Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sleeper Track: Emil Amos and Holy Sons - Getting Old

I've been poking around the biography of drummer Emil Amos lately, trying to get a handle on his different projects, most recently joining OM (and releasing a 7" inch single on Sub Pop), and before that, working with Grails and Holy Sons. The 2003 Holy Sons album, I Want to Live a Peaceful Life is an interesting atmospheric texture folk rock album, in the vein of Calexico's southwestern tinged alt-country folk album Carried to Dust, released in September on Quarterstick records.

To my mind, the standout track from that album is Getting Old.

More information and links about Emil Amos:

Monday, November 24, 2008

Blitzen Trapper: War on Machines

From NPR Music: From "alt-folk-rock" band Blitzen Trapper's recent CD, Furr, a streaming version of the song: War on Machines.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Random Roundup

Folk Rock Radio's carefully selected internet picks for the week:

Australian Press Coverage of Fleet Foxes
The 40th Anniversary of the Beatles' White Album
Paste Magazine Interview with The Watson Twins
Free Daptone Records Sampler on Amazon

From NPR Music:
Ollabelle Recorded Live in Concert
Jonatha Brooke: Rediscovering Woody Guthrie
Vetvier: Shaggy Folk, Dug Out of Amber
Shearwater: Tiny Desk Concert
Old Crow Medicine Show: Return to Roots

Following up on the Massey Hall 1971 release, Neil Young is releasing Sugar Mountain — Live At Canterbury House 1968 on December 2

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Top 10 folk rock songs from the top 100 albums of the 1970s

Pitchfork put out their top 100 albums of the 1970s (based on their group of writers) and it's an interesting list with a bunch of lesser known albums mixed in there among the usual suspects. I thought I'd go through a list of 10 recommended folk rock tracks from their list. The first half of the list follows, the rest to come soon:

1. Neil Young - After the Gold Rush - 1970
Though the songs Southern Man and After the Gold Rush are the most well known along with the studio cut of Don't Let it Bring You Down (overshadowed by the 4-Way Street live version), I think the opening track Tell Me Why, doesn't get quite enough credit.

2. Joni Mitchell - Blue - 1971
This is such a unified and cultural bedrock album, it's hard to single out any tracks, since they all work together. If I had to pick, though, I'd say This Flight Tonight and California make my hair tingle the most.

3. Harry Nilsson - Nilsson Schmilsson - 1971
Just one word: Coconut. Sort of like some of the daffier songs on Ram.

4. George Harrison - All Things Must Pass - 1970
Every now and then I wonder if I'm only the one who loves the song Apple Scruffs ? The other highlights of this massive formerly triple vinyl album include My Sweet Lord, What is Life, If Not for You, and All Things Must Pass.

5. Pink Floyd - Meddle - 1971
Catching Pink Floyd in the post-Syd Barrett transition between Atom Heart Mother and Dark Side of the Moon, this album is probably the only Pink Floyd album with Gilmour's folksy side ( wonderfully realized on his third solo album On An Island ) getting some of the limelight. The pastoral track Fearless has always been one of my favorites.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tuesday Trio: Richard Shindell, Lucky Kaplansky, Dar Williams

I spent a bit of today listening to some of the work of Richard Shindell, Dar Williams, and Lucy Kaplansky. The three were briefly (from 1998 until 2000) the acoustic trio, Cry Cry Cry, that resulted in an eponymously titled album (Razor & Tie Records) comprised largely of cover songs of lesser-known artists. Prior to that, Richard had produced three records under the Shanachie label. In 2000, Shindell and his family moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and recorded Vuelta (Koch Records, 2004). Ricahrd's most recent CD is an astonishing collection of covers called South of Delia which features guest appearances by Lucy Kaplansky, Viktor Krauss, Richard Thompson, Tony Trischka, Eliza Gilkyson and others, and relates to Richard's looking back at the USA through the eyes of an expat.

