These United States Release New Album Details

Posted by Payton | Posted in album release, live show | Posted on 06-23-2010

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DC-based These United States have recently prepared their 4th studio album in the last 2 1/2 years. I like that pace. What Lasts has been called a darker writing effort than previous TUS albums – lead man Jesse Elliott wrote the album in 2009 following a near-death experience on Lake Michigan. The album is appropriately named, too. The title track was the only song from the album to survive a laptop theft in which Elliott lost some 300 demos. Below, check out the tracklist , download the first single, and check out some photos from a TUS show I attended last month in Austin:

What Lasts (out 7/20/10)
1.  Nobody Can Tell
2.  Dug Him in the Dirt
3.  One You Believe
4.  The Great Rivers
5.  Just This
6.  Life&Death She&I
7.  Ever Make You Mine
8.  What Do You Want with My Heart?
9.  What Lasts
10. Water & Wheat

Dave Rawlings Machine Double Shot

Posted by Payton | Posted in live show | Posted on 12-13-2009

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Headed to Waterloo Records in a few to catch an in-store performance from Dave Rawlings & Co. I’ve seen a few videos of similar shows and therefore am just as excited about the in-store as I am the full concert following. The Parish Room on 6th St will host the Dave Rawlings Machine and opener Sarah Jarosz. It’s a great music venue where I’ve previously caught my favorite Old Crow Medicine Show performance. And with 3/5 of OCMS plus the addition of the ever-impressive Gillian & Dave combo, it’s sure to not disappoint. Details/Photos to follow.

Here’s a lively, OCMS-dominated track off A Friend of a Friend:
Dave Rawlings Machine – It’s Too Easy
buy it – it’s great.

New Deer Tick EP – December 1st

Posted by Payton | Posted in album release, live show | Posted on 11-18-2009

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Deer Tick announced last week that they have a NEW EP ready for release. More Fuel For The Fire will be available exclusively through iTunes December 1st. Read the CMJ story here. The EP will feature 3 new tracks and a live cut of ‘Straight Into A Storm’ from Born On Flag Day – the band’s sophomore album – released only a few short months ago.

I will be attending Deer Tick’s show in Houston this weekend to get an early preview of these new tunes. The boys are opening for Neko Case at Warehouse Live. I also plan on catching Slaid Cleaves Friday night at McGonigel’s Mucky Duck. If you’re ever in the Houston area – check their schedule. Truly one the best places to see live music.

Both of these artists had 2009 releases and have yet another chance to impress me before I finalize my end-of-year lists. And I’m proud to announce that this year, my list will be part of something much bigger than simply this blog. The Bird List will compile chosen albums from more than 30 Americana/Alt-Country/whathaveyou blogs to create the ultimate Best Albums of 2009 master-list. Special thanks to Matt from A Truer Sound for including me in this effort. I’m excited to see how this turns out in its inaugural run.

The Low Anthem @ The Basement – Nashville, TN

Posted by Payton | Posted in live show | Posted on 08-20-2009

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Although my trip east was for the Big Surprise Tour, I managed to find another show in the area while there. The Low Anthem, a band I’ve only recently become acquainted with, played an opening set for Langhorne Slim at The Basement in Nashville.

The Basement is a quaint, little venue that, although cramped and stuffy (kinda like a basement), is one hell of a place to catch a band like The Low Anthem. The dark, intimate setting is perfect for a mellow, harmony-focused three-piece.

