Showing posts with label wade bowen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wade bowen. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

video review: 'solid ground' by wade bowen

Yeah, I'm very much aware reviews like this don't generate huge traffic... but goddamn it, when you have such a solid slice of indie country, you need to give it props!

Unfortunately the next indie act I've got on my docket aren't quite up to the same spot, but before we get to that disappointment, probably Billboard BREAKDOWN up next, so stay tuned!

album review: 'solid ground' by wade bowen

So about three years ago, I covered a collaboration record between two Texas country veterans called Hold My Beer, Vol. 1. This project, assembled by Randy Rogers of the Randy Rogers Band and Wade Bowen, was, to put it simply, goddamn excellent, comfortably landing on my year-end list of the best records of 2015, with the deep cut 'El Dorado' being my third favourite song of that year, and if I could somehow find a damn copy of it on vinyl anywhere that'd be greatly appreciated! 

But putting my fruitless vinyl search aside, while I've covered the Randy Rogers band since, I've always had a certain amount of curiosity about Wade Bowen's greater discography... and unsurprisingly, it was worth the relisten, given that he's a sharp songwriter and has good instincts for a brand of Texas red dirt country that's accessible but still willing to cut a little deeper. And his career arc was similar to that of Rogers - he started off in the regional Texas scene independently, got signed to a major label, and then ended up independent again with more success than ever - but his time in the majors was considerably shorter, given that his label BNA was restructured after releasing only one record called The Given in 2012. And yes, that record is definitely a hidden gem if you want to check it out, but I'd probably still recommend his excellent 2008 record If We Ever Make It Home or even his self-titled 2014 record as more textured and interesting standouts for straightforward, no-bullshit country music.

So okay, why haven't you heard from him for a while? Well, he put out a record of gospel songs in 2016 dedicated to his mom, and a live record with the Randy Rogers Band, and now, but now we've got a Wade Bowen release proper, and given that country radio still has no damn clue what it's doing, I'd like to see Bowen stick the landing here. So, did we get it with Solid Ground?

Friday, January 1, 2016

the top 50 best songs of 2015

And now we're onto the list that's always the hardest for me to make, mostly because it requires by far the most work: the best songs of the year, overall. Not just hits, but singles and deep cuts from album ranging from widely successful to barely out of the underground.

And this year was harder than most, mostly because it was a damn great year for music. The charts may have been strong, but that was nothing compared to the cavalcade of great music we got, which meant that cutting this list down from thousands to around 630 to 165 to the fifty we have meant that there were a lot of painful cuts, so much so that I seriously considered instituting a one-song-per-album rule. In the end... I couldn't do it, because there were some records that were so unbelievably good that I had to include multiple entries. Now we'll be covering those albums in greater detail a bit later this week, but in the end I held to the rule that at most I could put three songs from any one album on this list - and that we easily had more of those makes my argument that was a damn solid year of music, probably better than last year's, all the more powerful. 

One more thing before we start: while I can describe music well and why it works for me on a technical level, most of the songs on this list cut a fair bit deeper than that, and thus I'll endeavor to provide some emotional context as to why they worked so well beyond a purely intellectual exercise. And of course it's my picks - there might some common overlap between my choices and other critics, but it would be disingenuous to choose tracks for 'cultural importance' rather than what really got to me more deeply.

So let's start with a track that completely threw me off-guard.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

the top albums/songs of the midyear - 2015 (VIDEO)

Almost forgot to put this video up. This was a ton of fun, really did love making this - always nice to talk about music that's actually all sorts of awesome.

So next up is Billboard BREAKDOWN, and then finally I might have time for this new Vince Staples... stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

the top album/songs of the midyear - 2015

Last year when I put together this list, I was debating its very relevance. I mean, would it give away what would turn out to be my top albums of the year overall, or would it find an audience at all?

This year, the debate was different: I knew I had to do a midyear review for 2015 because there was so much quality that came out in the front half of the year that I'm honestly a little concerned I'm not going to get a chance to highlight it all. Between comebacks that delivered in spades, debuts that blew my mind, and records that seemed to have an abundance of creativity more than I would have ever expected, the first six months of 2015 have been overwhelming strong, to the point where keeping my list of albums to twelve was insanely difficult. It'll be incredible if the rest of the year keeps up this momentum, but for now, here is my top albums of 2015, thus far:

Monday, May 25, 2015

video review: 'hold my beer vol. 1' by randy rogers & wade bowen

Man, another record I just took a little too long to get to, but I'm glad I did.

Next up, that collaboration that's been in the workings for a while now. Stay tuned!

album review: 'hold my beer vol. 1' by randy rogers & wade bowen

You know, I don't talk a lot about regionalism in country music - mostly because, to most mainstream listeners, you'd never be able to tell. Unless you're in Canada and get a slice of Alberta country courtesy of CRTC rules, most people would simply assume if you get country music on the radio, it's out of Nashville, especially with the increased amalgamation of radio across the US. And that's often the furthest thing from the truth, given that there are subsectors of country music all across the United States that have a distinctive sound and feel outside of the increasingly polished Nashville scene.

So let's talk about one of those scenes today and one that I've been too long in brushing over: Texas country. Commonly known as 'red dirt country' music, it tends to blur the lines between neotraditional, plain-spoken respect for the working man and rough-edged outlaw country, with brawnier guitars, a stronger acoustic flavour, and a heavier focus on lyricism and raw live performances. And while there have been plenty of country heavyweights throughout the decades that have hailed from Texas - Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson - in recent years there's been a potent resurgence as a backlash against Nashville's increasingly slick sound. And as bro-country continues to collaspe in upon itself, there's been speculation, especially in the indie scene, that red-dirt country might work to fill the vacuum.

And it's not like they don't have the quality to get there, as some of my favourite country acts of the past few years have come from this subgenre. Kacey Musgraves, Miranda Lambert, James Mc Murtry, Jason Eady, we're talking about great acts dropping solid if not downright excellent records, the best of their respective years, and thus I shouldn't be all that surprised that well-respected acts in this vein might team up and take a stab at it together. In this case, we're talking about Wade Bowen and Randy Rogers, the latter of which has been slugging it out in the Randy Rogers Band on the far outskirts of mainstream country and unfortunately got sucked into the swirling eddy that was the overly slick pop country of the mid-to-late 2000s - incidentally, the same time I stopped listening to a lot of country music. Wade Bowen comes from a similar era, but he's tended to stick to slightly more personal material and stronger songwriting. Yeah, I know I'm late to the punch - again - on covering this, but could a team-up record titled Hold My Beer, Volume 1 be the record they need to take them over the top?