Monday, December 3, 2012

Cool Music Stuff on the Internet - The Killers do U2, Brushfire Records Best of 2012, Ben Gibbard, Wallflowers

Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie fame has been on NPR a bit lately promoting his new solo album, check him out here on Tiny Desk Concerts.  He was also on World Cafe with David Dye, which is one of the more interesting and politely intriguing interviews I've heard in awhile.

More of this please. (via Stereogum)

Brushfire Records recently posted a short yet stellar list of their Greatest Hits of 2012. hint: Neil Halstead makes an appearance.

The Wallflowers, who have recently 'reunited' were also recently on World Cafe, where they played a live set, sounding quite good, actually.  Pay special attention to the first track they play, "Love Is A Country".

Cover Me Songs has 5 covers of Dream Academy's hit "Life in a Northern Town".  One of them is Rick Springfield. Not even kidding. Check it out.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Counting Crows Live at The Wiltern 11/24

The Counting Crows have long been on my list of bands I'll never get sick of, and they've also long been on my list of bands I hadn't seen live.  For whatever reason, my schedule and theirs has never coincided, until recently.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, they played at The Wiltern Theatre (one of my favorite music venues in LA, where I also saw Glen Hansard in June).  I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but my long wait was rewarded with a performance that was clear & tight, yet loose & fluid at the same time.  Adam Duritz loves to meander his vocals during live sets (as anyone who owns Across A Wire: Live In New York City knows) making each and every song and performance completely unique and new, even after 20+ years of performing.  He didn't disappoint, singing each song with refreshed emotion while each instrument perfectly intertwined with every nuance of Adam's vocals.  It sounded like they came up with each variation on the spot, but they played with the tight excellence of a band who seeks perfection each night.

Here is the setlist from the show.  It was a good mix of favorites and covers from their most recent album, Underwater Sunshine (or what we did on our summer vacation).  iTunes and Spotify playlists from the setlist are below.

Setlist Playlists:

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tuesday Listening - Neil Halstead, Palindrome Hunches

The first few weeks of this fall have been full of robust album releases that have eviscerated any ho-hum feelings I had leftover from the summer's lackluster new tunes.  There have been so many great new releases the last few weeks that Neil Halstead's new album, Palindrome Hunches, almost got lost in the shuffle of my other shiny new toys.


But, like the flow of the album itself, it was there in the background, waiting patiently for me to slow down and take a good, long listen.  Sometimes, an album comes along that is haunting, yet hopeful; simple, yet complex; far-away feeling, yet personal.  This album is all of these things.  It starts off with a track so hauntingly beautiful ("Digging Shelters") and meanders about with each song evoking different emotions, but always maintaining a sense of calmness within the simple instrumentation.  There is a lack of fussiness and pretenses that makes it easily digestible, but allows you to savor each morsel.  This is the kind of album made for this time of year, with the perfect tone for nights that have some bite and leave you feeling a bit colder than just a few short weeks ago.  If you are longing for some comfort in the new found fall weather, this is it.  This is an album you want on a rainy day, or a lazy evening, or simply in those quiet moments when you need to be reminded that beautiful things exist.

A few short months ago I didn't know Neil Halstead, until I heard a song off this album over at Fuel/Friends Blog.  The song posted was "Full Moon Rising", a little teaser for this album- but when I first heard it I thought a song that simplistically beautiful could not be replicated and most certainly there was no way in hell there could possibly be a full album of them.  Especially because, at the time I was experiencing a musical barren wasteland - nothing was inspiring me; nothing seemed to do anything for me; I couldn't seem to get into anything.  Then I heard this song, and it was just what I needed.

Fans of Glen Hansard's solo album, Rhythm and Repose, Nick Drake, or Damien Rice will find a friend in this album.  In the age of the single download, this is an exception.  And it may just be what you need, too.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Bon Iver at Radio City Full Concert Stream

Bon Iver played in NYC at Radio City on 9/21 and his entire concert (about an hour and a half) is currently available up on You Tube.  Its only available for 48 hours, however, and the countdown began at 9am this morning.  The clock is ticking, so do yourself a favor and check it out.   (via Mashable)


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Cool Music Stuff on the Internet- New Mumford & Sons, DMB, Avett Brothers, and Leonard Cohen with U2

Rolling Stone recently posted this 'video flashback' (which is actually more of an explanation than a flashback) showing how Leonard Cohen got his groove back by pairing up with U2 one night.  In the video, Cohen sings "Tower of Song" with Bono and crew, with the accompanying article outlaying the improbable return of Leonard Cohen (and his subsequent world tour) and how this video played a part in it.  You can read the article on Leonard Cohen at Rolling Stone here.
The Essential Leonard Cohen - Leonard Cohen

Mumford & Sons performed at Red Rocks as one of the last stops on their recent tour.  While we wait for the upcoming release of Babel (one more week, one more week), we get a little sneak peak with this video of "I Will Wait"...for the new album to come more more week.. (via Rolling Stone)
I Will Wait - Single - Mumford & Sons

