The New Slang Podcast: Episode 025 John Baumann

by: Thomas D. Mooney
Editor-in-Chief

Episode 025 finds us speaking with singer-songwriter John Baumann after a weekend run with stops in Alpine, San Angelo, and Lubbock. After the release of last year’s Vices and collaborations and co-writes with the likes of Wade Bowen, Cory Morrow, and Pat Green in the works, Baumann is steadily becoming one of Texas’ finest and most sought out songwriters of the day. Baumann’s Texan drawl and storyteller mentality often finds himself compared to the likes of Texas mainstays like Jerry Jeff Walker, Robert Earl Keen, and Jack Ingram. With a new album with a late Winter/early Spring release date in the works, the up and comer seems poised to break out of the pack. On this episode, we discuss the current political climate and its’ impact on social media, baseball, Spurs vs. Mavericks, the NBA at large, the problems with football in the modern age, our mutual love for the southern gothic and West Texas epic No Country for Old Men–and Cormac McCarthy in general–as well as music from Jack Ingram, Billy Joel, and Wilco.

Video Premiere: Natalie Schlabs’ “Drowning In The Wave”

schlabs2by: Thomas D. Mooney
Editor-in-Chief

Last Friday, Nashville singer-songwriter Natalie Schlabs released her first full-length album, Midnight With No Stars.

Midnight finds the West Texas native traversing the ups and downs of your late 20s–immense moves in location, relationships, and family roles. It’s a maturation and growth that we typically gloss over as being for the better and an easy transition.  Schlabs doesn’t necessarily turn that notion upside down, but she does show how it’s not that black and white or simple.

The candid intimacy she reveals on tracks such as “Every Word” and “Where Am I Gonna Go” shows a rugged truthfulness we often save for conversations with ourselves. Schlabs soothing vocals echo the refreshing  and honest notion. Songs like “Throw a Spark,” “The House is Burning,” and “Midnight With No Stars” has Schlabs pulling back the layers of being in relationships. She spends time showing both sides of a relationship and how that not only affects you, but how it affects the other involved.

For the first single, “Drowning  In The Wave,” Schlabs and company drove down to Atlanta and worked with music video director Ben Rollins.

“We were playing in front of these huge projectors. While we were playing, they were showing pieces and pictures of my family,” says Schlabs. “It was kind of a weird emotional thing for me–being surrounded by these memories in this dreamy state of the music video.”

We caught up with Schlabs last week to discuss the making of Midnight With No Stars. Find it on iTunes here. Watch the music video premiere for “Drowning In The Wave” below.

New Slang: Midnight With No Stars was released this past week. Take me back to when you first started writing for the album. How long ago were the first songs started?

Natalie Schlabs: I started writing this record last summer. I had written a few songs that ended up on the album the year before or something, but most of the album was written last summer. It was basically started by me reaching out to some songwriters in Nashville. I was really scared to [laughs]. But asking them to co-write. I ended up asking Neilson Hubbard if he’d produce the album. We started writing every week. Basically, Neilson suggested we start tracking the songs. That’s really how it came about.

NS: There’s a real crispness to the album–a very cool, calm, and refreshing vibe. Was that something you intentionally wanted these songs to be?

Schlabs: I think it was the desire to have the album centered around my voice. Neilson thought it’d be important to center everything around my singing. When we started out recording, it was myself, Neilson, and the guitar player. It wasn’t until later that we added everyone else in–even the drums didn’t come in until towards the end. We didn’t want to set the record in a certain direction too quickly. I think as we started adding other instruments on, we saw what really enhanced my voice and didn’t muddy it up too much. We wanted to keep it open.

NS: This collection of songs, it feels like they’re very personal. What on the album do you feel was the most personal and intimate when written?

Schlabs: I think “Every Word” was probably the most personal. It was probably the one I needed to write the most. I wrote that almost as soon as I got to Nashville. The chorus goes “Every word I say, every note I sing sends an echoing from my head to my brain.” The thought behind that was how when you hear yourself speaking in a recording, it doesn’t sound like how you think you’d sound. There’s some weird science stuff that happens there, but that’s basically how moving to Nashville was for me. I thought I was this person, I thought I sounded like this, but then moving here, I was looking at myself questioning it. I was asking myself if that’s who I really was. It’s pretty jarring.

“Sit With Me” was very personal as well. It hits me in a different way. I’m getting close to 30. My parents are still in great health and doing well, but I’m realizing as I’m getting older, seeing some older friends who’ve had family pass away, you realize how that’s inevitable. There’s this switch that happens when the kids become the strong ones for their parents. It’s kind of looking into the future.

NS: You’re from out here in West Texas. When did you move up to Nashville?

Schlabs: It’s been exactly three years since I moved up to Nashville.

NS: There are some hints about the move on this album. You mentioned it just now with “Every Word.” How much of the album was influenced by the move?

Schlabs: I would say a good chunk of it was. I don’t think it’s all about it, but I think it’s the thread throughout a lot of the songs. Really, it’s about this massive change. Some of that change isn’t just about location. In that time, I got married, moved, and changed career paths. There was a lot of jarring changes. Some of them are good, some have been not that great. I think a lot of the album has that perspective.

NS: What song did you have most trouble getting down on paper? Was there anything you felt was a great idea, but then had trouble actually writing into song form?

Schlabs: That was definitely “Sandra’s Song.” That song was written from the perspective of my grandfather towards my grandmother. He passed away five or six years ago. I had that idea and kept writing it down and ultimately erasing it. Then, writing it down and erasing it. It’s difficult to encompass someone’s life and their relationship. I felt everything I was writing was coming off trite or wasn’t really encompassing who my grandpa was. There was so much there–just the way my grandpa looked at my grandma, I always knew there was something really special there. It’s kind of offset by the demons that my grandpa fought–whether it was drinking or the difficulties he had in his family. There were issues there that he brought into other parts of his life. I didn’t know how to write how great of a man he was with the darkness that he struggled with.

I kind of trashed and threw away the parts I had been writing and started with a whole new melody and chorus. I think I had the thought for it, but just had to start all over. I had written half of it or so when I showed it to Neilson. He sort of stepped into what I was trying to say. I think he wrote all of the second verse. I felt it was just perfect. He didn’t know my grandfather, but it felt like he did with the way he was writing about him.

The New Slang Podcast: Episode 024 Ryan Bingham

by: Thomas D. Mooney
Editor-in-Chief

On this week’s episode, we sit down with American singer-songwriter Ryan Bingham. Bingham has easily been one of this past decade’s driving forces in Americana and country music. Beginning with Mescalito, his proper debut, he’s always set out to discover new territory in both his writing and in the musical landscape in which those lyrics live in. Time and again, he’s explored various interests–the honky-tonk meets Rolling Stones roadhouse of Roadhouse Sun, the Depression-era storyteller and balladeer of Junky Star, the garage rock and social commentator of Tomorrowland, or most recently, the maturation of an evolving artist who’s still holding on to his deep roots on Fear & Saturday Night–Bingham’s never settled for mediocrity. We caught up with Bingham this past Thursday afternoon down in Midland, Texas before a show to discuss his early roots in Eastern New Mexico and West Texas, his relationship and admiration for the likes of Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock, & Terry Allen, being on extended cross-country tours, and working with producers like T-Bone Burnett, Mark Ford, Jim Stanley, and Jim Scott.

The New Slang Podcast: Episode 023 Bonus Fall 2016 Singer-Songwriter Week I

by: Thomas D. Mooney
Editor-in-Chief

This past Monday (Sept 12) was the first preliminary round in Fall 2016 Singer-Songwriter Competition at The Blue Light. With a total of 60 songwriters signed up overall, this is easily the largest group of songwriters to participate in the competition. With 12 performing each week (each Monday at Blue Light), three will move on to The Finals (Monday, Oct. 17). As an extra bonus series on The New Slang Podcast, we’ll be recording each night and streaming the songs performed by those who moved on. On this episode, Drew Cypert (Abernathy, Texas), Ben Mckenzie (Stillwater, Okla.), and Mike Stanley (Ft. Worth, Texas) perform the six songs that moved them onto The Finals.

