All Good Things Must End

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!

Disarmingly Charming: Sarah Shook at The Echo


Generally, fuck Los Angeles. It’s a post-desert wasteland of pay-to-play venues and Instagram feeds littered with cheap photo-class headshots moonlighting as band flyers. The traffic flows smooth as a bloodclot in an Alex Jones neck vein and the air smells like dragon shit. But every once in a blue (or in LA, brown) moon it’s worth battling the existential dread of the 134 freeway for a chance to catch a truly great band in a dark, beerstink room that (once you’re in and you forget about how much it just cost to park your car in the perfect spot to lose your radio) could really be anywhere in America; tonight, that room happens to be The Echo on Sunset Boulevard, temporary home to the Roots Roadhouse Festival and, most importantly, Sarah Shook and the Disarmers.

Ever since their debut record Sidelong was re-released on Bloodshot Records this past April, I’ve been waiting for a chance to see Shook and her band burn down a venue with their particular brand of Alt.Country, which careens like a shatteringly hungover pendulum between southern-fried Americana and punk. Sidelong, for me, incorporates the best aspects of Lucinda Williams and Hank III (dark, compelling songwriting/musicianship and sneering, brash delivery) while managing to eschew the worst elements of both (a near-dylanesque rejection of the meta and abject levels of racism and misogyny.)  Live, the Disarmers bring the same level of intensity and authenticity to the stage.

Tonight, despite its being located a few hundred miles to the south of my California comfort zone, The Echo feels strangely like home. There’s a nary a hipster to be found, which is refreshing, though knowing LA, not all of these folks wear this much denim on the regular, and a few of the Stetsons look a bit newish. Still, I quickly spot a couple “Alt Country not Alt Facts” tees peeking out from behind the pearl snaps and even a few familiar faces; Mark and Lance from Mike Stinson’s band are right where I last saw them- lounging at the bar (it was a different bar though, in a different town, in a different month but who’s keeping score?) I have just enough time to grab a bourbon and soda as the line check rolls up; the band members crack a few last jokes off mic, Shook takes a big swig of PBR and they kick into the first song of the set.

From the get-go, it’s obvious that this is going to be a good night for the Disarmers, seeing as how the crowd pushes toward the stage enthusiastically, pints raised roofward at the very first bell-clear swell of the pedal steel. Unfortunately, Shook’s almost husky lower register gets lost somewhere in the rafters during the opening number (apparently the place is called “The Echo” for a reason) and as she pauses to tune her trademark big, beautiful Gretsch hollowbody between songs the crowd starts hollering “more vocals!” at the soundbooth. Sarah looks up with a crooked grin and squints into the lights; “I think someone here wants some more of my voice” she drawls. The invisible hand of the soundman prods the fader and the old, dented 58 springs to life as Shook chuckles, obviously pleased both with the mood of the crowd and her good fortune at getting a mix adjustment without having to be the bad guy for once.

The set focuses, quite appropriately, on tunes from Sidelong. It’s the Disarmers’ first West Coast tour, but as they skip around the tracklist from the record, it quickly becomes obvious that while the band might not have made it out to California until now, their songs have definitely preceded them. Each one is greeted with a cheer and a lot of the room sings along for most of the set. When Shook turns to lead guitarist Eric Peterson and asks “how about ‘Fuck Up’?” the crowd bellows out a hearty “hell yes!” “I wasn’t talking to you” Shook shouts back, but she’s beaming; she seems almost startled that we know the back half of the record (understandable in a culture that previews music online with the general attention span of a Jager-drunk frat kid on a leftward Tinder-swipe spree) but the band takes advantage of the moment and away we go.


The arrangements are almost dead-to-rights off the album, but the delivery still feels fresh. Shook’s vocals ride easily though the welcome diversity of range in her songs, moving from that low, ominous growl in “Heal Me” to the clear, almost falsetto-fragile tremble in the chorus of “Dwight Yoakam.” The latter is, for me, the stand out number in this particular set, delivered with a fierceness and intensity that holds the attention of the increasingly rowdy room despite its placement as the penultimate song of the evening and its uniquely introspective, mid-tempo waltziness. And while Shook is not the type of frontperson to roll around on a LA divebar stage (there are far more enjoyable ways to contract herpes) she exudes a hell of a lot of energy from her tiny frame, strumming with nearly her whole body and occasionally drifting back to whip her hair for a bit with drummer John Howie, Jr. during the instrumental breaks. Peterson takes advantage of these opportunities to attack his lead guitar parts with a sort of blue-collar economy, wringing deceptively complex and undeniably tasty licks from a yellow telecaster with a headstock that looks like the gut-hook on a hunting knife. Howie, Jr. and upright bassist Aaron Oliva keep it in the pocket with some punk-derived drive but manage to avoid the tired “third night in a row on a shitty cocaine bender” trainbeat schizophrenia that plagues much of “outlaw country.” Meanwhile pedal steel man Phil Sullivan infuses the whole thing with those crystalline wailings that are so essential to both the physical and existential glue of any true country band.

The set ends too soon, of course, thanks to the time-constraints of the festival setting and Shook and her band load off quickly. The crowd heads to the merch table to grab t-shirts, vinyl, and the requisite handful of stickers that will soon adorn the dented bumpers, stop signs and urinals of the greater Los Angeles area. Sarah locks her Gretsch in its case and stands by the green room door greeting fans and signing records. She’s all smiles now, with no sign of the deep frown she wears while diving for those low, lonely notes onstage. I’m surprised by her warmth and kindness as she scribbles her name neatly on the back of my newly-purchased LP but I guess I shouldn’t be- there is an innate human-ness to Shook’s music despite its hard-drinking, hard-living bravado and seeing her sing and socialize in person quickly confirms the authenticity one suspects in her even upon the first spin of Sidelong.

I grab another cocktail and head through a long, winding hallway toward the back patio stage to catch the next band, still glowing a bit with the joy of watching real people play real music. I round the corner to find some asshole in a red velour suit and a clean cowboy hat crooning “I wish John Waaaaayne was a cuuuuuuntry saaaaaangerrrrrrr” in a southern accent that sounds about as worn in as the shiny Strat that hangs nearly untouched around his remarkably white neck. Next to him, a guy in a tye-dye t shirt noodles through the Bakersfield fakebook while a wax statue of John Waters tickles the Moog. Ah, Los Angeles.


– Jon Bartel

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:


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.


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 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/ 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

Dexy – Tear It Down – Exclusive Track

Official Facebook Release Announcement

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.

I’ll update with more links as soon as I have them but for right now you can pick up Tear It Down on iTunes and Dexy’s Bandcamp.

UPDATE: Added more links for pre-order and official release announcement.

Rock Report – Mishka Shubaly snatches Art from the jaws of defeat



Halfway through degenerate-cum-degenerate Mishka Shubaly’s set, a middle-aged woman in fence-paint-thick lipstick seizes my arm. She drops her weight into me, her fingertips dimpling my bicep and shoves her botox cheek against mine so that our faces are aligned like Cops sitting driver-side to driver-side in an alley. “Please. Please.” Her booze-breath stings the inside of my ear canal as she literally sobs. “Please make him stop. Make him get offstage. It’s awful.”

To be fair, one of the most entertaining parts of a Shubaly set is taking bets on how fast the room will clear and tonight he’s playing the back half of the dinner hour at a pub-grub-and-craft-tap establishment in a California seaside resort town popular with the sort of people even wine snobs generally dislike. But Mishka’s hallmark self-depreciating, pull zero punches, give zero fucks approach to both stage banter and lyrical content tends to thin even the dive-iest of bar crowds and so it’s no surprise when the lady leaves out the back door (though her husband, it is worth noting, stays, chuckling quietly in the corner.)

Tonight’s performance follows the general trajectory that most (initially) well-attended Shubaly shows have taken in my experience. Mishka plugs in one of his eternally disparate, always exquisite vintage electric guitars, coaxes a suitably blaring tube-crackle tone from his amp and eases into his first song, “Am I the Only One Drinking Tonight?” He delivers the dirg-y chorus in his trademark baritone gargle; a few beers are raised, some heads begin to nod along and people politely lower their voices as they order food from the waiter at the bar tables. The tune ends to enthusiastic applause and the banter begins. For most musicians, the banter is secondary to the songs, just a way to fill time while tuning, but for Shubaly it’s usually the opposite. A multi-talented wordsmith, Mishka is not only a musician- he’s also a standup comedian, cult radio personality, a widely published author and a Yale University adjunct and he puts his considerable oratory skill to work in almost equal amounts with his singing most nights.

He wraps up his first five-minute diatribe (which focuses primarily on his intimate and extensive knowledge of illicit substances) with, “People always ask me ‘Mishka, you’ve done all the drugs. What’s the best one?’ And I can tell you, since I have done all the drugs, the best drug is birth control. There’s nothing better than being forty and having zero adult responsibilities.” The audience laughs. “Here’s a song to my unborn child.” He launches into “Your Stupid Dreams,” from his 2015 album Coward’s Path. “Wild Horses on the Jukebox or whatever the fuck it was / we were young we were in love we were drunk and on drugs / your mom can say what she wants about how I wasted my time / but I had so much fuckin’ fun burning out at twenty-nine.” A few raised eyebrows, wry smiles and a couple legit fans singing along… “Hey kid hold on to your dreams / your stupid hopeless dreams / you’ll grow meeker and colder as you get weaker and older / making the same money you did when you were seventeen.” People still waiting on their orders begin to look as if they’re just now realizing they’ve made a fatal mistake.

By the time their club sandwiches and artisanal tater-tots arrive, Mishka is discussing the finer points of dating at forty. And while he’s yet to serenade diners with the Rimbaudian descriptions of middle-aged male genitalia that will come in his next song (wherein he will liken his half-hard dick to a white flag of surrender) he’s certainly spent more time than many in the room would likely deem necessary explaining his gifting of a fallen-off big toe-nail in a heart-shaped locket to his much younger girlfriend this past Valentine’s day. “My warranty has expired… my body is a crumbling insane asylum” he concludes as a number of people begin to actively leave.