Dave Matthews Band is out with a new album (Away From the World) and recently performed one of their new songs on Jimmy Kimmel. Here's the band playing "Mercy", off the new album (via COS).
Away from the World (Deluxe Version) - Dave Matthews Band

And last, not to sound like a broken record....but ALSO out with a new album (The Carpenter) and ALSO on Jimmy Kimmel, and ALSO (via COS), here's The Avett Brothers performing "February Seven":
The Carpenter - The Avett Brothers

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tuesday Listening- The Killers, Battle Born

If you love The Killers because of their ability to simultaneously embrace and thumb their noses at the kitschiness in music, then the side of you that secretly wants to be a glam rock god will rejoice at this album.  Given the evolution of their sound (from wide-eyed rock newbies with driving guitar and some synth pop to a sound that's flipped on its head- more synth pop and less driving guitar), its as though they had merely been flirting with the glitz and glam side and now they are in a fulfilling, long term relationship.

This is not to say their new album, Battle Born (out today) is full of kitsch (there is some) or giant rock anthems begging to be played in a stadium (there are lots), but merely to say anyone who ever had the illusion that The Killers were a pure rock-centric band might want to look the other way, because Battle Born is pure Vegas.

As a band from Vegas, who also recorded most of the album in Vegas, its almost refreshing to see the band embracing their sequined city's influence.   It has been there the whole time, lurking behind the dark corners of tracks like "Andy, You're A Star" off Hot Fuss, and "Read My Mind" off Sam's Town.  Battle Born is an album with BIG sounds.  As big and as bright as the Las Vegas strip.  Big synth, big vocals, big soaring backing music and ooohs and aahhs.  Big lyrics. Even the ballads are big.  And the best part? The big anthem-esque tracks (which, by the way, are going to sound amazing live when they play them on tour).

Some of those tracks have a Meatloaf feel. There are also wistful ballads with soaring music and lyrics like we haven't ever quite heard from these guys ("Here With Me", "Heart of A Girl").  There is more than one song that brought to mind The Who (listen for big Baba O'Reilly like riffs on "Battle Born" and "A Matter of Time").  I hear Ric Ocasek in Flowers' voice on "The Rising Tide".  And then "Miss Atomic Bomb" comes in, a mighty song with a hint of a riff at the end that sounds eerily similar to "Mr. Brightside", as if to pass the torch from the band they were to the band they are now- pure Vegas pop rock.

There are giant wins for me on Battle Born-  "Runaways", "Flesh and Bone", "The Way It Was", "The Rising Tide", and "The Heart of A Girl", which is a surprisingly fantastic slower groove.  But there are also not-so-brightside spots like "From Here On Out" on which, music gods forgive me, but I swear I hear Juice Newton's spunky "Queen of Hearts"; or "Be Still", a ballad that just misses the mark for me.

In other words....its a lot of things at once. Just like the town of Vegas.  The only way I know how to reconcile all of it is to embrace my inner glam cowboy and ride off into the Vegas sunset with a guitar, a sequined jacket, and a synthesizer.  Just like the Vegas strip, you can't tell what's real and what's illusion.  But sometimes, its just what you need.  Giddy up.

Check it out for yourself and let me know what YOU think.

Monday, September 17, 2012

New Music from Elbow, Avett Brothers, Alanis, DMB, Bob Dylan, The Killers & More

I've been on vacation and was eagerly anticipating catching up on new music when I got back.

Instead, I got this:

Seriously??  Did Rebecca Black teach us nothing?

Thankfully, there is a whole slew of great new music to come out the last couple of weeks, and lots more to come in the next few to wipe my brain clear of this video.  At least I hope.  Here's some stuff worth checking out:

If you are unfamiliar with Elbow, start here:

Then check out their new release of B- sides, Dead in the Boot.

The Avett Brothers
The Avett Brothers are back with more Americana folk with their new album, The Carpenter, out now.  There's a bit of a more robust sound on some tracks (see "Geraldine" and "Paul Newman Vs. The Demons") which is kind of refreshing, but also plenty of what we love about the Avett Brothers (see "Winter in My Heart" and "A Fathers First Spring")

Alanis Morrisette
The Queen of Angst is back after a bit of a hiatus and she's got even more life experience under her belt to help influence her sound- she ran a marathon! She got married! She became a mom!  Its a little bit angsty, a little bit ethereal, a little bit clubby, and a littlebit ballad-y...she's sort of all of that together on this album.  Its an album that ebbs and flows and at times tracks sound like they could be coming from entirely different albums. And ya know what? I like it.  Check out "Guardian", "Woman Down", "Havoc", "Empathy", "Lens".

Dave Matthews Band
Dave Matthews Band is back with their first album since 2009's Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King, and it also happens to be their first Steve Lillywhite produced album since 1998 (Before These Crowded Streets)- after producing the band's first 3 albums, Lillywhite parted ways with the band.  Check out tracks like "Mercy", "Belly Full", "If Only".

