Saturday, October 31, 2009

Lucero - Aggie Theatre, Fort Collins, CO - 10/26/09

Monday’s Lucero show at the Aggie Theatre in Fort Collins, CO, brought out a number of contrasts for me in relation to the last time I saw them. First of all, Lucero brought a horn section with them to this show, and secondly, I didn’t drink any whiskey. There is a good and bad side to both of these details - some for obvious reasons and for other reasons that I will explain.

This show was my first opportunity to check out the Aggie, a theater that brings in unbelievably diverse acts, as evidenced by the posters on the wall that ranged from Ol’ Dirty Bastard to Robert Earl Keen to Ministry. I suspect this is chiefly a product of being basically the only big venue in town, which consequently allows them to be jerks to you if they feel like it, because you can drive to Denver to see Lucero for all they care.

Another big contrast between this and other recent Lucero shows I’ve been to was the age of the crowd, a result of the proximity of the venue for students from Colorado State, Northern Colorado, and the University of Wyoming. Given the young crowd, I saw a disproportionate number of people who weren’t exactly seasoned whiskey drinkers, and thus, much stumbling, having to leave early, and vomiting in the bathroom transpired throughout the night. Additionally, the combination of youth and whiskey and Lucero created the perfect atmosphere for a mosh pit to develop - the first I’ve seen at a Lucero show. However, the cool head of John C. Stubblefied prevailed in this circumstance, taking the mic to inform these young men that people came to the Lucero show and not to be a part of Ultimate Fighting, and further that the guy in the green shirt was about to be kicked out if he put anyone else in a choke hold. This statement pacified the crowd ever so slightly, but didn't kill the energy for the show either. I wouldn’t have wanted to press my luck with Stubblefield either.

Moving on to the music itself, the biggest addition was that of a trumpet and saxophone player to the mix. Digesting this addition was not all that different from the experience many of us worked through in accepting keyboard player Rick Steff as a relatively permanent addition to the band. We all recoil just a bit because it is a change from the norm, but as most of us did in Steff’s case, we’ll come to a certain acceptance of it eventually. The horns have the best fit in the newest songs, which were recorded with them, and broke new ground on older songs, adding horn parts to songs like “That Much Further West” and “Tears Don’t Matter Much.” The new arrangements were a nice change, but in all their glory, they might have missed in one area, and that was in how hard the songs rocked, for lack of a less clich├ęd term. I don’t begrudge the band for trying new things, and it wasn’t their fault that the sound at the Aggie is not exactly top notch, but their normal standards just didn’t hit with the same impact as usual.

That said, my complaints about the band’s performance are really quite minimal. Quite impressive, but tangential to the music, were the massive beards they were sporting, with the exception of Steff, whose facial hair was crafted in a style I would describe as “neckburns.” You’d have to see them to know what I’m talking about. The band went on just after 11 PM and didn’t leave the stage for good until around 1 AM, with considerable whiskey consumed in between. It is probably this type of devotion to the fans that makes Lucero so immensely popular, as they play each show as though it is the most important one yet, no matter how many more days they have left on the tour. I’m not sure you need a major label when you’ve got fans like this, but the increasing popularity of Lucero does not appear to be slowing down any time soon.

Check out the Denver AV Club's interview with Ben Nichols here.

(Photo credit Alan Spearman, courtesy Lucero myspace)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Conversation with Cory Branan

Hello, Windfarm readers. My name is Derek and I'll be checking in from Austin from time to time with thoughts, reviews, and the occasional interview. I recently caught up with Cory Branan on living in Austin, his upcoming album, and recording his recently released split with Jon Snodgrass.

Windfarm: You recently moved to Austin...

Cory Branan: Yeah, about a year and a few months. I've only been in Austin for about a third of that. I've been touring and recording elsewhere. But, yeah I'm an Austinite now.

WF: What were the some of the reasons that made you make the move?

CB: Well, ever since Memphis I've always had to have a music town. I lived in Nashville, L.A., Brooklyn and none of them fit right. I did two years in Fayetteville, Arkansas because my girl was doing her school there. Every time I toured through Austin I just really dug Austin. It's a cool town. Also, my girlfriend's grad school is down here. So it worked out nice for both of us.

