Mar 15, 2019
Feb 13, 2019
Feb 5, 2019
Jan 18, 2019
If somebody sings that "Bitches" song around me...
When one of Farce the Music's jokes gets a negative reaction
If you're thinking of attending a Dustin Lynch concert
American Aquarium songs:
When "Baby Likes to Rock It" by The Tractors comes on
If somebody says country music is better because there's not as much twang nowadays
Why don't you wear Luke Bryan skinny jeans?
"Country radio doesn't play women because they just aren't as good as the men"
When your favorite country newsletter has a feature on Old Dominion
Jan 2, 2019
by Matthew Martin
1- Brandi Carlile - By The Way, I Forgive You
Brandi Carlile's album this year was by far and away the album I listened to the most and the one that had the most emotional punch. Brandi's voice is perfectly suited to the songs of heartbreak, being a new mother, and being a touring musician. The production is immaculate and if Hold Out Your Hand doesn't get you moving, you're clearly a lost hope. This is a perfect, timeless album.
2- American Aquarium - Things Change
When BJ lost his band a couple of years ago due to whatever reasons, I thought the American Aquarium name would be retired. Instead, BJ found a new backing band and came back stronger than ever. These are some BJ's strongest songs he's written since Burn. Flicker. Die. And, the band! I'll be damned if this band doesn't seem even tighter. When BJ has been at his lowest point, band-wise, he's given us masterpieces and this album is no exception.
3- Lucero - Among The Ghosts
To follow Lucero's career has been an amazing transition from country/punk 4 piece to a straight-up Memphis rock and roll band complete with a horns section. For their 9th (or 10th if you count The Attic Tapes) studio album, the guys took it back to their roots and left the horns out for the most part. What they gave us was their best album since 1372 Overton Park. It's a musically concise album cutting away any fat and letting the songs and band speak for themselves. Ben Nichols has written some of his most interesting songs to date about Civil War battles, touring, and shoot-outs. In a catalog full of incredible albums, this one is certainly at the top.
4- Cody Jinks - Lifers
I remember when I first heard Cody Jinks a few years ago, I wasn't immediately a fan. I don't remember what made me think that- maybe just wasn't in the right headspace or something. But, that has completely changed. Jinks released the album that will likely (and seems to already have) boost him to the ranks of Simpson or, potentially even Stapleton. Jinks's voice is velvety smooth and his band is right on the mark. The songs are a perfect mix of hard-life livers, hard-night havers, and hard-love lovers. It's incredibly relatable to those listening and it's the kind of tunes we've come to expect out of Jinks over the last few years. Yet another very good album in Jinks's short, but incredibly respectable output.
5- Ryan Culwell - The Last American
This album hit me harder than any other album on this list. Just by sheer surprise and being completely blown away by Culwell's voice and music composition. This is the album it takes folks quite a few albums into their career to get to. But, this is Culwell's 3rd. And it's a masterpiece. The songs are barnburners and gut-wrenchers. It's a perfect mix. This is perfect Southern American music. It sounds like Tom Petty channeling Mark Knopfler. There's going to be a lot to hear from Culwell in the future, so I definitely suggest you go ahead and hop on the bandwagon now.
6- Great Peacock - Gran Pavo Real
I've been a fan of Great Peacock for a few years now and after their last album, I was excited to see where they would go. As I would go to shows over the next few years, it became clear they were going to go in a more electric direction. And, they absolutely did. This album is a rocker full of the harmonies and introspective lyrics you've come to expect. This is the one you reach for on Saturday night around midnight.
7- Caleb Caudle - Crushed Coins
Caudle has been pumping out perfect country songs for a while now. On Crushed Coins, Caudle hit his full stride. The songs are his best set of songs he's put out. The music and production are absolutely perfectly suited for his voice and his songs. NYC In The Rain is a perfect song and a perfect Caleb Caudle song. I don't think there's anyone else I can imagine singing this song other than Caudle. If you haven't checked out Caudle, this album is the one to start with. It's Caudle at his best.
8- Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears - The Difference Between Me and You
Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears have been making music for over 10 years now and let me tell you, they haven't lost a step. If anything the music has grown more electric, more biting, and louder. 2018 Black Joe Lewis is still writing those 2008 funky party songs, but now he's writing songs about issues he sees going on in this country. If you like The Stooges, James Brown, and pissed off Steve Earle, this is the album for you.
