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George Strait: The Cowboy Rides Away Farewell Show

By Matthew Ramirez, Contributor

One of the biggest names in all music retired from touring earlier this month, but unless you're a hardcore country music fan, or from Texas, it might have been hard to tell. George Strait has had more No. 1 hits on Billboard's Hot Country Songs than any other artist. He's sold more than 100 million albums worldwide, and is the best-selling performer in the history of country music in America. As a beacon of pure… more »

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Mike Cooper on Rescuing His Lost Classics

By Andy Beta, Contributor

Legend goes that a kid named Mick Jagger wanted to start a band with the young Mike Cooper in the '60s. When Cooper balked, Jagger instead recruited Brian Jones and started a blues-indebted band called the Rolling Stones instead. Mike Cooper's idiosyncratic path took him elsewhere. Now in his sixth decade of music-making, Cooper remains a gifted, prolific player. In June, the excellent Paradise of Bachelors label reissued a clutch of his crucial early-'70s albums:… more »

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A Brief History of the Voice-O-Graph

By John Morthland, Contributor

It's about the size of a phone booth, and when first introduced it felt like a glimpse of the future. Today, it's a quaint novelty. But to Jack White and Neil Young, it's a novelty that serves a noble purpose. Young recorded his new album, A Letter Home, on the 1947 Voice-O-Graph recording booth in residence in the Novelties Lounge of White's Third Man Records office in Nashville. For $15, you can make a recording… more »

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Spotlight: Lee Hazlewood

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Puss N Boots, No Fools, No Fun

2014 | Label: Blue Note

Despite the title, Fun is the operative word on the debut by Puss N Boots, the new “super-trio” formed by Norah Jones and her pals, North Carolinian Catherine Popper (Hem, Ryan Adams, Jack White) and Californian Sasha Dobson (who began performing with her family’s jazz combo at age 12). The threesome came together in Brooklyn, where Jones has found other collaborators in the rootsy Little Willies. And her harmony singing with Billie Joe Armstrong on 2013′s gorgeous Everly Brothers tribute, Foreverly, paved the way for this stripped-down showcase of vocal… more »

Luluc, Passerby

2014 | Label: Sub Pop Records

Zoë Randell and Steve Hassett, an Australian indie-folk duo who live between Melbourne and Brooklyn, never do anything with their tranquil and traditionalist acoustic folk that would startle anyone familiar with the Civil Wars or, for that matter, the ’70s works of Richard and Linda Thompson. In fact, Passerby is so free from modernity that if someone told you it was a long-lost recording by a pair of Bleecker Street bohemians, you wouldn’t blink.

But the poetry of Luluc’s second album and the first available outside of Australia (following 2008′s… more »

Various Artists, Country Funk Volume II: 1967-1974

2014 | Label: Light In The Attic / The Orchard

In 2012, Light in the Attic coined the term “country funk” to describe the strange hybrid of twangy Anglo country music and honeyed African-American soul that arose in the late 1960s and ran through the ’70s. They weren’t the first label to explore this fertile territory. Other comps — ranging from Country Got Soul and Soul Jazz’s Delta Swamp Rock series to this look from the other side of the racial divide — all tried to properly corral such amalgams of black and white to varying degrees… more »

Jim Lauderdale, I’m a Song

2014 | Label: Sky Crunch Records / Smith Music Group

In an era when an album every two years is the norm for artists, Jim Lauderdale has remained consistently, insistently prolific, releasing an album a year for the past 20 years with just four exceptions — and the two most recent of those, 2012 and 2013, brought two and three new Lauderdale offerings, respectively. He keeps the pedal to the floor on I’m a Song, an ambitious double album featuring co-writes with the likes of Bobby Bare and Elvis Costello and vocal guests including Patty Loveless and Lee Ann Womack.

The… more »

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The Finest in New & Old Country

By Stephen M. Deusner, Contributor

Sidle on up to the bar and have a few rounds with the finest in fresh-faced folk and oak-aged country tunes. Turnstyled and Junkpiled will soundtrack the tears in your beers as well as letting the good times roll. From new bucks like Fleet Foxes and Mumford & Sons to old-timers like Merle Haggard and Townes Van Zandt, with plenty of deep cuts, there'll be plenty to scuff your boots and kick up your heels… more »

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