wears the trousers magazine

incoming: shelby lynne
February 16, 2010, 11:03 am
Filed under: news, trouser press | Tags: , ,

Shelby Lynne
Tears, Lies & Alibis

[Everso / Fontana; April 19, not final artwork]

Two years on from Just A Little Lovin’, her beautifully realised and moving tribute to the songs of Dusty Springfield, Shelby Lynne returns with her eleventh studio album Tears, Lies & Alibis, the first to be released on her own label Everso Records. Described by distributors Fontana as “a stunning and true revelation by one of the world’s most insightful and unpredictable artists”, the ten-track album follows a period of writer’s block for Shelby that was eventually broken by the song ‘Loser Dreamer’. After that, inspiration came from various sources; ‘Something To Be Said’ is an ode to the American institution that is the iconic Airstream trailer, while lead single ‘Rains Came’ was inspired by a storm out in the Southern California desert she calls home. A little teaser clip is up on YouTube.

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trouser shorts: neko case, mavis staples, wanda jackson

We’ve been slacking a little on the news front lately, sorry. It’ll all be worth it when the new website is finally finished. To start things off, here’s a wee roundup of some recently announced collaborations that we can look forward to later in the year…

Neko Case and Shelby Lynne contribute guest vocals to Peter Wolf’s upcoming seventh solo album, Midnight Souvenirs, out in April. It will be the J Geils Band frontman’s first release in eight years and also features country music legend Merle Haggard.

Not to be outdone, Neko’s sometime backing singers Kelly Hogan and Nora O’Connor will provide support for soul and gospel icon Mavis Staples on her upcoming, as yet untitled album, produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. The album is currently being worked on at Tweedy’s studio in Chicago and should be out on Anti- Records later this year. Staples has been on a roll lately with 2007’s incredibly powerful We’ll Never Turn Back (one of our albums of the decade) and last year’s live album Hope At The Hideout, so this should be something pretty stellar.

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wears the trousers albums of the decade #50–26

part one | part two | part four

Here’s the third part of our albums of the decade countdown, running from #50–26.

* * *


Queen Adreena
Drink Me

[Rough Trade, 2002]

Casting aside the disparaging comparisons to “Kate Bush on crack” bestowed upon her in the wake of Queen Adreena’s debut album Taxidermy, KatieJane Garside upped the ante with Drink Me, tearing whatever hinges that were still attached right off with a blisteringly manic grunge-metal fervour. Among her Wonderland’s re-energised malice, the softer moments found Garside’s raging voice shrunk mouse-high, whispering seductively as if through the keyhole, or chillingly into a void. Richly imaginative and manically enjoyable, Drink Me remains one of the decade’s most vigorous and visceral thrills, disturbing to the very last note.

Alan Pedder

read our interview with KatieJane

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albums of the year: readers poll results (part I of V)

Albums of the year: #50–41


This Is The Kit
Krulle Bol

Released: March 2008

Heavily championed by Bestival founder Rob Da Bank, This Is The Kit is the solo project of one Kate Stables, a Hampshire-born expat now living in Paris. Produced by no less a talent than Mr John Parish, Krulle Bol is an utterly enchanting debut album full of captivating stories about socks, moths and soulmates. Warm fuzzy feelings abound as Stables saunters endearingly through a dozen tracks of modern folk that have seen her grace the stage with the likes of Jeffrey Lewis, José González and The National, sung in a plaintive, comforting, unshowy manner that inflames the imagination and appeals to the heart. Perhaps even more perfect as a winter warmer than as a prelude to spring, Krulle Bol rewards many, many listens and will still be on our stereo long into 2009. Of course, by then Kate plans to be back in the studio recording the follow-up, as well as a new EP with Whalebone Polly (her ongoing collaboration with Bristolian Rachael Dadd), so there’s a good chance you’ll be seeing her on this list in 12 months’ time.

