Kate Mann Rattlesnake on the Road (Orange Dress Records)
Taoseño Kate Mann’s fourth release is marked by hard times overcome—or at least, acknowledged with a stoic resolve. There’s the requisite piano and cello tucked between the fiddle, pedal steel and banjo we’ve come to expect from Americana. But Mann’s take is authentic; a continuation rather than a cornpone revival. An underlying and beautiful melancholy haunts all of her work. Lyrics like, “The last person I want to see here is staring back at me / The mirror behind the bar doesn’t lie,” bear witness to the fact that we hurt ourselves more than any number of failed lovers. (Captain America)
Tragic Romance Hollywood Daze (FnA Records)
Fronted by Santa Fe’s Billy Miles Brooke (Ballroom Blitz), Tragic Romance celebrates its 25th anniversary with this retrospective that also includes two fresh tracks. By the late ’80s, glam had deferred to glitz. Plain ol’ rock and roll gave way to power ballads with high adenoidal vocals and squealing up-the-neck leads that ruled the airwaves. Tragic Romance trod this path from the Sunset Strip to the “rawk” underground springing up in dingy L.A. clubs. While music of that sort may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it finds a comfortable place nestled in the guilty pleasure stack. (Captain America)
This album examines a brief and peculiar movement wherein—perhaps through the haze of marijuana smoke—musicians thought to combine the down-home pastoralism of country and the groovy urban vibe of emergent funk. A 16-track collection of reissues, Country Funk features psychedelic guitar parts, chicken pickin’, sexy pulsing bass grooves, Southern accents, syncopated polyrhythms, cowbell and horn sections, and lyrics about rednecks, the backwoods and sweet love. Jim Ford almost sums it up on Track 6, singing, “I’m gonna make her love me until the cows come home.” Buy this album. It gets more right-on with every listen. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
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Jenna Dunlap • singer-