Friday, May 24, 2013

imnotsleeping - a playlist

Weekend - Texture Like Sun
Australian band Texture Like Sun has a beauty in this song, with Jeff Buckley- esque vocals and guitar that allow the lyrics to remain front and center, making for a track that vibrates, but with simplicity.

Mojo Pin - Jeff Buckley
Seeing Natalie Maines and Ben Harper perform Lover, You Should Have Come Over at a small, intimate showcase last week made me revisit Grace. Always stunning.

Shallows - Daughter
Oh Daughter...where have you been all my life...this is one of those albums that kind of crept up and has seeped into my consciousness so that each week I become incapable of not listening to a particular track. This week it "Shallows", with its haunting guitar and slow burn softness. There's a delicate deliciousness to it, a fragility that keeps feeling like its going to explode and break, but instead it holds on, leaving you on the edge throughout.

Perfectly Aligned - Milo Greene
Milo Green is a band that has nailed that Laurel Canyon- Southern California vibe, but this song takes a different turn with a focus on an echoed sound and female vocals.  This is combined with an Explosions In The Sky-style guitar and lofty instrumentation, leaving me wishing Friday Night Lights was still on TV.

Dear Prudence - The Beatles
New music is great and all, but there is just something about coming back to an old favorite, especially if you haven't heard it in awhile.  You're suddenly reminded of the beautiful lyrics and melody that made you fall in love with it in the first place. (Only available on Spotify playlist here)

Things Will Change - Treetop Flyers
Treetop Flyers are another band who have managed to capture the 70's So Cal sound, made a bit more interesting by the fact that they are a band out of England who, despite their old school throwback lo-fi sound, only released their first effort in 2011.

Gallup, NM - The Shouting Matches
As Justin Vernon's latest project, The Shouting Matches latest effort Grownass Man offers up this nothing-like-Bon-Iver track that appeals to a different side of Vernon's musicality- gone are the sparse songs and falsetto, with this track instead giving way to a lush sound. Its completely different than anything Vernon did as Bon Iver, but showcases his obvious multi-talents. As if we didn't already know he had many.

Gold - Wake Owl
Their Bandcamp page labels them as 'alternative, folk, indie', but I think you could just remove the commas and call them alternative folk.  They've got the 'folk' part covered with the acoustic guitar strumming, but their sound adds more layers with a captivating group-style vocal.  They're also playing this weekend at Sasquatch and this summer at Lolla.

Ben Harper - Amen Omen
Last week I saw an intimate showcase of Natalie Maines performing songs from her new album Mother  along with Ben Harper.  Aside from being one of the hardest working musicians out there (he is also out supporting his album  Get Up! with Charlie Musselwhite), seeing Ben Harper so close up also reminded me of how prolific his own career has been, which naturally brought me back to some of his works.  "Amen Omen" is a track that is full of mournful poetic lyrics and a longing tone in the music, a solid reminder of how talented Ben Harper is. (Only available on Spotify playlist here)

Old Friend - Sea Wolf
Sea Wolf's 2012 album Old World Romance has some gems on it, one of them being this slower yet vibrant tune with a solid percussiveness that sort of betrays the bittersweetness in the lyrics.

I Was Wrong - The Oh Hello's
Brother sister folk duo The Oh Hello's released their first full album in 2012 which is full of robust, toe- tapping, knee slapping, "ho-heying' folky goodness, in the vein of The Last Bison but with a unique sound all their own. I triple dog dare you to sit still while listening to this.

(Bonus) Eddie Berman - Paper Thin
This one is off the Spotify and iTunes playlists below because his music is not on either service. As you may recall, last week our ears were graced with the insanely amazing  duet of Laura Marling and Eddie singing "Dancin in The Dark" where Eddie's lower register paired exquisitely with Laura's angelic voice- but it was Eddie's voice I haven't been able to get out of my head.  His guitar plucking is complex, and gives way to a soft sound that when paired with his deeper vocals amounts to a permeating sound. Holy smokes, keep an eye on this guy.

