Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rodney Parker - Live in the Living Room

(photo credit Adam Neese)

Denton-based Rodney Parker & 50 Peso Reward have been gaining steam for some time now, touring the Texas circuit for a number of years, and as of late, taking over the airwaves as well. Parker's single "The Apology" is the latest to find its way into the Texas Music Chart, and follows on the heels of "Guitars," which has seen a tremendous amount of airplay in the past year.

Reports indicate that the follow-up to Parker's 2010 EP The Apology, Part 1, will see a release just before the end of this year, and Part 2 will reportedly be a full-length record. In the meantime, however, Parker is releasing a stripped down live record, Live in the Living Room. Spanning 13 tracks, this album was guessed the band's living room. Using no amplification, they played and recorded these songs in front of a small audience and, showcasing their strong musicianship as a touring band, the band chose to release the record as is, with no overdubs or alterations.

This record should provide an interesting contrast to the band's typically supercharged electric show and hopefully will tide fans over until the next installment of The Apology later this year. 50 Peso die-hards will also be pleased to find that material for this album stretches all the way back to the band's 2005 debut, Blow the Soot Out, and follows with select tracks from subsequent releases. In addition, the album features two unreleased songs, "Skin and Bones" and "Where the Bright Lights Glow Me." Parker & the Pesos continue to prove themselves as one of the top emerging bands in the regional Americana scene, and this release should do nothing but help their profile as they continue the drive toward greater notoriety.

Rodney Parker & 50 Peso Reward - "Skin and Bones"

Track Listing for Live in the Living Room (Release date 8/2):

1. Firefight
2. Highway Blues
3. Guitars
4. Ghost
5. Where the Bright Lights Glow Me
6. Bring Me My Gun
7. The Ship
8. Atlantic City
9. The Apology
10. I'm Never Getting Married
11. Tell Me What It Is
12. Skin and Bones
13. 10 lb. Test

Pre-Order the record at or iTunes (or basically any other major retailer, for that matter).

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sad Accordions/Monahans Split 12" giveaway

Austin based Mt. Inadale Records recently offered up its second release as a label, this time with releases from Austin bands Monahans and the Sad Accordions. The 12" vinyl split features two songs from each band. For Monahans, the release follows last year's 2010 Recordings, with the outstanding "Bridge Commander" and the instrumental "Stationed." For the Sad Accordions, this release follows on the heels of the band's 2011 digital EP the colors and the kill. The band's contributions to this release are the previously unreleased "Denial Takes the Train" and "Sweet Cocaine." The bands complement each other very well, and while their respective "sounds" differ to a reasonable extent, they blend together nicely on this record.

This release is an excellent listen throughout, and features the added bonus of a digital download of all four songs, which I appreciate, because my record player always skips when I try to use it in the car.

Mt. Inadale has been kind enough to provide me with a promo copy to give away through the blog. Follow the instructions below and, after the deadline, I will randomly select one winner to receive a free copy of this release.

Here is how you enter:
1. First, check to see if you live in the U.S. I apologize for the inconvenience, but due to postal fees, I can only mail within the United States.
2. Next, send me an email at windfarmblog (at) (of course, replace the "at" with @)
3. In that email, include your state of residence
4. Also in that email, tell me who is the famous country/folk songwriter that is from the town of Monahans, TX
5. I will close the contest at 11:59 PM on Monday, July 25th, so make sure to get your email in by then.

Of course, none of your personal information (not even your name), will ever be posted on the blog.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Preview: The Lusitania, Kentucky Knife Fight in Midland, 7/19

It remains rare that Midland/Odessa gets a quality indie-rock show through town. No offense to the metal or punk fans, as I do appreciate them supporting their own form of independent music, but it's just not my thing.

Thankfully, our all-ages venue in the area, The Pine Box (510 S. Big Spring St., Midland, TX), is fairly open to most any music style. This Tuesday, July 19th, brings an outstanding show through town, featuring El Paso band The Lusitania, along with St. Louis based Kentucky Knife Fight.

If you have followed this blog much in the past, you know I have long been a champion of The Lusitania's work. Their latest release, last year's Rain & Rivers, was an outstanding effort, and since its release, the band has spent a good deal of time out on the road supporting fellow El Pasoan Jim Ward, of At the Drive-In, Sparta, & Sleepercar notoriety. In fact, after a short run of their own through the Midwest, they will connect again with Ward for a few more weeks of shows.

