New Folk Tune from Chuck Ragan

One of the great things about being an old-ish punk rocker is watching your idols grow up along with you.  Their music changes as your tastes do, both of you seemingly taking the same path.  For me, this has been the case watching Chuck Ragan of Hot Water Music fame go out on his own with his folk recordings.  Generally they rely upon acoustic guitar and his throaty vocals, giving old post-punk fans a bit of enjoyment, and sense of self, while listening to a bit of folk.  You can pick up Ragan’s new album, Covering Ground, on September 13th, and it’ll be worth it; I haven’t met a Chuck Ragan LP I didn’t like.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/YouGetWhatYouGive.mp3]

Download: Chuck Ragan – You Get What You Give [MP3]

Friday In Austin! (11/13)

revivaltour2009Friday is another one of those rare (or not so rare) days in Austin that comes around every once and a while that blows the minds of us music types.  The day is so jammed full of music goodness that we are dedicating a whole post just to Friday’s shows.  Which one are you headed to?

The Parish: Elvis Perkins & A. A. Bondy @ 8pm for $14.

Mohawk: Bishop Allen and Darwin Deez outside @ 8pm.  Tickets for $10.

Stubbs: Indie supergroup Monsters of Folk @ 7pm for just $35.

Beerland: Local boys Frantic Clam, Visitors, Basic & Hotel Hotel for only $5 @ door.

Austin Music Hall: Mastodon, Dethklok, High on Fire, & Converge @ 6:30 for $35.

Red 7: The Revival Tour with Chuck Ragan (Hot Water Music), Jim Ward (Sparta), Frank Turner, Possessed By Paul James, & Jon Snodgrass and Chad Price (Drag the River) for only $10.

Chuck Ragan – Gold Country

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Rating: ★★★½ ·

As the frontman of Hot Water Music, you expect Chuck Ragan to be an angst-ridden misanthrope, but you’ll find a different man writing the tunes on his second solo album, Gold Country.  Chuck has called this work some of the most mature music he has created to date, and such a statement is quite visible upon repeated listens.

As you begin listening to this album, you get the feeling that a lot of the songs are left over from the period when Chuck wrote Feast or Famine, his first solo outing. “For Goodness Sake” features his throaty vocals that bare witness to his past.  Similarly, “Glory” has that old hoedown feeling, with a quick-step guitar strumming accompanied by an equally paced violin.  But, you can notice stark differences on this go round–even by listening to these two songs.  For one, both feature female backing vocals, adding a richer texture to the compositions, which makes them seem like more complete songs, as opposed to simple acoustic tracks. “Glory” also brings in a gang vocal of “al la las” near the end of the song.   It’s these slight steps up that give brith to the maturity of which Mr. Ragan has spoken.

Some of the songs on this album also appear to wear the influence of Chuck flexing his muscle on the road with the Revival Tour, a collection of punk troubadours gone punk.  Yes, Chuck already has an experience in this realm, but there are definite moments that recall Tom Gabel of Against Me, such as “Done and Done.”   This is by no means a knock, but it demonstrates how experience can bleed into our musical development.

Listening to a song like “10 West” you begin to realize that you sort of feel a strong connection to the Chuck Ragan.  He’s talking about some sort of roadtrip that recalls various memories, but the recording manner that involves multiple moments of gang vocals makes you feel as if you are at home with Chuck Ragan.   You can feel yourself sitting in the room with him as he writes this song for you and all your memories.

And in the end of it all, this is a Chuck Ragan.  The old screamer always seems to get personal when he picks up the acoustic, and his lyrics never seem to come off interesting.  Most people might not call it the most remarkable thing ever, but you can see that he’s been making steps to progress, and most (like me) don’t even think he needs to.  He’s included touches of piano, violin, femal backing vocals and other ornate details that add to the texture of this wonderful album.  Gold Country is definitely an example of a growing Chuck Ragan.

FT5: Songs with the Word Valentine

0213top5coverSeeing as the Hallmark Holiday is hours away, I thought I would browse through my collection and throw out my Top 5 Favorite Songs with the word “valentine” in the title. Sure, one would think that songwriters have better things to do than sing about a nonsensical holiday with little or no meaning, but then again, they are just love songs in the end, aren’t they? Some of these bands have made appearances on our lists before, and some you might not be aware of, until now that is. So here is to you and yours on this most sacred of holidays. I hope your Valentine’s Day is as good as these songs.

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FT5: Bands to See at FFF Fest

We here at ATH are getting really pumped about this weekend’s Fun Fun Fun Festival.  But, as we all know, it’s difficult to figure out who to see when there are so many bands playing.  You have time conflicts, you don’t know who some of the bands are and you wonder who will put on the best show?  Well, our Friday Top 5 is a compilation of bands that ATH is excited to see.  Hopefully this helps you make some decisions before you head out to the festival.  We’ve also got some MP3s you can stream for each band in the list, so fire up the ATH Radio and enjoy.

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