Monday, June 30, 2014

Caleb Caudle -- Paint Another Layer On My Heart

It seems to me that there are two songs about being happily in a relationship. The first type are happy love songs -- uncomplicated, simple, the perfect summer song. The other type is the kind where the narrator rips him or herself apart, thanking his or her lover for saving them from themselves. John Moreland is the indisputable master of these songs -- he's just so good at beating the shit out of himself. I don't love the second type; it's awful painful to listen to.

Caleb Caudle makes a bold choice with the lead-off track, "How'd You Learn." Rather than recount his many flaws, Caudle instead focuses on his partner's ability to help him grow and become a better person. In my youthful opinion, that's what grown-up relationships are all about: challenging each other to grow. It's not about rescuing.

The rest of the album follows suite. "How'd You Learn" could have been that kind of song. Likewise, while Paint Another Layer could have been about a singer-songwriter's loneliness on tour, it's really about feeling out of place and lonely. Caudle has avoided the pitfalls of sounding like a whiny troubadour and has figured out how to connect with us sedentary people.

To be honest, Caudle's skill wasn't easily seen from my first listen or two. It's hard to feel lonely during a glorious early summer day in New York. But an impending thunderstorm and end-of-year exhaustion gave me the emotional numbness necessary to fully appreciate this album. In other words, if it doesn't grab you at first, give it some time. Caudle is the real deal.

Caleb Caudle -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

Clothesline Revival -- The Greatest Show on Mars

It's summer vacation. Finally. Which means I'm going to be doubling the number of reviews here on Adobe and Teardrops.

Wait, what?

There are two reasons for this: one, I want to continue to become a more efficient writer. The other is more pragmatic -- I have three to four months' worth of reviews waiting to be written and I want to work my way through it so my reviews can be more current. The next review will be posted at 5 PM.

So let's start with Clothesline Revival's The Greatest Show on Mars.

Clothesline Revival is the stagename of a rather enigmatic blues and roots aficionado (he doesn't perform live and I'm not sure if he wants his real name shared.) He dubs old Alan Lomax field recordings over his sensitive, lilting blues guitar riffs.

I'm pretty sure there's a Ray Bradbury short story about a bunch of astronauts arriving at a Martian town that's full of their dead relatives and everything's wonderful, but then it turns out it's a Martian trap. There's no trap here, but this album certainly feels a little uncanny, just like that Martian village. Clothesline Revival isn't just raising the dead -- the updated drumbeats and judiciously placed theremin (or maybe it's a musical saw) give the proceedings a strangely current yet timeless cast.

Clothesline Revival -- Official, Facebook, iTunes, Amazon

Friday, June 27, 2014

OFFICIAL RELEASE: Proud Compilation CD

I'd like to give a shoutout to my good friend Bryce for getting the FIRST of 500 limited-edition copies of Proud, as well as my friend Annie for purchasing not one but THREE copies. Both have been constant Internet friends since I was a precocious 12-year-old falling in love with rock'n'roll for the first time. Without them (and their music recommendations) and the rest of the Cowboy Mouth community, we almost certainly wouldn't be reading this blog today.

And without Cowboy Mouth's positivity and emphasis on self-love, I probably wouldn't have made it through my coming out process.

That's why music is important. That's also why it's important to support our LGBTQ youth. Please donate 10 dollars (either by purchasing the album or donating directly to FIERCE.)

Purchase the album here.

FIERCE -- The organization this CD is benefitting. Help train future activists!
Russian Winter Records -- the label that made this happen (thanks, Ric!)
Dom Sindayiganza -- The photographer who donated this beautiful photo

Arsene de Lay, The Paisley Fields, Sonia Tetlow, Paul Sanchez, Mary Lasseigne, Miss Shevaughn and Yuma Wray, The Feel Bad Hit of the Winter, Matt Woods, Uncle Leon and the Alibis, Karen and the Sorrows

Thursday, June 26, 2014

MUSIC VIDEO: Miss Shevaughn and Yuma Wray -- "Drifter's Compass"

Sorry for the lack of update yesterday. Today is the last day of school and I'm physically incapable of fulfilling any other responsibilities. Yesterday I came home and played Civilization for three hours straight. No bathroom breaks.

