Nov 28, 2011

5 Albums You Probably Missed But Shouldn't Have

by Kelcy Salisbury

I'm sure everyone has at least one favorite "obscure" album, whether it's a little known effort by a well-known artist or the masterpiece album of their favorite underground band. Here are five relatively unknown albums that should be in your collection, in no particular order.

1) Billy Joe Shaver - Tramp On Your Street
Billy Joe's songwriting is in fine form here with versions of Georgia On a Fast Train & Live Forever included along with When The Fallen Angels Fly, a hauntingly personal heartbreaking story with a seed of hope included, and the autobiographical title track. What really makes this album the crown jewel of Shaver's discography is the blazing guitar work of his son, Eddy Shaver. Eddy Shaver was one of the great guitar players of his generation, who tragically died much too young. If you want to hear him at the height of his powers take a listen to this one.

2) Corb Lund & The Hurtin' Albertans - Hair In My Eyes Like A Highland Steer
Chris LeDoux's strong western sensibilities and sense of humor meet strong musicianship and perfectly suited vocals to the subject matter. Highlights are Ian Tyson's turn on The Rodeo's Over, and the raucous romp of Good Copenhagen.

3) High On Fire - Surrounded By Thieves
Sludge Metal masters churn out 8 of their heaviest tunes in front of a live crowd (given the title maybe they should have recorded in a prison). The energy of the live performance surpasses their studio efforts, in my opinion. Standout tracks are Hung, Drawn and Quartered along with The Yeti but this is as album that needs to be listened to straight through.

4) Black Lab - Passion Leaves A Trace
90s rock fans may recall Black Lab hitting the charts in the late 90s with Wash It Away & Time Ago from their standout album Your Body Above Me. What you may not realize is that they are still around and making good music. They may have been mislabeled in the 90s post-grunge movement, thus they weren't the easiest band to market, making them another casualty of the downturn of the music business. Regardless, Passion Leaves A Trace features strong lyrics over mostly shimmery Bowie influenced arrangements. Essential tracks are Ghost In Your Mind & Pictures of People.

5) Reckless Kelly - Bulletproof
This may be the most well known album on this list, but it's also such a great album that I felt I HAD to include it. There are a few albums that come out each year (if we're lucky at least) that are so good, regardless of genre, that it should be mandatory that anyone who claims to love good music own them. This is such an album. Again, it should be listened to as a whole, but if you're so broke you can only buy a few songs pick up Ragged As The Road, American Blood, How Was California, Mirage, and Godforsaken Town. If Godforsaken Town doesn't tug at your heartstrings you are not human.

Hopefully you haven't heard of at least one of these albums and you'll find something in here to enjoy. Until next time.

Awkward Gary Levox Photo of the Week

Nov 23, 2011

YouTube Gems: Johnny Cash

Happy Thanksgiving!

Top 10 (Country Music-related) Things to be Thankful for this Thanksgiving

10. That there aren't two Jason Aldeans. Oh wait…. That there aren't three Jason Aldeans.

09. Jamey Johnson

08. That Colt Ford isn't getting much airplay (yet)

07. Elizabeth Cook

06. iPods/satellite radio so we don't have to hear this if we don't want to

05. Ray Wylie Hubbard

04. That radio will have to stop playing "If I Die Young" eventually

03. That Willie, Merle, Ray Price and Loretta are still with us
(this is #1 in spirit if not digit)

02. Hellbound Glory

Nov 22, 2011

Y'all Have to See This (Brantley Gilbert fans are morons)

I never thought I'd lower myself to the level of starting a flame war on a YouTube comment thread, but here we are. In my disgust at Brantley Gilbert's "Country Must Be Country Wide" hitting #1 on the charts, I made the comment on the video thread that "Brantley Gilbert is crap. Country music is dead." What followed and continues still, are some of the dumbest comments I've ever read on the Interweb. You can either click on the jpegs below and read along or go to this YouTube video and start reading the comments on about page 4 or 5. Someone actually said Brantley Gilbert has more talent (in his toe or something) than Hank Sr. There should be an IQ test for procreating.

Lyrics Illustrated: Thompson Square - I Got You

Review: The Damn Quails - Down the Hatch

First of all, I'd like to welcome Kelcy Salisbury ( @ ) into the fold as an occasional reviewer and possible regular contributor to Farce the Music! His debut piece is a review of my current favorite album of 2011.

The Damn Quails - Down the Hatch

by Kelcy Salisbury

A great man (I’ve heard the quote variously attributed to Kris Kristofferson & Guy Clark) once said that there are two ways to write great lyrics. One is to write about “uncommon things in common words”. The other is to write about “common things in uncommon words”. As a music fan I’ve always leaned strongly on the lyrical quality of the music when choosing between what I consider good or bad. Of course good music requires strong playing and solid arrangements but that’s just the cover charge. To actually get in the club and make an impression, it had better have some serious lyrical weight.

I’m happy to report that the Damn Quails debut album, Down The Hatch, delivers on all counts. Most great songwriters excel at either common themes in uncommon words, or vice versa, to reference the previous quote one last time. The lyrical strength of the one-two punch that is Damn Quails songwriting is that they can pull off either type of writing with equal aplomb.

