Maybe it’s because I grew up reading too much Hemmingway, watching too many Steve McQueen and John Wayne flicks with my dad, and listening to too many Rolling Stones records, but I seem to have been born with, or developed, a predisposition against female artists. Aside from a select few (Lucinda Williams, Aimee Mann, Patti Smith, Jesse Sykes, Victoria Williams, Cat Power, Aretha, etc.), it all sounds pretty much the same to me. Before I go on, I want to clarify that statement by repeating that it all sounds the same to me. This is to say that, to my ear, there’s not a discernible difference between, say, Feist and every other indie chanteuse in the world. I’m not saying the differences don’t exist, I’m just saying my ears – bludgeoned by years of the ‘Mats and Mudhoney – don’t pick them up. It’s my problem, I’m aware of it, I’m working on it.

All of that said, when I came upon Amanda Zelina’s record, Love Me ‘Til I’m Me Again (yeah, you’ve got to get past a clunky title), I was immediately taken aback, not just by Zelina’s voice but by the arrangements – reverb-drenched, spacey and distinct.

Before David Sitek buried Scarlett Johansson‘s voice in a sea of murky reverb, guitars, and synthesizers, arrangement was an aspect of record-making that seemed to go largely ignored by female artists in lieu of exposing their distinct voices, quirky and/or insightful lyrics, or both – as if arrangement and performance were somehow mutually exclusive.

Zelina’s voice is breathy and ethereal – two words often associated with female artists and perfected by the aforementioned Chan Marshall – but what sets Zelina apart is that she’s able to drift effortlessy back and forth between that breathy, reedy whisper and a full, powerful wail that owes a large debt to Carla Thomas (example: Zelina’s cover of “Try A Little Tenderness”). In short, she bridges the gaps between folk, rock and soul without seeming contrived or pedestrian. What Ray Lamontagne did for the cookie-cutter “sad guy with guitar” genre, Zelina does for coffee shop sirens everywhere.

Love Me ‘Til I’m Me Again may not show up on any end-of-the-year best of lists, but it’s a powerful effort from an artist who has given herself a very good chance at finding a foothold in a very crowded genre.

Amanda Zelina – My Version Of It
Amanda Zelina – Try A Little Tenderness

Amanda Zelina’s Official Site, Amanda Zelina on myspace


I haven’t been a fan of Two Cow Garage for that long, which is a travesty, but they have taken a rightful place among most played artists. I went a different route with this intro as, much like Cory, I was working with a limited selection of releases only this time I had but a single bootleg recording with which to supplement. So instead of walking through the Columbus, OH rockers’ career in chronological order I decided to slap down one tape of my favorites from all of their albums and give you the only concert I have in full and un-cut. While seemingly limited two tapes is more than enough to show anyone who’s tastes cross mine that Two Cow Garage is an awesome band. I advise listening to these tapes while point you browser at Suburban Home Records and buy their three albums as quickly as you can.

  • Tracks 01, 08, and 11 are from Speaking In Cursive
  • Tracks 02, 03, 05, 12, and 15 are from III
  • Tracks 04, 07, 09, and 13 are from The Wall Against Our Back
  • Tracks 06, 10, ad=and 14 are from Please Turn The Gas Back On

Track Archive Here

This is a show I found linked on the Drag The River message board. It was formerly hosted on but isn’t in their database anymore. Thankfully there were two seeders for the torrent and it took about eight hours. I’ll probably never know who the seeders were but I owe them a debt of thanks. Also thanks to the original taper: James Freeman for making this available for us. I did convert the FLACs to MP3 for this tape but it’s always nice having FLACs of concerts laying around. And there you have it….

Track Archive Here

Well folks that’s all for this intro. I have one more in the alt-country vein then I am going to bring in some Texas/Red Dirt music to fill out the intros series. I may have two or three more months of weekly intros in me. If you have heard me mention a band and would like to request an intro please feel free to drop me a line on twitter and I’ll see about taking care of it for ya’.

Tim Easton – Porcupine

To say Tim Easton has spent the better part of the last decade “toiling” in relative obscurity would be stretching it – he records for New West, seems perennially omnipresent at SXSW and the Americana Music Conference, and counts Steve Earle and Lucinda Williams among his friends and fans – but Easton’s is not a name you hear mentioned in the same breath as Adams, Tweedy, Farrar and the like.

The cause? I suppose one could tab the general crapshoot nature of the music industry as partly to blame but the fact is, Easton had yet to make that career-defining record that anyone could point to when recommending Tim Easton to the uninitiated listener. Adams has Heartbreaker and Strangers Almanac to his credit, Tweedy’s got Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and so on. Tim Easton has written a lot of great tunes, and made a couple of very good records, but there’s not one prevailing work that anyone could or would point to as “must-have Tim Easton.”

Easton’s new record, Porcupine, may change that discussion. If it is not “The” Tim Easton record, it’s certainly the closest he’s come yet to a streamlined, cohesive “artistic statement,” whatever that’s supposed to mean.

Put more simply, Porcupine is Easton’s best record, top-to-bottom. Easton vacillates deftly between a raspy, Dylanesque weeze and a slightly more tender, drawling vocal approach that vaguely reflects the Joshua Tree desert where Easton spends a good deal of time, his razor-sharp ruminations floating over jagged, jangly guitars and carefully revamped blues and folk licks.

If there is a defining theme to the records, it is found in a line from the chugging “Broke My Heart,” as Easton declares, “there’s only two things left in this world / love and the lack thereof.” Easton’s characters spend the majority of Porcupine in search of love, trudging their way through the lack thereof. It’s a broad landscape, but Easton has supplied a nice little soundtrack for the ride.

Tim Easton – Broke My Heart
Tim Easton – Baltimore

Tim Easton’s Official Site, Tim Easton on myspace, Buy Porcupine


…Bill Wilson’s three eldest sons grew up listening to him fingerpick old country tunes around the house. They learned to sing harmony at family holidays and inherited old guitars with their hand-me-down jeans. The past two decades sent James, Sam and Abe in disparate musical directions: teenage heavy metal fests, old-time barn dances, college bars and New York City jazz clubs. But in 2005 the brothers all returned – one from a cattle ranch in Nevada, one from an apartment in Brooklyn, one from Grad school in Maryland – and for the first time in their lives they began to make music together. With the addition of long-time friends Seth Green and Brian Caputo, Bill’s sons became Sons of Bill.

I didn’t want to like this album. The back story of three brothers who grew up listening to their old man pick the guitar, grew up, moved apart, and one day got back together to make music was honestly cheesy no matter how honest the story is. It didn’t take long for The Sons of Bill to win me over. One Town Away won’t make my album of the year list but there are some gems that shouldn’t be passed up. Musically this is a pretty standard country and western album but then the lyrics come in and that’s where the strengths of this album really lay.

It took a couple of listens to really catch my attention, mostly because I am listening while I work, but the first track on the CD really sets the tone for the album. Titled Joey’s Arm punches right into the small town feeling that runs through the album with a modern day perspective: “The dirt underneath the methadone and concrete has got to be more than dust and bones, ‘Cause the south ain’t gonna rise again but we’re holdin’ out for Jesus or so they say on AM radio”. Skip ahead to the title cut One Town Away and you can really see the strength in the Wilson brothers’ writing. While James wrote most the songs on the album there are tracks from both Abe and Sam as well.

This album feels a little more like a first album than a sophomore effort but it’s worth picking up if you like clean country music with lyrics that are little outside Nashville’s idea of what sounds good. The band is on tour now and coming through Texas with some of my favorite artists and even have a show with 9b favorite Jason Isbell in VA. I have a feeling that they won’t disappoint live and plan to catch them when they come through here.

