Showing posts with label The Damn Quails. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Damn Quails. Show all posts

Jun 23, 2022

Album Review / The Damn Quails / Clouding Up Your City

By Megan Bledsoe

Almost exactly six years after The Damn Quails announced their indefinite hiatus in June 2016, leaving a hole in the Texas/Red Dirt scene and breaking the hearts of countless fans, they are once again making music. Their triumphant return comes in the form of the new album Clouding up Your City, originally marketed to be a Bryon White solo project but now proudly carrying the name of the Oklahoma-based band. With stories of heartbreak and life on the road and the overarching narrative of White’s own struggles with addiction, which culminated in a stint in rehab during the group’s hiatus, the new record is a welcome return to form for the band and a great showcase of the unique flavor that The Damn Quails bring to the Red Dirt scene.

The themes of battling demons and working to overcome addiction are certainly central to this record. White remarks on “Harm’s Way” that indeed, he might always stay in such a predicament. He laments the fact that the liquor is always on the “highest shelf” on the track of the same name, and almost ruefully reflects that he will continue to imbibe despite the bitter taste and negative consequences. This kind of wry self-deprecation is evident in the title track as well, as White sings about “clouding up your city with our sin.” He comments bitterly and sarcastically on “Everything is Fine” about the perplexing human tendency to echo this platitude when, in reality, our lives are crumbling around us. Perhaps all these sentiments are most succinctly summed up on “Mile by Mile,” wherein White announces, “I hung up my demons, they’re dry on the line, I just never could quite throw them out.” He seems to be accepting the fact that, although he may have overcome his struggles, addiction will always be a part of what has shaped his story and these songs.

Perhaps this is why, on a record so brooding in its thoughts, the production of John Calvin Abney is the album’s true ace in the hole. Abney’s production and the live feel of the project come together to add a warm, welcoming quality to these tracks that belies the often darker tone of the lyrics. White states, of the Quails, “We might be the least country band to ever break out in Texas,” and, while that point can certainly be argued, the truth is that this record does not really align itself with any genre. On the more upbeat selections, like “Someone Else’s city,” one might be tempted to classify this album as heartland rock or Americana. The country influence is certainly there in places also, such as in the hauntingly beautiful harmonica that explodes into prominence in the middle of “Highest Shelf.” The piano playing of Abney delivers a classical elegance to tracks like “”Harm’s Way” and “Mile by Mile.” And then there’s the unique vocal phrasing of Bryon White himself, which adds a definite, and incredibly charming, Celtic flavor to the whole thing. Clouding up Your City is, most accurately, a Damn Quails record, for no other band, in Texas or otherwise, possesses a sound quite like this, and John Calvin Abney was the perfect choice for a producer to bring out and accentuate these strengths.

Clouding up Your City is an album of triumph, both in the overcoming of the struggles of life and in the return of a band plagued by all manner of hardships. There is something intangible and infectious in these songs and in this narrative as a whole that renders the record both captivating and accessible. But more than that, this album is an excellent case for why The Damn Quails are special, and why the Red dirt scene certainly feels more complete now that they have returned to it.

Sep 3, 2020

Trailer's 23 Favorite Albums of the Decade

23 Favorite Albums of the Decade (2010-2019)
I meant to post this at the end of last year with blurbs and whatnot, but it did not happen. 

