Jun 23, 2020
Mar 23, 2020
We're in weird, uncertain times. There's no doubt about that. We're living in the midst of what has been labeled by the World Health Organization as a global pandemic. And, to make matters worse, we're seeing unemployment begin to tick up due to people losing their jobs as service industries begin losing patrons. Where are those patrons? Well, we're inside. We're wondering what comes next. And, many of us turn to music in times of happiness, grief, and every emotion in between.
I was sitting around yesterday trying to work (it's a little hard to focus these days) and a friend asked if I had any uplifting music recommendations. It got me thinking- we could all use a positive jams list. So, I am going to start this thing off with my 10 favorite positive, uplifting songs. Go ahead and let me know what songs you turn to in the comments or via twitter (@rnrmeanswell) and let's get positive here. Also, side bar- if you're struggling with this, please reach out to loved-ones and friends or even me via Twitter. We'll get through this. In the meantime, wash your hands and practice social distancing to flatten the curve!
10- Frank Turner- I Still Believe: A treatise on coming together over the universal language of Rock and Roll. If that doesn't scream positivity and inclusivity perfectly, I don't know what does. Frank Turner puts out some impossibly positive music for any occasion, but this is the one I always go back to in order to bring myself back down to earth. "Remember folks, we're not just saving lives, we're saving souls and we're having fun!" I will forever smile at that line.
9- Lucero- Sounds Of The City: For a band that is known for heartbreakers and drunken ballads, this song is a real barn-burner about falling in love. From the organ to the horns, this song incorporates all the happy sounds. And, falling in love is always a good memory. Yeah, sometimes it might not end well, but that initial falling is a hell of a feeling. This song evokes that feeling of falling in love, dancing drunkenly, and the white noise that seems to fill your ears when that person is around you and everyone else is drowned out.
8- J Roddy Walston & The Business- Don't Break The Needle: Not much to say here except if you don't find yourself movin’ and shakin’ during the chorus, maybe you just need to turn it up!
7- The Hold Steady- Stay Positive: The ultimate positive band, in my mind. Even their bummer songs have some glimmer of hope. And this song is the one feels like the song we should turn to in order to feel better about things to come. You gotta stay positive.
6- Alabama Shakes- Hold On: Another self-explanatory song. I mean, the song is killer, it completely rocks, and it has a really simply message. That message is to just hold on, you'll get through it. When this song came out a few years ago, I think I listened to this song more than any other song that year. And what better time to crank this one up.
5- Professor Longhair- Tipitina: I'll be honest, Professor Longhair pretty recently came into my orbit and damn I'm glad he did. This song, which is what the famous music club in New Orleans is named after, is a straight boogie. The Professor knows how to get folks moving and with this non-sensical (but it makes so much sense) song, go ahead and forget all your troubles of the day.
4- Japandroids- Adrenaline Nightshift: When I think of albums that make me smile just thinking of them, Celebration Rock is usually the first one to come to mind. The album is full of fast-paced, fist-pumping, sing-along songs. There's no better album to feel alive to. And this is the one song that exemplifies the album the best. "There's no high like this!"
3- Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires- Dirt Track: I dunno if there's any song that takes me back to the sweltering days of my Southern Summer days more than this one. That dirty, swampy guitar and back beat practically drip humidity. Not to mention the song's whole premise is just to keep it moving. Don't give up! So, I highly recommend cranking this one up as loud as possible and boogie like hell during the breakdown. Can't tell y'all how many times I've done that. Damn, I love this band.
2- Glossary- Trouble Won't Last Always: This is the first song I thought about when my buddy asked me about positive songs. Glossary is also one of those bands who really seemed to excel at the positive song. It seems like something a little hard in the whole Americana/Country genre, but they nailed it. And, this song epitomizes everything we all love about Glossary. Go ahead and listen to the whole album this song is from, Long Live All Of Us. That's it, that's what it's all about. I'll let Glossary sum up my feelings completely, "When trouble comes around, Like it surely will, Remember you were happy once, And you can be happy still."
1- Hank Williams- I Saw The Light: There's something about Hank that always makes me smile, no matter how dark the song. Maybe it's the fact that he is by far and away my 92-year old Granddad's favorite musician. Maybe it's the fact that I find something new to love about Hank with every listen of every weird collection of music. But, nonetheless, I smile. And the one that makes me smile the most is I Saw The Light. Whether or not you're religious, there is something comforting about a Spiritual song. Hank nails this one with a cathartic wail. I think his version on The Complete Health and Happiness Recordings is the best version. It's uplifting, his voice is like a whip-crack, and the Drifting Cowboys sound like they are enjoying themselves (probably one of few times they did). Find whatever light you want to find and focus on that.
