Showing posts with label Arliss Nancy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arliss Nancy. Show all posts

Dec 29, 2016

Matthew's Top 11 Albums of 2016

  Matthew Martin's Top Albums of 2016


11- Young Thug- Jeffery:  I know what you're thinking; this is not an album that would typically get love from this website.  But, honestly, this album is wonderful.  Sure, Young Thug employs some of the same mumbling rap techniques that can get tiresome, but YT's mastery of that along with the superb production on this album make it one of my favorites of this year, and one of my favorite Hip Hop albums in the last few years not named Run The Jewels.  Also, YT is one of Hip Hop's most intriguing artists right now, pushing the envelope on so many things including gender identity- the dude wears a dress on the cover of the album. "Wyclef Jean" is a perfect example of musical perfection with YT's emotional sing-songy delivery.

10- Two Cow Garage- Brand New Flag:  Man, TCG had no idea (I think) that this album would hold the weight that it does when they recorded it.  I am sure they assumed it would be a footnote in the year of 2016 when things were getting weird.  But, things got even weirder and this album got so much more important.  TCG are no strangers to heavy, important tunes and on this album prove that they've honed those skills terrifically.  "Let The Boys Be Girls" is absolutely one of the best songs of the year.

9- Cody Jinks- I'm Not The Devil:  As far as Cody Jinks goes, I'd never really listened to him much, but had heard lots of good things about this album and everyone was absolutely right.  This album is an emotional heavyweight with every song containing some heartbreaking moment dealing with either personal or relationship failures.  I don't think, in my mind, there's been such a gut-punching true Country album since Dwight Yoakam's Buenas Noches From a Lonely Room.  Honestly, if you're looking for a Country album full of hard-driving, honky-tonk, good-timin' tunes, maybe this isn't for you.  But, if you're looking for a hell of a Country album that is perfect in just about every way that gets better with every listen and maybe that much better when you're a little down and out, get this right now.  "I'm Not The Devil" is the song that got me hooked on this album.  Killer song, killer chorus.

8- Paul Cauthen- My Gospel:  WHEW!  Now, this guy caught me by surprise this year and damn he killed it.  This album, unbelievably, is the 2nd best debut album of the year.  Every song on this album is perfectly catchy.  If there was a just world, THIS would be Pop Country.  This is what Roy Orbison would have sounded like if he made an album in 2016.  I hope Paul Cauthen continues making music for years to come.  He's created a perfect throwback album that is already completely timeless.  I dare you to try and listen to "I'll Be The One" without dancing.

7- Natural Child- Okey Dokey:  On this throwback album, I think Natural Child has finally figured out how to turn their Punk, Blues, and Country hippie sound into a force to be reckoned with.  While they released a similar style album in 2014, they hadn't quite gotten the formula down.  Okey Dokey sees all the pieces fall into place and Natural Child create their best album.  "Now And Then" is probably the theme song of Natural Child and easily one of their best songs.

6- BJ Barham- Rockingham:  For a dude that has been fronting the fairly prolific, constantly touring American Aquarium, I was surprised that BJ Barham had enough extra songs to create a solo album.  But, after being overseas when the Paris attacks occurred, Barham felt the need to write a set of songs to deal with the emotions of this ever-changing world and those needless attacks.  The result of those songwriting sessions are some of Barham's most affecting songs and an album that is as good as it is heart-wrenching.  Try to listen to "The Unfortunate Kind" without tearing up, I dare you.

5- Diarrhea Planet- Turn to Gold:  Alright, I won't lie, I'm a DP fanboy.  They can do no wrong.  BUT, that doesn't mean that I'm wrong!  Starting out as a full-on sub-2 minute Punk band, DP began writing more serious, personal songs on their previous album, I'm Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams.  On Turn To Gold, DP have mastered the sonic nature of their tunes and created a master album.  How any band can have 4 guitars and know how to play quietly at times is beyond me.  How DP can do that and then turn the guitars up to 11 and not sound overbearing is a Herculean feat.  But, they do it and do it well.  This is the mature album that the band with fecal matter in their name probably never thought they'd make.  "Bob Dylan's Grandma" is a perfect example of the soft/loud dynamics that DP have mastered.

