Monday, November 22, 2010

Mountain Heart - That Just Happened EP

I've been a Mountain Heart fan for years.  I have a few of their of their albums (as well as Jim VanCleve's and Clay Jones' solo albums) and  and have been to many, many of their shows.  They are among the best in the business when it comes to live performances, and I can't begin to convey the energy that their live shows have. 

That said, I have not seen them in probably three years.  I have heard mixed reviews from friends concerning the new lineup/style, mostly from fans of the traditional bluegrass sounds.  I, however, appreciate a band, especially in the bluegrass genre, that tries to evolve and add something new to the music.  Hey, J.D. Crowe was scorned (I hear) when he brought in drums to the New South in the late 80's, and he is one of my favorites.  There are thousands of great bands that play the same old covers, but I respect a band that writes it's own music (or at least finds some original songs). 

About half of the songs on their new EP, That Just Happened, are written by vocalist/guitarist/(gasp!..pianist) Josh Shilling (who replaced Steve Gulley, but if you are familiar with Mountain Heart you already know that) and/or fiddler Jim VanCleve.  The covers aren't the typical bluegrass standards either.  Okay, one of them is, but it is done quite nicely, and the other two are a Greg Allman cover and a David Allan Coe cover.  To be completely honest, I did not care for the title cut that opens the album, "That Just Happened."  It is very slick, very catchy, and very power chord pop sounding, so much so that it is something you are likely to hear on modern country radio.  It doesn't seem to fit the band or the rest of the EP, but I suppose it goes along with the new sound/image they are creating.  I would have picked "Same Old Heartache" as the song to push, but what do I know?

Anyway, ignoring the title cut, the rest of the EP is a good listen and is a snapshot of band that is evolving and could possibly be on the verge of creating another new-grass/progressive movement in the genre, one that may translate well to the modern country crowd.  The band has all the pieces necessary.  Everyone is a master of their instrument, and Josh has a very good voice that blends well with Barry (Abernathy) and the others.  All Mountain Heart has to do is keep writing/finding good songs.  If you have the chance to see these guys soon, you should do so.  They have more energetic shows than a lot of rock acts I've seen.  Just remember: it ain't exactly grandaddy's bluegrass.  Check out two tracks from That Just Happened below.

Mountain Heart - Same Old Heartache (from That Just Happened EP) (Buy)
Mountain Heart - The Ride (you know, the one David Allan Coe made famous but didn't write)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

YouTube Bluegrass: J.D. Crowe & the New South

J.D. Crowe & the New South circa 1975.  Best bluegrass group ever?  You can certainly make a strong argument that they were.  Consisting of the banjo master himself along with Tony Rice on vocals/guitar, Ricky Skaggs on vocals/mandolin, Bobby Slone on fiddle/upright bass, and Jerry Douglas on dobro, the New South at this time was a supergroup for sure.  Each of these gentlemen will surely be members of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame (Crowe already is).  The video below is of "The Old Home Place," one of their most well known songs from the classic 1975  self-titled album.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Famous - Come Home to Me

I've been sitting on this album for too long, but I have a halfway decent excuse.  I've had the album at work since I got it and it hasn't really left my CD player (yeah, I still have one of those).  Better late than never.

The Famous is a four piece out of San Francisco that sound like they've spent a lot of time in Bakersfield.  Their latest album Come Home to Me has plenty of jangly twang guitars but is mixed equally with punching pop power chords that combine for some really memorable hooks.  Think Buck Owens meets the Old 97's.  The Famous is Laurence Scott (Vocals, Guitar), Victor Barclay (Guitar, Backing Vocals), Chris Fruhauf (Drums), and G.D. Hensley (Bass).  Definitely check this album/band out if you are a fan of great alt-country guitar and songwriting.  No dates listed on the website, and I'd imagine they don't make it this far east too often, but maybe they'll come around soon.  In the meantime you can pick up Come Home to Me and their 2005 release Light, Sweet Crude on the buy link below.

The Famous - Off My Mind (from Come Home to Me) (Buy)
The Famous - Moving On

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

YouTube: State Champion at Ear X-tacy

I stumbled across these videos of State Champion today so I'll share with you.  It appears to be from the Stale Champagne record release show at Ear X-tacy earlier this year, before the store moved to it's new location, which was the first time I caught them live as well.  Watch all four parts and it's like you were there man!  Did I mention that Stale Champagne is one of my favorite albums of this year?  Thanks to whoever shot these and put them up.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Monday, November 15, 2010

Arliss Nancy

I ran across these guys thanks mainly to a review of their newest EP, Truckstop Roses by Front Porch Musings. They immediately became a favorite of mine. Arliss Nancy is on Death to False Hope Records, a grassroots label that helps bands promote their music for free. Most of the albums on DTFH can be downloaded on the pay-what-you-want-principle, and you should check out their entire catalog.  This is one of the first times that I have agreed with a band when they say they are similar to Lucero.  I can definitely hear the influence.  Throw them a few bucks and download the new EP and the full length debut Dance to Forget.
Arliss Nancy - Wrong or Right (from Dance to Forget)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Show Review: Slithering Beast @ Dragon Pub