WF: Do you enjoy the music scene in Austin? Was it hard to get a foot down since there are so many bands?

CB: I don't really bother with it honestly. It's just like when I lived in New York or L.A. They're just a place to live and tour out of. I like living in Austin just as a town. Musically, they treat me alright. I get some good gigs at the Cactus and I play some more punk rock gigs here and there. It's good. When I first got here, they were like, "you gotta do that thing where you go over to Momo's and play every Thursday and work your way up". Man, I'm 34 years old so I'm not working my way up to nothing. I've been doing it for eight years. I'll just do a show in Austin every few months and treat it like any other town. I'm not trying to conquer Austin.

WF: How was this last tour, I hear it was a long one?

CB: Yeah, it was with Honorary Title and a band from Philly that's my new favorite band. They're called Good Old War. Just an amazing band made of harmonies and really good guys. I knew Jarrod from Honorary Title from a tour we did before and from when I was in Brooklyn. It was good and everyone was real cool.

WF: Were the crowds good for a diverse musical lineup like that?

CB: It was good. The shows were all ages so it's uh... I find with an acoustic guitar there's not any way for people to reject the aesthetic. The more that you add to it then the more someone can signify that "Oh, I don't like that sound or that thing." But, if it's just a guy and a guitar then you can only chafe at whether or not you like the song. There's really nothing distracting from the song. But, I'm distracting, haha... they can chafe at me. The shows went great. Since they were all ages people came up to me and said "I saw you when I was 16..." and now they can come see me at the dirtbag bars that I normally play.

WF: Tell us a little about the new album?

CB: We have to get it mastered. We're doing that pretty soon. I had Luther Dickinson from North Mississippi Allstars and Black Crowes play on one song, so I'm going to remix that so that he can be on there. I love him and he's amazing. He did a killer job. We're shopping it around trying to find the right home for it.

WF: Is the sound of the record a big departure from the two previous albums?

CB: Well, both of those records had songs that were almost a departure from the one before it. So, the new one is continuing on in a "I don't know what I'm doing and I'm going to do whatever I feel at any given moment kind of thing". There's some stripped down acoustic stuff and some crazy stuff. It was all in San Francisco at a place called Closer Studio with Tim Mooney engineering. He's the drummer and engineer for American Music Club. He was really great. I got a bunch of great musicians to play. My buddy John Murry got that set up for me out there. We even got Tom Waits' horn guy, Ralph Carney.

WF: Do you prefer performing live or working in the studio?

CB: Live definitely, but this studio process was good because it was on the fly. I met them and we were arranging while we were doing it. I like to do things fast. None of the songs on the other two records were more than two or three takes. This was fast too. We cut the whole thing, 13 or 14 tracks in four days and then we did overdubs and stuff.

WF: What are some of you current musical influences?

CB: Currently? I don't know a lot of modern stuff. I don't know what the hell's going on anymore. But, lately I just listen to a lot of older blues stuff: Reverend Gary Davis who I'm still freaking out about every time I hear his stuff. I've been listening to an old soul guy named Gary U.S. Bonds... he's great. But overall as influences I'd say John Prine, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, and Paul Simon. I've been wanting to get into Chuck Berry a lot. You know, as a songwriter. It's just those songs. They didn't come out of no where. He wrote those. All of those diminishing returns were from the brilliant songwriting.

WF: You just had the split with Jon Snodgrass come out...

CB: Yeah, they did that on Suburban Home. Virgil and all of those guys. I love those guys.

WF: Was that a real quick process? Were you just passing through Colorado?

CB: Well, I spent a little time up there because I was playing some Colorado shows with Jon. But, we just went in and said let's do this. I actually did one of the tracks when I got back here to Austin with Tim from Oh No! Oh My!. It was pretty fast... just us goofin'. I think it sounds really off the cuff because that's exactly what it was. I really enjoyed that. Plus, Jon's one my favorite people on the planet. He's good people.

WF: So, you're familiar with Thrift Store Cowboys...

CB: Speaking of good people.

WF: True. In your opinion what makes Tugboat's harmonies so sweet?

