Editor’s Note: Lubbock Releases will be a four-part series focusing on 2014 Lubbock/West Texas album and EP releases. They’ll cover a three-month period. Part I will focus on albums released from late December to March.
After a couple of years of studio work, Lubbock songwriter Kenneth O’Meara finally released his debut record God of Wind this March. Luckily, it’s all been worth the wait. With the help of fellow Lubbock songwriter Charlie Stout, O’Meara built the 10 track record by trial and error. In the end, GoW is through and through one of the strongest Lubbock records in recent years. It’s best when O’Meara paints the lonesome, empty highways of the plains on country-folk ballads such as “Before The Drought” and “When the Road Ends.” Country rockers “Dixie’s Daughter” and “Chicken Bones” may bring more energy, but they still bring just another aspect of life in West Texas.
Listen to “Flood” below.
Ross Cooper’s Give It Time finally got its official release earlier this March, but for a lot of you, you’ve been able to get your hands on it from the past couple months at Cooper shows. The now Nashville-based Cooper has always written songs that have a pop sensibility to them, but this time around, it feels as though Cooper’s really hit his stride. With that though, I still think Cooper is trying to expand his horizons with songs that are a bit more country like standout “Your Heart’s My Home.” There’s a few more laid back country crooning moments, but still, Cooper’s at his best playing alt. country rockers like “Mary” and “Girl From the Diner.”
Listen to “Mary” below.
The former Maines Brothers Band frontman is a few solo records past those memorable MBB records from the ’80s. His most recent is the excellent The Magic Train. Maines once again proves to be one of Lubbock’s best singer-songwriters, even when he’s often overlooked by fellow alternative country revolutionists Joe Ely, Butch Hancock, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Terry Allen. The Magic Train’s best quality is Maines never taking anything too serious. Take the circusy moments on opener “the Magic Train.” Add the bluegrassy gospel tune “One Grain of Sand” and back porch folky tune “Goin’ Fishin'” and the feeling is pretty clear that Maines’ enjoying himself more than anything. It’s a collection of tunes I’m sure he’d have been more than happy enough just playing at home. Luckily for us, he’s shared them with us.
Listen to “Face of The Moon” below.
You’re selling Cody Jasper short if you think he’s just a blues rocker. For just a nine track album, Jasper covers a lot of ground within the 37 minutes of play. He goes from Saturday night rockers such as “Cherry Pie” and “Evil Woman” to exhaling on Sunday morning reflections like “Holy Water” and “Mona Lisa.” That’s where the beauty of the record really shines through. For more on Jasper, read our previous interview with him here.
Find It Here: iTunes
Listen to “Mona Lisa” below.
You’d be an idiot to ever doubt Don Williams’ southern country croon. The Floydada-native may be turning 75 come May, but his voice is as strong and clear as it’s ever been. Reflections sounds like it could have all been recorded back in ’79. It’s not just Williams’ voice either; it’s everything. For someone who’s always been as traditional country as can be, Reflections is a nice turn of the page without feeling too nostalgic or worn thin. The sound that Williams helped craft sounds as good in 2014 as it did back three decades. At this point, Williams knows exactly how to get the most out of a song. Standouts include the excellent cover of the Townes Van Zandt standard “I’ll Be Here In The Morning” and Merle Haggard’s “Sing Me Back Home.” Hell, maybe Williams will be the leader of a country music revolution.
Find It Here: iTunes
Listen to “I’ll Be Here In The Morning” below.
Two Wolves is the debut EP from Lubbock folk song writer Dave Martinez. Martinez has been honing in on his songwriting skills for the past couple years. Martinez could have easily thrown an album or EP out before this time, but that patience has certainly paid off. Waiting on the right songs can make all the difference. The five song starter is mainly new, fresh songs–for the most part, less than a year old. Though it’s just Martinez with an acoustic and some timely harmonies from vocalist Callie Weaks (Martinez and Weaks have also formed a duo called Neem) this time around, it creates a fresh, spring breezy atmosphere. Martinez and Weaks both have strong, yet vulnerable quivers in their vocals. It adds a good dose of sincerity to the whole mix.
Listen to “Number 7” below.
