Archive for February 17th, 2022

February 17, 2022

The B-Side: Barrett Davis

Some genres live and die by authenticity, and certainly American roots music is one of those. This isn’t to say that English boys with banjos can’t occasionally write a good tune, but it’s just not the same. There’s something about growing up with the mountain mist in your lungs and the ghosts of pickers and fiddlers and yodelers echoing through the holler while you sleep that makes it different. Barrett Davis is different. Born and raised and still residing in the mountains of North Carolina, there’s a tempered weariness to his voice that sounds like lineage, sounds like respect. Davis uses it in “The Ballad of Aesop Fin” first to comfort us, to give us those old time feels (albeit with a thoroughly modern indie folk production and arrangement) with a simple but catchy melody, telling us the tale of hard luck rambler – a song tradition as old as songs themselves. But as the song builds toward the end, the voice soars and pushes the whole affair out of traditionalism and into something else entirely. The transition feels natural but that makes it no less striking, and elevates the song to something really special.

February 17, 2022

Thursdays With J.R. – Dinner and Whiskey Next Week

Thursdays with J.R. is our new weekly column from lifelong musician and lifelong-er music fan J.R. McIntire, drummer of Arctic Char and multi-instrumentalist on more projects than we have bandwidth to list.

Visually, I was ready for what Dinner and Whiskey Next Week had in store for me this week.  Black and white images of a sunken-eyed rascal being pulled downwards into a black hole dawning the cover of their album Gravitational Pull.  The music did NOT disappoint. Just like the careful, what seem to be hand-drawn art dawning the cover the music is also hand crafted with the utmost patience.  “Just Like a Doll” opens with clean and thick dissonant guitar, plucked with precision, laying down the groove before anything else comes in.  Drums slow but also thick join the experience.  A slow droning tambourine brings in the guitar swells perfectly as we travel the first verse.  Vocals are gentle and clear.  Great mix and lyrics, the imagery it conjures is imaginative but relatable.  Chorus opens slowly but doesn’t hit immediately.  Drums drone and open further with vocal harmonies filling up the sonic space before the guitars let loose.  The chorus is powerful but still beautiful.  Nice use of reverb in the vocal tracks, they all give space to come together as one in the end.  The second verse builds into second chorus with more guitar layering and swells than our first time around, building a nice dynamic foundation.  I believe its mostly guitars here though they traverse into synth-sounds which is quite pleasing to the ear.  Brings you up and down with the song while listening.  The bridge brings an agreeable tension, delayed vocals and extreme hi-hat and tom work drive into a bountiful noise-finale.  A wall of guitar and vocals bringing you all the way up and leaving you there until the song ends.  This band is my cup of tea, and I was quite pleased.  Give them a sip and find out how tasty they are for yourself.

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