Click here for the full playlist on Spotify.

Full playlist on iTunes:

On Amazon:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Watch & Listen: The National

The National are out with their long-awaited new album, Trouble Will Find Me, today - unless you are a fan of streaming services such as Spotify, then you'll have to wait.  So while you decide if you want to wait for it to become available on streaming or purchase it via iTunes or Amazon now, you can enjoy these live performances the band did in support of the album's release (sort of release?). Enjoy.

"Don't Swallow the Cap" performed on Letterman (via Paste):

Also via Paste, here are a couple of their performances of "Sea of Love" and "I Need My Girl" from Jimmy Fallon a few weeks ago:

The National also performed "Graceless" for NPR Music, which you can view here:

Also courtesy of NPR Music, The National recently sat down to discuss their new album with host David Dye.  Listen to The National on World Cafe here.

 And last, of course, is their new album, which you can buy today here:

Friday, May 17, 2013

Glen Hansard: Italy

Its no secret how I love Glen Hansard, with his hard guitar strumming and even harder passionate vocals that also manage to be melodic in an old folk tale kind of way.  He sings in such a way that makes you feel he's telling you a story, keeping you captivated till the page turns, and let's face it- no one tells stories better than the Irish.  Couple that with his trademark busker's style of singing for every dollar and you've got yourself one hell of a performance.  Film maker Myles O'Reilly was able to somehow capture that very essence in the below short film, which follows Glen on tour in Italy.  Glen's debut solo album Rhythm And Repose was one of my very favorites from last year and continues to be- its one of the few albums I keep on hand, there for whenever I feel the need to call it up.  You'll hear some of the songs off of Rhythm And Repose in this film, as well as catch glimpses of sing-a-longs and group performance parties (really, there's no other word for it) on the road. Watch below (via Paste):

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Watch: Laura Marling and Eddie Berman Cover Dancing In The Dark

I may be a little heavy on the Laura Marling these days, but in anticipation of her forthcoming album (Once I Was an Eagle out May 28th) I just can't help myself.  Ever since being introduced to her music I have been enamoured with the British singer-songwriter's experienced vocals and wise lyrics...that come from a 23 year old who uses her pristine voice to sing as though she's seen it all.  While we've been teased these last few weeks with drips and drops from her new album, this little tidbit is just an added, beautiful bonus.  Aside from the fact that I love covers, I particularly love covers that are unexpected (which I suppose is sort of the inherent beauty of a cover song).  This cover tackles none other than Bruce Springsteen- a lofty task on its own- and takes a song that already has that yearning quality to it and adds in another layer of quiet, echoed wistfulness.  Adding in the element of a duet with LA singer-songwriter Eddie Berman lends an entirely different quality to the song.  He brings a country twang and a low register that pairs seductively against Laura's softer, sadder vocals; she changes the tone by making a few simple melodic changes, especially with her inflection on the lyrics "wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face" taking a line Bruce sung with ferocity and singing it with heartfelt melancholy, creating a captivating cover.

For more on Laura Marling and her recent move from England to LA, check out this Gaurdian article.

(via twentyfourbit where you can also find the soundcloud)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The National: Stream The New Album Now

In case you missed it in the Twittersphere yesterday, The National is currently streaming their most recent album Trouble Will Find Me (not out till May 21st) for free in its entirety over at iTunes. With their first album since 2010's High Violet, at first listen its full of booming textures and that get-under-your-skin, melancholic, resonant quietness they do so well that makes them equally as appropriate to listen to on a run, in your car, or in your room with your headphones.  Which is exactly where you're going to want to listen to this album, over and over and over again.  For now though, you can only stream via your computer or iPad, so unless you run with a laptop or drive with an iPad, get settled in at home and have a listen. Check it out for free over at iTunes and preorder below.

