Brent Best – Your Dog, Champ – 2015

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Brent Best isn’t known for happy songs and Your Dog, Champ doesn’t break with that tradition. There are quite a few tracks on here that are downright dark and shouldn’t be listened in the depths of drinking alone at night. Honestly “Good Man Now” is pretty disturbing but it’s a testament to the strength of Best’s songwriting in that it’s deeply dark, a song about patricide by a child, and still a great song that demands your attention and keeps you riveted while you squirm a little because of the content. Not satisfied with sticking to the darker side of the coin Brent treats us to the lighter side of things as well with tracks like “You Shouldn’t Worry” and “Queen Bee” and even tosses in the love song, “It Is You”, for good measure.

Blood on my mind and anger in my eyes
I’m goin’ to shoot the man I was brought up to despise
And though I kinda liked him, Mamma told he was bad
And I keep Mamma happy even though it makes me sad – Good Man Now

What does remain constant is Brent’s ability to write and he is really in top form here. I am a huge Slobberbone fan but this is his best writing to date. Whether he’s singing about someone slowly dying in the back of a car on “Aunt Ramona”, skipping lightly through memories on “Queen Bee”, or describing yet another dysfunctional family in “Daddy Was a Liar” there’s a poetry to all of it that puts far and above most other people writing songs today. It takes balls to write some of the songs Brent has penned over the years but it takes skill to make them something that you want to listen to. There’s plenty of songs out there written to shock or disgust that deal with the topics that are taken on here and those elements just aren’t present in the writing on Your Dog, Champ. There’s something about the way Brent presents things in such honest terms that almost makes it seem like these scenes are viewed through the innocence of a child while at the same time giving you the sense that he truly understands the dark places in all of our hearts.

When I come stinkin’ of cigarettes and beer
It ain’t from drinkin’ but you know that dear
I’m out late workin’ in a shitty little bar
I won’t make much or get that far – You Shouldn’t Worry

I’m not sure what I expected from the music on this album but whatever that expectation was went right out the window when I queued it up. This isn’t a Slobberbone record nor is it a stripped down acoustic sound. The instrumentation is a full band with just the right amount of twang to suit the slight drawl in Brent’s singing. It also seems that the tempo and style are perfectly fitted to each song and “Tangled” is the perfect example of this. The rhythm drags while a fiddle cries in the background as Brent regales us with poetry as confessional. Between the music and the lyrics there are definitely some ghosts being exorcised in these songs and we get to be privy to it via our speakers.

Coltine, I’ve never know a woman as mean
As the one who who brung me and my sister in to this world
And I have struggled my whole life with the notion of a wife
Who would not seem inextricable
And it may sound inexplicable
Please don’t think me despicable, Clotine

Overall this record is so well put together that it currently tops my list for 2015. It is, without question, Essential Listening! This record was certainly worth the wait although it should come with a warning label that reads: CAUTION: Do not take alone with whiskey in the dead of night. If you don’t already, be sure to follow Brent Best on Facebook as well as Last Chance Records. You can grab Your Dog, Champ at the Last Chance Records online store if you haven’t already picked it up.

Brent Best – Your Dog, Champ – Teaser Tracks

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Something that’s been years in the making is finally happening. On August 7, 2105, Last Chance Records will release the Brent Best solo album: Your Dog, Champ. Two tracks are currently available for streaming on Brent’s site and they are fucking good! I personally couldn’t be more excited about this release and stoked for Last Chance Records to be putting it out. If those two tracks aren’t enough for you, here’s a video from Holiday Hangout 2013 to whet your appetite.

ROMEO SID VICIOUS' TOP TEN ALBUMS OF 2011

First I want to say that this was one of the hardest top lists I have ever done. Some of these don’t deserve to be ranked any lower than the ones above them. While I didn’t write as prolifically this year as I did others what I wrote about I really and truly loved. And then the other folks ’round these parts wrote about good stuff too. But the end of the year breeds top lists so I have been struggling for the past couple of weeks to actually rank these albums. I honestly will be doing some of these fine folks a disservice by putting a number next to their album but that’s the nature of top lists. It is what it is. This is my top ten for 2011, for this moment, as I write this post. I can assure you that it would turn out different tomorrow. Not the album, those would all stay the same, but the order would change. This year I am going to go against the grain a little bit and start with my current number one at the top of the list and end it all with a nice little compilation of songs from each artist. As much as I hate ranking these, because I love every one of them, here goes…


