Fresh off the success of the “Deadman’s Blues” single, Nine Bullets favorite Matt Woods is set to release his long-awaited full length album With Love From Brushy Mountain. If you’re a regular listener to Nine Bullets radio you’ve no doubt heard “Deadman’s Blues”, “Lucero Song”, and “Ain’t No Living” (which debuted on last weekend’s show). Matt lives on the road, playing shows to crowds large and small and spreading the gospel of his own brand of country music. Please support Matt by pre-ordering his new album here.
With Love From Brushy Mountain will be released on May 13th with pre-orders shipping 7 to 10 days prior to the release date. Please share this with all of your friends, your family, and even people you don’t really like!
In Hollywood it’s very easy to assume the worst of folk bands: once you’ve seen one group of long haired, hat wearing, fitted vest adorned troubadours you feel like you’ve seen them all. Charming stage banter, tight vocal harmonies, polished album production…all of these can easily feel stilted, staged, and engineered. Once in a while, though, something unexpected comes along.
Jamestown Revival is a band from Texas that moved to California and then recorded an album in another western state’s mountains. That eponymously named album, Utah, is Essential Listening.
They seem too good to be true. Too pretty, too talented, too young, too appreciated to live up to any hype. Well fuck that. Don’t let this train pass you by. Whether it’s a barn burner like “Revival” or a slow ballad of a song like “Heavy Heart”, Utah is full of tracks whose melodies and harmonies will be lodged in you long after they’ve stopped playing. Of special note is “Golden Age”, a swan song for an era of country music long gone:
“Good times are over, didn’t you know?
Well I heard it on the radio”
The core of the band is Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance, and these two friends work together exceptionally well. They share singing and songwriting duties, with Jon on guitar and Zach on keys. Live, Jamestown Revival is electric. They play for the joy of playing, not for the audience, and they sweat and swear and take shots with the best of them.
Too often in niche music, success is equated with falsehood and disingenuousness. Give Jamestown Revival a chance, catch them while they tour through your town. These are eleven solid tracks, and if you can honestly say there isn’t a single one on this album you love I’ll Paypal you a dollar**.
You can buy Utah by Jamestown revival on iTunes, from their Bandcamp, or grab a physical copy from Amazon.
You may have seen me cover Jeremy Steding a couple of times in the past. Well he just released a new album and not a lot has changed. What I mean is that he’s remained true to the sound that drew me to him in the first place. That means that My Own American Dream is an album that’s pure country and western without being apologetic about it. While I love his lyrics, I think his real strength is that he loves the music he’s making. He doesn’t waver from that traditional old school, honky tonk sound. Whether it’s a song like “Stay” making you want to put your arms around your girl and watch the sun come up or a track like “Lyin’” making you want to knock back a whiskey in effigy to a certain ex it’s all country from start to finish.
Jeremy is really proud of this album and it’s easy to see why. The lyrics and vocals are outstanding. There’s something about the lilt to his voice along with the twang in the music that brings them together to be more than the sum of their parts. Just listening to this album you can tell that he loves what he’s doing and that’s even more obvious when you see him play live. In person Jeremy has a fresh faced optimism that belies having spent more than five years trying to make it in the music industry. His smile is disarming and the twinkle in his eye when sings will get the most cynical music fan to sit up and listen.
One of the reasons I love Jeremy’s music is because it reminds of the music I grew up on. Most of the new music I listen to is pretty raw these days and leans towards a different side of life but albums like My Own American Dream serve to remind me, and I hope you as well, that good clean country still exists and that it’s still a damn good ride and sometimes, like this one, even Essential Listening.
That feeling when you discover a new band for the first time, falls in love with their sound and songs, and actually spend time fearing the fact that they’ll go their separate ways before they fulfil their obvious potential. That feeling is a huge part of the reason why we spend our free time listening to crappy music sent our way, in search for those rare gems that we hope others will appreciate just as much.
The Far West fell into my lap sometime in 2011, and I fell hard for their debut album The Far West, with their mix of traditional country and real alt.country the way Uncle Tupelo and Whiskeytown did it way back when. The band started out as a obscure craigslist-ad, only consisting of a link to a Waylon Jennings-video. The newly assembled five-piece recorded their first album at a American Legion Hall, while the bar was open, and it sounds so fresh and still so vintage.