CB: Haha. I'm not sure. I think it's the years that he had with the boy's choir.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Wre-Wreck Your Life

Bloodshot Records has just announced that they are reissuing a special edition double-LP (including bonus tracks) of the alt country classic Wreck Your Life from Old 97s. The WYL release will be limited to 1,000 copies and will include a second record with all of the Old 97s material ever released by Bloodshot. Check out the pre-order information here.

To my knowledge, the Old 97s' most recent full length LP, Blame It On Gravity, and the two early 7"s from Bloodshot make up their entire vinyl catalog. Nice to see Bloodshot making this a worthwhile buy by limiting the release number. Also good to know that downloads will be available for this release, most specifically for those of us whose copy of Wreck Your Life got loaned and lost many years ago.

The official release date is November 17, 2009, on which day you can open your mailbox and drop the needle on this vinyl and let Rhett stomp a mudhole in your heart just like he did back in 1995 in his black rimmed glasses days.

As a small piece of unsolicited commentary, I don't know how much say the band had in the re-issue and whether they'll see much money from it, but I have to say that no matter that issue, I hope Bloodshot is able to use re-issues like this to keep them afloat through these tough economic times. Bloodshot has consistently and passionately backed unknown artists, rather than releasing albums from major label cast-offs (you know who you are), and they have provided us with some of the best non-mainstream music of the past fifteen years.

Friday, October 23, 2009

3 (or 4) great shows in 5 (or 6) days

Why does it never fail that months upon end can pass without any worthwhile live shows coming through town, but then in one week, so many come up that I can't possibly fit them all in? I guess there is no good answer for that question, but nonetheless, that seems to be the way it goes.

Three of the 4 bands I want to see are promoting very new albums, while the fourth is simply a Denver standard that one should do him or herself the favor of seeing when given the chance.

10/26 - Aggie Theatre, Fort Collins
10/27 - Ogden Theater, Denver

Having seen Lucero many many times in the past, I look forward to hearing a good bit of their new material live. When I saw them in May at the Fox Theatre, the band sounded tighter and sharper than I had ever heard them before. I hope that I can expect the same again, and more importantly, given the Monday/Tuesday shows, I truly hope no one buys me any whiskey.

Langhorne Slim, Dawes
10/29 - Hi-Dive, Denver

I had the opportunity to hear Langhorne Slim live for the first time earlier this year at the Underground Music Showcase, and his music has grown on me ever since. The new material I have heard thus far is amazing, and his live show should infuse the new songs with even more energy. As an added bonus, I've just begun listening to the debut album from Dawes, entitled North Hills, and am very much looking forward to seeing how their material holds up live.

Slim Cessna's Auto Club
10/31 - Benders Tavern, Denver

Slim Cessna is a treasure of Denver music both past and present. His musical tenure in the city goes back as far as the early 90s, that is, when he was playing alternative country music way before you had ever heard of it. Time has only strengthened the band's sound, and if you've never caught one of their live shows, then you truly don't comprehend what it means for a band to blow the roof off of a venue.

I just ran across this old video of an early iteration of SCAC playing "Hold On." They are a bit of a different band than this now, but pretty cool to recognize how long they've been making great music, and how great their early work has influenced Americana and rock music of today.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Daredevil Christopher Wright - Denver show preview

The Daredevil Christopher Wright, hailing from Eau Claire, WI, will perform in Denver for the first time this Saturday, October 24th at the Meadowlark, along with Tim Pourbaix of Brooklyn and locals Andrea Ball and Dan Craig. DCW is currently touring in support of their new record, In Deference to a Broken Back, released in May 2009 on Amble Down Records. The band's debut full length is quite good, and I'm not just saying that because their fellow Eau Claire friend Justin Vernon (you know, the king of all things blog related) mixed their album. I've listened to the album a number of times over, and I find a new appealing characteristic in it upon each listen.

In Deference is quite an eclectic mix of songs, with instrumentation that is well placed and never overdone, nicely complimenting a strong ensemble of vocals, which are undoubtedly one of the greatest strengths of the album. The texture of the album varies from song to song, from "Bury You Alive," a bright sounding and upbeat (in spite of the title) track reminiscent of the Decemberists, to "We're Not Friends," a song driven by a catchy guitar progression and bearing the marks of being the "rocker" of the album. Perhaps the strongest song on the album is the quiet and ambling track that shares a name with the band. I find the value of this album to be the diversity of moods and sounds the band captures throughout, such that one can always find just the right song for whatever frame of mind you might be in at the time.

