Tunesday: Lucero

I skipped Tunesday last week as I was in a bit of mourning finding out that morning that Langerado, a huge music festival planned for next month had just been canceled. I had been really looking forward to 3 days of getting away, and just seeing live music. One of the bands that was scheduled to play is one of my all time favorites, Lucero.

I discovered Lucero via a jukebox. One of those jukeboxes in a hip downtown bar: dark, smoky, someplace you can both go to hang with friends, or sit and drown your sorrows as you suffer a broken heart. It was during one of those times of broken heartedness that I first heard them. It was soon there after that they came through town, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I was sitting at the bar, throwing back a few whiskeys, and struck up a conversation with a guy at the bar. We wound up buying each other a shot, listening to the opening act. As the first band ended, he got up, we exchanged a few pleasantries, and he proceeds to head towards the stage. Damned if it wasn’t Ben, the lead singer. They proceeded to play one of those sets that you just never forget, and set the stage for me not missing another opportunity to see them live.

As with a lot of music I listen to, they have that Alt-Country/Americana edge, think

somewhere between the Pogues, Johnny Cash, Gram Parsons, and Tom Waits,

with just enough punk influence to not just have a twangy Skynard cover band sound. Their early cover of Jawbreaker’s Kiss the Bottle is a perfect example of that synergy.

I’m also a big fan of Ben’s lyrics, probably due to my propensity for finding myself in those melancholy introspective moments. Lines like

I think I’ll stay right down here on this floor
Cause if I get back up I’ll only fall down more
It ain’t the liquor and it ain’t the beer that keeps me down
It ain’t the sad songs or heartache it ain’t even this town

From the song I’ll Just Fall

Or

The beer tastes like blood, my mouth is numb
I can’t make the words I need to say

She had a weakness for writers
And I I was never that good at the words anyways

From Nights Like These

If I were to suggest albums to start with, certainly Nobody’s Darlings and That Much Further West would top the list, but from my blinders on position, you can’t go wrong with any of their recordings, and as I’ve said, they are a can’t miss live outfit.

All of Lucero’s music is available on emusic.com. If you’d like a invite to emusic for a trial membership and 50 free downloads (you’ll have to give a CC#, but they don’t charge until after the first month), leave a comment with the email address you’d like it sent to, and I”ll send one your way. Shameless confession – you can do a trial membership without the invite from me, but if you were to sign up with emusic after the trial via invite, I’d get a 50 song credit

Favorite Album of 2008: The Gaslight Anthem’s The ’59 Sound

The '59 SoundFirst, let me reiterate, it’s my favorite album of 2008, not a declaration that’s the best album of the year. From the opening crackles of the old skool sound of a needle on vinyl on Great Expectations to the melancholy anthem-esque The Backseat, The ‘59 Sound is just a great listen all the way through.

The album is ripe with all the things I turn to in the music I listen to regularly—whiskey and cigarette tinged vocals, driving bass lines, and jangly guitar riffs. The subject of the lyrics tend to revolve around mortality, regret, and lost loves, without ever sounding like there’s no chance for redemption.

But every slow mans song
Is a night I’d like to spend with you
Just twisting the night away

From Cassanova, Baby!

Critics of the Jersey based band have sighted the obvious Springsteen influences (think Nebraska era Springsteen, not Born in the U.S.A), which to me isn’t a bad thing. However, they also have a punk tinged sensibility ala another band that’s still in heavy rotation in my music players, Lucero. I lament having missed The Gaslight Anthem this fall when they passed through town, however, they are playing the Langerado Festival this year, which has a line up that reads like my 5 star ratings in iTunes. Ryan Adams, Lucero, The Gaslight Anthem, The Pogues, Bad Brains, the list goes on. I certainly hope to catch them in a club on their way to or from the festival, as that’s really the environment I think they’d be best. Packed, sweaty, and bourbon fueled.

Several other albums were on my list of faves for ‘08. Second place most certainly would go to The Hold Steady’s Stay Positive if for nothing other than the last track, Slapped Actress. However, the whole album simply rocks. Also on the short list would be the Brian Eno/David Byrne collaboration Listen Everything That Happens Will Happen Today.

Other highlights for 2008 were Cat Power’s Jukebox, Drive by Trucker’s Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, Okkervil River’s Stand In, Vampire Weekend’s Vampire Weekend, and Deerhunter’s Microcastle, though that last one was only recently released, and I’ve not listened to it a lot yet, but my initial thoughts are it’s a nice change of pace from my regular listening styles.

Any indie albums at the top of your list for 2008 I should check out? I’m always looking to discover new music (especially indie bands I can get from emusic).