Mike “Reno” Lund , 1968-2017

I hate that the thing that drives me to the keyboard most is tragedy. I didn’t know Mike well, we only met a time or two, but he was a really big part of a community that is important to me. So I wanted to let this be said by Reno’s musical family, the folks at the Deer Lodge in Portland, OR. This is from their posts:

“As some of you may know, we lost a brother yesterday: Michael Scott Lund, better known as Reno. He was taken way too soon from us, and he will be dearly missed. Words can’t even express how much Mike will be missed. We’ll miss his music, his home-brewed beer, him manning the grill at Deer Lodge events… we’ll just miss him.

He was an amazing man, and a great friend. As well as a great musician!

But, as you can imagine, with him being taken suddenly, and unexpectedly, there was no planning involved from his wife Linda and son Teless. So, they are now facing the loss of a loved one, as well as the stressful costs of a funeral.

So, we have decided to help out the family and raise money to pay for his funeral. Mike would do the same for any of you, so it’s the least we can do while we mourn.

There are several ways you can help:

You can also buy Reno‘s CD, Bruja, from Deer Lodge Records (or on bandcamp), and all of that money will go as well, we have also set up a YouCaring page where you can donate:

https://www.youcaring.com/lindaandtelesslund-965319

 

If you can donate, please do. If you can’t, can you please share this link? All the money will go directly to Reno’s wife and son, and every little bit helps.

Thank you very much. Let’s try and ease as much burden as we can from Linda and Teless.

To Mike Lund, we love you.”

                                   – the Deer Lodge

 

Drunken Prayer is also donating the proceeds from their “Drunken Prayer…with Sam Henry” EP to the family. Mike Lund did the original art for the release and put together each package by hand.

Hug a loved one, message a friend. Like the lady said “Stay soft, stay brave”

Creston Line exclusive track premier “1992”

 

{Editor’s Note: So…this is weird. Technically, technically, this album is coming out on Twang N Bang Records which I technically am. However, this is kind of a misnomer because I had and have nothing to do with this record beyond telling Jon what release # it was and I think I fucked that up. Or maybe that was last time. Anyway… I will not be writing about anything associated with Twang N Bang ever again, this time is just because I’ve done such a shit job of putting content up here I feel like I need the kick in the ass. And I want everyone to hear this track and get into it. Because I never pick the popular songs on albums for some reason. But I pick the good ones.}

 

It’s kind of hard for me to write about the Creston Line. It’s a band I know well. When American Dirt guitarist Jon Bartel first wanted to explore a solo project he was calling “Creston Line” I played bass for the first few outings, years ago. The project eventually became a real band with real members instead of hucksters like myself, right around the time American Dirt began hibernating, and with that came a real focus on playing some solid originals.

“1992” has been around just long enough for there to be a few versions floating around. In it’s original form this dead buddy heartbreaker was a rock song through and through, Bartel near shouting the words “A couple of kids back in 1992!” before the band pulled back for the chorus ending lament “I don’t know if there’s a me without you”. In it’s incarnation found on the forthcoming Creston Line record “Vagabonds” (pre-order right here) a gentler approach is taken.

With more than a slight nod to Whiskeytown, Bartel and drummer Taylor Belmore turn in a much more subtle read of the lyrics than previous versions. Without the force of the band to create a dynamic shift the focus instead moves to the voices crossing each other over some light guitar work. The melancholy is cranked to eleven but it absolutely fits the lyrical content. Bartel is less defiant now, more resigned and regretful. The further he gets from his friend’s passing the more honest that sounds.

This track, despite the stripped own nature, is as clear of a mission statement as a band can make. If you like this track you’re gonna love the band.

 

 

https://soundcloud.com/jon-bartel-2/1992-3-master-session

 

Micah Schnabel – Your New Norman Rockwell

 

It started with “the Great Gravitron Massacre”. I think. Maybe it was “Come Back to Shelby”. Either way, it was on a Suburban Home Records sampler CD. The old ones with the shitty little sticker with the title of the comp but no other data. I wasn’t sure who it was but the song stuck with me every time I listened to the disc.

