Thursday, May 21, 2009

Links, News, & Pictures for May.....

I don't have any super-interesting links or news today, but there are few things I've been wanting to share with my readers, so you may find some filler.....-------------

So for the real point of this post.... I wanted to brag a little and mention a couple milestones I've recently reached for my blogging/music collecting career.

Last Tuesday, sometime between the hours of 7 and 8 am, This Mornin' I Am Born Again received its 100,000 visit. Now that may not sound like a lot in the large scheme of the internet, but it sure as hell is lot more interest than I ever thought this little place would garner. It took nearly a year-and-a-half, which comes out to about 230 visits/day. There was a time last year when I was averaging closer to 500 hits/day, but I simply couldn't keep up with making 2-3 posts per week. Now, most of the other blogs I read (which, judging from their stats, you probably do too) blow these numbers out of the water, but, hey, I'm just one dude at his computer. And to keep my posts genuine and authentic, I don't post about music that I don't like. So if there's no good music being added to my library, there's generally nothing new on this page.

And speaking of my music library....

In a fortuitous coincidence, the same time my blog crossed a nice, round, LARGE number, so did my iTunes library. I added the 10,000th song to my computer with one of the tracks from the leaked Wilco (The Album) earlier this week. Again, I could have reached this number a long time ago (there are nearly 400 live Ryan Adams shows on, remember?), but I like to be able to shuffle my enite library and not have to hear crap.

Whether related or not, just when I reached these marks, I had a hard drive crash. The 43 gigs of music doesn't even take up 1/7 of my available memory, so I doubt that was the cause. I would say it was just Dell's way of making money (creating parts that stop working after a year), but I was under warranty, a new hard drive was shipped out, and after some tense moments backing up files, I'm back in business.


Reloading my Photoshop catalog on this new disc, I came across pictures from some recent shows I've attended and decided I needed to share them. I don't have the energy for any sort of live show review, so here are some of the 'keepers' I've snapped over the last couple months.

Ray Wylie Hubbard @ The Mucky Duck - 3/21/09

Justin Townes Earle @ The Mucky Duck - 3/22/09

Amy Lavere @ The Mucky Duck - 3/22/09

Mike McClure Band @ The Firehouse Saloon - 4/18/09

Slaid Cleaves @ The Mucky Duck - 5/9/09

A Further Look: Horse Feathers

My latest music acquisitions have consisted mainly of Ryan Adams 7"s, a few tracks here and there, or newly released vinyls yet to hit my doorstep. For this reason, I've spent quite a bit of time going through the buttload of music I picked up last year. Some of the latest additions to my library in 2008 were the two albums from Portland's Horse Feathers. I quickly adjusted to their mellow, almost classical sound and promptly added their 2008 album, House With No Home, to my best of the year list at #8. In retrospect, my only regret so far is that Horse Feathers weren't placed higher in the list.

Upon my re-examination of the band, I've come to realize that the depth at which they make music is a testament to the varied talents of the revolving cast of musicians, the only piece remaining constant being lead vocalist Justin Ringle (pictured). The primary songwriter and guitarist, Justin is the defacto brains behind the operation. For the recording sesions of both their debut, Words Are Dead, and House With No Home, Justin employed the help of brother/sister duo Heather and Peter Broderick while the band's live shows often consist of different musicians (Nathan Crockett, Catherine O'dell, Sam Cooper...). This varying lineup leads to a unique sound that comes across as both sparse and plentiful. The songs are often very music-driven - violin being a big part - allowing Justin's vocals to escape the spotlight. The soft, airy delivery in his words only add to this effect; these elements coming together to create a fresh, truly enjoyable sound (check out this interview with Justin in which he speaks on some of these vocal choices, whether deliberate or not).

The most recent output I've found from Horse Feathers was this remarkable video from

The additional players present here are Sam Cooper (banjo) and Nathan Crockett (fiddle). Justin can be credited with not only vocals and guitar, but also some very well-timed tambourine-under-foot. This video is further evidence for my theory that the best bands tend to be three-pieces.

