Muscle Shoals

Shonna Tucker & Eye Candy #1334

If you think you know Shonna Tucker from her years playing bass with Drive-By Truckers, then you are in for a surprise with her debut album of her songwriting with her new band, Eye Candy. The songs are sweet, fun, grooving, mellow, occasionally dark and reflective — a nice analogy for her last couple of years. Given the amazing band of John Neff (another former Trucker and player on nearly every record out of Athens in the last 15 years that I can recall), Bo Bedingfield, Clay Leverett, and Neil Golden, the record could easily move into heavier territory, but Tucker’s voice keeps it lighter and balances the monster playing. A Tell All has instant sing-alongs and lyrics that will make you laugh aloud, but also some deeper themes that are even a bit disturbing. If you are looking for a repeat of her previous band, you will not find it in this album; if you are looking for a solid hang out and have a mellow happy time, or weekend morning drive record — with a fantastic band and guest keys from Spooner Oldham — then you will be thrilled with A Tell All. Be sure to order the recipe poster, designed by our alum, Jack Logan, with Shonna Tucker’s recipes!

Liner Notes

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SteelDrivers #1320

How does a band survive when its founder leaves — and their lead vocalist moves on? The SteelDrivers demonstrate their resilience as a band with Hammer Down, their latest album with their current lineup. Bass player, Mike Fleming, shares his own musical path to bluegrass, shaped by The Beatles and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and the influences of the other band members that keep The SteelDrivers on the edges of their genre and bring in audiences who otherwise do not care for bluegrass — even attracting such notable fans as Adele.



Download here or on iTunes.

Browan Lollar #1319

Browan Lollar released For The Givers And The Takers, an EP of his songs backed by someone from each of the hottest bands in Alabama right now in the studio, then promptly joined St. Paul & The Broken Bones on-the-spot one week later.  In the craziness that ensued with joining that fantastic band, Lollar’s EP may not have gotten the attention it should.  As an artist, Lollar is more than a go-to guitar slinger, he also is a visual artist with many notable album covers in his portfolio.  He prefers a complicated scratch-etch with colored India ink method that yields intense designs  that lend themselves to graphic replication, and creatively, this allows him to distill the music he hears on an album into a visual thought that adds to the story.  Although you may know him more for playing with some other bands, Browan Lollar’s EP demonstrates that he has a lot to offer of his own music as well.

Buy For the Givers and the Takers here or Browan Lollar on iTunes.

Liner Notes
The Pollies Where the Lies Begin
St. Paul & The Broken Bones Free EP
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit (Deluxe)
Big Star #1 Record/Radio City
The Bear Overseas Then Under
Doc Dailey & Magnolia Devil Victims, Enemies & Old Friends The song in this radio show is from their previous album, but they have a new one, too: Catch the Presidents
Pine Hill Haints Ghost Dance
Etta James Tell Mama The Complete Muscle Shoals Sessions

Browan Lollar For The Givers & The Takers I don’t do track by tracks reviews, but I’ll give my impressions of some of these songs because I really like them.
“Freight Train Heart” reminds me of the Replacements a little bit. You know I love them times eleventy zillion.
“Cars” I don’t think they know each other, but this song reminds me of The District Attorneys.
“Hotel Bars and Ringing Ears” Mellow interlude.
“One In Every Color” Intro builds like something familiar? What is it? This song has the lyrics for the title, “For the givers and the takers,” a phrase used regularly by my best friend. This is a dark tune…
“30 Nails” A delicate duet about divorce, that has a shift midway and the instrumentation really spreads the mood. I’m struck by the comments made by BJ Barham of American Aquarium on one of their songs about Bill Corbin’s divorce, “This is a song about divorce and how much it sucks.”

Here’s a gallery of some of Browan’s album cover art:

Contact Browan Lollar for cover art work through Twitter @BrowanLollar

Eddie Hinton: Letters from Mississippi

Some super-cool re-issued music from Muscle Shoals, Alabama!

Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section Album Re-Issued

Holy shamoly! This is super cool!

The original Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section album re-issued for the benefit of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame!

Please support this cause.

#1241 The Pollies

The Pollies’ record almost did not happen. Songwriter, Jay Burgess, began recording some of the songs nearly 2 years ago, in what he now considers demo tapes, but the intent was not to make a record; it was merely a side-project from his previous band, Sons of Roswell. As it became apparent that Sons of Roswell were fading away, Burgess’ writing never ceased, and the demo recordings became more of a focus. Fellow musician friends from the Shoals area of Alabama (the “Quad Cities”) came and went with the project, leaving national acts to go solo again and others finding an international audience seemingly overnight for their other bands. Thus has been the whirlwind impacting what has ultimately become Where the Lies Begin, The Pollies’ debut record on This Is American Music record label.

Essentially, the album was recorded twice. Chris James (also formerly of Sons of Roswell), Daniel Stoddard (who also plays with Dylan LeBlanc), Matt Green (also with Belle Adair), Ben Tanner (also with the Alabama Shakes), and Reed Watson round out the current lineup for the Pollies, demonstrating the interwoven, mutually supportive music community of the Shoals. Mutual friends’ support for the demos and internet leaks of songs via YouTube ultimately led Burgess to bring focus to the Pollies project and make it a real band with a real focus on making a record. As it all came together, the visual presentation of the album helped define its title and ultimately, the theme: Where the Lies Begin.

Chris James had the idea for a bird’s nest and reverse side of an album cover with smashed eggs in a nest for a long time, but it was in discussing the songs on this record with Burgess that the complete concept revealed itself. In what others have described as “Southern Gothic rock and roll,” sometimes the adult realization that the stories your family tells about itself are not accurate. The deeper story that lies beneath is darker, more uncomfortable, and less simplistic than the tales we repeat trying to make them be true. A favorite uncle might also beat his wife. Your granddad might have spent his life abusing your grandmother. What happened behind closed doors does not go away by ignoring it. Such are the stories that lead to where these lies began.

Thank you for purchasing the songs in this radio show! Your purchase supports the musicians and this program. We appreciate you.

  • The Pollies Where the Lies Begin “Good for Nothing,” “Something New,” “Little Birdie” (Direct from their labelWhere the Lies Begin - The Pollies
  • Ramones “Commando” Ramones
  • Doc Dailey “Picture Frames” from the upcoming release (International debut of this song!) Doc Dailey & Magnolia Devil
  • Belle Adair “No Reply” Belle Adair
  • Sons of Roswell “In the Moonlight” (not available on Amazon or iTunes)
  • Alabama Shakes (from their original EP when they were still a four-piece called The Shakes, before Ben was regularly part of the touring band) “On Your Way” Alabama Shakes
  • Jason Isbell “In a Razor Town” (chosen because the lyrics reference a female character with abuse in her past, as part of the conversation about truth revelaing itself in our personal stories) Jason Isbell
  • Centro-Matic “Twenty Four” Centro-Matic
  • Neutral Milk Hotel “Holland, 1945” Neutral Milk Hotel

Country Fried Rock


#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.

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.