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{Brad's Corner} December 2014: Getting Away To Get Back

{Bradís Corner}

The holiday season is always one of reflection, even if subconsciously.  At the store the other day, I saw a giant display of shiny, new bicycles waiting for their new homes.  This definitely took me back to some of my own favorite Christmas gifts growing up and certainly my own rad BMX, Evil Kneivel days.

When I was a little kid there was nothing better than hopping on my black and gold Huffy and hoofing it around the neighborhood or up to my family’s full service gas station (back when such things existed). Along the way my imagination would take over and I would envision myself as the pilot of a big jet plane, an astronaut, a race car driver, a monster truck car crusher and more all in one trip.

As I got older, I graduated from Huffy to Mongoose to Suzuki, Honda and Kawasaki. My friends, cousins and I became big time dirt bike enthusiasts and racers. And as I got further involved in these new, grand machines my imagination ran more rampant. I was Bob Hanna and Ricky Johnson and if I was dared I was the aforementioned Evil Kneivel. I can still vividly remember crisp fall afternoons spent inhaling the cold Texas air through my helmet as I flew through the air and took in the big blue skies. For those few brief seconds I would forget everything except the breathtaking awe of the skyline‚Ķtrees, roofs, whatever got in the way. Around the end of this … Keep Reading

{Review} Welcome to the Big World, Adam Hood

big_1412275711welcometothebigworld260Adam Hood continues the onslaught of outstanding releases here in the last couple months of 2014 (Wade Bowen, Stoney LaRue). ¬†His latest, Welcome to the Big World, continues his streak of releasing fully-realized songs and albums that mix elements of country, blues, soul and rock better than any other contemporary artist. ¬†The proud native Alabaman has been an honorary Texan for well over a decade. ¬†The reason being, that as the mainstream of Texas Music has veered closer to Nashville caricature each year, Hood has maintained a hard-earned and original artistic vision. ¬†Hood’s songwriting is always rooted in his real life. ¬†He does a better job than most of making the most personal become the most easily accessible. ¬†Meaning that although these songs are straight from his soul in Opelika, AL they can hit your heart as true in Anywhere USA.

The songs on Welcome to the Big World evoke an artist trying his best to maintain a balance between home and the road. ¬†This has been a common theme throughout Hood’s entire catalog. ¬†As he ages, the songs take on a whiskey-soaked wisdom that lesser artists try to pull off without the same gravitas. ¬†These songs grab your attention and don’t let go. ¬†You picture yourself as the lonely troubadour in the dingy hotel room watching an old black and white movie in “Way Too Long”. ¬† You’re the tired musician loading in and longing to be any other place in the world on “Whole Lot of Hard Work”. ¬†… Keep Reading

{Review} Look at Stoney Fly

big_1411484809aviator260Stoney LaRue’s latest release, Aviator, comes just a mere three years after his Velvet. ¬†That’s a record breaking pace for an artist who made fans wait near Guns N’ Roses lengths between albums after his Red Dirt Album release way back in 2005. ¬†Stoney has always been unique. ¬†A teddy bear wrapped in biker gear. His early efforts were jam bandy at times and full of a well-deserved bravado. ¬†Stoney’s always been one of the most talented cats around vocally, and in those early days nobody owned a listening room quite like him. ¬†For reference, find the legendary Sidecar Pub Galleywinter bootleg show with Bleu Edmondson from 2004. ¬†His own tunes and voice were there right alongside Jim Croce and Neil Young. Through each incarnation Stoney has undergone since he’s grown more comfortable in his own skin. ¬†He’s transitioned¬†from mostly covering other folk’s songs to developing his own songwriting voice. ¬†Most often that writing voice is bolstered by the pen of the fantastically underrated Mando Saenz. ¬†Saenz gentle, wry nature seems to have brought out the truest and best in Stoney LaRue’s artistic soul. ¬†They began their collaboration on Velvet and it has truly found the sweet spot with Aviator. ¬†Every track, save for a Freddy Powers cover (“Natural High”) is a Saenz co-write.

The venerable Frank Liddell is at the production helm of Aviator alongside Michael McCarthy and a host of A players. ¬†The album was recorded to tape and eschewed digital techniques that afford the … Keep Reading

{Review} Wade Bowen Lets Go

SelfTitledWhen I wrote this cover story feature piece for Lone Star Music magazine five years ago, Wade Bowen was in a period of self-induced creative transition. Switching his band up, expanding songwriting partners, bringing in new producers, booking agents and management. ¬†That gamble certainly paid off. ¬†Now as 2014 is coming to a close, Bowen is yet again pushing himself forward. ¬†However, this time it’s by going backward somewhat.

What I mean by that is Bowen’s latest record is free of the pressure of having to make it. ¬†He’s made it. ¬†On his own, gambled terms. ¬†With this new record, Bowen is free to gamble in a new way: by listening to his heart completely. Following the muse of your soul isn’t always easy when you have a band, crew and family of dozens relying on you. ¬†Free from the confines of fitting into any preconceived boxes or external pressures, Bowen delivers his finest collection of songs.

Bowen’s always had a wide creative palatte fostered by a varied. personal music fandom. ¬†Yet, the stuff he laid down in the studio always maintained a heavy, serious overtone that belied the more lighthearted facets of his personality. ¬†This new incarnation features a healthier balance of “Walking Along the Fenceline” alongside¬†“Drinka the vodka!”

All of these career adjustments and freedoms allowed Bowen to make a well-rounded record that accentuates all his best qualities, but with a newfound experimental side. The country aesthetic is woven into each song via Bowen’s voice, but the … Keep Reading

{Brad's Corner} October 2014: Dinosaur Cycle

{Bradís Corner}

There’s just something about the Texas Music scene that defies logic.  It may be the staid and repetitive nature of the music the last few years or the extremely overcrowded market. Right or wrong, there is a pecking order based on who started first and not necessarily talent in many cases. Guys that have been doing it since the late 90’s, even if unoriginally and without reaching their full potential, are handed virtual lockdowns on venues and top notch musicians.  In essence, the scene is like a big high school; with several acts who should’ve graduated long ago still hanging out like Wooderson in the movie Dazed and Confused.  Texas music is like a big bubble that forces you to breathe improperly until you emancipate yourself from it.

I’ve said it before and it bears repeating. Our scene is a lot like the hair metal movement of the 80’s. It sprung out of a hardcore LA club and rock scene. It was vibrant and competitive. It was a spirited and friendly competitive environment in which the bands attempted to snag a record deal, the hottest girl in the club that night, or the best blow and/or smack from some top rate dealer. Sometimes all three in one night.

The market was flooded with wannabes, burnouts, has-beens, never-weres, talents, no talents etc. All trying to jump to the next rung.

Sound familiar?… Keep Reading