Greetings! Also, Dexateens!

Hey everybody,

Just wanted to take a second to thank both Romeo and Autopsy for all the years of work on this site. I love it and I promise to try to honor the work those guys have put in over the years. We’ve got some great pieces to publish in the near future, lots of great music is being made right now and as always Nine Bullets will be doing our best to tell you about it.

For example right now MySpace (?) is debuting a new/old Dexateens track and it is badass! Go take a listen and let us know what you think

 

On Tragedy and Friends through Music

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This is what I woke up to this morning.

This was the first indication to me that something had gone horribly wrong while I slept.

I was immediately filled with relief that my friend Larry was safe, about a millisecond later came sinking dread because if Larry was marked as safe that meant someone else wasn’t.

I don’t want to talk about the horror in Orlando. Partly because this just isn’t the place for those kinds of things but also because I just can’t put myself through that right now. I do want to talk about something else though. I want to talk about friendship and love. Because waking up to seeing Larry’s little picture and designation of being safe reminded me of how many friends I have all over the place because of music. Larry and I met two years ago while he was touring with Matt Woods. He dragged his Florida ass all over the country and ended up out here in California. I got to spend a few days with Larry. He is good people. And I only know him because of music.

I believe it was Autopsy IV that introduced me to the idea of “friends through music” right on this very page. It’s a concept that deserved a name. It’s something very dear to me.

Like many of you music is my primary hobby/passion/reason for living. One of the greatest parts of that is all of the amazing people I get to meet because of music. When I look through my friends list on Facebook I see people living all of the country (all over the world even) that I never would have met without music. Some of them are musicians I’ve had the pleasure of seeing when they toured through my little corner of California, some of them are people got to know because we love the same bands. Some of them are people I have never met but we have this thing, this incredibly important thing, in common. All of them are just as important to me as the music that has brought us all together.

I took a trip south last year to see the Dexateens. While there I met up with Nick who was in the process of moving from Santa Barbara to New Jersey. I had lunch with Nashville resident Todd who I first met in Portland. I met Scott (also from New Jersey), Justin (from Alabama) and Bryan (from Florida) all of whom I had “known” online for some time. The next night in Birmingham I ran into my friend Haley from Georgia who I first met in Denver, Colorado. All because of music. For a relatively socially awkward guy from the middle of California that is pretty incredible.

I never made it to any of the large gatherings that people in our scene (forgive the term, I think it’s accurate) participate in. I missed all of the Suburban Home Anniversary parties and I haven’t made it to a Holiday Hangout or a Lucero Block Party yet, I will someday. Every time those things I happen I marvel at the lineups and I check out the videos posted of bands playing. More than that though I see friends in pictures hanging out with each other. It brings me such joy to see all of those people together in the same space. it’s a special thing we have, perhaps unique to our time. This ability to find each other and interact in meaningful ways despite the physical distance between us. This ability to come together with our fellow travelers in music is something that should never be taken for granted.

I’m so grateful to be a part of a community built on the joy of music with all of you people. I truly care about, love and wish the best for all of my friends through music, even the ones I haven’t met in person or maybe have’t even talked with. Thank you all for being such a great community of people, with excellent taste in music. Thank you for making me feel less alone in this big ole world. Be well. Like the man said “All we have is each other”

Opinion – 2 Pop Country Songs Worth Talking About

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No genre on earth is completely devoid of discussion worth material. I also don’t believe that there is no genre that is completely without merit. Anyone who suggests otherwise is most likely an asshole. Up until a few months ago I was pretty ignorant to the pop country genre but living in Nashville now makes that pretty much impossible. Couple that with the fact that it’s all my office mate at my job listens to and it’s officially impossible. Lately 2 songs have jumped to my attention for 2 different reasons but I feel they’re both worth bringing to your attention. So, without further ado…

Who: Chris Janson
What: Buy Me A Boat
Why: Is “Buy Me A Boat” a good song? No. Not at all. It sounds exactly like every other pop country song on the radio currently. Furthermore, it is written by the same guy who was part of bringing us Tim McGraw’s “Truck Yeah.” Basically, Janson is firmly entrenched in everything we hate most of the time.