Download: ‘Our Socks Forever More’, ‘Two Wooden Spoons’

iTunes £7.99



Kat Flint
Dirty Birds

Released: September 2008

Dirty Birds was a long time getting off the ground and threatened to be eclipsed entirely by the success of other homegrown modern folk acts like Laura Marling, but for those in the know – and obviously there are quite a few of you! – Kat Flint’s long-awaited debut is something of a revelation. Running just shy of an hour, the album pulses with an almost unhealthy amount of wisdom for one so young. The arrangements, too, occasionally surprise with unexpected adornments like the muffled conversation overlaying ‘The Blinking’ and the kazoo that appears out of nowhere on the fantastic ‘Anticlimax’, and Flint proves herself more than adept at upping the tempo without losing her profundity. She may not have all of Marling’s hooks but catch this pretty pigeon and you won’t regret it.

Download: ‘Shotgun Wedding’, ‘Go Faster Stripes’

iTunes £7.99



Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan
Sunday At Devil Dirt

Released: May 2008

Following almost too hot on the heels of their Mercury-nominated Ballad Of The Broken Seas, Sunday At Devil Dirt loses much of that album’s element of surprise and some of the dark sexual tension that made their first unholy union so deliciously seedy. Of course, there are still moments that smoulder with lust, but it’s of a more romanticised variety. Strings blossom through the wrongness on the single ‘Come On Over (Turn Me On)’, for instance, and the heartfelt sweetness of ‘Keep Me In Mind Sweetheart’ is less likely to have you break out in a sweat than reach for the cocoa and a sappy DVD. Campbell is even less of a vocal presence this time around, finally emerging to the fore on the sultry junkyard shuffle of ‘Shotgun Blues’, a creaky, creepy relic from the school of Waits and Brennan. Sturdy, if not stellar.

Download: ‘Shotgun Blues’, ‘Who Built The Road’

iTunes £7.99




Joan Baez
Day After Tomorrow

Released: September 2008

What we said then: “Baez has quietly and conscientiously continued to broaden her musical horizons, primarily through her engagement with the work of new generations of singer-songwriters. Day After Tomorrow finds her enlisting Steve Earle as producer and adding songs by Eliza Gilkyson, Patty Griffin, Thea Gilmore and Elvis Costello & T-Bone Burnett to her already voluminous repertoire. It also finds her relinquishing the rockier and more ambient elements that have characterised her last albums and opting instead for a mellower, more traditional and exclusively acoustic approach. Throughout, Baez’s mature voice is a thing of beauty, full of feeling and expression, grace and gravitas. However, with just ten tracks and a running time of only a little over 35 minutes, the album feels excessively modest, and, overall, somewhat slight. But as a demonstration of Baez in gentler and more reverent mode then this remains a pleasing and satisfying album.” •••½ Alex Ramon [full review]

What we say now: With Obama about to be installed in the White House, Day After Tomorrow‘s uncluttered songs of trials and salvation are well worth revisiting. Baez’s wisdom-tempered optimism resonates strongly in the age of Change, and those dark days of the soul she sings of seem a little further away. For now.

Download: ‘Mary’, ‘The Lower Road’

iTunes £7.90



White Hinterland
Phylactery Factory
Dead Oceans 

Released: March 2008

What we said then: “My overriding impression of Casey Dienel’s debut album under the White Hinterland moniker the first time round was of a jazzy Joanna Newsom. Evidence for: wordy narratives with metaphors jostling for position, all sung in a unique female voice that occasionally verges on the childlike. But while Joanna Newsom’s ghost definitely lurks somewhere near Casey Dienel’s vocal cords, it’s hardly a full-on possession. Phylactery Factory gives us jazz in place of baroque neo-folk, compact chamber pop in place of multipart epics, piano and wisps of vibes instead of harp-led glissandi. Even the less successful songs have a decent melody to recommend them, but a bit more consistency, belief in her lyrics and bottle to her voice would work wonders.” •••½ Adam Smith [full review]

What we say now: Dienel’s flirtation with the rigours of proper diction remained entirely non-committal on White Hinterland’s follow-up EP, Luniculaire, but it mattered far less once the complex, wilful charms of Phylactery Factory had fully sunk in. What both records show is an impressive dedication to threading magical tapestries of everyday beauty observed through a refracting frosted glass darkly that, while not immediately accessible, profit those who take pains to listen.

