Viva la Vinyl: Now That You’re Gone 7″

Posted by Payton | Posted in artist spotlight, ryan adams spotlight, viva la vinyl | Posted on 03-10-2010

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The reader poll I ran for the last two weeks is now closed. The feature posts you guys enjoy the most here at are my Artist Spotlights. It’s a safe bet to assume that this victory was due more to the Ryan Adams Spotlights than the features on other artists. Coming in 3rd – behind New Digs – was Viva la Vinyl, so what better way to kick off this new, more-informed posting than with a post that tackles 2 of the top 3 features in one.

When we left off, Ryan and Lost Highway had just released Love Is Hell. Soon after, a few different ‘Wonderwall’ singles were released (2 CDs and a 7″). Included with these singles were some great B-Sides (‘One By One’, ‘I Wanna Go Home’, and ‘Suspicion’) that all made the cut on my Ryan Adams B-Side collection Sweet Black Magic. This mixtape will only be available for a few more days, so if you haven’t already, go pick it up now.

After a 2004 Halloween Promo Disc I’ve already posted, the last music Ryan Adams released before 2005 was a PAX-AM 7″ featuring early versions of tunes that would be part of his first endeavor with The Cardinals. The Now That You’re Gone 7″ was the third and final (for five years, at least) release on his PAX-Americana label. Check out the first two.

A: Ryan Adams - Now That You're Gone (vinyl rip)
B: Ryan Adams - If I Am A Stranger (vinyl rip)

So this brings us to the magical year that was 2005. The next post in the spotlight will be on Cold Roses.
Get your jam pants on…

Check out more from the Ryan Adams Spotlight:

See All

Artist Spotlight: Max Stalling….

Posted by Payton | Posted in album review, artist spotlight, texas music | Posted on 11-06-2008

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Max Stalling may be a one trick pony on the surface, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find he’s got a whole herd of talent.

A songwriter first and foremost, Max is one of the best composers to have been associated with the Texas Music scene (alongside Mike McClure and Slaid Cleaves – both of whom have been spotlighted here). Max didn’t take up music seriously until after college (he’s a fellow alumnus of Texas A&M). Just as his songs seem to have one foot in the past, Max himself would’ve been perfectly content sharing his music with only those around the campfire on the trail in the 1800’s. But after his talent for songwriting became too obvious to cast aside, Max quit his job with Frito-Lay and took on music full-time, and got right down to business.

Finding the bar-scene in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area welcoming, it wasn’t long before Max had an album’s worth of recording material.

Comfort In The Curves (1997)

Max’s debut remains one of his strongest efforts to date. He introduces himself with an ode to the road, roll-calling a myriad of Texas towns. Songs like Time’s Hand In Your Pocket and Sparks demonstrate his uncanny ability to write from the worn perspective of old wrangler, while Look In My Past and Mockingbird show Max longing for anything except the here-and-now. Heavy on the steel guitar and rural references, Comfort In The Curves is unmistakably country, but retains a cordial sincerity sadly missing in most modern country music.

Bath Water Baby

“I didn’t even pick up a guitar until graduate school. I had no expectation of even being in the music business. I just liked to write songs.”

Wide Afternoon (2000)

Max followed his debut with another solid effort. Runnin’ Buddy can be considered his most popular tune, and Scars and Souvenirs seems like the inverse of Karen Poston/Slaid Cleaves’s Lydia. On Wide Afternoon, he solidifies his reputation for a stellar relationship-song writer with tunes like Blue Eyes, Dime Box TX, and These Reminders. Check out a SMM post i wrote on Simple Girl.

Bass Run
These Reminders

Max has a certain knack for creating great driving music. Maybe this is because the majority of my roadtrips happen to take me across, through, and around Texas, so it seems Max is right there with me narrating the trip with vivid imagery of West Texas scenery and plaintive cowboy songs. i can’t tell you what it is that makes a song fit the open road, but if it makes your destination arrive faster, it’s done its job. Read my post on The Road.

