Wednesday, November 27, 2013

CD REVIEWS: Blue October & A Good Rogering

Blue October
Up/Down Records

What impresses me about Blue October is they are still grounded even though they are at the point in their career that few people would hold it against them if they weren’t. Sway is the band’s seventh studio album. But this album is a homecoming for the band.

The band, made up of Justin Furstenfeld (vocals), Jeremy Furstenfeld (drums), Ryan Delahoussaye (violin), C.B. Hudson (guitar), and Matt Noveskey (bass), recorded Sway back at Firehouse Studio in San Marcos, Texas… which was the city where the band first gained fame.

I remember being an SWT college student when Consent To Treatment came out with the “Big Time” Peter Gabrielesque cover. I also remember thinking that this was a band I’d never get into, sounded just like the really bad stuff that was emerging in the music scene and that they’d have a short shelf life.

Well… they proved me wrong. They’ve been around for about 18 years and have become impressive both live and on record. They hooked me in around 2006 when “Hate Me” came out and I found it more honest than most anything I’d heard in a long time.

Fast forward to Sway. They’ve gone away from the Peter Gabriel covers and seemed to embrace his sound instead. I found songs like the title track, “Angels in Everything” and “Not Broken Anymore” akin to the Gabriel sound… in the best way possible. Kind of like Foileds “Into the Ocean.”

If you’re looking for the anger of “Hate Me” or Approaching Normal’s “Dirt Room” look no further than “Hard Candy.” That track straight-up rocks.
“I used to act like a soldier / I never even picked up a gun / I used to dress like a hooker / But never seemed to hook anyone.”

Other call-outs on the 13-track Sway include “Put It In” and “Angels In Everything.”

It’s little surprise that the album, which came out in August 2013, shot to #1 on the Billboard Alternative charts . They’ve released “Bleed Out” and “Angels in Everything” as singles. The highest position on Billboard was “Bleed Out” at #24. I have a feeling if they release “Hard Candy” they’ll pop into the Top 10. It’s that good.

The band announced on Twitter that you can pick up Sway for just $2.99 from November 30-December 2. I suggest you do so. Link:
- Sean Claes

A Good Rogering
Suffering Dog Records

Skunk Manhattan and Chef Bull RD have outdone themselves on A Good Rogering’s 2013 release Lifeblood. Released in August, this is a natural musical progression from their 2010 EP Long Overdue.

The album kicks off with the beautiful and delicate piano of “Prelude in G Minor” before unleashing the guitar-driven “Care for a Rat In The Face” which I think is a Double-entendre as the song launches in a way that reminds me of “Round and Round” by Ratt before kicking in.

Lifeblood contains some of the most brutal technically sound metal I’ve heard come out of Austin for a while. Manhattan is an amazingly talented guitarist and Bull RD goes lick-for-lick with him on the bass. Plus, it’s hard rock radio friendly… as much as Pantera or Rob Zombie is anyhow... as Bull RD’s vocals have that classic Zombie/Hetfield/Lemmy growl.

Standouts on the 10-track disc include the rocking grunt-driven “Caveman Angry,” the fantastic title track, and “Melodic Intercourse” which is an instrumental that builds from a jazzy jam to a full-on guitar-solo that would make Eddie Van Halen salivate.

“Under The Gun” is one of my favorites on the album. “I may be a sinner but you’re no saint / And now I see they’re one and the same  / They police and love to condescend  / Commit the crime then do it again”

Their epic closer to Lifeblood is the 9:15 long “Silent Lantern.”

If you enjoy music that makes you want to throw your head back and yell out a primal scream while shooting the horns up proudly, this album could be what you’ve been waiting for.

Check them out at
 - Sean Claes

Monday, November 25, 2013


You've no doubt seen the Goldieblox commercial which uses a parody of The Beastie Boys' "Girls" within the really, really cool video of girls setting off a Rube Goldgerg Machine.

If not.. here is is:

Well.. seems they didn't ask the Beastie Boys for permission... and that sparked a trail of feedback when word got out that the band didn't seem to be OK with that. Really quick and negative press condemning Beastie Boys for their actions.
- Like this one from
- And this coverage fom

Well, today their publicity company, Nasty Little Man released an open letter from the surviving members of Beastie Boys.

Here is the letter:


Like many of the millions of people who have seen your toy commercial "GoldieBlox, Rube Goldberg & the Beastie Boys," we were very impressed by the creativity and the message behind your ad.

We strongly support empowering young girls, breaking down gender stereotypes and igniting a passion for technology and engineering.
As creative as it is, make no mistake, your video is an advertisement that is designed to sell a product, and long ago, we made a conscious decision not to permit our music and/or name to be used in product ads. When we tried to simply ask how and why our song "Girls" had been used in your ad without our permission, YOU sued US.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Zane Williams Interview

Texas Country Artist Zane Williams
An Overnight Success 13 Years In The Making
Courtesy Photo

By Sean Claes
Listening to KOKE FM one day on my commute from work, I caught this tongue-in-cheek song about the trials and tribulations of making it in music. The name of the song was “Overnight Success.” It was a by-and-large autobiographical tune by a new-to-me Texas country singer-songwriter by the name of Zane Williams.

What struck me about the song was, it was funny without being dumb. It was believable while being entertaining. It was the delivery, the words, the melody. To me, “Overnight Success” is an amazingly well-written and performed song. I wanted to find out more about the artist.

Zane Williams is Texas born (Abiline) and has called Kentucky, West Virginia, California, and Tennessee his home before moving back to Texas in 2008 and settling in McKinney.

He has four albums under his belt including Hurry Home (2006), The Right Place (2009), Ride With Me (2011) and Overnight Success (2013).

Well, kind of like the song, even though I “discovered” him only a few weeks ago, Williams has been at it on a full-time basis since 2000 when a Nashville booking agent got him a gig playing the college circuit. He’s actually won a string of songwriting contests and has been a Nashville writer. One of those prize winners, “Hurry Home,” was taken to #14 on the Country charts in 2010 when Jason Michael Carroll covered it.

Sean Claes: Tell me about “Hurry Home,” the song that both garnered you the top prize in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest in 2005 and a top14 hit when Jason Michael Carroll covered it.
Zane Williams: I wrote it in 1999 after first moving to Nashville.  It won a lot of song contests over the years but was never recorded.  Then in 2007 a guy bought my CD at a show in Nashville, gave it to his friend who was a lawyer at Sony/BMG, who gave it to an A&R guy at Sony, who played it for Jason.  I view it as a modern-day retelling of the Prodigal Son story.

Claes: You won the John Lennon Songwriting Contest again in 2007 with “Hope Is A Flame” which you released on 2011’s Ride With Me. How did that song come about?
Williams: I was writing for a publishing company in Nashville at the time…doing that full time instead of touring and making records.  So I just came in every day and tried to write a song. 

I wrote that one on piano and when it was “finished” a friend in A&R said the lyrics were too abstract.  So I re-wrote the whole thing, and I did think it turned out better the second time.

Claes: The Right Place was produced by Radney Foster. How did he end up producing the record, and how was the experience working with him.
Williams: I had just moved back to Texas and was new to the Texas scene.  But I knew Radney was a great writer and had produced the Randy Rogers Band, whose stuff I loved. 

He had no idea who I was, so it took 4 months of bugging him and everyone connected to him before he finally listened to my music.  When he did, he loved it and immediately wanted to work with me.

Claes: Pat Green just cut one of your tracks, “While I Was Away” which is also on your June 2013 release Overnight Success.  It seems like a very personal story. How is it hearing Pat Green sing the song you wrote about your son?
Williams: I love hearing other people interpret my songs and give them a life of their own.  I’ve heard Pat’s version and it was really cool to hear that recognizable voice singing my lyrics!

Claes: You penned every track on Overnight Success. Do you have a favorite song?
Williams: Probably “While I Was Away”.  The more I sing it, the more I realize how many people can relate to it.  I think that one’s going to be a hit for Pat (and for me).

Claes: Speaking of the new album, the title track about the road to the top in music was what introduced me to your music. How much of “Overnight Success” was autobiographical?
Williams: I’ve lived out every single line in that song.  I only changed very slight details….for instance; I actually borrowed $17K from my grandparents to make my first CD, not $10K from my uncle.  Ha.  Paid them back in one year, too!!

Claes: You include a little jab at American Idol at the end of the song.  What do you think of those types of reality TV for musicians?
Williams: I think they’re a good option if you have a killer voice and don’t have much else going on.  If you already have a publishing deal, or record deal, it’s not really worth signing all that away. 

But a lot of people who go on those shows and become an “overnight success” have actually been doing music for years and years, so really there is no shortcut to becoming amazing

Claes: While on the subject of reality TV, you are featured on Troubadour TX. Of course, that’s a little different, as it tells the story of the working musician, rather than competing for a spotlight in a studio. How did you get involved in that show?
Williams: One of the original producers had seen me play locally in McKinney, TX where he lived.  When they were doing their first audition, he emailed me (along with many others) and asked if I wanted to come. 

(Screenshot from
Claes: I watched the episode where you opened up for Martina McBride. What was that experience like?
Williams: It was a whirlwind trip because I had to fly all the way to northern California and back in a short time period.  But for the short time I was there, it was a very relaxing and enjoyable experience!  I got to meet Martina and she was very sweet to me.

Claes: Who has been some of the musicians you’ve met along the way that have given you good advice? Can you share a little bit?
Williams: My producer Tom Faulkner had a major label deal at one point, and he always has insightful things to say about his experiences. 

My buddy Aaron Watson told me a lot about the Texas music scene when I moved back, and helped me get oriented. 

The best advice is the Nike slogan “Just Do It”.  No one has a magic solution, and what worked for someone else might not work for you.  You just have to jump in, do the best you can, and learn as you go.

Claes: Who are some of the musicians out right now that everyone should hear?
Williams: I love Charlie Worsham’s new record, and I really hope he does well with it.

I also like the Turnpike Troubadours a lot, musically and personally. 

I still think Randy Rogers is the king of red dirt…he has been so consistent putting out great songs over the years.

Kacey Musgraves is another one who I hope makes it big because her songs have depth and cleverness to them that is lacking in a lot of popular songs these days. 

Williams’ new CD, Overnight Success can be found on iTunes (along with his previous releases). Take a listen to his stuff on his website You can also check there to see when he plays next. The last chance to catch him around the Austin area is Thursday, November 14 at Gruene Hall (Gruene, Texas) where he’s playing a free show at 6:00p. 

Sean Claes is the owner of Austin's INsite Magazine and has been a freelance entertainment writer since 1996. If you like what you read... please share. To visit Claes' homepage, go here -