EILEN JEWELL – QUEEN OF THE MINOR KEY

It took her three solo cds and one Loretta Lynn covers/tribute album, but Eilen has finally admitted what the rest of us already knew; she, indeed, is the queen of the minor key. Eilen is back with her fifth studio album and it continues to perfect that 50′s rock meets surf rock-Americana sound we’ve all grown to expect and love from her. It’s another 14 tracks that are perfect for damned near any mood. Early mornings, late nights, sober, buzzed, half-drunk, fully-drunk, God’s own drunk…it doesn’t matter, Eilen’s got you taken care of. As I said when I wrote about Eilen’s last album, Sea Of Tears, “There really isn’t anyone out there doing what Eilen does, and if there is please tell me who they are.” Not only is Eilen forging her own path, she’s doing it without a misstep….

At this point Eilen has released three albums (all of which, have come out since Gillian felt us worthy of an album) of original content that have all been strong contenders for my Top 10 lists of their respective years of release. This album is no different, so that leads me to ask…am I just that far off with Eilen, or is it the lack of that one explosive single that’s keeping her off the more influential bloggers’ radars? At this point I feel she’s deserving of being mentioned in the same company of some of the female singers getting fuckloads more press, despite being nowhere near as consistent.

Needless to say, Queen of the Minor Key is Essential Listening and I feel Eilen has a legitimate argument for claiming the Queen of Americana music crown.

Eilen Jewell – Queen Of The Minor Key
Eilen Jewell – I Remember You
Eilen Jewell – Bang Bang Bang

Eilen Jewell’s Official Site, Eilen Jewell on Facebook, Buy Queen Of The Minor Key

MATT WOODS – THE MATT WOODS MANIFESTO

These kind of pieces are tough for me. As a matter of full disclosure I must admit that since booking Matt for the ninebullets 4th Anniversary Party he and I have become pretty good friends. Well, as good of friends as a touring musician becomes with a fan in a town. Anyhow, it’s tough to write these pieces but I figured if I can do it for Two Cow Garage albums, I could do it for a Matt Woods album.

It seems like I’ve been hearing the songs on The Matt Woods Manifesto for quite sometime now. Matt’s been playing them for a couple of years as he tours through the Bay area but the cd was my first time getting to hear them with full band accompaniment and it really makes me wish Matt could get down this way with a backing band because the added instruments really make the songs pop. The album, to sound cliche’, is a lot like Matt himself. It’s solid, honest, at times underspoken while overjoyed at other and always more than willing to work for you attention.

Honestly, I’m not into making any predictions (which is why I do it all the time) but I will say Matt is not afraid of the road and it ain’t broke him yet so I don’t think it will. Matt’s built for the long haul and will probably come through your town a time or two this year. Listen to the mp3’s below. If you like them, pick up the album and check him out next time he comes to your town cause there might be a time in a few years when it won’t be so easy.

This album gets the ninebullets.net seal of approval: Essential Listening.

Matt Woods – Beating Down My Door
Matt Woods – Days Of Walking
Matt Woods – Port St. Lucie

Bonus: Matt Woods – No Beer In Heaven

Matt Woods’ Official Site, Matt Woods on Facebook, Buy The Matt Woods Manifesto

APACHE RELAY – AMERICAN NOMAD

If the Glossary guys and gal would have decided to be an indie rock band instead of an Americana rock band, they might have sounded a lot like Apache Relay. My first experience with Apache Relay came via a quick review from a friend of mine while we were out at SxSW…something akin to, “Apache Relay, really good. Check ‘em out if you get a chance.” Well my chance came late one night as they were playing directly across the street after the Otis Gibbs show and I had a hole in my schedule. Live, the band is, quite simply, a pleasure to watch, and the fiddle player is a sawing, twirling, high-kicking ball of energy. Recorded, Apache Relay is just as, for lack of a better word, whimsical.

