Friday, April 27, 2012

Paul Sanchez and the Rolling Roadshow -- Reclamation of the Pie-Eyed Piper

I'm almost tempted to cheat and say that this is the best album of 2012, even though it was released back in November. It's because I didn't even know it existed until this week -- a criminal oversight, I know.


Here's what happened. Even though I'm a die-hard fan of anything related to Cowboy Mouth, I kind of let him slip off my radar. Not because I don't love his music -- far from it. It's just that I had an awkward experience after listening to his first post-Cowboy Mouth album, Exit to Mystery Street. I was struggling with a particularly bad bout of insomnia and listening to it as I tried to fall asleep. After five (count them) songs in a row about recreational substance abuse, a Spanglish song about smoking marijuana comes on and I fall asleep thinking "Woah! I understand Spanish! There's a part of my brain that understood it all along, but it took Paul Sanchez to unlock it for me."

When I woke up and remembered that I kind of freaked out a little bit, and somewhere between that moment and now I lost the album. (But I found it last weekend and fell asleep at about the same point in the album last night.)

Then Paul had to go and release seven more albums (one of them a double) between 2005 and 2011. For better or worse, losing everything he and his wife owned during Hurricane Katrina has served as a gigantic creative push for Paul.

Paul's band/musical collective, the Rolling Roadshow has wowed audiences all across the Southeast (won't y'all come up here?) With a rotating lineup that often features Cowboy Mouth alumnae Mary Lasseigne and Sonia Tetlow, the pure joy from creating music practically bursts out of these recordings.

 Paul is pure New Orleans, and he might just be the best songwriter in the entire city. The songs on this album span his entire songwriting career -- from his days of trying to hack it as a singer-songwriter in New York, to his time with Cowboy Mouth, some covers, and some new songs as well. It's unclear to me why he returned to some of those Cowboy Mouth songs -- "Light it on Fire," "One Cigarette I Will Remember," and "Louisiana Lowdown." And although I think Fred pretty much nails "Light it on Fire" every time he sings it, the version here breathes new life into the song's instrumentation, which is certainly welcome.

Really, I think he just made it to prove that, even on a bad day, he still outclasses just about everybody as a songwriter. But that assumes that he actually has something to prove. Unlike a lot of the gentlemen featured on this blog, he doesn't. He's not trying to impress a girl, he's not shooting for world fame, and he's not trying to show off his guitar playing skills. As he would say, he's a simple man who writes simple songs. But his simple songs are so damn good.

TL,DR: Listen to "I Love You For Tonight," "Light it on Fire," and "Land of Dreams" -- which is truly breathtaking.

Listen on Spotify.

Paul Sanchez -- Official, Buy Reclamation of the Pie-Eyed Piper on iTunes, Amazon


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Only Sons -- When The New Wears Off

The Only Sons caught my attention with their first album, Steel Hearts (which you can download for FREE from their site.) It certainly sounded like a first album. Though there was plenty of drive and lots of great hooks, I felt like something was missing and I kept listening to figure out what that was. Sometimes the meter was a little awkward, or there were too many tempo changes in one song. The band was trying to do too much at once, but even so the results were still better than most artists who have all that stuff down pat. Can you really fault anyone for being overly ambitious?



The Only Sons have fixed all of these mistakes and then some. The band is much more self-assured on this album. Where I hard a time keeping any of their songs from Steel Hearts in my head, I'm having a hard time not humming When The New Wears Off all the way through. Also, the album's just plain fun.

I posted "Bully" about a week ago, and if you liked that song you'll love the rest of the album. In general the album is about growing up, loyalty, and life on the road. In my opinion, the songs in that latter category are the weakest ("Claim to Fame" and "Southern Boy") but the rest of the album certainly holds up with or without them. This is definitely not a sophomore slump record by any means.

Devil's Circus
Helping Hand
None Braver

Buy When The New Wears Off (Only $5.00!)

The Only Sons -- Official

Monday, April 23, 2012

The District Attorneys -- Slowburner

First, some housekeeping notes. I'm going to put aside the Sunday Basics column aside from now. Stats show that I don't get too many visitors on Sundays, and at the moment I need to devote my writing to cover letters and job applications. Maybe I'll do a Sunday Funday playlist or something instead. What do you think?

Anyhoo, I am super stoked to tell you about this band and their tunes!

Scheduled to be released TOMORROW via This is American Music, The District Attorneys' Slowburner is a tasty pop confection.


Between their record label and their hometown cred (Atlanta, Georgia, doncha know) I was expecting more of a twang. There isn't, and that's completely OK with me. As I listened to the album, my first thought was "Huh. I miss this kind of music." It's fun, jangly, carefree. The District Attorneys sound like they've walked out of Athens, GA circa 1995. It's like nobody told them the indie rock of the 2000s happened. And wouldn't we all be happier that way?

