Friday, May 26, 2006

Bob Wayne and the Outlaw Carnies - Blood to Dust

To be honest, I wasn't expecting much from a CD that wasn't even formally pressed, just burned off a computer and hand labeled with a Sharpie. I wasn't originally sure if Bob Wayne's scrawl on the disc of "If you don't like this shit fuck off" was a suggestion or the title of the album. After letting CDDB work it's magic, I found out that the title is apparently Blood to Dust and it's maybe the best CD I've bought this year.

Bob Wayne and the Outlaw Carnies, when I saw them, were a Bob Wayne (who I've found out is Hank III's guitar tech) on acoustic guitar, Joe Buck on bass, and a really good banjo and telecaster player who's name I don't know. The CD includes drums and some other instruments.

The sound of this album is really wonderful. It leans toward '70s hard country-rock, but the presence of banjo as the lead instrument on several of the tracks pulls it back before it goes too far. I can't think of another band off the top of my head that uses banjo so effectively and prominently in a hard-driven country sound.

Bob Wayne (I assume) writes really pensive and spiritual songs. This combination of song and sound is unfortunately a real feat these days. I could easily see these same songs becoming maudlin in the hands of an unskilled singer/songwriter, but Bob Wayne doesn't fall for undue dramatics. This album is also the most honestly spiritual set of songs outside of true gospel, referencing God and the devil on almost every track. But, unlike some "alt-country" indie rockers, he's not being ironic or dismissive. In fact, his understanding of the sin/salvation contrast of gospel and the blues might give discomfort to some hipsters who are only familiar with ironic spirituality or cherry-picked, tourist versions of Buddhism or Kabbala.

"Road Bound" is the lead off track of the album and shows of their sound pretty well. "27 Years" is a bit slower, but emphasizes the complex spirituality that I was commenting on.

Bob Wayne And The Outlaw Carnies - Road Bound.mp3
Bob Wayne And The Outlaw Carnies - 27 Years.mp3

From Bob Wayne

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Scott H. Biram - The Dirty Old One Man Band

If Scott H. Biram didn't have such a rough, son-of-a-bitch stage persona, his story might be considered inspirational. In early 2003, he was hit head-on by a semi, but only one month later, still in a wheelchair with IV bags attached, he returned to the stage.

He's a one man band of the Hasil Adkins sort (frequent references to chicken on this album draw to mind Adkins' Poultry in Motion), playing guitar and stomping his foot on an amplified box and singing through a distorted mic. On a couple of the songs on this record, he has the backing of Austin-based The Weary Boys, as well as his self-labeled Scott H. Biram's First Church of the Ultimate Fanaticism Gospel Choir. Some of the songs feature some pretty spooky CB radio recordings.

This album's currently on sale at Bloodshot Records as part of their effort to raise some money for their artists who are currently working on new stuff. (Also included are Bobby Bare, Jr., Paul Burch, the Meat Purveyors, and Wayne Hancock.) Scott's new album is due in July.

Scott H. Biram - Whiskey
Scott H Biram - I See The Light/What's His Name?.mp3

From Bloodshot

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Doc Marshalls - No Kind of Life

The Doc Marshalls are a NYC-based country/cajun band. This is their first full-length CD. I was thinking about ordering this, but then I ran into (quite literally) Nicolas Beaudoing, the frontman and songwriter, in the very small bathroom at the Rodeo Bar.

He plays a mean squeeze box. And the songwriting's really good, too. Guest steel player Rob Segal also puts down some nice licks, and I wish he played on a track that also has accordion. Having the cajun and the country sounds, which each have their own songs on the album, more integrated would make for a more compelling album, I think.

It took me a couple listens through this CD to catch the stories in the songs. The songwriting is quite good and bodes well for the bands future releases. This song is my favorite, both for its wonderful melody and its melancholic story.

The Doc Marshalls - Half Asleep.mp3

From Miles of Music

Monday, May 15, 2006

Soda and His Million Piece Band - Soda

I first heard about Soda and His Million Piece Band through the now-defunct podcast The Outhouse. They play some pretty gritty punk-influenced Americana/blues, complete with accordion, bari sax, and every kind of string instrument you can think of. The mix of instruments is really great and doesn't have the novelty to it that, say, my previous post the White Ghost Shivers has. The vocals are very course; I'm guessing they were recorded with a harmonica bullet mic.

This band is based in LA and hasn't traveled anywhere near me, which is understandable with a varying lineup of anywhere from 8 to 16 musicians. Their website said they were as SXSW and I wish they'd make their way up I-35 next time they're in Texas.

Soda and His Million Piece Band - July.mp3

From CD Baby

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

White Ghost Shivers - Everyone's Got 'Em

I first saw the White Ghost Shivers last fall when they opened for Split Lip Rayfield here in Lawrence, which I believe was their first trip this far up I-35. I missed a return trip 'cause it was an early show, but I made it to this show and I bought their latest CD, which is something like two weeks old.

I like this album very much. I can't say how it compares to the first studio disc or the live radio album, but it's a transfixing listen. The songs are familiar, more familiar than seeing two shows should make them. Their style is very '20s revivalism, and several of the songs seem like old standards, even though the liner notes seems to indicate they're all originals. (Unlike their name sake song which is an old standard.) The mix of string band and hot jazz instrumentation leads to a compelling mélange of styles: hot jazz, hokum, blues, and hillbilly music, I think the show poster read.

The record plays something like a concert, with the first track introducing the band and the last listed track wrapping it up, followed by the encore of the hidden track. I'm including the first track, a nice introduction to the band. I believe they started their show off with this one.

The White Ghost Shivers - Everyone's Got 'Em.mp3

From Chicken Ranch Records