Showing posts with label Robert Dean. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Robert Dean. Show all posts

Jul 18, 2023

Behold! The New Bands You Need to Be Listening To!

by Robert Dean 

Hello music friends, it’s been a hot minute. 

I’m out here trying to sell this book (you should buy one) and writing about shit like who’s got the best cheese sauce in Texas or where you can find back-alley gambling in Prague because I’m fun like that. But I still am always on the lookout for new music that jams. And recently, there’s been a whole lot. So, let’s do an old-school Farce the Music round-up of the stuff all across the spectrum. You should be hitting play on Ye Old Spotify. 

First, let’s start with Ferris Blusa. This dude is legit. If you like your hip-hop, that sounds like a slow-moving caddy in a sketchy part of town. No mumbling, no trap beats, just grim, grisly moments that make you feel like a gangster while clutching that Venti Starbucks while driving to your desk gig - this is 100% your shit.

The homie Shadwick Wilde dropped his new track “Easy Rider,” a different take from his band, The Quiet Hollers. If you’re down with that classic Bright Eyes sound and country like Ryan Adams or Deslondes, listen to Shadwick. The dude is grinding in America and working any hovel out in Europe. In the world of “paying your dues,” he should be on your favorite Americana playlist and his dues are at Scrooge McDuck levels. 

Another cat I love dropped a whole ass new album recently, Slackeye Slim, and if you’ve ever seen my FTM pieces going back, like, a decade, you’ll know I think he’s an absolute genius. Nothing’s changed from that POV. He does it once again on his new record, Scorched Earth, Black Heart. Do not sleep on this dude; I’ve been saying it forever and am thankful to have him back showcasing his unique point of view that deserves a much bigger audience. 

Down in my city of Austin, Texas….

I’ve lived in Austin for the last decade and I can tell you that our crop of bands right now is absolutely bonkers. If this wasn’t an era where lame internet buffoonery ETT dictates everything, I’d promise that Jimmy from Big Shot Dude Records, with his soul patch, would be snatching up bands left and right like they did back in the 90s grunge era. Every night in town, there are so many shows with local bands that are simply insane. Book a plane ticket and come down, just don’t try and move here. 

Pre-covid, everyone wanted to sound like a shitty version of Black Sabbath. Thankfully, everyone let that stupid fetish die and got back to playing fun music. (I love Black Sabbath, but we need fewer bands named Sleepy Bong Witch and all that bell-bottomed nonsense.)

Here are some bands you should check out, and this is by no means a comprehensive list, but what I remembered to write down ten minutes ago. 

First, let’s state that Rickshaw Billie’s Burger Patrol is the best band in town. Once someone big puts them on tour, it’s a wrap. They sound like Primus, who listened to a lot of Converge and Cave In – tell me I’m wrong. Go pre-order their new record, Doom Wop.

Speaking of hardcore, Slow Pulse and Beyond Reach are two bands that crush live and will kick your dick inside out. Like Drain? Listen to Beyond Reach. Like Walls of Jericho? Listen to Slow Pulse. Merry Christmas, now get fucking crowd killed. 

Another good hardcore band that dips into metal? Lament. They rip, too. Spin kick your dad, he’s a poser. 

If you’re looking for some instrumental rippers, Eagle Claw definitely do not suck. I can usually only take instrumental bands for so long and in these cats' cases, it’s time well spent. Also, if you want to crush some beers with cool people hit the Eagle Claw clubhouse, The Coral Snake.

Do you want some absolutely unhinged, wild shit? Go listen to Fuck Money and Tear Dungeon. Both bands are GOING FOR IT live, spitting blood, masks, and violence. Whatever hellscape is brewing collectively in the world, this Austin era delivers the goods seriously. 

(If you’re interested in hearing more about the stuff popping off in the Lone Star State’s Capital City, check out The Cosmic Clash; I’m the Culture Editor now.)

As for non-Texas bands, 

The Dionysus Effect finally has a whole record out, and it’s still awesome. These boys are on a roll writing legit rock and roll with just the right amount of asking, “Think they’ll want a bump after I buy them a round of drinks?”

