Five years ago, singer Greg Vanderpool (second from left, below) and guitarist Roberto Sanchez morphed their Austin band Milton Mapes into Monahans, named after the West Texas desert oasis.
Onetime film professor Sam Beam, who makes his records under the nom de plume Iron and Wine (and at his home in Dripping Springs), began his career tentatively, whispering confessional tales over meager accompaniment. But he’s gained confidence and ambition over the years, so much so that The Shepherd’s Dog (Sub Pop) hardly seems like the work of the same artist.
In many ways, Sam Beam, a.k.a. IRON AND WINE, remains an anachronism: a bearded 36-year-old folkish songwriter who lives in Dripping Springs with his large family. Yet his audience isn’t a bunch of gray-ponytailed Kerrverts in search of earnest odes to the rural life; it’s the indie rock world that idolizes him. His first album, released in 2002, was a quiet acoustic set, but Beam has found imaginative ways over the years to fill out his music.
Not every songwriter is a born bandleader. Iron and Wine (a.k.a. Sam Beam), who has relocated from Florida to Dripping Springs, originally chose to go it alone, and the sparse nature of his early recordings gave his ambitious lyrics, fairly or not, a sheen of preciousness. No longer. The tumbleweed-border rock and roll of Tucson’s Calexico breathes fire into seven of Beam’s absorbing tales on In the Reins (Overcoat).
Evan Smith: You were in Texas in March for the Texas Film Hall of Fame induction, in Austin, and the AFI Dallas International Film Festival. Do you come back a lot?
If you’ve been watching the fifth and final season of the polygamists-in-suburbia series Big Love, which began airing last month on HBO and will run through March, you’ve perhaps already absorbed the disappointment: A show that once seemed so attuned to the strangest aspects of modern American life—especially in the way it riffed on the ongoing, real-life saga of Warren Jeffs, the polygamist sect leader, who was extradited from Utah to Texas in November—has by this point mostly devolved into frenzied melodrama.
When my friend Tom Huckabee and I were seventeen, we pooled our money and bought a new Kodak Ektasound Super-8 system. One of the first films we made was a black and white pseudodocumentary called Victory at Auschwitz, which we shot in the old train yard off West Vickery in Fort Worth. It was the story of Americans liberating a train of Jews who were being sent to a concentration camp. I played the American who dies trying to liberate the prisoners; I did a death scene where I’m running and I fall into the mud.
After the stunning success of their 2003 self-titled release, San Angelo’s Los Lonely Boys settled in for a world-class sophomore slump. Sacred, in 2006, was formulaic and felt like a rush job; the record-buying public responded coolly. To a large degree, Forgiven (Epic) rights these wrongs: Its recaptured vitality makes it a much stronger record than its predecessor—and had the album stopped midway, this could have been the band’s finest (half) hour.
NAMES: Melvin and Minnie Lou Scott | AGES: 101 and 100 | HOMETOWN: Frankston | QUALIFICATIONS: Married eighty years ago on November 11, 1927 / The first of five living generations (one son, three grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren)