Category Archives: Alt-country

STATE CHAMPION – FANTASY ERROR

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‘Slacker Americana’ from Kentucky / Chicago based State Champion, the bands new release Fantasy Error is out later this spring on Sophomore Lounge, both the bands previous releases are in my record collection and have featured on Beat Surrender, Stale Champagne in 2005 and Deep Shit in 2011, the new album is also available on vinyl too.

Clocking in at a vinyl optimum of 45 minutes the band have infused the critical elements of rock and alt-country into a wonderfully tumbledown creation, that shakes, rattles and rolls itself along a meandering musical path.



State Champion

State Champion / Facebook / Twitter / Sophomore Lounge

Michael Dean Damron – When the Darkness Come



When the Darkness Come is the latest release from Micheal Dean Damron which is set for release on the 24th of May. The former boxer, member of the 101st Airborne and frontman of punk-country band I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch in the House, brings to bear his life experiences to create an album of heavy gravitas on which he tackles personal demons, loss, death and advocates to the right of the US political spectrum; as well as his own songs there are a couple of covers Were Getting Closer to the Grave (Luke the Drifter,a.k.a. Hank Williams) and Am I The Only One Drinking Tonight ( Doug Stanhope and Mishka Shubaly).



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Porter – This Red Mountain

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The plot.
Road-weary troubadour, moves from Alabama to Texas kicking off of a new chapter in his life with muse and musical co-conspirator Bonnie Whitmore. Falls-in with an A-team of players who become instrumental in helping him turn this corner of his life and career.


The cast.
Chris Masterson- Guitars, Pedal Steel, Vocals, Sparkle Pony
Eleanor Whitmore- Violin, Viola, Tenor Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals
Falcon Valdez- Drums, Percussion, Paint Cans
Bonnie Whitmore- Bass, Vocals
Jon Dee Graham- Lap Steel, Wisdom, Guidance, Cigarettes
Will Johnson- Vocals, Organ, Static (production)
Chris Porter- Vocals, Guitar, Songs



Spoiler alert…………..creates alt-country album of the year.

Porter / Facebook / Twitter

The Dreaming Spires – Searching For The Supertruth

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In the few days before I started to write this post the music news was full of the rather farcical judgement in favour of Marvin Gaye’s family by a US court surrounding the alleged plagiarism of the great mans song Got to Give It Up by Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke, if this is a test case for future suing and counter-suing, and I was Oxford brothers Robin and Joe Bennett then I’d maybe be expecting a few letters in the post from various legal representatives of the great and good of the music business as the siblings latest album, recorded with Jamie Dawson (drums and percussion) and Nick Fowler (guitars) as The Dreaming Spires, at one point or another sounds like any number of songs from the past, whether they originate from the West Coast of the US, South East of Glasgow  or Muswell Hill.

The truth of the matter is that despite the surface familiarity that manifests itself throughout this album, revealing and uncovering its influences and inspirations, that in order to convey a true reverence to the past then the resulting songs must resonate in the here and now with a  deeper level of appreciation – in their quest for the supertruth The Dreaming Spires have reinforced the point that there are only really two types of music and this ten song collection falls into the ‘good’ category – highly recommended and what’s more it available in a rather nice vinyl package too from the guys at Clubhouse Records

The Dreaming Spires – Dusty in Memphis

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Wrinkle Neck Mules – I Never Thought It Would Go This Far


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I Never Thought It Would Go This Far is the title of The Wrinkle Neck Mules sixth studio album, the title of the album acknowledging the bands battle against the odds (as personified by the excellent Central Daylight Time from the previous album Apprentice to Ghosts) and celebrating over fifteen years together, time has not jaded the quality of the bands music though the album is permeated with a certain wistfulness, songs with country heart and a soul of rock ‘n’roll with the vocal delivery impressing upon the listener a certain road-weariness battling with a no-surrender mind-set, the band have once again hit the sweet-spot with their own brand of alt-country-rock.

“We never contemplated that we would still exist 15 years later and certainly never considered the patience it would take to keep it together this long. We’ve taken our share of ass whippings during our history both individually and as a band. Car wrecks, scarlet fever, you name it. In the end, though, the salve has always been the music and the process of collaborating and working together. I think a lot of that theme comes through on this record” explains Andy Stepanian (guitar) who shares songwriting and lead vocal duties with Chase Heard (banjo & guitar), the line-up is completed with rhythm section Brian Gregory (bass guitar) and Stuart Gunter (drums, percussion) and Mason Brent (mandolin, banjo, pedal steel guitar, guitar).

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I Never Thought It Would Go This Far is set for release on Atlanta’s Lower 40 Records around February 17th and there is also a limited edition vinyl release on WarHen Records which is available to pre-order now, the album was recorded in a little over a week in June of last year in Barboursville, Virginia with the help of Rob Evans on production / engineering and Mark Goldstein (piano and vintage organs).


Whistlers & Sparklers

Wrinkle Neck Mules / Facebook / Twitter

Ronnie Fauss – Built To Break

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Ronnie Fauss is a regular on Beat Surrender having first appeared back in 2009 when he was self-releasing his music, after a number of EP’s the Dallas singer-songwriter abilities came to the attention of New West and Ronnie was sighed up to the labels Normanton imprint on which he released his debut full length album I Am the Man You Know I’m Not in 2012.

Fast-forward to the present and though stylistically Ronnie’s moved on to a fuller alt-country blue collar rock sound the words that accompanied my post on his first appearance hold true “the lyrics are strong and thoughtful, the vocal has that whiskey soaked edge of authenticity, Made in Texas”, overall Built to Break has a wider musical dynamic than Ronnie’s earlier work  without forsaking the lyrical content or overdoing the production; bottom line is this album is a highly listenable collection of alt-country songs and one that would have certainly featured on my end-of-year best of list if I had managed to get to it in time.

Ronnie Fauss – Another Town

The album kicks-off full throttle with  a country-rocker chronically relationship breakdown, the fall-out and destruction and the escape  to Another Town when it all falls apart, there’s a truck song too – though not the type that garnered all the bad-press in country music circles stateside last year, this ones more of a homage to  Cosmic American music , the track Eighteen Wheels features an appearance from Old  97’s frontman and fellow Texan Rhett Miller, in fact there’s more than a hint of the Old 97’s sound on a few tracks, which of course is no bad thing, there are highlights a plenty not least a duet with Jenna Paulette on Never Gonna Last and the excellent cover of  Song for Zula from Phosphorescent’s fantastic Muchacho album that was featured on Beat Surrender last year.

More Ronnie Fauss on Beat Surrender

Ronnie Fauss / Facebook / Twitter

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