4- Luke Bell- S/T:  This was the best debut of year and one of my most listened-to albums of the year.  Every song on this album is perfect cowboy Country.  Dwight Yoakam is one of my favorite artists of all time and the influence of Buck Owens on him is not lost on many, if any, people.  Luke Bell is the natural progression through the years from Buck to Dwight, and now to Luke.  If Paul Cauthen and Luke Bell are the future of Country, then we are going to be A-OK, y'all!  "Bullfighter" is a perfect example of Luke Bell's mastery of capturing every day moments in his songs.

3- Sturgill Simpson- A Sailor's Guide to Earth:
I was prepared to go into this album with an open mind after hearing that we shouldn't expect a full-on country album.  And, thank god.  Because, it's not a typical Country album, no, but it's still a wonderful album.  It's an album that is so good from start to beginning that I can't imagine any other way of listening to it.  If you were turned off by this album's not completely inherent country-ness, I highly suggest you revisit this one with an open mind.  This may not be Sturgill's best album, but it's damn close.  Every song from start to finish is a homerun, making the album as a whole quite the emotional powerhouse.  And, of course knowing the context of the album- written as a love note to his son- only helps the listening experience.  "Call To Arms" is probably now my favorite Sturgill song and by the time I got to this song on the album, I couldn't sit down.  Such a barn-burner, such a wonderful way to end a wonderful album.

2- Arliss Nancy- Greater Divides: I wrote about this album on this site earlier this year, and my feelings on this album have done nothing but gotten stronger.  This is without a doubt Arliss Nancy's best album.  There is not one weak song, not one weak moment.  The songs on this album are the kinds you need to hear- songs to make you feel happy for being alive and resilient through those times that are less than perfect.  Again, in a world that makes sense, this band and this album would be popular.  The band and songs have never sounded better or tighter.  The growth over their last 3 albums is incredible.  I can't wait to hear where they go next.  "Finches" is a great example of Arliss Nancy's ability to take a normal moment and feel all the weight in that moment through past failures/triumphs.


1-  Drive-By Truckers- American Band: There is not a more important album in Drive-By Truckers' repertoire.  I say that fully aware of the importance of Southern Rock Opera and even The Dirty South.  However, this is important in a very different manner.  This is an album written by deep-red-state Southern men about issues that many in this region turn away from.  This is DBT taking their implicitly political music and making it as explicit as possible.  And, in the process, they made a few fans turn away from them.  But, the band didn't back down and, to my way of thinking, we're much better for it.  This is the album we needed in 2016, and will continue to need as we move forward.  It's ok for us to have differing opinions and as Cooley says, "if the victims and oppressors, just remain each other's others," then where will we be over the next few years.  So, this album is an impressive call to arms for everyone to look ourselves and those who differ from us in the eye and figure out how to find some common ground, while also calling bullshit on those who wish to divide us.  "What It Means" is already in my top 5 favorite DBT songs and to me, this is the best song of the year.  The best song of the year on the best album of the year by one of the most important Southern bands of our time.

May 13, 2016

Album Review: Arliss Nancy - Greater Divides

A Review by Matthew Martin

One of my favorite albums of the last 10 years is The Gaslight Anthem's The '59 Sound.  There is something so immediate and so basic in the words and the music.  It made me long for something that I couldn't quite grasp, or even comprehend.  Like, maybe the band, and maybe even I, had been meant for a different time or era.  Or, maybe it just made me want to drive for hours - sitting still didn't seem like an option. It was a pretty strong mix of feelings immediately after hearing that album.  It still makes me feel that way.  

While I have continued to dig most of the Gaslight Anthem's releases after that album, it's been a while since they have made me feel that longing.   

And, that's where Arliss Nancy comes in.  

Beginning with Simple Machines, I have had the distinct gut-punch feeling with every Arliss Nancy release. Greater Divides is no exception.  There is something within each song that tugs at the listener to reach deep, to think about those times that maybe were less than great and reflect upon them.  Maybe we could have changed those outcomes.  Hell, maybe we could have avoided them altogether.  But, really, this is life and mistakes are part of it and that's what makes it so fun, or at least, interesting.  

"Try to remember a time when everything was different and everything felt alive," sings Kyle Oppold on "Before You Go."  Or, take Cory Call's opening on "Finches" where he laments a lost love while watching his dog chase birds.  It's simple, but it's affecting.  We've all been there- doing something so mundane that dizzily brings back some sickening memory.  

