2010 Year In Review Part Deaux: Texas Music You Should Be Listening To!

As the saying goes, there must be something in the water!  There is something about the Texas music scene that defies typical musical conventions.  This, of course, comes as no surprise to the millions of Texas music fans.  The variety of music that hails from the great state is as expansive as the West Texas plains.  While Austin is known as the “Live Music Capital” of the world, there are plenty of fertile musical breeding grounds in Texas. 

 Today, I will WOW you with some of the musical greatness that came from or had ties to Texas in 2010. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, it is just a few of the albums that I have had in heavy rotation over the course of the last year. 

Artist Album Observations
Old 97’s The Grand Theatre Vol. 1 Dallas band gets back to their roots and write good music without trying to be anything more than they are.  After 17 years it is good to see them comfortable in their own skin.
Spoon Transference Not as much of gloss and a lot more rock is what make this album great.  Not shying away from the darker textures, Spoon creates a less poppy album and the laxity of Transference is the strength of the album.
Reckless Kelly Somewhere In Time A fine album of cover songs to their one time mentor Pinto Bennett. 
Roky Erickson & Okkervil River True Love Cast Out All Evil Concise production shapes the sorrow of the Austin icon Roky Erickson’s life and ultimately the optimism of his return.
Court Yard Hounds Court Yard Hounds 2/3 of the Dixie Chicks show that sometimes less is more.  Jakob Dylan adds his dusky dulcet tone for a quick duet.
Alejandro Escovedo Street Songs of Love The fierceness of the guitar and the bombastic instrumentation belie the emotional elements of the lyrics. 
Arcade Fire The Suburbs Currently Canadian, Butler boys do hail from the sterile Houston suburb known as the Woodlands.  This is a great album and also made my 2010 Year in review. 
Ryan Bingham Junky Star Former rodeo star hits the big time with Golden Globe and Oscar win and a current Grammy Nomination for his work on the “Crazy Heart’ soundtrack.  His 3rd album is no fluke either.  His whisky and cigarette vocals are the perfect vehicle for his forlorn tales. 
Randy Rogers Band Burning the Day One of the hardest working bands in the state.  Over 200 dates over the past years.  Still time to record and release their 5th album.
Norah Jones …Featuring Norah Jones The list of collaborators is what makes this album genius.  You have the rap community represented with Talib Kweli Q Tip, and Outkast, the rock genre is fortified by Foo Fighters, and Ryan Adams is a genre chameleon so several are covered with his efforts.  Also, Willie Nelson adds his own brand of greatness.
Walt Wilkins Agave A true Texas troubadour.  No one does it better then Walt.  The words of a poet delivered honey sweet with a calm, familiar feel.  Need to see him live if you ever have the chance.
Tommy Alverson Texas One More Time With a twinkle in his eye, and a beer in his hand, Tommy makes music that makes you feel fine.  When Tommy sings, it feels like a warm summer night and for that moment you are carefree.  Highly recommend you see him live, you won’t regret it.
Six Market Boulevard Running On Seven I caught these boys live one Sunday afternoon at a local barbeque joint.  Nice, strong debut album.
Mike Ryan The First One Great voice, laid back attitude, and interacts with his fans.  Ballsy covers of Lenny Kravitz and Conway Twitty.  Need to see him live to fully appreciate his brand of greatness.
Bruce Robison From the Top Amazing songwriting that has made many country artists famous.  This album finds him paired with Rodney Crowell and it is an effort steeped in simplicity.  When you write as well as Bruce, you don’t need to add a lot of fluff.

 Great music awaits!


Joe Pug: Musical Gem of 2010

Joe Pug is a singer/songwriter who originally hails from Maryland but began his unique musical career in Chicago.  He has toured at length since 2008, has opened for Steve Earle, M. Ward, and Josh Ritter and has also played the New Port Folk Festival and Lollapalooza.  Nothing in the short career of Joe Pug has followed the normal trajectory of a musician. 

His path to music was not as direct as other artists; he began playing guitar in grade school and formed a band in the 6th grade.   Firmly believing the mark of a band was original writing, he began writing songs. This was coupled with early ambitions of being a playwright. He left home and attended the University of North Carolina for several years and abruptly left to continue his pursuit of music.  His ideas for a play ultimately were flushed out in his first EP “Nation of Heat”.  The songs were surreptitiously recorded in a Chicago studio with the aid of a friend who permitted him late night access to the cancelled studio sessions of other musicians.

His first headlining show in Chicago’s hallowed venue, Schuba’s Tavern, was sold out which further established the praise that was surrounding the EP “Nation of Heat” and the artist. 

Early on, he struck upon the idea of giving his music to his fans free of charge.  In his mind, his fans already dig him and they have friends who would likely dig him too.  They just needed the chance to hear him.  The offer is posted on his web site www.joepugmusic.com. To date, he has sent out over 15,000 copies of his poignant tunes to all 50 states and 14 countries.  He covers all of the cost associated with this magnanimous offer. 

Joe Pug Discography:

  • Nation of Heat (EP)
  • In the Meantime (EP)
  • The Messenger

In 2010 he released his full length debut “The Messenger” which consists of ten tracks of guitar driven tunes with the occasional backing of harmonica.  This is one of those albums that can be enjoyed from start to finish and leaves you wanting more.  His modest approach allows you to breath in the beauty of his lyrics and the connectivity of his voice.

His amazingly beautiful lyrics are wrapped in poetry and grace that confound the listener and belie his age.  Oh, and did I mention that Joe is in his early twenties?  How does someone so young find the muse of years and experiences he has not lived?  Is it possible to have lived the wearied tales of love and loss, the eternal quest of belonging, and channel the emotional depth of the musical greats before him like Dylan and Guthrie at such a young age? 

I don’t know the answer to the questions asked but if you listen to him for any length, you too will hear the detailed stories being told.  You too will be struck by how well they connect.  You too will become a fan of Joe Pug.  More importantly, you have nothing to lose by trying.  Joe has taken out the roadblocks to becoming a fan.  He is giving you the window of opportunity, at his cost, to listen, learn, and love his music.

Check out Joe Pug at www.joepugmusic.com

 www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhAwD_DSgZQ&feature=related

 www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0hArN7ngtk&feature=related

Great music awaits!


2010 Year In Review: Music You Should Have Been Listening To!

Well, 2010 was quite the year!  Everyone got a little older but ladies, you don’t look it!  In spite of continued political divide, the yet to rebound economy, and little oil spill in the Gulf, 2010 was a pretty great year in music.  Not for the industry as a whole (canceled tours, decline in both digital and CD sales, etc…), but in terms of the output from various artists it was a pretty fine year.  Hell, the Beatles finally capitulated to the masses and released their catalog on iTunes!  Back the Brinks truck up boys, we are cashing in!

Here is my annual review of what I thought, and thereby, was good in the world of music in 2010.  If it did not make the list, it means I did not get a chance to listen to it, or it sucked.  It is entirely possible that some music got by me this year.  It is more likely that the music I did not listen to was not listenable and therefore sucked.

In all seriousness, this is a compilation of 50 albums that were released in 2010 that got a lot of play in the many places where I listen to music.  All of these albums I own and were in heavy rotation throughout the year.  These are by no means the only albums released or that I purchased in 2010 but the ones I found myself digging a little more than some of the others.

The albums listed below are in no particular order of greatness but are all great in their own unique musical way!  See, look at that, I’m being mindful of the feelings of the artists that will never read this blog and perpetuating the “everyone is a winner”, feel good schlock that has helped raise and create a whole generation of entitled whiners and, I digress.

So sit back and peruse the gentle musing of what made my musical pants go crazy this year.

