I figured I’d share a little with you today. I don’t have any great words of wisdom, hell I’m barely treading water at this point, but I’ve been mulling over a playlist for a while and I put it together when I was supposed to be working this morning. So here’s a little something to help get you through today, or maybe not…
From This Might Be Good:
“It’s our Deca-pod. And it’s a good one. John O describes a horrible, if all too common bathroom event, while Brian divulges a near miss! Michael Dean Damron is our guest. We talk about his life playing music and his most recent bands, I Can Lick Any SOB in the House and The Do Betters. Mike D plays us a couple great tunes in studio. And Brian and John O write a This Might Be Lyft song. Check it out! The Deca-pod has arrived.”
Hey Cats and Kittens!
I am a HUGE fan of crowdfunding. I think eliminating the middle man is the best thing ever. I think it’s rad that I get the opportunity to be a patron of the art that I support. How fantastic is it that bands that are amazing can ask their fans to kick down a few bucks to support their latest endeavor rather than hope that some record label deems them worthy? As a fan of “good music” I have spent years watching great artists being passed over by an industry looking for “hits” instead of art. But now I get to put my money where my mouth is. So today I want to talk about two of those crowd funded endeavors that I think are easily worth your time and money.
First up is M. Lockwood Porter. I first heard about Max from John Moreland. John mentioned Max to me as an artist he knew from Oklahoma that wasn’t getting a fair shot in my town of San Luis Obispo. Max had recently relocated from Oklahoma to San Francisco, California. I was really bummed that Max had toured down and played a venue I knew well, Frog Peach Pub, but I had somehow missed it. I made sure to see Max the next time he came through and I was absolutely blown away when I did. Since then I have been fortunate enough to see him on several occasions (yay West Coast!). Max reminds me of Rhett Miller of the Old 97’s. Both of them play fantastic pop songs featuring a country lean but with serious depth and incredibly witty lyrics. Shortly after I met Max he released “27”, a great album filled with folk songs informed by pop influences, most notably Big Star. Max sings the kind of songs I’d like to write, hooky as fuck but rewarding on multiple listens. If you’ve checked out “27” I know that you will want to chip in a few bucks to make his next album happen. Please do so here. Max is the kind of guy that is one step away from being on every great radio station in America, help him get there.
The next crowdfunding opportunity I want to talk about is one that is incredibly close to me. Michael Dean Damron is currently crowdfunding his new album. I love Mike. I love Mike because he is one of the best human beings I have ever met. Full stop. I love Mike because he has introduced me to some people and artists that have shaped my life in big ways. Fernando, John Moreland, Jack Parker and Mishka Shubaly (buy his new book, seriously, fuck you, buy this book) are just some of the artists whose work Mike has introduced me to. And those people are some of my favorite people currently walking this earth. Mike brought all of that into my life, as well as countless other people’s lives. Mike has always championed his fellow artists while quietly being head and shoulders above almost all of them. You might know him from the most underrated band I can think of, I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In the House, or from his numerous incredible solo records. He is the guy that tours with ALL of your favorite bands. I assure you that just about all of the artists you love look up to this man. He is a singular force on the musical landscape. If there was a god, and if that god was just, Mike’s name would be spoken in the same way that we speak of Neil, Townes and Waylon. I know this sounds like bullshit. I know that it sounds like I’m slobbering all over Mike and collecting a fat paycheck from his label but that isn’t the case. I just believe in him. I just think he is perhaps the best artist of a generation. I think Chad has a better voice, Micah pulls at my heartstrings more, the Dexateens rock harder, Lucero makes me throw my arms around my buddies more, Snodgrass will always write my favorite songs, Shane is the most honest man in music, but Mike is MY favorite. Mike is everything I want to be. Mike is the raw talent that the rest of us strive for. He has not gotten his due, he probably never will. But he still keeps on because he has to. You have the opportunity to be a part of that. Throw a few bucks his way if you believe in art in any way,shape or form. I guarantee you will not regret it. He is the best.
