This is my last post for 2007….I am about to head up to Washington DC to see the new year in in some actual cold weather….See y’all Jan. 3…

Here it is. My favorite album this year is by a band from West Virginia, The Fox Hunt. I know what you’re thinking…Another blogger trying to find some obscure album to call the best so he can look cool and elite and make himself feel important. For all of those reasons, I almost made this my #5 pick but in the end I decided to go with honesty and let the pieces fall where they may. Here are the facts though:

Nowhere Bound has managed to find it’s way into and onto every piece of equipment I listen to music on. My personal iPod, the wife’s iPod, our iPod shuffle, it’s on all three computers and my work computer, it’s in my car and in the wife’s car. No other cd released this year has managed to replicate itself into every place where I might listen to music and I continually find myself queing it up when I need a break from listening to new bands. Point is, obscure or not, this is my favorite album of the year…it is what it is:

Somewhere on the highway between Drag the River and Lucero, there is an exit with a dive bar. The Fox Hunt, out of Martinsburg, West Virginia, is that bar’s house band. If I was required to cull the essential listening list down today and produce a list of the top 5 cd’s of the first half of 2007, “Nowhere Bound” would be on that list without a doubt.

Can you tell I like these guys? I’m not trying to say they produced a perfect cd. Nobody does. A few of the songs need maturity, and time will pull their dive bar further and further away from the DTR/Lucero exit, but for a debut these guys have most definitely released something to be proud of. Besides, drinking music ain’t about perfection. Leave that crap to the club kids. This is front porch brown bottle music.

The Fox Hunt is John R. Miller (Vocals, guitar, bass), Matt Kline (Vocals, guitar, bass), Matt Metz (Mandolin, harmonies) and Ben Townsend (Fiddle, banjo, harmonies). Their debut cd “Nowhere Bound” is available on Skull City Records. If you have been sitting around wondering what was gonna fill the hole left by the Drag the River implosion, then I advise you to take a look at these guys. They don’t focus on drinking with the macro lens like DTR did, but they are a fine damn band nonetheless.

The Fox Hunt – Lord, We Get High
The Fox Hunt – Change My Ways
The Fox Hunt – Crack Shot

The Fox Hunt’s Official Site, The Fox Hunt on myspace, Buy Nowhere Bound

For the next 5 days I am gonna repost the pieces I did on my 5 favorite albums of the year. I’m not saying these are the 5 best albums of the year. I haven’t heard the bulk of what’s in most magazine’s and web sites top 10 list. Instead, I am just writing about my 5 favorite albums this year. I hope y’all enjoy it. I’ll be posting my favorite album tomorrow. Now, without further ado:

ninebullets.net 5 favorite albums of the year, #2: The Legendary Shackshakers – Swampblood

Had this album come out earlier in the year it very well may have been named my favorite album of the year. LSS finish off their Tentshow Trilogy (Believe, Pandelirium, Swampblood) with their best effort to date. Couple that with a new drummer who as added an extra level of energy to their stage show and you have a recipe for world domination. My love for LSS is well documented in the ninebullets archives so I am just gonna repost the original piece:

Lock up your daughters and cover up your wives! Those Legendary ShackShakers are crawling out of the swamp with their third and final installment in their “Tentshow Trilogy” series. A final installment that might be the best album they have ever released. Inspired by the good Colonel J.D. Wilkes’ new home somewhere in West Kentucky, Swampblood embraces a toned down more-blues/less-polka sound for much of the album. Longtime fans need not worry, there is still plenty dirty harmonica-fied, amped to 11, dixie-core there to appease you, however, this album seems to show just how talented these four guys really are. The first time my wife listened to the cd she said, “It’s like they finally decided to be great instead of just awesome.” That’s as good a way to put it as any. From the opening banjo of “Dawn” that gives way to the thump of Mark Robertson’s stand-up bass, spiced with that harmonica of “Old Spur Line,” you can tell things, while familiar, are just a little different this time around. Lyrically, well…I’ll just quote J.D. on that one:

Lyrically speaking, Swampblood lures you into a whole new realm of southern gothic goings-on. It is a cruel place, populated by three-legged dogs, lynch mobs and fallen forests…lustful angels, bloodthirsty hill-folk, and the bloated bodies of beached bovines.

Waterlogged corpses bob in the flooded streets of yore…crossed-eyed grannies pluck tuneless banjers…pigs run around with no clothes on.

Oddly enough, much of the lyrical reportage of Swampblood is based in truth. That’s the scary part. The local legends I was told as a troubled kid are passed on like some weird mix of classic oral tradition and primal scream therapy…The Brothers Grimm meet Sigmund Freud.

And it is that very penchant for words that you see above that makes his songs so god damned much fun…

So, you’ve heard of the Shack Shakers and you’ve read about the glorious pandemonium that is a Shack Shaker show, but you’ve never actually *heard* the Shack Shakers? Well, this is as good a time as any to jump into the greasy cesspool that is THE Legendary Shack Shakers. Not only are you gonna hear what might be their best album to date….you may be listening to the best album of 2007.

The Legendary Shack Shakers – Old Spur Line
The Legendary Shack Shakers – Swampblood
The Legendary Shack Shakers – Hellwater

The Legendary Shack Shakers Official Site, LSS on myspace, Buy Swampblood

For the next 5 days I am gonna repost the pieces I did on my 5 favorite albums of the year. I’m not saying these are the 5 best albums of the year. I haven’t heard the bulk of what’s in most magazine’s and web sites top 10 list. Instead, I am just writing about my 5 favorite albums this year. I hope y’all enjoy it. I’ll be posting my favorite album on December 28. Now, without further ado:

ninebullets.net 5 favorite albums of the year, #3: Two Cow Garage – Three

If I was gonna do a “song of the year” award there is no doubt that Two Cow’s song, “Should’ve California”, would have won it walking away. Even if I was trying, there is nothing bad I could say about these guys or their 2007 effort. Had they come to Tampa in 2007 they probably would have won show of the year. They are currently in the process of recording a new album set to be released somewhere in the middle of 2008 which will hopefully bring their version of the rock show back to Tampa. If these guys can stay together I have a hard seeing how they won’t be one of the next big things in the whole rock/alt./cow-punk soundscape. Especially now that they have the backing of Suburban Home.

Here is my original piece on Three:


Two Cow Garage is a band I can root for… three completely awesome guys who write completely awesome rock music and play it with everything in them, regardless of the size of the crowd behind the monitors. If you can’t get behind that, then I dunno why you would even bother to read this backwoods corner of the internets.
Back in December I named Three as one of my most anticipated albums of 2007, so when it leaked to the internet I couldn’t resist the download temptation(1). I am happy to report my anticipation did not turn to disappointment … quite the contrary: this CD makes a beeline for my essential listening list.The signature Two Cow rock sound is in there: still brash, still loud, still walking the tight-wire between punk and alt.country . With this album, the band shows a maturity or perhaps a jadedness that the previous two did not. Yes, there are still the signature “growing up in a hick town and girl that got away” songs on the disc. Yes, they are fantastic. Shane’s growl on “Blaket Grey” and Micha’s story line in “Arson” are great, but there is a new element of wisdom in this CD. Seems to me there have been a lot of dusty miles, missed rent payments, strained relationships and “Am I doing the right thing?” contemplation between the previous The Wall Against Our Backs and this new CD, Three.

The band’s apparent ‘seasoning’ seems to have added just the right amount of a jaded temperament to their songs to really push them over the top; and my favorite tracks from the disc reflect it. “Postcards and Apologies” delves into how easily one can become a self-centered prick when there isn’t anyone around willing to call you out. “Should’ve California”, my current fave track, has Micah wondering about the things that could have been, had he chosen a different path in life … instead of “wasting all of his time in these basement bars in this rock and roll band”. His angst comes to a head in “No Shame”, when Micah laments that “things have never been worse”… a line you can imagine being written over a bowl aramen noodles while his current girlfriend is bitching about his constant absence. While he is right, there is no shame in just giving up and walking away. As a fan, I would have to say it would be a shame.