Artist Album My Annotations
The Black Keys Brother This album and all of their other albums rock.  This band consists of 2 white dudes from Ohio who sound like a symphony of veteran bluesman that caught wind of some funk.  Pure greatness!
Arcade Fire The Suburbs Nice way to come back from a 3 year break!  This album and this band is what is right with music today. Sprawling music, musicians that actually play instruments, and have something meaningful to say!
Jamey Johnson The Guitar Songs Jamey tried the clean cut “new” country way and realized that it was not going to work for him.  So, he followed the Johnny Cash 101 course and gave in to vice and temptation, grew a crazy beard and wrote about his life.  This double disc is pretty aggressive for this relative newcomer but he pulls it off and we are better for it.
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Mojo Great new disc from the Heartbreakers and another great album from start –finish for Tommy Boy.  After 30 years I am amazed that he can still bring it like he does.  Petty has a way of always taking me back to the halcyon days of high school.  Props to the folks from 75115!
Drive-By Truckers The Big To-Do I love DBT and this album is no exception.  While Jason Isbell is missed, they are able to carry one and make some damn fine music.  The stories that they create are usually good for a laugh or two until you realize that most of them come from real life events. 
Fistful of Mercy Fistful of Mercy The musical triumvirate of Ben Harper, Joseph Arthur, and Dhani Harrison.  Great harmonies and acoustic instrumentation. 
Bruce Springsteen The Promise This 2 disc set is the lost tracks to the Darkness on the Edge of Town session.  That period was pretty prolific for the Boss and it is funny how 30+ years later the music is still relevant.  Hats off to you Bruce and the E Street Boys.
Eminem Recovery Dropped off the face of musical earth and did a death spiral and realized that he had more music to make.  While not as aggressive and misogynistic as his earlier work, Recovery shows that he still has skills.
The Dead Weather Sea of Cowards Jack White is pure greatness and this sophomore effort from one of his many side projects does not disappoint. 
The National High Violet Not exactly a “pick me up” kind of band but the drama and melancholy is balanced by the somber vocals and tight instrumentation. 
Band of Horses Infinite Arms Indie music darlings come back with a full group for their third album.  Their sound is familiar but they do explore some new lyrical territory. 
Neil Young Le Noise Neil Young and his eclectic ways paired + Daniel Lanois production expertise = genius. 
Kings of Leon Come Around Sundown These guys make consistently good music.  It is unfortunate that their previous release was embraced by the masses and oversaturated the airwaves.
 Kid Rock Born Free Say what you will about the Kid, but when he stays close to the classic rock of our youth, he makes entertaining music.
Joe Purdy 4th of July The best indie act out there today.  Releases all of his material on his own with no major label support, gets little or no radio play, and tours in places that hold 200-300 people.  He is amazing. 
Joe Purdy This American See above
The Gaslight Anthem American Slang New Jersey band channeling the musical spirit of Springsteen with a little punk rock spin.  Further proof that good things come from the Garden State!
Spoon Transference Spoon continues to make moody not quite pop music.  This is their 7th album and is a great showcase of their formidable musical chops.
Gorillaz Plastic Beach Cartoon characters that get the likes of DeLa Soul, Snoop Dogg, and Lou Reed to guest on their album.  What more can I say?
MGMT Congratulations The sophomore album from the trippy, somewhat psychedelic duo.  As good as their stellar debut and clearly shows that these boys have some skills.
Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy Despite the petulant attitude, knack for opening mouth and inserting foot, Kanye knows how to mix and mingle the tracks, samples and artists.   Not sure I like liking him but hard to ignore.
Robert Plant Band of Joy Golden Rock god pays go pre-Zeppelin days and does some pretty sweet covers of American music such as Townes Van Zandt, Low, and Los Lobos.
John Mellencamp No Better Than This This live mono recording of his latest was done in various parts of the country such as a Georgia church, San Antonio hotel room, and a Memphis recording studio.  Mr. Happy Go Lucky strikes again!
Broken Bells Broken Bells James Mercer (The Shins) and super producer Danger Mouse (Gnarls Barkley) team up for an awesome debut album.  Hopefully they will find time to make more music.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club Beat the Devil’s Tattoo Cool, scary band name with cool scary album name.  I’ve been a fan for years and like how they have evolved.
Marc Cohn Listening Booth:1970 Great covers of 70’s song.  Nice to see him back in the booth.
Josh Ritter So Runs The World Away Quite the word smith.  Sparse musical compositions are the foundation for the subterranean concepts of the album.
Flobots Survival Story Rock-Rap with the instrumentation of a viola!  Politically charged lyrics with deft delivery and did I mention the viola? 
The Rescues Let Loose The Horses Four part harmonies that flawlessly flow throughout the album.  Lingering, soothing lyrics that are both exploratory and meaningful.  Great debut album.
Jack Johnson To The Sea Feel good music in the laid back Jack Johnson style.  Not breaking new ground which is not necessarily a bad thing. 
Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs God Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise 4th studio album for the whiskey soaked and smoky voiced troubadour and this time he is backed by a true, professional band.  This album, like all the rest is best when his dulcet tone has room to breathe.
Mumford & Sons Sigh No More Further proof that harmonies were all the rage in 2010.  This London quartet’s debut album is closer to folk than just about anything on this list.  Not sure how the English captured Americana but more power to them.
The New Pornographers Together The large Canadian bands 5th album is a nice blend of vocals and instrumentation.  Will Sheff of Okervil River, Zach Condon of Beirut, and some Dap Kings (the horn players) all make appearances on the album.
The Black Crowes Croweology The Crowes version of “Best of” with 2 discs worth of tracks.  Nice acoustic versions of their catalog.  This is the last release before their next breakup/hiatus.  Damn sibling rivalries!
LCD Soundsystem This Is Happening The 3rd and reportedly final album from the dance/rock kings. 
Of Montreal False Priests An eclectic blend of funk, synth, and sing along chorus.  Lyrically odd at times, the songs seem to be better crafted then some of their other work.
Sleigh Bells Treats Drums, guitars, and a little hip hop are hard to beat.  This band is not easy to define but certainly fun.
Big Boi Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Song of Chico Dusty One half of the rap duo OutKast, Big Boi shows his considerable skills on his solo album.  Solo album is a loose term considering that T.I., Gucci Mane, George Clinton, Jamie Foxx, B.o.B, and Too Short are just a few of the folks that appear on the album.
The Hold Steady Heaven Is Whenever Not as commercially known as some of the other bands on this list but just as good, if not better than some.  Think heartland rock with Brooklyn attitude.
Eels Tomorrow Morning The 2nd of their albums to be released in 2010, this one is a little more upbeat.  The addition of keyboards and strings is a nice touch.  It seems that E might have just a glimmer of happiness in his life.
Weezer Hurley With co-writers like Ryan Adams, Mac Davis, and Linda Perry, this album twists and turns in many musical directions.  All of them good!
Vampire Weekend Contra Sophomore album for the Paul Simon channeling group is not a drastic departure from their first.  The formula works. 
Ozomatli Fire Away As diverse as band as there is, these LA boys mix in the rap, Spanish horns, and a bit of Ska to completely blow you away. 
Street Sweeper Social Club The Ghetto Blaster EP Tom Morello of Rage fame and Boot Riley release this angry, politically driven EP.  Not so angry that they can’t cover LL Cool J’s Mama Said Knock You Out and MIA’s Paper Planes. 
The Avett Brothers Live Volume 3 This album was recorded in 2009 shortly after the major label debut.  It covers several great tracks from their previous indie label albums.  This is a band best served live.  Might make my Top 10 Live Album List.
Joe Pug The Messenger Great acoustic folk music.  Lyrically sound and great from start to finish.  He is one of the great finds of 2010 for me.
Jakob Dylan Woman + Country The still Wallflowerless Dylan’s 2nd solo album is as solid as anything he has ever done.  Neko Case also appears on the album.
Matt Costa Mobile Chateau Jack Johnson’s protégé’s third release is a mixed bag of upbeat tempos and California pop with a helping of soulful piano and surprising depth.
Elton John and Leon Russell The Union Clash of the aging titans!  Hard to believe that after 40 years of divergent paths, these two make an album that leaves you wondering why it did not happen sooner.
Reckless Kelly Somewhere In Time This album is a 12 track homage to the band’s early mentor and Americana singer/songwriter Pinto Bennett.