Download: ‘Lindberghs + Metal Birds’, ‘Calliope’

iTunes £5.49




Rio En Medio
Manimal Vinyl

Released: October 2008

What we said then: “Hailing from the American Southwest, Danielle Stech-Homsy’s motifs of alienation, the sacred and the resistance of time itself seem born from beneath the heavy silence of a wintry desert. Despite this isolated upbringing, Frontier is a strong-lunged otherworldly child, vital and blood red with exposure. Gathering pools of mystical allusion melt away with each new song, shattered apart by the meter as much as they are contained within it. Frontier is beautifully dreary, almost terrorising in its sheer escapism. Its ability to make time seem obsolete is a personification of the disappearing road: two parallel lines lessening the distance between them as they travel toward a northern horizon.” •••• Paige Taylor [full review]

What we say now: With our first few listens to Frontier still fresh in the memory, additional perspective is marginal at best. It’s still an ambitious, challenging album that revels in its alien strangeness. We’ve forsaken any attempt to unravel it to be honest. The temptation to simply immerse is too great, and much less tiring.

Download: ‘The Umbrella’, ‘Heartless’

iTunes £7.99




Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs
Dirt Don’t Hurt
Damaged Goods 

Released: September 2008

What we said then: “Recorded rather haphazardly in the middle of a tour, Dirt Don’t Hurt is classic country fodder: a string of bantering duets nestling with tales of heartache and dysfunctional relationships. Sussex’s answer to Wanda Jackson, Holly wears the badge of country music as proudly as ever as she sings ‘Up On the Floor’, a world weary farewell to a drunken partner. She snarls her way through ‘Indeed You Do’ and bitterly curses ‘For All This’. The album peaks with the bass-slapping, boot-stomping romp that is ‘Getting High For Jesus’, in which they brazenly celebrate “Yeah, I’m getting high for Jesus ‘cos he got so low for me!” It’s The Brokeoffs at their hillbilly best. You can just imagine Holly, in one of her trademark vintage dresses, doing the polka around the stage like kd lang circa 1989 (though not nearly as embarrassing, obviously).” Sacha Whitmarsh [feature interview]

What we say now: It’s not hard to see at which end of the line Holly Golightly was stood when they were handing out talents (not that she believes in a Them or Him or Her). Dirt Don’t Hurt is just as rollicking as last year’s You Can’t Buy A Gun When You’re Crying, and the brash, brilliant spirit at its heart is resplendently unquenched. An intoxicating mix of gloriously percussive barn-party stompers, country bruisers and boy–girl showdowns, it’s fantastically unforced and hard to ignore.

Download: ‘My .45’, ‘Getting High For Jesus’

iTunes £7.99



Rose Kemp
Unholy Majesty
One Little Indian 

Released: September 2008

What we said then: “With the release of her third album, Rose Kemp’s metamorphosis from demure folk maiden to fully-fledged rock chick continues apace. Produced by Foo Fighters, Biffy Clyro and Amplifier collaborator Chris Sheldon, Unholy Majesty consolidates Kemp’s myriad influences while also developing its own personality. Kemp showcases her clamorous guitar style and utilises her full vocal range, her voice shifting dramatically from percussive lows to whispers to occasional highly-strung shrieks. There’s a fine line between intriguing lyrical opacity and meaninglessness and it might be argued that Kemp’s songs sometimes cross that border. Overall, though, Unholy Majesty boasts more than enough strong material to suggest that Kemp has a very bright future ahead of her.” •••• Alex Ramon [full review] [feature interview]

What we say now: Homegrown female rock acts don’t tend to fare too well commercially for reasons we don’t have room to go into right now, but if anyone deserves to buck that trend then it’s fearlessly creative Bristolian Rose Kemp. Unholy Majesty is a massive leap forward from last year’s A Hand Full Of Hurricanes, revealing a depth of talent, fury and vocal dexterity that’s well worth investigating.

Download: ‘Nature’s Hymn’, ‘Wholeness Sounds’

iTunes £7.90



Russian Red
I Love Your Glasses

Released: June 2008 

What we said then: “Lourdes Hernández has drawn comparisons with Joanna Newsom and Feist, among others, and it will be a wonder if she isn’t pulled in to be the next voice of car and iPod commercials across the globe. There is a rich goldmine of music here, filled out by an exquisitely haunting voice and crafty musicianship. Even on a slow acoustic cover of ’80s classic ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’, she takes a song so a part of musical history and manages to spin it in a new light, weaving new meaning into Cyndi Lauper’s lyrics. Although undeniably a wise marketing move to sing in English, Hernández often slurs her words, making them unclear and difficult to grasp. Despite this, however, Russian Red’s delicate emoting and passion overcome these flaws, making I Love Your Glasses a must.” ••••½ Loria Near [full review]

What we say now: Online buzz for this album has yet to translate into a UK physical release for this wonderful debut, but it surely can’t be long – I Love Your Glasses is much too good to languish in digital purgatory. As a tremulous, wavering essay on unrequited love it’s really very good. As an outpouring of sumptuous melodies and creative arrangements, it’s damn near impeccable.

