RSS

Tag Archives: Ashley Raines

250 Word Album Review: Ashley Raines & The New West Revue – Blush EP

Ashley Raines - Blush

Ashley Raines - Blush - Most Messed Up gets 3.5 StarsAshley Raines returns with the Blush EP that is every bit as dark and brooding as his last release, One Trick Mule. Raines summons the honest and unfiltered voice inside us all by pulling no punches and being as straight-forward as you’ll hear. His songs are so brutally blunt you won’t be sure if they are his songs or the voice coming from deep inside yourself or stories from the church confessional.

On “Songs Cheap” he spills his thoughts on the value of his music, if Raines could ever have a theme song, this would be it. With the telling lyric “Maybe with a little luck, I’ll sell a million of them and make a thousand bucks” his frustration about the depreciated value of songs is all too clear. During “Tricks of the Trade” he throws pessimistic one-liners out right and left like “there’s a sucker born each minute” “You’re either for us or against us” and “You find that weakness and you prey” perfectly expressing how you feel at your lowest.

These quiet songs tug on the nervous feeling deep in your gut with the slow slide of a violin bow across fragile strings or the solemn blast of a trumpet. If you aren’t listening closely the songs will pass you by as they aren’t built with energy, but rather are carefully constructed of tension and doubt. A fresh sound for any ears willing to give it the time.

Key Tracks: “Songs Cheap” “Tricks of the Trade”

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 2, 2014 in 250 word album reviews

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Coming Soon: Ashley Raines

Ashley Raines poster for a show at The Dawg House in Forest City on 5/16/13.

WHO’S PERFORMING?  Ashley Raines (Colorado)

WHAT TO EXPECT?  A brutally honest show…

Raines brings a stripped down version of the New West Revue on the road for his shows. He might bring one person with him for accompaniment on stage but expect a scaled back show. Raines makes the most of his time on stage rattling off songs from his extensive catalog and often divides his show into two complete normal length sets. He is 10 albums in for his career and it seems like he writes new songs quicker than he books shows to play them at. It is the perfect time to sit back in a small bar, have a beer and enjoy a criminally underrated talent.

WHERE IS IT?  The Dawg House, 108 Commercial St., Forest City, MO

WHEN IS IT?  Thursday, May 16th, 2013; 8:00pm

WHY SHOULD I GO?  Raines is a rare treat. His dark lyrics give you just a glimpse into the madness that must go on in his head. He plays several instruments and can shock you at any time with something really different.

He plays mostly originals but every once in a while he busts out a great cover song. He is notorious for his fittingly dark version of Warren Zevon’s “My Shit’s Fucked Up.” He recently released a digital single of a eerie cover of Tom Waits already dark tune “Alice” with any luck he will be playing that song as well.

His (even newer) digital single is called “Old Time Religion” and should make a nice addition to the about 25 requests I have to bestow upon Mr. Raines during the show. I don’t look forward to many St. Joe area shows as I am this one. It is a little bit out of town but I give you my word that it will be well worth the short drive.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 8, 2013 in Coming Soon

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

VOT concert posters! – Ashley Raines

Ashley Raines is a great singer and songwriter from Colorado. I originally saw him at the Cafe Acoustic in St. Joseph, Missouri and it has led to me tracking his career closely. This is (right now, as I post this) an upcoming show in nearby Forest City, Missouri at a cool little bar named The Dawg House. The inspiration for this poster came from Raines’ newest digital single “Old Time Religion” (hence the gentleman holding the bible in front of an old frontier home.) I wanted a bit of a mysterious and sinister vibe with this poster which led to the color selections as well. Look for an upcoming preview and review of this show on Vocals On Top.
Ashley Raines poster for a show at The Dawg House in Forest City on 5/16/13.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 30, 2013 in VOT Posters

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

A VOT Editorial: The $20 CD

Here at Vocals On Top a lot of opinions are expressed but they are rarely taken on directly and exclusively. Some issues deserve more focus to be put on them and to be discussed in a forum all their own. That is why I am starting VOT Editorials. It will consist of tackling an issue head on and hopefully somebody will read it and agree, disagree or at least think about it for a few seconds. Here is the first installment; The $20 CD.

During a recent review for a concert by blues artist Samantha Fish I took a moment away from describing the stellar show to get on my soapbox and proclaim that charging $20 for a CD was too much. As a buyer of thousands of CDs I have very strong opinions on this and felt the need to voice my opinion.

