Collin Herring: The Other Side of Kindness 

Outside of his home state of Texas, Collin Herring is relatively unknown. That's a shame.

On his second CD, The Other Side of Kindness, Herring and his band put out their eclectic mix of country, rock, punk, and folk. Produced by Stuart Sikes, who's produced albums for The White Stripes and Modest Mouse, this 10-track CD shows a lot of promise. With one exception, Herring and his band are up-and-coming 20-somethings. The exception is the player on pedal steel. That person is a 55-year-old piano tuner, Ben Roi Herring, Collin's dad. The story is that the younger Herring couldn't find anyone else who could play pedal steel. On a whim, he asked his dad if he could learn to play it for him. And he did. The results are evident because the pedal steel is featured prominently on the album, most noticeably on the song "Sinkhole." Herring's father also plays piano, organ and accordion as well as background vocals.

His songs seem to explore the dark side (as most of the best alt-country tunes do). On "Aphorism," he sings, "I need a new soul / Got a hole in my shoe / Reached in my pocket / There's a hole in there, too." On another intense tune, "Motorcade," he broods, "She says she's sick of me / I say I'm sick of me, too."

When released, The Other Side debuted at No. 1 on Miles of Music, the online alt-country music store. At that time, it was outselling recent releases by the Old 97's and the Drive-By Truckers, among others.

So if you're looking for the perfect gift for someone who thinks she or he knows everyone in the alt-country scene, pick up a copy of The Other Side of Kindness. Maybe you can help Herring become better known outside of Texas at the same time.

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