Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween

Maybe it's because I was supposed to be born on Halloween (I was 5 days late), but I have always had a strong connection to the day. Anyway, here is a little mix to get you in the mood. How cool would it be if we could dress up for work and have a parade?

Arctic Monkeys - Perhaps Vampires Is a Bit Strong, But...
Bauhaus - Bela Legosi's Dead
DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince - Nightmare On My Street
Dead Kennedys - Halloween
Gnarls Barkley - The Boogie Monster
Michael Jackson - Thriller
Ministry - Every Day Is Halloween
Misfits - Monster Mash
Siouxsie and The Banshees - Halloween
The Specials - Ghost Town

Not So New Release Tuesday: The Crow Soundtrack

It's Halloween and I can't think of a better album to cover for Not So New Release Tuesday, than the soundtrack to one of the best Halloween type movies of all time. It was 1994 and I was a senior in High School. This crazy movie came out, called The Crow. Mike and I saw what was on the soundtrack and we had to get it. I only had a tape player in the Spedwagon (my infamous High School car), so we copied it to a tape that was permenantly lodged in the car radio for like 6 months. There are so many songs that I could pick from this album, but I am going to go with four of my favorites.

The Cure - Burn
Nine Inch Nails - Dead Souls (Joy Division cover)
Rollins Band - Ghostrider (Suicide cover)
The Jesus and Mary Chain - Snakedriver


Monday, October 30, 2006

The Friday (Monday) Rant: Music Industry Crybabies Should Look Within

(Apologies for the late arrival of this (last) week's rant. This was held this until we had our filesharing figured out. I'll be back with my next rant on Friday.)

Over the past few years, it has been impossible to go very long without hearing record industry aficionados wailing and gnashing their teeth as they blame illegal music piracy for the decline of their sales, reduction in stock values, the hole in the ozone layer and for causing cancer. Starting in 2003, the recording industry has filed numerous lawsuits in an ill-fated attempt to curb file-sharing piracy. As someone who has purchased approximately 1000 CDs and who has downloaded his share of music, I would like to know when someone is going to counter-sue the recording industry for allowing today’s popular music culture to deteriorate into what is today – a directionless mess devoid of almost anything captivating, original or worth buying. I have spoken to lawyer friends about a potential suit against the recording industry for not providing me with anything really worth pirating - but they say I probably wouldn’t win. I wonder why I still find myself so tempted...

Today’s recording industry is in serious danger of being left behind by ever-evolving and ever-more-accessible technology, and a consumer base that has grown tired of the industry's limitations and short-sightedness. Technology has forced many industries to change the way they do business. The recording industry appears to be failing miserably at keeping up with the times. The filing of lawsuits against peer-to-peer networks, college students as well as Joannie and Chachie Q. Public does very little to curb the sharing of music online. It may scare some into downloading the music legitimately, and it may shut down the occasional host site, but for every successful shutdown there will always be scores in reserve ready and eager to take their places. Does online file sharing eat into record company profits? Yes. But so did the advent of blank cassette tapes.

Of the hundreds of CDs I own, I can count on my fingers how many I value for every track appearing on the “album”. With astronomical retail prices for CDs hovering in the $18.99 range, consumers are rightfully demanding more bang for their buck. Unless you are a diehard fan of an artist, are you going to shell out almost $20 to check out an album? Me neither. Record companies have premium priced their products well out of the range of those of us who would roll the dice to check out a new band. Heck, $18.99 almost buys you a half tank of gas!

Perhaps the recording industry should have its constituents take a good hard look at their respective catalogues. Maybe I am getting old, but the relentless spewing of mindless pap upon the American music consumer just might be another element contributing to declining music sales. Everything in popular music is about packaging. Content went out the window sometime during the mid-90’s. When is the last time you have seen an ugly pop star, or a heavy one that did not win a televised talent search? Some of the world’s best singers have historically been heavier, sturdier types. Are you trying to tell me that there are no big ugly artists out there with recording potential? How many great songs have been kept from the world by the recording industry because the artist couldn’t fit into a size 3? If today’s standards for what passes for a pop star were in place in the 60’s, we’d have never heard of the Mamas and the Mama Cass, Janis Joplin and the plethora of great artists from that era that didn’t fit the little nymph profile. Great music stands on its own against the test of time, regardless of what the artist looks like.

Where is the originality in today’s popular music, or pop culture in general? Has everything already been done? Is there such a thing as an original idea? Maybe we’ve exhausted all possibilities over the past 40 to 50 years. How else to explain the tidal wave of cover songs that have hit the airwaves like an audible plague? The movie industry is even worse than the recording industry as far as a lack of originality. Both entertainment generators apparently believe that the American public will sop up whatever mindless drivel they throw out there for us to consume. Movie remakes have been the rage, and forgive me for saying that most of them suck and should never have been made. Movie adaptations of TV shows, current adaptations of movies that aren’t even all that old and in no real need of redressing and sequels that producers pull out of their collective asses when the original unexpectedly does well (see The Matrix)...it is shameless and sad. The same goes for the bulk of today’s popular music covers.

It used to be a nice novelty. A current popular artist records an older song to either pay homage to the original artist or as a hidden-track bonus for their loyal album buyers. Now, it is the covers that are being presented as the flagship singles for scores of albums. I personally blame the band Smash Mouth for this phenomenon. Smash Mouth had a pretty decent debut, 1997’s Fush You Mang. There was some nice original material on the record, and the band appeared to have promise. However it was the cover of War’s "Why Can’t We Be Friends" that made its way onto movie soundtracks and set the table for the emergence of cover hell. I have always appreciated covers by bands that made changes to a given song to make it their own. In fact, some of my favorite covers have been done by punk and ska bands that have taken an old pop song and re-made it in a completely different format. Today’s artists are simply regurgitating great old songs and doing nothing original with them. One particularly homogenous send up is Uncle Kracker’s cover of the timeless Dobie Gray song, Drift Away. It is truly sickening. Hopefully the artists of the originals (or their estates) are being compensated enough to keep them from spinning like tops in their graves every time a radio station plays the new version of their classics. To paraphrase from the legendary punk outfit The Dead Milkmen’s Bad Party: if there is a God in heaven, I’m sure these bands will burn in hell. Hopefully there is a special place in pop star hell for the likes of Sheryl Crow (Sweet Child O' Mine), Jessica Simpson (These Boots Are Made For Walking) and Clay Aiken (his entire new album). Speaking of Clay Aiken, what ever happened to the system where a pop star actually had to establish themselves as an artist before pumping out covers? Clay Aiken has one, count ‘em – ONE, album of original material. Last month RCA released A Thousand Different Ways, the newest Clay Aiken album – featuring nothing but covers. Who in the hell does RCA think they have on their hands, Frank Sinatra? Clay Aiken can sing, but shouldn’t he be focusing on his own music at this early stage in his career, or has it already been deemed a lost cause? I heard Fergie's London Bridge on the radio a couple of weeks ago and thought it was pretty catchy. Then it dawned on me that if I were Fergie I'd avoid Missy Elliott at all costs, as she might be wanting to punch me in the face for shamelessly copying her style. Immitation may be the most sincere form of flattery, but in a lot of pop music cases, it should simply be called tired.

People buy music because they feel a connection with it. Fans support artists because of the bond that forms between performer and listener. Teen infatuation with their idols drives some record sales, but the bulk of American music fans are not going to shell out for a CD because the artist has great abs. Today’s pop music machine is celebrity-driven, not talent driven. Paris Hilton has a record contract. PARIS HILTON! Jennifer Lopez, a talented actress to be sure, but someone whose singing would drive me to slit my own wrists if I was subjected to it for more than five minutes, has put out multiple albums. Aren’t there ANY singer/songwriters out there that are more deserving of a record company’s attention and resources than this?

Traditional radio doesn’t help the popular music landscape at all. Payola continues to be the rage. Ever wonder why it always seemed that you heard the same songs over and over again whenever the radio was on? It is because of payola. Payola is simply a record company paying radio conglomerates to play their artists. Radio stations are no longer a place where one might hear anything interesting. Traditional radio has gone the way of the American politician – their air time and resources are available to the highest bidders. This practice has made traditional American radio as stagnant as the political system. What the people want no longer matters. All that matters is that the cash continues to flow in to the radio magnates from the record company “lobbyists”. Payola is not a new thing by any means. Examples have been well-documented as far back as the 1950s, but that doesn’t make it any easier to stomach.

The music industry needs to look within to find what truly ails it. The world has changed and the industry must change with it, or be left by the wayside. Artists need to put the effort in to producing a better overall product, or people will not buy their albums. Record companies should be looking for the next great recording artist rather than the next hot body. The domination of American airwaves by mega-corporations such as Clear Channel has stunted the growth and diversity of pop music. We hear what they want us to hear, and nothing more. This overbearing control of the airwaves will make traditional radio a dead medium sooner rather than later. Thankfully there is web “radio” to save the day. I believe record companies would see a resurgence in sales if they would make the rights and royalty fees more palatable for independent broadcasters. Instead of using litigation on their own customer bases, record companies should look at their business models and make the appropriate changes to keep up with the times. We are a short attention span culture, and the music industry today is singles-driven. Artists that can create a truly great album (System of a Down, Tool) are becoming rare. Record companies survived the generation dominated by “45’s”, and they can survive this swing as well. And lastly, we need to support the artists that are producing great new original music. We need to go to shows, buy their records and keep them going through this music industry rut. There is great music to be made out there, and to be heard. It just seems we have to work a lot harder than we should have to in order to find it. Thankfully, true music lovers (like Joe and Mike) are doing their best to make this happen.

Dead Milkmen - Life is Shit
Me First and The Gimme Gimmes - Take Me Home, Country Roads (John Denver cover)
Nancy Sinatra - These Boots Are Made For Walking


Technical Difficulties

We are sorry that the site has been such a mess the last few days. The site that we used to host our files underwent a server downgrade. We are officially done with them and after searching all weekend, we have finally found a solution to our problems. We would like to thank Mike's wife for hooking us up. We seriously appreciate it.

So what does all of this mean? The bad news is that we can't guarantee that anything posted prior to this is going to work and chances are, that they will not. If I were you, I wouldn't dl any of it anyway, because ezarchive is lowering the quality of the file that you dl and in some cases, you are only getting a 7 second message from them saying try again tomorrow. The good news, is that ezarchive always had relability issues to begin with and our new host is reliable and has a lot more storage space. We should be back up and running sometime today through our new host. Over the next few days, Mike and I will attempt to relaunch some of the old files. Check out the site and if you have any requests for files that you would like us to repost, leave a comment or drop us an e-mail. Thanks for your support.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Weekend in The ATX

Hey there folks! Can't do a complete run down in the time I have before the Drawing Board (and others) show tonight. I'll drop some quick hits and should be able to get more info up tomorrow. Hope to see you at Emo's!

Friday 10/27: Chin Up, Chin Up and Oxford Collapse at Emo's.

Saturday 10/28: Local favorites Voxtrot come home to play at Emo's, supported by Beirut and Detroit Cobras are on the inside stage.

Sunday 10/29: Mellow out at The Parish with The Mountain Goats. Their new album is great!

Throwback Thursday: Joy Division

While Joe is immersed in some project involving next weeks Mutiny, I get the honors of the Throwback this week. In a previous edition, Joe touched on New Order. As I am sure most, if not all know from what Bernard, Peter, and Steven (Stephen, seen it both) sprang forth. While only releasing two full length albums and being together for about 4 years, Joy Division greatly influenced the post-punk scene for years to come. Sadly, Ian Curtis killed himself in May of 1980, right before a U.S. tour, Love Will Tear Us Apart hit the Top 20, and the album Closer was raved about by critics and landed in the Top 10.

Joy Division's influence is still reaching out to the bands and culture of the 90s and today. Nine Inch Nails, U2, The Cure and others have covered their songs, either for recordings or in concert. Many retrospectives, compilations, and tribute albums have been released. Recently, a book has been released on Ian Curtis' life and a movie, Closer, is currently in the finishing stages.

Unknown Pleasures (1979)
Day of the Lords
New Dawn Fades

Closer (1980)
A Means to an End

Still (1981) Contains live tracks as well
Dead Souls
Something Must Break

Substance 1977-1980 (1988) Retrospective
She’s Lost Control

Permanent (1995) Retrospective
Love Will Tear Us Apart (Permanent Mix)
These Days

As a bonus, New Order doing Love Will Tear Us Apart live

And check out this live performance video

Past Throwbacks:
10/19/06: They Might Be Giants
10/12/06: The Psychedelic Furs
10/05/06: The Clash
09/28/06: The Smiths
09/21/06: A Tribe Called Quest
09/14/06: R.E.M.
09/07/06: The Cure
08/31/06: Morphine
08/24/06: The Lemonheads
08/17/06: Depeche Mode
08/10/06: New Order

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Saturna Contest Winners

Ryan from Saturna wanted me to announce the following winners from their Midweek Mutiny contest:

Francis from Brooklyn gets a cd and Snow from Seattle receives the special runner up prize. If this sounds like you, Ryan should have sent you an e-mail. If he hasn't, let me know.

