Yes, this blog turned one year old this past week. Soon it’ll be walking and talking! That first post on October 6, 2016 was all about The Lil Smokies, a bluegrass-pop concoction from Missoula, Montana. And here we are, a year later and the band’s just released their second album, Changing Shades. So…
These guys certainly have a sound – pop melodies and lyrics over a bluegrassy banjo-dobro beat with half-country/half-Kansas (the band) fiddle coursing through its veins. Changing Shades continues what they started with their 2013 self-titled debut. Opener “The City” wastes no time mentioning David Bowie’s death, but is still a lively uplifter that showcases the Lil Smokies formula to a tee…and don’t miss that sudden Beach Boys-like vocal thing towards the end! “Might As Well” grabs hold of you with Jake Simpson’s scratchy, chugging fiddle, keeps holdin’ on with Matt Rieger’s gritty guitar, then heads down Smokies Highway with nice harmonies and cowboyish riffs. Other highlights are the energetic banjo-fest “Winded” and the enigmatic “Hitchcock,” which may or may not be about Alfred, or Robyn, or neither. “Kings and Queens” (wherein the “changing shades” lyric lives) is a down-home number that has Andy Dunnigan doing his best James Taylor. The catchy “Feathers,” previously available as a YouTube video only, is included here, as is “The Gallery,” which closes the album with perhaps the band’s most heartfelt moment.
The Lil Smokies are performing at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC on November 10, along with similar-sounding outfits Mipso and The Brothers Comatose. Y’all come on down!
Now for another Schizomusica favorite, Aussie-American band The Walk-A-Bout. Well, one-quarter Australia and three-quarters Long Island. When we last left them they had just unleashed their debut six-song EP, mysteriously titled The Walk-A-Bout, and now…another two tracks have appeared, on the really mysteriously-titled Walk-A-Bout 2. “Oasis” and “Drifting Tide” they are, and get ready for some more hearty rock featuring Kevin Anderson’s barefoot-comfy riffs and Sully Sullivan’s sunset-on-the-sea singing – with some fun percussion so ya can move ‘n’ groove.
Check out The Walk-A-Bout at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett on October 14.
And finally, a group from New Haven, Connecticut, whose 5-song disc Dreams of Trees Pt. 1 was featured here back in April, No Line North. They’ve just teamed up with Lys Guillorn & Her Band (that’s their full name) on a split single due out October 21. “How To Make a Mountain,” Ms. Guillorn’s side, is a folky kinda thing that – well, how ’bout the Lil Smokies with Lucinda Williams on vocals? NLN’s side, “Dirty Holiday,” is sort of like…sorry but I have Lil Smokies on the brain…that band again but minus the banjo and dobro, and rockin’ out with Jon Schlesinger as the resurrected Jim Carroll singing lead. And after that wacky ending I bet someone broke a few violin strings! There’s gonna be a record release gig at Lyric Hall in New Haven on October 21 with both bands plus more.
No Line North Lys Guillorn
So let’s all hoist an Oktoberfest beer to another year of Schizomusica!
images courtesy logjampresents.com, thewilma.com, cdbaby.com, facebook.com, youtube.com, lysguillorn.com, babycenter.in, pulsd.com