Tracklist:
01) “Roses” Mike Stanley (5:40)
02) “Came Here to Drown” Mike Stanley (10:05)
03) “Sold Off the Harvest” Drew Cypert (14:40)
04) “The Creature” Drew Cypert (17:55)
05) “Dishwasher’s Waltz” Ben Mckenzie (21:40)
06) “The Bust” Ben Mckenzie (25:50)

Special Thanks and Notes: Sound Engineer Michael Vann, Host Jerry Serrano, Judges Jon Taylor and Rode Morrow of Hogg Maulies, and everyone at The Blue Light.

The New Slang Podcast: Episode 022 Lubbock Does Buddy Holly

by: Thomas D. Mooney
Editor-in-Chief

This past Wednesday, September 07 was Lubbock native and modern music pioneer Buddy Holly’s 80th Birthday. Though he tragically passed away some 57 years ago, the 22-year-old musician left a legacy that rivals any of his contemporaries, successors, and disciples. Holly wasn’t just a rock & roll performer, pioneer, or budding pop star. He’d established a sound that perfectly captured the essence of the times while also transcended it. There’s a timelessness aura throughout the Holly catalog. Along with producer Norman Petty and The Crickets, Holly discovered and experimented with recoding techniques. As a songwriter, along with the likes of Sonny West, Bob Montgomery, Sonny Curtis, a very young Waylon Jennings, and many others, Holly helped establish and popularize the “Lubbock Songwriter.” Those first songwriting circles and radio shows would go on to influence generations to come in Lubbock and West Texas. This past Monday, 17 songwriters from modern-day Lubbock recorded 17 Holly tracks–a mix of Top 40 Chart toppers, elegant love ballads, and hidden gems within the Holly discography.

Tracklist: 01. “Maybe Baby” Wade Parks, 02. “True Love Ways” Jerry Serrano, 03. “Heartbeat” Tanner Castle, 04. “Slippin’ & Slidin’” Randall King, 05. “I’m Gonna Love You Too” Stephen St. Clair  , 06. “Dearest” Jeff Dennis, 07. “Peggy Sue” Jordan McEwen, 08. “Oh Boy” Eddy Weir, 09. “Rave On” Aaron Smith, 10. “Blue Days, Black Nights” Colton Clarkson, 11. “Well All Right” Bryan Wheeler, 12. “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” Dylan Price, 13. “Think It Over” Grant Gilbert, 14. “Raining In My Heart” Derek Bohl, 15. “Words of Love” Jerry Slater, 16. “Not Fade Away” Bristen Phillips, 17. “Learning The Game” Charlie Stout.

New NS Podcast introduction music is provided by Bristen Phillips–an instrumental track titled “Black Horses” recorded with Lubbock musicians Phillips, Justin Lentz, and Will Boreing.

The New Slang Podcast: Episode 021: Drew Kennedy & Josh Grider

by: Thomas D. Mooney
Editor-in-Chief

Episode 21 of The New Slang Podcast features singer-songwriters Drew Kennedy and Josh Grider. Though both are Texas transplants–Pennsylvania and New Mexico–the two have captured the beauty, isolation, ruggedness, warmth, and grace within the state as well as anyone has in the last decade. Though they’ve carved out notable solo careers, the two often come together as long-time writing buddies and companions on the road–much like the run of shows that lead them to Lubbock this past week. After playing a rained in acoustic and unplugged set at The Buddy Holly Center, the two made their way down the street for another swap of stories and songs at The Blue Light. In between, they sat down and recorded this hour-long conversation that touches on the Olympics, music intake and consumption, Kennedy’s Saturday Night Live story, Smashing Pumpkins, Terry Allen and his artistic contemporaries, Texas music in the last decade, Kennedy and Grider’s time in Nashville, small town sports and mascots, the genius (and complexity) of Townes Van Zandt, Beach Boys, and Leonard Cohen, and our favorite three consecutive nights of music.

Note: At one point, I point out that Lubbock singer-songwriter Charlie Stout thinks Las Cruces, New Mexico is a horrible looking and ugly town. He doesn’t. He thinks Carlsbad, New Mexico is a horrible looking and ugly town.

Dalton Domino’s Dustbowl Sweet 16: Round 2

DustbowlR2by: Thomas D. Mooney
Editor-in-Chief

After eight hard fought match-ups in Round 1 of our Sweet 16 Artist Tournament, songwriters Ben McKenzie, Jamie Weston, Skylar Hamilton, Zach Coffey, Kody West, Eddie Saenz, Austin McManus, and Denny Herrin moved on.

