Various artists NAC Wins: Our Music, Our Help/Readyfireaim
Imagine you’re in your early 20s. You have good friends, a gig in a great local band and the rest of your life ahead of you.
Then you get hit by an 18-wheeler.
That’s what happened to local musician Nick Collins in August.
I don’t mean figuratively when I say he was hit by an 18-wheeler. Collins actually was run over by a semi-truck after being ejected from the car in which he was riding.
The musician ended up losing a leg, but eventually he left the hospital (ahead of schedule) and rejoined his bandmates in Fowler’s Mustache onstage in February.
Collins’ spirit should inspire all of us, and a group of musicians has contributed eight tracks to an album to help Collins out with the financial challenges as he continues his rehabilitation.
Put together by local musician and writer Tim Brennan, “NAC Wins: Our Music, Our Help,” features some of the Lowcountry’s best artists performing some of the more uplifting tracks from their catalogs.
Collins’ band, Fowler’s Mustache, kicks things off with the deeply personal “Get Well Soon,” which has the rest of the band addressing Collins directly.
Dangermuffin, a live favorite across the Southeast, donated the uplifting “The Rising Souls,” while Mark Bryan contributes his radio single “A Fork in the Road.”
Sol Driven Train had some fun with nautical and pirate themes on “Lighthouse,” while Stop Light Observations and Danielle Howle both get primal with “Search Into Your Soul” and “Faith,” respectively.
Rik Cribb & The Problems give the usual 110 percent on the electrifying “Shine On,” and A Fragile Tomorrow seems to be channeling Elvis Costello as it performs the original song “Daylight.”
All proceeds from the sale of the CD will go directly to help the Collins family with their mounting medical bills. At $10, it would seem that both Collins and the purchaser end up winning.
Key Tracks: All eight tracks are worth hearing on this above-average benefit CD.
The National Trouble Will Find Me/4AD
Ever since The National released its self-titled debut album in 2001, the band has been a critical favorite and an indie darling.
After the release of “Trouble Will Find Me,” the band’s latest effort, I quite honestly feel that the band will remain that way.
Fronted by baritone singer Matt Berninger, The National writes and performs moody, melancholy and often dark songs, and yet manages to make you happy to be hearing those tunes.
Listening to downbeat tunes such as “I Should Live in Salt” and “Heavenfaced” reminds you of some of Radiohead’s more sullen compositions.
On “Demons,” Berninger seems to be channeling Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave, while on “Graceless” it would appear that the band had been listening to some of the more experimental output of Wilco.
It’s all great stuff, though, and it would be an almost perfect release except for one nagging factor. There seems to be a big push for this album, as if both the band and the label are desperate to ensure that The National breaks through to that next level of musical stardom.
The truth is, The National doesn’t need widespread fame to stay relevant. Remaining critically liked and fairly obscure has worked for a variety of bands. The fact that the band seems to be shooting for the moon on this new release is the one negative thing about the whole project.
Key Tracks: “I Should Live in Salt,” “Demons,” “Heavenfaced”
John Fogerty Wrote a Song for Everyone/Vanguard
When an artist re-releases his or her hits as new recordings, the results can be hit or miss.
The latest artist to do so is John Fogerty, and after hearing his new album, “Wrote a Song for Everyone,” I hope every artist considering a release of this type will listen to it.
For starters, Fogerty has a deep catalog of great songs from which to choose.
On “Wrote a Song For Everyone,” Fogerty revisits some of his best stuff, including “Fortunate Son,” “Bad Moon Rising” and “Proud Mary.”
After years of not playing these hits because of various legal battles, Fogerty has re-embraced his music, and the main reason this album works as well as it does is because Fogerty put plenty of thought into which guest artist would be covering what song.
Just about every song/artist pairing is perfect.
Hearing Fogerty collaborating with Foo Fighters on “Fortunate Son” makes the song sound angrier than it did when it was a protest song for the Vietnam War.
Hearing Bob Seger sing “Who’ll Stop the Rain” makes you realize how much that song could actually be a Seger composition.
Fogerty also holds his own with Kid Rock on an incendiary “Born on the Bayou,” and allows My Morning Jacket to do their thing on “Long as I Can See the Light.”
Again, every collaboration is great, but some of the more far out performances turn out to be the best.
Hearing country singer Miranda Lambert and Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello work on the album’s title track, originally on the Creedence Clearwater Revival album “Green River,” is electrifying.
Dawes lending its ’70s California rock sound to “Someday Never Comes” also works beautifully.
As a bonus, Fogerty even includes a pair of new songs, “Mystic Highway” and “Train of Fools,” that actually complement the classic stuff.
Congrats to Fogerty for polishing up these old tracks and making them shine even brighter.
Key Tracks: “Fortunate Son,” “Wrote a Song for Everyone,” “Who’ll Stop the Rain”
By Devin Grant