Thursday, April 30, 2015

April 2015: A Good Month For Music

Since I've been digging for new music a couple of years now, I don't remember a month where more good music has come out than April 2015.

Here are six albums you don't want to miss, if you like good music.

Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen: Hold My Beer, Vol. 1

Monday, April 27, 2015

Album Spotlight: The Answer: Raise A Little Hell

Sometimes you find a gem where you least expect it, or weren't even looking for it. Such is the case with the band The Answer. Someone suggested the song "Under the Sky". I liked it okay. It was some 80s-style hard rock.

Upon further investigation, that song was from their 2006 debut The Rise. Then I found they just released a new album in March of 2015 called Raise A Little Hell. So, of course I had to check it out.

The Answer definitely has some throwback elements in their sound. To what specifically, I'm not exactly sure. I hear Deep Purple, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath, funk, power balladery, and 80's L.A. sleaze. And that's just scratching the surface.

Beyond the songs, what stands out is the individual musicianship. Of the four members, I don't hear a weak link.

So, hey, judge for yourself. Here is "Long Live The Renegades" from the new record:

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Album Spotlight: William Clark Green: Ringling Road

The new offering from Texas/Red Dirt artist William Clark Green is everything would expect from a good Texas/Red Dirt record. Country, raucous country, Southern rock. But what you also get from Ringling Road is a collection 11 very well-written songs, regardless of how you'd like to classify it.

The opening song on the record, "Next Big Thing", chronicles how hard the music industry is right now without sounding bitter.

"Creek Don't Rise" may be the most "country" sounding song on the record. And it's good. But that is followed by my favorite song on the album, the title track "Ringling Road" with its thinly veiled homage to the Grateful Dead song "Casey Jones". Or at least that's how I hear it, I have no insight, but with the lyrics:
The trapeze guys are all high on cocaine that they bought from the guy who used to drive the train
That reminds of this from "Casey Jones":
Drivin' that train, high on cocaine, Casey Jones you better watch your speed.
"Ringling Road", the song, also is the kind of loose, greasy stuff you might hear from Texas legend Ray Wylie Hubbard.

I really can't find a bad song in the bunch. It's the kind of record you can just put on and listen all the way through.

Here is the first lyric video from the album, "Sympathy":

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Album Spotlight: Halestorm: Into The Wild Life

I will admit it. I am enthralled with Lzzy Hale. My daughter said I was a fan girl. OK. But I prefer fan boy.

But I'm not a blind follower. Of anyone. I may love an artist and have all of their previous work, but if the new stuff is not up to par, I'm gonna call it out.

The new Halestorm record, Into The Wild Life, exceeded any expectations I had.

Is every song for everybody? Nope. Is there something there for everyone? I say yes.

It seems as though all of the influences over the years come through in this record, but not in a nostalgic way, but in a new and fresh way.

With Halestorm, heavy rock will always be their base. That's who they are, unapologetically. I don't know what their influences are, but when listening to the album, I hear Michael Jackson, country, industrial, classic rock, rhythm and blues, heavy metal and funk. And when I listen to the record again, I'll hear something else.

Here's the joy in listening to the record, the next song is not going to sound like the last. For some people that may be a turn off. For me, that's magical. I love the unexpected, especially if it's good.

I will offer this caveat, if you're easily offended, skip this. It ain't for everyone, but if you're a real music fan, check it out.

Here's the vid for "Apocolyptic".

And today, it may change tomorrow, but this may be favorite song on the record, "Bad Girls World".

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What I'm Loving Wednesday

I'm loving that so much good music has come out in 2015 and especially this month. And we're only halfway through April. Partly because of that, I've been inspired enough to post six times on this blog since last Wednesday.

I'm loving the new Halestorm album that came out Tuesday, Into The Wild Life. So much so that I haven't had a chance to check out any other new music that came out.

"Bad Girls World" is almost 70s R&B. And I can't help but thinking of Donna Summer when I listen to it.

I'm loving that there are new bands out there making 80s style hard rock. Two of which are going to have albums coming out soon.

Here is "Seal the Deal" by the Australian band Koritni.

It took a few spins, but I'm loving the new Will Hoge record Small Town Dreams. This one, "Middle of America". sounds like it could have right off a late 80s/early 90s John Mellencamp record. It's being marketed as country. I can see that, I guess.

What I'm Loving Wednesday

Monday, April 13, 2015

Album Spotlight: Will Hoge: Small Town Dreams

I held off on this one until after a few spins. It grew on me. Then I listened to it on the car stereo while driving by myself. I was convinced.

The new Will Hoge record Small Town Dreams is good. It's good if you like Southern Rock, Bob Seger, John Mellencamp and Tom Petty.

There are lot of good songs, but the one that resonates the most with me is "Guitar or a Gun".  It's Southern Rock through and through. And it tells a story.

"Middle of America" could come right out of a John Mellencamp record in the late 80s.

Maybe the reason I like this record so much is because it reminds me of 80s, classic and Southern rock with a bit of honky tonk and country thrown in the mix.

Here's the official video for  "Middle of America".

And the audio for my favorite song, "Guitar or a Gun".

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Why I Fired Terrestrial Radio

I may not be the best case study because I've really never been a huge fan of radio. It just never played what I liked on the same station.

Growing up in a rural Texas town we could get one, maybe two country stations. Finding myself a rock fan, I've been digging for music ever since I can remember.

Music is the main reason I fired radio. Living in a place with a population of around 100,000 we have 10 to 12 radio stations. It's either nostalgia or new stuff that I don't care to listen to. I have to find new good stuff from other sources.

But the kicker in me totally removing myself from radio was when my favorite on-air personality left for a bigger market. It wasn't that music on the station changed. It was that nobody took his place on social.

He was knowledgeable in the genre and very accessible socially. He hosted an evening request hour. You could tweet your requests. Sometimes I would tweet "play something new that's comparable to 'X'".

I like the people on one of the morning shows, but they are virtually inaccessible socially. The music they play sucks, but I would listen more if they were more socially active.

I still listen to radio, but only as background noise at work. The classic rock station. Never to hear anything new or interesting. It's just not there.

To play on a phrase that made news recently, for this music geek if you're on mainstream radio, you don't exist.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Tennis Is In a Good Place

I blame my mother. Or better yet, I credit my mother.

Way back before I really knew anything about tennis, my mother was a Bjorn Borg fan. Not Jimmy Connors. Not John McEnroe. Bjorn Borg. The Swede. Not the Americans.

With no other Americans outside of Serena Williams a threat to do anything in the world of tennis, it does not affect my enjoyment of the game. Thanks to mom, I learned long ago not to tie my love of good tennis to a flag.

On the men's side, how much better does it get than Roger Federer (I'm a FedFan), Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic slugging it out major after major. I could include Andy Murray in there as well. And then you have Stan Warkinka and Kei Nishikori. The interesting games of Gael Monfils and Alexandr Dolgopolov. How could anyone who likes the sport not be entertained?

Would it be nice if an American male could make a splash? Sure. But it does not define my enjoyment of tennis.

On the women's side, only Serena can beat Serena right now. When her head is right and she's on her game, nobody can beat her.

After that, it's wide open. Right now I'm kind of partial to Simona Halep. There are some good young American women, Madison Keyes, Sloane Stephens, Vavara Lepchencko (which further muddies the waters since she was not US born), and Coco Vandeweghe.

But there is also Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic, Sam Stosur, Victoria Azarenka, etc.

It's not the Olympics (except every four years) so I don't root for the flag beside the players name. For the most part. I usually just root for my favorites based on other things. So, yeah, get over the fact that American tennis is not at its apex. Just enjoy.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Album Spotlight: Delta Rae: After It All

I just stumbled onto Delta Rae about two weeks ago. And wow, am I glad I did. I was prepared to do a spotlight on After It All based on the merits of the record. Then they went and live-streamed a concert on Yahoo! Now I'm even more impressed.

It's like if you threw Fleetwood Mac and Little Big Town in a blender and added a pinch of Jim Steinman. Go figure that one out.

If you get nothing else from this, go see Delta Rae if they are anywhere in your area. And buy the record. You can thank me later.

I've said it before, and this may continue to be my mantra, I don't know what genre Delta Rae falls into other my go to: good music.

Ethereal at times, highly percussive at others with outstanding vocals throughout, this is a band that should be huge.