I downloaded the band’s Oh My God, Charlie Darwin a few days before the trip and immediately loved what I heard. I hadn’t, however, looked up much info on the band themselves. I was under the assumption that there were at least two primary lead singers, due to the fact that the album portrayed two very different vocal styles. To my surprise – and delight – I found that Ben Knox was the one and only lead vocalist. The polar opposites of silky, airy vocals and grungy warbles show this guy’s range. Check out these tracks for examples:

The Low Anthem – (Don’t) Tremble
The Low Anthem – The Horizon Is A Beltway

Ben is joined in the band by Jocie Adams and Jeff Prystowsky. The three of them together play a total of 65 instruments…. OK, a little exaggeration, but not much. That night at The Basement showed the band constantly trading instruments and places on stage. Ben and Jeff shared duties on both the organ and the drums. Ben and Jocie both played guitar (acoustic and electric). Jeff thumped a stand-up bass for the majority of the time, while Ben had an array of harmonicas around his neck. Jocie plays the clarinet and the crotales – I had to ask her after the show what it was. At one point, Ben stepped away from the mic to show his skills on the alto horn. But just when you thought they couldn’t possibly pull out another trick, Ben closed out a particular tune with some well-controlled cell phone to cell phone interference – that is during the song, he pulled out a phone, called another phone conveniently placed on stage, and let a couple harmony notes echo back and forth between the phones and through the mic. Skills.

The Low Anthem, however, shines brightest in their harmonies. The crowded bar was often mesmerized down to silence due to the band’s captivating 3-part vocal showcasing. Don’t beleive me? Listen…

The Low Anthem – Cage The Songbird

I haven’t even had the chance to mention that Ben’s lyrics are often as unbelievable as the band’s musical skills. I never like to get too in-depth decoding lyrics anyway, so I’ll trust that you check ‘em out for yourself.

Buy Oh My God, Charlie Darwin (vinyl available!) and please catch this band when they come your way.

The Big Surprise Tour: Nashville, TN

Posted by Payton | Posted in live show | Posted on 08-13-2009

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Checkin’ in from the hotel in Nashville before I head down to the banks of the Cumberland to enjoy night 1 of my Big Surprise Tour double-feature. I feel like I’ve already been on vacation for a week, but have yet to experience the real reason for the trip. We’ve been in Music City for 3 nights now – checked out Lower Broadway, the uber-tourist, live music strip in downtown Nashville, as well as some other, less-cheesy areas of the city. We caught an amazing show from The Low Anthem in a quaint, little brick joint known as The Basement. I will put up a full review of the show complete with photos when I get the time.

The venue couldn’t be more in the heart of Nashville. Riverfront Park is a grass lawn overlooking a stage/barge docked in the Cumberland River. The area backs up to the corner of First St and Broadway. The backstage area not only consists of the river and various bridges, but the Titans’ LP Field also serves as a scenic backdrop.

The bands are no-doubt in full stride by this point in the tour, having had numerous stops from New Hampshire on down to Tennessese, and the last stop tomorrow night in Knoxville promises to be a blowout of a finale. Full reviews/photos to follow.

The Felice Brothers – The Big Surprise
buy Yonder Is The Clock (2009)

"Take me to another place. Take me to another land…"

Posted by Payton | Posted in live show | Posted on 08-07-2009

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Arrested Development – Tennessee

That song steps a little out of my normal genre realm, but how can you not love it? As I searched my library for ‘Tennessee,’ it was the first result. Immediately, I was taken back to raiding my sister’s CD collection when I tired of my own crappy, country cassettes.

“A game of HORSESHOES!”


Tomorrow (in spite of being warned that Tennessee sucks in the summer), I head east to catch two instances of the Big Surprise Tour. If you don’t know, it’s pretty much the best folk lineup in this young century. Old Crow Medicine Show headlines an August-long set of dates with help from The Felice Brothers, Justin Townes Earle, and the spectacular duo of Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings. Yeah.

The showcase is said to feature all acts “shar[ing] the stage, taking part in each other’s songs, resurrecting old standards, and playing newly written collaborative material as they go.” Ketch Secor says of the lineup: “If there is a ‘scene’ around the music we play, these artists make up the better part of it.” I couldn’t agree more.

We’re making a road-trip out of it, taking our time getting there, and spending a few days in Nashville before catching the last two dates of the tour in Music City and Knoxville.