I recently saw Janson at the Opry and I must admit, as a performer, he is thoroughly enjoyable and his connection with the audience is undeniable but we’re talking about songs right now.

So why is a song that I’ve already admitted is a bad song something you should be aware of? Let’s get into that:

A little over 6 weeks ago an unsigned/unknown Chris Janson was at a charity event with Bobby Bones when bones asked him if he had any new material he was working on. Janson gave Bones an mp3 of Buy Me A Boat. That Monday Bones plays it on his show twice and the rest, as they say, is history. One: can you believe there is still a DJ not on community radio that is allowed to just play something he wants to? I had no idea that even existed anymore on commercial radio.

The cooler thing is that Janson has no label. No media juggernaut behind him. “Buy Me A Truck”, as bad as it might be, became a hit the old-fashioned way; organically. Is it gonna change the music industry? Nope. But it does offer another glimpse that the music industry really is changing. For a decade now we’ve been hearing that artists don’t need labels anymore, that they can do the same things for themselves and while the logic was sound we weren’t really seeing it play out. Then, Macklemore (a rapper) made it to #1 on the pop charts as an “unsigned” artist. Now, Janson’s song is climbing the charts. The times, they are a changing and we’re starting to see the proof. Janson won’t change country music but he is a symptom of a changing business model.

Who: Little Big Town
What: Girl Crush
Why: Full disclosure: I honestly like this song. I think it’s fun and when put up against the lyrical content of most of pop country it’s a smartly written song. Why should you notice it though? One, it’s a commercial hit that features a woman’s voice not named Miranda Lambert or Carrie Underwood. Two, it’s a waltz. It’s a fucking waltz in heavy rotation in the middle of the hiphop with a fiddle pond that has become pop country radio. Is the bro country trend dead. No. Is it fading? Perhaps.

So there you go. Two pop country songs worth knowing about for 2 different reasons. You know of any others?

Queer Country Monthly Party in Brooklyn

 

So some of our more diligent followers may remember this post from local scribe Charles Hale:

One of the great things about our little musical community is its level of tolerance. Like many of you, I am connected via social media that I only know because our musical tastes intersect. (It’s the only way I know Rachel) And through all this connectedness I never witness intolerance and bigotry, but that doesn’t mean that those issues don’t exist in the world. We are the oddballs of the musical world and we take people as they come. Open hearts and scars all around.

By purchasing this compilation you’ll be able to put a little money where your mouth is. You’ll see names you recognize like Matt Woods and Uncle Leon and the Alibis on this compilation but you’ll also be introduced to artists you might come to love. These artists have chosen to put their art where their hearts are and I hope you’ll find it in yours to support FIERCE.

Well up there in the big city the time has come to have a party! Adobe and Teardrops and Karen and the Sorrows are co-hosting this month’s Queer Country Monthly in Brooklyn, and the proceeds will go to FIERCE, a youth empowerment organization for LGBTQ young people.

If you’re not reading Adobe and Teardrops, you should. We cover much of the same ground musically, but there’s always more music than any one space can cover, and I usually hear something new that I really dig when I check her site out. She asked me to let folks know about this party, and here I am, letting folks know. It isn’t the easiest thing in the world to find a good country show in Brooklyn, I’m sure, and even if you haven’t said to yourself “I need to go to a queer music show” you probably should. I had a great conversation with Gregory McKillop (whose record I reviewed earlier this year) about diversity in our little corner of the music world, and a lot of it boils down to going to see shows you wouldn’t normally see. Talk to people you wouldn’t normally talk to, and make sure you do just as much listening as talking. That conversation is marinating, and I’m sure I’ll talk about it soon in the meantime…tell your friends in NYC to go to a party!!

