Showing posts with label Jason Boland and the Stragglers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jason Boland and the Stragglers. Show all posts

Nov 27, 2018

Americana Band's Van and Gear Not Stolen

by Trailer - Originally posted on Country California, Tuesday, June 17, 2014 
A popular roots rock band is not starting a Kickstarter page to defray the costs of a white 1998 Ford E-350 van and Pro-Line trailer with the band's logo on the side and $1700 in musical gear, which were quite shockingly not stolen after a recent Houston area gig. 

The Whiskey Hawks, of High Point, North Carolina, had just finished up their supporting set for Jason Boland at Dosey Doe in The Woodlands and ducked out a bit early. "We'd seen Jason and the guys a few times before and hung out some, and we were hungry, so we left around 9:30 for Waffle House," said drummer Gus Pounds. "And that's when it happened." 

Members of the four-piece Americana/punk/folk outfit were shocked by what they discovered. "I thought maybe the scattered-and-covered I'd had was messing with my head," explained lead singer Aaron Lavox, "but our van and trailer were still right there where we parked them." 

Police were not called to the scene of the un-stolen touring vehicle and 'drunken hawk' emblazoned instrument carrier, and aside from a small hole in a denim vest caused by an unextinguished American Spirit cigarette, no damage was reported. 

"I'm happy, you know, but I'm just thinking the whole time... is our stuff not good enough for you?" bassist James Squier wondered as he groomed his immaculate beard. "Even the cajon was still there ...what, nobody wanted that for an end table?" 

At press time, the Whiskey Hawks were contemplating a PledgeMusic campaign to fund an upcoming six-song covers EP of obscure Bellamy Brothers songs. 


Aug 2, 2018

Step Brothers Country Reaction Gifs

*some foul language*

When a coworker you thought was a jerk says he's into Tyler Childers and Whitey Morgan

When somebody's Brantley Gilbert ringtone goes off

When the room smells like Kane Brown fan

New Amanda Shires & Lucero albums Friday??

When you have a flashback to your mom taking you to a Rascal Flatts concert when you were little

When somebody's in your face saying Cody Jinks sucks

Brad Rice, probably...

Some dude from Billboard said "Meant to Be" is a country song


May 24, 2018

Pee Wee's Playhouse: Country Reaction Gifs


When she knows "Ring of Fire"

Why do some people enjoy Kane Brown?

Listening to the new Jason Boland &The Stragglers like...

"I wish Florida-Georgia Line was working at a drive-thru"

When Pee Wee says he really digs the Pine Box Boys

When the mail lady noticed you ordered a Luke Bryan candle

I got nothin' for this one but here's Dolly Parton with Pee Wee

When you're stuck in a house full of pop country fans









Jan 9, 2015

Kelcy Reflects on 2014, Chris Knight, Babies, etc.

Things I'm Glad I Experienced or Discovered in 2014:
by Kelcy Salisbury


_________________________________________________________

2014 was a momentous year for me in a lot of ways, personally & professionally. These are the best things that I experienced, discovered, or rediscovered in the past year, in no particular order.

Jason Boland & The Stragglers with Chris Knight live at Joe's on Weed Street.  

Joe's has a lot of history in "TX/Red Dirt" music, especially for a venue in Chicago. This past summer I checked 2 firsts off my list: I saw a show at Joe's & I saw Chris Knight. It was everything I'd hoped for & then some. I met Chris Knight - he killed a bunch of people in song - but I'm still here for now.

Ray Wylie Hubbard live was everything I'd hoped for & then some. Ray put on a great show in a really cool room, was gracious enough to put me on his guest list though we'd never met, and was just about the coolest cat to talk to that you'd ever hope to meet. Ray Wylie Hubbard is exactly who you think he is, only better.

I finally started listening to American Aquarium & now I'm sad that Burn, Flicker, Die didn't make it into my best of 2013 list. These guys are going to lead the charge to take back country music right alongside Turnpike Troubadours. They're the truth.

