CG | We’re knee-deep in the winter slog now, with the festivities of Christmas and New Years little more than fading memories. David Lowery once posited that “There is nothing in this world more bitter than spring,” but I’d counter that with a look at the long, grey, bone-chilling monotony of a Southern February. Let’s dig in to our winter playlist and see if we can warm things up.
“Two Winters Long”
Irma Thomas |New Orleans, LA
A cute, upbeat little number about heartbreak, featuring perky combo organ breaks and Thomas’ endearingly earnest voice. You may recognize that voice from Thomas’ tune Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand), a Black Mirror favorite.
Waxahatchee |Birmingham, AL
My New Orleanian friend Jacques introduced me to this Birmingham band. I guess this should be embarrassing to me as an Alabamian who spent a good deal of time in Birmingham, but I’ll take my music where I can get it. As an added bonus, bandleader Katie Crutchfield and her sister Allison have a big old back catalog of music both together and apart, which is equally compelling and worth checking out.
Belle Adair | Florence, AL
Most of the Belle Adair oeuvre tends towards atmospheric indie, but here they lean in a decidedly more poppy direction, riding a riff worthy of Chris Bell-era Big Star. Heads up: Belle Adair just released a new record, Tuscambia, earlier this month.
“Just Because I’m A Woman”
Dolly Parton | Locust Ridge, TN
Loretta Lynn gets a lot of feminist street cred for her early feminist anthems like The Pill and Don’t Come Home A’Drinkin’, but this time it’s Dolly’s turn to give the dudes something to think about when she lets us know that “my mistakes are no worse than yours just because I’m a woman.”
“Sorry You’re Sick”
Ted Hawkins | Biloxi, MS
I was absolutely delighted the first time I heard the chorus of this song. It still gives me great joy every time I hear it, and over the years I’ve developed what I imagine must be a mildly obnoxious habit of asking my under-the-weather friends what they want from the liquor store.
“No More Hot Dogs”
Hasil Adkins | Boone County, WV
Q: Is Hasil Adkins the vaunted fount from whence all psychobilly springs?
A: Undoubtedly, yes.
“You Burn Me Up & Down”
We The People | Orlando, FL
We The People has always struck me as Florida’s answer to the Count Five – a regional garage band with a fairly robust catalog hovering just below the national consciousness. But while the Count Five scored a national hit with Psychotic Reaction, We The People continued to languish in relative obscurity until the garage revival of the 1980s when their 1966 Orlando-area hit “Mirror of Your Mind” started popping up on various garage comps.
“Girl On The Billboard”
Del Reeves | Sparta, NC
This tongue-twister was Del’s first number one and spawned his habit of adding a casual “doo-doo doo doo doo” at the end of every few lines, which became a trademark of sorts.
“Pushin’ The Air”
The Golden Monica | Tuscaloosa, AL
Grade-A chooglin’ from Tuscaloosa.
“Baby, I’m In The Mood For You”
Odette | Birmingham, AL
Odetta takes this Dylan outtake and un-Dylan-ifies it, lending Dylan’s exuberantly dippy folk blues a thump and gravitas that turns it into a completely different song.
“Hey Little Girl”
Major Lance | Winterville, MS
It’s kind of a convoluted story, but my father-in-law gave my all mother-in-law’s Major Lance records to Curtis Mayfield when Curtis was in the hospital in Roswell, Georgia. She still hasn’t let it go, and honestly, I get it. BTW, take a quick listen to this and tell me it doesn’t sound exactly like Monkey Time. You’re damn right it sounds exactly like Monkey Time.
“Everything Means No”
Let’s Active | Winston-Salem, NC
Frontman Mitch Easter’s production work with R.E.M. will forever link the two bands. Listening to Let’s Active without R.E.M. in mind is: a) somewhat of an exercise in futility, and b) truly rewarding if you can silence your monkey-mind for long enough to appreciate their jangle-pop gems on their own merits.
“Leeches, Pt. I”
Dan Sartain | Birmingham, AL
Dan Sartain is a true Southern eccentric, playing shows and recording with cobbled-together bands like some ersatz Chuck Berry, releasing charmingly disparate collections of songs recorded in studios and at home; with friends and on his own. At the end of the day, nothing says punk rock quite like blasting electric guitar riffs on an acoustic guitar with no strings.