KINGS OF LEON
“When You See Yourself” [LP/CD]
The title of an album says a lot for the band and just where they are as artists. Knowing that the Followills are all brothers, this latest stab at commercial greatness could have been more defiant. However, they chose well. “When You See Yourself” is a statement of humility.
Beneath Markus Dravs’ pristine production (with touches of ‘80s sounds) Kings of Leon present themselves as a band that merely wants to be heard as themselves. “The Bandit” goes for that epic slashing commercial sweep, while standout “Echoing” carefully reformulates their wild beginnings into a confident, Petty-esque step forward.
JIMBO MATHUS AND ANDREW BIRD
“These 13” [LP/CD]
(Thirty Tigers/The Orchard)
A pair of albums from a pair of electrifying acoustic duos.
Jimbo and Andrew have been friends since their days as Squirrel Nut Zippers.
However, hearing the two showmen come together and complement each other as musicians is fascinating.
The front-porch feeling of Mathus and Bird having fun is most evident on a rollicking “Sweet Oblivion” which rolls by like a river.
They are more reverent on their more country-ish material (“Poor Lost Souls”).
GILLIAN WELCH AND DAVID RAWLINGS
“All The Good Times” [CD]
Gillian and Dave wowed a full house at the Saenger and pushed “Time (The Revelator)” into the top 500 albums of all time in Rolling Stone. Their pandemic album is one where the dynamic duo tries to take back what the terrible tornado in Nashville took from them.
David’s steady and more artistically chosen cover of Bob Dylan’s “Senor” and “Abandoned Love,” make these rarities from his age of excess back into stripped-down, handed-down tales. Then the pair go astral covering Radiohead and Jefferson Airplane, before putting it all back in place with Elizabeth Cotten and the most heartfelt cover of John Prine’s “Hello In There.”
“As Days Get Dark” [LP/CD]
For over twenty years, the Scottish band has been sowing their oats and keeping the dark side of storytelling warm for us. With his rich Scottish baritone burr, Aidan Moffat tells tales of long, dark nights of the soul that begin in some seedy bar or darkened street. As Arab Strap goes back to its beginnings with drum machines and slowly building songs, their haunting stories spring to life like dime store novels (“The Turning of Our Bones”) and breathy, sordid love letters lost in the dreamlike fade of the afterglow. Welcome back.
Mik Davis is record store manager at T-Bones Records & Cafe.