ self-titled debut arrives on April 1.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttaJByGQ5mo

Don WilliamsReflections (Sugar Hill)

I will conclude with this country music veteran, who has been around the Nashville scene since the ‘70s. Nicknamed “the Gentle Giant,” Williams might be best known for his hit “Tulsa Time.” On his new album, the seventy-something Williams has gathered together a great set of tunes (featuring songs penned by Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Jessie Winchester, Merle Haggard and others) that perfectly blend an air of well-earned wisdom, a feeling of an enduring spirit and, true to its title, a sense of reflection – all delivered in his familiar laidback style.

Don-Williams

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About Michael Berick

I am a longtime writer, and lover, of music and pop culture. I have written for Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, the LA Weekly, the San Francisco Chronicle, Cleveland Scene and more places (that I wouldn't take up more of your time mentioning now).
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