Samantha Fish' s Runaway CD; it is available for $20 directly from her website.

Samantha Fish’ s Runaway CD; it is available for $20 (plus taxes and shipping) directly from her website if you want to overpay for it.

Cheap albums sell more copies. Period. Obviously quality of content has a lot to do with sales but ultimately this statement is true. In reality, having a “fan” with a copy of an album in their home is the ultimate form of advertising. It is a lot easier to remember and artist if their album is laying on your desk. I think this greatly increases the likelihood of them attending a future show and buying future albums. How do you get it there? Don’t price yourself out of a sale.

It is interesting that the price of albums has very little to do with the quality of the music on the disc. If an artist feels their new record is the best they have ever recorded, should they price it higher? I don’t think so but it is an interesting question. More money is made by artists on quantity of sales and not on the price of the individual unit. A Bob Dylan CD suffers the same pricing structure as a New Kids On The Block CD and that just seems weird.

So why not make all CDs $20? People are less likely to buy them, that’s why. Sure artists could make the same amount of money on one $20 CD as they would two $10 CDs but the audience that will hear it is only half as large. Isn’t the real goal of most artists to have their music heard? I realize that musicians shouldn’t be expected to give their art away, they should get money from their art. I am a strong supporter of musicians and especially local artists because I so strongly believe this. I love listening to local bands like Dsoedean, The Motors and The GasTown Lamps but if they were to charge $20 for a 10 song album (as Samantha Fish does) I probably wouldn’t own one.

There is also a content loophole here. If it is a double album (like Matthew Coman’s recent Carpe Noctem) it would be acceptable to charge $20 if he so chose. I think that he would sell fewer copies but he couldn’t be blamed for charging the higher amount. If a band were to include a bonus DVD; same situation. If the packaging is somehow deluxe, like comes with a screen printed sleeve or something, it would also be alright to charge a higher amount for the album. The price is currently falling in the $10 – $15 range for a standard CD though.

In 1981 Tom Petty held up the release of his album Hard Promises because MCA, his record label, wanted to charge $1 more for the album. He fought the higher price and won. This obviously is a lot different than an artist selling CDs out of their trunk but the same principal is there. I’m sure he wanted to sell more copies and keep his fans happy, buying albums and going to shows. Petty would even say when speaking about his fans: “…raising the album’s price wouldn’t be fair.”

The opposite effect occurred earlier this year when a very unknown indie artist, Ashley Raines, made an extreme point with his pricing structure. He has aggressively fought the piracy of his music (rightfully so) and changed the prices of the only online retailer where you could purchase his album One Trick Mule. I had recently bought this CD from Raines in person (for $10) at a show and it is fantastic. He decided with the amount of piracy he was the victim of he would restructure his pricing. He changed $.99 song downloads to $9.99 each and the cost of ordering a hard copy CD from $10 to $100 for the 11 track album. I don’t know if he sold any at this price but I think it is safe to say he didn’t. I love Mr. Raines’ music and was glad to buy every one of the 3 CDs he had available when I met him. I even downloaded one other album off of iTunes (and I HATE buying digital music). Just because he is the victim of theft doesn’t mean I will pay more for his music though. I would simply buy less of it if the costs were higher, maybe none of it; I do have a house payment.

These examples don’t apply to Samantha Fish though. He album Runaway is an award winning album on Ruf Records put out in 2011. It contains 10 songs and fits on one disc. The booklet folds open once and has the standard liner notes, a couple photos, the artwork is very well done and printed on nice glossy paper. None of these things point to it being worth $20 in my opinion. I would like to add that I have seen close to 500 bands live and this is just the SECOND time I have seen an artist charge $20 for a CD.

The hard cost of producing this CD was probably LESS than the cost local musicians suffer per copy. She has likely sold thousands of this album and I’m not sure if she has pushed this $20 price tag the whole time. You can get the album on iTunes for $9.90 (like any other standard album) and you can get it on Amazon MP3 for $8.99. A hard copy CD is available on Amazon for the sleek price of $11.29. Go to SamanthaFish.com and try to order the CD and you are looking at $20 for the album and it looks like taxes and shipping still needed to be tacked on! I would’ve seen how much that was but I didn’t want to accidentally buy it, like I said, I have a house payment.