I discovered Fistful Of Beard a few months too late to ever see a live show, which is quite a shame, but they left behind one really good album.

I finally got around to listening to John Fullbright's solo stuff around the time my daughter was born. She's 10 months old & Song For A Child might be her favorite song.

I rediscovered, through my daughter, how much FUN music is supposed to be. She already loves music & she already knows how to find John Fullbright, The Trisha's, Jason Boland & Brandy Clark on my phone whenever she's feeling like an impromptu dance party. Her favorite dancing song is probably Mike Ness (of Social Distortion) covering I Fought The Law, and if you've never seen this child jam out to that song, I feel bad for you. 



Apr 11, 2014

Album Review: Jackson Taylor & The Sinners - Live at Billy Bob's Texas


By Kelcy Salisbury


Billy Bob's Texas has long been an outpost where independent musicians & their fans could gather. It's a unique place. Not a perfect venue but by far the most prominent (nationally speaking) venue that most non-Nashville country artists could reasonably hope to play. In the 1990s, Smith Music Group began to issue a series of live recordings from the legendary Ft Worth bar/tourist attraction. In conjunction with the Minnick family (Sam Minnick, former PRCA bull rider, stock contractor & judge. Pam Minnick, former Miss Rodeo America, and long-time rodeo television personality are a major part of running the bar, which has featured live bull riding for years.) the folks at Smith have created a brand within a brand in the music industry. Early releases were mostly mainstream country stars on the backside of their popularity such as David Allan Coe & TG Sheppard. Some time around the turn of the century Sam Minnick seemed to begin to have more of a hand in selecting the artists who were featured.  Sam's long-time friendship with Tuff Hedeman led to the decision to record seminal "Red Dirt" act Cross Canadian Ragweed (At the time Ragweed was frequently the featured entertainer at after parties on the Professional Bull Riders tour, of which Hedeman was president until 2004). The album was ground breaking in many ways, and led to more acts from farther outside the mainstream being selected to record an album for the Live At Billy Bob's series. Jason Boland & The Stragglers released perhaps the most critically acclaimed disc in the series in 2003. In 2009 Micky & The Motorcars became the first "TX/Red Dirt" (I despise the labeling) act to release a CD/DVD combo (the album is fantastic by the way). There have been missteps along the way, most notably the internet fan voting that led to a Shy Blakeman album recording that is rumored to have happened a couple of years ago, but overall the series has consistently offered fans a very consistent product. 

Last year it was announced that Billy Bobs & Smith had agreed to record what I believe to be the most outside-the-mainstream album in the series when Jackson Taylor & The Sinners were announced as the newest Live At Billy Bob's Texas artist. Now, Jackson is far from a newcomer, having released something like 11 albums over more than a decade & toured extensively, including sharing the stage with Jason Boland & many other artists who've frequently played Billy Bobs. There is no doubting Jackson's music, but he is just about the farthest thing from the mainstream that exists. He isn't really "Texas Music" although TX is very supportive of his music. Taylor's sound owes much more to the west coast, it's a heavy dose of the Bakersfield Sound run through a punk rock filter & liberally splashed with Social Distortion before being served up in all it's raw glory. In other words, it's what the modern evolution of country music should sound like, and probably would if not for monolithic corporations controlling the product. 

The album kicks off with "Jack Is Drunk Again", which aside from being the party anthem it is on the surface is also an affirmation of why Jackson Taylor won't be signing a Nashville record deal any time soon. There are 16 songs on the album, mostly old favorites that have (in some cases) been released on two or more albums in the past. Very little new ground is broken, but it really doesn't matter. The sequencing is pretty near perfect, and the band is on its A-Game. My only complaint is that (at least in the cd format) there are a couple of songs where the vocals sounded a bit buried in the mix to me (Blue Agave in particular) but overall the audio cd is a very solid addition to the Billy Bob's series. I don't think that it's the strongest album in the series, an honor that probably belongs to Jason Boland (more on that in a bit) but it's definitely a top 5 effort. Personally I'd rank it just below Boland & Micky & The Motorcars efforts. It could've been stronger due to the omission of the encore which left some of Jackson's strongest songs off the record. But there's still plenty here to love & it's a fine introduction to Jackson Taylor & The Sinners. 

