still life with musician: two

still life with guitar

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speakers in code garden party: admiral fallow

speakers in code garden party: admiral fallow

speakers in code garden party: admiral fallow

speakers in code garden party: erin rae & john davey

speakers in code garden party: tip your musicians

speakers in code garden party: an uninvited guest

And then on Sunday, the North Carolina division of Speakers In Code took over the stage that’s immediately in front of Matt and Tracey’s new house (most convenient stage ever), loaded it with a full PA system, plugged the keggerator full of Fullsteam’s summer basil beer (graciously donated by Sean from Fullsteam, who turned up later in the afternoon, surveyed our sad beerless landscape, and hauled a full keg of Fullsteam’s Carver sweet potato lager out of his car) into an outdoor outlet, and threw an indie rock party in the middle of a subdivision.

In case you were wondering, Admiral Fallow’s ‘Isn’t This World Enough??’ is the perfect foot-stomping hand-clapping ragged joyful anthem for watching live music outside on a flawless October Sunday afternoon. (You can watch that video and pretend you were with us on Sunday, because Louis is wearing the same shirt.)

Full set, now featuring more photos of shoes, bugs crawling on Scots, and big blue sky, here.

sinful savage tigers @ the station

sinful savage tigers @ the station

sinful savage tigers @ the station

wylie hunter & the cazadores @ the station

If you didn’t stay til the bitter end of this great show, you missed me bullying Josh Moore and SST into covering ‘The Weight’ for me. They killed it, and I am terrifically bossy.

Sinful Savage Tigers’ last Americana Revue … the Station better get somebody as good as SST and predecessors Magnolia Collective to replace them.

Full set here.

studio session: effingham

studio session: effingham

studio session: effingham

Last night I got to Durham too late to see the Save Our Arts show with the Beast, Mount Moriah, and Megafaun (sold out! Good on them) so I trundled back to the Thrill and spent the evening hanging out with Jeremy Blair and Effingham, who are recording their first full-length in the Cowboy’s studio. (The Cowboy’s house has the best light in the world.) A bunch of the kids in Magnolia Collective came over and did backing vocals; and then everyone rumbled through a sloppy, hilarious, brilliant cover of “Lucille”.

I love studio work so much.

More behind the jump; even more here.

Continue reading “studio session: effingham”

kathleen edwards — voyageur

automatic for the joshua tree: mary johnson rockers

Kathleen Edwards — Voyageur. Out 1/17, Zoe Records.

When I fell in love with Kathleen Edwards, between Back to Me and Asking for Flowers, it was on the strength of her songwriting: I am tired of playing defense and I don’t even own hockey skates, or asking for flowers is like asking you to be nice. And after that, it was on the strength of the wild, wide open arrangements — the guitars ringing out and the imperfections in the sounds, sometimes.

The thing is, I think that Voyageur is, in fact, a very good album — it’s Kathleen’s strongest songwriting (i don’t need a punchline from “Chamleon/Comedian” is staggering) ever, but. But. I don’t necessarily think that the arrangements — the production of the arrangements, even, I don’t think it always, in every case, suits Kathleen’s songs. It’s hard for me to write that and feel objective, because I’m been pretty vocal about the fact that I am, ah, Not Fond of the music that Justin Vernon makes as Bon Iver. Not his songwriting — I think he’s a bit of a songwriting genius. I just fucking hate that sound of his music.

And I hear those fingerprints all over Voyageur, and it’s a bit hard for me. I love the songs; “Empty Threat” and “A Soft Place To Land” are both stunningly perfect examples of why Kathleen Edwards should have been famous long ago, as they’re exactly in line with the things I’ve always loved about her. I love the spaces in the songs where the wailing guitar comes through, or where the production serves the song, and there are places it does that: like on “Change The Sheets”, where the muted electronica and simple drums, the shivering wordless background vocals, they’re there to show of the wail of Kathleen’s amazing voice.

I think that Voyageur is a great album; I know it will never be my favorite album that Kathleen has made. Objectively, it is exactly as shimmering as Asking for Flowers; but it doesn’t have the sound I want. I respect, absolutely, the choice of the artist to change the way they sound, to grow and mature and move in different directions. I do. But this album, this album doesn’t suit me quite the way I’d hoped it would, and that’s subjective, which I’m also allowed to be.

Does this mean I’m not thrilled to see Kathleen at the Cradle a week from tomorrow? Oh, hell, no. I am off the rails excited about that, you can’t even know. I think that Voyageur is great, like I said, and just because it is not my great doesn’t mean that Kathleen shouldn’t be selling the place out. Cat’s Cradle, 1/31, doors 7, show 8, $21/$23. Hannah Georges opens. You should be there, because Kathleen is supremely talented.

show preview: the fling @ local 506

fret sounds: january

I spent twenty hilarious, enlightening minutes on the phone with Graham Lovelis, bassist and sometimes singer of Long Beach’s the Fling, on Sunday night; we talked about writing songs on the road, who his mom loves best (Graham or older brother and guitarist Dustin), their East Coast tour (currently heading south with NC’s Floating Action), and Long Beach bands we should all be listening to. It was a great interview, you guys. It was funny and Graham is unbearably charming and intelligent, and I was super excited to share it.

