Hayes Carll

Hayes Carll
Hayes Carll Videos

Hayes Carll hasn’t been resting on his laurels since topping critics polls and winning awards for his 2008 album, Trouble in Mind. Instead, he’s been on the road nearly nonstop with his band, "The Poor Choices" blasting through honky tonks and rock clubs across the U.S. and beyond. Along the way, he’s been inspired to write a crop of new tunes that the acclaimed songwriter says are “a layman’s take on our country – a snapshot of America in some small way.” The result: the sharply drawn collection KMAG YOYO (& Other American Stories), his second release from Lost Highway. KMAG YOYO is pronounced “kay-mag, yo-yo.”

A military acronym that stands for “Kiss My Ass Guys, You’re on Your Own,” the title track is one of a dozen songs that brings to life such rich characters as its protagonist, a young Army foot soldier in Afghanistan who becomes a Pentagon guinea pig.  The scorching guitars of “KMAG YOYO” equate to musical adrenaline, while the hallucinatory tale of military intrigue unfolds.  

Fiery rock, twangy country, pensive folk and even a touch of gospel comprise KMAG YOYO’s sonic palette, produced by Brad Jones (also at the helm for Trouble in Mind). Rather than enter the studio with a batch of completed material, Carll and his band picked up where they’d left off onstage – jamming on riffs they’d developed on the road. “I wanted to challenge myself musically,” says Carll, “and see if I could capture that live dynamic. A lot of the songs came with the music first, with the music calling the lyrics.” After completing the instrumental tracks with the band, Carll set to work, his witty wordplay matching the temper of the instrumentation. The honky-tonkin’ “Hard Out Here,” with its raucous sing-along chorus, and the full-on rocker “Stomp and Holler” document denizens making the best of the economic downturn, including one frustrated performer in “Stomp” who claims, “I’m like James Brown, only white and taller.”

A master of what Carll calls “degenerate love songs,” he takes a more tender approach on the bittersweet “Bye Bye Baby,” steel-guitar-fueled “Chances Are,” and vividly painted “Grand Parade.” A bit depraved and in the tradition of “he said/she said” duets, “Another Like You” finds Carll’s hard partying Democrat trading insults with Cary Ann Hearst’s saucy young Republican; the mismatched twosome discover that, as Carll points out, “alcohol and sexual attraction can overcome a lot.”  “I’m of the opinion that almost all relationships are dysfunctional in some way or another,” says Carll about the blazing “The Loving Cup” – sure to be a dance-floor favorite.

On the rollicking “Bottle in My Hand,” Carll is joined by likeminded road warriors Corb Lund and Todd Snider in an accordion-and-banjo dosed ode to the hobo lifestyle. The spare “Grateful for Christmas” poignantly looks back at a family’s vanishing holiday traditions with the passing of time. And lifted up by old-school gospel vocals, Carll reflects on “all these years of runnin’ around/flyin’ high and fallin’ down” on the closing track, “Hide Me.” 

The “most autobiographical of the bunch,” says Carll, is “The Letter,” which  “was sort of my postcard home, in that I spend two-thirds of my life on the road.” Home is Austin, Texas, where the 34-year-old singer-songwriter settled four years ago with his family. Raised a sixth-generation Texan in a Houston suburb, Carll early on found inspiration in Kerouac and Dylan, hit the road after college in Conway, Arkansas, and honed his craft playing to the locals in Texas coastal towns like Crystal Beach and Galveston. His first two indie albums, Flowers and Liquor (2002) and Little Rock (2004), garnered an enthusiastic and ever-expanding audience, as did his engaging live shows, sparked by Carll’s humorous storytelling and between-song patter. Along the way he has written with some of his songwriting role models, including Guy Clark, and Ray Wylie Hubbard, with whom he collaborated on  “Drunken Poet’s Dream,” one of the attention-getting tracks on Trouble in Mind. Of their kinship, Hubbard has said, “I always like writing with Hayes, because he’s fearless.”

Trouble in Mind won raves from such pundits as Robert Christgau, who called Carll, “smarter about the beat than his shambling ways would make you think and funnier than shit when he wants to be, which is often,” and Entertainment Weekly’s Ken Tucker agreed saying Carll, "was the creator of one of the year’s best country albums.” Carll’s sardonic, yet catchy “She Left Me for Jesus” raised the ire of conservative radio programmers and TV evangelists, but drove Don Imus to declare it “the greatest country song ever written.”


Putting together a band with whom to barnstorm America, Carll realized that “though I was very comfortable as a singer-songwriter, fronting a band is somewhat of a different animal. It’s kind of an evolving process,” the self-deprecating frontman continues, “learning how to play with and to trust a band was a big step for me. It ultimately opened up a whole new world of musical possibilities and I ran with it.” From Albany, New York, to Albuquerque, New Mexico, Carll and his band “worked up a dynamic between us and an energy that I liked and wanted to translate onto a record,” says Carll. So his fellow road dogs joined him in the studio to cut the multi-textured KMAG YOYO, the title track a co-write with Scott Davis and John Evans, the latter of whom also co-wrote and lends vocal harmonies to “Grand Parade.” 

“We had a little bit of swagger going in, which was part of what I wanted to capture,” said Carll about the album, “we’d been out on the road for a couple years and were sounding good together. Combining that with some timely songs, I think we came up with something special.” 


Date Venue City State Note
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04/24/2011 - Carll and Isbell heat up the honky tonk at Brighton Music Hall - Read More
04/04/2011 - Hayes Carll, Shovels & Rope - Read More
02/17/2011 - Hayes Carll Preps For The Big Stage With Some Smaller Ones - Read More
12/28/2010 - Former kid from the Woodlands, Hayes Carll was steadfast in pursuit of a singer-songwriter career - Read More
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Average Rating : 0              Total Reviews: 99

Hayes Carll  09/06/2005            
I picked up this album because I saw Hayes was nominated for emerging artist at the Americana Music Awards. After hearing the album and also picking up a copy of his debut Flowers and Liquor I'm only left to wonder why he wasn't also up for Album of the Year. This is simply a great album that only shows a glimpse of gret things to come. I've heard a live recording when he covers a few tunes and one of the few artists who actually breath new life into others songs. He won't be the 'next great texas songwriter.' Better yet he'll just be Hayes Carll and likely set the bar for the future of Americana.
Hayes Carll  07/24/2005            
I got his Little Rock CD for one song and now I am in love with all of his music!!!!!!!He is a great artist.
Hayes Carll  07/01/2005            
Grounds and Sounds Coffeehouse, Morehead, Ky.
Well we had Hays drop by our venue back in the spring for a "surprise" lucky visit. Open mic was going on when he and the boys rolled in and we whipped 'em up some hot panini sandwiches and some coffee to wake them up. Hays looked like he could use some. We cut open mic short so he could have the last hour before closing. I started to ask Hays if he wanted to hit the couch in the back room for a while to maybe "come out of it". They all looked wore out as they had just drove in from Cleveland for the show. Then it happened. Hays took the stage and the whole place was in total awe. We just didn't expect what we got. And what we got was the absolute best performance we have seen at Grounds and Sounds since opening. WOW is all I can say. Hard to describe that type of energy. When you get the chance.....GO. You wont regret it. I am exited to announce that I am in the process of booking Hays back at Grounds and Sounds Coffeehouse in either July or August and I just cant wait. Thanks Hays for a great night. Rick Litton, Grounds and Sounds Coffeehouse Morehead, Ky. 606 780-8101
Hayes Carll  06/15/2005            
I love this cd. The more I listen to it the more I like it. I really enjoy his style of writing. His voice took a little while to get used to, but now I like every song.
Hayes Carll  05/04/2005            
Definetly one of the best songwriters in Texas. Between Hayes, Max Stalling, Walt Wilkins, Todd Snider, Nathan Hamilton, and Brandon Rhyder...my cd player never opens
Hayes Carll  05/03/2005            
This is the best Americana CD of the year so far. I don't know if there's a better or more likeable songwriter under 50 ... Todd Snider or Adam Carroll could give Hayes a run for his money, but that's about it. These songs are just great and there's a wealth of personality and soul behind them.
Hayes Carll  04/11/2005            
We have a great review of Little Rock featured in our weekly audio podcast review show up on AmericanaRoots.com. You can't go wrong with the 2nd CD from Hayes. This is a GREAT CD.
Hayes Carll  03/30/2005            
Saw Hayes at The Bellcourt in Nashville opening for Todd Snider. Great show, both nights rocked...wish he had got up to jam with 'em at the end but it was great anyway. Picked up "Little Rock" while there and listened on the drive back to Cookeville. AWESOME ALBUM! Thought the show was good but the album's even better!
Hayes Carll  03/23/2005            
Hayes is one of the best artists I've heard in a long time. I first saw him a few years ago at Gruene and have been very proud to watch him grow in popularity. With a great voice and a raw edge that's present in his writings, I'm confident that Hayes will continue to make music as long as he wants to. . . and I'll be waiting to buy it. Congratulations on your new album and the airplay you're getting . . . especially on 92.1 KBNT. Oh, and to 'Wig,' why don't you piss off and let me make up my own mind here in inferior land.
Hayes Carll  03/23/2005            
I was in Austin and bought this cd on a whim and holy crap was I glad that I did. There is a strange maturity in both the vocals and the song writing that flows from a roots/traditional sound. While being a huge fan of the red dirt/texas country music scene, I agree that the talent has become a little watered down; however, I would predict that Hayes Carll is going to become a huge star if this first cd is any indication of his potential. Most every song on the album is original and enjoyable with tracks 10 and 11 bookending my enjoyment. Track 10 dedicated to Hayes friend is poetic and heartfelt while Track 11 and its chickens I could do without. Within a couple of days James will tell Hayes how he sounds too this or that, but like every other post, he's only reacting to an inferiority complex.
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