If you like what you've heard on the band's myspace, but want a few songs to throw onto your ipod, you can download the tracks from the Daytrotter session they recorded last year.

Finally, I'd like to pass along the email interview that the guys from Daredevil Christopher Wright were nice enough to do for Windfarm (links added by me):

Windfarm: You’ve recently released your new album, In Deference to a Broken Back, on Amble Down Records. What goals did you have sonically going into the recording process for the album?

Daredevil Christopher Wright: When we were preparing for and recording the record, our hope was to try to actualize all the arrangement ideas that we had been hearing throughout our time writing and performing these pieces as the three piece band that we are. To achieve this we reached out to a whole bunch of friends in Eau Claire and elsewhere. There is an abundance of musicians of every variety in Eau Claire due to the university in town and also I think just due to the nature of the folks who are in the area. Sonically and compositionally we tried to take each song individually and create a mood and a sound that served the style and message of the song. That is, we didn't think very specifically about unifying the sonic elements of the record. We hoped just by virtue of our doing the writing and arranging there would be a unified feel even as we hoped there would be a real sense of variety in terms of genre and style throughout the record...if that makes sense.

WF: Touring as a three piece band, should listeners expect a different sound or varied arrangements in your live show in comparison to the album?

DCW: For sure the arrangements are adjusted for the live show due to our being a three piece but, we would like to think anyway, that the energy that is present in the live show is just as satisfying in a different sort of way as the record. We like the idea of a recording being a picture of a certain series of ideas captured and that the live setting affords you the freedom to expand upon, change, or scrap those ideas for the sake of the continued development of the song. Now that I've reread what I just wrote I think that is almost certainly over intellectualizing it. We just like the idea of being able to change stuff if we want. Some of the live arrangements are very much like the record and others go far a field.

WF: Tell us about the music scene in Eau Claire. Has it been a supportive atmosphere in which to develop your sound?

DCW: The Eau Claire music scene has been a great place to grow up as a band. Like I said earlier, there are just all kinds of music being made in that place by a whole lot of really talented folks. It's been a great place to create because it is small enough where you can be a part of the arts scene with relative ease and make an impact. People just genuinely want to encourage each other. There certainly are struggles at times to get the broader community out to shows and the amount of kids getting together to make rock bands goes up and down at times but I think right now there are just a bunch of good bands. It's great to know them and imagine how things will look as more and more of these bands (hopefully) get out on the road.

WF: What new releases from other bands, either local or national, are you the most impressed with right now?

DCW: Our friends Laarks from Eau Claire just signed with Absolutely Kosher and will be releasing their record An Exultation of Laarks soon. It is a great record and should resound through this whole country and beyond. We are all really into the new Cryptacize record. We also got to play with a band called Helado Negro recently, who incidently are also on Asthmatic Kitty, and they are amazing both live and recorded. Their new record is Awe Owe.

WF: What can we expect from The Daredevil Christopher Wright over the course of the next year?

DCW: Our current focus is to tour as much as we can to support the release of In Deference. We just finished up nine weeks on the road touring East of the Mississippi and are just preparing to head out west in about a week. We are also working on some possibilities that will hopefully take us over seas. In the midst of this we're hoping to take some time to do some more writing and preparing for the next opportunity to record, though I don't know when that will be at this point. I guess right now we're trying to introduce ourselves to most everyone, everywhere. It's a big job but enormously exciting.

WF: Anything else we should know about the band?

DCW: If people are interested in the Eau Claire scene, here are some bands to listen to:

Meridene, Laarks, The Cloud Hymn, We Are the Willows, Cranes and Crows, Bon Iver, The Gentle Guest, The Wars of 1812

Other than that, this will be our first time in Denver. We're excited to be one mile up in the air.

