Album Reviews

Colton Snuffer: Corvid 

 Check out Colton Snuffer at: facebook.com/ColtSnufferandTheDeadHorsemen

 Not only did the album's title give me a much needed chuckle during these serious times, each song on this album is tight, mysterious, and show the marks of a young-but-seasoned song craftsman. Also, turns out Mr. Snuffer plays every track on this album. From percussion to some impressive harmonica, lead and rhythm guitar, and more. He even raps on it. Not kidding. And it works.The overall sound of this album is noticeably dark country, with some gritty-as-hell blues coloring the edges, and plenty of good-ol' fashion rock n' roll moving it forward. This is an album that is impressive on its own, but also showcases an artist with plenty of potential to grow in some interesting musical directions. Though this is a solo album, Colton also performs in "Colt Snuffer & The Dead Horseman."

Thumbs up: The album is incredibly tight, but has enough rough edges and a raw spirit to save it from sounding TOO perfect. The songwriting itself is solid, harkening to outlaws like Johnny Cash and Southern Gothic writers like Flannery O' Connor. The percussion, though simple, is one of the album's most subtle yet rewarding elements, giving the songs an intensity that too often lacks in folk and country music. 

DM's Two Cents: The rap on "No One Pays" surprised me. A lot. It took a few listens to get used to. It fits surprisingly well in the song itselt but felt a little out-of-step with the album as a whole. However, I admire that he did this and I've found that creative surprises in music that might shake us up at first usually are good for listeners, artists, and respective music genres. I'd be curious to hear more songs in the future that incorporated this. Though use it wisely. 

Standout Tracks: The eerie, dark-as-midnight "Whiskey in a Wine Glass" is an absolute home run. The foot-stompin' blues track "Half-Wit" is a great example of Colton's knack for penning percussive tunes. 

 

The Ghost of Lola Rose 

Check The Ghost of Lola Rose out at: www.theghostoflolarose.com

There's nothing better than when a great artist you've never heard before suddenly sings into your ear and leaves you speechless. And that's exactly what happened with this debut from U.K's dark-chanteuse The Ghost of Lola Rose. With songs full of mischief, mystery, and misery, this first E.P from a most-exceptional new singer-songwriter promises great things to come. The album goes deep, with songs about mental illness, religion, the nature of good and evil, to name just a few big topics explored here. Yet there's a pop sensibility that makes the album an absolute pleasure to listen to, all of which is heightened by Lola Rose's haunting, at times sultry, and always striking vocals. Also, visit her website and you'll find a whole mythos surrounding the artist that adds a layer of intrigue. As her bio states, "The Ghost of Lola Rose has been haunting the corridors of an old house in England for some years. Following the death of singer/songwriter Lola Rose, her ghost fills the empty void by trying to communicate Lola’s stories of human struggle to the living, in the hope that her death would not have been in vain." Now THERE is a bio that's gonna get lovers of dark music begging for more. 

Thumbs Up: As mentioned, the mythos establised by Lola Rose is intriguing and, even in light of the album's dark matter, FUN. I was sold the minute I heard of it. Yet the music itself lives up to the intrigue. Though it has all the quirks and charms of a first effort, all-in-all this EP is exceptionally well done. I was specifically impressed with how much I enjoyed listening to it, at the same time finding its heavy content provocative. Also, unlike a lot of debuts, The Ghost of Lola Rose has her own cohesive sound. It's a mix of folk-rock with country tinges and even some surf, almost punk-like touches gracing the tracks. 


DM's Two Cents: Honestly, just keep making music. On this debut, GOLR introduces herself not only as an artist with a top-notch sound, but also shows potential to become even more established. Perhaps some thicker overall mastering would bring out the full power of the songs herein. There is very little noticeable reverb or vocal effects. For an album that covers vast terrain, it is fairly stripped down. I'd love to hear her work with a producer and engineer that could really bring a few classy studio tricks to her tunes, even add some more musicians to the mix. But overall, this is the kind of debut album that music reviewers dream of. It's artful, different, a delight to hear, and leaves you wanting more. Quite a feat. 

