Every true music fan craves those moments when a song and story truly disarm you and make rudimentary rubble of your capacity to keep the saline fountains at bay. Fiction can sometimes achieve these results, but there’s something deep inside the listener that is sparked when they intuitively know they’re hearing a true story being told by the one who lived it. This is the key to allowing the emotions to flow with an extra ferocity.
“That’s the problem with that song. I guess it’s so much easier to write these sort of tragic love songs that I’m not afraid to talk about, but my personal history I guess is a little more scary territory,” Lydia Loveless says about Saving Country Music’s 2014 Song of the Year “Everything’s Gone,” from her album Somewhere Else released by Bloodshot Records. “It’s about my family for one reason or another losing our home, and it was probably the hardest thing I ever went through. I think it was one of the first [songs] I wrote for ‘Somewhere Else,’ and I wrote it and kind of didn’t think about it for months because I just didn’t want to, or play it for anyone. And I was playing with the band and we had drums on it, and I think I started crying and threw a fit as I’m want to do, and that’s why it ended up being so stripped down because I didn’t really want it to be touched.”
Lydia grew up on an 80-acre farm outside of Coshocton, Ohio, feeding cattle, bailing hay, and being home schooled. The home and hearth, and the kinship she felt with the land that was instilled into the very fabric of who she was from a formative age, ensured a piece of her would be left behind when the family was eventually relocated. And that wrenching, aching sense of loss and the inability to recoup that part of herself orphaned on that land that has now been pillaged and parceled is where the inspiration and emotional potency of “Everything’s Gone” comes from.
But like all great songs, “Everything’s Gone” has the capacity to mutate and fill in the crags and crevices of an individual’s own personal narrative to mean something completely different to every ear. For example my first impression of the song was one for the concern of the disappearance of open spaces for young men and women to get lost in and find themselves—almost an opposite emotion to a sense of home. And it turns out, this message is also rooted in the tune.
“I think that day I had gone hiking,” Lydia says about the day she wrote the song. “It had been so long since I had just unplugged. I was on the road all the time or constantly on the phone or on the internet, and I just went hiking and was alone with my thoughts. And I got really sad that it had been so long since I had just gone out into the woods and been alone. It just reminded me, because when I grew up that was my backyard. You could go out and watch a meteor shower and go hiking and camp and have a fire, and it’s just totally different now. And I was just thinking about the urbanization of everything. Now there’s not a lot to go to get away.”
“Everything’s Gone” could speak very intimately to people who’ve dealt with foreclosure, or the loss of anything that can never be gone back to and re-attained, and the cavalcade of emotions and imbalance this realization can result in. “Everything’s Gone” also shares its ugly realities with blistering truth, and unchecked anger.
Lord, now I’m sick of seeing the fear in my family’s eyes
I need to find the man who put it there and set his life on fire
“Everything’s Gone” affords the listener no resolution or closure. You’re left in the forlorn state, not only coldly realizing there’s no going back, but that the entire world is slowly succumbing to this fate of lost and forgotten fragments of what makes us whole in the headlong charge of priority and progress, and the blinding of rage that overtakes us when this reality sinks in.
Oh, the place where I grew up and my little brother was born
And if I strike it rich again, I’ll go and buy it all back
Well I’ll drop a bomb on that bitch and watch it turn to ash…
By the time I get the money, it will be all gone
Lord, it’s already gone
Well, by the time I get the money, it will be all gone
Lord, everything’s gone
Everything’s gone, everything’s gone
As for Lydia Loveless and the real story behind “Everything’s Gone,” she says, “I haven’t been there for almost 10 years…it’s really painful to go back, and I think I’m just a little scared. So I don’t know.”
But despite the pain and emotional distress listeners feel while listening to “Everything’s Gone,” they keep coming back to it because of the comfort of commiseration that makes music its most beautiful when it is able to covey raw pain of an artist in its purest form.
In the honesty and personal unburdening of “Everything’s Gone,” Lydia Loveless achieved the crowning moment of her young career, and the crowning achievement in song for all of 2014 … in Saving Country Music’s estimation.
Two Guns Way Up.
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The past 24 hours has seen some big signings by some worthy artists to record labels. Here’s a rundown:
The old-school throwback St. Louis singing and strumming song man Pokey LaFarge has signed to the prestigious Rounder Records, announced Wednesday (11-12). Pokey, who has released six albums since his self-released debut in 2006, and who most recently recorded an album for Jack White’s Third Man Records in 2013, has found what he hopes to be a more permanent home on a record label who’s known for releasing albums by Willie Nelson, Robert Plant, Ricky Skaggs, Del McCoury, Alison Krauss, and dozens more since its inception in 1970 as a predominantly roots label.
“Needless to say, it is a true honor to begin this new relationship with Rounder and be counted among so many champions of American music, past and present,” was the message posted on Pokey’s website. At the present, no word of when Pokey’s Rounder debut might hit shelves, but an announcement should be coming soon.
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Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band has signed with Yazoo Records, and have announced their new album called So Delicious will be delivered on February 17th, 2015. The slide guitar maestro backed by wife Breezy on washboard and drummer Ben Russell is known for busting his ass on stage and playing over 250 dates a year. This will be the Indiana-based outfit’s eighth release.
“Yazoo was my favorite record label growing up,” Rev. Peyton says. “For fans of old country blues and all manner of early American music, they are the quintessential label. And for me, it’s like being on the same label as Charley Patton and ‘Mississippi’ John Hurt. To think that Yazoo believes we are authentic enough to stand with the other people in their catalog means a lot.”
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The honky tonkin’, rock and rollin’, Birmingham, Alabama-bred gritty and greasy Banditos have signed to insurgent country label Bloodshot Records as of Wednesday (11-12) with an album rumored to be on the way for early 2015.
“Back in March we saw Nashville-via-Birmingham, AL group Banditos at one of those fly-by-night, hole-in-the-wall bars that sprout like skunkweed on Sixth Street in Austin, TX during the height of SXSW crazy,” says Bloodshot. “The sound system at this place was a painful mix of all treble and reverb; and the noises oozing out of the PA during another band’s set were not unlike the distorted echoes of the soundtrack to Suspiria (and not in a good way). We wish we were kidding. Then the six-piece Banditos took the stage, and even though they themselves were a little intimidating – all hair, denim, and stoic determination – the sounds they managed to conjure from two overworked speakers were fresh, raw, and spectacular.”
Now the Banditos will join a roster which includes Wayne “The Train” Hancock, Lydia Loveless, Scott H. Biram, and launched the careers of Ryan Adams, Neko Case, Justin Townes Earle, and others.
Fans of the hard driving, honky tonkin’ throwback country band of the new generation known as Whitey Morgan & the 78′s have been waiting a very long time to hear something new since the release of their self-titled Bloodshot Records debut in 2010, and the floodgates are about to open, beginning with the long-awaited release of Born, Raised & LIVE from Flint, a live album recorded at The Machine Shop in Whitey’s hometown of Flint, Michigan on November 25th, 2011. It will be released on December 2nd by Bloodshot.
The album finds Whitey & Co. reprising many of their signature original songs and timeless covers, including “Turn Up The Bottle,” “Buick City,” Johnny Paycheck’s “Stay Away From That Cocaine Train,” Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire,” and Dale Watson’s ‘Where Do You Want It?” (listen exclusively below).
“Twenty minutes outside of any city in Michigan could be northern Alabama,” Whitey told Saving Country Music in an interview about his hometown of Flint. “In the 70′s when my grandpa was playing music in Flint, almost a quarter of the population were transplants from the South that came to work at the factories. When you have a quarter of the population, and they start having babies, what you have is this Southern culture that is ingrained in them, even though some of them have never even been there. Like me when I was growing up, the things we ate, certain words that you said were Southern. To me it was normal. To my friends that were really Yankee’s, it was weird. They didn’t eat fried bologna sandwiches and drink sweet tea and listen to gospel and bluegrass on Sundays at their grandpa’s house. Any of the Southern food, that’s what my grandma’s house smelled like any time I went in there. My grandpa demanded that stuff.”
“I think it’s a rebellious type thing, because we come from a place that’s not known for that kind of music,” Whitey continues. “But the place that is known for that type of music isn’t fucking doing it. What can I do to not only feel real about what I’m doing, but also get some attention? And maybe knock down some doors and let people know there something wrong with the mainstream right now. There’s volumes and volumes of great music that nobody seems to give a shit about anymore.”
