Top 10 Albums of 2008 (Part I)….

Posted by Payton | Posted in Uncategorized, album review, best of 2008, lists | Posted on 12-27-2008

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Just in time, i bring you my list for the Best Albums of 2008. Throughout this year-end list process, i’ve come to realize i don’t like making lists. Maybe next year i won’t order them.

i will offer some limited justification for my picks after naming each album, so i won’t go on too much here in the preamble. But i feel like i should explain some of my decision making processes. Since really getting into good music in the last couple of years, one of the biggest changes i’ve gone though is to deeply respect the concept of an album. An album shouldn’t just be a collection of songs thrown together haphazardly; an album should have an overall theme, a prevailing mood, a focused direction. Like any good story, an album should have a distinct beginning, middle, and end. It should feel like a completed project. In most cases, albums represent what a band/artist has to show for their talent and inspiration for that year. Often though (as for the group that takes the top spot on my list), bands put out multiple albums in a year. In these cases where the artists’ muses are set to overdrive, you get to see a maturity and musical transition from a much closer viewpoint.

Most of my picks – the top 4, for example – were fairly easy decisions. The rest of my list however, required much more deliberation. i made this list about six times, and albums 5-10 changed form as much as Texas weather. With time running out, i forced myself to come to a final count. Some really good albums didn’t make the cut – even some i was subconsciously rooting for. But i will stick by picks (for at least the next week).


10. Bombadil – A Buzz, A Buzz
4/29/08 ~ Ramseur Records

The guys in Bombadil were some of the first folks to reach out to this new blogger back in April. They thought i might be interested in their music and subsequently sent me a promo copy. What i heard was one of the most youthful and unique albums ever. Eight months later, A Buzz, A Buzz remains just as refreshing as day one; and just as unconventional as the first time i heard that Peruvian flute put to use. Read my original Bombadil post.

Julian of Norwich

Purchase: [Amazon][Direct][iTunes]

9. Frightened Rabbit – The Midnight Organ Fight
4/14/08 ~ Fat Cat Records

One of the latest additions to this list, The Midnight Organ Fight obviously didn’t require much getting used to. This Scottish band has found a perfect indie-rock sound that doesn’t come out trite or overdone. Immediately impressive guitar licks provide a background for thoughtful lyrics sung with barefaced emotion. Read my New Digs from November 11th with a feature on FR.

Head Rolls Off

Purchase: [Amazon][Direct][iTunes]

8. Horse Feathers – House With No Home
9/9/08 ~ Kill Rock Stars

Another late applicant for this list (read the same New Digs with a feature on Horse Feathers), House With No Home is a sparse, rustic folk album. The outward simplicity in the songs allows the true musical talents of this trio (sometimes a quintet+) to shine through. Horse Feathers toes the line between Classical and Bluegrass to bring you a sophisticated yet still earthy effort.

A Burden

Purchase: [Amazon CD /Vinyl][Direct CD /Vinyl][iTunes]

7. The Dedringers – Sweetheart of the Neighborhood
7/10/08 ~ Dedcrow Records

My local pick for this year goes to Austin/Houston’s own Dedringers. At first this album didn’t seem like a year’s best, mainly due to the fact the majority of the songs on Sweetheart had been floating around Sean and Jonny’s setlists and Myspace page for the last couple of years. Finally finding a profitable avenue through which to release a full-length disc, The Dedringers grabbed the best of those older songs and combined them with a handful of new tunes (including #6 on my Best Songs List as well as a groovy cover from the side of Townes Van Zandt that is often overlooked). Their strong folk influences are sometimes clouded by other… dirtier, electric ones, but the guys found a perfect balance between the two on Sweetheart of the Neighborhood. If you’ve been a regular here for a while, you know you could have picked up the album FREE a while back.


Purchase: [Amazon][iTunes]

6. Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson – Rattlin’ Bones
9/16/08 ~ Sugar Hill Records

One of my most anticipated 2008 releases did not disappoint. What was said to be Kasey (and husband) returning to their musical roots was just that. Often stripped down, always well-crafted songs center around themes of Heaven and Hell in this AIRA-winning album. The title track received the #2 spot on my Best Songs List. Check out Nelson’s more in-depth review over at A Fifty Cent Lighter… If you don’t know about Kasey, check out my Artist Spotlight.

