Reader Poll: I Need Some Inspiration

Posted by Payton | Posted in Site News, poll | Posted on 02-23-2010

Let’s be honest. Lately, I’ve updated the look of this blog more often than the content. My post frequency has dropped recently due to a number of reasons. We won’t get into why. Instead, let’s get into how we go about fixing this.

Originally, I had the intention of posting multiple times every week. I learned quickly that that was a tough task. For one, my posts ending up being more thorough than I initially intended, which is okay with me. So, for a more structured posting process, I started a few ‘Feature Posts’ – recurring topics that songs could easily fit into to keep a sense of familiarity with the content here. Some of these were meant to be weekly updates – New Digs for one – and that may have gone smoothly for a little while. Some have shown up here and there and some have disappeared completely. So, I need your help. I wanna know what the readers want. Take some time to look back over some of these feature posts and find those that interest you most.

Here’s an outline with links those older posts:

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New Digs, Vol. 22

Posted by Payton | Posted in Uncategorized, new digs | Posted on 06-02-2009

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It’s June. Wow.
This month I will hit the quarter-century mark in my life.
Kinda scary.

I like having a June birthday – it splits the year perfectly in half. This way, I’m never more than six months away from a substantial gift, either from the family or as a treat to myself. I’m hoping to get a real camera this year – a digital SLR. I’m fairly certain I wanna go with Canon/Nikon, but I don’t know which, so shoot me a line if you have any intel on the matter.

However, I did just spoil myself with a brand new iPhone and I’m pretty sure it’s already changed my life in less than a week. The fact that I’m such a fan of iTunes/iPod/now the iPhone makes me wonder why I haven’t yet made a full-on MAC switch.

Having the world at my hands with a simple tap has reawakened my quest for music across the web as well as my desire to get back to regular posting here. I’ve re-upped my RSS feeds on the new phone to reflect a handful of new blogs I’ve been reading, been listening to Pandora again lately, and I’ve been refining my music library with artwork and details so my iPhone looks as good as it’s supposed to.

To help quell the lack of updates here, I’ve been going through the list of feature posts (sidebar) with the intention of getting out a couple new editions each week. New Digs has easily been the most prolific post feature here; this post making the total 22.

Middle Distance Runner – Brother John

I came across this DC band by accident. I thought I was clicking on a link to a cover of the song ‘Middle Distance Runner’ (Sea Wolf) by a band named Brother John. I obviously had this backwards but was surprised to really enjoy what I was hearing. As I checked out all the songs I could find from MDR, I was continually impressed. This band strays slightly from my usual realm with their subtle electronic/hip-hop influence, but I can’t seem to get enough. They sound a little like Spoon (heavy piano riffs, hand claps, etc.) and, interestingly, a little like Sea Wolf.

Middle Distance Runner – Momma

Middle Distance Runner: MySpace/eMusic/iTunes/Website

Grace Potter & The Nocturnals – Stop The Bus
from This Is Somewhere (2007)

I had seen Grace and her band mentioned in alt-country circles for a while, but hadn’t payed much attention until I learned that ex-Cardinal Catherine Popper was now thumpin’ bass for them. The addition of the long-legged bassist with the already smokin’ Grace makes this band an equally visual and aural knockout. ‘They have a new album nearly complete, although it has no title, produced by T-Bone Burnett. It’s Grace and band’s third studio album.

Grace Potter & The Nocturnals: MySpace/iTunes/Website

Those Darlins – Whole Damn Thing

Another band that, for whatever reason, I simply passed up despite numerous mentions is Those Darlins. They’ve opened for such acts as Deer Tick and Dan Auerbach and played at this year’s SXSW. The subtle hints of punk influence fused with undeniable country roots make this female trio one to watch out for. I’m not too late jumping on their bandwagon though, because they have yet to release their debut album. You can pre-order it now on VINYL and CD. Also check out their Wild One [Single] at the links below.

Those Darlins: MySpace/eMusic/iTunes/Website

As always, enjoy responsibly.
Go to shows.
Buy their stuff.
Tell your friends.

Check out all the past New Digs….

New Digs: Samantha Crain & The Midnight Shivers….

Posted by Payton | Posted in new digs | Posted on 08-14-2008

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Focusing on one artist today for New Digs.
This one deserves a full post.