When I sat down to transcribe it last night, I discovered that both recordings I had made were blank, completely. 20 minutes of silence, not even static. I am not going to lie: I cried.

All I can remember is that Graham gave me a stellar answer to the question If you had a time machine and could go back in time to see one show, what show would you see? Graham told me that he’d go see the Doors at the Whiskey, which got two thumbs up from me. But the rest of our conversation is lost to the ages and the Gods Of Technology That Is Too Complicated For Me To Work Because Apparently This Week I’m An Idiot, and I am really sorry for that, because it was great. Now you’ll never know!

But I can recommend that, if you are not going to the Bombadil CD release show and maybe even if you are, you catch the Fling with Floating Action and locals Schooner at Local 506 on Saturday night, $10 at the door and show at 9PM. The Fling’s 2010 self-release When the Madhouses Appear, re-released in 2011 on Dangerbird Records, is a tour de force of darkness and intense subject material — not at all what I expected from a band from Long Beach, to be honest. But it’s a cathartic and uplifting sort of darkness, and one of the things that Graham told me on Sunday is that even when they’re playing sad or fucked up or depressing songs, their live show is all about the energy onstage and in the crowd — that he looks at music as something to release all those feelings, and he wants their audience to connect with it, too.

When the Madhouses Appear certainly makes me feel a lot of things, from chest-aching heartbreak to weird, fierce joy, and I can’t believe it hasn’t gotten more attention, either last year or this year. With four songwriters in the band, the Fling’s records could degenerate into a patchwork of songs that don’t quite work, but instead they take personal experiences and translate them into the universal, and it’s a stormy and wild sort of universal. I guarantee you the show is going to be great, and if you go, you can hang out with me and those guys afterwards, because I promised to buy Graham a drink when they were finished with the set.

two sentence reviews of reasonably new albums i listened to in october

shakori hills fall 2011: penny prophets

Two sentence reviews of reasonably new albums I listened to in October; one of the only good parts of October!

Quiet Americans — Medicine EP: belying their name, this EP is fantastic fuzzy garage rock, full of distorted vocals and guitars run through so many pedals it’s amazing they sound like guitars at all. It chimes and shakes and crashes like a perfect wave of vintage ’60s stoner garage music. I don’t know anything about this band besides this EP, but I love the hell out of it.

Belle Adair — EP: this first offering from Alabama band Belle Adair shimmers with sad indie boy vocals singing clever lyrics, and guitars and keyboards all in counterpoint and chiming. It’s full of pop hooks and places where the songs deviate so fiercely from the pop norm that I wasn’t sure they were going to get, and they’re worth watching while they finish up their debut full-length. “Paris is Free” is one of the most grooving, good times song I’ve heard this year.

Lauderdale — Moving On: broken hearted big guitar country songs; lovely vocals and out of the box songwriting, Lauderdale can swing from the rough and rowdy end of country to the quiet and sad fingerpicking pedal steel end without missing a beat. I’ve been meaning to check them out for a while, and this is a great introduction to them. If you’re missing country music with a thick soul flavor to it, grab this one.

Madi Diaz — Far From Things That : Madi’s debut EP is sweet electronic pop, and it belies the strength in her songwriting and her tremendous voice that come through in her live show, but it’s worth picking up just so you can keep an eye on her; it’s hooky and it’s a little bit of a shame that it came out in September, because it’s really perfect windows down summer broken hearted music.

Pacifico — 10 And Holding: I’ve never seen Matthew Schwartz perform as Pacifico, only solo, but this album is full of his signature sharp songwriting, only it’s all electric pop punk sounds instead of his acoustic guitar. It works; 10 And Holding is an ear-worming album full of big choruses and sunny pop songs with fierce guitars and drums underneath them. That Pacifico isn’t huge like some of the bands teenagers love these days surprises me; they’re the right kind of pop punk sound, and their songwriting and musicianship is immensely better.

McCarthy Trenching — Fresh Blood: a couple of years ago, shep. bought me tickets, as part of a birthday present, to see a show at the Berkeley Cafe, Justin Townes Earle/the Felice Brothers/McCarthy Trenching; it was canceled, we used the tickets to see JTE later that year, and I’ve seen the Felices a couple times since. But not McCarthy Trenching, which is Dan McCarthy’s recording name, and that’s a damn shame, because his 2008 self-titled was great, and the just released Fresh Blood is a sharp, shuffling, low-key masterpiece of songwriting and performance. Songs about drinking and heartbreak, and they’re better than almost any other songs about drinking and heartbreak I’ve heard this year.

Archie Powell & the Exports — Skip Work: the other night I was exhorting how much I love the 50s doowop 60s Stones 70s funk revival in indie rock right now, and then the next morning, I put this album on and discovered Archie Powell is doing all of them at once. This is a grooving, funky as hell record, full of doowop choruses and crunky guitars and modern effects pedals. If you dig the Booze or Fitz & the Tantrums, you will dig the hell out of this album; I know I do.