So why $20? I don’t understand. All I know is that Samantha Fish is selling fewer units because of this pricing. Congratulations Samantha, I hope this works out for you but I can think of a ton of reasons it won’t.

I would love to hear feedback on this. Please let me know what you think. You can email VocalsOnTop at Gmail.com or just hit me up on my Vocals On Top facebook page or simply comment here.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on February 5, 2013 in VOT Editorial

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Concert Review: Ashley Raines at Cafe Acoustic in St. Joseph, MO 6/21/12 and The Dawg House in Forest City, MO 6/23/12

Ashley Raines played two shows in the area so this is a combination review of a couple really different environments. Separated by only about 30 miles, the two cities would possess very different atmospheres for the performer out of Colorado. Raines would come armed with only a lap steel and acoustic guitar as well as a cello player in tow.

Last time through Raines brought an upright bass player so having the cello player immediately meant the show would have an entirely different sound. The company Raines kept for the tour would also effect the setlist as would bring out several tunes from his 2003 album, The Halcyon Birds, that the cello player, Lisa Show, originally played on.

The Cafe Acoustic show was first and once again on a Thursday but a respectable crowd would still gather and listen. The show was slightly more mellow than the last show at the Cafe Acoustic for Raines. He had his acoustic guitar instead of an electric guitar this time around and a cello player in place of an upright bass determining the mood of the night.

Raines’ booming voice would fill the half full room easily, at one point he would even back away from the mic and sing when it became unplugged, it wouldn’t make much difference in the sound. Cello player Lisa Show would play her instrument with a bow on many songs but would also often pluck the strings as if it were an upright bass when appropriate.

The setlist once again would be centered around Raines’ most recent (and excellent) album One Trick Mule and an EP he was selling, Begin. He would feature several tracks from The Halcyon Birds as well and he would later describe the album as a point when his sound changed into what it is now.

Ashley Raines performing at the Cafe Acoustic in St. Joseph, MO.

Ashley Raines performing at the Cafe Acoustic in St. Joseph, MO.

The Forest City show would be a little different animal than the Cafe show. For lack of a better term, The Dawg House is a “redneck bar.” Raines music is versatile enough to fit right in at a venue like this as well. The crowd was small and would carry on very loud conversations throughout the show but would give the performer a nice reception as well. The stage at The Dawg House is stuck up against the window and was a couple feet high but was so small the mic stands were setup on the floor in front of the stage.

Raines would play two sets and repeat a few songs as requests for fans who missed the early set. He would even reluctantly play “My Shit’s Fucked Up” for a third time to close out the night because the song was performed in the first set, requested in the second and requested again after it went unheard by the fan asking for it. The Warren Zevon song wouldn’t be the only cover performed as the traditional blues song “Cocaine” and a Chris Whitley song would also be done.

Enjoy a video of “It Is What It Is” from Ashley Raines via TuningFork.tv.

Ashley Raines performing at The Dawg House in Forrest City, MO.

Ashley Raines performing at The Dawg House in Forest City, MO.

The highlights of the shows were a couple songs from The Halcyon Birds album that I don’t think were performed last time. “Pray For Your Son” is a cello-heavy song that features some of Raines’ best guitar picking and “Couldn’t Quit You” is an excellent fast paced song with very appropriate backing vocals from Raines’ female stage-mate. Also from the same album, he introduced “Big Lovin’ Woman” as “a song for the fellas who like to buy in bulk” and the slow paced “Dirge” would be used to close the first night’s set.

One Trick Mule, Begin and Ashley Raines were the three records being sold and all would be well represented. “Hank Williams Saved My Life” from Ashley Raines was a particularly good reading on the second show in Forest City as it was slowed down outfitted with a completely different sound thanks to the cello and “Never Any Good at Goodbye” may feature Raines’ best vocal work and sounds great live. The bass heavy One Trick Mule had a fresh take with the cello being great on songs like ” Man’s Gotta Do” and “The Decency To Die” but not quite filling out the sound of the rich bass groove of “All Hell Lets Loose” and “It Is What It Is.”

Ashley Raines makes for a good show and is always entertaining. The songs are well done and he really gives a full effort whether the bar is packed or empty. He isn’t a good act to see while you are screaming and yelling with your friends (that’s what crappy cover bands are for) but is excellent for a laid-back relaxing show for anybody who enjoys music. The songs are best enjoyed if you pay attention to the lyrics and with a minimal amount of drunken chatter. His records sound very clean and a lot like the live shows and not near enough people have bought them at the shows I’ve attended.

Enjoy the “Back For More” video by Ashley Raines via TuningFork.tv

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 25, 2012 in Concert Review

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

250 Word Album Review: Ashley Raines & The New West Revue – One Trick Mule

Ashley Raines - One Trick Mule

Ashley Raines - One Trick Mule gets 4 Stars

Ashley Raines is a bluesy, deep-voiced americana singer from Colorado. He isn’t well know and he isn’t new to the music scene. He has released several albums, somewhere around 8, and regularly tours playing small bars and venues.

His latest album One Trick Mule is a very solid piece of work that never strays from his bluesy, bass heavy sound. This makes the album hold together very well. It is also consistently dark  themed, with songs like ” I Blow My Brains Out Every Night” “All Hell Lets Loose” “Dead Horse” and “Crops Don’t Rise” it is hard to imagine this is an uplifting album, and it isn’t

It is a slower paced album that is credited to he and his backing band The New West Revue. With a few string arrangements and a lot of upright up bass the album’s sound is a hazy window to the downtrodden. Tracks like “The Decency To Die” and “I Blow My Brains Out Every Night” are very strong and stand out but the true highlights on the record are “It Is What It Is” and “Love Me Like You’re Told.”

“It Is What It Is” works as a microcosm of the entire record, a slow brooding track with touches of strings and guitar but kept together by a strong bass line. “Love Me Like You’re Told” has a very strong Warren Zevon sound to it while sounding demented and demanding all at the same time. One Trick Mule is a great glimpse into the underbelly of the americana scene.

Key Tracks: “It Is What It Is” “Love Me Like You’re Told” “I Blow My Brains Out Every Night”

 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 16, 2012 in 250 word album reviews

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Concert Review: Ashley Raines at the Cafe Acoustic St. Joseph, MO 5/3/12

Out of towners come through every now and then and it tends to be a breathe of fresh air. A new talent with new ideas, new songs and a totally different sound. Ashley Raines rolled through St. Joe carrying only one backing member for a band, his teenage son, and a sound all his own.

The bluesy americana artist is touring small Midwest clubs selling his independent record label cds and seeming completely content to do so. Raines would play on and off for 2 1/2 hours at the Cafe Acoustic and sample songs from other artists along with songs from his own 9 records. Raines’ guitar playing has a strong blues sound to it and is accompanied by his honest, personal lyrics. He played as one listener drew a pencil drawing of the performer that Raines would later haggle with and buy the art.

Ashley Raines Drawing

Ashley Raines drawing done during the 5/3/12 show.

The set would start solo, then his son on standup bass would join him for a few songs before another short solo set and ending with another set of songs by the duo. The song selection would primarily be from Raines’ latest album One Trick Mule under the band name Ashley Raines & The New West Revue. The strongest of which appeared to be “It Is What It Is” and “The Decency To Die.”

While the set was primarily originals there was an excellent cover of Warren Zevon’s “My Shit’s Fucked Up” mixed in. The small crowd of about a dozen people were attentive to the show and gave strong ovations after each song. Raines didn’t seem at all disappointed with the crowd as he joked with them while playing his acoustic guitar and stomping on the stage, at one point even remarking “I don’t think I can’t not stomp.”

Ashley Raines performing live at the Cafe Acoustic in St. Joseph, MO on 5/3/12.

Ashley Raines performing live at the Cafe Acoustic in St. Joseph, MO on 5/3/12.

Performers of this nature enjoy the smaller venues like the Cafe Acoustic. Their music is best heard in this kind of intimate environment. They are grateful for what they get; Raines even remarked as he left the stage at one point “thanks for the ears…” The most interesting thing he said all night was “It’s a very selfish thing to write songs and expect people to give you money for them.”

As the performance drew to a close Raines pulled out the seemingly autobiographical “I Blow My Brains Out Every Night” another strong song from One Trick Mule that gave the album its name. He closed with “All Hell Let Loose” before packing his things to enjoy his next performance at the next small venue. I would put a show like this above any “arena” show I have ever seen.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 4, 2012 in Concert Review

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 51 other followers