Is that Americana? Nope. Alt Country? Kinda, but not really. It’s Aus Country! I just got a huge package from Laughing Outlaw, an Australian indie label with a tremendous catalog of, as you might guess from the label’s name, good old fashioned shitkicker tune. I haven’t listened to every album all the way through yet, but I will, but I’ve put them all in at once and started a random sampling while I threw a coat of paint on the wall. And from what I’ve heard, it’s all good. So I figured I’d do a rare “label post.” Here’s just a few of the worthwhile things you can find on that label. I wish I could do a proper post on every album, but I’m so overloaded with submissions right now. Please don’t take the fact that there’s several bands listed here as meaning that I less then heartily support them. This is an awesome record label and all of these artists are really good.
Perry Keyes-Meter and Last Ghost Train
In the tradition of Fred Eaglesmith, Perry Keyes makes barroom blues and alt country that forces you to tap your toes and think at the same time. Although many of his songs are deep and full of longing, none are depressing or dull. According to his press, he’s a taxi driver by day and a singer-songwriter by aspiration. Of what Laughing Outlaw sent me, this is my favorite artist. Really great stuff. I may even give Perry his own post, sometime later in the year. Meter is a double-album, which will take me a while to really listen to. We’ll see if it grows on me. Last Ghost Train is his ’07 release, but L.O. isn’t promoting it on their website, so it may not be out yet (they didn’t enclose any press materials). But it is similarly excellent. I’ve offered “At the Speedway” as a taste. You must listen to the lyrics–they’re outstanding. Plus, this album has a song named after Joe Strummer, so come on. Support the man!
At the Speedway
Beer and Cigarettes
Sandra’s on the Way
Discount Bottle Shop
Sam Shinazzi-Stories You Wouldn’t Believe
Continuing through the Laughing Outlaw mailbag, in order of preference, we come to Sam Shinazzi. Sam’s album is dedicated to Elliott Smith, so right away you get an idea of what this singer-songwriter’s stuff is like. The lyrics on this album are nothing short of brilliant. Check out Game Over, for example, with its refrain: “I awoke to the sound of you leaving/That’s not true, I was awake I wasn’t sleeping.” Or Breakdown, which begins the album with the line: “Don’t you ever get the feeling you’re falling apart?” This is another one that is simply fantastic and deserves (and will receive) a closer listen from me. Give the album a try, or at least check out these tastes below. I’m begging you. I don’t throw the word “brilliant” around often.
Scotty Come Home
George Byrne-Foreign Water.
Next: Foreign Water by George Byrne. This album has a little more twang than you’d expect from a moody pop album obviously influenced by 1980s mood pop–it’s even produced by Tim Powles, drummer of the prog-rock band, The Church and Jonathan Burnside of Sleepy Jackson. (Remember them? Whatever happened to them?) and Tim Powles (The Church). Great ballads, sweet music. Again, highly recommended and deserving of its own post. He’s got downloads on his myspace page, and I’m recommending you taste this song, my favorite one I’ve heard so far.
Bek-Jean Stewart-Junior Years
The only female singer-songwriter sent to me by Outlaw Records, with a voice as good as Melissa Etheridge in her prime, great lyrics delivered by a breathy, sexy throat, and complex acoustic guitar . . . And contributions from Perry Keyes to boot! Junior Years was her 2006 release (she used to be in a band with a member of Catherine Wheel, called Eva Trout). More good stuff. I’m trusting Laughing Outlaw more and more!
Bleed Like a Woman
Halfway-Fairwell to the Fainthearted and Remember the River
Their website introduces them by saying, “Welcome to Halfway Country!” And that’s about the most apt band description I can think of. Half country, half rock; half bluegrass, half folk; half pop, half honky tonk. Nice!
Dearest Mother (From Remember the River).
Six Hours From Brisbane (From Farewell to the Fainthearted)