The blue collar, hard working, and hard living mentality of Whitey Morgan and the City of Flint is deeply etched in the 13 tracks of Born, Raised & LIVE from Flint, and so is the energy of a live Whitey Morgan show that fans will attest is one of the best and most authentic honky tonk experiences still out there. Playing upwards of 300 live shows a year has made Whitey Morgan & the 78′s one hell of a tight band.
Included on the new live record is one of Whitey’s best-known songs, “Where Do You Want It?” written by Dale Watson about the incident in 2007 when Billy Joe Shaver shot a man in the face at Papa Joe’s just south of Waco. Shaver was later released of charges when the shooting was found to be in self-defense, but the story and the song still live in infamy.
Fans of Whitey Morgan can expect even more music coming soon. Rumors have an acoustic album Whitey recorded recently being readied for release, as well as another full studio album just sent to mastering in the offing. “The plan is just to record as much as we can over the next few years,” Whitey told SCM in February. “Even if it’s not albums, put out a 7-inch here and there, digitally release two songs. Just keep it going. Never a six month stretch without new songs.”
Born, Raised & LIVE from Flint will also be released on vinyl, including a limited-edition white vinyl (for Whitey) that is currently available for pre-order.
Born, Raised & LIVE from Flint Track List:
1. Buick City
2. Cocaine Train
4. Cheatin Again
5. Bad News
6. Prove It All to You
7. Turn Up the Bottle
8. Another Round
9. I’m On Fire
10. Ain’t Drunk
11. Honky Tonk Queen
12. Where Do You Want It
13. Mind Your Own Business
That’s right, don’t rub your eyes or adjust your monitors. Justin Townes Earle, who just released his latest album Single Mothers on September 9th, is doing a quick turnaround and releasing yet another brand new full length album Absent Fathers on January 13th, 2015—a companion to his September release that takes its theme from the Single Mothers title track.
Fans who’ve been paying close attention to the second-generation performer (Earle’s absent father was alt-country performer Steve Earle) shouldn’t be too surprised at this announcement. On numerous occasions Justin Townes Earle alluded that a double album was on the way before Single Mothers was announced. After Justin resolved his five album contract with Bloodshot Records, he found himself in the midst of an intense battle with the British-based label Communion Records owned in part by Ben Lovett, otherwise known as the accordion and keyboard player of Mumford & Sons. According to Earle, the company expected him to turn in 30 songs per his contract, which the label could then par down into an album release. Earle refused, and eventually parted ways with Communion, signing with California-based label Vagrant Records and announcing the release of Single Mothers.
Justin’s idea of a double album to make up for the lost time while battling with Communion was apparently scrubbed for two close releases because of the logistical issues of a double release. As Earle explained to American Songwriter in August, “There are more songs, maybe for something later early next year, or something. I’m pushing for something, but we’ll see what happens. They were recorded all at the same time, it’s not that they didn’t make the record, it was just easier to put out a regular record, a double is a little more complicated.” Apparently Justin got his wish, and we’ll be hearing the rest of the songs come January.
Earle has received critical acclaim for his music and songwriting since releasing the Yuma EP in 2007. In 2009 he won the Americana Music Award for New and Emerging Artist of the Year, and won Saving Country Music’s Album of the Year in 2009 for Midnight At The Movies, as well as SCM’s 2011 Artist of the Year.
Absent Fathers Track List:
1. Farther From Me
3. Least I Got The Blues
4. Call Ya Momma
5. Day and Night
6. Round the Bend
7. When the One You Love Loses Faith
8. Slow Monday
9. Someone Will Pay
10. Looking For A Place To Land
It has been a long-standing theory here at Saving Country Music that when country music became hyper commercialized in the 90′s with artists like Garth Brooks and the rest of the “Class of ’89,” it was young punk rockers that picked up the authentic spirit of country music and kept it alive. Whether it was the gang of artists that revitalized Lower Broadway in Nashville like BR549, Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers, and Joe Buck, or the Bloodshot Records gang with The Old 97′s, Neko Case, and Whiskeytown with front man Ryan Adams, this was where it felt like the soul of country music resided when it was abandoned by Music Row.
Ryan Adams was one of the unquestionable leaders of this punk-infused country music “insurgent country” conquest, and that is why it was so disconcerting to read recently that apparently he not only does not like country music, but he apparently never has, never really cared about it even when he was playing it, and certainly doesn’t want anything to do with it now. And no, this is not some indictment of what mainstream country music has become and wanting to distance from it. This is a straight up, unequivocal repudiation of any association with what country music is or has ever been.
The quotes come from a lengthy feature on Buzzfeed that was published in early September ahead of the release of Ryan Adams’ self-titled 14th studio release, but was brought to the attention of Saving Country Music by Country California in their weekly quotation roundup.
Here’s the Ryan Adams quote:
There’s this wrong idea about me being identified with things that are Southern or country. I do not fucking like country music and I don’t own any of it. I watched ‘Hee-Haw’ as a kid with my grandmother, I only like country music as an irony. I liked it when I would get drunk … I suppose playing country music felt like learning how to build a beautiful bookshelf or something. There was a certain amount of honesty that had to be there and it had to hurt. I loved the discipline of that. It reminded me of the challenge of playing punk rock. But me playing country music … it was a false face. It was style appropriation.
Granted, Ryan Adams made an entire career of being a petulant, drug-infused, self-destructive wing nut, making purposefully-stupid career moves, and mouthing off to crowds and firing band members in an attempt to grow his legacy by leaving a wake of destruction. But most, if not all of that appears to be behind him now, and we have no other recourse than to believe this is the sober-eyed truth of Ryan’s sentiments towards country music.
So the next question is, what is a country music fan, or a Ryan Adams fan that likes country music, including the country music he once made, supposed to feel about this new insight? I would tend to agree that later in his career, including with his latest album, that people have attempted to equate Ryan’s music with country, or at least alt-country, when there’s really no solid sonic basis for it. But his quotes offer up such revisionist history that I can’t help but think I will never be able to enjoy those Whiskeytown releases and his early solo stuff with the same zeal now that he’s let it be known that it was all done as “irony,” and that apparently when it comes to country music he doesn’t own “any of it.”
What about those landmark Ryan Adams collaborations with Willie Nelson? Ryan produced and performed on Willie’s 2006 album Songbird. How about the Lost Highwaymen performance? Was that all for irony? Don’t you think that when you produce a Willie Nelson album and play country and alt-country for a dozen years it is a little unfair to get angry at people if they associate you with it? To say you like country music only as an “irony” alludes that you believe that it’s not only not right for you, but that it is an inferior art form.
And it’s not just the country music fan inside of people that is disappointed by these revelations. How are we supposed to take any of Ryan Adams’ music seriously? Certainly there can be some irony in music without it completely losing its authenticity, especially in country music. But these Ryan Adams quotes, these are fighting words. This isn’t just clicking delete on the Ryan Adams block in iTunes, these are quotes that merit serious consideration of crossing swords with this dude as a country music fan. I don’t think I’ve ever seen as an inflammatory indictment of country coming from a former proprietor of it, ever. There are rappers out there that have more respect for country music than what Ryan Adams evidences in these quotes.
And apparently this isn’t the first time Ryan Adams has articulated his hatred for country music. “I hate country music, always have,” Ryan said on his blog in April of 2008. “…I cannot stand country music one bit.”
Read More: Ryan Adams Slams Country Music Mecca | http://theboot.com/ryan-adams-slams-country-music-mecca/?trackback=tsmclip
I understand if Ryan Adams wants to disassociate himself with country music or wants to clarify that his music shouldn’t be considered it. But don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. Ryan’s close approximations of country music is what put him on the map, and it seems like he should have a little more respect for the music that made him, and the fans that enjoy it.
I feel like I’ve been stabbed in the back.
This release might mean just a little bit more to Justin Townes Earle. The harder you work for things, the more value they tend to hold. After concluding a five-album contract with the scrappy and street-accredited independent label Bloodshot Records, Justin Townes Earle moved on to what he hoped would be greener pastures, and quickly got his nose pushed in. Earle saddled up with British-based label Communion Records owned in part by Ben Lovett—the accordion and keyboard player of Mumford & Sons. The situation got sideways between Justin and Communion when the label required him to turn in 30 tracks that they could then cull through and select what they wanted to release. Earle would have none of it, and went into rebellion mode, resulting in his eventual extraction from Communion to release this new album Single Mothers through California-based label Vagrant.