Number One: Austin Lucas – A New Home In The Old World

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A NEW HOME IN THE OLD WORLDThis album has rocked my world since the Day I picked it up. I love all of Austin’s work and he is one of the few artists I can honestly say has gotten better with each release. A New Home In The Old World is an amazing effort in which Austin steps outside of the box of his first releases and plugs in. The tracks on this album with an electric guitar are amazing and live they will blow you away. I was lucky enough to see Austin twice this year, once with The Revend Peyton’s Big Damn Band and once with Glossary and he blew me away each time. I got to take two of my kids to the show with Glossary for their first live music experience and I am pretty sure it changed their world. Austin gave us a great album and is one of the most genuine folks I have had the pleasure of meeting. While I hated ranking some these this album earned the top spot on my list without any question.


Number Two: Chuck Ragan – Covering Ground

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I said in my review of Covering Ground that this could be one of the defining Americana abums of the decade and time hasn’t changed my mind one little bit. This is one of the best albums I have ever heard. It stays in constant rotation and is as much a sing along as any other album I have. I cannot stress enough that this Chuck’s best work to date and you need it in your collection. This is whikey music for sure and we all know how I feel about whiskey music. In case you don’t here’s the run down: Played loud and alone with the whiskey straight and the lights down low. As far as I am concerned this is the best whiskey drinkin’ music of the year. And I don’t take that kind of statement lightly.


Number Three: Shane Sweeney – The Finding Time/Micah Schnabel – I’m Dead Serious

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Original Micah Schnabel Post
The Finding TimeThere is no way in hell I could rank one of these above the other. Hell ranking the top two has just about killed me so far. I can’t tell you how many times I have rewritten this post. I couldn’t rank one of these above the other so I gave them both number three. The really strange part is that it’s not because it’s Shane and Micah. These are two completely different albums. Aside from both being dark there is not a lot in common. However they are both fucking amazing in their own rights. I got some flack for mentioning I thought the music could have been stronger on I’m Dead Serious but I didn’t mean that it wasn’t a totally amazing album. In fact I rather hope it’s place on my top ten list I'm Dead, Seriousshows that while I did offer some criticism I didn’t feel it wasn’t a strong album. Micah’s lyrics tear me apart every time I listen to it. And then we have The Finding Time which is one of the most honest albums I have ever heard in my entire life. The style of production and Shane’s unbridled honesty makes you feel like you are sitting in his goddamn living room listening to him tell you his life story. So yeah it may be easier to write about these two in the same slot because of the TCG link but I promise you these two albums are equally amazing regardless of that link. These kids are making art here and you damn well better pay attention to it or you will get left behind. Whether it’s solo or as TCG there is no mistaking the genius that these two bring to the table. If don’t own the both of these then there is something very seriously wrong with you and you should probably seek professional help.


Number Four: Prison Book Club – Prison Book Club

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This self titled effort is by far one of my most played albums. The opening strains of the very first track seem to put me in just that mood, you know the one, the mood where you want to go down to your local hole in the wall, knock back eight or nineteen PBRs and try to lay some whup ass on the biggest SOB in the joint. The only bump in the road was the rework of Heart Of Lead off of their first album and even that’s just a little bump. This is rock and roll in all of its glory. These kids, members of The Fox Hunt and The Demon Beat, put together something that truly shows the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This album, as well as their first, will melt your face right off at 100 paces. It is as good as rock and roll comes these days.


Number Five: Glossary – Long Live All Of Us

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Let’s just keep the face melting vibe going with number five and get some Glossary on the list. These kids from Murfreesboro know how to rock and after seeing them live I can guarantee that face melting is their stock and trade. I love me some rock and roll and Long Live All Of Us delivers that in no uncertain terms. But what I love about Glossary is that their rock and roll backs up some of the most amazing songwriting floating around our little genre these days. These guys aren’t afraid to tackle any given subject and give it their all while they do it. When I saw them with Austin Lucas the little kids at the show couldn’t hold still and every last one of them got up in front of the band and rocked out. It put the hipsters at the show to shame. Little kids showing hispters how music should be enjoyed warmed my heart. I just want to thank Glossary for being able to see that and this is the perfect space to do that. Keep rockin’ it kids!


