Monday, December 22, 2014

Shakey Graves Marches to Different Drum on War

Shakey Graves - And The War Came
Dualtone Music Group
-out now
3.5 / 5

Texan Alejandro Rose-Garcia isn't a power-voice like Hozier or Rachael Price (of Lake Street Dive). He isn't as poetic as Joe Pug or political as U2; but what he is on his second full-length is present, fully in command, a captain on his own ship. His off-kilter slashing folk songs anchor themselves less on lyrics or melody, so much as on his probing, coyote-howling vocals.

Take "Hard Wired," one of those unusual songs that just sticks with you for, well, unusual reasons. Build up with percussion and (somewhat) twangy guitar, it's not a song anyone's likely to cover. And here's why: Rose-Garcia is banking not on songwriting here, but on emoting and being the only one weird enough to pull it off. And he does. On the other end of the spectrum comes "Dearly Departed," which is a brilliant stop-and-go tempoed, singable duet. But largely, these songs here fit a niche, they're very particular to an indie ear, and something of an acquired taste.

But they're good, yes. We've had this album on our 'pod for a while, and we have to admit, while it's not an immediate go-to first-time (or second-, or third-) around, it's done well enough that the mood every now and then strikes us right for a folksy indie twist. Still recommended.

Mr. Graves on Soundcloud.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Chain Gang's "Daydream" Anything But "Forever"

Chain Gang of 1974 - Daydream Forever
Warner Brothers
-out now
3 / 5

We. Were. Stoked. To hear about the new Chain Gang album coming out. We still haven't figured out the deal with White Guts (was it actually released? was it done piecemeal?), other than it was a top album of ours not too long ago. That one... that one brought a tear or two to our funkalicious hearts. And now, Kamtim Mohager (of the 3OH!3) dances his way back onto a major label to present: mind-melting dance beats. But, with a twist: it's major label dance beats. Where once we had acerbic, rage-against-the-man vitriol, now we've got tamed, "let's open up a can of dance and put it on the floor" kind of beats, the kind of beats that are (still decent but) Spam to the unaverage man.

We don't like Spam.

"Sleepwalking" is one of those great little poppy gems that is crafted and re-crafted, polished and perfect. But, what we loved about White Guts and especially "Stop" off that album was Mohager's ability to ignore his audience and find the pulse within. Every now and then, a song like "Witch" balances the polish just right, but the majority of these songs are singable, too singable, and just too polished to really stick with us; they glimmer pretty but slide from our grip. And while some will certainly appreciate Daydream Forever from the get go - ourselves included - we suspect those same people won't be jamming these basslines the same time next year.

A pleasant, but not brilliant (and certainly not enlightening) little dance ditty. Nice, but not what we're looking for in a back-breaking sweat-induced coma; take a pass.

Chained onto Soundcloud.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Swift, Light-footed Phox Traipses On Lovely Debut

Phox - Self-Titled
Partisan Records
-out now
3.5 / 5

Baraboo, Wisconsinites  are known for... well, we're not too sure what they're known for. Cheese? Beer? Being close to Madison, we suppose. Though Madison is a nice Midwestern hub of the indie music world; and given that, here we have a nice indie band but a stone's throw away from the capital. Who'd've thunk.

Phox, despite borrowing a sense of spelling from Phish et al, is their own unpretentious pop sextet: gentle, lofty female vocals cast about light, almost ethereal-feeling instrumentation. Instrumentation that knows that singer Monica Martin is their honey drizzled-down-the-throat, come-lie-by-the-river-and-watch siren. The group is light and fluffy. The group is playful. And, while the group has been getting a lot of attention, we think they can still do us a bit better on their next one.

But that's getting ahead of ourselves: "Evil." Catchy as a Magnum, P.I. - does that make sense? Yes, yes it certainly does; as much as a song about a destructive relationship can sound lovely and entrancing. "Kingfisher" floats on the surface much like the namesake bird: woodwinds and light strings, this is probably the best representation of Phox's personality. Yet, despite our (and others') accolades, we haven't been spinning this album up as much as we'd expect. It's good, well-constructed (and well-performed), but we think our preferences toward nihilism and annoyingly deep song subjects initially puts us off of such lovely music. Phox doesn't quite pull us as far into the woods as it should. But they play about our mind, pleasurably, at that, just not quite to a 4/5.

Nonetheless, it is good music. We know there are those out there who are hungering for music that floats by like a cloud on a summer day, and if you're that person, this is your album. Recommended.

Hunt the Phox on Soundcloud.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Book: the Digital Giveaway!

Hello y'all.

This thing. It's going to be free for a brief few days, Oct. 30th to Nov. 3rd. Be sure to pick up your copy and spread the word.
Because the bird's the word blah blah blah etc. etc.

Link here.

Thanks! And let me know how the book strikes your fancy.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Hozier's Self-Titled Rocks It Out of the Park

Hozier - Self-Titled
Columbia Records
-out tomorrow
4.5 / 5

Andrew Hozier-Byrne, the Irish soul singer/guitarist known simply as Hozier, is one of those rare acts who translates so well into studio and live and back. (Check out our much, much too brief blurb at the Newport Folk Festival.) It's talent, pure and simple, that it boils down to, but more than that: the man can make a song about the infidelity of the heart bouncy and singable. His color reminds us a lot of the late band Morphine - dark, a bit smoky, somber - but at any turn, he can pull out such a playful sexiness that makes listening to his first full-length deep, brooding pleasure.

That song about infidelity, "Someone New," is sway-about, close-sweaty-dancing, infectiously-chorused in the way that we like our rock. Groovy, simply put. And yet, how does a singer turn around with a yearning ballad about decomposing together with your lover, "In a Week"? Dark, yes. These songs are finely crafted, but more than that, it comes down to the howl of a voice at Hozier's command: deep, throaty without the scratchiness, passionate and compassionate. It's hard for us to pull just one single off this album that's representative of the whole, but we can make two suggestions: run by the rockin' playfulness of "Jackie and Wilson." Let it get into your bones, feel that foot tap. Second suggestion: rinse, repeat. Seriously.

One of the most pleasurable debuts we've come across in a long time. (And every bit as stunning live.) Highly recommended.

Watch "Jackie and Wilson" on YouTube.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bella Clava's Medicine No Cure-All

Bella Clava - Medicine for Melancholy
-out now
3 / 5

Canadians do rock. These particular Canadians especially. And on Bella Clava's second full-length hard rocker, the quartet fight melancholy with melancholic tracks: the self-explanatory "Broken Spirit" and the terribly sunshiney "Bitter Jaded and Dumb," to name a couple. Toronto's best kept secret here, however, do not present their best performances; they don't strike that particular spark, don't evince that faith in their songs that they certainly should. They come off perhaps a bit too melancholy, even, slogging at times. We're going to single out lead singer Caitlin Dacey as the main culprit here, not singing to 11 (hitting maybe seven, eight) as Medicine needs her strong direction to pull us through. She mostly gets there, yes, but compared to their previous Holy Crow, Medicine doesn't have that bounce, that joie de musique, that fever that makes music memorable.

