Garrison Starr hasn't lived in Memphis for nearly a decade, but she is residing a little closer to home these days -- right down the music highway in Nashville. Co-produced by Brad Jones and Neilson Hubbard, Starr's fifth album, The Sound of You and Me, is a rootsy, stripped-down affair that allows her to get to the heart of the matter with tracks like "No Man's Land" and "Sing It Like a Victim." It's out on Vanguard Records this week; the Hi-Tone Café will host a release party for Starr on Thursday, March 30th, at 9 p.m.
That same night, former Oxford, Mississippi, resident -- and power-pop kingpin -- Tim Lee is slated to perform songs from his new disc, Concrete Dog, at the Buccaneer Lounge. The album, Lee's third in five years, will be available in April on Fundamental Records.
"The game drove me out of my mind a decade ago," says Lee, who shot to fame in the 1980s with The Windbreakers before emerging as a solo performer. "Now, I purely do this because I love to. Some people play golf, some go fishing. I make records."
Lee's Buccaneer gig will mark his first Bluff City appearance in more than two years. "I love Memphis," he notes, happily adding, "it's got Payne's BBQ. What else do you need?"
For more on Lee, visit his Web site, TimLeeMusic.com.
Memphis native Megan Reilly has been living in Brooklyn, New York, for the better part of a decade, but she'll never forget her Southern roots. "I miss the way of life there, sitting on the front porch and drinking coffee. Life definitely feels easier in Memphis," Reilly says.
Nevertheless, the singer has effortlessly adapted to life in the Big Apple, forming an all-star indie band with guitarist Tim Foijahn (Cat Power), bassist Tony Maimone (Pere Ubu), keyboardist Eric Morrison (Home), and drummer Steve Goulding (The Mekons). Last spring, the quintet laid down the 10 tracks that would comprise Reilly's second CD, Let Your Ghost Go, which will be released March 21st on Carrot Top Records.
"I had to overcome the insecurity of writing songs and playing them for the band's feedback. I want my songs to be good. I want them to mean something. But I'm becoming more sure of what I'm trying to do," Reilly says of the new album, which consists of six new compositions, a reprisal of her song "Blackhearted," and covers of Dylan's "The Wedding Song" and Phil Lynott's "Little Girl in Bloom."
To learn more, go to MeganReilly.com.
Who could've guessed that Justice Naczycz would follow up his first album, Water for the Withered Root, with such a full-on rock project like The Secret Service's The Service Is Spectacular?
Yet, as Naczycz explains, the Secret Service -- his band with guitarist Steve Selvidge, bassist Mark Stuart, and drummer John Argroves -- has its roots in the live acoustic sessions built around his 2003 solo record. "For our first rock gig, we practiced twice," he reveals. "We were like kids hanging out in our rooms learning Iron Maiden and Van Halen songs."
The Secret Service's music -- laden with starts, stops, and changes galore, a la '70s powerhouses like Thin Lizzy and Alice Cooper -- is, Naczycz says, a reaction to jam bands.
"Steve, Mark, and John can do anything," he raves. "I'm like the third-best guitarist in the group. Singing with them is like doing karaoke with the greatest band in the world."
Although it's only March, the self-released The Service Is Spectacular already has my vote for album of the year. Recorded at Jim Dickinson's Zebra Ranch Studio with Kevin Houston engineering (overdubs were done with Pete Matthews at Ardent) and mixed at Ardent, the record boasts sly songwriting, first-class musicianship, and crisp production. Songs like "Cold Sparkles," "Good Love and a Heart Attack," and "Milkshake," which the group hijacked from Chicago rockers MOTO, sound as timeless as "The Boys Are Back in Town" or "Eighteen."
Mark your calendars for next Saturday, March 25th, when the Secret Service host a CD-release party at Young Avenue Deli, with Mouse Rocket opening. For more information, visit the group's MySpace page at MySpace .com/TheServiceIsSpectacular.
Also new in the bins: Jimmy Davis' Campfire Songs, an Arma Secreta full-length, and new MADJACK releases from The Tennessee Boltsmokers, Eric Lewis & Andy Ratliff, and Cory Branan.