Two Cow has all the makings of a great band. I don’t feel I am typing hyperbole when I say they have the talent and band chemistry to be the next Drive By Truckers or Lucero. They made it through all the questions and doubts that turned into Three with “600 pages of regrets and hundreds unfinished songs” and 13 finished tracks with regrets of their own… regrets that you should hear. The new CD is set to be released on April 24th via Suburban Home Records. Till then, check out the track below, or go stream the entire CD over on their website.

Two Cow Garage – Should’ve California
Two Cow Garage – No Shame
Two Cow Garage – Come Back To Shelby

Two Cow Garage’s Official Site, Two Cow Garage on myspace, Pre-order Two Cow Garage – Three

For the next 5 days I am gonna repost the pieces I did on my 5 favorite albums of the year. I’m not saying these are the 5 best albums of the year. I haven’t heard the bulk of what’s in most magazine’s and web sites top 10 list. Instead, I am just writing about my 5 favorite albums this year. I hope y’all enjoy it. I’ll be posting my favorite album on December 28. Now, without further ado:

ninebullets.net 5 favorite albums of the year, #4: Kenny Wayne Shepherd – 10 Days Out: Blues from the Backroads

If I were running an awards show I would have an award called “Most Important Album of the Year” and this years winner would be Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s effort 10 Days Out: Blues from the Backroads. As I said at the midpoint of this year:

At the risk of hyperbole, 10 Days Out is much greater than the sum of it’s parts. 10 Days will serve as documentation of some of the lesser known, but by no means lesser, blues musicians of the South. Some of the people featured on the cd/dvd release passed on before it was released, and more have moved on since. The object was to shine a spotlight on these people while there was still time, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, along with the legendary Double Trouble and producer Jerry Harrison, achieved their goal in spades. No overdubs, no high-tech fixing, “Live as it went down,” says Shepherd. “What happened is what you hear. We kept it as real as possible.” More history than mere album release, this is the most ‘important’ album released this year, in my opinion.

All of that still rings true. Here is the original piece I did on 10 Days Out:

Holy Flurking Schmidt! This thing is awesome! Allow me to quote from the cd website for a moment:

From the first compelling minutes of TEN DAYS OUT: Blues From TheBackroads, it’s immediately evident that bluesman Kenny Wayne Shepherd is up to something different. Shepherd embarked on a ten-day trek into the heart of America. Traveling highways and byways with a roving documentary film crew, aportable recording studio, portable house band—the esteemed Double Trouble, with producer Jerry Harrison, Shepherd visited blues veterans in their homes,backyards and local clubs, creating as intimate and intense a blues film as has been seen in many a year. The resulting film allows music lovers to join in theexploration and witness the artistic creation of both the film and the accompanying live CD.

With TEN DAYS OUT, Kenny Wayne Shepherd continues his love affair with America’s homegrown music, introducing his fans to a varied lot of his blues predecessors.The goal was to get intimate recordings in intimate places, and maintain authenticity: the album has no overdubs, no high-tech fixing. “Live as it went down,” says Shepherd. “What happened is what you hear. We kept it as real as possible.”

The DVD lays bare that truth, taking us into the small rooms, the kitchens, the dense woods where this music was made. “I was trying to convey the place that produced this kind of music,” says the film’s director Noble Jones, a self-confessed culture junkie, “the elements that came together to produce the blues. The environment these people came from and how it weighed on them.”

So that is the overview. In July of ’04 KWS and the others hit the road, 10 destinations in 10 days. Jamming with blues legends all the way. From the moment Prison Blues starts you know they caught lightning in a bottle. Even though this is technically a Kenny Wayne Shepherd release, the real stars are the ageing musicians whose chops are still sharper than most indie rock kids ever will be. One of the highlights (there are TONS) of the cd is when Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown plays his fiddle like it is a lead blues guitar in Born in Louisiana. I ain’t never heard anything like that in my life. I had already listened to the cd 6 or 7 times before I noticed it and had to listen to that part over again about 4 times in complete awe.

