Music columnists have penned a lot of words and spilled a lot of ink describing the music business, how it evolves, and how musicians adapt to an unpredictable business model. The act of making music and the act of navigating the music business are two very different things, and despite all of the crap musicians deal with, there is a beauty that lies within the uncertainty of the business. These days, a creative musician with an independent mindset can make the rules and release music by methods that work for them.
Release a few 7-inches. Put out four songs on cassette and sell them at shows or via your website. Or, in the case of Austin, Texas-bred country rocker Aaron Einhouse, release a single song or two every four months, accompanied by a video, and then crank out a full-length record every few years.
The single song method is working for Einhouse, who will pull into Durango on Friday and Saturday, where he’ll perform at the Wild Horse Saloon.
In a world full of fickle music fans who buy singles rather than an entire album, some musicians need to go for the inexpensive method when releasing their work. Einhouse remains a realist who tosses out one song and video at a time, letting his live shows act as the bread and butter that keeps fans asking for more.
“It’s so much more cost-effective to do singles rather than do a whole record, where you promote three or four of the songs, and three-quarters of the people (who) listen don’t hear the rest,” said Einhouse. “That’s what I’m doing right now. I don’t know that I’ll do that forever, but we’ll see.”
A sturdy listen reveals Einhouse has done his homework, studying all of the important contributions made to the country, country-rock and cow-punk genres.
Einhouse’s last traditional record release was “It Ain’t Pretty,” released in 2016. It’s an album that’s country enough for The Wild Horse, yet still rock and roll enough for the Dickies coat-wearing, Pabst Blue Ribbon-drinking crowd of rock fans, who know enough to appreciate some Johnny Cash or David Allen Coe, along with Lucero or the Old 97’s. Einhouse’s album, and his sound in general, reflect a kid reared on the classic rock canon, a kid who was lucky enough to discover the songs written by the defiant, anti-Nashville, indie-folk outlaws who have kicked around Texas’ capitol for decades.
His last few singles are honest and pure country-rock. “LoLo” is reminiscent of the country blues of ZZ Top, while “John’s Camaro” is a bouncy number with lyrics that are right out of a classic American narrative.
Einhouse can ballad it up as well. Tunes like “Back Down to Earth” and “Nobody Knows” are far removed from what people know as country. They’re devoid of excessive of twang, and they dip into American jam and roots music instead.
“My mom got me into music early on. Going through all her old music, they are big classic rock fans. Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin. Then I heard a Townes Van Zandt song at my uncle’s funeral. My uncle was a big fan of Townes, Guy Clark, and a Rodney Crowell fan. So, I heard that and it jumped out at me. So, I started going through all those catalogs and listening to all the songs. Now I can sing every one of them and play most of them. That’s what started me on this kind of music,” said Einhouse.
“Yeah, we do kind of have a country background, but also, you know there’s a lot of folk in there, and a lot of rock and roll, all that kind of comes out.”
Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. firstname.lastname@example.org.