American Nomad is not a sit alone, twirling your glass of whiskey and wondering where it all went wrong kind of album. It’s more of a roll the windows down and turn it up kind of album. The perfect summer record for the Americana crowd. American Nomad was made for good times and it offers the perfect soundtrack to enhance those moments.

I know it’s gonna feel real commercial and accessible for the typical 9B reader but give it a chance. This album not only grabbed me right away but it’s done nothing but continue to grow on me. Don’t be surprised to see it on the upcoming Best Of The First ½ Of 2011 post.

Obviously, it’s Essential Listening in my book but I’ll understand if you don’t dig it quite as much.

American Relay – State Trooper
American Relay – Mission Bells
American Relay – Set’s Me Free

Apache Relay’s Official Site, Apache Relay on Facebook, Buy American Nomad

BLACK JOE LEWIS & THE HONEYBEARS – SCANDALOUS

Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears might be a tad off the ninebullets.net beaten path, but that don’t mean they don’t have a place on the site. Hell, Romeo wrote a guest post about them way back before he was an official contributor here on the site and I asked The Weary Boys about him in an interview back in 2006. He was playing SxSW last year and I marked it as one of my do not miss shows, and man am I glad I didn’t. The energy coming off that stage made me forget that I had walked 15 miles the day before and had spent the major portion of the current day on my feet with no food and too much beer. It was one of those shows you walk away from saying, “I will never miss a live show of theirs in (insert your hometown here) again.” And I won’t. However, we’re here to talk about the album, not their awesome stage presence and show.

Scandalous is a sex record. I can’t think of any plainer way to put it. You got a girl coming over for dinner, are you gonna put Lucero on? Maybe, but there is a slight chance she won’t dig it. Those chances are nullified by the horns, grooves and soul of Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears. You’ve got a party where folks are being a little too uptight and sticking in their own social circles? Pull out a bottle of vodka and put Scandalous on the radio but be careful, ‘cause if you let bitch play on repeat someone will probably end up getting fucked in your bathroom. You couple this album with the latest Black Keys album and you’ll end up responsible for a couple of pregnancies.

So, needless to say, this album is Essential Listening.

Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears – Livin’ In The Jungle
Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears – She’s So Scandalous
Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears – You’ve Been Lyin’

Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears’ Official Site, Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears on Facebook, Buy Scandalous

ROBYN LUDWICK – OUT OF THESE BLUES

I know a lot of people slag on twitter. They think it’s a place for people to talk about their meal or about the fact that they’re taking a shit. A place for people to indulge in their narcissism. Personally, I feel like that’s a perfect description of Facebook. For my money, I’ve found Twitter to be infinitely more informative, thought provoking and useful than I’ve ever seen Facebook be. Now, before I turn this into a “my view on social media” diatribe, this all comes up because Ms. Robyn Ludwick is another in a long list of artists that probably never would have shown up here on 9B had it not been for me reading about them somewhere on Twitter. So sign up and follow me, and before this post becomes any more of a Twitter commercial let’s talk about her new album, Out Of These Blues.

I played this album for my wife over the weekend and she was, at best, lukewarm on it. “It’s a little too country for me. I need a little more rock in my twang” were her exact words. For me, I friggin’ love the album. It tickles that same spot that listening to Gillian Welch does, but she does it with a much more accessible sound. While Robyn is firmly planted in country vocally, musically the album has a lot of soul elements mixed in.

I almost feel like trying to talk about this album from any viewpoint other than personal taste is gonna be so far above my pay grade and writing education level I need not try, so I’ll just type from a personal point of view for a moment…..

I mentioned Gillian Welch on purpose in this article. A lot of people writing about this album are comparing it to Lucinda Williams. I like Lucinda well enough. I love her song (not album) Car Wheels On A Gravel Road, but the rest of her material, personally, I could take or leave. Gillian on the other hand, to me, has yet to do wrong. And, granted, this might be Ludwick’s first album, but it has 10 keepers on it, and as a result I’m gonna deem it Essential Listening. So check it out, and don’t let my wife’s comment freak you out too much. I mean, it’s country, but it ain’t Iris Dement country.

Robyn Ludwick – Hollywood
Robyn Ludwick – For You Baby
Robyn Ludwick – New Orleans

Robyn Ludwick’s Official Site, Robyn Ludwick on Facebook, Buy Out Of These Blues

BRANDON ADAMS AND THE SAD BASTARDS – SELF TITLED

BRANDON ADAMS AND THE SAD BASTARDS

I don’t want to harp on this point but some of the younger crowd in the Red Dirt scene seems to be losing their originality and individuality. It is albums like this self titled release from Brandon Adams And The Sad Bastards that give me hope for the genre. Brandon Adams, A West Texas native, started making music while attending Texas Tech, stopped and worked for a while as a golf pro eventually returning to Lubbock determined to make his own brand of music and did just that. It may have taken a decade of playing songwriters acoustic showcases but it has paid off in spades.

This one is full of raw pain and downers. I love that it cries out for me to down a bottle of Old Crow and chain smoke in the dark by myself without sounding the least bit whiny. From the opening track’s catchy melding of lost love and scriptural metaphor to the last track winding it down with some slow and simple loneliness this is Essential Listening.

Brandon Adams And The Sad Bastards – Blood
Brandon Adams And The Sad Bastards – Can’t See Heaven
Brandon Adams And The Sad Bastards – Fuck Me Up

Brandon Adams And The Sad Bastards on Facebook
Brandon Adams And The Sad Bastards official website
Get Brandon Adams And The Sad Bastards self titled album on iTunes

FIFTH ON THE FLOOR – DARK AND BLOODY GROUND

Man, I feel like I’ve been in a fog for a few weeks. Stress at work has had me all aflutter, but I think I’ve started to find my new normal. With that said, I can’t think of a better album to blow out the dust here on ninebullets than the Southern rock blast that is Dark And Bloody Ground from Fifth On The Floor. If you listen to ninebullets radio or the ninebullets podcast then you’re already a little familiar with these guys.

Fifth On The Floor is Aaron Graham, Jason Parsons, Matty Rodgers and Justin Wells out of Lexington, Kentucky. They hail from the Bluegrass state and these boys are bringing nothing but Southern rock and roll to the table. If I were gonna compare them to a band, I’d say these kids are the rock and roll cousin of Whitey Morgan and the 78’s. The album’s standout track is the polished and restrained ballad of despair “Distant Memory Lane” but it’s all the tattered, ragged and raw rock and roll songs about sour mash and breakups that make the album Essential Listening.

Fifth On The Floor – Distant Memory Lane
Fifth On The Floor – Another Day
Fifth On The Floor – Missin’ The Mornin’

Fifth On The Floor’s Official Site, Fifth On The Floor on Facebook, Buy Dark And Bloody Ground

O’DEATH – OUTSIDE

There are only 2 or 3 shows a day I mark as “must see” when I go out to Austin for SxSW, and of those 2 or 3 they’re typically never bands that tour Florida. O’death defies both odds. O’death is one of those bands that, given the chance, I am gonna see them live. They’re just that good and past experience tells me I am gonna walk away happy and musically inspired.

That said, we’re here to talk about a new cd, not the band’s live show.

In typical ninebullets.net fashion, we’re writing about a much awaited album weeks after it’s release and it’s next to impossible to say anything new about this album, so instead I’ll tell you how I feel about the record while leaving the journalism to other writers…

When the band released “Bugs” as the lead single I both rejoiced and worried a little. I mean, I really like the song and with further listens I grew to love it. It was a great song, but it was also really different from O’Death’s “typical” sound. And while I liked the song, an album of that sound was probably gonna fall outside my taste radar. I almost chuckle now, as I write that, ‘cause now, after repeated listens, I don’t hear any of the stuff that made me uncomfortable in the first place. That said, Outside is a departure of sorts from the O’Death we’ve grown to love. Well not really a departure per se, but from Head Home to now the band has moved on a pretty linear path sonically. All the chaos and noise that was Head Home. and to a lesser extent Broken Hymns, Limbs and Skin, has been reeled in on Outside. The songs (and this could just be my perception) on Outside sound more deliberate, more focused and feel more sinister. It’s like O’Death is is the only exit on the Southbound interstate between Slim Cessna’s Auto Club and The Builders and The Butchers, and for ninebullets that highway is called Interstate Essential Listening.

