Six Shooter Records

Henry Wagons #1303

Henry Wagons must have watched a few too many Las Vegas television specials growing up. How else would the Australian songwriter developed a fascination with the showmanship of Tom Jones and Elvis? Add to the mix (literally) Wagons’ obsession with vintage reverb sounds like the songs of Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra, and you end up with a record full of noir duets that is both retro and ethereal–without becoming too trippy.

Henry Wagons’ band, Wagons, reached Australian success, and roots music first-adopters may have heard either Wagons’ tune “Willie Nelson” or “I Blew It.” His album of duets with a variety of beautiful voices, Expecting Company, is his first with a wide-scale American release. Sonicly, this record maintains the over-the-top vibe of much of his songwriting, but the contrast with gorgeous singing from Jenn Grant, Sophia Brous, and Alison Mosshart (among others) brings this record to a new plane.

Wagons’ theatrics on stage and expansive recordings mirror his personality, as well. He is quite entertaining to interview, regaling tales of his cooking skills, his vision for music videos (some of which are extremely conceptual), and his love for ELO, the Electric Light Orchestra. While some people might tell these tales on themselves for the amusement alone, Wagons manages to share his genuine passion for these over-the-top antics, reflecting his love for them, not sarcasm, snark, nor superiority. Henry Wagons repeatedly mentions how thankful and grateful he is for the success he has had, in spite of his drive to fulfill his “egomaniacal vision.” Just another self-deprecating line from Wagons himself!

Liner Notes

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Check out some live video of Henry Wagons as a trio in Atlanta recently, as captured by Atlanta Music Examiner:

Podcast

Whitehorse #1301

Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet joined creatively to form Whitehorse, after many years of successful, separate music careers in Canada.   Their first release together sounded like alternating their individual sounds, but their new album, The Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss, creates a new sound that is neither his nor hers, but theirs.  With this record, Whitehorse decided to expand into the States.  Leaving their comfort zone of Canada and their established careers proved challenging–not just in building new audiences, but also in the realistic logistics of constant touring and creating their sound with limited personnel.

Making music work right now requires more than just being “all in” with the art; it also necessitates the leanest live interpretation of a band’s music possible, without compromising the ethos.  Financially, many songwriters have opted for stripped down touring with the lofty goal of just breaking even while on the road.  Whitehorse holed up in a cottage on a lake and crafted a live performance with just the two of them–yet still nearly replicating the layered sounds of their studio album.

By seamlessly integrating technology–particularly a brilliant use of a looping pedal–and alternative gear like an old-fashioned telephone receiver as a microphone, Whitehorse crafted a dynamic and fascinating live show full of instrumentation and sound.  Their set is not a note-for-note replication of their album, but a creative extension of the vibe of their songwriting.  The performance mesmerizes audiences.  Whitehorse is poised to dominate late-night television, and engage fans in a variety of genres.  Our prediction?  By the end of 2013, the duo will dominate critics’ picks lists and people who see them live will win over their own friends to being fans of Whitehorse.  The Fate of the World Depends on this Kiss is sleek, but Whitehorse’s show is spell-binding.

Liner Notes

  • Whitehorse The Fate of the World Depends on This KissWhitehorse  I was familiar with both Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet’s prior work, then I had the honor of emceeing their showcase at the Americana Music Festival 2012 at the High Watt, Nashville.  Their set was mesmerizing.  Of all the 2012 AMA showcases, this was one of the best.  If you get the chance, you really must see them live.
  • k.d. lang Absolute Torch and Twang “Big, Big Love” Absolute Torch and Twang - k.d. lang
  • Sarah McLachlan Rarities “Blackbird” She has a beautiful voice, and I just really like this Beatles tune. Rarities, B-Sides and Other Stuff, Vol. 2 - Sarah McLachlan
  • Sloan One Chord to Another “Good in Everyone” (the bevy of drummers on Whitehorse’s album) A Sides Win: Singles 1992-2005 - Sloan
  • The Weakerthans Reconstruction Site (more from the bevy of drummers) Reconstruction Site - The Weakerthans
  • Lee DorseyFreedom For The Funk “Wonder Woman”  The title of Whitehorse’s album comes from a vintage Wonder Woman comic, but I have always loved Dorsey’s soul and funk, and this fits lyrically more than the campy TV theme.  Besides, in case you did not grow up knowing his music, this album is a great place to start. Soul Mine - The Greatest Hits & More 1960-1978 - Lee Dorsey
  • Trampled By Turtles Stars And Satellites  “Midnight on the Interstate”  Chosen because TBT was also on the Festy bill in 2012, but also because of the discussion about life on the road and avoiding the cliche of road songs, while still acknowledging that is one’s actual life.  Stars and Satellites - Trampled By Turtles

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