The DVD is where this album truly shines though. All 16 tracks on the cd are found here, in the same sequence but this time the stage banter is left intact. The impact of "Old Henry Rifle," "Blue Agave" and "Bare Feet On The Dash" is greatly aided by this. The cover of "Ball & Chain" sizzles to life, even without Jason Bolands guest vocals. The Sinners' musicianship becomes more apparent & easy to appreciate, at least for a layman such as myself. 


The most fascinating part of the whole package though is the interview with Jackson that is interspersed between tracks on the DVD. We get Jackson's take on politics (surprise, he's VERY independent!), stories of his musical influences (especially Mike Ness of Social Distortion fame), his feelings on the recording of this album, and his gratitude towards two men who have made his career possible in some ways (Paul, to whom "Blue Agave" is dedicated & Jason Boland - who Jackson mentions as his "best friend" and a major influence several times). It's an interesting look at the thoughts of an artist who has truly been everywhere. 

Jackson is no cardboard cutout outlaw. He's lived the songs he sings, been to the edge & back more times than seems possible, and somehow is still here & making the best music of his career. He sounds like a man who has made peace with his past & is ready to make peace with the world. 

The absolute highlight of the album is the one new song, "Faulkner By The Dashboard Lights," a story about Jackson's father & childhood that does much to explain the man himself. If there was any kind of justice in the world this would be a hit single on country radio, so I'm pretty sure it won't be. 

Overall I'd suggest this album over even "Live Locked & Loaded At The Longhorn Saloon" as an ideal starting point for those unfamiliar with Jackson Taylor. I'd recommend the DVD as an absolute must-have if you're buying the album, and I'd hope that maybe someday soon we can see Jackson Taylor & The Sinners sharing a stage with Jason Boland & The Stragglers (a pairing that played a big role in Jackson's early days touring TX in particular) once again. 

The album begins with JT&S being introduced as the "greatest honky tonk band in the universe". That may be debatable, but I'd suggest that they are certainly the epitome of honky tonk.

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Live at Billy Bob's is available at Lone Star Music, Amazon, iTunes, etc.

Jan 3, 2014

Kelcy's Top 10 Albums of 2013 (and Then Some...)


2013 was a year packed FULL of great independent music, and even a good deal of what was released on mainstream labels had large glimmers of creativity and soul. Unfortunately for me, real life intruded in a big way, as the picture shows, so there are a solid 3 dozen albums I really want to hear & still haven't got to. So without further ado, here is a list of albums I came across this year (some of which were released in other years) that I feel like everyone should take a listen to, followed by a list of my top ten (of what I heard) that were released in 2013. I did exclude Jason Isbell's incredible release "Southeastern," not because it's unworthy, I think every adult in the country should buy a copy, but because its been covered so many times by better writers than I, that it felt redundant. 

Older albums that became new to me again this year:

Billy Joe Shaver: Tramp On Your Street. I've said it before, but this album, with its blistering guitar work by Eddy Shaver, is my all time favorite of the legendary songwriter's work. 

Guy Clark: Boats to Build. The master of his craft at the height of his powers. 

Micky & The Motorcars: Raise My Glass. To me this was the album that boosted the younger Braun brothers past Reckless Kelly on my personal hierarchy of independent country/rock bands. 

Pantera: Cowboys From Hell. THE seminal metal album of my late teens, I burnt out on it in 2000 or so but this year it felt right again. 

Childish Gambino: Camp. It's a fairly recent album but one I didn't listen to until Brad Rice suggested it. There isn't a lot going on in hip hop that interests me within the mainstream.  I find mainstream hip hop & country to be remarkably similar in their marketing & content. Childish Gambino is a breath of fresh air. 