Still, by the end of the set an encouraging number of die-hards remain- the Stanhope fans, the other bands and a few tables full of drunk, fist-pumping twenty-somethings who seem like they absorbed the “give me speed, spite and strychnine” part (Shubaly’s wonderfully cynical take on Little Feat) and missed the “so… I had to stop drinking” part. It’s this phrase, by far the least concupiscent of the night, delivered with a sense of both Marianas Trench-deep regret and nauseous joy, that leads into the last song of the evening. “I’m never drinking again” lilts the chorus, and, just like the best lullabies, the song’s sleepy, minor melody echoes our collective resolve to somehow outlast the slow fingers of darkness spreading out from beneath our beds.

So why does he do it? What drives a self-described “sober drunk” (who claims to have literally done every drug, alienated nearly every friend and family member and who has now put that hellscape at least physically behind him) to spend most nights up on shithole bar stages resolutely sipping club soda and virtually daring someone to clean his clock over any number of remarks lewd enough to blue the barrel of a navy gun? Why not a pretty, sweet little Martin rather than the jarring jangle of the unaccompanied electric guitar? Why the pinpoint focus on indiscretion after indiscretion, every innuendo taken two dick jokes too far? Why the rollercoaster of alcoholic war stories and near Spanish Inquisition-levels of self flagellation?

Because fucking art, man. What that lady with the Behr Industrial makeup and every other person who walks out in disgust from a Shubaly show misses completely is the fact that art isn’t made to pair with artisanal tater-tots because art isn’t supposed to pair well with anything other than the unbridled, unhinged honesty of its particular purveyor. Art is meant to blow from the weird soul of the artist and the point of art is not, and should never be, to please the audience according to what they think they want; and thus any moment in which the mad witchment of the artist is fully tuned to the consumer needs of any average audience is fortuitous but by no means necessary or even desireable. The glow of a saturday night ukulele jamfest wears thin with the advent of a new work week but a good misting of blood flung from stage enters your capillaries whether you like it or not and when you stick out a Mishka set, he’s fucking IN you forever.

William Blake taught us that worthwhile art attempts the Sublime- that which is dark, massive, unable to be described unless experienced and above all, terrifyingly free of constraint. Mishka Shubaly is sublime, and most of the rest of us are not, and that’s just the way it is. But we resent the honesty, we plead for the storm to be contained, put back in the Reynoldean frame, and we take our food to go when the gale is allowed to rattle into splinters the doors of our cellars. The sublimity of Shubaly haunts audiences because Mishka may be singing about booze, but we’re thinking about our money; his slackening penis is our social media profile, his glib freedom to worry only about where his pants are reminds us of the closeness of our prison walls and how much we hate them. This is what art is meant to do. And this is why it makes us so very uncomfortable.
“I’m too big for America” Mishka jokes toward the end of his set. He’s right.

– Nicky Jon


Dave, Brian, & The 40 Hour Work Week – Still Drunk (2017) By Morgan Enos

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of pieces written for Nine Bullets by special guest artists, creators and other friends of the site. Morgan Enos fronts the bands Other Houses, Enos and Hollow Sunshine.



The songwriting-obsessed men and women of the Twang N Bang Records crew will not abide by gimmicks. A loose club of Americana musicians in the small Central Coast town of San Luis Obispo, CA, Twang N Bang has been quietly chugging along under one guise or another for as long as anyone in town can remember, releasing records by groups with earthy, working-class names – 50 Watt Heavy, Dead Volts, American Dirt, The Turkey Buzzards.


While this may not be an easy sell to those allergic to flannel, IPAs or spilling your guts after last call, these totally impervious folks couldn’t care less. In a music scene largely made up of open-mic retirees, winery tours and Billabong-shirted wastoids, these truly are the good guys.


Even by their rough-and-tumble ways, the last few years have brought some changes in the crew. Perhaps most tellingly, the yowling rockers American Dirt, one of TNB’s mainstays since the early 2010s, entered a hiatus. Lead guitarist Jon Bartel, an English professor by day, formed the country-rock project The Creston Line, leaving singers and songwriters Dave Wilson and Brian Sonniksen as a folk duo. While the future of American Dirt seems like a tough call, Dave and Brian are here to let us know they’re Still Drunk.


The 40 Hour Work Week are offhanded and rascally, the scrappier antidote to the Creston Line. Where the latter spare no scrape of a fiddle, weeping pedal steel or detailed character study, you can imagine Dave and Brian sneaking some Jack and Coke into the back of Mr. Bartel’s dissertation on East of Eden.

This five-song result could have turned out a bit wan, if not for their old pal Bartel’s sturdy production (the EP was recorded at his Northwall Studios in Atascadero, CA) and the strength of the two writers. As far as the songs themselves, they’re simple and appealing, mostly work-a-day regrets and odes to blowing off steam. Sonniksen’s soft tenor and Dave Wilson’s mid-range drawl are a lovely combination, one that was less prominent in American Dirt. Still Drunk is simple, repeatable and fat-free. And if you’d like a quick introduction to the sometimes-insular world of Twang N Bang Records, pour yourself two fingers and enjoy.

– Morgan Enos
Keep up with Morgan on his

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:

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.


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.


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



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.




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.