More New Releases

Bob Dylan

Two Door Cinema Club

Matchbox Twenty

The xx

The Killers Streaming
The new album by The Killers, Battleborn (out 9/17) is currently streaming in full for free over at iTunes.  Head on over or click below to listen in full.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tuesday Listening - Neil Halstead

I've become a bit jaded with new music lately, as you may have noticed from my lack of posts.  Nothing seems to be jumping out at me this year like last year's Wyldlife, Yuck, and Laura Marling records did, and a good chunk of new music I am finding only leaves me feeling...meh.

Then I revisited a blog post from last month on one of my favorite music spots on the internet, Fuel/Friends Blog.  Heather's music curation is always somehow right in tune with whatever I'm feeling at that moment, and somehow I missed this particular post originally, so when I stumbled on it I just sort of knew it would reawaken my musical soul.

Neil Halstead's "Full Moon Rising" is off his forthcoming album out in September.  With its Nick Drake style comforts, it left me with a satiated feeling, like finally eating a decadent meal you've been craving for awhile.  You can check out the full track over at Fuel/Friends Blog here.

After reading up more on Neil, I decided to check out some tunage from other bands he's belonged to, namely Mojave 3, Slowdive, and other solo works.  Here are some of the tracks that reawakened my musical spirit.

Got My Sunshine - Sprout Official Soundtrack

Two Stones in My Pocket - Sleeping On Roads

Sleeping On Roads - Sleeping On Roads

Between the Bars - Seasons

Bluebird of Happiness - Mojave 3

Monday, July 23, 2012

Cool Music Stuff on the Internet - These United States, Laura Marling, Counting Crows, The Killers, Mumford & Sons

With so much music stuff out there in the world wide web, sometimes it can be difficult to sift through it all and see what's good.  Never fear, that's where I come in.  Here's a bit of some recent cool music stuff on the internet.

Songs for Wednesday on Visible Voice
If you are on the lookout for some new music with wistful, heartfelt leanings, like a good rainy day mix, look no further than a recent post by Visible Voice.  In a recent "Songs for Wednesday" post, they posted a list of songs that are right up my alley.  Full of smooth grooves and chill jams, they are a perfect mix of songs for any lazy summer day, any rainy day, or just any day in general.  In particular, a the below track stuck out at me.  Check out Visible Voice for more.

Laura Marling on NPR's Tiny Desk Concert
I love Laura Marling.  Her voice is like an angel, and somehow has the sound of wisdom of an old woman yet she's very young.  Which means we have plenty more to look forward to from this indie folk singer.  Here's a recent Tiny Desk Concert she did for NPR:

A Creature I Don't Know (Bonus Track Version) - Laura Marling

Counting Crows Perform "Up All Night (Frankie Miller Goes to Hollywood)"
The Counting Crows are out on tour after the release of their covers album, Underwater Sunshine (or what we did on our summer vacation) and recently performed "Up All Night (Frankie Miller Goes to Hollywood)" from Hard Candy, which was caught on video from a performance in Virginia.  Its a particularly festive performance worth checking out.

Addicted to Vinyl also has an in-depth interview with Adam Duritz.
Part two of the Adam Duritz interview
Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation) - Counting Crows

The Killers Debut Three New Songs
Those of us who are anxiously awaiting the new album by The Killers got a tease recently with the new single "Runaways" available on The Killers' website and iTunes.  The band also recently performed three new songs at a concert in North Carolina, which was caught on video by a fan.  Aside from the typical fan-concert-video-audio-issues, there's a plethora of soaring beats and energetic Brandon Flowers vocals, sounding a bit more Hot Fuss and Sam's Town than their more recent album (2008's Day & Age), hinting at what's to come.   The videos are available on Stereogum and the new album, Battle Born, is due this fall. (Yay!)
Runaways - Single - The Killers

Mumford & Sons New Album, Listen to 5 New Songs
Mumford & Sons recently released the track listing for their upcoming new album and Pretty Much Amazing had the genius idea of compiling youtube videos of the tracks that they've premiered already via festivals and other concerts.  Check out the full track listing and listen to 5 of the songs on the new album at Pretty Much Amazing.
Sigh No More - Mumford & Sons

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

New Music - Nick Gill, Waves Are Only Water

I was recently given the opportunity to review a new album by an up-and comer-, Nick Gill, whose new album Waves Are Only Water is out now.  If you like singer/songwriters like Mat Kearney and Josh Kelley, I suggest checking him out.  Nick has a unique voice and a great sound on Waves. Here's a little taste, and my review can be found over at Life Is Awesome.

Nick's also on Facebook and Twitter

Friday, July 13, 2012

Cool Music Stuff on the Internet - Pitchfork Music Festival Streaming Live

The Pitchfork Music Festival is underway this weekend, and like most music festivals now, they are streaming performances online.  You can check it out on the livestream below all weekend:

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tuesday Listening - Glen Hansard

I would like nothing more than to sit down and have a pint with Glen Hansard.

