Wednesday, January 28, 2009


the Boss is back with Working on a Dream

need Lucero tickets?

check out the DE store site and purchase some here.
The show is February 21st at Barley's!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ben Nichols

Ben Nichols
The Last Pale Light in the West
find the album here

Part Springsteen, part Steve Earle, part punk-rock country troubadour, Ben Nichols has always represented something that lies deep within all of us, whether it be heartbreak, angst, or reminiscence, and puts it to music and lyrics in a way that makes you say, "hell yes, I have been there." With Lucero, his whiskey soaked tales of love, loss, and everything in between have become a staple in the musical favorites category of an eclectic group of music enthusiasts, mixing rowdy rock and roll with heart-wrenching elements of country music, giving them a kick in the teeth and a light for their Marlboro Red. Nichols' writing comes from first-hand experiences and that is one of the biggest factors in the success of his song writing. These songs are extremely believable and after hearing his delivery on record and at live shows, you feel as though you have indeed lived them yourself. Every Lucero record is unique in its own right, yet still maintains the overall synergy of the band itself. Though their new record is slated for later in the year, those of us who have come to love this Memphis band were thrilled to find out that Ben Nichols' solo release, The Last Pale Light in the West, is some of the first great music that 2009 is going to offer.

Ben took a different direction with this eight song album, putting aside his personal narratives and basing the entire record on Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, a.k.a. Evening Redness in the West, one of the most violent and controversial novels in all of literature. With his voice gruff and borderline gravely, Nichols is the perfect narrator of this dark tale from one of the most famous Southern Gothic novelists of all time. For this mini-album, Ben strips things down to the bare bones, with the majority of the work being from his acoustic guitar and vocals. For depth and color, he employees Rick Steff (Cat Power, live touring Lucero member) on accordion and piano and Todd Beene (Glossary) on peal steel and electric guitar. This musical sparsity creates the ideal pallet on which the story is told, each track illuminating a different character from the novel and the personal story that they have to tell. The struggle between good and evil, as it is in the novel, is one of the main aspects to this release, both in the tone and subject matter of the songs. The opening and title track of the album begins with a stuttered acoustic guitar line and whole-note piano chords as the pedal steel literally weeps. Beginning with this was the right move, as it is some of Nichols best lyrical work to date. With passages like, "And I ask for no redemption, in this cold and barren place; still I see a faint reflection, and so by it, guide my way," he strips things down to the meat and potatoes of the situations at hand, accurately describing what he desires with little to no fluff. The seven songs following each focus on an important character to the novel itself, with lyrics and tones that exemplify their corresponding personalities and storyline. "The Kid" tells of the main character, who was born in Tennessee in the mid-19th century and seeks more in life, as he travels west and joins a group of bloodthirsty mercenaries who are devoted to a life of slaughtering Indians, Mexicans, and everyone else in their path. The music of this track features a heavy emphasis on the accordion and piano, giving the song a sea-faring feel, which symbolizes the travel and adventure surrounding the life of the protagonist. For me, "Chambers" is probably the most Lucero sounding song on the record, with similar structures to some of my favorites including "The War" and "She Wakes when She Dreams." The closing track to the album, "The Judge" is an instrumental piece depicting the antagonist of the novel and arguably one of the most evil characters in all of literature. This track is extremely dynamic, tense, and ominous, with drones, swells, and chordal contrast that give an auditory life to this character who embodies everything that is vile and malevolent.
Though only eight songs long, The Last Pale Light in the West, is a masterpiece and the perfect representation of the literary greatness of one of Knoxville's most famous transplanted-sons. Ben Nichols really makes this Western-of-sorts come alive with his music and song writing, creating a great listen for those who are Lucero fans, and fans of rock and country music in general. If this is any indication of what we have in store from the new Lucero release, I am sure that we are in for one hell of a record. But make no mistake of it, The Last Pale Light in the West holds its own among those full band releases and is a great solo effort from one of the best song-writers in the business. -AB

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Drive-by Truckers

want to see them at the Valarium on January 29? Try to win tickets here


Loud is the Night

It seems that as of late, there are countless artists that are chasing after that throwback sound from the 1960's. Some have got the market cornered on sounding authentic, keeping true to the ways of their forefathers in respect to production and song craft. A handful of these artists do an excellent job and keep the music fresh, while others seem to get bogged down in trying to sound too vintage and sacrifice songwriting and the overall flow of the album. Hailing from south central Texas, Hacienda is one of the very few bands who sound as though they truly could have been transplanted straight from the 60's pop/rock/garage scene, write hooks that you can swear that you've heard before, and deliver some of the best vocal harmonies that hold their own with today's releases and the music from way back when.

