Music Review: Pushin’ Against a Stone...

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     Valerie June’s got a near-stunner in Pushin' Against a Stone. Near enough, really that I’m willing to round up. Memphis makes good again, and for real.      Give her this at least, regardless of your tastes; June’s ambitious. Here’s a marinade, parts country blues string band folkmericana gospel, slapped over a thick slice of analog warmth by producer Dan Auerbach (from the Black Keys). Here’s a sound that’s retro but doesn’t scramble for every shred of dusty similarity to something pressed before 1965. Mournful “Twined & Twisted”’s opening “Thought I had your number/stuck in my phone” makes me shake my head, clear my eyes; I’m not listening to a Motown demo off a rarities box set, I’m listening to 2013 lyrics and an unstuck-in-time sound you’d hear in the rehearsal nexus where Joanna...

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From the Editor: September 2013...

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Dear Readers,      Welcome back to another autumn issue. We're excited to be back and to have you along for the ride!       After the slow hot days of summer, the breezes are bringing us back to life. We're ready for football, fall leaves, and cool evenings outside with friends.       This issue is packed with music reviews and fun columns from our writers. We also have some off-season travel recommendations and reminders to prepare for the height of hurricane season.       Also, we have one very special recipe. Since it's our second birthday, we decided cake was in order -- handheld, savory cupcakes. We used our most utilized (and, well, maybe overused looking at our recipe archives) recipe to top them. Our other gift is the fresh look for the site.       Thanks...

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Changing Seasons

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     Ahhh…. The seasons in the South. They bring wondrous changes of color and temperatures that hint of what is to come. It is now late summer, and we're beginning to see and feel that marvelous slide into the season of FOOTBALL!      I know that football is played in other areas of the country, but in the South it is more than an athletic contest, or an excuse to indulge in too much beer and body paint. It is a Saturday celebration that combines tailgates, debutantes, and the WWE.      Tailgating incorporates the preparation and presentation of those old and well-guarded secret family recipes that we happily share with our parking lot pals. Well, except for that one little detail of ingredient, measure, or instruction. We’re not going to give everything away.      Debutantes...

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Music Review: Annie Up

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      Well that was bad timing; Pistol Annies cancelled all their tour dates in June and now nobody knows if they’re still together. Dammit. Huh. A shame, regardless of the reasons behind it, though judging from the lyrics of Annie Up, the trio’s 2nd album, it could definitely have something to do with booze. Just saying.      Annie Up’s a lean, wise and witty album that hugely satisfies, turning away deftly from cliché and easy resolution at every opportunity. Now, no surprise; Miranda Lambert’s obviously no slouch, and Ashley Monroe’s recent solo record Like A Rose matches Annie Up’s sass and bite track-for-track, and together with Angaleena Presley (no relation) the Annies are an embarrassment of talent.      Annie Up dissects country music’s tendency toward rose-tinted songwriting in favor of the raw, twist-in-the-wind mood...

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Music Review: Southeastern...

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     Chapter 5 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous tells the reader that, for the true alcoholics, “half measures availed us nothing,” which is appropriate, both when considering the creative context of Jason Isbell’s fourth solo record Southeastern, and considering Isbell’s career in general. The babyfaced Alabamian made his bones in his 20’s, burning to shine in the Drive-By Truckers, and it’s not even arguable that he anchored the three albums of theirs to which he contributed; “Danko/Manual” and “Decoration Day” alone would ensure that, let alone every other stellar cut, with that unmistakeable voice cutting through the smoke. But Isbell left that group before I was lucky enough to see them, and on Isbell’s subsequent three records I only paid passing attention to song here, a song there; I was a Truckers...

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Music Review: Born Sinner...

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     If you listen to “Forbidden Fruit” by Fayetteville NC’s J. Cole, you might get furious. The beat for it is built off a slick instrumental from Ronnie Foster’s first record, but you perhaps know it as the backbone for “Electric Relaxation” by A Tribe Called Quest. This is indisputably a classic song. Your aforementioned fury should begin once the lyrics kick in. But the sample is not the issue; hell, anyone with cash enough to pay for a license can sample any song, release it on a major label, and appropriately divide profit. What will really get to you is how much Cole squanders it, like vintage rare-barrel scotch mixed with Diet Coke. Again, this is perfectly normal. Don’t worry.      The problem with J. Cole, the single root problem flowering on lavish...

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Serial Pisser

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Editor's Note: As we prepare to, heaven help us, use toilets at sporting and concert events, please remember Melissa's PSA. Be purty, y'all!       It’s summer. Time for picnics, swimming, and family vacations. Travel season is in full swing, and as usual, I find myself in a great deal of pain. The Commonwealth cut back on the number of rest areas it supports and so I find myself holding it a lot more than I should. And also visiting a lot of extremely sketchy gas station bathrooms.      Since this cutback started the summer I was pregnant (AKA full-on Moby Dick) and couldn’t go thirty minutes without peeing, I found myself having to make several stops whenever I’d go visit my sister, who lives ninety minutes away. So I began traveling with antibacterial wipes...

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An Open Letter to the Mother of the Year Selection Committee...

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Dear Ladies:      Thank you again for your kind consideration. Despite the fact that I was nominated largely as both a joke and a dare, the fact that you have actually considered me a viable candidate is somewhat flattering. I’d like to take the opportunity to address some of the “concerns” that you have mentioned, as your harsh judgment seems to invite a response.      It is a fact that I once locked my daughter in the car, along with my keys and cell phone, at a local Wal-Mart. Allow me to explain the circumstances by which I managed this rather foolish act: I got out of my car, opened her door, locked the car, put my keys and cell phone in my jacket pocket, and then decided to carry her in a sling....

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Lady Postbellum: Review of Kacey Musgraves’ Same Trailer, Different Park...

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     I was stuck in Atlanta, down there four days for work, and Kacey Musgraves saved my life though I didn’t know it. There was an event in the titanic convention center for my company where we’d be hawking our products in a new showroom with a new rep group, and this is just about as interesting to anyone who works in sales as it is to the rest of you. The showroom came stocked with tasty but absolutely unnutritious food and a tempting Keurig, and I spent hours at a time staring into my phone, relentlessly texting a girl I liked or checking my news Twitter list, bored out of my head. Specialty retail sales, especially at the Atlanta showroom, being an overwhelming Caucasian profession at least from the gift end of things,...

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Cinco de Fryo

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     So May 5 has already arrived, but why enjoy these delicious Mexico-inspired delicacies only once per year? Gather some friends, some beverages, and pull out the deep fryer. Try our Southern twists on Mexican delights, and you'll soon thank goodness it's fry-day.       Are the recipes authentic? Nah. Are they delicious? You bet. Plus, prep is easy. All but the frying can be done in advance. Just put out the taco fixings and fry up the rest at party time.  Menu BLTacos (Hard shells, lettuce, bacon, tomato, avocado, mayo, hot sauce) Pulled Pork Tacos (Barbecue, slaw, hard shells, sauce) Queso Pimento Chiles Rellenos Churros "Fried" ice cream (Crumble well-done churros over ice cream. Trust us... we tried frying ice cream. This works far...

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