Richard Shindell - Wisteria

Dar Williams - It's Allright

Web Links:
Richard Shindell's Web Site

Lucy Kaplansky solo video
Luck Kaplansky's MySpace page
Lucy Kaplansky's Web Site

Dar Williams' MySpace page
Dar Williams' Web Site

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Jenny Lewis: Acid Tongue

I'm a big fan of Jenny Lewis (also of Rilo Kiley) and her first solo record, Rabbit Fur Coat (with the Watson Twins). That album featured such great songs as The Big Guns, Rise Up with Fists!! and a fantastic cover of The Traveling Wilbury's Handle with Care featuring Death Cab's Ben Gibbard, Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst and She &amp Him's M. Ward. Rabbit Fur Coat was released on the New York-based Oberst/Krenkel-founded label Team Love .

Released on 9/23, Acid Tongue (click for production and label credits) is Jenny's second solo album and it's got some great stuff, I particularly like the title track which features just an acoustic guitar and a bass playing behing Jenny and the backing vocal talents of (Lewis' boyfriend) Jonathan Rice and Chris Robinson (of the Black Crowes).

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Blitzen Trapper: Furr

I've been really enjoying Portland, Ore.-based Blitzen's Trapper new pastoral folk-rock album Furr (released in September on Sub Pop). The previous three albums were self-released and Wild Mountain Nation, clearly got people's attention. They've been getting a lot of positive press lately from Billboard, The Onion, and Rolling Stone, among others. Their touring a lot this Fall as well.

Title Track (Furr) via SubPop.

Blitzen Trapper on the web:

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Amie Miriello

From Richard Paton of the Toldeo Blade:

I CAME AROUND Amie Miriello (BellaSonic)

This is the debut both of Miriello and her label, and it is a fortuitous pairing. Miriello is a fresh new voice, though she also shows the confidence and flair of a more seasoned artist on this disc of songs that she co-wrote and which journey through pop, rock, folk, and alt-country.
The songs are rich melodically, given vitality and rhythmic energy by her tight backing band, and feature lyrics that are everything from clever to sad to wry.
She sometimes affects an almost conversational style of writing, as on "Brand New," when she talks of the guy who looks like "the kind of a person who would take me to a party on the wrong side of town." On the wonderful, folky "Drifter," she writes of a relationship in which "Tonight I feel you come back home like a drifter, finding shelter in these arms."
There are occasional echoes of other singers - can a hint of Joni Mitchell be heard in "Beauty of Goodbye," a folk-rock hybrid with a great chorus? - but Miriello has her own voice as performer and writer.
As if to prove it, she closes out the disc with a tougher, more bluesy sound on "Hey," showing yet one more side of a singer comfortable in many genres.
This is a strong debut. One of those discs that keeps getting better each time you hear it.

Amie on the web:

Friday, September 26, 2008

Teddy Thompson

Teddy Thompson, son of folk-rock legends Richard and Linda Thompson, has a new disc (his fourth) entitled A Piece of What You Need [ Verve Forecast ]. For this album, Thompson co usually co-produces and has production credits and guest appearances on albums from his parents and pals like Rufus Wainwright, hired outside producer Marius De Vries, known for his work with Bjork, David Gray, and Madonna, among others. One of my favorite Thompson songs, though, comes from his first self-titled CD, released in 2000, a song called So Easy, featuring Rufus Wainwright on background vocals.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Blind Pilot

Blind Pilot started out as a duo featuring Israel Nebeker (guitar, vocals) and Ryan Dobrowski (drums) but now includes a number of performers at their live shows. The song Go, On, Say It from their album 3 Rounds and a Sound (label: In Music We Trust) was featured on the KEXP Blog after the band played at Portland's Music Fest NW last week.

Read more about them and their habit of touring by bicycle (with gear in tow) in this interview conducted by Jim Beckmann or check out the band's blog.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Dr. Dog: "The Old Days" from the album Fate

Chad Syme

Photo by Chad Syme

Dr.Dog's recent album Fate has been on of my favorite lately. Here's some words from the KEXP Blog along with a selected track:

Dr. Dog - The Old Days (MP3)

