August 13, 2009

Hello all,

I want to personally apologize for my recent lack of posting. Graduating from college is a funny thing. The bulk of my attention is currently being swallowed up by the independent record label that I run called BIG BULLET RECORDS.

We have some very exciting things going on, and it would delight me to the fullest if you’d pay a visit to the BIG BULLET RECORDS website.




Thanks for your time, and I will continue to post reviews/news here whenever I get a free minute.

Tucker and Nation Full of Ivy


Hell has officially frozen over—Lucero frontman Ben Nichols is now an actor. 

Ben Nichols

MTV has developed a new series based around the Memphis music scene called $5 Cover, and Nichols has landed the leading role. Appropriately enough, the smokey-voiced singer will play himself—in fact, other Memphis artists will also have cameos, with each episode culminating in a live performance at a crucial Memphis venue.

This isn’t too terribly weird when one considers that Lucero has been receiving more attention lately. That added to the fact that the band obviously has a penchant for cinema (they have two very awesome documentaries out there) means that this should make sense, but c’mon…MTV? Really?

Anyways, for what it’s worth the show looks pretty rad. The dialogue is apparently improvised for the most part to give the show a more realistic feel, and to accurately portray the Memphis music scene. No word yet on when the show will start airing or exactly how many episodes Nichols is actually in (he is listed as the “main love interest”), but I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

There is a cool teaser clip on the page featuring behind the scenes banter with Ben. Check it out here.

Brooklyn-by-way-of-Georgia rockers The Weight are almost ready to unveil their new record. Four brand new tracks were recently added to the band’s Myspace page, and they are nothing short of glorious.

The Weight

The textbook punk-influenced country of The Weight’s first record Ten Mile Grace was quickly replaced with anthemic American rock-and-roll on last year’s Are Men. This new batch of songs is familiar enough, with plenty of pedal steel and Southern heartache, but the band has definitely established their own sound. Everything is soaked in just the right amount of reverb, and front man Joseph Plunket has officially arrived as a songwriter.

A line like “I don’t get that shit for free, so baby quit texting me,” would be slightly absurd in any other song, but in prospect single “Coca Cola” Plunket follows it with, “A penny for your thoughts, no that wouldn’t be a problem/You got your problems honey, don’t charge them to me.” Part of The Weight’s charm lies in Plunket’s sharp wit and penchant for humor, but the light-heartedness is always properly balanced with strong songwriting.

Perhaps my favorite thing about The Weight is that they are a lot of fun. The band’s live shows are notorious for turning into giant drunken parties, and the right amount of that atmosphere bleeds into these new tracks. Having recently signed to New York’s own Tee Pee Records, the band will surely get larger distribution for the new record than they did with Are Men, which was partially self-released through homegrown Brooklyn label Colonel Records.

Start stockpiling your refrigerator with Budweiser, because when this thing comes out you will be partying for quite a while.

And so it goes that even a relatively small indie singer-songwriter can’t feel safe anymore. Brooklyn-based indie-folk troubadour Kevin Devine had his upcoming record “Brother’s Blood” leak yesterday. I’m not quite sure how I feel about this and I’m going to avoid getting on a soap box here, but please let me just give my take as someone who is involved in an indie band and the environment around this type of ordeal.

It is completely flattering to think that someone absolutely cannot wait to hear your record, so much as to download it illegally two months ahead of time. Whether or not this is the “moral” thing to do I’ll leave up to you, but just know that Kevin Devine is by no means rich, he may in fact simply be living semi-comfortably these days. He is a very modest guy who actually still sells his own merch at shows, drives himself around in his car, plays his ass off, etc, etc. That being said, I hope that if you do or did in fact download “Brother’s Blood” that you at least still purchase the physical record when it comes out (or on iTunes, whatever) and try to catch him live when he comes around your area for the supporting tour. I know that I will do the same, regardless of whether or not I come across the leak (I’m still debating if I should even bother).

Yes, it’s true: I am very sympathetic to Kevin’s situation, but I know that he himself is finding it hard to deal with it as well. Check out his latest blog post over at his Myspace page to get his take on everything. Also, to get my take on Kevin in general, check out my old show review from last year.