As bad ass as the cd is the real reason to buy this release instead of downloading it is the 1 hour and 46 minute documentary it comes with. I sat riveted to the couch through the entire thing. From juke joint’s to front porches to KWS and Buddy Flett’s performance at Ledbelly’s grave you get to see some amazing performances but some true legends, some of which have already left us. Along the way you also get some really good insight into the history of the genre and the characters that these guys really are. When I was a kid I would watch a skateboarding video and get jazzed as shit to go out and skate. This dvd makes me jazzed as shit to spend a night with a whiskey neat in a sweaty bar listening to howling guitars and haunted men releasing their demons.

I seriously can not recommend this enough to anyone who is a fan of blues music. Especially if you are a peripheral fan, since it will give you so much insight in this, one of the only all American forms of music. Check out the trailer for the documentary and hear Kenny Wayne Shepherd play with B.B. King on “The Thrill Is Gone” and I bet that you will be in a full sprint to the record store to pick up a copy for yourself. However, should you need anymore incentive to go and buy this cd/dvd consider this, partial proceeds are being donated to Music Maker Relief Foundation, a non-profit organization helping impoverished blues artists. More information about the artists involved and the project itself can be found at the Official Website.

I think this cd will be a reoccurring feature here on ninebullets. I tend to follow musical chains and I think this one really poses some impressive links to pursue. I have already ordered some cds from the Buddy Flett fronted band The Bluebirds and I suspect I will be buying material by plenty of the other artists featured on this album.

Kenny Wayne Sheppard w/Cootie Shark and Neil Pattman – Prison Blues
Kenny Wayne Sheppard w/Buddy Flett – Honky Tonk
Kenny Wayne Sheppard w/Bryan Lee – Tina Marie

Kenny Wayne Sheppard Official Site, 10 Days Out Official Site

P.S. Since we are on the subject of blues documentaries I feel obligated to mention another, equally impressive doc featuring some of the old Mississippi backwoods bluesmen including RL Burnside, Junior Kimbrough and T-Model Ford. It has a much grittier feel to it than 10 Days Out but is equally captivating. From imdb:

You See Me Laughin’ is a full length documentary that takes a look at the often untamed lifestyles of the last great North Mississippi bluesmen and the Oxford, MS based label- Fat Possum Records- that struggles to record them. The film is an exciting collage of exclusive interviews, live performances and personal anecdotes. It includes rare, black and white footage of RL Burnside from 1974, disturbingly funny stories about touring told first hand by Iggy Pop and John Spencer Blues Explosion as well as an interesting encounter with Junior Kimbrough described by Bono from U2 and much more. This is not for the faint of heart.

I saw You See Me Laughin’ on IFC a few years ago and will stop on it every time they are airing it to this day.

9b.net's 5 favorite albums of 2007 #5: Chris Knight – The Trailer Tapes

For the next 5 days I am gonna repost the pieces I did on my 5 favorite albums of the year. I’m not saying these are the 5 best albums of the year. I haven’t heard the bulk of what’s in most magazine’s and web sites top 10 list. Instead, I am just writing about my 5 favorite albums this year. I hope y’all enjoy it. I’ll be posting my favorite album on December 28. Now, withou further ado:

ninebullets.net 5 favorite albums of the year, #5: Chris Knight – The Trailer Tapes

At some point of every single December 31 since I was 13 I’ve wondered who would be that artist that I just fell in love with in the coming year. This year that award easily goes to Chris Knight. There are others, yes, but over the course of this year I have acquired Chris’ entire catalog and I can not find a single bad thing to say about any of it. To quote Office Space, “I celebrate his entire catalog.”

