American Aquarium

Caitlin Cary: NC Music Love Army #1339

Caitlin Cary and Jon Lindsay formed the NC Music Love Army after a long phone conversation inspired by a song quickly written and posted on YouTube by their mutual friend, Django Haskins of The Old Ceremony.  What had started in their state of North Carolina as weekly summertime protests against restrictive state legislation regarding voting rights, gay marriage rights, and women’s health rights, dubbed “Moral Mondays,” made strange bedfellows of disparate causes within a state known for its more progressive outlook than much of the South.  The groups saw their political landscape changing, and took to the streets with their only weapon — songs.  Protest music certainly is not new in America, the South, or even North Carolina, but it’s been over forty years since so many groups came out publicly to share their discontent.  What was borne of passion for these musicians, has become the NC Music Love Army — a movement, an album, and a live show (on Saturday, 30 November 2013 at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, NC — TIX HERE).

Liner Notes
NC Music Love Army album pre-order is on iTunes We Are Not for Sale: Songs of Protest from the NC Music Love Army – Various Artists. Album available 26 November 2013. Release party extravaganza at Cat’s Cradle on 30 November 2013. Definitely get the full version with the liner notes, which include all the lyrics and gorgeous cover art.

Enjoy this download from the album:

Essential to the We Are Not For Sale:  Songs Of Protest album are fellow NC Music Love Army members:
Chris Stamey
Slaid Baird
Mary Johnson Rockers
Skylar Gudasz
Andrea Connolly
Jesse Huebner
Scott Phillips
Clay Merritt
Jon Shain
Michael Rank
Caroline Mamoulides
Jason Kutchma
Sarah Bell
Skillet Gilmore
BJ Barham/American Aquarium
Kevin McClain
Mark Connor
Whit Wright
Kaitlin Grady
John Teer
Stu McClamb
Doug MacMillan
Greg Humphries
Roger Gupton
Eddie Walker
Jason Merritt
Jerry Key
and others still joining their cause.

NOTE:  Country Fried Rock does not endorse political causes.  We are funded by donors with a variety of political beliefs and demonstrate respect for them all.

American Aquarium: Free Music


Grab this free sampler from our alumni, American Aquarium.

Listen to their interview here.

Country Fried Rock Best of 2012

Click to page 3 to listen to the Best of 2012.

Click the titles to purchase on iTunes.  Click the album covers to purchase on Amazon.

25 The Shovel vs. The Howling Bones – Lincoln Durham

Lincoln Durham started playing violin at age 4 via the Suzuki Method of instruction. By 8, he was hiding on stage facing the wall playing fiddle with the Osceola Opry–a loose association of players who met monthly in an old wooden schoolhouse to cover Hank Williams and Bill Monroe songs for the gathered farmers and country folk. Durham picked up the guitar in his early 20′s, which captivated his interest more than the fiddle ever had. Wandering through a period of singer-songwriter expression, Lincoln still felt pulled by something different in music, but had not been able to define it for himself, let alone have it clearly expressed in music. CONTINUE

24 Michelle Malone: Day 2

This album is currently only available directly from Michelle Malone HERE.
Michelle Malone was part of the Atlanta music scene that evolved from the Indigo Girls’ success, enjoying national attention for the music of Shawn Mullins, Tinsley Ellis, and Drivin N Cryin, with her band at the time, Drag the River. The confluence of blues-tinged Southern music at the time made for an exciting music scene, that was later replaced by the still-dominant hiphop scene. Atlanta is a weird place filled with temporary residents who are not from the area, but it is also a collection of neighborhoods with their own identities and people who are part of the arts culture and give different places their distinct vibes. It is from the latter community that Michelle Malone emerges, not as an ingenue, but as the definition of the Atlanta rock sound–Southern, blues-touched, guitar-driven, but still about the song. CONTINUE

