Bloodshot Records has been on the scene since the early days of what some people call alt.country. Early Bloodshot artists include Ryan Adams, The Old 97’s, Alejandro Escovedo and Jon Langford. They have recently reached their 20th years of releasing albums and chose to celebrate by putting together the compilation While No One Was Looking.
The concept is a fairly unique one: Bloodshot asked musicians they liked and respected to record their own version of a song that was released on Bloodshot in the previous 20 years. This double CD (3LP) includes several cool but unsurprising offerings like Chuck Ragan covering Cory Branan’s “Survivor Blues”, Superchunk crushing their fellow North Carolinian’s “Come Pick Me Up” and Daniel Romano doing a tune by Jon Langford & The Sadies. It’s fun to here artists you know doing songs by other artists you know, especially when you can see the parallels that led one to the other.
Clocking in at 38 songs, While No One Was Looking also has the unexpected moments that every compilation needs. Hearing the Handsome Family bringing their gothic overtones to The Bottle Rocket’s “1000 Dollar Car” is a trip and a half. I also really enjoyed the gender flips, Carolyn Mark singing an Alejandro Escovedo classic and William Elliott Whitmore tackling one of my favorite Neko Case tunes is worth the price of admission.
Overall, While No One Was Looking has way more winners than not, as compilation-heads are sure to understand, and the uniqueness of the tracklisting makes it a must have for diehard fans and radio DJs.
Buy While No One Was Looking directly from Bloodshot Records
Yesterday I got stuck driving 3 hours north for a 3:00 meeting that ended up only lasting 15 minutes. When the meeting was scheduled I wasn’t sure when I’d get home so I asked Beverly to cover the show for me and when I got out so early I decided to take advantage of the situation and go beer hunting. Beverly did a great job with the show and I ended up scoring a good collection of beers I can’t get down here in the St. Petersburg area. Win, win if you ask me.
This week’s episode features new Willie Nelson, Kelly Hogan, Andre Williams w/The Sadies and Paul Thorn as well as a strong does of Florida music via Rebekah Pulley, Lauris Vidal and Jubal’s Kin. If that sounds like the good stuff go put some ears on the archived stream of the show and thanks for tuning in.
Below is the playlist for May 24, 2012
01. Andre Williams and The Sadies – Bored
02. Willie Nelson – Roll Me Up
03. Austin Lucas and Glossary – Alone in Memphis
04. Kelly Hogan – Golden
05. Lucero – Kiss The Bottle
06. Jubal’s Kin – Everthing Is Free
07. Rebekah Pulley – I Want You
08. Ryan Adams – Black Sheets of Rain
09. Matt Woods – Dead Man’s Blues
10. The Drams – Fireflies
11. First Aid Kit – In the Hearts of Men
12. Lucero – All These Love Songs
13. Paul Thorn – Walk in My Shadow
14. Lauris Vidal – Would You, Could You?
Bold = Request
P.S.: If you like this show, do me a favor and post about it on your Facebook/Twitter/Blog. It’ll do a lot to help these bands reach new ears…and in the end, that’s what this is all about. It’ll also help bring the existence of the radio show to more people’s attention & the more people there are listening/paying attention to the show the more likely it is to stay on the air.
Episode 73: aired 05.24.2012
Last month I asked if you guys would be interested in a monthly Ninebullets Spotify playlist. You seemed pretty responsive to the idea so here is the first one. This playlist features every band that was featured on ninebullets in the month of January that was also on Spotify. I hope you enjoy it and if you do, pass it along to some friends. Like I keep saying, every new pair of ears these bands reach is a potential fan/head at show.
This month’s playlist features: Lauderdale, Ryan Adams, Jason Isbell, The Far West, Will Hoge, Sasparilla, The Rainmakers, Micah Schnabel, Hellbound Glory, Molly Gene, Lucero, Childish Gambino, Chris Cornell, The Pack A.D., The Dirt Daubers and Low Cut Connie.