One of the perks of discovering a band that has more than one record out is that you get to hear the back catalog like it's new. And their 2012 album Carry The Fire is every bit as good as the new record.

Here's a taste I haven't yet shared.

Album Spotlight: Ray Wylie Hubbard: The Ruffian's Misfortune

Here's the deal. Ray Wylie Hubbard is a legend of Texas music. He doesn't need me to spotlight his latest
album here on my little blog. But I will anyway, because if one person reads this and gets turned on to Ray Wylie, then it's all worth it.

If you like your music greasy, grimy, groovy, swampy, loose, in the pocket and real, then this if for you.

I'm done with genres, but if you want something, it's country, Americana, roots rock, Southern Rock and sometimes a bit punk. It's Ray Wylie.

I have seen on social media people praising each of the songs on the album, saying that is their favorite. And I can't argue with any of them. There's not a bad song there.

This is another in the long line of music that doesn't exist I'll be featuring here.

Here's a taste of the record with "Chick Singer, Badass Rockin'".

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Album Spotlight: Houndmouth: Little Neon Limelight

I first became aware of Houndmouth a little over a year ago when I stumbled upon their album From The Hills Below The City, which had come out sometime in 2013. I fell in love with their songwriting and storytelling.

They have taken it to a new level with their latest release Little Neon Limelight. Each song is so well-crafted. Each song tells a story.

I guess it's a result of the time that I grew up in, but I like to hear an entire album. I grew up in the cassette era, which was probably the least accessible time for singles consumption. Of course there were the "cassingles" which many times cost almost half of what the full cassette would cost. We bought the whole thing, usually. And there was no skip function on cassettes. So we usually listened to the whole album.

All that being said to make this point. Little Neon Limelight is a record best consumed in its entirety. With the different members of Houndmouth taking lead vocals on different songs, and sometimes within the same song, you can't get a full understanding of what they're all about unless you listen to the whole record.

What kind of music does Houndmouth play? I don't know. Americana, country-tinged roots rock, alt-folk, all of the above? Doesn't matter. I'm done with genres. It's just good music. Listen to it. Enjoy it.

Here's a clip of the song "My Cousin Greg" that features all four members singing lead at times.

What I'm Loving Wednesday

I'm loving baseball.

I could just leave it at that. Baseball season has started. You either get it or you don't. Here's something I wrote several years ago and tweaked over the years. Take me out to the ballpark.

I'm loving music.

There is so much good music out right now. I'm not loving that most people never hear it because it isn't played on mainstream radio. Ray Wylie Hubbard and Delta Rae came out with new albums yesterday. Let me know when you hear either of them on mainstream radio. Here are my favorite records for the first quarter of 2015. April has already been good. And there is some stuff coming up that I'm excited about.

Being a huge tennis fan, I'm starting to love Simona Halep. She's good. And those legs.

And that's all I've got this week. Enjoy the rest of your Wednesday.

What I'm Loving Wednesday

Friday, April 3, 2015

1st Quarter of 2015: My Favorite Albums

These are my favorite albums released so far in the 1st quarter of 2015 that I've heard. The list is not all-encompassing, as it only includes records I've listened to. I reserve the right to update this list as I find new stuff released in January, February and March of this year. The list will be fluid. And I plan on doing one for each quarter of 2015. And none of this music actually exists, as it is not played on mainstream radio.

Right now, in no particular order:

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

What I'm Loving Wednesday

I'm loving Delta Rae. This band has a new record, After It All, coming out April 7. Available everywhere according to their website. In advance of the release, they have already released six songs to Spotify (and I'm supposing other outlets, but Spotify is my go to platform).  So far all the tracks are good.

I just can't believe I haven't heard of them until a couple of weeks ago. Here a live version of "Bottom of the River" from their 2012 album Carry The Fire. So good, so interesting.

And here's and audio version of "Bethlehem Steel" from their upcoming release.

I'm loving that Whskey Myers is tweeting about the opening bands on their tour. Gives me an opportunity to discover new stuff like this Icelandic band Kaleo. Here they are with "I Walk On Water".

And The Bama Gamblers with "Sweet Revival".

And we must have some Whiskey Myers. Here is "Home" from their most recent record Early Morning Shakes.

What I'm Loving Wednesday