Yep Roc Records’ New Benefit Record Can And Likely Will Succeed In Its Aim

Courtesy: Yep Roc Records

Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, NC has hosted countless acts over the course of its 50 years in business, but its future is now in doubt as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Its closure meant the cancellation of its entire concert schedule, leading to trouble paying the rent and basic overhead costs.  In response, many of the North Carolina bands that have gone on to national (and even global) fame since their days performing at Cat’s Cradle have come together for a benefit compilation meant to raise money for the famed venue.  The compilation, Cover ChargeNC Artists Go Under Cover To Benefit Cat’s Cradle, was released Friday through Yep Roc Records.  The 25-song collection is a widely appealing presentation that will connect just as much with fans of Americana and southern rock as it will to those with an appreciation of pop music.  That is proven through the acts and songs featured throughout the compilation.  This will be addressed shortly.  The performances of the noted songs by the featured North Carolina acts adds to the record’s appeal.  They will be discussed a little later.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.  Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of this compilation’s presentation.  All things considered, they make Cover Charge: NC Artists Go Under Cover To Benefit Cat’s Cradle a work whose own music is sure to help keep the music alive at its beneficiary club.

Yep Roc Records’ new benefit record Cover Charge: NC Artists Go Under Cover To Benefit Cat’s Cradle is sure to benefit the famed local music venue, an greatly at that.  That is proven in part through the acts and songs that are featured in the 25-song presentation.  They range from a cover of The Go-Gos’ Can’t Stop The World’ by Superchunk, to an updated take of Buffalo Springfield’s timeless protest song ‘For What It’s Worth’ by Faith Jones, to a cover of Paul McCartney’s ‘Every Night’ by Terry Anderson and the Olympic Ass-Kickin’ Team and so much more, the compilation runs the gamut on genres and acts.  There is even a cover of Madonna’s ‘Dress You Up’ next to Beck’s ‘Think I’m In Love’ along with a pair of Neil Young covers to add to the presentation.  Again, what listeners get here is an extensive list of covers of songs from a wide range of well-known acts.  The covers in question are unique takes on the noted songs by acts that are well-known in their own right and others who are building their reputations quite well.  That aspect alone makes for its own reason for audiences to take in this record.  It is just one of the aspects that makes the compilation worth hearing.  The acts’ performances of the respective covers add their own hare of interest and appeal to the record.

The performances in question are of note because while they largely stay true to their source material, they give the songs their own unique updates.  Case in point is the noted update on Buffalo Springfield’s ‘For What It’s Worth.’  The original song is well-known by audiences of all ages.  It is a very subdued composition.  That reserved nature and feeling was used intentionally so as to heathen the feeling of the song’s subject as he/she looked around at everything happening in the world at the time.  Faith Jones’ update is less subdued and reserved than its source material.  It is not more energetic than said song.  It is however, still impacting in its own right.  The use of the pedal to give it a sort of funk vibe plays into its infectious nature.  The addition of the slide guitar alongside that element gives the song a bit of a country vibe.  Those two elements serve well to play into the song’s bigger message of unity, what with the genres begin so different yet coming together.  The overall energy level through the arrangement plays alongside the music to help translate the emotion in the continued message of that need for unity and hope even with everything going down.  The whole is a work that is one of the compilation’s highest points.  It is just one of the ways in which the record’s featured performances prove important to its presentation.  Mandolin Orange’s take of Bob Dylan’s Boots of Spanish Leather’ is another way in which the performances stand out.

Bob Dylan’s original song is a timeless song of lost love in its own right.  To say that it is a deeply emotional work is a powerful statement in its own right, what with Dylan’s minimalist approach to the song musically and lyrically.  It is just Dylan by himself singing and strumming his guitar.  Mandolin Orange takes that deeply emotional impact and builds on it.  The duo – Andrew Marlin and Emily Franz – offer audiences a composition here, that is even more reserved than Dylan’s original work.  The guitar work is noticeably slower in the act’s take on the song than in Dylan’s original.  What is so important to note though, is that even with the increased emotional approach, the duo doesn’t let itself go over the top.  Rather, the pair, with its violin and guitar, make it just as powerful as Dylan did with his work if not more so.  It would have been so easy for Marlin and Franz to go over the top, but that never once happens.  The result is, again, a work that pays wonderful tribute to its source material while introducing successfully, for a whole new generation of listeners.  It is yet another way in which the compilation’s performances prove important to its whole.  Chatham County Line’s over of Beck’s ‘Think I’m in Love’ is one more example of what makes the record worth hearing.

Beck’s original song ‘Think I’m In Love’ is a stark contrast to that of Chatham County Line’s cover of said song and vice versa.  Beck’s work is a funky, upbeat composition that exudes well, a person’s thought of, well, being in love.  That is the case even with the subtleties in its guitar line and beat.  CCL’s take on the song meanwhile, is even lighter than its source material.  The light, bluegrass approach that the group uses is an approach for which the band has come to be known throughout its life.  The subdued use of the mandolin and percussion alongside the vocals gives the song a whole new identity here that is certain to engage listeners in its own right.  Together with the other noted performances and those not directly addressed, the performances in whole give audiences just as much engagement as the featured songs and acts.  Even with all of this in mind, there is still one more item to address in examining the compilation, its sequencing.

The sequencing of Cover Charge: NC Artists Go Under Cover To Benefit Cat’s Cradle is important to address because of the impact that this aesthetic element has on the record’s general effect.  As the genre styles change from one to the next, the album also manages to keep its overall energy stable throughout.  The crests and troughs are places at all of the right places from one to the next.  Case in point is the first handful of the record’s featured songs.  The record’s energy starts high in its opener, Superchunk’s cover of The Go-Gos’ ‘Can’t Stop The World.’  From there, the energy pulls back immediately in Sarah Shook & The Disarmers’ cover of Cigarettes After Sex’ ‘Apocalypse.’  The energy gradually builds back over the course of the next two songs before pulling back again in the Steep Canyon Rangers’ cover of Neil Young’s ‘Unknown Legend.’  The album pulls back even more in its energy immediately after in Skylar Gudasz and Erich Bachmann’s cover of The Everly Brothers’ timeless hit ‘All I Have To Do is Dream.’  This song stays true to its source material, but at the same time, is much slower than the original in terms of its tempo.  The noted rise and fall happens again over the course of the next two songs before quickly shifting gears again in The Love Language’s cover of Teenage Fanclub’s song ‘Everything Changes.’  The rises and falls in the album’s energy continue throughout the record from there, with each happening at the right places and rates of change.  Keeping this in mind, the album’s sequencing clearly proves pivotal in its own way to the whole of its presentation.  When it is considered along with the record’s featured songs and acts, and performances, the whole of the compilation becomes a work that holds its own against it counterparts in this year’s already vast sea of covers compilations.

Yep Roc Records’ new covers compilation Charge: NC Artists Go Under Cover To Benefit Cat’s Cradle is a positive offering from the independent label.  It is a work that is certain to make plenty of noise as it helps save a venue that has helped Cat’s Cradle create its own noise over the years.  That is due in part to the songs and acts that are featured throughout the collection.  Regardless of listeners’ familiarity with the acts, this aspect is certain to generate its own share of engagement and entertainment among audiences.  The performances of the featured covers will generate its own interest for the collection, as has been noted.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.  All three noted elements are key in their own way to the whole of this collection.  All things considered they make Charge: NC Artists Go Under Cover To Benefit Cat’s Cradle a presentation that is sure to help keep the music coming at Cat’s Cradle thanks to its own music.  The collection is available now.

The track listing for Cover ChargeNC Artists Go Under Cover To Benefit Cat’s Cradle is noted below.

