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The alphabet begins with A

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So the Wizrocklopedia has brought an interesting gimmick to their Muggle Music Monday feature. Each week Laura, who writes the column, is choosing to spotlight bands, songs, or albums that begin with that week’s letter of the alphabet. I’ve been playing around with the idea and last night I decided that I want in on the action, but I’m going to mix it up a little bit.

So, for the next 26 weeks, once a week I’m going to write about band(s) whose name begins with that week’s letter. Sometimes it’ll be one band, other times it’ll be multiple bands. Sometimes it’ll be a newish band that I think you should check out. Sometimes it’ll me be reminiscing about bands I used to see when I was in college. The basic idea here is to give me a framework with in which to write about music, and to turn folks on to groups they may not have heard of before.

So, let’s begin with the letter A.

When I decided to do this project the first A band just popped in my head with out a moment’s thought. Not to surprising when you consider how much I’ve been listening to their last album, but let me back up first.

One of the great discoveries for me this year was the site Nine Bullets. Nine Bullets is a music blog that covers the backwoods of modern music so to speak. More specifically, this means genres like alt-country, southern rock, deep blues, and various styles of music that I affectionately refer to as hillbilly music. I first got into roots music back in the mid 90s when I followed a group out of CO called Leftover Salmon. I’ll get into it more when I hit the letter L, but Salmon were an amazing band back then (later Salmon doesn’t grab me as much as the old stuff, though I still suggest giving them a try). I’ve heard one person after another rave about one band or another’s live show. Be it Monsterface or the Potters or Scrub Club or whoever. And I sit there and I smile and I nod and I tell them they must be right that it was the most epic show ever. And while I’m doing this I remember dancing in the middle of the street in front of the court house in the middle of Virginia while Salmon played on a flatbed truck and the locals out numbered the freaks, but it was cool, cause everyone was dancing their feet off. Or that day fest in Charlottesville when Vince almost got himself arrested for sliding down the mud slide that had formed on the amphitheater’s hill while we all danced in the rain. Or… OK, sorry about that, I’ll stop now. Needless to say, I have a lot of fond memories that involve seeing Salmon. And then after Salmon came The Recipe and my several years as a founding member of The Recipe Family. In the meantime I indulged my musical sweet tooth in the new jamgrass scene and idly attempted to teach myself about bluegrass and old timey and other styles of music that was coming out of these mountains just to my west. I developed a mean crush on a beautiful mountain girl from West Virginia and realized to late that she was just waiting for me to say something about it.

In the end, things didn’t work out and I needed to put that life away for a little while and get some distance so I could deal with some things. I wouldn’t say I’m healed, but I’m a little better. At least this time I was completely brain dead when the cute city girl started dropping hints. And so I’ve been wondering back into some of my old haunts, or at least trying to. Sometimes when you leave a place for a long time the road back develops some twists and turns and isn’t as easy to follow. When it comes to roots music though, Nine Bullets has proved to be a hell of a good guide. The music has a little more bite then what I listened to back then, but I’m enjoying it like that. It’s a good indication that this isn’t just a nostalgia trip, but is something more real. Which makes it much easier to do things like drop $50 some odd dollars on albums simply cause NB said they rocked. Which brings us back to our first band of this project, American Aquarium.

I’ll be honest, my exposure to AA is pretty much just limited to their most recent album Small Town Hymns, which has really sunk it’s hooks into me. The songs on the album paint a picture of small town life that strikes me, as a kid who grew up in the burbs, as both desperate and honest. Desperate in the sense of trying to escape a life that seems almost fated. Honest in the way that folks who didn’t grow up in small towns always seem to look on small town life as being more honest then theirs.

Musically, the album is just the right mix of twang, Carolinian accents, and pop hooks to ensure that I’m going to love the album, even before I subconsciously start singing along to every sone whether I know the words or not.

For a taste of what you can expect, here a couple of videos I tracked down for you.

First up we’ve got a solo acoustic take of the track Reidsville, hands down one of my favorites on the album, done for Nine Bullets:

From there a full band track Hurricane:

There’s a bunch of other videos on YouTube if you’re interested, but they’re either for songs I don’t know or the sound is crap, so I’ll just leave us with two and call it a day.

So, that’s the first post in this little experiment. Only 25 more to go.

Written by Matt

January 11th, 2011 at 11:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized