Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Constant Hitmaker

Thank god that's over. Summer, that is. We're more of an Autumn. Winter, even. But Summer's just a smeary, bleary blur of heat, sun, and muggy humidity. Good riddance, we say, and realize we're in the vast minority. So be it.

Before we hit up today's musical guest, we have a request. We need to fix up our links to the left, along with an eventual site re-design, and figger we're missing some mighty fine sites, musical or otherwise. Anyone got some recommendations of websites we should be pimpin'? It could be your own, of course, or someone you're following. Let us know, and we'll get it up.

Now we got a feller who we think is super duper, and perfect for an Autumn afternoon.

Kurt Vile (yes, it's a pun) is a slightly cracked egg, at least on wax (we don't know him personally). He plays in a band called The War On Drugs, which is a fine band, but not our concern for today's post. We're interested in Vile's fascinating solo work.

We don't know much about Vile, really. We've got four records by the man, all released within the last 12 months, and each one a tiny bedsit jewel of strummed melancholy, looped languidness, chug-a-lug ramble, urban psych, and keen lyrical observation. He's called "Philly's Constant Hitmaker", for what it's worth.

Vile takes the pre-supposed nature of the bedroom auteur and transforms it into something revelatory, stripping away the self-involved excess and creating, nay, crafting records full of the richness of the everyman. More tuneful and accessible than Jandek, less bombast than Neil Young and somewhere in between the twilight and the morning.

Sensory reflection, then, a spillage of foilage with darkness at the edge of town, and the drop the needle, the intake of breath and a hiss of tape, a voice in the void of summer speeding and winter hibernation, a warm drink taken bitter and sweet.

The following songs were taken from, in order, his brand spankin' new record "Childish Prodigy", his previous long player "Constant Hitmaker", the limited vinyl "God Is Saying This To You" LP, and the EP "Hunchback". Check 'em all out!

Perfect music for watching the leaves change and the evening comin' on.

Kurt Vile: Freak Train(mp3)

Kurt Vile: Freeway(mp3)

Kurt Vile: My Sympathy(mp3)

Kurt Vile: Good Lookin' Out(mp3)

Please support your local, independent Cider vendor.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Six Pack None The Richer

Took a short break, but we're back again. Honestly we have no idea how folks find the time to post every day.

We're waiting on permissions for our next couple of posts, so what better way to bide our time, and entertain you, our blessed readers, than with another installment in our world-renowned Six Pack Series! Six fantabulous tracks pulled randomly, or not so much,from our bulging collection of vinyl long and short players! No edits, no noise reduction or fiddlin' of any sort. Just music the way the good lord intended. We might even throw in some pops and crackles as a bonus!

First up is the infamous Michael Hurley with a filthy little ode to...well, you can guess. It's off his classic record, "Armchair Boogie", recently re-issued on vinyl by our fave rave record label, Mississippi Records. After that, we've got a hoedown from the Willis Brothers, replete with Mariachi horns, by gum. And just when think it can't get any better, we've got a slice deep greasy god-lovin'funk from the record Good God! put out by The Numero Group.

At the halfway point, we've got Mr. Gorie/Dirtbomb Mick Collin's one-off The King Sound Quartet weighing in with a menacing little tune off their record "The Get-Down Imperative" on In The Red. We couldn't follow that up any better than with Doug Sahm and the Sir Douglas Quintet with a Texas-style hillbilly ode to life in the big, big city, pulled from their record "Mendocino", which should be an essential record in any music fan's collection.

We couldn't finish this up any better than with a tune from one-man-crackpot-band extraordinaire, Abner Jay. We pulled the song "I'm So Depressed" from the album "The True Story of Abner Jay" put out by...wait for it...Mississippi Records. Yeah, there's two tracks from records by them. Deal with it, they're the best label around, swear to god.

All songs are arranged in a mix-tapers order, and their placement in no way reflects any attempt to order the songs in terms of importance or quality. Check 'em all out!

Michael Hurley: Open Up (Eternal Lips) (mp3)

Willis Brothers: Bob (mp3)

LaVice and Company: Thoughs (sic) Were The Days (mp3)

King Sound Quartet: I Wouldn't Put It Past You (mp3)

Sir Douglas Quintet: Lawd I'm Just A Country Boy In This Great Big Freaky City (mp3)

Abner Jay: I'm So Depressed (mp3)

Please support your local, independent anything.

Monday, September 07, 2009


First thing y'all should do is check out Barstool Mountain for our post about our namesake. Is it essential reading/listening? Yep. But we're precocious that way.

And then, and then, and then, a new band for all y'all to check out. Interview to follow below.

Dixie Whiskey were kind enough to send us a link to their new record, and we think it's one of the best honky tonk records of the year. All y'all who, like us, lament the slow erosion of great Outlaw Country in favor of safe, mass-produced pap we hear on the radio these days, Dixie Whiskey are your salvation. Perfectly distilled.

Dixie Whiskey are dangerous. Their songs will lay you out flat on the hardwood floor with an aggressive hoe-down choog'n'stomp, then break your heart with a lonesome keen, all back porch lonesome me.

From their press release:

"There’s a growing phenomenon ruining dive bars across the United States. This problem is that the jukeboxes are running dry of great drinking songs, while metrosexual pop music is finding its way into filthy saloons. On their self-titled release, the boys Dixie Whiskey intend on being the brown jug remedy to the bar-room predicament."


Band member Jon Decious was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.

1. First off, tell our readers who you are, where you come from and where you're going. What do you sound like?

Howdy all, this is Jon Decious from Dixie Whiskey. We're a country-ish rock-ish band from Nashville that's only going as far as folks that hear us let us go.

2. You mention Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers as influences. Given that Gram and the boys were bringing Country to a rock audience, do you feel that you are continuing their mission? With "alt-country" (whatever the hell that ever was) slipping into blandness, and pop Country losing all traces of its roots, do you feel the time is right for artists such yourselves and folks like James Hand and Hayes Carll to take back the Honky Tonk to its rightful relevance?

I've never felt like we were "attempting" to carry forth any mission of Gram's but, when I take a step back and look at our band for what it is maybe that's exactly what we're doing. If folks like Hand, Carll, and ourselves can pump air back into the flat tires of honky tonk music, so much the better. Whether that time is now or not, I guess we'll all just have to wait and see.

3. On a related note, tell us about the current Nashville scene. Do you find receptive audiences at your shows? What are the bars one should hit to see y'all play?

The Nashville circuit is a tough one to tackle. With so many bands in one town, I guess it's not hard to see why. We've been pretty fortunate, though. We're a pretty new band and have been able to draw good crowds on a regular basis at bars like; the 5 Spot, the End, FooBar, and a little joint outside of town called the Pond.

4. Did you really sell your soul to the Honky Tonk? And if so, who is the patron saint/demon of Honky Tonks?

I, and fellow Dixie Whiskey-ers Dillon Napier and Bob Ferrari, came damn close a few years ago. The patron was some white girl named Jack that we couldn't out-run for the life of us.

5. Dean Dillon is a hell of a songwriter and singer. How did you get him to guest on your record?

I'm actually a farmhand at Tenorado Ranch, which is Dean's farm. Crazy story, if you can indulge me. The day I started working for Dean, cleaning out the barn, when I stumbled across this demo tape. I begrudgingly put it back because I know how some folks get about worktape demos. Well, 'bout 2 weeks later, curiosity killed my cat, and I took it home and listened to it. Fell in love with this tune called, "Some Days It Takes All Night". A week later I asked if we could cut it as a duet and he said, "Hell yeah! Let's fire it up!". That's the short story of how it went down.

6. On your record, "Dixie Whiskey", you mix back porch, autumnal ruminations (most strikingly on "Odelay", and "Welcome Home, Kentucky") with rowdy, honky tonk bootstompers like "Ride With the Devil" and "This Barstool's My Tombstone". How do you approach such varying styles, or do you feel that there's no variance,and it's all part of the organic whole? In other words, tell us about y'all's approach to songwriting both lyrically and musically.

Our songwriting style involves everyone in the band in one way or another. For instance, Dillon and I will generally write the songs and make a guitar/vocal worktape of them and then give the songs to the other fellas. If everyone loves it, we'll keep it, if they don't, we scrap it. On this record, we'd written a song with a riff that Bob really dug, but didn't like the song. He said, "Ya'll go back and write a song around that riff." So the next day Dillon and I sat down and wrote "Wheels On The Wind", which is a song that made the record. Lyrically, I honestly have no idea how some songs come out. Dillon and I will knock things back and forth til we like how it sounds. Sometimes it makes a whole lotta' sense and other times it doesn't. We try to record the ones that DO make sense! haha

7. What is a "dixie whiskey", and will we go blind if we drink it? Is it similar to a, ahem, "whiskey dixie"?

I read that a 'dixie whiskey' is a mixed drink. I couldn't tell ya what's in it, nor can I confirm whether or not it'll make you go blind. I'm not sure what a 'whiskey dixie' is either. They'll probably both kill you eventually.

8. You're on the road at 3 in the morning, and all you have is the radio. AM or FM on the dial?

At 3 am I'm more likely to turn the AM dials. It's a strange feeling to be up at 3 am driving through the middle of nowhere. When I'm feeling faded from a long day or still got a good buzz goin' on, nothing makes for a better soundtrack than "Coast To Coast" or some static-y music from the 1930's.

9. Speaking of being on the road, and as a transition to the next question, what can one expect from a Dixie Whiskey show? How different are the band live versus on CD/Record?

We're gonna make you feel at home and we're gonna give you your hard-earned money's worth. For instance, at our recent cd release show, we greeted everyone at the door with a free cd and, just before our set, we bought everyone in the crowd a shot of whiskey. We barely broke even after the tab that night, but I feel like everyone there knew how much we appreciated them coming out and watching us sing. That's hard to get across in a song, so I 'spose that's how the live show is different.

10. What's next for Dixie Whiskey? Tour? More recording? What does the future hold?

Like I said at the top, we'll go as far as the folks listening will let us go. If they want us to tour or record more, they'll let us know.

Thanks to Dixie Whiskey for answering a few of our questions. If you're interested in the band, and if you're a fan of what we post here, you should be, you can actually download the full album at this here site, free and legally! How's that for a bargain? If you like what you hear, either here or at the aforementioned site, please consider supporting the band on their upcoming tour or by word of mouth. Just sayin'!

The following are two of our favorite tracks from the new rekkid. Don't take our word for it...check 'em out yrselves!

Whiskey Dixie: This Barstool's My Tombstone (mp3)

Whiskey Dixie: Odelay (mp3)

Please support yr local, independent, beer swillin' honky tonk!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

My Own Kick

Here we go.

'Round these here parts we've got a little beatnik, bop-a-billy hoedown courtesy of Ronnie Self.

Coming from farming and railroadin' stock, Self displays a rebellious quality in his music, both against authority and against the conventions of so-called "common' or "small" life. His music is restless and wild, untamed to the point of punk-precedence, but wrapped in a hybrid Country, rockabilly, R&B, goin' nowhere, man, surge of desperation and rhythmic menace. One is almost forced to see a touch of Hasil Adkins(or, more appropriately, vice versa) in Self's style, hiccuped backwoods drawl forced into a strumming wild man on the loose.

To avoid repetition, we would very highly recommend checking out his bio over at Rockabilly Hall for a well-done overview of Self's life. Cat led an interesting life.

Some speculation exists as to why Self didn't make the big time in his lifetime, but we're,frankly, not surprised as sadly sad we must acknowledge that some visionaries can only be recognized in context and as a full body, And Self was a visionary, if only in that the sounds in his head, forced out through booze-fueled blasts of Honky scrawl, presaged an outlaw approach, years away and shaped in different tones of beer tavern tumble.

Two observations, then.

First, it would be be irresponsible of us not to note a similarity between Self and Roger Miller, a least in terms of vocal delivery, with their rapid-fire, trailer-beat, stung-out brand of hipster stream-of-consciousness. I wouldn't like to speculate if there was any influence one way or the other, but if you like Roger Miller, than Ronnie Self is right up your alley.

Second, Ronnie Self is probably more relevant today than he was in his lifetime. As our ears demand a more distinctive voice over time, Self's brand of hillbilly boogie junk seem revelatory, out of time and place and waiting for a new generation to discover. Maybe we're the ones.

We'd recommend any damn song by Ronnie Self, but we'll try to limit ourselves to four, since we're not one of those "full album" sites. "My Own Kick Going" is a frequent visitor in our ever-changing "top ten fave rave songs of all time". It's about a groover, man. "Go Go the Cannibal" is a trash rock masterpiece, well before it's time, and the Cramps and Hasil Adkins would have been proud to call this their own (maybe they have, I dunno). "About Cured" is the closest kin to Roger Miller, but it's got it's own twisted hillybilly bomp, and damn we love this song. And "Here Comes Authority" is big ol' fuck ya to the man. Amen.

Sing along! "The boat's on the river, the train's on the track, an' I'm without you, I guess you aint comin' back..."

Ronnie Self: My Own Kick Going (mp3)

Ronnie Self: Go Go The Cannibal (mp3)

Ronnie Self: About Cured (mp3)

Ronnie Self: Here Comes Authority (mp3)

While it's super keen that the world-wide internets, and it's system of tubes and wires provide us with a wealth of free music, please consider visiting your local, independent record store for some kick ass records you may or may not have heard.