More contests coming soon.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Low Red Land's Midweek Mutiny: Contest

Editor's Note: This post was written by San Francisco's Low Red Land. It is part of a series of posts that the band will be writing for the site today. At the bottom of the page, you can find the links to the rest.

To end our day here, we would like to offer a contest for anybody reading this. One thing we like to do as a band, is come up with all of our own artwork for posters, CD's, T-Shirts, etc. We have been asked by a number of fans if they can design posters for shows, work on website, or just draw things for us. We love art, and we love the idea that our music can inspire some people to make art. So, we would like to offer this to anybody who is artistically inclined: If you would like to submit to us a piece of art that has something to do with Low Red Land, whether it be inspired by our name, by our songs, or if you drew something while talking to somebody about us, we will send you a free CD and a T-shirt. For an added bonus to anybody interested in body art: Low Red Land will pay for any and all tattoos that are designed with Low Red Land in mind. Just send us a picture of the design and your contact information, and we will take care of the rest.

Please send us an e-mail to enter or get more information on either of these offers.

Thanks to Joe for having us and to all of you for reading. Hopefully, we will see you on the road...

Read The Rest of This Week's Mutiny:
Joe's Introduction
Band Intro

Previous Versions of The Midweek Mutiny:
What Is This?
Faster Faster Harder Harder

Low Red Land's Midweek Mutiny: Neil

Editor's Note: This post was written by Neil Thompson of San Francisco's Low Red Land. It is part of a series of posts that the band will be writing for the site today. At the bottom of the page, you can find the links to the rest.

When we (Ben, Mark, Adam, and me) were driving here, I could feel the east grasp behind me. The same cities dangling their fingers, their old faces and buildings, their beaten roads. And then, the West began. Somewhere in Minnesota, from what I could tell. Sudden space, and the feeling that if we disappeared, maybe no one could find us. The four of us so out of place in the fat middle of America, the longest drive, great and quiet, sleeping between home and here, breathing soft breaths as the coasts scream.

When we reached California, the hope of arrival was suffocated by hours of driving, and we didn't hit the Bay until the sun was almost up. It is so big out here. Bigger than the home of my parents, and our coal mining families, and of old women saying their rosaries. I am from the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania, near the Susquehanna River (the same river that flooded this year when my grandmother died, and the same one that will flood again when no one is ready.)

I was home a couple of weeks ago, and my father and I agreed that the Valley breeds depressed people; there is some sad impuse of disillusion, or maybe failed escape. Maybe it's the Eastern European blood, or the stories of 8 year-old boys losing their hands in the anthracite breakers.

There are no seasons here. No change until the rain, no clear-cut cycles of growth and decay. It is tough to build memories when the months all seem the same: was it spring when I fell in love? How long have I stayed here? I am desperate to feel at home. I miss the fall and winter, and the way your body is tempered through the cold, how you can run bare-foot through the garage in mid-January and not flinch. I have yet to walk into a house here and feel a warm rush, the blood prickling in my face. I said it was cold yesterday and had my sleeves rolled up, my mother said there was already a frost back home.

Last night, I was lost between here and Fresno. I crossed bridges, and I couldn't tell what was water and what were fields. I was off the freeway and there were so many stars, and I had a glimpse I think of something of what this place may have been like before the serious paving began, and the houses, and the money came in, and the serious stretches of nothing between towns became less and less. It was quiet, and in the light, and even in a haze, you could see farther than anywhere back East, ever. The land changes so fast here and is dry and they burn it sometimes to save homes and cattle, and the hills look like the still backs of tigers, black and brown, heaving slightly as the shadows of your car trace their contours.

The rain came here sometime in the late spring , and all at once, a million cuddled seeds burst in cracks in the sidewalk and in the Presidio and in the Park, and for a few weeks, something was different, and it was sunny in the Mission where I live, and I could see the city green until summer.

We make music here. When I think of it, it is music that my family would not recognize as mine, songs that represent someone from a different place, but then, my folks still say they like it. They still compare it to what they used to play for me in the living room or the truck. It is easy to think that I have changed, that I have learned so much, but I still love Willie Nelson because my dad sang it to me. I do love it here, the final outpost before the Pacific where the fearless try and fail (and sometines do) get rich. There is something impermanent, a hopeful, endless adolescence, and maybe some comfort knowing your folks can't see you fail unless you limp home with nothing to show.

We are the bravest singers, and our eyes are open.

I would like to leave you with this...

During my trip home a few weeks ago, my dad and I sat by the cabin that he built this summer, by the lake where I grew up. We made a fire and got real, real drunk, and I made a playlist for the evening of songs that I like (I hoped he would like them, too). There is something a little dubious about an iPod by a lakeside cabin, but the future is now.

The Beatles - Long, Long, Long
I have played music for 13 years, listened seriously all my life, and it wasn't until a couple months ago that I got into the White Album. As with most Beatles, I can take or leave a lot of the album, but this sticks out, and it's beautiful, and I love the harmonies, and the organ swell at the end.

Wilco and Billy Bragg - Ingrid Bergman
I saw the Hitchcock film Spellbound last month (with Ingrid Bergman in the starring spot, along with Gregory Peck), and I was reminded of this song. Mike from Birds and Batteries played this at an early show in SF, and I hadn't heard it before. I fell in love with the song, and maybe Ingrid Bergman, too.

Bob Dylan and the Band - Ain't No More Cane
It's a sweet old-timey song with incredible harmonies, and accordian, and Rick Danko's heartbreaker voice.

David Crosby - Laughing
The song that made me want to learn pedal steel, with David Crosby basically playing with a pick-up Grateful Dead. Consistently in my top 5 favorite songs, it's another Crosby tune about "what was going on," but this is unbelievably gorgeous, and makes me think California is beautiful.

Neil Young - Out on the Weekend
The song I listen to when Liz is away. Neil Young writes some of the loneliest, most heartbroken songs, and this is one of my favorites. Oh, and the way the chords stay static in the chorus, with pedal steel, and the Harvest drum sound, and how the song falls together... I've been after this sound since my dad played this tape in the car on the way to vacation when I was a kid.