Relationship failures and successes are where Arliss Nancy shine.  These failures and successes alternate between themselves, friends, and exes from song to song.  "Much of Anything" and "Brother, I Tried" are Kyle and Cory's takes on a call to arms against all the obstacles and problems that can be frustrating for a smaller, independent band and dammit do they work.  I can almost see the massive hugs after each song.  

When I first listened to this album, I was a little put off (very slightly, mind you) by Cory's new singing style- it's a bit more high pitched.  However, that was barely an afterthought after the 2nd and 3rd listen.  This is the only kind of album I ever want Arliss Nancy to make.  I hope they continue to do this exact sort of thing for years to come.  The band is tight, the music is wonderful, the songs are as good as any the boys have ever written, and this album is one of their best. 

One of the things I've never been able to do for whatever reason has been see Arliss Nancy in concert.  I hope that changes very soon, so guys if you're reading this by some coincidence, come to D.C. and let's have a beer.  And everyone else, if you are on the fence about this album, just take the plunge and buy Greater Divides right now. 


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Greater Divides is available on Amazon, iTunes, the band's site, etc. 

Dec 31, 2013

FTM's Favorite Songs of 2013




1. Matt Woods - Deadman's Blues
From earlier review:
...almost painful to hear, in the best of ways. It's like we're the accidental witnesses to a late night confessional and I can't help feeling a little guilty finding so much beauty in such a raw disclosure. And those vocals… it's a masculine delivery with a tear deeply embedded; then he rips your heart out when he lets it all go in the final seconds.

2. Jason Isbell - Elephant

3. Arliss Nancy - Vonnegut

4. John Moreland - 3:59

5. Shooter Jennings - The Gunslinger

6. Brandy Clark - What'll Keep Me Out of Heaven

7. Sturgill Simpson - You Can Have the Crown

8. Ashley Monroe - Morning After

9. Austin Lucas - Splinters

10. Todd Farrell Jr. and the Dirty Birds - Pawn Shops

Beyond the Top 10 (no specific order):

The National - I Should Live in Salt

Run the Jewels - Sea Legs

Queens of the Stone Age - If I Had a Tail

Kasey Anderson and the Honkies - Some Depression

Drew Kennedy - The Poet at 33

Kacey Musgraves - Follow Your Arrow

Wade Bowen - Songs About Trucks

Son Volt - Angel of the Blues

Two Cow Garage - Mantle in '56

J. Roddy Walston and the Business - Heavy Bells


Ha Ha Tonka  - Lessons

Chris Stapleton - What Are You Listening To?

Gary Allan - It Ain't the Whiskey

Valerie June - Tennessee Time

Buffalo Gospel - Mule

Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck - Inside Joke

The Mavericks - Come Unto Me

Chris King - Antler Inn Ballroom

JJ Grey and Mofro - 99 Shades of Crazy

Water Liars - Wyoming

Will Hoge - Home is Where the Heart Breaks

Lindi Ortega - This is Not Surreal

Phosphorescent - Song for Zula

Chance the Rapper - Cocoa Butter Kisses

Dec 30, 2013

FTM's Favorite Albums of 2013: 1-20




1. John Moreland - In the Throes
John Moreland writes razor edged lines that grab your attention and tear your heart out. Next time you listen to the same song, you'll notice that the following line was just as good - you just happened to miss it marveling at the previous one. In fact, there's hardly a throwaway line on the whole of In the Throes, and nary a song worth skipping. The mood of the record certainly wasn't right to be my album of the year (it's been a rough one), but the best is the best, regardless of tempo or context. In the Throes is pretty low-key and gray in emotional content, but it's just too good to be denied. Moreland has distilled all his strengths (with the exception of his rocking side, which is also very strong) into this stunning work of great craft and heart which stands deservingly as FTM's #1 album of 2013. Standouts: All of them, but if I must pick, 3:59 and Blacklist.



