Showing posts with label Lucero. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lucero. Show all posts

Jun 11, 2019

A Conversation With Josh Fleming of Vandoliers



By Kevin Broughton

Seems like the best country bands these days used to be punk rockers. It’s certainly the case for the Dallas-based Vandoliers, a six-piece outfit formed in 2015 after front man Josh Fleming’s punk band, Phuss, broke up. The rest of the self-proclaimed “Converse Cowboys” (a shame that now nobody can use that as a band name) had done their time in various punk and folk outfits around the DFW. Within three years the band was on the cusp of a storybook achievement: Playing South By Southwest in hopes of signing with Bloodshot Records.

Fleming’s dream came true, and with the iconoclastic label’s backing, they lit out for Memphis to record Forever, an album that combines his focused, fiery storytelling with the raw, rough-edged roots you might hear from Lucero or the Old 97s.

The Vandoliers' sound is truly a tour of the many subgenres that originated in the Lone Star State, from outlaw country to Texas swing, electric blues, and even Tejano. At the same time, it’s a twist on those familiar sounds, delivered with a wink of the eye and a bang of the head. 

For all the surge of critical acclaim and the uptick in album and ticket sales, Fleming and his mates remain focused, humble and hungry. We caught up with the lead singer a few weeks back and talked about the recording process, the catching of a lifelong dream, and his genuine affection for Marty Stuart.

Where was Forever recorded, and who produced it?

It was recorded in Memphis at American Recording Studios with Adam Hill.

What drew you to Memphis and that producer?

There’s a couple we met – Bill and Kate -- in Memphis, who own an “band” Airbnb  and when we would pass through there touring, we sort of fell in with their group of friends. Bands like Lucero, The Drive By Truckers, The Mavericks -- all the Americana bands -- would stay there; it’s this cool 1960s mansion. And they were really pushing us to record in Memphis, because they work with the City of Memphis; trying to bring in artists and add to the local economy. It’s a great city, but it’s kind of having a hard time.

We just fell in love with the city. Everyone’s super sweet and everyone has a great story; it’s Old South, so there are still some ghosts hanging around. So anyway, we met Adam, who’s a great dude. He gets our sense of humor and had us all laughing to the point of our stomachs hurting. We went and toured a bunch of studios, and it was like walking into a time machine. Like, Don’t mind the cigarette burns on the carpet, Johnny Cash didn’t like holding his cigarettes. (Laughs) We ended up at American, where Wilco’s A.M. was recorded. It’s a great big square room that I just really liked; it could house the band so we could all play at the same time.

And we’re on Bloodshot Records now, but we had a budget that we had to meet. We had a certain amount of money for housing and studio time, which we thought would be about eight days. So we just went in there and got to work. It was great.

A question about the arrangements: It sounds like you have a full-blown horn section in several songs. Did you have other guys involved, or did y’all do some overdubbing of Cory Graves playing by himself?

Cory only did overdubbing on “All On Black.” Everything else was one fiddle and one trumpet, which is what we use (playing) live.

Well, it’s a really big sound, man.


Yeah, thanks. We tried to keep as much “ear candy” out of it as possible. The only other dubbing we did, really, was doubling up the vocals on the chorus on “All On Black.”

I was gonna ask…it sounds like you’re doing the harmony on some of those songs; is that you or someone else?

Cory does a lot of the harmonies. We didn’t have a lot of time, so if we figured out that it was quicker for me to do it, I did. That’s me harmonizing with myself on “Miles And Miles,” but Cory does most of the harmonies on everything.

You know, it seems like a lot of the great Americana bands – The Gourds come to mind, Reckless Kelly comes to mind – there’s a really great multi-instrumentalist who sings great harmony and ties everything together.

Yeah. I’ve got one of those. (Laughs)

Do you do all the songwriting?

Well, yeah, a lot of it; Cory does some, too, but we all pretty much take songwriting credits. There’s four ways to look at songwriting: Lyrical, melodic, arrangements… and, f*ck, I’ve forgotten what the fourth one is. (Laughs) We just worked together as a unit on this album. I do a lot of the lyrics and progressions, but everybody has a hand in it.

Y’all are obviously big fans of the Old 97s, and their influence on your work is clear. You also credit Marty Stuart as being an inspiration, but I think that element is a little more subtle. Did you grown up a fan of his? Did your parents turn you onto him?