Much like the First Round, the Second Round will be three days of voting. Again, here’s a playlist of the eight artists who moved on.

BWMcKenzie01) Ben McKenzie
Stillwater, OK

 

BWWeston08) Jamie Weston
Austin, TX

 

 

BWHamilton13) Skylar Hamilton
San Antonio, TX

 

BWCoffey12) Zach Coffey
Ft. Worth, TX

BWWest02) Kody West
Denton, TX

 

BWSaenz10) Eddie Saenz
Nashville, TN

BWMcManus03) Austin McManus
Lubbock, TX

 

BWHerrin06) Denny Herrin
Austin, TX

 


Song Premiere: Rodney Parker & 50 Peso Reward

RodneyParker5by: Thomas D. Mooney
Editor-in-Chief

When Rodney Parker & 50 Peso Reward began recording their upcoming album, Bomber Heights, it was last September. One year later, their third full-length is finally getting a release date–September 16. During that time, the band took more time off the road than originally anticipated.

“What we thought was going to be a little time off to make the album, but it turned out to be like nine months,” says Parker. “That was OK. It was good for us to recharge the batteries a little bit.”

With highly acclaimed producer Matt Pence (Centro-Matic, Justin Townes Earle, Quaker City Night Hawks) at the helm, Parker and company had the time and experienced guide to navigate them into the right directions throughout. At nine-tracks long, Pence, RP50PR, and a host of seasoned musicians–both in the form of Pesos and in new collaborators-crafted an album that’s as tightly woven as it is comfortable and worn.

Throughout Bomber Heights, you see Parker return to familiar subjects like heartbreak and breakup. But rather than rehashing the past, you see Parker come at it from new angles. There’s perhaps no better example of that than “The Day Is Coming.”

“The Day Is Coming” is very much like the antithesis of The Lonesome Dirge‘s “I’m Never Getting Married.” Rather than being the anthemic bar rally of a Saturday night that “I’m Never Getting Married” is, “The Day Is Coming” finds Parker in a much more sombre mood as he’s counting down the days to a wedding–that’s not his own. This time around though, it’s without beer clinks, clanks, and toasts. It’s with sobering coffee and Parker looking himself in the mirror.

Listen to the rocking ballad “The Day Is Coming” exclusively below.

In addition, listen to our latest podcast episode with Rodney Parker here.

Bomber Heights Tracklist

1. Steppin’ into Sunshine
2. Skin and Bones
3. Lewis
4. I Am a Cinematographer
5. The Road Between None and Some
6. The Day Is Coming
7. Night in My Hand
8. Ballast
9. Moon

 

The New Slang Podcast: 020 Rodney Parker

by: Thomas D. Mooney
Editor-in-Chief

On Episode 20, we sat down with Ft. Worth singer-songwriter Rodney Parker. Parker and his band, 50 Peso Reward, recently finished up in the studio cutting their third full-length album, Bomber Heights with DFW-based producer Matt Pence at the helm, their latest album since 2013’s The Apology Part II. On this episode, we talk about the album and the songs that make it up as well as their early days as a touring outfit, RP50PR’s relationship with Lubbock bands such as Thrift Store Cowboys, Charlie Shafter, and Red Shahan, his love for American songwriter pioneer Bruce Springsteen, baseball, baseball cards,  the rise and fall of Americana music, and growing up in the ’80s and ’90s.

 

 

Album Premiere: Eddie & The EAT’s Midnight Snacks

EDDIEEAT2by: Thomas D. Mooney
Editor-in-Chief

Amarillo outfit Eddie & The EAT began recording their debut album, Midnight Snacks, back last Winter. Since then, the Americana band has been slowing, but surely stacking up weekend runs and buzz in the win column. Midnight Snacks is just the latest.

For lead vocalist and lyricist Eddie Esler in particular, the album has been a long time coming. After the breakup of his last band, the bluegrassy Turbine Toolshed and a few years roaming solo, The EAT gave him some structure and the device needed to properly execute the heap of songs he’d been writing.

With Midnight Snacks, The EAT takes a giant step in the right direction as they put a focus on blending subtle moments of confession and admission with rootsy backbeats and rhythms and, at times, spacey guitar licks that come rushing from the stratosphere and beyond.