Kentucky Knife Fight brings a style of music that combines a diverse array of musical styles. Their Facebook describes the sound as combining "bluegrass, blues, and punk," which actually all present themselves fairly clearly upon a few listens. I might have had difficulty singling out those three influences on my own, so it was nice that they did the work for me. Either way, definitely worth checking out.

It's a Tuesday night in Midland, folks, what else do you have to do?

UPDATE: Here is the facebook page for the event. Tons of bands playing. So many that I am too lazy to look them all up.

The Lusitania - "Your Style" (kinda sorta NSFW, just sayin')

If your geography is conducive to such a thing, you can also catch these two bands, plus Estelline, at the Blue Light in Lubbock on Wed., 7/20.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ha Ha Tonka - Mile Marker Session

One of the best albums of the year thus far has come from the still relatively unknown Bloodshot Records band Ha Ha Tonka, with their record Death of a Decade. The band will be headlining at the Denver Underground Music Showcase next weekend, which in my opinion is one of the better festivals around for discovering new talent without the oppressive crowds or horrible parking.

Of course, the UMS appearance doesn't do me a ton of good this year because I now live 12 hours from Denver. What is helpful is the fact that the Denver Post blog Hey Reverb recently posted a Mile Marker session with Ha Ha Tonka that includes live versions of three of the band's best songs for free download.

Go here to download the tracks. And if you like what you hear, check out the full album Death of a Decade, as I think you will be pleased at the strength of the album as a whole. And if you are in Denver, by all means, check this band out live next weekend.

Ha Ha Tonka - "Usual Suspects"

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Texas Forever

Tomorrow night closes the book on one of the great network TV series of recent times. Friday Night Lights was fortunate to see 5 seasons, and tomorrow will be the series finale, and I think the expectations for this episode are fairly high. Many who have never watched the show may still think it is just a show about football, and while that is partially true, the football games have come to hold decreased significance as the seasons have progressed. Rather, it has been a show about small town life (including, of course, the dominance of football in said small town) with strong characters and largely realistic story lines. While it isn't possible to close out every story line, nor would that be what anyone wants, I think we're all hoping for some degree of closure.

I'll be pulling for old No. 33.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

3 Albums with West Texas Roots That You Should Be Listening To

Amanda Shires -
Carrying Lightning

Amanda Shires' music career up to this point exemplifies the concept of "paying your dues." That is, she has worked tirelessly to establish herself as not only an outstanding musician, but also as one of the more promising songwriters on the Americana touring circuit. Simply put, her time to receive wider notoriety is now. Shires' musical background is widely available online, so I'll skip the recap, as her current album is really the element of interest here. Texas Music magazine recently referred to Carrying Lightning as the Car Wheels on a Gravel Road of Shires' career, a Lucinda Williams reference that carries some serious weight. The album has received additional praise from the likes of SPIN, The Wall Street Journal, and Texas Monthly, because, well, it is that good. Lightning finds Shires defining her voice as a songwriter and provides us with a first look at the great potential her musical career holds.

"Ghostbird" (feat. Neal Casal)

Explosions in the Sky - Take Care, Take Care, Take Care

Explosions in the Sky is a band comprised of 3/4 West Texans, although in actuality the band itself hails from Austin. Nonetheless, the influence of the West Texas landscape in EITS' music is hard to ignore. Take Care, Take Care, Take Care finds the band in top form for their sixth studio release, and as an overall composition, is among the band's best work to-date. The single "Trembling Hands" finds the band introducing vocal loops into a song, a rarity in EITS' work, although they appear not as lyrics but as an additional layer of instrumentation. Another rarity for the band is playing shows in West Texas, yet the band is crossing that boundary as well, with a show booked in Marfa for September.

"Trembling Hands"

Estelline -

Among Lubbock's newest up-and-comers, Estelline have been establishing their name in the local scene for a few years now. This spring found the band releasing their first album, a self-titled effort that suggests that the legacy of great original music in Lubbock continues to grow. At 15 songs, the band lays everything out on the table, and by-and-large, they deliver with a very strong record. Among the strongest are "William Jones" and "Jaylynn," which perhaps best showcase the talent of the band and suggest the emergence of a sound that is their own. Future work will no doubt be the ultimate test of the band, but for a first album, Estelline has an excellent start.