O’Death – Bugs
O’Death – Howling Through
O’Death – Ghost Head

O’Death’s Official Site, O’Death on Facebook, Buy Outside

DIRTY BOURBON RIVER SHOW – VOLUME TWO

VOLUME TWO


You may remember my rather colorful description of these kids from Nawlins from my review of their first effort. In fact that was my favorite line from any my reviews from last year. Ain’t nothin’ changed between the last album and this one and that’s a good thing! That isn’t to say they made the same music but rather that they built on the idea and the sounds and made another bad ass chunk of music. I have to admit that this music makes me a little crazy in a mostly good way. In general it makes me feel less stabby. When I feel that way to begin with of course…

Volume Two is the appropriately named follow up to their first album: Volume One. I didn’t really do a top list last year because I suck but Volume One would have been in the top ten without any question and Volume Two will likely make this year’s top list if I get off my ass and make one. It is Essential Listening and that’s just to start. Even with some of the music being carnival-esque this album is through and through a Nawlins sound. The horns are dirty, the vocals drift from dark to whimsical (sometimes in the same song), and Noah’s lyrical faculty can drag you down to the depths of an alley on Bourbon Street or pick you and make you want to strut just a little bit when you walk down the street. Someone told me, after I played Volume Two at them that they didn’t get it. I am pretty sure they are some form of undead with no emotions at all. Some sort of hollow shell. If I put this on at home every single one of clan dances, even the wife swings her hips just a little bit without noticing it, and the littlest one had himself a little fit when I turned it off the other day. Don’t make my three year old cry: GO BUY THIS ALBUM!

Dirty Bourbon River Show – Past The Shore
Dirty Bourbon River Show – Train Is Gone
Dirty Bourbon River Show – My Tiny Little Friend And I

The official DBRS blog and website thing
Go buy Volume Two on Bandcamp
Or if you want to feed the monster that is Apple you can get it on iTunes

OLD MAN MARKLEY – GUTS N’ TEETH

I’ll be honest, I’ve heard the name Old Man Markley in the past but nothing about the name inspired me to do more than nod, smile and promptly forget the name. Then the other night I read a blurb about them that described them as “punk bluegrass” and that, along with the title of their new album, Guts N’ Teeth, was enough to get me to remember the name and pick up the cd the next time I was on AmazonMP3.

We’ve had a pretty constant migration of musicians leaving their fields of punk for the pastures of Americana, and for L.A. punk scene veterans Old Man Markley it seems they prefer their fields with a bluer hue. From what I can gather (it’s not made especially clear), Old Man Markley is a combination of people from various punk bands and some bluegrass players from in and around L.A. who’ve been together for a few years and just released their second album, Guts N’ Teeth.

Personally, I was sold on the album after one listen and was typing this by the third pass. The band does a really good job of fusing punk (rock?) and bluegrass together in a way that makes it difficult to label it. It’s too loud and the drums are too “big” for a string band, despite the bluegrass feel. There are too many instruments (washboard, hamonica, mandolin) for a rock band, despite the rock bridges and structures. Perhaps it’s a new genre. We could call it Crossovergrass? Either way, I love it and for ninebullets, I am calling it Essential Listening.

Old Man Markley – Letterman
Old Man Markley – Living and Learning
Old Man Markley – Lowdown Blues

Old Man Markley’s Official Site, Old Man Markley on Facebook, Buy Guts N’ Teeth