Listen Local: New Music From Louisville-Area Artists

Dec 6, 2023 at 12:35 pm
Listen Local: New Music From Louisville-Area Artists

Listen Local: New Music From Louisville-Area Artists

Tyrone Cotton

Man Like Me 

Incredible, stunning, emotional, powerful, beautiful — Louisville music legend Tyrone Cotton’s debut album Man Like Me is quite simply a masterpiece! The result of a lifelong journey of his nearly 30 years of performing locally, the nine tracks that make up Man Like Me were all written at various times in Cotton’s life and are a deeply stirring reflection of his own experiences, exploring connection, loss, hope and resurrection. Each track paints a vivid picture through its lyrics and music. From the Chicago blues stylings of album opener “Across The Water,” New Orleans-style ragtime swing of “Standing Rag,” the heart-wrenching ballad “Go Back,” jazzy country blues of “It’s Alright Not To Know,” upbeat Americana of “Rosie,” the hauntingly melancholic blues of the title track, to the absolutely beautiful album closer “Dreams,” this is an album that gets everything right. Every note needs to be played; every lyric needs to be sung. There is no filler here. And much like what Rick Rubin did with Johnny Cash’s later records with American Recordings, co-producers Josh Kauffman and Ray Rizzo create a warm, expansive studio environment that brings Cotton’s powerful, soulful yet fragile and vulnerable vocals and finger-picking guitar work to the front and center, with all other instrumentation taking a backseat. To truly appreciate the brilliance here, you need to turn off all distractions, put on your headphones, and immerse yourself in what is easily one of the greatest albums ever to come out of Louisville. Absolutely phenomenal!

Robin Embry

A Few Thoughts and Notes

You very well may already be acquainted with Henryville, Indiana, singer/songwriter/guitarist Robin Embry, as the man has had a busy gig schedule around the Louisville and Southern Indiana area over the past year playing covers and his originals alike. And if his latest album, A Few Thoughts and Notes, is indicative of his work, you’ve likely not forgotten him. The album is eight tracks of vocal and acoustic guitar-driven Americana flavored with a bit of rock, folk, country, and newgrass. The absence of drums on these songs creates a stripped-down, intimate atmosphere that allows the lyrics and melodies to take center stage. With themes of love, heartache, happiness, sorrow, contentment, and misfortune, Embry is able to weave stories that resonate with listeners on a personal level. And his decision to collaborate with world-class guest musicians such as Grammy and multiple IBMA award winner Tim Stafford (Blue Highway, Alison Krauss and Union Station), Carson Peters (NBC’s “The Voice”), Tony Dingus, Bobby Starnes, and Jeff Guernsey enhances the depth of his songs while perfectly complementing Embry’s rich vocals. And in keeping with the spirit of the season, Embry closes out the record with two great new Christmas songs, “He Brings Joy (Merry Christmas)” and “We Need Christmas.” Overall, A Few Thoughts and Notes is a masterfully crafted album that showcases Robin Embry’s excellent songwriting abilities and knack for connecting with the listener, and is a little slice of Americana that leaves a lasting impression.

Plague IX

Fuck…It’s Christmas Again?! 

So, your mom won’t stop playing her Andy Williams Christmas albums? You haven’t found “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” amusing since you were 3? Can’t stomach hearing that insipid Mariah Carey song one more time? Well, fret not, my friend; Plague IX has a little something in their sack just for you: more Christmas music! The first track, “Two Christmases,” is a positive spin on divorce from a kid’s point of view. And if what Buddy the Elf taught us is correct, I know of no better way to spread Christmas cheer than singing the refrain “Fuck yeah! Two Christmases!” loudly for all to hear. And the mistletoe hanging over this is the music, which I would describe as sounding like the Sex Pistols playing an MC5 cover of a Chuck Berry song. The second song, “Paranoia (The Song About Crack),” is, shockingly, about crack and kinda sounds like early Indignant Few playing a Black Flag cover of a MC5 song. And the bow on this present is that you can name your own price for it on Bandcamp, so you can be the hero at your family Christmas dinner by paying good money for these tunes and blasting them when your racist uncle starts going into a diatribe. Or be the cheapass at your company holiday party and pay nothing, burn it to a CD-R, and Secret Santa it to a coworker. Either way, it’s far better than getting an octopus in a box.

Scott Whiddon

The Best of Intentions 

I don’t think I’ve been shy about my unabashed love of Louisville-Lexington hybrid power popsters Letters of Acceptance, so I was certainly not unhappy to get the email from bassist Scott Whiddon letting me know his new full-length solo album The Best of Intentions was out. Whiddon, who is also a Professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and Communication at Transylvania University in Lexington, as well as director of their Writing Center, certainly showcases his skills as a songwriter and musician here. While there are certainly elements of Letters of Acceptance, it’s hard to imagine many of these tunes as LoA songs, and that’s one of the things I really love about this record. The Best of Intentions effortlessly weaves together the sound of 90’s indie rock, 2000’s power pop, and modern Americana. Whiddon’s emotive vocals, expressive lyrics, and smooth-flowing melodies create an intimate listening experience, drawing you into his world. Supported by an amazing production job by J. Tom Hnatow (Ringo Starr, Horse Feathers, Mynabyrds, These United States) and featuring the likes of Jay Gonzalez (Drive-By Truckers), Robby Cosenza (These United States, Horse Feathers), John Ferguson (Apples in Stereo), Dave Cobb (Movie Jail), Blake Cox (The Worn Jets), Kim Conlee (Frigidkitty), and others, this record is stacked with talent, and the album artwork created by Louisville-based artist Lori Larusso complements the sonic journey. The Best of Intentions is a wonderful 38-minute ride you’re gonna need to take.

LEO now has playlists for Listen Local and Tuesday Tracklist on Spotify!