Showing posts with label Black Joe Lewis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Black Joe Lewis. Show all posts

Dec 19, 2017

FTM's Best Songs of 2017 (12-30)

I pick these myself (~Trailer) because with 5 contributors, there'd be no easy way to come to a consensus on best songs, so you'll just have to live with these selections. …Which are pretty damn good by the way. I'm listing 12-30 today, then 1-11 tomorrow. Why? Because I felt that the 11 tunes really stood out as my favorite songs of the year and couldn't narrow it to 10. We do whatever we want around here. 

These are in no particular order.

Andrew Combs - Lauralee

Steve Earle - Fixin' to Die

Vagabon - Fear and Force

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit - If We Were Vampires

Shinyribs - I Don't Give a Shit

Drew Kennedy - House

Travis Meadows - Sideways

Apr 4, 2017

Trailer's Top Albums of 2017 (1/4 Report)

Usual disclaimer: This list is fluid and will change a great deal going forward. 
Also, these are just Trailer's favorites. The year-end list will be staff voted.








11. Nikki Lane - Highway Queen

12. Sunny Sweeney - Trophy

13. Japandroids - Near to the Wild Heart of Life

14. Natalie Hemby - Puxico

15. Rhiannon Giddens - Freedom Highway

16. Dead Man Winter - Furnace

17. Dale Watson & Ray Benson - Dale & Ray

18. The Band of Heathens - Duende

19. Power Trip - Nightmare Logic

20. Ryan Adams - Prisoner

*New albums from Rodney Crowell and Mastodon would likely be in the top 20; 
I just haven't digested those albums quite enough yet.

Dec 31, 2013

Best Albums of 2013: Matthew's Picks

10. Black Joe Lewis - Electric Slave
This album continued to grow on me throughout the year.  It's such a strong album full of driving guitar, funky, dirty rhythms, and Lewis's penchant for telling stories of partying as well as more serious themes.  This is Black Joe Lewis all grown up and pissed off.  This is Black Joe Lewis's best album.

 9.  Jonny Fritz - Dad Country
Speaking of growing up, 2013 saw Jonny Fritz change his name from Jonny Corndawg in an effort to not get pegged as a joke affair.  I think Dad Country is the epitome of that change.  There are serious-as-hell songs on here masked in seemingly funny material.  It's not terribly funny though when you think about the narrator of "Ain't It Your Birthday" showing up sometime later at his ex's house to wish her happy birthday.  Character studies are Fritz's forte, and on Dad Country, those lovable losers/weirdos are everywhere.

 8.  Deer Tick - Negativity
Deer Tick really did a 180 on this album.  From Divine Providence to Negativity, there is such a deep contrast, but the essence of what makes Deer Tick a great band serves as the glue; the songwriting.  McCauley and crew wrote some of Deer Tick's best songs for this album, an album darker and more somber than any of their previous.  When you listen from front-to-back, this album hits every note on the melancholy spectrum.  But, it doesn't necessarily make this album a downer.  It makes it an album perfect for reflection- whatever that reflection may be on.

 7. Sturgill Simpson - High Top Mountain
From the first note of this album, I was blown away.  His voice, his honky tonk band, and his stunning lyricism all seemed out of place for an album being released in the year 2013.  But, that's what makes Simpson's album so damn enjoyable.  It's a breath of fresh air to be able to find country music such as this still being made.  With a voice similar to Waylon, I think we'll see much more from Simpson.  Country music needs many more Sturgill Simpsons.  Maybe 2014 will bring more along.

 6. J Roddy Walston & the Business - Essential Tremors
I suppose 2013 was the year of growing up for bands, because on Walston's album, the band took a huge leap in terms of song material.  From dealing with his condition that causes him to shake (thus, Essential Tremors) to the father-to-son tale Boys Can Never Tell, there are songs that are more serious, yet keep the party going with The Business's rowdy backing.  My initial complaint with the album was that I hoped it would have more piano, but after multiple listens, there's not a damn thing I would add or take away from the album.  

 5. Futurebirds - Baba Yaga
Futurebirds continue to be one of the best bands out there with this album.  Taking their reverb-laden rock to new levels in sound, Futurebirds created their masterpiece.  Their numerous EPs and debut LP were great, no doubt, but this album takes that sound, adds years on the road, and finds the band at their peak.  As I have said before, this album is perfect for an afternoon on the back porch/patio/balcony during the summer.  It should also be stiflingly hot.  This is the kind of album we will be listening to for years to come.

 4. Diarrhea Planet - I'm Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams
Yeah yeah, the name... It's dumb.  Sure.  But, these boys from Nashville put out one damn fine rock and roll record.  If you can explain to me anything wrong with 4 guitars, I'd love to hear it.  An album rife with the perils of getting older and feeling isolated, the LP rocks harder and more accessibly than anything I can recall in the past few years.  It's also just a lot of fun.  It took me a while to get on board with this band, but once I got over the name, I have yet to be disappointed.  Great band, even better album. 

 3. Ha Ha Tonka - Lessons
I thought Ha Ha Tonka would not be able to top Death of a Decade, but I clearly thought wrong.  An album based on an NPR interview with Maurice Sendak sounded a bit over the top at first.  But, leave it to the guys in Ha Ha Tonka to tackle the subject and do so nearly perfect.  The album sifts through the taste of regret, forcing the listener to tackle regret in their own life, looking back through the days, months, or years.  As with other albums dealing with the subject on this list, it doesn't burden the listener.  It merely poses the question, and it's up to the listener to look back and take the past as it was, or dwell uncomfortably on those times we could have maybe done things differently.

