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{Review} Amanda Shires – To the Sunset

Fearless.

That’s the first word that comes to mind upon listening to Amanda Shire’s fantastic new record To the Sunset.  It’s a word that returns to your consciousness throughout this masterful collection of songs. Unbound from genre, burdened with expectation, fulfilled with artistry.  Shires’ evokes firebrands of all types throughout the ten tracks.  Echoes of Robyn Ludwick, Holly Williams, Robert Ellis, Father John Misty and Sean McConnell coalesce into something supremely Shires’ own.  Dave Cobb continues his gold-touch production streak of distilling what the artist is trying to say by pushing just the right buttons and never the wrong ones.  Each note, track, tempo, level is excruciatingly perfect.

Shires is a music biz survivor who is now thriving and chasing her own muse in every manner possible.  This record is as much 80’s alternative college rock as it is 10’s alternative country.  And, that’s a good thing.  It is different in the best way. There are many moments the songs sound as if Shires is fronting peak REM.  Set opener “Parking Lot Pirouette” and “Leave It Alone” in particular express Shires’ willingness and abilities to take songs where others are afraid or unaware to venture.  Dynamics abound in both lyric and instrumentation with “Charms” being perhaps the best example as Shires takes a simple child’s charm bracelet and uses the narrative to push a new take on the motherhood anthem.

This is the type of record that won’t just garner attention in the Americana circles, but should be a favorite to claim a few Grammy’s come next winter.  Industry platitudes won’t make this record anymore important or vital.  The fact that Shires took this moment in her career to create something so beautifully haunting and daring is what makes music the best artform around.  In the span of ten tracks, you learn more about Amanda Shires than you ever thought possible.  A true masterpiece.

{20 Questions} Garrett Bryan

Garrett Bryan is one of the most exciting new artists to hit the scene in a while.  On the songwriting spectrum he veers closer to the Fullbright’s and Kennedy’s…and live he’s Sturgill-esque.  High, heavy praise for a new artist, but deserved.  This kid is just getting started, so get to know him.  Peep the latest edition of 20 Questions below to discover Garrett Byran’s regular Whataburger order, what it’s like to fry a turkey then play a gig and why he plays piano at his gigs.

1. What’s new and exciting in the world of Garrett Bryan?

Short answer, everything.  I just released my new album, just got a new band, you name it, it’s new.

2. Name association:

Evan Felker – Brilliant

Mike McClure – Space-brain brilliant

Wade Bowen – Baby cheeks

Cody Jinks – Epic beard

William Clark Green – Genuine

-Koe Wetzel – Taco Bueno

Austin Meade – Ariel

Read Southall – Koe

Clayton Landua – Scott Neal

-Jason Isbell – Please?

John Fullbright – Pretty please?

3. What’s the story behind your record?
There’s a lot of stories on this album, but I guess the one that I tell personally is about longing.  Whether its for another person, a different place or answers in general.
Where’d you make it?  Valve Studios, Dallas Texas
Who produced it? Casey Di Iorio

4. Who is your biggest musical inspiration or influence?
Man, probably Jason Isbell. There’s a bunch, but if I had to pick just one it would be Jason Isbell.

5. You’re one of the few acts around that changes instruments during the show, as you switch back and forth between piano and guitar. What brought that about?
We can’t afford a keys player…you know anyone good and cheap?  (laughs)
Honestly, that is something that was born out of necessity, however I will more than likely always keep a little bit of that element in the live show, even when we can afford a utility player.
Which one is your first instrument?
Bass was actually my first instrument but of those two, guitar.

6. What’s your current Netflix recommendation?
There is an episode of “Rotten” about the honey trade and how cut throat it is.  Foreign and domestic gangsters dying in the streets over honey, yo. #honeygate

7. Favorite touring memory of the following towns:

-Dallas – a show I did with Chance Anderson at Gas Monkey

New Braunfels – Opening up for The Great Divide’s 25th Anniversary show, McClure was late so I sat in for him on soundcheck which was pretty cool. Then we took off the next day got drunk and floated the river.

