July 01--Kingsley Flood is Boston's best live band.
The breakup of Mellow Bravo makes this bold declaration a little easier, but not much. (Hallelujah the Hills, Bad Rabbits, Mean Creek and others nip at Flood's heels.) Before, the band lacked a grand document to prove their live glory. No longer! Today the band delivers "Live at the Armory."
The Armory is the Somerville Armory, a still under-the-radar music venue. The album is a collection of tracks recorded over a two-night stand in April. The results feature roots rockers Kingsley Flood hitting wild highs (punk rock with pounding keyboards and belching saxophone on "I Don't Wanna Go Home") and sweet-and-sad lows (the deep, deep loneliness of "Sigh A While").
Too many live albums don't capture the visceral urgency of flesh-and-blood rock 'n' roll (See: "The Song Remains the Same"). This one perfectly reflects frontman Naseem Khuri and crew's live chops. Give me 5:45 (the time it will take you to spin "Roll of the Dice") and I'll give you a proper introduction to your new favorite band.
Old Crow Medicine Show talks about happiness on new album "Remedy" as being "8 Dogs, 8 Banjos."
The phrase isn't just a song title, "8 Dogs, 8 Banjos" is a litmus test for figuring out if you're fan of the world's best-selling string band.
Old Crow represents the sharpest point of the modern Americana movement wedging itself into popular culture -- other major players include Mumford & Sons, the Civil Wars and Avett Brothers. But "Remedy," out today, their eighth album, reminds us that songs -- not shtick -- matter.
I dig that Old Crow can sell string-centric music, but dig it more that they don't hide in the genre. The band's songs have the hooks of anything on Top 40 and the heart of any indie act. "Sweet Amarillo" (pulled from Dylan lyrics) will crush you like a Patsy Cline ballad or Adele tearjerker. "Brave Boys" gallops with the fury of punk rock. "O Cumberland River" pleads for peace in our times of trouble with heavenly harmonies.
Genre doesn't matter. As Duke Ellington said, "There are two kinds of music. Good music, and the other kind." This is the good stuff.
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