Archive for June, 2017

What happened to…what, now?

June 23, 2017

The proper question is, “What happened to honest music journalism?” Or “Who are the people quoted here and why in the hell do their opinions on Texas Music matter?” There’s so much bullshit here that it practically fisks itself, but what the hell.

A New York guy killed Texas Music. Yes, friends, the disintegration of this state’s edgy brand of country rock can be traced back to New York-born Texas-transplant Jerry Jeff Walker.

Uh…come again? There wouldn’t BE a Texas music to speak of if it wasn’t for Jerry Jeff Walker. But even so, whatever the objective state of Texas Music circa 2017, it strikes me as not quite fair, and more than a bit simplistic, to blame just him for it, because practically everyone in Texas Music 2.0, from Roger Creager to William Clark Green, was influenced by him. And all of that is assuming that we take the article’s central premise is true, and it just isn’t. Not by a long shot.

Robert Earl Keen Jr. followed in the 1980s, tapping into Walker’s party anthem vibe but with deeper writing (“Swerving in My Lane,” “The Road Goes on Forever”). The rowdies were inflamed.

Really. I’m going to guess these people have never heard “Mariano,” “Jesse with the Long Hair,” or “Shades of Gray,” or, hell, even the original version of “The Road Goes On Forever.” I remember hearing the latter and thinking it was anything but a party song; the one line in the song with the title is practically the only upbeat thing about it.

Then along from Oklahoma came Red Dirt, a similar type of rowdy country but with an even more Neanderthal approach.

Wait, what? Are we even listening to the same artists? Stoney LaRue, Jason Boland, Ragweed? These people don’t have a freaking clue.

And the bit about Maren Morris’ talent getting her noticed is utterly laughable. That’s not really a commentary on said talent, but rather…well…let’s just put it like this: If Maren Morris sounded like Lee Ann Womack or Courtney Patton, who are both every single bit as talented as she is, we all know that Nashville and country radio never would have given her the time of day.

I think my biggest problem with this article, though, is the fact that none of these people bother to actually call anyone out. Are there acts in Texas music who don’t measure up? Sure there are. And we all know who they are, more or less. But if you’re going to call the scene out for its quality or lack thereof, it’s incumbent upon you to point fingers and name names. Nobody hesitates to do that for Nashville, and we ought not to hesitate to do it for Texas/Red Dirt or any other scene. Not only should that be done to make the scene better, but also to differentiate between the good and the bad. Just like it’s wrong to say ’80s metal sucks because of Poison, it’s just as wrong to modern Texas music sucks because of Sam Riggs.

And, again, who the hell are any of these people quoted in this stupid article? If it was Ray Wylie Hubbard or Billy Joe Shaver or any of those guys saying all this that’d be one thing, but it’s just a bitter gaggle of nobodies with nothing more than axes to grind for reasons that only God Himself knows.

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Well, all righty then.

June 21, 2017

So, on one hand we have mainstream Nashville artists doing a tribute to Motley Crue, and on the other hand, we have this:

What started out to be the idea for a heavy metal album of Outlaw country covers by DevilDriver frontman Dez Fafara has apparently turned into a monster project that may include dozens of songs and as many as 25 guest appearances. A project long rumored from the band, Dez Fafara says he started reaching out to folks in the metal world who may want to contribute, and he received such an overwhelming reception, the project has taken on a life of its own.

Randy Blythe from Lamb of God, Lee Ving from the band Fear, and Chuck Billy from Testament are some of the names said to be involved with the project, with many other contributors being kept under wraps at the moment. Though the album was originally due to be released this fall, it won’t likely be released until next year due to the amount of contributions.

It might sound surprising at first glance that we’d see something like this, but it’s really not. You could call it the flip side of Jason Boland being a fan of Iron Maiden. There’s at least a little bit of precedent for metal covers of country songs, with — among others —Iced Earth covering “Highwayman” and Adrenaline Mob covering “The Devil Went Down To Georgia.” And there were quite a few metal artists who paid verbal tribute to Merle Haggard when he passed away last year.

At the end of the day it’s really about liking honest, real music more than anything else, and I’ve always thought that real country music and most heavy metal had that in common if nothing else. I remember when Don Henley released Cass County a couple of years ago, I thought it was pretty sad that an aging rocker made a better country album than most if not all of the popular “country” artists of the day, and I could make a similar observation here — that is, that it’s pretty sad that it’s left to artists from another genre to pay tribute to country greats while “country” artists are paying tribute to middle-of-the-pack ’80s glam metal bands. I know that a mainstream country tribute to country legends these days would be every bit as insincere and inauthentic as the ever-popular country/hip-hop mixtape, but that inauthenticity is just yet another symptom of the problem with mainstream country music.

At any rate, I must admit I’m pretty interested to hear this tribute. I wouldn’t be too keen on hearing the Cookie Monster vocals on any of those songs, as I’ve never been a fan of that style to begin with — I much prefer metal with clean vocals — but I can definitely respect the metal guys doing something like this, at least. Considering that the album is going to have at least a few country artists collaborating, I bet it’ll have at least a few good if not great moments. We’ll see.