Tag Archives: iTunes

You should be listening to The Avett Brothers!

The Avett Brothers are the folksy, rocking, alt/country with a tinge of bluegrass band from North Carolina.  With such a diverse pedigree, is it any wonder the Rick Rubin took notice, signed them to his label, and produced their major label debut “I and Love and You”?

As mentioned, I and Love and You is the major label debut but actually finds The Avett Brothers in the double digits for their release total. They have released numerous albums as well as EP’s and live albums.

Loosely formed in 2000 just prior to be the end of Seth and Scott Avett’s rock band Nemo, the brothers are joined by Bob Crawford on stand up bass.  Their self titled debut was release in 2000 and in 2002 released their first album “Country Was” as a full band.

In 2007 the Avett Brothers won the Americana Music Association Duo/Group of the Year award and 2007 Emerging Artist of the Year.  In 2009 they opened for the Dave Matthews Band’s spring tour across the southern United States as well as an opening spot for Wide Spread Panic.  And, to add to an already great year, Rolling Stone Magazine named The Avett Brothers “The Artist to Watch in 2009”. 

While their major label is not a dramatic musical departure from their previous work, however, there is less reliance on banjo, with the exception of “January Wedding” while the piano plays a prominent role on this ballad heavy album.  The album is sonically rich with harmonies provided by Scott and Seth.  The melodies are tight and the musical arrangement has a certain level of complication but not in an overly dramatic fashion.

The Avett Brothers Discography:

  • The Avett Bros.
  • Country Was
  • Live at the Double Door Inn
  • A Carolina Jubilee
  • Swept Away (EP)
  • Mignonette
  • Live, Vol. 2
  • Four Thieves Gone: The Robbinsville Sessions
  • The Gleam
  • Emotionalism
  • The Second Gleam
  • I and Love and You

 Key tracks form I and Love and You:

  • Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise
  • Ten Thousand Words
  • I and Love and You
  • Ill With Want
  • Kick Drum Heart

Check out The Avett Brothers @ www.theavettbrothers.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgnZ0wEi2JU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqZZlL0l5Uk&feature=channel

The Avett Brothers’ music is available at iTunes, record stores, and www.theavettbrothers.com

Great music awaits!


You should be listening to My Morning Jacket!

My Morning Jacket is the hippie, trippy, jamming rock band from Kentucky.  Formed in 1998 and hailing from Louisville, home of the slugger, Jim James and company brought a confident swagger to harmony and dance hall reverb.  As the story has been told, My Morning Jacket was coined after a discarded jacket James saw inscribed with the letters “MMJ” on it.

Celebrated for their prolonged and cover heavy live shows My Morning Jacket is a regular at the Bonnaroo Music Festival and in 2008 performed for almost four hours and covered songs from Motley Crue, Erykah Badu, Kool & the Gang, James Brown, and Sly and the Family Stone to name a few.  An eclectic range of cover tunes that has no doubt endeared them to a wide range of music lovers.

Their music gently washes over you and it draws you further in with an all-encompassing, but slightly elusive touch, wrapped in each note.  Their songs are drenched in vocal reverb that exposes subtle realities in calculated, yet at times, indirect ways.  The up side is music that’s never timorous even when sublimely calm, as it frequently is.

My Morning Jacket Discography:

Album EP
  • The Tennessee Fire
  • At Dawn
  • It Still Moves
  • Early Recordings Chapter 1: The Sandworm Cometh
  • Early Recordings Chapter 2: Learning
  • Z
  • Okonokos
  • Evil Urges
  • Live From Las Vegas Exclusively at the Palms
  • Celebracion de la Ciudad Natal
  • Heartbreakin’ Man
  • Split
  • Chocolate & Ice
  • Acoustic Citsuoca
  • Off the Record

Top 5 My Morning Jacket Songs:

  1. Rocket Man (Early Recordings Chapter 1: The Sandworm Cometh)
  2. Hopefully (At Dawn)
  3. Gideon (Z)
  4. I’m Amazed (Evil Urges)
  5. Golden (It Still Moves)

Their complete catalog feels optimistically alive with a sense of history, of things seen and experienced.  The band instills a closeness that’s rare in these frequently overenthusiastic, indulgent times.

Check out My Morning Jacket www.mymorningjacket.com

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0Q9iAcPjzc

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4HvIwhDRsM

 My Morning Jacket’s music is available at iTunes, record stores, and www.mymorningjacket.com

 Great music awaits!