Joey’s Arm
Broken Bottles

Sons of Bill’s Official Site, Son’s of Bill on myspace, Buy One Town Away


I have to admit that this intro was a little harder than I expected to put together. I am a big fan of Drag The River or I wouldn’t be slapping these tunes up here for people to get to know the band but wow the history here is daunting by itself. Couple that with the amount of work produced by the band and its members and I had a pretty huge project staring me in the face. Of course I didn’t let that stop me from putting together a set of tapes that will hopefully show the band’s growth as well as their history. I should make it clear that I didn’t even try to find music from everyone who has been in this band and simply pulled from own collection. That may be a little lazy but if I had tried to track down a little from every single member this intro wouldn’t have come out until next month. So we all just have to make do with I had laying around and hopefully three tapes will be enough to make anyone go out and track down the full DTR catalog as well as the works of all the members current and present.

This first tape is all Drag the River all the time. The first three tracks are off of Hobo’s Demo’s (2000) which was recorded in ’96 and ’97 at the Blasting Room in Ft Collins, CO. Chad Price and Jon Snodgrass played and/or sang on all the tracks and a slew of other musicians in and out of the studio such as Chad Rex, Paul Rucker, and Zach Boddicker. This session also produced Chicken Demo’s (2004) which tracks 7 thru 9 hail from but which was released after Closed. (2002) which is where tracks 4 thru 6 can be found. I decided on release order for this one and freely admit it was an arbitrary decision. The next three tracks, if you managed to keep up through the above mess of a description, come from It’s Crazy (2006) and track 10 is the first DTR track I ever heard and the one that caused me to fall in love with this band. Tracks thirteen, fourteen, and fifteen all make an appearance on You Can’t Live This Way (2008) and the last three tracks can be found on Bad at Breaking Up (2009). This does not represent the full catalog of releases as there have been EPs and other appearances along the way but I feel it covers the major releases for DTR and gives a good solid overview of the band as a whole.

Tape 1 – Track Archive

The next tape, much to my dismay, only has one track from the whole band live. I was shocked to discover I hadn’t collected much live DTR and will have to remedy that in the near future. This tape is mostly Jon Snodgrass live and couple off his Visitor’s Band solo release. That covers the last track and the all the middle tracks but the first two tracks are Chad Price live and are well worth listening to. Chad’s has his first solo effort in the breech and ready to fire over at Suburban Home (there’s even a single track sneak peak) and I really wish I had more of him to put on this tape but woe and alas it is what it is.

Tape 2 – Track Archive

I almost didn’t make this last tape, and then after making it almost didn’t post it but decided it was a neat look at the forces that created DTR and the history of, admittedly only a small few, the band members. These are all tracks from the bands that the members of DTR played in prior to forming DTR with the exception of tracks seven, eight, and nine which are from Chad Rex and the Victorstands gravity works fire burns. The first three tracks are from Armchair Martian which was a Jon Snodgrass punk band. The next three are from the Karl Alverez days with All, yet another punk band, which was the kicking, screaming, live-birth of the Descendants when Milo Went To College. These three tracks are off of Allroy’s Revenge. The last three tracks are also from All but feature Chad Price and are from Mass Nerder. While not even close to a complete rundown of all the bands that the members of DTR have played in this tape should serve as a decent overview of the history and the roots of Drag The River. Since it is, according to Jon, “Chad’s and my band” I think I captured the history of the driving forces behind the alt-country powerhouse that is DTR.

Tape 3 – Track Archive

With such an amazingly dynamic lineup over the years I can’t do justice without listing the members, past and present, and tossing some links out to any current projects they may be working on and any projects that may have passed away but still have some internet presence left hanging around. So without further ado, and according to wikipedia (which may be wrong) I present Drag The River’s members:

And of course the standard linkage:

Suburban Home Records
Drag The River Homepage
Drag The River Myspace
Drag The River on PunkNews
Prior Drag The River Coverage on 9b
Drag The River on Wikipedia


Hailed in the press as the elder statesman of Texas music Ray Wylie Hubbard has been pickin’ guitars and writin’ songs for longer than I have been alive. Most of you probably know his work through Jerry Jeff Walker who made Up Against The Wall Redneck Mother famous back in 1973. With fourteen albums under his belt and almost forty years in country music industry Ray Wylie is the real deal. He has lived his music and was a sodden drunk until sometime in 1987 when he credits another Texas great: Stevie Ray Vaughan with convincing him to stop drinking.

I have to admit his first albums have not grown on me even over the years but what could one expect when one of the was named Ray Wylie & The Cowboy Twinkies? In fact almost two decades of his career is mostly lost on me. 1992 marked the release of Lost Train of Thought and that is where I believe Ray Wylie came into his own. Seventeen years and nine albums later Ray still has the stuff he couldn’t find in the 70’s and 80’s. Now I don’t know if he really is an elder statesman of the Texas music scene but I do know that he still tours, still picks his guitar, and still writes amazing music. He just finished an album that’s slated to be released in January as well as having co-written a screenplay that’s said to worthy of Sam Peckinpah. The movie is called The Last Rites of Ransom Pride and stars Dwight Yoakum along with Cote de Pablo of NCIS fame. Along with the soundtrack he wrote all of the music for the movie. For a man his age he’s a busy son of a bitch.

If you ever have the chance to see him live I would highly recommend that you don’t miss it. It won’t be a rowdy show that leaves you draggin’ ass home and it won’t be a sing-along but it will be a show that you won’t likely forget. In case you need a teaser here are some Ray Wylie tracks for your listening pleasure:

Ray Wylie Hubbard – Choctaw Bingo
Ray Wylie Hubbard – Dust of the Chase
Ray Wylie Hubbard – Dallas After Midnight

Ray Wylie Hubbard – Official Site, Ray Wylie Hubbard – MySpace, The Last Rites of Ransom Pride


Any time a band whose reputation and philosophy were grounded firmly in DiY ideals makes a jump to a major label, there are bound to be concerns about selling out, dumbing down, cleaning up and all of those other concessions that aren’t tolerated among rabid fans and purists. Lucero’s transition from under-the-radar darling to major label act is no different, and while the band’s fans are dedicated enough to be tolerant of departures, they’re also passionate enough not to tolerate any slick bullshit in the name of appealing to a broader demographic (couFiveDollarCovergh). For the first time in their career, Lucero will have more than just raving critics and word of mouth behind them. They’ll have the lumbering – often fumbling – major label machine shoving their record down the listening public’s throat. This is great if the record’s as good as the material Ben Nichols and co. have been cranking out for the last decade, but what if the record sucks?

From the opening piano notes of “Smoke,” which kicks off the free six-song sampler available now with a pre-order of 1372 Overton Park, one thing is clear: Nichols’ affinity for anthemic classic rock is not going to be buried here; it’s right up front. “Smoke” sounds like Tom Petty aping Bruce Springsteen and, which Nichols’ rasp cutting through the pulsating piano, organ and guitars, it works. Springsteen is echoed in the second track, “Sounds of the City,” as well, with the swirling boardwalk organ and Memphis horns propelling Nichols’ tale of bad boys who “know when to push [their] luck.” Somebody’s been listening to Marah records. The addition of a horn section to Lucero’s sound shouldn’t be unexpected or unwelcome by anyone who’s witness the band’s maturation over their last few albums, as piano and organ were added in layers to flesh out Nichols’ bruised and bleak vacant lot anthems. However the band’s sound may have shifted, Nichols’ narrative remains constant, maybe even to a fault.