In March I wrote about The Trailer Tapes, here is a repost:

From the bitter lament of the rail worker in Spike Driving Blues to the battling lovers of Back Water Blues to the high school sweetheart turned murderer of Rita’s Only Fault these were the first glimpses into Chris’s unapologetic style of telling the stories of the blue collar man.

Back in October I wrote about Chris Knight’s cd Enough Rope. I had never heard anything by him at that time and have since fell in love with the cd. A couple of moths ago I saw that he was scheduled to release a new cd, The Trailer Tapes, so I fired off an email to his PR company asking for an advance copy.

The Trailer Tapes was recorded one Kentucky summer in 1996 inside of a singlewide trailer by a recently signed but unknown Chris Knight. Recorded with 2 microphones and an ADAT with the guitar bumping into the mics and rain beating on the trailer roof-top, it was primitive, but above all it was real. Since then it has been cleaned up by producer/engineer Ray Kennedy and now they find their way into our hands. Three of the 11 tracks were rerecorded and found their way onto other albums over the years but the remainder are otherwise unreleased.

So here I am. I have Chris’s latest album and I love it. I have his, for all practical purposes, original demo from 11 years ago and I love it. I guess the only thing left to do is start filling in the gap between the two cds so expect to see other Chris Knight articles throughout this year.

The Trailer Tapes will be released April 3 on Drifter’s Church Records. Chris will also be touring acoustically behind these songs. Tour dates can be found on his website.

Chris Knight – Rita’s Only Fault
Chris Knight – House and 90 Acres
Chris Knight – Spike Driving Blues

Chris Knight’s Official Site, Chris Knight on myspace, Buy Chis Knight’s cds

ninebullets.net's favorite show of 2007:

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The rest of this year will be a series of Best Of’s for ninebullets.net. If you are looking for new
material be sure to start checking back on January 2 of the 2k8….or keep coming back and
relive some of my favorite things from this year.
——————————————————————————————–

Man. 24 shows in 12 months. Probably 26 if plans for New Years go accordingly. Doing this site has allowed me to go to more shows this year than I’ve ever been able to afford before and it’s made for some fantastic nights. When I started thinking about what I was gonna label my favorite show of the year 2 shows jumped out to me immediatly; Old Crow Medicine Show and The Roots. I felt some guilt pains about Radio Moscow, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Mofro getting eliminated so easily while I’m sure the Biram and Legendary Shackshaker shows suffer from sheer familiarity but that doesn’t change a simple fact: The Roots and Old Crow were my two favorite shows of the year. Now one must get crowned my favorite and as awesome as Old Crow was The Roots walk away with this contest. I still think back to the show with a sense of awe. The Roots will never get within driving distance of me again w/o me being at the show. Here is a repost of my review of the show:

Rock Report: The Roots @ House of Blues in Orlando (originally posted March 1, 2007)

Okay, here is the deal. Real work has it’s size 14 firmly up my ass this week so this will be my last post till next week. Last Saturday we went out to the land of the rat for The Roots show. I have been a fan of The Roots for years but had never managed to see them live. Walking in my expectations were sky high….nice venue, large crowd, awesome band, a designated driver that was not myself and recently voted best hip-hop act in the Central Florida scene Sol.iLLaquists of Sound opening the show.

The moment Sol.iLLaquists of Sound took the stage my expectations were blown away like a frog with an m-80 in it’s ass. These guys are a social hiphop act with (1) male rapper, (1) female rapper/singer, (1) female backup vocals and (1) guy on the drum machines. They sound sort of like The Black Eyed Peas if B.E.P. was still making descent music. With politically charged lyrics heavy on social and self awareness. Notice I did not mention a DJ in their lineup? They have this guy…he has 3 drum machines and he plays them things like pianos. It is truly awe inspiring to watch live as he plays 90% of the music live. I hope to do a full feature on these guys in the coming weeks.

