Archive for September, 2014

Vaya con Dios, mama. Te amo por vida.

September 26, 2014

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Psalm-Angel Guadalupe was born Wednesday evening, September 24, 2014, at 6:10 pm. She lived about an hour and a half before she went home to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. She got to spend time with Mama and me, as well as her sisters and brother. She knew nothing but love her whole life. It was the absolute best we could have hoped for. I’ll be a grown-up and admit I was scared to watch them clean her up and dress her, but even with all the abnormalities she was still the most beautiful and perfect baby that I have ever seen. It was at that moment that I learned down to the fibers of my being what love truly is.

Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for being there for us.

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“…if country means ‘whatever,’ it really means nothing at all.”

September 22, 2014

…or, Heyyy, time for more ragging on Jason Aldean!

From Buzzfeed:

For some listeners, “Burnin’ It Down” is more “pop” than “country.” Aldean has heard the criticism, and he is unfazed. “If somebody can put a definition on what country music is, please tell me,” he said.

“I’m pretty knowledgeable in country music, and I’ve never once seen where it says, ‘Country music doesn’t have a drum loop,’” he said.

Definition of country music? Steel guitar, fiddle, three-quarter time. Add some electric guitar in there every so often. You might be able to get away with more avant-garde stuff like putting your vocals through a vocoder a la George Strait and “Stars on the Water” if you know what you’re doing. Granted, that’s only a start, and country music is more than just that, but some instruments work better than others. And some things just don’t work at all. The things you find in “Burnin’ it Down” are perfect examples of what doesn’t work. It seems that Aldean thinks that “country music” pretty much has no definition, that it’s whatever people who record music in Nashville says it is. I saw something at Saving Country Music yesterday about Country Roads, a new European-produced documentary on country music, featuring this quote from Justin Townes Earle as he was narrating it:

This is one of our few untouched things in Nashville—RCA Studio ‘B’…But then you just look around at all the crap that has been built around it. This is like the belly of the beast right here. This is where all the bad ideas are thought up. This is where all the bad country songs come from. This is where they’re all recorded. In all these buildings, this is where all the ‘geniuses’ that are thinking all the crap up and what they’re gonna do … It’s amazing to me that the people that work here now can hold their heads up, that they can walk these streets and think that if Hank Williams wasn’t here right now he wouldn’t whip their fucking ass.

Aldean was also stung by his failure to get an Entertainer of the Year nomination:

Obviously it’s disappointing. We’re still out there selling out shows. With maybe the exception of Luke [Bryan], I don’t think there is anybody else out there that is doing the kind of touring numbers that we’re doing.

Now, on the surface, that gripe might be legitimate. After all, he’s “entertaining” a lot of people, right? Well, when you look at the actual criteria for the award, the snub makes a lot more sense:

“This award is for the act displaying the greatest competence in all aspects of the entertainment field. Voter should give consideration not only to recorded performance, but also to the in-person performance, staging, public acceptance, attitude, leadership, and overall contribution to the Country Music image.”

I see at least three strikes against Aldean here:

A. Attitude: his semi-literate Twitter attack on Zac Brown and his general cavalier attitude on the anything-goes direction;

B. Leadership: With apologies to Trigger, “Is ‘Burnin’ It Down’ the ‘leadership’ from the man these people think should be the Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year? Because I’d rather shit a knife than listen to this.”

C. Overall Contribution to the Country Music Image: Well, I think A and B, combined with the perception that “Burnin’ It Down” is a window into his affair, pretty much knocks that one out.

And it’s just so…disappointing. For all I rag on Aldean, he’s actually a pretty decent singer. I was expecting to be quite disappointed, for example, with his duet with George Strait on “Fool Hearted Memory” on the cd of Strait’s last live show from Dallas, but I gotta give the dude credit — he nailed his part. I don’t know if he’d ever be on that level, but he could be at least not bad if he’d record better songs.

Oh, not this argument AGAIN…

September 21, 2014

From yesterday’s Express-News, in the letters to the editor:

I was very disappointed that Mayor Taylor refused to take the streetcar project forward, saying there was “overwhelming lack of support.” I think she gave in to the loudest voices and forgot the many supporters who wanted this project to move to completion.

Sound familiar? Think “90 percent of Americans want stricter gun control laws.”

I mean, really. So what if there was a majority of people in San Antonio who supported the streetcar? Where the hell were they? If they didn’t speak up and let themselves be drowned out by the noisy (alleged) minority, does it really matter that they supported the streetcar? Surely that “silent majority” didn’t take for granted that it was going to go through. I mean, say what you will about the project, but you have to hand it to the streetcar’s opponents. They made their presence and position known, and you really can’t say that about this alleged “silent majority.” To a large extent, the game of politics only works if you show up. The streetcar opponents showed up and its supporters didn’t, at least not far enough beyond Nelson Wolff and VIA chairman Henry Muñoz. That being the case, it’s worth asking what good the so-called “silent majority” is — if it even exists at all.

Oh, now this is enlightening.

September 15, 2014

…or, Gun geekery alert!

