“maybe dad was right, no summer without spring”

as the rain beats down on my balcony and the first few hints of autumn peek around the corner, I find myself again drawn to this incredible EP by Isaac Pierce, and his gentle, haunting music. Listen to this track, and then go buy the EP (http://tenspeedmusic.com/album/isaac-pierce-ep) and get ready for it to soundtrack those black coffee and falling leaves kind of mornings.

 

 

TYPHOON

My close friend Dashi swears that he hates hipster culture, and the bespectacled, bearded, folksy bands that have (sort of) emerged from it. However, he was in fact the individual responsible for introducing me to TYPHOON, an amazing band out of Oregon that embodies much of what I love about the idea of communal music making.

The band is currently comprised of 13 members, some of whom are in fact bearded and bespectacled, playing an incredible variety of instruments, ranging from horns to strings and back again. While their music tends to wander a bit stylistically, there is a certain heartbeat, a wanting/yearning/deafening cry of music that absolutely NEEDS to be made in everything they do.

They are currently working on their 3rd full length album, details to be announced soon, but in the meantime, enjoy this video recorded by KEXP at Pickathon, and then head over to http://www.wearetyphoon.com and buy some amazing music.

20 Albums of my 20s

This past Saturday, I was at a close friend’s 25th birthday event at a bar – I hesitate to use the word party, as I’m not sure 25 year olds are allowed to have parties. As we were sitting around, having a beer or 5, it dawned on me exactly how close I was to 25 myself, and the true beginning of my mid-20s.

As I thought about this, and reflected on my 20s so far, I was struck by how many of my memories from my 20s were accompanied by a soundtrack created by yours truly. So, I thought it might be fun to celebrate my approaching birthday by making a list of the 20 albums that have been so influential on the last 5 years of my life. So, in no particular order:

  1. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
  2. The Avett Brothers – I And Love And You
  3. The Decemberists – The Crane Wife
  4. Tyler Lyle – The Golden Age and the Silver Girl
  5. Anais Mitchell – Hymns for the Exiled
  6. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Stadium Arcadium
  7. Sun Kil Moon – Ghosts of the Great Highway
  8. The Head and the Heart – The Head and the Heart
  9. Doomtree – No Kings
  10. Allison Krauss – Forget About It
  11. Bowerbirds – Hymns for a Dark Horse
  12. First Aid Kit – The Big Black and the Blue
  13. Iron & Wine – Our Endless Numbered Days
  14. Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More
  15. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
  16. The National – High Violet
  17. Dawes – Nothing is Wrong
  18. Local Natives – Gorilla Manor
  19. Dark Was the Night (Red Hot Compilation)
  20. Dessa – Castor the Twin

Each one of these albums reminds me of late-night car rides, porch drinking with friends, and the people I love with all of my heart. On top of that, all of these albums are beautiful, and each has a story to tell. If you haven’t listened to any of these, I highly recommend you take ’em for a test ride, you might even find a new soundtrack for whatever path you’re walking now.

Bonnaroo – Day 1.

We arrived at the gates of Bonnaroo at about 5:30 am on Thursday. The four of us in the car I was driving were a bizarre mix of delusionally tired, immeasurably excited, and in various bizarre states of energy-drink ridden confusion. After an exceptionally painless 20 minute wait, we got through, got our maps and schedules, and parked, ready to set up camp with our other carload of friends.

Setting up was also reasonably painless, particularly because a kind Bonnaroo employee allowed us to use what was essentially an extra parking spot worth of space to get our tents up. Once we had our tents up, our shade created, our beers in the cooler, and our sleeping situations worked out, we decided it was nap-time. That was derailed more or less instantaneously, as even though we’d all more or less been up all night, there were people to meet! Things to see! Bonnaroo! 

So we wandered, met some neighbors, who were incredibly well-prepared, having been there multiple times before, and who let us lounge in their super nifty shaded area, where we drank a breakfast beer or two and discussed what we were all most excited to see. After a bit of this, our group (all 8 of us) decided it was time to go exploring.

Our adventures around the rambling expanse of the Bonnaroo camps (or pods, as they’re called there) involved about 40,000 smiling faces, a group of guys who insisted that we drink from their bag of wine, and an overwhelming vibe of joy, excitement, and the belief that everything was absolutely awesome, and only getting better.

We returned to camp, lounged for a bit, and then made our first trek into Centeroo for what Bonnaroo is all about, the music! We stuck together early, making our way over to The Other Tent to see:

1. EMA

I had heard a bit about EMA, had listened to her a bit before hand, and was pretty happy to start my Bonnaroo off with her. Her distinct brand of lo-fi, grungy, sexy indie rock felt just right with the sun pounding down and the grass between our toes. Nothing about this show was incredibly memorable, but it deserves mention for setting a great tone for Day 1, as well as leading me to believe she’d definitely be worth seeing again in the small clubs she’s accustomed to playing.

EMA – Bonnaroo 2012

Our intention was to hang around for The Cave Singers, but decided that exploring the rest of Centeroo, getting some food, and seeing the sights. After a delicious food trip trek, and a jaunt around the various amazing vendors and different makeshift shops there, we wandered over to That Tent to catch the last half of:

2. Moon Taxi

I had never heard of this band, and didn’t really have any expectations. While most of their music was relatively non-descript, albeit danceable, they did do an absolutely killer cover of Rage Against the Machine’s Killing in the Name of, which was an awesome burst of an energy for all of us.

A few of us decided to wander from Moon Taxi over to:

3. Phantogram

We wandered all the way into the tent area for this show, as we got there early enough and there wasn’t much of a crowd. However, as it started to fill in, and become more and more jam packed, I realized that considering how low I was on energy, it was in my best interest to separate from the friends I was with and make my way out to the grassy area, which was much less crowded. At this point it was entirely dark, and the glowsticks, light up hula-hoops, and other assorted light producing objects. I found myself wandering, the bass and dynamic melody lines of Phantogram’s dream-pop washing over me while I watched beautiful people dance, laugh, and relax, inviting me into their revelry at every turn. This show was magical, and my first real taste of the Bonnaroo spirit.

After Phantogram, our entire group reconvened for:

4. Alabama Shakes

I was incredibly excited about this show. The buzz around this southern-rock revival indie band, fronted by the powerful (23 year old!) Brittany Howard, had been getting bigger and bigger all year. We found ourselves with a reasonably good view from the back of This Tent, and with very little wait the band made it’s way on stage. Their first song was plagued by sound problems, which was unfortunate. However, they kicked it into overdrive with their second song, “Hold On”, the big single off of their debut album, “Boys & GIrls”. If their entire performance had been that song, I would have been blown away. However, with that song out of the way, there really was no wind left in their sails, particularly with the intermittent sound problems. We stayed for a few more songs, and then decided sleep seemed more prudent than staying for the rest of the set. 

Kind of a let down.

Alabama Shakes (Photo Credit: Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

However, the decision to leave early resulted in what was unquestionably the most magical moment of our first day at Bonnaroo. As we made our way back to our tents, exhausted, we were wandering through a wooded area when we stumbled upon a small stage we hadn’t even noticed before, well outside the bounds of Centeroo. I looked at the placard to see who was about to play, and it was none other than:

5. Hey Rosetta! 

Hey Rosetta!

I had seen them in Chicago in fall of 2011 and had been absolutely blown away. This was a whole different level. As soon as the sextet climbed onto the tiny stage, it was obvious something special was about to happen in this tiny area that felt more like a backyard than something at a major music festival. Even the most exhausted people in our group, after hearing the opening chords and felling the amazing energy decided they had to stay. We danced, laughed, and sang along well past 2 a.m. I can hardly imagine a more perfect way to end my first night at my first Bonnaroo.

We finally stumbled our way to our tents, many of us getting our first real sleep in almost 48 hours.

Day 2 to come! 

Gettin’ it together.

Here we go!

I’m re-entering the blogging world.

I’ve had a bit of a crazy first half of the year, but I’m hoping I’ve found the time and energy into this blog that it really deserves. So, here’s to good music, summer porch drinking, and hopefully finding something truly meaningful.

I hope whoever reads this missed me, because I definitely missed y’all.

New posts (very) soon!

Thanks,

The Long Wait

It’s been a bit since I last got something up here. Sorry about that! I’ve been working to put together a winter playlist for y’all to listen through and hopefully download, and it’s taking a bit more time than I expected. Between work, concerts, and other shenanigans, I’ve had some trouble finding time to write.

Anyway, the playlist will be up this weekend, but I wanted to leave you with a couple songs that have really gotten me excited over the last two days. They’re a bit of a genre jump for me, so I hope you enjoy them!

 

 

 

See you with a super nifty playlist soon!

After Thanksgiving: Two Albums

The week after Thanksgiving is never a pleasant one. It means back to work or back to school for most folks. It means leaving the comfort of family and the delights of copious amounts of food. I found myself dragging quite a bit these last two days, but then miraculously, not one but two much-needed miracles landed in my lap. Or in my ears. Or something.

I’ll preface this very briefly by saying this: I love live recordings. I love session recordings of music that’s already been released. I especially like when these are done not only well, but fantastically well. These recordings give you an insight not only into how the band sounds when they come out of the studio, but also what songs sound like after a band or artist has had the opportunity to sit with them for a year or two or four and let them gently evolve.

The two “miracles” that were released this week are, as far as I’m concerned, two of the best releases of the year.

The first is the iTunes session release from The Head and the Heart. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love this band, and this release does not disappoint. It combines new recordings of some of their best songs (Rivers and Roads, Down in the Valley) with alternate versions of tracks from their debut album, as well as a pair of new releases. All of it is phenomenal, and a must have for fans of The Head and the Heart. If you aren’t already a fan – I suggest you buy their debut album, soak in all of its delights, then purchase this iTunes session and appreciate it in its entirety. For your convenience, I’ll even include the link to both their debut album and the new iTunes session!

The Head and the Heart – The Head and the Heart

The Head and the Heart – iTunes Session

The second album, which arrived today, is one of the most astonishing live albums to be released this year. Joe Pug, one of the most entrancing young singer/songwriters around right now, released a live album recorded in Chicago at Lincoln Hall in April. It spans the majority of his discography, with the added bonus of an incredible cover (Tex Thomas) and a wonderful guest appearance (by Strand of Oaks). The most amazing part of this album is the opportunity to listen to live, intimate performances of tracks that Pug has had in his repertoire for 4 or 5 years now, I believe. Hymn 101, Nation of Heat, and Hymn 35 are all performed with such care, such deep commitment, and such understanding that I found myself in tears driving home in the dark. Yeah, that beautiful. Also, whoever recorded this did a phenomenal job, as it is one of the best live recordings I’ve heard in years. If you don’t know who Joe Pug is, or you just haven;t had a chance to hear this album yet – take a trip over to his website (www.joepugmusic.com) and check it out. Oh, did I mention this 17 track live album is only $5? Yeah, head on over and pick it up – you absolutely won’t be disappointed.

I hope these take you through the post-Thanksgiving doldrums and lead you happily to the rest of the holiday season!