Norman and Nancy Blake - G Medley: Grean Leaf Fancy/Fields of November/Fort Smith
When I think of American music, a lot of times it sounds like this. Fiddle and cello and open, open chords that ring. This reminds me of the Ken Burns Civil War documentary (which I obsessively watched when I was a kid).

Paul Simon - Duncan
"Just thanking the Lord for my fingers."

Rolling Stones - Torn and Frayed
From Exile on Main Street, one of my favorite Stones country jams.

Spoon - Towner
For the way the vocals come in sort of breathless then scream, and cool sounds all over the place, and the guitars.

Steve Earle - Ft. Worth Blues
I heard this song first on a tribute to Townes Van Zandt on Austin City Limits. Steve Earle played this by himself. Our buddy Mike died in Iraq a couple months ago, and I played this at his memorial. Two weeks ago, I was at a bluegrass festival and Steve Earle played this out of 3 or 4 songs in a song writers circle. What the crap are the odds? I was standing with my buddy Cameron, and we just stared and almost cried.

Tom Petty - Here Comes My Girl
If you've ever loved a girl...

Wilco - The High Heat
From the Wilco Book. This didn't make it on to A Ghost is Born. The arrangement of the song is out-there, and the lyrics are beautiful, too. I like the crazy, off-time break down in the middle.

Willie Nelson - Time of the Preacher Theme
I used to listen to Red-Headed Stranger with my family a lot when I was a kid, and his voice still amazes.

Randy Newman - Memo to My Son
Probably my favorite song.

Read The Rest of This Week's Mutiny:
Joe's Introduction
Band Intro

Previous Versions of The Midweek Mutiny:
What Is This?
Faster Faster Harder Harder

Low Red Land's Midweek Mutiny: Mark

Editor's Note: This post was written by Mark DeVito of San Francisco's Low Red Land. It is part of a series of posts that the band will be writing for the site today. At the bottom of the page, you can find the links to the rest.

My name is Mark, and I play drums in Low Red Land. I am lucky to have the opportunity to do what I love with people I love. I have three major goals. The first is to perform on Saturday Night Live. I have always really wanted to do that, and hopefully it will happen someday. The second is to get invited to the Playboy Mansion. I don't mean through some crappy "You've won a trip to the Playboy Mansion courtesy of Sparks" type thing. I want Hugh himself to invite me to a party. Then I want to turn the invitation down. That would be sweet. My third goal is to get my face on a billboard. I just think that would be hilarious.

The first album I ever got was the Young Guns II soundtrack. Holy crap, that was amazing. Then I got MC Hammer's Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em along with the video, which has the greatest line I think I have ever heard, "Oh! The Hammer!" You have to see the film to know what I am talking about. Basically, I listened to really bad music for quite a while.

I am over that now. What I get into is real high energy music. I think that my favorite album is Les Savy Fav's Go Forth. I am a drummer, so I can't really talk about the musical merits of the album. I can say that they f'ing rip it up to the max. Their drummer flirts with dance beats, but not in the typical Franz Ferdinand generic way. It is a very innovative and explosive style of drumming, that has inspired me to hear different beats in songs. I hear they put on a really good show as well. I would love to go see them, and you should too.

Les Savy Fav - Tragic Monsters

One of my favorite bands that I have seen live, is called Appomattox. I met James, the drummer, when we worked together at a restaurant in Cambridge, Mass. He is hilarious and one of the best drummers that I know. Their music is reminiscent of Les Savy Fav in the fact that the energy levels are super high and they make a lot of noise. I think they were the first trio I saw, that made me realize a three piece can be far more powerful than a four piece. They recently moved from Boston to Brooklyn. We are playing a few shows with them on the east coast. I am very excited about that. I think they are going to be huge. Everybody should go check them out before they blow up.

Appomattox - We're Alright

Here are some things I have been listening to recently. They are all real good, although very different from what we play.

Boris - Pink
Blonde Redhead - A Cure
A.R.E. Weapons - Don't Be Scared
John Vanderslice - Up Above The Sea

When I am not drumming, I like to cook and eat. In particluar, Italian food. I make a pretty mean lasagne, with at least four meats and five cheeses. Soon, I think I can up the meat-count to seven meats. Then I'll take over the world.

I really enjoy tattoos. Since moving to San Francisco, I have seen some of the most amazing artwork done on people's bodies. I was suprised to find that so many people out here are covered in bright colors, black and white portraits, and overall beautiful work. Granted there are always bad tattoos, but I think SF has some of the best. It may have something to do with the tremendous amount of talented artists out here. It may be that people in general are much less judgmental here. Whatever it is, the ink in SF rocks. I would really enjoy seeing some Low Red Land tattoos. So much that if anybody anywhere gets one, I will pay for it. And that is no joke. Just send me the picture, or show me in person.

We are about to leave on a seven week tour of the United States. Hopefully we can run into a few of you out there. It will be a blast.

Read The Rest of This Week's Mutiny:
Joe's Introduction
Band Intro

Previous Versions of The Midweek Mutiny:
What Is This?
Faster Faster Harder Harder

Low Red Land's Midweek Mutiny: Ben

Editor's Note: This post was written by Ben Thorne of San Francisco's Low Red Land. It is part of a series of posts that the band will be writing for the site today. At the bottom of the page, you can find the links to the rest.

one of the more exciting and rewarding aspects of being in a band, is the people we meet through playing shows. there are a lot of good people in good bands playing in this city, and i feel fortunate to know them all. from a personal standpoint, they're good guys and gals who know how to jam, chill, hang, laugh, and have something to say. from a musical standpoint, their vision and dedication are inspiring, as is their music, which is too good to go unheralded. for what it is worth, this is my attempt at raising awareness about all of the great bands and people that i have come to know in the bay area (in alphabetical order, with appropriate website links).