There are plenty of topics to cover- how he started busking on the streets of Dublin, his time with The Frames, Once, The Swell Season, and now, his first solo album Rhythm and Repose, released last week.  I have had an affinity for his music for some time, as his music is the rare type that remains utterly pure, untouched from overzealous producers and weird machines that remove the soul from a song.  His songs overflow with soul.  Unapologetically.

Thank goodness for that.

Anyway, back to the pint.

I'm sure he's a nice fellow and all, and there'd be plenty to talk about over the foamy rings on our pint glasses, but primarily I'd be hoping that at any moment he'd pick up that old, worn guitar of his and just start singing.  Just him and his guitar, the essence of what his music is. (The pints don't hurt, either).

As a busker, he essentially got his start as a solo artist.   He's since spent most of his career playing with other people, so it is at this point that a solo album by Glen Hansard gives one the sense of 'Hmm. Yes.  This makes sense.'  He's mentioned in recent interviews how this solo album came about almost by accident via sessions at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC.  Most of his fans, however, would probably say this solo album is a long time coming.  Given his busker start, it only makes sense.

It also makes sense, then, that the album is full of music that stays in the vein of Glen's past works, but with a more evolved sound.  The first taste of this is on the very first track, "You Will Become", which has a serious tone juxtaposed with soft strumming that eventually turns wide and sweeping.  If this album is a meal, "You Will Become" is a tasty yet unsettled appetizer, and "Maybe Not Tonight" is the decadent, delicious, longed for main course.  On this second track, his voice is tempered.  There is a seductive sway in the tune, like watching ocean waves rise and fall, leaving the listener a bit weak in the knees.

Those looking for the more 'traditional' Glen sound, with his trademark highly emotive singing can look towards "High Hopes", where this singing style brings the song to an extreme climax before lightly settling back in.  With lyrics like "Why must a man lose everything/to find out what he wants", it is one of the standouts on the album.  Songs like "Bird of Sorrow" and "The Storm, It's Coming" bring forth the wistful and hopeful-yet-melancholic side of his sound.  Swell Season fans will get their fill on a track like "Love Don't Leave Me Waiting", which has a "Low Rising" feel to it.  There is also the remarkable, climactic "The Gift", complete with a female vocalist we've grown accustomed to hearing with Marketa and Glen.

There are widely varying tones, tempos, and emotions on this album, but it all comes back around again on one of the key tracks, "Song of Good Hope".  Written for a friend who was going through some rough times, it is a simple, beautiful song, with just Glen and his guitar and meaningful lyrics that at times can sound like an Irish blessing: "You'll be fine now/Just stay close to me/and may good hope, walk with you through everything".

Some tracks sound like a new direction for him, but at the same time they sound like exactly where he should be as a musician at this point in his journey.  Perhaps that's why it's taken till now to get a solo album out of him.  In some sense, he is going back to his beginnings.  No longer a full time busker on the streets, he's a musician whose sound has progressed but who has managed to weave in the roots of where it all began.  One can imagine each of the songs on his new album being stripped down and played simply with just him and his guitar.  This is the essence of his music.  At its core, it belongs to a busker's heart.

You can Rhythm and Repose on iTunes:

More Glen Hansard:

NPR Tiny Desk Concert

Glen Hansard at the Rolling Stone offices:

Glen Hansard on World Cafe's Sense of Place with David Dye

At SXSW with KUT

Monday, June 25, 2012

Midsummer's Night Mixes

Summer is now fully upon us and there is an abundance of sunshine, as well as an abundance of great new summer tracks and mixes.  With alluring thoughts of intoxicatingly long days of warm breezes and outdoor fun, I thought there no better time to highlight some wonderfully summery music.  Here are some sunny tracks and mixes to get you going.

There is simply no better way to kick off summer than with any song by The Beach Boys, and just in time for the season, The Beach Boys are back with a brand new album, brand new tunes, and brand new Brian Wilson-influenced tracks.  I don't care who you are, or what your musical leanings, you owe it to your summer to give the below tracks a listen.  From the "Kokomo"-esque "Daybreak Over the Ocean" to the old school vibe on "Strange World", and the pure Brian Wilson-ness of "Pacific Coast Highway", this is the perfect start for summer.  There's also a stellar standout in "Summer's Gone", but we'll save that for our list of songs for Fall...
That's Why God Made the Radio - The Beach Boys

John Mayer's latest album, Born and Raised, is full of wistful introspective songs, but "Queen of California" stands out as a track with a sunny disposition. Born and Raised - John Mayer

California indie pop band Best Coast's video for their song "The Only Place" is just about as close to an advertisement for the awesomeness of California as you can get.  The song says it all:

"Leave the cold behind
we're gonna make it to the beach on time
Why would you live anywhere else?"

