concert: typhoon w/ PHOX and wild ones @ cat’s cradle

typhoon @ cat's cradle

I started crying two and a half minutes into Typhoon’s set and didn’t stop until they finished playing. It was was an extraordinarily beautiful show, White Lighter is even more powerful live, the crowd was incredibly into the set, and when I took my earplugs out at the end of “Young Fathers”, mid set, for the chorus at the end, I thought my heart was going to explode with how stunning the combination of the band and the crowd chanting i just called to tell you, i just called to say — learned all your mistakes, passed down through generations. Like, seriously, buckets of weeping.

PHOX @ cat's cradle

wild ones @ cat's cradle

PHOX and Wild Ones — PHOX from Wisconsin, Wild Ones from Typhoon’s hometown of Portland — are opening on this tour, and they were both excellent as well. I’d caught PHOX opening for Blitzen Trapper back in the fall, and they were even more polished and charming this time around; catchy two-guitar pop songs with well used hand claps and a great stage presence. Wild Ones, who all appeared to be about 16 years old in the best possible way, play gauzy electronic pop-rock with an electrically compelling frontwoman, Danielle Sullivan. I loved both sets.

Loads more photos on Flickr.

I leave you with this great rainy video of Kyle from Typhoon and Danielle from Wild Ones covering John Prine’s “In Spite Of Ourselves”, because just yes please. (This one’s particularly for you, baby. Love you.)

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song share: kathleen grace – ‘no place to fall’ (townes van zandt)

leftover cuties @ local 506

Los Angeles country singer/songwriter Kathleen Grace wasn’t on my radar before this cover, but she certainly is now: this is a honest and true cover of one of Townes’ best (and most heartbreaking) songs, the same kind of desperate love and crushing loneliness rolled up together in the more-covered ‘If I Needed You’. Grace’s voice is enormous in its weariness, and the instrumentation is pure Texas while letting her vocals and the lyrics take the front line. It’s a pretty damn good cover of Townes, and it’s perked my ear for Grace’s upcoming LP No Place To Fall, which will be a mix of covers like this one as well as Grace’s own songs.

I’ll trust someone who takes this song and makes it a single from an album implicitly, and I’m looking forward to hearing more from Grace.

video: shakey graves, wild child, marmalakes – “dead end street” (kinks cover)

phuzz phest: hiss golden messenger

Remember how I used to say needs more Kinks covers*? I still believe that, and this collaboration from Austin, Texas artists Shakey Graves, Wild Child, and Marmalakes meets my needs. Exceeds my needs. I still need more Kinks covers.

Those three Austin rockers are all on tour together in June. No North Carolina date, to my dismay, but dates are below, and make sure you go see them.

(* This is similar to the theory needs more Dave Hause, but very different from the Baton Rouge Corollary**. FYI.)

(** The Baton Rouge Corollary involves LSU baseball fans and drinking before noon on weekdays.)

The Outside City Limits Tour:

6/12 – Ft. Worth, TX @ The Live Oak
6/13 – Oklahoma City, OK @ The Blue Door
6/14 – St. Louis, MO @ Plush
6/15 – Lawrence, KS @ The Bottleneck
6/16 – Kansas City, MO @ The Riot Room
6/18 – Nashville, TN @ The High Watt
6/19 – Newport, KY @ Southgate House
6/20 – Chicago, IL @ Schubas
6/21 – Columbus, OH @ The Basement
6/22 – Cleveland, OH @ Mahall’s 20 Lanes
6/23 – New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge
6/25 – Washington, DC @ The Hamilton

weary engine blues: the songs of jason molina

will johnson @ haw river ballroom

The news of Jason Molina’s death broke on my 33rd birthday; this is not new for me, a beloved musician dying as I age a year, since Alex Chilton passed away the night before my 30th birthday. Both left me grief-stricken, restless, unsure of myself and my life. For Chilton, I resolved it with the later performance of Big Star’s Third, at the Cradle, though I still grieve him. For Jason Molina, whose problems I understand all too closely, it is this tribute album, released by his label, a double LP of Jason’s songs covered by his friends. I will still grieve him.

You can buy it here. All proceeds go to Jason’s family to pay his medical bills.

album review: way to blue – the songs of nick drake

old methodist cemetery, elizabethtown, nc

I think that everyone who knows Nick Drake’s music has their own relationship to it; the first time they heard it, the people they think of when they hear one of Drake’s delicate, haunting songs on an ad, in a bar, on a television show. For me, an ex-boyfriend introduced me to Pink Moon, and when we split up, I found a lot of comfort in the ache and shiver of Drake’s last full offering. Nick Drake’s music means a lot to a huge number of people, and a tribute could, then, be a dicey proposition.

This record, though, left in the hands in Joe Boyd, Drake’s producer and champion in Drake’s lifetime and beyond, is a lovely masterpiece. He took a unique approach to curating it, not only handpicking the musicians, but pulling them together, off and on over years, in small rural studios and larger tribute concerts, to give the album a cohesive feel, a cohesive sound. The roster of artists, all have some connection, direct or emotional, to Drake, and it’s a mix of names you know, and names you don’t but should.

Unlike some tribute albums — and some good ones, I might add — where each band tries to put their own stamp on the music they’re covering, Boyd has made a careful production decision to respect the stark sadness of Drake’s songs. The touch he has added, though, is a lushness and warmth to back the serious words and emotions with thick string orchestrations, warm keyboard sounds, and bringing the vocals on all the tracks to the front, where the singer is the focus but the sounds make the warmth and intimacy and care and sadness of Drake’s lyrics.

Any thought or conversation about Nick Drake’s music requires a delicate touch, and a personal connection to the music. Joe Boyd, in curating this collection, has created a tribute to someone who never thought he deserved a tribute, nor got one in his lifetime, that is warm and thoughtful, created by each artist with the deft touch and respect that Drake’s songs deserve. It’s truly wonderful, soft and sad and hopeful.

The record comes out April 16, and you can check out an early track from Lisa Hannigan on NPR here.

“Every week, somewhere in the world, singers gather in clubs and halls to sing the songs of Nick Drake. It is sobering to think that more people now hear his songs in a month than ever heard them in his lifetime.” – Joe Boyd

song share: radiation city – fly me to the moon (astrud gilberto cover)

spring comes to baltimore

Radiation City’s dreamy retro girl group fuzz garage pop debut, The Hands That Take You, really flew under the radar when it came out in 2011, and that’s a shame, because it’s a fantastic soundscape of harmony and guitar feedback and thick Phil Spektor shivers. Everybody’s getting ready for SXSW (no, I’m not going; I’m going to the beach instead, and the beach is better than SXSW, true story) and trying to stand out, and Radiation City managed it for me: this cover of a classic is lush and fuzzy and grabs both the center of Gilberto’s original song and the uniqueness that makes Radiation City a band to watch. Stream or download it below, and West Coasters, check out their tour dates as they head to Austin.