Despite a four-decades long and still going strong career, Michael Chapman is one of the, if not unsung, certainly lesser-sung heroes of the folk tradition, a fact that is reinforced by the collection of largely lesser-known, underground artists gathered together for the Michael Chapman tribute album, Oh Michael, Look What You’ve Done: Friends Play Michael Chapman. Also made apparent by this collection is the sheer quality of Chapman’s songcraft and the obvious impact it has had on the artists asked to pay tribute to it. From affecting instrumentals to haunting laments, the songs here capture the spirit of nostalgia, melancholy, and bittersweet reflection that runs through Chapman’s work. And, hopefully, the songs here will bring a new audience to a deserving artist.
I first came to Michael Chapman’s music when a friend and record store co-worker, Shawn David McMillen, turned me on to a couple of his early albums, Rainmaker and Fully Qualified Survivor, so I think it’s great that the same label that puts out Shawn’s records (also great) is the one to release a tribute album that has reminded me how much I love Chapman’s music.
Oh Michael, Look What You’ve Done is out now via Tompkins Square. Check it out here.
The album is currently streaming in its entirety at Spinner. Listen here.
Legendary guitarist and folk singer Doc Watson has left this mortal coil at the age of 89.
I came to the music of Doc Watson a bit late in my musical journey through the music of Townes Van Zandt and his record Live at The Old Quarter. On that record, Townes introduces the song “If I Needed You” by saying, “This was recorded by Doc Watson, and it really blew my mind, you know…”, so I ran out and listened to a bunch of Doc Watson. And as Doc’s playing did for Townes and everyone who heard it, it really blew my mind.
Read more about the life and music of Doc Watson in an article from TheNew York Times here.
Back in April los grillos was rockin’ and rollin’ to the garage-power-pop Tom Petty vibe of King Tuff’s Suicide Squeeze-released 7″ single, “Wild Desire”. Short and sweet, we had that punchy little number on repeat, so we’re happy as hell to learn that Kyle Thomas, who is King Tuff, found time between his gigs as frontman for the lo-fi Sub Pop rockers Happy Birthday and as singer for the J. Mascis metal band Witch to put together his self-titled second lp as King Tuff. Building on the punchy fuzz and jangle of his previous work, Thomas takes King Tuff into full-on T. Rex glam territory without losing any garage-rock grit, even when he slows things down for some mid-tempo balladry. Really, with its image of a demonic bat clutching a Gibson SG guitar and a wizard wand, the cover says it all.
King Tuff is out May 29 via Sub Pop. Check it out here.
And if the cover isn’t enough to get you to buy the thing, the album is currently streaming in its entirety here . Have a listen and you’ll be convinced.
Australian rockers Royal Headache bring their brand of soulful garage-punk to the States on a tour that kicks off Friday, May 25 in Los Angeles and wraps up in Boston less than a month later. Along the way, the band will hit Austin for two dates during the Chaos in Tejas Festival, playing the Scoot Inn on Friday, June 1 and Club Deville on Saturday, June 2. Catch ’em live if you can. (**update–the band had to cancel their first batch of US shows, May 25-30, because they didn’t have their visas yet, but they’ll be stateside for the rest of the tour**)
Grab a copy of their self-titled debut, out now via What’s Your Rupture? (in partnership with Australian label R.I.P. Society) here.
And here’s the recently released video for the rip-roaring single “Girls”…
Once again los grillos must thank the fine folks at Raven Sings The Blues for turning me on to a new favorite, this time in the form of the ethereal folk of Padang Food Tigers. Formed by members of drone-folk group Rameses III, Padang Food Tigers play it hushed and intimate on latest lp, Ready Country Nimbus, blending field recordings with delicately played, floating cloud instrumentation to create a quietly nostalgic album of pastoral folk.
Ready Country Nimbus is out now via Bathetic Records. Check it out here.