Jackson Hole

Purchase: [Amazon][Direct]


Top 10 Songs of 2008…

Posted by Payton | Posted in best of 2008, lists | Posted on 12-16-2008

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Ok, i’ve put this off long enough. We’re now only 2 weeks away from 2009, and i might be one of last to get their lists up. And to be completely honest, my top 10 album list is not yet complete – well not the back half. But i have made final decisions on the Best Songs of the Year. But first….

What makes a song great?

That question has been tossed around since the first single was ever recorded, and if we (or anyone) knew the answer, there would be nothing left. The truth is, there is no answer. Music is subjective – some people simply listen, and if they like it, it’s a good song. Some look for originality, some for familiarity. Many people want emotive lyrics. Many want to hear words they can relate to. Many people (who are no doubt Dylan fans) are looking for groundbreaking wordplay that will blow their minds.

Of course, certain instruments excite certain people. i, for example, love the plunk of a banjo in an otherwise non-bluegrass tune. Acoustic guitars picked with purpose will grab my attention far earlier than a hard-strummed electric. Lately hand claps and tambourines make me happy.

What about vocals? Let’s be honest – the Folk/Americana/Alt-Country (what have you) world doesn’t possess the greatest or most talented vocalists. Many lead voices are of the love it or hate it variety, and can immediately turn someone off from a song. If i can’t listen to the lead vocals, the band is going to have a hard time getting on my good side. That said, there is no formula or standard that i judge by, and i have a fairly wide acceptance range. The most important thing a singer can possess is believability.

Growing up listening to mainstream country (and shifting between rap phases), i was under the impression the only song structure consisted of verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus. While that simple formula still works, an artist can expand or abbreviate to an indefinite degree as they see fit. Adding dynamic to a song with a tempo or key change can seem strange at first, but is one the most vital factors in keeping the listener engaged.

A particularly separating attribute for a list like this is enjoyability. This doesn’t mean that the song has to have uplifting lyrics; it’s often the opposite. The best judge for this element is how fun the song is to sing along to. The songs that i found myself belting out (severely off-key) in my car were the first to be added to the list.

So where does this leave me? Basically back where i started. There is no formula, no set of rules, and no boundary to great songs. That is what keeps music interesting, fresh, versatile, and what makes it an essential part of life. Taking these factors into consideration, here are my picks for the Top 10 Songs of 2008.

10. The Greatest Hustler of All ~ Old Crow Medicine Show

from Tennessee Pusher, written by Willie Watson/Ketch Secor

9. Who Am I To Say ~ Justin Townes Earle

from The Good Life, written by Justin Townes Earle

8. Skinny Love ~ Bon Iver

from For Emma, Forever Ago, written by Justin Vernon

7. Souled Out!!! ~ Conor Oberst

from Conor Oberst, written by Conor Oberst

6. Sideman Blues ~ The Dedringers

from Sweetheart of the Neighborhood, written by Jonny Burke

5. Murder In The City ~ The Avett Brothers

from The Second Gleam, written by Scott Avett

4. Traipsing Through the Aisles ~ Samantha Crain
from The Confiscation EP, written by Samantha Crain

3. White Winter Hymnal ~ Fleet Foxes

from Fleet Foxes, written by Robin Pecknold

2. Rattlin’ Bones ~ Kasey Chamber & Shane Nicholson
from Rattlin’ Bones, written by Chambers/Nicholson

1. Frankie’s Gun! ~ The Felice Brothers

from The Felice Brothers, written by Ian Felice

“My car goes… Chicago.
Every weekend to pick up some cargo.
I think I know the bloody way by now, Frankie,
Turn the god damn radio down, thank you.
Pull over. Count the money.
But don’t count the .30 in the glove box, buddy.

That’s for to buy Lucille some clothes.

Bang Bang Bang went Frankie’s gun!
He shot me down Lucille!
Bang Bang Bang Bang went Frankie’s gun!
He shot me down Lucille! (He shot me down!)