Samantha Crain is the newest addition to the stellar lineup that Ramseur Records is amassing. Ramseur reached even farther West this time – all the way to rustic Shawnee, OK. Samantha is just 21, but writes and sings with the conviction of an old-soul. Maybe it’s the Choctaw heritage or maybe it’s that long line of Oklahoma folkies that precede her, but Samantha’s tales of sorrow, tinged with lighthearted spunk, feel as dust-worn as any Woody Guthrie or Bob Childers song.

Along with her band, The Midnight Shivers, Samantha self-produced and self-released The Confiscation EP. Ramseur stumbled upon the burgeoning folk band and decided to re-release the EP on July 22nd of this year. Buy it.

i found Samantha and her music on Hear Ya Indie Music Blog. Much like Daytrotter, they feature exclusive live-in-studio tracks from indie artists. The sound is great and, especially in the case of The Midnight Shivers, the cuts seem as polished as album tracks. Check out Samantha’s session.

Traipsin’ Through The Aisles (HearYa Live Session)
From Where Come You Division? (HearYa Live Session)

In Smithereens, the Search for Affinity (Confiscation EP)
Beloved, We Have Expired (Confiscation EP)

great titles, huh?
check out Introducing Samantha Crain (YouTube)

Ryan Adams: The Destroyer Sessions…..

Posted by Payton | Posted in album review, ryan adams spotlight | Posted on 06-26-2008

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i know it’s been a while between installments of my Ryan Adams Artist Spotlight, but i’ve been doing things like graduating, moving, vacationing, and starting a new job. But now that i’m sorta in one place for a while, i can attempt to get back to my regular schedule – weekly New Digs, weekly Playlist Pulse, and the occasional RA post.

We left off on a review of the first of many of Ryan’s ‘unreleased’ albums – Exile on Franklin Street. The idea of this extended Artist Spotlight was to chronologically review RA’s oeuvre for the sake of:
1. exposing some new people to Ryan Adams
2. supplying my readers with hard-to-find Ryan Adams tracks
3. further instilling my admiration of his music through an in-depth back review

But…….. i got a little out of order by posting my Gold review directly after Heartbreaker. The simple fact is…. shortly before Heatbreaker and up to the recording of Gold, Ryan recorded 5 or 6 ’studio sessions’ that never made official releases. A lot of the songs on these sessions were re-cut and appeared later on his first 4 solo albums.

To be completely honest, the only reason i stumbled across the world of Music Blogs was because i was trolling around for b-sides/ unreleased songs from Ryan, and (judging from the majority of my referrals on SiteMeter) that’s also how many people find This Mornin’……

Ok, now i’m just rambling……..
i’ve said before that i don’t consider myself the most eloquent person, nor am i an expert music review-er – so maybe that’s why i stall when it comes to things like this. But i like to think i have great taste in music and simply want to expose a few people to the stuff that keeps me going throughout the day………


Unlike Exile on Franklin Street, The Destroyer Sessions are composed of real songs – no crazy guitar-wailing or screamo stuff – these are well-written, well-composed tunes that range from the omnipotent plaintive RA ballad to groovy, driving acoustic numbers.

This session was recorded just a few days before Heartbreaker at Pilot Studios in NYC. Gillian and Dave helped with the recording and their influence (and input) are present on a lot of the tracks. This was early enough in Ryan’s carrer that his strong roots/folk style is still very noticeable – in fact, aside from Whiskeytown’s stuff, this collection is his folkiest, which is probably why it continues to be some of my favorite material in his catalog.

By far my favorite unreleased Ryan Adams track, Poison & The Pain, shows up here. An echoey, backwoods tune, the song contains some well-placed harmonies and hand-claps that add a ghostly effect. How this one hasn’t seen the glory of an official release is beyond me, but then, i’ve never claimed to understand many of Ryan’s musical choices.

Only two songs from Destroyer reached an album: the masterpiece, In My Time of Need, and Bartering Lines - both mentioned here. The collection also includes a couple songs that received a lot of live play during Ryan’s extensive solo-touring around Heartbreaker: Born Yesterday, Statuettes With Wounds, and Hey There, Mrs. Lovely – that eventually morphed into These Girls and appeared on Easy Tiger. He caps off the session with a rare cover song – a dizzying, electrified version of Gillian Welch’s venerable Time (The Revelator).