Gillian Welch & David Rawlings ft. OCMS – Odds n’ Ends

Gillian Welch &David Rawlings – I Want To Sing That Rock and Roll (live)
buy Time (The Revelator) (2001)

Old Crow Medicine Show – Fall On My Knees (live)
buy OCMS Live (2003)

The Felice Brothers – Hey, Hey Revolver (live)

Justin Townes Earle – Chitlin’ Cooking Time In Cheatham County (live)


Links, News, & Pictures for May…..

Posted by Payton | Posted in links and news, live show | Posted on 05-21-2009

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I don’t have any super-interesting links or news today, but there are few things I’ve been wanting to share with my readers, so you may find some filler…..

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So for the real point of this post…. I wanted to brag a little and mention a couple milestones I’ve recently reached for my blogging/music collecting career.

Last Tuesday, sometime between the hours of 7 and 8 am, This Mornin’ I Am Born Again received its 100,000 visit. Now that may not sound like a lot in the large scheme of the internet, but it sure as hell is lot more interest than I ever thought this little place would garner. It took nearly a year-and-a-half, which comes out to about 230 visits/day. There was a time last year when I was averaging closer to 500 hits/day, but I simply couldn’t keep up with making 2-3 posts per week. Now, most of the other blogs I read (which, judging from their stats, you probably do too) blow these numbers out of the water, but, hey, I’m just one dude at his computer. And to keep my posts genuine and authentic, I don’t post about music that I don’t like. So if there’s no good music being added to my library, there’s generally nothing new on this page.

And speaking of my music library….

In a fortuitous coincidence, the same time my blog crossed a nice, round, LARGE number, so did my iTunes library. I added the 10,000th song to my computer with one of the tracks from the leaked Wilco (The Album) earlier this week. Again, I could have reached this number a long time ago (there are nearly 400 live Ryan Adams shows on Archive.org, remember?), but I like to be able to shuffle my enite library and not have to hear crap.

Whether related or not, just when I reached these marks, I had a hard drive crash. The 43 gigs of music doesn’t even take up 1/7 of my available memory, so I doubt that was the cause. I would say it was just Dell’s way of making money (creating parts that stop working after a year), but I was under warranty, a new hard drive was shipped out, and after some tense moments backing up files, I’m back in business.

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Reloading my Photoshop catalog on this new disc, I came across pictures from some recent shows I’ve attended and decided I needed to share them. I don’t have the energy for any sort of live show review, so here are some of the ‘keepers’ I’ve snapped over the last couple months.

Ray Wylie Hubbard @ The Mucky Duck – 3/21/09

Justin Townes Earle @ The Mucky Duck – 3/22/09

Amy Lavere @ The Mucky Duck – 3/22/09

Mike McClure Band @ The Firehouse Saloon – 4/18/09

Slaid Cleaves @ The Mucky Duck – 5/9/09

A Little Kum-Ba-Yah With Deer Tick…

Posted by Payton | Posted in live show | Posted on 03-19-2009

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Caught Deer Tick on St. Patty’s Day at an in-store performance at Cactus Music in Houston. The early evening gig took place upon the band’s arrival town before their night show at Rudyard’s. Nevermind their tour-van-worn appearance, foggy eyes, and slightly late arrival – these guys are good. And their party-first, obligation-later attitude only helps them make what they do look so easy.

John McCauley took the stage alone, beginning with a nimbly-picked ‘Ashamed.’ One by one, John invited the other band members up to the stage; each song adding one more layer of silky-smooth harmony. The parade of friends culminated with a five-part rendition of ‘Dirty Dishes’ done with a campfire sing-along feel.

Going solo once again, McCauley showed us a witty song, ‘Cake & Eggs’ co-written with a member of folk trio Those Darlins and admittedly ripped off from a John Prine Song. He also introduced us to the first taste of Born On Flag Day, his next album, due out sometime later this year.

The showcase was capped off with a somewhat darker version of Hank’s ‘Never Get Out of this World Alive.’ I’ve always felt a strong presence of ol’ Hank in John’s stage swagger and country drawl (see ‘Spend The Night’), but it was nice to hear him put his own flare on one of the legend’s best songs.

More Pictures:

Here are some miscellaneous DT tunes I found in my library:

Deer Tick – Hobo’s Lullaby
courtesey SpliceToday.com’s The Old Lonesome Sound Mix
Deer Tick – Still Crazy After All These Years
Paul Simon cover courtesy Aquarium Drunkard
Deer Tick – Hell On Earth

unreleased Deer Tick track

Check out my War Elephant re-release post

Justin Townes Earle/Samantha Crain Live @ The Mucky Duck…

Posted by Payton | Posted in live show | Posted on 01-07-2009

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Welcome to 2009, dear readers. It’s been exactly one week since I last posted, but seeing as that I now have a near-full year of archives saved up, I think I deserve the break.

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Way back in December of last year I had the pleasure of catching an uber-impressive double show in Houston. Samantha Crain and her Midnight Shivers opened up for Justin Townes Earle at McGonigel’s Mucky Duck – a very intimate listening room that might just be the best place for live music in Houston.

Samantha Crain’s debut EP was one of the most impressive releases of last year, and her show lived up to the hype. This girl deserves all the attention and praise she has received. Even in an abbreviated set (about 6 songs), Samantha and her band justified my glorified opinion of their music. From the handful of new songs played, their upcoming full-length release has jumped to the top of my most-anticipated ‘09 albums. The title-track, Songs In The Night is an early standout that we had the pleasure of hearing at the show. Here’s one that’s available on her label Ramseur Records‘ site.

Get The Fever Out from Songs In The Night (April 28th, 2009)

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I’ll be honest – I didn’t really like The Good Life from Justin Townes Earle. Sure there are some good tracks, but on the whole the album just didn’t do it for me. I felt like the honky-tonk, swing country feel of the disc was trite and forced. But from the first moment JTE took the stage in Houston, it all made sense. Justin Townes is as authentically country as it gets. Although his deep Tennessee drawl is not an act, his show most certainly is. Much like his fellow statesmen Old Crow Medicine Show, Justin and his band turn a concert into an all-out performance. From stage banter to song segues and bandmate interaction to storytelling, JTE’s performance is attention-stealing and worth every penny.

Hesitation Blues (live)

Maybe it was the tiny room or the fact that Justin likes to set his mic at his chest, but the man commands the stage and seems 10 feet tall while doing so. Just about every thing he did that night impressed me far beyond my expectations. The way he strums his guitar like it’s an extension of his arm was the first clue that Justin has gallons of talent running through his blood (check out this video for an example). I have never seen someone look so natural with an instrument in their hands. Throwing his fingers at the strings, Justin proves that the guitar truly is a percussive instrument.

Chitlin’ Cooking Time in Cheatham County (live)

With his mic as hot as possible, Justin showed us that he has mastered using his distance from the microphone to accentuate the showmanship aspect of his set. Justin took some extra time during set-up to request a towel to place under the mic stand saying “believe me, it’ll make a BIG difference.” What at first seemed like an improvised kick drum, Justin threw a hearty foot stomp at just the right moment in a song. But just one – no rhythm. Throughout the show these random stage durability tests showed up with no explanation except that when the music flowed through him just right, he simply needed to stomp.

Your Biscuits Are Big Enough For Me (live)

It quickly became evident that night that Justin’s Townes Van Zandt connections go much further than his name. In addition to his unique strumming technique, JTE fingerpicks with the same effortless proficiency as Townes in his hey-day. During a song intro, Justin mentioned that the upcoming tune was by the “greatest songwriter that ever lived.” After a shout from the crowd, Justin answered, “you’re damn right Townes Van Zandt. Only one other comes close, and he ain’t that close.” Then Justin stepped into ‘Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold’ – one of the most under-appreciated TVZ songs. Later, during a version of Lightnin’ Hopkins’ ‘My Starter Won’t Start’, a song that Townes often played, I found myself transported to a sweaty Houston bar just the other side of Hwy 59 in the Third Ward back in 1947. I’ve always felt a bit of pride being from Houston, but never more than when Justin reminded me of not only Townes’ Houston roots, but all the way back to Hopkins’ blues beginnings in the underbelly of the city.

