Jeff McCord

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Articles by Jeff McCord

Sacred

Jan 21, 2013 By Jeff McCord

The multiplatinum success of their debut made San Angelo’s LOS LONELY BOYS one of Texas’s biggest musical exports. Small wonder. The Garza brothers—Henry, Ringo, and JoJo—oozed charisma and played a melodic, amped-up brand of rock and roll. There are a few embellishments sprinkled about—keyboards, percussion, Willie Nelson—but the formula remains…

Two Men With the Blues

Jan 21, 2013 By Jeff McCord

“Overexposed” doesn’t begin to cover it. After innumerable recent releases, not to mention all the seventy-fifth birthday hoopla, Willie Nelson again? You’d think no one else made records in Texas. Actually, Two Men With the Blues (Blue Note) was recorded in New York City. What distinguishes it from…

Woke on a Whaleheart

Jan 21, 2013 By Jeff McCord

Recording for almost two decades under the name Smog, BILL CALLAHAN attracted an intensely devoted fan base as his work grew from lo-fi origins to a more orchestrated sound. Over a chugging rock beat, he juxtaposed his sad, narcissistic poeticism with a vocal range a notch above monotone, making his…

Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle

Jan 21, 2013 By Jeff McCord

Early on, when he was still calling himself Smog, indie rocker Bill Callahan buried his baritone voice beneath chugging, repetitive beats. Since he began recording under his own name, his rock drive has dissipated somewhat, but the thing that has continually made Callahan’s recordings so fascinating—a complete abhorrence of…

Dim the Aurora

Jan 20, 2013 By Jeff McCord

The finest bands create not only great songs but also mood, and no one gets that like Austin’s Monahans. The four-piece group named itself after the tranquil West Texas oasis, but the band’s tone is dark and unnerving, like a storm rolling in— all pounding drums and big guitar…

The Shepherd’s Dog

Jan 20, 2013 By Jeff McCord

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…

In the Reins

Jan 20, 2013 By Jeff McCord

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…

Forgiven

Jan 20, 2013 By Jeff McCord

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…

The Complete Blind Willie Johnson

Jan 20, 2013 By Jeff McCord

Thirty recordings and one photograph are all that is left of Blind Willie Johnson, the itinerant musician who hailed from the same expanse of East Texas farmland as blues giants Lightnin’ Hopkins and Blind Lemon Jefferson. But Johnson was no bluesman. He sang not of his destitute life — which…

Not Too Late

Jan 20, 2013 By Jeff McCord

Sell 20 million of your debut album and you suddenly bring a little clout to the table. No one has wielded hers more curiously than NORAH JONES, who followed her elegant Arif Mardin-produced 2002 triumph with a reluctant shrug: a homemade-sounding second album and a barely serious side group with…

Craig Finn

Jan 1, 2012 By Jeff McCord

The lyricist and lead singer for the Hold Steady on recording his first solo album in Austin, working with producer Mike McCarthy, and writing a song a day.

This One’s For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark

Oct 31, 2011 By Jeff McCord

Tribute albums have not traditionally fared well in the marketplace, and for good reason. Asking artists—either passionate fans or curious dabblers—to record someone else’s songs is a bit of a gamble, and the people who compile these collections often feel morally (and, let’s face it, financially) bound to…

Kool & Together

Sep 30, 2011 By Jeff McCord

The seventies band of brothers from Victoria on getting into music, staying away from drugs and liquor, and releasing their first album.