December 10th, 2013 | Comments Off
David Dondero (San Francisco, CA)
Singer/songwriter David Dondero’s musical career began in 1993, when he released the first of three records as a member of the alt-rock band Sunbrain. But since he split the band and headed out on his own, his music has been more comparable to such American folk music/troubadour greats as Woody Guthrie and Townes Van Zandt.
The year 2001 saw the release of his solo effort Shooting at the Sun With a Water Gun, an album in which Dondero assumes the role of different characters for nearly each song (while some were biographical, such as “Analysis of a 1970′s Divorce,” which recounts his parents’ split). The album was produced by Billy Konkel, and was recorded in Konkel’s living room. In 2003 he released Transient, his second full-length for Future Farmer records, and the next year the album Live at the Hemlock, taken from a February 2003 performance in San Francisco, came out. In 2005 the singer moved to Team Love, the label run by Brighteyes’ Conor Oberst — who lists Dondero as an influence — and South of the South was issued later that year. In 2007, Simple Love was released, followed by 2010′s # Zero with a Bullet.
“This is the sound of a man on fire. Smart, funny and honestly out of his mind; but he comes back long enough to sing about it. One of the best singer/songwriters I’ve ever heard.” - Bob Boilen, NPR
“Dondero is this generation’s Townes Van Zandt, a peripatetic tumbleweed casting across the country’s highways and dirt roads searching for truth and love. His reedy tenor shuffles through clever verbal forays, over raga-muffin folk, brightened by Dondero’s road-wizened stoicism” - Houston Chronicle
“He has a terrific ear and eye for simple detail, for spinning songs out of the mundane just as deftly as standards like love and loss.” - David Bevan, Pitchfork
“His songs capture places in detail, but also the feeling that life can be about grabbing a hold of the wind (or of a song, as he sometimes phrases it) and seeing where it takes you.” - Dave Headon, Pop Matters
“Dondero is a brilliant storyteller and poet. His searching melodies and distinctive voice are heartbreakingly beautiful and uplifting.” - Robin Hilton, NPR
“Dondero writes folk songs that speak to people who don’t think they like folk songs.” - Justin Berton, East Bay Express
“Ever since going solo and releasing his 1999 album … The Pity Party, David has shown a remarkable ability to capture the heart of America in his songs, which he does with his rambling, poetic narratives, like a modern day Jack Kerouac, and in turn captures the heart of humankind.” – No Depression
Adam Bricks (Houston, TX)
If you’re not familiar with the work of Adam Bricks, it’s not your fault; he can’t sit still for long. This Houston songwriter has been chasing answers for most of his life, spending years around the south crafting a voice he went on to use throughout New York and as far afield as Tel Aviv. A certain connection with the people and places of the world can be found at the core of his songs, universal truths meandering throughout lyrical observations. For all the miles traveled on his journey toward finding this songwriting voice, greater still were the amount of hours spent on nights crafting his talent among the numbers of his ilk. Years of immersion amongst New York’s anti-folk scene and Sidewalk Cafe’s historic open mic nights propelled him through three EP’s of his early material. An increasing desire to spread his wings, and the distinct realization that there was more to be written about his roots, brought him from the burrows of Brooklyn back home to Houston.
The result is ‘City Songs,’ a sweetly scored track-record of life thus far. Houston had its first substantial taste of Bricks when the single Kristmas was released over the winter. Its understated arrangement is a testament to feel of the resulting full length … . the performances are front and center on full display, letting Brick’s lyrics speak directly to you. The time he spent sewing his songwriting seeds is apparent from the first track of acoustic guitar layered goodness; you hear shades of Dylan-esque story telling throughout, from the tight opening arrangements to the jangly loose ‘On Your Doorstep.’ There’s even the plodding thump recalling Jeff Tweedy on ‘Waiter’s Song,’ an honest ode to the working folk just trying to get by and make things happen. Bricks has put a lot of miles and plenty of work into what has become his debut full length offering, and he’s making a strong argument for membership to the league of modern American songwriters. - Aaron Echegaray
“Adam Bricks looks like another heir to Houston’s tradition of talented storytellers packing acoustic guitars. City Songs, the Bellaire High School grad’s brand-new full-length album, is a ramshackle yet tuneful suite of songs dedicated to Houston itself, and flashes bits of rootsy charm and pop smarts.” - Chris Gray (Houston Press)
Adam Bricks has a fascinating voice. Not a “pretty” voice, mind you. It’s casual and conversational but not lacking color. He sometimes sings a bit behind the beat, which gives his songs a sauntering feeling that is warm and inviting. He has a brilliant collection of new tunes called “City Songs” that puts that voice and his lyrics in a roomy setting that never once leans toward excess, even when he dials in the brass. He’s bright with a lyric, too, and more than occasionally funny as well as poignant as he is in one of my favorite lines: “I’ve been as lonely as a fish in a tank.” - Andrew Dansby (Houston Chronicle)
Barton Carrol (Seattle, WA)
“Barton Carroll is the kind of songwriter that gets taken for granted. In a modestly fragile tenor, he relates real stories instead of impressionistic poetry or woe-is-me folk confessions, full of acute observations and complex emotional developments. It’s literary in the sense that he has a strong grasp of character and voice, not in the sense that he favors big words or clever turns of phrase.” – Pitchfork (7.4 rating)
“…with each album Carroll obviously pursues his own muse. Love & War seemed a perfect sound for Carroll to settle into for a while, but Together You and I fnds him already pushing at the edges to create something that teases a little more, but which is every bit as satisfying in the long run.” – Pop Matters (7 out of 10)
“Barton Carroll has outdone himself with his latest record… he has moved beyond Appalachian troubadour and made his way to places his contemporaries would fear to tread. Covering musical ground that spans almost a century of American music and filled with songs that are dressed in Carroll’s seemingly unique ability to capture deeply empathetic stories, Together You And I is an immediately epic record. There are few things to be considered hooks in these tales of woe and human endeavor, but the stories will stick with you, echoing in your heart and mind for days after listening.” – Hybrid Magazine
“To those who think folk music has to be alt-folk or some other hybrid in order to be relevant in the 21st Century, no stronger rebuke to that notion could be offered than North Carolina’s Barton Carroll, a now-Seattle-based singer-songwriter of uncommon lyrical gifts and a low-flame intensity that commands a listener’s attention even with all the other distractions of modern life.” – The Bluegrass Special
“Barton Carroll crafts hardscrabble folk music populated with emotionally haunted souls. In a plaintive voice recalling Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Freedy Johnston, Carroll sings about world-worn characters struggling to survive but not surrendering…Carroll’s sharp-eyed, unflinching story-songs serve to separate him from the troubadour pack.” – American Songwriter
“Strong on words and strong on music…Carroll’s musical character is distinct, if not easily defned. Sometimes this album sounds sounds like Phil Ochs wandered into a Van Morrison session.” – Vintage Guitar
Sergio Trevino (Houston, TX)
Sergio Trevino of Houston’s Buxton and Ancient Cat Society performs a solo set.