Wish List

Back in the Nav, I could go over to the PX there in Pearl Harbor and buy music almost as cheaply and easily as I could buy beer.

A buck-fifty for a single album.

Two bucks for a double-vinyl deal.

Budweiser six-point (almost double the strength of my high-school 3.2 Coors) sold for two dollars a case.

With, say, six dollars in my pocket and a bunch of albums on which I really, really liked at least one song, six-factorial began to describe the choices before me. Hard, hard choices among all sorts of immediate gratification versus long-term enjoyment.

Now, with iTunes, the technological saint I discovered only in late 2011, I’m approaching satiety. Fifteen-hundred-plus favorite songs ought to last a man my age the rest of his beer-drinking life.

But I’m still listening to the new stuff (Americana, rock, blues, red-dirt country), relishing re-releases with new mastering, and buying individual songs with some sympathy, some discretion, and some accumulated taste.

Hope you find something to like below.

Austin Allsup
Sink or Swim
Gravelly Austin reminds us that “lonely ain’t no way to be,” big drums and chiming guitars up behind in songs that break just like a heart.  Young Austin comes by his chops naturally: dad Tommy A. played lead guitar for Buddy Holly. Yep, the old gentleman flipped that coin up there in Iowa the night Richie Valens won the toss and lost his life.

Tom’s kid knows whereof he sings.  And off this 2011 album, I’m buying “It’s True,” “Lonely,” and “Out on the Wind,” for certain. Considering “It’s True” and “If You Want It That Much.”

Also, please forgive Austin for listing among his influences some guy named “Otis Retting.”

The SteelDrivers
“Where Rainbows Never Die.”  Where rainbows never die. Isn’t that a sweet thought, someplace forever receptive to gently refracted light large as the sky? The second sure-buy off this album brings us all bathetic to “Good Corn Liquor,” but once past the title nothing at all ridiculous about its insistent toe-tapping. If ever a fiddle  knew when to kick it on in, it’s here.

You railroad types will buy the CD just for its cover art.

Honor By August
On Our Own
The odd lyricism of the band’s name brought me to this five-song collection. The eponymous “On Our Own” might be a keeper, but a third listening to the sample on My Wish List is giving me second thoughts.

Hold on just a minute here. I can do better while you’re making up your mind about the boys on the bus. (See the b&w photo of the cover.)

Nathan Hamilton
Six Black Birds
That Nathan the cynic knows that “even the sweetest of saints show their teeth sometimes.”  From “Teeth,” the first song for your consideration here.

Well, they’ll cram your nose with cocaine,
And they’ll pack your head with lies.
And with every taste of bitterness
A piece of sweetness dies.

And they’ll cover you with their roses,
And they’ll fill your cup with wine.
While they’re offering you riches,
They’ll be stealing your ass blind.

Armed now with this world-weary wisdom, I think you should listen to “Green and Gold” and “The Cut.” And remember, that Nathan the marketer puts some time between his CD releases, so a full-album purchase might make some sense.

Cody Canada and the Departed
Hold your ears, Mom; CC drops an F-boom not ten seconds into “Comin to Me,” Cody no friend to apostrophes in the first of my definite buys. “Easy” also, with its bloody knuckles and a woman to love.

Cross Canadian Ragweed fans will be thrilled to know that our buddy Canada has found another notch on the old reverb. So sit there and shake while you listen to “Great Big Nothin” and “Inbetweener,” a hint of B3 underneath the latter.

Miles from Nowhere
Miles from Nowhere
Among that shameful number above, the nearly two thousand songs in my library, there lurk bands with some Nashvillean sameness about them. Unavoidably, I suppose, as every little town in Texas puts forward its homegrown bar band of the moment. So the two songs recommended from MfN by MfN – “Nice” and “November” – twang together with worthy echoes of The Britt Lloyd Band, The Ryan Bales Band, The Scott Wiggins Band, The Tyler McCumber Band, and on. And on.

 More than enough for now, but kindly check back soon. Houston Marchman just demands some ink.