John & Micah Schnabel – Prism Halo on a Quarter Moon

Unless his name is Ted Nugent, a man can not be all rock all the time. While Kyle Gass and Jack Black try to put forth the notion that they live a 100% rock lifestyle, I have it on good authority that once a month they sneak out and perform at a local coffee house’s open mic. Decidedly unmetal; and while “High Fidelity” rocked to the max, Jack’s scenes in “True Romance” were left lying on the cutting room floor…and Ozzy has the freaking shakes…all proof that Ted Nugent is the only man on Earth that rocks 100% of the time.

While on stage with his band Two Cow Garage, Micah rocks like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction. He’s not to be fucked with. When he is recording with his pops, however, he more like the Jackson in “Black Snake Moan”, and these two have released their second disc, Prism Halo on a Quarter Moon. Like last time, the disc is pretty low-fi and raw, but this time around the track listing is much stronger. Also like last time, this isn’t exactly an easy cd to get…should you be interested I advise sending John a message via their myspace profile. Check out the tracks below:

John & Micah Schnabel – North End Tavern Song
John & Micah Schnabel – My Blue Heart
John & Micah Schnabel – Bring Back The Cadillac

Two Cow Garage – Please Turn the Gas Back On (Reissue)

Two days in a row talking about Suburban Home releases. Why? Cause they’re awesome.

One of my very favorite bands is Two Cow Garage. They are the kind of band that makes rock and roll music great, and very well might be some of the nicest fellas you will ever meet. On the heels of Suburban picking up Two Cow, they’ve reissued Please Turn the Gas Back On. Originally self-released by Two Cow back in 2003, Suburban is giving it a proper release, complete with remastering and six bonus tracks.

If you have ever wondered what the bastard child of Lucero and Drive-by Trucker’s would sound like, I present to you with Two Cow Garage. Earlier this year they released, Three, an album that is easily one of the Top 5 albums of this year. If you do not own it, you need to. Now you can hear where all of that awesomeness got it’s start. All thanks to Suburban Home Records, a label that, much like Two Cow, deserves your support. They work hard to bring the fans of the country/punk/rock sound great music at fair prices. Check out their catalog and take advantage of their super awesome sales.

Two Cow Garage – Been So Long
Two Cow Garage – Farmtown
Two Cow Garage – Swallow Your Pride

Two Cow Garage’s Official Site, Two Cow Garage on myspace, Buy Please Turn the Gas Back On

Top picks for the first 1/2 of Y2k + 7

Well. Here we are. July. The official beginning of the ass end of the year. So far, this year has proven to be a rather phenomenal concert year for the normally lacking Central Florida region. I was reading an exchange between a bunch of “big-time” bloggers earlier this year about how cheesy all of the “best of” lists that come out at the end of the year are, and it got me to thinking. Shit, I can out-cheese a year-end list…with…wait for it (sorry Bonnell), THE MID-YEAR LIST!

WTF? Why not. I already keep the Essential Listening list. I can spend a day telling you what may favorite 5 so far are. Maybe you’ll buy one, and you should…downloading all the time is like fucking whores. Sure, in the end you got off, but wouldn’t it be nice to get a pretty package every once in a while?

These are selected from my Essential Listening list. It is basically the best albums I have come to hear this year. They may have been released earlier but I did not hear them until 2007 and the same rules apply here. Furthermore, these are not in any order, and isn’t a be-all end-all list. This list could change depending on the day and my mood. All the albums in the Esslist list get regular play. However, some get more than others, and trying to trim those down to a mere 5 has left a few out that may have been on it if I was typing this yesterday….or tomorrow. Without further ado:

My favorites of the first half of 2007:

This is one if those albums. Honestly, I didn’t even put it on the Esslist when I originally posted about it, but I never stopped listening to it. Ever. Then my brother started listening to it in the cubicle next to me at work and it just kept occupying more and more of my music time. So finally, with no fanfare, I quietly added it to the Essential Listening list. Country Ghetto is so much better of an album than I initially gave it credit for. Of everything on this list, this will probably be the album I still listen to 5 years from now. It really is timeless like that.

