DRAG THE RIVER – BAD AT BREAKING UP

One of the greatest musical regrets I have is ignoring Drag the River for as long as I did. As I mentioned here one time, per their name I assumed they were just a metal band and ignored them for quite some time. Fortunately, I came around in time to see them as a full band once before they “broke up”. Since then I’ve managed to catch Jon and Chad as a duo 3 times and have became a card-carrying member of the Drag The River fan club. Last month we saw what is technically their second posthumous album with this collection of 7″ tracks and B-sides in Bad At Breaking Up.

Bad At Breaking Up features all of the topical points one would expect from a Drag The River record; whiskey, women, broken hearts and barstool anthems. Sonically, the album seems more sparse and calm than most Drag albums, yet the songs do accurately represent the sound and feel of a modern Drag show.

I would not recommend Bad At breaking Up as an entry point to the DTR catalog, but it’s pretty much a must have for any fan of the band. And if you’re reading this and wondering if you should look into Drag The River, then let me answer that for you; Yes. Absolutely.

Drag The River – Having A Party
Drag The River – Jeff Black Song
Drag The River – Trainwreck

Drag The River’s Official Site, Drag The River on myspace, Buy Bad At Breaking Up

JON SNODGRASS – VISITOR'S BAND

Since Drag The River “broke up”, it stood to reason that Jon and Chad would be releasing solo efforts. It was my understanding that Chad should have one coming out by the end of 2009, and while I wouldn’t put the notion of another Drag The River album completely to bed, Mr. Snodgrass was the first to strike with Visitor’s Band.

Over the course of 2008 Jon managed to book studio time on both coasts and places inbetween to record Visitor’s Band. He also managed to pull in a few collaborators like Chad Rex, Joey Erg, Chris Pierce and ninebullets.net faves, Two Cow Garage.

It would be easy to assume that the album just sounds like a Drag album without Chad singing on any of the tracks, but that would be selling the album short. While the album is rife with Drag The River familiarities, namely the comforting sound of Jon’s voice and it’s nasally twang, Visitor’s Band spends a lot of time rocking in a way that is more Armchair Martian than Drag The River. The real star of the cd is Jon’s voice itself.  During the slow, sad songs it’s there to comfort and wallow in the misery with you and during the rockers it’s there to pound shots and sing-along with you, swaying shoulder to shoulder.

As an added bonus, the final track of the album follows the Drag The River tradition of being the entire album again, but instead of just being the entire album as one track, Visitor’s Band offers up the entire album again acoustically. It’s a fantastic addition to an album that was already Essential Listening.

Jon Snodgrass – Brave With Strangers
Jon Snodgrass – Remember My Name
Jon Snodgrass – Song For Jake Nichols To Sing

Jon Snodgrass on myspace, Buy Visitor’s Band

GUEST POST: LENNY AND THE POOR BOYS

Hey guys and gals. I’m sitting here in Colorado waiting for the sun to come up so I can get out of this room and onto the mountain. The nice thing about having an east coast internal clock is that I get up early enough to have coffee and eat without rushing.

Today’s guest  post comes from the owner of the Colorado based (see the tie in there?) label, Suburban Home Records, Virgil Dickerson. It is about a band that quite frankly, I’ve heard of numerous times but had never heard. I hope  y’all like it.

When a post from Bryan looking for Guest writers popped up on Twitter, I emailed Bryan letting him know my interest in contributing. Being a big fan of Ninebullets.net and having a background in zine publishing (Suburban Home started as a zine in 1995), I was thrilled when Bryan gave me the opportunity to write a little something. I asked him if there were any guidelines to which he replied, “No guidelines at all outside of take it seriously…I put alot of time and effort into ninebullets. Other than that, have fun with it.” Fair enough. At this point, I started thinking long and hard about an incredible band that I could share with all of you. I ruled out about writing about one of our bands (but let me shamelessly plug a few of our bands that I hope are on your radar – Drag the River, Two Cow Garage, Tim Barry, Austin Lucas, Yesterday’s Ring, The Takers, Jon Snodgrass, and Ninja Gun). I considered writing about Murder by Death only because Bryan told me he wasn’t a fan (I love them very much), but decided against it. I thought about writing about the new Justin Townes Earle, “Midnight at the Movies” which I got a promo of this week and am digging big time, but since I know that Bryan also loves them, I figured he would soon be writing about the album himself. After further thought, I could only think about one band that I think everyone should know about. This band is Lenny and the Piss Poor Boys.

Lenny and the Piss Poor Boys are from Boston, Massachusetts, and I first heard about them from Drag the River. Drag the River were given some early demos by Lenny and the Piss Poor Boys when Drag played a show with Dropkick Murphys. Chad and Jon loved those songs so much, they started playing “Cambridgeport Saloon” and “Leaving in the Morning” live and during the recording sessions that would become “It’s Crazy”, they recorded a cover of “Leaving in the Morning” which became the first song on the album. I had always thought “Leaving in the Morning” was a Drag the River original, but I was told that this was a song written by Lenny. After hearing that, I decided to pay a visit to the band’s myspace page and I am sure I listened to the 2 songs on their profile (“Cambridgeport Saloon” and “Lonely Days and Whiskey Nights”) about a million times. I loved every second of those 2 songs and immediately looked everywhere I could to find a copy. That search lead me to the Ludeboy Records’ site where I didn’t hesitate to mailorder the album although the $16 price seemed a bit high. I had heard that the label was slow at sending out mailorder and after 2 weeks, I still hadn’t received a copy of the album. A really kind friend burned a copy and mailed it to me and I received it before the copy I had purchased.

As I thought would be the case, I absolutely loved every song. Lenny and the Piss Poor Boys perfectly marry Country and Punk Rock unlike any band I have ever heard. Lenny has fronted the street punk band, Darkbuster, for years and he brings that energy to Honky Tonk Country. The upright bass and pedal steel guitar give the band a much older sound than you would otherwise think. The songs tell stories of late night bar fights, boozing, salvation, their favorite Ramones’ song, more boozing, and they even cover the Lowenbrau theme song. In one particular song, Lenny sings “I’m Thirty Something and I don’t Feel Old, Still listening to Punk Rock still like my beers cold,” and I think that lyric spoke to me more than any other lyric. I loved this record and this band so much, I contacted the band. I mentioned my interest in working with them and hopefully putting out their next album. This is when they told me that after their bass player passed away, the band pretty much fell apart. This my friends, is a true tragedy. I have spoke to the label that released their album and mentioned my interest in licensing it for release on vinyl, something I still want to do. With any luck, this will one day happen.

Although Lenny and the Piss Poor Boys are not active, Drag the River did play a show with Lenny the last time they were in Boston. Lenny, if you read this and are ever looking for a label to put out anything, please drop me a line.

Friends, I hope you like this band as much as I do. Thanks Bryan for letting me rant.

Leaving in the Morning (by Lenny and the Piss Poor Boys)
Cambridgeport Saloon (by Lenny and the Piss Poor Boys)
Lonely Days and Whiskey Nights (by Lenny and the Piss Poor Boys)
Leaving in the Morning (by Drag the River)

TAMPA/ST. PETE…TO DO: TONIGHT: DRAG THE RIVER

That’s right kids. Drag The River is already back in town with Joey Cape performing at the Cigar City Tattoo Convention Friday night in Ybor City.

Details are as follows:

Who: Drag The River
Where: Cuban Club (part of Tattoo Convention)
When: Friday, January 9, 2008
Tickets: 10 dollars (available at the door)

It’s gonna be awesome. But then, you already knew that didn’t you. There is talk of a Lucero Message Board get together at Tampa Bay Brewing Company prior to this show so come by there beforehand and we can drink some beers.

See y’all then.

