Blood on the tracks

Wax Tablet
By PORTLAND PHOENIX MUSIC STAFF  |  May 23, 2012

waxtabs_SpencerAlbee_main
Spencer Albee

Although there's a lot of noise on the Americana circuit these days, one very clear signal is a new split LP by BIG BLOOD and MICAH BLUE SMALDONE, two of the state's most arresting practitioners of progressive contemporary folk. For Smaldone, the two-track, 13-minute output represents his first non-compilation tracks since 2008's spellbinding The Red River. Flickers of bleakness and hope wrestle amid the lush gallop of "The Mule," where Micah's accompanied by his brother Tristan, while "Tell it to the Sun" would remind us of an Angels of Light track but for Smaldone's quavering vocals instead of Gira's strident pessimism. Big Blood's three tracks are slightly less mud-drenched than usual; "The Queen & Her Court" is a hypnotic waltz that earns all eight and a half minutes of Colleen Kinsella's poetic confessions, while "Sister" drifts like an ark on Caleb Mulkerin's soaring vocal and clangorous guitar riff. Truly, his voice is one of the warmest squawks in the game. We haven't even gotten to the new LP Big Blood just issued; this 12-inch, released on Chicago's Immune Recordings (immunerecordings.net) and limited to 500 copies, is the first order of business. Features a gorgeous cover by Kinsella, and comes with a download card.

SPENCER ALBEE's entire back catalog goes live May 29. The local music guru's working on a new record and selling everything he's done, Popsicko on, for its betterment via PledgeMusic. Hear a demo for the song "California's Calling" at pledgemusic.com and we'll keep you posted for more . . .

After a four-year hiatus, a forthcoming record from Portland legend DARIEN BRAHMS awaits us in June. This one's titled Dogwood, and looks to offer much of the songwriter's signature wisdoms on the L-word, or as she puts it: "from the heart palpitations of falling in love to the heart sickness of falling out, the ensuing cat fights, friends who choose sides, the kissing and making up or the real acceptance of the end and then moving on to another kind of hopeful flutter." Yee-haw. Since the release of 1992's Hello! Hello! to the People, Brahms has won fans in New England and beyond with her mix of bluesy snarl, brazen country, and Bowie-influenced oddity-rock — 20 years later, they're lucky she's still up to the task. Dogwood drops via Cornmeal Records on June 26, but we'd recommend grabbing a copy at the CD-release on June 22, where the six-time Best Female Vocalist plays with White Zin at the Big Easy.

  Topics: New England Music News , Spencer Albee, Spencer Albee, Darien Brahms,  More more >
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