Friday, January 28, 2011

What I'm Listening To: Winter 2011

Here's a list of the tunes getting heavy rotation on my MP3 player. If you don't already have them, I urge you to plunk down some coin and give them a listen -- and support live music while you're at it!

Doc Dailey & Magnolia Devil - Victims Enemies & Old Friends
You know how sometimes you hear a record and it just feels like the place where it was written? The sound, the feel, the people -- few artists ever achieve that, but Doc Dailey & Magnolia Devil have done just that on their debut album. And hell, I've never even been to Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Vitcims Enemies & Old Friends is terrific -- if I had to compare it to anything, it'd be Blue Mountain with a dash or two of classic Muscle Shoals soul. Whatever it is, you owe it to yourself to give this band a listen. I guarantee that you'll be back for more.

Old 97s - The Grand Theatre Volume One
The thing I appreciate most about the Old 97s is that even though every album they make is different from the last, each one is a gem. I can only imagine what a challenge it is to continually stay fresh and relevant, yet still remain true to your core sound -- particularly over the span of 18 years. Influences on their latest effort are all over the map -- channeling The Clash on the album's title track, mimicking Cash on "Born To Be In Battle," borrowing from The Kinks on "Every Night Is Friday Night (Without You)," and doing an obvious (yet unpredictable) rewrite of a Dylan classic on "Champaign Illinois." Rhett Miller's clever wordplay abounds throughout the album - like when he sings longingly about "living in a state of Texas" -- an almost-there sentiment that I can clearly understand. The only thing better than an Old 97s album is an Old 97s live show -- and I hope to experience another one of those in Lawrence tonight.

Javi Garcia & The Cold Cold Ground - A Southern Horror
This is a NSFW album. Heck, it's not safe to play around your wife, parents, kids, or really anyone else. It's full of pissed off, murderous songs, and thanks to profligate cussing, it'll probably never receive any airplay. But that doesn't mean A Southern Horror isn't worth a serious listen. Javi Garcia reminds me of Steve Earle before he got fat and overtly political -- or even Johnny Cash before he cleaned up his act. He writes desperate, ragged, rugged music about the reality of 2011 rural America. It's not always a pleasant trip, but Javi Garcia certainly makes it a profound one.

The Black Keys - Brothers
I am admittedly a latecomer to these guys.  I've given some of their previous efforts a listen or two, but they nevery really resonated with me.  Brothers is different.  It's got a swampy groove, not unlike Mofro -- perhaps because it was produced in Muscle Shoals (detecting a trend here?) by Tchad Blake.  The whole album is a fuzzy, bass-driven groove.  If I could dance, I'd choose this album to dance to (let's all be thankful I won't try).

Social Distortion - Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes
Ah, Social D. Good to have you back, fellas. If you like them, you'll like this. If you don't, you won't... no sense in me yammering on about it.


  1. Hard to believe it's been 20 years since Ball and Chain and I still completely dig that tune.

  2. Yeah, and it's hard to believe 20 years ago I was 20, too!! Good music never goes out of style though.