It's the dog days of summer, but there are still a lot of reasons to drag yourself off the back porch. So drop that lemonade/remote control/game controller and check out some bluegrass, folk, pop, progressive rock, and the coolest Celtic rock bandname ever.
The Seldom Scene - Scenechronized (Sugar Hill)/Country
Label: Sugar Hill
In the 1970's these guys were a modern bluegrass (now there's a contradiction in terms!) powerhouse. I don't think I've bought anything by them since the record they did with Jonathan Edwards.
Lori McKenna - Unglamorous (Warner Bros.)/Folk
Lori McKenna's song "Hardly Speaking A Word" is one of those songs that is stunning in its clarity and emotional impact. Ever since Paper Wings & Halo came out, I have been a fan. McKenna contributed a few songs to Faith Hill's Fireflies record. Now Faith and Tim McGraw are returning the favor, with McGraw in the co-producer's chair. McKenna has always deserved wider acclaim in my ear's estimation. Now it's time to see if a major label release does the trick.
Linda Thompson - Versatile Heart (Rounder)/Folk
Her last record, Fashionably Late, was tremendous. Now it seems that she's collaborating with son Teddy. Yes, please.
Eisley - Combinations (Warner Bros.)/Rock
I was a big fan of Eisley's 2005 release Room Noises. If you haven't heard them before, you're in for a real treat. Pop music on the highest order, with sisters Sherri and Stacy DuPree delivering some of the coolest harmonies I've ever heard. Note: there is a special version of this one, containing a DVD of some live material as well as a "making of" video.
U.K. - Night After Night (EMI)/Rock
I have a love/hate relationship with this record. Originally purchased on vinyl, I really loved the cinematic quality to the music (and Terry Bozzio's drums). It's the voice of John Wetton that I've never acquired a taste for. And yes, I know that Alan Holdsworth is missing but, shhhhh... I've never acquired a taste for him either.
Enter the Haggis - Northampton (United Opportunity)/Rock
Hands down, this is the best name for a Celtic rock band ever. Ever! These guys have a reputation for being monsters in concert and this is a document of that fact.
Arsonists Get All the Girls - The Game of Life (Act)/Rock
I'm not really going to buy this (being the kind of metal-ish music that makes my uvula sore), but the band's name is pretty danged funny.