“I didn’t move here, I’ve been travelling for 7 years”- The sarcastic opening line of “Make It Last” is the inspiration not only for the song but the whole album. Every word is there for a reason and loaded with meaning.
A more successful approach is stealth. Farmer’s cats are known to shut their eyes, believing that as they can’t see, neither can they be seen, stalking the cow’s milk pail. Every day I try this. I casually enter the garage, stroll as if without purpose in the direction of my guitar, and at the last moment, pounce, and strum furiously, and sing and hope I’ve caught a tune unawares. Most often they’ve seen me coming, and fly off laughing. But not always, and this is the reason I keep trying. (The Pinkerton Diaries, p. 106)
It’s very unconventional and, ultimately, I think that’s a testament to the unconventional way the song came together.
ps. Two of my favourite songs about being ‘Down & Out’ are;Bessie Smith- Nobody Knows you when you’re Down and OutSonny Boy Williamson- Down and Out Blues
Armed with a Fender Rhodes Keyboard, Robert Farren and Colin Behram take few prisoners as they assault the stereotype conventions of piano rock.
Thankfully, Levi Cobb & the Big Smoke’s upcoming new album would be a good start to the folk music scene, particularly folk rock.
Troublemaker is the Denton, Texas band’s debut album, featuring 10 songs with great guitar and banjo work and an interesting set of lyrics that give each song a narrative of their own. Kicking off with “Heartsick Man”, whose lyrics belie the song’s lively, upbeat rhythm (‘The hole I’m digging ain’t got room for two’), one can tell the rest of the album is something to look forward to.
While a folk rock band, Troublemaker has them incorporating other genres into their music that give it a very unique listening experience, while also infusing a storytelling edge to the whole album thanks to both Kim (she’s also a writer and editor “with a background in drama and poetry”) and lead singer and lead banjoist/guitarist Jesse Thompson, who has an interest in the American South and wrote many of the songs featured.
As guitarist and background vocalist Kim Nall puts it,
“While it is true that we place a strong emphasis on storytelling, we never want to lose the defiant, slightly drunken, freewheeling quality that makes being in this band and playing these songs so much fun.”
With Jessie lending his voice to good effect, and Kim adding harmonics in the background, it does leave this reviewer mesmerized and grooving along to the eclectic mix the band has to offer in Troublemaker. Apart from “Heartsick Man”, “Not My Time” also gives a laidback feel with the slow guitar-and-banjo rhythm. “Waiting for You to Fall” is another similar song, though giving a more melancholic tone as the band sings of unrequited love.
“Cloud O’er My Head” and “Cat & Bird” are far more melancholic tunes, but they really give an ambient feel with every second you spend listening – in the former, Jesse’s lilting voice is accompanied by an equally dreamy instrumental that could make you drift away (and wonder if that cloud really wants him dead); in the latter, it’s a different take of melancholia as Kim injects a sense of foreboding that runs a shiver down your spine.
Overall, Troublemaker is a good take on alternative folk rock and an extra reason for those first-time folk music listeners to go out there and listen to more folk songs. Given that folk music now comes in a wide range of music from its humble roots, Levi Cobb & the Big Smoke is one of many talented gems that really are worth the time supporting.
“This Place” makes mellifluous use of the band’s signature male-female harmonies that are as soulful as they are dynamic, building from intimate near-whispers to a full choir’s worth of anthemic sing-along sound.
Meanwhile, the simple yet colorful imagery and realistic storytelling in the lyrics perfectly match the warm, natural tones of layered percussion, guitars, and violins.
The end result pays tribute to influences like Of Monsters and Men, Andrew Bird, and Kings of Leon while adding enough indie rock ferociousness to forge new musical territory.
IndieVerse will be celebrating its first anniversary on the 2nd of February. We’ve come a long way over this past year.
Right now, what we need are more writers. You are free to contribute as little or as much as you like. No contracts to tie you down and no profits involved.
Proficiency in English, solid work ethics and communication skills are required. A good sense of humour is an added bonus.
Here are some of the benefits of joining the IndieVerse writing team:
We are also on the lookout for admins for our Facebook page. This opportunity is limited only to other music bloggers and select publicity firm representatives.
Designers and artists are also welcome.
Bandleader and songwriter John MacCallum writes on IndieVerse, explaining the inspiration and history behind this song.
As I was getting ready to write this I found myself reading a few other of the musician written articles on IndieVerse. I came across one such article by Kaela Sinclair and I wanted to say first and foremost how struck I was by the essay in general, but more specifically how much I related to one point in particular that she made:
“The need to create permanent and complex art can be satiated with much more ease without the stresses of a budget and timeline.”
I have found that my own desire to make music stems from a need to solve or even simply cope with a problem. Even if it is a story told in the 3rd person, the music we make always has a piece of us inside of it. It has in a way always been a source of therapy and because of that I have always wanted to make music that I personally want to listen to; music that I will enjoy and more importantly music that will help me get through the day. I don’t know what I would do if the only way I could create recorded music was based around somebody else’s ‘budget and timeline.’
Our songs always begin with a home recording. “Children” actually began as a song called “Taxi Ride” and was one of the first songs I had recorded. I was going to school in Charleston, SC and at one point when I was back in New York, visiting home, I had an encounter with a seemingly wise old man who was driving me in his taxi. He enlightened me to the hardships of being the caretaker for a family and how difficult the task of raising children can be, especially in a big city. This rather innocuous interaction really stuck with me and eventually led me to write and record a song called Taxi Ride.
As we were finishing up Daisies and I was beginning to write and record songs that would eventually become Posies, I spent time listening to old demos to see if there could be anything to use for new music. The only song that moved me in any significant way was Taxi Ride. I felt a connection to the words and the music that was just as strong as when it had been originally recorded years earlier.
I proceeded to make a new demo at home using the techniques I have learned over the years and that in conjunction with working with Max Drummey and Dan Stringer as producers is what eventually created the version of “Children” you hear now.