WF: Denver, don't forget - catch The Daredevil Christopher Wright on Saturday, October 24th at the Meadowlark.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Wanted: links to good writing

I put out a request for links to good writing a few days ago and I response. Thanks to the one person who still cares, but you can consider me quite disappointed with everyone else who may be keeping great blogs to themselves. Either that, or everyone is stuck in the vicious cycle of reading blog aggregators that bring up the same 10 news stories/press releases every day. However, I know that people are still out there who make an effort to produce strong original material, beyond just the mainstream outlets we all know about.

So what do I think is good writing?

To start with, some of the best consistently well written material comes from Aquarium Drunkard. It takes no small effort for me to list them first, considering that I think L.A. is a cold dead place. Speaking of, check out their decade in review article about Explosions in the Sky, and maybe read their Bon Iver post for good measure.

As Muzzle of Bees shows, you don't even have to write that much to provide compelling reading - you can also ask good questions to good people.

A great blog from the great state of Colorado, that I hope you've seen, I am Fuel, You are Friends posted some great pieces back in the spring not only about the music at SXSW, but also about the trip home from Austin. I love writing like this, as opposed to blogs that post tons of poorly taken pictures and or videos and then say one or two things about a band using fancy wordy language that doesn't even fit the music.

Two final blogs I will mention are Nine Bullets and songs: illinois. I love the fact that no matter what they post, the writing always reflects that they have put some actual thought into what they write, and more importantly, that they have actually listened to the music they talk about more than one time through.

So now, how about some recommendations? Don't be scared.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Cory Branan & Jon Snodgrass split 12"

Cory Branan & Jon Snodgrass - "S/T"

While Cory Branan fans anxiously await his forthcoming new full length, release date not yet announced, you've got the chance to hear a great sampling of Cory and one of Colorado's finest songwriters, Jon Snodgrass, on this split 12" vinyl (or cassette) release from Suburban Home Records. The recording is made up of 7 songs from these two songwriters. If you are wondering about the breakdown of said songs, here's the quick rundown from SH's Web site: "There are 2 originals by Jon, 3 originals by Cory, and 2 covers (Solo in Soho by Phil Lynott, Wild One by Thin LIzzy)."

Branan's songs include "The Corner" and "Walkaround," two songs that easily stand alongside any of his best material to date. The laughing at the end of the latter song, as well as the shredding at the end of "Yeah, So What?" give the record a bit of a more laid back feel, which, for lack of a better description, provides a bit of a more intimate setting that I appreciate from a limited edition release like this.

Fans should not be discouraged from giving this record a try if they don't have a vinyl player. As most vinyl sellers offer these days, this record comes along with a digital download card for the 7 songs. You can also buy it on cassette (also with downloads), for those of you lucky enough to have a cassette player in your car still. (On a side note, if car companies had just waited a bit longer before pulling cassette players from cars, we would be in so much better shape, because you could so much more easily play your ipod in the car, and wouldn't have to mess with all that itrip business.)

Snodgrass, who is one half of the songwriting core of Fort Collins band Drag the River, adds a couple of nice originals as well. "Born Apart" is a fantastic example of his songwriting style, and is a song that could just as easily be a DTR classic were it released by the band. Even if you're not familiar with his work, I think many can appreciate Snodgrass's voice upon first listen. I struggle to describe it accurately without sounding like I'm overly impressed with my own writing, but it is basically the perfect voice for the music he plays. Part growl, part twang, and just spot on for his alt/country/rock/roll/roots/whatever/drinking songs.

This record has the feel of a couple of friends going into the studio and sitting down to play some of their new songs for each other, with no rigid ideas about a finished product, and they come out with a solid project that is a great listen beginning to end. Each artist provides harmonies for the other, and while the two songwriters' styles are quite different, the songs mesh together cohesively. Plus, if you hadn't noticed, the cover has a cobra and a wolf, which should have sold you on it from the get-go.

Don't miss our recent interview with Cory that you can find here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Nice interview with Langhorne Slim:
that you can find at gigbot. Interview by Heather Browne of I Am Fuel, You are Friends.

I'm interested in seeing:
the documentary BoneCrusher, a new film that deals with coal mining and all the hazards that go along with it. It would seem this one is more documentary and less artsy, i.e., it isn't another Seven Signs or Searching for the Wrong Eyed Jesus movie. It appears you may already be able to buy the DVD, but I'm not sure.

