Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Seeds I'm Sowing by Joseph Barrios

New city, new school, new band, just in time for spring the new songs of Joseph Barrios have bloomed and are fresh for the picking in the bouquet of Seeds I’m Sowing.
This 5 song EP glorifies songwriting maturity as well as production and playing talent of Memphis son turned Nashville student, Joseph Barrios.  A wide spectrum of radio-ready, pop comparisons can be made, from Switchfoot to Los Lonely Boys, but there is timeless potential in this preview of what is to come from young Joseph.
Halfway There kicks off the collection with U2-esque guitar delays.  From the very beginning each instrument proclaims itself as a bold puzzle piece, bright and attractive alone while still fitting seamlessly into the bigger picture.
Stratocaster shine glistens on To The Moon, a song groovy enough to spark jealousy from the likes of Maroon 5 of Jason Mraz.
The longing ballad, Behind This Door, is sure to be the highlight of many romantic summer mix-tapes, much like songs by John Mayer and early Coldplay often are.
Where Barrios’ bluff city blues show in his guitar playing, his sultry voice tributes his roots as well.  Delivering lyrics so matter-of-factly, persuading listeners, Barrios is comfortable in the pocket, exuding confidence that even Mr. Isaac Hayes himself would’ve tipped his shades to salute.
Although a continuous theme-thread weaves through Seeds I’m Sowing, the final song Senses, most potently alludes to a bright future we have to look forward to from Barrios.
“I only know these ways of knowing, my love will grow from seeds I'm sowing.”

It’s planting season. Stick around for the harvest.

Seeds I'm Sowing is available free of charge for download at

Friday, May 4, 2012

Remembering the First Time (over and over again) with Gnarly Charlies' Time Machine

Great Alexander! North Alabama’s Gnarly Charlies new EP is incredible! Confidence blazes through peaked out yells in opening track Help Myself: “She might have honey but look out she’s got a stinger!”
As fuzzy as the start of a good beard, danceable bass guitar grooves follow on I Don’t Think You’re Very Pretty, complemented by strategic tambourine that jangles almost as viciously as the retro guitar tones.  And don’t forget the gang vocals, testing the waters with Oi-Punk “Hey! Hey! Hey!” and then diving in with full on fist shaking call and answer participation.
Dark and morose, Time Machine, the five song album’s title track, gifts unique and absurdly infectious guitar hooks.  Occasional subtle sound clips, maniacal laughter, the shake of a rattle snake, accent this brooding rocker. The reverb drench melody creates a haze for listeners to get lost in where the only possible route to follow starts by closing your eyes and writhing with the music.   
Fever is reminiscent of the film That Thing You Do, only  in Gnarly Charlies’ case each member of the band must’ve kept their wayfarers on, multiplying the cool factor x4.  Primitive drums hammer through the verses with the finesse of hi-hat slips, later replaced by hand claps and a pad of doo-wop background vocals catching attention and shifting dynamic to the point of climax. 
One might mistake Gnarly Charlies as residents of the Isle of Wight with vocal timbres like those delivering the slick lyrics of the EP's closer, Shady Girl, but southern roots show when the linear note lead guitar-chops interject.  Then everything drops, sparse but sexy.  Isolated to only clean guitar and vocals, intermittent harmonies set the oh damn mood. The bass casually trickles its way back in personifying the lyrics accompanied by soulful shuffling rim clicks.  This shady girl is missing out big time.
“Then you said the feeling’s no longer there, and the tears fell through the air with an awful sound, dripping down your cheek.”
First impressions are everything.  Like the first time you meet a lady friend, unabashedly scanning from head to toe, realizing your mouth might be open, slightly salivating.  Now imagine being able to replay that introductory hotness over and over again.  Luckily you can. Set Gnarly Charlies’ Time Machine to repeat and keep creepin’.

Check out Gnarly Charlies on Facebook
And purchase the album on iTunes

Monday, March 19, 2012

Fareveller Music Fest: Memphis, TN 2012 looking forward

I'm planning on checking out this year's Fareveller Music Festival in Memphis, TN this weekend.  I'll be taking the MegaBus from Nashville to Memphis to spend some time with my little brother and see some great shows!
This is just the 2nd year for Fareveller Fest and I've loved the line up other years so far.  I describe it as Memphis in May (a somewhat more mainstream collection of performers that caters to the general public) for indie kids.  Fareveller does a good job of filling in the void of amazing, medium-sized regional and national acts that is so often neglected by big promoters.

Here are some of the bands I'm looking forward to:
Thursday 3/22
Young Ave Deli 11pm
Maps & Atlases

I've been a fan for years and saw them once about a year ago in Indiana.  They ended the show by an acoustic performance within the crowd.  To be honest... I got a little misty eyed. It was unreal.  I'm very excited about experiencing them again.

