Showing posts with label Jason Hawk Harris. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jason Hawk Harris. Show all posts

Dec 23, 2019

Farce the Music's Top 20 Albums of 2019

This year we welcome Megan Bledsoe and Travis Erwin in as voters. As previously, our other voters are Kevin Broughton, Jeremy Harris, Matthew Martin, Trailer, Scott Colvin, and Robert Dean. Here are our staff-voted favorite albums of 2019.

Top 20 Albums of 2019
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A blast of punk meets roots rock energy with big hooks, sing-along choruses, and plenty of heart and song-craft as well. Forever is proof you can make a party record without having to dumb it down. It went bell to bell as my favorite album of 2019 - a tough task with such a strong field of contenders.
~Trailer

Josh Fleming and his rowdy band of Texas rockers had their wish come true when they inked a deal with Bloodshot records, then rewarded the label’s faith in them with this tour de force. It’s an album that combines Fleming’s focused, fiery storytelling with the raw, rough-edged roots you might hear from Lucero or the Old 97s. And oh, the fiddles and horns!
~Kevin Broughton

I remember a few years ago, it seemed like there was something in the water in Alabama. There was a great new album coming out of Alabama every couple of months. But, now it seems to be that has switched to Kentucky. Ian Noe is the next in line. He has a unique voice that sounds right out of the 60s. The album rises to the crescendo of what I think of his best song, the bluesy “Meth Head.” The song is gross, memorable, and incredible. The album will only grow as the years go by.
~Matthew Martin

Just Google everyone else’s review. There’s nothing left to say.
~Jeremy Harris

I was at the show in Circleville at Tootle’s Pumpkin Inn the day after Tyler smelled the factory smells in Chillicothe prior to his Steiner’s Speakeasy performance. I spend so much time in Chillicothe I forget it smells but it does. 
~JH (was Jeremy drunk when he ranked his albums?)

The song that I couldn't turn off was "House Fire." By the time the song completely breaks down halfway through, you can practically smell the smoke. There's a reason Tyler Childers is selling out arenas right now. He's untouchable. His ability to write songs about everyday things and make them seem like they are the most important subjects is incredible.  
~MM

A popular pick on most lists, Childers turns back time by transposing me to my childhood when I would listen to country radio as I fell asleep. The title track kicks off his classic sound quite well.

From the lyrics to the vocals to the production, where it sounds as if Godwin recorded the whole album in forgotten mines and on lonely mountainsides, this is a beautiful tribute to his home state of West Virginia.
~Megan Bledsoe

The voice, the stories, the music. Everything I love about country music is on this record. This is all I ever want out of an album. Songs about forgotten places and love. Songs about dead ends and never giving up. These are songs everyone needs to hear. After first hearing this album, I could not put it down. I tried to tell everyone I know about it. I tried to see him every time he came to D.C. I became obsessed with these songs
~MM

You Look Good In Neon” is the kind of country song the world is missing more of. These guys are so damn traditional that if you say their name three times Hee Haw will appear on your television screen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkHhaIR6Gcc ~Travis Erwin

A tough, touring gal posts up with an album and band that shows John Prine was right to sign her to O Boy Records. It’s dreamy and trippy and wonderful, and she’s so full of confidence. Kelsey Waldon will amaze. ~KB

Waldon's songs are as bluesy as they are country. This is soulful country and her voice is perfectly paired with the music. This album feels like it could have been recorded in 1979 or 2019. And, that's what makes this album great- it's timeless. It will be around a long, long time. ~MM

I’m pretty sure “Lottery” is the song that every alternative band in the 90s wished they wrote. And I say that as a compliment. The whole album is just wonderful ear candy that is ridiculously infectious.  ~Scott Colvin

Everything comes together on Jade Bird’s debut record, from her incredible vocals to the angst in the writing to the variety in production and mood. An excellent, very re-playable record. ~MB

Bloodshot continues its hot streak of great debut records. Harris endured an unimaginable series of tragedies in the few years leading up to this album, yet managed to emerge with clarity and hopefulness. He’s a brilliant songwriter who also deserves legitimate Isbell comparisons. ~KB

  One of the most fascinating records of the year, focusing on the morbid and macabre and managing to do so in a thoroughly accessible and compelling way. ~MB

A change of pace, style and life converge in this brilliant follow up to 2017’s Corners. On this album it’s all about the lyrics, and the artist is brutally honest in his self-reflection. The lyrical imagery is reminiscent of Isbell’s Southeastern, and one hopes that sobriety will have a similarly positive impact on Domino’s career going forward. Even if Songs From The Exile is his upper limit, it’s a worthy career-defining effort. ~KB

