Joe Pug: The Big Picture

Joe Pug March/April

The centerpiece of Windfall, the new album by Chicago singer-songwriter Joe Pug, is a beautiful, worried tune called “Great Hosannas,” which features a hymnlike melody and some of his most evocative lyrics. Drawing out his syllables like dying breaths and blowing on a harmonica like it’s a church organ, he runs through a list of […]

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American Songwriter’s Top 50 Songs Of 2014

TOP SONGS PSD long final

50. Angaleena Presley” “Ain’t No Man” This kind of thing shouldn’t work at all. Over a gritty acoustic blues riff, Holler Annie unleashes a volley of imaginative similes to inflate a small-town girl to tall-tale dimensions. But her soft-focus vocals, complete with a wink and a nudge, make the word games sound almost as fun as […]

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Where The Creatures Meet: Harmony and Discord in Laurel Canyon

Laurel Canyon

In April 1970 Joni Mitchell released her third record, Ladies Of The Canyon, an ode to the denizens of the neighborhood she called home, Laurel Canyon, a mountainous paradise nestled in the purgatory of Los Angeles. The gentle title track is perhaps the most obvious tribute: Accompanied by a guitar that sounds like wind chimes […]

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A Deeper Well: The Music Of The Carolinas


“Drum,” the closing track on Hiss Golden Messenger’s fifth album, Lateness Of Dancers, sounds like it contains decades of Carolina music. As a battered acoustic guitar picks and strums out a steady rhythm, a fiddle and banjo dance merrily in the background, then everyone joins in on the hymnal chorus: “Take the good news and […]

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Hillbillies, Outlaws, and Songwriting Legends: The Legacy Of Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium

Ryman Auditorium

It was the trash in the streets that finally got the Grand Ole Opry tossed out of War Memorial Auditorium, the radio barn dance’s fourth home since it first aired in 1925. From 1939 until 1943, the popular show had broadcast from one of Nashville’s swankiest downtown venues, directly across the street from the State […]

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If You Can Make It There: Five Legendary New York City Music Locales

Cafe Wha

(The Chelsea Hotel) “53rd & 3rd! Standing on the street! 53rd & 3rd! Trying to turn a trick!” barked the Ramones on their 1976 song named after a notorious New York intersection. In the 1960s and into the early 1970s, that area was rundown, seedy, and forbidding: largely abandoned during the day but a hot […]

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Noah Gundersen: Ledges

Noah Gundersen Ledges

Noah Gundersen Ledges (Dualtone) 3.5 out of 5 stars Noah Gundersen’s first full-length album opens with “Poor Man’s Son,” a nearly a cappella tune featuring the Seattle singer-songwriter harmonizing with his sister Abby. He strums a few times on his acoustic guitar, but that’s mainly to let you know it’s still there. Mostly the song […]

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Come Around Sundown: Country Music In The Crescent City

sam doores

(Sam Doores. Photos by Sarrah Danziger) One of the most influential New Orleans albums of the last ten years came packaged in a brown paper bag, like a bottle of cheap booze. Sundown Songs’ 2008 debut, Like A Jazz Band In Nashville, collects twenty austere, rambling, surprisingly deft country tunes – plus one recipe for […]

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5 Essential New Orleans Singer-Songwriter Albums


  Sundown Songs: Like A Jazz Band In New Orleans (2008) This debut was a DIY labor of love: a loose group of musicians recorded the songs in a friend’s shotgun shack studio, burned the CDs themselves, cut out the album covers, and distributed it to friends at a barbecue. Thanks to its comfy country […]

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To A Better Land: Uncle Tupelo and the Legacy of No Depression

UncleTupelo Press Photo With Credits

This story appears in our January/February Legends Issue. Belleville, Illinois, did not weather the 1980s particularly well. Sprawled just thirty minutes due east of St. Louis, the factory town had thrived during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when it swelled with factories and foundries and earned the nickname “Stove Capital of the World.” It […]

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Q&A: Jay Farrar Remembers Uncle Tupelo

jay farrar

  On January 28, Legacy Recordings will reissue Uncle Tupelo’s landmark 1990 debut No Depression as a double-disc set, featuring unearthed demos and live material. We caught up with Uncle Tupelo’s Jay Farrar recently to discuss the album’s rich history. Read our feature story on Uncle Tupelo from the January/February Legends issue here. What was […]

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Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks: Wig Out At Jagbags

Stephen Malkmus

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks Wig Out at Jagbags (Matador) 3 stars out of 5 “Shanghai’ed in Oregon, cinnamon and lesbians,” Stephen Malkmus sings on his sixth solo album. He’s setting a scene, and it’s clear that scene is Portland, where he’s made his home for more than a decade now. Post-Portlandia, that city and […]

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