So I sorted out who it was and picked up  “III” by Two Cow Garage and quickly got to know and love the songs of Micah Schnabel and Shane Sweeney. If those guys just kept making “III” I probably would have still dug them a bit. That wasn’t the plan though. Every new record has broadened out the scope and nature of their songs. Micah’s new solo outing, “Your New Norman Rockwell”, is a new frontier that is both a surprising change and a beautiful fusion of every other stop on the journey so far.

Micah has always been a great wordsmith. Complex and heartfelt are not two concepts that always ride together comfortably but Micah keeps finding new ways to express the nuance of the broad topics of love, family, self worth, music and the terror and joy of daily life. On “Your New Norman Rockwell” his relationship with words and language seem to be turned to 11. The more personal a story Micah tells the more universal it feels. The closer he pulls in the wider his reach.

The tone throughout is confrontational but not angry. Confident without swagger, more self assured than pushy.  The nervous energy that skips across the album (and comes to an early, if brief, release at 2:22 of JAZZ AND CINNAMON TOAST CRUNCH) adds to the desperate and pleading urgency in the lyrics. The melodies are insistent but not obnoxious and the album pushes and pulls with sections featuring acoustic guitar and voice nestled next to full band arrangements. “Hello, My Name Is Henry” could be Soul Asylum circa “Hang Time”. The beating of the heart is that of a troubadours no matter the dressing though. Acoustic and some hard truths, directed inward and outward, are tucked away in almost every track.

I don’t know why exactly but I can already say this is an album that I will be listening to a lot while traveling. I can’t explain why. Maybe it’s the unsettled nature of the album, maybe it’s the way “The Interview” sounds like slowly driving out of town for the first minute or so then laying into it once you hit the freeway.

I think Micah managed to find a pretty great mission statement for himself and the rest of us too

“oh what bummer it is to be a human being, oh how amazing it can be to be a human being” – Oh, What a Bummer

Words to live by, friends. It’s an ugly world out there, but we don’t have to be ugly about it. Take one listen to “Your New Norman Rockwell” and tell me you don’t want to do better. Essential listening of course. And with a gorgeous cover by Vanessa Jean Speckman it’s worth getting the CD not just the download. Micah Schnabel – “Your New Norman Rockwell” is out today, June 9th, on Last Chance Records. Go get it, support art you love. Get out and go see Micah play too, it’s good for you. Builds character.

 

 

Sarah Shook & the Disarmers – Sidelong

 

Damn but I love this record.

I didn’t expect to. For whatever reason I am suspect whenever I begin to hear a bunch of chatter about a given artist. Too often it ends up being for a flash in the pan artist that is merely doing a good job of grabbing the style of the moment rather than someone with a deep foundation making a great record. Especially when an album has been floating around for awhile like this one. Usually I end up disappointed by an album that can’t match the hype it comes packaged with. Not the case with Sarah Shook and the Disarmers.

The first sign that this record might be better than good was when Bloodshot Records picked it up. As purveyors of some of the best alt.country records ever put out the Bloodshot folks tend to know the difference between a wanna be and the real deal. Even having Bloodshot pick up the record wasn’t enough for me to buy in though. I tend towards having a Mulder heart but a Scully mind when it comes to new bands. I want to believe but spend perhaps too much time looking for flaws.

Then I heard the record.

Right away I was onboard. From the opening track, “Keep the Home Fires Burnin”, I knew that I would be developing a nice relationship with this album. Like many great records “Sidelong” has a timeless quality to it. The arrangements and instruments tend toward the traditional but the swing of the record and the lyrical content are modern as fuck. Missing is the cupcake and unicorn sheen that seems to permeate many country records released today. In it’s place is the natural sound and feel of people actually playing music together.

In the past few years as Americana/Alt.country/whatever has blown up I’ve encountered a lot of singers that do a very affected and stagy version of “country” singing that tends to be the vocal equivalent of a tech company CEO wearing overalls and a straw hat. Hearing the genuine article is jarring at first. So many poor imitators can make it hard to recognize the real deal. With the caveat that I haven’t seen them live I will state that on this record Shook’s voice sounds about as true as anything I’ve ever heard. A bit of hard living and some sad sack introspection rule the day without resorting to cliche or rote lyrical combinations. “”Sidelong”, “Dwight Yoakam” and “Keep the Home Fires Burnin” are the strongest tracks here, I suspect most people will enjoy “Fuck Up” a fair amount too.

