Thursday, September 15, 2016

Jason Aldean Gives Idiots A Bad Name

Horrible rapper and wannabe EDM artist who somehow finds space under the country umbrella Jason Aldean would never be confused with someone of even average intelligence. However, the old adage "Better to let them think you're and idiot than to speak and remove all doubt" certainly applies to Mr. Aldean more than anyone in recent memory.

His cringe-worthy interview in The Guardian revealed many things about Mr. Aldean. Namely his disdain for "songwriterly" and clever songs. Well, kudos, I guess, for coining a new word in "songwriterly". He goes on to say "If it’s something I have to go back and listen to over and over again to figure what it says, it’s too much work for me." Well, that explains the banal simplicity of his efforts. Too much work to do something of substance.

That's enough to get all the country music people worked up. Then he takes a shovel and digs a deeper hole with the following: "There’s not any cool rock bands any more. All those guys we go watch now were big back then. That’s a reason why Guns N Roses can go on tour this year and sell out every night. They’re badass, but there’s not bands like that no more."

Poor syntax aside, this is an idiotic statement. Especially the first sentence. Now, I agree that rock music in not in the best place right now, especially if you consider what passes for rock in the mainstream. But if anyone thinks there are no cool rock bands anymore, they are not paying attention.

There are two of the coolest rock bands residing right under Mr. Aldeans's nose in Blackberry Smoke and Whiskey Myers, the torch bearers of Southern Rock in the 21st century. I guess they are not cool enough for Mr. Aldean.

Want glam? Check out The Struts. Want 70s inspired, grunge influenced rock? Monster Truck, Crobot. Want Southern Rock with a British sensibility? The Temperance Movement. Hey, check out Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown, currently opening for AC/DC. All of those bands ooze more cool than Mr. Aldean could muster in 10 lifetimes.

And that's not even counting the bands that this mysogynistic dipwad would never consider. Female fronted or all female bands like Halestorm, Dorothy, The Dead Deads and The Amorettes.

I'm sorry, idiots, Jason Aldean gives you a bad name.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Album Spotlight: Kate Vargas: Strangeclaw

Sometimes you hear a voice that is so unique that it just draws you in. Not because of soaring vocals or technical virtuosity, but because it has a quality that you won't find in any other singer. Such is the case with Kate Vargas.

Sometimes you hear an album that you can't define, but you just like it. One that weaves in and out of a variety of styles but stays true to the artist. That's what Strangeclaw is.

Kate Vargas' second album Strangeclaw is jazzy, torchy, trippy, hipster-ish, quirky, kitschy while not losing the southwestern roots that Kate came from. The New Mexico native, now residing in New York, has put together eight songs that take the listener on a journey, not just through the album, but sometimes within a song.

I'll be the first to admit that Strangeclaw will not be everyone's cup of tea. Some may not like Kate's unique vocals, but if you're a fan of John Hiatt or Stevie Nicks, there's something there for you. The instrumentation is simple and stripped down. Nothing big or bombastic, but not always subtle either.

As for me, I'll take unique and interesting over formulaic and stale anytime.

Here is "Bella Tell":

And an acoustic version of "Call Back the Dogs":

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Album Spotlight: Whiskey Myers: Mud

Mud is the perfect title for Whiskey Myers' fourth album release. Mud is dirty, it's gritty, it's grimy, it's greasy and it's swampy. So, yeah, it's muddy. Mud is not slick and polished, it's not saccharine and glossy, it's not good times and parties. It is real and raw and hard times and making do and living in the good times.

Although honing their skills on the Texas Red Dirt scene, Whiskey Myers is not a country band. They are a Southern rock/hard rock band with country leanings. They recently wrapped up the Carnival of Madness tour with Shinedown, Halestorm and Black Stone Cherry. They are another entry into my "Rock Ain't Dead" campaign.

The torch of Southern Rock is in good hands with Whiskey Myers, who, along with Blackberry Smoke, have re-lit it and have it burning brighter than it has since the early 80s. Just as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Marshall Tucker, Charlie Daniels, The Allman Brothers, etc. all had their own unique sound within Southern Rock, Whiskey Myers borrows heavily from the pioneers while still sounding uniquely Whiskey Myers.

Produced by Dave Cobb, as was the previous album Early Morning Shakes, Mud seems to have Whiskey Myers and Dave Cobb hitting  the sweet spot together. Mud is, in my opinion, the best Whiskey Myers album yet, edging out 2011's Firewater by a slim margin.

The album closes with "Good Ole Days", a collaboration by Cody Cannon with Brent Cobb. It's a fun acoustic song, but what got me was the baseball allegiances revealing themselves in the final verse.

Here are couple songs that show the diversity of the album, "Mud" and "Stone".

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Michael Sweet Condemns Rockers For Trying To Go Country

Michael Sweet, lead vocalist and guitarist for 80s Christian hair metal band Stryper has taken rockers to task for attempting to "go country".

About his new single "Radio", Sweet told Loudwire "I wrote the song ‘Radio’ based on my history in country music and on what seems to be a surge of rock stars trying to become country stars. I’m a metal head at heart and always will be."

Sweet continues, "Just as metal is a life style, country is as well and you have to live it, not just wake up one morning and decide you’re gonna be a country star and have the respect of the country world.”

In conclusion, Sweet says "Country music, just like rock, is a lifestyle rich with history and authenticity and each genre should be treated with great respect. You can’t fake it. You can try, but the fans will see right through it."

Here is the video for "Radio".

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Album Spotlight: The Dead Deads: For Your Obliteration...

Weaving in and out of and around and through punk, metal, pop, rock, bubblegum, grunge, Americana and all things in between, sometimes in the same song, sometimes in the same verse or chorus, The Dead Deads refuse to be pigeonholed into anything.

The Dead Deads' latest release, For Your Obliteration... is one of the most interesting albums I've heard this year.

Lead vocalist Meta Dead (Leticia Wolf) can go from a sweet bubblegum voice to heavy metal growling to punk attitude to melodic hard rock seamlessly and often. I have no doubt that she could sing in any genre she wanted.

For Your Obliteration... is bottom heavy much of the way through. This is to be attributed to the the heavy pounding of drummer Billy Dead (Angie Lese) and the bass playing of Daisy Dead (Mavis Turner). They lock in together form a formidable foundation for the soundscapes of Hella (Mandy Wolf) and Betty Dead's (Erica Sellers) keys and guitars.

Want a label? Rock. They rock, unabashedly and unashamedly. Enough words, here is some music. "Animals", which is my favorite song on the album:

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Album Spotlight: Butch Walker: Stay Gold

I was hooked when I first heard the chorus to Butch Walker's "Stay Gold":

     "You gotta stay gold, now Ponyboy"

That line comes from the book The Outsiders, later made into a movie of the same name, a book I first read while in junior high school. The first song brought out a sense of nostalgia in me that stays throughout the album Stay Gold.

Walker's last album, Afriad of Ghosts, was introspective, dark, melancholy and at times, a hard listen. Stay Gold is nostalgic, lighter while still introspective and every bit as good. Really, it's just a good rock album with some country-ish Americana leanings.

Much of Stay Gold reminds me of, though not derivative of, the music from the 80's movie Eddie and the Cruisers. It has that same kind of vibe. In fact the album really has an overall 80's music kind of vibe, you know the good stuff like Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty.

There is something for country music fans with "Descending", the duet with country singer Ashley Monroe, with the line "I just want you to worry about me, every once in a while / I just need a sign of life to get me by."

Overall, it's just a great record to put on and drive, or sit on the patio with friends and adult beverages. No skips necessary.

Here's the lyric video to the title track, check out the dude in the back with afro, ironically not dressed in gold.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Album Spotlight: Blackfoot: Southern Native

Blackfoot has a new album called Southern Native. Rickey Medlocke.

That sentence and that name probably mean nothing to 99% of Americans. Probably 99.9999% of the world.

Blackfoot was a 70's Southern Rock band, heavy on the rock. Contemporaries with Lynyrd Skynyrd, though never nearly as popular. Blackfoot co-founder Rickey Medlocke is now the touring lead guitarist for Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Medlocke put together a new Blackfoot with four new musicians. He produced the album and wrote or co-wrote much of it and played on it. But he's not a member of the band (Gene Simmons, take note).

However they got to this point, and whatever convoluted thread they hold with the original Blackfoot, Southern Native is a good album. In fact, if you grew up with 70s rock and Southern Rock, it's a great album.

I don't know if the new Blackfoot has legs going forward, but if you like Southern Rock with a harder edge, check this one out.

Album Spotlight: Monster Truck: Sittin' Heavy

Released way back in February of this year (2016), Monster Truck's latest album Sittin' Heavy is another prime example of why *rock ain't dead.

Sittin' Heavy by this Canadian quartet is heavy, with melody; rough around the edges but tight. Monster Truck combines 70's arena rock (Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple) with 90s hard rock (Soundgarden, Alice in Chains) in a way that fans of both eras would be pleased.

*There are sites dedicated to saving country music and bringing back glam. My musical tastes are too diverse to dedicate to one thing, but I will be featuring good rock music, always.

Here is "Don't Tell Me How To Live" from Sittin' Heavy:

Saturday, August 20, 2016

New Video: Beth Hart: Fire On The Floor

Don't really know much about Beth Hart other than she did some stuff with Joe Bonamassa. I stumbled across this new song of hers, "Fire On The Floor" and it's too good not to share. Bluesy, smokey, sultry, torchy and swampy.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Artist Spotlight: John Hiatt

After a recent conversation with a couple of other bloggers who also look for stuff outside of the mainstream, I took a deep dive into the music of John Hiatt. Now, I had always been a fan of Hiatt's, I just never realized how underrated his music is until now.

I was very familiar with the album Slow Turning because it has my favorite Hiatt song on it, "Paper Thin". At that time, I was not into digging for stuff like I have been the past few years, so I never really got into his entire catalog.

Little did I know that Bonnie Raitt's hit song "Thing Called Love" was a John Hiatt song. Or that his songs have been recorded by such diverse artists as Three Dog Night, Ronnie Milsap, Iggy Pop, Conway Twitty and the Neville Brothers.

What kind of music does John Hiatt make? Mostly just good music, but if you want reference, look above at who has recorded his songs. Country, Americana, blues, soul, heartland rock, roots. The thing is, Hiatt can't really be pigeonholed into one genre. That may have hurt him commercially, but we, as listeners, get a treat.

If you're reading this blog, you're going to find something in the John Hiatt catalog that you like. He's been at the game for a long time, so for a starting point, go with 1988's Slow Turning and then progress forward or backward. Or if you like what you hear, jump around and explore. You won't be disappointed.

This is the song that introduced me to John Hiatt, "Paper Thin":

And another one of my favorites, "Perfectly Good Guitar":