We caught up with Esler earlier this week to discuss the songwriting and sound of Midnight Snacks, which will officially be released later this week with an Album Release Show at Amarillo’s Golden Light on Saturday, August 27 (More details here). Exclusively stream Midnight Snacks below.

New Slang: A lot of the songs on the album live out in the plains. They feel like short stories that all have roots in this area. There’s a healthy dose of realism in songs like “King’s Crown,” “Dripping Red,” and “Right Back to You.” At one point did you realize a lot of these songs were sketches about folks in the Panhandle?

Eddie Esler:  I tend to take things I’ve seen, experiences I’ve had, and people I’ve met, and weave them into the songs. It wasn’t a preconceived thought to write an album of songs that were sketches of people in the Panhandle, but when I look back, most of the songs came out of personal experiences that I’ve had and the only way to express myself at the time was to put it into a song. I’ve lived in the Panhandle for 26 of my 30 years. It’s what I’ve known most of my life. We (the band) all come from Lubbock, Canyon, or Amarillo. It’s our home and what we know best.

NS: The best example of talking about the Panhandle is the album closer, “Stain on the Plains.” Where and when were you when you first started developing that song?

EE: I started “Stain on the Plains” the morning after the Blue Light Songwriter competition in the backyard of a friend’s house in the Fall of 2014. I was messed up and pissed off. I finished it at a rehab facility in Arizona the following month. I wrote it as a whole piece of of music trying to tap into something deeper. The final par of the song happened when my Navajo roommate, who never talked the month, began singing tribal hymns over what I was playing. What you hear on the record is my best reenactment of what happened that day. It was pure magic.

NS: There’s a lot of slow build up on the track. Some rustic, lonesome guitar and some sparse lyrics slowly build up into a rushing drum beat and guitars that soar. How’d that song end up building up into a lengthy, grand piece of music? Was that just a natural progression after playing it live numerous times?

EE: It wasn’t a natural progression of playing through time. It was more deliberate. We intended it to be a certain movement within the music to give it an orchestral feel. All of the parts, I had prewritten, but were taken to the band and only expanded upon by the group effort.

NS: “Flowers in December” feels like a real intimate moment on the album. That’s a song where it feels like you could have really taken the song to being exclusively acoustic. The band doesn’t overstep or play over you in the song, but they still make their presence known–in an almost post rock kind of way. How’d you guys find that delicate balance?

EE: Taylor, our drummer, brings that post rock aspect to it and does it very well without overstepping boundaries. But yes, it’s a very personal song about my time in Arizona. It’s a begging to come home. It’s missing my loved ones. It’s everything I missed about Texas. I would’ve done it acoustic, but the full band version seemed so much more powerful than anything I could have delivered. It’s exactly why I love playing with these guys–the control, the dynamics, the execution. They were able to feel he emotion of the song and bring it to life so much better than I would have ever done. It’s why they’re not my band, but why we’re a band.

NS: Part of your sound, it’s very organic in nature. The instruments feel worn in and comfortable. Aged. There’s some really grand, sharp guitar tones throughout, but there’s a mix of bluegrass and jam band elements happening as well. It’s mixed well without feeling forced. How have you guys mixed these different sounds?

EE: When we first started, I had an idea as to how I wanted to start a new band different than what I had worked with in the past. The rhythm guitar, drums, and bass worked together in a garage for over six months before ever bringing in the lead guitar. There was a focus on tightness and dynamics in the very beginning. We wanted to be a tight and cohesive unit before we ever started playing gigs. Every member of the band comes from a different background in music that ranges from jam bands to bluegrass to country to metal, hard rock, and blues.

NS: There’s a bit of a movement in Amarillo right now–a resurgence of younger bands creating a sound. You guys are coming up within that movement with some others. What’s going on in Amarillo between these bands? Feels like a real tight knit group.

EE: The bands coming out of Amarillo are so tight knit because most of us have known each other for a long time or have played with each other at some point. We show up to the jams a Hoot’s Pub, mix things up and support each other rather than sticking to our usual bands, and competing against one another. Basically, we’re all friends and love making music together.

Locating the Lubbock Sound

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