Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Song of the Week: Dead End Streets/The Ducky Boys (A Collective Music Review)

There is a seemingly constant discussion going on with music folks about how to discover new music. For me, 99% of the time it is through personal interaction. Topping the list is recommendations from friends and the occasional mixed tape we still slip to each other.  And I've learned if you want to make a best friend for life, ask a record store clerk what they are listening to or would recommend.

Technology has made this grassroots approach to sharing music even easier, through social media, bands can share directly with their supportors and the fans can share with each other without the big orchestrated marketing mediums of days of yore. And by "sharing" I mean legally and with all the excitement and enthusiasm of a kindergarten class during show and tell. I'll admit I log on to Facebook 49.9% of the time to see pictures of your adorable kids and latest vacations, and 50.1% of the time to talk about what we all are listening to in music discussion groups. But your kids are still pretty darn adorable.

 Music blogs of all sizes have popped up over the years fueling the discussion of why we need music in our lives. Internet radio and sites (totally wrong word, but I'm using it) like Pandora and Spotify and their magic music equations are also widening listening audiences to more than just the cool kids that live near a good college radio station. Never in the history of the world (yep, I am saying it boldly), have we had so much access to the music of the world. But with all this flash and glam of the future, there is nothing more desired than five very beautiful words from a friend: "You've got to hear this."

I keep a running (or slow jog) list of music that I hear that I like or was recommended to me, or new music coming out from old favorites. My 'Song of the Week', usually comes from this list. Some songs I have deep connections to, other times, they are just a song that completely fits my mood at the time of posting. Last week, while scanning over this little long list, and maybe feeling the lack of some discussion of the music variety in my life, I decided to do something a little different.

In the dark late night/early morning hours, where ideas usually run the risk of either being brilliant or ridiculous,  I emailed the link to the bandcamp page for the new Ducky Boys' album Dead End Streets to a seemingly random group of my friends. Some quick stats about this fine little group: they live all across the States,  have a wide range of jobs from a member of the military, to office/desk jobs to stay at home parents to please let us not discuss my employment status. Their personal tastes in music are wider than then Mississippi, but they all have an appreciation of and are always open minded to all types of music. I knew one or two might have heard of the Ducky Boys, but most of them probably haven't. I told them really nothing about the band or songs, just take a listen and let me know me what you think.  Feeling like a mad scientist, I wanted those first raw reactions to hearing a new song, but understanding that sometimes it takes more than a first impression of song to really connect to it. 

I had no expectations with this little experiment, but as replies to my email came rolling in, it was interesting to see what songs people gravitated towards and how these songs choices and their comments reflect what they are dealing with in their own lives. 

So without any further long winded words of introduction here is a collective music review of the Ducky Boys' new album (released today!) Dead End Streets:

(Ok, a few more words and a note on organization, which may or may not be needed: Depending on when they clicked over to the bandcamp page, our friendly little focus group could stream a couple of songs or the whole album. They had complete freedom with their responses, how many songs they listened to and commented on.  I grouped their responses by song, in the order that they appear on the album, and their responses and names are used with permission. And just like everything else on the internets the song clips can go away/stop working at anytime, that's how the machines control us. I only included clips of three of songs. I didn't want it to feel like I was streaming the whole album on this site. You can however, listen to and purchase all the songs here. )

You Don't Wanna Know Me

(Jacob) My first introduction to the Ducky Boys occurred a few years ago when a friend presented me with a mix aptly titled "Music That is Good for You". First song on that mix was Pass You By. And so happened the discovery of another great band. 

You Don't Wanna Know Me is one heck of a way to kick-off the album. Super catchy tune. Upbeat, energetic, and definitely something I would blast on a road trip, especially at 3am when I need something to keep me awake and alive. So, you might even could say that this song may save lives.

(SSH) This song reminds me of an impromptu road trip.  Not the kind of road trip that you have planned for a while, or that you have saved up for, or even scheduled time off of work for, but the kind where you decide at the very last minute that you just have to get away from it all.  Even if the 'get away' location is just an hour away and you end up at a dive where you have never been before.  While listening to this, I pictured myself in my car drumming my fingers on my steering wheel. Road trips are essential to the soul, even if it is just to the next town!

{{Editor's note: in other words, add this song to all your road trip mixes}}

Enough of My Time
(SSH) I would vote this song the Ultimate Social Revolution song of the year.  Everyone has at least one of these kinds of epiphany's in their life.  They recognize where no progress is being made, and a change needs to happen.  The reasons differ from job titles, bad relationships, or even walls that we build around ourselves that limit us, but the passion and anger we feel at ourselves and or others is the same.  When we do realize this, we are ready to say it (or in this case sing it) out loud

(Brenda) So I listened to a bunch of songs, they were great for drowning out my annoying neighbors and their really loud dinner party. I think Enough of My Time was my favorite since it seems like a great "Kiss Off" Song and I could use one of those right now.

Nothin' About You
(SSH) This song would get the Karaoke award in my book.  The voice reflects pain, heartbreak, and anger, however, the tone and sound is too relaxed to be a fresh wound.  It is something that I feel most can relate to.  The pain is remembered, but the wounds have healed just enough to be able to call in reinforcements to drown your sorrows in a sing off with good friends

Live Forever

(Katherine: me, your lovely host!) I discovered the Ducky Boys around the time that their album Three Chords and the Truth came out, so I can't claim original gangster status, but I have embraced each new release. Looking at Dead End Streets as a piece in their entire music catalog, they seem to have found that magic balance between being consistent  with their songs, yet still evolving. More than on any other of their albums, band members are sharing lead vocals and songwriting duties, which adds layers of differing points of views, and they are experimenting with instrumentation and yet, all these song are still Ducky Boys songs through and through. 

Live Forever, clocking in at a cool 1 minute and 17 seconds, is an early stand out for me. My teenage years were not the greatest years of my life, but it was during those years that I found music as saving grace and this song takes me back there: Do you remember being free and young? 17 and in love with a song?

The Time We're Given
(Miranda The Time We're Given has a late '70s vibe to it, made more complex with overhead jet vibrations, ambient party sounds, and some dead-on lyrics. Of the three songs I previewed, this one had me pressing repeat.  

Dead End Streets
(Jacob) I like the mellow, easygoing guitar. Nothing complicated, just a really nice, slow jam.

(Noah)  I've been a fan of the Ducky Boys for awhile, and usually associate them with the song, "I'll Rise Up." Probably not exactly what a band wants to hear since that song was recorded so long ago and life has moved on since then, but sometimes a song just freezes a moment of your life and that is that.  But I have always admired the stark honesty in their songs. Because of this, the title track of the new album, Dead End Streets is a favorite.  From at least my ears,  it is a very personal account of being not only a songwriter, but sharing those songs with the masses and acknowledging and embracing the connection that is formed between them and the listener. 

'Till the Wheels Fall Off

(Jacob) The album starts off with a bang and ends the same way. 

(Katherine) If you could sum up the entire music community into one song, this would be it. I would love to see this song performed live, you can tell it would be one those numbers that the whole crowd would burst into a massive sing-a-long free for all.  "So long ago, but it still feels like yesterday, I heard a song that gave my life a needed change." 

{{As of today, 'Till the Wheels Fall Off is available for free download}}

And then came a comment from my friend LJ:
This {album} didn't end up being something that really spoke to me, but I do admire the energy in it.

Now, LJ is one of my favorite people in the whole wide world and I think there is something to this comment. There is a lot of music out there, a lot. Not of all it is going to connect to us at every given point in our lives, but there is still room to admire it for the energy and expression behind it all. 

And fade to black.  

Thank you all for playing along. We all live in our own corners of the world, it's nice to know we can still connect and talk about the things that matter. 


  1. I'm sad I missed this! (Curse the jet lag that has me waking up at 4 and basically incoherent for the other 23 hours, it sucks getting old!)

    I'll just have to add my comments here.

    These are a bunch of fellows who I've never heard of outside the realm of Katie's Music Wonderland but they automatically make me feel like summer, rebellion, first love, and all sorts of happy kick a$$ery rolled into one. Maybe they are just what this girl needs to tell the jet lag where to get off and get back on her feet again!

  2. I 100% agree with making friends with a person who works at a record store!! That's actually how I started listening to the Ducky Boys years ago!! This is a wonderful band, & I liked how you introduced your friends to their music!! I wish I had friends who were more open minded to my music suggestions!!