Feeling at home now with the 24-track recorder first used on 2007s We All Belong, Philadelphia’s Dr. Dog has taken its sound to new heights. Fate takes the band’s love of 60s pop and psychedelia and gives it the best studio treatment in the band’s growing and highly successful discography. No Dr. Dog post would be complete without mentioning their most obvious influence, The Beatles. Guitarist Scott McMicken and bassist Toby Leaman certainly play the Lennon and McCartney roles, trading and sharing primary vocal and songwriting duties, but there’s plenty to Dr. Dog beyond the nostalgia they so effortlessly create. While catering to the strengths of each band member, the album branches out into soul and gospel (Hang On), reggae (The Breeze) and plenty of funk and R&B. Whether or not Fate is the album these guys were destined to make, it’s the greatest translation of their amazing live show to disc, and that is perhaps the greatest compliment I can give their latest effort. Check them out for yourself later this month when they play The Tractor. Folks outside the Seattle area can find tour dates spanning the globe on the band’s MySpace page. The following video captures The Old Days, as performed in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Park:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Dutchess and the Duke (Hardly Art)

I've been checking out the artists on the Sub Pop spin-off label Hardly Art ( Arthur & Yu, The Dutchess & the Duke, Le Loup, The Moondoggies, The Pica Beats, and Pretty & Nice ), kicked off in 2007 by Sarah Moody and Nick Heliotis. Read more about the label here.

Reservoir Park by the Dutchess and the Duke reminds me of 'Let it Bleed' era Mick Jagger meets Captain Beefheart. The song Changing (by label mates The Moondoggies) is featured on the KEXP Blog.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Newport Folk Festival on NPR Music

NPR Music has an area devoted to the Newport Folk Festival where you can hear streaming live performances from She and Him, Jim James (of My Morning Jacket), Steve Earle, Jakob Dylan, Calexico, Willy Mason and Gillian Welch. Former Phish frontman Trey Anastasio also played an acoustic solo set taking up the "folk challenge".

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Shearwater: Rooks

Shearwater is not only a medium-sized seabird, it is also the name of an Austin-based band that began as a bit of side project for Okkervil River's Jonathan Meiburg and Will Shreff (Shreff is now a former member of Shearwater). Meiburg recently quit Okkervil River to pursue Shearwater full time. This June, they released the band's fifth album Rook on Matador Records (Meiburg actually had the opportunity to travel to the Falkland Islands in search of the Johnny Rook). Rook comes on the heels of last year's well received album Palo Santo (orignally on Misra Records and re-released by Matador in an extended format). Rook was recorded by Matthew Barnhart at the Echo Lab. Other band members include Meiburg's ex-wife Kim Burke on upright bass as well as drummer/vibraphonist Thor Harris.

Listen/download mp3 of "Rooks"

Video performance of Title Track "Rooks":

Shearwater on WYNC Soundcheck

Monday, July 21, 2008

Black Crowes: Warpaint Unplugged

I was glad to see the Black Crowes get back together and put out the album Warpaint early this year. I just spent a little time figuring out the song Locust Street (below). Here's an NPR link to some performance they did in the NPR studio and this web-only outtake.

Locust Street (Robinson/Robinson - Black Crowes)

Dry bread on the table Em
Burn the mill salt the paper - G (riff)

And its easy pick-ins on Locust Street D
There's no place to hide C G
And you can't find love on Locust Street
But you can hear the sunrise crying
Can't you hear the sunrise crying C G
A song for you alone C G
riff E-D-C-D-C (Em G Em)
Sad eyes, weeping willow
Black cat blues, blacked out window

And its easy pick-ins on Locust Street
There's no place to hide
And you can't find love on Locust Street
But you can hear the sunrise crying
Can't you hear the sunrise crying
A song for you alone

Just a glimpse of what love could be Am F
Once a dream that I owned C G x3
What of many lonely longing souls
At least I'm not alone
Well at least I'm not alone
Am F C -
Em G Em (RIFF)
Ripe off the vine now lay rotten Em G
Like a dead end street forever forgotten

And its easy pick-ins on Locust Street D
There's no place to hide C G
And you can't find love on Locust Street
But you can hear the sunrise crying
Can't you hear the sunrise crying
A song for you alone

Monday, July 14, 2008

Fleet Foxes

It's official - my favorite album of 2008 so far is by Fleet Foxes. Take a listen to the a cappella opening of White Winter Hymnal to see what they are all about.

Here's a Paste Magazine interview with the acoustically-oriented Seattle-based folksy band.