Skating Polly has a new record – if you’re into Veruca Salt and 90’s Liz Phair “Welcome to GuyVille” vibes, Skating Polly rips. Saw them at Mohawk in Austin and never let off the gas once. 

And finally, I caught Charles Wesley Godwin recently and holy fuck is that guy good. You should listen to him, too. 

And that’s all I got. See you when I see you. Seriously, though, go buy my book

May 9, 2023

Jameson and PBR, the usual pair of handcuffs: A Review of Robert Dean's New Book

“Jameson and PBR, the usual pair of handcuffs.”
Existential Thirst Trap, Robert Dean

Big Laugh Comedy

Official pub dat May 8th

By Evan Rodriguez


If you, or one of your friends, has ever been caught pants down pissing on a cop car, or trying to melt as much ice as possible in a men’s room trough, you might have a kindred spirit in Robert Dean and his book of essays, Existential Thirst Trap. The lowbrow potty shenanigans at the outset might dupe you into thinking that Dean’s musings and meditations are primarily Horatian, set in dive bars and filthy bathrooms. More often than not though, Dean is pointing out his own flaws rather than society’s. 


The collection overall is unironically blue collar Americana in that Carl Sandburg and Studs Terkel vein. Dean is from the South Side of Chicago by way of New Orleans. Firmly planted in the elder end of the millennial generation Dean has straddled two worlds: the analog and the digital, playing in the streets and being dominated by social media, the real world and the simulacra we now swim in, homophobia and inclusivity. This is reflected in his 28 essays as only someone that has actually lived through these past four decades can capture. At his most cutting you’ll find yourself in vulnerable pockets of his psyche as he interprets his hard-edged vantage through a Jameson fever dream or a lucidly hazy morning at the keyboard.


“On days when the world gets heavy and a long, hot shower can’t shake the demons away, there’s always the fantasy of giving it up and bum-rushing the void. That might be nice - realizing you weren’t that good, nothing you said was that special, and you are mediocre despite your best efforts. What do you do when you finally accept things like this? Keep pounding, I guess.” He writes in “Plan B”, an affirming inspirational love letter to himself, as he explores this idea of a professional back up plan most have been told to retain in case plan alpha falls by the wayside. Not to spoil the piece, let’s just say Dean is philosophically and intrinsically opposed to such notions. While this frightens him to no end, he is resolute in his chosen path as a writer.


At his most seemingly earnest Dean still retains a sense of humor. In “Little Bastard” he writes an apology letter to a potentially gay “Kid” he and his friends used to torment in his neighborhood. After a fairly woke reflection regretting the homophobic epithets hurled and the physical harm threatened, Dean writes in the postscript of the essay that he tracked the “Kid” down and he had zero memory of him and his friends' assaults. “Since the publication, the power of the Internet led me to this guy. I apologized. He didn’t remember me,” he writes.


Existential Thirst Trap is peppered with the hard earned humor of not taking yourself too seriously, that only someone who has been told no half of their professional lives can pen sincerely.


There are prevalent recurring themes in Dean’s collection: music of all kinds, loss, writing, Jameson, anxiety, depression, the void, and perseverance. He has clearly spent more than a few moments in self-exploration and on his station in life, which allows him to articulate a certain feeling he has with these 26 letters of ours that is often self-reflective. We live in a confessional and hyper-conscious time and this is essentially Dean’s memoir in three acts: Free State, Rotten Heart, and Good Men and Gators. The work is emo, and as Dean reminds us often, he is a naturally “sad” person, but Existential Thirst Trap is engagingly casual. In some instances I might tire of this atmosphere; instead, the reading experience is like meeting a stranger at a bar and ending up drunk hugging, exchanging contact info as the lights come up.


The most moving and existential essay I found to be “Free State”. It also happens to be one of his most succinct. He begins, “I shared a bottle of cheap wine with a painter. I was down in my hideaway, Galveston Island. We sat in his studio garage swapping war stories, one glass at a time. He told me about pedaling a bike around paradise, making a living by splashing a rainbow of paint against the world.”


I must admit, I’m a sucker for most things Galveston. Dean definitely has taken the time to embrace the castaway island and just gets it on a primordial level. He explores an ineffable emotion in this vignette, cutting to a core I have yet to read any other writer tackling the island. He channels the humble rough and tumble esoteric vibe a certain Galveston exudes, a feeling that can only be conjured by the brackish waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the hurricanes she conjures. 


