Jun 14, 2019

Texas Band Proclaims Love of Their Home State in Song

by Trailer - Originally posted on Country California, July 21, 2011 
A new band out of New Braunfels, Texas, is proud of their home state and they are not ashamed to let the world know. The DeWayne Tillis Band's debut digital single "Texas in My Veins" is an anthem to the Lone Star State that lets us all in on what's going down in the little-known, rarely mentioned home of such things as "Shiner," "Ray Wylie" and "bluebonnets." 

The song, a catchy assimilation of country and rock that sounds vaguely like Steve Earle fronting Lynyrd Skynyrd, is a mash note to Texas, while also reminding us not to "mess" with said state. Lead singer DeWayne Tillis co-wrote the song with bassist Colton McBride after seeing either a Jamie Crowe Band or Kasey Rogers Band concert one night (they couldn't remember which). 

"Man, they were so good and had us fist-pumping and 'whoo-ing' all night and just loving life in this humble little state," related Tillis. McBride chimed in: "And we just thought... man, there ought to be at least one song out there to let people know just how completely, unassumingly awesome it is here." 

The band's love of Texas isn't limited only to song. Drummer Charlie Peacock revealed some early sketches of the band logo, a charmingly subtle combination of the band's name in a grunge typeface with the state's outline and a guitar which seems to be sprouting eagle wings. "We thought our brand, our logo, ought to be as unique as this reverential land we call home" said Peacock. "Damn, that's gonna look good hanging on cheap banners down at the Icehouse!" 

According to DeWayne Tillis, the group's debut album won't focus specifically on Texas: "We got love songs, songs about being a band on the road, uh... did I say love songs already?" The collection of tunes, tentatively titled Aw Shucks, We're From Texas, is due for release in October, or sooner if the single touches a nerve with radio audiences yearning for confirmation of the state they all hold so bashfully dear. 



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Hot Takes on the Hot Country Top 25


by Travis Erwin
Those of us who enjoy the humor, scorn, and reviews here at Farce The Music can often be found up on our soapbox railing against the insipidness of mainstream country. But how bad is it?
I decided to take a look with a dive into the current Billboard Hot Country Chart. 
One by one I listened to the tunes and here is my no-holds barred assessment starting at the bottom and working my way up per their rankings. They list 50, but I limited my exposure to only the top 25 because a man can only wade through so much shit before he too starts to stink.
25) The Bones — Maren Morris ---  I will give Morris credit for infusing some emotion that feels genuine … which makes this an above average pop song
24) What Happens In A Small Town — Brantley Gilbert with Lindsay Ell --- I actually enjoyed Lindsay Ell’s voice here, but per usual, Gilbert confuses vocal strain with emotion. If you enjoy predictable lyrics, sang with constipation, then Gilbert is routinely your man. 
23) What If I Never Get Over You – Lady Antebellum ---  If you have a damn good pair of binoculars, you can see the country from here on the island of Adult Contemporary Radio.
22) I Don’t Know About You — Chris Lane --- Basically a Bro Country Tinder conversation. Do yourself a favor and swipe left.

21) Notice — Thomas Rhett ---  Watch out Jonas Brothers and Shawn Mendes you have competition for your sing-song style of pop. 
20) Every Little Honky Tonk Bar — George Strait --- First decent country song and while not many share this opinion, I have long thought Strait to be overrated as an artist. Cool dude for sure, but given he rarely writes his own material and is far from a creative musical genius, I view him more as the world’s best karaoke singer than King of anything. [editor’s note: I’m docking your pay!]
19) The Ones That Didn’t Make It Back Home — Justin Moore ---  I applaud the intent, but this is one of those singles that feels more like pandering to an audience than it does a meaningful tribute.
18) Raised On Country — Chris Young --- First few lines contain the words … Southern Drawl, pick-up, and boots. Yes sir, we have a song written using the Country Music Mad Libs method. I confess I didn’t keep listening because I heard enough three lines in.
17)  Shut Up About Politics — John Rich --- Rich is from my hometown, but we have both left Amarillo. That comment has no meaning to this list and frankly this song has no lasting meaning either. File this one under disposable, just like the proverbial red cup mentioned in this pandering set of lyrics.
16) Rearview Town — Jason Aldean --- I have never been an Aldean fan and this song does not change that but all-in-all this isn’t a horrible single. Written by Nashville stalwarts Kelley Lovelace, Bobby Pinson, and Neil Thrasher this is about as good as big label/corporate-driven songwriting gets.
15) Talk You Out of It — Florida Georgia Line --- I have heard way worse FGL songs so if your girl has poor musical taste go ahead put this one and try to seduce her. But if it works, she ain’t the one. 
14) Some Of It — Eric Church --- I actually like this single. Written by Jeff Hyde, Clint Daniels and Bobby Pinson who makes a second appearance on the list, Church sounds a little bit like Robert Ellis on this one, and that is a good thing. IT is the best I’ve heard from Church.