Friday 3/23
Otherlands Coffee Bar 8pm
David Ramirez

Young Avenue Deli:
10 pm – The Rocketboys
This is one of my brother's favorite bands. Ambient/post-rock with still some pop rock structure and hooks.  As honest and earnest as any Texan could be. Also check out Brandon's solo project "Wealthy West"

11 pm – The Black Belles
If Jack White likes them so much, they should be worth checking out.

12 am – Eliot Lipp
I just discovered this guy last night, but some pretty cool electro. Should make for a good cool down after party.

Saturday 3/24
Otherlands Coffee Bar
7:30 pm – The Underhill Family Orchestra
I spent a month in an un-air-conditioned van with these 6 musicians last summer and loved every second.   These guys are going places; I'm glad to be a distant cousin of the family.
ps. Brian looks like the Ultimate Warrior in this video.

9 pm – Water Liars
A combination of 2 of my favorite songwriters (See previous blog post for all the details)

10 pm – Jessica Lea Mayfield (solo acoustic)
Similarly... if Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys is so supportive, might be worth a listen.

Young Avenue Deli
10 pm – Arma Secreta
11 pm – Youniverse
Arma Secreta and Youniverse and two Memphis locals holding down the fort, always a great show.

12 am – Those Darlins
A local Nashville/Murfreesboro band that always escapes me. Maybe this time I'll finally get a chance to see these garage babes and make Wanda Jackson proud. This song is really catchy.

1 am – The Hood Internet
Mash-Up DJ keeping in crunk all night long. I've heard good things, I hope the live show is as impressive as the tracks.

And the best part, a wrist band for the entire weekend of music with all these bands and more only cost $25!
Check out these links. Let me know what you love. And look forward to a recap of my wild weekend.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Phantom Limb by Water Liars

Last Thursday night, I just happened to end up in Bloomington, IN the same night that my friend Andrew Bryant, ½ of Water Liars, was performing at The Bishop Bar.  I was familiar with Andrew’s previous southern croons as a solo songwriter from the great state of Mississippi, but Water Liars was a different monster entirely.
In Water Liars Bryant plays drums, rigid but fierce; his boots stomp pedals and arms hammer down like he was busting cinderblocks.  His signature gruff, vocal bellow is a harmony undertone, reinforcing the lead voice of Justin Kinkel-Schuster, who takes on front-man responsibilities also playing guitar. No stranger to the stage, Justin’s musical experiences include those with St. Louis, Mo Americana outfit Theodore (check out my very favorite song “Back from the War” on
It may be a bit of a stretch to call the duo by the cliché label of “super-group”, but the history of songwriting from each lends a maturing chemistry allowing for Phantom Limb to become the clear next step in each of their catalogs.
The live show started with the gained out crunch of a hollow-body guitar riff, blasting the audience's attention from their locally brewed Upland Beers and small talk.  The song titled “$100” does a good job of characterizing the band in a single shot.  Folk influenced, reverb dampened, rock and roll, that’s still a little rough around the edges.
Phantom Limb ends on the opposite foot, leaning towards the roots or the members with the slow, heartbreaking ballad “Low & Long."   The 12 bar blues rocker “Short Hair” pulls the tempo back up and adds a little grime.   “Dog Eaten” cleans up the sound with a simple guitar/vocal pairing, the sonic juxtaposition on this track may be crisp and pure, but beneath there is still skeleton-dust from memories lamented through lyrics. 
The most memorable moment of the live show was the eye-widening delivery of “Fresh Hell-It is Well”.  The latter half, “…It is Well,” is a classic hymn that I grew up singing in church, but now delivered as an a’cappella cry by Kinkel-Schuster, with ghastly response echo by Bryant.  The recorded version dims the lights even lower on the already haunting aesthetic of the song by sampling a poem read by early 20th century British occultist Aleister Crowley.

In a day where music has become scarcely more than the passing glance of a 99cent iTunes single, Water Liars’ Phantom Limb is to be commended as a complete intact work, with 9 different chapters, possessing dynamic characteristics of conflict and resolve, rather than 9 separate novellas.  

Water Liars is currently on tour making their way to SXSW, where NPR has included the band in its 100 artist to check out at this years fesitival:
You can keep up with Water Liars at their label home:
Their song “$100” is available for free download at:
And you can download the entire Phantom Limb album on iTunes:  

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Joshua October & The Wool: Karaoke EP