Where: Branded Saloon (603 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn, NY)
When: Saturday, 3/21 at 8 PM
Who: Me, Small Talk, The Paisley Fields, Karen and the Sorrows
How Much: $5 though no one is turned away,. $10+ gets you a download card!

TWO NEW MICAH SCHNABEL SOLO JOINTS

Micah Bang Bang Bang

Hey hep cats and cool kittens, it’s your friendly neighborhood Wolf bringing you word of some new music from one of our little non-genre (non-re) stalwarts.

Micah Schnabel (Two Cow Garage) has released two tracks from his upcoming EP “Not The Boy You Used To Know”. You can find them over at Bandcamp and buy them for a buck, whetting your appetite for the EP in whatever formats it’s released on.

First up there’s “More Drugs”, a stream of consciousness revelation based on finding a significant amount of money in an unmarked envelope on the floor of a casino.

Next is “Bang! Bang! Bang!”, a deconstruction of America’s illegal immigration hangups that starts out with Murph (Two Cow’s drummer) trying to talk a driver into smuggling the Two Cow boys into Mexico.

Two Cow Garage, as a band, feels like a high school lab microscope that twisted out of its moorings and grew up to be the Hubble. Their view switched from micro to macro, each record incrementally expanding with the awareness of the songwriters. Shane Sweeney’s first solo record (I say first because another one is coming, hot off the internet presses) is an earlier example of worldy evaluation, but Micah has been dealing with Micah for a long time. That isn’t to discredit him: the internal workings of our own minds are a worthy subject for study. But Death of the Self-Preservation Society was a first punch thrown at the world as a whole, Micah as free-wheeling free-agent rather than existentially self-aware sage.

These songs have a heavy musical style, and feel like an extension of his last solo effort I’m Dead, Serious (of which your intrepid author was absolutely the first to listen to while Leaving Las Vegas, alone). They aren’t Two Cow Garage releases, and while they may be both looser and thicker than full band efforts, they provide a suitable backdrop for the centerpiece: Micah’s songwriting. He challenges convictions, all and any, that someone isn’t willing to defend.

Two Cow Garage is a band that is preparing themselves to knock chips off of shoulders, and Micah Schnabel is letting us in on the secret a little early.

Check these songs out on Bandcamp at the links above, then like the band over on Facebook.

FUCK CANCER:

Autopsy IV breaking site protocol to say:

This is my friend Scott. We’ve all been touched by cancer. Unfortunately, Scott’s current touch is a little closer than he’d like. Scott is a friend and a serious fucking supporter of all things that is Ninebullets. If any of you out there have a spare 20 to drop on a “fuck cancer” movement I would ask you drop it here. Dude and his family have done numerous radiation cycles on their own and now are needing some help. We are all a musical family and this dude is worthy of your help. Thanks.

Guilty Pleasures? Nah, Fuck You!

You have all seen me mention how much I hate the idea of genres and the conundrum of still having to use them. The human brain likes to fit things in little slots, so whether or not we like the concept of genres our brains still use them, even if it’s labels we made up ourselves. Today I was listening to Better Than Ezra on Spotify and jokingly asked, on Facebook, if that was a guilty pleasure. It turns out that my friends don’t think so, which provided some validation for me. It also got me thinking…

I was validated for my enjoyment of Better Than Ezra…

But what counts as a guilty pleasure? I think the answer is: anything that your peer group wouldn’t offer validation for. We feel some level of guilt stepping outside of our expectations, sometimes especially when it comes to entertainment.

I once asked, of a group of Lucero fans if The Cure was a guilty pleasure. I was informed that, no, they are not. As it turns out I have asked about a lot of guilty pleasures over the years and I think the reason is because I don’t feel any guilt over any of the music that brings me pleasure.

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I don’t think any of our crew really has any true guilty pleasures, at least not musically, because I don’t think any of us feel that there is anything to be ashamed of when it comes to music. I think the term, at least around here, means something more akin to: something you wouldn’t expect me to like. I like that but I still cringe at the words “guilty pleasure”. I mean, unless your doing the auto-erotic asphyxiation thing you probably don’t have anything to feel guilty about.

