by Dan Ferguson
Geoff Muldaur & the Texas Sheiks
Led by folk luminary Geoff Muldaur, the Texas Sheiks are Johnny Nicholas, Suzy Thompson, Cindy Cashdollar, Bruce Hughes, the late Stephen Bruton, and guest Sheik Jim Kweskin. Each noteworthy in his or her own right, collectively they've logged many music miles. On the 14 song self-titled platter, the Texas Sheiks go back to the roots digging deep and reworking 14 chestnuts from the 1920s/30s traditional American blues and jazz war chest. The result is an album equal parts soulful, swinging and bluesy, and compellingly good. Visit www.myspace.com/texassheiks.
Bloodshot Records BS-166
Set to a folk country backdrop, Somewhere Gone is an intimate, at times spirited and other times elegant, romp through the psyche of Exene Cervenka. Her first solo release in nearly two decades, the spare setting provides Exene plenty of room to roam. The ex-X frontwoman's artistic muse is in full bloom through all of the 14 songs, some brief passing's in the night and others meatier. Visit www.bloodshotrecords.com.
Ciao My Shining Star: The Songs of Mark Mulcahy
Chances are if you ever attended a Miracle Legion show during the New England band's heyday, you encountered Melissa Rich. Girlfriend and later wife of bandleader Mark Mulcahy, Melissa could often be found at shows going person to person fearlessly hawking ML merch. Her sudden death in September of 2008 zapped Mulcahy of both his soulmate and mother of his young family. Featuring a stellar cast that includes Thom Yorke, Michael Stipe, Frank Black and Juliana Hatfield, the 21-track Ciao My Shining Star: The Songs of Mark Mulcahy is twofold. First, it's an overdue salute to Mulcahy's songwriting talents. Secondly, it's a benefit with proceeds going to the family. Mulcahy's heartbreaking remembrance of his wife, as found in the liner notes, along with stellar covers of his songs makes Ciao a knockout punch. Visit www.shoutfactory.com.
Live at Goner
Goner Records 21GONE
In addition to being one of Memphis's coolest record stores, Goner Records, located in the hip Cooper-Young area of Midtown, also boasts its own in-house record label that has introduced the music world to the likes of punk pop phenom Jay Reatard and up-and-comer Ty Segall. Comparatively speaking, one time Memphis-based garage rockers Reigning Sound are elder statesmen. On this live recording from June of 2005 in a makeshift space at the rear of the store, frontman Greg Cartwright in the stark setting wielding electric guitar and backed by drums and bass demonstrates how to rock & roll. Recorded during an early afternoon in-store appearance after a late night gig the evening before, Cartwright's voice on Live at Goner is plenty craggy at the outset. Nothing a little hot liquid can't cure. By the fifth song of the set, a kickass cover of Sam the Sham's "Black Sheep", Cartwright is gaining strength fast and furious and there's no turning back from there. Simply put, no frills, live rock & roll in the raw at its bare bones best. Visit www.goner-records.com.
(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 - 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3. He lives in Peace Dale and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)