Exactly. (video via Pitchfork) The Only Place (Deluxe Edition) - Best Coast

There is something about "Man on Fire" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros that just fits in perfectly here. Upbeat tunage.  A simple beat and melody.  And a guy who just wants the whole damn world to dance with him.  (Video via Rolling Stone) Here - Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros

The Smashing Pumpkins have released the long awaited new album, Oceania, and while I'm still letting the album settle before making any hasty decisions on what I think about it, I do love these tracks.  The chord progressions seem uncharacteristically upbeat (especially on "Pinwheels") for Billy Corgan, making for a good add to any beach soundtrack.  Oceania - Smashing Pumpkins

Summer Mixes
Want more summery songs?  Here are a few summer mixes from the music blogosphere.

Music for Ants
Music For Ants just released their annual summer mix.  You can download it at that link (and also get the playlist on Spotify).  They do a mix for each season, and never disappoint in introducing some great new tunes.

Songs for the Day
I've linked to this before, but its so good it bears repeating.  Songs for the Day's summer mix is fantastic, which you can listen to via 8tracks here:

New Music Collective
For an especially cooling summer mix during the hot days of summer, I also suggest checking out the summer mix over at New Music Collective. 

The always amazing Heather over at Fuel/Friends has put together an outstanding summer mix.  I don't know how she does it, but every track is perfect.  Simply perfect.
Listen here at Fuel/Friends Blog

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tuesday Listening - John Mayer

John Mayer's new album, Born and Raised, has been out for a couple of weeks now, and more reviews seem to have been written on this album than on most new releases lately.  Many have harped on this album's Southern California rock vibe, which is entirely true.  This is a far different album than John Mayer's put out before.

Aside from the overall vibe of the album, the biggest change in this album is what he's singing about.  This isn't an album full of forlorn love songs, or songs that seem to be written as if he were inside the head of every woman in America. This album is different.  This is the album where John Mayer finally grows up.

But first- the sound.  Although the album has been out for a couple of weeks, I hesitated to write about  it because I wanted to give it a good, solid chance to sink into my brain and see which tracks stood out after repeated listening.  I liked Battle Studies when I first heard it, but I hardly ever listen to anything on it now, and I wondered if the same would happen with Born and Raised.

Before even listening, this album was already intriguing.  We are all aware of the infamous Playboy interview and the aftermath from a few years ago.  After years of being an over-sharer, he had to face the music for his own comments, quit Twitter, and basically kind of went away. The moment he first seemed to get it- that its not about what he wants to talk about, its about the music- is when he said just after the brouhaha, "I quit the media game. I'm out. I'm done. I just want to play my guitar."

Which brings us to Born and Raised. It is most definitely an album full of lyrics from a contrite writer, perhaps most poignantly in the chorus of his first single, "Shadow Days": "I'm a good man, with a good heart/Had a tough time, got a rough start/ But I finally learned to let it go", and the track "Born and Raised".  But the mood of the album isn't completely overshadowed with this tone- instead, its there, as if to acknowledge it, and then move on. Move on to the music.

So what is the music, and what stands out? This album is a pure throwback to 70's Southern California rock, in the vein of America, The Eagles, and Crosby Stills & Nash (Crosby & Nash even provide backing vocals on this album, as if to add to the authenticity).  There's also a bit of country twang ("Shadow Days"), a bit of John Mayer bluesyness ("Something Like Olivia"), and a bit of a pop driven love song ("Love is a Verb").  "Queen of California" opens up the album like a road trip up the PCH in a "Ventura Highway" style, with its muffled beat and sunny SoCal style grooves.  It is completed with lyrics about "heading out west with my headphones on" and looking for the place where "Joni wrote Blue in her house by the sea" and "looking for the sun that Neil Young hung", making it clear what he is trying to conjure up.  But it is the second half of "If I Ever Get Around To Living" that sealed the old school SoCal vibe for me.  It's a tempered sound with repeating vocals of "When you gonna wise up, boy?" in a softened style, a la "Tin Man" by America.

"Walt Grace's Submarine Test, January 1967" is pure storytelling, with a steady rat-a-tat drum beat and a melancholy yet resolved tone.  It completes the journey of this album as an album that wants to be blues, country, rock, and with this, good storytelling.

We love a good story, and this album draws on the backstory of the Playboy interview and the troubles he's had over the past year with his vocal chords.  But in the end,  the music is what makes it complex- there's hints of all of his talents on here, as well as his ability to take a different sound and style than what he normally does and make it sound, well...normal.  Not contrived.

What's ironic is some of his most mature sounds have come from previous albums, when he was in his twenties.  As he got into his early thirties, he seemed to start down a different path, one not so much about the music, but more about the caricature of John Mayer.  This album is not secretly his attempt at reclaiming who he used to be - a guy with his guitar who has an insane talent.  What he chooses to do with the talent is up to him.