From NPR Music:
Robin Pecknold and Skye Skyelset are backed by some of Seattle's best musicians, formerly and currently in bands such as Pedro the Lion, Seldom, and Crystal Skulls. Through the support of friends, families, and credit cards, material for both the Sun Giant EP and Fleet Foxes' self-titled debut were recorded. On both, the band draws from the baroque, psychedelic pop of the '60s, sacred harp singing, gospel, and folk music.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Interview with Edward Droste of Grizzly Bear

I was a big fan of the 2006 (year of the Bear bands) indie retro low-fi Grizzly Bear album, "Yellow House" and look forward to the band's joining Radiohead as opener for six dates on its second North American tour leg as well as the new album they are currently working on, currently set for an April 2009 release.

Singer/guitarist Edward Droste tells Billboard.com the new material is sounding more optimistic and poppy than 2006's "Yellow House" (Warp). "I think we're all in a really poppy place for sure," Droste says. "There are dark lyrics in play, and it's not like the whole album is going to be an up-tempo radio pop thing at all. We'll probably never get played on the radio, but [on] just a couple of the songs the mood is perhaps a bit sunnier than 'Yellow House.'"

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Lilywhite Sessions: She and Him

The Lillywhite Sessions at Avatar Studios is a new aspect of The World Cafe Radio Show on National Public Radio. Featuring Record Producer Steve Lillywhite, the shows are taped live at the legendary Avatar Recording Studios in New York City.

The first session, featuring She & Him (the duo featuring M.Ward and Zooey Deschanel), aired Wednesday June 11, 2008. In the second hour of this first installment, World Cafe host David Dye interviewed Lillywhite, focusing on the U2 album War, one of the producer's many notable achievements. The second installment, a session with UK electronic duo Goldfrapp, will air July 9.

Here's the NPR Music World Cafe piece on the She & Him sessions with a 3-song 17 minute streaming set list.

Owen Temple: Two Thousand Miles

A startling fine country-folk-rock re-debut

I've been grooving on the this recent CD from Own Temple.

From redtunictroll on MOG, the music blogging network:
This Texas-based singer-songwriter has released four albums over the past decade, with a five year work-and-school hiatus between 2002’s “Right Here and Now” and the local release of this disc back in 2007. Like many who travel within the self-contained universe that is Texas country music, he emerges into the national spotlight with a lot more depth and polish than listeners expect to hear in their first brush with an artist. But four albums into his career, Temple’s a memorable songwriter with a country-folk-rock sound that has the sort of sing-a-long middle-American earthiness of John Mellancamp’s hits and Steve Earle’s Guitar Town. Lloyd Maines’ production keeps Temple’s lyrics and voice as the central motor, but guitarist David Grissom is given space to add some hot-shot electric licks.

This album is a real treat for anyone seeking honest country music with folk and rock sides, unaffected by both Nashville’s commercial intentions and alt.country’s anti-Nashville response.

[©2008 redtunictroll at hotmail dot com]


Wikipedia Entry for Two Thousand Miles
Wikipedia Entry for Owen Temple

Owen Temple Discography

Monday, June 9, 2008

Monday Album Roundup

Carole King: Tapestry (Legacy Edition reissue with additional live versions)
Looking back at the best-selling albums in pop history, not all retain their emotional impact. Tapestry however, plays just as powerfully as it did in 1971. With a wealth of Brill Building hits behind her, King created a masterpiece with these dozen timeless tunes, including "You've Got a Friend" and "It's Too Late." She might well be the finest songwriter of the modern pop era. A second disc, with live renditions, is included.

Love: Forever Changes (reissue released April 2008 with outtakes and alternate versions)
Mysterious lyrics, intricate arrangements and lead singer Arthur Lee's urgent vibrato helped make Love one of the most innovative psychedelic folk-rock bands. Rhino's two-disc release includes previously unheard material from this landmark album

Richie Havens, Nobody Left to Crown ( will be released July 2008 )

From Richie Havens: Ageless folk legend still making art for the here and now:
"I can't believe I'm doing it still," he says through infectious laughter. "It's so much fun to be allowed to do this. I'm being allowed and I really know that."

The 67-year-old folk-rock legend is talking about his still very much ongoing career, which includes a new CD, "Nobody Left to Crown," his 27th album to be released in July on Verve, and a seemingly endless tour which not infrequently finds him in New England.

Weinland, La Lamentor
Portland-based five-piece Weinland sophomore release, La Lamentor (Badman Recording Co.), is a really nice album and proves the old adage that pain equals art. Darker in feel and heavily influenced by the struggles front man, John Adam Weinland Shearer, faced in relationships and at work in a flawed and troubling mental health system, La Lamentor portrays life's misfortunes with dark-hued tones and moving lyrics while bearing the heart of Neil Young, the thoughtfulness of Nick Drake and the beautiful sorrow of Elliott Smith.

Listen on iTunes

"The arrangements uncover delicate surprises throughout this record-a light washboard shuffle with an easy-going acoustic hook, well-placed lap steel, and occasional piano clamoring-the effect is perverse springtime listening that reminds you the fall is just a season away." --Crawdaddy

"La Lamentor follows and expands upon the warm, folky songs we've come to love and expect from this band." --Muzzle of Bees

"To rock or not to rock? That has long been the question facing Weinland frontman Adam Shearer. But the real issue at hand for this solo songwriting project-cum-three piece-cum-folk ensemble is how big a sound to have. La Lamentor has an answer." --Willamette Week

"An album that announces itself as a classic from beginning to end." --The Portland Tribune

"An amazing & intimate collection of hauntingly beautiful folk lullabies-the kind that are so good they give you goose bumps." --The Portland Mercury

"It's clear from the first word that Weinland have created a special album-it's a little bit country, it's a little bit rock and roll, upbeat melodies with tormented lyrics alongside quiet poignant songs with messages of hope. It's like Dylan always having been electric, or like Neil Young putting out an album of indie-rock covers." --MOG

"Weinland provides a sound reminiscent of Hayden and Iron & Wine's group efforts, with roots in folk, rock, and a touch of the Bakersfield sound." --AuralFitness

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Rajaton: Finnish a cappella

Adapted from http://www.singers.com/jazz/rajaton.html:
I'm guessing that not a lot of people have heard the sound of finnish a cappella music, and it's time to change that, as far as I'm concerned. Vocal ensemble Rajaton, founded in autumn 1997, is a professional a cappella group with six singers (SSATBarB) most of whom have studied singing either at the Sibelius-Academy or at the Pop/Jazz Conservatory in Helsinki, Finland. They primarily perform music written for the group. As its name shows (rajaton = boundless), its musical scale ranges from sacred music to pop and from folk music to contemporary concert music. At the moment, their repertoire consists mostly of settings of texts by Finnish and foreign poets written for the ensemble by young Finnish choral composers. Rajaton also performs new arrangements of Finnish and foreign folk songs.

Give a listen to Mita kaikatat, kivonen? ("Wherefore Grumblest Thou, O Grindstone?") which I discovered via Said the Gramohpone blog.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Ida is an "indie folk rock" quartet from New York City originally formed by Daniel Littleton and Elizabeth Mitchell (who married in 1999). They recently released their sixth album Lovers Prayers which was recorded at Levon Helm Studios in upstate New York. The band is named for Ida Machado Schafer, the grandmother of Mitchell's old friend, the artist and playwright Erin Courtney. Schafer was 92 years old at the time Mitchell and Littleton formed the group. The current lineup includes Mitchell, Littleton, Schickele, drummer Ruth Keating, and violinist Jean Cook. They are also frequently joined by pedal steel player Matt Sutton.

Their album list is given below, with links to a few of my favorite songs of theirs:

2008 Lovers Prayers
Worried Man Blues
Richard Thomson "For Shame of Doing Wrong"
2005 Heart Like a River (Polyvinyl)
Late Blues
2001 The Braille Night
2000 Will You Find Me
1996 I Know About You
1994 Tales of Brave Ida

Band members are connected by a variety of side projects including one album as Nanang Tatang, several solo albums, and three albums of children's music. Karla Schickele has also recorded with Beekeeper and K. Daniel Littleton has performed with the Hated, His Name Is Alive and Jenny Toomey's Liquorice. Elizabeth Mitchell previously performed in a duo with Lisa Loeb; Mitchell and Littleton both perform on Loeb's hit single "Stay (I Missed You)." Mitchell and Loeb also recorded a children's album in May 2004 entitled Catch the Moon.

You may also like:
Elliot Smith, Big Star, Nick Drake, Galaxie 500, Owl & the Pussycat, Oakley Hall, Winterpills, Lisa Loeb, Slowdive, Marykate O'Neal, Aimee Mann, Secret Stars, Lucero, Low, Codeine, Retsin, Idaho, Sweeder, The New Year, Kind of Like Spitting, The Naysayer, Alice Despard Group, Hannah Marcus, The Verna Cannon, Slackjaw, Julie Doiron, Rainer Maria, Sappington, Empress, Tram, Coastal, Rosa Chance Well, Low and Dirty Three, Tanya Donelly, The Capsules, Loquat, Thee More Shallows, Azure Ray, Nanang Tatang

Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday Video Spotlight: Traveling Wilburys

I've always enjoyed the historical impromptu accident that was the Traveling Wilburys and my band even covers both End of the Line and Handle with Care. I noticed this video of the latter hanging around and thought it would be a good end of the week video break.

Read more about the Traveling Wilburys here in Catherine Wagley's recently article in PopMatters.com.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Featured Studio/Producer/Engineer: Mike Mogis and Presto

I'm a pretty big fan of Jenny Lewis (of Rilo Kiley) and the Watson Twins, and I've even used their arrangement of the Traveling Wilbury's Handle With Care as well as Jenny's song Rise Up With Fists!!! A combination of this album and a Tape Op (#51) interview with Mike Mogis (playing the slide guitar, above) led me a real appreciation of Mike's talents and his role as, among other things, engineer and producer at Presto! Recording Studios in Lincoln, Nebraska. He has become even more well known due to performing with Bright Eyes and his affiliation with Saddle Creek records. I don't know if Presto! has already relocated to the new Wes Lachot designed space (originally an indoor basketball court), but it will undoubtedly be a center of great engineering and production. Asked about some of his studio influences, Mogis mentioned Steve Albini and Jon Brion's work as a producer.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Seminal Folk Rockers: Jesse Colin Young

Jesse Colin Young (bass, vocals) probably has a love/hate relationship with Get Together, a cover of the song by Chet Powers (Dino Valente) the one song his band The Youngbloods have become synonymous with due to it's popularity and many cover versions (I happen to like the version recorded by the Indigo Girls on Strange Fire but other notable versions were done by Jefferson Airplane, The Kingston Trio, The Carpenters, Linda Rondstadt, The Association, and Anne Murray).

The Youngbloods also featured former bluegrass musician Jerry Corbitt (lead guitar, vocals)—who left after the band's 2nd album, Earth Music (1967), drummer Joe Bauer, and multi-instrumentalist Lowell Levinger (aka "Banana"). Get Together originally did not sell well upon release in 1967 but in 1969 it was used by the National Council of Christians and Jews as their theme song and the rest, as they say, is history.

Ridgetop is a worthwhile Jesse Colin Young song.

Most of the the early Youngbloods material was recorded at RCA Victor, and the relationship between label and band was not a great one. I believe these are the correct production credits for first album, The Youngbloods (later retitled to - can you guess?):

Production by Felix Pappalardi
Recording Supervised by Bob Cullen
Engineers: Mike Moran, Mickey Crofford & Ray Hall
Recorded at RCA Victor's Studio B, New York City.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Ruby Suns - Tane Mahuta

I have a lot of faith in the tastemakers at SubPop records, which I came to know first by way of Iron & Wine, Grand Archives, Wolf Parade, and Flight of the Conchords. This video from The Ruby Suns 2008 release "Sea Lion" is for the song "Tane Mahuta" and is sung entirely in Maori with a video was created by Marco Vidaurre. The tabloid-kitsch-psychedelic aesthetic is definitely something you either like or you don't. Or maybe you just say who put something in my water or maybe it was those brownies I ate for lunch from that Rasta bakery...

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Butcher the Bar

From forcedexposure.com: Butcher The Bar is 22 year-old Joel Nicholson, who currently resides in the north of England with his acoustic guitar and a couple of instruments such as a banjo, a melodica and an accordion. Leave Town is as minimal and as maximal as a pop song could be: a guitar, a banjo and a warm voice, a bit Elliott Smith like in tone and spirit.

Monday, April 28, 2008

DeVotchKa - New World

I heard the song New World from A Mad and Faithful Telling by the band DeVotchKa on All Songs Considered and was pretty impressed. This Denver-based four piece indie rock group fuses Romani, Greek, Slavic, Bolero, and Mariachi music with American punk and folk roots and rose to prominence recently based on their 2006 Bonraroo performance and their ensuing work for the Little Miss Sunshine soundtrack. This latest album of theirs was relased in March of 2008.

Here's their Wikipedia entry.

Here are the lyrics:

There's this place that I know
where they say everything slow
You are the one I would take with me
It's the perfect place to be with a girl like you
if you wanted to we could leave right now
It's the perfect time
It's the perfect day we should get away come on let's go

Did you mean what you said?
cause it sounded so true
is real really dead
cause it looks so damn good
Read you loud and clear
I know I'm all done hear
let's go

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Travis Shawn Hill: Sing

Travis Shawn Hill is a singer-songwriter from Santa Cruz, Calif who participated in this year's RPM Challenge, creating an album called A Bright Wind which features the song


NPR has been featuring some of this year's RPM folks on their Second Stage series including this post about Travis, and he also has a web site. I took part in last year's RPM challenge but didn't quite get around to it this year. It takes place in February and the idea is for all participants to write and record an album during that month.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Fire on Fire - Hangman

I heard of the group 'Fire on Fire' from KEXP's Music that Matters podcast. They are five friends having a good time and playing acoustic and world instruments — and they all live together in a big blue house in Maine. They have put a limited edition 5 song EP which is only available from their web site. Have a listen to their song:


which is the first song on the EP and is available as an mp3. To me, it sounds a little bit like Panda Bear meets Old Crow Medicine Show. Their background vocals are just a lot of fun.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Set List - Saturday 4/12/08

I thought I'd post the set list of my solo show from Saturday, the originals are marked *:

Too Creative *
April Come She Will (Paul Simon)
My Winding Wheel (Ryan Adams)
Sister *
You've Got to Hide Your Love Away (Beatles)
Don't Think Twice, it's All Right (Dylan)
It's Only Love (Beatles)
Where do the Children Play? (Cat Stevens)
The Needle and the Damage Done (Neil Young)
On the Inside of Your Circle *
Friend of the Devil (Garcia, Hunter)
Just Like a Photograph *

Me & Bobby McGee (K. Kristofferson)
Getting Better (Beatles)
In Tall Buildings (John Hartford)
Sitting by the Dock of the Bay (Redding)
Girl (Beatles)
Sunshine (J. Edwards)
Flake (J. Johnson)
Sitting, Waiting, Wishing (J. Johnson)
I Am the Walrus (Beatles)
Late Night Traveling Friend *
Stand By Me (King) > Redemption Son (Marley)
On Alexander Street *
Glass Onion (Beatles)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Almost Famous Pick: Reed KD

Give Reed KD's MySpace page or web site a visit to hear songs such as 'Empty Bottles' which features haunting harmonies reminiscent of the way Elliott Smith used to overdub his own distinctive and evocative harmonies over guitar picking patterns and a gentle folky mix of assorted instruments.

A few CD's are still worth buying

I'm sure I'm not alone in barely being able to remember the last time I bought a physical CD. The hours I used to spend with headphones on in Tower Records' listening posts have long since devolved into grazing and browsing via iTunes and Amazon. Once you change browsing paradigms and get used to song-based picking and choosing, it is indeed hard to go back to purchasing a full CD. But when I find the occasional CD that I feel I must have, I do feel a certain warm glow as I hold the shiny disc and ruminate on it's worthiness. This month, I feel that honor goes to Punch by the Punch Brothers, the brainchild of Mando Phenom and ex-Nickel-Creeker Chris Thile (rhymes with Feely). Definitely a case where the album (we Gen X's love to say this about CDs, I know) trumps having individual songs.

In no particular order, some of my other recent album worthy picks:

Radiohead's In Rainbows
Wilco's Sky Blue Sky
Grizzly Bear's Yellow House
Panda Bear's Person Pitch
Levon's Helm's Dirt Farmer
Ryan Adams' Easy Tiger
John Mayer's The Village Sessions EP
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss' Raising Sand

Feel free to send in your own lists from the last 12 months or so!