One of the Ways (2002)

If you take one thing away from this artist spotlight, make it the purchase of this album. It was frustrating to narrow it down to only two songs to feature from One of the Ways, and honestly, i left out some of the best. It’s 11 tracks of clever wordplay – all performed with the ease of a seasoned veteran and in a such a style that evokes a Sunday conversation along a fenceline with Max himself. The Pila Song is a compelling story of love-torn rancher that meets his fate at the hands of his own impulsiveness. Max can uniquely turn a simple conversation into a poetic, rhetorical exchange with the listener, evidenced in Probably Corsicana. This album will definitely make my Toolbox List, and when i feature it, you can get a taste of the remainder of gems on this release.

The Pila Song
Probably Corsicana

By none of today’s standards is Max a prolific writer – 5 albums in 10 years – but admittedly, he didn’t plan on making a career out of it. Shortly after the release of One of the Ways, Max’s distributor went out of business, curbing the sale of the album as well as his desire to begin another project.

“On a personal front, there were a whole slew of things that hit me pretty hard…girl problems, the extended illness and passing away of my father, topped off by an audit by our friendly IRS sure kept me from focusing on songwriting. That was a tough stretch of years.”

Sell Out: Live at Dan’s Silver Leaf (2005)

To assuage his fans, Stalling decided to record and release a live album amidst a five year musical recession. Sell Out captures the ardent, hospitable feeling of his shows. Tall, lanky, and bald, Max looks like the least likely guy to take the stage at showtime, but as soon as his does, your reservations wash away. The album only features two new tunes – one of which is an upbeat look back at yesteryear and the music that brought him through it.

6×9 Speakers

“I chalk [my loyal fan base] up to the strength of the songs and the strength of my band”

Topaz City (2007)

Produced by R.S. ‘Bobby’ Field, Topaz City takes on a different ambiance compared to his prior releases. His tight-knit backing band is far more prominent here than before, allowing Max to release more emotion into the songs. But like many of the most recent releases from Texas bands, i’ve found it difficult to get into this one. i blame this on the idea that my tastes have changed considerably since discovering a world of great music outside the confines of the Lone Star State.

Lank & Lonesome & Low & Loose At Both Ends
How Blue Can You Go

Max Stalling is one more notch on the wall of hidden talent that thrives down here in Texas. After finding so much great music through blogs from everywhere under the sun, i felt it was my civic duty to try to expose as many people as i could to the sounds that first made me appreciate the beauty of real music, from real people.

Click on the album covers for direct purchase links.

Artist Spotlight: Mike McClure (part 3)

Posted by Payton | Posted in album review, artist spotlight | Posted on 06-05-2008

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Part 1 ~ Part 2

The time between Camelot Falling and Mike’s McClure’s next album, Foam, (nearly 2 years) was time well spent. Now very comfortable at the production reins and with no label to answer to, Mike was able to take his time and carefully piece together a new record.

Feeling the need to spend more time with his wife and two daughters, he converted a room of his home in Ada, OK into a personal studio. ‘The Library’, as he calls it, is a place where Mike can go to goof off (being an avid reader of his rambles, i know he does this a lot), get away, or simply lay down some vocal tracks, guitar licks, or pieces of ideas for songs. He began to spend less time at the Dirtybird Recording studios and devised a plan for sending his recordings electronically to other folks, having them tweaked, and getting them back. One of these ‘other folks’ was legendary engineer Joe Hardy. Mike began sending Joe his vocal tracks and they would come back perfected with slight effects that seemed to only accentuate Mike’s style.

The bulk of Foam, however, was recorded in Houston, TX at The Foam Room – Billy Gibbons’ (ZZ Top) famed recording studio. Mike, being a sucker for 80’s rock, was just a little excited to be working in such a storied studio. This excitement translated into inspiration that came through on the record. Foam is highlighted by some of the finest guitar work Mike has a ever put together – with just a touch of that classic ZZ Top swagger.

