Friday, February 18, 2011

Monahans - ACL Satellite Set

Last October (2010), Austin-based Monahans performed an Austin City Limits Satellite Sets session at the now-former ACL studio. Sources in attendance reported that it was an amazing show, and now, we can all see and hear it ourselves, as KLRU has posted the performance online. Below are the performances of "Diamonds" from the 2010 Recordings and "I Run to You" from 2009's Dim the Aurora.

Check out the main page for the session here to find video of additional performances.

Please note that videos may not play in Google Reader or other blog aggregators.

Watch the full episode. See more ACL presents Satellite Sets.

Watch the full episode. See more ACL presents Satellite Sets.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Turnpike Troubadours interview & Midland show preview, 2/24

One of my favorite new bands to emerge last year was Oklahoma-based Turnpike Troubadours. I was first drawn in by their first radio single, "Every Girl," but have since come to appreciate a good deal of the band's catalog. The good news is you can give their latest album, Diamonds and Gasoline, a listen free of charge, as the entire record is currently streaming in full on the audio section of their Web site.

Picking right up where "Every Girl" left off, the band's new single "7 & 7" is all over the airwaves right now, and I also recommend "1968" and "Whole Damn Town" for new listeners. Perhaps most importantly, Turnpike Troubadours seem to keep their focus on the songwriting, such that the song itself stands as the central element in their music, with just the right instrumentation backing the tracks. The band has clearly benefited from the Texas and Oklahoma music scenes opening up more diverse sounds, as they are by no means your run-of-the-mill bar band. Rather, I expect to see a lot of great things to come from them as they continue to pick up steam.

While I missed the band the last time they were in town, they'll be returning to the Permian Basin for a show at the Rockin' Rodeo in Midland on Thursday, Feb. 24th. The information I have about the show is limited, partly on account of the fact that the Rockin' Rodeo isn't well known for keeping their Web site or their Facebook or their Myspace consistently up to date.

The band was kind enough to take a few minutes to do an email interview with Windfarm. Check it out under the video below:

: Can you describe the Turnpike Troubadours sound for readers?

Turnpike Troubadours: I think of it as singer/songwriter music that spent too much time in the Honky-Tonks.

WF: Artistically, who would you cite as major influences?

TT: There are hundreds of people, Robert Earl Keen, Townes Van Zandt, Jerry Jeff Walker, The Band, Old 97's, Jason Boland and the Stragglers, The Great Divide, and Mike McClure just to name a few.

WF: What can a listener expect from a Turnpike Troubadours live show?

TT: We always have a good time on stage, there are nights when the crowd is dancing on the bar and being rowdy. We are pretty accustomed to the road house kind of environment and love it when people have a good time.

WF: As a band that spends a good deal of its time on the road, what are your favorite venues to play?

TT: Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa, Iron Horse in Wichita Falls, Wormy Dog, Mercury Lounge in Tulsa, Gruene Hall, Roxie's Roost in Tahlequah, Cheatham Street, the ones that have a story or two behind them are always the best.

WF: Where do Turnpike Troubadours fit in regard to the Red Dirt music scene?

TT: If you are our age and from Oklahoma you can't help but be influenced by the Stillwater guys. Its nice to be included. We are trying to do our own thing now and just hoping its on par.

WF: Your song "1968" references an important time in our country's history. Would you be willing to talk about the significance of that song?

TT: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy both were assassinated that year. The song is about the idea of someone else coming along in present-day with their regard for the common man, hopefully it happens.

WF: What can we expect from Turnpike Troubadours in 2011?

TT: We are booked up solid throughout this year and I plan to do another album by this summer. We have new songs and are ready for it.

WF: What albums (recent or older) have been on your playlist the past few months?

TT: Steve Earle's Transcendental Blues has been stuck in my player for 5 months. My stereo literally won't eject it.
Also, check out:
John Fullbright- Live at the Blue Door
Jason Eady- When the Money's all Gone
Rodney Parker- The Lonesome Dirge/ The Apology
The Felice Brothers- The Felice Brothers
Corb Lund- Losing Lately Gambler
Mike Mcclure- Halfway Out

Friday, February 4, 2011

James Vincent McMorrow - Early in the Morning

Perhaps the most promising new artist I've heard thus far in 2011, Ireland's James Vincent McMorrow is quickly rising through the ranks, likely to become one of the more buzzed about new acts at SXSW this March. McMorrow recently released Early in the Morning on Vagrant Records, an 11-song LP. Well, the U.S. release was only in January 2011, while the U.K. release stretches back to March 2010. As such, he only recently came onto my radar. However, a number of listens and plenty of having his songs stuck in my head later, I'm pretty sure it's going to continue to build into one of the better albums of the year with continued time.

As my good friend noted, the album exhibits shades of Bon Iver in a number of ways, as has been detailed by a number of other blogs, yet I don't find it overly influenced by the group. I hear similarities to Fleet Foxes as well in the album's vocal harmonies, but yet again, I don't think the influence is overkill. While possibly classified in the recorded-in-a-cabin-in-the-woods-core genre (although in McMorrow's case, it was the beach, not the woods), the album's strength lies more in the solid songwriting than in any similarities to currently popular artists. That is, I don't want to overdo the comparisons, as I think this album stands on its own as a fantastic work that deserves a listen without being overly concerned about who it sounds like.

The album begins with maybe its strongest track, "If I Had a Boat," a slow builder that should reach out and grab many first time listeners. Songs that follow, including "Sparrow and the Wolf" and "Breaking Hearts," provide a quick indication of the consistency of the album throughout. Early in the Morning most importantly has the feel of a record made by an artist in just the way he wanted it made, and I think this element is among its greatest strengths. This is the album that many aspiring artists envision they could make if they just had the right setting and enough time. While in reality such lofty aspirations are much easier said than done, in McMorrow's case, he has found the perfect elements to bring that much-desired artistic ambition to fruition. See him at SXSW next month if you want to hear him before all the cool kids catch on.

James Vincent McMorrow - If I Had A Boat

Download the full album from James Vincent McMorrow on iTunes here.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Estelline - Lubbock album release, Feb. 11

Photo credit: Jesse Whitley

I'm beginning to feel relatively unsurprised these days when another great indie band comes out of Lubbock. As much as folks love to talk about what a horrible place it is, the area continues to produce awesome music, and Estelline is yet another example.

Estelline has been building up their name around the Lubbock area for a good bit now, but next Friday, February 11th, will finally see the band release their first record, a self-titled endeavor, at Bash Riprocks in the Depot. Check out an acoustic version of "William Jones" below, and please head over to their Myspace page to hear 5 songs from the new album.

The band's songs are quite strong for a first album, or for any album really. What I like most about them is that, while they don't take a wildly unconventional approach to their brand of rock music, the distinctive voice of frontman Kenny Paul Harris brings them an instant appeal. Songs like "I'm a Monster" highlight the strength of Harris's voice, as well as the band's deft use of dynamics. It's loud and soft just as rock music should be. Most importantly, Estelline harnesses elements of West Texas in such a way that exhibits their unique musical perspective, and hopefully foreshadows a good deal more great music to come.

I was first introduced to the band last September opening for Thrift Store Cowboys, and have been looking forward to this album release ever since. Please go check these guys out. While it tends to be inevitable that good bands in Lubbock eventually move to Austin, the scene is building such that maybe a few more will continue to stick around. Either way, go to the show or pick up the album. Preferably both.