For starters, the cover art for this album deserves to be commended. Such a lost art in this digital age, artists go into projects having no clue how to sync up their expression with the first image listeners see to prepare them for the experience. The defiance in the eyes of these two youngsters, the innocence at believing their intertwined lives will remain this way forever, and the wonder and promise the whole scene evokes is something worthy of individual praise. It stimulates the mind and imagination, readying them to receive Justin’s musical notions with more of an agape consciousness.
It may seem hard to sense Justin Townes Earle as a seasoned artist since he’s the son of an established performer and still resides in his early 30′s, but this is Earle’s sixth overall project. He’s already spent years out on the road, and he’s already been anointed by Americana’s independent industry. He won the Americana Music Award for Emerging Artist half a decade ago, and now he draws large crowds across the country and world as an Americana stalwart, and a leader of the subgenre’s second generation.
The occasion of Earle’s sixth album also sees the songwriter settling into his established sound for better or worse. Where in his early days Justin would swing from influences in the country and bluegrass worlds to songs more fit for folk distinction, and then chart into the blues and even a more soulful Motown sound, now Earle seems to understand what he does best, and doesn’t venture too far away from it. Though you may still hear the moan of the steel guitar in places, or the cajoling of his eclectic and signature style of playing the acoustic guitar with heavy plucking and strumming, really Justin Townes Earle, the singer and producer, has settled into a firm pocket of finding the heartbeat of black Memphis and Motown and reviving it for the modern ear.
Placing aside the songwriting effort for a second, this steadiness has made Earle’s compositions comfortable to the ear, but also somewhat predictable. During the transition of the first two songs on Single Mothers, you almost have to look at the display of your media device to be assured the first song isn’t actually repeating in the way the two tracks sound so similar. The album is fairly straightforward throughout with the guitar tone, brushes on snare, and a similar style to Earle’s voice, with some notable exceptions.
As Justin Townes Earle will tell you, he’s a songwriter first, and that is what the listener should clue in on most intently on a JTE project. The production and instrumentation is simply the clothing. But in this established sound Justin has sired over his last few albums, you tend to miss Earle’s other signature attribute, which is his solo stylings. Justin Townes Earle doesn’t need a band. His songs, his voice, and his clawhammer hybrid-style plucking on a parlor-sized guitar is sound enough to send hearts pounding. The music on Single Mothers at times feels like it gets in the way of the experience, while also being a little unimaginative and undercooked if he was going to go for the full band sound. When he opens up the space, like he does in the magnificent “Picture In A Drawer,” the composition comes alive. Or when the backing band is allowed to step out a little bit more like on the final track “Burning Pictures,” you find a little more energy drawn from Earle’s original idea. In the middle though, you feel like Justin’s inspiration is represented a little thinly.
What works here the best are the songs themselves, speaking cohesively about a forlornness towards past memories and experiences. The title of Single Mothers speaks very personally to Earle’s own narrative as a boy growing up, abandoned by his father, and now looking at the world through the eyes those experiences forged. “My Baby Drives” appears to allude to his recently wedded bride that according to Earle has put him in a very happy place. But he promises that he still has a lifetime of bad experiences to reflect on for forlorn inspiration, and it is this type of past-tense reflection that gives Single Mothers its singular, distinct, and wistful flavor.
The songs of this album very much live up to the still-emerging, but growing legacy of Justin Townes Earle as an award-winning songwriter. It’s just a shame a little more vision wasn’t brought to some of the music, and it’s hard to hear those few songs that you can pluck from the crowd and play as examples of his genius. “Time Shows Fools” though is a great specimen of how to express a timeless sentiment in an undiscovered way.
Perhaps in the rush and melee this album experienced as a result of the label issues, the right chemistry wasn’t found to make the finishing results reside in the ideal. But Single Mothers is an album that takes nothing away from Justin Townes Earle, and may be his most personal yet.
1 1/2 of 2 Guns Up.
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Which one is your favorite, Jack White or The Black Keys?
For me the answer is simple…
All the silly talk about who was first and who ripped off who is moot when you bury your nose in the music catalog of the prototype of that predatory, aggressive, two-piece sound that blends blues, rockabilly, rock, country, surf, and a cavalcade of other obscure influences into the wild-eye concoction Dex Romweber has been throwing down for going on 30 years. One of the founding members of the ridiculously-influential two-piece band called the Flat Duo Jets that Jack White and many more of today’s most heralded artists hold in the highest of regards as the originators of the sound, Dex Romweber is still going strong with the Dex Romweber Duo that has released its latest album through Bloodshot Records called Images 13.
Today Dex Romweber is suited up with his sister Sara, and though we’re so used to artists of the crazy variety slowing down and losing heart as they grow older, nothing could be further from the case when it comes to this sibling duo. Dex is still howling and moaning like he always has, and playing his guitar with such abandon, he pulls off riffs most other guitar players only can land by accident. Meanwhile sister Sara is no slouch by any stretch, slapping the skins like she was trying out for a punk band full of 20-somethings. This is “watch your head!” type music. You push play, and hold on, from both the wild ride of a rambunctious attitude, and the dizzying styles they run through along the way.
Images 13 keeps listeners on their toes, opening up with the song “Roll On” that sounds like something you’d hear coming from the hottest clubs still catering to live music. From pre-punk influences like the silly and playful “So Sad About Us” (apparently an obscure, early cut from The Who), to the surf-influenced numbers like “Blackout!” and “Blue Surf”, to the blue-eyed soul of “We’ll Be Together Again” (by Eddie Cochran’s girlfriend Sharon Sheeley about Cochran’s death in a car accident that she and Gene Vincent survived), there’s just about no precinct of the musical palette safe from being tickled by Dex at some point. He can even get mysterious and dark in songs like “Prelude in ‘G’ Minor” and the 50′s Horror Comic aura and curious chords of “I Don’t Want to Listen”. They even go Avant-garde on the last track “Weird (Aurora Borealis)”, taken from TV’s Harry Lubin who wrote the music for The Outer Limits.
Half the time you don’t know what the hell is going on, and that’s half the fun of it. Dex Romwever goes wherever his whimsy takes him, and with such a handsome tool chest of musical skills to call upon at any notice, and a music encyclopedia for a brain, he can. He’s like the American music version of silly putty. It’s the sound of America longing for a simpler past, and finding horror movies about haunted houses and flying saucers, sun-drenched beaches with dangerous undertows shaded through sepia tones, and Memphis sweat corroding the lacquer of catalog guitars. He even unplugs and slows it down for “One Sided Love Affair”—a number with the simplicity and universal sentiment indicative of a Hank Williams song.
It blows my mind any time I’m talking to a fellow music nerd and they give me a “Dex who?” But isn’t that always the way with the originators of a sound, especially ones whose influences are so varied as this one. Like J.J. Cale, like fellow Bloodshot Records artist Wayne “The Train” Hancock, they’re undefinable, yet wildly influential. And though not everyone will be familiar with their music, everyone has heard it in the music of others.
1 3/4 of 2 guns up.
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The wait by both Justin Townes Earle and his fans for new music is finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. Justin will be releasing his 5th studio album Single Mothers on September 9th on Vagrant Records—the California-based label that is also home to artists like Black Joe Lewis, Blitzen Trapper, Edward Sharpe, and PJ Harvey. The album will be the first from Justin since his last and final record with Chicago-based Bloodshot Records, Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now released in March of 2012.
After the resolution of Earle’s five-album Bloodshot contract, the son of Steve Earle and the namesake of Townes Van Zant found himself in the midst of an intense battle with the British-based label Communion Records owned in part by Ben Lovett, otherwise known as the accordion and keyboard player of Mumford & Sons. According to Earle, the company expected him to turn in 30 songs per his contract, which the label could then par down into an album release. The result was a December 15th Twitter tirade where Earle said, “I have now learned that you can never trust a bunch of babies that ain’t worked a day in their lives. May Shane McGowan kick their asses. The only thing I hate about business is that it’s frowned upon to pistol whip the competition. Tweets are gonna be angry for awhile. Just found out I won’t be making a record for a while due to a bunch of pussies in an office. Never working with another record label.”
Later, on December 18th, Earle continued, ““So I am being told that I agreed to write 30 songs and let the label “help” make the record. That for sent even sound like me! Like I would ever let some little twit fucking comb through my work. And calling me a liar well them is fighting words. Anytime bitch’s! … Let me make this clear! I have not, and never will write 30 songs in a year. That isn’t art it’s vomit. I write a record. Quality matters not quantity! I deliver records in sequence and have a pretty good record so far. I don’t need the new kids giving me tips. Lady’s and gents. I will find a way to get new music out very soon. Will write and record a solo EP. Then Find some grown ups to work with.”