2. Jason Isbell - Southeastern
Southeastern is a modern classic. This is an inescapable truth arrived at by a tidal wave of critical approval and fan appreciation. Jason Isbell is Americana's Entertainer of the Year and Southeastern is the Album of the Year; I don't care what any official organizations say. Isbell has done more positive for the genre than anyone else, including the folk-renaissance dudes who actually got radio play. "Elephant" is incredible and if it didn't mist your eyes at some point this year, I don't know …maybe your heart is way too tiny, Mr. Grinch. "Traveling Alone" is remarkable and romantic. "Relatively Easy" is insightful on a personal and wide scope. Southeastern is a masterpiece and what's scary is that Isbell is probably just getting started.


3. Sturgill Simpson - High Top Mountain
Sturgill Simpson may not be the savior of country music, but he sure looks and sounds the part. This laid-back Kentuckian has the voice of an outlaw country god to go alongside his witty and insightful writing style. His songs are sorrowful, heartfelt, clever and self-deprecating, sometimes within the same tune. He probably gets a bit tired of the Waylon comparisons, but if there's a modern incarnation of that legend, Simpson has the talent and grit to at least make a valiant go at filling those shoes. High Top Mountain is an essential edition to any fan of real country music's collection. Standouts: You Can Have the Crown, Old King Coal.



4. Arliss Nancy - Wild American Runners
There is female frontal nudity on the cover of Arliss Nancy's stellar Wild American Runners. That it took someone pointing that out for me to even notice it speaks to the substance over style aesthetic of this hard-rocking, hard-living band. Sliding into the punk meets country standard-bearer position of early Lucero, the already musically strong Arliss Nancy has taken their songwriting to a new level with their 3rd release. "Vonnegut" and "Nathaniel" are among the best songs released in any genre this year. The former's "Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt" is one of the most affecting codas I've ever heard.



5. Drew Kennedy - Wide Listener
Full disclosure: I consider Drew Kennedy a friend. He's a good dude who I've had the opportunity to hang out with before, during and after a few shows here in Mississippi. That said, I've never let that affect my reviews or feelings about his music.  As much as I've listened to him (Last.fm says I've played his songs 1,654 times), I still always find his songs to take some time to "get." Maybe it's Drew's poetic style or his unique vocals, but every time I hear his music, it's a new experience. To me, that's the mark of a great artist, and Wide Listener is his strongest and most layered work to date. The fact that he brought in a few co-writers this time around doesn't change the artistic vision or stylistic voice of Kennedy's work. Standouts: Hello Goodbye, Jackson Square.



6. Run the Jewels - s/t (still free!)
Killer Mike and EL-P's last albums were among my favorites of 2012. Putting two of my favorite rappers together on a full album sounds like a no-brainer, but chemistry isn't guaranteed, even between two creative artists with similar takes on hip-hop. Thankfully, Run the Jewels may even be better than the sum of its parts… and its respective parts are already cream of the crop.  This is a party album with a ton of boasts and brags, but it never plays to the "bling and booty" crowd. It's a smart take on culture and good times that's full of memorable lines, but also cohesive songwriting. The production is dirty, raucous and bass-driven, but never aggressively off-putting (like that of a certain rapper on top of everybody's else's lists). I've listened to this album more than any other in 2013 and it looks like 2014 will be another year of RTJ as they've already announced a follow-up.
Standouts: Sea Legs, Banana Clipper



7. Brandy Clark - 12 Stories
Brandy Clark may not be the savior of country music but… wait, this sounds familiar. In country's "year of the woman" (critically not commercially, unfortunately), Clark stood at the forefront, at least for me. Kacey Musgraves might be the most recognizable face of the movement, but Clark is the most vital part of it. Her songwriting is superb, from the knowing ache of "What'll Keep Me Out of Heaven" to the smart-assed wit of "Stripes," she knows her way around a hook and through the ins and outs of the human condition. She's not the stone country throw-back that a Sturgill Simpson is; Clark is what country music should sound like in 2013 if it had evolved without so many greedy influences mutating the DNA. 12 Stories is a progressive work of heart and humor that honors its predecessors while gracefully arching towards the horizon.



8. Austin Lucas - Stay Reckless
Austin Lucas was a drain on my emotions this year. His post-divorce album, Stay Reckless, is mostly a shaded journey through loneliness and acceptance. There are great rockers like "Alone in Memphis" but again… alone. Lucas never sounded better, his voice aching with expression most singers could only dream of. "Splinters," an exploration of the uncertain reasons for the end of a relationship, is a deflating but gorgeous way to end the album on the saddest note possible.
Thanks a lot, Austin.



