The Importance of Framework – Backbone by Zachariah Red: The E2TG Review

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The backbone is  literally part of the skeleton or framework of the body. A carpenter by trade, Zachariah Red, knows about the importance of framework.  On his aptly titled new album, Backbone, he frames the album with a solid mix of Midwestern County, heartland rock and roll, and solid songwriting skills that he has sharpened to a fine point during his time in East Nashville.

As an album, Backbone features the aforementioned strong songwriting, along with  effective production and solid supporting players.  On “Let You Down”, a piano and solid background vocals from red hot Nashville singer-songwriter Lindsay Ellyn builds upon the framework of the song creating an emotionally powerful statement. Neither Zachariah Red nor Lindsay Ellyn are from the South, but this is more pure country music than anything being made on the border between Georgia and Florida.

“My City” is a rocker that brings to mind Springsteen and Mellencamp.  The wall of sound production ( the album was engineered by Zack Zink and produced by Taylor Alexander and Tim Ryssemus)  is happy surprise in contrast to Red’s often spare songs. “Sons of Sons is a solid toe-tapping country rock song, and the album’s first single, “40 Miles” is the kind of song you want to play loud while driving down a country road with nowhere in particular to go. Zachariah Red is backed by an outstanding cast of players and singers that includes the albums two producers and the aforementioned Lindsay Ellyn plus Drew Kohl and drummer Raun Shultz.

A backbone is also used as a symbol of strength and courage.  Many of the characters in Zachariah Red’s songs are deeply flawed individuals, and yet song after song their strength and courage shine through.  It takes a special measure of courage and strength to push forward in the face of one’s own shortcomings and failings. This kind of courage and strength is often downplayed by society, but it may be the most important and most common kind of strength and courage.

“Achilles” and “The Bottle” both represent this strength and courage in the face of adversity – even adversity brought on by one’s own poor decisions. Fortunately all of the poor decisions on Backbone are contained in the songs and characters.  The album itself is solid and an excellent representation of one of East Nashville’s most talented songwriters.

Backbone was released January 15, 2016.

Weapons of Minor Disruption – "The Shoreline Sessions" (An E2TG Review)

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The Shoreline Sessions is a new EP and mini movie from a new project called, Weapons of Minor Disruption that features the genius mind of Robert Loncto of The Danbury Lie.  The project, which releases on January 8, comes on the heels of the full-length DVD Whispers to Oblivion. That project set video of Loncto’s cross-country trip to the music of The Danbury Lie.  For The Shoreline Sessions, the films are more experimental and the music is all original.

The video opens with the simple image of an acoustic guitar player (Loncto) sitting at the base of a large tree trunk in a forest.  The music and video that follows is challenging and at times disorienting but ultimately rewarding.  The videos move from natural to manmade images with multiple visual effects employed effectively. The result is often trippy, but which taken as a whole with the music, makes a twisted kind of sense.

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The music itself echoes the musical themes of The Danbury Lie’s best work. Fusing folk and metal in ways that are both unexpected and (once experienced) seemingly inevitable.  The music is lovely in it’s own way, with repeated (sometimes menacing) phrases, odd tunings, and a vague but consistent theme running through the entire EP.  The EP was engineered and mixed by Cassidy Peterson. Robert Loncto had a particularly productive 2015 with several The Danbury Lie releases in addition to the DVD, and it appears that his cross country drive and experiences on the West Coast have sparked  a new level of creativity.  

Each song on the EP, is presented as it’s own mini-movie on the video. These individual videos, while in no way literal interpretations of the lyrics (if that were even possible), provide the perfect accompaniment. The video was shot in Redwood Forest, along the Oregon Coast, San Francisco, and other places along a drive from Seattle to San Francisco and back. The Shoreline Sessions video shorts are to be experienced not just watched, and they beg repeated viewing in order to gain the full effect of the experience.  

Watch the “Shoreline Sessions”

Stream/Buy/Download the EP!

Redneck Noir: E2TG Reviews Motel Oatmeal by Darrin Bradbury

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About a month ago, Darrin Bradbury sent me some songs he was thinking about releasing and wanted to know my opinion.  So, I listened – cause when it comes to music well that is what I do – and when I was done I told him what I thought.  Spoiler alert: he ended up releasing the album Motel Oatmeal on August 5 some seriously cool folks had good things to say about it, and it was trending as a bestselling “Folk” record on Bandcamp for a time.  Darrin told me a few weeks back that my comments help convince him to release the record.  I said at that time that I should tidy up those comments and post them as a review of the record.  So, in my usual timely approach, I offer up what will serve as an official E2TG review of Motel Oatmeal – which is still the most current release from Mr. Bradbury.