Speaking of full bladders, here's Miss Shevaughn and Yuma Wray's latest music video, which shows some excellent footage from the couple's wedding and the band's honeymoon video. This is my favorite song from the album.

You can hear more Miss Shevaughn and Yuma Wray on the Proud compilation album (hint, hint) or down here:

Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray -- Official, Facebook, Twitter, Buy We're From Here, Purchase Lean Into the Wind

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Pageant -- Figure Eight

Now that the school year is winding down, I have something else to occupy my time: a social life. It's rather sparse between September and July, but now's the time to live the next 8 weeks with a vengeance (well, starting Thursday at least. And living with a vengeance includes a lot of naptime.)

So here's a single from the brother/sister-fronted band Pageant. I can't tell from their website when the full EP will be released, but I've also embedded their first album, which is just as fun and puppy as "Figure Eight." These are both great starts to the summer.
Figure Eight

Pageant -- Bandcamp, Facebook

Monday, June 23, 2014

PREORDER: Proud Compilation


500 purchases = two new interns for FIERCE
500+ purchases = two new interns and other amazing stuff!

While you're waiting for your hand-numbered limited edition CD to reach you, or while you're picking your jaw up off the floor because the music is so great, check out the artists' and participants' websites:

FIERCE -- The organization this CD is benefitting. Help train future activists!
Russian Winter Records -- the label that made this happen (thanks, Ric!)
Dom Sindayiganza -- The photographer who donated this beautiful photo

Arsene de Lay, The Paisley Fields, Sonia Tetlow, Paul Sanchez, Mary Lasseigne, Miss Shevaughn and Yuma Wray, The Feel Bad Hit of the Winter, Matt Woods, Uncle Leon and the Alibis, Karen and the Sorrows

Purchase HERE

Friday, June 20, 2014

Another Dead Clown -- This May Not Work.

I don't think an album has made me want to see a band live more than Another Dead Clown's This May Not Work. This band has a manic energy and crazy inventiveness that oozes through the speakers. There's no way their live show isn't as goofy and rambunctious as the canned version.

The band has existed in some form or other for the past ten years, comprised of a core of best friends and siblings. The songwriting is tight and features layered storytelling (notably in "Holy Fuck!!!" and "The Ghost of Frank O'Hara") but somehow the music feels like a bullshit session between some extremely talented musicians.

That's essentially how Another Dead Clown and they seem happy enough to make sure things don't get too serious. And that's where this band succeeds were so many other young artists (in my opinion) fail: at the end of the day heartfelt confessions of mistakes, fear of death, and bitterness sound really silly coming from a young person (I have a hard time taking my high school students' world weariness seriously, though they've got more grounds for it than I do.)

Another Dead Clown is honest about their feelings, but they don't act as if they're the first or last to feel this way. Their self-awareness is refreshing.

I should also add that their website is really entertaining (really.) Check it out and tell them I sent you. You can also name your own price for the album on Bandcamp.

Another Dead Clown -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Cowboy Mouth -- Go!

There's some bands you can't help but follow. Call it sentimental value. I've been following Cowboy Mouth since I cared about music. After listening to their latest (fourteenth?) studio album, I felt a little weird. I couldn't put my finger on why. And then I realized it was because, for the first time in almost a decade, I enjoyed a new Cowboy Mouth album.

In a recent interview, lead singer, songwriter, and drummer Fred LeBlanc said he was as proud of Go! as the band's seminal albums, Are You With Me? and Mercyland. I'm not sure I'd go that far, but the fire that's been missing from Fred's writing is coming back. The lead single, "Dirty Little Secret" is one of Fred's finest in a while -- it combined Fred's love of the Clash's rapid-fire punk beats and the flavors of New Orleans. Likewise, "Mardi Gras by Moonlight," a tango that's a bit of an oddball on what's mostly a pop-punk album, brings to life the mystique of Fred's beloved hometown. However, the strongest song on the album is "Watch the Water," a lullaby for his young son.

I think that's the key. Even with (or perhaps because of) the emotional tumult in Fred and JTG's life these past few years, neither seemed to have much to say on Fearless and This Train. And although I gave This Train a positive review when it came out, it got wiped from my hard drive and I forgot it existed. Go! isn't as forgettable. While some of the songs, like the lead track, are a little pat (it pretty much says "I'm middle aged but I still want to have fun like a used to!"), there's an energy and investment on this album that I haven't seen in a long time. It's a great album to kick off the summer.

Cowboy Mouth -- Official, Facebook, Purchase on iTunes, Purchase Mp3 on Amazon, Purchase physical CD on Amazon

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Anna Tivel -- Before Machines

The first riff of "Five Dollar Bill," the opening track of Anna Tivel's sophomore album, made my brain turn somersaults. Don't worry -- it was in a happy way.

Tivel manages to capture the performance styles of my favorites: Kendl Winter's pointed songwriting and Dylanesque delivery, the plaintive tones and sardonic humor of Kathleen Edwards, and the breathy otherworldiness of Sonia Tetlow.

That's not to say Tivel can't stand on her own merit. I'm just saying my brain was confused by the power and glory of all the things that tickle it happening simultaneously.

But sometimes there is too much of a good thing. Clocking in at an hour and six minutes, the middle section of the album -- which features a number of songs that are just well, sad, gets  a little wearing. Please forgive the backhanded compliment: Tivel believes in her songs with such intensity, that listening to it all at once ends up being a little much to handle.

Tivel's clearly got a voice -- both in the literal and figurative sense. This is the start of something great.

Anna Tivel -- Official, Purchase from Fluff and Gravy Records

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Interview -- Bishops

I introduced you to the raw power of Bishops a few months ago. Tucker Riggleman took a break from unpacking after a big move to answer some of my questions about his craft:
Photo Credit: Jordan Hudkins
What's your songwriting process like?

Writing songs is a very weird thing for me. Almost every song I’ve written happened in about five or ten minutes. It all happens so fast, and I’m frantically looking for a pen to write down lyrics as they come out. I don’t know how to describe it. I definitely don’t sit down and say, “Hey, I’m going to write a song now.” – it’s pretty organic.

What or who do you see as your most important influences?
Musically speaking, my favorite band is The Replacements, so I think I am definitely influenced by them stylistically. As for my lyrical influences, I draw from a lot of personal experience, be it family, friends, significant others, etc – but that’s not to say all of my songs are autobiographical. Sometimes its interesting to try and see the world through someone else’s eyes and try to write about that.

I noticed that a lot of the songs on this album are about apathy or depression. Which do you find more cathartic: writing these songs or performing them?
I think those are two things that most mid 20-somethings deal with in life - the post-college “now what?” kind of doldrums. It just so happens that writing songs is pretty therapeutic for me, so I’ve managed to capture my anxiety, fears, and hopes and turn them into a record. I think the writing is definitely the most cathartic part of the process. I write these songs for me, and I have hundreds that I’ll probably never play outside of my bedroom. Performing is ridiculously fun, and a great release – and if someone at the show can relate to some of what we’re doing or saying, then that’s just an added bonus.

West Virginia is a tiny state but from what I've seen while writing this blog, it's got a rich and diverse music scene. Where do you think that comes from? What keeps you here?
I think most West Virginians grow up with a chip on their shoulder. We’re the state everyone has forgot. There’s a fierce sense of pride that comes from living here, and it makes it feel that much better when you can go out and accomplish something. It feels like you’re doing it for the whole state. There are some insanely talented musicians residing in West Virginia, and I’m very lucky to call a lot of them my friends. As far as what keeps me here, it’s a beautiful, comfortable, affordable place to live that is very close to so many major East Coast cities --- that being said, I’ve been here my whole life, and I can see myself giving somewhere else a shot in the very near future, but I’ll always be a West Virginian.

What is one thing you'd like listeners to know about Silver Lining?
Just that a lot of love went into these songs and this record. I hope you can find something in there that you can relate to, or maybe you’ll like how the drums sound on a certain track, or a specific guitar part. It’s a very honest record, and I hope you can find some enjoyment in it.

Official, Facebook, Bandcamp, Preorder the vinyl at Twin Cousins Records

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Redleg Husky -- Carolina

Carolina is an album of exceptional beauty.

I don't mean to say that this is a carefully crafted Old Master hung up somewhere in the Met. It's more like a painting from the Hudson River School: thoughtfully composed, but earthy and a little messy. It's honest, restrained in the right places, and joyful exuberant everywhere else.

The trio's songs of heartbreak and revenge complement each other well. Normally I don't love old-timey music, but there's something about Redleg Husky's sparing use of hammerclaw banjo and judicious insertion of musical saws (which I've loved since reviewing AxeHammerSaw) that make their music sound timeless and immediate. They're not breaking out the old stuff just to say they can -- they're building on it.

Carolina is touching on many levels. It's by far one of my favorite albums of the year.

Redleg Husky -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

Friday, June 13, 2014

Fairest Maiden -- Lemuelle Roque

And now for something completely different, some pop hip-hop from Lemuelle Roque, who hails from the Philippines. Can't tell you why I like it -- I just do. Maybe listening to hours and hours of dubstep, reggaeton, and what passes for hip hop these days thanks to my students has desensitized me to EDM. But I like it. So there.

(NB: Some of these lyrics are not classroom-appropriate, so they're definitely NSFW.)

Lemuelle Roque -- Official

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Devil's Cut -- No Salvation

What you see is what you get with No Salvation. Here.

Yeah, that's pretty stark. It's also no-frills and hardscrabble, hones-to-goodness punk with a heavy side of Americana. The soaring opener, "Highwater Chevy," will be in the back of your mind for the next month. These are songs about watching the Rust Belt molder away. For the rest of us, we can pin them on to ideals (or idealism, but hopefully not) that slowly fade away. The Devil's Cut makes it sound damn good. This is one of the few albums so far this year that I keep coming back to.

The Devil's Cut -- Facebook, Bandcamp, Reverbnation

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sad and French -- Sad and French

Some breakups are really bad. One in particular has fueled Sad and French's entire artistic output for the past two years. Damn, Jose.

At least the rest of us benefit from it. Sad and French has moved away from the country emphasis in their EP and is more squarely in the land of acoustic punk. Unless you see them at a live show, of course, in which case the standup bass has been traded in for an electric and a whole lot of bravado. It's great and it's energetic and I'm excited to hear the next phase of this band through my headphones. But for now, take a contemplative album chronicling the many stages of a poisonous relationship. Your challenge is to listen to this album without getting "Shorter days, and longer nights," "Cheers to you," and "When the poison flows" without getting them stuck in your head as you go about your day.

It turns out they are hopping on Arliss Nancy's tour in July, so memorize all the songs RIGHT NOW. Tell Jose I sent you.

Sad and French -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp, iTunes, Purchase on vinyl from Black Numbers

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires -- Dereconstructed

Dereconstructed is, if nothing else, the most aptly titled album of the year. It represents the manic, frenzied sound of Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires' sophomore album. It also has a nod to Reconstruction, the botched attempts at reform right after the Civil War -- a period that this history major argues was the federal government's first attempts at building cultural hegemony as the US rose to global prominence. It also represents the behavior the listener must engage in when listening to this Southern rock opera.

If you think that I've got too much education and too much free time and that the above paragraph was a bunch of bullshit then -- I'm sorry -- you're just not gonna get much out of this album.

I'm speaking from experience. I first listened to this album while focusing on some other work (duh) and felt a little let down. It wasn't what I remembered from There Is a Bomb in Gilead. Instead it was a whole lot of noise. Engaging, yeah, but not the soaring melodies or, it seemed, the intellect behind their earlier work.