Horse Feathers - Finch On Sunday
from Words Are Dead (2006)
Horse Feathers - Albina
from House With No Home (2008)

Buy Words Are Dead (Lucky Madison) -- [Vinyl/CD] [eMusic]
Buy House With No Home (Kill Rock Stars) -- [Vinyl/CD] [eMusic]
Horse Feathers on MySpace
More Horse Feathers on This Mornin'...
New Digs (11-11-2008)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ryan Sets Free New Book and New (old) Track...

That's the freshly positive Ryan Adams uploading a demo (somewhat acoustic) recording of 'Magick' to his website as a thanks for all the pre-orders of his latest written work, Hello Sunshine. Ryan's second book of verse is purported to be a much brighter collection of poems and short fiction than his debut literary work.

The song is available for download if you know your way around the nets, but I'll make it easy on you.
Magick (Original Home Demo)

The book - at least the pre-order - costs nearly as much as I've spent on my entire collection of Ryan Adams' music, but that didn't stop this unapologetic fan (even after Cardinology) from droppin' the bucks. For $50 +shipping you get a hardcover version of Hello Sunshine plus a limited edition, numbered chapbook signed by Ryan. This addition, entitled Pink Magic (I guess he found the spellcheck this time) is only available through this pre-order. It's not officially released until December 1st, but the pre-orders will ship by August 10th.

Ryan says of Hello Sunshine, "This collection was a beautiful way for me to wrap up my narrative verse style of writing before I move into writing short stories and novels. Maybe this book really is more about my connection to my senses and to the romantic. Where I was scared to read Infinity Blues after I wrote it, Hello Sunshine makes me want to eat ice cream. This book is about, quite simply, how it might feel to surrender to a love. It will reinforce everyone's fear that I am smarter than them."

Click here to order yours.

Now, I've said before that I'm not the biggest fan of poetry, but Ryan's Infinity Blues is slowly growing on me. As I've made my way through the strangely spaced and punctuated verse, a handful of the selections have emerged as (somewhat) coherent and enjoyable. Here's one that stood out to me:

In the Middle of the Night Goes the Bang
Ryan Adams

in these slow moments, when there is too much time, i feel the entire inside
world of me collapse into its pile
the words drift from me
and i am but a calm swarm
an endless end
my skin touches the edge of the desk and i know i am alive
sort of hanging
and i feel a soft heart
my own
go into the gears, go shredding
for lack of tears
and more words
for the things i could not express
and time
which will not wind itself back
where the folds of what was me and what were wishes
came undone
like a slow dress in a brutal wind
like when a flock separates
and takes no shape again
was that my soul
my heart wrapped in tin
with a wire
on ice
and a bulb too thin
or a dream too long
or a breath too kissed
words they do fine
but cannot touch
this thing i miss
a heart
inside me
in the middle of the night goes the bang

Buy Infinity Blues, if you dare.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Brian Williams - Deer Tick Interview

Think I was lying about NBC Newscaster Brian Williams' fanhood of Deer Tick??

Pre-Order Born On Flag Day (6/23/09): Vinyl/CD.

New Digs......

Awww Yea-uh!

Back again with a handful of tunes I've been diggin' on lately.
You know the drill: listen... enjoy... buy.

Wilco - Jolly Banker
A couple weeks ago, Wilco made this Woody Guthrie cover tune available for download on their site. It's another example of music completely transcending time and history - the satirical song that was penned back in the dust bowl days as a slight to the fat-pocketed bankers rings just as true today. Nice choice Jeff. In related news, Wilco has announced their newest effort will be titled Wilco (The Album) and will feature a special appearance from Feist. Pick it up June 30th.

Sara Watkins - Will We Go
Sara Watkins was once 1/3 of the bluegrass-crossover giant Nickel Creek. Both Chris Thile and Sara's brother Sean dabbled in solo albums throughout the bands' tenure, but Sara has just released her debut solo album. The self-titled effort is well worth your time - especially if you are/were a Nickel fan - if only because of her fiddle skills and the fact that Gillian & Dave make an appearance. Buy It.

The Duke & The King - If You Ever Get Famous
I mentioned that Simone Felice decided to leave his band of brothers earlier this year. His new outfit, The Duke & The King, features Simone and Robert Chicken Burke. Their US debut, Nothing Gold Can Stay, will be available in August through Ramseur Records.

Band of Annuals - Blood On My Shirt
I came to know of Salt Lake City folk group Band of Annuals thanks to a reader recommendation (thanks Jeff). This six-piece band creates great folk rock, highlighted by a male-female vocal combo that sounds a lot like This Mornin'... favorite The Gougers. Get their latest album, Let Me Live, here.

J. Tillman - When I Light Your Darkened Door
Fleet Foxes drummer Josh Tillman recently recorded a session over at Daytrotter, showcasing some of his amazing solo work. It's mostly mellow, sounding somewhat like a mix between Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver. This tune is from Cancer and Delirium. He more recently put out Vacilando Territory Blues.

Robin Pecknold (Fleet Foxes) - It Ain't Me Babe
I found a nice video of Fleet Foxes' frontman doing his best Dylan - and ripped the audio for you.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

In The Toolbox: Begonias (2005)

I never have understood the term 'critically acclaimed.' I mean, if the acclaim of critics is important enough to note at every chance, shouldn't people (record companies for one) take their opinions more seriously. The term instead has become a stigmatic warning that equates to one saying "this record didn't sell shit, but I - and a few of my colleagues - really dig it."

But it really is a shame that the opinions of some of the most qualified music aficionados out there fall upon deaf ears. The people that make the decision of 'what should I listen to' for the majority of the country are money-minded, corporate radio operators and mega-conglomerate record execs. This leaves the nation blindly believing that what they hear on their speakers is the best music out there. If only they knew...........

Can you imagine if the Midwest housewife that grew up on a diet of Patsy Cline and Porter Wagoner knew what Caitlin Cary & Thad Cockrell did for country music back in '05? Well, they made Begonias, a stunningly beautiful REAL country album. By the way - it was critically acclaimed all over the place - just check out this rap sheet.

Caitlin Cary & Thad Cockrell - Begonias
(Yep Roc, 2005)

Caitlin, the velvet-voiced violinist formerly of Whiskeytown, found in Thad a perfectly complimentary tenor tone. Thad Cockrell, the son of a baptist preacher, took to songwriting in college and when the two found themselves looking for work in Raleigh, NC, the pieces just fell into place. Begonias is at once sad, classic country and hopeful, modern folk.

The disc strolls in with a modest-tempo tune, Thad leading the way. Immediately you recognize the effortlessness in his upper-range tenor. Caitlin covers the last line in the first verse with angelic harmony, setting the tone for what will prove to be a record of vocal perfection.

Two Different Things

The duo keeps the album fresh with each track; "Something Less Than Something More" unique in its contrast. Heavy steel guitar and haunting vocals are countered by driving tom brushes that keep the song moving. "Second Option" can easily be considered the stand out alt-country tune with an original melody, electric guitar sparingly displayed, and even a timely bridge/solo break. But just as Begonias has picked up speed and lifted spirits, Caitlin drops you to your knees with her a capella intro to "Please Break My Heart." This throwback tune evokes a long-lost Patsy Cline/Buddy Holly collaboration, toeing the line between country gold and doo-wap.

The album highlight comes at track 7. Truly one of the most beautifully written and performed songs I've heard, "Warm and Tender Love" is what country music should sound like. This song simply speaks for itself.

Warm and Tender Love

The back half of the disc does have its low points, interestingly coming from the faster-paced songs that come across as hokey. The album, however, finishes very strong. Written from an interesting point of view, "Conversations About A Friend" tells the story of the fate of a pair of lovers from the perspective of the friends that originally set them up. Caitlin and Thad take you back South, where they dread the cold winter days, "Waiting on June." Country music is inherently sad, and this album stays true to that. Not in the clich├ęd 'my wife left me and my dog died' fashion, but in pure, heartbreaking stories told in the simplest way. Begonias is wrapped up with its saddest effort. Sparse insturmentation allows the couple's dripping vocals to shine in the beginning of this desperate tune, but when the emotion has nowhere else to go, it manifests itself into a full band escort to the "Big House."

Big House

So there's just one more bit of 'critical acclaim' for Caitlin and Thad. It may not get them played on any mainstream radio show, and may only equate to a few more album sales, but if I can get the word out to enough ears, the music will do the work itself.

Purchase Begonias [Direct] [Amazon] [iTunes]

Caitlin Cary [Website][MySpace]
Thad Cockrell [Website][MySpace]

Previously Posted on In The Toolbox:
Dublin Blues
John Prine
Red Headed Stranger