I thought, when AIV and I talked about this a HHO last year that I would make an emotional post and feel sad that this announcement had to come. The reality is that I feel relieved. As of now 9 Bullets is in archive mode. I am turning off the comments on all posts and no new content will be posted. The site will remain up for historical purposes as long as AIV pays for the domain. I should have more to say but I honestly don’t. I do want to thank everyone who read us all in the glory days and beyond. Something great happened here and we let it go on way to long after that. I love you all!
I doubt this comes as a shock to anyone but I wanted to make it official. I am stepping down from everything 9 Bullets related save the technical side of things. I’ll keep the site updated and make sure it’s secure but I won’t be writing anymore. I am venturing out on my own and will doing some things at Through The Whiskey Glass. I have no desire to attempt to recreate or compete with 9 Bullets and if I ever feel the need to write another album review I’ll ask Patrick about posting it with me as a guest author. Make no mistake, I love 9 Bullets and always will. This decision is due to many factors and in the end one I feel like I have to make if I am going to continue supporting the music that we’ve always supported.
My history here and love I have for 9 Bullets is, in fact, the very reason I’m stepping down even as a writer. I have been a less than reliable writer and feel like I’ve let a lot of people down. Whether this is true or not doesn’t actually effect how I feel. It’s time for me to move on, take a step out on my own, shake off the restrictions, however artificial, I have assigned to writing here, and try to rekindle the same joy and vigor in doing something to support the artists that I have always felt in the music. This isn’t an easy decision, nor one that I’ve given anyone an opportunity to talk me out. I simply feel like my time here has run its course and perhaps more than. A lot of what I’m feeling may be completely delusional but it is my reality. It’s never fun to say goodbye but this is internets and you all know how to find me.
I’ll leave you with these two things:
I have to say goodbye to things in order to take on bigger things that I’ve always wanted to do.
– Mahershala Ali
Thank you everyone for these last 8 years. It’s been an amazing run and while I have a few regrets I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I met Dexy two years ago at Holiday Hangout. He played a little for us at Hangout and since then he and I have spoken quite a lot over the internets and I happen to like him a great deal. He shared some of his older music with me and it was a load of fun so I was a little excited when he told me that he’d been working a new record. Well that record hits the streets today at 9:00 AM GMT which means this post is going up at 3:00 AM my time. I’ve had this record in my hands for a while now and it’s really good. Everything about it simply spot on. One of the stand out bits is how well the tracks are ordered. I know some folks don’t care about that but for me it really makes a difference. I don’t listen to a record on random when I get it in my hands, I listen to it front to back, so the reality is that the track order dictates how you’re taken through the whole experience. If that’s wrong then even an album full of good songs can fall flat. Now I don’t want to turn this in to a review, because that’s coming later. I still need a little more time to ponder what I’m going actually write about Tear It Down. I was pretty excited when Dexy asked me to host a track for release day and that’s what this is. So I get to share my favorite track off of this one with y’all. I hope that you like it as much as I do.
UPDATE: Added more links for pre-order and official release announcement.
This is the first in a series of guest posts by Craig Toney about the amazing thing that is Holiday Hangout. If you aren’t familiar with this event then you are really late to the party. It’s a small, three day gathering of amazing people and even more amazing music that happens at the legendary White Water Tavern in Little Rock, AR every December. I asked Craig to write up a night and he wrote up all three so you all get a little peek in to what some of us look forward to all year! – Romeo Sid Vicious
For the past five years, one hundred and fifty music lovers have come to Little Rock, Arkansas for the Holiday Hangout to celebrate independent rock and roll and roots music. The Hangout originated from a birthday party that Travis Hill threw for himself from 2009 – 2011. Travis, the owner of Last Chance Records, wanted to celebrate with some of his favorite bands. As interest grew, his birthday party became one of the most anticipated events for lovers of Americana, alt-country, and independent rock and roll.
When you round the curve on 7th street and see the back lights of the White Water Tavern, you get that warm feeling that you are going home.The WWT has inspired songs from a few artists. It is a place to romanticize the music and people that have filled it throughout the years. For those that have not been there, it is an old wooden building that you might think is just a shack sitting in a residential\industrial section of any small city. Inside, the wooden planks that make up the WWT, magic happens. A few bands have been saved by this little bar and the people that frequent it. Many lifelong friendships have been made here. There is something magical about this little dive bar.