My wife turned me on to him, but he was one of the first people to do “rock country,” and break a lot of the rules of traditional country. And at the end of the day he’s one of the biggest time capsules of music history. When he went solo after playing with Johnny Cash and Earl Scruggs, doing his own thing…right now, he’s one of the most important people – outside of guys like Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson – in all of country music. Also, you know, he’s a fan of our band and we’ve gotten to tour with him.

Have you seen him live?

I haven’t.

Well, you’re f*cking up. Go see him, and every band you see after him will suck. That is the tightest, best band you will ever see in your life.

Well, I’ll make a point of it. It’s pretty cool the way he’s gotten a new wave of momentum later in his career with the Fabulous Superlatives. What have y’all learned from being around them and touring with them?

He’s everything you want a hero to be. He had no reason to be nice to us, and they stopped their sound check to introduce themselves to us on our first tour with them. They’re the highest-class people you’d ever want to meet, and they’re so immensely talented that I don’t even think they realize it anymore. When their drummer is one of the best singers you’ve ever heard…and that’s how talented the rest of the band is.

In this business you get big-timed a lot when you’re young. Marty has consistently been like, “Y’all are cool. I love what you’re doing.” That takes away a lot of the self-doubt.

You’ve also mentioned that you’re a big fan of Bob Wills, whom I’m told is still the king. What is it about his work that touches you?

That comes from my dad. My dad and I loved taking long road trips, and even when I was a teenager who didn’t fully understand him, I would gravitate Bob Wills because I thought it was funny and cool.  The guitar and fiddle playing were great; it’s just one of those long-running things that reminds me of my childhood. And it reminds me of my dad, so I’ll always love it. (Pauses) But at the end of the day, I don’t know that this album was influenced by Bob Wills. There’s not one western swing song on there. (Laughs) We just love music. That’s why our band’s so weird: We just like a lot of different music.

If you had to list, say, five albums that you consider albums that are absolutely indispensable for the serious music fan, what would they be?

I’m gonna do this differently and do a round-table with the band, since I didn’t think about it when you texted me yesterday.

Ha! Okay.

(To band mates) Okay, desert-island records…you have to pick one.

“Old 97s, Too Far To Care.”

Pinkerton by Weezer.”

“Led Zeppelin I.”

“Ramones I.”

Who’s Next, since our drummer loves Keith Moon.”

Finally, you’ve spoken about how getting signed to Bloodshot was a big-time event for the Vandoliers. Could you briefly describe the nature of your relationship with the label, and how it’s impacted the band professionally?

I mean, we’re halfway through our first run of this record, and our ticket sales are way up. Which is weird. We’re in places we’ve never been, and people already know who we are. The biggest impact, though, is the Old 97s; they’re the ones who sent our record over to them. The folks at Bloodshot listened to it and loved it. And once we played the showcase at South By Southwest last year, they asked us if we wanted to be on the roster. It was like a cliché or a dream: I’m going down to Austin to play South By Southwest and get a record deal. That actually happened to me.

They’re a tight-knit family. They’re hard working and honest people, and I trust them. And we’re excited to be on their roster.


The Vandoliers are:

JOSHUA FLEMING: vocals, acoustic guitar
DUSTIN FLEMING: electric guitar
MARK MONCRIEFF: bass
TRAVIS CURRY: fiddle
GUYTON SANDERS: drums, percussion
CORY GRAVES: trumpet, piano, organ, vocals

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Forever is available on Apple Music, Amazon, etc.


Jan 2, 2019

Matthew's Top 10 Albums of 2018


by Matthew Martin

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1- Brandi Carlile - By The Way, I Forgive You
Brandi Carlile's album this year was by far and away the album I listened to the most and the one that had the most emotional punch.  Brandi's voice is perfectly suited to the songs of heartbreak, being a new mother, and being a touring musician.  The production is immaculate and if Hold Out Your Hand doesn't get you moving, you're clearly a lost hope. This is a perfect, timeless album.


2- American Aquarium - Things Change
When BJ lost his band a couple of years ago due to whatever reasons, I thought the American Aquarium name would be retired.  Instead, BJ found a new backing band and came back stronger than ever.  These are some BJ's strongest songs he's written since Burn. Flicker. Die. And, the band!  I'll be damned if this band doesn't seem even tighter.  When BJ has been at his lowest point, band-wise, he's given us masterpieces and this album is no exception.  