9. Fifth on the Floor - Ashes and Angels
Fifth on the Floor is the quintessential southern rock band working today. Theirs is a powerful, distinct and gritty take on a sub-genre that has become increasingly tiresome in the hands of less skilled bands. Ashes & Angels mostly steers clear of cliche with strong lyrics, modern attitude, and a mission to bring the rock. Lead singer Justin Wells is a mountain of a man with a voice to match and his cohorts are all excellent players. From the raucous "Whiskey" to the soulful "Angels in the Snow" to the excellent My Morning Jacket cover, "One Big Holiday," Ashes & Angels is an excellent entry from the premier band still carrying the southern rock flag.




10. Ashley Monroe - Like a Rose
Nine songs wasn't enough unless Ashley Monroe's plan was to leave us wanting more. On that count, Like a Rose is a job well done. Monroe's earthen angel vocals and gracefully edgy writing made this an album to return to over and again. Confessional and universal at once, Like a Rose gave us modern sentiment wrapped in a timeless package. Monroe covers regret, crime, drinking, lost love and a marriage in need of a little spice. What more could you need in a country album? More songs maybe…  Standouts: Morning After, Two Weeks Late




11. The National - Trouble Will Find Me




12. Kacey Musgraves - Same Trailer, Different Park




13. Shooter Jennings - The Other Life



14. Queens of the Stone Age - …Like Clockwork



15. Ha Ha Tonka - Lessons




16. Son Volt - Honky Tonk




17. Guy Clark - My Favorite Picture of You




18. Possessed by Paul James - There Will Be Nights When I'm Lonely




19. Vince Gill and Paul Franklin - Bakersfield




20. Todd Farrell Jr. and the Dirty Birds - All Our Heroes Live in Vans

Nov 15, 2013

YouTube Gems: Arliss Nancy

From their stellar album, Wild American Runners, here's Arliss Nancy with "Benjamin." RIYL: Lucero, Two Cow Garage, Todd Farrell Jr. & the Dirty Birds, Slobberbone.

Dec 27, 2012

Top 10 Songs of 2012


No commentary on these. I'll just let the music speak for itself.

1. The Gaslight Anthem - Here Comes My Man
from Handwritten

2. Lee Bains III and The Glory Fires - Righteous, Ragged Songs
from There is a Bomb in Gilead

3. Arliss Nancy - 40's
from Simple Machines
(Track hosted for streaming purposes only. No claim is made to copyright. 
Song is not downloadable despite language in the graphic which suggests otherwise.)


4. Chris Knight - Nothin' On Me
from Little Victories

5. The Trishas - Over Forgiving You
from High, Wide and Handsome

6. Jason Eady - AM Country Heaven
from AM Country Heaven

7. Turnpike Troubadours - Good Lord Lorrie
from Goodbye Normal Street

8. Killer Mike - Big Beast
from R.A.P. Music

9. The Mavericks - Come Unto Me
from Suited Up and Ready EP

10. Some Dark Holler - Chords Are Always the Same
from Hollow Chest

A few more honorable mentions: 
John D. Hale Band - Desperate People
Hayes Carll - Love Don't Let Me Down (feat. Caitlin Rose)
The Dirty Guv'nahs - Dear Alice

Aug 10, 2012

Best Albums of 2012 So Far: August



There's no change towards the top of FTM's "best of" list but a lot of upheaval down below, with Arliss Nancy, Killer Mike and others jumping onto the list. There are also two big albums waiting in the wings: Jamey Johnson's Hank Cochran Tribute and Chris Knight's new release. Anyway, here's the top 10. Feel free to make any suggestions for great 2012 albums in the comments.

1. Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires - There is a Bomb in Gilead

2. Marty Stuart - Nashville, Vol. 1 Tear The Woodpile Down

3. Turnpike Troubadours - Goodbye Normal Street

4. Arliss Nancy - Simple Machines

5. Darrell Scott - Long Ride Home

6. Jason Eady - AM Country Heaven

7. Shooter Jennings - Family Man

8. Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music

9. Blackberry Smoke - The Whippoorwill

10. The Trishas - High, Wide and Handsome

May 25, 2012

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