The music kicked off with Benchmarks. This band is fronted by Todd Farrell, guitarist of Two Cow Garage. Their music is rock and roll with a punk edge. The crowd was enthusiastic about the music and were singing along to every song. This prompted Todd to say “I guess someone shared that something that I told them to keep secret”. That “thing” was the upcoming album Benchmarks will release in the Spring.
Salty Dogs were up next bringing some local flavor to the night. Their music is a mix of country and rock and roll. It almost had a Dwight Yoakam feel at times. It was a strong set and kept people rocking.
Lydia Loveless made her first official HHO appearance. Last year, she was added at the last minute. Lydia usually has one of the best bands in rocking roll backing her. Her HHO sets have been solo. Lydia is a rock star. When she is solo, you can really see how powerful and captivating her voice can be.
When you think of powerful voices, Austin Lucas comes to mind. This year he did a solo set and showed off that voice. During ‘Go West’, he had the entire crowd singing along with him. He is truly underrated when it comes to his performances.
Romantica brought a fun vibe to the night. The crowd wasn’t as familiar with them but that didn’t stop frontman Ben Kyle keeping everyone dancing along. That says quite a bit about the band and the oneness that the attendees have.
Arkansas has a few favorite sons when it comes to music. Adam Faucett has become one of them. His voice is unique and more powerful than a steaming locomotive. He makes you want to stare in awe and singalong at the same. time.
The music coming from Oklahoma rivals any other location today. John Moreland is one of the best songwriters today. His songs will make you cry. Tonight, he returned to his roots and had a full band. The band had John Calvin Abney on lead guitar. John could have stayed safe and used them to provided layers behind his voice. Instead, they went full electric and powered through the set. I can only imagine it was like seeing Springsteen in the early days.
Joey Kneiser and The Living Flames closed the night. Joey played songs from his album ‘The Wildness’ and added a couple of new songs. Kelly Smith provided the beautiful harmonies that she has provided with Joey since the Glossary days. It would have been the perfect way to close the night except Glossary drummer, Eric Giles was in the house….
Four Fifths of Glossary were at the WWT. All night, people asked Eric if he was going to play. He would just shrug his shoulder. Eric joined Joey, Kelly and Bingham Barnes on stage to rip through four Glossary songs. It was the first performance for Glossary since Eric had his shoulder issues. During ‘Little Caney’ I had tears because it made me think of what might happen. This is the 20 year anniversary of Glossary becoming a band. Everyone is hoping Todd Beene will join his bandmates and give us a few Glossary shows this year.
Night one was at an end. Seven plus hours of music. Countless hugs from friends. This is what we have come to expect from the HHO. People wandered out of the White Water almost giddy from the night. We went back to our rooms or to the after show Hangout that Dave Parsons has been hosting. It was a great kickoff to a wonderful weekend.
All images are used with permission from Melissa Brawner Photography. Melissa is the official photographer for Holiday Hangout and she does an amazing job. She has graciously allowed us to use her photos for this series of posts. She does much more than shoot shows, check out her website and if you are anywhere close to he there is no better photographer you could use.
I’ve been wanting to talk about this record since before it came out but something about it has eluded being put in to words. Being as that it’s Two Cow Garage you should be able to guess or already know that it’s an amazing album so just talking about how great it is didn’t seem like it would do justice to the ideas that are being expressed here. So I’ve sort of been marinating in the songs, letting them sink in and become part of me, and while I was doing that everything got turned upside down. We elected an orange nutjob as POTUS and all of a sudden Brand New Flag started taking on a whole different meaning for me, and I suspect for a lot of others. When the world goes off it’s always music that centers me and brings me back and I think that this is now a much more important record than it would have been. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s been important to me since the first time I played it.