The quality of the songs, Sarah’s voice and some fantastic guitar work form Eric Peterson have kept me coming back to this one again and again. I really wish more country records sounded like this. No new ground is being broken here, just a collection of great songs. And that is enough. More than enough.

Essential listening for sure.

Nine Bullets Cast – Episode Two – Michael Dean Damron and Cory Call

 

Michael Dean Damron and Cory Call sit down with Patrick Hayes to discuss music, marijuana, politics and the truth about Richie Rich and Casper the Friendly Ghost.

Mike and Cory are currently touring all over these United States, check ’em out

April 20th Little Rock AR White Water Tavern W/ Shane Sweeny
April 21st Memphis TN House show PM for details W/ Shane Sweeny
April 22nd Lexington KY The Burl W/ Shane Sweeny
April 23rd off
April 24th Baltimore MD Mums w/ Matt Charette
Apil 25th Philly Kung Fu Necktie w/ Matt Cherette
April 26th NJ Ocean Port Firehouse Studios w/ Matt Charette
April 27th NYC Fat Babys W/ Matt Cherette & Chris McFarland
April 28th Providence RI Dusk W/ Matt Charette
April 29th Boston MA Winter Hill Brewing Company w/ Matt Charette
April 30th Drive
May 1st Pittsburgh PA James St Gastro Pub w/ Jay Wiley & Bryan B. McQuaid
May 2nd Canton OH Buzzbin
May 3rd Columbus OH Tree Bar 7pm Early Show
May 4th Chicago IL Quenchers
May 5th Minnesota Minneapolis Driftwood Char Bar w/ China City
May 6th Annadale MN The Road House
May 7th Lacrosse WI Private. PM for details

Bandcamp Suggestions

 

Today Bandcamp is donating their portion of sales to the ACLU. Seems like a good excuse to buy a few albums to me. Here are a few suggestions for you:

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Boy howdy do I love this album. I first saw Fernando play a few years ago and it was a revelation. It’s always a treat to discover an artist with a large back catalog filled with great material. This album from 1998 quickly became not only my favorite Fernando album but also one of my all time favorite records. It was out of print for awhile but the rights recently came back into Fernando’s hands. It’s a keeper.

 

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You probably haven’t heard of The Brangs yet so let’s fix that. Coming out of an incredibly fertile Sacramento music scene the Brangs just put their debut album out. Seafoam Green is a rugged but poppy collection of tunes from the mind of Pete Barker. As always the thing that a good record lives or dies on is songs and Pete has a few gems on this one. Want something aggressive with a hint of twang that you’ll still be singing a few days later? This one is for you. The Brangs should have opened for Lucero circa Nobody’s Darlings.

 
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You really can’t go wrong with  Mike D album. That’s all I can say.

 

 
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One of my favorite San Luis Obispo acts! Fuzzy,fun and fantastic. The bass and drum duo, Bearcats , might not be the typical 9b fare but I dig ’em so I suspect many of you will too.

 

 

 
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With a new Benchmarks album right around the corner it might be a good time to brush up on some of their older material. Then you can act like you were hip to them the whole time anyhow. It’s what I would do.

Go out and buy some records folks! Today and everyday.

Shane Sweeney – Come On, All You Fascists

Two Cow Garage’s Shane Sweeney chose today to release a new track that might be exactly what a lot of us need right about now. Folk singers write protest songs, Shane is absolutely a folk singer even when he is screaming over the righteous fury of TCG so it should come as no surprise that he is rising to the occasion here.

The track is free but Shane asks that donations be made to the ACLU  action.aclu.org/secure/donate-to-aclu
I expect we will be seeing more of this. The number one thing that connects me to the music I love is the ability of the artists to express their passion,their beliefs and their truths through their art. The artists we love have something to say, let’s give it a listen.