JJ Grey and Mofro – Circles

Unlike the JJ Grey album, I knew I was in love with this album the moment the cd changer tried to switch to the next disc and I got my drunk ass up off the porch swing and walked inside to play it again. I opened my write-up about these guys with these two sentences:

Somewhere on the highway between Drag the River and Lucero, there is an exit with a dive bar. The Fox Hunt, out of Martinsburg, West Virginia, is that bar’s house band.

I still think those are the best two lines to have ever come from this little blog. At the same time, I have never thought my writeup did these guys justice. The album they put together really does only get better with time. Listening to them way too early in the morning a couple of weeks ago on my way to go fishing sealed the deal on these guys making this post. I do not care that they are just some unsigned band from Virginia who happened to put out a cd. It is better than 95% of the crap that Pitchfork is gonna bust wood over. That’s a fact. If these guys manage to buck the odds and stay together they are gonna be mainstays on your community radio station in a few years. Do yourself a favor and check these kids out. They gots mad skills.

The Fox Hunt – Change My Ways

On the way home from mountain biking over the weekend, I was telling the wife about this post and asking what she thought. I asked her what her choices would be, without thought she says, “Alela Diane and The Wells! I’ll have to think about it after that.” The Wells were already on my short list as well. The characters of this album and myself have spent many an evening and a bike ride together. I cannot wait for the next Wells album, but ’til it gets here, me and outcasts are like a familiar and well worn book.

The Wells – I had a Dream, Jess

At the risk of hyperbole, 10 Days Out is much greater than the sum of it’s parts. 10 Days will serve as documentation of some of the lesser known, but by no means lesser, blues musicians of the South. Some of the people featured on the cd/dvd release passed on before it was released, and more have moved on since. The object was to shine a spotlight on these people while there was still time, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, along with the legendary Double Trouble and producer Jerry Harrison, achieved their goal in spades. No overdubs, no high-tech fixing, “Live as it went down,” says Shepherd. “What happened is what you hear. We kept it as real as possible.” More history than mere album release, this is the most ‘important’ album released this year, in my opinion.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd w/Cootie Stark and Neal ‘Big Daddy’ Pattman – Prison Blues

Cootie Stark (1926-2005) – A blind street singer, he learned his stuff from Greenville, South Carolina, bluesmen Uncle Chump and Pink Anderson in the 1930’s. At 70 he rediscovered his unplugged genius and has headlined at festivals throughout the U.S. and Europe. His card catalog repertoire runs from soul classics to Piedmont blues songs like “Sandyland” and “Metal Bottoms.” Cootie Stark was one of the last authentic Piedmont blues guitarists/singers and provided a direct link to a South long gone.

Neal Pattman
(1926-2005) – Nobody made moonshine, worked a cakewalk, chopped wood or played a harmonica like Neal Pattman. Losing an arm in a wagon wheel at the age of nine didn’t slowed him at all. “66 years ago the Blues knocked on my door and they wouldn’t leave.” His testimony can be heard in a sound and a style his daddy taught him as a child in the country outside Athens, Georgia.

As I said before, “Two Cow Garage is a band I can root for. Three completely awesome guys who write completely awesome rock music and play it with everything in them, regardless of the size of the crowd behind the monitors, and if you can’t get behind that, then I dunno why you would even bother to read this site.” They may hate their name, but what a name they are making out of it. “Three” shows the band at their cow-punk/rock-and-freaking-roll best. Life on the road may have left them a little jaded, but not so cynical you need a white belt to listen to them. Three will be one of the best albums this year, regardless of what gets released in these remaining six months, and if you are so lucky to have them come to your town, they will also be one of the best rock shows you will get to see.