"Jaylynn" (acoustic on the Todd Klein show, AM 580)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Old 97s: Hitchhike to the (2nd) Grand Theatre

In honor of the release of the Old 97s' ninth studio album tomorrow, The Grand Theatre, Vol. 2, I spent some time compiling my personal ranking of all of the band's studio albums. I have included the new album in my ranking, thanks to the availability of the full stream on

I liken my ranking all the Old 97s' albums to asking a parent of 9 to rank their kids in order. Not that the Old 97s albums are like my children, but I have a hard time talking poorly about any of them. And in that respect, being low on the list here doesn't really mean an album was bad, but rather, just not as good, in my mind, as the ones ahead of it. Thus, the lowest ranking album here ranks well above a great deal of other music for me. I made a concerted effort to have no ties, because if I did consider them, then why bother making the list to begin with?

For those of you already skeptical of my competency, credentials, or qualifications to rank the band's catalog, I can only say that I have been a fan since I was 16, which was some time ago (pre-Fight Songs, to be specific), and I have followed the band and its releases throughout that period. On that note, I welcome you to discuss/challenge/argue the rankings in the comments section below.

9. Blame It On Gravity

Somebody had to be last, right? I do not dislike this album by any means, but I simply do not go back and listen to it a great deal. I love "The One" and "Color of a Lonely Heart is Blue" as well as a few others. It was a close call between this and number 8, but my reasoning is explained below.

8. Drag It Up

"Won't Be Home" is easily one of the best 97s songs of all time, and even more importantly a staple of the live show. Other notable tracks include "No Mother" and "Valium Waltz." However, as an entire album, this isn't one I come back to.

7. The Grand Theatre, Vol. 1

The first installment of The Grand Theatre was hailed by many as the band's finest work in years. While I generally agree with that statement and enjoy the album, it has not become a favorite of mine. "Every Night is Friday Night (Without You)" and "Champaign, Illinois" are among the best tracks, and most definitely stand alongside the band's best work.

6. Satellite Rides
Here is where the rankings got a little tricky. What it came down to was a comparison of my personal favorites on this and the next album on the list. I still remember hearing Rhett play "Designs On You" solo at Trees in Dallas before the album came out, and that song probably remains my favorite on the album. Satellite Rides is a great record from start to finish, with other favorites being "Rollerskate Skinny" and "Up the Devil's Pay."

5. Hitchhike to Rhome
The record that started this whole thing. Pretty awesome the band is still around 8 albums later. The songs on this record are pure classics to me: "Hands Off," "If My Heart Was a Car," and "Desperate Times." I have told the story before, but a formative music memory of mine is the first time I heard Rhett play "Wish the Worst" in Dallas with the entire Gypsy Tea Room singing along.

4. Fight Songs
Fight Songs holds a place for me that is tied as much to the time of its release as anything else. It is one of the first new releases I remember being truly excited for. That is, I remember the promo for it and thinking how much I couldn't wait for it to come out, followed by making a special trip to buy it the first week it was out (pre-download days, kiddos). Nostalgia aside, it is a great album, although perhaps poppier than even the band wanted it to be. As much as anything, this album is #4 because of the fact that it has my two favorite Murry songs: "Crash on the Barrelhead" and "Valentine." Pure gold.

3. The Grand Theatre, Vol. 2
"Hey look, it's the new guy." Yes, it may seem a bit premature to rank the new album this high, but I think the songs on this record are incredibly strong. Maybe I do have a bit of "new car fever" over it, but by and large, I think this one is going to have great lasting power. The first three songs are near-perfect, and the rest of the album follows closely behind. I put it at #4 after a couple of listens, and a few more later, it moved to #3. This record stands as a real testament to the band's relevance in indie music, and I hope they see some great success with it. Perhaps it will vault them to the higher level of notoriety they have long deserved.

2. Wreck Your Life
In my estimation, this was the album that firmly established Old 97s' sound. I have to emphasize that this album's rank is not about nostalgia. It is simply a legendary album. Besides the obvious crowd favorite "Victoria," it is filled with amazing songs like "Dressing Room Walls," "Bel-Air," "Old Familiar Steam," and "The Other Shoe." Now out with bonus tracks as a reissue, this album is an essential for any fan.

1. Too Far to Care
I could go on forever about this album, but for the time being, I won't. Perhaps you can expect a more detailed exposition on it next June on its 15th anniversary. In short, Too Far to Care changed everything for me. Start to finish, I maintain it is among the best albums ever made.