Click here or go to the iTunes store homepage and browse through the bricks at the top to find The National.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Stuff I'm Listening To - an imnotsleeping playlist

Gypsy & The Cat - Bloom
Australia's Gypsy & The Cat is out with a new album The Late Blue (you can read my review over at Pretty Much Amazing here) which is full of electro-pop goodness for the most part, but this track stood out the most to me as a throw back to bands like The Cure and New Order.

Atlas Genius - If So
In keeping with the Australian theme, new band Atlas Genius out of Adelaide kind of nails it with their most recent track, a super catchy, fairly pop-py and sublimley dance-y tune off their new album When It Was Now.

Laura Marling - Master Hunter
I am beyond excited for Laura Marling's new album Once I Was an Eagle to come out on May 28th, but until then she's give us these teasers, including "Master Hunter" below.

Rhye- The Fall & Open
This duo (Mike Milosh and Robin Hannibal) recently released their debut album, Woman, an album full of soft catchy grooves all led by Milosh's dreamy, shy and higher ranged vocals.

Everytime & Bad Habit - Foals
English indie rockers Foal released their third album Holy Fire in February of this year, which houses these two Local-Natives-ish tracks.

Natalie Maines - Without You  & Take It On Faith
Natalie is out with her debut solo album Mother this week (read my review here) and both of these tracks are standouts.  "Without You" is a rock-country cover version of an Eddie Vedder track off his Ukulele Songs album and "Take It On Faith" is a heavier toned song off the album that highlights Natalie's vocal strength and illustrates perfectly the effect having Ben Harper as a producer had on her first solo foray.

Daughter - Youth
Daughter's debut album, If You Leave was released in March and is full of echoed wistfulness, thanks to soft guitar production and clear vocals.  Its a gorgeous album, and this track is especially haunting.

Iron and Wine - The Trapeze Singer
I am forever obsessed with Iron & Wine, and recently saw Sam Beam at the Grammy Museum in LA do an interview, Q&A, and then perform for the lucky 200 or so of us in attendance. All he had was his guitar, and the version he sang of this song just got right under my skin.  The recording doesn't do it justice.

The Airborne Toxic Event - The Fifth Day
In a track that differs significantly from other Airborne Toxic Event songs off their new album Such Hot Blood, I dig the male-and-female vocals.  You can read my review of Such Hot Blood here

Subscribe to the imnotsleeping playlist on Spotify here.

Playlist on iTunes:

Playlist on Amazon:

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Listen: Small Black - Limits of Desire

Pitchfork is currently streaming Small Black's upcoming album, Limits of Desire (out May 14th on Jagjaguwar) in its entirety.  With an indie electro-pop feel that's full of smooth ambient sound, chill grooves, and an uplifting-yet-melancholic bittersweetness in its tone, its a pretty hard record to not enjoy.  Put on your headphones and turn it up.

Take a listen over at Pitchfork.

Pre Order Here:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tuesday Listening - Natalie Maines, Mother

Its been awhile since we've heard a peep from the Dixie Chicks or their notoriously outspoken front woman, Natalie Maines, but that all changes (officially) today with the debut of her solo effort, Mother.  If you are looking for a strong, country-rooted effort, then you'll have to keep looking, as Ms. Maines has made it clear lately that she's movin' on and frankly, it seems like the right move.  Mother does a lot of things, not the least of which is to actually allow her stellar vocals and musical ambidextrousness to shine in a way that they never did with the Dixie Chicks, however it also doesn't necessarily mean a complete departure from her country roots. That said, her intention to move away from that direction is obvious on Mother.  

Having seen the Dixie Chicks a time or two, as well as having seen Natalie Maines with Ben Harper at SXSW, I was struck by how strong and clear her vocals were minus the Chicks and their arena-tour atmosphere.  On her own, she loses some of the hoopla that surrounded the Dixie Chicks- removing much of it to reveal a refreshingly unapologetic and take-me-as-I-am Maines.  Her solo debut isn't stripped down in the musical sense, but it does move forward her career in a way that makes it seem as though some of her true talents were lost in the Dixie shuffle- hiding behind layers of country instrumentation and obviously other vocals, while Mother seems to put Natalie Maines at the forefront - truly - for the first time.