The rock is there. Each track has it, from "Amnesty/Amnesia (A.A)" to "When Christ Was a Cowboy." Check. But beyond instrumentals, which here support really well, Bella Clava needs Dacey to be on the spot, or a song with a promising synth start like "Survive" falls a bit flat on energy. To compare to their previous album (which is still the best five dollars you'll spend on Bandcamp), you can hear that extra reach Dacey makes for those vocals, and the guitar slamming right into those blazing jams. Instead, the performances here ("Middle Class Misfit," "Bitter, Jaded and Dumb") are too lax, too comfortable with themselves and not engaging enough.

We're not going to lie: Bella Clava is one of those rare, underground (potentially) great great bands. But they hit a bit of a slump on Medicine, making us want to add a teaspoon more of %#$*!@ rock to make it go down. Take a (near) pass on this one; but be sure to get their Holy Crow if you missed it last time around.

Bandcamp the lovely Bella Clava.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Hands Up to My Brightest Diamond's Fourth

My Brightest Diamond - This Is My Hand
Asthmatic Kitty Records
-out tomorrow
4 / 5

Shara Worden returns with a (drum roll please) drum roll. Marching band drum roll, to be more specific (care of the Detroit Party Band). Her fourth album as My Brightest Diamond has us reminiscing of St. Vincent's Strange Mercy, in that both ladies take counter-intuitive routes to accessible poppiness. And that's the way we like to get there: the road less traveled. The anchor to these songs is, of course, Worden's vocals - strong, feminine - but to say that's why we like this album is to deny the underlying impetus of This Is My Hand, which is, quite simply, musical simplicity. And if you're aware of My Brightest Diamond's previous works, perhaps you'll realize how unusual a tack that is.

Which brings us to songs like "Lover Killer." We weren't thinking we'd get anything danceable from Ms. Worden, given her penchant for the vast, dramatic (and bizarre) orchestration she is known for. But here it is: hand claps - nice and basic - into singable melodies, bass and horns, a svelte groove sexy and seductive. "Pressure" opens up with that drum roll, full-on marching horns, glockenspiel, and, of course, Worden's opera-trained voice - pounding, grooving, well-written. Our only complaint about this album (and is it really a complaint?) is that it doesn't stun immediately; it took us a few listens to get into truly appreciating the somewhat off-kilter route Worden takes with her instrumentation, with her shifting rhythms.

It's complex, as expected, and yet simple: pop, just a roundabout way to get there. This Is My Hand is My Brightest Diamond's return to the basic elements, their density and importance, their weight and pull, and comes highly recommended.

"Lover Killer" on Soundcloud. It's quite good.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Roadkill Ghost Choir's In Tongues Lacks Voice

Roadkill Ghost Choir - In Tongues
Greatest Hiss Records
-out today
2.5 / 5

We invariably find albums like Roadkill Ghost Choir's debut the toughest to judge. In Tongues is not particularly weak (it's got good drive and direction) nor all that strong (not especially compelling, not brilliant), and the Floridian rock quintet certainly have their moments. But we always have to consider this: that we're getting the album gratis, for review consideration, and you, dear readers, will either head out to buy this album or spend it on something else. In this case, certainly, save that ten bucks and spend it on something like White Lighter or Evil Urges by My Morning Jacket; far, far better rock than you're going to encounter here. In Tongues simply doesn't do what a good rock album promises to do.

We judge jazz by the rhythm section, the bottom end: good drums, good bass = good jazz. We find it apt here to judge our ennui in a lack of foundation - the heart of the music isn't fueled by pounding basslines (they're far too simple) or two-and-four snare hits. The drive is entirely supported by guitar and vocals, which do suffice, but consider a car that doesn't get up past second gear. The music, in short, drags. "No Enemy" is the exception to this, not in drums or bass, but that vocalist Andrew Shepard reaches far enough to transcend the band; this is his performance on this track. But one song does not make a placid album stand out.

In Tongues is a mild, moderately disappointing debut. Sluggish, not particularly emotive, and certainly not inspiring. Take a pass.

Listen to the In Tongues on Soundcloud.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Two (free) books left, and where to get a paperback!


We've been mighty busy getting books out to people. We've only got two free copies of the book left (copies without the UPC, rare indeed) and you can pick up one of those on the forums at the main site. We just ask that, when you're done, you put the book back up on the forum for the next fellow/lady to enjoy.

And when we run out of these two copies?? PANIC!
Okay, not really.

Because you can still always purchase this so-called "digital copy," or a "digi-book;" or, you can call/drive/amble on to one of these fine bookstores. We've been doing a few book signings, and maybe you'll catch us at an open mic with one of these copies on hand. $12 at an RI location (hopefully) near you. $5 at Amazon, so far, until we update it with more stories (see below).

We'll be updating the more bookstores that carry "Keeper," so do keep in touch. And we'd also love to hear your opinion of this fine, fine writing! On here, or at Amazon or Goodreads. Check out those reviews so far. Doin' purdy good, we'll say.

Thanks for all your time and support and patience! We're working on Book II of "The Keeper of Dreams" (title TBD) and have a couple novels edited/queried out right now. Gonna need another illustrator for the new book! Keep in touch, or direct us to someone who's interested!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Newport Folk Fest, Sunday - Birthday(s)

Memory is a large factor in our criticism. If you hear something, like it, but can't remember it - it wasn't that memorable, was it? (Obviously.) It's important to us to keep that memory - after the music, what else will you have? Sing a song to work, play it in your head... hence why we get signed shirts, why we keep this blog, even. Not for guts or glory, for that memory. So we find ourselves almost a week after the final day of the Newport Folk Fest 'Fourteen, a stack of notes, and really, there's one thing that we remember most of that day. The best of the day, of the weekend, by and far.

And, if you'd managed to stay/survive the day that long, you'd know who that was: Mavis Staples.
But don't worry, we'll get to her. We very, very much promise this.

Highlights, in generally chronological/mnemonic order.

Hope it wasn't a load-bearing spike!
Deslondes here, whom apparently feel a railroad spike is the ideal percussive instrument. Yes, it's quite cool. We had to take a couple pictures of this, as, how often is a band prepared to set up on a train when planes abound nowadays?

We wonder if this gent plucked it from a local track. That would be neat, extra local flavor. Yum.

Speaking of extra flavor, Sunday at the Fest was extra juicy. Or, we should say, wet. The sky threatened 3/4ths of the day, and paid on its promise the other quarter. We caught ourselves stuck under Caitlin Rose's tent for her set. Note: cool big shades and heavy rain right behind her.