As you know, Ryan Adams writes a bunch of songs and makes a bunch of records. He is not a new name or face but with each new record he makes I find myself wondering if this is going to be one I like or one I’d rather forget about. Money is money and as a man with little of it, these are questions that must be addressed.
For comparisons and references sake I’ll say that Ashes And Fire is the closest cousin to the Heartbreaker album. The songs on Ashes And Fire are simple and soulful. But what’s not here is the ragged and casual edge that imminated from Heartbreaker, I remember reading about that record that Adams didn’t have grand plans for it and that he believed he was destined to make records for a few friends and fans. David Rawlings produced Heartbreaker, Glyn Johns produced Ashes And Fire and it is Johns who makes the biggest stylistic choices here. Johns continues the polish I heard on Easy Tiger, a record I’m not a fan of, partly because of a girl but mainly because of the polished clutter. But the clutter is removed from Ashes And Fire.
What I’m saying is that Ashes And Fire is closer to Heartbreaker, a high water mark, than it is to Easy Tiger. But check out the songs for yourself.
Why 13, you ask? Well, it’s my favorite number and, conveniently, it is also the number of albums that grabbed my attention this year. Plus, I like the title of “Lucky 13” for my list.
13. Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire. This is the album I’ve turned to all year whenever I’ve been in the mood to chill. Perfect for sitting back with a bottle of scotch. (Sound pretentious enough?) On a side note, Ryan did a couple excellent covers of my music idol, Bob Mould, this year: Black Sheets of Rain (Live on Letterman) and Heartbreak a Stranger (Bob Mould Tribute Concert)
12. Foster and Lloyd – Its Already Tomorrow. This album out jangles The Byrds. The title track and “Lucky Number” are the best power-pop songs I’ve heard in years.
11. R.E.M – Collapse Into Now. I doubt if R.E.M could have left after a better album, short of retiring after Automatic For The People (a valid argument). “Discoverer” may be their best opening track since “Begin the Begin” off Life’s Rich Pageant. “Uberlin” may simply the best song they’ve recorded in the past 10 years.
10. Hayes Carll – KMAG YOYO (& Other American Stories). Hayes gets the most attention for his romps and stomps, but his songwriting really shines on the slower songs. “Another Like You” is a cleaver give and take with Cary Ann Hearst.
9. Drive by Truckers – Go-Go Boots. One of the things about doing these lists is you go back to revisit albums from earlier in the year that you got burned out on. Sometimes you realize they weren’t as good as you thought. Other times they sound even better on the second “first” listen. This is the latter.
8. Have Gun, Will Travel – Mergers and Acquisitions. Pretty much everything Autopsy said.
7. Dave Alvin – Eleven Eleven. No better CountryRockBlues album released this year. Like his songwriting, Dave’s baritone is as strong as ever. How did I overlook reviewing this? Gonna have to rectify that after the first of the year.
6. The Decemberists – The King is Dead. I’m one of those who never got into The Decemberists before this album. But, being a REM-head since the mid-80s, it is in my DNA to adore this one. “Down By The Water” another of my songs of the year.
5. Jason Boland and The Stragglers – Rancho Alto. A true country album in every sense of the word. If anyone is carrying the “traditionalist banner”, it’s Jason. This album is proof. “Farmer’s Luck” ranks with Mellencamp’s “Rain on the Scarecrow” as one the great songs describing the troubles of the American farmer. “False Accuser’s Lament” is a prime example of Jason’s vivid storytelling.
4. The Damn Quails – Down the Hatch. See review
3. Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – Here We Rest. Top notch songwriting, great band, great album. “Codeine” is one of my songs of the year, although “Go It Alone” might be the song that got the most play as it has helped me get through my separation and pending divorce.
2. Hellbound Glory – Damaged Goods. Anyone from Nashville that calls themselves “Outlaw Country” needs to listen to this and then hang their heads in shame. Review is upcoming next week.
Bonus: Jody Booth – Nashville. Perfectly describes the corporate music machine in 2011.
One of our favorite labels, Bloodshot Records, recently released their fall sampler. Like their past samplers it’s free (well, it’ll cost you your email address) to download. The collection has plenty of 9B familiars such as Ha Ha Tonka and Whitey Morgan and it even contains a brand new track from the upcoming Scott H. Biram album, Bad Ingredients. So press play below and let Bloodshot help you get over your Monday morning sobers.
01. Ha Ha Tonka – Usual Suspects
02. Lydia Loveless – Can’t Change Me
03. Dex Romweber Duo – Jungle Drums
04. Maggie Bjorklund W/ Rachel Flotard – Summer Romance
05. Jc Brooks And The Uptown Sound – Everything Will Be Fine
06. Scott H Biram – I Want My Mojo Back
07. The Mekons – Space In Your Face
08. The Bottle Rockets- Smokin’ 100’S Alone
09. Exene Cervenka – Alone In Arizona
10. Eddie Spaghetti – Never Thought I Would
11. Alejandro Escovedo – Castanets (Live)
12. Justin Townes Earle – Slippin’ And Slidin’
13. Whitey Morgan And The 78s – I Ain’t Drunk
14. Deadstring Brothers – Smile
15. Wayne Hancock – Your Love And His Blood
16. Andre Williams – Tricks
17. Ryan Adams – Shakedown On 9th Street
18. Old 97s – The Other Shoe
19. Southeast Engine – 1933 (Great Depression)
20. The Black Swans – Joe Tex
The title of David Rawlings’ debut “solo” album, A Friend of a Friend, may be the most appropriate album title since Raw Power. A perennial sideman, Rawlings has most notably backed Gillian Welch though, if you’ve ever seen the two perform, you’re aware of just how colossal a misnomer it is to describe Rawlings’ role as “backing” anyone. More aptly, Rawlings has performed alongside Welch, contributing aching, lonesome harmonies and devastatingly beautiful guitar to every one of Welch’s releases to date. You’ll also find Rawlings behind (or beside) Ryan Adams, Allison Krause, Emmylou Harris, the Wallflowers, Norah Jones, and a host of other artists found on a Starbucks Americana Sampler near you. I suppose one could describe Rawlings’ career as being “under the radar,” but anyone who picked up the O Brother Where Art Thou Soundtrack should be well acquainted with David Rawlings.
A Friend of a Friend may not propel Rawlings to AAA radio stardom or expand his audience too far beyond those who already shout themselves horse every time he steps up to perform Conor Oberst’s “Method Acting” – which morphs into “Cortez the Killer” on A Friend of a Friend, much the way it does in most of Rawlings’ performances – during Welch’s sets, but something tells me Rawlings didn’t make this record to take the “next step” in his career. A Friend of a Friend doesn’t play at all like some calculated career move, but rather a collection of songs Rawlings felt a connection with, and wanted to record, so he did. My best guess – and this is only a guess – is that’s exactly what it is. It doesn’t take much in the way of imagination to envision Rawlings picking and singing these tunes backstage before a gig, or in his living room some Sunday afternoon. There is not a single contrived or inauthentic moment on A Friend of a Friend and, in a sad commentary on the state of the music industry, that’s quite a feat.
Sonically and structurally speaking, the album is essentially another Gillian Welch/David Rawlings album, with Rawlings handling lead vocal duties this time out. Welch is all over the record, as are a number of Rawlings friends (and friends of friends, one assumes). And while A Friend of a Friend meanders at times, the high points – “Ruby,” “It’s Too Easy,” and “Bells of Harlem” among them – are more than engaging enough to compensate for any momentary lulls.
A Friend of a Friend is going to end up on my year-end Top Ten list and I would not be the least bit shocked to see it on a number of others, as well. If nothing else, I sincerely hope this album inspires Rawlings to stand front and center a little more often.