Friday night Slithering Beast played two sets at the Dragon Pub in Frankfort. It was my first time at the Dragon and I didn't know what to expect. I showed up just as the guys were getting started on the first set. It was a small crowd, maybe due to the UK basketball game, as I noticed a few groups showing up later on decked out in blue. The guys started off with the classics, a new song,and a couple covers (one a nod to In My Basement Room with "Dead Flowers") in the first set. The band (Mark Sieckman-drums, Alex Plamp-guitar, Nick Dittmeier-guitar & vox, Paul Dittmeier-pedal steel, Matt Kavorovic-bass & vox) sounded really good. Bass and drums were really locking in for that unique Slithering Beast rhythm, Nick and Alex were trading guitar licks, and Paul was all over the steel. After a short break, the band came back out with a more of the older songs from the first two albums mixed in with a couple more new songs. They ended the show with a pure rock and roll cover of "In the Midnight Hour" that even had people walking over from the pool tables to check it out. It was a great show and I wish more people had been there to see a really good original band in their own backyard. Nick will be doing an FREE acoustic show with Ryan Davis of State Champion on November 26th (7pm) at Sunergos Coffee House in Louisville.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Classic Flatt & Scruggs

I was browsing you tube and found this nice video of Earl & Lester doing "Jimmy Brown the Newsboy." It is a great closeup of Earl's nice guitar work instead of his usual banjo finesse. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

Here's a few tracks for Veteran's Day.  If you see a vet today, don't forget to thank them for your freedom.

Reckless Kelly - American Blood (from Bullet Proof) (Buy!)

6 Day Bender - Wartime (from 2008 S/T debut) (Buy!)

Blue Highway - He Walked All the Way Home (from Midnight Storm) (Buy!)

Jason Isbell - Dress Blues (from Sirens of the Ditch) (Buy!)

Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit - Dress Blues (from Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit) (Buy!)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ben Gilmer & The Sidearms - Heart That Burns

I'm way behind on this one, and I'm not going to make excuses.  I'm posting my favorite song off of the rather short eight track album.  If you are a fan of classic Rolling Stones style country-rock, chances are you'll enjoy this so do yourself a favor and check it out.  I honestly don't know the best way to purchase the album, so contact Ben through his myspace page and see if he can point you in the right direction.

Ben Gilmer & The Sidearms - Wildcat (from Heart That Burns)

Monday, November 8, 2010

6 Day Bender - E'ville Fuzz

Coming straight out of Charlottesville, Virginia is a band with the best name I've heard in a good while, 6 Day Bender. Due to a slight failure in electronic communications I never got around to featuring the band when I first stumbled across their music last year. Fortunately, the new album E'ville Fuzz found it's way to me this year. The band is made up of Luke Nutting (banjo, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals), Clayton Avent (electric guitar, acoustic guitar, cello, vocals),
James Keenan (bass, harmonica), and Corey Gross (drums, percussion). A pretty typical country-rock outfit, right? Well, yeah, but where 6 Day Bender differs from the masses is that they hit that mark that everyone else is aiming for but falling short of. The banjo, when used, sounds like it is necessary for the mood of a lyric and not just an addition at the end of the recording session to cater to the "folk" fans.  The songwriting cover all the topics I want from a rough country band, and the guitars, bass, and drums, are just ragged enough to do justice to the vocals of Luke and Clayton.

Since I didn't post anything last year, I'll put up a couple tracks from the new album and the self-titled debut.  E'ville Fuzz features the electric guitars a little more prominently and tends to lean toward pure rock than the debut album.  The musicianship sounds more evolved, as you would expect.  In the end, each album is simply a different side to the same proverbial coin.  You can buy either/both albums and other 6DB goodies here.

6 Day Bender - Wartime (from 2008 S/T debut) (Buy!)
6 Day Bender - Kick Out the Fire (from 2008 S/T debu)

6 Day Bender - Clover (from E'ville Fuzz) (Buy!)
6 Day Bender - Miss Linda (from E'ville Fuzz)

 Check out the video of Deliverance off of E'ville Fuzz from the 6 Day Bender youtube channel.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

In My Basement Room: Best of the First Year

I started this blog a little over a year ago.  I've neglected it much of that time for more serious responsibilities, but I still think it is in its infancy and has some room to grow.  Over the next few weeks I'll be getting back on track with the quick reviews of albums I happen upon and posting notes about shows I make it too.  I've reached my five-sentence-per-post limit so download my comp, The Best of the First Year.
Of course, be sure to check out an artists website if you like what you hear.  Order up one of their albums and go see a show if they come through your town.

Drive-By Truckers on 91.9 WFPK's Live Lunch

A few weeks late, but still worth mentioning.  The Drive-By Truckers played 91.9 WFPK's Live Lunch series before their show in Louisville last month.  You can also download a free track if you are a fan of DBT on Facebook.