9- The Pollies - Transmissions
I'm a sucker for any album The Pollies put out. In my mind, they're one of the best bands out there and it's a complete shame that more people don't know them. On Transmissions, The Pollies have written a perfect set of Southern pop rock songs. It's hard not to bob your head along to these songs. If you've been looking for our generations answer to Big Star, you have no need to look any further. Keep an eye on The Pollies and do yourself a favor and buy this album.
10- Whitey Morgan and the .78s - Hard Times and White Lines
When it comes to straight-up, hard-edged country, there's not a single person doing it better than Whitey Morgan. He and his band have again written a damn incredible country album. You can always bet the bank on Morgan to only release the best of the best. You will not get filler or cheap songs. You're going to get songs about living out on the road, the things that does to relationships, and ways to pass the time when out on the road. It ain't a pretty life, but when Morgan sings about it, it sure makes you wanna try it out for a while.
Dec 14, 2018
Like numbers 11-25, these were voted on by all Farce the Music contributors.
10. Dallas Moore - Mr. Honky Tonk
This is the album where Dallas Moore took a huge step forward. He's always been good, but on Mr. Honky Tonk, the songwriting, vocals, and especially the production all came together. Normally I'd not even consider voting for an album with only 8 tunes, but when the material is this strong, there's nothing wrong with delivering a short, powerful punch. Moore knows for damn sure who he is and on Mr. Honky Tonk, that comes through loud and clear. Check out "You Know the Rest" and "Somewhere Between Bridges." ~Trailer
9. Whitey Morgan & The 78s - Hard Times & White Lines
When it comes to straight-up, hard-edged country, there's not a single person doing it better than Whitey Morgan. He and his band have again written a damn incredible country album. You can always bet the bank on Morgan to only release the best of the best. You will not get filler or cheap songs. You're going to get songs about living out on the road, the things that does to relationships, and ways to pass the time when out on the road. It ain't a pretty life, but when Morgan sings about it, it sure makes you wanna try it out for a while. ~Matthew Martin
8. Ruston Kelly - Dying Star
One for the misfits, but who among us isn’t one? At times depressing, funny and hopeful, and with a dash of redemptive potential. And it’s oh, so very pleasing to the ear. Comparisons to Ryan Adams are inevitable. So far, though, Mr. Kelly doesn’t seem to be a full-of-himself douche. ~Kevin Broughton
7. American Aquarium - Things Change
When BJ lost his band a couple of years ago due to whatever reasons, I thought the American Aquarium name would be retired. Instead, BJ found a new backing band and came back stronger than ever. These are some BJ's strongest songs he's written since Burn. Flicker. Die. And, the band! I'll be damned if this band doesn't seem even tighter. When BJ has been at his lowest point, band-wise, he's given us masterpieces and this album is no exception. ~MM
6. Joshua Hedley - Mr. Jukebox
The soul of Mr. Jukebox is decidedly unhip by mainstream Nashville standards, but the songs are glorious throwbacks to guys like Ernest Tubb, George Jones or Buck Owens. The reason Mr. Jukebox succeeds is his backbone of traditionalism, not only in character, but also because of Ole’ Hed’s dedication to the heart of real country music. Hedley’s fiddle furiously battles his smooth vocal runs with a multi-disciplined attack that's just damned good music. Joshua Hedley can strum a guitar, sing with a clean, clear harmonious range, and write lyrics that are not only witty, but also painstakingly crafted so that the words on some of the record’s tracks land like guy punches. ~Robert Dean
5. Cody Jinks - Lifers
Cody is just taunting the Satanists running Nashville now, showing these soulless, undead beings what a country record could be on their radio stations. ~KB
I remember when I first heard Cody Jinks a few years ago, I wasn't immediately a fan. I don't remember what made me think that- maybe just wasn't in the right headspace or something. But, that has completely changed. Jinks released the album that will likely (and seems to already have) boost him to the ranks of Simpson or, potentially even Stapleton. Jinks's voice is velvety smooth and his band is right on the mark. The songs are a perfect mix of hard-life livers, hard-night havers, and hard-love lovers. It's incredibly relatable to those listening and it's the kind of tunes we've come to expect out of Jinks over the last few years. Yet another very good album in Jinks's short, but incredibly respectable output. ~MM
4. Kacey Musgraves - Golden Hour
An album chock full of beautifully arranged, damn-near perfectly delivered, radio-ready singles that for some reason didn't find their way to Country Radio. It's a shame that format has bent over backwards to completely ignore and ostracize women because Musgraves made the best Country record of the year by a wide margin. I guess the Country Radio folks need to make sure there's always enough room on the charts for any dude named Luke who might decide to release a single at some point. ~Kasey Anderson
3. Brandi Carlile - By the Way, I Forgive You
Brandi’s finest album since The Story (which will always be in my Top 10 of all-time). “The Joke” is simply gorgeous and a song of the year contender. This Dave Cobb produced platter got some serious Grammy nom love and for good reason. ~Scott Colvin
2. Jamie Lin Wilson - Jumping Over Rocks
I’ll be honest, this album is so beautifully understated in its delivery that I almost had it around number 12. Then I sat down & listened again. What Jamie Lin Wilson has done is monumental. She covers perhaps the greatest song Guy Clark ever wrote, and it fits the album. If you’re looking for who’s going to fill those shoes, the answer is still “nobody”, but this album is a tour de force. Jamie Lin Wilson is a generational talent who deserves every bit of acclaim she receives, and then some. ~Kelcy Salisbury
I love this freaking album. So classy and classic sounding. "The Being Gone" and "Death and Life" are amazing songs. ~Trailer
1. Lucero - Among the Ghosts
To follow Lucero's career has been an amazing transition from country/punk 4 piece to a straight-up Memphis rock and roll band complete with a horns section. For their 9th (or 10th if you count The Attic Tapes) studio album, the guys took it back to their roots and left the horns out for the most part. What they gave us was their best album since 1372 Overton Park. It's a musically concise album cutting away any fat and letting the songs and band speak for themselves. Ben Nichols has written some of his most interesting songs to date about Civil War battles, touring, and shoot-outs. In a catalog full of incredible albums, this one is certainly at the top. ~MM
Good to see Farce the Music's unofficial house band finally make our top spot! ~Trailer
Dec 7, 2018
Post Malone - Beerbongs & Bentleys
You never use the "hard R." Your dad pays for college, but has threatened to cut you off if you come home with a face tattoo.
American Aquarium - Things Change
You haven't written a humorous tweet since November 2016. You drive a Nissan Leaf but keep your hidden away Harley tuned up for when it's okay to have fun again.
Whitey Morgan & the .78s - Hard Times and White Lines
You wear shirts with curse words on them to family reunions. When you type "Luke Bryan, never heard of her" on Facebook, your co-workers in the maintenance department all click "like."
Brandi Carlile - By the Way, I Forgive You
You picked an apartment to rent based on its walking proximity to a Whole Foods. You have broken up with someone based on their bad recycling habits.
Sleep - The Sciences
You aren't really patient, you just smoke a shit ton of weed. You spend more money on eye drops than you do body wash.
Ashley Monroe - Sparrow
You are horny like 24/7.
Keith Urban - Graffiti U
You're still living pretty comfortably off the divorce settlement, but you sell LulaRoe and essential oils on Facebook for extra cash.
Ashley McBryde - Girl Going Nowhere
You are a thoughtful and passionate connoisseur of music. You have definitely punched a man in the face before.
Godsmack - When Legends Rise
You didn't know they put out an album in 2018, but it must be the best album of the year because they kick ass man! You have punched a woman before.
Father John Misty - God's Favorite Customer
You have had your feces tested, and no, it does not stink. You won't date a woman who's prettier than you.
Sep 26, 2018
Jul 6, 2018
Jun 4, 2018
by Matthew Martin
When I heard the news last year that American Aquarium was experiencing a mass exodus of all members except for singer-songwriter BJ Barham, I wondered what form Barham would continue on in. I knew that he'd continue. The songwriter in him showed no signs of quit, of having that hard-earned time out on the road be for nothing. I will admit that I was shocked to hear that the name American Aquarium would continue on with all new members. But, at the end of the day, Barham's earnest lyrics and dedicated-to-the-craft workmanship is what made American Aquarium truly work. So, it should be no surprise that the latest output from Barham and new mates is just as impressive as ever.