You should be listening to Wilco!

And from the ashes of Uncle Tupelo, Jeff Tweedy and Wilco rose like a phoenix!  Created in 1994 after the demise of the oft contentious Uncle Tupelo, the original line up of Wilco consisted of the entire band of Uncle Tupelo minus Jay Farrar.  Wilco was named after the voice procedure idiom “wilco” meaning “Will Comply” which Tweedy found to be an ironic choice for a rock band.

With their debut album A.M., released in 1995, Wilco was still well-established in the Alt/Country sound, however, their musical evolution has found them experimenting with alternative rock and pop.  The band considered the album a failure due to the modest reception by critics and fans alike and the fact that Jay Farrar’s new band Son Volt had released their debut album Trace and it fared better both critically and commercially. 

Being There was the overly ambitious (19 songs) sophomore effort that was released as a double album but sold for a single album price.  This was accomplished by Tweedy agreeing to give the label (Reprise) Wilco’s share of album royalties.  It is estimated that the band lost more than half a million dollars.  The album was a hit with critics and reached 73 on the Billboard album chart. 

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was released in 2001, after much turmoil and confusion, and eventual dismissal from their previous label. It became their best selling album and to date has sold almost 600,000 copies.  In addition to the commercial success, critics raved and Billboard ranked it 13 on its charts and Rolling Stone Magazine listed as one of the 50 best albums of the decade.  With the follow up release of A Ghost is Born Wilco received a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album and became the bands first top ten album. 

Wilco discography:

  • A.M.
  • Being There
  • Summerteeth
  • Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
  • A Ghost is Born
  • Kicking Television (Live in Chicago)
  • Sky Blue Sky
  • Wilco (The Album)

Top 5 Wilco Songs:

  1. Either Way (Sky Blue Sky)
  2. Box Full of Letters (A.M.)
  3. Sunken Treasure (Being There)
  4. Jesus, Etc. (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot)
  5. Theologians (A Ghost is Born)

Wilco, in the face of their career long major label affiliation, is seen more as an indie band and have been categorized as alt/country, alternative rock, pop, and roots-rock.  Critics have even referred to them as an Americanized adaptation of Radiohead; this is in large part to the diversity of their sound and catalog.  The diversity has certainly been enabled by the rotating members of the band.  Since their inception, Jeff Tweedy and bassist John Stirratt are the only original members. 

Whatever the comparison or classification, they simple truth is that Wilco is a great band that has maintained their integrity while staying relevant.  As fickle as critics and consumes are, this band has persevered and in many ways influenced countless bands along the way.

Check out Wilco at www.wilcoweb.com.

Wilco’s music is available at iTunes, record stores, and www.wilcoweb.com.

Great music awaits!


You should be listening to G. Love & Special Sauce!

G. Love & Special Sauce is the Philadelphia based trio that fuse classic R&B, with bouncy, messy blues, and pure Philly soul.  While the music is easy on the ears and frisky enough to make your body move, it is hard to categorize.  With hints of hip hop, funk, rock, retro-soul, patches of folk, the occasional trippy psychedelic, and some Rasta shout outs, G. Love’s music is immersed in the laid back; life is a party, let’s get to know each other better kind of way.   While musically, he is like a mad scientist, more often than not, the experiments work.  Over the years, he has crafted a distinct sound for his band.

G. Love (whose Christian name is Garret Dutton) is the vocalist, harmonica player, guitarist, and face of the band.  Currently, Jeffrey Clemens is on drums, Timo Shanko plays bass, and Mark Boyce tickles the ivory.  A road weary veteran of the festivals and small venues, G. Love has built a solid reputation and impressive fan base with his live performances. 

G. Love, Jack Johnson, and Donavon Frankenreiter released a live EP that was cleverly named “Some Live Songs EP”.  Tracks 1-5 were recorded on pro surfer Kelly Slater’s radio show.  Jack, G. Love, and Donavon have all appeared each other’s records and at one time were all on Jack’s Brushfire Records label. 

