Right up there with Sturgill Simpson and Margo Price, Tyler Childers is at the top of my list of favorite country music discoveries in recent years. I became an unapologetic zealot about three-quarters through my first listen of his landmark 2017 album Purgatory. And the good news is that his new album, Country Squire (Hickman Holler) is even better.

Early this year, Alien Space Kitchen self-released The Golden Age of Climate Change: The ASK EP Project, Volume 1, a 7-song burst of joy concerning the pending last gasp of human history. I enjoyed that EP but took the group’s plan to release a new CD every three months with a grain — no, actually a pillar — of salt.

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Turn the amp back to 10

After intense deliberation and heavy sadness, I have decided to blast The Center Won’t Hold, the new album by one of my top favorite bands of the past couple of decades, Sleater-Kinney.

Man, I love New Orleans! Great food, voodoo — and music is everywhere. Even the airport is named after Louis Armstrong. Music seems to permeate the streets.

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Jewell of the Southwest

I’d been aware of Eilen Jewell for a few years before I realized I actually liked her.

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I believe in "Yesterday"

One reason I can overlook the movie's flaws is because I saw the story as a metaphor for how younger generations seem to forget fairly recent cultural touchstones that were so important to us oldsters.

The new album by The Jackets is good, strong, punked-up variations of that wonderful 1960s sound of teenage Americans trying to imitate British bands imitating African-American blues and soul.

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Return of the humdingers

Here’s some recent hip, mod rock ’n’ roll the kids are going ape and blowing their tops over. Or maybe not the kids. But I am.

In recent months, Omnivore Recordings has released several worthy records by venerated bluesmen of yore. Here are some of them — and another one not from Omnivore but worth mentioning.

Let me riff on the old Wolf Brand Chili ad from decades ago: Neighbor, how long has it been since you read a big, steaming Terrell’s Tune-Up column entirely devoted to country music?

I almost feel bad for fans of Michael Jackson following the revelations of Leaving Neverland, the recent HBO documentary detailing the agonizing allegations of sexual abuse, by Jackson, of two of his former kiddie pals, now grown men.


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Irreverent reverends

I’m not sure how religious you gentle readers are, but I’m going to spotlight the latest albums by three righteous rock ’n’ roll reverends — the Reverend Horton Heat, Reverend Peyton, and Reverend Beat-Man. 

Nothing like some loud and local apocalyptic garage-punk space-pop to get your blood circulating on such a winter’s day. Who’s serving that purpose for me lately? It’s The Golden Age of Climate Change by an Albuquerque band called Alien Space Kitchen.

I’m a longtime fan of Barret Hansen, aka Dr. Demento. So it’s probably not a huge surprise to learn that I’m also a fan of Dr. Demento Covered in Punk, a new tribute album featuring many of the oddball ditties as well as many of the artists who graced — or disgraced — his wacky weekly radio show.

With the help of her devastating band, especially guitarist Lenny Kaye, Patti brought me new faith in rock ’n’ roll — which, by 1975, when her first album, Horses, was released, had for the most part gotten soft and tired. 

Here are three new albums that on the surface don’t really sound much like one another. But you can classify all as “uneasy listening” — music with something to bother or perhaps even frighten everyone.

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Jon Spencer goes it alone

Jon Spencer is back, this time with a solo album called Spencer Sings the Hits! 

Recently, a music critic and Facebook friend of mine posted something stupid. No, he wasn’t agreeing with President Trump that the solution to forest fires was better raking. “Rock is dead. Who killed it?” he asked, then listed a few suspects, mainly bands he doesn’t care for.

Harlan T. Bobo isn’t exactly a household name — unless you’re a dedicated devotee of the underground rock scene in Memphis. And he seems to consciously choose to cling to his anonymity. Though the singer says he’s legally changed his name to the one you see on his records, like Leon Redbone, he keeps his birth name secret. He’s been known to wear masks at his performances and in general doesn’t seem to have a naked thirst for big-time success and stardom.

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Drunken Angel: "Blaze"

Blaze stars Ben Dickey, an actor who, at least up to now, probably is even less famous than singer Blaze Foley — though hopefully his future is brighter. The film opens in Santa Fe on Friday, Sept. 28.

“My name is Roger Miller, probably one of the greatest songwriters to ever live … I have written a few songs, probably eight or 900 in my professional career, and we’d like to do about 700 or 750 here tonight.” That’s a little Miller stage banter that kicks off the new various artists tribute album, King of the Road: A Tribute to Roger Miller. It’s

It’s no secret that I’m a major fan of The Fleshtones, that dandy, beyond bitchen little band from New York that’s been grinding out no-frills, back-to-basics rock ’n’…

Let us now praise the fabulous seventies. No, I’m not talking about the 1970s, the decade. I’m talking about a bunch of new albums by country/folk/roots artists who ar…


Zappa's Roxy Box

Here’s a true treat for all the Frank-o-philes out there: A new box set called The Roxy Performances features seven action-packed compact discs that include six full c…

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All Shook Up Once Again

Last year an album called Sidelong by an artist I’d never heard of named Sarah Shook (with her band The Disarmers) instantly became one of my favorite country albums i…

The Swiss singer/songwriter/trash rocker/record-company owner/philosopher/holy man known as Reverend Beat-Man was speaking for himself in an interview more than a decade ago. But he could have been talking for untold numbers of unsung, underpaid heroes of modern music when he said, “I have to get up in the morning out of the bed, and I have to play guitar. I have to go to the office and put out records that nobody buys. I just have to do it. I don’t know why.”

The author, filmmaker, journalist, and Memphis native first discovered the blues as a geeky-looking teenager at a July 4, 1975, Rolling Stones outdoor concert. Mick Jagger wanted to delay the Stones’ set until after sundown, thinking, mistakenly, that the evening air would be cooler — “and his makeup wouldn’t run,” according to Gordon’s account of the show. 

I just got back from the South by Southwest music festival in Austin. People are correct when they say that the festival has grown way too big, the traffic is impossible, and the parking is even worse. But despite all this, I managed to see a lot of good music. Here are some of my favorites.

Once again, Barrence Whitfield and his savage band, The Savages, have hit another one out of the park. His new album, Soul Flowers of Titan, hits — seemingly effortlessly — that sweet spot between garage rock, R&B, soul, blues, and who-cares-what-you-call-it. 

I’m a few days late in celebrating Presidents’ Day, but that inconvenient fact shouldn’t detract from this important American holiday. Actually, the holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February is still officially called “Washington’s Birthday,” though George’s actual birthday is Feb. 22. So I’m only a day late.

Wilkes’ love for this music and his ability to make it sound fresh, fun, and vital, is obvious in his new solo album Fire Dream, which will be officially released next week. This comes just a scant few months after the Shack Shakers’ most recent album, After You’ve Gone, which I’ll get to later.

I love great old American folk songs and other hoary tunes from past centuries. And I love radical reinterpretations of great American folk songs. Neil Young’s Americana, with its fearsome take on “She’ll Be Comin’ ’Round the Mountain” (retitled “Jesus’ Chariot” and recast as an appeal to our space-alien forefathers), is a prime example of this.

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2017 Clearance Section

Through the years, I’ve done more than my share of raging against the evil corporate overlords of country music and their evil corporate award shows that seem to honor lamer and lamer music every year. But in 2017 there was a surprise. 

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The year’s best

One of ten picks: Sidelong by Sarah Shook & The Disarmers. On my very first listen, I was a fan by the end of the first two tracks: “Keep the Home Fires Burnin’ “ (with its beyond catchy melody, similar to the bluegrass classic “Rocky Top”) and “The Nail” (a love-gone-wrong honky-tonker with some fine guitar and lap steel in which Shook sings, “Well, I ain’t your last, you ain’t my first/You can’t decide which fact is worse”). 

Christmas is coming, and America’s annual explosion of holiday blitz of glitz and other stuff is in full gear. And music, from the sublime to the syrupy, plays no small part in it. There is no escaping all the seasonal songs about Baby Jesus, Santa Claus, snow, and sleigh bells. From sappy sentimentality to cringe-worthy novelty tunes to songs professing hardcore religious zealotry — hark the herald hucksters sing!

Let’s get to the point: Purgatory by Tyler Childers is the year’s best album by a young country singer. Hands down. It’s also the best Sturgill Simpson album of the year, as Simpson co-produced the record for his fellow Kentuckian Childers. 

Monkeys and clowns. They’ll bounce around. At least that’s what Pere Ubu’s David Thomas tells us on the first track of Ubu’s new album 20 Years in a Montana Missile Si…

When people think of Halloween rock ’n’ roll songs, they normally think of whimsical novelty tunes dealing with the supernatural — ghosts, vampires, zombies, werewolves, witches, and Satan. But there are plenty of songs out there that are appropriate for Halloween because they are in themselves frightening and or at least deal with frightening topics like murder, insanity, blood, and gore. 

The arrival of a new album by Hubbard is more than just getting the latest from one of your favorite songwriters. It’s like getting a message in a bottle from some shipwrecked sea dog from centuries ago, who somehow beat Poseidon in a poker game to gain immortality. 

This California kid has released more than a dozen new-material studio albums over the past decade, plus a couple of singles compilations, a handful of live albums, a nine-song EP of T. Rex covers, and various side projects. That’s downright brain-boggling, considering the boy just turned thirty a few months ago. 

    It took a few weeks for Boy in a Well, the new album by The Yawpers, to grow on me. I’m not exactly sure why my appreciation was delayed. Perhaps I was trying to follow the weird storyline running through the song lyrics. (No, it’s not a rock opera, so relax, skeptics.)