JOSEPH ALLRED - FIRE AND EARTH
scissor tail 2016, edition of 200
WES TIREY - BLACK WIND
scissor tail 2016, edition of 250
"Joseph Allred has more musical integrity than any artist I've ever encountered. He's been very quietly putting out records for years, never self promoting any of them and painstakingly designing and hand printing most of the packaging for the LPs and cassettes he puts out. He also hand painted the covers for Fire and Earth while the back covers were letter pressed by Dylan G. Aycock. There's a sincerity in Allred's music and way of life that has been missing from modern life for a long time. // On Black Wind, songwriter/guitarist Wes Tirey makes the case for quality over quantity. After a stream of well-received cassettes, Tirey assembled a reserved trio and laid down the soft law on a single night in September. Whereas his previous releases were turned inward, Black Wind opens out like Malick meditating on prairie grass. The words and imagery are stark, broad strokes while the arrangements are spacious, simple structures of Tirey's voice and acoustic guitar, with sparse backing from a telecaster and a trap kit." - SCISSOR TAIL
i'm still chewing on AYCOCK's CHURCH OF LEVEL TRACK and HIRSCH's BLUE RIDER SONGS, now here comes -another- stellar one two punch from SCISSOR TAIL - at this point i can't think of a good reason to -not- crown SCISSOR TAIL as the best label goin right now
JOSEPH ALLRED, head honcho of MELIPHONIC RECORDS, member of drone duo GRACELESS and solo folk guitarist both under his own name and nomme de guerre POOR FAULKER, popped up on my radar last year with MARE which is one of many unfortunate casualties of "too many tapes, too little time to blog" - but as good as his drone stuff is, ALLRED's folk stuff is where it's at - he put out two tapes and an lp in 2013 then nothin til now, finding a fitting home on SCISSOR TAIL with the feel of a "major label debut" in the best way possible, everything done right, nothing lost in translation, goodness honed into greatness, confident and commanding yet intimate in part thanks to a smartly reserved sound -a very well produced record by my measure- and while ALLRED is a visionary with a ton of talent, he doesn't dare do too much, perhaps -the- primary determinant of good solo folk guitar music by my measure (this goes without saying at this point) as he falls in line with SCISSOR TAIL's elite roster while leaning out toward a more adventurous styling a la ROBBIE BASHO and JACK ROSE, with an unexpected boon in this wonderful penultimate hymn that's kinda like BIG BLOOD covers SPACEMEN 3's "so hot (wash away all of my tears)"
similarly, WES TIREY's vinyl debut finds him refining his singer-songwriter style as heard on previous top shelf tapes O ANNIHILATOR and JOURNEYER/FORWARD MELANCHOLY DREAM (REC #36), he takes full advantage of the format, transitioning from the bedroom to the studio, at least metaphorically if not literally, realizing a richer fidelity and normalizing some of his outsider-ness, letting his sobering yet laid back vibe shine through, sounding almost tailor made to SCISSOR TAIL's established excellence - BLACK WIND is sparse downcast folk ballads with an old timey appalachian soul and stripped down "full band" accompaniment (albeit "all music by WES TIREY"), channeling DOCK BOGGS and JACKSON C. FRANK with touches of KAREN DALTON esque backing vocals and trace elements of sad slow 90s stuff like CODEINE and RED HOUSE PAINTERS - i previously described O ANNIHILATOR as "WOODEN WAND in 30 years doin his damnedest to turn secular into sacred" and i'll stand by that here as this is some of the best of this sort since 2010's DEATH SEAT