1. Jason Isbell - Southeastern

2. Lori McKenna - The Bird and the Rifle

3. Tyler Childers - Purgatory

4. The Damn Quails - Down the Hatch

5. Father John Misty - I Love You Honeybear

6. John Moreland - In the Throes

7. The National - Trouble Will Find Me

8. Turnpike Troubadours - Diamonds & Gasoline

9. Jamey Johnson - The Guitar Song

10. Brandy Clark - 12 Stories

11. Run the Jewels - RTJ

12. James McMurtry - Complicated Game

13. The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream

14. Kendrick Lamar - good Kid, M.A.A.D. City

15. Turnpike Troubadours - Goodbye Normal Street

16. Sturgill Simpson - Metamodern Sounds in Country Music

17. Jamie Lin Wilson - Jumping Over Rocks

18. Run the Jewels - RTJ2

19. Lydia Loveless - Somewhere Else

20. Chris Stapleton - Traveler

21. Cody Jinks - Adobe Sessions

22. Ashley McBryde - Girl Going Nowhere

23. Pallbearer - Foundations of Burden

Honorable Mentions: Sturgill Simpson - High Top Mountain, Kacey Musgraves - Same Trailer Different Park, Cody Jinks - I’m Not the Devil, Turnpike Troubadours - A Long Way From Your Heart, Kellie Pickler - 100 Proof, Mike & The Moonpies - Cheap Silver, Turnpike Troubadours -s/t, Miranda Lambert - The Weight of These Wings, Ruston Kelly - Dying Star, Brandi Carlile - By the Way I Forgive You, Sturgill Simpson - A Sailor’s Guide, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires - There is a Bomb in Gilead, Charlie Robison - Beautiful Day, Lucero - Among the Ghosts, Car Seat Headrest - Teens of Denial, Gojira - Magma, Colter Wall -s/t. 

Apr 1, 2016

Album Review: Flatland Cavalry - Humble Folks

Review by Trailer

This one hits the spot.

I haven't felt much like writing reviews for a while now. It's not that there hasn't been some good music put out this year - just nothing I felt I could put any passion into writing about. Also, since we've brought on the full-barrel punk energy of Robert Dean and the damn near peerless wordsmithery of Kevin Broughton, there hasn't been much need for my everyman type reviewing, but this new album from Flatland Cavalry has pulled me out of mothballs.

Flatland Cavalry's Humble Folks is also the first album of 2016 to stir up all the feelings I like to have when listening to music. From the wistfulness of "A Good Memory" to the driving introspection of "Devil Off My Back," the sentimental wanderlust of "Traveler's Song" to the sad-sack lamenting of "Goodbye Kiss," Humble Folks is a tour-de-force of emotions and textures.

"Easy on the ears, heavy on the heart" reads the description on Flatland Cavalry's website, and that couldn't be more accurate. Their sound is an easygoing mix of red dirt country, pop melodies, laid back swing, and heartworn folk. And there's so much fiddle. Lord, but I love me some fiddle and I love Laura Jane's fiddling. It's all a perfectly accessible approach but one that doesn't scrimp on the craftsmanship and songwriting.

"Tall City Blues" grabs you with its portrayal of loneliness and unfulfilled dreams amid the high-rises and concrete canyons of the city. You can just imagine the twenty-something small town boy taking the accounting job in Houston, then slowly realizing the "difference in making a living and loving what you do."

"Stompin' Grounds" rescues that dispirited fellow back to his home town where the Shiner is cheaper and colder and the people are warmer. There's a lot of that sort of longing in Flatland Cavalry's music - yearning for real interaction and authentic folks. It's a welcome and relatable desire in a world that seems to grow more mean and detached with every passing day.

Humble Folks is a great album; certainly one of my favorites of the early year, and well worth your listen. It's a familiar sound, but one that with repeated listens will reveal deeper layers and twists of melody you haven't heard before. These songs are sure to make you think, smile, hurt, and tap your foot. Sometimes all at once. That's what good music does.

Flatland Cavalry is a no-doubter for fans of Turnpike Troubadours, Wade Bowen, The Damn Quails, and the like.

You can find Humble Folks on Lonestar Music , iTunes, etc.. (Out today)

Sep 4, 2015

Album Review: The Damn Quails - Out of the Birdcage

The Damn Quails - Out of the Birdcage
by Kelcy Salisbury

A few years back Norman, OK musical outfit The Damn Quails released an album, Down The Hatch, that shook up the musical scene throughout their home state, their neighbors to the south, & beyond.  The album was roundly praised - it was actually the first album I reviewed for this site (and was FTM's #1 album of 2011) - and the bands trajectory appeared poised for a major breakthrough.  A year passed & the album was still selling relatively strongly, and soon two years were gone with little word of any pending projects.  The band continued to tour,  I continued to poke fun at Bryon White on Twitter,  but it seemed like the idea of another studio project was distant at best & the strain of trying to make a living in the music business in this day and age seemed to be pulling the band apart.  Eventually word broke that there was an ongoing legal dispute with the record label that had released the debut album, but little was allowed to be said about it, aside from promises of future music once the dispute was resolved.  This went on for quite a while, long enough that when the band announced a Kickstarter campaign to fund a new album, I wondered if enough people still cared enough to fund the project (Full Disclosure: yes, I did what I could.), that question was answered in short order as the band easily passed their stated goal & the project was begun.