“We took dark dives into the ether, knowing the folks around us were just pretending when they said the world wasn’t crumbling beneath their feet. It’s a free state. A free fall. The painter and I understood that was the reason the whiskey hit harder. The fear made our bottles seem a little less empty,” Dean writes.


Dean’s affinity for Galveston also figures in the essays “Some Disaster” and “Old Dudes”.


Dean is attempting to make sense of the chaotic zen that is his chosen life as a working writer. His self-reflective loop can be seen as over-used, but this is also part of the charm of his writing. Existential Thirst Trap gives many fucks, along with the undeniably brazen honesty of an acutely aware young man’s journal, distilled through the lens of an old soul who has seen many moons and closed many a bar. But maybe that is Dean’s meta joke after all, grinning at the world that is laughing with him in its cosmic indifference. He clinks glasses with you in a dimly lit hole in the wall as y’all attempt to parse out this human nature thing.


Contributor’s Note

Evan Rodriguez is a freelance journalist living and working in Austin, Texas. He writes for The Austin Chronicle, and has written for Kirkus Reviews, Austin American-Statesman, and Rodriguez writes prose and non-fiction, he is currently piecing together his fourth novella, forthcoming from nowhere (yet).





Robert Dean’s Existential Thirst Trap was released yesterday and is available most places you buy books including Amazon and Barnes & Noble. 


Feb 16, 2023

Austin is Full of Good Bars and Old Guitars, So Here Comes Chris Castro

By Robert Dean

One of the brightest voices coming out of the Austin dive bar scene is Chris Castro. Putting in his time, one song after another, Castro is finding his speed and niche within the city that calls itself “the Live Music Capital of the World” and is doing so on his terms. Castro’s recent single, “Good Bars and Old Guitars,” it’s a clear shot into a world that’s a little Travis Tritt and a little Cody Jinks. If there’s any good place to kick off a new home in Austin – it’s right here in this pocket. Having moved up from his native Houston, Castro is taking a chance on Austin’s laid-back vibes and appreciation for live music to ply his trade. 

The single is a solid look into what Castro is capable of as he develops into an artist, but more so one who’ll be influenced by his experiences in Austin, slugging it out in the clubs, seeing how vicious some of the players are when handed a guitar or a pair of drum sticks, having one too many cold Lone stars. 

Check out “Good Bars and Old Guitars” here and the video is below.

Dec 16, 2022

Zach Bryan, Pantera, Spiritual Cramp: Robert Dean's 2022 Wrap-Up

By Robert Dean

This year felt like a blur – still. The post-COVID timeline, plus things going on in life, have become this miasma where everything kind of happens. There are no “AH-HA” moments of clarity, at least not for me. One of those small breakthroughs this year was finding Zach Bryan.

I didn’t hear about him through the hype train, but he randomly popped up on a Turnpike Troubadours playlist on Spotify. Immediately, I was transfixed by “Oklahoma Smokeshow” and have been hooked on his music since. He’s probably my most significant find of 2022, with Spiritual Cramp being my number two. Spiritual Cramp is a fun, dancey punk band that feels like The Clash at a kegger. Highly suggest you give them a spin. They’re capable of doing great things where bands like Riverboat Gamblers usually play.

It was a bummer we lost Every Time I Die, but happy Tom Delonge is back in Blink 182. Matt Skiba is Alkaline Trio – full stop. The death of Taylor Hawkins sucked, but the outpouring of love and respect was an extraordinary moment to watch. Botch is back, and now, we wait for Coalesce or Fugazi. And the “Pantera” reunion sucks.

Have a good rest of 2022, and I hope for all of us, 2023 is better. 

Nov 10, 2022

“Give us a Bottle of Jameson” Quenches a Certain Thirst

By Robert Dean

Most of the time, I'm burned out on the Irish folk stuff. I'm crazy Irish, and I get it. I've heard the songs and jokes and have had enough Guinness to last a lifetime. I also know that you don't ask for an Irish car bomb while at a bar in Ireland. (Fun fact: my great-grandfather was in the original IRA.)

But, on his new song, "Give us a Bottle of Jameson," Murphy's Lawyer won me over. Instead of being overly traditional in fear of upsetting the purists, this is more of a fun bar tune that's still Irish folk. Still, there's a little grim, maybe a showing of the canines of something a little more influenced by some 90's alternative rather than the Clancy Brothers.

"Give us a Bottle of Jameson" dropped just before Halloween on all the platforms, and it's been making some noise for those into the genre, which is good for Murphy's Lawyer as he's a full-time balladeer in the pubs of New York. As mentioned in the press release for the tune, it's a fun little descriptor that offers insight into what the song's about, "Give Us a Bottle of Jameson' began as a rhythmic etude and devolved into complete musical debauchery. Listen as the protagonist Paddy weaves in and out of 6/8, 9/8 and 12/8 as he makes his way from Mary O's in the East Village, to the local liquor store and ultimately to a jailhouse cell in this blistering tongue-in-cheek tale about a man and his destructive love for a certain beverage. Offaly man Jayson Darby of The Wild Goose in Queens, NYC makes a cameo to chime in on his whisky preference."

If you've got a fetish for some good-times, floor-stomping songs you'd hear during a happy hour, complete with some hoots and hollers, along with plenty of spilled shots of Jameson, this will ring your bell. That genre has few surprises because of its adherence to the old school, but this is a nice departure in style and sound. And if Murphy's Lawyer can keep pushing the boundaries of his narrative and how he tells his stories, there's a lot to be excited about as we see his evolution. 


Website :

Instagram :

FaceBook :

YouTube : @murphyslawyernyc

TikTok :

Mar 2, 2022

Jeremy Squires has a New Single out and Boy, is it Sad

By Robert Dean

Just in from the hotness desk: Jeremy Squires has a new single out, “Drift,” which sounds like some straight lonely heart pulling out of the train station in the rain type of shit.

This is probably your shape and size if you’ve got an early Bob Dylan - but really lonely kink. Squires’ music feels like it’s moving into that Bruce Springsteen direction, including that damn harmonica, you know, the one that sounds like a bird off in the distance, yearning for some new great love or something deep and meaningful.

Listen to it here or below. It does not suck, but don’t put it on at a party. Well, that’s on you and your Hellraiser “we love suffering” tendencies if you do. Way to be awesome, and sad, Jeremy.

Feb 22, 2022

New Blood: The Dionysus Effect Come Kicking and Screaming

By Robert Dean

When I was a kid, I had a lot of videotapes. Every weekend, I’d sit around waiting for shows like Headbanger’s Ball, Alternative Nation, and 120 Minutes to come screaming out of the depths of the MTV studios and into our lives by the sounds of My Bloody Valentine Beck, Screaming Trees, or Big Black. I was lucky enough to live in the era of jerky record store clerks who shit on you for mediocre music tastes. Radio DJs took pride in breaking new bands and music television that wanted you to fall in love with rock and roll, no matter what your shape or size was with the noise. 

I’m getting older now. It’s weird seeing kids wear Doc Martens and Nirvana shirts but have no idea what either meant to us when both things were not en vogue. One thing that I’ve moaned about repeatedly is while it’s cool and all to adopt the fashion, where was the music? Where are the bands who carry the torch for one of the greatest eras in music history? Someone had to be wondering, “what would J Mascis do?”

Then I got hip to The Dionysus Effect. 

The Dionysus Effect is a three-piece off somewhere out of upstate New York, making the right kind of racket. You can never put your finger on what a band listens to or who they were influenced by unless it’s stapled to their chest, scribbled in fanboy blood. But, upon hearing the band’s debut record, there was a flash of riding second-hand BMX bikes to the record store to discover something in the used bin, looking for that new grail to love. 

At one moment, the vocal phrasing reminds me of Matt Skiba from Alkaline Trio, but then, it’s Nick Cave. The Dionysus Effect’s music sounds like a time capsule from early alternative radio ala bands like Hum, Sebadoh, The Stone Roses, or Pavement. On “Stars,” the guitar work is light and airy, it’s not driven by aggression, the drums handle all of that work, and on “Heroin,” everything again feels like the music was meant to be on vinyl, ready not for a download, but an honest listen. 