Another powerful album from an artist who has ascended in skill, openness and songwriting strength with every release. ~Trailer

I hate when people put S/T instead of typing the self titled album name. Stop being lazy. Obviously any artist or band that names their album after themselves is proud of it. We don’t call Hank Jr self titled. 
~JH (dammit Jeremy)

It’s counterintuitive that this band self-produced a masterpiece after having two great records helmed by all-everything Dave Cobb, but that’s exactly what happened here. There’s depth and balance to this album, but ultimately it’s a Southern rock record in the very best tradition of a nearly forgotten genre. “Houston County Sky” channels The Marshall Tucker Band, and “Little More Money” and “Bad Weather” are right out of Dirty South-era Drive By Truckers. “Hammer” is a sultry, swampy reminiscence of early Black Crowes. This album is a triumph, and long-awaited.
~KB

An album as songful and charming as it is technically dazzling. Tuttle's voice is spellbinding, but she doesn't rely on ambiance... these are expertly written tunes. 
~Trailer

There’s something very familiar about Molly Tuttle that I can’t put my finger on, but I know I like this. A lot. ~SC

Introspective Cody Jinks is my favorite Cody Jinks. Those songs where he slows things down a bit and tries to do a little brain surgery on himself. Those are the ones I gravitate towards. So, The Wanting is my cup of tea. Every song is a dissection of Jinks's psyche. These songs are like pages out of his diary. When an artist can be honest with themselves and in turn with their audience, we will always be receptive to that because we feel that way too...we have those same doubts and worries. Hearing them from someone like Jinks makes us feel validated.  ~MM

Sturgill Simpson is like a druggier Eric Church who I also seem to dig even more as he deviates from “his norm.” ~SC

You'll swear you've heard them before, so timeless sounding are the Black Pumas. Soulful seventies inspired R&B with a modern flair. Well worth a listen for fans of Otis Redding or St. Paul and the Broken Bones.
~Trailer

Another album on almost everyone’s radar, this collection of talent did a great job of rekindling the magic of Country’s all-time best supergroup. “Wheels of Laredo” spoke the loudest to me and close the album with a hauntingly classic sound. ~TE

Caroline Spence has a beautiful voice and writes crushing, beautiful songs. In a perfect world, Spence would be a household name. She's special and we're lucky to have her songs. "Sit Here and Love Me" is one my favorite songs of the year.   ~MM

Not much to say here, just simply a gorgeous collection of songs. Some candidates for the best songwriting of 2019. ~MB

The title track is an ode to writer Jack Kerouac but beyond the literary influence it carries a deeper meaning and sets off the album on a wonderful journey of its own. “Small Engine Repair” is another wonderful song that uses the simple to create a broad metaphor. My personal favorite is “T-bone Steak and Spanish Wine,” but there simply is not a bad track among the bunch. “Highway 46” is on the surface, a where were you when Merle Haggard died song, but really it is a tip of that hat to both discovery and loss. One could argue the ghost of Johnny Cash sat in while the 72-year-old Russell laid down his tracks as the influence is undeniable so it is fitting the final and eleventh track is a cover paying homage to The Man in Black. ~TE

So much sound from just two guys. Left Lane Cruiser really hit it out of the park with this one. Just a gritty and in yer face rock album. At first glance of the cover art you expect the entire album to be an ode to left hand cigarettes but after a short listen you find yourself immersed in Left Lane Cruiser’s best album. ~JH

I reviewed this entire album right here on Farce the Music, and if anything my appreciation has grown as the year went on. One of my best friends in the world argues that Carll’s wife, Alison Moorer put out an better album, but while her release is a very good album and emotional album, it did not take me on quite the same ride. For me, few to none can match the easy way Carll disarms a listener. Writing that feels natural and familiar yet impactful. Like a stoner prophet, Hayes Carll makes me think why hasn’t anyone else said that on almost every song. For me his work is always sneaky good and emotionally satisfying. This album has such a great track progression to it. I love the opening line to “Be There.” ~TE

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Just beyond the top 20: Erin Enderlin - Faulkner County, The Raconteurs - Help Us Stranger, Joshua Ray Walker - Wish You Were Here, Michaela Anne - Desert Dove, Shane Smith & The Saints - Hail Mary, Gary Clark Jr. - This Land, Chris Shiflett - Hard Lessons, Houston Marchman - Highway Enchilada, Baroness - Gold & Grey, Randy Rogers Band - Hellbent.


Dec 13, 2019

From the “Songs of the Year Dept.” Jason Hawk Harris


By Kevin Broughton

Jason Hawk Harris, “Grandfather”




From his Bloodshot Records* debut, Love and The Dark, a heavenly ode full of honest questions from Jason Hawk Harris. The studio version is grand and sweeping, but we choose an acoustic take here to demonstrate why he’s one of two folks in our top 10 with Isbell-esque chops and potential.

And if we did a top 10 for songwriting, he’d be the all-around champ.




Nov 6, 2019

Don't Sleep on Bloodshot Records in 2020 (and 2019)




By Robert Dean

Bloodshot Records is dropping some cool records over the next month or two. They've been digging in their vaults and finding putting together some exciting collections and new releases definitely worth checking out. 

Wayne Hancock is just too good. Channeling the best of the honky-tonk swing of years past, "The Train" is back with a collection of tracks from early Bloodshot Records releases. On Man of the Road: The Early Bloodshot Years, the label has to curated a solid batch of Hancock's best bar room bangers, the kinds of songs people swing on the dance floor's all night long.

The collection is the first time any of these songs - recorded initially and released with Bloodshot Records on albums from the last two decades - have appeared on vinyl (including the classic "Thunderstorms & Neon Signs"): A-Town Blues (2001), South Austin Sessions EP (2001), Swing Time (2003), Hard Headed Woman: A Celebration of Wanda Jackson (2004), Tulsa (2006), and Viper of Melody (2009).

Scott H. Biram, everyone's favorite dirty old man weirdo, has a new gospel-inspired record, Sold Out to the Devil: A Collection of Gospel Cuts by the Rev. Scott H. Biram and it's everything you expect from Austin's favorite damaged son. 

The songs are a ramshackle collection of songs about God, religion, and spirituality with Biram's signature booze-soaked delivery. The album also includes a previously unreleased cover of the Louvin Brothers' "Broadminded." The record is predictably low-fi but an excellent collection of songs that get the blood moving and the drinks flowing. 

And finally, if you're looking for some ultra-dark bummers, get Jason Hawk Harris' Love & the Dark on the radar. It's definitely got the big country hooks, but the depth of the lyrics Harris has is oceanic. There are some demons on this record that permeate the songs to their core. Like Jason Isbell, it's apparently by the end of the opening track, "The Smoke and The Stars," Harris has seen some shit. If you're looking for some sad anthems, this is the next stop on the bus. 


Aug 23, 2019

Hopeful Emergence: A Conversation With Jason Hawk Harris

Photo by Sean Rosenthal
By Kevin Broughton

Jason Hawk Harris hit rock bottom during the writing and recording of his debut full-length albumLove and the Dark. In the last few years, the Houston-born-and-raised, Los Angeles-based musician endured life-altering hardships—illness, death, familial strife, and addiction—yet from these trials, a luxuriant and confident vision of art country emerged.
With an unlikely background, Harris is a singer/guitarist/songwriter who walks his own line, one that touches on Lyle Lovett’s lyrical frankness, John Moreland’s punk cerebralism and Judee Sill’s mysticism and orchestral sensibility. There’s even the literary and sonic audacity of an early Steve Earle, an outlaw unafraid to embrace harmony. Comparisons to Jason Isbell will inevitably follow, and they won’t be hyperbole, either. 
While touring and performing in the indie folk band The Show Ponies,Jason started writing his own songs, intuitively returning to his country roots but incorporating his classical and rock ‘n’ roll performance skills. He released his first solo offering, the Formaldehyde, Tobacco and Tulips EP in 2017 and hit the road.
Meanwhile, his world fell apart: his mother died from complications of alcoholism; his father went bankrupt after being sued by the King of Morocco; his sister was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and gave birth to a premature son with cerebral palsy; and—subsequently—Jason got sidetracked by his own vices.
This album is his personal narrative on death, struggle, and addiction, of a life deconstructed and reassembled. From the opener, “The Smoke and the Stars,” it’s apparent this album, produced by Andy Freeman, will take you to compelling new places. An ache, a longing, claws its way out of the speakers, the gradual drone blossoming through without rigid genre designs. You can hear the essence of classical music in a long crescendo; you can feel his Houston upbringing in JHH’s soulful and humid inflection; you can sense his Los Angeles home in the sharp and risky dynamics. You can also hear the joy and exquisite desperation when he swings for the fences, belting “Maybe I was just waiting for you, to get through the grapevine, tear down that door, and let me live in those green eyes of yours.”

Harris has composed one of the best country albums of the year and helped Bloodshot continue its hot streak of debut records from its stable of the finest talents in the genre. 

A master’s degree in music was at one time a viable option for you. Though you ended up not going that route, I’m curious about what formal or classical music education you’ve had. 