Usually I try to hear whatever new stuff is available from bands I enjoy, whether it be YouTube videos or whatever.  This time around I intentionally avoided hearing any of the new music until I could listen to the entire album.  So I waited, until one day last week, when Out Of The Birdcage arrived in the mail, which was slightly more exciting than the Harbor Freight advertisement next to it. 

The album opens strong, with the title track leading the way.  The harmonies are strong, sounding exactly as the prior album hinted at as a signature sound for The Damn Quails.  Lyrically there are few, if any punches pulled, and although the story told may or may not be a metaphor in places, this just sounds like a band that is absolutely thrilled to be working together again in the studio.  It is the perfect opener & sets a raucous tone to an album that winds it's weigh through considerable emotional territory in it's 12 tracks.  Not everything is as expected though, and that's a good thing as well.  I hear a lot more traditional country instrumentation on a few tracks, most notably the fiddle work on "Woody Guthrie (From The Dust)," and the steel on "Just A Little While."  One of my favorite things about Down The Hatch was the variety of instrumentation from song to song, and the subtle use of harmony as an instrument, all packaged with gut-punch songwriting.  That appears to be fleshed out on Out Of The Birdcage, from the swooping organ on "Give It Some Time," the Stones-like groove on "Tightrope Walker," or the lyrical picture painted in "Man In The Mirror (Girl On The Plane)."

I'm not sure if it's fair to compare one album to another subjectively, and I wouldn't know how to say that one Damn Quails album or another was "better", but I am certain that both are exceptionally honest looks into exactly who the band is musically at that point in time.  Down The Hatch sounded exactly like an exceptional group of musicians with diverse influences, making exactly the music they wanted to make.  Nothing else sounded quite like it, and they had the live skills to build on the songs in a concert setting.  This sounds like the exact same thing, just an election cycle further into life.  Very few bands at any level can survive on so little promotion for so long, and they sure can't do it if they don't have the musical chops to keep drawing people into the live shows without having a new product to sell.  To do it in this age of short attention spans & shorter shelf lives, speaks as loudly to the talent & heart of each member of The Damn Quails as anything I can say.

If you're reading this & you contributed to the Kickstarter, thank you for helping make this album happen.  If not, the album will be out on all the usual outlets today.  If you've heard Down The Hatch but waited on this one, buy it.  If you don't like it, Bryon White will personally give you a lifetime supply of nothing & Gabriel Marshall will probably come do your dishes too.  If this is your introduction to the band, it comes as a great starting point. 

Out of the Birdcage will obviously be an early contender for a top year-end rating, so I guess I'd better put some kind of number on it.  So give it 5/5 coveys. And go buy it.  Seriously.

(Also, now that Swompfyst Records is actually a thing, assuming that one of their head honchos might see this, you really need to get with Javi Garcia & get a logo drawn up & some merch out ASAP.  You're welcome for the literally several dollars this idea will surely send your way.)


Available at all the typical depots, including iTunes, Amazon, Lonestar Music, and Pornhub. Okay, not that last one.

May 20, 2015

Album Review: Whitey Morgan and the 78s - Sonic Ranch

An album doesn't have to be the be-all-end-all showcase of varied sounds and emotions to grab me as something special. It doesn't have to own a perfect balance of upbeat and plaintive moods. It doesn't have to intersperse rockers with ballads with mid-tempos at optimal track positioning. An album simply has set to some part of my psyche afire, open an electrical circuit between me and the music that never switches off for the entire length of the collection.

Whitey Morgan and the 78s' new album Sonic Ranch flips on the neon and never lets it fade from first note to last. It's a right-in-the-pocket ten-track slab of living, breathing, honky-tonking, country music perfection.

Morgan wrote 4 of the 10 songs on Sonic Ranch, the rest being well-chosen covers - or just new versions of older songs - whatever you wanna call 'em. While that may be a questionable approach to some purists (who conveniently forget that Jennings, Jones, and Nelson all sang other people's songs…frequently), it's not even a minor issue for me. Sonically, there's nothing that would prick your ears to the fact that Sonic Ranch is a patchwork of tunes from different artists and writers. Lyrically, the themes are consistent, and besides the obvious high-water marks set by the Tom T. Hall ("That's How I Got to Memphis") and Townes Van Zandt inclusions, there's no glaring variance in the quality of the songwriting.

