08 – Interview: Ward Hayden (Girls Guns and Glory)

This week on the “Hear! Hear!” and Now Podcast, I got the opportunity to sit and chat with Ward Hayden, lead singer for Boston’s Girls Guns and Glory. The band has spent the better part of the last decade building a name as one of America’s best undiscovered alternative country bands. For their fifth studio album, aptly titled Good Luck, the band chose to focus on promoting their more rock-oriented elements, including rockabilly and some dare I say Springsteenian touches on the album’s centerpiece, “Centralia.”

Veteran producer Eric Ambel, who produced Steve Earle and the Bottle Rockets in the past, took the helm on this release. He brings his deft touch to the rockier elements, making this the strongest Girls Guns and Glory effort yet. If you haven’t bought it yet, why not now? Ward’s interview touches on the finer details of the album, including stories behind songs like “Centralia” and “Rockin’ Chair Money” which give you a deeper look at the band’s sound and goals. You’ll also hear his favorite tracks off the album.

Enjoy, and remember to learn more about the band by visiting www.girlsgunsandglory.com.


“Play It Loud, Ray!” — Jacob Jones teams up with Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard on the perfect throwback single for any Music City Sweetheart

Jacob Jones’ Good Timin’ In Waynestown doesn’t come out until next week, but that’s no reason not to play his single loudly a few times in celebration of Jones’ throwback rock-a-boogie vibes, which blends the sounds of New Orleans jazz with fifties-era rockabilly and hints of Motown soul. Adding the vocals of Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard to “Play It Loud, Ray” was an inspired touch, adding to the singalong chorus’s unstoppable hook. The rest of the album more than sustains the hype, with “Now That I Found You,” “Lost on the Ohio” and “Don’t Turn Me Loose” proving in particular that Jones has an ear for making these throwbacks fit in a modern pop context. If you too are ready to, as his website proclaims, “Honky Tonk yourself to death,” play this album loud and proud. Nothing else comes close to putting Chuck Berry into the same company as Ryan Adams or Alabama Shakes, which for this critic is more than enough reason to listen.

Give thanks! Don Ryan lets it all hang loose with “Vulture,” proof that alt-country and punk serve up perfect together

Don Ryan

As though there weren’t already about ten thousand reasons to love the hell out of Don Ryan’s flamethrower-punk version of alternative country, “Vultures” will prove he remains at the top of his game. This three-minute barrage of fast-strummed acoustic guitar and a full-on bullet-train of percussion and frantic vocals, the song features Ryan’s signature sound laid bare in all its glory. If the country establishment hadn’t ruined Hank Williams III forever by forcing his Grandaddy’s sound on him in the 90s, he might naturally have come along with something akin to this firecracker when Curb had their shot at him. Instead, Don Ryan’s fighting the good fight in relative obscurity. Shine a light, musical brothers! Music this good deserves a wider audience. Play it for Grandma at Thanksgiving dinner and see if she doesn’t agree!

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Check out footage from the filming of this video (available on Thanksgiving), plus get a copy of the new song via the band’s Bandcamp page. The single will be on Ryan’s forthcoming, as yet untitled, EP. For more information about Don Ryan, check out these older posts on “Hear! Hear!”


UNDER COVER: Don Ryan – “This Lullabye” (April 8, 2012)

ARTIST TO WATCH: Don Ryan (October 25, 2011)

ARTISTS TO WATCH: Candice Gordon

Candice Gordon

Candice Gordon’s vocals will win you over even if not at gunpoint.

Candice Gordon says she’s set to release “Smoking Like the Barrel of a Gun” as an official single on July 9th, but the video’s right here to drive you wild in all its punk-infused glory, below. The song creates its own frenetic energy, propelled by Gordon’s kinetic vocals, which are their own most glorious weapon, getting the blood pumping instantly upon pressing play. The real clincher, however, is “I Haven’t Eaten In Days,” available on her site via Soundcloud, which is a stunning blend of Patti Smith and Roseanne Cash, a slow-burn piece of edgy alt-country you won’t be able to get out of your head. Forget albums, just let this woman keep writing great singles like this, and we’ll be golden! This is the definition of “must follow.”

Drive-By Truckers – “Used To Be A Cop”

Drive-By Truckers - "Go Go Boots"
Upcoming album from Drive-By Truckers. Image courtesy http://www.drivebytruckers.com.

These guys are like clockwork, producing classic, raw alternative-rock / country year after year. Their latest effort, Go Go Boots, comes out a mere eleven months after 2010’s stellar The Big To-Do, and judging by this live cut, it’s going to be as good as ever.

The new album comes out February 15th, and if you pre-order on their website, you’ll have a shot at winning a pair of tickets for every DBTs show in 2011 (at least every show after February 15, 2011). As usual there are multiple ways to buy the album, everything from a $9.99 digital download to a $74.99 “Deluxe Edition” including vinyl, bonus tracks, the full CD, the digital version of the album, a special DVD of videos and a series of special art prints from Wes Freed, who has been designing the band’s album covers for years.

As a special bonus, check out one of my favorite recent DBTs songs, “This Fucking Job,” performed live on Letterman from back in March.