Two Cow Garage – Should’ve California

The album I most regret not being on this list:

I kept thinking that damned Gill Landry album has got to be on this list, then I could not find anything to bump, but at the same time, I could not accept leaving this list without a mention of Lawless Soirez. This album is beautiful on many layers. “Featuring a mixture of old country blues, jazz and songster music of the 20’s and 30’s, and Gill’s voice….and oh what a voice, makes this the perfect cd for a quiet night with a warm glass of whiskey and a little sweat.” One listen to the song Dixie and you should understand.

Gill Landry – Dixie

And there you go. Hopefully there is much awesomeness left to be found in the remaining six months. I’m gonna go find some to write about tomorrow.

Take care.

Autopsy Report: Two Cow Garage – Three

Two Cow Garage is a band I can root for… three completely awesome guys who write completely awesome rock music and play it with everything in them, regardless of the size of the crowd behind the monitors. If you can’t get behind that, then I dunno why you would even bother to read this backwoods corner of the internets.

Back in December I named Three as one of my most anticipated albums of 2007, so when it leaked to the internet I couldn’t resist the download temptation(1). I am happy to report my anticipation did not turn to disappointment … quite the contrary: this CD makes a beeline for my essential listening list.The signature Two Cow rock sound is in there: still brash, still loud, still walking the tight-wire between punk and . With this album, the band shows a maturity or perhaps a jadedness that the previous two did not. Yes, there are still the signature “growing up in a hick town and girl that got away” songs on the disc. Yes, they are fantastic. Shane’s growl on “Blaket Grey” and Micha’s story line in “Arson” are great, but there is a new element of wisdom in this CD. Seems to me there have been a lot of dusty miles, missed rent payments, strained relationships and “Am I doing the right thing?” contemplation between the previous The Wall Against Our Backs and this new CD, Three.

The band’s apparent ‘seasoning’ seems to have added just the right amount of a jaded temperament to their songs to really push them over the top; and my favorite tracks from the disc reflect it. “Postcards and Apologies” delves into how easily one can become a self-centered prick when there isn’t anyone around willing to call you out. “Should’ve California”, my current fave track, has Micah wondering about the things that could have been, had he chosen a different path in life … instead of “wasting all of his time in these basement bars in this rock and roll band”. His angst comes to a head in “No Shame”, when Micah laments that “things have never been worse”… a line you can imagine being written over a bowl aramen noodles while his current girlfriend is bitching about his constant absence. While he is right, there is no shame in just giving up and walking away. As a fan, I would have to say it would be a shame.

Two Cow has all the makings of a great band. I don’t feel I am typing hyperbole when I say they have the talent and band chemistry to be the next Drive By Truckers or Lucero. They made it through all the questions and doubts that turned into Three with “600 pages of regrets and hundreds unfinished songs” and 13 finished tracks with regrets of their own… regrets that you should hear. The new CD is set to be released on April 24th via Suburban Home Records. Till then, check out the track below, or go stream the entire CD over on their website.

Two Cow Garage – Blaket Grey

Two Cow Garage’s Official Site, Two Cow Garage on myspace, Pre-order Two Cow Garage – Three

(1)At this moment allow me to say something: As a rule, I support the notion of downloading, and do it from time to time. I never judge others for using their local p2p application instead of supporting a bloated record label that is just as happy suing you, raping internet radio and fucking their own consumer base. There are plenty ways of supporting bands and I tend to use the “go to shows and buy shit there” method. However, there are plenty of bands out there trying to get shit done with out the dick of a mafRIAA member in their ass …. Two Cow is one such band. The CD is out there and anyone with an ounce of knowledge can get it in 10 minutes, and if you do that’s awesome …. listen to it. BUT, If you like it … do your part when it comes out in April…and buy it. All of your dollars will be going right to the band … which will go right into their gas tank, and if you are lucky one of your dollars will bring them to your town, and then you can witness a rock show of epic proportions.