G. Love & Special Sauce Discography (this list includes G. Love’s solo ventures)

  • G. Love and Special Sauce
  • Coast to Coast Motel
  • Yeah, It’s That Easy
  • Philadelphonic
  • Electric Mile
  • The Hustle
  • Best of G. Love and Special Sauce
  • Lemonade
  • Super Hero Brother

Top 5 G. Love & Special Sauce Songs

  1. Rodeo Clowns (Philadelphonic)
  2. Let The Music Play (Lemonade)
  3. Willow Tree (Yeah, It’s That Easy)
  4. Free At Last (Electric Mile)
  5. Baby Got Sauce (G. Love and Special Sauce)

 I’ve actually been fortunate enough to see him several times over the last several years.  I caught a free concert in the early 00’s in Dallas, I also saw him when he was touring with Jack Johnson in 2004, and have seen him two or three times at Austin City Limits Music Festival. 

Check out G. Love & Special Sauce at www.philadelphonic.com.

G. Love & Special Sauce’s music is available at iTunes, record stores, and www.philadelphonic.com.

Great music awaits!


You should be listening to Bruce Robison!

Bruce Robison is the country hit maker of the country music stars.  You may be more familiar with Bruce than you might realize, as his songs have been covered by several high profile country artists, The Dixie Chicks covered “Travelin’ Soldier”, Tim McGraw and his lovely, blushing bride Faith Hill covered “Angry All the Time”, and George (all my songs are hits) Strait covered “Wrapped”.  All of the songs went to No. 1 on the country chart. 

Robison is a singer/songwriter from Bandera, Texas who is married to singer/songwriter Kelly Willis and brother of Charlie Robison who is a diesel mechanic, what, no that’s not right, oh, he too is a singer songwriter.  There must be something in the water in lovely Bandera, Texas because Robert Earl Keen lived in Bandera when he released his debut album “No Kind of Dancer”

Bruce Robison Discography:

  • Bruce Robison
  • Wrapped
  • Long Way From Anywhere
  • Country Sunshine
  • Eleven Stories
  • It Came From San Antonio
  • The New World
  • His Greatest
  • From the Top

Top 5 Bruce Robison Songs:

  1. My Brother and Me (Wrapped)
  2. Angry All the Time (Wrapped)
  3. Travelin’ Soldier (Long Way Home From Anywhere)
  4. What Would Willie Do (Country Sunshine)
  5. Tennessee Jed (Eleven Stories)

Robison’s songwriting is reflective and moving and is the force behind all of his albums.  His singing is warm and capable but not always enough to carry the greatness of his lyrics.  It is not surprising that his songs that have reached No. 1 have been sung by others.

Bruce and I have quite a bit in common.  He writes and sings great songs, I write about singers of great songs, He has four children, I have four children, he has twins, and I have twins.  He is a talented in demand writer with a successful music careers, and well, that, my dear readers, is where it ends. 

Check out Bruce Robison at www.brucerobison.com.

Bruce Robison’s music is available at iTunes, record stores, and www.brucerobison.com.

Great music waits!


iTunes might be the anti-Christ!

iTunes might be the anti-Christ to the music industry. Now, before I get too far into this blog, let me go on record and say, I have drank the Kool-Aid from the crimson stained iTunes cup and I am a fan of all the flavors. I just don’t always feel good about it!   

 While it seems to be a natural progression of the evolution in the turbulent union of the music industry and technology, it dilutes the bond between artist and fan as the fan has the ability to purchase single song selections.  The flip side to the artist is that in this technology heavy day and age, the need for a label or some form of representation is not as important as it was in years past.   It also requires the artist to have a smaller arsenal of material for release. 

Growing up in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, I had five or six CD local independent shops I would hit on a weekly basis to peruse the used racks and see what I would find.  Several shops had the five CD’s for $20 rack and it felt like Christmas.  The anticipation of what I might find and the pure bliss of driving home with new tunes was complete euphoria.  It was an all day venture that I looked forward to and continued well into my 30’s.  Now, all but two are out of business. 

So cloaked in the mask of a user friendly interface and accessibility, the digital download has insidiously wrapped itself around the neck of the local music retailer and squeezed the life out of many.  Gone are the days of wooden racks and the providential score of a hard to find CD.    Now it is point, click and wait impatiently as it streams over the miracle of the World Wide Web.

I’m an old school music guy who likes to read the liner notes, see what musicians played on the album, who, if not the artist, wrote the songs, etc….  However, I do find myself pouring through iTunes looking for new music that is similar to artist that I like.  The Genius function is well, genius.  It follows the same musical logic of Pandora and finds music that is similar in cadence, vocal range, and instrumentation of artist you currently have.  So, at times it seems like iTunes is your friend, always willing to help out and scour the musical countryside to find you new music and then charge you $1.29 to download a song. 