13) On My Way To You — Cody Johnson --- Johnson is one of many Strait-influenced artists out of Texas and while I am usually left wanting for more grit and emotions out of his chosen material, he does have talent.
12) All To Myself — Dan + Shay --- This duo is to country music what  Bath & Body Works is to the mall. Too clean. Too fragrant. And no place a man goes without being dragged there by his significant other. 
11) Knockin’ Boots — Luke Bryan --- Hard to say what is worse, Bryan’s Gomer Pyle laced voice, or this pandering set of horrendous lyrics. 
10) Girl — Maren Morris --- Again, I respect Morris’s vocal talent, but I struggle to call this country. I don’t hate this song, but it is mislabeled.
9) Love Someone — Brett Eldridge --- I just wish someone on this list had more heartache, more pain, more grit than they do product in their well-coiffed hair. 
8) Speechless — Dan + Shay --- Verne Gosdin has been gone for a decade now but if the man known as “The Voice” was handed this single and told this is a Top Ten Country hit in 2019, he would be the one rendered speechless.  
7) Miss Me More — Kelsea Ballerini --- Sounds a little Faith Hill-esque. I will give this one credit for having some rebel spirit. Let’s call it the Taco Bell of country because it has the ingredients of good Mexican food, but the taste isn’t quite there.

6)  Good As You — Kane Brown --- Yet another single full of smooth rhythms and touchy-feely sentiments of love. I am not against love but come on guys this shit flows like a string of Hallmark cards and that ain’t true to life. 
5) Beer Never Broke My Heart — Luke Combs --- Be careful what you ask for. Finally a broken hearted song and while it is better than most of the songs on this list it isn’t a song a can take all that serious. Combs has a good sound but lyrically this song is a far cry from Whitley or Haggard. 
4) Rumor — Lee Brice --- There is much worse on this list but at this point all I am thinking is when can I go back to me regular playlist of Houston Marchman, Dan Johnson, and Tom Russell? 
3) Look What God Gave Her — Thomas Rhett --- Musicians used to get laid by being aloof, cool bad ass. Now it seems they are trying to get laid by using Dr. Phil’s Textbook of Emotional Pandering. 
2) Whiskey Glasses — Morgan Wallen --- I like Wallen’s vocal tone but the cadence of this song is awful about thirty seconds in. Come on Son, just song the pain don’t try to purty it all up and for all that is hole get rid of all that repetitive line ‘em bullshit on the back end. 
1) God’s Country — Blake Shelton --- Over the years, Shelton has put out a handful of songs I actually enjoyed, but this one is nothing more than okay. And with that designation, he joins about that many on this list that aren’t horrible.

There you have it. 
My opinion on the current Top 25 Country Songs according to Billboard. A few halfway decent country songs, a few more decent pop songs misnamed, and a bunch of pandering pablum.
I am sure we have a few disagreements, but the beauty of music is such that it hits every set of ears differently. Still I stand by assessment that mainstream country is suffering from a lack of grit and realness. 
Tell me what you think, I love a good argument.  
—————
TRAVIS ERWIN is an author and music blogger best known for his love of dark beer, red meat, and of course, his comedic memoir, THE FEEDSTORE CHRONICLES. Other published works include the short story collection HEMINGWAY and a pair of novels TWISTED ROADS and WAITING ON THE RIVER. Travis also blogs about music at THE FEELS and with LA on Lock.  



Jun 11, 2019

Mike & The Moonpies / "You Look Good in Neon" / Texas Music Scene

People Believe in Mitchell Tenpenny


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

-------
Forever is available on Apple Music, Amazon, etc.


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