It's amazing how an artist who's so comfortable in their own boots can almost create something entirely new out of  another artist's vision. Whitey takes The Damn Quails' "Me and the Whiskey" from its more airy and folksy origin right into the smokiest barroom in town, sets up the amps and gets badass. As much as I like the original (and freaking love the Quails), Morgan makes this song belong to him and his 78s, turning the thoughtfulness of the former version into a swaggering statement of hard-headed defiance.

Morgan's own "Low Down on the Backstreets" continues the theme of the down-on-love high-on-the-town drinking man. "Take me down on Main Street, play me an old country song, when I get lowdown on the backstreet" he sings, and you're never quite sure if the confidence in his voice is from the strong drink or some inner bravado.

After rumbling through a fine cover of TVZ's "Waitin' Round to Die," Morgan digs in to a stunning take on Scott H. Biram's "Still Drunk, Still Crazy, Still Blue." The cocksureness of the album openers here takes a backseat to a bit more self-reflection and confession. Still, it's hard for a man with the thundering pipes of Whitey Morgan to sound anything more than a little contrite, and that contrast of intent vs. delivery adds to the magic of this adaptation. It's a clear standout on an album without low spots, and one of the strongest covers I've ever had the pleasure of hearing.


"Good Timing Man" removes the mask, and may be the true heart of this record. It's a treatise on the differences between the real man and the country singer who'll "put on a smile and my old guitar" then go backstage to drink away his misery. It's one of the most honest moments on Sonic Ranch, and provides a balance to and an explanation for all the bluster early on and afterwards.

Sonic Ranch is as strong a "real country album" as you'll hear in 2015. It's refreshing to hear such unfiltered honky-tonk music in this day and age of contrived edge and softened edges. Morgan and the 78s' version of modern outlaw country is a comparable sound to what Sturgill Simpson is doing, but with a blue collar approach and a more pronounced low-end. This album may not drive Morgan to acceptance/hype in the same circles as Jason Isbell and Sturgill, but it's a big statement album that will bring in new fans and make old ones very happy. It's my favorite album of the year thus far, and obviously highly recommended.



Sonic Ranch is available on Morgan's site, iTunes, Amazon, etc.

Apr 21, 2015

Album Review: William Clark Green - Ringling Road

By Jamie Berryhill

William Clark Green has hit a proverbial home run with his latest effort, Ringling Road. Forgive the Baseball analogy, but it is April. At the time I am writing this, my beloved Cubs are sitting atop the NL Central Division, so you know where my head is at! As for WCG, this is really nothing new to those of us who have followed the Lubbock, Texas based artist from jump street.

Though, this album seems a bit more polished and fine-tuned production wise than his previous work (that isn't a bad thing!), it never draws you away from his skillfully crafted lyrics, and soulful voice. Ringling Road marks the second collaborative effort between Green and producer Rachel Loy.

WCG has a knack for storytelling and pulling you into a song. As most brilliant artists do, he creates vivid mental imagery, with lines like "the interstate's pumping like a vein, full of California plates." You can't help but picture that, and then listen for the next great line!

With every record, Green matures a little more, digs a little deeper, and evolves. He rolls along like a well oiled machine, recycling and repurposing bits and pieces of whatever pops up to sting him along the way, and uses them as inspiration.....mastering his craft one step at a time. I wasn't surprised at all with Ringling Road. More great songs, great melodies, and sonically pleasing rhythms.

WCG, here, has distilled and perfected a lot of what we Texas music fans have grown to love from the better artists in our 'genre.' I'll refrain from the "thumbs up" cliché in my review, because I think that may be copyright infringement, but I will say this: I wish I had more thumbs for this record! I haven't liked every single track on an album since the release of Down The Hatch by Oklahoma powerhouse, The Damn Quails. Ringling Road is out today on iTunes, Amazon, Lone Star Music, and other outlets. Buy it!


Jamie Berryhill is a Texan, singer, songwriter, guitarist, and booking agent for 7th Planet Entertainment Group. He's only doing this gig for free wi-fi.

Jan 1, 2012

FTM Best Albums of 2011: Kelcy's Ten

by Kelcy Salisbury

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

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

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


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