Not unlike most people who heard Richmond, Indiana native Joe Augustin’s (aka Achilles Tenderloin) Summer Solstice Singles EP last year, I have been looking forward to the new full-length album Tincture for Trouble for some time now. And I can honestly say that not only does it not disappoint, but it exceeds every expectation I had for it! Rich, full, beautiful, haunting, and at times downright heartbreaking, Tincture for Trouble is undeniably Joe Augustin at his absolute best. On the surface, Achilles Tenderloin plays a mix of contemporary indie-folk and modern acoustic blues, but you won’t have to dig deep to find the influence of jazz, soul, bluegrass, country, classic rock, and even traditional Celtic music here. Together, under Joe’s bright, warm, organic acoustic guitar tone and his breathy, soulful vocals that at times sound as if he’s on the edge of a complete breakdown, they all meld into one incredibly striking original style that is uniquely all his own — fresh and innovative, yet familiar and heartwarming at the same time. Backed by a cast of top-notch musicians, Augustin wastes no time in showcasing his world-class songwriting skills over and over again throughout the album’s 10 songs, framed by beautifully-penned, mostly autobiographical lyrics dealing with life, love, loss, and heartache. This is one of those albums you’re going to want to keep on repeat for awhile and just soak it all in.
You Are the Ugliest Part of My Body
While each of the eight songs that make up The Histrionics’ second full-length album can certainly stand on their own, together they paint a morbid, disturbing, yet hauntingly beautiful picture. You Are the Ugliest Part of My Body, a concept album revolving around love gone wrong, codependency and predestination, is a twisted roller coaster ride into the abyss of dark emotions. Kicking off with arguably the album’s heaviest hitter, “Writhe,” this New Albany trio grabs you by the throat immediately. Each song here is crafted in such a way that the listener is never quite sure where they’re going to be taken at any given moment. The influences of punk, grunge, alternative, and hardcore can be heard throughout, but closer listens reveal much more depth to their sound. Elements of early ‘90s Louisville post-hardcore, emo, goth, prog-rock, shoegaze, post-punk, even jazz and bossa nova can be heard throughout. Guitarist/singer Quinton Byrd’s rich baritone vocals fit the bill perfectly, ranging in style and sound from Jim Morrison to Ian Curtis to Morrissey to Glenn Danzig to Chris Cornell. And the band pulls off one solid performance after another, driving these songs with a force comparable to a runaway freight train. Backed by an excellent production job by Anne Gauthier (La La Land Studios), giving the whole record a warm, full, expansive sound while maintaining the dark, foreboding feeling of the songs and helping to make this one of 2023’s can’t-miss albums!
Although his current claim to fame is his Walter The Rescue Cat videos on TikTok (which are a must-see; they’re adorable), John P. has certainly demonstrated here that he absolutely deserves to be better known for his music. His first full-length album (and ninth overall release), I Don’t Mind spans numerous genres while simultaneously intermingling them seamlessly. Whether it’s classic pop-rock, rockabilly, alt-rock, new wave, country, dream pop, industrial, symphonic pop, shoegaze, or even trip hop, not only is it all represented here, it’s all done exceptionally well! Transitioning through all the different styles and genres, one would think he had a slew of professional musicians backing him, but surprisingly, John P. himself plays all the instruments on this record. The amount of time and effort put into these songs must have been grueling, but the end result certainly pays off in spades. This is a record that the listener needs to hear all the way through, as each track offers its own unique journey. And while all 11 songs completely stand out in their own way, the piano and violin makeover of Radiohead’s “Creep” is an unexpected showstopper here, and one that I’m quite certain Thom Yorke would approve of. For a guy whose self-professed original goal in recording this album was to be able to yell for his Alexa to play one of his own songs, this record is an astounding accomplishment!
Louisville’s current music scene never ceases to amaze me, as there is a staggering amount of world-class talent going on right here at this very moment. Anyone who says otherwise is either not paying attention or clinically insane. Case in point: Native Sons. Why these guys aren’t headlining sold-out shows at major venues all across this planet is beyond me. Their latest release (and second full-length album), Shadow Head is a burner from start to finish! Led by the veritable powerhouse vocals of singer Ashton Blake, the entire band is absolutely on-point throughout the album’s 10 tracks. With a sound that invokes elements ranging from Queensrÿche and Skid Row to Alice in Chains and The Cult, this is an album that you’re going to hear differently with each listen. Native Sons certainly give a solid nod to the hard rock sounds of the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, but do so with a completely fresh, modern, invigorating style. Top-notch musicianship, songwriting skills and production are all on display here. The whole album is as solid as they come, but standout tracks like “Red Leather Woman,” “Drama” (which has a great continuous single-shot music video taking place in and around Doo Wop Shop on Bardstown Road that you really need to watch), and the title track “Shadow Head” are just begging to be heard by a larger audience. This is hard rock done right!