Cool shades, lady. Not quite like Sallie Ford's, but cool enough.
It's not quite fair to blame Miss Rose for the rain, but... let's face it, "Dallas" and "Pink Champagne" were a bit depressing. Kind of reminded us a bit of Sallie Ford, though more wistful, less overtly sexual. Miss Rose's country vocals arched right over her setlist; pretty good, lass, pretty good.

Here we're going to insert a photo of the crowd... or not. We're going to let you use your imagination, so to speak: umbrellas, ponchos, mud and an unprepared writer carrying a white trash bag full of his unwettables. We're trying to stick to just five photos this time around - almost made it the last couple posts, too.

(The photo we really wanted to take: some dreaded hippie-girl offering "Free Hugs." Yes. We did indulge - just a quick one. Then back to work.)

Which - skipping  ahead, brought us to Dawes. We love Dawes. Just a little. We have two distinct memories of them - one of us practicing "Most People" in the car, months ago. And finding the moment at the festival where all that hard work paid off - yes, very singable song.
And number two - feeling a bit sad when we had to walk away and cover (yet) another stage. Alas, we wish we could've stayed there til the end. But we know they're good, we've seen them a few times before, and today was a day for making new memories. Dawes and crew.

Dawes and crew: always on, always good.

But that sadness quickly dissipated. Very quickly. When we came to Hozier.

Hozier. Just fantastic.
Andrew Hozier-Byrne is a talented, talented fellow. Captivating, very masculine voice. Great rhythm and lyricism. Soulful. The kind of music that has a deep spirit to it, knowledge and sweetness and wisdom.

Opening with "Real People Do," he captivated the crowd. Dancers. People standing in the rain. Love and soul and misery. Such as the misery we had when we had to leave this stage (our second favorite of the day). That Soundcloud link we gave above doesn't do justice to his voice, by the way.

And we had to leave, because we couldn't call ourselves an indie music blog without covering Conor Oberst. But, alas, our lingering memory of him was not so much sound as scent: the largest, biggest plumes of, erm, herbal fragrance carried to the stage. There were moments throughout the weekend where we could pick out the scent, but this - this - was OVERWHELMING. People were waiting for this.

Feelin' all the good vibes. And probably second-hand.
And we were waiting for Valerie June. We had to catch her. It took a while for her to be satisfied with the mic - her backup singer gave hers a quick "hello," which was indeed pretty funny - but she finally took the stage. Let us just say, either we weren't feeling it, or Ms. June wasn't, because there wasn't that real connection there. And a shame! We'd heard so much about her album, and skipped second-hand other-smoke to catch her, too! Oh well, you can't win them all.

We need to wrap up quite soon and get to the real part of the day. Y'all know Trampled by Turtles by now, one of the fan favorites in 2011 and '12, and with good cause. They tore some off of their new album Wild Animals (which we promise a review of!), and pulled us right in. These tracks weren't the blisteringly fast bluegrass we've come to know and love the Turtles for, but slower-paced, a bit more emotive, less technical. When "Wait So Long" came on, the crowd went NUTS as expected, as deserved, and it pained us to have to leave mid-song to catch a somewhat stage-shy (or something or other) Jeff Tweedy.

Trampled? Yes. Turtles? Certainly not.

And now we can't take it. First admission: this past folk fest was our Birthday Folk Fest! Indeed! And some other lady, something-Staples celebrated her birthday as well. We're not too sure.
(Hers is actually on the tenth, by the way, but who's counting?)

Here's that "other" birthday person:

Working? On your (belated) birthday??
Mavis Staples was, by and far, our choice of the weekend. A delightful 75-year-young, we were blown away by her vibrancy, her sense of fun, and desperately wanted her to be our grandmother. Covering Buffalo Springfield and, of course, belting out Staples Singers classics - "I'll Take You There" still one of our favorites - there wasn't a dry moment, except when the sun finally came out for her. Norah Jones aptly noted this.

But yes! Miss Jones, Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes, Spooner Oldham, even... just about everyone was there (alas, no Rachael Price), and whoever wasn't on stage during her performance showed up to close it out with a Pete Seeger favorite, "We Shall Overcome." The Motown queen brought out the best of the Folk Fest, even brought out the sun, brought back memories (especially during "The Weight") and, of course, forged new ones.

Miss Staples, we tip our hat to you, and wish you many fantastic memories to come. As you said, you've been making them for us for the past sixty-four years. We hope we could give you a couple from our quaint little town.

Thanks for staying around and watching us enjoy ourselves! And if you do catch us somewhere, be sure to say hi (we're pretty congenial)! Catch us next year at the best festival in the states,
-Very sore but happy Mgmt.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Post-Newport: The Oh Hellos Download

We have something to share with y'all.

These guys (and gals), if you haven't read our review, BLASTED us away. Just incredible energy.

We're going to skirt our responsibilities here and not do up a review. Instead, we're going to offer y'all the link to download their debut full-length album AT YOUR OWN PRICE. We paid $10 gladly for a physical, and we think $5-7 is fair for a digital copy. But, of course, free is a possibility (and if you like it, pay for a friend's download).

The sound is immense. And keep your ears peeled, as their sophomore full-length is due later this year-slash-early next year. In fact, just check out their whole Bandcamp.

Thanks much for the memories! Keep you posted on the final (and ridiculously awesome) day at the Folk Fest!


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Newport Folk Fest, Saturday - The Folk

Welcome back.
Sometimes we take weird angles at the Folk Fest. Honestly, it's not that we're trying to be weird, but sometimes that's just how the experience turns out. We grossly apologize for the quickly hewn-together Friday coverage (still, check out sommah those bands!) as we were running on fumes, exhaustion, and no tea. Something that would make the kindest Arthur Dent (another author reference - Douglas Adams) a bit shaky in his delivery. In any case, here's the story we were really writing when we were typing last night:

The shirt is coming along. It's about 80% filled and there's still a day ahead. Our first signature Friday was Mike Savino of Tall Tall Trees, and today, we opted for something different: a couple festival contacts who somehow think we're worth bringing into the Festival. I know, strange, huh? Against Ms. McC's furious attestations that she was going to "ruin the shirt," we finally convinced one of the hardest-working women behind the festival to be part of our experience. Mr. DG, the other fellow we have contact with, just banged his signature right out.
No fuss, no problems.

The festival, to us, is about the experience, more than the CDs we picked up (we'll get to that), and we're of the type that we like to have some memento of that experience. That's why we like keeping a few CDs around, why we had to print our dinky little book out, and unfortunately, we haven't kept our press passes; it's that palpable memory that we want to keep of the festival. Something to look at and reminisce in old, curmudgeonly age. In short: buy stuff!

Now, open the gates:

The tides come in
We're convinced that behind every 3 festival-goers, there's one festival worker like this guy above working (mostly) in the background. Not an easy thing to coordinate.

They help put together the speakers and mics that Robert Hunter fussed a bit with. And they were up bright and early to let Willie Watson on the Alex and Ani Harbor Stage.