23 Sweat Like the Old Days – Holy Ghost Tent Revival

Holy Ghost Tent Revival took their lowest point in the last five years and used it as a reason to find a new sound and revive their music. It’s not any easier to pigeonhole their work than it was before the departure of their bass player and harmony vocalist, but their music is definitely easier to dance to now than it was before. Despite having almost nothing in common with bluegrass music, they are often lumped in there with old time bands–great for a festival lineup, but inaccurate in categorization. Think of the Avett Brothers with a horn section, and you are much closer to the sound of Holy Ghost Tent Revival. CONTINUE

22 Two Step Silhouette – The Corduroy Road

The Corduroy Road‘s fans sounded alarm bells when the band left their life on the road for a long hiatus, but after nearly an eight-month break, the core of the band emerged with some new players in the lineup, refreshed and ready for the next phase of the band. The Corduroy Road musically balances between Americana and bluegrass in the dance-able area we refer to as “upbeat string band.” Their songs make you move, and you might even miss the weight of some of their lyrics, such as a hunter stumbling upon a meth lab in the woods where the meth-farmer and sheriff are in cahoots. Southern Gothic lyrics to outsiders, perhaps, but just another day in the country to some of us enmeshed in baffling small-town alliances. CONTINUE

21 Death of a Decade – Ha Ha Tonka

Ha Ha Tonka records flow thematically, bound together by a premise or idea, but not so tightly as to be concept albums. Initially, the themes were obvious, like Buckle in the Bible Belt, moving towards historical, as evidenced in the album artwork for Novel Songs of the Nouveau South, but for their recent record, Death of a Decade, the idea that emerged from which these songs began surprised me: Michael Jackson’s death. As Brett Anderson explains, every decade their seems to be some iconic political or entertainment figure who passes away, somehow creating endpoints for their times by their death. Jackson was a controversial figure in life, but even his greatest detractors accede that he was one of the greatest entertainers of our era. With Michael Jackson’s passing, it was the death of a decade. CONTINUE

20 Come Home to Me – The Famous

The Famous bring together a punk influence with traditional country, yielding music that seems to emerge only from California. I always imagine skateboarders who listen to country, not for the irony, but for the cool-factor. In the case of The Famous, though, their music is as much a product of the craft brewing scene as anything else. From brew pubs to brew fests–even a song in homage to their favorite beer–The Famous have found a well-heeled, selective audience for their music in the greater San Francisco Bay region. CONTINUE

19 Waiting All Night – Derek Hoke

Derek Hoke left rock and roll in the dust years ago, finding a new sound, which he dubbed “Quietbilly,” a gentle, sweet rockabilly, now twinged with some Southern blues. His previous album, Goodbye Rock and Roll, clearly cemented Hoke’s distinguishable sound, but his recent release, Waiting All Night, explores a wider variety of rhythm, while still being a Derek Hoke record. Producer and childhood friend, Dexter Green (of Sea Lab Sound), partnered with Hoke on the project, taking their time to call upon friends to play on songs between their own touring schedules. The list of guests reads like a Who’s Who of East Nashville and legendary sidemen, and reflects on Derek’s ability to make his peers feel at ease. CONTINUE

18 Bird In The Tangle – Brett Detar

When Brett Detar ended his band, The Juliana Theory, he was not sure he would ever play music again. Seeking a change, he became the customer service department and chief stain remover for his wife’s vintage clothing shop. Detar fully escaped music, trying to evade his self-doubt about his ability to write songs or be an artist at all. During these years, every scrap of paper of a lyric or theme crammed into a box, waiting for Detar to make them into music. CONTINUE

17 Slowburner – The District Attorneys

The District Attorneys live across north Georgia, ranging from Atlanta to Athens, managing to bridge the musical divide of these very different cities–one that is much wider than the lanes of I-85.  With two homemade EP’s (which you can download for free from the band) and their first full-length record on This Is American Music, The District Attorneys have already refined their sound, bringing bare bones indie-pop together with twangy Georgia roots, as if they are the new representatives of Southern jangle pop.  Slowburner solidly places this band in with the list of best debut albums in roots music this year.  (So, I am biased. I love this record.) CONTINUE

16 Gloryland – Kevin Gordon

Kevin Gordon’s album, Gloryland, explores the blues side of roots music, with lyrics that would make the Drive-By Truckers jealous.  Gordon grew up in Monroe, Louisiana, and although he has been away for decades, the reality of life there and the people he knew bring grit to rural life without glorification.  Glorylandis not about redemption or salvation, and definitely not about glossing over the seamy and sadistic side of life in the deep South. CONTINUE

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#1235 American Aquarium

American Aquarium‘s sixth album, Burn. Flicker. Die. , extends the reach of the North Carolina band, down I-95 and across I-20 to Texas. For the past five years, American Aquarium has toured 300 dates per year, mainly within the Southeast, yet their foray into Texas led them to Red Dirt and Texas Country music, expanding their fan base and the music that speaks to their songwriter, BJ Barham. Until January of this year (2012), all of these dates happened due to Barham’s alter ego, Bradley Thompson, chief booking agent and public relations magnate. Many independent bands use this ruse, but few are as successful playing this game as he was.

Barham’s professionalism and singular focus forging American Aquarium into his lifelong career, and not just a hobby, have yielded natural and sometimes painful changes along the way. From the early days of a rotating cast of friends and players for occasional local gigs, through statewide and then regional touring, to constantly living on the road with a band that’s been “all in” for the last four years, Barham’s vision does not allow slackers. The beauty of bringing on management, a tour manager, and press is that Barham is free to be part of the band–grumbling about wake-up calls with the guys, instead of being the band mother and father keeping everyone on the path.

One of the intentional sonic choices of American Aquarium that intrigues us is their choice to work with different producers for each record. All of Barham’s songs begin as folk songs on acoustic guitar. As the band line-up has solidified in the last few years, the method in which a song develops has naturally changed, too. At first, songs were fleshed out with Barham’s supervision, and now they blossom from their origins with more trust and input from the band members themselves. Choosing different producers brings a different shine to each record. From legendary Southern musician, Chris Stamey (Alex Chilton, Mitch Easter, The dB’s, Scott Litt–we’re all about the six degrees of R.E.M.), producing Dances for the Lonely (calling upon backing vocals from Caitlin Cary of Whiskeytown again), to stretching their comfort zone by writing all the songs in the studio, writing in the morning, recording in the afternoon, mixing in the evening and never looking back on Small Town Hymns, to ultimately determining that they were a band who needs to let songs find themselves on the road first, and record them in a comfortable setting with friends.

The latter is how American Aquarium ended up working with Jason Isbell to produce Burn. Flicker. Die. Recorded by Jimmy Nutt at the Nutthouse in Sheffield, Alabama, the Muscle Shoals influence and critical ear of legends who happen to be friends, made this studio process the most comfortable and creative thus far. When hanging out playing pool a couple years ago, Isbell goaded Barham, “When are you gonna let me produce one of your records?” and Barham jokingly replied, “You got the next one!” Once the guys were ready to record, the band mates did not believe Isbell had really offered to produce with them. Barham called him up, and within two days had the studio and dates lined up. Working with peers whom they trust and respect brings American Aquarium’s music to new levels with each release.

AmericanAquarium.net

Songs in this radio show include:

  • American Aquarium Burn. Flicker. Die. “Cape Fear River,” “Savannah Almost Killed Me,” “Saturday Nights”
  • Ryan Adams Heartbreaker [Explicit] “To Be Young” (NOTE: This song is not explicit.)
  • J Roddy Walston and the Business J Roddy Walston And The Business “Pigs & Pearls”
  • The Hold Steady Separation Sunday “Stevie Nix”
  • The Lumineers The Lumineers “Flapper Girl” (partial song at the end of the episode) NOTE: We chose the Lost Attic Tapes version, currently available legally, for free on Noisetrade, but we do not know how long it will remain available there.
  • Corb Lund Cabin Fever “Bible on the Dash” (featuring Hayes Carll) NOTE: We purchased the original version of this record, and only recently learned of the Deluxe Edition. You should buy the Cabin Fever (Limited Deluxe Edition). 😉 Even more awesomeness.


NOTE: Burn. Flicker. Die. will not be released until Tuesday, when we will add those songs to the Spotify player.