Number Six: Michael Dean Damron – Plea From A Ghost

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With my penchant for honest music including Plea From Ghost was a no-brainer. As far as soul baring goes Michael Dean Damron really comes in second to none. The pain and suffering he can convey in his voice is enough to make a tea totaller crave that bourbon burn. This one gets cued up for those late-night-family-bed-looking-back-at-my-life-through-the-bottom-of-a-whiskey-glass nights. But even if you aren’t someone that gets all whiskey-pensive this is still an damn good album and it’s one you should already own. I seriously doubt Mr. Damron will ever cease to amaze me with his writing, his voice and his music. This is likely the most heartbreaking album to come out this year and I love every single note of it.


Number Seven: The Von Ehrics – Two Foot Stomp

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This was one of those that came out of nowhere, a band I had never heard of, an album that sat around unlistened and when I finally got it it grabbed me by the throat and made me regret putting it off as long as I did. Two Foot Stomp is a perfect blend of punk mentality, Texas twang and a little bit of soul. I still feel like I didn’t do it justice in my original write up and know I can’t fix that in the space I am allowing myself for this list. Suffice it to day that it is some of the best music to come out of the Texas/Red Dirt/Whatever-the-hipsters-in-ironic-cowboy-hats-are-calling-it-these-days scene. It gives me hope that a scene I loved for years isn’t going to drown in frat-boy-country.


Number Eight: Scott H. Biram – Bad Ingredients

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It’s hard to say something that hasn’t already been said here on 9B about the venerable Mr. Scott H. Biram. The original review garnered some opinions that Bad Ingredients wasn’t one of Birma’s stronger works and I can’t disagree more. There wasn’t any phoning it in on this one. In fact this is my second favorite SHB album. It’s got everything I have come to expect from this man. Honestly I can’t not sing along to I Want My Mojo Back (I really wish there was a karaoke version of that one). This record was one of the high points of my year. I am really glad I managed to wrestle this one away from AIV for the review. I still haven’t managed to see SHB live but it’s on my list of things to do in 2012 even if I have to drive to Austin to see the boy.


Number Nine: The Heelers – The Devil On Your Shoulder

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I can’t lie and say that having this many Texas kids on my list doesn’t make happy and The Heelers are no exception. So I am not entirely sure whether this one came out in late 2010 or early 2011 but I reviewed in February so it goes on my 2011 list. A Brent Best produced (see: Two Cow Garage as well) band these guys write and play music that is just fun to listen to. Possibly my favorite line of the year comes from this one: …And the barkeep’s prettier than any I’ve see what the hell is she doin’ in here/Givin’ courtesy laughs to piss poor jokes and serving lonely me one beer…. You can tell that Isaac Hoskins has done some time in the same sort of bars I am still serving time in and I love him for that.


Number Ten: Brandon Adams And The Sad Bastards – Self Titled

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BRANDON ADAMS AND THE SAD BASTARDSHaving started the year pretty down on the Red Dirt scene this was one the albums that left me having a little bit of faith coming out the other side. It’s dark, it’s raw and it demands to be taken with whiskey. This little group from Texas really carved out its place on my playlist. I love me some soul baring, gritty music and this satisifes that need quite sufficeintly. To be honest this one deserves a higher place on the list but the nature of lists means that albums have to be at the bottom. I couldn’t just rank them all as ties and have a top three so it is what it is. You really should have this one in your collection if you don’t already.


That is probably the hardest top list I have ever had to come up with. To be honest I really wanted to add more to it but due to familial Christmas obligations I am down to the wire on time. I hated making this list and not includng William Elliott Whitmore – Field Songs, Brothers Through The Hill – Adeliade, and Frank Turner – England Keep My Bones (Although Frank is probably on enough top lists that he won’t be missed on mine). I don’t even know that I would rank these albums the same if I started writing this post today (It took me five days to complete this one) and I really feel like most of these could have tied for higher slots on the list. I really think that next year I am just going to give you all an alphabetical list of my favorite albums of the year and not bother ranking them because it honestly doesn’t feel right. So for what it’s worth this is my list. There are many like but this one is mine. If only it were accurate. Make sure to stay tuned because I am putting together a mix tape of songs from all of the 9B crew’s top lists.

Happy New Year everyone. Thanks for making 9B one of my favorite places on the web and giving me the chance to tell you about the music that I love. Remember if you don’t enjoy your NYE drinking in moderation at least have a designated driver or call a cab.

