9 Records We Can't Wait to Hear in 2014

Jack-White-PR-2010Jack White effectively effed up a whole bunch of “most anticipated in 2014” lists when, in a chat with fans this weekend, he casually announced that he’s almost finished recording a new album. This is why it pays to procrastinate, people — get those lists in late! Since we here at OurStage are huge fans of waiting until the last possible minute to get stuff done, we’d like to take this opportunity to tell you that we’re all anticipating the new Jack White record. So hard.

And, uh, it’s probably time that we tell you about some of the other albums slated for release this year that have us really excited. You can only put these things off for so long. Without further ado, here are 10 more records we’re super pumped to get our ears on in 2014.

1. Against Me!
When Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace, formerly known as Tom Gabel, announced her transition back in 2012, some fans wondered if a female-fronted iteration of the band would have the same intensity and infectiousness as its predecessor. The answer: Yes, of course. Last year’s acoustic True Trans EP was beautiful, and if the first few singles from the upcoming Transgender Dysphoria Blues are any indication, that record will absolutely rip as well.

Lost Johnny Cash Album To Be Released This March

Johnny CashThere’s something to be said about long-lost music finally seeing the light of day. A certain mystery, nostalgia, and, of course, curiosity. Well Johnny Cash fans, prepare yourself, because we have a regular Eddie and the Cruisers situation on our hands. An album Cash recorded in the early 1980s with Billy Sherrill is about to be released. Titled Out Among the Stars, the album was previously shelved by Columbia Records and later reported to have disappeared. As it turns out, Cash and his wife June Carter Cash had hidden the tapes and they were just discovered last year by their son John Carter Cash, who worked with Legacy Recordings to make the new release happen. Out Among the Stars will be released on March 25, 2014.

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Morning Press Gaggle: New Bowie Video, They Might Be Giants LP, Daft Punk To Columbia, RIP Dan Toller

Bowie to Bowie, are you reading me Bowie? He’s an okay musician, but we all agree that David Bowie’s finest work as an artist has been on film (Labrynth, Zoolander). Today, you can enjoy his screen charisma is this delightfully bonkers new video for “The Stars (Are Out Tonight),” starring Bowie and the great Tilda Swinton as a staid older couple tormented by their celebrity/demon neighbors. The characters’ identities become more fluid and interchangeable in the self-reflexive clip, evoking past eras of Bowie’s career.

They Might Be Giants OR They Might Be Giants OR They Might Be Giants: Rolling Stone has the new TMBG album, Nanobots, streaming here. This time around, the clever bastards have catered to our collectively dwindling attention span and something something something what were we were talking about? OH, yes, the album, which is packed with super-short bite-sized pop songs.

Daft Punk is playing at Columbia: The enigmatic Daft Punk has made their enigmatic web page just a little less enigmatic, with the appearance of the Columbia records logo below the dual space-age helment artwork, which had previously stood alone. Rumors had abounded that the duo would be leaving EMI and landing at a new home, and this seems to confirm it. With this news, they are likely to release a new record soon.

Music sales are down. Wait, no, they’re up. Sorry, force of habit: For the first time in 12 years, music sales are growing (by .3 percent). Hey, it’s something.

RIP Dan Toller: Allman Brothers guitarist has died at the age of 65, after battling ALS.

Happy birthday, Johnny Cash.

Featured Artist: Alex da Ponte

Straight out of Memphis, TN and citing influences like Tegan and Sara, Nirvana, Johnny Cash, and Muse, this week’s featured artist, Alex da Ponte is about as diverse as they come. In addition to a range of musical influences, there’s no shortage of literary and historical references within da Ponte’s lyrical library. With a voice both feminine and strong, backed by engaging instrumentals, you’ll be playing her OurStage chart topper, “Leaves” on repeat.

You can check out “Leaves” off her 2012 debut full-length, NIGHTMARES below.

Your Country's Right Here: Billy Ray Cyrus Gets Back to Basics

Billy Ray Cyrus goes back to basics on his latest album Change My Mind”and it sounds so good.

The title song, inspired by his decision to end divorce proceedings and reunite with his wife, is one of nine tunes that mixes bluegrass, roots, southern rock, gospel and country music for a distinctive sound. Those that only know Cyrus from his work with daughter Miley on the Disney show Hannah Montana, may find the gritty sound surprising, but Cyrus said it’s his true musical voice.

“I’m very proud of this album,” said Cyrus who wrote or co-wrote every song on the album. “This is really who I am. When I grew up and listened to country music, this was the music I wanted to make.”

Cyrus talked about his life as a young singer-songwriter, living in his car and hoping for his big break. Yet when his single Achy Breaky Heart from his 1992 album Some Gave All album topped Billboard charts for weeks and went 9x-platinum, it was a double-edged sword. Cyrus was bashed by critics even as sales soared and the album stayed at the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Top 200 chart for 17 weeks in a row and became the best-selling debut album of all time by a male solo artist. (more…)

Exclusive Q and A: Jerrod Niemann Talks Music, Friendship and Why He Loves Dixieland Sounds

Jerrod Neimann considers himself living proof that following your heart can make the seemingly impossible happen.

It took him more than a decade of recording and releasing his own music, but he’s now on the fast track to success. One big boost came when Brad Paisley heard his music and facilitated his signing to Arista Nashville’s Sea Gaily label, which is co-owned by Paisley. Now Neimann’s new album, Free the Music, is winning him critical acclaim and a legion of new fans. For this album, Niemann reached back to very early roots music and experimented with arrangements and instrumentation including brasswind horns, CLASP technology, and an acoustic b-bender guitar to create a psychedelic sound that’s unusual in country. But the music on the album is more than that, harkening back to Bob Wills‘ western swing, a Dixieland sound, and more.

The formula is working on the road, too.

At a recent Nashville show, the first on his Jagermeister Tour, the sold-out crowd was friendly but raucous as Niemann worked his way through the new album including Top 25 song “Shinin’ On Me,” his first release from the album. Pop powerhouse Colbie Caillat surprised fans with joining Niemann on stage to perform his song “I’m All About You,” and his long-time friend Lee Brice also joined him for an acoustic medley of Niemann’s  hits.

“Dreams really do come true!” said Niemann after the high-powered evening.
Niemann took a bit of time out recently to talk about his album, his eclectic sound, and his love of Dixieland.

Exclusive Q and A: Pony Boy Talks Poetry, Pop, and Production

Pony Boy, the brainchild of Marchelle Bradanini, is a self-described “junkyard country” group that sounds like a dusty old Ford rumbling down a deserted road. Having already put in time as a member of the eclectic Bedtime for Toys, Bradanini channeled her rediscovered love of classic country, blues, and Americana into her latest project. We caught up with her to chat about her poetic past, her distaste for manicured pop, and what really separates her from R. Kelly.

OS: You’ve been involved in some eclectic musical projects in the past such as Bedtime for Toys or you DJing project Pony vs. Tiger. What got you interested in the aesthetic of your current band?

MB: I started out just as a girl with a guitar influenced by Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan. Then, I ended up starting a band with some friends and that was about playing music that a group of people came up with collectively at a different point in my life. When that band broke up, I was trying to figure out what I was doing next. Oftentimes you get asked to DJ after playing a show, and I had a pretty decent vinyl collection. While I was working out exactly what the solo project would be, I started getting asked to DJ all over the place. The nice thing was that those gigs were for people who wanted rock ‘n’ roll or classic country, and it was a great opportunity to go back and rediscover all of these old, great artists that I love: John Prine, The Allman Brothers, and even Ram Jam [laughs]. There’s the electronic DJ scene, but then there are also people who want to hear actual songs that were initially released on vinyl. Getting into that scene was really great because I got to work on playlists all day. (more…)

Your Country's Right Here: Don DiLego 'Walks the Line' with New Alt Country Release

A funny thing happened when Don DiLego sat down to record a new album”he found he had written two.

The singer/songwriter who you likely know from his songs that have been featured on such television shows as Dawson’s Creek and Roswell and various films has just released  the Western & Atlantic EP. Working with Colin Killilea (Pocketknife), Marwan Kanafani (City Breathing), Erik Olsen (DiLego’s longtime writing partner), and Gregg Williams (Dandy Warhols, Sheryl Crow), the result is a stroll back to the Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell sound that intrigued DiLego as a child. Perhaps that’s not surprising when you consider Rolling Stone dubbed him “alt-country’s next poster boy.”

“Just this morning I was watching ‘Walk the Line’ [the 2005 biographical drama about] Johnny Cash,” he said when asked about his decision to gather all the players in a studio and record Western & Atlantic live except for minimal overdubs. “It is only in today’s era that having recorded everyone live [while the players are] together means anything. In the history of music, that was just the way you recorded things.”

Not that DiLego is that far away from the roots of country. After all, he and musical partner Bree Sharp have a loyal following for their folk, alt-country duo Beautiful Small Machines. In fact, the duo’s recent cover of a banjo version of MIA’s “Paper Planes” was just selected as a Top 5 Pick of the Week by The Guardian of London. But in order to juggle his hectic musical schedule, DiLego will often use modern recording tools, like most other musicians, to finish a project. Perhaps the back-to-basics recording process for Western & Atlantic is what makes the early buzz around the EP so heartening.


Exclusive Q and A: Marty Stuart Talks New Album, "Forgotten" People, and Johnny Cash

OurStage Exclusive InterviewsGRAMMY Award winner Marty Stuart has been way off the radar as of late. We haven’t seen him at award shows. He isn’t on late night TV. And we don’t see him playing the big country musical festivals. Just last week, Stuart released his new, ten-song album Nashville, Volume 1: Tear The Woodpile Down that is some of the most traditional country music released by a major artist arguably in years. The music is a pure joy with plenty of steel guitar, fiddles and harmonies. But just why has this member of Nashville royalty, who has played with everyone from Lester Flatt to Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard, purposely taken himself out of the eye of the mainstream public? Stuart took some time out of his busy schedule to tell us just that.

OS: Your last album, Ghost Train, was so well received. What was the plan with this album Tearing Down the Woodpile.

MS: Just carry on because Ghost Train was part of a lineage. This whole traditional country music trajectory that I seem to be on right now, it’s where my heart led me. It was a long time coming. When I started [my current band] the Superlatives about eleven years ago now I knew it was the band of lifetime. We found ourselves in the role of cultural missionaries.

Other than the Grand Ol’ Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, we were kind of not part of the system of trying to chase hits or awards or [appear on] red carpets.

In the beginning we were simply looking for a place to play. My only request of our booking agent was to book us as far back in the woods of America as you can. I don’t want to mess with charts. I don’t want to see demographics. I don’t want to see numbers. I just want to play music. We will play ourselves right back to the light or as Merle Haggard said we have found ourselves right square in the middle of the forgotten land.


Your Country's Right Here: Raul Malo and the Mavericks Saddle up

Raul Malo, inventor the alt-country format, has a holiday present for all of the fans that still mourn the demise of the Mavericks”the band will again play and record together.

“We are going to go back and put the Mavericks back together, dust the cobwebs off, go tour in the summer and we are going to make a new record,” said Malo, who has been recording and touring as a solo artist since  the Mavericks stopped performing together in 2003. [About the long break, he offered,] “I would say that honestly it wasn’t any one thing in particular. It was almost like a perfect storm of these different opportunities.”

Those opportunities have actually brought Malo home in a way. After playing in small bands when he was a teen and young adult, Malo teamed with his high school friend Robert Reynolds to form the Mavericks. The two used the music of Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline and other traditional country artists as the foundation for their own contemporary music.

After signing with a major label and winning a GRAMMY and two Country Music Association Awards, Malo began to work even more influences”especially Latin, rock, and jazzformats”into the music he wrote. When fan excitement for the Mavericks lagged, Malo continued on as a solo musician.

“I never thought that the Mavericks would get back together,” he said.  “I thought it was done, and I thought that was fine. That is part of life. Move on. I don’t want to go out and just play any and just run the band into the ground. I didn’t want to start to tour for the sake of the tour. That wasn’t appealing to me. I felt it was more special to me and if the [fan interest] wasn’t there, there was nothing we could do about it.”