Drag The River – Get Drunk
Drag The River – Tired and Fired
Drag The River – Booze n’ Pills
Drag The River – Medicine
Drag The River – Lost Angel Saloon

TAMPA/ST. PETE: TO DO…TONIGHT! DRAG THE RIVER AND TWO COW GARAGE @ NEW WORLD BREWERY

We’re gonna take a break from classic country week for a moment the talk about some serious awesomeness that is gonna go off tonight:

Drag the River and Two muthafucking Cow Garage @ New World Brewery.

I can tell you right now that there is nothing better than this show going on this weekend. Two Cow bring the rock harder than dick on Viagra, while Drag sings the kind of songs that’ll make a baptist order a drink in public.

Come out. Have fun.

If you’re torn between this show and the St. Pete show, you had better do this one. THERE WILL BE LIMITED AVAILABILITY OF TICKETS IN ST. PETE.

Two Cow Garage – Bastards & Bridesmaids
Two Cow Garage – Alphabet City
Two Cow Garage – No Shame
Two Cow Garage – Swingset Assassin

Drag The River – Br00tal
Drag The River – Medicine
Drag The River – Tired & Fired
Drag The River – The Cause & The Cure

Drag the River & The Dents – Found All Parts Split EP

A couple of weeks back while doing a little research for the piece about the new Drag cd I stumbled across the fact that they had done a split EP with a Boston punk band called The Dents. The premise appears to have been pretty simple….take two pop:punk songs from The Dents add two songs from Drag the River…each record their take on the song and put them back to back on an 8 track EP. The results are a mixed bag but the closer, Trainwreck, makes the cd worth owning. As a whole I think Drag won this battle 4-0 but I might be a tad biased.

Drag the River – Trainwreck
The Dents – Trainwreck

Drag the River’s Official Site, The Dent’s Official Site, Buy Found All Parts

Drag the River – You Can't Live This Way

The album opens with a song called “Death of the Life of the Party”, and since You Can’t Live This Way is a posthumous album for Drag, the song seems appropriate in that opening position. Though, I keep finding myself wondering if this really is a posthumous record. I mean, the album comes out after the band calls it quits, and they are about to embark on a mini-tour in support of the album, and it all just seems a little soon to be considered a reunion. The whole DTR split thing seemed a little odd to me, and since I am pretty new to the Drag bandwagon I’m hoping that their death announcement was premature.

Regardless of what is going on with the band, though, the fact is that they have a new album in stores tomorrow and if it really is their final release, it’s a fucking shame. Passing on the ‘almost all drinking songs’ formula, You Can’t Live This Way is easily the most mature effort of their catalog. It seems like the guys were/are finally beginning to fully realize themselves as songwriters and as a band, and to cut that short is a pity. Featuring the classic cowpunk/country sound fans have grown to love, some are gonna say this is their best effort yet, while others will argue that It’s Crazy is a little better. I agree with both, depending on my mood, but I will say You Can’t Live This Way hits me in the exact same way The Fox Hunt’s (favorite album of last year) cd did the first few times I heard it, so it obviously gets to share the driver’s seat on the 2008 Essential Listening list with Left Lane Cruiser.

Drag the River – Death Of The Life Of The Party
Drag the River – Br00tal
Drag the River – Bad Side Of A Good Time

Drag the River’s Official Website, Drag the River on myspace, Buy You Can’t Live This Way

Armchair Martian – Who Wants to Play Bass? [Reissue]

Were you all a tizzy like my wife when Drag the River decided to go on an indefinite hiatus? My wife was, and still is, I suppose, completely in love with the Drag the River albums and was really bummed to be losing one of her bands.

Enter Armchair Martian.

I had never heard of Armchair Martian until I started poking around the DTR message board in the days surrounding their breakup, but it turns out that Armchair Martian was Jon’s band prior to Drag. They recorded a couple of albums, but have not been active in a couple of years. During that downtime, the band’s cds became essential listening for DTR diehards and punk/country music fans alike. Now those groovy kids over at Suburban Home Records are reissuing Who Wants to Play Bass?. Originally released in 2002 on My Records, a label owned and operated by Lagwagon front man, Joey Cape, Who Wants To Play Bass? is considered by most fans to be the essential Armchair Martian album.

