Friday, August 30, 2013

Summer Falling Away - A Labor Day Mix

Labor Day Weekend. A weekend that conjures up a mix of bittersweet emotions and a day that gets pushed aside as the black sheep of holidays and seasons. Let's face it, no one wants to admit that summer is nearing its, instead we squeeze as many of the last drops of hot sunshine we can out of 3 days off, with the knowledge that college football starts tomorrow (Go Buckeyes) and the weather that accompanies it isn't too far off. It seems like a harsh change, to leave behind long sunny days, muggy nights sitting on the porch watching the lightening bugs go off, days of riding bikes on the beach with a salty breeze in your hair, and endless carefree BBQs full of craft beers and lawn chairs. The Labor Day weekend, despite warm temperatures most of us will have for at least another month, seems to leave no room for transition, just the harsh reality that colder days are ahead and the beautiful sweetness of summer is waning.

It's an incredibly bittersweet weekend. In some places the nights are already beginning to have a faint chill in the air. The music will start to turn from 'the hot songs of summer' to songs that seem to pine for those few, precious days full of freedom and carefree vibes. But we've still got three days - one last long weekend of summer. And these three days are a mix of both - a mix of feeling like there's still time left to savor, and of a feeling of knowing it's just not long enough. Here's a mix to help you make the transition from carefree sunny days into the quieter days of fall.

Enjoy the weekend, y'all.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Hockey Performs

Once in awhile a new band comes along that turns out to actually be not-so-new, but simply just new-to-me. These kinds of musical discoveries are sometimes my favorite, given the immediate gratification obtained by being able to sift through an entire catalogue of an artist I haven't heard before. This was the case when I first heard Portland band Hockey on Daytrotter. Hockey is a band with a wide breadth of sounds, making each song a new discovery. Sometimes they focus on a synth - indie sound like on "Wild Style" from their current album, "Wyeth IS," and sometimes on a funky guitar groove and electronic vibes, as on "Calling Back." Then sometimes, they slow it down enough to create a more intimate, emotional layer. The band recently stopped by The Wild Honey Pie for a Buzzsession and performed three songs, including "Thought I Was Changing," a song off of "Wyeth IS" that is made even more intimate in this setting, with a more subdued backdrop and more ethereal instrumentation. Check out the video below, and the rest of the performance (including a performance of "Wild Style" using tubes as instruments...just check it out) over at The Wild Honey Pie.

Check out more from Hockey below:

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Generally speaking, if a song has the word "Numb" in the title it's sure to end up in my most-played list - "Numb" by U2, "Numb" by The Airborne Toxic Event, "Comfortably Numb" by Pink Floyd, to name a few. Why this is the case is probably worth looking into, but till then, I'm soaking up the anything-but-numb qualities of Sam Brookes' "Numb." It's a haunting tune that will stick with you through its quietness and muffled but pronounced drums that carry Sam's vocals. Check it out below (via Thank Folk For That):

Check out more from Sam Brookes here:

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tuesday Listening: Travis - Where You Stand

The last decade has been a fantastic time to be a music fan. Any song can be conjured up with a click, and there is more music bubbling to the surface allowing for more exposure to more music than at any other time. But with so much new music coming at us so fast, sometimes it can be nice to step back and revisit an old favorite. What's even better than revisiting? Getting new music from an old favorite.

Scottish band Travis has long been considered a recipient of the post - Oasis - brit-pop favor, alongside bands like Coldplay and the Stereophonics. And while Noel and Liam are still duking it out amongst themselves, Travis has quietly been releasing album after album since their debut, 1997's "Good Feeling." After a five year hiatus, and sixteen years after their first album, Travis is back in full force with a new album, "Where You Stand." The band returns with a renewed sense of vigor on an album that leads more with upbeat and poppy tunes, and less with the grey-tinged tunes from earlier albums like "The Man Who" and "The Invisible Band."