Justin Townes Earle recently played the title track to Single Mothers on NPR’s Mountain Stage.
Earle has received critical acclaim for his music and songwriting since releasing the Yuma EP in 2007. In 2009 he won the Americana Music Award for New and Emerging Artist of the Year, and won Saving Country Music’s Album of the Year in 2009 for Midnight At The Movies, as well as SCM’s 2011 Artist of the Year.
Justin Townes Earle was also recently married.
Single Mothers Track List:
1. Worried Bout The Weather
2. Single Mothers
3. My Baby Drives
4. Today And A Lonely Night
5. Picture In A Drawer
6. Wanna Be A Stranger
7. White Gardenias
8. Time Shows Fools
9. It’s Cold In This House
10. Burning Pictures
Mammas don’t let your babies grow up to be Lydia Loveless.
Not that Lydia’s parental units have anything to be ashamed of, but the type of unhinged, binge-fueled and bawdy rhetoric Lydia Loveless imbibes in is probably not something any parent has in mind for their little princess while she’s having tea parties at a knee high tables with Queen Piggy and Mr. Frog. Lydia Loveless isn’t just empowered, she’s uninhibited. Subtly and coyness are shades she rarely paints in. Instead she opens her mouth and the truth comes out unfettered, refreshingly honest, and many times, R-rated, revealing her sinful tendencies and struggles with self-admitted inadequacies that sometimes veer her towards self-destructive behavior.
Lydia wet our whistles for new music with an EP released late last year called Boy Crazy. Where that project was a fairly lighthearted, hair-twirling affair with a bright yellow cover and devil-may-care attitude, her latest album and second LP from Bloodshot Records Somewhere Else is decidedly a more dark project with moments of real depth not seen before in Lydia’s young career.
The describers for Lydia’s sound out there are all over the place, from a cowpunk princess to an alt-country savant, but I’ve always thought of Lydia solidly in the realm of a garage-like power pop band with many of the earmarks thereof: economical guitar work, potent melodies, and a punk-like attitude that doesn’t sacrifice the prettiness of the music. Despite where you may see the appeal of Lydia’s music reside, you have to search for the country elements.
The one problem with Somewhere Else is that the instrumentation lacks a bit of imagination and diversity, specifically in the guitar work when looking at the project as a whole. It’s just a lot of strumming of chords, calling on many of the same tones throughout the album in songs that seem to hover mostly around the same keys. No specific songs is worth chastising; in fact on their own they each work just fine, and its more a problem of composition than a knock on the band itself. But altogether, the songs tend to bleed into each other and into the songs of the previous EP.
Those specific concerns aside, Lydia Loveless shows great maturity, depth, and diversity in her songwriting that really shines through whatever shortcomings, and makes Somewhere Else a project certainly worthy of your ears.
“Verlaine Shot Rimbaud” about the two famous decadent era poets and their torrid relationship juxtaposed into the complications of a modern relationship is a brilliant little piece of writing. “Everything’s Gone” is Lydia’s crowning achievement thus far in her career, showing remarkable insight, and delivering a vocal performance that fills as much emotion as humanly possible into the vessel of a story—any more and it would fall apart under its own weight. Both these songs also offer exceptions to the musical diversity issues.
“Wine Lips” is also an enjoyable little tune, and really all of Somewhere Else‘s offerings are embedded with smart little turns and juicy melodies that earworm themselves quite deep. I just wish there wasn’t such a gulf between where Lydia’s writing is, and the sonic palette that she’s pulling from to clothe her tunes. At the same time the young Ohioan is only 23-years-old. She’s got a whole lifetime of music to create, and if Somewhere Else is any indication, it’s going to be productive, fulfilling, and enjoyable.
1 1/2 of 2 guns up.
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Pictures provided by Almost Out Of Gas.
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One of the questions that comes up often in country music is “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?” There’s a lot of industry country stars that would love to tell you they’re the ones, and they record songs, print up merch, and proselytize at every turn for their candidacy to fill in for the lost country greats. But beyond the glitz and the market-driven image campaigns that surround some of mainstream country’s “New Outlaws” is an artist like Whitey Morgan and his band The 78′s—a no frills, hard-charging honky tonk outfit that tours more than anyone and brings the twang and Outlaw bass beat to country night in and night out, garnering a deep and loyal grassroots following.
But it has been around three and a half years since Whitey Morgan released a record, and rumors of an unreleased live album have been out there for the better part of two. Whitey has recently been hanging around Texas, playing some shows and getting ready to make an appearance at Dale Watson’s inaugural Ameripolitan Awards show on Tuesday, February 18th, and I sat down with him before a Friday night show at The Rattle Inn in west Austin to catch up, and ask him the question Saving Country Music has been swamped with from readers over the last few months.
People ask me this all the time and so I’ll ask you: What can you tell us about new music from Whitey Morgan?
There’s definitely been some label things happening. I’m actually off Bloodshot [Records] now. That was of my doing. I’m a do-it-yourself kind of dude. I just felt like I can do all of this on my own. The next record is going to be huge. I bust my ass out on the road like almost no other band does, and everything I have is from that. It was just time for me to do something on my own and not give away too much of my money to someone who maybe wasn’t holding up their end of the deal. I’m sure they’ll argue with you on that, but that’s a record label. I have a great booking agent now and great management. I can release a record tomorrow, on my own. I have the distribution outside of a label, I have everything I need. So what do I need a label for?
What’s the story of this live album that’s been swirling out there for a while?
The live album has been done for a year and a half. That was part of the Bloodshot thing. As soon as the live album got finished and I gave it to them is when the talk started from my end that I didn’t want to be on the label any longer. Understandably, they recoiled and said “we’re not going to really release this until we resolve whatever is going to happen in this relationship first.” It will come out when it comes out, but I’ve already forgotten about it.
So a new album is in the works?
We just recorded in El Paso for five days at an unbelievable studio with an killer producer. We got three songs just about in the bag, and we’ll be back in May for seven or eight days, and try to finish up the rest of it. It’s a place called The Sonic Ranch. It’s like no other studio I’ve ever been in or even heard about. They have three live rooms and three control rooms, all on a 3,000-acre property. They have accommodations for I think up to 30 or 40 people in different haciendas. They have a staff that does your laundry and cooks every meal for you. My management is friends with the owners. I hate the studio, but I didn’t hate this studio. I didn’t feel like I was in this studio because I could leave and walk out the studio and be forty feet to my front door and it’s just me; I have my own little hotel room right there. Most studios you can’t do that. You’re stuck in there. You can go out to the parking lot and sit in the van.
Creativity is squashed by studios that don’t have that kind of environment. I almost don’t want to tell anyone about it because I don’t need any more musicians recording there than there already are. And the equipment is unreal. Not just the recording equipment, they have tele’s galore, amps, and everything. It’s unreal. Anything you want, they have it. And it’s all because a guy that has money is passionate about music and recording. To him, it’s the ultimate dream to have musicians come hang out at his place. He’s a great dude.
I’m excited. One of the songs we recorded is an old Bobby Bare tune called “That’s How I Got To Memphis”. We put that one down and I’m really excited about that tune. It’s a little different than my kind of sound. It’s kind of got that early 80′s era sound; it’s got that minor chord in there. It’s slick. I’m trying to move on without moving too far. I know what everybody wants, they want another classic, Waylon-ish sounding album. This one’s going to be a little different, but it’s not going to be that different. We’re doing a Waylon song. I’m not going to say what Waylon song we’re doing, because I don’t think anyone’s ever covered it so I’ll keep my mouth shut on that one. But that was another song we recorded and it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever recorded in my life. The three songs are already leaps and bounds better than the last two albums I did.
The plan is we’re probably going to do an EP, maybe 7 songs. The plan is just to record as much as we can over the next few years. Even if it’s not albums, put out a 7-inch here and there, digitally release two songs. Just keep it going. Never a six month stretch without new songs. And now that I’ve got the studio I want to go to, I can’t wait to just start putting music out, now that I’m able to do it legally.
Who is the producer?
His name is Ryan Hewitt. He’s one of those guys who’s been in a lot of sessions where he was either mixing or engineering or co-producing. He mixed a lot of the Johnny Cash stuff with Rick Rubin, he did The Avett Brothers last three albums. I’ve only ever produced my shit myself. Maybe five years ago I would have been more stubborn. But now, when he’d open his mouth about something, instead of just automatically being like “No, it’s got to be my way,” I think about it from someone else’s point of view and most of the time he’s right. We worked really well together.