November 2006

mp3: Mike McClure Band – I Know
mp3: Mike McClure Band – Saints In The Twilight
mp3: Mike McClure Band – Belly of the Beast

Foam is 10 tracks of superb production. If the beginnings or ends of some of the songs sound funny, that’s because the CD rolls continuously throughout without track breaks. I Know is track 1 and Saints is track 2, so check ‘em out back to back. Mike resurrected yet another Great Divide song here with Floods. Although released back in 2000, it’s one of Mike’s best writing achievements to date. Personally, i prefer the theatrical feel of the original recording of the song – it has a long intro of sounds of rain that Mike recalls recording into a tape player while standing on the porch of the Will Rogers Theatre where the band’s Afterglow was recorded.

The album is the first to feature the new three piece MMB – Mike and drummer Eric Hanson dropped their lead guitarist (Mike took over the duties) and hired a new bass player. Tom Skinner had been milling around the Red Dirt scene since its inception. He and Mike met at ‘The Farm’ – an old farmhouse that served as a haven for many Oklahoma songwriters, young and old. Skinner penned the song Used To Be (recorded by The Great Divide) that has become the unofficial anthem of Red Dirt music. His impeccable timing and upper-range tenor perfectly complement Mike’s fine-grained gravel voice.

May 2008

mp3: Mike McClure Band – Like An Idiot
mp3: Mike McClure Band – The Eagle and the Crow

Mike’s most recent album, did7 (don’t ask me what it means….), was just released on May 6. i feel like, on this one, Mike held back on the Rock N Roll, and put together a record with impeccable writing. Sometimes the lines are simple, but sometimes simple works just fine.

“guess i should start at the top/seems like a logical place.”
“let me dance like an idiot for you/you laugh, you laugh/yeah you always do.”

While preparing for this record, doctors found a tumor in Mike’s daughter Marleigh. Possibly due to Mike’s heavy spiritual side, the tumor was removed and all is well. The constant hopeful demeanor she maintained throughout the ordeal is expressed in Little Sister Sunshine.

little sister standin’ in the sunshine laughin’/reminds me it ain’t no good to be sad/little sister runnin’ through the backyard yellin’/yellin’ at big sister and your dad.”

Mike’s ability to take a simple metaphor and expand it into an entire song is one the most characteristic and impressive traits he possesses. Wildflower, Comin’ Up Crows, and Break in the Storm are just a couple of examples of this style from back in The Great Divide days. He continues to show his narrative talent in his solo career with songs like Wicked Game of Hearts, Via Dolorosa, Jack of Diamonds, Open My Door, and on did7, The Eagle and the Crow.


Mike has absolutely nothing more to prove to be considered one of the most influential and prolific writers in the Texas/Red Dirt scene, yet he continues to put out records that simply amaze me. It still confounds me that his name hasn’t spread throughout wider circles in the alt-country world (and that i’m the only one that can be found on The Hype talking about him). Maybe his day will come; and, until then, i’ll do my best to spread the good word.

Get Mike’s music straight from him:

Artist Spotlight: Mike McClure (part 2)

Posted by Payton | Posted in album review, artist spotlight | Posted on 05-15-2008

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Check out Part 1

Since leaving The Great Divide, Mike McClure has focused not only on his solo career, but also his work in the studio – as producer and engineer. In 2004, Mike teamed up with fellow Okie musician Travis Linville and invested in a recording studio in Norman, OK – Dirtybird Recording. (Travis, whom i’ve been meaning to mention here recently, fronted The Burtschi Brothers and is currently promoting his new solo acoustic album See You Around). Mike’s reputation as a producer preceded him, and the studio was immediately booked solid. When the two finally found time to record some of their own stuff, they knew just how to go about it – a collaborative album. And McBurtschi was born:

The Burtschi Brothers & The Mike McClure Band
December 2004

mp3: Mike McClure Band – Queen of the Midnight
mp3: Mike McClure Band – Lost In The Dream

The two bands split time on this disc. Mike’s selections for the album show his versatility – a couple acoustic laments, a couple rockers, a gospel tune, and then something new just to throw you off – Lost In The Dream. This groovy tune showcases his unique guitar stylings and is unlike anything i had heard from Mike before – i feel like putting on jazzy suit and struttin’ down the sidewalk when i hear it.