The Destroyer Sessions
Fall 2000

mp3: Dreaming’s Free
mp3: Poison & The Pain
mp3: Time (The Revelator)

all zipped up…..

Be sure to check out the rest of my Ryan Adams Spotlight:
1. Whiskeytown
2. Heartbreaker
3. Gold
4. Exile on Franklin Street – or, just click here
for all of them on one page.


New Digs……

Posted by Payton | Posted in Uncategorized, new digs | Posted on 04-17-2008

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i generally don’t buy albums off iTunes/eMusic because i like to spend the few extra bucks and have a hard copy in my hands. i sort of look at it as an investment – one day, i’ll get to show my grandkids what CD’s were like (i’ve got a decent Vinyl collection goin’ on, too). But the two albums that my New Digs come from this week were both downloaded. One (Tonight At The Arizona) because you can’t find it at stores, and the other (Hot Trottin’) because i got impatient.
mp3: Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights – Gypsy Woman
mp3: Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights – She’s From The Other Side
About a year ago, i caught this band opening up for (so far unmentioned on this blog) Stoney LaRue here in College Station. The pure Rock & Roll energy that Jonathan and his band perform with caught me by surprise (at a country concert, mind you). I always enjoy when you can hear the artist putting everything they have into their vocals and their performance, and trust me, the live show is even more high-energy than these Rockin’ Blues tracks.

buy Hot Trottin’ [iTunes] [Amazon]. If you’re into instant gratification, i downloaded mine at

Due to a misplaced online order, i didn’t recieve my newest Felice Brothers album when i was supposed to. To tide me over during the wait, i downloaded Tonight At The Arizona – the band’s first full length release. These guys are the real deal – and this record proves it – captivating acoutic melodies wind around behind honest stories of suicide, runs-in with the law, and unplanned pregnancies. It was difficult to narrow this down to 3 songs, so do yourself a favor and get the whole thing.

mp3: The Felice Brothers – Ballad Of Lou The Welterweight
a song about a dirty old man that only takes women from behind. seriously.
mp3: The Felice Brothers – Your Belly In My Arms
mp3: The Felice Brothers – T For Texas
at first, this song seemed a little corny – but now i can’t stop singing along….

buy Tonight At The Arizona [iTunes] [Amazon]. i got mine from eMusic (25 free downloads)


Also – Got an extra special surprise the other day when i pick up Konk from The Kooks – it comes with Rak – a whole other disc (9 tracks) that were recorded at Rak Studios in England. i’m gonna listen all weekend and get back to you with my prognosis…….

New Digs……

Posted by Payton | Posted in new digs | Posted on 04-11-2008

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My New Digs for this week are some of the first stand-outs from a few of the albums i’ve picked up recently. The initial surge from the flood of Spring releases has hit, and i would have until about May to catch up, but Konk comes out next Tuesday – and that’s a big one.


The Kooks’ Inside In/Inside Out was a huge debut album (it was #2 on my best of 2007 post). i don’t even look at record sales, but judging simply from the buzz, if you will, it garnered for those skinny Brits, they’re doin’ alright. This hype will carry on for Konk, but i’m excited to see what the’ve done with it. Having another killer album may very well solidify their names….. somewhere. And i’m not trying to insinuate and sort of Second Coming or anything, but i definately hear some of whatever it was The Stones had (have – whatever) in their guitars and hook writing. And i’m rooting for ‘em. i always wanna be in the presence of greatness – everybody wanted to see Davidson make it to the final four, but i wanted to see 4 #1’s, so i was rooting for Kansas - record-breakers, never before’s, and especially beginings of legends. Buy it Tuesday…


These New Digs are mostly upbeat, since it generally takes a little longer (hearing the lyrics) to pick out great slow songs:

mp3: The Black Keys – Psychotic Girl ~ from Attack & Release
mp3: The Black Keys – Same Old Thing ~ from Attack & Release
The groove initiated by the banjo in Psychotic Girl is what pulled me into that tune. And the flute in Psychotic Girl is a throwback that hints on The Marshall Tucker Band.

mp3: The Felice Brothers – Greatest Show On Earth ~ from The Felice Brothers
This song effortlessly wanders between a slow-rolling ballad and a raucus barroom jam complete with old-time piano and trumpet. They carry on the same attitude with this one:
mp3: The Felice Brothers – Love Me Tenderly ~ from The Felice Brothers

mp3: Hayes Carll – Don’t Let Me Fall ~ from Trouble In Mind

mp3: Hayes Carll – Willing To Love Again ~ from Trouble In Mind
Hayes can sometimes drift a little too far on the Honky-Tonk side for my taste, so i tend to perfer the slower ones like these (and Long Way Home posted here).

i also just got a copy of Loaded from The Wood Brothers, but i’ve got something else planned for that one….