But there is much more here than just great lyrics and well crafted songs (I may be labeled as a heretic, but I’m looking at you Bob Dylan and you too, Neil Young when I say this). The performances, both vocally and musically more than hold up their end of the bargain and actually enhance the lyrics of each song.

Now, at this point in time the Quails are one of the most buzzed about bands in this region of the country and possibly in all of independent/Americana/Red Dirt music, so I’ll spare you the biographical information, but let me just say that I haven’t heard a duo that works this well together since at least Foster & Loyd, again risking being burned at the stake for heresy I actually prefer the Damn Quails to any musical duo I can recall hearing since the height of the Waylon & Willie collaborations and truthfully the Damn Quails are more of an actual duo than those efforts ever were. The third person whose contributions cannot be overstated is producer and Oklahoma music kingpin Mike McClure. The production is spot-on throughout the album. After about two dozen spins I can’t hear a single spot where I felt like the production was flawed or lacking, yet the album never loses it’s organic feel. It’s truly a remarkable achievement.

My personal favorite feature of the Damn Quails music is the interplay in vocal styles as they trade off lead vocals from song to song. Gabriel has a voice that vaguely reminds me of a celtic singer I heard once at a bar in Canada. Random I know, but I could definitely imagine him singing some Chieftains cover songs on a lark. Byron has what feels like a more classic country/folk voice to me. Neither voice is incredible on it’s own, though both are certainly very good. It’s the interplay of the two, and the changing styles from one song to the next that really give the album such a uniquely wonderful vocal quality.

Musically, there is plenty to love. The guitar work on opening track, Better Place To Stop, and Parachute both stand out to me but every song has great instrumentals, even a touch of organ in places. There is not a weak link musically on the entire album.

Lyrically every song is exceptional, I suspect everyone who listens closely will have a different favorite and will possibly change their minds about what that favorite is after each listen. Each song evokes the emotions of the story being told as the lyrics are perfectly blended with the instrumental arrangements to paint a picture that words alone simply cannot do. My personal favorites on the album are Fools Gold, Parachute and California Open Invitation but I don’t skip a single song any time I listen and I doubt I ever will.

If you can buy only one song on this album, save your money until you can buy the whole thing. A true piece of art deserves to be seen/heard the way it was intended to be, as a whole and this is a truly great piece of art. I simply have nothing negative to say about it.

Finally, this is deservedly the most buzzed about band out of the musical hotbed that is central Oklahoma in quite a while and (with all due respect to Jason Boland & The Stragglers whose Rancho Alto is incredible and all the other acts who put out great work this year) I am willing to state that this is the best record of the year, regardless of genre. It’s simply that good.

Justin Moore says...

Nov 21, 2011

Awkward Gary Levox Photo of the Week

Yelawolf - Radioactive

Yelawolf's major label debut, Radioactive, is out today. FTM's a big fan of Yela's rural southern angle on hip-hop. His previous releases were full of classic rock and country influence with lyrics about the darker side of southern living. Think Drive-by Truckers for the rap set.

When he signed with Eminem's Shady Records in 2010, I was pretty excited for him. Of course I was a little apprehensive as well, concerned that his signature sound might get swallowed up by the corporate machine. I erred on the side of anxiousness though, knowing Yelawolf's talent and story (he's a half-white, half-Native American former professional skateboarder from the deep south) will make for a groundswell of support and bring true talent back to mainstream rap.

I'd be lying if I said Radioactive lived up to my expectations. I was naively hoping for something groundbreaking - a Nevermind of rap maybe - bringing his small town gutter sound to the mainstream. Unfortunately, it sounds more like the mainstream was brought to him.

Radioactive is still a very strong album with a few great and mostly good tunes. All the rap skills are there. The lyrics are generally excellent. The beats are solid and the production isn't overdone ….for the most part.

When the album sticks to Yelawolf's strengths it's at its best. "Grownin' up in the Gutter" is an angry rocked up rant which argues that hard times are everywhere, not just the ghetto. "Let's Roll," mines Yela's classic rock influences with an unabashedly catchy arena anthem, with a strong chorus from Kid Rock.

Where the record drops off is when Yela gets away from his meat and potatoes. The tracks that echo B.O.B. are definitely skippers. "Good Girl" is one "for the ladies," but I'm not sure even they will enjoy the annoying chorus and mixed messages. "Made in the USA" is a fairly well-written protest track completely torpedoed by a Debbie Boone meets Lee Greenwood hook. It's so sappy, it destroys whatever message Yelawolf wanted to impart.

Drop a little of this pop filler (which in fact isn't filler - I'm sure "Good Girl" will be released as a single to move a few units) and replace it with a couple more classic rock influenced bangers and Radioactive would be a little closer to that classic I wanted. Still, Yela's way above most of the rest of rap right now. He actually writes songs, not just barking out brags around a chorus. Let's hope his next album gives more of his unique southern perspective.

Nov 20, 2011

YouTube Junk: Brantley Gilbert

This song just hit #1 on the Mediabase charts. I usually try to keep the language in check around here, but fuck this motherfucker. Any song that has "country" in the title but begins with the words "Go ahead and crank this song up"... well, you know it sucks. Gilbert has now replaced his dad, Jason Aldean as FTM's #1 enemy.

Country Day November '11

Thanks to Ten Pound Hammer for The Mavericks cover!


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