Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Upcoming Release Highlights - May

May 6th:

Jeb Loy Nichols - Days are Mighty. I will have a full post on this the next few days.

Sierra Hull - Closer. I've written about her before. This 16 year old virtuoso will release her Rounder debut. A Bluegrass who's who guests on the album and Ron Block (Alison Krauss & Union Station) produces.

Liste on MySpace

May 13th:

Old 97s - Blame it on Gravity. Nothing else will matter to me on that day.

Stubbs BBQ SXSW 2008:

May 20th:

Cory Morrow - Vagrants & Kings You can listen to He Carries Me and Pre-Order on his website.

Sonny Landreth - From the Reach Sonny’s new album is an album of duets. It will feature guest appearances by Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Vince Gill, Eric Johnson, Robben Ford, Dr. John and Jimmy Buffett.

Live at Crossroads Music Fest with Clapton:
Sonny Landreth: 'Hell At Home'
Sonny Landreth: 'Hell At Home'

May 27th:

John Hiatt - Same Old Man. Another day where nothing else matters.

Friday, April 25, 2008

South Austin Jug Band - Strange Invitation

South Austin Jug Band has found itself. They have always been talented and creative song-writers. However, they were stuck somewhere between traditional and contemporary acoustic music. They were too much on the fence. With Strange Invitation they have created self-described "progressive - acoustic" music. Maybe this clear break was due to the fact that the band holed up in First Church of Folk, The Chelsea Hotel in NYC to write the songs. Whatever, they have established themselves as premier avant-garde acoustic musicians. The problem is their name now belies their sound. No jugs here. In fact there are even some electric instruments and a cool cover of Beck's "Jackass", from which the title comes.

The album has a smooth flowing vibe that the listener can ride from beginning to end. The smooth melodies are the glue that holds everything together. The creative song-writing is the same as on past records even though the music is fully contemporary. The go to tracks are "Come to Me," "Fall So Fast" and "Po' Boys in a Glovebox." This is the breakout album for SAJB but it is far from the end of their journey.

Check out Jackass

This review also appears on Twangville

Thursday, April 24, 2008

There is No Such Thing as Bad Publicity

Miranda Lambert Accused of Assault

Read about it on The 9513

This can only enhance the image of the bad girl. Also her friend and AWT fave Adam Hood gets ancillary publicity. Good for Adam.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Weepies are infectious

This is not mormally my cup of tea, but the Weepies brand of infectious pop is hard to deny. At first listen it is a bit too Pop sounding. That being said it is absolutely addictive. It released yesterday so pick it up. I think I will.

Listen to Hideaway

Friday, April 18, 2008

Twangville Review of Griffin House

I promise you Griffin House's album Flying Upside Down will be in my next Top 5. Every song on this CD is a standout song. House is destined to become one of the great songwriters of our time if he keeps this ip

Check out the Twangville review

Listen on his Website

He was also recently featured on NPR's World Cafe.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Meet Ashton Shepherd

For those of you who haven't heard her you need to. Bill Anderson said of Ashton Shepherd when she first played the Opry last year, "She's so country she makes Loretta Lynn sound like she's from Liverpool." She is from a town of less than 500 people in L.A. (That's Lower Alabama for you less traveled readers.) Trust me the county she is from in Alabama has mroe trees than people. She was discovered by accident and is literally an overnight success story. She also wrote 10 of the 11 songs on her album. As I mentioned in an earlier post, she is a sign of light in mainstream Nashville.

See the Video:

Meet Ashton:

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Jim Lauderdale - Honey Songs

Jim Lauderdale has been alternating between Country and Bluegrass projects for the last several years. As far as Jim Lauderdale’s country albums go, my favorite is The Other Sessions from 2001. The song “What’s on My Mind” is in fact one of my favorite country songs period. His new project Honey Songs is on par with Sessions. The new recording is billed as Jim Lauderdale and the Dream Players. It is an apt description as Lauderdale has assembled his version of an Americana “Dream Team.” The Dream Players include Al Perkins on pedal Steel (Flying Burrito Brothers), legendary guitarist Jim Burton (Elvis Presley), Glen Hardin (both Elvises Presley and Costello) on piano, also Gary Tallent (E-Street Band) on Bass. Backing vocals are provided by the pipes of Emmylou Harris, Patty Loveless, Kelly Hogan and Buddy Miller. All of their talents shine through.

The album gets started with the great guitar licks of “Honeysuckle Honey Pie,” then goes straight into the Bakersfield sound of “I Hope You’re Happy.” The wistful piano on the ballad “Finally Sinking In” creates the perfect atmosphere for a country “love gone wrong” song. Lauderdale may be the first artist since Gram Parsons that can combine lyrics that could easily fit Psychedelic Rock with Traditional Country music as demonstrated by “Daughter of Majestic Sage.” “Stingray” is also another stand out track on the album.

Lauderdale is a ubiquitous presence in Americana Music. He is a fixture at Merlefest hosting the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest. He has also hosted the American Music Awards for the last three years. I really can’t figure out why he is ignored by Country Radio. Maybe it is his quirky lyrics or maybe it is because Ryan Seacrest never crowned him the new American Idol. After all it ain’t country unless Ryan Seacrest says it is. This project may change things a little as he has played Leno and generally gotten a lot of other good press.