So fuck being clever,we’ve got to be kind
An iPhone for an iPhone has left us all blind
Sarcastic critics of each other’s hearts and minds
And that’s just no way to live
And we, we have to stop comparing ourselves
We have to have to our lives to everyone else
– Shakespeare and Walt Disney
The difference between now and when I first heard it and now is that I used to feel like we were going down the right path and these songs were about the things we needed to do in order to keep going down the right path. I didn’t think we were close to the end and now I realize how naive I was to think that we were anywhere near the right path. These songs are now so much more important because we’re moving backwards and it’s people who care that will make things safe for those who don’t fit the mold that Trump’s supporters want for America. It’s songs like “Let The Boys Be Girls” that will give hope to people like my daughter as we watch a homophobe vice president be sworn in to the White House. It’s people like Shane, Micah, Todd, and Murph that will be making the uncomfortable feel a safe for a few minutes at a time and right now that’s what we desperately need.
No matter what they say
I will always find a way
I promise I will never give up
Yeah, I promise I will never give up
– I promise
I was once of those people would have voted for Trump, it’s a past that’s part of me whether I like it or not, and I know the fear of changing, I know the fear of what you think your way of life being threatened is, I know the fear of admitting that you’re wrong about pretty much everything but I also know the freedom and liberty in realizing that you’ve been lied to and that you can change, that your way of life is a microcosm of the greater human experience and that nothing is really threatening you, your way of life, or your family. Well at least not by making sure that people have the same exact rights as you do, what’s happening now is a completely different story and people are rightfully scared, the fear is a reasonable response to an unreasonable situation. Even if it turns out that nothing happens and none of our freedoms get rolled back and the status quo remains the same the fact is that a lack of progress is regress at this point.
They called me a faggot and freak
As I sat there on my knees
And I was too scared to speak
But I’m not scared anymore
And I’d rather die in that parking lot than ever feel that helpless again
– This Little Light
I wanted to explore the difference between the political and personal in TCG’s songs. What I realized is that the political is personal in most aspects. The fear that is present is not a disassociated political tremble somewhere in the back of our minds. We’ve already seen hate based attacks on the rise, even if some of them have been proven to be hoaxes there are even more that are not. There are personal stories and videos all over social media. Even if the incoming administration really isn’t full of bigots (hint: it is) it has emboldened more bigots to be open with their hatred. Make no mistake, there is a valid reason for the fear that we’re seeing and this record, these songs, the people that wrote, sing, and perform them aren’t the only ones thinking there’s a problem. Seeing these songs played at Holiday Hangout and knowing how real all of this is to all of us was a very moving experience.
And every single song on your radio, playing soft low
Says “baby don’t you worry the things you can’t control”
But I am fuckin’ worried
‘Cause we were all left in control
And we are all that is in control
– History Now!
There were some buttons floating around HHO and I didn’t end up with one, but they said “I will do my best to fuck up any bigot that fucks with you”. That pretty much sums up where we are. We all need to be the safe space people need. I know this seems to be a little rambling and overtly political but that’s pretty much all I can think about when I listen to Brand New Flag and it’s important right now. This record is a safe space, it is a large part of what we need right now. It is Essential Listening for that and so many more reasons. It’s personal, it’s political, and it’s sometimes hard to listen to because of the sheer honesty involved. It is one of the best albums released this year and currently my favorite Two Cow Garage album, bar none and it should be one of yours as well.
I have started writing this so many times that it’s not funny. Every time I got about halfway through and just felt like something was missing. This morning I figured out what that something was and can finally write about A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings. Beach Slang is more than just some kids who, obviously and rightfully, worship The Replacements. You can hear their admiration in every note that they play. It’s not a hard stretch to imagine Tommy Stinson playing any their songs. That alone could relegate a band to the back of the line, for me, these kids have so much more going for them. Their constant homage to their heroes gets talked about a lot but in this writer’s humble opinion, that’s entirely secondary to why I have come to love them.
The radio is loud and wild
And I’m too drunk to spin the dial
Bathe my bones in alcohol
So I don’t have to think at all
– Spin The Dial
Beach Slang is, for all intents and purposes, a band that’s writing coming of age songs. The hopeful nihilism that abounds in these songs is something that I hope proves to be timeless. While there is always coming of age music rife with rebellion, fear, naivete, anger, and all of the rest of the emotions that come with what we know as growing up. Most of this music is at best contrite and at work complete shit. Over the years there have been a few standout records that could be considered coming of age music that stay with me and today, driving to work, I finally figured out why. These records don’t take me back to when I was an angry young man trying to figure things out and they don’t make me feel nostalgic. To put it simply they can’t do that because I’m a 44 year old man who still hasn’t figured all this shit out. I live in a world that’s going crazy, work at a job where I feel like I’m getting one over on everyone most of the time, I have kids and deal with all the fear and emotions that go along with that, and I have no fucking clue what I’m doing. I have completely failed at coming of age!