Mitch Rambo’s self-titled EP is secretly one of the best collections of songs in Lubbock. They’re stark and minimal at times (like on “A Thinker’s Plea” below) and bluesy slow burners (“Untitled 1”). Rambo and The Watery Graves dabble back and forth in genre styles on the five song EP. More than anything, it’s a teaser to what’s to come from the band. You get a sense that they’re still trying to figure exactly what they’re wanting to do. While the entire EP is solid, Rambo really shines brightest on the back to back combination of “A Thinker’s Plea” and “Untitled 1.” Lyrically, “A Thinker’s Plea” says so much with just the bare minimum amount of words.
Listen to “A Thinker’s Plea” below.
These dudes know what they want now. They know what they’re doing. They’ve found a solid formula on what makes a surf-rock tune work in Lubbock dive bars, garages, and basements. Boogie Till Ya Puke finds the Dry Heeves with their first actual full length record. It’s still reverb heavy on the vocals, but unlike their first EPs, it’s not overly saturated in unrecognizable lyrics. Songs such as “What’s Your Name?,” “’90’s Prom Song,” “The Swell,” and the aptly titled “Dirt Surf” all make you wonder where’s the beach in Lubbock. While they take obvious lessons from psych punk acts like Ty Segall, Mikal Cronin, Black Lips, and Thee Oh Sees, their true nods are at ’50s and 60s surf rock bands like The Ventures and The Shadows.
Listen to “What’s Your Name?” below.
Veda Moon at this point has to be one of the premier indie rock bands in West Texas. The jazzesque compositions from the three-piece weave elegant dreamscapes. There’s this calming coolness sense from the Yesterday’s Souls. Yesterday’s Souls’ “Well Under Spell” and “Sleepwalker” are simply amazing works of art. You just want them to go on forever (Is there maybe an unreleased 30-minute version of “Well Under Spell” by chance?). Vocalist Kayaki Howle has a surprisingly giant voice. It’s smooth and soaring at times without ever sounding overbearing or tense. Like Dry Heeves, Veda Moon would achieve more in a market like Austin, Brooklyn, or L.A. Though I’m sure that’s also what makes both bands create such dynamic, interesting music–Lubbock’s isolation.
Find It Here: You’ll have to get it at Ralph’s Records.
Listen to “Well Under Spell” below.
Dave, one half of hip-hop duo The Mohicans, released the mixtape Light. late last year. He’s back again with another mixtape titled Where’s Dave? It’s another collection of strong, cerebral, stream of consciousness verses. Overall, it’s not as strong as Light., but serves as something nice to hold us over until The Mohicans’ next batch of collab songs. Standouts: “’95” and “Getaway.”
Find It Here: BandCamp
Listen to “’95” below.
David L. Puga’s Die On My Feet more than anything, feels like it could have been hatched after multiple viewings of David Fincher films. It’s dark, creepy, and industrial throughout with breaks of subtle eerie calmness. There’s beeps and boops that light up like red lights, but the true greatness from the record is the wall of engulfing black waves. According to Puga, the entire record is an exercise on the thoughts about “When the world as we know it ends, what does it mean to survive, what does it mean to live?” Die On My Feet stands well enough on its own without that backing it, but certainly can help other listeners get a better grasp of what’s going on in DOMF.
Listen to “Vicious Cycle” below.
I just happened to stumble upon this collection of ambient, meditative songs from guitarist Connor Sorensen. The Starfruit Isles is a bit of a solo side-project for Sorensen (He’s also in a band called Tiger/Coast). There’s a definite post-rocky vibe throughout the 11 song release. Some songs are straight instrumentals while others have sparse lyrics. The album’s opus is the 10-minute piece “Maritime Province,” which plays like an important scene in a film. I’ve always enjoyed minimalist music expressions without having a definite reason why. Maritime Province is no different. It’d probably be too harsh to call it “background music,” but that’s partly what makes it so relaxing and great. It floats to the back of the room and hovers.
Find It Here: BandCamp
Listen to “Star Pattern” below.
Most Likely Released By Next Time
TBD Erick Willis
Welcome To The Freak Show Phlip Coggins
The Dignity of Movement Slow Relics
Go Thank Yourself Tori Vasquez
TBD Ivory & Ash
TBD Daniel Markham
TBD Front Porch Family Band
Bury The Hatchet Benton Leachman
Reckless Heart Brandon Adams & The Sad Bastards
TBD Lora Markham
TBD Amanda Goebel
TBD The Mohicans
TBD Wade Bowen