How are The 78′s treating you?
The last time I saw you I said that was the best band I ever had. It’s even better now. The band right now, we all get along like brothers on stage and off and that’s never happened in the history of my band. Right now, every night I’m smiling, I’m having a good time. It’s been a while. I’m trying to live a little better. But when we went into the studio my anxiety was through the roof because it’s been a while and I only had a few songs prepared really. And it just jelled.
So you feel like things are going in the right direction. Can you see it in the crowds?
Oh yeah. We’re doubling, tripling, quadrupling every show we play. The internet stuff’s been going better. Everything’s been going better. I never go into a show and it’s disappointing. It’s the management and the booking, but really it’s all of it together. The fucking band is good. The old days, we’d be touring forever but it was a half-assed band. Like I’d have a fill-in drummer for eight shows. And the last year and a half to two years it’s been a fucking good band. I would go see this band.
You played Dale Watson’s new bar down in San Antonio recently. How was that?
Big T’s Roadhouse. It’s cool man, its like Little Ginny’s Longhorn Saloon, but out in the middle of nowhere. It’s even white and red, just like Little Ginny’s. About the same-sized joint. We played it on Sunday; it was Chicken Shit Bingo. It was cool, really cool.
I want to know about your guitar.
It was brand new in 2001 I believe. But it was black with white binding. I loved it, but I always wanted a tobacco burst Tele. That’s the look I always love is tobacco burst anything. So I stripped it down, repainted it, and the “WM” I painted it on there by taking some pin striping, masking it, and spraying it. Once the original frets wore out, instead of getting a fret job, I just bought a new neck. That’s the third neck I’ve had on it. It’s the U-shaped, big baseball bat neck, and it’s got new Grover tuners on it. I love it. I go to these vintage shops and pick up these 70′s tele’s and I’m like, “Oh this thing is so rad,” and then I play it and I say, “Mine plays better” because I made it exactly how I want it to play. I ended up using mine in the studio even though they had like six unbelievable tele’s there from the 60′s and 70′s.
The 78′s are Brett Robinson – Pedal Steel, Tony Dicello – Drums, Benny James Vermeylen – Guitar and Backing Vocal, and Alex Lyon – Bass.
Songwriter and performer Justin Townes Earle has been on the warpath as of late through his always-entertaining Twitter account, taking to task a record label for standing in the way of a new release.
On October 19th, Justin seemed to allude through Twitter that he was done writing the material for a new album, posting “I might have finally finished writing this bitch!!!! Freedom!!!!!!!!”
Then more recently the tone has turned quite sour, with Justin posting on December 15th, “I have now learned that you can never trust a bunch of babies that ain’t worked a day in their lives. May Shane McGowan kick their asses. The only thing I hate about business is that it’s frowned upon to pistol whip the competition. Tweets are gonna be angry for awhile. Just found out I won’t be making a record for a while due to a bunch of pussies in an office. Never working with another record label.”
Shane MacGowan is the front man for the Irish rock group The Pogues.
Then on December 18th, Earle posted, “So I am being told that I agreed to write 30 songs and let the label “help” make the record. That for sent even sound like me! Like I would ever let some little twit fucking comb through my work. And calling me a liar well them is fighting words. Anytime bitch’s!”
Justin Townes Earle released his last album Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now in March of 2012 through Bloodshot Records; a label he singed with in 2007 and subsequently released 5 albums through. The ambiguity of Earle’s tweets left some fans not certain about Earle’s contractual situation thinking Bloodshot was the target of his criticism. There was never any news of Earle signing with a new label. Co-owner of Bloodshot Nan Warshaw told Saving Country Music, “When Justin Townes Earle delivered his last album “Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now”, that successfully and amicably completed his multi-album recording contract with Bloodshot Records. Bloodshot is honored to have his five releases in our catalog and to have helped launch his career. We wish Justin all the best.”
Instead it is apparently Communion Records—a British label owned by Ben Lovett, the accordion and keyboard player of Mumford & Sons, and Kevin Jones of Bear’s Den—that is drawing Justin Townes Earle’s ire. Justin clarified this today (12-19) through Twitter, saying “My rants have to do with communion records! not bloodshot. leave the good people at bloodshot alone! Badger the fucking Brits.”
Justin told VOX Magazine in April, “I’m trying to wrap up writing my next record. It’s one that I’m paying very close attention because I’ve completed my contract with Bloodshot (Records). I’m going to be moving on to probably a little bit bigger (label). I’m just trying to do my best, to be in control of my everything — producing records and all that stuff. We actually already have offers from labels. I’ve recorded one track mainly because a couple of the bigger record labels are looking at me. We made a teaser track just to say this is what we do, this is how we do it, and this is how we’re going to do it.”
The conflict appears to be with Communion Records requesting Justin turn in 30 songs that they can then vet to eventually be parred down to his next record, but Earle doesn’t have that many songs so the album-making process can’t move forward. What this means in the long run is that it could be a while for new Justin Townes Earle material.
UPDATE: Justin Townes Earle has posted some followup comments on Twitter:
“Let me make this clear! I have not, and never will write 30 songs in a year. That isn’t art it’s vomit. I write a record. Quality matters not quantity! I deliver records in sequence and have a pretty good record so far. I don’t need the new kids giving me tips. Lady’s and gents. I will find a way to get new music out very soon. Will write and record a solo EP. Then Find some grown ups to work with.”
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New Justin Townes Earle song from a recent show at the Southland Ballroom, NC:
I’ve had some open and honest reservations about Bloodshot Records’ cowpunk princess Lydia Loveless over her short career, it’s true, but while always appreciating her spunk and energy and style, and her ability to land comedic punches in her verses like few others. Lydia is a fun artist, that can’t be denied. It’s just that some of the accolades seemed to come to Lydia a little bit premature, and some of the rock & roll attitude felt outmoded compared to the genuineness that many artists in the recent roots revolution exhibit, both through their music and on stage.
Lydia’s 2011 Indestructible Machine seemed to take a little too much pleasure in her self-destructive tendencies, and though her singing and sonic style showed much promise, it still felt like it was searching for its proper place. No doubt there was more good than bad, but there were just a few hangups keeping me from entering full fledged fandom.
Ahead of a new full-length album promised from Lydia in 2014 is a quick little EP called Boy Crazy. Though I have no specific intel telling me so, in my mind I envision Lydia getting ready to finish her new album, having a few too many songs, and seeing how these five selections fit so well together, deciding to release them this way. Whether that’s true or not, the songs of Boy Crazy all do work well together to the point where they equal a sum greater than their parts and may be diminished if they were orphaned from each other. This is important, because it answers the question every artist thinking about the EP route must answer, which is “Why release an EP if an LP will be better?”
Boy Crazy is a straight ahead power pop album with punkish and country undertones that draws you right in with it’s juicy hooks and melodies, witty lyrics, fun themes, and general good-timedness. Any wonkiness from Lydia trying to find her sound has slipped away for tight grooves and cunning, infectious arrangements that if anything are almost too accessible, making you wonder if it’s okay to get so deep into this music, or if it should be considered a guilty pleasure.
Both the “Boy” and “Crazy” of the title are important here, because the five songs of this EP are all love songs of one version or another, but told through Lydia’s signature skewed, unsettled, and sometimes substance-altered vision of reality. You get the picture that Lydia’s version of love is just as much swinging fists and shattered windows as it is serenades, but she’s also not afraid to show her sweet and vulnerable sides. Boy Crazy comes across as powerfully sincere in places, especially in the concluding track, “The Water,” while the ultra-infectious “Lover’s Spat” is a crazy-eyed donnybrook of love gone mad with a punk soundtrack. “All I Know” and “All The Time” are significantly more sensible, but just as engaging, and “Boy Crazy” is anthemic in how it rises and draws you in.
This Boy Crazy EP is what it is—a quick little album with some cool, charming songs with a loose theme holding them all together. Some trepidation remains for Lydia on my part, but maybe most importantly with this EP is it really wets your appetite for what Lydia might have coming with her new full-length project.
Fun little album.
1 ¾ of 2 guns up.
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With a gift for poetry like Townes Van Zandt, and a penchant for the whimsical, progressive approach to bluegrass akin to John Hartford, Robbie Fulks releases a stunningly entertaining, brilliantly-balanced, deep, yet instantly-engaging comeback album called Gone Away Backward through longtime associates Bloodshot Records.