New(s) Digs……

Posted by Payton | Posted in Uncategorized, new digs | Posted on 04-01-2008

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i know it’s only Tuesday, and i’m supposed to be workin’ on my online class. But i got a fever, and the only perscription is……. New Digs.

But seriously folks, i’ve gotten my hands on a bunch of new tunes the last couple of weeks. Enough to do a installment today and Friday, and still have some left over.
After 5 long years, i’m finally getting my Aggie Ring on Friday, so we’ll see how much time i have for that second post.
So i got that goin’ for me……
but i’m in a good mood for a few more reasons:

Ordered my Cap & Gown for Graduation today – just another step on my journey to no more school.

Today, i ran by what they call a ‘record store’ here in College Station. It doesn’t quite qualify, but they did have The Black Keys’ Attack & Release, and suprisingly Justin Townes Earle’s The Good Life. Couldn’t find Loaded from The Wood Brothers, but i plan on being in Austin sometime soon, so i’ll head over to Waterloo. i haven’t gotten a chance to really hear ‘em both yet, but first impressions:

  • Attack & Release is just what i thought it would be – The Black Keys with their edges sanded down (thanks to Danger Mouse). They did surprise me with a toned down, more acoustic opening track (at least the beginning). i dig it.
  • After just one quick listen through The Good Life, i think JTE may have had me fooled with the early released tracks. i can’t tell if it’s necessarily a good thing yet, but all the other tracks have a very traditional, even swing country sound to it, while everything else of his i heard had a more contemporary Americana feel. i’ll get back to you on this one.

- by the way, check TBK’s site and play their laser game

i was contacted by an independent artist out of Brooklyn that said she checked out This Mornin’… and thought i might like her music. She’s gonna send me a cd, and i’ll tell you all about her then.
i found some cool new artists and some really cool stuff from some of my favorite artists after doing some ‘research’ today.

But Big News – i got ‘This Mornin’… added to The Hype Machine
check me out here.
onward to the MUSIC:
mp3: Deer Tick – Little White Lies ~ from Daytrotter Session (2008)
mp3: Deer Tick – The Ghost ~ from Daytrotter Session (2008) is a indie music promoting website that does something really cool. Instead of simply reviewing artists/albums, they get the bands to stop by their studio and record a four-song set. They encourage reworked songs from albums and unreleased stuff. And they release 3 of these sessions each week.
“These songs are them as they are on that particular day, on that particular tour – dirty and alive.”

mp3: Sondre Lerche – My Hands are Shaking ~ from Dan in Real Life Soundtrack (2008)
i saw this movie the other day – it’s pretty good. It makes you think about life – sorta in the same way Garden State does, although not on as deep a level. Througout the movie, i kept noticing the music. Not just songs, but some interesting instrumental accompaniments that follow the flow of the film. Turns out Sondre Lerche , a Norwegien singer/songwriter, wrote the entire soundtrack for the movie. This song was the one that made me look into the soundtrack.

mp3: Matt The Electrician – Got Your Back ~ from Never Alone [EP]
Austin musician, Matt Sever, gave Songs:Illinois an exclusive track from his upcoming album. I really like this tune – i’ll have to check out some of his previous 4 albums worth of material.

mp3: These United States – The Business ~ from A Picture of the Three of Us...(2008)
i’ve been seeing this band’s name pop up a lot lately, but i decided to check ‘em out when i saw that they will be playing a show with Deer Tick on Arpil 7th in RI. Turns out that These Unted States is doing a 33-day US tour in which they play with a different local band in each city. Pretty cool if you ask me.

These United States also has a Daytrotter Session, as well as This Mornin’… favorite Okkervil River. Check ‘em out.

enjoy responsibly………. or not.