Barham seems to find that muse of his when his back's against the wall. When he feels like he's been backed into a corner and the only way to get himself out is to fight like hell. It's what we saw with 2012's stellar Burn. Flicker. Die. And now we see it here on Things Change. I think that muse was burning from both ends of the same candle on this latest output as Barham saw not only the end of his band, but a change in the U.S. that was hard for many to grapple with.
I'll get that political upheaval out of the way first because I think that may turn some folks off. It shouldn't. Barham writes from his personal worldview. You might disagree, but he isn't wrong either. When he sings of seeing the hate his grandfather fought against being alive and well, it's there. And, regardless of who won the election of 2016, it was still going to be there. So, before getting mad at yet another artist who should just "shut up and sing," just listen. Try understanding that there are folks out there that are worried- on both sides. We are scared of each other, but we can change that. Music is one of the things that can, and does, bring us together.
As far as the other subjects on the album, there is a mighty heavy dose of regret and hope when it comes to losing friends you've had for years. There's always sadness when you lose someone- whether it be by choice or, god forbid, death. But, there is always hope and happiness in what that change can bring. Barham doesn't shirk responsibility for those relationships failing. He meets them head-on and tries to learn lessons from those failures. He addresses the man he used to be when he would blame every trouble he had on every woman who did him wrong ("One Day At A Time"). He addresses the booze that always led him astray and towards self-destruction ("I Gave Up The Drinking"). Barham knows he isn't perfect, but his ability to stare his demons in the face with hope is what makes the album so incredibly stunning. And, that's just the words...
The music on this album is a synthesis of every single American Aquarium album up until now. There are hard-driving rockers ("Crooked+Straight"), acoustic self-reflective songs ("One Day At A Time"), and straight up country songs ("Work Conquers All"). While the band prior to this iteration was a pretty damn good band, this new band has absolutely crushed any expectations one could have had going into this album. Barham is the glue holding the band together, sure. But, the band takes his bare bones songs and kicks them up countless notches. I don't think Barham could have chosen a better group of musicians for this new era of American Aquarium and I can't wait to hear where this band goes from here.
So, give these songs a listen. Take time with them. Don't get turned off because he says something that might not be what you want to hear. Hear it from his point of view. Music is the great equalizer and as always, hope springs eternal. And don't forget to go see Barham and crew as they come to your town!
Things Change is available everywhere you enjoy good music.
Apr 30, 2018
Apr 12, 2018
Jan 22, 2018
There's a bit more bio information and the band's thoughts on "Sixteen" below the player.
Their new EP, Sunshine From the Blue Cactus is available February 2, 2018 from Amazon, iTunes, etc.
What is "Sixteen" about?
This is one of those songs that just fell out of the sky. To break it down simplistically the song was my way of expressing that in the end, it all works out. There is no doubt that the song is the most personal on the record and it encapsulates this strange emotion I was feeling at the time. My mom had passed, my son had just been born, and in the middle of it all was this feeling of retrospect of what in the hell just happened. We move so fast in life we don’t process what we feel. This was me simply looking back saying to myself “If you would have told me that from now this is where you will be, sitting on this bed, writing this song, I would have called you a bold face liar.” I don’t know if it’s because I am more aware these days or just more grateful but I am still astonished at how unpredictable life can be and how good it really all is.
Who/what were some influences when it came to writing "Sixteen?"
Oh, it was so long ago it’s tough for me to remember what I may have been listening to at the time. But I remember distinctively watching an interview with Ryan Adams and he was discussing how he knew what kind of song he would be writing based on where he placed his capo. I never really purposely thought of it like that, even though I love using a capo. On “Sixteen” the capo on the guitar is on the 4th fret which brings a bit of a brighter feeling to it. I remember when I was coming up with the melody in my head that I wanted it to be a bit brighter and the best way to do that was to bring the capo to a higher register. So to answer the question I suppose I would tip my hat to Mr. Adams for at least making me realize how powerful the capo can be when tapping into the emotional feel of a song.