As “The Devil and Maggie Chascarillo” chugs along, sounding for all the world like a Thin Lizzy B-side, Nichols calls out for Love and Rockets and wrings his hands over punk rock girls and lonely saints. It’s a good tune but how long is Lucero’s audience going to be subjected to – and tolerate – Nichols’ bludgeoning of the “rock ‘n’ roll outcast” horse that was beaten dead about the time Green Day embarked on their first foray into rock operadom. Touching on familiar thematic elements is part of maintaining a dialogue with one’s audience – just ask Springsteen himself, nobody does it better – but that’s a far cry from writing the same song in six different keys, which is damn near what Nichols has done here. Luckily, he’s a good enough writer and compelling enough vocalist that the act isn’t tired — yet. But if, upon release, 1372 Overton Park turns out to be little more than a dozen recitations of “boy meets girl, boy fucks up, boy loseWeight Exercises girl, boy and girl find salvation in rock ‘n’ roll and live scrappily ever after,” Nichols is going to have a lot more to answer for than why Lucero incorporated horns into their tunes.

Until the full album is released, I’m more than willing to suspend judgment – God knows Lucero has earned it. And don’t mistake me, these are not bad songs, quite the opposite. 1372 Overton Park may well end up being the rare example of how to cross over without selling out but it may also show us a band struggling to find new ground while walking in place. For now, new Lucero tunes are better than no Lucero tunes, and these sings songs are good enough to keep expectations for 1372 Overton Park extremely high.

Lucero – Sounds of the City

Lucero’s Official Site, Lucero on myspace, Pre-Order 1372 Overton Park


So I was sitting around work yesterday sort of getting work done when Autopsy IV asked if I would consider being a contributor for 9b. Yeah, like that was going to take any consideration at all! So I played it cool and took about five minutes before answering and here I am. I figure most of you have seen my guest posts and the recent intro mixes that AIV has so kindly posted but probably have very little idea who the hell I am. I am an old Lucero message board hand who has been reading 9b since AIV tossed this joint up on the web. Over the life of this place I have discovered many amazing artists and bands and hope that I can carry on the fine tradition that is 9b. But that still doesn’t tell you who I am does it…

Well I am a Texas boy born and bred, a cow-punk from the word go, and a nerd on top of all of that. I cut my teeth on my parents music which ranged from Hank Williams Sr. (It was blasphemy to play Jr in our house) to Bob Dylan and thanks to my Grandma Ann all of that was coupled with a solid stream of Bob Will and his Texas Playboys along with Glenn Miller and side of Elvis for good measure. My mom was a closet Beatles fan but I never really got the influence because the whole Elvis or Beatles paradigm was very real for some reason and my family was an Elvis family. Sometime around 1985 I discovered punk through friends at school. Minor Threat was being passed around along with Black Flag and Social Distortion. That was the beginning of the end as far as my folks were concerned. Having been a little sheltered musically, and to be honest socially, I sort of broke the mold with Manic Panic fire engine red in my fresh mohawk and oxblood Doc Martens. I carried off the punk thing for a good long time but took guilty pleasure listening to the music I had come up on. So as I grew up and stopped caring what people thought I started discovering music like Uncle Tupelo, Slobberbone, and their brethren. At that point we can pretty much fast forward to today and the end result makes sense. I still listen to good punk, traditional/classic country, alt country, and a passion for red dirt music. I ain’t gonna tell you how old I am but I still make it out to shows on a regular basis and enjoy a beer or twelve with friends.

So to sum it all up I am a menthol smoking, whisky and jaeger swilling, punk in a cowboy hat who’s here to join AIV in telling you about good music, share some tunes, and generally make a mess of the joint. As long as someone else cleans up the beer cans and Marlboro butts I’m happy. I guess I should post a track or two since we’re all here for the music…

Ray Wylie Hubbard – Screw You We’re From Texas
Jason Boland & The Stragglers – My Baby Loves Me When I’m Stoned
Social Distortion – King Of Fools

Thanks for having me, I ain’t plannin’ to let ya down!