For the independent Texas Music lover on your Christmas list, the good news is that there is a plethora ("would you say I have a plethora of them?") of great choices out there. The one I'm going to pick out for you here is not necessarily my favorite — I couldn't make that choice with a gun to my head. But it's by far the one I'm the most happy about. It's the Thrift Store Cowboys new one, The Great American Desert.
I've been knowing these lop-eared pups for something like two years, when they showed up at one of the music festivals, packed into a durn U-Haul moving van. About 20 kids from Lubbock piled out of that van, and promptly started charming the hell out of a bunch of hot, dusty, boozed-up rednecks. Somewhere amidst that gaggle of piercings and belly shirts and wacky hair-dos were six raw but awesome musicians who, when their turn came, proceeded to just tear up the stage. Their energy was, of course, youthful, and that came through in their songs, and it infected most everybody who was there. Everything they did was original, and best of all, everything they did was good. Not just well-played good (which it was well-played, don't misunderstand) — well-written...well-arranged...whatever you music types call it. "Good" was good enough for me. So I bought their first CD and pretty much burned through it over the last two years. It hasn't left the visor CD holder in that truck for that two years, and there's not another CD I can say that about.
Well, The Wife pops in last Friday with a throw-off question - "Oh, by the way...I've got the Thrift Store Cowboys new CD. Wanna hear it?" Ummm....HELL YES!!! So she drags it out of her car, and I immediately start listening to it. Weird fact #1: I know all these songs. Nothing sounds new — but DING! I've seen them play live probably 10 times in the last couple of years, and they've been working these into their sets and sharpening them up before they went into the studio. Probably the best way to pick what songs you want to put down on vinyl (plastic?) for posteritiy — work it out in front of real, live audiences; see what they like; see what you like playing; makes sense to me.