WHISKEY IN THE PINES - SUNSHINE FROM THE BLUE CACTUS
While Whiskey in the Pines’ hails from Florida, synonymous with endless sunshine
and miles of beaches, the ocean is still a long way from the band’s hometown
Tallahassee. “It’s about a two-hour drive,” says David Lareau, Whiskey in the Pines’
plainspoken singer and principal songwriter. The band’s unmistakably Southern
moniker—a perfect fit for its brand of heartfelt, no-frills Americana—was inspired by
their frequent excursions down US-319 south to the languid shores of the Gulf.
“You’re traveling miles of road surrounded by nothing but pine trees,” he says. “And
a good friend of mine always called me ‘Whiskey.’ I drove out to the beach so often
that when it came time to name the band, it was a pretty straightforward choice.”
For Lareau, Whiskey In The Pines has been at once a new beginning and a much-
needed salve to heal the wounds of a tumultuous year. As the band prepares to
release its new EP, Sunshine From The Blue Cactus (named for drummer Erik
Wutz's admired waitress, Sunshine, who worked the lunch shift at the band’s favorite
haunt), Lareau has been reflecting back on the pothole-filled road that led him to this
“When I was writing the songs for Sunshine, My mom had recently passed away,
and I’d also just had my first kid,” Lareau says. “There were all sorts of conflicting
emotions pouring out through the songs. It’s been a journey, for sure.”
Lareau’s Florida roots provide the EP’s alt-country songs with a gentle warmth and
sense of connectedness. This is heartland rock & roll, shot through with an ambling,
country-tinged flourishes. There are songs that would perfectly score a backyard
day-drinking session and others that work as peaceful codas to soundtrack the
after-party cleanup. Which makes perfect sense after everything Lareau has
experienced in recent years. On the autobiographical “Sixteen” and shifty love paean
“Do You Believe in Hell,” Lareau ruefully examines his life’s circumstances,
pondering how past decisions have influenced his present state. Elsewhere on the
EP, “Roses” chugs forward with a driving melody reminiscent of Jason Isbell or Ryan
Adams’ earlier work in Whiskeytown. “It’s times like these when you’re driving
through this town / And you’re playing Tom Petty with the windows down,” Lareau
sings on the chorus, delivering his lines with the authenticity of someone, who—like
the rock legend he name-checks—knows small-town Southern life firsthand.
Inspiration comes to Lareau in many forms. An avid distance runner, he often works
up melodic ideas as he pounds the pavement, reveling in the solitary miles. And, of
course, life in Tallahassee is inseparable from college football and the Florida State
Seminoles—it was at a tailgate where Lareau came up with the framework for what
would become the somber “Drunk with My Friends.” Sometimes, though, the tunes
come together until the pressure is on to record, which was the case with “Roses.”
“My first stab at writing that song came out really dark, which wasn’t a great fit for the
upbeat melody,” Lareau says. “I was stuck on it for a while but ended up pulling out
some new lyrics the night before we cut it. Everyone loved the spontaneity, so we
went with it.”
Lareau writes quickly and trusts his instincts. He may edit things later upon further
reflection or after hearing input from his bandmates, but he knows he’s at his best
when he strikes while the iron is hot. “For ‘Sixteen,’ I literally picked up the guitar with
the melody in my head laid down with my wife and son beside me, and wrote the
lyrics on my phone ,” he says. “I luckily found the right words that
rhyme at in the morning.”
Though Lareau anchors the band as frontman and songwriter, Whiskey In the Pines
is a collaborative affair and his bandmates have the chops to make these tunes
really hum. Bassist Aaron Halford and guitarist Kelly Chavers are longtime pals. Noel
Hartough produced the band’s new EP while Erik Wutz handled drums on the
recordings, and ace session musician Barrett Williams soars on pedal steel. The
band dynamic and this new set of songs have energized Lareau as he prepares to hit
the road in support of Sunshine From The Blue Cactus.
“We’re really proud of this one,” he says. “We want people to remember these
songs, to sing them in the shower, or when they’re taking their kids to school—to
have them become a part of their life.”
Jan 27, 2017
When someone disrespects Waylon to your face
When your friend won't go see American Aquarium with you
because they never heard of them
When somebody needs schooling on country music history
"Country singer" Chris Lane rehearsing for his upcoming tour
Those new Charlie Worsham songs
When somebody calls radio DJ Homey
to request Cole Swindell
How did you feel about country media anointing
Kelsea Ballerini the new 'country' queen
What would it take to get Cody Jinks played
on mainstream country stations?