 Listen & buy here
  Born and Raised - John Mayer

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Even Better Than The Real Thing, Part Three

Covers, covers, covers...I could go on and fact, I have gone on and on about the beauty of a good cover (Here. Here. Here. and Here).  There's just something about hearing a familiar tune done a different way. Listening from a different angle often introduces themes and tones you never realized were there in the first place.  I've been picking up on lots of recent good covers lately.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Ryan Adams covers Danzig's "Mother"
Yes. You read that right. I swear, that is not a typo.  Ryan performed this acoustic version of the metal classic recently on his tour.  My favorite part of the audio are the "woooowwww"s that come from the audience as the realization of what song it is washes over them.  There is a lot of random background noise, which normally makes for terrible audio but in this case, it actually adds to the mystique of the cover.  Ryan's voice pierces through, showing off just how amazing his voice is, with his guitar subtly supporting in the background.  There's no video, just the random cat picture, and the occasional sound of a cough or footsteps adds to the sensation that you are there, part of the crowd, watching him perform.
(via Stereogum)

Willie Nelson and Sons cover Pearl Jam's "Just Breathe"
Willie and his sons recently visited the Sirius studios and performed this version of the Pearl Jam song- a song that is already robust with the Americana vibe, but, this being Willie Nelson, this version is even more so.  Willie's guitar adds this sudden extra layer that sounds complex but that he makes look simple in the video.  Its also an interesting take to hear/watch him perform with his sons, who he duets with on the vocals.  His son sounds eerily similar to Willie, making the vocals sound like the song is an homage to the younger and older Willies.
(via Stereogum)

Heroes - Willie Nelson

Iron & Wine Covers "One More Try" by George Michael
In a perfect example of why some covers really knock your socks off, a cover that sounds random turns out to make absolute.perfect.sense.
(via Pretty Much Amazing)

Laura Marling Covers "Whipping Post" by the Allman Brothers
In a bold move, Laura Marling takes on the southern rock stalwart with a funky, plucky acoustic take.  And it works- her voice is so clear and pristine it brings forth a different side of the song altogether.
(via twentyfourbit)
A Creature I Don't Know (Bonus Track Version) - Laura Marling

Fort Frances Covers "The Only Living Boy in New York" by Simon & Garfunkel
This is one of those covers that sounds as though they were trying to stay true to the original, except in being themselves it is completely different- its a little bit country, a little bit more loose- but it stands it own.
(via songsfortheday)

And last but not least, A Covers Mix, from songsfortheday
Somebody else loves covers as much as I do. This is amazing. As is songsfortheday.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Cool Music Stuff on the Internet - We Were Promised Jetpacks, Glen Hansard and Bono, The Head and The Heart, First Aid Kit

I've been slacking in the "Cool Music Stuff on the Internet" department lately, possibly from lack of inspiration, but suddenly I am finding good music everywhere.  Here is a bunch of stuff I've stumbled upon recently:

We Were Promised Jetpacks
Scottish post-punk band We Were Promised Jetpacks has been around since their debut album (These Four Walls) in 2009, but for some reason lately their track "It's Thunder and It's Lightening" has been on repeat on Spotify for me, so I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon a post from November on A Heart is A Spade that shares the Soundcloud set from the Jetpacks' visit to KDHX.  You can check it out HERE.

While digging around I also found this video from a visit the band made to the venerable KEXP studios:

Bono Joins Glen Hansard Onstage
Last week was Bono's 53rd birthday, and like a reverse present to us, American Songwriter has video of Bono joining Glen Hansard onstage at a gig in New York, singing "The Auld Triangle", along with a great recap from someone who was there.  The video is below, and the recap is a must read (HERE).

The Head and The Heart Chapel Session
One of my all time favorite music blogs, Fuel/Friends, often showcases amazing indie singer-songwriter artists that happen to be passing through.  The recordings are done in a local chapel-allowing us all to enjoy the wonderful acoustics of the music in such a location.  The Head and The Heart recently stopped by, and you can check out the recording HERE.

First Aid Kit on World Cafe
Swedish sister duo First Aid Kit recently stopped by World Cafe where host David Dye discussed their beginnings, music, and why they speak perfect American English. Check it out HERE.  You can also check out my review on their most recent album, The Lions Roar HERE.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Acoustic Persuasion, of the Singer-Songwriter Variety

There's something to be said for acoustic music- just gentle guitar strumming and a voice.  Its a simple form of music, but one that manages to offer the soul moments of quiet calmness in the midst of every day craziness.  Listening becomes a restorative action, and can also be a stark reminder of how beautiful simplicity in music can be - there's a reason there are so many Sunday morning acoustic shows on radio across the country.  I've been in an acoustic state of mind lately, namely due to the random (or, perhaps, not so random) things I've been listening to- mostly, music of the singer/songwriter variety.