My Starter Won’t Start This Morning (live)

Another notable cover he included in the set was The Replacements ‘Can’t Hardly Wait,’ with that ear-sticking melody picked out on the mandolin by the multi-talented Cory Younts (get the version recorded for his Daytrotter Session). My favorite song of the night was a new(?) one that could possibly be titled ‘I’ve Got My Mother’s Eyes.’ If anyone has any info on this song, hit me up. The plaintive tune speaks of the influence both of his parents had on him, with his ability to see right from wrong coming from his mother. Late in the show, Justin spoke of his late grandfather Jack Dublin Earle and played a song for him, retiring the tune that night.

Justin Townes Earle is the brightest ray of hope for the future of country music. And if you had similar reservations about his latest album, do yourself a favor and catch a live show. It will definitely change your opinion, and you will come away a fan.

A Desolate Angel’s Blues (live)

Thanks to HearYa.com for these tracks.
They are from Justin’s set at Pickathon 2008 – get the whole show.

David Allan Coe Live @ The Firehouse….

Posted by Payton | Posted in Uncategorized, live show | Posted on 12-17-2008

In my line of Landman work, living arrangements can be fleeting. So a few weeks ago, i had to leave the homestead and head back home to SW Houston. Despite losing the openness and privacy, there are quite a few advantages to the new (old) place: quantity of good friends nearby, reliable internet service, great (hell any) restaurants, and an abundance of LIVE SHOWS.

One particularly surprising find was seeing that David Allan Coe was scheduled to play at Houston’s Firehouse Saloon. i didn’t even know the original outlaw was still alive, but this long-haired redneck hasn’t lost any of his fire.

Coe’s music played a large part in my high school career – at least on the weekends. For a couple years, most gatherings ended with a group sing-along of his notorious You Never Even Called Me By My Name – the ‘perfect country & western song.’

My expectations for the show weren’t particularly high – i expected to get a few of his standards and plenty of four-letter words. But like i said, David hasn’t lost one bit of his offensive sprite. He is brutally honest and unmatched in his arrogance – but that has always been his allure.

After a multi-song cover medley to start the show (Hello In There, Please Come To Boston, Drift Away…) a fan near the front seemed to be displeased by the song choice. A drink managed to find its way to the stage, and the encounter that ensued lit the pilot light for the rest of the show. David’s drink consequently ended up on this fan’s head along with some choice words, and i quote:

“You cunt mother fucker! You think I’m a toy, you bitch mother fucker? I’m 69 mother fuckin’ years old!”

Which the rest of the crowd thoroughly enjoyed while the culprit in his Lone Ranger style black trench coat was escorted out the door. After a quick mood shift with Rollin’ In My Sweet Baby’s Arms, David continued to rant:

“I came here to play music. If you came here for any other reason, you can get the fuck out!”

After mixing in a few more covers (Blue Eyes Cryin’ In The Rain, You Were Always On My Mind…) David Allan Coe reminded us all, quite bluntly, that he’s no slouch when it comes to writing his own tunes.

“I’m a great songwriter… For my age, i write still write some great songs…”

David proved his worth by giving us a slew of classic original songs along with a few new ones. As an intro to Willie, Waylon, and Me, Coe informed us that the line in the about Cash helping him get out of prison was no lie. The man was on Death Row in his early twenties, and without going into too much detail, said that Cash saved his life. He sent the song out to his dad and Waylon in heaven, and said that he would’ve liked to honor Johnny Cash, but “he’s probably not where they are.

David rounded out the show and, like the outlaw he is, escaped off stage before his band had finished the last song. If the chance arises, get your ass to a show from this criminal/music man while he’s still kicking and screaming.

David Allan Coe – You Never Even Called Me By My Name
David Allan Coe – Please Come to Boston
David Allan Coe – Willie, Waylon, And Me

buy For The Record: The First 10 Years (1974-1984)