Yeah, I have a bachelor’s degree – from a small, liberal arts college in Southern California called Biola University -- in music composition with an emphasis in voice. That’s the level I stopped at. I applied and was wait-listed for the master’s program at UCLA, but I just decided I didn’t want to go that route. 

Do you play more than guitar on this album? 

Uh, let’s see…I played some percussion; I played most of the guitars, though there were a few of those parts I didn’t play. I played somepiano, but for the most part, anything that wasn’t guitar…I wanted killer players on this record and had them in studio. So the piano and percussion stuff I did was after the fact and just to fill in space. 

A couple of the songs have a classical or orchestral feel to them, particularly the first and last cuts.  Can you describe how you and (producer) Andy Freeman went about arranging and producing this album? You obviously had some really good players; how much of this was done live?

As far as the arranging goes, I’m the most anal about that sort of stuff. So usually when I go in the studio I have a really good idea what I want to do. And I’ll throw it to Andy, and he’ll be like the fine-toothed comb; he’ll say, “Well, I like this, but this part needs to shine a little bit more,” you know? Andy is really good at unlocking the creativity in the people he’s producing. And sometimes he’ll just let me go nuts, like I did at the end of “Grandfather,” and bring out all the classical chops and orchestral training. 

A lot of the album was recorded live. Even the base tracks for “Grandfather were recorded live; obviously the strings and the percussion and xylophone were not. “I’m Afraid” is one whole, live take. 

Speaking of the opening song: I believe a dream about being in a room full of snakes inspired “The Smoke and the Stars.” Someone with green eyes comes to your rescue, but by then the snakes are a metaphor for something else, aren’t they?

Mmm? I don’t know. Maybe. My thing is when I’m writing like that, I’m not just writing metaphors. And I don’t like metaphors that have to work too hard. So I’m just writing as if the subject is real. 


You’ve not made a secret of the fact that you struggled with substance abuse during the making of this album. If you don’t mind elaborating, which were your poisons of choice, and what are your physical and spiritual states as you approach your release date? 

I’ll just say this. I’m physically and spiritually more healthy than I’ve ever been. It’s something that I’m trying…trying not to think of as something that defines me, even knowing full well that it has an effect on me. I’m not sure I’m ready to talk about drug of choice or low points or anything like that just yet. Maybe for the next record

“Giving In” is as positively an upbeat song about an addict’s relapse I can imagine, with imagery of a man’s using his wife’s wages when he goes out to fix. What went into writing this song?

Yeah. Not all of my songs are completely autobiographical. Most of them have a lot of me in them, though. “Giving In” is a character that’s kind of based on my mother and me. My mother was an alcoholic and an addict, and she was someone – and I’ve been around a lot of addicts in my life – who wanted to stop. She wanted to be sober more than any addict I’ve ever met. And she was just powerless to do so. 

So it’s a combination of her journey and her struggles, and mine. 

The line “I wish that where I am was where I’ve been” can be interpreted at least a couple of ways. Is someone looking ahead or backwards?

The way I was thinking about it was, “I wish that where I am now,” which is not sober and completely idiotic and drunk – I wish that was something I could look back on and say, “Oh man, remember when I used to get so f*cking drunk and I was a mess? That was so dumb.” 

You’ve experienced a horrific level of family tragedy in a short time. It seems hackneyed to ask if the creative process was therapeutic, but there does seem to be a hopeful air to an album filled with really sad vignettes. Do you feel like making it helped you emerge in a better place? 

Yeah, I think so. Hope is something that – even in the darkest times of the past five, six, seven years when the aforementioned tragedies took place – I never felt hopeless. It’s…I do believe in an afterlife and I believe that we’re all going there. And that gives me a lot of hope, even when I see the worst that life has to offer. Because I don’t think that it’s the end. And it’s okay if other people don’t believe that, but that happens to be where I fall on the spectrum of belief. 

I kind of got that feeling, especially listening to the last song, which I’ll ask you about now. “Grandfather” is such a warm, big sweeping song. It’s literally otherworldly; I’m just not quitesure of the context. Did you have a near-death experience and see your granddad? The song has a church feel to it; is this how you envision Heaven? Or something else altogether? 

I think I’d like to keep it open for people, because I wanted it to be – well, I wanted it to have an opiate feel, which is why I’m so vague about where I am in the first verse. And I think that’s important to the song’s ethos – that it has an air of mystery and the unknown. I think hope is the embrace of the unknown; it’s not something desperate and awful. 


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Love & the Dark is available today on BandcampAmazon,iTunes, Spotify, etc.

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