What does it sound like? Well, Jon is the singer and they have that familiar rock/country sound, so I’d say they sound like Drag, but with songs about stuff other than drinking. A must listen for any fan of alt.country, and especially for DTR fans still mourning the demise of the band.

Armchair are currently doing a small West Coast tour to support the reissue. Hopefully this is something they will repeat on the other coast, and specifically Florida sometime in the coming year. For now, we’ll just have to be happy with this cd.

Armchair Martian – Break Your Frame
Armchair Martian – Confession / Jeff’s Son
Armchair Martian – Saving Anger

Armchair Martian on myspace, Buy Who Wants To Play Bass?

More Jon Snodgrass/Drag the River news: Chad and Jon finished recording the final DTR album tentatively titled You Can’t Live This Way. It needs to be mastered, sequenced and have some artwork made, but there will be a final record. Jon is also planning on starting to record a solo album in October…no release date, no title…no firm details at all.

Bad News Comes in Twos:

I read some sad news on the internets yesterday and thought I would pass it along. Apparently, Jon Snodgrass, co-vocals and guitars for Drag the River has left mid-tour. There are plenty of rumors and much conjecture out there already, but as this is an .mp3 blog and not a gossip site, I’ll quote the closest official source I could find. The following comes from one of the fellas at Suburban Home Records:

I have spoke to both Dave and Jon twice now. At this point, it is definite that there will be no Jon Snodgrass on the rest of the tour. Drag will continue to play as a 3 piece and as Chad will be the only vocalist, he will only be doing his songs.

As far as what happens after this tour, there is no official news at this point. I would like to think that after everyone has had time to think about it, things will work [themselves] out. Drag are just way too good for this to be the end. They have an entire album recorded and let me just say that it will blow people away.

So that’s it. Let’s hope cooler heads prevail and a little time heals all wounds. I sure am glad I made it to the last Lucero show in time to see them open though. Drag the River was a band I have just started getting into after ignoring them for quite sometime due to a misunderstanding. Hopefully all of this will just turn into a quit the tour thing and we’ll all laugh about it in next tour. For now I’ll have a whiskey drink and put It’s Crazy in the cd changer.

Drag the River – Fire and Flood
Drag the River – Tired and Fired

While we are on this sort of news. Mario left The Weary Boys to pursue his solo career. Neither Mario nor the band have said anything about officially so I keep hoping that it will all be a terrible joke and Mario will take the stage here in Tampa come April 26 but I do not think that will be the case. Again, there is rumor and speculation but I am not in the business of spreading such things so I’ll just reprint what I was told by Mario via email:

Basically, we are all still friends but I was just feeling like my heart wasn’t in it anymore especially in regards to creativity. I think the rest of the guys sensed this and started to resent me for it. It just seemed like I should quit before I became an enemy to my friends. So, I’m doing my solo thing now and I’m gonna see where it takes me.

Hopefully things will work out for both Mario and The Wearies. As I said earlier, The Weary Boys are playing New World here in Tampa on April 26. I am not sure what to expect of a Mario-less version of the band but you can beat your ass I’ll be there to find out. I also hope Mr. Matteoli manages to make it down to Tampa with the same frequency he did as a Weary Boy. Here’s to wishing the best of luck to both efforts.

The Weary Boys – Good Times
The Weary Boys – Baby Have No Fun

Mario Matteoli – Hard Luck Hittin
Mario Matteoli – Sun Keeps Beatin’ Down

Tomorrow we’ll try and lighten things up a little by talking about Tijuana hookers a donkey shows and a bad rash.

update: Jon left this message on the DTR message board today:

I did not quit Drag the River. Drag the River is Chad and I’s band….Chad is also my best friend.
I did however quit this tour….it had to be done.
…talk later, sorry everybody.

Well, that is good news indeed.