I’ve peppered this post with songs I have considered, at one time or another, guilty pleasures. I’ve done this because there is nothing guilty about enjoying music, regardless of that music. I mean if you like Miley Cyrus you might get a little mocking but that’s because we tend to be music snobs around here. I mock my kids’ music choices but try not to do it too much. They are developing their own tastes, as they should, and dear old dad is just a curmudgeon when it comes to music. In short, I don’t think that musical guilty pleasures exist. Music is subjective and as such it’s a really a too-each-his-own situation. I’ve written about stuff here that probably shocked some people and I’ll likely keep doing that. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that, being a group of folks that opines on music, that every one of us here has musical pleasures that we’d be hesitant to talk about in public. So this post is my confession. I like music I’m not supposed to like and I don’t care what anyone else thinks about it.

How about you, care to share your “guilty pleasures” in the comment?

Our Little Secret

I know the hints had been coming for a while, a facebook posting here and there, email mentions and maybe a text message or two, but it wasn’t until recently that it completely dawned on me that one of my teenage bands had a huge following among the Nine Bullets staff and crowd.

There was a time that I was a Boy Scout. I was never very good or very dedicated but I went to summer camp a couple of times. This was in the early nineties. My final year of Boy Scout camp I was close to driving age but I wasn’t there yet. I live sixty miles outside of Atlanta and spent plenty of time listening to the radio. There was a rock station that was on their way to becoming one of the first X stations in the country. The subtle change from rock to alternative rock first happened after 10pm and in anticipation of being away from the radio for a week I began taping the late-night broadcasts. Just hitting record and letting it go long after I fell asleep. It was in a Boy Scout cabin in the mountains of Georgia that I first remember hearing a song about Mr. Jones wanting to be somebody.

I can’t tell you which Nine Bullet contributors have a fondness for the Counting Crows. It makes me happy when they’re brought up in our private conversations-here we are the ‘critics’ of our little world, the ones that should be the snobs, the ‘totally over it’ group and yet there are at least a handful of us that would slap the shit out of you if you said something negative about August And Everything After.

And it’s not just the writers here that have an affinity for that record. At last year’s Holiday Hangout I was talking to Todd Farrell about the preparations for my year-end radio show. There wasn’t a band on stage at that point and I was talking softly. I wasn’t talking softly because I was ashamed but because I generally talk softly (unless I’m excited and/or drinking whiskey) and I said to him that I was going to play “Long December” on the show and if somebody complained they could kiss my ass.

Todd pointed out that I was talking softly about the Counting Crows and I corrected him by saying rather loudly “I don’t give a fuck who knows I love the Counting Crows” and just as I said it Todd Beane walked by. He laughed a bit and said they were a good band. (If I got some of this antidote incorrect, I apologize. I was drinking.) And I seen multiple musicians in our little scene talk about CC and particularly about August And Everything After.

CountingCrowsAugustandEverythingAfterSo what makes this record hold up so well after 21 years? I thought about that question a lot in the last few months and I have thoughts but no answers. One thing that strikes me is that the album is made up of a handful of guys that play their instruments with a focus on sounding like a complete band. That may sound obvious but there’s no instrument that stands out it the mix, no guitar hero, drum solo or boogie woogie piano. Everything serves the songs. Of course, Adam’s voice and lyrics are the highlight of the record. One spring break my dad and I drove down to Florida to watch some spring training and after multiple revolutions of this tape my dad said he just couldn’t take anymore of that guy whining. Yet for me, and for others (I suspect) Adam’s voice has a comforting quality. By Top 40 standards the lyrics on August…are deep and meaningful and thought provoking. Twenty-one years after I first heard them they still hold up, they’re aren’t the greatest lyrics ever written but they are literate, unique and cliche-free. But there is something else about this album and their next that’s indefinable.

