Photo by Autumn De Wilde
For close to forty years, John Doe has been combining the worlds of country and punk. He co-founded the band X in the late ’70s in L.A., and they quickly proved that artists like Jerry Lee Lewis, the Doors, or the Sex Pistols weren’t mutually exclusive. Somewhat indirectly, Doe’s work led to the alt-country scene of the early ’90s, and by that point Doe had gone solo. More roots influences have crept back into his work over the years, but he still retains that black-and-white bravado, thanks to his raspy baritone voice.
Last year, Doe released the cheekily-titled The Best Of John Doe: This Far, and live in our Studio 1A, he sounded far from finished. Doe polished off “The Golden State,” a song that’s featured musicians like Eddie Vedder, Corin Tucker, and Kathleen Edwards on various versions in the past. Here, a band that includes Cindy Wasserman and Austin’s Jesse Dayton proves the perfect foil to Doe’s story of tragic love.
Bahamas is Afie, Afie is Bahamas. Afie Jurvanen has blurred the lines between solo artist and collective effort with his Bahamas project for three albums. The Toronto musician–who’s also collaborated with Feist and Jack Johnson over the years–earned some serious attention last year for Bahamas Is Afie. CBC’s Q dubbed it the best album of the year, beating out usual suspects like Taylor Swift and the War On Drugs. Of course, Q could be accused of rampant homerism, but Bahamas Is Afie does feel like a career highpoint for Jurvanen. Orchestral flourishes meet Bahamas’ soul/blues on many of the record’s best cuts, but at the heart of it all is Jurvanen’s songwriting. He’s one of those guys that makes it sound easy, yet there’s still real craftsmanship under the hood.
Juravanen recently stopped by Studio 1A with the touring version of Bahamas, and today’s song of the day comes from their live session. On record, “All The Time” gets a Marc Bolan-esque workout, but in 1A, Bahamas dig out the simmering Southern soul at the song’s core.
Photo by Dylan Nolte
Across four EPs, London’s Doe has slowly refined a sound that’s equal parts Weezer and Sleater-Kinney. On February 24, they’re collecting these EPs and putting them together as First Four, a debut album that shows just how quickly they’ve progressed in a few years. The trio’s roots are in their local DIY punk scene, and it shows in the band’s jagged guitar playing. But there’s a braininess in the ways the guitar parts intersect, not to mention the give-and-take between Nicola and Jake, Doe’s co-vocalists. On album-standout “Julia Survived,” the band offers up a pop-rock ballad about heartbreak–well-traveled territory but given new life by Doe’s youthful exuberance.
Much like her frequent collaborator (and fellow Angeleno) Beck, Jenny Lewis has a chameleon-like quality. Her stint in Rilo Kiley showed off her pop-rock bonafides, but since going solo in 2006, she’s zoomed between country, psychedelia, and pop, holding them all together with her acidic wit and storytelling. Lewis sings about the comic madness bred by L.A. and modern life in general. Last year’ s The Voyager touched on motherhood (or, in Lewis’ case, the lack thereof) and growing old in an industry rigged to be a young person’s game. The irony, of course, is Lewis is writing some of the best material of her career, and it’s resonating on a bigger level with fans of all ages.
Even at a younger age, Lewis’ songwriting was fraught with a tension and wisdom well beyond her years. Back in 2006, she stopped by our Studio 1A with her backing group the Watson Twins. “The Charging Sky” sounds like a sunny, countryfied ditty, but closer listening reveals Lewis’ ambivalence on religion and her parents getting back together. It’s a modern poem set to an old beat, perfectly summing up Lewis’ particular style. Download “The Charging Sky” below and catch Jenny Lewis at KUTX’s 2nd Birthday Party this Saturday night!
Just like the kinds of country roads she often sings about, Lucinda Williams has had a rambling career, full of ups and downs. Her twenties were spent bouncing between Austin and Houston, refining a sound that blended blues and country with a fresh outlook. It took ten years to score a hit with “Changed The Locks”; another decade followed before Car Wheels On A Gravel Road earned her a Grammy and a new generation of fans. Last year’s double album, Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone, could have a long generational tail to it too. Give it time and the record’s slow-burning meditations on life, love, and loss will seep into your own bones. Williams can harness patience like no one else.
In honor of her sixty-second birthday today, we’re dipping back into our own live archives for a song she performed at the Cactus Cafe back in 1986. “Crescent City” is the sound of Williams looking back to her New Orleans childhood with nostalgia, permanently aware of all the miles she’s put between herself and home.