Friday, December 20, 2013

2013 Year End Review

With this year quickly coming to a close, it is time that we reflect on the old and look forward to the new.  While 2013 wasn't a year I care to go back through again personally, the music of 2013 gave me plenty to be happy and excited about.  So with out further ado lets reflect.  Below is (insert drumroll)  Hurricane Highway's Official Top Ten Albums of 2013.

  • Courtney Patton - Triggering A Flood   Women in songwriting don't often get the credit they deserve.  Most are compared to Miranda or Taylor, as if that is ok.  This disk is on neither side of those.  What Courtney did in this cd was bring vulnerability and strength from heartbreak in her lyric in way that seems natural and compelling. 
  • Jason Isbell - Southeastern  There was not a single flaw in this record.  I am still as moved by his lyrics today as I was the first day I heard it.  Jason is poised to be the greatest songwriter of our generation.  I don't know that there is a song as  truthful as Elephant out there.  It spoke to anyone who has lost a love one and had to witness that process of death.  The line "One thing that is clear to me, no one dies with dignity, we just try to ignore the elephant somehow,"  was one the most heartfelt and honest lyrics I have ever heard. 
  • Javi  Garcia - The Great Controversy   This is the most unapologetic rock record to come out this year.  I also believe one of the most underappreciated. One of the great characteristics of Javi and his band is the ability to do things their own way and not fit in to the traditional mode of "Texas Music". If you have the chance to see him live I strongly recommend it.
  • Shane Smith & The Saints - The Coast  This release is one of the ones I am most excited to talk about. This is another one that was good from start to finish.  Shane and his band have been touring constantly since the release.  Really looking forward to seeing them take off in 2014.   The guys have been having some regional success on Texas Radio.  They have also had some opening spots in Gruene Hall and Floore's.    

  • Holly Williams - The Highway Showcasing her awesome vocals, Holly is making her mark in 2013 with great writing as well as production.  This girl proved that she was way more than a pretty face to come along in 2013.  She is touring with Jason Isbell in 2014.  What made the Highway so great was the noticeable change in production from her first disk.  The more paired down arrangements really allowed her writing and vocals to shine.  
  • Drew Kennedy - Wide Listener - . Wide Listener represented a more mature and confident sound for D rew.  As a songwriter he is at his best with this disk.  The imagery combined with his voice made each song feel like a movie vignette.   

  • John Moreland - In The Throes This is a lyrical Gem.  Simply done and understated.  John is a brilliant writer.  Jason Isbell recently took him out on tour.   Throes is excellently crafted.  This disk was produced in a way to take nothing away from the words.
  • Will Arrington - Miles Left To Go  Making a name for himself amongst the Cheatham Street Circle Miles comes out strong straight out of the gate with the lead track Coming Back Around.  It pulls no punches quickly moving into the next song Final Stand.  Other standouts on this cd are Just Another, Rain, Stay With Me Tonight, and My Old Friends.

  • Dylan Stewart and The Johnny Strangers - A grit and groovy album.  This guy is making a name for himself in Oklahoma.  Look for him to become a contender in the must see list of 2014. 

  • Thieving Birds - Gold Coast - Good ole fashioned southern rock at its finest.  This was a wonderful follow up to their first release.  Check out Graveyard Love for a soulful bluesy track. This is also a must see band to hit the stage in 2014.  Much in the same way Uncle Lucius made waves in the last two years.
Honorable Mentions
  • Devil By The Tail - Cole Porter Band
  • Reckless Ways - Southern Strangers
  • William Clark Green - Rose Queen
  • Brandy Zdan - Lone Hunter

So there you have it.  Do you agree, Disagree?  Feel free to voice your thoughts.  It is going to be hard to top this years music movement but I think it can be done.  I am looking forward to the release from Jason Eady, James Pardo, Folk Family Revival, and Chad Sullins.  I also plan on looking forward to what happens career wise for Aaron Stephens, Shane Smith, Steve Roloff, and Brett Hauser.  One thing is for certain I am going to be out as much as I can listening to new bands while catching my favorites.  I hope to also run into some of you readers in Steamboat.  Catch you on the flip side of 2014.  

Below are some of my favorite pics from this last year. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

IPhone, ITunes, and ITips?

There are all kinds of apps and websites that allow us to connect with what is going on in the music industry.  Apps like Bands in town tell you about when your favorite bands are in town.  Sites like Kickstarter and Indie Go Go allow fans to donate to their favorite bands cd projects. You can buy music from your phone. Merch from the online website. What happens though when you're at a show with no cash to tip the band?  Of course you could always get cash from the ATM and pay all the fees that come with it.   Wouldn't it be nice if you could just donate straight to the band with your card.   iTips Music  is working to solve that problem for fans, bands, and everyone in between.  Founded by a team of partners including Dave Fenley, the app is currently being tested with Dave Fenley and his Band.  If the name sounds familiar, yes, it is in fact the guy from America's Got Telent. 