birds & batteries
the three of us who comprise low red land used to play together in another band in what seems like a lifetime ago. during that time, we played music with a band called dusky silo, and we got to know those gentlemen well, particularly mike sempert and joel cohen. when our old band broke up and low red land formed, dusky silo also dissolved and birds & batteries was born. we decided to pick up and move to california, and because mike loves to copy us, he decided that he would too, though it was a couple of months after us (he stayed in the east to make the "nature vs. nature" album). (joel, unfortunately for us, stayed in boston, but fortunately for him, is having a lot of fun playing in a great band called the glass set.) it's been good having mike out here. since relocating, birds & batteries have added drummer brian michelson to the lineup, who is known for his boyish good looks and drunken hilarity. the current birds & batteries lineup is fleshed out by neil and myself, though my love of this band has nothing to do with the fact that i am currently playing in it. mike says that birds & batteries is "gary numan meets randy newman," and i think that's pretty accurate. drums, bass, guitar, pedal steel, rhodes, synths, drum machines, a laptop, and some vocals. it's darned good, and we're lucky to be touring with them again. check it out.

birds and batteries - code orange
the glass set - death mask

dame satan
these guys are the real thing. lucky for you, they're on tour right now (editor's note: they are out east through halloween and play 10/29 in baltimore), so if you're on the ball with this blog thing, you're going to check their site and you might find out that they're playing in your town tonight, and then you'll go out and have what will probably be the best night of your life. brendan, andy, greg, and mike are four of the nicest and most talented young men you'll come across. (andy, greg, and brendan also play in the everlasting arms) we met them through mike's other band, sky pilots (more on them below), and we've been down ever since. mike and andy live a few blocks away from us in ghost mansion, along with members of sky pilots and last of the blacksmiths. good stuff comes out of that house. dame satan's music has a layered, ethereal quality. they say that when they're not singing, they're breathing. when you hear them, you'll realize how much sense that makes. they could be folk, or americana, or indie rock. definitions don't really work. they're something else altogether.

dame satan - plans for the sun
the everlasting arms - brother

or, the whale
we met this guy, will, at one of our shows. he started coming out a lot and he always told us, "you guys have to come out and see this band, or, the whale. they're great." through the wonders of myspace, we befriended them and did the usual we-should-play-a-show-together thing. that finally happened in the middle of this past august, on what was the release party for their 7", death at sea. i was first struck by how awesome it was that they decided to make an actual record. then they played. they were energetic and genuine, tight when they needed to be and loose and loud at all the right times. there are seven members in the group, but it's not a case of quantity over quality. they play as a true band, simultaneously layering the music and giving each other room to make the songs work. the songs are well-structured and vocal harmonies abound, making for honest and compelling compositions that really engage the listener. some would say that they're a country band playing rock and roll and some would say they're a rock and roll band playing country. it doesn't really matter, because they embody the best aspects of both genres while avoiding the cliched trappings of either. on top of all of this, they're great people and we're happy to have their friendship and support. they're totally deece. we should listen to will more often.

or, the whale - life and death at sea

silian rail
my first introduction to silian rail came through lynne and brian of tartufi (see below) when they approached us about starting thread productions. i had heard of silian rail but i had never met them or seen them live. i'm glad that situation has since changed. eric and robin play drums and guitar, respectively, and they make music that doesn't really fall in line with what you'd expect from an instrumental duo. firmly rooted in indie rock, progressive elements frequently pop up and song structures shift and turn on themselves in a way that never seems forced. they're both good at what they do individually and, what's even better, they play well together. it's easy for instrumental groups to mistake individual virtuosity for quality music, and it happens all too often. it's an arena that avails itself to over-intellectualization, but, luckily, silian rail feel as well as think. it's an important balance and robin and eric do well by each other, creating songs that are challenging and technical but never inaccessible or academic.

silian rail - brown is a bear

sky pilots
residents of ghost mansion, we played our first show with these guys in december of 2005. many chapters have been added to the story since then, and all of them are good. sky pilots are riffs upon riffs upon riffs upon drums under two vocals. they are rock and roll. there is no better way to describe them. the chemistry that pat, mike, and bill display is fantastic, and the songs they play are driving, complex, and totally rocking. they're more punk in attitude and execution than they are in style, progressive without the pretension, and in love with volume without sacrificing dynamics. they know how to dial it in, on and off the stage (or floor, or living room, or wherever they're playing). there have been inter-band collaborations between our groups to varying degrees of seriousness and the talk never stops. when we get back from tour, there is a strong possibility of the formation of the low red land/sky pilots big band, which would fall somewhere in between complete volume worship and musical nirvana. in the meantime, send them messages and tell them to get off their butts and tour the states. you'll be better for it.

sky pilots - 90 x 90

tartufi are somewhat of a san francisco institution, though they have undergone a major overhaul in the last year. now pared down to a two-piece, they employ multiple looping devices to flesh out their sound. the result is sometimes dense rock that is noisy and abrasive, sometimes sparse ambience that is beautifully soothing, and always well-constructed, organic, and unique. the impeccable musicianship on display is matched with their humble attitudes and welcoming personalities. of all the bands mentioned, they have been at it the longest and they've likely seen more than all of us combined. a lesser band might let the local and national success they've experienced go to their heads, but it speaks to their quality of character and their spirits as musicians that they are still two of the kindest, most genuine people you could ever meet. if two people ever deserved your support, it's these two, so get on it. fans of prog, math, dragons, quiet, melody, rock, loud, polyrhythms, layers, and megaphones, should drop everything they're doing and go on over to their site now and order a copy of their new disc, us upon buildings upon us.

tartufi - until the ocean swallows the stars

so, there you have it. a quick rundown of several bands from our area that are making music that matters. this is not to say that there are not more bands doing great things around here, but these ones are my favorites. they are also my friends. it's awesome that i have had the opportunity to share the stage, my house, dinner, beaches, ideas, and my time with these folks. please take some time and check them out for yourself. thanks for reading this.

Read The Rest of This Week's Mutiny:
Joe's Introduction
Band Intro

Previous Versions of The Midweek Mutiny:
What Is This?
Faster Faster Harder Harder

Low Red Land's Midweek Mutiny: Band Intro

Editor's Note: This post was written by San Francisco's Low Red Land. It is part of a series of posts that they will be writing for the site today. At the bottom of the page, you can find the links to the rest.

We are Low Red Land. We are a three piece from San Francisco,CA, comprised of Ben Thorne on bass and vocals, Neil Thompson on guitar and vocals, and Mark DeVito on drums. We all met in college in upstate New York and played a lot of crappy houses in and around Franklin Springs. We moved on to Boston for a few years, and played in a four piece band that had very mild success. The fourth member of the band chose to go back to school, Mark messed up his back shoveling snow, and we decided to move to California. We got here in July of 2005. Since arriving, the city has been very inspirational. Our music has grown at an incredible rate, and we are all much happier with what we are playing. Moving away from our homes, families, and jobs also made us very tight, which has carried over to our music. We couldn't be happier with our music and our decision to pursue rock and roll as a lifestyle.

