The Norman Transcript

N-town reviews

November 7, 2013

Music review: Starlings, TN create music reflective of the South

NORMAN — Musician: Starlings, TN

Album name: All the Good Times (2013, Chicken Ranch Records)

Why you should listen: Hipster hayseed quartet Starlings, TN are unmistakably sons of the South. Based in Austin, their band’s name is pronounced Starlings, Tennessee. Google Maps finds no place by that name in the Volunteer State but their new album “All the Good Times” sounds as if it’s more a state of mind. The disc is on Chicken Ranch Records whose slogan is “We Gots Our Own Damn Town Music.”

A pair of the songs make reference to genuine places below the Mason Dixon line. “Back to Magnolia” is sweeter than syrup on buttermilk biscuits. It’s lead vocalist and band leader Steven Stubblefield’s homage to his family’s home. Although the lyrical sentiment may not be popular down at the Southern Baptist church in town, he hopes in his “next life” to return as a honey bee buzzing around Magnolia’s blossoms.

“Oh! Whiskey” is a tribute as well, to the clear or brown liquor favored throughout the Deep South. “Whiskey sweet/ whiskey mine/ my one true love/ my only crime,” Stubblefield sings. It’s a passionate anthem with a sly allusion to oral sex.

The world may not have been clamoring for another cover of Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon of Kentucky” but track five here is an up-tempo twang twister. The exciting musicianship justifies the choice of a certified chestnut. Folks in much of this great nation would have no clue what to expect from seeing a song titled “Burnt Ends.” It’s about the smoky crust of a perfectly charred beef brisket found on good barbecue restaurant menus from Kansas City to Dallas. Stubblefield’s jarring line about putting “yaller mustard” on anything barbecue only slightly detracts from an otherwise terrific tune. Barbecue variations can be an article of faith in these parts, son. Pay a visit to Starlings, TN for a kaleidoscopic listen to their new songs of the south.

Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
N-town reviews
  • Book review: Kidd delivers thought-provoking novel on slavery

    by Amber Hodge Book: The Invention of Wings (2014, Viking) Author: Sue Monk Kidd Why you should read: Kidd might be known for her worldwide hit “The Secret Life of Bees,” which released in 2002 and spent more than two years on the NY Times ...

    April 11, 2014

  • Book review: Philomena a sad, worthwhile read

    by Amber Hodge Book: The Lost Child of Philomena Lee (2009, Macmillan) Author: Martin Sixsmith Why you should read: Originally published in 2009, “Philomena” tells the true story of Michael Hess, who was a lawyer, and later deputy chief ...

    April 11, 2014

  • Music review: Johnny Drummer brings spark, swagger

    Musician: Johnny Drummer Album name: Bad Attitude Why you should listen: It’s probably reason enough to spin this record that producer Michael Frank wrote a thousand word introduction for the liner notes. The man who founded Earwig Music ...

    April 11, 2014

  • Music review: Helen Kelter Skelter offers psychedelic gem

    Musician: Helen Kelter Skelter Album name: Self-titled Why you should listen: Helen Kelter Skelter is a Norman band comprised of Eli Wimmer, Cody Clifton, Nathan Harwell, Jay Jamison and Tim Gregory. Their band’s name is a tongue twisting ...

    April 11, 2014

  • Book review: Anna Quindlen creates poetic narrative in Still Life with Bread Crumbs

    Book: Still Life with Bread Crumbs (2014, Random House) Author: Anna Quindlen Why you should read: It’s hard to find authors who have the kind of talent that brings life to inanimate objects. Fortunately, Anna Quindlen is one such writer ...

    March 14, 2014

  • Book review: Under the Never Sky a clever sci-fi

    Book: Under the Never Sky (2012, HarperCollins) Author: Veronica Rossi Why you should read: “Under the Never Sky” is a clever young adult novel built around a distopian future akin to “The Hunger Games” or the “Divergent” series....

    March 14, 2014

  • Music review: Goodnight Moonshine offers fresh sound

    Musician: Molly Venter and Eben Pariser Album name: Goodnight Moonshine Why you should listen: It’s the rare 21st century professional musician who has just one project. Molly Venter and Eben Pariser are no exceptions. Venter played here ...

    March 14, 2014

  • Music review: Eddie Ate Dynamite is explosive, twisted listen

    Musician: Jason Vivone and the Billy Bats Album name: Eddie Ate Dynamite Why you should listen: All you have to do is glance at this album’s cover art to know it’s going to be a twisted listen. A stick of high explosive in a hot dog bun on ...

    March 14, 2014

  • Book review: Rainbow Rowell paints perfect love story

    Book: Eleanor & Park (2013, St. Martin’s Press) Author: Rainbow Rowell Why you should read: After 11 weeks of gracing the NY Times Best Seller list for young adult novels, “Eleanor & Park” currently rests at No. 8 on the charts. With its ...

    February 14, 2014

  • Book review: JJ Abrams creates literary masterpiece

    Book: S. (2013, Little, Brown & Company) Authors: J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst Why you should read: Created from the mind of J.J. Abrams, producer of hit films and television shows such as “Lost,” “Star Trek Into Darkness” and “Mission: ...

    February 14, 2014