As a performer, I have learned that while on stage, a subtle spark can start a roaring fire.  Joshua October & The Wool accomplish this flint and steel foundation by starting off their Karaoke EP with the subtleties of a head-turning, breath taking rendition of the classic Somewhere Over the Rainbow.  This 8-bit Casio keyboard version of the timeless piece gently tugs on the ears and hearts of listeners; preparing for them for the no-holds-barred journey that lies ahead.
The Shreveport, Louisiana act uses simple lo-fi keyboard-created beats, to add some danceable-sass to the 5-song indie innovation; songs like On The Beat are reminiscent of early Of Montreal demos (Tim, I wish you were Born a Girl). October bee-bops edgy but almost comical lyrics on Hater’s Parade, dynamic and entertaining.  Pretty Child opens with a seductive groove inspiring a sauntering shuffle, interrupted by an abrubt, “cuz I am the Devil! Baby what’s your name?!” Beside the kazoo melodies, the highlight of the album is that it is astonishingly carried entirely by bass guitar.  You read correctly, only 4 strings were strummed, tapped, sweeped (not swept), and slapped on these recordings.
Recorded by Kyle Craft of the up-and-coming-band Gashcat, definitely contributed to the “filthy south”, indie sound with influences of hometown heroes Neutral Milk Hotel. The sampled rain storm on the final track titled April 28th may entice fans of production goodies, like those from bed-room-recording artists like SeaWolf.
The rest of The Wool: Dave Sheep, Sherley Sheep, and Pat Sheep contribute greatly to the live experience. I’d recommend anyone to take the opportunity to experience the Joshua October & the Wool show-in-a-box live, you’ll be left dumbfounded. 
This veteran side-man (check out Joshua October’s contributions to Her Sweet Autumn Misery’s“Embers”) shines as an anti-folk underdog on the Karaoke EP.

The Karaoke EP is available for download at:

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Carolina Story: Home

What happens when two singer-songwriters fall in love, get married and settle down? Well if you call touring across the country together “settled down” folk romance duo Carolina Story have the answer.  The newest album from Ben Roberts and Emily Olson Roberts, simply titled “Home” spins tales of road rambling in songs like 53 days, "Each others eyes and songs you sing keep you moving on, the traveling road is long... because home is where you are"  Showcasing Ben’s Arkansas-gravel voice, Someone, Else laments a Ray Lamontagne vibe complete with sliding pedal steel guitars and harmonica.  Creative rhythms, often emphasized by handclaps, tambourine, and suitcase stomps can be found supporting grooves throughout the album.  Catchy melodies in The Morning Bird add just enough pop pizzazz to this assembly of Americana gems,  that even a die-hard Adele fan will be whistling along.  With harmony vocal chemistry that would give the Civil Wars a run for their money,   the soft and simple ballad In the End closes the collection quietly, leaving the listener a lesson to digest and the longing desire to leave Carolina Story’s "Home" on repeat.
 "Home" and other Carolina Story albums are available on iTunes at:
or visit Carolina Story at their web-home

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dubb Nubb’s Sunrise Sleepy Eyed

There is a lot of freedom and maturity associated with an American youth turning 18.  The Dubb Nubblettes are on their way to becoming all grown up and Sunrise Sleepy Eyed is proof that at least their songwriting is progressing by leaps and bounds.  This, their 3rd studio album, is 11 songs of quirky vocals, acoustic instruments, and breath-taking lyrics.
One would think after performing give-or-take 20 shows with these twin sisters (now + 1 more sister), I would tire of these songs, not so.  Every night I would look forward to singing along, “Tell me ‘bout my clouds, hangin’ over me,” on the moody, Karen O –vibed song.
The ukulele driven “Don’t Ever Find Me” gives the impression of Delia Rainey’s solo tunes as Dee Bird, but after the first verse drums and additional vocals spice up the short remainder.  This song is beautifully heartbreaking.
Delicate guitar playing by classically trained Hannah Rainey creates character for “Gravestones”.  The song crescendos to an anthem-like chorus, “I have nightmares about gravestones!” accented by staccato snare drum hits and a touch of cello from special guest Cecilia Miller of Knoxville, TN.  Cello is also a mainstay on the catchy “Tennessee Mountains”, the opening track of Sunrise Sleepy Eyed, previously released as part of the Shiny Mountain Split 7”.
An obvious Bob Dylan influence shows itself in story songs like “Johnny” and the chilling “Solider”.  The girls spin tales with their entrancing melodies; any assumed allusions to teen angst aside, these songs craft such imagery that the listener becomes emotionally attached to the fictitious protagonists.
The biographical story of a grandmother’s young romance adds the oldest Rainey sister, Nicky, to the mix as lyric-writer of “Kindergarten Wedding.” The hook of the song played by percussionist Amanda Rainey, on the beloved bell-kit affectionately named Glocky.  (Previously released on the Family Portrait Compilation).
The album finishes strong with a hometown tribute to the city of St. Louis, titled “Mound City Baby.”  The modest ringing of a single guitar string beneath biting vocals personifies the decay of the city “watch ‘em shiver, watch ‘em shake, oh this city’s gonna break,” all the while building with charm and a powerful sense of identity, “I’m a mound city baby, I was born and raised in the gateway, I’m a muddy river baby, and I’m comin’ home.” (also available as part of the Feels Like Coming Home Compilation.)
Sunrise Sleepy Eyed is undoubtedly the best effort yet by this young family of musicians. Every song is a single, standing strong on it’s own, combined forming a genuine collection that warrants listen after listen.  The sun is just rising for Dubb Nubb; there is a bright future ahead.

This album and more can be downloads, name-your-own-price style at: