Lucero — bright star in Spanish — has been creating quality punk-inflected country since the late '90s. Hailing from Memphis, frontman Ben Nichols gives the act a gruff Southern twang with both his voice and his guitar. Since the release of 2001's eponymous debut, Lucero has recorded five more studio albums and plays an impressive 200 shows a year in the U.S. and Canada.
On her breakout album Back-Road Highways, songwriter Chastity Brown combines the influences of her Southern upbringing and her adopted Minneapolis to dramatic effect. Brown's wrenching, heartfelt delivery will please fans of soul and vocal-driven pop, while the addition of banjo finds her exploring traditional Americana and expanding her sonic palette.
Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 6:35 pm
Tuesday night the rising R&B star Frank Ocean did something important. At first, however, few observers agreed on what he'd done. Headlines varied on quickly assembled gossip reports, from the measured to the hyperbolic.
At the Newport Jazz Festival, we're visiting the Quad and Harbor Stages, where the first rows of audience sit snug up to the performer. With her understated style, love of the lyric and freedom, Gretchen Parlato makes that closeness work. Everyone leans in and listens.
In a good jazz rhythm section, the players function independently and as one. Their parts and accents crisscross and reinforce each other, interlocking like West African drummers. Beyond that, the bass is a band's ground floor. When it changes up, the earth shifts under all the players' feet. From moment to moment, Linda Oh's bass prowls or gallops, takes giant downward leaps, or stands its ground.