Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The 65 Best Songs of 2017


This ain't for clicks. I promise it ain't for clicks.

This list mainly exists because A) I like to have all my favorite songs on one playlist and B) our readers seem to like it.

By no means am I saying these are the only 65 out there. I know there are many, many more.

But here are mine. My 65. I normally limit to one from each artist, but I broke that rule this year.

These are in NO order.


Friday, December 8, 2017

The 13 Best Sad Bastard Songs of 2017

and I don't need for you to tell me what that means
I don't believe in that stuff anymore

Hello, friends. It's been a...well...an interesting year!

My hope is that this year's Sad Bastard playlist will lift you up. You might say, "well, how is a sad song going to turn my blues around?" My answer is that you're better off finding that out for yourself.

But...but...for me, sad songs provide truth in a world of lies. So many lies.

These songs lift me up.

Peace and love...always...

Thursday, December 7, 2017

[FEATURE] Carson McHone: Artistic Evolution

Photo by Mike Holp

Carson McHone: Artistic Evolution

Feature by Elisa Regulski

As the grass tickled our legs on a lethargic Austin City Limits morning, a crystalline voice floated above the speakers. For many listeners, Carson McHone’s set simply acted as a peaceful start to the weekend’s manic, musical marathon. Her lilting waltzes and resonant vocals were like a slowly steeping cup of tea gradually erasing the sleep from our eyes. As her set progressed, however, the songs slipped into our veins like an energizing jolt of espresso. Like McHone’s musical career, her performance evolved throughout her Friday morning performance. By the end of her one-hour set, she had us feeling antsy and eager for what’s next.

McHone’s lyrics ring with deeply personal poetry, but they’ll make you feel like she took inspiration straight from your diary. The songs sound timeless, and they’re continually morphing into something new. What begins as a heavy heartbreak ballad can rapidly transform into commentary from last night’s news segment. McHone sees this evolution most clearly in her beautifully hypnotic song, “Dram Shop Gal.”

“I don’t trust no man who slicks back his hair
Though he may be a millionaire”

“When I sing that lyric, it was about a guy that I used to date who was a barber. And now I’m singing about Donald Trump.” McHone said.

Though her personal views always pierce through the music, McHone doesn’t consider them protest songs. To her, subtlety has more power than vehement arguments.

“I’m not going to tell you who to vote for in those words, but I’ll certainly tell you who to vote for,” McHone said.

As she put in the miles on the road, the country’s political divide pounded like a piercing headache. Local Austinites know that this city’s liberal bubble is too thick to see through, and sometimes, it takes a cross-country tour to understand the pervasive, political rift.

“It’s different -- so different,” McHone said. “It’s wild to meet people who hold completely, utterly different values than I do. To me, they are monstrous values, and yet they are welcoming me into their home. In any other circumstance we would be spitting at each other, and yet we are connected on this certain level to where we can appreciate each other.”

As her lyrics subtly inch toward social change, McHone’s artistic life rushes like a rollercoaster. The past year has brought both euphoric highs and shattering lows. Rolling Stone named her one of the top ten new country artists you need to know, but the loss of her bass player punched a dent into her personal life.

“It’s been a devastating year but also really really powerful and really beautiful.” McCone said, adding another word that’s rarely used to describe hardship: “Empowering.”

More changes may come in the future, but for now she’s focusing on “how to evolve as an artist” and craft songs that will carve new avenues for discussion.

“If I can establish some sort of relationship with people that listen to my music and enjoy it, then at some point those conversations can be had.” McHone said.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

[PHOTOS] The Shins at The Fillmore in Charlotte


The Shins' latest tour recently stopped in Charlotte. Please enjoy these photos taken at The Fillmore by Bridgette Aikens.

Friday, November 17, 2017

[INTERVIEW] Traveller: Country Music’s Quirky Group of Highway Guys

Photo courtesy of Facebook

Traveller: Country Music’s Quirky Group of Highway Guys

Interview by Elisa Regulski

Call them a super group if you want, but Traveller’s Robert Ellis, Jonny Fritz, and Cory Chisel don’t really care if you call yourself a fan. With five solo albums between the three of them, these quick-witted songwriters aren’t interested in clunking down the music business conveyor belt. Instead, they’re turning their attention to crafting catchy and memorable country music.

This goofy group of highway guys churn out songs even faster than they dish one-liners, and they won’t sacrifice their authenticity for anything. You won’t see these country troubadours playing the beer-drenched bars during South By Southwest, but you will hear them cracking jokes as they tune guitars under the sweltering Texas sun. After their Saturday morning set at the Austin City Limits Music Festival, Traveller sat down for one last leap through the backstage media circus.

Q: When does your album come out?

JONNY FRITZ: March 2nd is the release date here.

ROBERT ELLIS: There’s a music festival in March we should play here in Austin. We should get on that. It pays great.

JONNY: Oh, the pay is incredible.

CORY CHISEL: The exposure, alone!

JONNY: The opportunities! Free sunglasses!

COREY: Professional hydration!

JONNY: And $700 rooms! In Pflugerville! There’s a dog motel I really like to stay at… a kennel.

Q: I heard a little bit of your origin story during your set today, but what’s the real story?

ROBERT: That’s the real story. We were hanging out in Jonny’s backyard, and we said we should start a band…. And then we told Cory that he was in it. And then we booked a tour!

JONNY: And then we ran into a promoter, the guy who books Newport Folk Festival, and Robert approached [him] and were like “hey, we’ve got a new band: me, Jonny, and Cory Chisel. Will you book us at Newport?” …And the three of us had never, at that point, actually hung out.

ROBERT: We had no songs!

JONNY: By the time we could actually find time to get together and write and the festival… I think it was two weeks.

Q: So what’s your tour going to look like?

JONNY: Sold out.

ROBERT: I mean, we are exhausted old men. We don’t feel like touring. So we’re kind of only taking the choice best stuff. If all three of us aren’t like “YES let’s do this,” then we don’t do it.

Q: Do you think you’ll do more Traveller or more solo stuff?

JONNY: I would rather only do Traveller stuff, honestly.

CORY: I think one of the things that we’re experiencing ...is that individually it’s lousy being a singer/songwriter by yourself. But then getting out there with a bunch of guys that are, legitimately, not here for the fans. We’re here because we love to play these songs and we really hope that the audience does too, but if they don’t then we’re good.

ROBERT: Fuck ‘em!

CORY: And we mean that with all the love in our hearts.