So here (just slightly edited) are my original comments:

What I love about this collection of songs is the way it really pulled me into the situations. I think it struck me – particularly the first four songs – like a collection of well crafted short stories. In a short time, I knew the characters and the settings. And then, damn if you didn’t write a straight up country song (in the best sense of the term). I’m not a musician, but I think when you live in Nashville for 20 years, it’s just engrained in you to recognize a bridge when you here it. And Bad Habits is just a cool, fun summation of the whole damn thing. I like it. Well done.

The first four songs: Motel Oatmeal, Zoey, Sophie’s Apartment, and Modela really are well-drawn stories that drew me into the stories right away. I think Sam Shepard could listen to these songs and write plays based on these characters. Hell, I think Joe Wolfe-Mazeres could hear these songs and write short stories based on these characters and maybe he should.  I told Darrin later that I considered using the term “Redneck Noir” to describe some of the songs, but I resisted because I was afraid he would take that the wrong way.

Good Friends, Cheap Beer, and You has become the “Fran’s Theme Song”, and “Bad Habits” is a wonderfully fun Country song, and it’s been amazing and wonderful to hear Darrin and Tim Carroll doing this song together at Fran’s Eastside on Wednesday nights (subtle plug for Nashville folks). 

Okay not so subtle

So head on over to Bandcamp (actually just use the widget thingy below) and download Darrin Bradbury’s Motel Oatmeal today and tell them Ear to the Ground sent you.  Don’t forget despite what Homer Simpson says “Suggested Donation” doesn’t have to mean “free”. Pay what you can and support worthy artists like Darrin Bradbury.

Hopeful Resignation: An E2TG Review of My Country by The Grey A

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The facts:  The Grey A is a band from Washington D.C. fronted by Grey Jacks who used to be in the Murfreesboro, Tennessee band Glossary.  The Grey A is releasing their debut album My Country on September 2.  The album’s recording took place in Middle Tennessee not too far from my hometown along the banks of Center Hill Lake, and many amazing Nashville players make appearances on this album including William Tyler (Lambchop), Jimmy Matt Roland from Caitlin Rose’s band, and even the Nashville Brass.  Current The Grey A bassist Howard Rabach has been a supported of this blog for about as long as anyone, and his band Ubiquity Machine were the runners up for the inaugural Band of the Year contest way back in 2011.  He joined the band after the recording of the album, but he was kind enough to pass this along to me.

Here is what Ear to the Ground has to say:

My Country Song – The website of The Grey A boldly declares, “This is the new sound of a middle ground.”  And this lead off track is a gently expressed, but boldly stated manifesto from this middle ground. Soaring vocal with slightly fuzzy but ringing guitars. “My country’s fast asleep.” This first line is a simple statement that is hard to argue, but it continues “And they don’t notice Higher Power as they beat/ The brains of anyone who guides the flow of capital with downward thoughts.” Ah, and  now we see where this is going. An infectious groove, chiming keyboards, and glorious background vocals directs a stirring Pop anthem of the people. The message turns inward as a call to unity with pointed warnings of the dangers of hate. The Nashville Brass add their sonic signature to a stirring bridge that leads back into a reprise of the opening of the song which ends in a note of hopeful resignation.

People Happy – This track begins with a sharp acoustic guitar playing a countryish melody.  The amazing vocals introduce a 21st Century highwayman who entertains with a virus.  And I understand this is the bill of goods so many of us have bought into in this day and age.  Then the chorus kicks in…oh this glorious chorus. “People Happy everywhere I see” it such an upbeat and catchy chorus this could be a song of the summer.  We are all happy – right?  “There’s people happier than me.” Right, because when I turn on Facebook my newsfeed is literally filled with people whose lives are so much better than mine. They are more successful, take more trips, have cooler things, know cooler people… But is this real?  Maybe the real message here is that “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” can be a noble intention for an individual, but for a collection population it can be the tool of the few who tell us, “we’re handling everything”.  And the question of the song almost seems left for us all to answer.  “Can I believe ‘em, do you believe ‘em, should you believe ‘em, can you believe?”

Unusual as Usual – Begins with thunderous bass/guitar line that runs counter to the previous tracks. This track’s insistent intensity drives a strong minded message that seems to suggest blending in as a way of making real change from within a twisted and broken system.  Playing a part – maybe with eyes wide open to the lies being told to our faces and the theft going on right underneath our noses.  Hidden in plain sight as it were by the blandness and ordinariness of it all. Truthfully, I don’t know if I completely understand this song, but I got something out of it, and as with the rest of the album so far, it is so infectious and  enjoyable… it’s like a really great teacher who imparts wisdom in an engaging way, and you listen, you soak it in, and you trust that even if every meaning and truth is not clear today that it’s all going in to be processed later as you go on through your life.

Dumb Fool – A funky,sultry indictment of present day American electoral processes.  The hopeful resignation I mentioned in the opening track – well maybe it’s resigned hopefulness – whatever it is, the tension it creates are what makes this music so powerful.  It’s a tension I know all too well when I look out at the state of our country and our world.  At times, I feel moved to some kind of action, and at times it all seems so pointless…  And this conflict doesn’t necessarily get wrapped up in a 30 minute sitcom storyline or in a 3 minute Pop song, and I think that’s okay.  As long as we acknowledge and continue the conflict we can maintain the thread of hope even if it is tempered at times by a sense of resignation.
Until They Find Us – I really like this track.  It begins by suggesting a pause button on politics. The music is powerful.  The lyrics seem to suggest the covert rebellion hinted at earlier in the album.  The words “You know I don’t think we’ll be emancipated” are sung with a confidence as if they were saying the opposite.  Maybe as in there’s a certain type of freedom in knowing that no knight in shining armor is going to show up on his white steed and lead us to freedom.

It’s All Been Done – a brief song.  Water is rising and when we try to offer a warning, we are told that it has all been done before…  perhaps this song is an intro to the next song…

Swimming New Orleans – This may be the standout track of the whole album.  A funeral procession – New Orleans-style for the post-climate change era.  A vision of the city of grand wickedness submerged by rising waters, and yet like a New Orleans funeral, there is this joyful exuberant hope of building a new New Orleans.  I have a spiritual connection to the city of New Orleans, and to me this track really captures that spirit.

Dead Mans Cause – “I call on on my citizens…”  This slow but strong track is a call to arms of sorts. What I take from the line that we all have faults – is a continuation of the message of the collective power of a group of broken, imperfect citizens united behind a noble purpose… that’s my take.

In Remembrance – another short song with the Nashville Brass adding a powerful jazzy underscore to an appropriately somber instrumental.

Tree of Evolution – One of my favorite songs…  wow! An extremely groovy song that I find it almost impossible to to move to, and a thorough and effective explanation and defense of the Theory of Evolution all in about 3:45.  I love it!

Twin Void – a necessary come down musicially speaking.  A slow song, and I’m just going to flat out admit, I don’t think I caught the the meaning behind this song.  Are the twin boys and twin girls metaphors? Underneath the shine, something lacks the glow.  Maybe it’s resisting the temptation to fall for surface images that belie the twin voids of the title.  I think I will keep listening.  

The Bomb Stops Ticking – The album ends with a stirring and gorgeous ballad to the “end of the human race”.  The utter hopelessness of the line. “No one’s listening and the bomb stops ticking and we’re gone” is offset by this subtle yet sure sense that maybe just maybe we still have time to wake up and start listening and diffuse this course which seems so inevitable.

My Country by The Grey A stands apart from much of the music being made and played today.  It is not cheery optimism and it is not nihilism. I don’t know if the hopeful resignation (my words) is even an accurate representation, but those words kept coming back to me as I listened.  This is not disposable “pop music”, but in the best sense of the word this is Pop music, and it is meant for repeated listening and maybe an open-minded willingness to have ones mind changed  evan about the meaning of these songs.  Is my review a fair and accurate accessment of this album?  Probably not.  If I reviewed it again tomorrow or next week, I may hear something else, and that’s a good thing.  I strongly recommend buying this album. You can Pre-order and get a t-shirt for $5.00 off by visiting The Grey A website.

The Grey A will be hitting the road in support of My Country, and if they come your way, I recommend you check them out.  I will be there September 12 when they play The Stone Fox in Nashville.  I looking forward to finally meeting Howard, and there are rumors that some of the guests from the album may make an appearance. I don’t know any details but The Stone Fox is co-owned by William Tyler…  Glossary and an acoustic duo of members of Glossary will be opening.

Here is a schedule of up coming shows:

E2TG Presents: The Grimm Generation – The Big Fame – Review Vol. 2

For Vol. 1 of this review –   GO HERE


For Vol 2. – Jump with me

When considering how to present the songs from The Grimm Generation’s next CD ‘The Big Fame’ in a live setting, an odd bit of magic and luck presented itself: they were introduced to the President of The Vintage Radio & Communication Museum of CT who were considering a concert series. The recent experience of making a real ‘film noir’ video for ‘Blink, I’m Gone’ coupled with the classic radio elements already taking root in The Grimm Generation’s new material (based on dramatics and dynamics, all rooted in Carmen Champagne’s slow sultry drawl) caused Carmen and Jason to think bigger, expanding the death of ‘Asher’ into a full blown noir musical. Ginger Miller plays the role of the narrator, who fills the performance with real tension, as she uncovers more about her ill-fated love and his head long path into oblivion.
Coming to your town soon, The Grimm Generation is bringing ‘The Big Fame Radio Hour’, a pairing of modern sounds and radio noir drama, as part of the release of their upcoming CD ‘The Big Fame’.