I still taste you in the ash
Of every cigarette you kill
Have they dragged you back to life?
If not yet
They never will
– Wasted Daze Of Youth
A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings, much like The Things We Do To Find People That Feel Like Us, doesn’t have a single track that I don’t want to scream along with, even when that wouldn’t be appropriate. The self sacrificing, visceral lyrics that James Alex pens reach something inside of me that I often fear will come to light. I don’t want anyone to know that I’m still trying to figure all of this out, especially not at my age, but I’ll be damned if Beach Slang doesn’t completely make me want to make a t-shirt that boldly proclaims “I don’t fucking know what I’m doing and neither do you”. To be honest I couldn’t even identify that feeling until today even though these kids aren’t the only ones who bring it out in me.
We’re not lost, we are dying in style
We’re not fucked, we are fucking alive
I hope I never die
– Future Mix Tape For The Art Kids
The thing about Beach Slang is that they manage to completely obliterate age boundaries in their audience. I’ve watched just about every age group I can think of, well with my old ass at the top, get in to these kids. There is something here that speaks to everyone I’ve seen listen to Beach Slang and while a good number of the bands I write about have some of that going for them, I think it’s an order of magnitude more pronounced here. If I could identify the recipe that’s producing this effect I’d be rich overnight. I have no idea what’s all coming together to make these guys what they are but they are absolutely Essential Listening. I figure much of this review is superfluous in that everyone reading this has probably already heard and become addicted to Beach Slang but in the hopes of reaching someone that is living under a rock I wrote it all anyway!
I met Mishka Shubaly last year in Denver when I snuck in to town from a gig I was working in Greeley to see Fernando Viciconte and Michael Dean Damron. I hadn’t heard much of his music but Mike spoke highly of him so I checked out his set and was duly impressed. Mishka is one of those artists I’ve always heard about and had in the periphery of my knowledge but I’d never read any of his writing or listened to his music in depth. The sort of artist I’m trying to get around to delving in to these days and as luck would have it Alcoholica came out and reminded me that I had been meaning to give his catalog a thorough going over. Spotify gets the credit for my taking notice as it came up in my Discovery list and off I went. With “We Came Together” playing on the headphones I started down the rabbit hole of Mishka’s work.
I was immediately a bit confused. It was pretty obvious that Mishka has been sober for a long time and Alcholica didn’t seem like an album written by someone who’s been sober for a while. When it dropped he tweeted:
So I started looking for references on his website, Facebook, and so on. The whole search for the history of this record was futile. I couldn’t find the story anywhere at all. Luckily for us we live in a time where you can send a message to just about anyone so I contacted Mishka through Facebook to see if he’d tell me the story of this record. I don’t know if he remembered me from last year in Denver or not but he did respond and briefly told me the story about why this the lost record.
The title, Alcoholica, is a play on “juvenilia” which refers to an artists work when they were or before they were fully formed as an artist and that makes sense since it was recorded in 2001. That year Mishka had a friend pass away, got shipwrecked, and then 9/11 happened so there wasn’t ever a decent time to release a record. With a year like that this record seemed stupid (his words, not mine) and so it got shelved. He went back a couple of years later and wasn’t happy with the arrangements and being that far removed from making the record some it just seemed juvenile. The idea was to make a ambitious record and in the end it sounded a little schizophrenic. Add in the fact that the female vocals are from Allison, Mishka’s “big ex” and you have a record that was just going to gather dust.
What drives someone to release an album with all of that baggage? Well, it’s 15 years on and Mishka and Allison are on decent terms, he’s alright with the schizophrenic sound because life’s just like that sometimes, and people wanted to hear it. So what he have a a time capsule opened 15 years later, a look back in to who the artist was and not who he is today. It’s weird to be writing about an album like this as my first real foray in to his music but the way my life’s been going lately it’s also rather aprospos. The swings in the songs seem to fit really well in the roller coaster even if, like Mishka, I’m not in the place that some of these songs take you.
