August 25, 2010

Week 50b: Emily Shirley - Tiny Truths

(This is week 50b of my 52 Austin CD Reviews in 52 Weeks Project)  

“I have moments of brilliance / But they’re rare
Easier to shine / When you’re standing there.
Come on honey / Take me away
Let me show you / How I like to play.”
- Earnest

Emily Shirley
Tiny Truths

In the online bio that Emily Shirley has up on CD Baby she explains the reason she is a musician. “I write songs because I don't have a choice. It's a necessary form of creative expression that I'm passionate about - and it's brought about tremendous connection throughout the course of my life and career.”

Her Tiny Truths EP was released in July 2010 and thank God she has no choice to write songs, because the five songs she performs on this record is a wonderful addition to the great song of life.

She has passion. She writes with conviction. She delivers with a Meredith Brooks /Alanis Morissette / Nelly McKay vibe. On the initial track, “Flowers” she paints a picture about life using the analogy of a person who’s the anti-green thumb (I can relate).  She continues with the laid-back style of “Taking The Sun” and the brilliant “Earnest.”

My favorite track is the tongue-in-cheek “Blueberry Song” which is a crawlingly poppy song that almost sounds like a theatrical performance piece with a mandolin rhythm. She wrote the song for her daughter before she was much bigger than a blueberry. “I am a great sleeper / Oh how I wish it were a sport. Oh, Oh. I am a great sleeper / And my bed it is the court. Oh Oh.”

The echoing sounds of “Quiet Hours” completes Tiny Truths.

One thing of note that isn’t music related is the beautiful album art. For me it became even more impressive when I learned Shirley designed it herself. Apparently in addition to being a powerful singer and songwriter she is an accomplished graphic designer

I was not able to find out where she plays next, but I hope to check her out live at some point. Keep tabs on her at

Week 50a: Woolgather - Disenchantment EP

(This is week 50a of my 52 Austin CD Reviews in 52 Weeks Project) 
“Now I’ve said too much / You’re wearing your soul like a burden.” – Per Se

Disenchantment EP

What’s in a name? Woolgather. I had to see what that meant. After a bit of help from my friend “Mr. Google” I learned that the term refers to the act of idle daydreaming.

Not a bad name for a band who has a progressive rock sound akin to Evanescence and a vocalist that reminds me of Maynard James Keenan (Tool).  The band is much more raw than those examples, though.

The three tracks that make up the Disenchantment EP are a nice introduction to the band. Upon writing this I realized that this is actually a 2007 release and they have since released a full-length in Nov 2009 (Programmes, Vol. I - The Pleasure Principle) and plan on releasing a new album entitled Programmes: Vol. II - The Reality Principle at some point in the near future.

So… why am I reviewing this?  Well… a few months ago I was encountering another late night on Red River in Austin and I popped into the Red Eyed Fly for last call and to see how the night turned out. I met one of the members of Woolgather and he handed me this EP.

The EP is a sonic adventure that flows with a kind of ambient and haunting feel throughout. It’s a three-song 26-minute effort as the shortest song comes in close to nine minutes. “Kite” kicks things off with a Heart “Baracuda” baseline backing up a crawling Alice In Chains vocal delivery (think “Rooster”).  “Shuttle” keeps the rhythm going with a soft electric guitar flow.  The final track “Per Se” completes the three-song journey. 

Now that I do some research, I find their 2009 release Programmes, Vol. I - The Pleasure Principle is available as a free download at  Find them online at or Facebook or MySpace.

August 12, 2010

HAAM & AAMP Founder, Aaron Williams Passes Away

(Press Release from Austin Art & Music Partnership)

HAAM & AAMP Founder, Aaron Williams Passes Away
Memorial Celebration, August 14th, 2pm

AUSTIN, TX, August 10, 2010 ­— The Austin Art & Music Partnership (AAMP) is sad to report the death of Aaron S. Williams, co-founder and Director of the Austin Art and Music Partnership, who died last week at his home in South Austin.  A memorial celebration of his life is scheduled to be held on August 14th, 2010 at 2:00p.m. at the Austin Art & Music Partnership (AAMP) Creative Space, 411 W. Monroe Street, downtown Austin, TX

For the past fifteen years, Aaron worked quietly behind the scenes to help untold numbers of artists and musicians secure support and services to make their lives and their community better.  As the founding architect of HAAM (Health Alliance for Austin Musicians), Aaron designed the organization structure that has since become one of the most successful and prominent non-profit organizations in Austin, including the SIMS foundation for mental health.  This ongoing dedication to the art and music community eventually became the mission of the Austin Art & Music Partnership (AAMP) —  a home for the creative class in Austin to come, work, heal and be. 

In other areas, Aaron was an inventor receiving a patent on a product that turns packaging waste into environmentally friendly building products.  He was a master at finding unused resources in areas where others never looked and using those newfound resources to build a better world.   He truly believed that if we worked together, and used our best talents, we could accomplish anything.  Family spokesperson, Truitt Ray, said of Aaron, “Generous and complex, Aaron was a vital man and singular individual.  We are stunned and fundamentally shaken by our loss.“

Aaron’s absence will be deeply felt throughout the community, and friends are asked to band together to ensure Aaron’s  “Vision” and the continued success of AAMP.  Donations to AAMP ( are encouraged.