But I bought the damn thing so I might as well listen to it. Then I heard lyrics about "cracking whips of white men selling black men" and then there's a song called "We Dare Defend Our Rights!" Wait. This is a political album?

Wolf di'Chiara does a great job of de(re)constructing specific moments over at Ninebullets. If I had written this a week earlier like I'd planned and if I hadn't spent most of today revising my students' 9-10 page term papers (I'm proud as hell that I got them to write so much but damn is it a lot of reading on my end) I'd delve more into it. But Wolf more or less wrote what I would've.

But here's my take. This album isn't even about the ambivalence of (white) Southern pride, which has certainly been covered elsewhere. This is about squarely confronting the evils of our past (it's not just the South -- during Reconstruction, Rutherford B. Hayes sold out a lot of radical, progressive social programs -- commonly regarded as the second phase of Reconstruction -- for freed blacks just so he could get re-elected, essentially ending the program and returning the South to the pre-Civil war status quo) and finally mending the injustices our country has been founded on.

The opening track, "Company Man," sums up the raw intensity and biting lyrical potency of the album. You can read the lyrics here.

Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires -- Official, Facebook, Purchase from Sub Pop Records

Monday, June 9, 2014

Announcing Proud

Hi, folks!

I am super excited to announce that Adobe & Teardrops is teaming up with Russian Winter Records to create our very first compilation CD, Proud. It features ten of my favorite-ist people. Check out the info below!

Photo Credit: Dom Sindayiganza

West Virginia-based Russian Winter Records and alt-country blog Adobe & Teardrops are proud to announce the release of Proud, a compilation CD to benefit LGBTQ youth organization FIERCE. The album is slated to be released on 6/28, the date of the New York City Heritage of Pride March.

FIERCE is a New York City-based organization that trains LGBTQ youth of color to become the next generation of activists. The organization was chosen due to its connection to the true roots of the New York City Heritage of Pride parade: radical activism. As the inexorable tide of marriage equality rolls through the country, urgent issues such as trans* protections, homelessness, immigration status, and police brutality against LGBTQ youth (particularly youth of color) are often ignored by prominent LGBTQ organizations helmed by wealthy, white men. Even as Fortune 500 corporations like Google and Whole Foods sponsor floats at the Pride Parade, the struggle for true equality continues.

Lending their talents to this album are ten alt-country artists spanning the gender and sexuality spectrum. They are united by their dedication to honest music and unique worldviews: the very definition of pride. Proud will include tracks from Brooklyn-based queer country band Karen and the Sorrows, Atlanta rocker Sonia Tetlow, folk-rock troubadour Matt Woods , and New Orleans breakout singer Arsene DeLay. The ten-track album will be sold for $10 digitally via Russian Winter Records' Bandcamp page and on 500 limited-edition CDs. 25% of the proceeds will be donated to FIERCE. If the minimum of 500 CDs are sold, FIERCE will be able to hire an additional two interns for the next fiscal year.

More information to come! Get excited and get your wallets out!

Russian Winter Records, FIERCE


1. Arsene DeLay -- Anti
2. The Paisley Fields -- Not Gonna Be Friends
3. Sonia Tetlow -- Free to Rock'n'Roll
4. Paul Sanchez -- Dancing With Fear
5. Miss Shevaughn and Yuma Wray -- Brushed the Dust Off (Lean Into The Wind)
6. The Feel Bad Hit of the Winter -- Chato
7. Matt Woods -- Port St. Lucie
8. Mary Lasseigne -- Rebecca Sunshine
9. Uncle Leon and the Alibis -- Don't Blame This Guitar
10. Karen and the Sorrows -- Star

Thursday, June 5, 2014

American Opera

I'm such a fuck-up. American Opera (a.k.a. John Bee) and Sad and French opened for Two Cow Garage back in February. I didn't take the time to research American Opera and skipped the set. I spoke with Bee after the show. He was so sweet that I pretended that I had been at the set but cheaped out and bought only one of his EPs.

