Tuesday November 06th 2012, 6:09 pm
Mixin’ With Brian Whelan
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A little over two years ago, When You Awake was one of the first music blogs to rave about a talented L.A. musician named Brian Whelan. At the time, Brian was calling his new band Wheelhouse, but more recently they’ve undergone a few personnel changes and today he’s more likely to headline his gigs under the unassuming moniker, Brian Whelan Band.

Brian Whelan

Since 2010, he’s also been playing with Chris Shiflett & the Dead Peasants, the Ross Flournoy-led indie band Apex Manor, Mike Stinson, Randy Weeks, Tony Gilkyson, the Parson Red Heads, Ferraby Lionheart, Correatown and at least a half-dozen others. He’s also been working as a hired gun, and playing a variety of instruments, in Dwight Yoakam’s new band, traveling around the world and playing the kinds of shows where the sideman often falls just outside the spotlight shining down on the main attraction center stage.


But now it’s Brian’s turn to shine, and his main focus is back on making and playing his own music, and we’re happy to announce that his first album has just been released. It’s called Decider, after the lead track, one that we’d discussed in our interview (interesting to note that the song and album is called this when the street date is November 6th, election day!). To help celebrate the release of Brian’s new album we’ve asked him to compile his very own Mixin’ With Mixtape, which Brian says are his “Top Ten Songs For Nite Owls & Insomniacs.” More after the jump.

Brian Whelans’ Top Ten Songs For Nite Owls & Insomniacs:

1. Warren Zevon- I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead
This guy is one of my favorite songwriters of all time. At the time he actually was drinking heartbreak, motor oil and Bombay gin. This song is an excellent choice for that moment when you need something to keep the party going – especially if you happen to speak Spanish.

2. Bob Dylan- Most Of The Time (Demo)
I love all of Bob Dylan’s music, like a monkey loves bananas, but I go crazy for this weird, old-man country blues trip he’s been taking for the last 15 or 20 years. His band is always incredible, but the starkness of this performance (what sounds like a very early demo) helps to capture the agony in this seemingly casual lyric.

3. Chuck Berry- Wee Wee Hours
Well, this man is the reason a lot of us work in Rock and Roll.  He’s still out there working every weekend, just playing super loud guitar and unleashing his verbal wrath on audiences across this great land.  This gnarly old blues features some hot shot piano work from Johnnie Johnson.

4. Jerry Lee Lewis- She Still Comes Around (To Love What’s Left Of Me)
Written by Glenn Sutton and used as part of Jerry Lee Lewis’ country and western comeback in the late ’60s, this one is a great twist on country music’s standard tale of woe. Though Jerry Lee is certainly far from being a “model husband,” his woman still takes care of him. His vocal take on  this one makes me pretty emotional, especially late at night.

5. James Carr- The Dark End Of The Street
I’ve been singing this one since I was about ten years old, and I am here to tell you that EVERY SINGLE AUDIENCE went all weak-kneed and wacky for this one.  A staple in R&B and really, in pop music, this one is a late night burner for certain. I just love that urge to keep the secret as long as possible – “If we should meet, just walk on by” – I mean, this is the best, right?

6. Loudon Wainwright III- Motel Blues
I was hipped to this one by a musical expert; I had never heard it. Great traveling musician song that captures the bittersweetness of the lifestyle without the typical heavy-handinness or corny “white line” metaphors. I love the line “There’s a bible in the drawer, don’t be a afraid.”  If you’re feeling isolated in the motel room somewhere, I guess it’s great if you can pull a song like this out of it.

7. Terry Melcher- These Bars Have Made A Prisoner Out Of Me
Used to play this one with Mike Stinson – Terry Melcher (Doris Day’s son) was a record producer in the 60’s and 70’s and more than likely one of  the dudes Charlie Manson was trying to kill before he was taken into custody. This song is presumably unrelated to all of that – the title is a horrible pun, but the narrator is so unbelievably pathetic the song is able to rise to the occasion.

8. Johnny Bush- Green Snakes On The Ceiling
Now, this one’s for the late nighters who have partied just a little bit too hard – as in, so hard that alcohol withdrawal is causing you to see shit that ain’t there. Johnny Bush, a Texas honky tonker, sings the dickens out of this uber-painful late night lament.

9. Johnny Paycheck- Motel Time Again
Check out Lloyd Green all up on that pedal steel. This song is the precursor for the Loudon Wainwright song on this mix – the story is one we’ve all lived countless times, but the difference is Paycheck’s voice. The man was a sad clown if ever there was one, with just a touch of lunacy to set him apart.

10. Ross Flournoy and Brian Whelan- Walk A Thin Line
I recorded this funky thing with my good friend Ross while we were making the Apex Manor record.  Most likely this was captured in the middle of the night over many bottles. I don’t really know what this song is about, but one thing I do know is that the sadness and resignation comes across no matter how you perform the song. Here it gets the lonely acoustic treatment, complete with ragged vocals that belie our lifestyle at the time.

Brian Whelan’s Decider is out on November 6, 2012, on the brand new L.A. label Three Moves Equals a Fire. You can pick up your own copy wherever you buy your music online, from iTunes and Amazon, etc.

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