Given that this is their first go-round with releasing music, you can hear where the band will only get better, where you’ll see the bumpy bits tighten up or be thought about differently the next time they hit the studio. There’s underlying aggression, something many bands manufacture but don’t realize. The creators of the style and sound weren’t trying to outwit one another. They didn’t know other bands were as fucked up as they were – we didn’t have Instagram when Sonic Youth dropped Daydream Nation, or Dinosaur Jr gave us Feel the Pain. You can hear where down the line, the guitars might be a little more violent, where a scream might make more sense than a howl. 

If The Dionysus Effect is a good indicator of what’s coming down the line (there's a full album on the way later this year), the kids, as they say, will be alright if these boys show them what’s possible when a world as insane as this one gives you perspective to howl over. 

Feb 17, 2022

Who TF is Clancy Jones and Where Did He Come From? 

By Robert Dean

Clancy Jones is the real deal. I mean, yes, he’s got the requisite cool tattoos everywhere, the faded denim shirt that looks like it’s been through the war. Jones looks like he knows how to scrap after a few Jamesons, but, don’t like the fa├žade fool you – the dude lives in the middle of Nowhere, Oklahoma working on a ranch doing man shit like moving cattle, and in his spare time writes incredible songs that dance in the shadows of artists like JD McPherson, Leon Bridges, Turnpike Troubadours, and Lucero. 

On his debut record, Found My Way, Jones taps into themes of heartbreak, travel the forgotten American roads, and obviously – figuring out who he is one scar at a time. And the results were worth whatever hell Jones managed to dance through. 

“Blacktop Bound” sounds like any sold-out Saturday night at Austin’s famed Continental Club. The drive, the beat, and the funk are all in the mix, ready for a spilled beer and secretly exchanged numbers, away from prying eyes. 

The songs on Found My Way are dripping with massive organs, dirty guitar tones, a long moan into the void. Jones delivers a must listen to anyone deep into Americana and who likes looking for trouble. The slower country-tinged tunes are excellent. They speak the language of someone who’s wound up in one too many dive bars alone for one wrong reason or another. Still, it’s the foot stompers like the previously mentioned “Blacktop Bound” or “Mexican Gold” is where Jones truly shines, proving he could play with the big dogs who love good timin’ and getting into trouble. If you see Jones’ name on the marquee of your local dance hall in the coming months or years, don’t be surprised. Just roll a joint, put on your shitkickers and get out there and party your ass off. That’s  what his music thrives on – the pulsing beat of “fuck just say no, let’s all say hell yes.”

Found My Way is out May 13th.

Jan 4, 2022

New Blood: Andrew Jobin

By Robert Dean

Down here in Austin, Texas, we might be well on our way to becoming the Live Comedy Capital of the World or the Tech Everything Capital of the World, but we're still a music town. Every night of the week, you can hear a raucous new voice in the clubs, on the street corners, or strumming away in the corner of a bar.

One of those new voices is Andrew Jobin, who's just released his first solo EP, Bon AccordBon Accord is a collection of songs that spring from the same fertile musical soil as artists like John Moreland with its foot-stomping old school phrasing one piece like "Joan Love" but then lends itself to an emotional holler; with a track like, "Eden." Jobin leans into something I never expected on these tracks; his voice and phrasing don't remind me of contemporary singers, but more in the realm of singers like Woody Guthrie, especially the Singing Brakeman, Jimmie Rodgers. Whether or not those influence the record or Jobin, what matters is that he's not trying to play house and trying to sound like anything that's not authentic to himself.

Check out Andrew Jobin's new record, Bon Accord, and go to one of his shows if you're in Austin. As this city is getting more expensive every day, it's good to see we've still got a few honest to god guitar pickers kicking around. 

Oct 20, 2021

Austin, TX Still Has Plenty of Bands you Need to Listen to ASAP

By Robert Dean

I’m coming close to a decade in Austin, Texas. I’ve seen the changes, and yeah, some of them are worth complaining over. But, as the city evolves and becomes one Thanos stone away from some megalopolis that only Elon Musk can afford, there’s still plenty of aspects to this cultural wonderland to celebrate. Great Tex-Mex is everywhere, no shortage of cheap Lonestars at beer joints across the city, and there’s still hot music every night of the week. 