So how did a handful of skillful players and writers become one of the biggest bands in the world for a time? I know that I could go to wikipedia and copy and paste the band’s early days right into this blog post but in the spirit of 1993 I’ll just tell you what I think I heard way back when. The Grammy’s or some big award show was about to happen in Los Angeles. Van Morrison was scheduled to perform but not long before the date he lost his voice or something. There wasn’t time to find a big name replacement, maybe it was the day before, and so someone involved in the production asked who was the best band in the area. The Counting Crows are from San Francisco and were making a name for themselves in the club scene. They were offered the spot and played in place on Van Morrison during the televised portion of the broadcast. I’m sure they played something that ended up on August...and then they got signed. Happily ever after. That kind of thing doesn’t happen often enough- a band with good songs getting in front of the right person and then things working out.counting_crows_24456

So, if you haven’t listened to August And Everything After for a while you should cue it up. No one will give you a hard time, you won’t lose any Nine Bullets street cred and you might just be taken back to Boy Scout camp. I’ve got more Counting Crows stories but I’ll save them for another day but feel free to share yours.

Also, Adam Duritz, if you happen to see this and want to send me a vinyl copy of August…that would be amazing.

TRIBUTE TO DEVON STUART

Last weekend, Gainesville said see you later to one of the town’s best songwriters, Devon Stuart, who, after kicking ass for fourteen years is moving up to New York. Friends and fans gathered at The Bull and played over an hour’s worth of Devon’s songs, from Takers classics to ne’er-recorded Snakehealers stuff and a bunch of others that show how prolific and sharp the man truly is. The concert was captured on video by Thunderbandmate Eric Atria and posted to Youtube for all to share in the farewell. No single songwriter defined my time in Florida better than this guy; I very literally became myself while listening to these songs live and in my room; and they’re also so fun. So, to everyone involved in this concert, thank you. Rock on, Devon.

01:00 – Ricky Kendall – “Catfish”
05:00 – Ricky Kendall and Sam Moss – “St. John’s Son”
07:54 – Stacie Atria – “Only Boy, Only Girl”
12:15 – Eric Atria – “She Gets Her Way”
16:00 – Travis Atria – “Curse of a Drunk (Skunk)”
20:30 – Fletcher Yancy – “Fucking Up In Public”
23:40 – Lance Howell – “Drift”
32:13 – Jacob Riley – (don’t know the title of the first one), “Social Smoker,” “Friends in Bottles”
43:30 – Collin Whitlock – “Drag,” “Rearview”
53:00 – Michael Claytor – (dont’ know title), “Stage Lights”
57:20 – Sam Moss, Cassandra Polcaro, Michael Claytor – “The North Side Of Me”
60:00 – Cassandra Polcaro, Michael Claytor – “From Where I Sit, I Can See Where I Stand”
65:18 – Michael Claytor – “Taker Easy,” “Hippy Potluck”
72:00 – Devon – “Savannah’s Rain,” “Easy Young Easy Old,” “Second Hand Blues,” “Candy Song,” “Roadside,” “Threw It All Away,” “Mothers Love Me”

Devon returns to Florida to play the final Takers reunion show at the final Ninebullets Anniversary Party next month. I’ll be there. Y’all come, too.

Michelle Remembers Her Larger Than Life Friend:

I asked Bryan if I could write a piece about Josh Burdette, of the legendary 9:30 Club in Washington D.C., for Ninebullets for what would have been his 37th birthday today, because, you know, I can. I have access to this huge outlet where I can express why he was important to me, and to explain why someone who did not know him well is having such a seriously hard time accepting and coping with his death.

Bryan said “sure,” but I don’t know what to say that hasn’t already been said or written. Everything I write doesn’t seem to be enough, so I think I am just going to encourage you all to Google him if you didn’t know him, feel sorry for you if you didn’t, and ask everyone who reads this to pay tribute to him by thinking about Josh’s message of balance and kindness, for which he stood.

Happy birthday, Josh. Those of us who knew you, even a little bit, miss you.

(Photo Credit: Nick Barbato)