A Few Links (To Get Us Through The Week)

As I slowly come down from my post-Bowerbirds high, I find myself staring at three more days of work this week, and I’m feeling the need for a little juice to get me through. So I thought to myself, let’s find some great videos and some great artists to keep my mood up for the rest of the week – hopefully these can do the same for you.

This song by The Staves is beautiful. Their debut album came out today, and it’s really quite perfect for this late fall weather. Check it out!

Adam over at Songs For a Day reminded me of this awesome video of Ben Sollee singing ‘A Few Honest Words’ at the Lincoln Memorial. A reminder of how thankful I am that the election season is over.

I saw Daughter a few weeks ago and it was one of my favorite shows of this year. Her music is perfect for this time of year.

This is just beautiful, and I forgot about it until I felt the cold wind on my face coming home from work today.

This song from Lucy Rose, another English artist, is also keeping me solid right now.

One more, from Broken Twin:


Keep your heads up, y’all – it’s almost Turkey Day!





“i can see your face/in all the right places”

This past Monday I was feeling a little down, a little out of sorts, and I couldn’t quite figure out how to shake the malaise. When I got home from work I noticed that someone I had met last week at a Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside show had asked if I knew of any cool shows that night.

I looked around, and noticed that Schuba’s had ZZ Ward and Zach Heckendorf playing. A close friend of mine had mentioned seeing Zach a couple years ago in his home state of Colorado, and that it had been awesome. That seemed to me to be enough to at least check out ZZ Ward, and after a bit of internet searchin’ I knew it was a show worth recommending. I messaged her, but she had already signed off.

I thought about it for a bit, and decided that regardless of whether or not my new friend ended up going, this could be the trick to cheering me up and getting my head back on straight. I hopped in the car, shot down the highway, and was there just in time to grab a beer before Zach started playing.

All I can say is, I should listen to that voice in my head more often, because damn was that a fun show.

Zach Heckendorf is a very young (19?) year old singer songwriter who clearly grew up listening to John Mayer and Jack Johnson, learned how to play some mean guitar, and set off to infect the world with his unique brand of catchy, fulfilling, pop-folk. Check out the official video for ‘All The Right Places’ below:

And here’s a live clip of his song ‘One of Them’:

After his opening set stunned the audience into a head-nodding, foot-tapping reverie, you knew that everyone in that room was now a big Zach Heckendorf fan. You should be too.

Now, all I knew about ZZ Ward was what ten minutes of Google and Youtube could tell me, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Well, within thirty seconds of her blazing her way on stage, her band kicking up an incredibly funky beat, and her huge voice taking over the tiny venue, there was no way I was going to leave that show in any condition other than sweaty and really, really happy. Hailing from Oregon and sharpening her musical teeth in LA, and picking up an incredible backing band there, Ward blends a soul/blues sensibility with a whole lot of funk and rock – and she sure as hell knows how to bring the party. Her debut album “Till The Casket Drops” comes out October 16th and you should probably buy it. I know I will. In the meantime, check out these videos below:

Yeah, like I said, that’s how you shake yourself out of a bad mood. I hope you like these two as much as I do, and if you have a chance to catch them on tour – do it. I promise, you’ll leave smiling like a fool.

Videos & New Albums Galore

Hey y’all. Sorry for the long break between posts. A (much needed) vacation in Wisconsin, a crazy week at work, and the start of football season slowed me down a bit. I wanted to take the time to share some of the videos that have been keeping me sane the last few days, as well as some of the albums that either came out last week or are coming out this week that have me incredibly excited.

So, with no further ado:

The Revivalists have been around for a few years, and their unique blend of old-world folk, Chili Peppers-esque funk-rock, and a whole lot of heart on their sleeves make this video a perfect one for transitioning into fall. (Thanks to Ned for this one!)

Anyone who has talked to me within the last week knows that I’m on a crazy Noah Gundersen bender. Coupled with how much I love Joni Mitchell, this one has been playing over and over and over again.

This is an old favorite. One of my favorite bands covering a song by one of my favorite songwriters. A video to end a long, long night as fall settles in. God this is good.

As far as new albums go…this week is a veritable goldmine. The new Avett Brothers album comes out on Tuesday, and you can stream it over on NPR. Also, the new XX album drops the same day, and that one’s streaming over here.

Also, the debut album from former Justin Vernon bandmate Chris Porterfield’s new band Field Report is streaming over at Billboard. I had a chance to see them live earlier this year, and I knew it was going to be special. After a few listens, I’m pretty sure this album will be very much in the running for my album of the year.

Not to mention, Cat Power’s new album “Sun” came out last week, and boy is it good. IT feels like Cat Power caught some of her demons, threw them into a washing machine and/or synthesizer, hung out with Channy from Polica, and then dropped this one. I highly encourage you to listen.

Hope this helps with Monday coming up way too fast. Love y’all!




“my heart pounds inside my head, like a beat without a drummer…”

I had the opportunity tonight to see a friend of mine named Hanna Ashbrook play at the Elbo Room in Chicago. It’s an interesting little dive bar/venue with decent beer, decent sound, and some pretty nice people.

I was particularly excited because I hadn’t had an opportunity to see her before, and from the little bits I had heard on the internet, I knew it had the potential to be a strong show.

The show started with a really wonderful opening set from a young Chicago singer/songwriter named Andrew Lothian. His strong, almost pop voice, coupled with his impish nervousness/charm makes me believe he’s only going good places. Check his demo recording of ‘My Sunflower’ out here:


Then, Hanna came onstage:

Strong turned out to be an understatement. It was absolutely beautiful. Hanna is a talented guitarist and vocalist with a penchant for catching those last bittersweet wisps of fading memories and turning them into heart-melting songs. She manages to simultaneously embody both an endearing naivety and a soul heavy with loss and hardship. It looks like she’ll have her debut album out sometime this winter, and what an exciting winter album it should be. Take a listen to her song ‘Make This Moment End’ and then head over to her Facebook music page to keep tabs on what she’s up to next.


I love nights of new music, good drinks, and a few great friends.



Switchin’ It Up

I know this blog is pretty folk-oriented, so throwing some hip-hop in might seem like a bit of a curveball. That being said, I love to take a break from my banjo-induced euphoria every once and a while and switch it up. Also, good hip-hop is just fucking wonderful live.
Macklemore, an incredibly talented artist out of Seattle released a pretty nifty track today called “Thrift Shop”. It’s a lot of fun, and y’all should check it out. That being said, if you’ve never listened to Macklemore before, then check out these two videos below. Both are stunning, and show his incredible versatility.

Astronautalis is an astounding, passionate hip-hop artist out of Minneapolis. His album “This Is Our Science” was one of my favorites last year. He recently released a video for one of my tracks from that album:

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/heB_gv_UIgI?p=1 width=”550″ height=”443″]

And last, but not least, perennial favorites of mine – Doomtree, a hip-hop collective out of Minneapolis. These guys (and gal) are just absurdly fun, and incredibly good at what they do. Check out their absurd music video for ‘Bangarang’ below, as well as a slightly more serious video of Doomtree members Dessa and Cecil Otter at the Fitzgerald in Minneapolis.

Well, that’s the hip-hop bender for the week. Stay tuned for this blog’s first mix (yay fall!) and some other new artists coming your way this week.

“it’s the simplest of love songs, but it’s all our hearts can take”

Heather over @ Fuel/Friends turned me on to this amazing talent out of the Pacific Northwest. Noah (with his sister Abby on violin and harmonies) finds a way to take timeless, simple Americana and weave it into an unbelievable tapestry of heartache, folk sensibilities, and astonishing power. I listened to his EP (buy it at http://noahgundersen.bandcamp.com/) on repeat for almost all of today. Here’s a track from it:

Also, even though this video has found it’s way to many of the blogs I read and love, I need to post it here, both because I’m still heartbroken I couldn’t make it to Doe Bay this year and because it’s ridiculously stunning. So, for your listening pleasure, Noah’s cover of Vic Chestnutt’s “Flirted With You All My Life”:

Also, for my fellow Chicagoans, Noah will be playing at SPACE on November 6th. I’ll be there. Will you?