Here is how it all works.  Bands register on the website.  Click here to check out the website.  Once registered, the bands can spread the word to their fans.  Fans download the app.  Much like ITunes, the app will keep your card on file and then from there you can start tipping away.  The  money can then be distributed throughout the band members.

How cool is that?  The app is still in its early stage.  When it is up and running fully this is going to be a game changer for bands.  Be sure to go their Facebook page for all the latest news and information.  I can't wait to see this all happen.  This is going to be huge for everyone involved.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Ladies Who Rock Showcase - Nashville New Wave

I have always admitting openly I hate country radio.  Recently though I was scanning the stations and I came across a song that sounded nothing like the other songs I am used to.  It was actually country.  The thing was I changed the station back to a cd after the song was over and forgot to look the lyrics up when I got to the computer. I blame netflix for all its distractions. That website draws me in.  Heaven help me when Orange is the New Black comes back for the second season you might not hear from me for a while. As luck would have it one morning before work I just happened to have the TV on cmt.  I am really not sure why I stopped there.  That really hasn't been part of my normal routine. The music channels really haven't been in my regular viewing time lately.  Those reality shows stress me out.  Too much drama and yelling. All of a sudden though, this breath of fresh air known as Brandy Clark made me stop.  The lyrics I had forgotten went off like a light bulb.  If you listened to the new Alabama tribute album with Wade on it.  You will recognize Brandy's name from the duet she did of Love in the First Degree. She is also the co writer along with Kasey Musgraves for Mama's Brokenheart. You know the song Miranda Lambert has since won all kinds of awards for.  Recently she released her album 12 Stories this year, which has been raved about by every critic and music snob I know. If you look at all the end of year reviews, I am sure this disk will be on a lot of them.

Next on this list is Holly Williams.  She is a voice that I have listened to for a few years now.  When your grandad is Hank Willliams you have a lot to prove. She brings it though. She is a talented writer as well as vocalist.  This year she released The Highway, her sophomore album which is an overall full cd to add to your collection.  Be on the look out for her to tour with Jason Isbell.  So far there are no Texas dates with them two, but hopefully that will change.  She is due back in San Antonio soon I am sure.  This past March she was scheduled to play Sam's Burger Joint, unfortunately she we was under the weather.  I decided to post her latest video The Highway, as well as Drinking.  I couldn't decide on a favorite.  Lucky for you.

 Since I made mention of her, why not play the new video she debuted yesterday for Follow Your Arrow.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

So Long Seth

Despite a Saturday night cold front and nasty rain, I hopped in my car (the hot mess express as I like to refer to it) and set my sights on Gruene Hall.  Hopefully by now you should know that Saturday was going to Seth James last day as a member of The Departed. If you didn't and I spoiled some surprise or sprung disappointment on you, oops.  A few years back I was in the audience for the first departed show at Gruene. I counted myself lucky to be part of a sold out show to say goodbye.

Upon my arrival to the hall I was quickly greeted to the blues and delightfully smooth vocals of Aaron Stephens. Aaron has been playing at Billy's Ice every Wednesday night for a while now if I am not mistaken.  I haven't had the chance to see Aaron but I knew he had been winning over fans quite a bit lately.  It is not everyday you get to see someone make a debut performance at such a historical place.  I would like to think one day I when Aaron makes it big and wins Grammy awards, I can remind you I saw his first show at Gruene Hall.  It looks there was a video made about this night being shared on the book of faces.  I picked up a copy of his EP while I was at the show and have been listening to it all week. I did some checking and you can get the EP on ITunes, Lonestar Music, and of course at the shows.

There was truly an electric feeling to the festivities this evening. When Seth, Cody, Jeremy, Steve, and Chris hit the stage it was bittersweet.  They wasted no time getting into the rock and roll.  I have to admit while I have always been a ragweed Canada fan - having him and Seth together was really one of my favorite things about the band.  It will be a little weird to not hear Prayer for the lonely and Demons in the normal set list.  I, however have always wanted a follow up to Seth's last record That Kind of Man.  The Departed as it is now will be bringing back some Ragweed tunes that the die hard fans have missed since their hiatus. It is safe to say Cody will probably we working on new tunes for another record if he hasn't been already.  Also be on the look out for Cody and Stoney to go back out on the road for an acoustic run.  It is coming through Floores just before Christmas.  Just a hint for anyone looking to get me a gift.   I mentioned a moment on my personal Facebook page, but I have to share here anyway.  Seth did an amazing version of Sweet Lord.  It was probably one of the most moving things I have witnessed. Gruene Hall has bared witness to many moments of musical history I wish I could compile a documentary on all them. To be in the hall when Seth sang that song gave me a very peaceful feeling.  I looked around the crowd and you could see how this song was making people feel. There were tears in the eyes of even the toughest men as he sang.  I was hoping I could find you some better quality YouTube videos but  I didn't see any that were uploaded yet. The guys finished the night with a goodbye song that seemed fitting, Keep on Rocking in the Free World.   Keep on Rocking Seth.  I will be here waiting for new tunes with the rest of your fans.