But the poppiness of the album shouldn't deter you. The music is fun, but deceptive: the lyrics in "Confusion of Trust" and "Worry About Your Health" are sharp and thoughtful. I would go as far to say that if Better Than Ezra had any shred of artistic integrity left, they would sound like The District Attorneys.

There's a real sense of joy on these recordings. However, I would say the band really shines on the two quieter songs on the album, "Cherry Fire" and "Here's Your Star." Without the swagger of the dancier tunes, we get to hear the band's core: irresistible hooks, authentic emotions, and lyrical sensitivity.


It doesn't seem like there's a place to pre-order the album, so make extra sure to remember to buy it on Tuesday. Like the Adobe and Teardrops Facebook page or follow me on Twitter (both buttons conveniently located to your right) and I'll be sure to send you reminders. While you're waiting for the album to be released, you can download their two EPs for FREE on Bandcamp.
 

Madison Row
Here's Your Star
Boomtown

The District Attorneys -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Melissa and Paul -- Live Hard

My biggest complaint about Melissa and Paul is that it's inconvenient to get to their music. Some of us just aren't cool enough to have turntables. I guess that means we have to turn to Bandcamp.



Punknews has a stream of their latest 10" up (though only two songs from it are available on Bandcamp), and I have to say it blew me away. It's like they jumped inside of my brain and took everything I like about The Pixies, The Black Keys, The Pack a.d., and Sleater-Kinney, some incredible swagger, and threw it in a blender and gave it just to me. And now I'm giving it to you.

Paul's drumming is furious, while Melissa's vocals remind me of early Beth Ditto. It's hard to tell who's trying to keep up with who -- it's almost as if they're competing to see who's the most intense.

Highlights for me are "Yeah, I'm Alive," "Ready to Die," and "Try Hard (Everyday)." All of the songs feature a driving riff that will never leave your head. And I'm fine with that.

Melissa and Paul -- Official, Bandcamp, Punknews

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

FREE MUSIC: The Grand Prospect

A few seconds into The Grand Prospect's EP I thought, "Are these guys really from Brooklyn?"

Because, frankly, they have too much soul and authenticity. As Tim Barry pointed out in "Fine Foods Market" (off his new CD) there are plenty of kids out there who have traded in their synthesizers and punk rock hair-dos for flannel and acoustic guitars. There's lots of folk coming out of BK these days, but lots of it continues in the vein of wispy, apathetic hipster music that was pooped out in the early aughts. I hate that shit.

The Grand Prospect is not one of those bands.


Warm, steady, comforting. This is back porch music (or, I guess, front stoop.) While I tend to prefer more fast-temp music, I think the band really shines with its ballads "Lights" and "I Wanna Take You Home." "Santa Rita," the last track on the EP, shows me that this band is going places. It could have come out of The Band's repertoire. And, yes, I'm going to stake my reputation on that claim.

Their Twitter says they're recording a full-length album. I can't wait for it drop.



The Grand Prospect -- Facebook, Bandcamp

Monday, April 16, 2012

Outernational -- Todos Somos Illegales: We Are All Illegals

If you've been in New York City at any point in the last couple of years, you've probably walked by an Outernational bumper sticker. But since viral marketing doesn't work, I had no fucking idea what those stickers were for. Finally, some web surfing happened to lead me to the fusion-punk band's latest music video.


I'm not gonna lie, it was Miles Solay's capering that piqued my interest. The guy's a veritable cartoon character.

Todos Somos Illegales, assisted by Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello, packs a solid punch. The anti-US policy stance is not especially surprising. The arguments are not necessarily new -- at least not to anyone who's read up on the militarization of our border that effectively criminalizes an entire underclass of exploited people.

It's the music that packs the punch here -- the hypnotic rapping, punk-infused guitars, and tejano(?)* backings draw you in like there's no tomorrow. Simultaneously scathing and empowering, Todos Somos Illegales will make you take a good long think about the music you're dancing to. I've had mariachi music running through my head all week.

The band is currently touring along the border in support of the album. Check out the relevant links below, and make a donation on their Bandcamp page.



Outernational -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

*I really have no familiarity with Latin music, so if somebody wants to correct my categorization then please educate me!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

KICKSTARTER ALERT: The Jinxes

How charming is this song?




Damn charming, you correctly surmised after listening to the song.

But The Jinxes, a Monterey, CA-based couple, need some cash so they can make that -- and a few other songs-- sound even better. Help these folk-poppers spread their talent across the country, and toss a few bucks into the can.






The Jinxes --Official, Facebook

Friday, April 13, 2012

NEW SONG: Brother Dege -- "Wehyah"

Brother Dege is spooky.


But he's X-Files-spooky -- the kind of spooky that lingers with you 24 hours after the fact, because it's just that convincing. His music is not the kind of overwrought eeriness that so many folkies strain for -- as you know, longtime reader, I detest the use of macabre as a gimmick.

After listening to his new song, "Wehyah," I turned to Spotify to check out his catalog. His first album, Folk Songs of the American Longhair is available for your thrill-seeking pleasure.

