THRIFT STORE COWBOYS
Thrift Store Cowboys fourth studio album Light Fighter could be called their post-arson period, as the band wrote the record after a stranger torched a trailer filled with merchandise and parked next to lead singer Daniel Fluitt's bedroom, nearly taking his life. Produced by Craig Schumacher (Calexico, Neko Case, Iron and Wine) Light-Fighter's indie-rock shapeshifts through ambient and Gothic western music for songs that touch on death, loss, fear, redemption, the Spanish Civil War and West Texas ghost stories. All buoyed by soaring violin, draped against bottom-ended guitar and pedal steel sounds that the spaghetti western composed Ennio Morricone might envy.
The Lubbock based quintet, which includes Fluitt, Colt Miller, Clint Miller, Kris Killingsworth, Cory Ames and Amanda Shires on fiddle and vocals, have been touring together for over a decade after meeting at the musical South Plains College. They are neither of the typical Texas-based types of bands - a country-rock melange or strictly indie rock. As Buddy Magazine points out, "Thrift Store Cowboys' feel is more, for a lack of better description, gypsy desert music - the free sound of spacey, heat-induced delirium...a sure, confident sound backed by thoughtful vision." Schumacher produced their 2006 release Lay Low While Crawling or Creeping, of which Austin Sound said, "the album is to country music what Jim Jarmusch's film Deadman was to the western."
LIKE MANY OF HIS WEST TEXAS CONTEMPORARIES, DANIEL MARKHAM HAS OFTEN BEEN ABLE TO TAP INTO THE ISOLATING, YET CALM LONESOMENESS OF THE PANHANDLE.
Whether it be Thrift Store Cowboys and Amanda Shires of the last decade, Terry Allen and The Flatlanders of the late ’70s, or Buddy Holly and Wink-native Roy Orbison of the late ’50s, they all the ability to capture the parting winds of the flatlands and the blistering sun of the West Texas deserts. It was engrained in their sound–becoming signature for each in their own shades.
The now Denton-based Markham, a decade in as a songwriter and musician, presents his third solo full-length album, Disintegrator. Third. In ways, that’s a misleading description. In reality, it marks his 12th release–following Waiting to Derail’s self-titled, One Wolf’s One Wolf I and One Wolf II: Secret of the Wolf, Larry Legion and Forest of Swords under the Larry Legion persona, solo works Demonstrations, Hexagons, Ruined My Life, Pretty Bitchin’, and the collaborative efforts of Smoke Paint with Tony Ferraro and Harmony in Hell with Claire Morales.
Doug Burr has a habit of mulling things over, kneading thoughts around until they yield something of value. Burr is soft-spoken, bespectacled and rangy. Yet his placid manner belies the storm of paranoia, longing and wonder agitating at his core. The singer-songwriter from Denton, Texas, is often lauded for his candor, a reputation earned through no small labor. Burr is a disciple of the hard way that weaves between easy answers, buffeted, always pressing toward the truth.
Four records in, Burr remains true to that code, digging into everything ugly and gorgeous that comprises humanity. You can hear it on the Gospel-inspired Sickle and the Sheaves (2003) and on Burr’s acclaimed sophomore follow-up On Promenade (2007). In 2009, he released an album of Biblical Psalms set to original music called The Shawl. His last work, O Ye Devastator(2012), is an album of both personal confession and ingenious storytelling, as grave in its estimation of human frailty as it is amazed at human loveliness reclaimed.
Now Doug Burr returns with a new album, Pale White Dove. While Devastator, dabbled with heavier sounds, Pale White Dove swings the sledgehammer with abandon. Burr sounds like a man whose noted patience is worn to a raw bundle of nerves.The album’s aggression is cut with beautiful country tunes “Never Gonna Be Young Again.” But the soul of Pale White Dove is the electrified “I See Satan Fall Like Lightning” which is soaked in Southern Gothic and delivered in a fevered prophecy. The song, and much of the rest of the album, recounts a world tangled in its own violent scapegoating, hopeless save for supernatural intervention. For this reason, Pale White Dove is apt for this age, marred as it is by violence in word and deed.
LiL iFFy is a magical beast. The Knoxville rapper, dubbed "The Greatest Wizard Rapper Alive" by Mtv-U, has spent most of a decade blistering audiences with a high energy show that seamlessly fuses modern rap music to the language of the Harry Potter Universe.
Since launching in 2011, iFFy has toured America to packed shows many times over, played major festivals such as Bonnaroo, was the subject of an award-winning documentary, and on and on.
LiL iFFy is heading into fall of 2019 with a return to form on the heels of a new single, a revamped live experience, and long-awaited tour dates around the Eastern U.S. and beyond.
Brian Paddock began writing lyrics long before he ever picked up a guitar.
In 2010, when he was 30 years old, Paddock’s wife encouraged him to take his writing more seriously. Paddock learned how to play guitar and started trying to sing all the things he’d been writing. Four years later, Paddock co-founded the rock ‘n’ roll band Shimmy and the Burns. Based in Knoxville, Tenn., the band earned a good reputation over the next few years, touring the Southeast and recording two critically-lauded full-length albums. Still, there was something missing. Paddock had a stack of songs that needed a quieter, more subtle musical home. To that end, he recorded the EP “Villains,” which Blank News praised as “a major introspective psychological whallop,” and began working on a full-length album. That disc, “Under New Management,” due for release later this summer, realizes the promise that the EP hinted at.
In his characteristically gruff voice, Paddock delivers 11 songs where the lyrics aren’t in such competition with the music to be heard. It’s sweet. It’s honest. And, featuring acoustic-heavy arrangements played by some of Knoxville’s A-list musicians, the music flows easy. The title cut name checks John Prine song characters in a thoughtful rumination on modern life.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t a couple of rockers. When Paddock sings “I drink poison, ‘cause I like the taste,” you know it’s not going to be a soundtrack to a church picnic.
“Under New Management” isn’t going to shock Paddock’s longtime fans. More likely, they’re going to love him even more. If you haven’t heard him, take a little extra time to let the songs sink in. You won’t regret it.
Last year Rebecca Rego & The Trainmen recorded their third full-length record “Speaking of Witches” at Bon Iver’s April Base studios in Eau Claire, Wisconsin with producer Beau Sorenson. This is their second album with Sorenson, who is based at Tiny Telephone Studio in San Francisco. Sorensen has previously worked with Bob Mould, tune-yards and Thao and The Get Down Stay Down.
Former Wisconsinite Rebecca Rego’s writing on “Speaking of Witches” is inspired by her move to Kentucky in 2016. Her songs detail her experience adapting to her new home, getting in touch with nature, and falling in love with Southern music culture.
Speaking of Witches is now available on Bandcamp and all streaming platforms.
Rego has molded the rugged tones of Heartless Bastards with the harmonies of Neko Case & Grace Potter..........The trajectory of songs summons a fruitful creative growth for Rego, making Speaking of Witches easily one of 2019’s top new listens."
- Glide Magazine 2019