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A few we missed in 2016

2016 is finally behind us. Despite the fact that I still hear people saying silly things like “There is no new music that is any good” 2016 brought us some truly fantastic albums by people like Two Cow Garage, Matt Woods, the Dexateens, Beach Slang and many many more. For every one of those albums we review here there are at least three or four that slip through the cracks that really deserve to be mentioned. So here are a few things I heard this past year that I wanted you to know about.

Turkey Buzzards – Live

turkey-buzzards-live

When RSV first invited me to write for 9b it was partially to bring some attention to bands from the West Coast, so here is one of the best we have to offer from out here. The Turkey Buzzards have been hitting the stage all across California and North Carolina (home state of guitarist Dylan Nicholson) pretty much non-stop since they formed so it’s fitting that their second release is a live one. This record does a great job of capturing the sound that this guitar and upright bass duo is becoming increasingly known for. They are just as at home playing with folk bands or loud rock groups. I’m gonna go ahead and suggest that these guys will be more widely known in the very near future. They are currently wrapping up work on their next studio album. Get on board now.

 

Derek Senn – Avuncular

derek-senn-avuncular

I first encountered Derek in his husband and wife duo “The Wedding Industrial Complex”. They played simple but somehow sophisticated pop rock with tremendously catchy hooks and lyrics from a unique perspective (I may be misremembering but I believe the song “The Drinky Drink” comes from this era). Since then Derek has upped his game and recorded a very well received folk pop record, TheTechnological Breakthrough, with producer/musician John Vanderslice. Two years after that record comes his latest, Avuncular, and it is a deeper dive the territory he explored previously. Derek’s songwriting voice is quirky in all the right ways. By putting oddball spins on otherwise mundane slice of life stories Derek manages to make very specific situations universal. His voice is calming and assured, I often hear a similarity to Grant Lee Phillips. The music is polished without being cookie cutter. Give it a spin on a rainy day and see what you think.

 

Brad Armstrong – Empire

brad-armstrong-empire

Speaking of somewhat quirky folk pop we find ourselves at Brad Armstrong’s “Empire”. I knew of Brad as a member of the Dexateens, his guitaring and singing brought much to the band. Much like that band’s album from this year Brad’s solo record rewards multiple listens. On first pass it sounded like a very competent record with strong songs ( No Vain Apology and Cherokee Nose Job top that list), however when I listened to it on headphones I began to realize that it was far more complex than I initially thought. There is something “off” on almost every track. Some sound, some instrument, some left turn in the arrangement that keeps me coming back to this album. The album stomps around and rocks out in some spots and is gentle and soothing in others, maintaing a natural flow throughout. If this entire record was just Brad’s voice and guitar it could easily survive on those elements and the strength of the songs but the added sonic treats make for a very pleasurable and rewarding album.

 

Creston Line – Great Depression

creston-line-great-depression

American Dirt guitarist (and occasional singer) Jon Bartel is fronting a new band called Creston Line that mines similar territory to American Dirt with a bit more emphasis on the alt.country side of things. This is facilitated greatly by Pedal Steel player Brenneth Stevens who shines on this EP.  Creston Line has already enjoyed some success with the title track but for me the real killer is the third track,  “Oildale”. Easily the strongest track Bartel has written the song feels immediately familiar but reveals hidden depths upon repeated listens. Creston Line is currently working on a full length follow up.

 

Echolocation – Dreams of the Wealthy

echolocation-dreams-of-the-wealthy

We get a lot of submissions from bands unknown to us here at Nine Bullets. We try to check out every submission but it’s very hard to give every release attention due to the sheer volume of submissions. Echolocation got my attention though. Their three song EP is rough around the edges (some of my favorite recordings are ) but the songwriting is solid and the energy is ferocious. History has proven that taking a chance on a young band from Ohio can yield positive results, give these guys a listen if you like your rockin’ on the grungey side.

Happy Holidays and American Thread’s “Elf on the Shelf”

Hey folks,

Hope all is well in your neck of the woods. We have a ton of content coming in the next few weeks, reviews, end of year lists, a podcast and other various bits and pieces. Trying to finish the year strong y’know?

This track right here is the only Elf on the Shelf Christmas song I’ve heard so far and it comes from American Thread, seemed like it’d be worth sharing. Check it out…

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