Tag Archives: The Pinetops

Whatever happened to Country & Western?: imagining an alternate Nashville

It’s easy to see how the mid-1980s Roots revival could have shaped Nashville into something completely different than the wasteland it is today.

Not long ago I was lamenting the embarrassing state of Country & Western music, and if you track down through the comments of that post you’ll see a couple folks, including our boy Otherwise, recommending that I investigate The Hangdogs. So I did, and they were right – Matt Grimm and Co. could flat out bring it.

It turns out that Otherwise actually knows Grimm and he introduced us, which led to an interesting e-mail exchange and my discovery of his latest solo disc. More on that in a bit.

This whole sequence set me to thinking. There was a moment, back in the mid-1980s, when something really interesting was happening in the music world. There was Lone Justice, based in LA, also home to Dave Alvin and The Blasters. Boston had the Del Fuegos. New York had the Del Lords. Wisconsin gave us The BoDeans. Read more

TunesDay ALERT: Jeffrey Dean Foster at CD Baby – the best $10 you’ll spend this week

I just tripped over this at Jeffrey Dean Foster’s FB page:

Until August 3rd CDBaby is selling JDF’s Million Star Hotel and The Pinetops’ Above Ground and Vertical for only $5.00 each for the digital download. Plus they are not taking any percentage of the sale. So get them while they are cheap and help out the artist.

If you don’t have these CDs, this offer is just next to stealing. Million Star Hotel is, in my view, one of the great albums of our generation even though most of you have never heard of it. I know, I know – if you’ve never heard of JDF, how can such a grandiose pronouncement possibly be true? It’s just hyperbole, right? Read more

TunesDay: what is, what was and what almost was – the S&R interview with Don Dixon

I’ve been a very big Don Dixon fan since the late ’70s, so when his new CD, The Nu-Look, dropped I was bouncing around the living room like Snoopy doing a happy dance. Sadly, a lot of people don’t know Don’s music – although many know his work as the producer of Murmur and Reckoning by REM and multiple records from The Smithereens and Guadalcanal Diary (as well as stuff from Chris Stamey, Beat Rodeo, Kim Carnes, The Connells, Marshall Crenshaw, Hootie & the Blowfish, Tommy Keene, Let’s Active, James McMurtry, The Pinetops, The Reivers, Matthew Sweet and X-Teens).

The new disc marks something of a departure. Read more

22 Questions with Jeffrey Dean Foster

Jeff Foster’s first band, The Right Profile, remains one of the three best bands I ever saw that never “made it.” They managed a remarkable balance of verve and melancholy, moving easily between house-shakers like “Shacktown Road” and hauntingly beautiful ballads like “Underneath the Window.” I once saw them take the stage in front of a packed, jacked house, only to open with a quiet, a capella hymn of sorts. Of course, once they had everybody calmed down, they proceeded to kick our teeth in, exhibiting the versatility and control that made their live shows the best thing going after dark.

This was back in the mid-1980s. TRP signed with Arista, but the band walked away from the deal before releasing a note, and Jeff merged back into the fabric of the North Carolina scene. His next band, The Carneys, enjoyed some success (even opening for Bob Dylan), but never came close to the big time.

Now, over a decade later, Jeff has a new band and his new CD, Above Ground and Vertical, placed second in The Lullaby Pit’s Best CDs of 1999. Read more

The Best CDs of 1999

From a creative standpoint, the popular music industry has been on life support for some years, but I may well remember 1999 as the year when we finally pulled the sheet up over its head. There was a lot of fine music produced and released, but unless you had the time, energy, and determination to go hunting for it your chances of actually hearing anything meaningful were zip.

I hate to bitch, because I’m not somebody who believes that popularity and commercial success are automatically bad. I like the idea of massive record sales in principle, so long as those benefiting are talented artists whose work improves the audience in some way. But the system works that way rarely, and by happenstance instead of design, because people who genuinely care about music are rarely allowed in the same room with an important decision. Thanks to yet another mind-numbing round of bloodless corporate mega-mergers, the range of artists the average listener heard in 1999 was narrower than ever before.

The result was predictable. In Denver, where I live, we have three or four stations that pretend to play “alternative” in some form or another. At any given moment I can flip through the dial, knowing I have less than a 25% chance of finding anything listenable on any of them. I sometimes wind up listening to commercials because they’re less annoying than the crap being shoveled into the airwaves.

In a word, the mainstream rock & roll offerings in 1999 were mostly ordinary. Plain. Uninspired, homogenous, ho-hum. Helloooo, sports talk radio.

The bad news is I had to work even harder this year than before to keep myself plugged into meaningful new music. Of my top 10 releases, only one received significant airplay. A second got limited spin, and a third just got added this week.

The good news is that if you knew where to look you could find some absolutely remarkable music this year. I apologize in advance to those artists who belong here, and would probably be included if radio and the record industry didn’t suck. I mean, if you were trying to construct a music industry that kept innovative and interesting new artists from gaining an audience you’d have a hard time improving upon the corporate clusterfuck we have in place already.

The following list represents the best releases I heard from 1999, and also includes some 1998 releases that, for one reason or another, didn’t hit my radar screen until this year.

The Top 10

1. Godspeed You Black Emperor! – F#A#Infinity Read more