Work zones, double fines.
Don’t pass the double lines.
Trailer McDonald’s, rest stop trailer double wide.
I saw a man hit my mom one time, really
I hurt him so damn bad I had to hide in Jersey.
Called my mama told her, ‘In the dresser
There’s ten or twenty dollars but there ain’t no lesser.’
That’s for to take my sister to the picture show.

Bang Bang Bang went Frankie’s gun!
He shot me down Lucille!
Bang Bang Bang Bang went Frankie’s gun!
He shot me down Lucille! (He shot me down!)

Sha nay na sha nay na na na na na…
Sha nay na Sha nay na…

Slip make a fender shine,
Frankie you’re a friend of mine,
Got me off a bender after long-legged Brenda died.
I thought we might be on a roll this time, Frankie.
I could have swore the box said Hollywood blanks, but
You see my mama
Please tell her
I left a little rock in a box in the cellar.
That’s for to wear till kingdom come.

Bang Bang Bang went Frankie’s gun!
He shot me down Lucille!
Bang Bang Bang Bang went Frankie’s gun!
He shot me down Lucille! (He shot me down!)

Sha nay na sha nay na na na na na…
Sha nay na Sha nay na…

Yodelea he hoo.”

Click the album covers to purchase.

Check out last year’s list (my 2nd post on This Mornin’…), and stay tuned for the definitive Top 10 Albums of 2008.

Stuck Inside of Queens with the Travelin’ Blues Again…

Posted by Payton | Posted in Uncategorized, rant | Posted on 12-02-2008

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We’ve all heard about holiday travel nightmares around Thanksgiving, and i’m currently in the midst of one. It started as innocent as increased traffic on Queens Boulevard on the way to my 7:20 pm flight out of JFK, but just 2 minutes ago, i witnessed LaGuardia Airport Security performing a bum sweep in the sitting area i am holed up in for the night.

Apparently you’re not allowed to sleep in airports? Luckily i was busy beginning this post when the fuzz came through. Everyone asleep in this area was rudely awoken, and one woman that didn’t look to be homeless was escorted out. i need a red bull.

If you noticed, i mentioned two different airports. Let’s just say my travel plans have gone slightly askew. That 7:20 flight of of JFK was first delayed until 8:50. No big deal – dinner and a couple beers at an airport bar. Then it was pushed back to 10:00. Then 10:15. Finally at 10:30 we board the plane. Just as i get settled in my seat, the steward… flight attendant…. whatever – air travel accommodation representative informed us that our flight back to Houston had been canceled and we were to return to the gate for further instructions. Upon returning inside it quickly became obvious that those on the flight with me were not too pleased. We later found out that the 7:20 flight from the previous day had also been delayed numerous times before finally being canceled. Those on the flight were put up in a crappy hotel for the night, given $7 bucks for dinner, and told to return to the airport for the same 7:20 pm flight the following day (today), only to repeat the entire process. You can imagine their fury.

The 15 minutes following the cancellation were a little tense to say the least. The Delta representatives back in the gate cluelessly asked a line of 50+ angered travelers (half of which were well versed in the cancellation/hotel voucher process by now) what we were doing and if we had all missed our flight. This instigated a rash of exchanges between the two sides. Warnings of calls to attorneys, some personal threats, and many understandably worrying what missing another day of work could spell for them. That was my first encounter with airport security for the night. Needless to say, most folks on the flight (including myself) will never fly Delta again.

Instead of trust the promise of a 6:00 am flight being added the next morning to get everyone back to Houston, my party has decided to cut ties with Delta and the shithole that is JFK. We booked a Continental flight out of LaGuardia scheduled for 5:45 am. After another cab ride stifled by traffic, we arrive at the new airport to find that the Continental check-in desk has closed for the night and the automated kiosks don’t function until 3:00 am. These days, you obviously can’t enter the terminal (where comfortable and numerous seats reside) without a boarding pass. So here we are. Sitting with the bums…. well not anymore, i guess. Now if i can only suffer these next 3 hours in an iron seat and hope the gestapo don’t come back, i may make it home in the morning.