I’m not sure how to end this blog and I fully realize that by purging myself of this, was really just a way of mitigating the crushing guilt of the duality of my musical proclivities.  Salvation is not likely.

Great music awaits on iTunes and some local retailers near you!


You should be listening to Ryan Adams!

Ryan Adams is the brilliant yet mercurial singer songwriter who broke on to the music scene in the early 90’s with the alt/country group Whiskeytown. The oft troubled singer has carved out a prolific and somewhat unpredictable solo career that has seen both critical and commercial success. 

His solo debut “Heartbreaker” was released in 2000 with critical praise but lacked commercial clout.  In 2001, he released “Gold” but was reluctant to work the media circuit to promote the album but eventually capitulated to the powers that be and made a video for his single “New York, New York” which eerily and fortuitously for him featured Adams playing with the city skyline behind him.  The video was filmed four days prior to the 9/11 attacks and was put into heavy rotation on both MTV and VH1 which helped Adams find an audience with mainstream, commercial America.

Following the success of “Gold” Adams released “Demolition” with the similar results; critical attention but low volume sales.  He then went on to produce Jesse Malin’s debut the aptly titled “The Fine Art of Self Destruction”.  During 2002-03 Adams worked on the album “Love is Hell” which he eventually had to release as Pt. 1 & 2 EP’s due to his labels (Lost Highway) insistence that the album as a whole was not commercially viable.  He went back and made another album “Rock N Roll” which was released in Nov. 2003 along with “Love is Hell Pt. 1” with Pt.2 following in December.  Much to the surprise of Lost Highway “Love is Hell Pt. 1 & Pt. 2” were well received and in 2004 released it as intended, a complete album.  This album features the cover of the Oasis classic “Wonderwall” which Adam’s earned a Grammy nomination for his rendition of the song.

In 2005 Adams brought together “The Cardinals” and released two albums “Jacksonville Nights” and “Cold Roses”.  Rachel Yamagata covers backing vocals on several songs from “Cold Roses” while Nora Jones lends her dusky, dulcet tone to one song from “Jacksonville Nights”.  In 2006 he produced Willie Nelson’s album “Songbird” and Adams and The Cardinals performed as Nelson’s backing band. 

Currently, in true unpredictable Adam’s form, he has quit The Cardinals, become disillusioned with the musical world, is releasing some books, and spurring rumors of a Whiskeytown reunion.  He also married singer/actress Mandy Moore.

Ryan Adams Discography:

  • Heartbreaker
  • Gold
  • Demolition
  • Rock N Roll
  • Love Is Hell
  • Cold Roses
  • Jacksonville Nights
  • 29
  • Easy Tiger
  • Follow the Lights
  • Cardinology

Top 5 Ryan Adams Songs:

  1. Wonderwall (Love Is Hell)
  2. Two (Easy Tiger)
  3. My Love for You Is Real (Follow the Lights)
  4. New York, New York (Gold)
  5. Cold Roses (Cold Roses)

 Ryan Adam’s music is available on iTunes and record stores.

Great music awaits!


You should be listening to James McMurtry!

James McMurtry is a Texas, born in Fort Worth, singer/songwriter who just happens to be the son of acclaimed novelist Larry McMurtry.  James is backed by his long time rhythm section “The Heartless Bastards”.  Through a serious of fortuitous events, James released his debut album “Too Long in the Wasteland” in 1989.  What might the fortuitous events have been, you ask?  Well, here they are:

  1. John Mellencamp staring in a film based on a script by Larry McMurtry.
  2. James was conveniently able to give Mellencamp a demo tape
  3. Mellencamp served as co-producer on McMurtry’s debut album.
  4. McMurtry appeared on the soundtrack of the film “Falling from Grace” as part of the group “Buzzin Cousins” which included John Mellencamp, John Prine, and Dwight Yoakam.  The song, “Sweet Suzanne” is a long time favorite of mine.

McMurty’s music has always been fairly well received critically and with the release of his 2005 album “Childish Things” he won song of the year (We Can’t Make It Here) and album of the year at the Americana Awards in Nashville Tennessee.  He has gained a loyal fan base through his touring and accessibility.  He currently resides in Austin, Texas and when home, he has a standing midnight set at the Continental Club each Wednesday. 

Not one to shy away from politics, he upped his game on his albums “Childish Things” and “Just Us Kids” with the direct and scathing attack of then President George W. Bush in the songs “We Can’t Make it Here” and “Cheney’s Toy” respectively. 