You never know exactly what you’ll get with Robbie. It maybe be something along the lines of swing or rockabilly, like the style of one of his signature songs “Fuck This Town” (about where else but Nashville), or it may be a full album of Michael Jackson covers like his last release Happy. If you’re confused already, that is right where Robbie wants you; intrigued, guessing, and on your toes about what’s coming next, with the long-time Fulks fans following him since the first slew of late 90′s Bloodshot albums fully knowing whatever it is, it is going to be good.
What you get with Gone Away Backward is quite sensible and straightforward if there is such a thing from Robbie Fulks. Steeped in the roots of bluegrass and old time, this sparse, acoustic-only album offers a traditional sound that is brought up to modern-day relevancy by the staggeringly-cunning use of wit in Robbie’s verses. This is one of those albums you can cull a litany of quotes from, while not giving anything away sonically.
Buoyed by one amazing line after another, songs like “I’ll Trade You Money For Wine” and “Where I Fell” speak right to the heart of folks who take their music like medication. “Long I Ride” is possibly the album’s standout. It is one of those songs that feels like an instant old-time standard with its lack of chorus in favor of a recurring lyrical hook. “Imogene” evokes just as much Taj Mahal as it does traditional country, while two instrumentals “Snake Chapman’s Tune” and “Pacific Slope” come at just the right times on this albums to give it a warm, hearthy feel. “Sometimes The Grass Is Really Greener” again stuns you with the songwriting, with Fulks once again sliding back into his old habits of calling out the mainstream country establishment.Now the record company man confessed he liked me, but he’d have to shave a few rough edges down. Cut my hair like Brooks & Dunn, trade the banjo for some drums Because no one would buy that old high lonesome sound.
“That’s Where I’m From” is one of those songs that is an example of how Music Row’s incessant laundry listing may make an otherwise great song lack listfulness, and “The Many Disguises of God” may meander a little too much for some listeners to glean its otherwise great message. But overall Gone Away Backward is a song-heavy album with very little need for track navigation. Fulks also does a sensational job at exploring his entire range and using dynamics to emphasize an otherwise average voice to where Gone Away Backward also turns in an above-par vocal performance.
Traditional country music may not appeal to the masses, but one of its best attributes is that it’s timeless, and always will be. Gone Away Backward will appeal to a wide swath of enlightened music listeners, from the old time, traditional, and bluegrass crowds, to the Americana and NPR upper crust, and to post punk roots fans with its cutting themes and adept acoustic styling. The message of Gone Away Backward as inferred in the title is one of the broken promises of fame, wealth, and the downfall of the city—drawing on the long-standing country yearning for simplicity, but contemporizing it with relevant language and themes. Like Woody Guthrie, Robbie Fulks uses an intelligent sense of perspective to canonize the common man and their eternal struggles.
And maybe most importantly, Gone Away Backward exudes a lot of leadership. This is a bold album, while still being sparse and simple. You can complain about how bad modern country music and Nashville are—and Robbie has done plenty of that in his time—or you can offer a healthy alternative. If you want an example of how traditional country music can still be relevant, fresh, and appealing in 2013, look no further than Robbie Fulks’ Gone Away Backward.
Two guns up!
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Fans of Outlaw country music are about to get a big wish granted, as plans have been announced to form an Outlaw Country Music Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame will be located in Lynchburg, TN. A space for the upcoming Hall of Fame has been acquired in Lynchburg and an architect is currently working on design plans. The Hall of Fame’s inaugural slate of inductees will also be added around that time in a ceremony the new organization hopes to conduct at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.
“The Hall of Fame will be dedicated to those artists, both musicians and songwriters, whose work best exemplifies the qualities of the Outlaw movement that first began in the 1970′s and has gained renewed momentum as an alternative to the Nashville pop country scene,” says the organization’s press release. “In doing so it will place the spotlight on music firmly attached to the roots of country. Moreover, the Hall of Fame will educate the public about Outlaw country, memorialize founders—such as Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Jessi Colter—recognize current Outlaw artists, and provide a platform for them and for independent record labels who currently have little if any voice in the industry.”
Along with the Outlaw Country Hall of Fame will be the formation of an Outlaw Country Music Association. Similar to the Country Music Association, or the CMA that governs the Country Music Hall of Fame, it plans to be made up of record labels, DJ’s, journalists, and other music personalities and professionals. Governing the Outlaw Country Music Association will be a board of directors. Current members of the board include Jeremy Tepper of SiriusXM, Terry Jennings of Korban Music Group, author of Outlaws Still At Large Neil Hamilton, Joe Swank at Bloodshot Records, mayor of Lynchburg Sloane Stewart, Professor of Entertainment Law David Spangenburg, architect Thomas Bartoo, and CEO of Sol Records Brian DeBruler.
Gary “Sarge” Sargeant, head of the Tennessee-based non profit “Outlaws and Icons” is heading the new project. A 5,000 sq-ft space has been acquired located right on the town square in Lynchburg has been designated for the facility that plans to allow for live broadcasts of events on the internet.
The announcement of the Outlaw Country Music Hall of Fame was made today on SiriusXM’s Outlaw channel.
You may have been a little shocked to read the above title in reference to the wild-assed, ribald-laced, gonzo front man of the legendary West Coast punk rock band The Supersuckers, but die hard fans of Eddie Spaghetti don’t need to be sold on the idea that when Eddie wants to wipe the smirk off of his face, he can pen (or sing) a pretty heartfelt composition, and that even his more silly material still coveys solid elements of wit.
This is what Steve Earle picked up on when he decided to do an album with The Supersuckers, and what country fans heard when the band surprising released a real country record in 1997 called Must’ve Been High. It’s also what has motivated Eddie Spaghetti to continue to release solo country records while continuing his Supersucker duties, including his latest one The Value of Nothing co-porduced by Jesse Dayton in Austin, TX, and dropped a few weeks ago through Bloodshot Records.
The Supersuckers will be hitting the road with up-and-coming country outfit Hellbound Glory on September 1st (see dates below). Eddie was kind enough to take a few minutes to talk to me about The Value of Nothing and the songwriting legacy he’s trying to leave behind.
Trigger: The Value of Nothing is your first solo country or country-ish album of all original songs. Was this on purpose, or did it just sort of happen that way?
Eddie Spaghetti: No it was sort of on purpose. I decided that I should probably start taking this solo thing that I do a little bit more seriously. I always wrote a couple songs for each solo record but I never really bothered to write a whole record, because it was more fun for me to do a bunch of covers. I didn’t take the whole solo artist thing too seriously. And I still don’t think that I take it that seriously. But I appreciate that it’s a real thing for me to be able to get to do now. I just kind of wanted to start leaving a legacy of solo material behind.
You’ve been working pretty hard. You put out another solo album Sundowner in 2011 and you’re working on a new album with your main gig being the front man for The Supersuckers. What motivates you to keep releasing music? You mentioned leaving behind a legacy. Is that what is driving you?
Yeah, that’s kind of what it’s turned into. When we started The Supersuckers, that wasn’t really something we thought about. We just wanted to be a big arena rock and roll band. But it wasn’t in the cards for us, so that’s when you start shifting your priorities and you start realizing, “Wow, I’ve really written a lot of good songs.” And you just try to maintain that level of quality and hope that eventually people will notice.
No, because it is such a part of who I am. It’s a real passion for me to just make up good songs, whether they be country songs or rock songs. But I just think that a good song is a valuable thing to everybody. Who doesn’t want to hear a good song?
The Value of Nothing has a cool cover that speaks to the title with this girl that’s got all this money that’s been ink splattered, or whatever they call that when they rob a bank. Where did the inspiration of that come from?
My wife came up with the whole idea, with the concept of the cover. She collaborated with the art guy that we use for all the solo record covers. She’s actually the model for the cover. It worked out really well. I think it made sense in a loose kind of way to the title.
In 1997 The Supersuckers released Must’ve Been High, a sort of landmark album that was the precursor to the whole “punk gone country” movement that would come later, and allowed y’all to get to play behind folks like Steve Earle and Willie Nelson. There were a few others before you like The Knitters, but at the time did you feel like you were doing something cutting edge and innovative, or were you just out to have a good time and it turned out that way?
Yeah, it was kind of a little bit of both. We knew we were up to something cool. We knew what we were doing was really cool. And when the record came out our fans were so shocked. The reaction to the record was pretty crappy. No one really liked it. No one got it. Everyone thought we were just taking a piss, and throwing our last contractual obligation to Sub Pop down the toilet. But we didn’t feel like that at all. We thought we were going to make this real good real country record, and it’s going to stand the test of time. And it turns out it has. It’s become our big record.