Thanks for humoring my attempt at killing time/venting a bit.
Here’s some jams:

Bob Dylan – Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again (alt. take)
buy No Direction Home Soundtrack (2005)

Robert Johnson – Traveling Riverside Blues
buy The Complete Recordings (1990)

Leadbelly – Where Did You Sleep Last Night
buy Best of Leadbelly (2000)

Adam Hood – Million Miles Away
buy 6th Street (2004)

Kasey Chambers – Better Be Home Soon
from Don’t Talk Back [Single] (1999)

No Show……

Posted by Payton | Posted in live show, rant | Posted on 10-03-2008

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i didn’t take that picture.
But i could have.
Like… five minutes ago.

That is, if The Kooks hadn’t have canceled their show in Houston tonight. Although i only bought my tickets 2 days ago, i was hugely pumped to see that show. And just before i was to leave town and head for Houston, across the wire came the news. Some sort of illness. Shit.

So here i am.
In front of the computer instead.
Whiskey & soda.

i don’t get to catch many shows as it is in these parts. Especially not folks like The Kooks. i was ready to have my face melted by the hottest thing to come out of Britain since fish n’ chips.

i’m gonna continue to vent here….

Just 3 weeks ago, i was in Austin and hours away from seeing Kasey Chambers (who came even further than Luke Pritchard and band). Until my craigslist ticket connection backed out on me.

So there goes two chances to see great music that won’t happen again for quite a while.

But alas, disaster-barring, i WILL see Ryan Adams & The Cardinals in Austin in 13 short days. There is hope, folks.

That is all.

The Kooks – If Only
buy Inside In/Inside Out (2006)

Kasey Chambers – Guilty As Sin
buy Wayward Angel (2004)

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – NY, NY (punk version)

Summer Album Round-up….

Posted by Payton | Posted in Uncategorized, album release | Posted on 09-25-2008

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As promised, i’ve sorted through my recent album purchases to bring you a Late Summer/Early Fall Album Round-up.

Most of the albums considered came from Volume 3 of my Album Release Forecast. One album, Punch, was released back in March, but because of the different billing from Chris Thile’s previous releases, i was unaware of the album until recently. Also, Todd Snider’s Peace Queer release date was pushed back to October. Not sure yet if i’ll do another Album Release Forecast for Fall/Winter, so here are some noteworthy upcoming releases:


Okkervil River ~ The Stand-Ins
This is an album by a veteran band who is obviously very comfortable in their skin, although their dark lyrics may not express the same sentiment. Will Sheff is a pro at taking a deep, personal situation and creating a candid, incredibly catchy tune. While this disc may not contain as many ‘hits’ as its predecessor, it is by no means any less enjoyable. The only lulls within The Stand-Ins are the three short instrumental ‘title tracks’ that disconnect the disc from what would be a smooth-flowing narrative.

Okkervil River – Singer Songwriter

Conor Oberst ~ Conor Oberst
Conor proves that even without his longtime musical partner Mike Mogis and the shield of the Bright Eyes moniker, he’s still this young generation’s most inventive, fearless troubadour. He may even be better without the two – this disc is currently the best album to be released this year. From the start, Conor Oberst is a captivating album filled with original melodies accented with pointed spurts of alliteration. The aggressive acoustic solos are evident of his previous work with Dave Rawlings. While the subject of his songs continue to be spiritually driven, there’s none of the religious cult undertones that impaired Casadaga. The first couple tracks i came across from this one seemed only to be a continuation of that last album, but when you hear them in the context of the other stellar tunes, they become a perfect fit. Buy this one.