Cover Charge Track Listing:

  1. Superchunk – “Can’t Stop the World” (The Go-Go’s)
  2. Sarah Shook & the Disarmers – “Apocalypse” (Cigarettes After Sex)
  3. Hiss Golden Messenger and Jonathan Wilson – “Travellin’ in Style” (Free)
  4. The dB’s – “I’m on an Island” (The Kinks)
  5. Steep Canyon Rangers – “Unknown Legend” (Neil Young)
  6. Eric Bachmann & Skylar Gudasz – “All I Have to Do is Dream” (The Everly Brothers)
  7. The Connells – “Keep Your Distance” (Richard Thompson)
  8. Mandolin Orange – “Boots of Spanish Leather” (Bob Dylan)
  9. The Love Language – “Everything Flows” (Teenage Fanclub)
  10. Dex Romweber (feat. Jennifer Curtis) – “A Face in the Crowd” (Andy Griffith)\
  11. Tift Merritt – “Help Me Make It Through The Night”  (Kris Kristofferson)
  12. The Old Ceremony – “Alone Again Or” (Love)
  13. Mayflies USA – “There is a Light that Never Goes Out” (The Smiths)
  14. The Mountain Goats – “The Longest Winter” (Paradise Lost)
  15. Faith Jones – “For What It’s Worth” (Buffalo Springfield)
  16. Mipso – “Long Distance Love” (Little Feat)
  17. Terry Anderson and The Olympic-Ass Kickin Team – “Every Night” (Paul McCartney)
  18. Florence Dore – “Somewhere Down the Line” (Marshall Crenshaw)
  19. Southern Culture on the Skids – “Let’s Work Together” (Canned Heat)
  20. Iron & Wine – “Piss Diary” (Kingsbury Manx)
  21. Mount Moriah – “Don’t Let It Bring You Down” (Neil Young)
  22. Sam Melo of Rainbow Kitten Surprise – “Stars” (Janis Ian)
  23. Don Dixon & Marti Jones – “Respoken” (The Lovin Spoonful)
  24. Chatham County Line – “Think I’m in Love” (Beck)
  25. The Veldt – “Dress You Up” (Madonna)

More information on Cover ChargeNC Artists Go Under Cover To Benefit Cat’s Cradle is available at

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Willie Nelson’s New LP “Rides” Its Way To The Top Of 2019’s Top New Country/Bluegrass/Americana Albums

Courtesy: SMG

This has been a productive year for the realms of country, bluegrass and Americana.  The genres are their own, but are so closely akin to one another that they are really one in the same.  To that end, the three genres deserve to be combined into one on any critic’s year-end list.  That is what this critic has done and is doing again this year.

This year’s list of the top new Country/Bluegrass/Americana records features a number of familiar names and some who might be slightly less familiar, but are still names worth getting to know.  There are also some compilations featured on this critic’s list this year.  From The Magpie Salute to Son Volt to Willie Nelson and the Carter family and more, this year’s list is full of music that fans of all three genres will enjoy.  As with every previous list, this collection features this critic’s Top 10 titles and five additional honorable mention title for a total of 15 titles.Each title is deserving of its own accolades as there is no negative title.  Without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks 2019 Top 10 Country/Bluegrass/Americana albums.



  1. Willie Nelson — Ride Me Back Home
  2. George Strait — Honky Tonk Time Machine
  3. The Magpie Salute — High Water II
  4. The Shootouts — Quick Draw
  5. The Vegabonds — V
  6. Old Salt Union — Where The Dogs Don’t Bite
  7. Country Music: A Film By Ken Burns
  8. The Carter Family — Across Generations
  9. Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues — Roots & BranchesThe Songs of Little Walter
  10. Steve Earl & The Dukes — Guy
  11. World Music Network — The Rough Guide To The Roots of Country Music
  12. Zac Brown Band — Owl
  13. Mandolin Orange — Tides of a Teardrop
  14. Michael Cleveland — Tail Fiddler
  15. Hootie & The Blowfish — Imperfect Circle


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