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Brian Wright (Waco Tragedies) & Jim Bianco - 14 June 2011

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Brian Wright (Waco Tragedies)

From the first notes of Brian Wright’s “Striking Matches,” I knew I wasn’t listening to just another new ‘americana’ or ‘rock’ or whatever you wanna call it album of music House On Fire immediately draws you in, with folksy Avett Brothers-like country folk with a slight Band of Horses feel to the song in various parts. “Live Again” features some soft fingerpickin’ juxtaposed with male/female duet vocals (Brian and Jamie Drake) not unlike an old Whiskeytown song from Ryan Adams and Caitlin Cary. Brian puts some rootsy old-school stank onto “Meseothelioma,” a song that recalls the classic Jimmy Rodgers tracks about TB.

“Mean Ol’ Wind” has the kind of sound that fans of Ryan Bingham and Hayes Carll will certainly like – plaintive and folksy – while “The Good Dr.” recalls Wilco. Just as he gets rootsy, Brian Wright breaks out the Bill Withers-like soul of “Still Got You.” Later, we’re treated to a fantastic Townes Van Zandt like “Maria Sugarcane” and a funky interesting tune in “Had Enough” (with a little Tom Petty-vibe to it). In all honesty, there isn't a bad track on the album and each of 'em is worthy of being mentioned here, as is the fantastic album art which is presented as an old-school medicine advertisment. In a moment of virtuosity, Brian Wright plays virtually every instrument on the album as well.

With House On Fire Brian Wright (not to be confused with 90s country star Bryan White) has delivered what is sure to be viewed as one of the best album releases of 2011 (and it was originally self-released in 2010 before Sugar Hill picked it up for national distribution) and it certainly makes me wanna dig deep into his catalog of older material and hopefully it will also get a little lucky and be 2011’s Mumford and Sons in the minds of hipsters everywhere."

[Reviewed March 29th 2011].

Jim Bianco:

Jim Bianco performs with the kind of restless, masculine energy you don’t hear much around New York anymore. At times Elvis Costello, at others Tom Waits, Bianco wrestles his inner demons with a workingman’s honesty that (thankfully) doesn’t attempt to placate trends, but serves instead as entree to a long line of blue-collar rock frontmen.

Like him or not, Bianco’s the real deal, and seeing him live last Thursday at the Rockwood Music Hall was enough to convince us of that.

He crowded the small stage of Rockwood’s no-cover venue with a 5-piece band (including a tight brass section), strumming acoustic guitar with more power and passion than we’ve seen from most electric 6-string players. His set had enormous range, from barn-storming rockers (So Far So Good), to anthemic bar chants (Sinners), to timeless ballads on love and loss (Painkiller).

If you missed him last Thursday, he’ll likely be playing the Lower East Side again soon (he’d better!).

Until then, look out for his new record Loudmouth, dropping April 5th.

Written by Mike Levine [3rd Feb 2011]