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 5,600 times in 2010. That’s about 13 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 145 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 151 posts. There were 2 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 626kb.

The busiest day of the year was February 17th with 1,101 views. The most popular post that day was You should be listening to Wilco!.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were wordpress.com, facebook.com, en.wordpress.com, mail.yahoo.com, and daydreamingdavid.blogspot.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for butlerbad, music you should be listening to, ben harper discography, drive by truckers discography, and southern rock blog.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

You should be listening to Wilco! February 2010
32 comments

2

Walt Wilkins and Tommy Alverson: A Night of Sweet Music and Barbeque July 2010
5 comments

3

Music you should NOT be listening to! March 2010
12 comments

4

You should be listening to the Drive-By Truckers “Live from Austin, TX”! February 2010
2 comments

5

Elton John April 2010
4 comments


Fistful of Mercy

This is the first blog I have done about a band who has not released any music to date.

Fistful of Mercy is the latest band to get the super group moniker attached to them.  This is, often a dubious title as the sum is never equal to the parts.   Fistful of Mercy is comprised of Ben Harper, Joseph Arthur, and Dhani Harrison.  Their album, As I Call You Down, is scheduled to be released in October. 

Just for the record, this group makes my music pants a little crazy.  I’m a huge fan of both Ben Harper and Joseph Arthur.  Dhani Harrison might have a little genius in him as he is the progeny of the late, great, George Harrison. 

While they all have distinctive vocal styling, the comparison to harmonious groups of yesteryears such as Crosby, Stills, & Nash, and The Eagles might be thrown around as there becomes an increased awareness of Fistful of Mercy.

Recently they played eight songs at an invitation only event in Los Angeles hosted by radio station KCRW.  The set was decidedly acoustic with guitars and violin being the instrument of choice.  At one point, Harrison ventured to the piano while Harper and Arthur continued on guitar.

In addition to the KCRW show, the band has recently played a few shows and benefits.

Here are a few clips of the band.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkfIlV7Nur8

This clip is from “Voices for Justice” rally and features Eddie Vedder

www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBTFm7JVtGI

 www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuRb_K0LbTA

 Great music awaits!


Mr. T: As Relevant Today as He Ever Was?

This blog has nothing to do with music but rather pop culture.  I wrote it at the begining of the summer and posted it on another blog that I occasionally write.  As I’ve not written anything muscially in quite some time, I’m recylcing this.  Enjoy!