 2. Jason Isbell - Southeastern
My god.  When I first heard that Jason Isbell was sober and had been hanging around Ryan Adams, I was a little worried.  Not because he was sober, mind you.  But, because Ryan Adams career had been somewhat frustrating to me once he reportedly got sober.  I don't blame it on the sobriety, one bit.  I doubt very strongly one writes better or worse on or off substance.  But, I still had doubt that the new, slower Isbell album would be something I would like.  I was wrong.  Dear god, I was so wrong.  This is the most stark and beautiful thing Jason Isbell has ever done.  The songs about sobriety (or, rather, grappling with sobriety) and his new love (the wonderful Amanda Shires) made for one of the best albums of the year.  I'm not sure how anyone can place this album lower than 2nd.  I had the hardest time saying whether this or my number 1 album were 1 or 2.  I changed the order many times.  This album is gorgeous.  It's intense.  And it's Jason Isbell's best damn album, which is saying a lot...

 1. John Moreland - In The Throes
I had never heard of John Moreland prior to this year and to be honest, I'm glad I hadn't. First hearing of this new-to-me artist and hearing his supposedly incredible album was one of the best things to have happened in 2013. The songs on this album are by and far the best songs I heard this year.  They are somber songs.  They are songs that are honest.  Sometimes painfully honest.  When you hear Moreland sing with his raspy, soothing voice, there is nothing but comfort in knowing that there is a person who knows your feeling.  Listening to these songs make one feel, immediately, comforted and slightly uncomfortable.  We are seeing into John Moreland's soul.  The very things he's frightened of, saddened by, and/or angered by.  And, we need that.  We need honesty in songs.  I'm glad I discovered John Moreland this year.  I'm glad he made this incredible album and put it out this year.  At the end of the day, this is, in my mind, the best album of the year.

Honorable Mentions:
Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels. Dawes - Stories Don't End. Earl Sweatshirt - Doris. Fifth on the Floor - Ashes & Angels. North Mississippi Allstars - World Boogie Is Coming.

-Matthew Martin

Sep 4, 2013

Album Review: Black Joe Lewis - Electric Slave

By Matthew Martin

From the opening heavy, fuzzed-out riff of Electric Slave, we know that this is a new Black Joe Lewis.  Not only musically, but in name as well.  Black Joe Lewis has opted to drop the Honey Bears from the band name.  Not to worry, the horns are still there.  The funk is still prevalent.  But, this is something a bit heavier, a bit more Stooges than Stax.

One of the first things I noticed about this new outing by Black Joe Lewis is the more pissed off tone of the album versus his last two outings.  Not to say it hasn't been on other albums-Scandalous had the terrific "You Been Lyin."  It's just that this album takes that emotion and increases the tone to that proverbial 11 level.  The subject matter blends perfectly with the minor chords that dominate the album.  

"Skulldiggin" starts the album off with a bang and really never lets up.  By the time you get to the excellent "Come to My Party," it's clear that Black Joe Lewis wants to blend every style available to him.  I dare you to listen to that song and try to sit still.  I don't think it's possible.  

It's the next half of the album that really picks up and takes the album to another place.  The back-to-back songs "Vampire" and "Make Dat Money" are great band workouts.  Lewis's voice fits the songs so perfectly.  Rough and amplified, it's a vague reminder of The John Spencer Blues Explosion, albeit taking only rough notes from that playbook.  The next song, "The Hipster" is a song so perfectly angry and humorous- I can only imagine the Williamsburg crowd listening to the song very uncomfortably.

I don't know that I would say this is Black Joe Lewis's best album.  It's definitely not the worst.  This is a step in a direction that I think will suit Lewis in the long run.  The horns are still there.  The funky guitar rhythms are still there.  But, there is a new urgency.  There is a demeanor that the music has taken on....a more sinister demeanor?  I'm not sure if that's the best way to describe it.  I'm not sure I know how to put it in words.  I think you should listen to it.  You will like it.  That is something I am quite sure of.

If I had to complain about a couple things on the album, it would be the vocals mix and "Young Girls."  While I enjoy the sound most of the time, there are times where it gets a bit difficult to discern the vocals due to being lost amid the guitars, drums, and horns.  It's only a minor complaint, though.  Also, "Young Girls" starts off fairly weakly.  I nearly skipped it.  I didn't, and I was glad I didn't.  The song grows into it's own, but it's the weakest song on an otherwise incredibly strong album.

This album will grow on me.  I like it a lot so far.  I see it potentially being on my year-end list with more listens.  This is a blues album for the times.  No doubt about that.  It's been a frustrating year and some angry, fun, funky blues is just what we needed.


Pick the album up herehere, or here.

Aug 27, 2013

Out Today

I haven't heard this yet, but a friend of mine says it's gritty and good. 
If you like your blues rock with a little more soul and gravy, BJL (formerly Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears) is where to find it.

Austin delivers probably his best album with Stay Reckless. It's definitely his most consistent. 
Blending bluegrass, punk, country and folk influences into his unique sound is only the 
beginning with Austin. His songwriting is among the best going today and that voice. 
That voice.... if you haven't heard him, it'll take some getting used to, but once you do... 


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