Via Borepatch, we have Ballistics by the Inch, a fun look on the effect of barrel length on various loadings of pistol ammunition. I had to go straight to the .357 Magnum results. Why?

Well, at one point I had a Ruger SP101, a little snubby .357 revolver with the 2.25-inch barrel. And I can tell you that shooting full-house .357 out of that thing was quite literally a real pain. So I was thinking that for that kick I’d at least be getting a decent muzzle velocity, right? 1100-1200 feet per second? (The standard loading for a 125-grain .357 is 1450 fps out of a 4″ barrel.)

Yeah, not so much. Try about 1050 feet per second. It certainly beats a sharp stick, but I’d definitely be carrying something else given the choice. YMMV, and all that…

Wow, Froma Harrop really outdoes herself here.

September 7, 2014

…or, Talk about blaming the victim:

no mildly savvy citizen of the digital era puts stuff in email they absolutely don’t want to see flashing across Times Square.

Yeah, well, email does require a username and a password, so in theory it should be secure. I understand that it’s not as secure as it should be. But where does this line of “reasoning” stop? We as a society use our debit and credit cards online all the time. Hell, the very concept of such anymore requires that it go through the nebulous medium known as “The Internet,” even when it’s swiped at the point of sale. Does that mean that everyone who swipes their debit card at Target didn’t “absolutely not want” to have their bank card information scrolling across the screens at Times Square? Of course it doesn’t. That’s silly and really stupid.  What Froma Harrop is essentially saying here is, in effect, “don’t use the Internet.” And while that might work for some folks, i.e. the Amish, it’s not really a viable solution for the rest of us.

Thursday musical observations, 4.9.14

September 4, 2014

Seen at Rolling Stone Country:

ELI YOUNG BAND VIEW CMA NOMINATION AS VALIDATION FOR TEXAS ARTISTS

“For so long we were that regional band down in Texas,” Eli tells Rolling Stone Country. “We were all kind of lumped together. I think a lot of times maybe we were misunderstood, or discounted. It took some time to convince everyone that we had something to offer nationally and commercially.”

Eli also hopes it gives a little validation to other Texas-bred artists looking to gain recognition on Music Row. “Hopefully what we’re doing will open some doors for them,” Eli says.

Oh, boy. Where does one even start with this?

You longtime readers all know my feelings on awards like this, but for those of you that don’t:

Being a fan of a lot of non-mainstream artists, I’ll admit I’ve gotten to the point that I don’t really put much if any stock in awards shows anymore. Not that I ever really did, but there was a time that I got a little ticked if my favorites didn’t win. That changed after I started getting into the Texas music scene and discovered a lot of great music from artists who in all likelihood won’t ever make it to the stage at the CMAs, ACMs, Grammys or what-have-you. Since then I’ve pretty much gotten to the point that I go, “another awards show, yawn, that’s nice…” I’d run into people here and there who would point to those awards as some sort of justification for liking the artists who won them — as if those awards made said artists better than all the others — and I’d just have to roll my eyes.

Now, with that said…

There is so much I could say to that Rolling Stone bit, but here’s what my answer boils down to:

To the extent a CMA award nomination would serve as a “validation” of Texas and Red Dirt music, it would do much, MUCH more so if it went to, say, the Jason Boland and the Stragglers album Dark and Dirty Mile or the Josh Abbott Band song “I’ll Sing About Mine.” (Or, hell, even the Brian Keane recording of that song.) It strikes me that the Eli Young Band anymore is about as good a representative of Texas music as Shania Twain was for mainstream country music circa 2002 — that is to say, not a very good one. I know that might sound harsh, but one of the raisons d’être of this music was and is to give fans an alternative to the bland pop Nashville turns out. I don’t know if I’d categorize the Eli Young Band as having sold out, as I am not sure they ever really “bought in” in the first place, but they more or less fit right in with what’s going on in mainstream country anymore. I don’t know if I’d fully commit to this next observation, but I’d just about call Kacey Musgraves as a better representative of Texas country anymore than the EYB; even if she is signed to a big Nashville label and is considered a mainstream artist, she seems to ride the line between Nashville and Texas better than anyone since probably Steve Earle.

As for this…

Next year, he’s hoping to see Texas acts like Lubbock troubadours Josh Abbott Band and traditional honky-tonker Cody Johnson crack the list…

It’d be nice, but I am not optimistic about the chances of that happening. And if anyone’s gonna be on the CMA Awards from Texas without any kind of artistic compromise, I’d much rather it be Jason Boland than Cody Johnson. I remember commenting on Reddit that JB had the best voice in Texas music, and some dude replied to me that was because I hadn’t heard Cody Johnson. I did, not long after that, and was kinda underwhelmed. He’s a good singer, don’t get me wrong, but he’s no Boland.

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Quote of the week, from Trigger at Saving Country Music, on Clear Channel deejay Bobby Bones’ whining about not getting a CMA nomination (emphasis mine — ed.):

Bobby Bones continued,

“its not an ‘injustice’. I simply don’t play the political games the format is known for. Also Jason Aldean got screwed too! Id like to thank the almost 500 radio stations Im on & you the listener for the millions of $$$ we’ve raised for charity this year,”

This charity card is another indolent, insulting, and misrepresenting card Bobby Bones overplays predictably. Just because you give to charity doesn’t absolve you of all your sins. Why doesn’t Bobby Bones set up a charity for the hundreds of local DJ’s he’s put out of work, or the thousands of people laid off by Clear Channel in the most historic and sweeping homogenization and nationalization of a cultural institution since the dawn of American media? Give all the money to charity you want. It will never make up for the damage of poisoning people with the cultural filth broadcast on the Bobby Bones Show to millions every morning.

That pretty much sums it up, if you ask me. I also saw that George Strait was up for yet another Entertainer of the Year nod at the CMAs. It would be quite worth it to see him win, just to see Luke Bryan fans’ heads explode like they did when he won at the ACMs earlier this year…

Speaking of Saving Country Music, via that site I also saw that the new single from Garth Brooks made its debut earlier this week. Saw it described in comments as “‘We Shall Be Free’ with a touch of ‘Right Now’ by Van Halen.”

Man. If that doesn’t make you run away in shrieking, gibbering terror, I don’t know what would…

Whoa, dude, get over yourself.

September 2, 2014

My gut reaction to this:

“Wow, Brad Paisley is a whiny little bitch.”

My more thoughtful reaction:

This is really quite unbecoming of…well, anyone in Paisley’s position. It’s as if he thinks he has the right to make shit music but no one has the right to call him out on it. Three things, before I go any further:

A. I realize this sort of thing (shit music vs. good music) is highly subjective.

B. I don’t have any particular love for critics on any level, as I’ve said before, and

C. Paisley may be right that “the fans know better,” as ultimately they’re the ones who decide whether the artists get to keep making records.

All of that so stipulated, what Brad Paisley is saying here is not really something one should want to say out loud, because it makes one look very, very petty and insecure. And it really doesn’t say much about Paisley’s position — or at least what he perceives as his position — in country music right now. It just comes off as him thinking the time is at hand for his career and that he’s lashing out because of that. But no matter his reasoning, did it ever occur to him that he’s held to a higher standard because critics and fans alike (but to a large extent anymore I am repeating myself — see below for more on that) perceive him as capable of better than what he’s doing anymore? I mean, he was no George Strait even on his best day, but he had at least a decent ear for good songs (“Who Needs Pictures,” “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive,” “Whiskey Lullaby,” “Too Country”) even if said songs seemed to get fewer and further between as his career progressed. But it all went to shit between his increasing penchant for joke songs, his taking himself so seriously, and trying to be “progressive,” “pushing the boundaries,” etc., etc., etc. His chickens are coming home to roost.

And here’s what I am talking about when I allude to the critics and fans more and more becoming one and the same: I find it…interesting…that Paisley chose to tweet a review from a blog as opposed to a review from a newspaper or magazine critic. All of this is my completely uninformed observation, but this suggests quite an interesting shift in perceptions — if only in the music world. Once upon a time it seemed that the only opinions people deemed worth taking seriously were those of the Authorized Critics from “official” media sources as opposed to bloggers offering their observations as fans of particular artists and genres.

Such may well be another part of Paisley’s frustration — a few of these so-called “critics” are actually fans of his who are disappointed with the direction he’s chosen to take since…well….I don’t know. That depends on who you ask. 2003’s Mud on the Tires had its moments, but I wasn’t big on the albums I heard after that. Looking back I don’t even remember why I bought that album, to be honest. It wasn’t as good as I thought Part II was then, to be sure. I used to think Paisley was decent, but his shtick has been tiresome for some time.

At any rate, it’d be interesting to see how at least the blog reviews correlate to the album sales, and why, if the reviews don’t matter, Paisley is so up in arms about them — other than his anxiety over being on the backside of his career. It certainly goes to show that he’s not the A-level artist that he thought he was. I mean, I thought Tracy Lawrence’s and Clay Walker’s respective takes on their artistry in relation to their continued relevance left a lot to be desired, but Paisley is making them look like dignified elder statesmen of the genre in comparison.

Another couple of observations…

“I control the presentation,” Paisley told Billboard’s Country Update.

Really. And this is a good thing? Whether it is or not doesn’t really matter, because what he’s ultimately pissed off about is the fact that he can’t control the reaction to his presentation. I don’t know if he said that to make himself feel better about his inability to do that, but it certainly sounds like it.

And although it’s a slightly different situation, I am reminded of the reaction to Lee Ann Womack’s Something Worth Leaving Behind. From what I understand, that album was pretty roundly panned as a poor attempt to cross over to the pop charts and recreate the success of I Hope You Dance. In other words, it was received by critics about as well as Paisley’s latest, at best. But did you see Lee Ann Womack bitching about critics? Hell no you didn’t. She went back to what she was good at and in the process made the best album of her career. There’s a lesson there for Mr. Paisley, if he’ll just pull his nose down out of the air long enough to learn it.