James McMurty Discography

  • Too Long in the Wasteland
  • Candyland
  • Where’d  You Hide the Body
  • It Had to Happen
  • Walk Between the Raindrops
  • Saint Mary of the Woods
  • Live in Aught-Three
  • Childish Things
  • Best of the Sugar Hill Years
  • Just Us Kids
  • Live In Europe

Top Five James McMurtry Songs

  1. We Can’t Make It Here (Childish Things)
  2. Levelland (Where’d You Hide the Body)
  3. Cheney’s Toy (Just Us Kids)
  4. Where’d You Hide the Body (Where’d You Hide the Body)
  5. Sweet Suzanne (Falling From Grace Soundtrack)

Check out James McMurtry and let me know what you think.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbWRfBZY-ng

James McMurtry’s music is available at iTunes, record stores, and www.jamesmcmurtry.com

Great music awaits!


You should be listening to Jason Isbell!

Jason Isbell is a singer, songwriter, and guitarist from Alabama who was an integral part of the Drive-By Truckers for 6 years and three albums.  He was with the Truckers from 2001 -2007 and released his first solo album “Sirens of the Ditch” in 2007.  Since his debut release, Jason formed a band comprised of Matt Pence of Centro-Matic and some other Alabama musicians.  The band is dubbed “The 400 Unit” which is a reference to the psyche ward of an Alabama hospital.  Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit released a self title album in 2009. 

For fans of Drive-By Truckers, rest assured Isbell’s distinguishing voice is there, his gift to write significant lyrics remains, and his commanding guitar playing is just as unmistakable. His solo album and his work with the new band is not a dramatic musical departure for Isbell. Yet the albums are slight exodus from the Truckers musically, as the songs are shorter, more compressed with a touch of old school pop.

Lyrically, the albums are more wide-ranging topically than his work with the Truckers and less narrative stories with a more casual approach, the subject matter is less southern and more diverse.

Jason Isbell Discography

  • Sirens of the Ditch
  • Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

Top 5 Jason Isbell Songs according to Butler (Albums listed to right of song):

  1.  The Devil Is My Running Mate (Sirens of the Ditch)
  2. Cigarettes and Wine (Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit)
  3. Chicago Promenade (Sirens of the Ditch)
  4. In a Razor Town (Sirens of the Ditch)
  5. Dress Blues (Sirens of the Ditch)

Check out Jason Isbell at www.jasonisbell.com and let me know what you think.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clqH-notmZE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnCG9aekWho&feature=related

Jason Isbell’s music is available on iTunes, record stores, and www.jasonisbell.com.

Great music awaits!


You should be listening to Wade Bowen!

Wade Bowen is a Waco, Texas born singer/songwriter who has become a staple of the Texas music scene.  He self released his debut album “Try Not To Listen” in 2002.  Early on, he was tearing up the road playing over 250 shows per year.  In 2006, he released “Live at the Blue Light” and his studio follow up “Lost Hotel” both of which helped him expand his audience outside of Texas.  In 2008, Bowen released “If We Ever Make It Home” and in 2009 he recorded his 2nd live album at the famous Fort Worth, Texas honky tonk Billy Bob’s Texas.  It is scheduled to be released in early 2010.

He has collaborated with Pat Green, Randy Rogers, Cody Canada (Cross Canadian Ragweed), Radney Foster, and Ray Wylie Hubbard. 

What’s appealing about Bowen’s voice, is the emotive tenor that’s just smoke filled and raspy enough to convey the world-weariness and hard living of traditional country music. He approaches his songs with restraint and reflection.  Bowen writes with zeal and passionate assurance about the issues that color life. He achieves this with depth of thought and plain emotion that connects with his fans.

Wade Bowen Discography

  • Try Not To Listen
  • Live At the Blue Light
  • Lost Hotel
  • If We Ever Make it Home

Top 5 Wade Bowen Songs according to Butler (Albums listed to right of song): 

  1. Broken Reflection (Troubadour’s Prayer) (Lost Hotel)
  2. Man Out of Myself (Try Not To Listen)
  3. Daddy and the Devil (If We Ever Make It Home)
  4. Perfect Silence (Lost Hotel)
  5. From Bad To Good (If We Ever Make It Home)

Check out Wade Bowen at www.wadebowen.com and let me know what you think.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwlXHumrGHk

Wade Bowen’s music is available on iTunes and record stores.

Great music awaits!