Camelot Falling
September 2005

mp3: Mike McClure Band – Don’t Fear To Tread
mp3: Mike McClure Band – Remain

Working with another artist who has his hands in all aspects of music, Keith Sykes, Mike took off to Memphis, TN to record Camelot Falling. i’m also currently reviewing the catalog of Ryan Adams, and in addition to having different styles, the two musicians also have differing approaches to making albums. While Ryan has a unique mode, or even genre, per album, Mike perfectly intertwines all of his muses for one album. On this record, Mike chose to pay homage to a couple of his musical heroes by doing some covers. i posted and talked about his cover of Van Morrison’s Into the Mystic here, and his rendition of Neil Young’s Roll Another Number is an album highlight. Mike’s faith plays a huge role in his music, as he is always sure to include some sort of gospel tune. Traveler (posted here) tells of a battered soul asking for complete forgiveness by putting himself at the mercy of his Lord. The record is topped off with a resurrected Great Divide song. The title cut off his last record with the band, Remain is a hopeful song that… remains one of Mike’s best works to date.


Continue on to part 3……

Get Mike’s music straight from him:

Artist Spotlight: Mike McClure (part 1)

Posted by Payton | Posted in Uncategorized, artist spotlight | Posted on 05-12-2008

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Sometimes the full breadth of a great artist’s talent isn’t recognized until their demise. Of course there are/were people along the way that fully understood the presence they were in. i’m here today to make sure that doesn’t happen with Mike McClure. In my circle of friends, as well as in the right circles within the Texas Music/Red Dirt scene, Mike is considered a genre pioneer, a captivating songwriter, an inventive guitarist, and hopefully soon enough – a legend.

Mike honed his musical chops with the successful Stillwater, OK band The Great Divide. Formed in ‘93, Mike and band began releasing albums independently before signing with a couple major labels. Citing lack of effort and enthusiasm from the both Atlantic and Broken Bow, The Great Divide released their final album with Mike as the frontman independently.

Possibly a little bitter from label troubles (as well as bandmate problems), Mike decided to leave the band in ‘02 and embark on a solo career. Since releasing his solo debut, Twelve Pieces, in July of ‘02, Mike has formed a band (with a couple lineup changes along the way) that – just last week – released its 5th record. The Mike McClure Band has released all these albums independently – and this could help explain Mike’s lack of exposure – but for now, i’m okay with that. i know how great he is and i don’t have to fight the masses…..

You can add talented producer to Mike’s list of accolades as well. Not only has he produced everything with his name on it, he holds the production credits on a number of Texas/Oklahoma band’s discs as well. He began by helping to produce Cross Canadian Ragweed’s second album, Highway 377, in ‘01 with fellow Great Divide member J.J. Lester. Ragweed has called on Mike’s personal touch for all four of their subsequent albums. Some other names Mike has produced records for include: Stoney LaRue, Jason Boland & The Stragglers, and The Dedringers.

So, there’s my attempt at a bio – i’ll get a little more in-depth with each album as i get to it. This is lookin’ like it’ll end up being longer than i expected, so i’ll break it up into a few parts.

don’t be a jackass – go here and buy
these albums. iTunes
has a couple, too, if that’s your thing.

To start off, here’s a couple good songs from The Great Divide to show where he’s coming from:

mp3: The Great Divide – Nowhere Woman ~ from Revolutions (1999)
mp3: The Great Divide – Fly On ~ from Remain (2002)
After Mike’s departure, The Great Divide attempted to continue with a new lead singer – to no avail. When you lose your frontman, songwriter, and lead guitarist – you’re pretty much done.