Why, juss me an my twangy lil' girl
Willie Watson... needs a bit of a tangent from us in order to explain. Our father had a few records on him, covers of horses and cowboys, names we never heard of before (and will never hear of again, they're not on CD), album titles like "Twangy Country Guitar." Never played one. But, to us that's country, not the modern Carrie Underwood-pop with a Southern Accent. Guy with a guitar singing innocent little songs about the farm, pre-Johnny Cash (we scooped up those gems, yes), Country because that's where you lived, in the country. Boondocks. Twice removed from the boonies, actually; yes that far.

Willie Watson is the perfect candidate for that sleepy little genre that has pretty much gone away. Crooning old soul's voice, style - well, check the pic - not too twangy, but definitely he comes from that generation two generations ago. Congrats, you human time-machine.

[Enter paragraph about The Oh Hellos here]
Don't worry, we'll get to them... but we've come unstuck in time on this post (Vonnegut).

Benjamin Booker is touring with the day's headliner Jack White. We took a few photos:

Kids nowadays...
And yes, he does look like he's about seventeen. Really, really young. The photo added about fifteen years, but - Jeesh! - yes, young.

Jack White's stamp of approval is all over the kid, so you know he's coming from a hard rock edge. We listened for a bit, and honestly, he's good, but we're not quite sure what we're missing here. Reignwolf was - nuts - and Booker didn't quite strike us that we need to go out and get his album. But we'll see. There's always the chance for surprise.

Shakey Graves, on the other hand, is our second place for today. Funky funky dude, these Austin, Texans strikes us a bit like Dan Auerbach's solo stuff, with Springsteenish vocal color, and just.. a crowd. The crowd was rough. rightly deserved. Here's the lead singer:

The gents would shake our graves, any day

Right now we're trying, trying so hard not to just jump into our favorite band of the day. Really. It's tough.

Best Covers Award goes to Houndmouth (Soundcloud, but no sounds! Go bug them). Starting off with a Funkadelic tune, they were spot on. Just fantastic. We were caught in a serious conundrum between Shakey Graves and Houndmouth - which stage to go for? where's my "evil" twin when you need him? - and despite all the great photos we have of them, and that we love Shakey and wanted more of Houndmouth, alas, Deer Tick awaited.

And one obligatory Deer Tick photo later:

Rental attendant suits: $600. Amtrack travel for eight: $1500. Thumbing your nose at a major airline...

In case you didn't hear, they were dressed up as airline attendants. Hrm. We wonder why.You know we like them, but there's a lot to travel by foot yet.

Actually, just a couple more bands for y'all.

First, we'll start with the best. Then end with the last. That seems fair.

Out of the virtual nowhere comes... wait for it...

Beware: flying banjos
The Oh Hellos were three steps, two banjos, and fifty feet of crowd ahead of any other stage we'd caught on Saturday. We're fairly going to say they were THE ACT of the festival. So far? Yes. Of the whole festival? Well, perhaps another yes.
To describe their sound, we need only one word. Joyous. There is pure joy and air in their compositions, just naked like a new child, harmonies, some bluegrass feel to it, and just unabashedly earnest. This is the CD we picked up, and we're going to give you some links later tonight so y'all can listen to their debut full-length. Really. We made all our photographer-friends jealous by letting them know how terrible human beings they were to miss 20% of the band running around in the crowd.

And... Jack White.
We don't know what we're going to say about Jack White.

You probably already know him from The White Stripes and a slew of other projects, only 1/3 of which we're aware of, but here's where we'd like to end Saturday's coverage.

A beefy state trooper starts walking toward us (toward me, specifically), with an unpleasant look on the face. Really unpleasant. Serious. He walks up, takes note of something, and goes back. When he comes back again, there are two festival medics with him; and, unbeknownst to us, one partier has crashed just a wee bit, only a few feet away.
You see, we were busy trying to write something up on Jack White. Notes are illegible.
The poor fellow was down, and the two medics (plus the state trooper) help out the likely over-alcoholed, over-sunned music-goer, extract him from the crowd, and that's the end of our little view into that world.

Jack White, guitar fuzz, all that other stuff still going.

So for this post, we'll dedicate to the folk of the Folk Fest (including Katie our medic friend!) who keep things running. Who keep crowds in order. Who keep photographers from shooting Jack White, even. And keep partiers around, to party another day. Ms. McC wondered why I was so insistent on the autograph, but I hope this clarifies a couple things about that.

Zack Wiggs' better half

Now onward, to the final day!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Newport Folk Fest, Friday

Welcome back to our seventh year of Newport Folk Festival coverage - our first year taking torrential downpour for the Newport Mercury - we welcome and thank you back! If this is your first year taking in the blog, we'll sum up the fest for you so far: it's good. There. We said it. Our coverage, less so. We're exhausted and need to get some output done. So we apologize that this post doesn't full express our inspiration we felt today. Anyway, let's start.

The tall tall Tall Tall Trees. Okay, not super tall, but taller than us.
We start the day with New-Yorker Mike Savino, the Tall Tall Tree, self-described "banjotron," and rather self-effacing for a face full of beard. The nigh-Ent (is Tolkein too obscure, too-off base for a music blog?) introduces himself - "I'm guaranteed to be the best act so far," which, if you're into "space banjo," you could fairly place him mid-day and still make that statement. Now: space banjo, you question? Not really Bela Fleck, but more like pedals, serious pedal-effects, looping, electronica (a mallet on it, for chrissakes!), everything one can do to a banjo that's only legal south of the Mason-Dixon. This, here, is not a good photo. But don't worry, we've got a really good one coming up.

And before you knock our photos, let's introduce our lovely lovely pho- ah, it's just us. On an iPhone. A really frustrating thing to get photos off of, apparently. But we digress... let's move on.


The fantastic Ms. Phox
For some reason Phox reminded us a bit of Typhoon (not quite eleven Phox'ers, but close), though with a lovely female aesthetic and vocals. They're sweet, a lotta piano and some horn, and out of Baraboo, WI (none to far from our Alma Mater). Singer Ms. Monica Martin is, to quote another member, "hard to miss," which made it easy for us to get a signature for... well, can't spoil that yet.

There's a secret amongst those covering this kind of festival. Basically, there's a love/hate relationship here. It's fun, it's fantastic, it's freakin' awesome; but, quite frankly, it's exhausting. We HAVE TO run to each stage, catch photos, catch a song or two, run to the next stage (rinse, repeat, write... pass out). Yes, it is fun, but then you miss out on bands like Reignwolf. Never again.
Reignwolf is like pulling Steppenwolf out of the grave - okay, they're not really dead - infusing them into the body of a long-haired ragamuffin, letting him eat Peter Fonda's brains a la Easy Rider, and then... HOLY CRIPES THAT'S GOOD! They're our number two act, despite having barely caught them - all this based on 1. That the lead singer actually goes by Reignwolf; 2. That Reignwolf grinds  that poor blasted guitar on speakers loud enough to impede reproduction for at least six months; and 3. That we apparently can't figure out where the trio hails from. So, most likely, the deep deep forest. Amongst the Tall Tall...

Speaking of pulling style out of the grave, check out the hippie sister below. She's got a stream on a little thingy called NPR. Probably until Tuesday. Do we have to introduce her? We don't know. Let's see if you can guess by the getup.

Like... groovy... what year ho?
Okay, we'll help out those unfamiliar. Jenny Lewis has a new album out in T minus three days, one that we hope you'll like because, let's face it: Anne Hathaway + mustache in the video for the single. Now then. We felt we had to put this pleasant lass in because she's so nice (and certainly overwhelmed, but still nice) and her bandmates were as fantastic as electric punch. That's the stuff with extra electrolytes, right?
Sound: girl + guitar grooves. And chameleon-colored robe. We still really love "Acid Tongue" of hers. Been too long, lady.

There is a confession we have. We don't really get into the Grateful Dead. Like. At all. But, we do have to respect their contribution here, and we're not going to knock former Dead'er (there must be a term for it, right? Even that we don't know...) Robert Hunter. And we have a good picture of him, to boot.

Grateful fella

Despite some mic difficulties, and maybe a case of the mumbles, those who knew who he was were quite receptive to the gent. We can't really say anything bad about him. That'd be mean.

But we can tell you our number one. With a bullet.

Alas... no more Lizard Lounge
Lake. Street. Dr- we mean Dive. Everyone seems to mess that up (dive bars, get it?). But you won't now. Not when you give them a listen. They didn't have a chance to get around to Rich Girl (which rhymes not for the young'uns), but they knocked this one right out. Soulful Rachael Price is an entertainer at heart, with the voice and the moves of a Siren. Add to the mix... one Miss Staples, shake, and:

Too... much... soul at stake!
We knew Ms. Price was a singer, but it all came right out when Mavis Staples hit the stage for "Bad Self Portraits." It was an absolute delight watching the two women engage each other, give it their all, just blast those pipes away. Absolutely the number one of the day.

And we need to add Jimmy Cliff, too. Absolutely.

Hey, Mr. Reggae Man
The crowd was too pumped after Lake Street not to give this guy everything and all. Not to say he didn't deserve it during "Wild World" and "You Can Get It If You Really Want." And, let's say, the man's got moves. Crazy moves, but good ones. Certainly put us to shame.
"In case you forget, I'm Jimmy Cliff." We don't think that's going to happen, good sir.


And finale, that picture of Mr. Savino we promised (what a perfect name for a teacher!):

What a nice guy! And awesome signature. The shirt is utterly cluttered, and it's not even Sunday yet...

(More to come. Eventually.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sleeper Agent Attacks From Groovy Angle // Attacks Providence August 1

Sleeper Agent - About Last Night
-out now
4 / 5

Sleeper Agent (with The 'Mericans)
Aug 1, 7pm
Waterplace Park, Providence, RI
(Free - all ages)

There are few things we appreciate more than a burning beat that soothes our hungry dance-heart. And Sleeper Agent's (hailing from Bowler Green, KY) pop-centricity pulls us right in, gets us singing through their sophomore. It's not bass-heavy electronica (think *ahem* Chain Gang of 1974) or pure saccharine pop (a la Sondre Lerche), or lightning-storm-cloud electro-buzz (St. Vincent, we look at you) but it strikes a pleasant, palatable medium: easy to get into, easy to get through, and somehow, pure blissful joy. We tend to love those angular, weird little tracks, but this one - ladies and gents - strikes us as a type of sheer joy innocent of all those weird little idiosyncrasies we tend to extoll. And, quite frankly, Sleeper Agent don't need it.

We dug through this album and came up with a handful of tracks - "Waves" (the music-videoed single), "Good Job," "Shut," "Haunting Me," that we adore. It's sit-in-the-sun, tan yourself kinda fun, perfect for haunting about ice cream stands and beaches this time of year: addictive, simple, and quite good. It's actually tough not to find a good song on About Last Night, those tracks are few and interspersed, and for such a straightforward album, we're impressed at how much the tracks grow on us, how much we find ourselves again and again singing along, dancing along, swaying to these beats. We're not going to say they're anything as complex and deep as Typhoon, but Sleeper Agent make their own merits.

Add to that their free concert in Providence, and we're pretty convinced you'll be hooked. Seriously. It pains us to say we'll be out of commission that Friday, but we suspect downtown will be painfully packed, but that it'll still be worth it. Great all around, and highly recommended.

Soundcloud it, post-haste!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Don't Let Felice's "Strangers" Be One

Simone Felice - Strangers
Dualtone Music Group
-out now
3.5 / 5

Make no mistake: we are very biased toward Simone Felice. If you caught us in 2009 with The Duke and the King's Nothing Gold Can Stay, then you'd understand. Personally, we consider that album a classic. Already. So if we come off over-appreciative of Felice's post-Duke output, well, there's a good reason for it.

But let us say that his latest solo album, Strangers, gets there, but not much else. Alas.

There are fantastic songs. Notably, the anthemic "Our Lady of the Gun" and "Running Through My Head." Felice is a master at two things: great, soul-wrenching choruses that make you sing them, and stringing together lyrics to unfold a story. Felice envelops his listener into a blissful depressive state, not quite catharsis, but sitting by the river Oblivion and being tempted to drink. When he's good, he's good. But compared to Nothing Gold, again, a classic in our eyes, Strangers is pretty good, just not as brilliant, as insightful and sharp-cutting lyrically. His temptation to Dylanesque meter (see opener, "Molly O!") is where we feel he's weakest, and sometimes he slips into slightly overwrought emotionalism ("Heartland"). We feel Felice is strongest in understatement, given his subject matter.

A good, but not excellent, solo album from the man who brought us "Makes Me Want to Lose Myself." Pick it up if you're a fan (like us!)

Listen to "Running Through My Head" on Soundcloud.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Glass Animals Rather Tame

Glass Animals - Zaba
-out June 10
3 / 5
Contributed by Bera Dunau (@BeraDunau)

ZABA, the debut album from alternative rock band Glass Animals, is a relentlessly smooth piece of work. Indeed, it is the perfect accompaniment for a peaceful a.m. drive on a deserted freeway, where the only company can be found in the streetlights passing overhead. Unfortunately, this very smoothness is also the album’s greatest weakness, as it is so consistent in tone that the tracks have a tendency to blur together. This makes it a bit of a one-note effort, although the one thing that ZABA does, it does well. Glass Animals’ sound is focused squarely on the atmospheric. You won’t find much in the way of solo highlights here, but you will find a group of musicians working together to make a luscious soundscape.

The best way to describe ZABA would be that it is heavily produced, highly polished, lounge music, with a particular faithfulness to putting the listener into a mellow groove. So, should you pick it up? Well, it honestly depends on whether you feel like taking that long, midnight drive or not.

We will freely admit that Glass Animals’ music is not our normal cup of tea. That said, ZABA is a pleasurable album that we think pairs well with an evening of solitude and contemplation. However, it’s not something we would put on for its own sake, as the atmospheric nature of the album lends itself more to be a right mood/right time kind of album. And while we enjoyed the mellow groove of “Flip” and tropical boisterousness of “Pools,” the arrangements and the tone throughout the album were so consistent that the lack of variety became noticeable.

Variety and range is not a necessary element of a good album, but it is a component of a great one. ZABA is not great album, but if you enjoy mellow, atmospheric music, with a smooth arrangement, pick it up. Otherwise, don’t feel bad about leaving it as a road not traveled.

Start that midnight drive on Soundcloud.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Syd Arthur at the Brighton Music Hall

Stand 'em up, knock it down. Canterbury's sweetest groove since the Tales. (L to R: Raven Bush, Liam Magill, Fred Rother, Joel Magill. Copyright Andy Cotterill)

Brighton Music Hall, Brighton, MA. Sat. 6-7-14, 8pm. $12 adv. 18 and over with ID. This fierce foursome of Brits come to nigh-Boston this weekend. Why must we let you know this? Because they take half their name from a Kinks album, and if you don't know our position on the Kinks, then you must be new to the blog. Point for them. They've also got a new psychedelic album out with all kinds of time signatures that just flow so smooth (and this may be new to y'all, but we appreciate making the tough sound easy). Yes, they're just opening for Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (whom we know nothing about), so hopefully that'll mean they'll hit up the merch table and maybe sign stuff for y'all.

And about us? We don't know. Miserable injury may keep us from showing up in anything other than spirit. But let us know what you think about them live, because we'd love to know!

Me'shell NdegeOcello's Comet a Miss

Meshell N'Degeocello - Comet, Come to Me
-out now
2.5 / 5

There are a few things that give away to us how to score an album on this blog. Number one is ultimately compulsion - do we have to play an album again and again? Typhoon's White Lighter suffered from this (and still does). Memory is the next thing, that is, do we keep playing the music in our head again and again (like Delta Spirit's I Think I Found It)? And thirdly, if we're familiar with the artist, where does it rate in their discography? To start from reverse, Me'shell NdegeOcello's latest studio album, Comet, Come to Me is not the strongest album in the Berlin-born's musical lineup. It lacks the acerbic passion and outrage of her earlier works (crystallized, in our opinion, in 1996's Peace Beyond Passion), it lacks the pure innocence and beauty of "Two Lonely Hearts (On the Subway)", it has us digging up her other albums because Comet, unfortunately, does not crash and thunder with the blood of her other incredible albums.

The strongest track here must be "Conviction," a tip-back-in-the-chair, funk-drenched, head-nodding groove to a destructive relationship. It's confident and even a bit hip-swaying, but for all its quality, we can't help but think we've had Ms. Johnson's songs course through us so much more furiously, more passionately than this. Many of the other songs feel lax, a bit too comfortable (listen to "Folie a Duex"), which, given her twenty-plus years of exceptional output, we can sympathize with. But when you're given a track like "Continuous Performance," a dragged out concept that works better on paper, then you long for those days of funky bassline attacking homophobia, religion, society in general. We hate to ask, but what should we leave with after "American Rhapsody"?

The one thing that Comet has brought us is an appreciation for Me'shell NdegeOcello's previous albums. But beyond that, Comet comes as a miss; take a pass.

Hit up Soundcloud for her sounds.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Syd Arthur's Sophomore Like, Psychedelicious, Man

Syd Arthur - Sound Mirror
-out now
4 / 5

Psychedelic foursome Syd Arthur know good music. Taking their moniker from ex-Pink Floyder Barrett and mashing it with one of our favorite albums by the Kinks, the Canterbury-based rockers' sophomore full-length is replete with poly-chromatic instrumentation (including piano!), soaring choruses, and shifting time signatures. It is educated, conscious of bands not only before their time (Pink Floyd, The Who, perhaps the Doors) but also of contemporaries (Portugal. The Man). It is vibrant: pulsating with life, entertaining, fresh. It is, in short, a delight.

When the piano hammers out the opening lick to "Hometown Blues," we definitely feel that Who vibe, a bit percussive, bursting into the hypnotic chorus. Joyous strings lay it out for "What's Your Secret," and if you haven't been exhausted in musical pleasure by the time "Chariots" comes on, then you might be unaffected by the ecstasy of the next explosive chorus. Sound Mirror may have a weakness to it, in that it isn't a Who's Next, that it's not quite a classic in and of itself, though hopefully it's on the way to one. This is an album full of great songs, and maybe a little short (though at 35 minutes, that's more subjective), yet each spin is fresh, likely due to those weird time sigs throughout.

A great album by a relative unknown. Modern psychedelia doesn't need to be P.TM's territory anymore; this one comes highly recommended.

Groovy singles on Soundcloud, man.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Hardly Criminal Hardly Worth Chasing

Crash - Hardly Criminal
Community Music
- out May 6
2.5 / 5

Louisiana-native Christopher Richard belts one out - exactly one - on his debut full-length. The setlist is diverse, soul to folk to rock, but these songs lack that je ne sais quoi - actually, we can say what it is they lack: really provoking performances. Richard connects with his music, but can't seem to get that music to connect with the listener. How can we tell? We've listened to the album a handful of times, and to us, there's still only one song on it. The rest, one could say, is a blur.

It's painful for us to get a great, soulful song on an album of sleepy underperformers, but that's what Hardly Criminal amounts to. We're not quite sure what to do with the goofy, folksy "All My Friends," which feels like a song Richard plays for his own enjoyment. It's hard to single out other songs that simply don't get there, like "Britches Catch Fire" (which has nice, ghostly vocals at least), so we're going to spend a bit more time on the single we think you should hear. "Motion Animal" is one of those groovy little gems that pops out of the woodwork here, one part soul, one part dance, three parts sheer tongue-in-cheek fun. We're not quite sure where this one came from, but we know we want more of that.

Otherwise, we have to put the breaks on Crash. For the price of a dollar (or Youtube video) you can get your enjoyment out of this album. Take a pass.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sylvan Esso Debut Not Green, But Not the New Black, Either

Sylvan Esso - Self-Titled
Partisan Records
- out May 13
3.5 / 5

Electronic pop duo Sylvan Esso swagger from Durham, NC with their debut album: all pop, clean, confident. Of those three, it is most certainly confident: it's the kind of music that belongs lounging in a hep black-lit party, tendrils of smoke gently curling about. Singer Amelia Randall Meath anchors these songs in understated tones, melded with Nicholas Sanborn's simplified electronica. How else can we describe it? It's simple, uncluttered, and at times, quite joyous.

One listen to the lead single "Coffee" confirms the duo's talent and excellent pairing. It's a smooth blend on this track, maybe one cream (just for color), a little bite to it. And the chorus is blissful and sexy, velvety yet restrained. And the other tracks on the second half of this album earn the title "good pop," with "Play it Right" one of our upbeat, dance favorites on these ten. But as much as "Play it Right" belongs in a club, the tracks on the first half, almost exactly, leave very little impression on us. They're passable, but feel like practice for the last half, just a quick warm-up, a little stretch. The album as a whole, if we were to judge starting from "H.S.K.T.", would be above average, but does get bogged down early and frequently. Tracks like "Dreamy Bruises" tend toward sleepiness, tend to lack precision and effectiveness. A little more rewriting could have brought this to four-stars, but we do love those two tracks in the last half enough to give the other tracks something of a free pass.

If you do pick this one up, keep in mind it gets much better by the end. A fair debut, with some solid electronica; recommended.

Sylvan Esso on Soundcloud. Chill it like a white wine.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A couple of reviews

Hey y'all!

A couple reviews of the book are up now. (I was about to write "is" instead of "are" - bad sign.) Here are the links:

Notebook of Books

Sweat, Tears and Digital Ink

The Amazon link!

Goodreads reviews most appreciated, too.

Please tell us what you think! Like, right here! Or especially on Amazon and Goodreads! Keep in mind, on our main site we'll have a limited number of paperbacks to pass around after we do some readings in RI. Hope you like these a lot! And keep them reviews real, yo; peace,

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Weekend Update: Book Edition

Hello! So, just a reminder:


It's out. It's officially out. "The Keeper of Dreams" is now on Amazon. We've also done something like this with it:

Yes, that's an official printing of the book right there. It's a very limited edition, only 50 (and one) so far. Check out the main website to request a copy, and we'll get it to you post-haste. Once the end-tail of the batch gets printed.

Thanks so much for all your support, everyone! We're going to get a paypal donate thingy on the website at some point so we can print some more. (And we're also going to post up the text on there somehow). Keep those dreams real, yo,

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Bailiff Unlocks a Mean Sound on Sophomore

Bailiff - Remise
-out April 22
3.5 / 5

Chicago trio Bailiff proudly pronounces their diverse musical loves: John Lee Hooker, Radiohead, Dylan and Muddy Waters. We can't say we're able to pick out exactly how each of these influence their sophomore release, Remise, but we can say the alt-rock trio has taken their words (and music) to heart, and have crafted their own invention here. Funded by a Kickstarter campaign, it all comes down to soul, to where you're coming from and where you bring your audience, and there, Bailiff doesn't disappoint: this is good stuff.

Our favorite here is the single, "Shake My Heart Awake," the dance-beat (ah yes, a good dance beat!) blood-pounding, the vocals svelte and soulful, the song simple enough to shake you like, yes, an earthquake. It's pure whiskey on the dance floor pleasure, sway your glass to the beat. There are a handful of good songs here, including the political "Helicopter" and the wistful piano on "Head in the Clouds". Our only regret with these nine is that Bailiff doesn't feel like they've quite cranked it to 11; they aim for it, and reach a respectable seven or eight. The crew has found their sound, certainly, but they feel too comfortable in it, and now they need to push their limits, both in peformances and especially in songwriting. These songs just need that extra kick in the pants, and don't quite surprise. But in good time, we suspect.

Still, it's playful, groovin' and enjoyable. We think these guys are on the up, and greatly look forward to their next. Recommended.

Soundcloud them.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Some sad news...

David Lamb of Brown Bird has recently passed away from leukemia.

We offer our deepest condolences to his surviving spouse, MorganEve Swain, and all the strength to carry on. Dave was loved by many, and we hope that if he or his music meant something in your life, that you'll share that with MorganEve and offer your support.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Check out our article in the Mercury!


Where we talk about Brown Bird and healthcare. Some important stuff. Pick up a copy (or two). Thanks!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Jazz-Go of Rite of Spring Leaves Us Non-"Plus"ed

The Bad Plus - The Rite of Spring
-out today
3 / 5

Ambitious. That's the first word that has to begin a review of the Bad Plus' jazz interpretation of Stravinsky. It must be a heavenly marriage to bring the two together, the Bad Plus as a sophisticated, avant-garde jazz trio, and Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, a ballet piece recognized as one of the most forward-thinking pieces of the 20th century. But we're not here to praise (or belittle), only to give our thoughts: and in comparison to the beautiful original score, there's quite frankly no comparison. There are certain inherent limitations that a trio has when performing classical, namely, the lack of an orchestra, and here The Bad Plus valiantly endeavor to replicate the themes and dissonance of the original piece. In this comparison, of course, they must necessarily fall short.

Our other consideration, more importantly, must be whether this is not a great interpretation, but a great Bad Plus album. In that regards, we refer directly to the performances themselves; the trio are wont to be cerebral and, at times, a bit obtuse. Simply put, they lack passion! We feel they often treat this material too distantly, they treat it like classical, and what should be a pulsating monster of a work (and Rite should be a great fit for them) feels rigid and un-complex. There are brief moments of connection here, but not enough for an album's worth of emotional investment. To sum up, it is a fresh, but average Bad Plus album, in comparison to Give at least, in that Give certainly did.

Fans of The Bad Plus will certainly give in to their temptation here, but we'll take the critical risk and call them out: their performances make the material feel like a ghost. We much recommend Stravinsky's conducting the piece, and other parts of the band's discography, as this one wore on us after a few listens. Ambitious, yes: still, take a pass.

Listen to a live version here.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Bad Self Portraits a Master's Class in Good Art

Lake Street Dive - Bad Self Portraits
Signature Sounds
-out Feb 18
4 / 5

We think it comes down to Rachael Price's voice. We think that's what it is: Massachusetts-based quartet Lake Street Dive is so heavily anchored on Price's strong, feminine soul voice that it's hard to imagine the other fantastic pieces (guitar, acoustic bass, percussion) fitting together without that crux. You may look around at other reviews that try to describe their sound, and they'll say it's a mix of this, a hodgepodge of that, but truly, it comes down to a tight trio supporting a fantastic, colorful voice. And these songs - songs mostly of lost loves - you can't help but want to sing along to. We think that's the other thing here.

Bad Self Portraits is an excellent mix of driving rock ("Bobby Tanqueray"), soul (the title track) and what we're going to call "stop-and-go" tempoed pop ("Seventeen"). In less experienced hands, the album would be a melting pot of styles, rather than the cohesive, sultry, steaming session it is. Lake Street Dive's soul/rock sound isn't particularly easy to describe, not for lack of comparisons, but because it's not groundshaking or especially earthquaking; it is, however, just plain good. It's a familiar sound, but new enough (especially in songwriting), and executed very well. We have difficulty choosing a favorite song out of these eleven, but suffice it to say the downtempo closer, "Rental Love," captures our hearts just because it's the most melancholy track here.

Bad Self Portraits comes off highly recommended for those in the mood for strong female vocals, fellow fans of Avi and Celia / Sharon Jones, and for those with a pulse in their veins.

Listen to the title track on Soundcloud.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Duke of Norfolk Takes Flight on Debut Full-Length

The Duke of Norfolk - Birds... Fly South!
Mint 400 Records

-out Feb 4
3.5 / 5

Birds... Fly South! is one of those little down-to-earth folk albums we like stumbling into every now and then. It's a brief, earnest 34 minutes pared down from The Duke's seven EPs over the past three years, all songs redone in a more cohesive style. The nom d'musique of UK resident Adam Howard, The Duke of Norfolk comes off like Josh Ritter's second cousin and is stylistically married to The Avett Brothers: that said, anticipate acoustic guitar and banjo a-plenty, with folk vocals that have a slight Conor Oberst timbre to them. The album comes on slowly like an ocean breeze and hangs in the air like an albatross mid-flight.

Which is to say, the tracks here don't stun or overwhelm so much as warm and hum. "The First Day of Spring" is one of the standouts on Birds, a track anchored with good, driving acoustic and lyrics that complement the yearning strings. It's a lovely mood that Howard establishes here, joyous and a bit restrained, and the preceding track "Desert Isle" bounces with a boisterous guitar. Our main concern is that The Duke of Norfolk's style requires very precise and poignant lyrics, and sometimes they struggle a bit to capture the warmth and personality of the instrumentation. Again, as much as we like "Desert Isle, the lyric "I am not so full of guile" seems a stretch of a rhyme for "desert isle." Our other critique is for the closer, "Lovely Winter," which feels like a Christmas piece, and a little out of place here, but overall the mood is well-established and a pleasant one.

Birds... Fly South! is a warm, heart-on-the-sleeve folk album that grew on us over the past week. It's an exciting start from a talented singer/songwriter, and hopefully presages more to come. Recommended.

Stream it on Soundcloud!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A (sort of) Interview with Lake Street Dive

We've been grooving hard to the soulful power-vocals of Lake Street Dive's Rachael Price (third from left) for the past two weeks. With their new album, Bad Self Portraits due out in a couple weeks, we realized how much we wanted to get on the ground floor with this crew - even though it's probably pretty hairy business to do so (see barbershop pic - look, a funny!). Their album seems well-positioned to propel the self-described dive-bar quartet onto the larger music radar, with recognition from Rolling Stone and The New York Daily News. The non-barbershop quartet, with members hailing from Nashville to Iowa, is surprisingly hard to get a hold of, so much so that we threw our questions directly to their sophomore LP with surprisingly candid results. (Photo copyright Jarrod McCabe)
Note: Check them out on The Colbert Report (Feb 5th) and David Letterman (Feb 21). Check out their tour schedule; unfortunately they're sold out in the NE until April!

Ravings: What a great album! You can't just sit around and record all day; what have you been doing in your spare time?
Bad Self Portraits: I bought this camera to take pictures of my love. Now that he's gone, I don't have anybody to take pictures of. I'm taking landscapes, I'm taking still lifes.

RMMM: Bad self portraits?
BSP: I'm taking bad self portraits. I spent my life so lost on lovin', I could've been a painter or a president.

RMMM: I know the feeling. Sometimes things just don't work out.
BSP: I'm so sick of lying, telling myself it's the end.

RMMM: I wouldn't go that far. But yeah, there are good times and bad.
BSP: I could spend ages reading the news. I could spend days singing the blues. But I turn up the TV light. Give up without a fight. Better than pretending to know what is wrong and what is right.

RMMM: Speaking of which, watch any good shows? You get into Mad Men?
BSP: Another night wasted in my parents' basement. Why did I ever go back home?

RMMM: To be honest, I never got into that show; I'm more of a Dexter fan. I just heard it was pretty good. I don't think Mad Men's for me. Fan of Mr. Draper?
BSP: I can say you are the only one I see, but I can't stop at two or three. I am afraid to need you so. I am too sober not to know that you may be my problem and not my love.

RMMM: Oh, I didn't realize you got into TV so much!
BSP: How long has it been since I've given in to what I see what is right in front of me...

RMMM: Probably not long at all.
BSP: Occasionally, some room to breathe is exactly what I need. And how long has it been since I've had a friend that'll make me see what's right in front of me?

RMMM: Haha, yeah, I prefer watching TV with other people, too. Speaking of watching, what do you want your fans to know for your shows?
BSP: Imagine each one's a man, takes a number, stands in line. My door is always open if you find you want to talk. I'll do anything for you, all you got to do is ask. So just ask. I know I have your love, baby, and you know you'll always have mine.

That mostly worked, right? Listen to some live sets on Soundcloud.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Back in Business!

Hello All,
We've got a super pre-emptive post here. Remember that thing that we plug each year, the one that always seems to sell out way ahead of time? Well...


Yeah, so we're judging that since the Newport Folk Festival sold out WAY TOO EARLY last year (before they even announced the whole lineup), it's safe to assume the same here. Just off the top of our heads, some highlights of festivals past:

- 2013: Deer Tick frontman John McCauley puts up an acoustic show for us beer-dazed acoustic-fazed bedragglers. He broke a string and - as this must always be the case - "Damn, I didn't bring any extras." Naturally. So:
"Can I get any suggestions for songs without the X string?"
*Suggestion given*
"No, that uses the X string," whichever string it was.

Luckily a NFF handiman found a string (from who knows where) and the set eventually continued on to a rendition of Mr. Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville" with his mom. Awww.

2009: Fleet Foxes are on the main stage. That one weird woman yells at them - "I want to live in your beard." I think the Foxes were kinda sorta flattered, maybe. Or just polite in hiding their weirded-out-ness.
Yeah. That one still cracks us up.

2011: Middle Brother. Side stage. Just absolutely transcendent. We're still huge fans of that collaboration of Dawes, Deer Tick, and Delta Spirit. But we're bigger fans of the Nike Airs that Matt Vasquez must've sported that day when he launched himself into the crowd, over pretty sizable barricades. Guy's got guts, and maybe missing a few marbles, too. Most excellent time.

Keep in mind, the Newport Blues Cafe and Jane Pickens Theater (both in downtown Newport) tend to hold a few extra acts that same weekend.
Gosh! We almost forgot to mention it was the weekend of July 25! OUR BIRTHDAY WEEKEND!! What a present!
Anyway, keep all y'all eyes peeled, and unpeel your ears when you get there as well. Keep it real, yos.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

We Want YOU! spread the word about our new book, The Keeper of Dreams. We got off to a good start, rounding up half of our Kickstarter funds, but now we need to sprint the last way there. Just a week left, and we don't have much time.
All we're asking is another $300, so if you want to kick in $5, that would be fantastic. If you want to let your bookish friends know about this kickstarter, even better. Why? Because we're so nice, and you love us oodles. Or maybe you liked our two stories in the previous post - there's more where that came from!
So let us know what you think, and share the love. Many kisses and thanks!