Albums in Rotation: Folk Rock Edition

I like to do my Album in Rotation blog when I don’t have a specific band I’m looking to review.  I tossed around, at one point in time, doing an individual review for all of these bands; however, I enjoy doing a blog that lets me knock out a lot of bands in one read.  The last version of these that I wrote ended up doing pretty well, so I figured it was time for another one.  I think I’m going to start trying to figure out a theme or something to name it in addition to just calling it Albums in Rotation.  Perhaps it will give others a better idea of what type of music they will be reading about.  It definitely can’t be a bad thing to think about.  This particular Albums in Rotation features folk rock.  I’m not sure one of these bands fits into that category really well, but I know the other three fit this category pretty well.  Here are the four albums I’ve been cycling through over the past two weeks.

M.WardA Wasteland Companion – The second half of the duo She & Him, M. Ward releases his newest solo effort.  It’s kind of
funny to refer to this as a solo album because he really has been a solo artist for most of his career.  Putting out music since 1999, he really has only started to garner big time attention lately.  M.Ward returns to what he does best on this album.  Although it is slightly more polished than some fans will be used to, technology is getting better and artists are putting out better records.  People need to deal with that.  Anyway, the first single off the album, “Primitive Girl”, has a much bigger sound than a lot of fans will be accustomed to, but Ward uses his deadpan delivery to remind everyone that he hasn’t changed.  There is actually a whole plethora of instruments that end up getting used throughout the entirty of the record, which I think helps to really add a lot of depth to this record.  It almost seems like a slightly more upbeat record at times for him.  “Sweetheart” brings Mrs. Deschanel in for a little guest backup vocals. Thankfully they only do this for a song.  Although I don’t mind She & Him, I want Ward to show that he is his own musician.

Trampled by TurtlesStars and Satellites – M.Ward is a pretty good blend of the folk influenced rock.  Trampled by Turtles ends up being closer to rock influenced folk.  I received a sampler with an old magazine subscription a few years ago.  While I don’t really remember a lot of the songs on it now, I do remember T by T had a song featured on it.  I loved the song, but I wasn’t really down with the rest of the album.  Seeing that they released another album, I quickly got it out hoping I would enjoy it more than their previous effort.  Thankfully I have!  T by T sort of sound like Fleet Foxes, but they don’t almost put me to sleep with their music.  With instruments like the banjo, mandolin, and fiddle, you feel like you’re listening to something that was composed on somebody’s back porch in Kentucky.  However, they have such good harmonies and melodies, you’ll be impressed by their ability to compose great music for a much wider audience.  “Alone” sounds like you could figure out a way to have an entire orchestra accompany them.  Thankfully, they also can get really down home folk as well.  “Walt Whitman” features some really fast banjo and fiddle work, and it has a little country tinge to it for sure.  “Risk” and “Don’t Look Down” are actually just instrumental songs on the album, but they are probably two of my favorite songs on the album.  They make me want to film some coming of age country adventure movie.

LuceroWomen & Work – Lucero is a band that I’ve been listening to for a little while, but they have never managed to really hold my attention.  I would like to predict that this one will manage to do just that, but I do wonder if that is true or not.  I really like this album, but I’m not sure if it has staying power. This is probably the least folk style album in this post, but it can almost be described as rock that has been influenced by punk and country.  You can definitely get a little bit more enthusiasm and attitude out of the lead singer, Ben Nichols’s, voice.  They start this album off with a rock and roll powerhouse song “On My Way Downtown”.  This song has a lot of the blusey rock sensibilities to it, but it also could be used for a killer line dance as well.  “Women & Work” has a slightly more old school rock and roll feel to it; however, the word honkey-tonk does come out in this song, so it also features a heavy dose of country as well.  I’ve said it before on here; I really like albums that are made for driving.  I can put down the windows for this one and enjoy a nice long drive.  Unfortunately it would be straight into traffic around here, but I’ll be keeping this one on rotation all summer.

Good Old War Come Back As Rain – I saved the band I’ve been listening to the most for last in this place.  I found out about GOW from my friend John who has reviewed here before.  He told me he found it using the “similar artists” feature on Spotify.  I’m quite happy he did because I’ve been really enjoying their release as of late.  Having only been around for about four years or so, they have definitely fine-tuned their sound into something that could almost become the next radio friendly Mumford and Sons.  They don’t really have the same sound, but they have a folk centered poppy sound that a lot of people will enjoy.  “Calling Me Names” is definitely one of my favorite songs on the album.  They have a very slight folk sound on this song with a lot of pop sensibilities.  I have a feeling this wouldn’t be pure enough for many hipsters, but I’m fine with it.  I don’t need to be an elitist.  Songs like “Loud Love” manage to show a little bit more of their country folk focus.  If you’re alright with a little pop in your folk, then you really need to check this band out!

I think I have a little something for everyone here.  So open up your Spotify and check a few of them out.  Feel free to tell me what you’ve been listening to lately too.


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