Since then, the band has changed line-up, replacing pedal-steel maestro Erik Kristiansen who was vital to the sound on the first album, and instead keyboard-virtuoso James Williamson become a vital part of their new sound.
Where they earlier sounded like Gram Parsons and Waylon Jennings mixed with the countrier side of early Son Volt, they now sound more like Waylon Jennings crossed with the more rocking side of Son Volt, with a touch of Uncle Tupelo, Bottle Rockets and generous amounts of The Backsliders.
And they have somehow managed to sound even BETTER then before.
Williamson really shines on this album, where his contibutions on the electric piano and the organ are some of my favourite parts. But the band sounds really great. So tight and together, like a BAND. But as good as they are, without Lee Briantes vocals they would have been just another band. With his exceptional voice, he lifts this band beyond that of being “just another band”, and his voice really suits their music.
The songs are written by Briante and bassplayer Robert Black, the two original founders of The Far West. And where other bands with two songwriters tend to get distinctively different types of songs, their songs seem to merge together, without losing their style in the process.
“Any Day Now” opens with Briantes song “On The Road”, where he takes a look at L.A. and Hollywood, seen from an outsiders perspective. After forming the band, Briante moved from Hudson Valley to L.A, where the band now recides.
Everyone’s chasing a ghost Everyone’s chasing a dream Everyone’s the next Monroe Everyone’s the next James Dean It’s a long, long, long dusty road And we all are travelling alone
He writes about Hudson Valley in the song “Hudson Valley, and talks about his old homeplace with longing in his voice, while Williamsons saloon-sounding piano sets the mood.
I was standing at the station watching trains leave all day long
Black also talks about places from his youth, when he in “Wichita” talks about a place and a time that meant a lot to him, while the band as a whole channels The Jayhawks with steady perfection.
Old 97’s and The Backsliders are obvious inspirations to the kick-ass “The Bright Side”, where Black basically just tells the world to fuck off, while Bakkers guitarsolo is as delicious as they come.
There’s a couple of beautiful ballads here too, especially the “could-have-been-plucked-from-Claptons-Slowhand”-ish “These Arms Will be Empty”, and “She’s Gonna Leave Him Too”, which is heartbreaking it’s own brilliance. And let’s not forget the closing song “Across The Bend”, which is just the kind of song that I recommend hearing while sitting down, as it will make your knees weak in it’s beauty.
Looking at this from the outside of the US, this just feels like a dusty trip through the US, meeting people along the way, everyone with a story to tell – sad or happy. And The Far West just draws from a rich history of music, where their sound which is so solidly anchored in genuine and original alt.country, still sounds like what you would guess Americana should sound like – if you just heard the name of the genre.
Fuck, I LOVE this album! I’m calling it Essential Listening.
Man, if you don’t know who Arliss Nancy is yet (are yet?) then you haven’t been reading this blog for very long. Consider this your education.
Arliss Nancy is five dudes from Ft. Collins, CO. They had an out of nowhere classic with Simple Machines, toured forever on it, and finally came out last year with Wild American Runners. Both album are littered with classics, and were labeled Essential Listening by the fine folks here at Ninebullets.
If you haven’t seen Arliss Nancy live, you’re missing out. Not only because the tightness of their musicianship and vocals have to be heard to be believed, but also because they’re some of the most radical dudes trying to make this music thing happen. I was fortunate enough to spend time with them when they were out here in Los Angeles, and was struck again by how friendly and genuine each of them are. Being a touring band is difficult and thankless, and more bands than any of us could name have fallen apart because they couldn’t handle spending 24 hours a day seven days a week in a passenger van with the same dudes for weeks on end. Much like their music, the friendship of this motley crew has no explanation as to how it’s so good…but the proof, as they say, is in the huevos rancheros.
Go see a show. Tell your friends in other cities to go see shows. Buy a t-shirt (they have like 16 designs or something). Say hi, give a sweaty smelly dude a hug, and tell him how well he played and make up for the shitty 6 hour drive between two dive bars.