105.5 The Colorado Sound: Top Picks – February 2018

by BandWagon Magazine

Ron – Calexico, The Thread That Keeps Us

On the 15-track new Calexico album, I can hear the almost-30-year musical history Joey Burns and John Convertino have between them. Ever since their pre-Friends Of Dean Martinez days, they’ve been a top-notch rhythm section, playing Latin-tinged grooves for Victoria Williams, Richard Bruckner and more. This 9th studio album has moments of techno/world beat (“Another Space”), a spooky “Dead In The Water” and three under-2 minute instrumentals (more potential music beds for NPR’s This American Life show). At times you may feel a modern take on Phil Spector’s ‘Wall Of Sound’, with the band’s dense layers. And is it just me or is it funny that a couple guys from Tucson named their band for a city in California? Remember, The Colorado Sound presents Calexico at the Boulder Theater on Tuesday, June 12.

Margot – Superchunk, What A Time To Be Alive

Superchunk have just released their 11th studio album in 30 years together. What A Time To Be Alive was an unplanned record but a necessary one for them to make. The album is a blistering take on the world as Superchunk sees it. (It was written in a comparatively short period of time: the last couple months of 2016 into first two months of 2017.) Protest albums are coming back in favor and Superchunk’s latest fits in with the best protest albums of the rock era. What A Time To Be Alive is a blistering, rocking, take on life-as-we-know-it-today and can leave you breathless with its frank sarcasm. If you are used to the pensive reflection of most Superchunk albums, be ready for the stream of consciousness opinion that makes up What A Time To Be Alive. It’s sharp, it’s angry, it’s hopeful, it’s unapologetic, and it’s a terrific listen. Recommended tracks: “What A Time To Be Alive”, “Erasure”, “Lost My Brain.”

Stacy – The Wood Brothers, One Drop Of Truth

In this fast-paced digital era of everything now, sometimes taking your time makes a difference, and the Wood Brothers have done just that. For the new album, One Drop of Truth, they worked at their own speed, self-producing and recording over the course of 2017. During that time, they enlisted four different engineers to ensure an eclectic, but cohesive piece of work that stands as one of their very best. From the reflective “Strange As It Seems,” with Oliver’s gravely vocals over a stripped down acoustic guitar and string section to the jubilant, tongue-in-cheek ode to being happy, “Happiness Jones,” One Drop of Truth stands as a lovely family snapshot of a band only getting better with age. And although the band now calls Nashville home, the Boulder raised Wood Brothers still sound very much like an earthy, Colorado-grown band.

Benji – Chris Smither, Call Me Lucky

Chris Smither is one of those artists that has been hanging around the music scene so long he is often taken for granted. You may not recognize his name, but you definitely know his music. Smither has been Bonnie Raitt’s guitar player for years and someone she lovingly refers to as: “her Eric Clapton.” It’s been nearly fifty years since Smither released his first recording and since that time he has continued to develop his craft both as a guitar player and a songwriter. His new album Call Me Lucky is an ambitious two CD collection of originals and covers. The interpretation of Chuck Berry’s “Maybellene” is worth the price alone. Smither serves up a haunting version that makes you double check the credits to make sure Berry really wrote it. On the original “The Blame’s On Me,” Smither displays his self-deprecating style and whimsical wordplay. The entire album drips with tight performances and clever interpretations. If you’re just discovering Chris Smither, lucky for you he has saved his best for last.