What sparked my interest first about Hacienda, before even giving it a listen, was that this album was produced by none other than Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys) and was released on Alive Records, both of which were responsible for two of my favorite albums in 2008, The Black Diamond Heavies and Buffalo Killers. However, the album is nothing like what I expected it to be. Unlike the Heavies and Killers, Loud is the Night is laid back and delicate, full of vintage pop sounds that are indeed groove oriented, but never over-driven or distorted. The album's production sounds as authentic as the songs themselves, leaving everything open and airy, relying heavily on the layers of acoustic instruments and background vocals that are carefully placed far back in the mix, just as it would have been done in 1965. The record is mixed somewhat quiet, bringing the album that low fidelity sound that is a must in achieving what they do. The opening track, "She's Got a Hold on Me", grabs your ear with a stellar fuzz-bass tone that sets things up and is the perfect way to kick things off for Hacienda. Though the album is steeped in Beach Boys style influence throughout, this one gives things a nod to the early Kings of Leon sound with a bit of the power pop feel similar to that of the Velvet Crush. Changing gears, Hacienda follows up with "Angela", that could easily be a long-lost Zombies gem, complete with distant oohs and ahhs that complement that lead vocals. This aspect of the band is, in my opinion, one of their strongest selling points. Of course, being comprised of all brothers and one cousin really brings the tight vocal harmonies to the table, as it is almost always the case that family members sing best together.

This album has been flying under the radar and often, as in my case, gets overshadowed by the other releases from Alive Records that are a bit rowdier. Loud is the Night is anything but loud, and that in itself sets Hacienda apart from other artists that look towards the 60's for influence. They embrace the subtleties of the music rather the raw grit, focusing heavily on the layers of vocal harmonies and complementary instrumental parts, creating a sound that is light and relaxed. A perfect listen and new discovery for those who enjoy rock and pop from the 1960's and those who have embraced the sound of newer artists, such as The Strokes and the Redwalls. -AB
preview some tracks and buy it here

Monday, January 12, 2009

Marc Ford

Marc Ford
Neptune Blues Club

My Lord, does guitar playing get any better than Marc Ford? Now, I know that many of you are asking yourselves right now, "who in the hell is this Marc Ford?" Well sir, he is the man with one of the best guitar tones that your ears will ever be graced with and is one of the most tasteful players to date, on any end of the spectrum. Some might remember his long stint with the Black Crowes (lead guitars on Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, Amorica, and Three Snakes and One Charm), others might remember him from his early days in Burning Tree, and some might have seen him briefly with Ben Harper. Marc is doing his own thing now and has never sounded stronger. His newest album, The Neptune Blues Club does not disappoint, bringing elements to the table that will satisfy the pallet of any rock/blues fan and absolutely any lover of great guitar work.
Don't get the wrong idea about Marc, he isn't a noodler. He can get more feeling and emotion out of two or three bends and slide licks that others can't even come close to with all their tapping and thousand-note-per-minute runs. Like everything else Marc Ford has released, I am immediately impressed with the songwriting and vocals that he has, sounding a bit like Bob Dylan at times, Tom Petty at others. Aside from being a Jedi with his guitar, Marc is a pretty darn good front man and crafter of albums to boot. The Neptine Blues Club, released on Blues Bureau International is far from a straight-up blues record. However, it is Marc's most bluesy release to date, mixing some funk and Stonesy sounding material into the mix that stretches beyond the traditional 12-bar progressions. Highlights for me include "Go Too Soon", a bar-room boogie-woogie number which could easily have been a track from a Stevie Ray Vaughn record and "Don't Get Me Killed", a down right dirty song that has some nasty slide guitar trading licks with a over driven harmonica.
Whether you are a lover of old rock and roll or the blues, you will undoubtedly love the newest release from Marc Ford. The Neptune Blues Club has got it all, complete with dirt, soul, and little of everything else in between. As always, Ford delivers some of the best guitar work from any release in 2008 with this one and makes the horizon look a bit brighter for those of us believe that rock and roll should stay what it is, or rather what it used to be .
Andrew Bryant
-Garage Deluxe
"Southern Pentecostal Junkyard Boogie"

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Best sellers for 2008

check them out here and you can also check out some employee favorites here