Tuesday, June 17, 2008

...and we're back! (Plus a new site, giveaway and more!)

Wow, it's been a terribly long time since we've posted here. Don't worry, we're still ready to blog our little hearts out, we've just had a few exciting developments that kept us from here the last week or so. Here's some tracks to celebrate our return:

[mp3] The Beatles - Get Back
[mp3] Steel Train - I Want You Back (Jackson 5 Cover)

As you may have previously noticed, we registered a .com address a few months ago to store all of our music at. Since then, we've spent some time trying to figure exactly what types of content we'd like to feature at Sell the Lie.

After a few failed attempts, some crashes and a few re-designs we're ready to launch our brand-spankin' new site. Here's the address, it should be pretty easy to remember:


All of our previous posts are already there. We expect that there may be a few glitches when we moved everything, so if anything looks out of the ordinary please give us a buzz.

I'm happy to say that we've added a few new features to the page. We now have a calender of events that includes the CD releases we're looking forward to and some shows we'll be attending. If you're in the Salt Lake City area (as we are) you'll find these shows listed with all the relevant information (times, places, prices etc.). I believe we've also made it quite a bit easier to find different types of content using the tabs. Let us know what you think of it!

Now, to the part you're all reading for - FREE STUFF! The fine folks over at Brushfire Records have sent us a few vinyl samplers to give away as a celebration of our move to our own .com. For those of you kickin' it new school the records also include a link for a free digital download of all 8 songs.

Here's the track listing:

1- Neil Halstead - Paint a Face
2- Mason Jennings - Something About Your Love
3- Jack Johnson - What You Thought You Need
4- Matt Costa - Never Looking Back
5- Money Mark - Summer Blue
6- G. Love & Special Sauce - Crumble
7- Zach Gill - Beautiful Reason
8- Rogue Wave - Christians In Black

Now, to answer the inevitable question - how do I get my hands on one of these beauties??

It's simple. Head to the new webpage and post a comment on the giveaway post (it'll be stickied right at the top). All your comment needs to do is convince us why you deserve to win. Be sure to include your email address in the appropriate field so we can contact you if you win. The contest will end on 27th of June (next Friday) and we'll have multiple winners!

See you on the other side...

[mp3] Collective Soul - What I Can Give You

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Review: Mason Jennings - In the Ever

There's something about the combination of Mason's stripped down, acoustic-driven music, soulful lyrics and vocal delivery that has attracted me to his music since my first listen. He hooked me hard enough with Sorry Signs on Cash Machines that I ended up buying up his entire back catalog in a about a weeks time back when I really had no business buying more than a CD or two a month.

Each album saw Mason grow and experiment a bit more without ever losing touch of what he truly is - a singer songwriter with a knack for telling stories anyone can relate with. Boneclouds felt like the attempt to bring Mason to the masses, but for one reason or another it fell short. To this day it's probably my favorite album in Mason's catalog but it seems it wasn't poppy, slick or accessible enough to bring him to the "next level".

Personally, I'm happy that Mason didn't quite make it. I wish Mason the best and all, but I'm not sure I could stand to have Mason worshiped like, say, Jack Johnson. I like Jack but it can get on my nerves when 15 year old cheerleaders are listening to JJ one second, then to Gwen Stefani the next. There's something quite wrong with that transition in my mind.

Now, to the review...

In the Ever is Mason's latest release and his first on Brushfire Records. With this album, his second that hasn't been self-released, we see Mason take a step back from what we heard on Boneclouds. Gone is the lush, full band sound that has slowly been building with each previous release. Instead we find Mason stripping it down to the basics for one of his rawest-sounding releases yet.

I'll admit, at first listen I was very disappointed with the album. I fell in love with Boneclouds because of the exquisite songwriting and that full band sound I'd been waiting for. I was expecting much of the same, especially after hearing Fighter Girl.

After a few listens I let go of my prior expectations and let myself listen to what the album was rather than what I wanted it to be. Once I took these steps I was quite pleased with what I heard. I found an album that is quite possibly Mason's most personal and features his strongest lyrical content to date.

A few tracks that really hit home come early with Something About Your Love and I Love You and Buddha Too. Mason has written some beautiful love songs over the past few years and Something About Your Love goes right up there with songs like Ballad for My One True Love and Be Here Now. I Love You and Buddha Too explores religious tolerance in a light hearted way that just may be the best way to get the point across.

We also have the patented sing-alongs that Mason writes best with Fighter Girl and Soldier Boy. I saw Mason live before I ever really heard his recorded material so these are still the songs that scream "MASON!!" to me. Soldier Boy is the only spot we hear an electric guitar on the album and Fighter Girl has the "yeah, yeah yeahs" that will stick in your head all night long.

Only one track feels "weak" to me and it comes at track 5. Your New Man is a funny story but I'm not sure that it reaches the level of the rest of the album. It feels more like something Mason wrote and threw away back when he was releasing his self-titled album but decided to throw in here for one reason or another. It feels a little out of place compared to the rest of the album.

If I'm describing In the Ever with one word I suppose I'd have to pick "personal". The album is quiet, extremely acoustic-driven and way more lo-fi than anything we've heard from Mason in a good while. If you're expecting a sequel to Boneclouds then you should look elsewhere. However, if you're looking for an album that you can sit down and truly explore then look no further. I'd recommend picking this up if you're into the singer-songwriter scene or if you have any of Mason's previous work. The only caveat - be sure to give it more than one listen through, you'll find this is a grower.

[mp3] Fighter Girl
[mp3] Soldier Boy

Buy the album: Amazon | iTunes

Visit Mason online: Official | Myspace
Buy his music: Amazon | iTunes

Monday, June 2, 2008

Review: Old 97's - Blame It On Gravity

I may not admit this often, but I grew up on country music. Garth Brooks rang through my pa's car stereo through my early life and I sang along with "Rodeo" so much that the damn song is still emblazoned in my skull. I could probably sing it right now. In fact, I know I could sing it right now.

What does Garth Brooks have to do with anything? Well, I suppose those early years of listening to twang combined with my later years listening to grunge pretty well explains my positive disposition towards the alternative-country genre. After all, alternative country at it's best should be taking the positive aspects of country music and combining it with the drive of rock 'n roll. Basically, you need to take the drawl out of the country vocals and dirty up your distortion pedals a bit more. Oh, and no songs about dogs or trucks - those are a no-go. If you look at it this way, no band does it better than the Old 97's.

Blame it on Gravity is the sixth proper album from the Old 97's, the first since 2004's Drag It Up. We find the boys returning to their roots and turning it up to 11 for most of the album. This is quite welcome after Drag It Up, an album which I can describe no better than as a "downer".

The album kicks off in a rockin' enough style with The Fool and Dance With Me. Both of these tracks move and groove, you'll likely find yourself shakin' your hips when Dance With Me comes on if they aren't already gyrating. After that 1-2 punch we see the boys turn it down a bit with No Baby I and My Two Feet. No Baby I delivers the album's namesake in the chorus with the lovely line:

"You've got these tears/that fall like pearls/blame it on gravity/blame it on bein' a girl".

The rest of the album alternates pretty well with "rockers" and slow songs. We see the boys combining the country, rock and surf elements on Early Morning for what is quite possibly the best mix of the genres theyi've ever pulled off. The song itself is a microcosm of the album and genius segway from the first to the second half. The One finishes out the proper album. Rather than finishing on a somber, acoustic number as most bands do, the boys chose to give us one last up-tempo rocker to remember them by.

The aspect that has surprised me the most about this album is the songs sung by Murray. I have generally found myself skipping most "Murray songs" on other Old 97's records - not because they aren't "good" songs, but more because of my love for Rhett's voice. I never have found a reason to listen through most of Murray's songs when I know I can hear Rhett's voice on the next track. This is far from the case on Blame it on Gravity though. This Beautiful Thing and Color of a Lonely Heart is Blue are not only some of the best "Murray songs" on any Old 97's album, they are two of the best tracks on this album - far and away better than nearly any song by Rhett.

We've finally found what the Old 97's are all about on this album. Alive and Wired captured them at their best - live - but for one reason or another none of their albums have been able to capture that ferocity in a studio setting. You can feel the raw energy throughout but the songs still feel as polished and lush as anything from Fight Songs. The songwriting is sensational and each track is a true keeper. No fillers here, folks.

There's no more need for a mix tape if you're trying to describe what alt-country is to a newcomer. Blame it On Gravity not only defines the Old 97's, it very well describes the entire genre. It's that good.

[mp3] Early Morning
[mp3] Dance With Me

Buy the album: Amazon | iTunes

Visit the Old 97's online: Official | Myspace
Buy their music: Amazon | iTunes

NEW Gus Black

Gus Black recently released his latest album, Today Is Not the Day. It's quite a bit more folky than his previous releases but that shouldn't be a big surprise to anyone who's been paying attention to Gus - he's been going further down the folk path with each release.

I haven't listened through the full album yet, but a proper review will be up shortly. Here's a few songs to wet your appetite.

[mp3] Little Prince Town
[mp3] Blood & Belonging

Buy some Gus Black: Amazon | iTunes
Visit Gus: Official | Myspace