Hippies and cowboys shit-kicking one another built this city on the good timin’ sounds of Willie and Waylon. Since then we’ve seen the rise of bands like Black Pumas, Ghostland Observatory, and Gary Clark Jr, who all showcase the best things about the Capital City every night throughout all corners of the world. 

Keeping housing affordable in town so the creative class can continue to live here is critical to maintaining the identity of Austin intact because as much as we all love dorks on Bird scooters zipping around downtown in their $500 Nikes, we need the artists, musicians, and now comedians.

With so many good bands playing every night, I thought it was imperative to share some of the music that folks need to know, ones that show the best of what the city has to offer. If you dig what they do, buy some merch, stream their stuff, or catch them on tour. And if you can’t do any of those things, there’s always planning a vacation. 

In no particular order, these are some of the bands you need to know in Austin right now: 


GoodEye delivers some heavy psyche that’s got serious Sleep meets Radiohead vibes. They’re heavy but not scared to get all “Shine on You Crazy Diamond,” either. If you’re looking to smoke out before going to Riff City, this is your band, Cheech.

Riverboat Gamblers 

Classic Austin punk rock. Should need no introduction. Super fun and super insane live shows where no beer is safe from being thrown, just as no surface won’t get crawled on and jumped from.

The Mellows
If you’re in the market for grooves straight from the malt shop, The Mellows deliver the goods. These guys do straight 1950’s do-wop with a twist of early rock and roll. Fantastic. 


Another classic Austin band that should be a bigger deal than they are. If you’re looking for that wild-ass early Butthole Surfers vibe, these guys bring it like total fucking weirdos. These dudes are that perfect drunk marriage of country and punk that smells like spilled Bud Light and cheap reefer. If you’re in Austin for a weekend and these guys pop up on Showlist, don’t sleep on them. Buy that ticket. 

Rickshaw Billie’s Burger Patrol

Yeah, weird name, but pound for pound, the best metal band in Austin.  Riffs for days, everything has a hook, and they’re totally in on the joke. Any chance I get to catch the Rickshaw, I take it. I even have their sticker on my laptop. And I don’t listen to a ton of metal. 

The Sword
Yep, the local gods are still around and still ruling. It’s a fucking crime these dudes aren’t everyone’s favorite band. Either way, they’re still here, and they never stopped being awesome. 

Nether Hour
If you’re looking for that country-rock slug that goes straight to the dome, Netherhour brings the noise. Think Allman Brothers meets Al Green. There’s a lot of deep country soul here. Netherhour also serves as the house band for many of comedians’ Redban and Tony Hinchcliffe’s live shows at comedy hotspot, Vulcan Gas Company. 

Trace of Lime
Another Vulcan Gas Company house band, Trace of Lime, is straight-up 90’s alternative worship. It’s weird being old enough to see my years in high school become a musical source of inspiration, but these kids are doing the decade justice. This is right up your alley if you’re a fan of Dinosaur Jr, the Pixies, or the Violent Femmes. Plus, these guys crush live, too. 

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These kids aren’t even drinking age, and they’re getting on all of the best crusty hardcore and punk shows in Austin for a reason: they deliver. The music is abrasive, fierce, and with them still being so young, like high school young, this is a band who’s only going to get more pissed off as the years fall within the hourglass.

Transit Method
Think Mars Volta meets Smashing Pumpkins riffs and then layer in Coheed and Cambria. That’s Transit Method. They’re a band you need to watch just as much as listen thanks to how complex and layered the playing can go from small moments to gigantic movements, all with a riff that one minute sounds straight from the Grateful Dead’s catalog and then goes all rock and roll city. 

David Ramirez
If there’s one singer-songwriter you need to embrace in the cultural history of Austin, it’s this guy. David Ramirez is the real deal. He’s no-frills and comes from the school of the heart of George Strait, but has all of these moments that are more art school and Echo and the Bunnymen all within a breath. If you’re into Black Pumas or Tyler Childers, David Ramirez should be on your playlist just the same. 


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