Country Punks

January 23, 2009

While seemingly worlds apart, the genres of country and punk have become an incestuous pair in recent years. Maybe the whole outlaw mentality of good country music is sympathetic with the social isolation often associated with punk music. Whatever the motivation, some damn good music has spawned from this awkward love affair. The following is a short list of some bands that successfully incorporate ideals from both genres. Check them out if you are a fan of one or both types of music, or if you just like to get drunk.



“Bloody knuckles and a broken nose, all of that before I ever got home/I fought in bars, fought in the streets, four more years of fighting ’til they’re done with me.”

The drunkest band in Memphis is quite a title to earn, but these boys are probably more deserving than most. Notorious for playing until they literally cannot stand anymore, Lucero bring an unprecedented punk energy to country rock. Quitting their respective punk bands to form a country band, Ben Nichols and the guys have played their asses off for years to finally earn a bit of comfort and respect. Recently signing a deal with Warner Brothers, Lucero is certainly trying their damnedest to break the stereotypes placed on them from the beginning. In truth, Nichols and company have indeed straightened up a bit. They do their best to finish shows in a respectable fashion (i.e. not falling into the crowd from intoxication), and have evolved their sound into a unique brand of Springsteen-esque rowdy rock and roll.

Lenny & The Piss Poor Boys

Lenny & The Piss Poor Boys

“I’m thirty-seven, and I don’t feel old/Still listening to punk rock, still like my beers cold.”

No genre (or combination of genres) is immune to tragedy. Boston-based Lenny & The Piss Poor Boys are a testament to this unfortunate circumstance. After releasing an absolutely stellar debut album, the band lost their bassist Jon Johnson in a vehicle accident. Heartbreak and misfortune aside, we can at least focus on the amazing music that the band was able to make in its short-lived prime. Lenny & The Piss Poor Boys is an almost perfect album in every way. Full of smokey sing-along choruses and sharp pedal steel, no album so seamlessly meshes country and punk. Within you will find stark imagery of bar fights, substance abuse, and even a heart-wrenching elegy in the form of a Ramones tribute song.

The Replacements

The Replacements

“If no one’s on your canvas, I’m achin’ to be.”

By definition, The Replacements were neither alt-country nor punk, but you’ll hear their name come up in many a discussion regarding both genres. Spending most of the 80’s playing their asses off to punk crowds, The Replacements quickly earned their famous “play loud, play drunk” reputation. Paul Westerberg used to make fun of the fact that The Replacements thought they were a punk band for a while (see debut Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash). The truth was that The Replacements were nothing more than a great rock band that acted like punks. But, as so many educated books and films will tell you, punk is as much an attitude as it is a musical style. So where does the country influence some into play you ask? Well, in the band’s later years, on album’s like Don’t Tell A Soul, songs like “Achin’ To Be” with its steel guitar sweetness sound like they could easily fit in on a Whiskeytown record. In a recent interview with Pitchfork, Westerberg even joked about the later years: “By the end, they wanted us to play punk rock, because it was coming back in style, but I was more interested in upright basses and steel guitars. We never were in stride with what was hip at the moment.”


I’ll probably add some more to this as I think of more bands.

Big Expectations

January 20, 2009

With a new year comes new hopes. It all begins tomorrow with two important events: the presidential inauguration and the release of the new Animal Collective album.

The former may be the most exciting political figure in a long time, while the latter might be the most hyped album of the past decade. We’ve got a lot to look forward to in the coming months – I hope we’re ready.

I’ll be sure to post my personal review of the new Animal Collective record once I give it a fair amount of listens, so keep checking back.

I don’t think you guys want to hear me talk politics anyways.

Here are the albums that didn’t quite make the top 10, but that I feel were good enough to mention.

Bon IverFor Emma, Forever Ago
The WeightAre Men
Drag The RiverYou Can’t Live This Way
Conor OberstConor Oberst
Kings of LeonOnly By The Night (the first 5 tracks are amazing, the rest of the album is complete shit.)
Stephen MacDonaldBuilding Hands