Hear It First

  • Hear It First: Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards, 'Bitter Better'

    • July 10, 2020
    • Devon Léger

    Effortlessly complex string arrangements that sound simple and natural? Check. Powerfully astute songwriting that touches on the waxing and waning of love across time? Check. Seamlessly integrated electronic music components pushing the album further towards indie pop than you might think? Check. Laura Cortese’s strength has always been as a bandleader, shepherding an eclectic and interesting vision for folk, and the new album finds her even more at the fore.

  • Hear It First: Mile Twelve, 'Roll the Tapes All Night Long'

    • June 25, 2020
    • Henry Carrigan

    Roll the Tapes All Night Long showcases Mile Twelve’s restless creativity, their ability to inhabit a song and turn it inside out to make it their own, even as they preserve the spirit of the original. Mile Twelve embraces every twist and turn in the musical terrain, showing us around the nooks and crannies of bluegrass, folk, jazz, and even rock, revealing the glimmering facets of each style.

  • Hear It First: The Mammals, 'Nonet'

    • May 19, 2020
    • Kim Ruehl

    With nine members, for their ninth album in almost 20 years, the Mammals have readied a collection of songs that drip with raw humanity, titled, appropriately, Nonet.

  • Hear It First: David Bromberg Band, 'Big Road'

    • April 13, 2020
    • Henry Carrigan

    Listening to David Bromberg and his band’s Big Road is like driving on the open road with the windows down, letting the breezes of various musical styles wash over you. Skittering fiddles drive the tunes around winding curves of bluegrass and jazz, scampering pedal steel steers the tunes through the western hills and southern hollers of country, and driving, propulsive guitars stretch out on the straightaways. The expansive sound of Big Road sweeps us along with it, and with Bromberg as the driver we’re in for a great adventure and one of the best trips of our lives.

  • Hear It First: Eliza Gilkyson, '2020'

    • April 03, 2020
    • Kim Ruehl

    All told, the album is a stirring, timely, beautifully written message about the importance of unity and collaboration in a time of great partisan divide. Timed on purpose for an election year, Gilkyson couldn’t have possibly foreseen the social and political environment into which the album would release.

  • Hear It First: Appalachian Road Show, 'Tribulation'

    • March 26, 2020
    • Henry Carrigan

    Appalachian Road Show’s new album, 'Tribulation,' perfectly speaks to our dark and unsettling times. On the one hand, the songs embrace the trials and tribulations of uncertain days filled with despair and loss and suffering, when any glimmer of hope only dimly shines through the darkness. And, on the other hand, they celebrate the community that gathers together in the face of such tribulation to celebrate love, to dance and to sing of the possibilities of redemption, to welcome home the weary from their travails.

  • Hear It First: Michael Doucet avec Lâcher Prise, 'Lâcher Prise'

    • February 10, 2020
    • Henry Carrigan

    There’s magic in this new music from Michael Doucet, and the album lives up to its title, which means to “let go.” Doucet and the band let loose in a simmering blend of Cajun, swamp soul, and Gypsy tunes that celebrate love and the simple joys of having a good time. From the gamboling fiddles of the opening tune, “Water, Water,” to the haunting Gypsy shuffle “Bad Woman,” Doucet and the band create a sonic landscape filled with soaring vocals, scampering fiddles and accordions, and haunting lyrics.

  • Hear It First: Charlie Parr, 'Charlie Parr'

    • September 23, 2019
    • Kim Ruehl

    Charlie Parr's eponymous album - his seventeenth in as many years (counting compilations) - was originally intended to be a live album. It just didn’t work out that way. Instead, it’s a studio album comprised largely of songs Parr has recorded before, alongside some he borrowed from other writers and four new originals. Though fans have likely heard many of these tunes before, they’re delivered here with a care and fit that can only come from being worn in—the way a pair of jeans eventually takes the form of the person who wears it.

  • Hear It First: Ana Egge, 'Is It the Kiss'

    • August 30, 2019
    • Linda Fahey

    With her new release, Is It the Kiss, Ana Egge adds some great, honest songs to the collective consciousness — songs that show us her heart in order that we might see our own reflected in it. There is sorrow here, and suffering. But so, too, exists hope and calm amidst the hurt and chaos. Egge makes sure of that, time and again, letting us hear every nuance of her voice. The cracks, the slides, the strains, the breaths — it's all right there on display.

  • Hear It First: The Small Glories, 'Assiniboine & the Red'

    • June 21, 2019
    • Kelly McCartney

    It's a wondrous moment in life when a person finds their place in the world, geographically speaking...for the Small Glories — Cara Luft and JD Edwards — that place is Canada, and that seems to be about as fine a point as they are willing to put on their new album, Assiniboine & the Red, which wanders across provinces and prairies, from coastal towns to inland cities.