New West Records

Best of 2017

This week a friend described 2017 as the “Hold my beer, y’all!” to a difficult 2016 for many folks.  Music, though, soothes souls.  In that regard, 2017 was stellar. Country Fried Rock’s Top 5 of 2017, in alphabetical order by songwriters’ first names:


Porter & the Bluebonnet Rattlesnakes (Chris Porter)
Don’t Go Baby It’s Gonna Get Weird Without You

Porter was a dear friend to many folks connected to Country Fried Rock.  We chatted with several of the musicians who helped make his final album.  Prior to recording DGBIGGWWY, Porter described the record as “We’re gonna get weird.”  They got loud and had fun.


Hiss Golden Messenger
Hallelujah Anyhow

MC Taylor’s latest album should be in everyone’s playlists.  Hiss Golden Messenger made a cohesive album to share that life is to be lived, no matter is going on around us. Hallelujah Anyhow is a light in the darkness.  Music saves.


John Moreland
Big Bad Luv

John Moreland has been a core songwriter for Country Fried Rock since before the first Couch by Couchwest.  His latest album is so much fun, and the king of sad bastard songs stays true to himself while making a heckuva upbeat, dance-able record.


Jon Latham
Lifers

There’s actually a “missing” Country Fried Rock podcast featuring Jon Latham that has a terrible hiss in the audio file, so we have not shared it yet.  We found an audio engineer who is working his magic, and we hope to share that conversation in January.  Better late than never. Lifers is now on vinyl, so jump on it while you can!


Lilly Hiatt
Trinity Lane

Lilly Hiatt’s latest record lands on many end-of-year lists, including ours.  Trinity Lane is pleasant on the first listen, but gets into your head by the third session.  Hiatt has grown as a performer, too.  We saw her in different configurations (solo, acoustic with band, rocking hard with her band) for several shows this year, and each one was better than the last.  Stop referring to her in her father’s shadow;  Hiatt stands on her own as a songwriter and performer.

Ben Miller Band #1505

Ben Miller Band first caught my attention at a Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Oktoberfest event, where I had gone to see Bloodkin (previously featured here) perform and catch (the late) Bobby Keys play with them on a few songs. I was not previously familiar with the band, but their homemade washtub bass, stomp boxes, electric spoons, and other percussion kept me listening. I chatted with the band afterwards, and learned they had driven 20 hours to the show from Joplin, Missouri, where their hometown was still ravaged from the 2011 tornadoes.

Since then, Ben Miller Band has released a new album, this time backed by New West Records, and I have seen them live several times. I think their live shows outshine their records, which is handy given how much they are on the road. Currently, you can catch them on tour with Blackberry Smoke (previously featured here), and later this spring with ZZ Top. The record is good, but their shows are great.

Buy Ben Miller Band’s music here.

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Austin Lucas #1336

Austin Lucas was born into music and his latest album, Stay Reckless, shows his growth as a songwriter. Like many rockers we cover, Lucas has no interest in replicating his previous records, and strives to constantly move forward and improve as an artist. For Lucas, that transition happened in the midst of divorce and relocating to Nashville — plenty of personal material for a great album.  On the record, Lucas is backed by Glossary  (Country Fried Rock alumni) and live he has assembled a great band that has toured together extensively over the last several months.

Liner Notes

Ronnie Fauss #1302

Ronnie Fauss is not ready to give up his regular life for music just yet, but the Texas songwriter continues to release new material frequently. After several self-released EP’s, Normaltown Records (an imprint of New West Records) made it possible for Fauss to record his debut full-length album, I Am The Man You Know I’m Not.  The cryptic title belies the straightforward folk songs, and the excellent players brought in for the recording expand the sound without overwhelming its simplicity.

Fauss’s singing voice is gravelly and reminiscent of punk rock crooners, so I was surprised by his soft-spoken voice on the telephone.  He is a deliberate person, answering questions carefully and completely.  He is not winging it.  This measured, precise approach to our conversation reflects his method of getting his music out to listeners; he looks at what can be reasonably accomplished, how to make it fun, and plans specifically to achieve his modest goals.

For I Am the Man You Know I’m Not, Fauss brought some other layers to his project, including both PR and radio promotions partners.  These teammates helped bring his music to the attention of key radio programmers, bloggers, and music writers who might not otherwise have known of his music.  With the sheer volume of recorded music today, most media outlets–even small “new media” portals–rely on their trusted gatekeepers to help them filter the content.  For Fauss, this expansion team from his former all-DIY plan made a huge difference in the attention his album garnered.

Liner Notes

  • Ronnie Fauss I Am The Man You Know I’m Not  “I Don’t See You,” “Pistols in the Air,” “The Last” I Am the Man You Know I'm Not - Ronnie Fauss
  • Slobberbone Straight Outta Boone County “Dark As A Dungeon” Straight Outta Boone County - Various Artists
  • Lilly Hiatt Let Down “Championship Fighter” Let Down - Lilly Hiatt And The Dropped Ponies
  • Gram Parsons The Complete Reprise Sessions  “Sin City” The Complete Reprise Sessions - Gram Parsons
  • Todd Snider East Nashville Skyline “Nashville” Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables - Todd Snider
  • The Wayward Sons “Gaslight
  • Guy Clark Old No. 1 “Rita Ballou” Old No. 1 - Guy Clark
  • Willie Nelson Heroes “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me” (with Snoop Dogg and Kris Kristofferson) Heroes - Willie Nelson

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