The sad truth in this day and age is that if we don’t support art it will go away.
Sometimes I’m just late to the party. When I was in high school I figured out that I was in love with a girl about two days before I found out I was going to be moving out of town. I just never let myself notice her until it was too late. That brings me to Richmond Fontaine.
I first heard the name because of a poster that my musical partner of the past few years had up in his house. He is a big fan of the band and that alone should have been enough to compel me to seek them out but for some reason I didn’t.
I have had the pleasure of seeing Richmond Fontaine guitarist Dan Eccles play, supporting some amazing artists such as Fernando and Michael Dean Damron. Eccles is an incredibly talented guitarist. He plays with a perfect blend of emotive and tasteful style, flashy enough to impress your average concert attendee but with a depth that has left every musician I know in awe. And yet I still didn’t check out the band he was best known for. I was never in a rush because I figured I had all the time in the world. Wrong again.
“You Can’t Go Back If There’s Nothing to Go Back To” is last call for Richmond Fontaine. It’s the end of the party and dammit I just got here. After twenty years and more than ten albums they’ve reached the end of their road. This album is the first one of theirs that I have heard, and it’s left me wanting more. I think they did that on purpose.
The album sets an immediate tone with the gentle instrumental “Leaving Bev’s Miners Club at Dawn.” What follows is an exploration of the feeling of being late to the party but wanting it to continue; wishing you had tried harder, pushed more, made it there on time but also accepting that you didn’t. In resignation, not anger. This has happened before, maybe it happens almost every night. The yearning for a different outcome remains, though.
Early on the album on, Willy Vlautin sings, “Let’s hit one more place / before we go home / let’s go in when it’s dark / come out with the sun”. He knows the night is a failure as always, but it never hurts to try. Some writers use geography to describe the emotions they want to convey with their songs, Vlautin uses characters to explore that landscape instead. He drags you straight into that world instead of leaving you to observe it from behind the glass.
Musically this album feels like a summer record to me, a perfect mate to the twilight of the season, with desolate but consenting lyrics and music that is mournful without wallowing. On this record Richmond Fontaine sounds like the band I wish Wilco had become, maybe what they should have become. It’d be easy to label it alt.country, but it’s more clearly just excellent songcraft.
Along with the tremendous guitar work from Eccles there are some beautifully subtle bass parts from Freddy Trujillo, just the right amount of aching pedal steel from Paul Brainard, propelling but not overpowering drums from Sean Oldham (especially on “A Night in the City”) and exquisite keyboard flourishes from guest Jenny Conlee. All of this builds a perfect bed for Vlautin’s yearning but assured vocals. As is always my test, I need to believe a singer in order to believe a song, and I’m absolutely buying what Willy Vlautin is selling.
I hope you weren’t late to the Richmond Fontaine party like I was. But, if you are at least we get the sheer joy of starting at the end of the story and working our way back to see where this all started.
Check out their latest and final album, “You Can’t Go Back If There’s Nothing to Go Back To”, out now on Fluff and Gravy Records. And if the band comes through your town any time soon, make sure you catch them. Let’s hit one more show before the party is over.
Right out of the gate I’m going to just give you some Two Cow Garage as a celebration of the freedom granted to almost everyone by SCOCTUS (next up is recognition of polygamous marriage). I’ve posted what I think about the decision on FB and won’t belabor the point here, so let’s all just enjoy “Let The Boys Be Girls” for a minute…
Someone with way more CDO (That’s OCD in alphabetical order, the way it should be) created a set chronological playlists of 90’s alt/indie. Taken together these things are a 500+ minute pill to swallow! I once tried to just a top 100, arranged in some chronological order, for alt country and wanted to stab myself in the eyes before I was done. The dedication it takes to make an 800 track playlist is something I don’t have. I’m seriously not entirely sure whether I should be afraid, have a ton of respect, or recommend a good shrink! Whichever it is I am grateful to have the resource, even if I’m not sure I’ll put 500 hours in to completing. Thanks @naxuu, this is pretty cool!
And since this is a holiday weekend and none of you want to spend your time reading what I thought was cool on the web this week, I am closing this, admittedly short, Around The Web with something that was cool six years ago. I mentioned I found some old mix tape archives lying around, well this is one from the Lucero Message Board, circa 2009, our little Summer Mix Tape. It was certainly a good one!
The Fox Hunt – Better Than This (Lucero Cover)
“The boys recorded this for the long overdue Lucero tribute album..I heard them play this version when they were here playing Surf Bar on Folly Beach…took some cajoling but I got MK to send me the mp3…here it is.” – JacksonDavis
Lucero – Live 1/4/2002 – American Girl
“Sticking with the 4th of July theme. Just for fun.” – Boston Twang
Deer Tick – Born on Flag Day – Houston, TX
“The first song that jumped out at me on the new record. Haven’t decided what I think of the new record yet but I like this song.” – Plank10
Cory Branan – Ardent Studios recording – Karen’s Song
“I had never heard this prior to hearing it on the streaming file released by Rachel and The City when he was in studio earlier this year…cannot wait for his new album…he and Snodgrass kicked major ass in ATL and Savannah.” – JacksonDavis…thanks to Down South for the editing Wink
Ha Ha Tonka – Novel Sounds of The Nouveau South – Close Every Valve to Your Bleeding Heart
“Roaring out of the Ozarks with a bottle in one hand and a bible in the other” – ColoradoAlan
William Elliott Whitmore – Animals In The Dark – Old Devils
“My current favourite tune from my favourite album of the year to date.” – JacksonDavis
Hoots & Hellmouth – The Holy Open Secret – What Good Are Plowshares If We Use Them Like Swords
“There is something about this band I find deeply interesting. I can’t quite put my finger on it but whatever it is this song has it.” – Autopsy IV
The Only Sons – Steel Hearts – Lay Back Down
“This song is eerily relevant for a friends situation right now..” – ColoradoAlan
The Evening Rig – Is Doin’ Stuff – Goddamn, I Could Use A Drink
“If you haven’t listened to these guys yet, you probably should.” – algwalcz
Jon Snodgrass w/ Cory Branan – Alone and Distanced
“Too bad this isn’t being released on CD or digital download…but…I was able to pry this from someone who had been way late in getting Season 5 of The Wire back to me Cool” – JacksonDavis”
Two Cow Garage – Humble Narrator – Speaking in Cursive
“I’ve had this CD for a while but just REALLY started to listen to it, and this song was the first one I kept repeating. ” The sun has a way of making us pay for our revelry filled nights” Amen Brother.” – Hecticeyes
Chad Rex & The Victorstands – Songs to Fix Angels – Build a Rocket
“I only recently realized how good Chad Rex is. Besides, it’s the time of year for rockets.” – Boston Twang
Flogging Molly – Swagger – Salty Dog
“Irish punk rock is great and good for hanging out in the summer listening to full blast.” – Lennon Medvick
Michael Dean Damron – Father’s Day – Angels Fly Up
“It seems like I am always pimping this guy’s music and my work isn’t done until he’s got a platinum award on his wall…or something like that. Father’s Day is a strong contender for the Best of ’09 as far as I’m concerned. I can’t really pinpoint why this song means so much to me, but it affects me somewhere in the guts.” – Bone Machine
Austin Lucas – The Common Cold – Kith and Kin
“If you’ve only heard Austin’s new album, definitely check out The Common Cold. Yay for the upcoming tour with Two Cow!” – TheOtherBrit
The Lemonheads – Varshons – Waitin Around to Die
“Evan Dando revisits a Townes Van Zandt classic” – ColoradoAlan
Cheap Trick – The Latest – Sick Man Of Europe
“Of all the music from my childhood, Cheap Trick are the band that I still enjoy with the intensity of my youth. It’s good to know that they’re still out there plugging away and have a catalog much richer than the classic rock staples (I Want You To Want Me, Surrender, The Flame…). This tune is from their new one, lovingly entitled The Latest, and is further proof that Robin Zander has one of the finer voices in rock some 35 years into his career.” – Bone Machine
The Dexateens – Singlewide – Can You Whoop It
“If you like the Dexateens, keep an eye out for Arkadelphia, Lee Bains III’s new band. They’ve even more amazing!” – TheOtherBrit
Trampled by Turtles – Duluth – Empire
“These guys are one of my favorite bands that I’ve discovered because they were a Lucero opener. Go see them live if you get the chance.” Boston Twang
Matthew Dean Herman – Blackbird – Blackbird
“Fantastic debut album produced by Evan Phillips of The Whipsaws. RIYL: Drive-By Truckers” – Autopsy IV
Lyle Lovette – I Love Everybody – Fat Babies
“I’ve been on a Lyle Lovette kick lately. “I don’t like hippies and I don’t like cornbread.” I’m confused that he doesn’t like cornbread.” – Plank10
Ray LaMontagne – Gossip in the Grain – Let it Be Me
Submitted by corduroy
Uncle Tupelo – March 16-20 1994 – Moonshiner
Submitted by corduroy
Kingston Trio – We’ll Sing in The Sunshine
“A fun summertime sing-a-long…” – Nicole
Against Me! – As The Eternal Cowboy – You Look Like I Need Drink
“Against Me! has been my sound track all summer, and this is one of my favorites.” – Lennon Medvick
Our very own Wolf was on the radio with former 9B writer and editor Charles Hale this week and this is what it sounded like:
Benchmarks – “American Night” – American Night
Two Cow Garage – “Continental Distance” – Continental Distance
Benjamin Booker – “Have You Seen My Son?” – Benjamin Booker
Adam Faucett – “Rock Ain’t Gold” – Blind Water Finds Blind Water
Gaslight Anthem – “Lonesome Sound” – The ’59 Sound
Kill County – “Straight Six Ford” – The Year Of Getting By
Michael Dean Damron – “Dancing In The Moonlight” – Father’s Day
Shane Sweeney – “Motel Blues” – The Finding Time
Robert Chaney – “The Morning After” – Cracked Picture Frames
Tim Barry – “No News From the North” – Lost & Rootless
Jason Isbell – “Something More Than Free” – Something More Than Free
Doc Dailey & Magnolia Devil – “Waiting On You” – Catch the Presidents
Tyler Childers – “Charleston Girl” – Live At The Red Barn Vol. 1
Aaron Lee Tasjan – “Santa Monica & Vine” – The Thinking Man’s Filth
Arliss Nancy – “Front Seat” – Simple Machines
Langhorne Slim & The Law – “Past lives” – The Way We Move
Lilly Hiatt – “Jesus Would’ve Let Me Pick the Restaurant” – Royal Blue
The Killers – “Leave The Bourbon On The Shelf” – Sawdust
Against Me! – “F*** My Life 666” – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
Austin Lucas – “Alone in Memphis” – Stay Reckless
John Moreland – “Sad Baptist Rain” – High On Tulsa Heat
Barton Carroll – “Every Little Bit Hurts” – Avery County, I’m Bound To You
Jamestown Revival – “revival” – Utah
Matt Woods – “Beating Down My Door” – Matt Woods Manifesto
Cory Branan – “No Hit Wonder” – No Hit Wonder
Glossary – “At midnight” – How We Handle Our Midnights
Lucero – “Hearts On Fire” – Live DVD
Drive By Truckers – “Daddy’s Cup” – The Dirty South
Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires – “Dirt Track” – A Live Show
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit this was an excuse to post Charles’ podcast because it completely rocks and he’s pretty damn awesome. I know I miss his voice in the background of things around here. I’ve added his podcast to “Sites We Read” and hopefully you’ll all subscribe to it. There’s a lot worse things you could do with your time.
“It is most interesting to me,” says Cecelia Jean Speckman, “that she always said she was going to be an artist…and she IS an artist!” She’s speaking of her daughter here, in a breathless amazement that could seem typical of any parent talking about any child. The difference here, however, is that the devotion and commitment with which the mother speaks of the daughter is the same with which the daughter speaks of the art. There’s a clarity of expression here, an ability to be plainspoken and truthful that must surely be genetic. Her brother says the same: “Artists are the folks that can see the beauty in anything and translate that through their medium – it’s something that not everyone can do and Vanessa has found a way to do that.”
This article will be a rough sketch, as it has to be: Vanessa Jean Speckman continues to strive, grow, and learn, much more a tree with many branches than a simpler organism growing only in one direction. The lens through which so many have gotten to know Speckman is a musical one, but music is by no means her starting point or her primary inspiration. Through her family, her peers, and her own words you will get to know a woman whose work has inspired so many in this community.
The open admiration of her family members is returned wholly in kind. Vanessa Jean Speckman loves and appreciates where she came from. “I was surrounded with art and makers from my earliest memories, so as early as I can remember, it was ‘the norm’.” A grandfather that regularly painted scenes from National Geographic magazines, parents that took her to see Leonard Cohen, a brother that regularly trekked out to shows with her and helped create a zine that influenced the rest of her life.
The zine was called Lubricated. Speckman was just out of college and had moved in with her older brother Patrick, but was less than thrilled with the lack of community spirit in the Bay Area. “…everyone around me seemed to be straddling what they were, and what they thought we were supposed to be and I saw all this cool stuff in between that I wanted to celebrate. That there didn’t have to be any lines crossed or boxes to be put in.” The zine was about more than music, it was a way of connecting what burned brightest across all mediums: music, visual art, poetry, film. In Patrick’s words, the “common thread was creativity.”
“I was a high school art teacher and 6th and 7th grade English teacher,” Speckman says, “driving to shows every night, painting in my garage and staying up way too late making Lubricated…It was this really organic and beautiful process that took on a life of its own, that I don’t think either of us ever had imagined.”
Lubricated introduced Vanessa to many like-minded people, including Michael Dean Damron of I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In The House. “I was touring with Two Cow Garage,” Damron said, “and [Speckman] was doing a zine at the time and came down to talk. The next night we all played in San Jose and she gave us a place to crash and some kick ass Mexican food…One of the kindest, warmest people I had ever met.” And just as the music influenced Speckman, her art influenced the artists around her. Speckman painted the cover of Mike D’s recent solo album When The Darkness Come. “…it was the perfect combination of darkness and my childhood,” Damron said. “I related instantly.”
Being more than willing to travel up and down the West Coast for shows, plans not being a necessity (for reference see her painted suitcases: ‘Gotta Run!’, and ‘…Can’t Stay!’), there are plenty of stories like the following. Frank Turner, when asked how he met Speckman, said, “Many years back, on the road, through road friends. We used to stay at her place in Northen California when we were on tour.” Vanessa recently contributed a print that was included with Frank’s compilation album ‘The Third Three Years’. The piece features many of Frank’s standby references and inspirations but in Speckman’s particular style. Lyrics have a habit of sliding out of songs and into reality, tattoos are almost too honest, and most figures are bearing quiet witness to their circumstances, looking out at the audience or down at their feet with similar melancholy self-awareness.
Brandon Barnett of Ghost Shirt, another band Vanessa painted an album cover for, put it as follows: “Vanessa’s art is so direct…She can make you feel all your feelings with 4-5 words spray painted on an old map.” The album cover, featuring a defiant boy (with plenty of tattoos) braving rough seas in a boat also bearing a scythe-wielding Grim Reaper. Barnett: “If the record has a unifying theme it would be something about not looking for well-being, love, or salvation outside yourself. I never told Vanessa this. The first thing I noticed on the art was a little cartoon flag being waved from a boat that just said ‘Save Yourself’. I completely lost it.” Speckman is undoubtedly an artist who understands artists, who creates work not just for artists, but that artists will appreciate.
As previously written, however, there are many branches to Speckman’s artistic life and music is just one of them. Her artistic story has been one of constant change and growth, new mediums and themes emerging as old ones are thoroughly explored. “I don’t ever want to be stuck making the same thing with the same tools – that would be my own personal purgatory,” says Speckman. “I love that I am my own tool in the shed and it’s up to me to learn and develop and stay sharp.” In school she painted with oils and sculpted with clay, and after college she didn’t do much art other than “bastard stubborn photography” and the zine. What soon emerged, though, was a talent for re-purposing or re-imagining existing forms. Maps were a common vehicle for communicating Speckman’s melancholy and wanderlust.
Speckman’s art seems to be about the medium just as much as the message, whether it’s a cheap plastic compass with “nobody at the wheel” on its back or a matchbook with “i just have a lot of feelings” sewn to it. These simple pieces, a common item and a few words, are also some of her strongest. “I don’t think musicians or artist create a piece in hopes to dictate something, rather to spark something,” Speckman says. A keychain tucked into your bag with another purchase, a notebook with the reminder “we’ll never get out alive” pasted to it, a map saying “we don’t need a map”…all of it is easy to see, to understand on a surface level, but there’s also somewhere to go. Her art is a starting point, and often one that starts you off very abruptly.
There’s something refreshing about saying exactly what you’re thinking, and Speckman’s work embraces those hard truths. “I suppose I try to aggressively gain the viewer’s attention right off the bat, but then I hope that it makes them come back to self reflect on it.” Perhaps the most aggressive of her works are the bummer Valentines, vintage love notes that Speckman updates with feelings and thoughts that are just as powerful and present on V-Day as love is.
Other truths, often aggressively vulnerable, come painted onto the t-shirts that Speckman makes. Her “Dear rock’n’roll, you can’t break my heart, XO me” has become a favorite for touring musicians to wear onstage and in music videos. There’s nothing ironic or cynical about the statement: being a musician is hard for a long time before it gets easy, and these are people spitting in the face of adversity to do what they love. This is true for all artists across all mediums, for the ones that refuse to back down from a challenging life. In Speckman’s words: “Art is not a means to an end for me. Art is a means to living for me. The fact that I currently support myself as an artist, is something that does not get lost upon me or is ever unappreciated. But art and art as a career are two different things and I am on the side of the first, not the latter.”
It can’t be easy, constantly creating and making so that you can create and make further, but difficulty doesn’t necessarily come with unpleasantness. One element of Speckman’s life is constant touring, either solo or with her partner Micah Schnabel. While touring is a whirlwind no matter who you are, it’s also slightly different for visual artists than performers. “Did I make enough t-shirts? Did I bring enough variety in my art and in my prices? [There’s] this feeling of incomplete completion upon leaving.” But there’s plenty to enjoy about the life as well. The newness of each town, the unease at not knowing where to get your next cup of coffee and the feeling of having conquered the world when you take your first sip: these are all feelings that Speckman lives for. “There’s too much to do and see to be too comfortable doing the same thing every day.”
Comfort plays a role in her art as well; or rather, the lack thereof. Whether it’s the word ‘FUCK’ emblazoned on a t-shirt, an unapologetic refutation of normal life emblazoned on a map, or a girl holding a Popsicle frozen around a knife out from her crotch, Speckman sets out to make the viewer uneasy. “I like the topical sweetness upon first look,” Speckman says, “and part two hopes to make you uncomfortably comfortable.” All art is the expression of human emotion through some medium, and Speckman’s chosen form of expression is to say what we’re all thinking. In the words of Schnabel, “When you find an artist that makes you think, ‘That’s exactly how I feel! Why didn’t I write that! Why didn’t I think of that!’ it is really something special. It’s challenging and inspiring. Which is what art is all about.”
Everyone in Speckman’s carefully and carelessly drawn/painted/written world is on the same page: the wires are visible, the boom mic is in the shot, there are ordinary cruelties whipping by like storm winds, and her characters stand gazing out at it all. They represent her audience, each of them individually, and this real world is no less cruel. There’s the hope, though, that strength can be drawn from everyone’s own unapologetic observations of the world around them, that maybe honesty of the heart and not just the mouth could get us through all of this. Though the world that Speckman conjures with her words and paints is sometimes bleak, it is never without hope. Like the little boy in the boat, defiantly sailing with Death alongside him, we all have to save ourselves. In the words of one of Speckman’s heroes, the punk rock heroine Patti Smith, “Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine.”
Sometimes an album seeps in to your being, wraps itself around your bones, and refuses to let go. When you’re lying in bed at night, in those moments between being asleep or awake, there it is, seemingly staring at you from the dark corners and daring you to hear its truth. And sometimes that truth is dark as fuck.
Doctor please don’t take my legs
No Doctor please don’t take my legs
How am I goin’ to get down on my knees and beg
Doctor please don’t take my legs
Most of the artists we write about here are good a baring their souls for us but every once in a while someone guts themselves in an impressive manner. When The Darkness Come is Michael Dean Damron’s self-sacrifice on our altar. This is not a comfortable album, it’s not pretty, and it’s not always to listen to. This is Mike D. using us as priests and our speakers as a confessional but never actually asking for forgiveness. It’s the depth of the darkness that makes this one a little scary. The depth of the darkness contained in these eleven songs makes me really hope that getting them helped the man who wrote them get rid of some of the demons that obviously haunt him.
Don’t know that Jesus died to wash your sins away
Please heed his call, in sin don’t fall
We’re getting closer to the grave each day
There is a mortality to When The Darkness Come that resonates through every tune. These are not songs written by a man who thinks he’ll live forever nor are they the songs of a youthful writer who thinks he can change the world, these are the songs of a man telling the truth and not giving a damn who hears it, these are truths that resonate with me as I’m at an age where mortality is a very real thing. I’ve seen enough friends shuffle off this mortal coil that I know any of us could go at any time. I’ve long since given up being an angry young man and view the world through the eyes of a curmudgeon so I can completely relate to an album where the niceties of life are flayed and the reality of existence is the main focus.
So let them tyrants fall and let the wretched come home
The only thing I know for sure in this world, I don’t know nothin’ at all
And let the truth that be sung, the truth is we’re all alone
There is, however, deliverance in truth and freedom in knowing that you can’t escape fate. And in that manner When The Darkness Come is a very cathartic piece for the listener. The hope that’s here is summed up in the last song, more of a wish for change rather than hope but some days that’s all you can muster when everything around us seems like it’s all going to hell. I don’t know of many artists capable of this level of self-honesty in their work and for that alone I would call this Essential Listening but it’s that for so many other reasons as well. Everything is right where it should be on this album, the production, the track order, the music itself, and I think you can tell how I feel about the lyrics. The places that this album takes me are scary but having someone else along for the ride, even if it’s only through my headphones, makes it a little easier to stare down my demons and dare them to flinch. So thank you, Michael Dean Damron, for giving us a metaphorical hand to hold even if that hand is reaching out our darkest places.
Unfortunately for you, if you didn’t back the Kickstarter for this one, you can’t get your greedy little mitts on until May. In the meantime you can stalk Mike D. on Facebook or go buy some of his previous work. This is a man worthy of your support so if you don’t have his back catalog then fix that between now and May 1st when this one drops for the rest of you.
