Killer horns, smoking guitars, tight grooving bass and drums, gritty passionate vocals, lyrically strong, bluesy, funky and soulful. With a strong catalog of original songs, The No Refund band is just flat out rocking. Do you really need to read any more? Listen to The No Refund Band and you will get taste of contemporary blues mixed into a genre all their own. The No Refund Band was formed by Mike Crownover in 2007 whose passion for music was the catalyst for NRB’s continuing maturation as unit. While rolling over one of the bumps in the road in the bands evolution, Crownover met Ricky Jackson and Rik Robertson who he hired to fill in for a gig in Ft. Worth, Texas. It didn’t take long for the partnership to gel into something more permanent as the trio found common ground in their musical interests. Jackson would become the front man, with a soulful voice and penetrating guitar licks. Robertson, a studio musician provided the anchor to the band with his innovative bass lines. Both compliment the rock solid rhythms from Crownover. With a horn section featuring Anthony Terry and Jim Brady, the result is a versatile band that can deliver everything from hard driving blues to melodic acoustic tunes that leave you wanting more.
A group of three friends who made music in a house in Lubbock, Texas, recorded an album that wasn’t released and went their separate ways into solo careers. That group became a legend and then—twenty years later—a band. The Flatlanders—Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Butch Hancock—are icons in American music, with songs blending country, folk, and rock that have influenced a long list of performers, including Robert Earl Keen, the Cowboy Junkies, Ryan Bingham, Terry Allen, John Hiatt, Hayes Carll, Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, and Lyle Lovett.
In The Flatlanders: Now It’s Now Again, Austin author and music journalist John T. Davis traces the band’s musical journey from the house on 14th Street in Lubbock to their 2013 sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall. He explores why music was, and is, so important in Lubbock and how earlier West Texas musicians such as Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison, as well as a touring Elvis Presley, inspired the young Ely, Gilmore, and Hancock. Davis vividly recreates the Lubbock countercultural scene that brought the Flatlanders together and recounts their first year (1972–1973) as a band, during which they recorded the songs that, decades later, were released as the albums More a Legend Than a Band and The Odessa Tapes. He follows the three musicians through their solo careers and into their first decade as a (re)united band, in which they cowrote songs for the first time on the albums Now Again and Hills and Valleys and recovered their extraordinary original demo tape, lost for forty years. Many roads later, the Flatlanders are finally both a legend and a band.
Paul Thorn’s new album Too Blessed To Be Stressed stakes out new territory for the popular roots-rock songwriter and performer. “In the past, I’ve told stories that were mostly inspired by my own life,” the former prizefighter and literal son of a preacher man offers. “This time, I’ve written 10 songs that express more universal truths, and I’ve done it with a purpose: to make people feel good.”
Which explains numbers like the acoustic-electric charmer Don’t Let Nobody Rob You Of Your Joy, where Thorn’s warm peaches-and-molasses singing dispenses advice on avoiding the pitfalls of life. The title track borrows its tag from a familiar saying among the members of the African-American Baptist churches Thorn frequented in his childhood. “I’d ask, ‘How you doin’, sister?’ And what I’d often hear back was, ‘I’m too blessed to be stressed.’ ” In the hands of Thorn and his faithful band, who’ve been together 20 years, the tune applies its own funky balm, interlacing a percolating drum and keyboard rhythm with the slinky guitar lines beneath his playful banter.
Thorn’s trademark humor is abundant throughout the album. I Backslide On Friday is a warm-spirited poke at personal foibles. “I promised myself not to write about me, but I did on ‘Backslide,’ ” Thorn relates. The chipper pop tune is a confession about procrastination, sweetened by Bill Hinds’ slide guitar and Thorn’s gently arching melody. “But,” Thorn protests, “I know I’m not the only one who says he’s gonna diet and just eat Blue Bell vanilla ice cream on Sundays, and then ends up eating it every day!”
Mediocrity Is King takes a wider swipe, aiming at our culture’s hyper-drive addiction to celebrity artifice and rampant consumerism. But like Everything Is Gonna Be All Right, a rocking celebration of the simple joys of life, it’s done with Thorn’s unflagging belief in the inherent goodness of the human heart.
Frank Critelli writes songs. He dabbles in haiku and other short poetry. Sometimes he writes other stuff too. Like postcards. His songs are available on compact disc and for download at Independisc Music Club and other places like CD Baby. You can read more about his music at his website or MySpace page.
Frank Critelli often performs live. Sometimes he performs solo, and sometimes he is accompanied by one or more musical co-conspirators. Over the years he’s played in streets and subways, coffeehouses, classrooms, barrooms, clubs, colleges, festivals, theaters, and (most recently) in his kitchen.
- Cactus is proud to announce a very special in-store performance and fan event with The 1975 set to take place on Wednesday, November 26th at 2PM.
- Fans who purchase The 1975’s debut album on CD or LP will receive a priority wristband that guarantees their entry to this closed door event.
- The Manchester, England group will perform a short acoustic set on the Cactus stage for the first 250 people that purchase their debut album immediately followed by an autograph session.
- There will be an opportunity for an additional 250 fans to Meet and Greet the band AFTER the performance.
- Space is limited for both the in-store performance and autograph session afterwards.