3- Lucero - Among The Ghosts
To follow Lucero's career has been an amazing transition from country/punk 4 piece to a straight-up Memphis rock and roll band complete with a horns section.  For their 9th (or 10th if you count The Attic Tapes) studio album, the guys took it back to their roots and left the horns out for the most part.  What they gave us was their best album since 1372 Overton Park.  It's a musically concise album cutting away any fat and letting the songs and band speak for themselves.  Ben Nichols has written some of his most interesting songs to date about Civil War battles, touring, and shoot-outs.  In a catalog full of incredible albums, this one is certainly at the top.


4- Cody Jinks - Lifers
I remember when I first heard Cody Jinks a few years ago, I wasn't immediately a fan.  I don't remember what made me think that- maybe just wasn't in the right headspace or something.  But, that has completely changed.  Jinks released the album that will likely (and seems to already have) boost him to the ranks of Simpson or, potentially even Stapleton.  Jinks's voice is velvety smooth and his band is right on the mark.  The songs are a perfect mix of hard-life livers, hard-night havers, and hard-love lovers.  It's incredibly relatable to those listening and it's the kind of tunes we've come to expect out of Jinks over the last few years.  Yet another very good album in Jinks's short, but incredibly respectable output.


5- Ryan Culwell - The Last American
This album hit me harder than any other album on this list.  Just by sheer surprise and being completely blown away by Culwell's voice and music composition.  This is the album it takes folks quite a few albums into their career to get to.  But, this is Culwell's 3rd.  And it's a masterpiece.  The songs are barnburners and gut-wrenchers.  It's a perfect mix.  This is perfect Southern American music.  It sounds like Tom Petty channeling Mark Knopfler.  There's going to be a lot to hear from Culwell in the future, so I definitely suggest you go ahead and hop on the bandwagon now. 


6- Great Peacock - Gran Pavo Real
I've been a fan of Great Peacock for a few years now and after their last album, I was excited to see where they would go.  As I would go to shows over the next few years, it became clear they were going to go in a more electric direction.  And, they absolutely did.  This album is a rocker full of the harmonies and introspective lyrics you've come to expect.  This is the one you reach for on Saturday night around midnight.  


7- Caleb Caudle - Crushed Coins
Caudle has been pumping out perfect country songs for a while now.  On Crushed Coins, Caudle hit his full stride.  The songs are his best set of songs he's put out.  The music and production are absolutely perfectly suited for his voice and his songs.  NYC In The Rain is a perfect song and a perfect Caleb Caudle song.  I don't think there's anyone else I can imagine singing this song other than Caudle.  If you haven't checked out Caudle, this album is the one to start with.  It's Caudle at his best.


8- Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears - The Difference Between Me and You
Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears have been making music for over 10 years now and let me tell you, they haven't lost a step.  If anything the music has grown more electric, more biting, and louder.  2018 Black Joe Lewis is still writing those 2008 funky party songs, but now he's writing songs about issues he sees going on in this country.  If you like The Stooges, James Brown, and pissed off Steve Earle, this is the album for you.


9- The Pollies - Transmissions
I'm a sucker for any album The Pollies put out.  In my mind, they're one of the best bands out there and it's a complete shame that more people don't know them.  On Transmissions, The Pollies have written a perfect set of Southern pop rock songs.  It's hard not to bob your head along to these songs.  If you've been looking for our generations answer to Big Star, you have no need to look any further.  Keep an eye on The Pollies and do yourself a favor and buy this album.



10- Whitey Morgan and the .78s - Hard Times and White Lines
When it comes to straight-up, hard-edged country, there's not a single person doing it better than Whitey Morgan.  He and his band have again written a damn incredible country album.  You can always bet the bank on Morgan to only release the best of the best.  You will not get filler or cheap songs.  You're going to get songs about living out on the road, the things that does to relationships, and ways to pass the time when out on the road.  It ain't a pretty life, but when Morgan sings about it, it sure makes you wanna try it out for a while.

Dec 14, 2018

Farce the Music's Top 10 Albums of 2018

Like numbers 11-25, these were voted on by all Farce the Music contributors.

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10. Dallas Moore - Mr. Honky Tonk
This is the album where Dallas Moore took a huge step forward. He's always been good, but on Mr. Honky Tonk, the songwriting, vocals, and especially the production all came together. Normally I'd not even consider voting for an album with only 8 tunes, but when the material is this strong, there's nothing wrong with delivering a short, powerful punch. Moore knows for damn sure who he is and on Mr. Honky Tonk, that comes through loud and clear. Check out "You Know the Rest" and "Somewhere Between Bridges." ~Trailer