Conor Oberst – Get-Well-Cards
Conor Oberst – Moab

Old Crow Medicine Show ~ Tennessee Pusher
i heard someone else call this a ‘concept album’ centered around booze, drugs, partying, etc. While there are many nods to this kind of living (Alabama High-Test, Methamphetamine, and Humdinger are some track names), i don’t think The Show had a specific concept in mind. Just look at their previous albums and see if there is any less debauchery in the themes. You already know how i feel about the re-make of Caroline, and the sour-taste that Highway Halo left me with. Old Crow’s appeal is their imperfect, whiskey-fueled energy, and Don Was simply tried to harness this into an over-produced, radio-ready album. To sand down the sounds coming from the strings of this band is a crime. The good news is that, while most of the songs Ketch fronts were deeply affected from the heavy hand of Was, no one can make Willie Watson’s tenor wail sound anything less than pure backwoods emotion. It’s not completely a miss, but i’m already anxious to see what The Show does next.

Old Crow Medicine Show – The Greatest Hustler of All
Old Crow Medicine Show – Crazy Eyes

Carrie Rodriguez ~ She Ain’t Me
With her second solo effort, Carrie moved even further away from the Texas dancehall stigma she acquired while playing with Chip Taylor. She leans further toward contemporary jazz with fiddle highlights on this disc. Carrie also took the writing reins here, and proves she can be a successful solo artist. While i don’t think she’s found her exact sound yet, She Ain’t Me will be a stepping-stone she can proudly look back on.

Carrie Rodriguez – El Salvador

Rodney Crowell ~ Sex and Gasoline
Although he’s been making music since the 70’s, i’ve only really become a fan of Rodney through his last three records. Political tunes usually turn me off, but something about Rodney’s unbiased, regular-joe perspective coupled with unforgettable guitar riffs and melodies made much of his material very pleasing. On Sex and Gasoline, his subject matter remains the same, only none of the instrumentation is as catchy. i just can’t get into this one. An occasional political/social commentary song is a good idea, just don’t let it be all you do.

Rodney Crowell – I Want You #35

Punch Brothers ~ Punch
Had the pleasure of catching Chris Thile and his band live in Austin a few weeks ago. i went expecting a good bluegrass show but was blown away with not only their combined talent, but also the overall show experience. i knew his years in the spotlight with Nickel Creek would’ve taught Chris how to play big shows, but the way he handled a crowded room of less than 100 fans was impressive. As far a mandolin players go, Chris is no doubt one of the best around, but i was shown that each of the other players in the Punch Brothers rules their instrument just as well. The album contains four ’songs’ in the traditional sense as well as a four-movement piece entitled The Blind Leaving The Blind. Who does movements these days? Real musicians.

Punch Brothers – Punch Bowl
Punch Brothers – The Blind Leaving The Blind: Fourth Movement

These United States ~ Crimes
The biggest surprise and dark-horse for album of the year goes to These United States and their second album of 2008. Jesse Elliot has finally found the right lineup and sound direction for this ever-changing band, and let’s hope he keeps it that way. Read more here.

The United States – Susie at the Seashore

Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson ~ Rattlin’ Bones
This album is everything i expected from reading reviews and from hearing the title track: Kasey and her new husband going back to their musical roots. It’s a groovy, folky, uplifting album that centers around themes of heaven and hell. The most surprising aspect is how much i enjoy the inclusion of Shane Nicholson. This album will receive a high place on my Best Of ‘08 list, and Rattlin’ Bones will be a strong contender for Best Song.

Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson – The House That Never Was
Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson – Sleeping Cold

Click the Album Covers to purchase.

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.


Posted by Payton | Posted in Uncategorized, cover/uncovered | Posted on 03-02-2008

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i’m glad that, since digital music came of existence in the 90’s with Napster, Kazaa, and the likes, i began compiling a library of tunes, many of them bootlegs, and have hung on to them. i never knew exactly what i would use them for, and this may not even be the ultimate destination for them, but my music folder is coming in handy right now.

