DISClaimer: Nashville’s Eclectic Musical Map

taylor-swiftvideo

Taylor Swift

The non-country side of Nashville is all over the musical map today.

We have the Crescent City funk of Ya Ya, the jazz stylings of Anna Wilson, contemporary classical works by Paul Osterfield, awesome blues from Keb’ Mo’ and plenty of pop and rock.

It’s Music City pop that rules the roost. The Disc of the Day award goes to the terrifically listenable Taylor Swift, and our DisCovery Award goes to the sublimely melodic singer-songwriter Jessica Campbell.

CHEETAH CHROME/Rollin’ Voodoo
Writers: Cheetah Chrome; Producer: Ken Coomer; Publishers: Old Loud & Snotty, ASCAP; Plowboy (track)
-This punk-rock pioneer is a Nashvillian, a daddy and an ex junkie now. But the Dead Boys guitarist hasn’t lost his snarl and edge. His current Solo CD includes this doom-soaked rampage with strangled/shouted vocals and ringing electric guitar runs. Crazed and rocking.

MEGHAN TRAINOR/Lips Are Movin’
Writers: none listed; Producer: Kevin Kadish; Publishers: none listed; Epic (online)
-With her second single, the “All About That Bass” chart topper indicates that she’s no one-hit wonder. Her fusion of doo-wop, rap, pop and dance elements is a joyous melange, and the lyric about a no-good guy will resonate with gals throughout the land.

JEFF THE BROTHERHOOD/Totally Confused
Writers: Beck; Producer: Jeff The Brotherhood; Publishers: Cyanide Breathmint/BMI Songs, ASCAP; Warner Bros.
-The duo’s new six-song EP is titled Dig the Classics. I don’t know if tunes originated by The Pixies, My Bloody Valentine, Teenage Fanclub and the like qualify as “classics.” In fact, this dirge-tempo Beck cover falls more under the category of “instantly forgettable.” The recording is heralded as being on limited-edition “purple” vinyl. I would describe my copy as being more of a puce or mauve shade.

KEB’ MO’/The Old Me Better
Writers: Kevin Moore/John Lewis Parker; Producer: Keb’ Mo’; Publishers: Kebnote/Wixen/Parker’s Pen, BMI, Kind of Blue (track)
-“Operator, get me Toby Keith on the line….Hello, Toby? Oermann here. Listen, bro, I have found your next smash hit. It’s on the current Keb’ Mo’ LP called Bluesamericana…..You’re welcome.” The Nashville bluesman recently regaled a Grand Ole Opry audience with this wry bopper about a rehabilitated rounder. “You made me a brand new man, but I like the old me better,” he sings with Dixieland accompaniment. This superbly humorous ditty is the calling card, but the whole album is essential listening. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it winds up with a Grammy nomination. It’s that good.

TAYLOR SWIFT/Blank Space
Writers: Taylor Swift/Max Martin/Shellback; Producers: Max Martin/Shellback; Publishers: Sony-ATV Tree/Taylor Swift/MXM/Kobalt, BMI/ASCAP; Big Machine (track)
-The year’s top-selling album is packed with audio delights. On its second single, Swift beckons us to accompany her on an adventure that might be dangerous, fun or both. “I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream,” she warbles. The layered electro-production is simply stunning.

YA YA/Got to Go Down
Writers: Rev. Gary Davis; Producer: Ya Ya; Publishers: none listed; La La (track)
-Led by keyboardist/singer Randy Leago, the band Ya Ya is Nashville’s version of Mardi Gras. Its Party in My Mind CD kicks features this squeeze-box, sanctified-rock romp punctuated by the back-beat drumming of the group’s Billy Block, anchored by the bass of David Santos and spotlighted guitar by Thomm Jutz. Merriment personified.

ANNA WILSON/Little Jazzbird
Writers: George & Ira Gershwin; Producer: Monty Powell/Anna Wilson; Transfer (track)
-This Nashville jazz siren has a sweet/tart delivery with pinpoint phrasing and delicious behind-the-beat timing. Her Jazzbird/Songbird collection comprises a smattering of mostly obscure oldies like this, plus original songs. This Gershwin tune kicks off the CD and features fluttering flute work by Jeff Coffin. Highly recommended.

LOS STRAITJACKETS & DEKE DICKERSON/Apache
Writers: Jerry Lordan; Producer: Pete Curry; Publisher: Regent, ASCAP; Yep Roc (track)
-Music City’s favorite guitar-rock band in Mexican wrestling masks has a new album billed as “Sing the Great Instrumental Hits!!!!!!” Bear with me. Remember Bill Murray’s lounge-singer character on Saturday Night Live bellowing, “Star Wars, nothing but Star Wars?” This takes that concept to album length, with the band executing the famous electric-guitar riffs of “Walk Don’t Run,” “Pipeline,” “Honky Tonk,” “Sleepwalk” and the like while Dickerson hilariously deadpans lyrics that either never existed or have been long forgotten. Great stuff.

BLAKEMORE TRIO/Sound and Fury
Writers: Paul Osterfield; Producer: Blaton Alspaugh; Publishers: Paul Osterfield; BMI; Navona (track)
-Paul Osterfield is a Nashville native who teaches music composition and theory at MTSU. His new CD on the Naxos Records imprint Navona collects modern-art pieces he has written for various local ensembles. On the three-part title tune, the Blakemore Trio essays tricky, start-stop passages incorporating Amy Dorfman’s superb piano execution, Felix Wang’s stuttering cello and Carolyn Huebl’s high, keening violin. Another stand-out on the album is pianist Caleb Harris, for whom Osterfield composed six etudes and a series inspired by the abstract paintings of Wassily Kandinsky (who is currently the subject of a retrospective at the Frist Fine Arts Center, by the way).

jessica campbell III111JESSICA CAMPBELL/Losing Your Mind
Writers: Jessica Campbell/Tyler Flowers/Sarah Darling; Producer: Cason Cooley; Publishers: Watermamma/Tyler Flowers/Oh Darling, BMI/ASCAP; Little London
-She sweeps you off your feet with a lush, keyboard-embellished sound that lures you into a romance where, “following your heart means losing your mind.” The CD is titled III, because it is her third solo collection. Who knew? I must rush out and find the first two, because this pop singer-songwriter is really fabulous.

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About the Author

Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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