Standout Track: The wonderfully peculiar "Strange Voodoo" is the album's best track. It has a Dusty Springfield vibe, a percussive musical backdrop, and Lola's vocal magic. "I Don't Know" is another standout that haunts the imagination. 
 

Silas J. Dirge 

Check Silas out at: silasjdirge.bandcamp.comjankooiker.com

Amsterdam-based country artist Jan Kooiker, aka Silas J. Dirge, returns with this exceptional sophomore release. It's a follow up to his already-flawless debut Tales of Woe. Though not without his knack for the dark and macabre, The Poor Devil puts him in the company of country greats such as Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Carter Family, and other legends. With great precision, boundless creativity, and  a craftsman's touch, Silas creates musical landscapes that place him far above his more famous contemporaries. As such, The Poor Devil further showcases more tunes from one of the most daring, creative country artists out there. 
 

Thumbs Up: Like his debut, there's not a bad song on the album. The attention to detail, haunting instrumentation, and Silas' unmatched ability to perfectly balance vast orchestration and stark soundscapes is on full display here. Lyrically, each song is a short story that will linger in the imaginations of listeners long after the album's finish. 

DM's Two Cents: I tried to find some criticisms and, again, could not. This is just a damn good album. It will be interesting to see where his next album takes us. Personally, I'm hoping he'll get a little weirder and unrestrained with his next compositions. Keep the old-school country sounds, but don't be afraid to go big. Don't be afriad to show off those vocals chords a bit more. Dude can sing! And throw some spooky cellos on there!

Standout Tracks:  "Hear Its Roar (When It's Black)" is the best track Silas has done yet. It is daring, strange, and ultimatley beautiful. He also showcases his impressive vocals more, letting go of his typical vocal restraint when belting out the song's title.The instrumental "A Land More Kind Than Home" has the spirit of an Ennio Morricone score. The jaunty "Black Dog" harkens to greats of Southern Gothic literature such as William Faulkner and Flannery O' Connor. 

 

Nathan Kalish: Songs for Nobody 

Check Nathan Kalish Out Atnathankalish.bandcamp.com and nathankalish.us  
Purchase/Listen to Album Here  

This is Kalish's best album so far. The slick-but-soulful production, the A+ musicians involved, seasoned songwriting chops, and themes ranging from love to politics and plenty more in between make Songs for Nobody a truly exceptional record. This is perfectly-crafted, heart-on-the-sleeve Americana that feels like a windows-down, radio-up road trip across a troubled country.  It provides the escapism, the grit, and the hope that we are all craving right now.   

Thumbs Up: Nathan's vocals have never sounded better. His endless touring schedule has really paid off. In the best way possible, he sounds like a pro on Songs for Nobody. The cast of musicians on here complement the songs and each other with such precision and finesse. This is an album that becomes more rewarding with each listen.   

DM's Two Cents: Honestly, no criticisms here. I've personally followed Nathan Kalish's career for a decade, and have offered some in past reviews. This album is such a solid evolution forward and, honestly, just listen to the fuckin' thing and enjoy every bit of it.   

Standout Tracks: "Standard Time" is Kalish's best song yet. It reaches heights occupied by Emmylou, Isbell, and Prine. This song really hit me in the wheelhouse. The rough-and-sentimental "Wino Christmas" and the old-timey country track "Delta Woman" also shine brightly. 

 

Jack Moon: Etched in Grey 

 

 

Check Jack Moon Out At: thedancingjackal.bandcamp.com

Listen to the Albun Here

An old-timey, lo-fi folk album showing off an artist with solid guitar chops, hypnotic harmonicas, dark & brooding lyrics, with lyrics akin to the stories cowboys tell around a fire. This is a bone-sparse record, with an eerie shadow stretching across it. Add to that Jack Moon's devilish baritone and the result is "Etched in Grey."

Thumbs Up: Jack's skills as a guitarist  and ear for composition stand out the most. Lots of lovely slide-guitar licks, rollicking finger-plucked chord progressions as well. The track "Death Don't Wander" has a horrific, unsettling, but strangely pretty piano line in the background that's even Hitchockian in the mood it sets. 

DM's Two Cents: Editing wise, it's at times imbalanced. The first track "Requiem," while a solid composition, would do well with a quiter guitar and louder vocals. The album's lo-fi quality gives it its character, but you almost wish there was a little more production, reverb, etc. 

Standout Tracks:  The aforementioned "Death Don't Wander" is the standout here, and shows Jack Moon at his best. The mostly instrumental "Black Dog" is as creepy as it is beautiful. Like a walk through a dark forest at night. "Crossroad Rag" is one of the few upbeat tracks, and I'd love to hear something like this on future records. It has such a catchy, oddly fun old-timey feel to it. 

Silas J Dirge: Tales of Woe 

 

 

Check Silas Out At: silasjdirge.com

Listen to the album here

What a weird, hypnotic, spooky, murderous breath of fresh air this album is. Not even sure how I found it, but I loved it the millisecond the first note played. Created by an artist in Amsterdam, this is lovely and melancholy album full of murder ballads, ghost stories, and strange love songs. Please, tell all of your friends about Silas J. Dirge. It is Cowboy Music for Stephen King fans.

Thumbs Up: Honestly, this is a perfect album. If Devil's Music assigned letter grades, it would get an A+ and that still wouldn't be good enough for this deeply rewarding album. The album's greatest success is how simple it all is, yet it is simplicity that creates a rich, nightmarish atmosphere that sticks with you long after it's over. It calls back greats like Marty Robbins and Hank Williams, but also could easily compete with contemporaries such as Colter Wall and Hank III. 
 

DM's Two Cents: Honestly, I just hope more people find out about it and Silas J. Dirge. Keep making music. This is a perfect album. 

Standout Tracks: The song "Reaper" is one of the best songs I've heard this year. It is as unsettling as it is beautiful. I wanted to cry and cheer as I listened. Also "Sirens of the Tar."

 

Patty Pershayla: Oracle Bones 

 

Check out Patty Pershayla at: pattypershayla.com

Take a listen here.

"Peace, love, and a crowbar" has served well as Patty Pershayla's elevator speech. Her music is a strange mix of slightly hippy folk with the grit and mischief of heavy metal. Lyrics cover peace and love, for sure, but they also wield chainsaws and Halloweenish imagery. Add to that her A+ vocal skills,which are somewhere between Regina Spektor and Kurt Cobain, oddly enough. Needs to be heard to be understood. 

Thumbs Up: The track "Charmed" is the standout here on an album that doesn't have a bad song on it. There are star-making melodies here, belted out with confidence and gusto, but real vulnerability aplenty. Coming at a close second is "The Horror," a slightly masochistic, witty number that aptly details the horrors of a breakup, using slasher-flick metaphors.   As she sings, "I'm gonna slaughter you, axe murder you with kindness."  Spooky hums  take the song to heavenly heights, or better put, hellish depths. Depending on how you hear it. 

DM's Two Cents: "Till Death" has a notable, black metal that really works for Patty and we hope it keeps popping up. There's a certain "something" here that is worth exploring and applying even further. 

Standout Tracks: "Charmed," "The Horror," and "Till Death" all get an A+
 

Ernie Clark & the Magnificent Bastards: Family Album 

 
Check out these bastards at: www.facebook.com/ernieclarkdos
 
Take a listen here.
 

Hillbilly country, classic punk, lyrics with real bite telling stories that are equal parts fun, dark, depressing, and ridiculous. Listening to this feels like seeing Joey Ramone  at a honky-tonk,  then watching him leave with your true love. 

Thumbs Up: Tight musicianship all throughout but there's a rag-tag, human quality to it all. Mostly upbeat songs that cover love, death, getting your ass dumped, failed attempts at adulthood, drinking a lot, and God even shows up. 
 

DM's Two Cents: Boy, some slide guitar would sound good on half the songs here. Also, the first track opens with a chaotic barrage of instruments that smooths into a tight groove. You should do that type of thing more often!
 

Standout Tracks: "Hell of a View" is a perfect tune, with hints of Waylon and AC/DC. "The Tale of Rotten Johnny Reb" is fuckin' solid, too!