We get frustrated trying to describe our sound. That is pretty common among bands playing original music. We strive to sound like nothing but Low Red Land, and we think we do a good job of it. Our bio says something about us being an explosive rock trio with heart-felt lyrics and precise dynamic changes. It also says that we don't like band bios, because they're written by people too close to the music. There are too many comparisons made, too many big words used, and too much effort taken to sound unique. Our ideal band bio would read, "Come see us play a show. We are awesome."

We are about to embark on our longest tour to date. We are leaving San Francisco, our jobs, our friends and girlfriends, and our home, to travel the country for seven weeks. We are doing all of this with our good friends Birds & Batteries, an amazing band from San Francisco. The idea behind this trip, was to get back to the east where we used to play and let people see how much we have progressed. It has turned into an experience we are sure will change our lives, consisting of almost forty shows in about fifty days. Plus some time to eat turkey with our families.

We have selected a song that we play sometimes by Steve Earle, called Elijah's Church. We first heard it watching a video called Heartworn Highways, a documentary on the mid-seventies country music scene. The video is also where we found our band name. There is a scene towards the end of the film, that features a young Steve Earle singing a verse of his song. Until recently, there were no recorded versions of the song released. We just found one, and it is kind of hilarious.

We are also all going to write a bit about who knows what later today. And, if you read close, you'll find the best contest opportunity ever.

Please check out our music. If you can make it to a live show you should. We play real hard, and we're all pretty nice guys. Read: Pretty, Nice, Guys. Hopefully we'll see you soon.

Low Red Land

Low Red Land - Elijah's Church

Read The Rest of This Week's Mutiny:
Joe's Introduction
Band Intro

Previous Versions of The Midweek Mutiny:
What Is This?
Faster Faster Harder Harder

The Midweek Mutiny: Low Red Land

One of the great things about doing this site, is that I get to learn about bands that I never would have had the chance to hear. For this week's Mutiny, we head west to San Francisco and catch up with the boys of Low Red Land.

Low Red Land and I have an interesting history. They found me on myspace in early August, during the first week of this site's existance. We talked a tiny bit and they sent me a cd, which I received in late August. I was getting ready to go to St. Lucia, so I skimmed the cd briefly. They don't exactly play island music, so it ended up on a shelf somewhere and was long forgotten about by the time that I returned home. Forward to the very beginning October and Mark sent me an e-mail asking if I ever received their cd. We started talking about the band and the site. He heard about my whole Mutiny idea (which had yet to debut) and was interested. A couple of weeks ago, he told me that they were going to do it on October 25. By this time, the days had grown colder and shorter, and I picked up their cd again. This time, it was an instant connection. I don't know what it is, but this album is made for cold winter days in the Northeast. Actually, I do.

They are currently a San Francisco band, but they began and grew up in the Northeast. It is very obvious in their music. While hints of the California sun creep in from time to time, Weight of Nations screams of harsh winters and heartbreak. This album is about as perfectly suited for winter in the Northeast, as The Beach Boys are suited for the sun and beaches of Southern California. Maybe it is because I have dealt with the winter and heartbreak that they sing of, but I bonded with their music and it has been a constant in my cd player for the past couple of weeks. When you read what Neil has to say, this will make perfect sense. The amazing thing, is that they make all of the gloom and hurt, sound so beautiful.

Anyway, I had a hard time deciding what music to post. I decided to pick the first and last tracks off of Weight of Nations. They have an exclusive Fall EP available for download on myspace that is excellent, and they have several mp3s available on their website. If you enjoy these and the song that they are going to post, go see what else they have to offer. While you are there, check out their tour dates. They will be on the road from October 30 until just about Christmas. Over 40 cities will be hit along the way and some of them are still being finalized.

I am going to hand things over to them, so enjoy!

Low Red Land - Dreams That Heroes Dream
Low Red Land - Weight of Nations

Read The Rest of This Week's Mutiny:
Joe's Introduction
Band Intro

Previous Versions of The Midweek Mutiny:
What Is This?
Faster Faster Harder Harder

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Last Full October Week In The Baltimore Region

October is coming to an end and we will be lucky to top 60 degrees this week, but there is good news. There are so many shows this week, that I don't even know where to begin. I will say that some of the weekend shows are part of DAM Festival.

The week starts off on Monday, with San Francisco's Hudson Bell at The Talking Head. DC9 has Deleted Scenes, Headlights and Stamen & Pistils. Tuesday night brings Mojave 3 to Black Cat.

On Wednesday, The Oranges Band will be at The Talking Head, with Squaaks. Black Cat has Tilly & The Wall, Love Is All and Pony Up.

Thursday is where the real fun begins. The Rapture and The Presets will be at 9:30 Club. The Black Cat has The National, joined by Nethers and Devastations. The Rock 'N Roll Hotel has The Gray Kid. There is a great show at DC9, featuring Cold War Kids, Soft Complex, The Oranges Band and Bellflur.

On Friday, The Dresden Dolls and The Red Paintings play 9:30 Club. Longwave, Falcon, Travis Morrison and Hopewell take over The Rock 'N Roll Hotel. Velvet Lounge has Let's French and The English Department. For those that want a change of pace, Madeleine Peyroux is at Lisner Auditorium.

Things definitely do not slow down on Saturday. Ben Lee takes over at Ram's Head Live. Lady Sovereign brings the flow to 9:30 Club. The Wrens, Plus/Minus and Palomar play Black Cat, where Girl Talk will also be spinning. General Miggs plays Hamilton Arts Collective, while The Red and The Black has The Payola Reserve, The Eames Era and The Rewinds. DC9 has a packed bill with De Novo Dahl, Bound Stems, Bishop Allen, Pela and Forget Cassettes.

Sunday has Favourite Sons and The Drones at Black Cat. The Talking Head has a CMJ Preshow featuring The Mall, Casper & The Cookies, Decibully and Peter & The Wolf. 9:30 Club has The Decemberists and Lavender Diamond for the first of 2 sold out shows. The same bill plays on Monday October 30.

That should do it. If I missed something, let me know. Get out there and support someone. There has to be somebody that you like this week.

Hudson Bell - Atlantis Nights
Deleted Scenes - Time Song
Headlights - Put Us Back Together
Stamen & Pistils - Peonies and Dahlia Petals
Mojave 3 - Puzzles Like You
The Oranges Band - Ride The Nuclear Wave
Squaaks - Never Be Mine
Tilly & The Wall - Lost Girls
Love Is All - Talk Talk Talk Talk
Pony Up - The Truth About Cats and Dogs (Is That They Die)
The Rapture - Get Myself Into It
The Presets - Are You The One? (Van She Mix)
The National - All The Wine
Nethers - Breastfeathers
Devastations - Take You Home
Cold War Kids - We Used to Vacation
Soft Complex - Barcelona
Bellflur - First To The Moon
The Gray Kid - Lonely Love
The Dresden Dolls - Dirty Business
The Red Paintings - Walls
Madeleine Peyroux - Smile
Longwave - Wake Me When It's Over
Falcon - Dry Land
Travis Morrison - What's Your Fantasy?
Hopewell - Calcutta
Let's French - Unpack Your Suitcase
The English Department - U Don't Know Anything
Ben Lee - Into the Dark
Lady Sovereign - Love Me or Hate Me
Girl Talk - Bounce That
The Wrens - Built In Girls
Plus/Minus - Steal The Blueprints
Palomar - Slingshot
General Miggs - Broken Hoof
De Novo Dahl - Subject of the Kill
Bound Stems - Western Biographic
Bishop Allen - The Same Fire
Pela - Lonesome Hearts (Cassettes Won't Listen Remix)
Forget Cassettes - Bruce Wayne
The Payola Reserve - Music Is Not Music
The Eames Era - Boy Came In
The Rewinds - Sentimental Flaw
The Mall - Harboring Hosts
Casper & The Cookies - Sid from Central Park
Decibully - Let Me In My Lord
Peter & The Wolf - Safe Travels
Favourite Sons - Things That We Do To Each Other
The Drones - I Don't Ever Want To Change
Lavender Diamond - Rise In The Springtime
The Decemberists - Summersong

Not So New Release Tuesday: Catherine Wheel "Chrome"

Joe and I first discovered Catherine Wheel at a Live (the band) show in Hershey. They were filling in for Veruca Salt. At first I was disappointed, not knowing much about the replacement and going on what little knowledge I had from MTV (before the internet, folks!). They played mostly off of the album out at the time, Happy Days. It was a show that I will never forget. From this, came the discovery of their previous work.

It is difficult to go backwards sometimes. After listening to Happy Days mostly straight forward hard pop/rock approach, it was a big departure to listen to Chrome. A little bit slower than its follower, relying less on the straight guitar melody riff and more on the fuzz and feedback, but it still has a similar edginess to it. The constant is Rob Dickinson's voice, breathy and melodic, sounding like it should be in an acoustic pop band rather than over droning guitars and keyboards. The lyrics are difficult to truly grasp at times, sometimes needing a quick look at the sheet to see exactly what was being sung, and even when reading along, it may not make much sense.

While no one song truly is the stand out on the album, each song evokes something different. The Nude is dark, yet it has an airy feel to it when Dickinson slides into his falsetto. The straight up pop of Show Me Mary, is the best attempt for the straight to radio sound. Crank, the best track on the album (IMO), is brooding, with a constant guitar riff in the background behind the dream-like, plaintive vocals. The album can seem repetitive to some and sound like most British acts of the time, but in comparison to those bands, it definately holds its own.

Kill Rhythm
Show Me Mary
The Nude

Check out the CW live show that Joe posted several weeks ago.

Other Not So New Releases:
The Cure: Disintegration
G. Love and Special Sauce
Pulp: Different Class

Labels: ,

Monday, October 23, 2006

Cobra Kai

Sometimes, you stumble upon a band. There are other times, when a band finds you. In the case of Cobra Kai, another band told me about them. After hearing about them a couple of times, I checked them out and I was very glad that I did.

Cobra Kai is is a duo from Oslo, Norway. They are two grad students who rock on the side. The band has a very raw sound. Morten plays guitar and sings lead vocals. Marianne is the drummer and backing vocalist. While they don't have a large body of work (4 songs clocking in at 12:35), Wax On, Wax Off, Girl is a very intriguing release. It shows a lot of potential and makes me excited to hear the debut full length, which they plan to have out early next year. Check out a couple of tracks and let me know what you think. If you haven't already figured out what I think, Running Away From is currently the profile song on my personal myspace.

Cobra Kai - Running Away From
Cobra Kai - Girl

Sunday, October 22, 2006

This Week In Austin: The Weekday Edition

It just never ends. Most towns have the good shows reserved for Thursday through Sunday. Not Austin! Everyday of the week has something worth while, so get out there and check 'em out!

Jenny Lewis

Monday is slow, as it should be, so check out Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins at Stubb's for a laid back show featuring great harmonies and jangly guitar pop. Things pick up a bit on Tuesday as The Decemberists invade Stubb's from the Northwest supporting their great new album. If instrumental walls of sound is your thing, head to Mohawk for highly rated (check here for best instrumentals of 2005) Caspian, This Will Destroy You, and Austin's own My Education. For your woman with guitar folk pop, Beerland is hosting Dana Falconberry.

The Decemberists

Wednesday, the weekend is close and the shows keep coming. Locals Go Nova plays another show, this time with Success On Saturday at Red 7 on Sixth. Down South Congress at Trophys, Baltimore band The Frauds takes the stage. And Joseph Arthur is doing a free in-store at Waterloo Records before his show later that night at The Parish.

Pete Yorn

A big Thursday has Pete Yorn at La Zona Rosa and Jamie Lidell at The Parish. Also on Thursday, Trophys has four bands featuring XrayOK from LA, and locals Crash Gallery, Xcella, and The Boxing Lesson. Emo's has an early show featuring Say Anything, Mewithoutyou, Piebald, and Brazil. The late show is where I will be at, as Illinois based The Beauty Shop plays with The Shells and my favorite Austin bands, The Drawing Board and Just Guns. Come on out and party with me!

