Big Red Machine, Saintseneca, and Various Artists
Happy belated Labor Day everyone! It was another busy weekend, but all the running around is over and the family has vacated the premises. That means this Music Monday post is late once more. Sorry gang, family comes first. Before we dive into this week’s selections, honorable mentions go to Tash Sultana, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Madeleine Peyroux, Passenger, and Mogwai.
Big Red Machine: Big Red Machine
Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and The National’s Aaron Dressner reunite to form Big Red Machine. The band/project takes its name from the song they produced together a decade ago for a benefit. The project approaches music a bit differently as it strives to create and publish more collaboratively through the PEOPLE group dynamic. I have to credit them for the interesting concept. This allows them to use another artist’s contribution on an entire song of just one section.
As an album, Big Red Machine blows past the traditionally more moody Bon Iver sound. It also takes The National’s sound and brings a more electronic, noisy energy level. The two (or however many they actually used) artists thrive bouncing this sensibility back and forth.
Saintseneca: Pillar of Na
Not to take too dramatic a turn, but next up is Columbus Ohio’s own, Saintseneca. Pillar of Na marks their fifth full-length album since forming back in 2007. This album sparks a familiarity with other artists like Of Monsters and Men, The Head and the Heart, and Band of Horses. I swear I hear some Sufjan Stevens and Frightened Rabbit (like on Good Hand) in their songs too. It speaks a wonderful sonic diversity.
Various Artists: King of the Road: A Tribute to Roger Miller
Growing up, my biggest musical loathing was Country music. The dreary, twangy warbling drove me away like a beat up pick-up driver staring at his dog and his ex in the rear view mirror. Cliches and crappy music [shudder]. Sometime in my late twenties that started changing thanks to being in the orchestra pit drumming for shows like Diamond Studs and Big River. These songs, in the hands of talented musicians and singers not steeped in Country music’s quagmire, came to renewed life.
Growing up near the Mississippi, it’s probably no surprise that Roger Miller’s Tony Award-winning Big River is one of my favorite musicals. Thankfully, there are plenty of representations on King of the Road: A Tribute to Roger Miller. The album features songs by Country’s old guard like: Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, and Emmylou Harris. Not to be outdone, Brad Paisley, Kacey Musgrave, Dwight Yoakam, and Lyle Lovett (among others) show what the newer Country guard can do. What I enjoyed more are the efforts from Huey Lewis, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Ringo Starr, and even John Goodman giving Guv’ment a solid turn. Solid enjoyment from a non-Country enthusiast like myself.