The thing I love and identify most with The Grimm Generation is the constant striving for something creatively bigger.  Sometimes, I think I would be better off settling for something smaller and simpler. Regardless, this drive to push forward and try something new, is an inherent quality. For me, this drive often struggles against the equally inherent inertia of  our age. Within the struggle lies the tension and tension makes a tangle… or something.

Here’s the remaining songs on The Big Fame:

7.  Quiet (St. Francis)

8. Road to Joy

9.  Real Bad Voodoo

10. Wreck of My Bed

11. Eye of Tranquility

12. Bigger Than

13. The Big Fame

The second part of The Big Fame (and please understand this division is mine alone due to time constraints) features a bit more Twang – both in Jason Krug’s guitar and in Carmen Champagne’s voice.  Being from Nashville, I know good Twang when I hear it, and this is some excellent Twang.

Let’s just keep it simple.  I think I said most of what I needed to say about this record yesterday. Here’s the bottom line.  With The Big Fame, The Grimm Generation have stepped up and produced a defining record of our times.  How appropriate, as we live through these dark and broken times, that we have this wonderful album filled with songs of darkness and brokenness.

What are we to do with this place where we find ourselves? Perhaps we just need to keep walking, limping, crawling, and dancing our way down the “Road to Joy”.  Perhaps…


The conclusion I’ve reached is that I absolutely love this record, and that I want to do what I can to spread the word. 

Here is one place you can buy it.  Also, go visit The Grimm Generation Website
Also go like The Grimm Generation on Facebook, Follow them on Twitter, and Subscribe to them on YouTube.


E2TG Presents: The Grimm Generation – The Big Fame – Review Vol. 1

“Great Rock and Roll record define the time they were made. Welcome to 2013.”
I can’t remember when I first came across the music of The Grimm Generation. I think maybe another band I follow mentioned them.  I do remember hearing “Sometimes I Subtle (Sometimes I’m Drunk), and I remember thinking, “Wow, this is music everyone should hear”, and at  the same time thinking, “I feel like I already know this music.”.  I later had the opportunity to do a brief e-mail interview with the band, and it began to make sense.
You see, and what has recently begun to gel in my mind is that The Grimm Generation make the music I would make if I made music (and if I was talented).  We come from the same place age and influence-wise (and perhaps experience-wise as well), and so – although I do like have very diverse tastes in music – The Grimm Generation manages to hit all the right spots in my psyche, and thus, as word began to build about a new album I couldn’t help but be excited.

Another reason I identify so strongly with this band is their audaciousness reach for something bigger – thus the quote from above which comes from the band’s Facebook page – about The Big Fame.
The Big Fame is 13 songs.   Today, we cover the first 6 songs.  I haven’t decided yet if this will be a track by track review or just a non-linear overview.  It will be what it will be, and it shall come to reveal itself soon.

I’ve heard the whole album so there will likely be references to other songs in this review, however, the songs I listened to this morning were:

1. Earthquake, Hurricane, Flood and You

2. The Next Indie Boy

3.Dizzy in my Hips Swinging

4. House Drinks

5. Miller, Don’t You Even Care?

6.  Until Then

*Side note, songs 3 and 4 are switched on my CD cover which means this bad boy’s gonna be worth a fortune some day!

The Grimm Generation have been described as “Music for the morning after”.   To me, songs like “The Next Indie Boy” and “Dizzy in my Hips Swinging” are the soundtrack to a party that seems to be constantly on the verge of going completely off the tracks in the best possible way. 

At times, I was reminded of that feeling one gets as dawn is beginning to break after an all-nighter, and you are at once still drunk and beginning to have a hangover, and you can’t quite decide if you want to go somewhere and crash or just have another drink… and you are standing in someone’s backyard surrounded by dear friends or total strangers or else you are alone, and this music is playing from somewhere in the distance and you just want to laugh or cry or maybe just puke….

Not that I know anything about any of that, but that’s what this music brings to my mind.

It’s about the right relationship with the wrong person, or the wrong relationship with the right person. It’s about waking up alone and not knowing where they went or who they are.

This is music for our time, our generation as we struggle through this mystery doing the best we can.  It’s also about sex and murder and the music machine and love and art and truth. Mostly, it’s about The Big Fame which happens to be the name of the album.  There is a strange mixture of optimism and resignation inherent in this music, and that strange mixture as much as anything else may be the defining characteristic of this Grimm Generation.

So, I tip my hat to Jason Krug  and Carmen Champagne and company for making this bold statement and for kicking so much ass musically and lyrically.  I don’t know much about how one achieves The Big Fame, or if it is even something one should strive to obtain, but I do know I want as many people as possible to hear this music.

Alas, I’ve run my course for today.  Tune in tomorrow same place and close to the same time when we present the next Volume of our review.


The Grimm Generation  (WEB    FACEBOOK   TWITTER )