Struggle: I Am Struggle. I'm not generally a fan of country/rap mixtures but this album makes it work.  Check out "Give Me My Flowers" & "Water Into Wine."

Waylon & Willie: Clean Shirt. Possibly the finest of their collaboration albums songs like the title cut & "Rocks From Rolling Stones" make this one a must have. 

Jarrod Birmingham: No Apologies. I've been a fan for years. This is an early album but cuts like "Like My Daddy Did" & "Walk Away" make it well worth owning. 

Jarrod Birmingham: Waitin & a Wishin.  Straight ahead honky tonk from a man who's been consistently making it for a decade plus. Jarrod appears to have been listening to Chris LeDoux records on repeat while writing this album, and that's not a bad thing at all. After listening to Copenhagen Circle I want to see him swap songs with Corb Lund.  He sounds like he's enjoying himself fully.


Top Albums for this year:

The list of albums I did not get to this year is far too long to get into so honorable mentions go to Charlie Robison, Cody Canada, Lucero (EP but still great), Lindi Ortega, JB Beverly & John Moreland. I wanted to give all these albums consideration but it was a tough & busy year. Also Tantric dropped my favorite "guilty pleasure" album of the year with 37 Channels. 



10) Shooter Jennings: The Other Life. 
Shooter finally fuses his psychedelic tendencies with traditional country and it...works. Standout tracks are Gunslinger (insert obligatory lyric warning), Wild & Lonesome, & 15 Million Light Years Away. 



Veteran hard rock band road warriors return with a disc that, while not a total departure from prior offerings, features a fuller & more orchestral sound. Something that some of their previous one off projects hinted at. Don't miss Cold As War & Dead Roses.  Plus, they remain a fun, high energy live band. 



Lincoln follows last years too album with another dark, bluesy album chock full of gospel type vocals & unique arrangements. It's odd that this album creates considerably less buzz than The Shovel vs The Howling Bones did. Don't miss The Ballad Of A Prodigal Son, Beautifully Sewn, Violently Torn & Sinner. 



7) Sturgill Simpson: High Top Mountain
This album probably deserves to be higher on the list but I didn't get to it until late in the year. Every song is a standout. Buy it. 



6) Ashley Monroe: Like A Rose
The title cut alone is well worth the purchase price. Ashley is exhibit A for the strength of female songwriting in country musics future. 



5) Kacey Musgraves: Same Trailer Different Park
Exhibit B would be this incredible effort by Ms Musgraves. Enough has been said about her music already, and most folks reading this list are familiar with it. The clever songwriting, solid musicianship & Kacey's great voice make it an album that may eventually be hailed as a major breakthrough for female artists in Nashville & traditional country in general. 



Another year another album for the most prolifically (allegedly) dysfunctional act in the "scene" (I hate that phrase.) this one is different though. Jackson is more at peace with who he is, the band has found the ideal mixture for their Buck Owens meets The Ramones meets Billy Joe Shaver meets Social Distortion sound & it all works. Highlights include Crazy Again, Makeup & Faded Blue Jeans, and Rain. 



I would venture to state that very few, if any, artist 15 years into their career (let alone with very nearly the same lineup) has released a consecutive trilogy of studio albums as consistently great as Comal County Blue, Rancho Alto & now this one, not to mention the outstanding live offering High In The Rockies. In any other year this would likely be the too album of the year & it is the best true "country" album of the year. The title cut is a masterwork, Lucky I Guess is the future staple love song of weddings in OK for years to come, They Took It Away is the perfect Bob Childers tune to cover & Spend All Your Time finds Jason's songwriting in the increasingly reflective mode it has taken on with maturity & peace. Roger Ray's guitar work is genius as per normal, Nick Worley has proven a worthy peer on fiddle, Grant Tracy holds down the bass line as he has for 15 years now & Brad Rice continues to be criminally underrated for his drum work. Once again the Stragglers have produced an under appreciated masterpiece that is perfect for our times. 



There's not much to be said about this album I didn't say in my earlier review but it has grabbed me even stronger since. It's a strung out, twisted, dark, pulsing, living organism of an album and you need to listen to it. 



I couldn't pick between this one & Javi's album, so I've got a tie at the top. If you like your music with a heaping helping of soul, dark brooding drum & bass lines that call to mind old Black Sabbath albums & outstanding harmonies this is the album for you. I'd be hard pressed to find 3 better songs in a row than Stable Hand, Yellow Rose & Train Rolled Home. These are essential, but the whole album is great & I look forward to hearing what new sounds this band makes in the future. 


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-Kelcy Salisbury

May 14, 2013

Album Review: Jason Boland & The Stragglers - Dark and Dirty Mile


by Kelcy Salisbury

I'm not certain when I first heard the term applied, but the latest release from Jason Boland & The Stragglers certainly embodies the "Thinking Side of Country." Boland has consistently been one of the strongest lyricists in any realm of music over the past decade plus; on Dark And Dirty Mile his words strike much deeper than ever before, an impressive feat coming immediately after the two most critically acclaimed (and best selling) studio albums (Comal County Blue & Rancho Alto) of the bands 15 year run. So what is the difference?

The answer probably lies in one word: maturity. There is a self assurance, a knowledge of who they are & what they do that positively permeates the record. It's a hard-won assurance, honed by thousands upon thousands of shows all over North America (along with several swings through Europe, one of which the band just completed early this month), battles with personal demons both public & private, along with all the introspection that comes with a group of artists who've now been playing music together for their entire adult lives.


The tone is set at the beginning as the albums leadoff track (and first single) is the title song (a first for JB&S), a thoughtful look at the journey of life. All the classic touchstones of Boland's songwriting are here in spades. There are looks into life, love, faith (in a Higher Power & in oneself), and the loss of all the above. There are no throwaway tracks here, and while its not a concept album any more than any of the previous efforts were, it's readily apparent much care was taken with song selection and sequence.

There are cultural touchstones aplenty here, but they aren't the stereotypical beer-trucks-river ramblings usually associated with so-called Red Dirt or Texas Country. You'll grab a history book (or at least Wikepedia) if you're paying attention. From the striking miners shot down in Ludlow, to the Trail Of Tears & Oklahoma Land Rush in the Randy Crouch penned They Took It Away, this album takes a hard look at the past, both personal & public - but that past always informs the present.

Boland has long been one of the best and most accessible songwriters in the game. He's got a knack for taking his own pain, joy, losses & gains and turning them into words that are near universally true. What I found most fascinating about this album is the way the lead track essentially lays out an outline for the themes of the album, and the songs that follow dig deeper into the various themes touched on at the beginning. I'm not sure it's an intentional detail, and it's certainly not a new idea (arguably JB&S 2005 effort, The Bourbon Legend, follows the same pattern with its lead track, The Last Country Song) but it couldn't be executed more flawlessly.

The music is so flawless largely because it is clearly not overproduced. This is the exact sound you'll experience at a live show. The band (Roger Ray, Grant Tracy, Brad Rice & Nick Worley) are at the absolute peak of their powers. Clearly they are a cohesive unit that has reached the same stage of confident self-assurance demonstrated in the song writing. There's no part that shoves its way to the front of the listeners attention. "Tasteful" is the best word that comes to mind for the playing and arrangements.

Shooter Jennings served as producer for the first time on a Boland album and he has clearly chosen to simply try to capture the sound that the band has honed through the years and miles. It would be a temptation for a producer working with such talented individuals to attempt to leave their own signature on the record, but here Shooter leaves his mark by doing what may well be the most difficult thing for a producer to do, he simply steps back and lets the band tell the tale.

Care was obviously taken to ensure that the entire album is a piece of art recalling the days before consumption of music was primarily digital. The cover art is hauntingly excellent, relying heavily upon the theme of the title track.