Listen to Honeysuckle Honey Pie

Enjoy some
Tai Chi with Jim Lauderdale on CMT.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


This is my first list of the year. As was the case lase year, I will probably rearrange it a few times. I'll add to it each month, but eventually I will cap it. How big will the list get? I have no idea but probably not over 60. The list includes releases through March. Early April releases will be in the next list. As you can see the Truckers are number one and it will take a great album to knock them off the pedestal. Anyway as always leave comments and tell me what an idiot or genius I am. I've been called a lot worse. One criticism I expect to here is the omission of the Kathleen Edwards album. Well I must confess a bias, I went to see her right after Failer came out, and I thought she was a bitch. So I swore never to buy anything of hers again. Well, here it goes:

1) Drive By Truckers - Brighter Than Creation's Dark
2) Tift Merrit - Another Country
3) The Waybacks - Loaded
4) Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
5) Shawn Mullins - Honeydew
6) The Whigs - Mission Control
7) Justin Townes Earle - The Good Life
8) Gary Louris - Vagabonds
9) The Steeldrivers - The Steeldrivers
10) Allison Moorer - Mockingbird
11) The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely
12) Jim Lauderdale - Honey Songs
13) Stephen Malkmus - Real Emotional Trash
14) Ashton Shepherd - Sounds so Good
15) Mando Saenz - Bucket
16) Shelby Lynne - Just a Little Lovin'
17) Carlene Carter - Stronger
18) Widespread Panic - Free Somehow
19) Black Crowes - Warpaint
20) American Gun - The Mean and the Machine
21) North Mississippi All-Stars - Hernando
22) Twilight Hotel - Highway Prayer
23) Black Mountain - In the Future
24) Paul Thorn - Long Way from Tupelo
25) Rhonda Vincent - Good Thing Goin'
26) Willie Nelson - Moment of Forever
27) The Hollyfelds - Saratoga
28) Malcom Holcombe - Gamblin' House
29) Jason Collett - Here's to Being There
30) Marah - Angels of Destruction

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

George Strait - Troubador

You know I have to admit a prejudice against mainstream Country. I tend to dismiss anything on a major country label. In the 80's country was awful until the rise of the neo-traditionalists, such as Dwight Yoakam, in the the late 80's and early 90's. Then along came Garth and Faith, and in came soccer mom easy listening schlock. However, I need to be objective and and give credit when major labels embrace legitimate country stars. Artists like Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert and Ashton Shepherd are legitimate and signs of light. Although there will always be a tug of war between pop country and traditional country in the marketplace, perhaps the pendulum is swinging. Getting off the soapbox, I say all of this to point out that in the midst of this is George Strait. He has been nothing but himself throughout, doing it honest. His new album Troubador pretty much sums him up. As he puts it on the title cut, "I was a young troubador when I rode in on a song and I'll be an old troubador when I'm gone."

The album has songs for the traditionalists and even a couple for the soccer moms. In fact, the most mainstream song "I saw God Today" predictably is the first single and debuted in the Billboard Top 20 immediately. Not surprising for a guy who has over 50 number one songs. It is amazing that he can still do this when Nashville has discarded many of the contemporaries with which he began his career. The secret is his voice, which is simply the perfect male Country voice. Strait respects the roots and influences of the genre. The best example of this is the duet "House of Cash" which memorializes the burning down of Johnny Cash's estate. Accompanying him in this tribute is Patty Loveless. Their are many other highlights on the album. So if you are prejudiced against big label Nashville as I am, put aside your presumption and give it a listen.

Listen to River of Love:

This review also appears on Twangville

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Early Award Candidates

I would like to point out a couple of releases I recently purchased:

Surprise of the Year Candidate: Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - Real Emotional Trash No doubt Malkmus is an icon of the indie rock world. From Pavement and his solo work since the break up of the group. However, while I respected his music, I was never as big of a fan as many others have been. All of this changed when I heard this album. The psychadelic jams and guitar riffs are arranged brilliantly. His quirky lyrics draw you into each song. However, I have no idea what a Jick is.

"Cold Son" MP3

Comback of the Year Candidate:: Carlene Carter - Stronger I can't imagine a bigger and more welcome comeback. Stronger indeed! Her demons are in the past and the lyrics on some the songs reflect that healing. Welcome back. There always needs to be a Carter in country music

Listen to It Takes One to Know Me

Signposts: Along the Information Super Highway

In signpost I try to point out what my blogger friends are writing about:

I wanted to point out an article by Baron at Twang Nation. Responds to the the Moron at Aquarium Drunkard who tried to tie the demise of No Depression and believe it or not the sale of Western Shirts at the Gap to the death of Alt-Country and Roots Rock. When you look at the the young talent and the Genre bending music coming out every week. It is easy to poke holes in the argument. However, Baron does a great job in putting the bozo who wrote the article in his place.

Head over to Twangville and Check Mayer's playlist and video companion. Also Mayer provides a link to help out Chris Gaffney of the Hacienda Brothers as he battles liver cancer.