John Holk & The Sequins-If You See Her. One of the most pleasant surprises I've come across in a while, this Detroit band with a fondness for vintage Western wear and sweet Jayhawks/Gram Parsons-styled melodies has released the twang-pop record of the year. If You See Here is one gloriously melodic track after another, from the opener "No Other Way" to the jangly title track to the wonderfully gentle "Carry the Load", a thematic cousin to "The Weight". But the top track here is "Autograph", a catchy clever number with wonderful harmonies that would make Gram & Emmylou proud. I've thrown around to phrase "year-end top 10" more than ten times this year, but this one is guaranteed a spot. If I can make an analogy, what The Red Button was to 60s Britpop, John Holk & The Sequins are to early 70s country-pop.
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And they have good taste in covers, too. Here they are with a live version of "September Gurls":
Brother Slade-No Relation. This Tennessee band wears their hearts and lifestyle on their collective sleeve with a rockin, honky-tonkin' collection of fun, melodic tunes. So often I've compared the sound of bands like this to Tom Petty, but here they cut out the middleman by calling the opening track "Tom Petty Song", and it's one of my favorite tracks of the year, both sounding like Petty and name-dropping him of course (amusingly rhyming him with "yeti" in the process). Songs like "Girl with a Mobile Home", "Look What the Trailer Park Drug In" and "Too Hot to BBQ" are pretty self-explanatory, but they'll stick in your head as well. And "Time Well Wasted" and "You Are the Train" a pair of well-written, well-performed country-rock gems. You can say this one Slade me.
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