Some tracks, like the openers "Mother" and "Moving," have a distinct Keane feel with a piano-driven sound that began to poke its head out on previous albums like 2007's "The Boy With No Name." Their album history illustrates a constant teetering between a melancholic brit pop base and a sunnier, more upbeat vibe. "Reminder" is full of a galloping beat and even some whistling alongside a downright positive sounding Fran Healy singing lyrics like "only love, no regrets." With this album, Travis seems to be firmly headed out of the rain. 
But don't worry melancholic brit-pop fans, this is still a Travis album. The wistful, contemplative nature of past albums is still present as an undercurrent throughout each track. Check out "Another Guy" to get a taste of how Travis' depressive tones have changed over the years to include more frantic beats. "A Different Room" is a standout on the album by encompassing the reflective nature of Travis but with heavier beats, and by pairing the distinctive longing in Fran Healy's voice with a harder edge seen on previous albums like "Ode to J. Smith." This is the tale of the whole album - after a five year hiatus, Travis comes back with an album that is full of tones that have meandered throughout their history in a refreshing yet familiar blend.

"Where You Stand" is out today:

Thursday, August 8, 2013

What I'm Listening To Special Edition: Daughter and The National

I haven't done a "What I'm Listening To" playlist in awhile (you can find old ones here), and while I thought of doing one this week I'm mostly gearing up to see Daughter and The National this weekend at The Greek in LA. So here's a special edition of "What I'm Listening To: Daughter and The National." The National is currently touring with various acts including Frightened Rabbit and Local Natives (or if you are lucky enough to be going to the Red Rocks show, both) and tickets are still available for some shows here.

Playlists available on Spotify and iTunes below. Enjoy.

About The National
A band whose first album was released in 2001, The National have since released 6 studio albums, including their most recent, "Trouble Will Find Me," an album that continues to showcase the melancholic yet sometimes uplifting tones of their emotionally charged music. Prior albums such as "Alligator" and "Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers" hinted at the emotional thread that lives through each album but with a lower production quality and more alt-rock, guitar driven sounds (and even some country rock vibes on 2001's "The National"). 2007's "Boxer" ushered in a new era for the band, leaning more towards a focus on the themes and lyrical mastery of lead singer Matt Berninger. In addition to his unique songwriting, Berninger's vocals are a heavy baritone, adding yet another layer to their music, giving a serious quality to songs that are also based in heavy percussiveness. This combination of layers - Berninger's baritone, the muffled yet deep percussion, and the themes in their lyrics - gives The National's sound a heavy quality not heard in many bands today. It's a hard genre to define, as The National's music has proven to transcend genres with songs like "Fake Empire" from 2007's "The Boxer." "Fake Empire" was used in an Obama campaign video during his 2008 campaign, and the band continued their involvement with the 2012 election. Their 2010 album "High Violet" continued with more focus on heavier tones and themes, debuting at #3 on the US charts. In 2013, The National released their 6th studio album, "Trouble Will Find Me" which debuted on the US charts at #3, behind a major album of the year by Daft Punk (#1). The release of "Trouble Will Find Me" continues the band's march into a more sonically complex territory, fully growing into and owning their sound with the continued growth of Matt Berninger's lyrics combined with a more hi-fi sound. With several standout tracks such as "I Should Live In Salt" and "Demons," "Trouble Will Find Me" is one of their most robust albums to date.

About Daughter
English trio Daughter, whose debut album "If You Leave" was released earlier this year via Glassnote Records (home of bands like Phoenix and Mumford and Sons), has entered the musical scene with their echoed and haunting music. Lead vocalist Elena Tonra's whispered but forceful vocals give an ethereal feel to each song, despite the heavy tones. Some tracks, like "Smother" are quiet and dark while a track like "Youth" showcases Elena's pristine vocals accompanied by an echoed, lonely Explosions in the Sky - style guitar. Ever present are the tribal-esque drums that create an ebb and flow in each track, growing louder and louder before quickly settling back into the still, echoed quietness that permeates this stellar debut.

Check out more from Daughter here:
Daughter Sings Bon Iver's "Perth" and Hot Chip's "Ready For the Floor"
Daughter Performs on KEXP

Check out more from The National here:
The National Perform on NPR's Tiny Desk Concert
Watch & Listen: The National
The National's Matt Berninger on NPR
Best Albums of 2013 So Far