Next up was The Roots. They opened up their portion of the show by marching through the arena with horns and cowbells before taking the stage. First they took the stage, then they took over the night. To say these guys are talented is like saying North Dakota is a little chilly in February. Their show flowed seamlessly from hip-hop to soul to funk to rock to jazz and back again. Everybody from ?uest to the horn-line got their time on centerstage. They did originals, Bob Dylan covers, Police covers and a hip-hop montage in the middle of the show that was about 15 songs with snips of everything from Salt ‘n Pepper to Talib Kweli to Wu-Tang. Probably the most impressive moment of the show, to me, was when the guitarist, Kirk Douglas did a note perfect version of the Star Spangled Banner but replaced the lyrics with the lyrics of Dylan’s Masters of War. (youtube clip)

It is not very often you go to a show and have your already high expectations obliterated. This was one of those times. There will never be another Roots show in the Central Florida area that doesn’t have my ass firmly planted somewhere in the audience. I would reccommend both Sol.iLLaquists of Sound and The Roots to anyone. Seriously, even if you are not a fan of hiphop I can almost guarantee that you would have a great time seeing The roots. They are just that good. The Legendary Roots Crew indeed.

Comps; the gift that keeps on giving:

Here it is. The final post of 2007 for ninebullets.net. The rest of this year will be reposts of posts from the year starting with a repost of my favorite show this year…that will come later this morning. Then next week will be a countdown of my favorite albums this year.

We are gonna close out this year with the Lucero Message board December comp. It didn’t have a designated theme of Christmas, but some of that ol’ yultide spirit managed to slip in there. You can head over to the Lucero Message board to see who submitted each track and a brief description of why they chose that specific track. You can download it here for the next 2 weeks or so. If you enjoy it, sign up for the message board and contribute in the January comp.

Tracklisting:

Michael Dean Damron & The Loyal Bastards – Bad Days Ahead

“I wanted to do more things musically that this band was incapable of,” comments Damron on his decision to break up the band. “I want to write more rock songs, yeah, but I also want to write country songs, more folk-y songs, and other stuff, stuff the band wasn’t willing to do. They wanted to make all the songs rock songs and a lot of the newer stuff I was writing wasn’t going in that direction. And I didn’t feel like trying to force it upon the song. If the song was a rock song, I was all for it. But if it wasn’t, it needed to not be a rock song”.”  ~ Michael Dean Damron on his decision to break up Icanlickanysonofabitchinthehouse

ninebullets.net was a huge ICLASOB supporter and their split last November kicked off the year of bands I like splitting up.  However, a year later Michael has returned with his new band, Thee Loyal Bastards, and a new cd, Bad Days Ahead. Bad Days Ahead doesn’t have the, ‘crank it to 11’ breakneck rock and roll feel of any of the ICLASOB releases and and it isn’t as tortured and personal as Michael’s solo cd, A Perfect Day For A Funeral, opting instead to play up against and in the wide gap between the two. The new, calmer mood of Damron’s voice still has that signature cigarettes and whiskey-drenched sound, but it’s tempered and less ragged now. Any one familiar with ICLASOB and Michael’s solo material will find the lyrical matter familiar ground. Listening to songs like “Ghost”, I am inclined to agree with Michael’s sentiments about ICLASOB not being the band for these songs. It would have been like dog wearing a duck suit. Sometimes, like on “Moonshine”, you can tell Micheal’s still trying to firm up his footing with all these new sounds to play with, but all in all the cd is well worth your listen.

Listening can be done now if you are willing to buy the cd from the Netherlands-based record label, Rosa Records, as due to some sort of mix-up, the cd will not be coming out on Michael’s domestic label, InMusicWeTrust, ’til February. Michael and the band will also be hitting the road in February with an Alaskan band, The Whipsaws. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll make it all the way down here to Florida.

Michael Dean Damron & The Loyal Bastards – I Love The Rain
Michael Dean Damron & The Loyal Bastards – Ghost
Michael Dean Damron & The Loyal Bastards – Bad Days Ahead

Michael Dean Damron & The Loyal Bastards Official Site, Michael Dean Damron & The Loyal Bastards on myspace, Buy Bad Days Ahead