I don’t know that everyone will enjoy this record as one you listen to all the way through in a sitting. It is a bit scattered, like the kind of scattered you get when you’ve been for days with chemical assistance. For every amazing song there’s one that seems out of place or is a bit too funny for the vibe but at the same time that’s what life is like. Songs like “Get It On” are like that friend you have that doesn’t read social queues very well and makes inappropriate jokes, they might not fit in as well as the others but they’re endearing all the same. While songs like “My Love is a Gulag” seem like that old t-shirt that’s a little tattered and faded but you keep wearing because of what it means to you. I’m sure you can find a track of three that really speak to you, for me those vary just about every listen!
You might not find the same emotional depth as his more recent work or the same maturity in the writing but that’s somewhere we’ve all been in our lives and I know it’s something I can relate to. In the end this really is a window to the past and while I enjoyed the record before knowing the story, listening to it with that in mind, and thinking back to where I was 15 years ago, or better yet 21 years ago at the same age, makes this record all the more meaningful. In the end this is a record I would have directly related to had I heard it in 2001 but hearing it now, as a new release, I relate to it in a much different way. We all have our past and I think that everyone that reads this site appreciates artists who bare their souls. I don’t know that you can get more visceral than releasing an album recorded a decade and a half ago after having moved on from just about everything that formed the base of your art during that period!
I, for one, appreciate this look in the Mishka’s past and the start of my delving in to his art, both the music and his writing. I hope that some of you can find the beauty that I find in this sort of record and its story. You can find Mishka on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or his official website. You can pick up Alcoholica at Amazon.
I figured I’d share a little with you today. I don’t have any great words of wisdom, hell I’m barely treading water at this point, but I’ve been mulling over a playlist for a while and I put it together when I was supposed to be working this morning. So here’s a little something to help get you through today, or maybe not…
This has been coming for a while. My life, this year, has been a ride that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I’m not going to bother with details here because those aren’t really important. Every single time something else has piled on I’ve told myself that I’ll be alright and that I’ll make time for the site, that I’ll write about this record or that record and I’ve failed, miserably to do so. Sometimes life has a way of taking you by the short and curlies and tossing you about, and sometimes it seems like it’s not going to let go. I’m stepping down from running 9B and I’m passing the reigns to Patrick Hayes. I love this place and I’m not leaving, I’ll write again, I can’t not do that, but I don’t have the bandwidth to take care of everything I need to take care of and give 9B the attention it needs and deserves. I’ve dropped the ball way too many times to keep lying to myself about it.
I love what I’ve done here over the years and I’m sad that I let things slip. I owe everyone still reading what we write an apology for that. This little website has been through a lot over the years and some folks think it still matters and that’s enough to keep it going. I can’t handle running things anymore but maybe it should have been a little more collaborative in the first place. It’s been 7 years since my first post on 9B went live and I’ve loved every bit of it. Running the site hasn’t always been easy and we’ve had a lot of folks who write better than me come through but I’ve never had a website that meant more to me than this one does. That’s not going to change, I will write again, you all know me, it’s fits and starts.
Even knowing that I’ve dropped the ball and let the community down, this post is a son of a bitch to write. So I’ll leave you all with Patrick in charge and I’ll be around, in the background for now, until the shit that life’s throwing at me either settles down or kills me. Two roads diverged in the woods and I, apparently, took the one filled with lions, and tigers, and bears. Oh my!
You all should already know Bryan Minks as the vocalist of Those Crosstown Rivals but he’s also got another project that you may have heard about. Bryan Minks and the Kentucky Sons is a little different fare from TCR but that’s a good thing. Leaning away from the heaviness of TCR and a little more towards the twangy side of things has opened up a new vein of creativity for Bryan. If you’ve seen some of the videos that have popped you then you’ve been waiting for this record just like me. If you haven’t, well I’ve included their new video for, “Proud”, one of the tracks off of this album. I’ve got a lot more to say about this one but that’s going to have to wait for the release! In meantime, go ahead and pre-order Last Will and Testament.