Twelve Pieces
July 2002

mp3: Mike McClure – Driftin’

My most prized album of his, this mainly acoustic disc (one song featuring Cody Canada of Cross Canadian Ragweed is a screamin’ electric tune) shows that sometimes simple is the best way to go. Stripped down and bearing his soul like never before, Mike shows the world (ok, maybe just Oklahoma and Texas) that he has arrived as a solo artist. The majority of these songs were ones that Mike had floating around that either didn’t fit with his former band, or he was unwilling to give up to them. Some about self-doubt, some about self-improvement, some gospel…..
all perfectly written.

if you’re gonna start somewhere, start here………

Everything Upside Down
April 2004

mp3: Mike McClure Band – Open My Door
mp3: Mike McClure Band – Just Not Good Enough

Never one to be pigeon-holed or genrized, Mike followed his acoustic debut with a full on, guitar soaked rock album – the debut of the MMB. At 19 tracks, he decided to put out three 4 song EP’s in the months prior to the full album release. Fitting the rock & roll motif, these EP’s were simply titled ‘gun’, ‘brass knuckles’, and ‘throwing star’, and helped to fund the entire recording process. Just Not Good Enough is a song written about the troubles that led to Mike leaving The Great Divide. If you saw my last Instrumental Interlude post, i posted another track from this album that’s the intro to Open My Door. Get ‘em both and listen to them together….

Perfectly spaced between the ROCK are few slower, ballad-ish songs. Check out She Gets To You, Lay Your Head Down, and Moon Is Almost Full – definitely one of Mike’s most image-inducing writing efforts – but i’ll talk more about that one later…………

If you like what you’ve heard, check out
The Gospel According to Mike
a entirely Mike McClure gospel post…..

Go To Part 2 —————->

New Digs: The Rosewood Thieves….

Posted by Payton | Posted in artist spotlight, new digs | Posted on 04-25-2008

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Like i’ve said before, i can’t possibly listen to every piece of music i come across out there in the blog world, so first impressions are important. If i like what someone says about a band or an artist, i’ll give a track or two a listen – and if it doesn’t make an impact on me right then, i’ll move along. It’s a brutal process that sometimes allows good music to slip through.

Now, i can’t remember if i ever gave the band that makes up my new digs this week a listen in the past, but if i did, i really must’ve missed something. Setting The Woods on Fire, a great blog that usually features classic country music, wrote up a little something on The Rosewood Thieves a couple days ago, and posted this song:

mp3: The Rosewood Thieves – She Don’t Mind The Rain

i don’t know if i was just in the right mood when i heard it, but i dug it. It sounds like 60’s pop (with the organ, tambourines, and harmonies), but somehow still fits into the style of music i like. So, this band passed the first impression test, and i looked ‘em on The Hype….

Wtf. How had these guys’ music not hit my ears before? The blogs that have mentioned The Rosewood Thieves are almost all blogs that i consistently check out:

Bag of Songs: Hot New Music from the Rosewood Thieves (4.18.08)
Songs: Illinois: The Rosewood Thieves (11.19.07)
Bag of Songs: New Music: The Rosewood Thieves (10.2.07)
I Am Fuel…: The Rosewood Thieves: Folk Music in the Back Room (7.29.07)
I Am Fuel…: I’m Likin’ The Rosewood Thieves (8.18.06 – way back before i even knew what a music blog was…)

Most of them give Dr. Mooney and his 115th Dream credit for turning them on to the band. He’s a huge advocate of The Thieves and has posted several things about them in the past. Also, with an eye-catching, Dylan-referent title and good suggestions, The Doctor might just be the next blog added to my list of favorites.

You can read all about the band at the above links, but basically they are a 5 piece out of New York that mixes jangly retro-rock with progressive folk. They released an EP in each of the last 2 years, and will release their first full-length album, Rise & Shine, sometime this summer (the above song is the first single from it). As of now, they say it will only be available at their shows, but lets hope for at least a digital release.

more from The Rosewood Thieves:

From The Decker House [EP] (2006)

mp3: Lonesome Road
This tune starts with quiet vocals and guitar picking before breaking open with a kick ass guitar solo – and later, one from the chick on the piano. The EP was recorded in the pictured house with help from Bob Dorough and Mike Daly (former member of Whiskeytown).

Lonesome [EP] (2007)

mp3: Murder Ballad in G Minor
The band recorded this EP in a basement studio while snowed-in in the Pocono Mountains. It was an unplanned session that created some great folky sounds.