The words "singer/songwriter" evoke a particular type of music- often acoustic, although sometimes not.  Its distinction is its uncanny ability to somehow always take you back- to a time, a place, a feeling.   I suppose "singer/songwriter" can mean anything you want, but to me it means music that allows the true words and meanings of the lyrics to get across- actual poetry, set to music.  Its not everyone's cup of tea, and truthfully, it helps to be in an introspective type of mood when listening.  But if you aren't, this music will help you get there.

World Cafe Looks Back- 70's Singer-Songwriters
World Cafe recently marked its 20th anniversary, and celebrated in true World Cafe/David Dye fashion by combing through their archives for interviews with some iconic singer/songwriters.  The episode features interviews and live in-studio sessions from the pinnacle of singer/songwriterdom - Jackson Browne, Carole King, James Taylor, and Joni Mitchell.
Check it out HERE

Chris Pierce
One of the beauties of living in LA is that great music is everywhere.  Most of the time, it gets lost in the shuffle, but every once in awhile, something special pokes its head above the murmur of everything else out there, and it usually happens in a random a busker on Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, or, as was the case with this artist, in a yoga class.  Chris Pierce will fill your soul alright- with his velvety, wonderfully calm vocals, gorgeous lyrics, and stirring guitar. Check him out HERE. And here (starts just past the 1:00 mark):

World Cafe: Michael Kiwanuka
A British born son of Ugandan immigrants, Michael has opened for Adele and hails with a jazz background, but his music is starkly beautiful and pulls from some of the influences mentioned in the World Cafe 70's singer/songwriter piece. As a result his song "I'm Getting Ready" sounds somehow familiar the first time you hear it, in a quiet clear and stirring way.  World Cafe profiled him recently, which you can listen to HERE.

Toad the Wet Sprocket at Fuel/Friends
After initially compiling this list, I stumbled upon Heather's beautiful blog over at Fuel/Friends, who did a chapel session with Glen Phillips from Toad the Wet Sprocket.  I simply cannot say it any better than Heather, so head on over to her blog HERE for an acoustic and stunning performance.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New Jack White Album Streaming in Full

In a not-very iTunes move, Jack White's forthcoming album, Blunderbuss, is currently available for streaming. On iTunes. For free. The album is due out next week, so here's your chance to hear it in its entirety, no strings attached for a limited time.  Pitchfork has the link HERE.

Monday, April 16, 2012

New Yuck

Just in time for their amazing Coachella set, Yuck let loose a new track via their website ( else find it endearing that such a great band has a humble blogspot address?).  As with most songs from their self-titled breakthrough album from last year, the track is full of 90's indie rock style distortions but with a bit of a tighter sound.  Having seen Yuck perform live last summer and then watching them via Coachella's live feed on Youtube, it seems to me they have been honing their chops...perhaps growing up a bit (they are, after all, only in their very early twenties) and getting better at being comfortable in their own skin, musically speaking.  They are obviously influenced by 90's rock, but it seems like they are figuring out that they are, in fact, their own band with their own unique sound.  Maybe this gives us a glimpse into what a sophomore album may have in store.  Till then, here's the track, "Chew":

Friday, April 13, 2012

Coachella Live Stream

Its April, which in music festival speak means "Coachella".  If you aren't making it out to the desert this weekend or next, never fear, the good folks at Coachella are making shows available via live stream on their YouTube channel. Its incredibly well organized- there are three channels that you can flip between in order to make sure you don't miss out on who you want to see, and it also lets you know who is coming up next.

Check it out all weekend long HERE.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

SXSW - NPR Live Stream

The annual SXSW festival is this week in Austin, and while the city and the conference can only hold so many, the rest of us can still get in on the action and check out the great music online, thanks to the folks at NPR Music.  They are streaming their whole showcase, which you can check out via video (or via an audio only feed if the video gets jumpy) HERE.  Fiona Apple already performed (yesterday) at NPR Music's showcase, where she previewed a new song, "Anything We Want", check it out HERE (via Pitchfork).  The rest of the schedule is below.

NPR Music Live Webcast Schedule:
Weds. 3/14:
- Dan Deacon - 10pm CT
- Alabama Shakes - 11:15pm CT
- Andrew Bird - 12:30am CT

Thurs. 3/15:
- Bruce Springsteen - noon CT (keynote address)

Fri. 3/16:
- La Vida Boheme - 1pm CT
- Sugar Tongue Slim - 1:45pm CT
- Polica - 2:30pm CT
- Lower Dens - 3:15pm CT
- The Magnetic Fields - 4pm CT

Monday, March 5, 2012

Counting Crows Covers

Counting Crows are releasing a new album on April 10th, but fans looking for new new material will have to wait- the new album, Underwater Sunshine (or what we did on our summer vacation), is entirely an album of covers.  A band notorious for covering others, including Adam Duritz's late night covers session from last February, this album is a natural extension of their live shows and their propensity for intertwining bits of others' songs into their own.  While we await Underwater Sunshine (track list below) here are some Counting Crows covers to whet your appetite.