"Wehyah" reminds me of a Pixies song, and don't think that's not a compliment. I went through a Pixies phase before I discovered alt country, and whenever I listened to "Silver" I wished that they had put out entire albums that sounded like that. It was my first taste of non-kitschy country.

So enjoy -- I'm super stoked for the release of his sophomore album, How to Kill a Horse. If you happen to be going to Jazz Fest, be sure to check out his show.




Brother Dege -- Official, Spotify

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Alabama Shakes -- Boys & Girls

I was worried about The Alabama Shakes. They've ridden a year-long tsunami of hype that has catapulted them to fame. I'm not exactly sure if they've even stopped touring since they first broke big last summer. As I wrote back in December, it's not for nothin'. That concert was practically a religious experience. But could they bring that raw joy to their recording?


It's a rare band that can achieve excellence in both its live performances and its albums. It's easy to focus on one and let the other support whichever is its strength.

Fortunately, The Shakes have sidestepped this pitfall. While the album itself does not elicit the same ecstasy as an Alabama Shakes concert, it showcases the band's talent in ways that would not necessarily be found in a live setting. Namely, the album allows for more focus on the lyrics -- I'm so blown away by Brittany Howard's vocals that I have a hard time concentrating on anything else. I wouldn't say these songs are meant to be lyrically challenging, but they express a sensitivity towards life that is worth including in the list of Things The Alabama Shakes Do Right. (Which is basically everything.)

And that's the thing about this band -- it's not so much their music, which is nevertheless accomplished -- but they are truly an experience. They gel together in a way that's fun to watch, and their happiness as they play live is infectious. Boys & Girls adds another dimension to that experience -- a chance to get better-acquainted with the music, and an opportunity to hear The Alabama Shakes in a less frenetic setting.

Standout tracks to me are "Hold On," "Rise to the Sun," and "Goin' To The Party," and "On Your Way."

You can stream the album here.

The Alabama Shakes -- Official, Facebook, Spotify, Amazon, iTunes
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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tim Barry -- 40 Miler

Sorry about the sporadic updates lately -- between the holidays and job applications and life Adobe and Teardrops had to go on the backburner this weekend. But now it's a Tim Barry Tuesday! Awesome!

Tim Barry is like a honey badger. He don't care. And he don't take no shit. If somebody asked me to talk about the American ideals of rugged individualism, I'd just hand them Tim Barry's catalog. Often empowering, sometimes abrasive, Tim Barry bares his soul in a way that few singer-songwriters are brave enough to do.


40 Miler is significantly more upbeat than his last couple of releases, which is a pleasant change -- mostly because I would listen to these songs and start to get worried about Tim. Though the album covers his well-trodden themes -- love, loneliness, jumping onto trains and riding them to wherever -- Tim Barry has traded in his world-weariness for contentment. It sure doesn't hurt his sound.

You'll probably see this album again at the end of the year on my "best of" list. So be a cool kid and buy it now.


Stream it here, and then buy it here.

Tim Barry -- Official, Facebook, Spotify

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Grisly Hand -- Western Ave. EP

In the age of the Internet-fueled music and fandom, is it fair to say that music is still dictated by the region it comes from? Now that our country is paved over with pre-fab suburbs and increasingly Disney-fied downtown districts, I often wonder if it's possible (or even important) to maintain regional distinctions.

The Grisly Hand is proud of its Midwestern roots. And though I imagine that Kansas City, MO is a proper city (or at least as proper as any city that isn't New York can be), it's not difficult to hear the swaying of wheat in the breeze in the rhythm on "Western Ave." "Still Feelin' Blue" is a regular old barnstomper. "Black Coffee" is a rollicking drinking song (because that's the only thing to do out there, right?)


The four songs on this EP pack a huge punch. I look forward to a time when The Grisly Hand can bring the Midwest to the rest of the country.

The Grisly Hand -- Official, Facebook

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

New Single From The Only Sons

The Only Sons are a gritty little band from Murfeesboro, Tennessee. Not gritty in the "Frank Miller gritty reboot" sense of the word, but in the sense that when I listen to them, I can feel the dust from a dirt road I'm not driving down work its way into my teeth.

You can download their first album, Steel Hearts, for free on their website. Though I enjoy the album, it feels as if the band is still getting a grip on their songwriting. What I've heard so far from their forthcoming album, When The New Wears Off, suggests significantly more polish without losing any of the sensibilities that make The Only Sons stand out.

The new single, "Bully," should make all of you super excited for the album's release on April 24th.




Word on the street is that they'll be touring along the East Coast with Two Cow Garage in May. I'm already stoked.

The Only Sons -- Official, Facebook

Monday, April 2, 2012

New John Moreland Song

Sorry, kids. Short update today -- I had one of those weekends that was neither useful nor restful.

On the plus side, John Moreland has given us a new song. As always, it's beautiful.

Listen here.