eye (2006-10)

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Local Album Review

Return of the Judybats?

Bar Flicks

Born of Strife

Local Album Review

Produced in Memphis by the legendary Jim Dickinson , Citation rolls out in a somewhat more mature fashion than its predecessors. There’s always been a strong sense of the past tense in Miller’s songwriting, but with this go-round he’s bypassed the rearview window perspective and taken time to actually turn around and gawk. During the writing process, he even rented an apartment in the history-rich Fort expressly for the purposed of marveling at the distance between then and now—which naturally unraveled into a string of past-present comparisons. The moral-fueled battles of yesteryear vs. today’s high-tech cowboy warfare. Steamed-up car windows vs. mortgage payments. Whatever nostalgia Miller may have been looking for, it clearly found him first.

As ever, backing band The Commonwealth nails “polished-chaos” like a champ; it barrels through rowdier fare like “8 Miles a Gallon” like there’s beer on the other side, then straightens up its act just in time for ballads like “Long Goodnight.” Of course, the whole outfit sounds better live, and buying this album is no excuse not to attend its Blue Cats show on March 24. But the ugly reality is that that’s the ugly reality of albums, so suck it up. You’ll be glad you did.

Return of the Judybats?

The band consists of twin brothers Mike and Doug Hairrell , on drums and guitar respectively, as well as Rob Bell on bass. And there’s no skuzzy little jerry-rigged recording “studio” in a Fort Sanders closet for these guys—the foursome records in a pimped-out extra apartment in Mike Hairrell’s Sequoyah Hills abode. “It’s awesome. We just go over there and drink some wine and record,” says Heiskell. “If you put something down and you don’t like it, you just go home. There’s no deadline.”

Heiskell’s distaste for all things music-biz extends to the radio as well as playing live—he says he only listens to classical and NPR. But before you label him too much of a fuddy-duddy, let him explain, “When I put it on the radio now, I feel like I’m hearing jingles. I think there’s a whole new world out there of people trying to make good music but not being concerned with radio-play and all that.” Citing his friend Mark Eitzel , lead singer of American Music Club , Heiskell laughs, “He calls himself a ‘couture artist,’ because he’s got such a little bitty niche audience.” His music might be less radio-friendly than the Judybats, but they’re certainly MySpace-friendly. You’ll be able to download tracks from the album when they’re recorded. And, eventually, the record will be available online.

Bar Flicks

Born of Strife

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