So, i’m still on this Matt Powell kick, and last night, while perusing through his folder, i came across a live recorording of a song i wanna share with you:

Romeo & Juliet (Dire Straits)
Like most of the songs i’ll feature on Cover/Uncovered i first heard the cover of this tune, and did a little exploring to hear the original cut – hence the ‘uncovered’. Dire Straits was band that was created about a decade too late. In the 80’s, while punk and electronic music reigned, Dire Straits was making what could be described as classic rock – with a folk tinge to it. Frontman Mark Knopfler, according to wiki, told bar owners to turn down amps, so the listeners could converse while they played, which kinda makes this recording of Matt Powell’s cover of Mark’s sweet take on an infamous couple just perfect.

mp3: Matt Powell – Romeo & Juliet (live)
At times you hear the partons and waitresses better than you hear Matt, whether Matt knew it or not, that’s how Mark wanted his songs to be heard. Plus, all that commotion kinda adds to the feel of the acoustic, groovy, bongo-filled song.

mp3: Dire Straits – Romeo & Juliet ~ from Making Movies (1980)

Water In The Fuel (Fred Eaglesmith)
Fred Eaglesmith might be known as the guy with nothin’ but train/trucker/tractor songs, but when you can do them as well as he does, then go for it. i highlighted a Kasey Chambers cover last intallment, and here again, it’s her taste in music that she covers that surprises me. Don’t get me wrong, she can write a song herself, and i’ll get to that artist spotlight for her soon.
mp3: Kasey Chambers – Water In The Fuel ~ from The Captain (Bonus Disc) (2000)
mp3: Fred Eaglesmith – Water In The Fuel ~ from Lipstick, Lies & Gasoline (1997)

here’s another Kasey Chambers cover of Fred Eaglesmith – i was gonna do this song as the Cover/Uncovered, but couldn’t find a studio version from Fred. Enjoy.

mp3: Kasey Chambers – Freight Train ~ from The Captain (Bonus Disc) (2000)


Posted by Payton | Posted in cover/uncovered | Posted on 01-28-2008

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So for this post, which will hopefully become a recurring topic, i will compare and contrast a well-done cover song with the original.
and to get things started, i’ll give you two installments…..

Too Long In The Wasteland (James McMurtry)
James McMurtry, the son of novelist Larry McMurtry (Lonesome Dove), is almost as good a storyteller as his dad. He’s had a very successful musical career spanning almost 20 years. Somehow, though he has never broken into large popularity. He has, however been a song bank for a lot of artists, including: Robert Earl Keen, Shawn Mullins, Kasey Chambers, and even the oft-covered himself – Ray Wylie Hubbard. Here we have the gourgeous Aussie Kasey Chambers covering the title track from McMurtry’s debut album on Columbia Records:

mp3: Kasey Chambers – Too Long In The Wasteland

From her EP, Am I Not Pretty Enough, Kasey Chambers shows, once again, that she digs the American Alt-country scene (She’s also covered some Fred Eaglesmith and Son Volt). Kasey adds a little electric flare and attitude to make this a somewhat scornful song. As always, her ‘makes-me-weak-in-the-knees’ voice cuts through every guitar riff and symbol crash.**

Check Her Out: [iTunes] [MySpace] [Official Page] and buy her stuff….

mp3: James McMurtry – Too Long In The Wasteland


Down Home Girl (The Rolling Stones)
Written by Jerry Leiber (Hound Dog, Yakety Yak, Jailhouse Rock, etc.) and first recorded by New Orleans bluesman Alvin Robinson, Down Home Girl is dirty, southern blues with a little levity: “every time i kiss you, girl, it tastes like pork-and-beans”. Appearing on The Stones’ Now! (1965), Mick showed us, early on, the versatility of their sound.

mp3: Old Crow Medicine Show – Down Home Girl

i actually heard Old Crow’s version first on their latest effort, Big Iron World, and it wasn’t until, watchin’ the video, i noticed the writing credits. Looked it up, and…… The Stones?!? How did i miss that? Old Crow takes this electic blues song to another level with their acoustic groove (they aren’t technically bluesgrass since they don’t employ a mandolin. They call what they play ‘Old Time Music’, which pre-dates bluegrass). Ketch Secor bumps along on the harmonica, while Willie Watson’s wails in his high tenor.

mp3: The Rolling Stones – Down Home Girl


**If you couldn’t tell, i’m kinda sweet on Kasey Chambers (see below and decide for yourself…). And just like Slaid Cleaves, Mike McClure, and some more of my favorites, no one is blogging about her. So stay tuned for some more artist spotlights…….