THE HEELERS – THE DEVIL ON YOUR SHOULDER

I almost shuffled this one to the bottom of my stack of stuff to listen to, again, because the cover is kid of goofy and I have been disappointed with a lot music of late. Holy shit I am glad I didn’t! The Heelers are not your standard Texas music fare in that they are not country and they aren’t bar-band-frat-rock. Hell I didn’t even know that Brent Best of Slobberbone fame had produced “Devil on your Shoulder” until just a few minutes before I started writing this here little article and I try to keep with Bren’t projects (I fail at that a lot so it’s not all that surprising). Even with my favorite bands it sometimes takes a couple of listens for me to really fall in love with an album but I was ready to tell you about these boys before the disc even stopped spinning the first time through!

“Devil on your Shoulder” is full of amazing songs, musically and lyrically, and the only negative thing that even comes to mind is that while every song is great the album doesn’t necessarily feel like “an album”. (I am guessing that if you read this site you know what I mean so I won’t explain) But even that doesn’t take away from the talent here. These boys from Denton seem to have a knack for when to drop in a little punk or let their twang shine through. I can even hear a little of The ‘Mats in there. I could list a whole bunch of other influences you can hear or reason this album is Essential Listening, and trust me it is that, but I figure you people want to hear it for yourself so I’ll wrap it up by saying that frontman Issac Hoskins’ writing is only overshadowed by his voice which is just amazing. Do yourself a favor and go buy this one.

The Heelers – I Don’t Remember When
The Heelers – My Disease
The Heelers – Qualified Apologies

The Heelers on Facebook
The Heelers at CdBaby

ROCK REPORT: SLOBBERBONE @ THE CONTINENTAL CLUB, HOUSTON, TEXAS

Friday night I had a religious experience. I got to see Slobberbone play live. Let me clearly state that what I saw on Friday night was the best rock show I have seen in recent history, bar none! Brent Best and company could have easily been teaching school on how to put on a rock show. Every piece of the show was fluid between the band members but the music was as raw as rock is supposed to be. I realized just how amazing the night was going to be when the band pulled out “Lumberlung”, the third song of the set, and played it with all the emotion that it deserved and as the audience wailed along with the band there was an energy that even the yuppies trying to booty dance (no I am not kidding) couldn’t manage to fuck up. Brent ended the song with “Thanks for singing along you sensitive bastards” and launched right into the next song. Whiskey flowed freely and even yours truly ponied up for a round for the band and just about everybody standing close by. Over the course of the night, I gave up trying to keep track of the setlist, I felt all of my recent apathy about the scene fading away. This show reminded me of why I started going to shows in the first place and why I love music as much as I do. I honestly felt like was eighteen and seeing music through un-jaded eyes again.

After the show I got to sit outside with Brent and Jess in the moist gulf coast heat that seems ever present in Houston and just shoot the breeze. I didn’t pull out a pad and pen and try to take notes or conduct an interview as I am known to do. Instead, we talked about life, music, and all sorts of random shit. We even talked about getting Engine Joe turned in to a karaoke track at some point. Talking to Brent I got the feeling that crowds and shows like this in small venues with a sea of whiskey is the reason that Slobberbone started making music and I, for one, appreciate that point of view. As far getting to see them any time soon in your town; they’re trying to keep the touring to an absolute minimum for the moment as they work on a new album so you’re unlikely to get to see them in your town in the next little while (BOO!) but the upshot is they are working on a new record (YAY!).

In closing I have to say that while I may have been in a sort of funk regarding music lately and maybe even a little burned out that I am now renewed and it’s thanks to Slobberbone. From the opening riffs of the show to the cover of “I Got Drunk” to the wailing rendition of “Billy Pritchard” to the encore there wasn’t a single moment when I wanted to be anywhere else. And while Brent may threaten to “Dunk You In The River” he truly baptized that crowd on Friday night in pure rock n roll and did so with a smirk on face and guitar in his hands.

(I know the pics aren’t my usual quality but I didn’t grab the camera on my way out the door so that’s all I managed to get that was even visible on my phone.)

Since I don’t have any equipment to record shows you’ll have to make do with these tracks from Slobberbone’s “Last Show” before the recent reunion.

Slobberbone – Lumberlung
Slobberbone – Billy Pritchard
Slobberbone – I’ll Be Damned
Slobberbone – Dunk You In The River

Slobberbone Official Website
Slobberbone on Facebook
Slobberbone on Wikipedia