9. Whitey Morgan & The 78s - Hard Times & White Lines
When it comes to straight-up, hard-edged country, there's not a single person doing it better than Whitey Morgan.  He and his band have again written a damn incredible country album.  You can always bet the bank on Morgan to only release the best of the best.  You will not get filler or cheap songs.  You're going to get songs about living out on the road, the things that does to relationships, and ways to pass the time when out on the road.  It ain't a pretty life, but when Morgan sings about it, it sure makes you wanna try it out for a while. ~Matthew Martin

8. Ruston Kelly - Dying Star
One for the misfits, but who among us isn’t one? At times depressing, funny and hopeful, and with a dash of redemptive potential. And it’s oh, so very pleasing to the ear. Comparisons to Ryan Adams are inevitable. So far, though, Mr. Kelly doesn’t seem to be a full-of-himself douche. ~Kevin Broughton

7. American Aquarium - Things Change
When BJ lost his band a couple of years ago due to whatever reasons, I thought the American Aquarium name would be retired.  Instead, BJ found a new backing band and came back stronger than ever.  These are some BJ's strongest songs he's written since Burn. Flicker. Die. And, the band!  I'll be damned if this band doesn't seem even tighter.  When BJ has been at his lowest point, band-wise, he's given us masterpieces and this album is no exception.  ~MM

6. Joshua Hedley - Mr. Jukebox
The soul of Mr. Jukebox is decidedly unhip by mainstream Nashville standards, but the songs are glorious throwbacks to guys like Ernest Tubb, George Jones or Buck Owens. The reason Mr. Jukebox succeeds is his backbone of traditionalism, not only in character, but also because of Ole’ Hed’s dedication to the heart of real country music. Hedley’s fiddle furiously battles his smooth vocal runs with a multi-disciplined attack that's just damned good music. Joshua Hedley can strum a guitar, sing with a clean, clear harmonious range, and write lyrics that are not only witty, but also painstakingly crafted so that the words on some of the record’s tracks land like guy punches. ~Robert Dean

5. Cody Jinks - Lifers
Cody is just taunting the Satanists running Nashville now, showing these soulless, undead beings what a country record could be on their radio stations. ~KB

I remember when I first heard Cody Jinks a few years ago, I wasn't immediately a fan.  I don't remember what made me think that- maybe just wasn't in the right headspace or something.  But, that has completely changed.  Jinks released the album that will likely (and seems to already have) boost him to the ranks of Simpson or, potentially even Stapleton.  Jinks's voice is velvety smooth and his band is right on the mark.  The songs are a perfect mix of hard-life livers, hard-night havers, and hard-love lovers.  It's incredibly relatable to those listening and it's the kind of tunes we've come to expect out of Jinks over the last few years.  Yet another very good album in Jinks's short, but incredibly respectable output. ~MM

4. Kacey Musgraves - Golden Hour
An album chock full of beautifully arranged, damn-near perfectly delivered, radio-ready singles that for some reason didn't find their way to Country Radio. It's a shame that format has bent over backwards to completely ignore and ostracize women because Musgraves made the best Country record of the year by a wide margin. I guess the Country Radio folks need to make sure there's always enough room on the charts for any dude named Luke who might decide to release a single at some point. ~Kasey Anderson

3. Brandi Carlile - By the Way, I Forgive You
Brandi’s finest album since The Story (which will always be in my Top 10 of all-time). “The Joke” is simply gorgeous and a song of the year contender. This Dave Cobb produced platter got some serious Grammy nom love and for good reason. ~Scott Colvin

2. Jamie Lin Wilson - Jumping Over Rocks
I’ll be honest, this album is so beautifully understated in its delivery that I almost had it around number 12. Then I sat down & listened again. What Jamie Lin Wilson has done is monumental. She covers perhaps the greatest song Guy Clark ever wrote, and it fits the album. If you’re looking for who’s going to fill those shoes, the answer is still “nobody”, but this album is a tour de force. Jamie Lin Wilson is a generational talent who deserves every bit of acclaim she receives, and then some.  ~Kelcy Salisbury

I love this freaking album. So classy and classic sounding. "The Being Gone" and "Death and Life" are amazing songs. ~Trailer

1. Lucero - Among the Ghosts
To follow Lucero's career has been an amazing transition from country/punk 4 piece to a straight-up Memphis rock and roll band complete with a horns section. For their 9th (or 10th if you count The Attic Tapes) studio album, the guys took it back to their roots and left the horns out for the most part.  What they gave us was their best album since 1372 Overton Park.  It's a musically concise album cutting away any fat and letting the songs and band speak for themselves.  Ben Nichols has written some of his most interesting songs to date about Civil War battles, touring, and shoot-outs.  In a catalog full of incredible albums, this one is certainly at the top. ~MM

Good to see Farce the Music's unofficial house band finally make our top spot! ~Trailer



Nov 28, 2018

Lucero / "Everything Has Changed" / CBS This Morning

Lucero Deserves an ACL Taping!


by Robert Dean

Last week Lucero made their network television debut after 20 years, performing a few tracks off their newest record, Among The Ghosts on CBS This Morning. Finally, the squares of America got a front row view for one of the best bands in America giving it living rooms across the country ...straight, no chaser. The band who was once our dirty little secret is getting bigger and bigger, and it only took two decades for it to happen.