Now that there’s so many punk bands turning their electric instruments in for acoustic ones, do you feel like it has become more of a hip thing instead of one driven by heart for punk bands to go country, or is it a cool phenomenon?
I think it’s a little bit of both. Some of these bands are just in it for the fashion of it, because you know they can’t really play fast, or they can’t do the things they initially thought they could do. But it turns out they can play an acoustic guitar okay, so they switch. You know, if you’re a remedial artist, you’re going to be a remedial songwriter. It takes someone really special to make it, and I think the cream usually rises to the top. Eventually people notice who’s good, and who’s kind of pretending at it. I don’t bother myself with insulting bands too often unless they’re just really crappy.
You’re about to go out on tour with Hellbound Glory; a band that’s finally getting some worthy attention. Do you know their music, and what do you think about them?
I like them, I think they’re good. I think they’re quality, and they’re the real deal. They put on a really good live show. I’m really looking forward on going on tour with them.
Supersuckers Tour Dates with Hellbound Glory:
|09/01/13||Providence, RI||Fête||Hellbound Glory|
|09/02/13||DeWitt, NY||Lost Horizons||Hellbound Glory|
|09/04/13||Cambridge, MA||The Middle East||Hellbound Glory|
|09/05/13||New Haven, CT||Cafe Nine||Hellbound Glory|
|09/06/13||Stanhope, NJ||Stanhope House||Hellbound Glory|
|09/07/13||Brooklyn, NY||The Bell House||Hellbound Glory|
|09/08/13||New Hope, PA||Fran’s Pub||Hellbound Glory|
|09/10/13||West Chester, PA||The Note||Hellbound Glory|
|09/11/13||Baltimore, MD||Ottobar||Hellbound Glory|
|09/12/13||Washington, DC||Rock N Roll Hotel||Hellbound Glory|
|09/14/13||Cleveland, OH||Beachland Ballroom||Hellbound Glory|
|09/15/13||Hamtramck, MI||Small’s||Hellbound Glory|
|09/17/13||Buffalo, NY||Tralf Music Hall||Hellbound Glory|
|09/18/13||Pittsburgh, PA||Altar Bar||Hellbound Glory|
|09/19/13||Altoona, PA||Aldo’s Lounge||Hellbound Glory|
|09/20/13||Lancaster, PA||Chameleon Club||Hellbound Glory|
|09/21/13||Long Branch, NJ||The Brighton Bar||Hellbound Glory|
|09/26/13||Lexington, KY||Cosmic Charlie’s||Hellbound Glory|
|09/27/13||St Louis, MO||Fubar||Hellbound Glory|
|09/28/13||Kansas City, MO||Knuckleheads Saloon||Hellbound Glory|
|09/29/13||Des Moines, IA||Vaudeville Mews||Hellbound Glory|
|10/01/13||Minneapolis, MN||Triple Rock Social Club||Hellbound Glory|
|10/02/13||Green Bay, WI||Crunchy Frog||Hellbound Glory|
|10/03/13||Lombard, IL||Brauerhouse||Hellbound Glory|
|10/04/13||Lombard, IL||Brauerhouse||Hellbound Glory|
|10/05/13||Waterloo, IA||Spicoli’s Bar & Grill||Hellbound Glory|
|10/06/13||Omaha, NE||The Waiting Room Lounge||Hellbound Glory|
|10/08/13||Fort Collins, CO||Hodi’s Half Note||Hellbound Glory|
|10/10/13||Denver, CO||Larimer Lounge||Hellbound Glory|
|10/11/13||Denver, CO||Larimer Lounge||Hellbound Glory|
|10/13/13||Salt Lake City, UT||Burt’s Tiki Lounge||Hellbound Glory|
|10/16/13||Las Vegas, NV||LVCS (Las Vegas Country Saloon)||Hellbound Glory|
|10/17/13||Costa Mesa, CA||Tiki Bar||Hellbound Glory|
|10/18/13||West Hollywood, CA||Viper Room||Hellbound Glory|
|10/20/13||San Diego, CA||Soda Bar||Hellbound Glory|
|10/22/13||Walnut Creek, CA||Blu 42 Sports Lounge||Hellbound Glory|
|10/23/13||San Francisco, CA||DNA Lounge||Hellbound Glory|
|10/24/13||Santa Rosa, CA||Russian River Brewing Company||N/A|
|10/25/13||Portland, OR||Dante’s||Hellbound Glory|
|10/26/13||Seattle, WA||Tractor Tavern||Hellbound Glory|
|10/27/13||Bainbridge Island, WA||Treehouse Cafe||Hellbound Glory|
Notorious Supersuckers front man Eddie Spaghetti is back with a brand new solo country rock record out 6/18 on Bloodshot Records called The Value of Nothing, and for the first time for one of his loner country projects it includes all original tunes.
The West Coast country punk rocker recorded the new album in his adopted hometown of Austin, TX with help from musician/zombie killer Jesse Dayton, hoping to capture an authentic country sound, but ended up with “a hybrid: a ragtop-down road trip soundtrack; an album embracing the guilty and not-so-guilty pleasures of classic rock, hooky-as-hell Texas roadhouse, and the always lurking- on-the-corner-barstool dirty joking of classic Supersuckerism.”
Eddie Spaghetti and The Supersuckers have helped define the nexus between country and punk for years, starting with their landmark 1997 punk to country crossover Must’ve Been High. Since then Spaghetti and the Supersuckers have collaborated with the likes of Steve Earle and Willie Nelson. Spaghetti’s 2010 album Sundowner was his first solo project with Bloodshot, and included covers from Dave Dudley and Johnny Cash, right beside selections from The Dwarves and Spaghetti’s own hybrid country punk tunes.
Enjoy an exclusive stream of The Value of Nothing below.
Embedded in the timeline of music are these choice, rare moments when a sound is captured that seems to give a definitive audio reference to the most authentic human emotion. Creating these moments is what every artist yearns for when they bend to the task of composing a new record, but little do they know that the most cherished of these timeless moments are rarely attained by anything more than sheer accident.
The string of early 70′s Rolling Stones albums starting with Sticky Fingers and centered around Exile of Main St. was quite possibly the first time the white man figured out how to capture sweat on a recording, but this wasn’t necessarily what The Rolling Stones set out to do. They were simply trying to navigate the freedom of a new recording deal, while avoiding massive tax liens that precluded them from going home to the UK to record. This resulted in sometimes manic recording sessions, many times captured by their inferior mobile recording studio. Meanwhile nearly the entire band was a hair away from a heroin overdose and hanging out with the bad influence of Gram Parsons. Gram was a bad personal influence at least. Like he did with The Byrds, Parsons made The Stones believe it was their idea to go country.
40-something years and a few heroin overdoses later, the sound evoked in those Sticky Fingers / Exile sessions is still strived for by musicians of many stripes, yet rarely achieved. It’s not just about 2-inch reel to reel tape and vintage amplifiers. Simple tone is not enough. The sound comes from a feel that there’s no true formula for, only a notion in your heart that you know when you hear it. Separating themselves from those with only a half-sense for the early 70′s vibe and hipsters who see it as trendy, the Deadstring Brothers have been proving they have an unadulterated sense for that coveted heroin sweat sound and how to mix it with their own original expression since their first album on Bloodshot Records in 2003.
If you’re looking for superpickers to get your spine tingling or superlative poetic exorbitance, you’re sorely missing the point of the Deadstring’s Cannery Row. This album is an evocation of warm memory, burrowing deep into your brain matter to reprise moments that meant something in your life and allowing you to relive them. It tugs at your heart strings, but not in the traditional way. It does it from the inside out–with a familiarity of feeling that is customized to your personal ear and experience.
A country rock album in the classic, Gram Parsons sense of the term, Cannery Row sets a sepia mood and sternly sustains it throughout. This is one of the most aesthetically-pleasing albums that you will listen to all year. The album’s opening track “Like A California Wildfire” may come across initially as a little too cliche to hold your attention, but like the heroin sweat it harkens back to, after a few doses, you’re hooked. “Oh Me Oh My” is another standout, with it’s bright, hooky pedal steel guitar cutting to your bones, and the male/female harmonies helping give warmth and depth to the story.