The album opens up warmly, with a wide open sound that is also robust and full- which is interesting, given that the first track on this album is a cover of Eddie Vedder's "Without You," off of his Ukulele Songs album.  She turns Eddie's "Without You" in a completely different direction, taking his soft, plucky ukulele song and turning it into a full bodied production that just sounds made for her still-kinda-country voice.  On an album of 10 tracks, roughly half are covers of previously recorded songs- and not obscure tracks, either- she chooses bold covers like the Eddie Vedder track, Jeff Buckley, and Pink Floyd, whose track Mother supplies the album's title.  Originally recorded for the West of Memphis: Voices for Justice Soundtrack, she upholds the original's haunting quietness, but with a unique perspective given by her vocals. She seems to approach each "cover", if you can even call them that, with a clear conscience of what she wants to do with it and how she wants to make it her own, no doubt aided along with the help of album producer Ben Harper.

Natalie's album came about somewhat serendipitously with Ben Harper's encouragement, and you can sense the 'let's just see what happens here' feel of the album.  With Ben's influence giving it a rockier edge than anything she's done prior, it still has a bit of an alt-country vibe as if to not completely eschew her past, but it is only there vaguely in a way that allows the other tones of the album to be the main layer.  Other tracks, like the Ben Harper- penned "Vein in Vein"  also have vague remnants of her country past thanks to the sounds of a slide guitar, but with a melancholic, rockabye sway that illustrates her attempt to move away from that on this album.  Then as if to prove her point, the album's arrangement has the next track, "Trained" blasting in at full speed.  Also written by Ben Harper, it further highlights his multifaceted talents, and shows his stamp on this record by knowing that Natalie Maines has the same versatility to tackle songs like this. "Take It On Faith" continues driving the train with its heavy darkness, a final defiant end to the album.  Perhaps this is why Mother seems like such a force- having Ben Harper as her sidekick on this effort seems to have pulled things out of Natalie Maines that perhaps she didn't know she had inside- and probably we didn't, either.


Natalie Maines at SXSW

Natalie Maines with Ben Harper at SXSW

Ben Harper at SXSW


Natalie Maines, Lloyd Maines, Ben Harper at SXSW

Friday, May 3, 2013

New Laura Marling Tunes

Laura Marling's new album Once I Was An Eagle is due out May 28th, and the songstress has recently released a few teasers to hint at what we can expect from her first new album since her stellar A Creature I  Don't Know from 2011.  The most recent is in the form of her new single, "Master Hunter" which you can listen to below.  While Laura Marling typically gets categorized as a folk artist with comparisons to Joni Mitchell, she often hints at the rocker that lives within her, and "Master Hunter" gives us a glimpse of that harder driving side of her music.  Its a faster tempo track with heavy drums and an apprehensive yet bad ass tone.  "Where Can I Go" starts off as though its going to serve her softer side and then picks up, but still allows her vocals to remain center stage.

Check out "Master Hunter" below, via Paste.

"Where Can I Go" (via Consequence of Sound)

In addition, fans can check out her short film which encompasses four gorgeous new tracks (via Consequence of Sound), particularly the haunting first song showcased in the film, "Take the Night Off." Holy smokes.

In support of her new release she's also got a few US tour dates up her sleeve. Check them out and purchase tickets at the Laura Marling website.
5/15 - Seattle, WA
5/16 - Portland, OR
5/18 - San Francisco, CA
5/21 - Los Angeles, CA
5/23 - Chicago, IL
5/25 - Toronto, ON
5/28- New York, NY

You can check out past posts on Laura Marling here.

Pre-Order Once I Was An Eagle here: