Three albums you aren’t listening to, but totally should

Blake Guffey Student Writer

1. Vetiver – “Tight Knit” on Sub Pop Records

All ye hipsters, show some taste, put your PBR down for a moment and familiarize yourself with the best band recording in America today. Andy Cabic, the creative force behind Vetiver, attended university in Greensboro, N.C. in the late 1990s before moving to San Francisco and taking up company with psychic folk kingpin Devendra Banhart. Devendra’s influence is clear on Vetiver’s excellent early recordings, but with the 2008 release “Thing of the Past” and 2009’s “Tight Knit,” Cabic makes clear that his talents and understanding have far outgrown Devendra’s possibilities. “Tight Knit” brings Vetiver’s folk-country vibe out of the mystical fog and solidly into the Laurel Canyon sunshine, more fully introducing the band’s grit-n-groove capabilities, and leaving open infinite possibility. The album features two appearances by Eric Johnson of Fruit Bats, along with extra support from renowned underground guitarist Jonathan Wilson and psychedelic wizard “Farmer” Dave Scher on clavinet. Vetiver is currently finishing up recording of a new album to be released during the summer, and will be playing in Nashville at The End March 14 before heading to Austin where they will play this year’s SXSW festival.

2. Middle Brother – “Eponymous” on Partisan Records

Middle Brother is a supergroup, of sorts, though it’s odd to describe them as such considering the relative obscurity that their separate bands still exist in. However, for those paying attention to the burgeoning music scene over the last few years, the lead members of Deer Tick (John McCauley), Delta Spirit (Matt Vasquez), and Dawes (Taylor Goldsmith) coming together for the release of an album is surely cause for celebration. The album lets down its potential only slightly, if at all, by sounding more like a collection of songs from the separate bands than a collective effort of new invention. This is not so troubling, though, since new material from Deer Tick, Delta Spirit, and Dawes is always welcomed regardless of the avenue it is presented through. McCauley’s chops, Vasquez’s unrelenting voice, and the cosmic oceanic melodies of Goldsmith (along with a guest spot by Muscle Shoals native, Jason Isbell) are all on display here. The self-titled debut will be released March 1, and is free floating across the interweb now.

3. North Mississippi Allstars – “Keys to the Kingdom” on Songs of the South Records

The first album released by NMA after principle members Luther and Cody Dickinson lost their father Jim Dickinson (one of the great session musicians and producers in rock and roll history; Jim did a huge amount of work in Muscle Shoals) is a huge step forward for the band, and an apt testament to their father’s legacy. The album’s opening track is a fuzzed out stomper echoing of Luther’s time spent alongside Rich Robinson, in the Black Crowes, over the past few years. We receive an excellently modified version of Bob Dylan’s classic “Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again,” alongside a guest showing by the incomparable Mavis Staples on “The Meeting,” and a throwback straight to exile era Stones on the track “Hear the Hills.” The North Mississippi Allstars, and Luther Dickinson, have their share of faults, but we are here presented with an excellent album that should display clearly to everyone what a joke of a “southern rock/blues” band The Drive-By Truckers are in comparison. Give or take, this is the real thing, and a righteous experience.