- The first 200 fans (performance only!) to purchase The 1975 will receive a free poster.
- Do not wait.
- Space for this event is limited and it will sell out.
- Wristbands are available with purchase beginning Monday, 11/17 at 5PM.
- One wristband per CD or LP.
“My sisters were the heavens / My brothers were the depths / Now I’m rolling into battle with a smoke between my lips,” Justin Kinkel-Schuster sings on “I Want Blood,” and it’s a presiding image on the self-titled third LP from Mississippi’s Water Liars. Joined by GR Robinson on bass and fresh off the success of their album Wyoming and the reissue of their debut, Phantom Limb, Kinkel-Schuster and Andrew Bryant strut into this effort with their feathers out, driven by a need to create. Forget your precious bands that take years to release their next album: Water Liars don’t know how to stop working. A punk aesthetic – a desire not to overdo songs until they’re shiny with emptiness – is the band’s defining feature, and it’s why their songs are filled with such raw sorrow. When Kinkel-Schuster and Bryant’s voices twine together somewhere in the greater stratosphere of sound, as they do on “Tolling Bells,” try not to feel like a psalm. To call the songs here an improvement over what they’ve done before would be to sell the earlier work short. They’re simply telling one story, a story that doesn’t end, about the ways we save ourselves and kill ourselves, about the terrors and joys of being a small thing in a big world, and this is just the latest installment.
What strikes you most on this new LP is the violent imagery countered with lines about love and redemption; the band’s sound – also a study in contrasts, loud and quiet, fast and slow – builds off of this. There’s hope here, dreadful and beautiful, but we’re never far removed from having blood pooled at our ankles. On “Cannibal,” Kinkel-Schuster sings, “When you taste the flesh and sweat of the one that you love / Do you feel like a cannibal?” It’s a question that haunts this collection of songs, which sways somewhere between darkness and light, between urgency and unrest. Even in love, Kinkel-Schuster’s narrators drift like worried fire.
Kinkel-Schuster’s voice achieves a new level of weariness here, while still sounding battle-ready. “Strange lands hold no fear for me” he sings on “I Want Blood.” And no wonder – he’s a troubadour and these songs are his weapons, dripping with guts, screaming with guilt, softened by the sweet blossoming of love. His songs rumble across the plains in a gritty swirl, trailed by black clouds and lightning flashes. He has a trembling awareness of the music in our blood, and he’s filled – as poets should be – with wonder and despair.
Bryant – his drums and backing vocals like a deep thread of goldenness laced through the record – is the engine underneath the hood, everything he does a rage against blandness. It’s impossible not to fade into his rhythm. Bryant started as a drummer in the church he attended as a kid, and the congregation would fall into the aisles, calling out to the Holy Ghost, repenting on the spot; that kind of religious fury still seeps into his playing and is alive here in new ways.
“Let It Breathe,” a stand-out, is Kinkel-Schuster’s tenderest song. It’s weather-beaten and weary, reminiscent of Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” in its presentation of love-struck awe. But “Swannanoa” may be the best song he’s ever written. “I
looked death in the face / It was only my father / If I’d known all along / I wouldn’t have bothered / with being afraid, with being a coward,” he sings. The song is deeply indicative of his rich personal mythology. Like Jason Molina and Jeff Mangum, his narrators are often swept up in a numinous dream of the world, in long mystical visits to the provinces of lonesomeness and fire and blood. These songs are testimonies, prayers, from the frozen ground to the dark universe of stars.
If you haven’t listened to Water Liars, let the music be your introduction. Is it important to know that Bryant is from Mississippi and Kinkel-Schuster is from Arkansas, that they’re shaped by the writers whose influence shines through in everything they make – Frank Stanford and Barry Hannah especially – and that their pain is the pain of the wretched and beautiful South? Sure, and it’s all there in the songs. On “Vespers,” Kinkel-Schuster sings, “When I left her house / It was snowing out / and I left her for the South / But who cares? / We don’t want no one to see us cry. / No, darling, we’d rather die.” These are songs about leaving and staying, about lost fathers and new loves, about distance and memory. These songs are a consideration of what Kentucky poet Joe Bolton called “a future that seems already to have acquired / The irrevocability of the past.” These songs smell of autumn. These songs are the hugeness of rain, the heaviness of breath, the strangeness of cities. Light a cigarette and close your eyes – let these songs whiskey into you, let them brighten your blood, let them be endless in the night.
Paris Falls are a rock band from Houston, Texas. With a wide rage of influences from Fugazi to Pink Floyd, Paris Falls have released 5 albums and 2 singles on their label Paper Weapons Records.
“Gorgeous… just gorgeous!” – – John Mayer
“This voice won’t stay small long. Straight from Berklee College of Music, singer-songwriter Liz Longley traffics in the type of sweet, heartbreak-ready tones and guitar strummed melodies that seem destined to a bigger audience.” – – The Washington Post Express
“A rare find with phenomenal vocal ability, tone and performance. Longley’s lyrics have the spark and spunk of Patty Griffin, her voice has the eloquence and mastery of Alison Krauss. – – Taxi.com
“Longley delivers songs that stand out for their emotional honesty”. – – Morning Call