The Drawing Board

Jenny Lewis w/ The Watson Twins - Met Him On A Sunday
The Decembrists - The Sporting Life
Caspian - Further In
This Will Destroy You - The World Is Our ___
My Education - Britches Blanket
Dana Falconberry - Paper Sailboat
Go Nova - Now You Know
Success on Saturday - Rainbow Eyes
The Frauds - Home
Joseph Arthur - Last Train to Ithaca
Pete Yorn - For Us
Jamie Lidell - Multiply
XRayOK - Smile
Xcella - Glee Foundation
The Boxing Lesson - Back From The Dead
Say Anything - Every Man Has A Molly
Mewithoutyou - January 1979
Piebald - Haven't Tried It
Brazil - Crime and The Antique Solution
The Beauty Shop - Monster
The Shells - Wouldn't Be The Same
The Drawing Board - It's a Lie
Just Guns - Waiting To Be

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Friday Rant: Why I Loathe Country Music

I am guessing that I could have picked a more aesthetically pleasing topic for my first Instrumental Analysis post – especially with one half of the founding members being based in Texas – but this is a topic that I have wanted to rant about for some time.

I haven’t always hated country music. My mother hails from the Kentucky hills, long postulated by ethnomusicologists as the birthplace of what would become known as "country". Mom played the Philadelphia-based country radio station a ton when I was a kid. Many of the songs seemed fairly catchy, if homogenous, and I had no real problem with the genre. Today, I love Johnny Cash, enjoy a lot of rockabilly and I can even tolerate some Willie Nelson.

The popularity of “country” music has grown exponentially in the last 10 years. Many artists have pushed to the front of the mainstream media. Advertisers utilize country artists and songs to push their wares in national ad campaigns for everything from pickup trucks to underwear and everything in between (don't even get me started on NASCAR.) However, if there is a greater poseur music form than country music, I have yet to see or hear it. Almost everything about the genre smacks of fraud. Be it the cowboy hats, boots, forced/fake accents and drawls, the shameless formulaic composition of almost every song, or the lemming-like “patriotic” tripe that this music scene has generated – I find country music to be nigh-intolerable and mostly nauseating.

I had a radio show in college where my co-host (IA's very own, Mike) and I performed a bit where we would see how long we could keep from laughing while listening to a random Napalm Death song. We never made it through one, and I am guessing that we would have failed similarly should we have tried this experiment with most of the drivel that is being packaged as "today's country". However, instead of laughter - most of the samplings I have attempted to listen through make me bitter. It was widely theorized that the Columbine school massacre was perpetrated by two youths who listened to too much Marilyn Manson. I am now convinced that the recent spate of school shootings are byproducts of too much Toby Keith and Carrie Underwood. Jesus, Take the Wheel. I need to reload.

As Andre Agassi used to say, “Image is everything”. Nowhere is this more evident, than in the world of country music. The intolerant, xenophobic world of country is a poseur-infested disgrace. Why does every male country artist have to wear a cowboy hat and boots, regardless of where they are from (see Cowboy Troy)? What in the name of Wyatt Earp is going on here?!? Some of these hat-wearing wannabe cowpokes are from California and Maryland. Did they wear these get-ups before getting signed to their record labels? In most cases, no. It would appear that these guys are forced to don the cowboy costumes in order to be accepted as true country artists. Yee-frickety-haw!

Speaking of fake, what in tarnation is up with all of the fake accents that rampage across the country music landscape? What other musical form requires singers to force an accent that is not evident when the artist uses their normal speaking voice? I happened to catch Sara Evans’ exit interview on Dancing With the Stars on Wednesday night - while waiting for Lost to start. Ms. Evans spoke with just the slightest hint of a southern accent, and one would have to be listening pretty intently to pick it up. I jumped online immediately after Lost to sample some of her work, and wouldn’t you know I was shocked to hear her belting out song after song in an overbearing twang that is apparently only present when she sings. Country musicians do not have a monopoly on this sort of silliness by any means (see Matisyahu), but country has by far the highest per capita fakery rate in all of musicdom.

American music history is filled with patriotic songs and anthems – most of which were inspired by world events that affected our country in some way. 9/11 has been very good to country music. No musical genre or media entity got more mileage out of 9/11 than the flag-wavin’, terrorist hatin’, President lovin’ proud cowboy hat wearin’ performers of good ol’ country music. I think there might have been a cannonball run-esque pickup truck race to the recording studios on 9/12/01 to see who could get the cheesiest, sappiest tear-jerker recorded and in the hands of radio stations the quickest. Alan Jackson’s beloved 9/11 anthem asks “Where Were You? (When the World Stopped Turning)”. Where, indeed? You can’t help but admire how much country musicians just love America to death! It can be said with certainty that there are no Al Qaeda operatives masquerading as country musicians. Country music is the voice of the proud southern American. It is the beacon of pride in our American values. Country loves America, God and family. No other group has expressed their love for our country more than country music artists. And expressed it some more. And expressed it again. And again. We get it. The south loves God, guns, freedom, family and the American values our troops fight and die for. Everything, that is, except some of the Founding Fathers’ most important ideals – you know, like freedom of speech. This brings me to the mind-blowing phenomenon of the Dixie Chicks.

The Dixie Chicks were once the beloved poster-children for country music. They were cute, wholesome, they twanged properly, they were from a respectable country music state (Texas), they wore the requisite boots (and hats) and met just about all acceptable country music requirements. Then one night during a concert in London, one of them voiced shame over being from the same state as our Glorious Leader, President Bush (who happened to have been catching heat for being caught lying concerning his reasoning for invading a foreign country at the time). When word of this vocal mini-protest got back to the States, an interesting thing happened. The Dixies were branded “Traitors to Country Music”. Many country radio stations yanked the Dixie Chicks from their play lists. Country music fans turned out in droves for mass Dixie Chicks CD tractor-smashings while others took to burning their Chicks CDs. CD burnings in the United States! It may as well have been Berlin in the early 1930s. So, Where Were You? (When the CDs Burned), Alan Jackson? Achtung, y'all!

Music is the voice of culture. Country music is proudly embraced as the voice of the (white) South. If we listen to the voice of this culture it tells us a lot about its people. They frown on change. They like everyone to look and sound the same. Are there any redeeming graces for a musical genre that forces its artists to sing with fake accents, dress like cow-people even if they have never seen a cow up close, who march in “patriotic” unquestioning lockstep rhythm (goosestep?) with an out of control regime by serving as its mouthpiece and who jettisons artists for merely exercising freedom of speech? Right now, I am sad to say no. There will be no saving grace for country music until its talented artists are freed to sing in their own voices, vary from the current themes that dominate the scene, and allowed to stop dressing up like cowboys.

Johnny Cash & Nick Cave - I'm So Lonesome, I Could Cry

Beck - Your Cheatin' Heart (Hank Williams Cover)