So there you have it. My favorites. These can, and probably will, change over the next couple of weeks. I hope you enjoy these and you show me a few I should add to my list. Until next time, keep it on the dirt track.
Mar 10, 2020
Jan 30, 2020
When mom took down your Dolly Parton poster
♫ ♬ The flag still stands for freedom
and they can't take that away ♫ ♬
How much interest do you have in Dustin Lynch?
When you hear your neighbors having a loud party with Texas country playing
When the drums kick in on "Feathered Indians"
Sorry, I just can't listen to that Kane Brown song you want me to hear
When Bob won't go with you to the Cody Jinks show instead of his girlfriend
Where you gonna get that Lucero tattoo?
Nov 26, 2019
Nov 4, 2019
It’s me, your pal Robert Dean. I’ve been MIA lately because of some pretty big life changes, making a television show is stressful, and I’ve been trying to finish my new book all while keeping my shit together. So, forgive my absence.
That aside, let’s do the dance.
My Chemical Romance are coming back. Nerds who used to wear women’s jeans in 2003 are fucking stoked. Hopefully, they write new music that’s more “Three Cheers for The Black Parade” and less of whatever the whack Queen shit was.
Rage Against The Machine are finally playing some shows. Thank god Zach has agreed to come out of hiding. I only wrote about this very thing like, three years ago or whatever. They’d better play Calm Like a Bomb or I’m going to be pissed. (Yes, I’m flying to one of the shows because I’m a fanboy.)
RANDOM THOUGHT: Go buy Joshua Hedley’s record, Mr. Jukebox. It’s a fucking crime people slept on that dude. He should be household name for dudes who wear embroidered shirts unironically. Easily one the best country records of the last five years and people don’t know it.
Sturgill and Tyler are going on tour together. That’s going to be a massive deal. They’re playing the United Center in Chicago. For context, that’s where Paul McCartney plays when he comes to town. All this for a guy who wrote a song about turtles while on acid. Shit is wild.
Clark County, NV declared November 1st ‘Five Finger Death Punch Day’ and yes, that dude still has a beard of dreadlocks.
Evan Felker apparently recorded a tune with Carrie Rodriguez before Turnpike Troubadours went on stupid hiatus. Look, man. The song was fine. It sounds like Shovels and Rope. But for fucks sake, get sober, go to church, whatever. Get Turnpike Troubadours back on track.
Cody Jinks dropped a pair of records….and they both went to number 1. In the words of the mighty Jack Nicholson, “watch out. Big balls comin’ through.”
Need a random album suggestion? Go back and listen to the first Stevie Wonder record. When he was a kid. That shit will blow your mind. “I was made to love her” is my jam.
Recently, Lucero made a bunch of the Among the Ghosts demos available for streaming. You know our nerd asses were all about that. Collectively between Trailer and I, we’ve probably seen Lucero over 30 times.
Aug 30, 2019
The NFL gets rolling soon, so it's fantasy football draft time! Here are some (mostly country) music-related fantasy football team names by me and some of FTM's Twitter pals. Any that aren't credited here were come up with by me or Jeremy Harris. You're welcome to steal them because you probably aren't in the same leagues...
Ever Lovin’ Handoff (Jeremy Harris’ actual team name)
Le’Ve’on the Road Again
Beer, Weed, Pooches
Red Solo Kupp
Gurley Shake it For Me
4th Down Road - Derek Hudgin
Well Well Well My Michel
Between JuJu and Jones
Who Dat Man
Once, Guice, Three Times a Lady
Good Lord Leonard
She Got the Goldmine, I Got First Pick in the Draft - Michael Fenton
Damn Good Feeling to Run These Routes
The Old Jackass Farts
Goodbye Earl Thomas
Kerryon My Wayward Son
To Beat The Devil In The 40
Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong With Antonio
No Place Too Farve
The Devil’s Right Defensive End
Take Mahomes Country Roads - Alex Williams
Odell Watson’s Chicken Shit Touchdown
Luke Bryan Sucks
Cody Jinksonville Jaguars
Have Gun, Will Fumble
Tom (Brady) Waits for an open receiver
First Down (in a 10 Year Town)
It Gets the Ertz at Night
Goff’s Gonna Cut You Down
Bortles All the Way Down - Jay Arnold
Pancho & Leftwich - Jay Arnold
Lady Mayfield - Jay Arnold
Roethlisberger in Paradise - Jay Arnold
Dak That Azz Up
Mahomes in Alabama
Heart of Gould - Nate
Jun 11, 2019
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?
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.
(To band mates) Okay, desert-island records…you have to pick one.
“Old 97s, Too Far To Care.”
“Pinkerton by Weezer.”
“Led Zeppelin 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