Then it sat on my nightstand for a few days.

After the first verse of "Bright Lights & Amplifiers" I realized that I really fucked up.

American Opera is not necessarily cutting edge. If you're reading this, I'm sure you're quite familiar guys who sport punk rock haircuts, acoustic guitars, and an unwavering commitment to rock'n'roll. But not everyone sounds as good doing it as Bee, and not everyone has Bee's sensitive attention to detail.

And most people don't have Bee's sincerity. I'm not talking about the guts'n'glory approach bands like Two Cow Garage and I Can Lick Any SOB In The House. At first I was a little surprised to hear someone sing about God and country unironically and without cynicism. (See "The Only Things That Matter To Me.") That's a rare gift for a 20-something in this age.

While I've spent more time listening to Demo/Listen, Your Songs and the live EP are also excellent. They inspire me to look at the world a little more faithfully and hopefully. And it's certainly inspired me to drop ten more dollars to complete my collection.

American Opera -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Adam Faucett -- Blind Water Finds Blind Water

I wasn't really sure how I felt about Adam Faucett the first time I listened to "Day Drinker." I was at work, I was stressed, I was listening on laptop speakers. Faucett's opening, plaintive wail seemed more like interesting caterwauling. Just goes to show what a good pair of headphones can do. I'm glad Blind Water Finds Blind Water landed in my lap because it is easily one of the best albums you'll listen to this year and in many years to come.

In a the hands of a lesser songwriter, the themes of loneliness and ennui would be run-of-the-mill, rather than haunting. In the hands of a lesser singer, these songs would be incredible, but they wouldn't be quite so beautiful. Faucett is truly nothing less than a force of nature who effortlessly transitions from rock to folk -- sometimes in the same bar (musically, that is.) It's for artists like these that we all listen to music -- to find someone who will move us emotionally and pushes the boundaries of the familiar in order to create something truly stunning.

Adam Faucett -- Official, Facebook, Purchase, Purchase in vinyl from Last Chance Records

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Kent Goolsby -- Hitched

The other day I though, "Huh. What ever happened to Kent Goolsby?" The former frontman of The Only Sons released a remarkable debut album last year, and I hadn't heard much since. Turns out he got himself hitched, the main theme of Goolsby's new single.

The single was produced by Joey Kneiser, whom you may know as the lead singer in Glossary. Both songs mark a shift in Goolsby's style. He's traded in the aggression country rock for a more old time-y feel that rather suits him. "Hitched" is a sweet, jazzy song but I find myself attracted to "B-Side Blues," so that's what I'm going to post here. It's a clever take on the frustrated musician that lends itself to Goolsby's new vintage aesthetic.

B-Side Blues

Kent Goolsby -- Official, Facebook, Purchase from This Is American Music

Monday, June 2, 2014

Pork Chop Willie -- Love is the Devil

I send a lot of musicians over to John Horton's Popa's Tunes, so I always appreciate it when he sends someone my way. The guy's got good taste. And, honestly, he can do a way better job than I can explaining why Love is the Devil is -- in his words -- one of the best debut albums this year. He talks about the many blues traditions the New York-based duo incorporates and their deep respect for the material.

I don't really know a lot about that. But I do know they know how to play a blues song.

I will say it's hard for me to tell which songs are originals and which are venerable covers. Reading the liner notes to this album, it's easy to see singer and guitarist Bill Hammer's craftsman-like approach to his art. Everything is intentional, but none of these songs are rote. Melissa Tong's nimble violin provides a homey counterpoint to the band's otherwise aggressive wall of sound. Bonus points: they like to play up in Harlem, which is way more convenient for me to get to.

Check out the CD release party

June 16, 7:30 PM
Shrine World Music Venue in NYC (2271 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd (Seventh Ave) just below 134th St.

Snake Drive

Lonesome Poor

She Gave Me Joy

Pork Chop Willie -- Official, Facebook, CDBaby