Download: ‘Cigarettes’, ‘Timing Is Crucial’

iTunes £7.99



Shelby Lynne
A Little Bit Of Lovin’

Released: February 2008 

What we said then: “Shelby Lynne’s post-country twang career most closely resembles an emotional rollercoaster; the lows have been the aural equal of the highs. There’s been little that hasn’t been of exceptional quality.  Following receipt of an e-mail from Barry Manilow – what do you mean you don’t get e-mails from musical legends on a daily basis? – that suggested she look to Springfield as her next adventure, Lynne took some time out and decided to revisit some of the tracks from Dusty’s famous sojourn in Memphis. And how. From the opening rim-shot and cymbal introduction to the title track, her statement of intent is clear. The tempo is slow, the lights are dimmed, the atmosphere akin to the early morning hours of a closed diner or a sticky-carpeted casino with no one left to sing to but the busboy. The songs don’t flow from the speakers so much as ooze. The passion, the hopelessness, the come-hither words are so right it’s uncanny.” •••• Paul Woodgate [full review]

What we say now: This did not look good on paper. Nobody messes with Dusty In Memphis, right? Wrong! Of the many covers albums that emerged this year, Lynne’s is unquestionably the finest. The novelty factor has long since worn off but we keep returning to this elegant album for more. An incredible display of restraint and sensitivity, A Little Bit Of Lovin’ shows Lynne to be in a whole different class of interpreter. Cat Power take note.

Download: ‘You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me’, ‘I Don’t Want To Hear It Anymore’

iTunes £7.99

reese witherspoon: “i always wanted to be dolly parton when i was a little girl”

special feature: reese witherspoon plays it straight

It’s less than 24 hours since the Oscar nominations were announced and Wears The Trousers has an audience with Best Actress frontrunner Reese Witherspoon, star of ‘Walk The Line’, the Johnny Cash biopic that everyone’s talking about. Breezing into the opulent flowery surroundings of London’s Dorchester Hotel, Reese apologises for keeping us waiting, though it’s barely been ten minutes since we were told to expect her. But her broad grin beaming out from layers of winter wear is warming enough to melt the most unforgiving of hearts, and after unravelling the woolliest of big woolly scarves, she sets herself down. The whirlwind of hype and expectation leading up to the Oscars may just be gathering momentum, but Reese seems prepared for what lies ahead. While those shortlisted may be reading from the same script, saying how great it is just to be nominated (usually followed by “…especially to be in the same company as Judi Dench”), the nature of the profession is notoriously competitive, so how much does Reese really want to win? “I think every actor there wants to win, otherwise what’s the point?” Reese laughs, perhaps at her own honesty, before returning to textbook form. “I mean, I’m 29 years old and I’m really lucky to be there and whatever happens I have plenty of awards for this movie and I feel very blessed. If this was it for me, I’d feel really content.”

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allison moorer: mockingbird /// shelby lynne: just a little lovin’ (2008)
June 28, 2008, 1:05 am
Filed under: album, review | Tags: , , , ,


Allison Moorer
Mockingbird •••
New Line

Shelby Lynne
Just A Little Lovin’ ••••
Lost Highway

Moorer and Lynne are sisters with enough turbulent family history to keep them in country songs for the rest of their lives. Recent albums, however, while critically well received, have been more damp squib than fireworks for their labels. Now, within a fortnight of each other they have released very different cover albums, allowing me to raise a perennial question on this difficult subject; are cover albums a contractual obligation, an exercise in vanity, or a chance for the muse to fly? No artist will readily admit the former and there’s a little of the second in every covers albums, so allowing for the benefit of doubt and assuming the latter, a comparison of sibling coverage lends itself well to the art of review.

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