I would really like to find:
more blogs with really good writing. Less crap and repeat of what other blogs said, and instead actual good original writing. Leave me a comment to point me to some new ones if you know of any. Doesn't even have to be music. You can even self promote, as long as your blog meets the aforementioned criteria. Blogs with good original pictures are acceptable too.

Speaking of blogs,:
for some reason I really like this blog that H. ran across the other day, called My Parents Were Awesome. I would explain it, but you should just check it out.

For anyone:
who puts up with my discussion of spoken word, Buddy Wakefield's new CD Live at the Typer Cannon Grand came out today. Here was his newsletter announcement about it. He's touring with Andrea Gibson, of Boulder, this spring, but I'll tell you more about that as it approaches.

More on this at a later date:
but did you know that full issues of Billboard magazine are archived dating back all the way to 1942 by Google Books? Pretty amazing stuff, for example, to look at the issues from the late '60s. Some issues are missing, I think, but there are more than enough to see lots of cool stuff.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Dawes - When My Time Comes

I have not liked a song this much on first listen in a long time. I've been hearing about Dawes here and there for a few months now, but hadn't really taken the time to listen to them. I like the rest of what I've heard so far, but "When My Time Comes" really stands out for me right now. Looks like I'm going to have to go see them in Denver with Langhorne Slim on 10/29, and maybe check out their just-released debut LP North Hills soon as well. If the live version from youtube doesn't do it for you, try listening to the album cut on their myspace or alternatively on Daytrotter or Luxury Wafers.

You can find their Daytrotter session here and their Luxury Wafers visit here.

Flying Burrito Brothers interview

In some of my searching for information about John Braden, I ran across a blog called I Witness, run by a gentleman named Ed Leimbacher (who now owns and operates Mister E Books and Records in Washington state). A few years ago, he (re-)published an interview (in 5 parts) that he did in the late 1960s with Chris Hillman, Gram Parsons, Chris Ethridge and Sneaky Pete Kleinow of the Flying Burrito Brothers and I thought it would be of interest to pass them along.

Part I - Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman (plus a few words from Chris Ethridge and Sneaky Pete)

Part II - Parsons and Hillman (plus Ethridge)

Part III - Parsons , Hillman, Sneaky Pete, Ethridge

Part IV - Hillman alone

Part V - Hillman and Parsons

Part I answers a question I've wondered about for some time - that is, how do you spell the "Sneaky" in Sneaky Pete. The Gilded Palace of Sin LP spells it "Sneeky," while other records from the same time period I have seen spell it "Sneaky." Turns out he didn't really care. Kind of anticlimactic, I know.

On a completely unrelated note, this article from the LA Times talks about the backstory to one of the band's classics, "Sin City."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

ramble on

Do you think:
that the Where the Wild Things Are soundtrack, composed mostly by Karen O, will sell a lot of copies because simply people will be looking for the song they hear on the trailer? A situation that will be unfortunate, because the song is actually "Wake Up" by Arcade Fire, and is not on the soundtrack? I do. This is like when the Everything Is Illuminated trailer used "How It Ends" by DeVotchKa, but neither the movie nor the soundtrack featured the song. Don't get me wrong, the WTWTA trailer is really good, but funny they didn't use some of Karen O's material for it.

Of course you're thinking:
"he just had to mention that movie, because every blogger in the world has mentioned that movie." What can I say, at least I tried to do my own take on it.

In case you cared:
your cool friends over at Pitchfork mentioned some time back that Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear was releasing a 7" on his new label Terrible Records under the moniker CANT. Well, that record is finally up for pre-order.

don't miss Slim Cessna's Auto Club and Drag the River at the Oriental Theater this Friday, Oct. 9th.

It's probably enjoyable because it's not PC:
and in fact there is a new What's So Funny? out today, and it's just as non-PC as ever.

I don't know why I am obsessed with the remote parts of West Texas:
but there is a pretty cool blogger from Alpine who does a blog called Gaping Void. He's actually an author, artist, marketer, and um, CEO of the US branch of a South African wine. Apparently he became famous for his "Ignore Everybody" blog/book, which is generally directed at helping people in the working world (maybe more specifically the corporate world?) to keep from hating their lives so much, or something like that.