It appears that Mr. T has taken umbrage with new A team Movie.

“It was too graphic for me. I’ve no doubt it will do big business at the box office but it’s nothing like the show we turned out every week.”

www.nbcwashington.com/blogs/popcornbiz/Mr-T-Says-The-New-A-Team-Movie-Is-Just-Jibba-Jabba-95766069.html

This coming from the man who joined the army and then started his career as a bouncer and then broke through the racial typecasting barriers in Hollywood on TV (B.A. Baracus) and on the big screen (Clubber Lang) by playing notable characters that had the following in common:

  • Large
  • Scary
  • Angry
  • Black
  • Violent
  • Excessive use of gold

Way to move the needle forward with those breakout performances Mr. T!

Let’s take a little stroll down Memory T Lane!

Nutrition was something Mr. T. thought was important. As a role model for thousands of youth, it is a good thing he was selective with his product endorsement.

Between Rocky III and the A-Team, Mr. T had his gold ringed fingers on the pulse of what the country needed, in the mid 1980’s, because he gave us the delectable breakfast treat Mr. T Cereal:

 He was a spokesman for Snickers and had a plethora of Snickers attached to his shirt and a ring that says, and I quote “Get Some Nuts

Here are some of the “Get Some Nuts” commercials for those still in disbelief!

www.youtube.com/watch?v=B72PmCWpJrU&feature=related

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xx6_BAYuA8U&feature=related

 And, who can forget his foray into the never violent and always entertaining WWF wrestling? Mr. T brought his morals and urban fashion sense to the ring.  He partnered with Hulk Hogan, fought Rowdy Roddy Piper, and appeared in Wrestlemania I.

What about all the fools being pitied for their inability to properly make a collect phone call?

www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9AD3ALF-ps

It seems in more recent times that a kinder, gentler, Mr. T has decided to do some public service announcements to inspire others to be the best they can possibly be. 

What you are about to see is pure genius. 

Employment:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=xx5p_wv_izo&feature=related

Public Speaking:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eisa5AZ20W0&feature=related

Perseverance:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzQshh4d2bg&feature=related

Cleaning Up After Your Dog:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=uA_JxuelTtA&feature=related

Personal Hygiene:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYOjF4RtBPU&feature=related

Dating Advice:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=76cCpNtOLJM&feature=related

Procrastination:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=U921abH7jIk&feature=related

 I’m not sure if I buy the fact that he is incensed by the graphic nature of the film.  This is coming from the man who made a career out of “Pitying Fools” and threatening bodily harm if we did not get right the T way. 

 I think I would believe Mr. T more if he came out and said the A-Team movie is going to suck because, in hindsight, the TV show really kind of blew! 

While researching this blog, I realized how much fun Mr. T can be.  He has given us some real media gold with his litany of commercials, cutting edge fashion sense, hair impeccably hawked, and ability to accessorize.


Mixed Tape Monday: Pass the Jar

Today’s Mixed Tape Monday is not so much a mixed tape as it is a live album with a varied assortment of artists and cover songs.  Zac Brown and his rowdy band of musical brothers did a benefit concert for the Georgia Theatre, a cultural haven of the Athens music scene that burned down in 2009, and released it as a live album entitled Pass the Jar.  The album is a two disc set that is accompanied by a DVD of the concert.  Zac’s music is typically fun in nature and drenched in the good time vibe.  The concert exemplifies that vibe and the diversity of the cover songs reflects his deep appreciation for music in general. 

The album is a good mix of some of Zac’s songs from his major label debut The Foundation such as:

  • Toes
  • Free
  • Chicken Fried
  • Highway 20 Ride
  • Whatever It Is
  • Where the Boat Leaves From

In addition to Zac and his band, Kid Rock, Shawn Mullins, Little Big Town, and Angie Aparo as well as several other artists lend their vocal prowess to the cause.  As diverse as the special guest are, the cover songs are the real gems. 

  • The Devil Went Down to Georgia (Charlie Daniels)
  • Into the Mystic (Van Morrison)
  • Blackbird (The Beatles)
  • Jolene (Ray LaMontagne)
  • Can’t You See (The Marshall Tucker Band)
  • The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (The Band)
  • I Shall Be Released (Bob Dylan)
  • One Love (Bob Marley)

The album is warm, fun, and a tribute to the strength of the band’s live shows.  To take nothing away from the band’s studio album, to truly enjoy the Zac Brown Band, you need to see them live.  While this album and DVD is as close as I’ve gotten thus far, I have added him to the list of folks I am on the lookout for on the DFW concert calendar.

 Great music awaits!