Artist Spotlight: Kasey Chambers

Posted by Payton | Posted in Uncategorized, artist spotlight | Posted on 04-08-2008

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Sigh………. Kasey Chambers. What can i say? i think i fell in love even before i saw a picture of her. That somewhat squeaky, almost childlike, but damn sexy voice pulled me in. So i was pretty excited to find out that 1) she was gorgeous enough to match her voice and 2) she can write/make some amazing alt-country music. Just as a fair warning, this post will contain more pictures than most simply because i like to look at her.

This Australian chart-topper has conquered the land down under (every one of her albums has gone at least platinum there), and in the right circles over here, she’s just as well-respected. Kasey grew up in a musical family. Her mom (or should i say ‘Mum’) and dad were both musicians. Shortly after her birth, the family (including older brother Nash) set out every summer for the remote Nullarbor plains of South Australia to live off the land and fox hunt. There her parents instilled the deep country roots that still ring in her music today by playing songs around the campfire.

mp3: Kasey Chambers – Nullarbor Song ~ from Barricades & Brickwalls (2002)

At the age of 9, Kasey and family moved back to civilization and formed the Dead Ringer Band. Naturally, Kasey took the role as lead singer. The family band put out 4 albums and recieved considerable success in Australia before Kasey took off on her solo career.

mp3: Dead Ringer Band – Sweetest Gift ~ from Red Desert Sky(1993)

In 1999, Kasey Chambers released her first solo album, The Captain, on Asylum Records. She took along Nash to produce and her father, Bill, who played lead guitar. The Captain won the ARIA (Australia’s equivalent of the Grammy) for Best Country Album. Kasey also took down the award for Best Female Artist.

mp3: Cry Like A Baby
mp3: Last Hard Bible

Her second effort, Barricades and Brickwalls, won Kasey the same 2 awards as her previous album as well as the one for Album of the Year for 2001. The album shows Kasey coming into her own as a solo artist and writing sole-bearing songs such as Not Pretty Enough and A Million Tears. These rockin’, almost spiteful songs from the album are some of my favorites:

mp3: Barricades & Brickwalls
mp3: Crossfire

Wayward Angel, Kasey’s 3rd album released in 2004, went Platinum in Australia in the first week after its release. i normally don’t like to post an artist’s most popluar, overplayed song, but the vocals on Pony simply make me weak in the knees:

mp3: Pony
mp3: Bluebird

Carnival came out in 2006 and met the same success as her previous work. She didn’t take down as many awards, simply beacause it was not listed as Country on the charts. Carnival definately has a different, more mature feel. Kasey now has two kids and the album has a lot of motherly inspiration.

mp3: Sign On The Door
mp3: Hard Road (with help from fellow Aussie Bernard Fanning)

Kasey Chambers continues to evolve with each album, while remaining to keep just enough of what makes her unique. With each effort, she blissfully combines emotional ballads, high energy rockers, and plunky bluegrass tunes. Kasey was one of the first artists that helped me to realize that good music can come from the most unexpected places.


Click the album covers to buy all of Kasey’s albums on


Kasey Chambers and husband Shane Nicholson have recently finished work on their first collaboration album, Rattlin’ Bones. The album is the first of Kasey’s to be released (April 19th) independently – on Liberation. Their site says the it’s a return to the duo’s Roots Country background and from the songs you can stream on Kasey’s MySpace, it sounds just like what This Mornin’ I Am Born Again is all about.

Pre-order Rattlin’ Bones here or on iTunes for a bonus track and booklet.

Took Me Long Enough…

Posted by Payton | Posted in artist spotlight, ryan adams spotlight | Posted on 03-04-2008

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So, i’m sittin’ here thinkin’ about who/what to post about next, and i realized that, aside from a couple brief mentions in my ‘best of 2007′ posts and a couple songs here and there, in about 2 months of blogging, i haven’t talked about one of my favorite guys ever….

Ryan Adams

i’m not gonna be timid like a bunch of people are when they talk about Ryan…

He IS the best American songwriter since Bob Dylan. Many other people say that he may be, he will be, or he is close to. Fuck that.

i think there are a few conditions – most of which one must meet to be considered a great singer/songwriter:

  • must pay their dues – prior to Whiskeytown, Ryan helped form a couple different bands (Blank Label, Lazy Stars, Space Madness, The Patty Duke Syndrome) and is no stranger to smoky bar gigs, long road stretches, or heckling fans.
  • must be prolific – how’s 9 full-length albums in 7 years (12 in 11 years if you count Whiskeytown’s releases). Not to mention numerous EP’s, and at least six albums-worth of material that never made it to a release (yet).
  • must have a (somewhat) troubled life – Ryan, in his new found sobriety, is not ashamed to talk about his past drug and alcohol addictions, and how they almost ended his life/career on numerous occasions. Moreover, these addictions, plus failed relationships, and even deceased lovers are almost essential in forming the mindset that fuels great songwriting.
  • must live in New York City at some point - ok, so this isn’t required, but from a songwriting standpoint (and from the sheer amount of songs the city inspires), it sure helps.
  • must be respected by peers – there’s no doubt that any kid with a guitar (and any sense of musical taste) at one point has looked to Ryan as a musical role model. But to have people the caliber of Elton John and Steven King as fans and personal friends proves his validity.
  • must be hated/criticized by peers – whether its – bad reviews, show-goers shouting obscenities from the audience (ranging from requesting ‘Summer of ‘69′ to ‘turn the lights up’), or journalists saying he’s “too prolific” (wtf), a “spoiled brat”, or that he “hates his fans” – people are always going to find ways to detract what Ryan does.

(as long as we’re making Dylan comparisons, see if you can’t apply all those conditions to Bobby D as well)


If you don’t own every one of Ryan’s albums, STOP what you’re doing right now and go get ‘em. If you can only afford a couple, start with Heartbreaker, Gold, and Cold Roses. But if you wanna get a real RA education, start with Whiskeytown’s stuff:

Ryan, along with violinist Caitlin Cary and a revolving cast of others put out two official albums (Faithless Street & Stranger’s Almanac) as Whiskeytown – a (now) critically acclaimed pioneering band in the Alt-Country scene of the 90’s. After the success of Ryan’s first solo album, Heartbreaker, Lost Highway signed Ryan and picked up Whiskeytown’s unreleased 3rd album Pneumonia. The major release of this more-polished material brought Whiskeytown the notoriety they deserved.
* i have to credit for a lot of this info


With that said, i can begin my mulit-post Ryan Adams Artist Spotlight.
i can’t say that there is any strict form i will adhere to, or how often i’ll get installments out, but i can promise one thing: no tracks posted will be from any of Ryan’s officially released material. There is so much cool unreleased stuff of his out there that it would be a crime just to focus on the stuff you can find at a record store. So mp3’s will either be unreleased studio cuts, or live tracks.

Because i want to jump right into my Heartbreaker review (and because i don’t have a lot of bootleg Whiskeytown material) here are just a few goodies:

mp3: Whiskeytown – A Song For You ~ from Return of the Grievous Angel: A Tribute to Gram Parsons (1999)

mp3: Whiskeytown – Picture of Jesus on the Dashboard ~ from The Freightwhaler Sessions

mp3: Whiskeytown – New York Angel ~ from Those Weren’t The Days

On a related note (and as mentioned here), the reissue of Whiskeytown’s Stranger’s Almanac came out today. i couldn’t find it at Hasting’s or Best Buy (although they have in their catalog), so i ordered it through Amazon ($5 cheaper than Best Buy anyway)

—-> Continue on to the Heartbreaker review….

—-> View the Ryan Adams Spotlight on one page…

Matt Powell – Dragonfly

Posted by Payton | Posted in Uncategorized, album review, artist spotlight | Posted on 03-02-2008

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As i added that sidetrack to last post, i was just gonna say a short sentence about Matt Powell when i realized that that would not suffice. My goal here is to get you to go buy Dragonfly, but i’m gonna try to do that without posting any more tracks from it. You got two here – that should have already convinced you. if not, here……

“While I was waiting out the aforementioned record deal I wrote a ton of songs; more than enough for one album. So I decided to make two: one that I knew I would like, and one that I thought everyone would like. I always wanted to do something that I played all the instruments on so I made “Dragonfly”. This was the one I thought only I would like, but as it turns out it seems to be everyone’s favorite. I like to call it “porch music”. I don’t think I played all the instruments on it that well back then but I guess I got my point across. I do love most of those songs though. I did it in my bedroom on an Otari MX20-20 with a couple of AKG-414s (for you gearheads) for about $800 bucks. It’s a great “sit by the water” record.”
read the whole self-written bio.

At the above link to, you can still get a hard copy of the disc. Do it while you can – self released albums like that don’t hang around long. You can download the album at Ourtracks, too. When he says he played everything, he means it – everything from guitar, bass, banjo, dobro, harmonica, and harmony vocals to, not just whistles, but harmonizing whistles. A perfect mix deep, introspective laments and uplifting, folky tunes. Dragonfly remains one of my all-time favorites.

“there’ll come a day, when i hit the ground.
when the big sky dive is over, and i’ll touch down.
And i hope my angel will have pillows and feathers for me,
in case i come down… too hastily”
- from The Airplane Song

If Dragonfly is Matt’s folkiest effort, then Fluke Luck and Jesus is his bluegrassiest. He says seeing Allison Krauss & Union Station changed his life. He got a little help in the studio this time – Nate Rowe played upright bass – everything else was Matt. Again, he explains it best here.
  • mp3: Matt Powell – A Whiskey Shot Closer ~ from Fluke Luck and Jesus (2004) (out of print)

His previous works, The Money and the Grass and Ten Gallon Heart, are obviously more blues inspired. Heavy, electric laden songs that show where Matt started out musically.
His 2007 release, New Kind of Something, is a good mix of all his styles that creates… well, A New Kind of style. For me, it’s not his best work (we know what i think that is) but i feel like it’s maybe a little more marketable. I was really hoping that a track he penned while playing in Wade Bowen’s band, West 84, would show up on it. Wade cut a real good version of it, with Matt on electric guitar and harmony vocals, but i wanted to hear what Matt would do with such a compelling song, on his own.
  • mp3: Wade Bowen – Broken Reflection ~ from Lost Hotel (2006)

“take apart the smiles they’ve stapled to my face.
make them take the needles out of me.
help me stitch these stinging cuts, where i still bleed.
they’ve broken my reflection, and i am in need” – MP

Hayes Carll: Trouble in Mind…

Posted by Payton | Posted in Uncategorized, album release, artist spotlight | Posted on 02-09-2008

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One of my favorite artists that i often forget about – maybe cuz he’s pretty selective when it comes to puttin’ records together. Hayes Carll’s patience, however, pays off. 2005’s Little Rock remains one of the best albums in my collection. A perfect mix of grungy, country rock tunes and slower, seething ballads. His debut, Flowers and Liquor (2002), is groovy, sometimes pretty funny, folk-rock. From the small amount of info i’ve heard about his 2008 release (due out April 8th), he could only have improved. He spent a month in the studio with the help of Darrell Scott and Will Kimbrough – just to name a couple. Although not prolific in the studio, Hayes does quite a bit of touring and festival attending. He just returned from Musicfest in Steamboat, and before that he was on an “end of the year rock and roll jamboree and toga party tour” with John Evans and The Sideshow Tramps. Stingaree is Hayes’s own annual music festival that takes place at Crystal Beach on Bolivar Island near Galveston (happening April 18-20 this year).

Heres a leaked track from Trouble In Mind that’s about his time on the coast. See if you can’t tap your foot a little:

mp3: Hayes Carll – I Got A Gig

some of my favorites from Little Rock:

mp3: Down The Road Tonight
mp3: Long Way Home
mp3: Chickens

and one from Flowers and Liquor:

mp3: Naked Checkers



mp3: The Sideshow Tramps – New Train ~ from Medicine Show (2007)