With that performance, the band deserves those much sought after spots on the late night stages of Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert. All of these hackneyed bands who release a record and get dropped are pushed onto those stages thanks to a healthy PR machine and backroom deals, all the while, the best dudes from Memphis have been slowly but surely building the brand to epic proportions. 


But also this got me thinking: Lucero deserves a shot at an Austin City Limits taping. 

The band has roared through Austin for two decades, and they’ve grown from a band played a half-filled Emo’s back Red River to a band headlining Stubb’s, which is considered one of the biggest and hardest to fill rock and roll venue’s in town. There aren't many venues in Austin that the band hasn't played at this point. 

Lucero deserves their shot at the true music diehards in America; they’ve played the Moody Theater (I was there), but it wasn’t that much-lauded taping, that moment that completely changes the way people view a band.

A lot of good bands will never receive any significant music awards, but if there’s a little nod to their credibility, it’s getting an ACL taping. Lucero deserves that respect. They’ve always shown up in Austin, and have always given it all they had, and in turn, this city adores them. 

One of the best things about Lucero is their willingness to play every town all of the other bands skip over. They'll play a smaller venue in Alabama or even fly up to Alaska. That's what a working-class band does for their fans, and in turn, we should do something for them. Lucero deserves to be placed in the files alongside Willie Nelson, Sturgill Simpson, Jack White, Tom Waits, Asleep At The Wheel, and Dale Watson. 

I don’t know if we start tagging the ACL people in Tweets, or start one of those petitions, but let’s try to do something to get those dudes a taping.  


Nov 5, 2018

No Sleep Roundup: The Ramones, High on Fire, RHCP, etc.



by Robert Dean

Hey kids, let’s Round-Up!

If there was an award for burnout, I think I’d be at least in strong contention to win Burner of The Year. I’ve been writing a lot of stuff lately, and there’s no end in sight. 

I typically work on the weekends, playing catch up on writing I owe, but this weekend, I’m seeing Joshua Hedley AND Lucero. I will likely need an IV by Sunday. (No one sees Lucero sober.)

Pray for me. 

This past weekend was the Texas Book Fair, and in my adventures visiting my friends @ Clash Books, I stumbled on Why The Ramones Matter, and I’m psyched on this book. It’s a collection of stories, anecdotes, and observations on why our world is still impacted by these four guys from Queens who were all taken way too soon. 

Todd Burge, singer-songwriter dude from West Virginia has two records dropping at the same time, with each being recorded 32 years apart. The earlier of the two is straight up garage rock in the style of the Stooges, while the newer record is stripped down Americana ballads. I’m a first record kinda guy, but both are easily able to stoke a fire for plenty of Y'all. 

Hardcore/metal legends, Integrity covered Ozzy’s Bark at The Moon for Halloween. It’s fun and weird. 


Slipknot has a new song called “All Out Life” which sounds A LOT like their first record. 

High on Fire canceled their US tour because Matt Pike lost his big toe. Is it me or does this make him way more metal?

The Red Hot Chili Peppers played a few tunes at Chad Smith’s kid’s high school on Halloween, but it prompts me to ask a more significant, more depressing question: do these kids even know who the Chili Peppers are? 

Kids today like music that sounds like Pepsi commercials made by shitheads with face tattoos. I’m no Chili Peppers fan, but I wonder if they primarily played for all of the middle-aged teachers like me vs. the demographic who buys those $40 tee shirts. 

Laura Jane Grace listened to Deftones White Pony for the first time with Noisey, and it’s as pretentious and exhausting as it sounds. 

Converge mastermind Kurt Ballou offered gives a tour of his God City Studio aka the place where all of the best records are made. 


Ashrr is a David Bowie meets Stranger Things theme song band that’s pretty sweet if you’re into dark synth-y stuff. NPR’s All Songs Considered even featured it. 

That’s all I got. Stay weird. 


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