Keeping with the West Texas theme:
I found this pretty sweet article about a guy near Abilene who lives in a cold war era missile silo. Lots of cool pictures.

As I've noted:
I'm increasingly impressed with Langhorne Slim's new material, and need to pick up his new album Be Set Free. You can check out a video interview and perfomance of "I Love You But Goodbye" from him here at LA Music Blog.

I don't know about you:
but I'm pretty excited about the new J. Tillman record Year in the Kingdom. It's out now on Western Vinyl, and apparently a vinyl version and a 7" are on the way.

In Avett Brothers news...let me revise that, in my own personal news:
my pre-ordered vinyl copy of I and Love and You, an album for which the vinyl version has been available in record stores for over 3 weeks, has still not arrived. I ordered it directly from the band's Web site, which apparently was the lowest priority to the label, and they didn't get their copies of the vinyl to mail out until last week. Throw in the inconsistent service by the USPS and you've got quite an awesome situation. If you know me, I like to prove points, so I'll probably have to return that record (when it finally arrives), even though it will cost me shipping, and then buy it from my local record store for the same price. If anyone has run into the same problem, hopefully you've found the one positive outlet that I have, which is that you can stream the entire album for free on the Avett's Web site.

Monday, October 5, 2009

3 albums I should have reviewed last year

As I note from time to time, the usual music listener doesn't exactly get to listen to new albums right away, and sometimes it takes a while to get around to everything you want to listen to. Not everyone gets advance copies of the album and then has the time and ability to write a snide review about it after two listens (you know to whom I refer).

Hayes Carll - Trouble in Mind

Hayes Carll's new material came back onto my radar about a year and a half ago when I had the opportunity to see him at a free show in Austin. I had seen him perform solo before, and loved his stage presence, but had lost interest as some of his more recent material I had heard sounded very "roadhouse," I guess you could say. But to be honest, I didn't exactly give it much of a chance. However, that all changed at this live show when I heard him play "Beaumont" off of his new album. This track is an amazing standout among great songs, and on its strength alone I was drawn back to giving Carll another listen. Suffice to say, I'm glad I did. Trouble is a fantastic collection of 15 songs, with a number of gems that include "Drunken Poet's Dream" and "Bad Liver and a Broken Heart." Another great moment on the album is the cover of Tom Waits' "I Don't Wanna Grow Up," and true to form, Hayes shows his comedic writing abilities on "She Left Me for Jesus." This album may be one of the best Americana albums released in the last 5 years or so.

DeVotchKa - A Mad and Faithful Telling

As is standard practice, DeVotchKa never ceases to show me how much more they know about music than I do. My first few listens of AMAFT left me wondering exactly what it was they were doing rather than wanting to hear more. As with most any album that I am not immediately drawn to, I put it aside for a time. I think some of my initial distaste was from my dislike of the first single "Transliterator," which I'm still not a huge fan of. However, I've come to recognize that the album has many strengths. It took listening to the songs toward the end to hook me on the album, as I consider "New World" and "Undone" to be the strongest tracks by far. Additionally, "Head Honcho," a remake from Super Melodrama, "Along the Way," and "A Clockwise Witness" are standout tracks that make this a work that shows DeVotchKa's strengths as a band and firmly hold AMAFT in place along with their best work to date.

Rodney Parker & 50 Peso Reward - The Lonesome Dirge

If you have found the common theme among these albums yet, then you get the award. Yes, they are mostly albums that just didn't take for me right away, and the latest from Rodney Parker is no different. The more I listened to this album, however, the more irresistible it became. One can hardly have any difficulty rocking along with the band's cover of Springsteen's "Atlantic City," or playing train beat air drums along with "Firefight," but the rest of the album takes a bit longer to sink in. At times, I found myself trying to figure out exactly what was up with the guitar shredding on "Brother," but now I generally accept that it just rocks a little country and a little bit of 1983 at the same time. No one ever said there was anything wrong with that. The Lonesome Dirge is extremely well produced, but not overly so, and the rhythms on the album make it a strong listen that sets it apart from other Americana records. This album is a great record to drive to, so what more do you need to know?