Yes it's a dangerous, rough journey we're all on through this life. Take this album along with you though, and the journey will be a little richer for it.
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You can purchase Dark & Dirty Mile here or here (and other places like iTunes).

Jun 28, 2012

Kelcy Interviews Brad Rice of Jason Boland and the Stragglers


Brad Rice. Photo from Lovers, quarrels and more.
Enjoy this enlightening new interview, as Kelcy sits down (figuratively) with the opinionated Brad Rice, drummer for Jason Boland and the Stragglers.
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Kelcy: Please tell us your background, such as where you were born, when where and why you started playing music, and what your other hobbies were at that time (sports, video games, cooking meth, whatever…ok maybe don’t incriminate yourself)

Brad: I was born in Oklahoma City in 1977. Growing up I played soccer ad basketball, but joined the junior high band in the 6th grade. I started taking private lessons when i was 13. I grew up in a very musical, but normal household.


K: What first appealed to you about playing drums and when did you begin to approach them seriously as a possible career choice?

B: I liked the physical aspect of playing drums, it really involves your whole body. I found that it is a great emotional outlet to beat the shit out of something, and there's really no substitute as i hate violence :)



K: When and where was your first organized gig?  What about your first paid gig?  First gig with your current band?

B: My first gig was at a Strawberry festival in Cushing, OK with a group of buddies. I believe I was 15, I know i didn't drive to this.  First paying gig was with JB&S, but we didn't make any money the first 3 years.  First gig with JB&S was Halloween, 1998.


K: How long has it been since you’ve had to do anything other than play music to make a living, or do you still work?  If so, what kind of work do you do?

B: We have been full time with the band for 10 years, so I'm pretty far removed from the "real world". I have a lawn business on the side with a buddy in Tulsa, and I do a few side projects in the studio every year.


K: What’s your favorite venue to play currently?  All time favorite gig?  Most memorable gig (good or bad)?

B: My favorite current and all-time gig is Cain's Ballroom, nothing compares.  Most memorable gig---pick one before Jason quit drinking.


K: What is your favorite part of touring?  Least favorite part of it?

B: My favorite part of touring is that nothing really gets old, there's always spontaneity at the drop of a hat.  There is nothing that constitutes work about my job, we literally get paid to play music.  I hate being away from my wife and two sons.


What are you lookin' at punk?
K: What’s your favorite restaurant to stop at on the road?  (I know you’ve got the world’s best chicken enchilada recipe, I’ve gotta get that from you again)

B: Juicy Jim's in Memphis has the best sub sandwich in the country. [Kelcy says: I can verify this to be the gospel, so don’t even start whining all you east coasters]


K: Where do you live now?  Wife, kids, dogs? 

B: Tulsa, Ok--married with 2 boys, 8 and 4-- 2 dogs, german shepherd and doberman ( I don't like people in my yard)


K: What’s your favorite hobby, favorite sports teams?  How do you like to pass time on the road?

B: My teams are the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the OKC Thunder.
Enjoy working out, elliptical and lifting weights, riding my bike--love to cook, might pursue that as a 2nd career if we ever slow down on touring---love to drink beer and watch sporting events of all kinds---also enjoy carpentry and gardening---I'm a full time student so i spend a majority of my time studying on the road


K: Of all the songs in your catalog which is your favorite of all time?  Favorite to play live? Favorite on current album? Favorite cover song to play live?

B: I'd say Blowin' Through The Hills is my favorite, it's kinda country-metal.  It's a blast to play live, and people cheer as as soon as they hear the riff at the beginning.  I love Billy Joe Shaver's Thunderbird Wine.  We do a pretty punked-up version that's a lot of fun to play.


K: Who are your biggest musical influences? Who are your current favorite bands to listen to? Tour with? If you could play live as part of any band, who would you choose?