You damn near hear Jagger at the beginning of “Long Lonely Ride,” but that is Deadstring mainstay Kurtis Marschke who is the primary writer and singer of the songs. He’s joined by JD Mackinder, a member of the Bloodshot Records family that made the move over from Whitey Morgan & The 78′s. Pete Finney’s pedal steel is one of the most tasteful elements of Cannery Row, and the same could be said for Mike Webb’s keys. This album is drenched in harmonies from Kim Collins, and you may recognize the name Mickey Raphael bringing his all-familiar harmonica tone to this already familiar-feeling album.
One fear is that Cannery Row may not contain the type of diversity in texture needed to grab some people’s attention and hold it, but many of its tracks work so great autonomously, including the album’s first five cuts, and it’s most country offering, “Lucille’s Honky Tonk.”
Cannery Row works so well from the history of so many legendary recordings behind it, while interfacing with the individual history of the listener in a harmonious, memorable experience. Simply put, Cannery Row is a pleasure to listen to.
1 3/4 of 2 guns up.
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Forget all your stuffy old outmoded notions of what Nashville is. Right now Nashville is the center of the music universe in so many more ways than what is represented by the few city blocks of old houses and mini-rise office buildings on Music Row. Right here, right now, Nashville is the place to be for independent music. Sure, in a few years when the rest of the world catches on to that fact, they will move there in droves and ostensibly destroy what motivated them to move there in the first place (see Austin, TX circa now). And in many ways, especially in parts of east Nashville, this is already happening.
But right now, Nashville is that magical locale in the country where creativity is thriving because of the influx of talent coming in and the caliber of projects coming out. When you have so much talent and rabid creativity in one place, it compounds on itself in collaborations, it pushes individual artists to be better to keep up with their peers, and the end result is a mutual inspiration that rises all boats. It’s Haight Ashbury circa 1965. It’s Guy Clark’s kitchen in the movie Heartworn Highways.
This is just one clique of many, but right now in Nashville there is a crop of close-knit quasi-country musicians who represent the nucleus of the new Americana movement and the rebirth of creativity in Music City. Here they are, and how they inter-relate with each other.
Some people probably thought he was nuts for quitting the Drive By Truckers to pursue a solo career. Now he’s arguably one of the biggest names in Americana, and certainly one of the most current and influential. Jason Isbell is all about the power of the song. Originally from just outside of Muscle Shoals, his song “Alabama Pines” was the Americana Music Award’s Song of the Year in 2012. He was once married to Drive-By Truckers’ bass player Shonna Tucker. Now he’s married to Amanda Shires. He’s also good friends with Justin Townes Earle and appeared on his album Harlem River Blues, and played guitar for Justin when he performed the title track from the album on David Letterman.
A name made famous by others, but with a talent all his own, Bloodshot Records took a shot on this wild card with a rough past, and it paid off in spades. Along with Isbell, Justin Townes Earle is one of the most current and influential outlets for Americana music. Aside from putting out 5 stellar records, his resume is diverse, from being named one of GQ’s “Most Stylish Men” in 2010, to producing Wanda Jackson’s last record Unfinished Business. He’s good friends with Jason Isbell, who appeared on his album Harlem River Blues, and played guitar for Justin when he performed the title track from the album on David Letterman. Amanda Shires, who is married to Jason Isbell, is the girl that appears on the cover with Justin on his album The Good Life. Fiddle player Josh Hedley toured with Justin for a number of years, and Caitlin Rose has toured with Justin in a supporting role.
A fiddle prodigy that joined the legendary Texas Playboys at age 15, Amanda Shires’ talents began to be exposed to the alt-country/Americana world as a member of the Thrift Store Cowboys from her hometown of Lubbock, TX. Soon people began to catch on that Amanda was just as gifted as a singer and a songwriter as she was a giving, skilled, and attentive accompanist and collaborator, and she released her first solo album Being Brave in 2005. Amanda began playing with Jason Isbell both in a duo role, and with his band The 400 Unit a few years ago, eventually leading to their marriage in February of 2013. On twitter she now goes by “Amanda Isbell.” She appeared on the cover of Justin Townes Earle‘s The Good Life and has played fiddle for Justin as well.
Jonny Fritz (Corndawg)
The weird, quirky, sarcastic, but sincerely talented songwriter and performer whose silly songs may be an initial turnoff, but when delved into deeper reveal devilish wit and demonstrative scope. Like a Roger Miller of our time, I once overheard a concert attendee say about his music, “It’s like really bad country music that you can’t help but love.” His steadfast Tonto is fiddle player Josh Hedley, whose been with Jonny ever since he stopped touring with Justin Townes Earle. Jonny has shared Caitlin Rose‘s pedal steel player Spencer Cullum, and Jonny and Caitlin have appeared on stage together multiple times. They are both currently releasing albums through ATO Records.
The daughter of country music master songwriter Liz Rose, she has a powerful voice that matches her stellar songwriting skill and pedigree. Though the UK seems much more receptive than the US to her music at the moment, the boldness and accessibility of her recent release The Stand In should go far in making Caitlin a staple name in Americana for years to come. She has toured with Justin Townes Earle, and both have worked with studio producer Skylar Wilson. She has shared the stage and her pedal steel player Spencer Cullum with Jonny Fritz, and both Caitlin and Jonny are currently releasing albums through ATO Records.
Like Amanda Shires, Josh is the consummate, selfless, fiddle-playing sideman who also displays moments of brilliance when he steps into the frontman role. He’s opened for Eileen Rose as a solo artist, and released an EP called Green Eyes in 2009. He’s also done studio work for artists as big as Jack White, and is known to perform at Nashville’s fooBar, Full Moon Saloon, and other locations when not on the road. For years he played fiddle for Justin Townes Earle. He’s now the mainstay of Jonny Fritz‘s traveling band.
Other new artists making up Nashville’s creative nucleus: Sturgill Simpson, Austin Lucas, Tristen, Escondido, Rayland Baxter, Nikki Lane, Andrew Combs, Joshua Black Wilkins, Lindi Ortega, and who else?
Justin Townes Earle performing “Harlem River Blues” with Caitlin Rose and Josh Hedley
Justin Townes Earle Performing “Harlem River Blues with Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires
The King of Juke Joint Swing, The Viper of Melody, one Wayne “The Train” Hancock will be releasing his first album in nearly 3 years on February 26th called Ride through Bloodshot Records.
“Well folks just wanted to let ya know I’m now a Double A Daddy (means I’m clean and sober),” Hancock announced on Saturday (1-4), referencing one of the signature songs from his first album Thunderstorms & Neon Signs. “Starting the New Year off with a new attitude! We got the new album coming out in Feb. and tours to follow. See ya all down the road.”
UPDATE: The title track and first single from ride has just been released! Listen below.
And that’s not the only new Wayne Hancock album out. On the day after Christmas, Bloodshot Records released Choice Cuts: Best of Wayne Hancock as part of the label’s digital-only series meant to give new fans an easy way to catch up on an artist, or old fans the ability to find an artist’s best songs in one place. Wayne’s Best Of also includes a rare duet track of his hit “Juke Joint Jumping” featuring Hank Williams III. Previously the track was only available on Bloodshot’s For A Decade of Sin compilation released in 2005.
Hancock has had substance and alcohol issues in the past. In June of 2011, Wayne entered rehab to help with his “long-term fight with addiction.” But hopefully Wayne is on the right track now, and as the saying goes, THE TRAIN WILL ROLL ON.
Rosie Flores is rockabilly royalty. You can draw a direct line from Rose Maddox, to Wanda Jackson, to Rosie Flores, and she takes her role as the “Rockabilly Filly” seriously, helping to revitalize the careers of both Wanda and the “Female Elvis” Janis Martin when she invited them onto her smash 1995 release Rockabilly Filly.
A Member of the Austin Music Hall of Fame, she was dubbed the “female Dwight Yoakam” when she emerged out of the new traditionalist scene in Southern California. But enough comparisons with the boys, Rosie is a world beater all her own, recently making headlines by raising money and posthumously releasing Janis Martin’s The Blanco Sessions, as well as creating and performing a multimedia presentation for Janis at the Rock n’ Roll Hall Of Fame.
And as if Rosie wasn’t busy enough, here she is releasing her 11th full length album Working Girl’s Guitar through Bloodshot Records on October 16th. This raucous and rebellious collection of songs features Rosie for the first time handling all the solo guitar licks herself and writing some new original tunes along the way. Touching on rockabilly, surf, blues, and country, Rosie slays all comers and proves why she remains one of the most entertaining, energetic, and influential female guitar players around today.
Rosie Flores, Working Girl’s Guitar by BSHQ
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