About AAMP
Founded in 2008 by Peyton Wimmer and Aaron Williams of the SIMS Foundation, Austin Art + Music Partnership (AAM) is member of the great family of non-profits at the Austin Community foundation focused on supporting local artists.  Through a variety of programs, AAMP provide space and resources for artists to work (art space, workshop space for painting, sculpting, music and plays, etc.) in a comfortable, nurturing environment located in the South 1st Street area of Austin.  In addition, AAMP is in the process of raising funds for a free dental clinic for Austin residents and hopes to break ground in mid-late 2011.

August 11, 2010

Week 49: Bobby Bookout - Bobby Bookout

(This is week 49 of my 52 Austin CD Reviews in 52 Weeks Project)

“I can’t forget
And forgiveness has yet
to come to the forefront
of my thought process.” – Broken Promises

Bobby Bookout
Bobby Bookout

Let me get your first question out of the way. Yes. Bobby Bookout is his real name (well... it’s Robert). Bookout is a powerhouse of a singer. He’s got a Jason Mraz-meets-Maroon 5 voice that is easy to listen to. He’s also assembled some great players talent to perform on his self-titled debut release. Folks I’m familiar with like Jose Galeano (Grupo Fantasma), Brannen Temple, Chris Maresh, Keenan LeVick and Kasi Painter to name a few.

Bookout is also no slouch at writing. He penned the bulk of the songs and they are as complex lyrically as the wonderful music each track features. And each of the 14 tracks on this release has a unique feel from ballad to blues from acoustic to electric. Perfect to showcase his vocals.

The first three tracks seem to set the pace for the album. Each is a big musical departure. The album kicks off with the U2esque “Never Say Goodnight” then kicks into “Remedy,” a song that reminds me of “Smooth” (the Santana/Rob Thomas song).  Third up is the stripped down acoustic heartbreak ballad “Meant To Be.”   

Bookout gives a shoutout to the town he’s called home since 2007 in “Austin.” He plays with loops and layers with the rocker “The Best Is Yet To Come.” “Tanjentz” is a mid-paced bluesy jam about love that strikes like a match. Songs like “Broken Promises” and “Last Words” are slow ballads that remind me of Austin’s The Will Evans Project.

Although each song seems to flow in a different direction, it is apparent that it all comes from the same source. Bookout has delivered a mighty good hour-long listen in this debut.

And this album has been a long time coming for Bookout. He spent about a decade in the military (listen to “Guns Drawn” for a bit on that), a few years getting a commercial music degree, and at least 3 years working on the recording of this album. His patience pays off here. This is a really good first effort.

He held his CD release party at The Dirty Dog in Austin on June 13. I have yet to catch him live, but I am checking my calendar to see when I’ll be able to do so.
Looks like the next opportunity to catch him live is on Friday August 20 at One-2-One Bar. For more information about Bobby Bookout, visit his Website -

August 6, 2010

Week 48: 3 Kisses - Lethal Love Addiction

(This is week 48 of my 52 Austin CD Reviews in 52 Weeks Project) 

“Stop playing it safe.
Back down your guard.
Turn your labor of love
into a work of art.”
- Work of Art

3 Kisses
Lethal Love Addiction
Rat Pak Records

The tunes that Austin area band 3 Kisses produces has been billed as “Texas Party Punk.” That’s fairly accurate. The music has got the punk chugga-chugga beat, lead vocalist Tish Meeks has a sweet raspy-but-feminine rocker voice, and lyrics are simple and easy for everyman (or everywoman) to relate.

Those who are fans of ABC’s “Wife Swap” (where wives trade families who have polar-opposite lifestyles for an interesting experiment and television fun) may know the band and/or husband and wife Tish and Tony Meeks from being on the show in 2007.  After “Wife Swap” they released American Breakdown in 2009 (a great listen by the way). It included a great cover of Joan Jett’s “I Hate Myself For Loving You.”  Meeks has the perfect “Joan Jettesque” voice to pull it off too.

Lethal Love Addiction is the first release since Tony left the band and Tish became single again and many of the songs seem to reflect the emotional roller coaster she’s gone through in this time. I’ve got to say, a pissed-off emotional Meeks makes for some really good music.

The material-things-don’t-matter song “All That Matters Is Love” kicks the album off. The title track says it all when she belts out “I hate to love you just as much as you love to hate me.” She brings the slap down with a “POW POW” in “Feel The Hammer.” Anyone who’s experienced someone who just won’t leave them alone will appreciate “Psycho Stalker.” She strips all the anger away and shakes her hips a little in the fun feminanthem “Girls Night.” She slows things up with the hopeful “The Last Time.”

My personal favorite track is “Fly Away.” It’s one of the fed up with relationships songs. She belts out “I thought I loved you but I don’t need you. And I can’t stand you. I’m gonna leave you and fly away.”

The album ends on a somber note with “Work Of Art,” a keys-driven track that makes the case for the possibility of love becoming a reality again.

3 Kisses pounds through 16 tracks in an hour of music for Lethal Love Addiction and it’s a really fun listen. It really takes you full-circle on the relationship train.  I could see slamming a few beverages while watching their live show. Hopefully soon we’ll all get that chance. Meeks recently relocated to San Antonio and is putting life and the band back together and will be back on stage soon.

Until then, check 3 Kisses out on their label’s page or hit them up on Facebook or MySpace.