B: Musical influences are Dave Weckl, William C Calhoun, John Coltrane, Stevie Wonder, John Bonham, Queens of the Stone Age, Stone Temple Pilots, my marching band director in highschool, my mom (badass pianist)

I love death metal, lately I've been into Job For A Cowboy, Cannibal Corpse, Gojira, Opeth.  I also love Jamie Lidell, John Coltrane, Buddy Rich, The Beatles, Binary Star, Clutch, Eagles of Death Metal, High On Fire, My Morning Jacket, Jurassic 5, The Mars Volta, Melvins, Nine Inch Nails, The Police, TOOL, Radiohead, Static-X, and WEEN

I'd love to play in several rock bands, too many to list, but Tool is up there. I'm not good enough, though.


K: If you could have dinner with any three people, who would you choose? What’s on the menu?

B: I'd like to sit down with Senator Jim Inhoffe from Oklahoma and ask him what his fucking problem is, so he's one.  Two, James Harden from the OKC Thunder, I like his style.  Three, my wife, we never get to go out by ourselves any more.


K: If you had to choose another career path, what would you be doing for a living?

B: I’m pretty sure I'd be a chef if I didn't have music, it has many parallel aspects in that it's very creative.


K: Is there any currently touring artist you’ve never seen that you’d love to see?

B: I’d love to see Tool or Mastodon


K: If you had to sum up your life view/philosophy in just a few sentences what would you say?

B: Be nice to people, show them love.  Read books.


K: What’s your opinion on the current state of the music business in general and specifically in independent country music?  Is there really such a thing as independent country music anymore?  If so, what artist best embodies it?

B: I don't think there are a whole bunch of sincere artists out there, independent or major. It seems most of them want to go the American Idol route.


K: If you had the power to mandate two books that everyone in the country should read what would they be?

B: I think everyone should read 1984, it's eerily close to our current situation.  I also really like Walden, it really stresses the importance of nature, simplicity and love.


K: What about if you had to choose two albums of music that the entire country should own?

B: The Beatles Revolver and John Coltrane Blue Train


K: If you could give a message to the entire world, what would you say? (because that’s the kind of website hits we’re looking for)

B: Stop fucking watching reality television and pick up a damn book


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Jason Boland and the Stragglers most recent album is the excellent Rancho Alto.

Jan 1, 2012

FTM Best Albums of 2011: Kelcy's Ten


by Kelcy Salisbury

Well, it's that time of year.  Time to look back at what happened, what we wish had happened, what didn't happen and most importantly, who released the best music.  So here, just in time for your Christmas shopping, are the best albums that I heard amongst the many that were released this year.  Keep in mind, that these will lean toward my favorite types of music (although my taste is fairly eclectic) and as a "real" person with a full time job and a life that doesn't involve occupying things, I didn't get to listen to every new album that came out, let alone all the ones I wanted to hear.  So if your favorite new album isn't on here it doesn't mean I hate it (although I probably do, especially if you're a Deer Tick fan), I may just have been busy trying to keep my lights on.
Without further ado: The list, first the honorable mentions, followed by my personal top ten.
Honorable Mention:
This album will top many lists, and while I liked it and found it compelling in places it just didn't grab my attention and hold it throughout the way some of his earlier work (Sirens Of The Ditch) did.  Still a worthy effort.  Don't miss these tracks: Codeine, Passing Through, Alabama Pines and Go It Alone.
Could have easily made the top ten, but something had to get cut, and unfortunately for Mike, this album was one of the cuts.  It's a solid country album with some incredibly clever songwriting.  Don't miss Oldsmobile, Fools of Us All, Walking Into Walls and Nothing Left To Lose.
Much like Isbell's offering, I loved parts of this album but it didn't grab me as a body of work the way some of his earlier albums did.  Can't miss songs are I Gotta Go, The Road Goes On and On, and Play A Train Song.
If I'd found this album a little earlier in the year it probably would have made the top ten.  I find something more to like on every listen.  The thing that makes this album stand out from the rest of the "honorable mentions" is that I felt like it needed and deserved to be heard as a whole.  Perfectly laid out and beautifully arranged.
And now the top ten.  The order of these (especially the top 5) could change depending on the day and my mood but each and every one of these albums can stand on it's own merits and would be a worthy addition to any collection.



This one may come as a surprise to some, but as I said before, my taste is fairly eclectic.  I never expected to like this album and didn't even give it a thought until it was suggested to me by a friend whose taste I trust (you know who you are, I hope you're not upset it didn't get a higher position).  James brings a ton of vocal ability to the table, pair that with solid songwriting and great instrumental work and you have one fine album.
I already reviewed this album in an earlier piece and I won't rehash that.  I'll simply say that this album does a great job of combining working class concerns and social consciousness with hip hop beats with blues and country elements.

Anyone that has the kind of pipes this girl possesses stands a decent chance of making a good song or two.  This young lady has made an entire album of great songs.  Her vocals are clearly the highlight, but the instrumentation is solid throughout.  The only reason this offering didn't land higher on my list is that the songs are (thematically anyway) somewhat interchangable.  As someone (I don't recall who) stated on Twitter, Adele's ex-boyfriend deserves a Grammy for inspiring this album.
The album that Cody had always wanted to make finally got made, and what an all star cast of musicians made it!  Every song is a cover of a song by an Oklahoma born or based songwriter but The Departed make these songs their own.  If I hadn't known better I'd have been easily convinced that these songs were originals.  From the opening snippet of a voicemail from the legendary Randy Crouch to the rollicking take on Stand Up, this album is a pure slice of heavenly heartland rock n roll.
The lesser known half of the Braun Brothers have been steadily working towards this album and it's been well worth the work and the wait.  The whole thing hangs together thematically from the heartbreaking story of the title track to the rocking Saint Lucy's Eyes.  There is a story here and it takes all 11 tracks to tell. 
Adams finally returns with an album worthy of his prodigous talent and reputation.  Sobriety and a stable personal life have been good to the former Whiskeytown frontman and it shows.  His songwriting is better than ever.  His vocals are a perfect fit for the music and the music is pretty excellent.  I had pretty well written off Adams as a waste of talent over the past few years but he proved me wrong in a big way and I'm glad for it.
The "Red Dirt Chinese Democracy" is here and it was worth the long wait.  Stoney's sound has evolved over the years.  Layers of lush instrumentation wash over his pitch-perfect vocals. Much credit is due to the influence of Mando Saenz who co-wrote the majority of the album but at the end of the day it is Stoney's name on the finished product and what a finished product it is.
Perhaps best known as Jason Isbell's girlfriend, Ms Shires deserves to be known as one of the finest musicians and songwriters on the planet.  Elements of folk and bluegrass permeate this outstanding album.  One listen to When You Need A Train It Never Comes and you'll be hooked.
The only criticism I heard of this album was that it was traditional country that didn't break new ground.  In today's world, truly traditional country music is ground breaking in itself, so I don't see the problem.  What I heard was the best country songwriter on the planet today providing socially conscious, thought provoking lyrics over the best traditional country sounding band you're ever likely to hear.  Roger Ray's steel guitar work has only improved over the years, Brad Rice adds a new dimension to his drumming with heavy use of brushes instead of sticks, while Noah Jefferies and Jeremy Watkins provide outstanding fiddle work and Grant Tracy keeps the whole thing moving along with his bass work.  This is simply the best offering yet from a band that never fails to deliver great country music for people who like country music.
It comes as no surprise to anyone who's read my prior writings that this album tops the list.  There isn't much I can say about it I haven't already, so I'll just say that even after taking the time to seriously think about it and listen to tons of new music there was nothing I heard all year that grabbed and held my attention any more than this album.  If you already own it, congratulations, and if you don't, do yourself a favor and buy it for yourself for a Christmas present.
Well, that's all for this year folks.  I hope you enjoy the article and most of all I hope you enjoy the music.

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