Thursday, November 15, 2012

Raise My Glass Album Review

I'm choosing to blog today about an album that I can not stop listening to lately.  "Raise My Glass" is the latest CD from Micky And The Motorcars, released August 9, 2011.  "Raise My Glass" is an exquisite collection of songs that range from rollicking rockers to subtle ballads.  The songwriting on this album is superb, lead vocalist Micky Braun's voice wrapping around the lyrics like light rain falling in the Springtime.

For those of you not familiar with MMC, the band is comprised of Micky Braun (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), Gary Braun (harmony and lead vocals, guitars, mandolin, harmonica), Dustin Schaefer (lead guitar), Bobby Paugh (drums, percussion), and Joe Fladger (bass).  MMC is neither country nor rock, but an excellent combination of Red Dirt, Americana, and Texas music with a blend of both country and rock sounds.  Personally, I think they are more country than 90% of the "country" artists on mainstream radio and a Hell of a lot better than anything played on your local station unless you're lucky enough to live in Oklahoma or Texas.

The album kicks off with the title track.  This song flows like a fine wine and as the title suggests, "...I raise my glass to every mistake...I raise my glass every time..."  It isn't a happy song but it's the sad songs that make me the happiest.  There's something about hearing heartbreak in the singer's voice that evokes such emotion.  This song is a standout on the album.

"Far From You" is a sumptuous shuffle about not wanting to leave a lover's side that builds to a beautiful ending.  What amazes me about these songs is that they're not your typical love, leaving, drinking tunes we normally hear (as in mainstream radio).  The lyrics are far more superior and the instruments much more subdued, they do not rule the songs; more so just accompany the singer in the journey of the song.

"A Thousand Tears" is the band's current single climbing the Texas Music Chart.  It is a mid tempo bittersweet tune about young love and should be a #1.

"Longer Walk In The Rain" is a raw ode to stumbling home drunk and a relationship crumbling.  It doesn't cover any new ground but I love the way it paints a picture of the heartbreak and the character knowing that there's a storm coming.

My favorite song on this collection is "Never Been Out West."  Written by brothers Micky and Willy Braun (of Reckless Kelly), it's a lovely tune crafted about the call of the West.  "Well they say that the mountains touch the sky...far away out west of the Great Divide...and there's fertile fields and valleys down below...and I'm telling you brother we'd be fools not to go..."  The arrangements, the lyrics, this is the perfect song about dreams, longing, and despair.

A little gem is "Big Casino."  Perhaps it's because we don't get to hear Gary Braun's voice very often in lead vocals, a rare treat.  An uptempo song about gambling, bad women, and "...this miserable city of sin..." It rocks with a fantastic drum beat backing Gary's strong vocals, the kind of song you sing to at the top of your lungs with the windows rolled down.

"Odessa Snow" is a fine ballad about being drunk before noon, snow closing the roads, and a "frozen oil rig town."  The song may be about Odessa, Texas, but it very well could be Casper, Wyoming, in regards to the subject matter.  Whatever the location, it's another outstanding track from "Raise My Glass."

The album closes with "St. Lucy's Eyes," a dark, moody song that reminds me of "Hotel California."  I try to refrain from comparing the two songs but it's more of a similarity.  The two definitely do not sound the same musically.  "...Shaking off a nervous dream trying not to think of anything...I'm giving everything I've got just to scare the demons off..."  A delicious song enveloped in mystery and darkness.

If you have never heard Micky And The Motorcars, go do yourself a favor and buy this album, as well as any of their other fine releases.  Check out their website for all the info.  I think there are more great things to come from this band.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day Is Here

Election Day in the United States is finally here.  After all of the campaigning, America gets to choose who the next President is, as well as officials in the local and State levels.

As Americans, voting isn't just a right, it's a privilege.  It's a way for us to decide how our country is run.  Some people scoff at the idea of voting, they believe it doesn't matter.  Sure, with the Presidential vote, the Electoral College has a deciding factor, but so do we.  The majority of people I work with don't vote because they either don't care or think it doesn't matter.  This apathy towards our privilege baffles me.  Why wouldn't you want to take a stand?  Why wouldn't you want to voice your opinion, let the lawmakers know that you will fight for what's right?!  When I was a little kid, I remember going to the polls with my parents and watching them vote.  Even at that young age, I knew that they were doing something very important for our future.  I have voted in every election since I turned 18.  I love that fact that I get to vote and help make a difference.  Some folks think voting is a chore, just another thing on their to-do list for the day.  I don't see it as a chore.  I see it as a privilege, it's an event!  Stand in line and be proud to be an American!  It's all part of who we are!  We get to vote to help shape America's future!  For those of you who don't vote, WAKE UP!

With all Presidential politics aside, it's also important to vote because at the local level, you decide who runs your cities and counties, in addition to what gets built or what stays on the back burner for another election.  Voting one way or another can come down to whether you pay more property or sales taxes.

Bottom line...get out and vote!  It doesn't matter if you're Democrat, Republican, Independent, or none of the above; you need to have your voice heard.  Don't consider voting a chore, consider it a privilege to stand in line and know that you've made a difference in America's future.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

2012 CMA Awards - My Picks

With tonight's CMA Awards on the horizon in just a few hours, I thought I'd take a moment to choose who I'd like to see win.

There are some standout nominees this year in a few categories.  In others, I don't even have a choice because no one decent is nominated.

I would give Entertainer Of The Year to Blake Shelton.  I have never seen him in concert, however, based on the choices in this category, he is the best musically.

Male Vocalist Of The Year is a toss up between Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton.  Both amazing vocalists, both deserve to win.  Luke has had a huge year (and has the whitest teeth in country music), but Blake has had some major hits, as well.  If I had to pick just one, though, it would be Blake.

Female Vocalist Of The Year...there's no question to my allegiance to Miranda Lambert, she's my #1 pick.  The other ladies in this category are also fantastic vocalists, but Miranda never fails to please with her songwriting, fiery stage presence, and just plain kick-ass persona.

One of the closest categories this year is the Vocal Group Of The Year.  All of the nominees have had huge songs but my pick is the Eli Young Band.  They had one of the biggest songs of the year with "Even If It Breaks Your Heart."  They're from Texas, their music rocks, they haven't forgotten their Texas roots, they represent what's awesome right now in mainstream country music.

My choice for Vocal Duo Of The Year goes to Sugarland.  They haven't had much going on lately but Jennifer Nettles has one of the best female voices in the genre.

New Artist Of The Year....formerly known as the Horizon Award...and formerly had some amazing nominees/winners.  This year I'm very disappointed in the choices.  I don't care for any of the artists nominated and do not own any of their albums.  Former winners include Garth Brooks, Travis Tritt, Dixie Chicks, Randy Travis, and Mark Chesnutt.  I don't know if this year's crop nominated is the future of country music, but if it is, thank goodness for Texas/Red Dirt/Americana music.

"Four The Record" by Miranda Lambert is without a doubt one of the best albums this year and my pick for Album Of The Year.  There isn't a bad song in this collection of tunes. 

When I think of Single Of The Year, I think of a more fun song, as opposed to Song Of The Year, which is more about the songwriting.  Given the choices nominated, my pick for Single is "Pontoon" by Little Big Town.  It was a big hit for LBT, a fun Summer anthem that everyone embraced.

"Even If It Breaks Your Heart" by the Eli Young Band is by far my choice for Song Of The Year.  The lyrics alone make this a standout song, I was in love the first time I heard the opening line, "Way back on the radio dial....A fire got lit inside a bright-eyed child..."  Written by Will Hoge and Eric Pasley, EYB put their unique sound to the beautiful lyrics and now those of us who have felt this way since childhood have an anthem to sing along to. 

Musical Event Of The Year has already been awarded to Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney for "Feel Like A Rock Star."  Not too many great choices to be had here.  Is "Oh, Tonight" by the Josh Abbott Band and Kacey Musgraves too old to be nominated?  That would be my choice.

Lastly, we have Video Of The Year, which has also already been awarded to "Red Solo Cup" by Toby Keith.  Miranda Lambert's "Over You" is the most beautiful of the nominees.  It's a sad song but the video reminds us there is always hope.  The stunning white horse in the video makes it winner enough for me.

I'm looking forward to watching the awards tonight, as always, and I'll be rooting big time for the Texas artists, Miranda Lambert and Eli Young Band.  They will show the rest of the country what REAL music is.