Underwater Sunshine Track Listing (pre order HERE):
1. Untitled (Love Song)
2. Start Again
3. Hospital
4. Mercy
5. Meet on the Ledge
6. Like Teenage Gravity
7. Amie
8. Coming Around
9. Ohh La La
10. All My Failures
11. Return of the Grievous Angels
12. Four White Stallions
13. Jumping Jesus
14. You Ain't Goin Nowhere
15. The Ballad of El Goodo

Amie - Pure Prairie League

Caravan - Van Morrison

Blues Run the Game - Jackson Frank (this is an Adam Duritz cover from his Soundcloud page, which is full of gems; Nick Drake also covered this)

This Land is Your Land - Woody Guthrie

Cecilia - Simon & Garfunkel

Live Forever - Oasis (into "A Long December")

"Rain King" into "Thunder Road" - Bruce Springsteen:

With A Little Help From My Friends - The Beatles

Abbey Road medley:

The Ghost In You - Psychedelic Furs:

Friend of the Devil - Grateful Dead (live on Howard Stern):

Rain King/Oh Susannah (starts at 3:00):

Dashboard Confessional covering "Angels of the Silences":

Sara Bareilles covering "Sullivan Street" in a goosebump worthy performance:

You can pre-listen to some of the tracks off Underwater Sunshine by entering your email address through their website (its simple and painless). Check it out.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Through the Years- My Favorite Grammy Performances

The Grammys this past weekend were one of the most watched ever- no doubt the discussions that were occurring on social media contributed- but if one thing is clear, its that year in and year out, people looooove to talk about the musical performances- and with good reason.  Musical performances seem to be stepped up for the Grammys, each year with there being one or two in particular that people can't stop talking about.  Here are a few of my favorites from years past.

Anyone who didn't know who Mumford & Sons were before last year's Grammys sure as hell did after this night.  Starting with a raucous- as -hell performance of "The Cave" (they really get going right around the :45 mark HERE), and then onto a number with Bob Dylan and the Avett Brothers, it'll make you tired just watching these guys rock it out in one hell of an on-stage party.  Video of it is hard to come by, but here's a 'homemade' video (complete with background coughing) of the full performances:

John Mayer, Norah Jones, and Keith Urban honored Dolly Parton with a trio performance of "Jolene".  Keith and John offer up the steady beat and guitar, and Norah's voice (accompanied by John & Keith's) just plain old sounds cool against Keith & John's guitars.

Cee Lo & Gwyneth
Like a modern day Elton John-Big Bird muppet hybrid, its a fun, playful performance and doesn't try to be anything else (although I never really got the whole "Gwyneth Paltrow is a singer" thing), but regardless....who doesn't love Muppets?

One of my all-time favorite Grammy performances.  Even if you aren't a Pink fan, just watch the whole thing.  This is what a 'performance' is all about.

As I always say, I love an unexpected combo, like this performance of Coldplay with Jay Z from the 2009 Grammys:

For those who forgot, Adele existed before her current album (21) with her album 19, which included the song "Chasing Pavements". Here's her Grammy performance of the song from 2009, with Jennifer Nettles from Sugarland joining in:

The Grammys are really all about entertainment, and I'm not sure what could be more entertaining than this 2008 performance by Kanye West with Daft Punk:

Not to be outdone, Beyonce and Tina Turner stole the show with their duet:

John Mayer, Corinne Bailey Rae, and John Legend performing their songs with help from each other.  Its a really simple performance, but the simplicity of seeing three people just doing their thing (and who are really good at it) is amazing to watch:

U2 and Mary J. Blige perform "One".  We all remember this one.  For a reason.

Madonna performing "Hung Up" at the 2006 Grammys was pure entertainment. As Madonna knows best.

In 2003, James Taylor and Yo Yo Ma collaborated on a sweat and soft performance of "Sweet Baby James":

The 2002 Grammys were the first that aired post- 9/11, and similar to U2 performing at halftime at the Superbowl that same year, U2 sang "Walk On" at the Grammys with poignancy and respect:

In 2002, Alicia Keys graced the Grammy stage for the first time with a rousing rendition of her first hit, "Fallin'":

U2's landmark album All That You Can't Leave Behind was released in 2001, an album that post- 9/11 would evolve to have more meaning than anyone could have initially imagined, as evidenced by the aforementioned seminal Superbowl halftime performance.  This performance was before:

1993 was the year of "Tears in Heaven", which was one of those songs that permeated the airwaves at every turn- and with good reason, given the emotional reason for the song (Eric Clapton wrote it in an effort to deal with his grief over the tragic death of his 4 year old son). He performed the song at the Grammys that year:

Michael Jackson's performance included "The Way You Make Me Feel" and an incredible performance of "Man In The Mirror" (with full chorus and lots of MJ moves):

In the days of jelly bracelets and Madonna-lace-gloves, Cyndi Lauper performed the timeless "Time After Time":

What are some of your favorite Grammy performances?