Having a monthly Kickstarter was something that AIV did and I think is a damn good idea. I’m sorry we got away from and since I’ve been thinking about the site a lot lately I was thinking about bringing it back. Now that there’s all sorts of sites that let you attempt crowdfunding I’m changing the name but it’s coming back. Last night a 9B favorite, and someone I consider a friend, put a Kickstarter project which gave me the perfect excuse to start helping out again.
Michael Dean Damron
If you don’t Michael Dean Damron by name then you haven’t been hanging around 9 Bullets for very long at all. Whether it’s fronting I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In The House or putting out solo albums, as far as I’m concerned, this man can do no wrong. Adding another record to his already impressive body of work is a gift to fans of good music everywhere. The links to our past coverage don’t contain any music since we don’t leave things up longer than a month so I think it’s time for a musical retrospective just so you, the reader, can see the true breadth of this man’s career.
I Can Lick Any SOB – Creepy Little Noises – (2002)
John L. Sullivan
Walk Across Texas
I Can Lick Any SOB – Put Here To Bleed – (2003)
01 – twerp
03 – american fuck machine
I Can Lick Any SOB – Menace – (2004)
02 – Thousand To One
03 – A Good Day To Be A Husband
Michael Dean Damron – A Perfect Day For A Funeral – (2005)
Blame It on the Whiskey
Michael Dean Damron – Bad Days Ahead – (2008)
I Love the Rain
Michael Dean Damron – Father’s Day – (2009)
I Hope Your New Boyfriend Gives You AIDS
I’m A Bastard
I Can Lick Any SOB – The Sounds Of Dying – (2010)
Swear To God
Michael Dean Damron – Plea From A Ghost – (2011)
Keep Me In Your Heart
Michael Dean Damron – Nah Mr. Death… Ima Comin’ for You!! – (2012)
I Can Lick Any SOB – Mayberry – (2013)
I Give Up (The Puppy Song)
Whew! That’s a ton of music to sample folks and I didn’t even bother with the live albums (I hope I got all the years right)! Now click either the link below or the “K” in the video at the start of this post and bless Mike D with some green appreciation so that we can all bask in the glory of this new album when it comes out.
Michael Dean Damron is one of those rare artists that makes it obvious the he lives his music. Whether it’s with I Can Lick Any SOB or his solo work he leaves it all out there for you and me. Sometimes it ain’t pretty and sometimes it’s hard to stomach but that’s because the man writes about real life and doesn’t leave out the viscera. I’ll be completely honest and admit upfront that not every song in his rather large repertoire appeals to me lyrically but that’s where the real magic is with MDD, because, you see, I can’t even turn off his music when I don’t agree with him. There’s something about him, his writing, his blood and guts approach to music makes me keep right on listening no matter what.
Nah, Death I’ma Comin’ For You only proves to me that MDD can do no wrong. Ten new tracks and every last one of them a keeper. As is his style, Mr. Damron drags us all over the emotional spectrum with this one. From the nostalgia with “Mama Song” to the wry angst of “Creakin’ Ol’ Bones” the roller coaster gathers speed throughout the album to finally coming to halt punctuated with the epitaph for our nation “The Day America Died”. The formula here is a simple one though, so simple that most artists these days miss it, and it’s honesty. Not being a poet or a songwriter I imagine that even though it’s a simple concept, at the same time, it’s not easy to pour yourself out in every song and still have anything left. I frankly don’t know how anyone does it but I am damn glad MDD keeps doing it over and over.
It doesn’t get any better than this as far as music goes. Nah, Death stands a very good chance of being my favorite album of the year. You have probably guessed already that this is Essential Listening and if you did you’d be right. If you donated to the Kickstarter you already have these tracks in your greedy little hands and know what I am talking about but if you haven’t then you’ll be happy to know that Mr. Damron has very graciously given us permission to stream Nah, Death right here on 9B for you! So click the little cassette tape thingy, pour yourself some whiskey, and get ready to be amazed.
Stay tuned for the live half of this release…