Lubbock – There are way too many out there, and I don’t remember most of them.  Which is probably because they all involve my buddies the Forty Thieves.

-Fort Worth – Album release party at Magnolia Motor Lounge, I’m still feeling the love from that night.

Houston – I ate shark there once!

-Oklahoma City – Whiskey Myers, Wormy Dog, Sweaty.

8. Is co-writing something that comes natural for you or something you prefer not to do?
Very natural, I love being able to ping-pong ideas off of other artists.  I almost prefer it.

9. If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing for a living?

Astrophysicist

10. How did you put the guys in your band together?
My guitar player Jordan, is my best pal.  Met our drummer Taylor on the road through the bands we were in at the time.  I got word of our bass player Andrew, through a mutual friend that went to South Plains with him.

Could you describe each of them and what they bring to your show?

Jordan – He’s my band leader and brings a specific and unique approach to the guitar along with beautiful harmonies.  He’s a lover but he’s not scared to fight.

Taylor – Silent but violent, yo.

Andrew – He brings a lot of knowledge and theory to the table that is lacking otherwise.  He also brings great tone and big grin.

11. I talk to artists all the time who wish they’d have come up in a different era, say the 70s. Do you ever wish you’d have come up in a different time? Or are you happy to be professionally making music in 2018?

Nah, I definitely wish it was the 70s.

12. Stories behind the following songs:

Alaska – That’s a woman’s story of a lover that couldn’t truly commit, but she still remembers fondly.

Deon, Delray and Daddy – Based on a true story of a family I lived down the road from growing up.  My version is not entirely true, but the story resonated with me and I felt the need to tell a version of it.

Trinity – This is a horrific true story that hasn’t died in a small town and needed to be told.

Bigger The Expectations – That’s half autobiographical and half fiction.  The point of it is, never finding the way out of your small town and even if you do, you end up going back.

To Point a Finger – Just about shedding the blame that you have been wearing

-Damaged Diana – It’s about young parenthood more than anything and the love story surrounding it.

13. Who’s the most famous person you’ve met doing this?
Percy Sledge, may he rest in peace.

14. What’s your favorite story from the road…that we can print?
I played Thanksgiving with Chance Anderson Band in Oklahoma.  We fried a turkey in the parking lot, it was freezing cold and no one there.  We got our fingers greasy and bellies full.

15. You released your record on vinyl. A gamble for a new artist.  What is your preferred method of music consumption?   
That’s why it wasn’t a hard decision to make about releasing the album on vinyl.  It was also important to me for my first solo project to be on vinyl.  There is something to be said about holding that record in your hand and dropping the needle.

16. You were able to take part in the inaugural Mile 0 Fest and are coming back for year 2. How would you describe the event for anyone that couldn’t attend or is attending for the first time this year? 
I’m not saying it’s gonna be the best time of your life, but I am saying that is was the best time of mine.  Like a clean Bourbon Street in the Tropics.

17. Rapid fire:

-Favorite website?  I don’t have a favorite website…that I’m willing to admit.

-Favorite app? I dislike them all equally, but I guess the Domino’s Pizza App.

-Whataburger order? It’s ever changing, but one could never go wrong with a Patty Melt…but you gotta add the green chilies.

-Bucees must have? Those sweet pecans, man.

-Titos, Topo or both? Absolutely both.

18. When you’ve been on the road for a long time, what’s the thing you look forward to the most when you get home? Seeing the fam.

19. Favorite George Strait song and why?
What a great fucking question, probably “I Cross My Heart”. The scene where Dusty serenades Harley in front of all those people taught me to be the man I am today.

20. What do you feel makes your music different from that of other artists in your field?
I guess my approach is somewhat unique in trying to take Soul music and narrative driven songwriting…then fuse those two together in a way that sounds good.

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{Brad's Corner} August 2018: Realizations

{Brad�s Corner}

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