These Nights are so Beautiful

Two nights ago, I found myself surrounded by new friends, listening to Mike Noyce and Luray play songs old and new, and watching a spellbound group hear stunning, stripped down versions of the songs off of Luray's incredible album 'The Wilder'. I can't say enough how much I treasure these evenings, and how much I want all of you to be able to come and share in these moments, and become part of the family. It really is a unique way to experience music, and to meet people who care deeply about incredible music.

Come on over to Facebook to see more pictures from the evening, but I thought I'd share a few with you here.

Mike Noyce

I can't express how grateful I am - each of those shows are so special, and Mike and Shannon (Luray) were so kind and such exceptional performers.

So, are you jealous yet? Sad you didn't make it out to this one? Thinking you should grab a bottle (or 6) of something you like to drink, and head to the next one?

Well, guess what? You're in luck! I'm very, very excited to announce House Show #12, featuring Kris Orlowski, whose charming and expansive folk-pop has captivated me for quite a while, with an opening set from Chicago local Gia Margaret. We'll be opening up the space at 7:30, and music will start at 8. Make sure to be there by 8! BYOB, Suggested Donation ($12+). 914 N. California. I promise you it will be a perfect way to usher in the beginnings of spring. RSVP at musicmeansfamily@gmail.com or on the Facebook event page.

See you there!

My 10 Favorite Albums - 2013.

Over the past week, I've read through the flood of lists from major music blogs/publications - making a purported attempt at objectively ranking the "best" albums of the year. I can't say that I believe in those lists, as I have no idea how you can objectively rate music, at least to a level of specificity that you can differentiate between much of the best music released over a 12 month span. WIth that in mind, I do love taking stock of the year that's past, and making a list of my 10 favorite albums of that time. Not only is it in hopes that you find an incredible album that you might have missed, but it gives me an excuse to dig back through so much incredible music. So, before you dig in, please note that these are in no particular order, and that the videos I include for each are just a teaser - please go investigate these albums, be it via Spotify, Pandora, or torrents - then go buy the ones that you connect with (hopefully all 10!).

1. The National - Trouble Will Find Me

I can't say enough words about how much this album meant to me this year. An expansion of the incredible sonic depth and breadth of High Violet, with the bite of Boxer - I have listened to this album countless times this year. Favorite Track(s): "I Need My Girl"

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_79sx6V3tU&w=640&h=360]

2. Typhoon - White Lighter

Kyle Morton and the rest of the Typhoon gang created an album that's not only vulnerable, expansive, and tremendous - but they managed to do it while staying true to all the little subtleties that made me fall in love with them in the first place. Favorite Track(s): "Prosthetic Love" and "Morton's Fork"

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_Y2HABzuUs&w=640&h=480]

3. Dessa - Parts of Speech

I love pretty much everything Dessa does. Her command of the English language, her rhythmic sensibility, the musicianship of the artists she works with. This album was wonderful, front to back. Favorite Track(s): "The Man I Knew"

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OchSpV6RhhI&w=640&h=480]

4. Caroline Smith - Half About Being a Woman

Caroline Smith, former folk songstress, current purveyor of explosively beautiful indie r&b/soul. Caroline, with trust bassist Jesse Schuster in tow, and a whole slew of talented characters - really created a timeless album. Favorite Track(s): "Child of Moving On" and "Half About Being a Woman"

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A23AS4hC_A0&w=640&h=360]

5. Phosphorescent - Muchacho

Three words. Song for Zula. That song drew me in, the stunning continuity, well crafted songs, and the fact that this is an A+ road trip album guarantee it a spot here. Favorite Track(s): "Song For Zula"

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Va2-y6rDD30&w=640&h=360]

6. Courtney Marie Andrews - On My Page

I've written about Courtney a thousand times on this blog. This is my favorite folk album of the year. So many hints of Joni Mitchell, with the subtle, simmering energy of Joan Baez. Absolutely in love with this one. Favorite Track(s): "500 Nights" and "Woman of Many Colors"

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2NdGM16ZB0&w=640&h=360]

7. Volcano Choir - Repave

Justin Vernon continues to explore sonic boundaries - with a very talented cast of characters behind him. Repave explores more territory vocally than Bon Iver's eponymous album, and I found myself entranced by this one all autumn. Favorite Track(s): "Comrade" and "Dancepack"

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vvp305B9FoQ&w=640&h=360]

8. Luray - The Wilder

Luray is the project of Shannon Carey (sister of Bon Iver's Sean Carey). Similar to Sean, and his solo project, Luray is a beautiful exploration of ambient, banjo-laden folk/americana, and it is ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS. Take the time and listen to this one. Favorite Track(s): "Tidalground" and "The Wilder"

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INZVnzwxEtM&w=640&h=480]

9. Pickwick - Can't Talk Medicine

I know, it came out really early this year. But Pickwick put out an album I've never set down for more than a week at a time all year. This is just a big, awesome, fantastic record. Let the video speak for me. Favorite Track(s): "Hacienda Motel" and "Halls of Columbia"

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdkOREr27Vk&w=640&h=360]

10. The Avett Brothers - Magpie and the Dandelion

I wasn't that impressed by last year's Avett Brothers album - but Magpie and the Dandelion reminded me why they're one of my favorite bands. They went back to a lot of what worked so well about I and Love and You - a simpler, more melodic approach, interrupted by their signature folk-punk sound. Favorite Track(s): "Morning Song" and "Souls Like The Wheels"

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zC-GiFcTZU&w=640&h=360]

Special Mentions:

Hey Marseilles - Lines We Trace

Night Beds - Country Sleep

Josh Ritter - The Beast in it's Tracks

At the end of the year, I look back, and really, my takeaway is that more and more incredible music comes out each year - and it's all about finding what you connect to. What makes your heart beat faster? What makes your breath catch? Hopefully this list gives you something new to add to that list.

Much love y'all!

Feeling Grateful

As I look back on the past year, and even the past decade, I find so many things to be grateful for. As I think about the moments, the adventures, and the people, there are so many songs I connect to those events, a soundtrack, if you will. So I thought I'd make a playlist. 50 of my favorites from the last 10 years or so. Hit shuffle, and enjoy.

So grateful. Thank you all.

https://play.spotify.com/user/musicmeansfamily/playlist/02PX67bNhGZHGq7R2A51M1

and everything i saw/came bursting into life

I don't think I've posted a Take Away show since that fantastic set of Kodaline songs earlier this year. Well, I couldn't wait to share this one as soon as I saw it. Shot in an abandoned disco in Paris, Paul Thomas Saunders fills the entire room with an unfathomably haunting voice, and incredible, piercing lyrics.

we were just young blood/
waiting for a fight.../
the broken and unloved/
huddled side by side...

 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lc58yy1KqBE&w=560&h=315]

 

Also, don't forget - our next house show is with Small Houses and Ty Maxon. Don't miss it! August 17 at 914 N. California. RSVP at musicmeansfamily@gmail.com

"Byegone"

It's been a rough couple weeks, and on top of that, I've been in a post National album coming out music depression. After listening to that album about a thousand times, I've been hungry for something new. Thank god for the first single off of Volcano Choir (Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and Collections of Colonies of Bees)'s new singe "Byegone". THeir new album comes out on 9/3/13 - and if this track is any indication, I couldn't be more excited. This track indicates a ton of growth from Vernon - it reminds me of many of the sounds, themes, and sonic ideas I've loved about Vernon's other projects, all rolled into a brand new exciting beast. Take a listen (or 15) and get excited.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dp127U0EJoI&w=560&h=315]

Also, don't forget. I'm presenting this blog's first "house-style" show with Kalispell and Brendan Losch on June 30th at 7:30. Spots are limited, and I'd love to see you there. RSVP at musicmeansfamily@gmail.com, and I'll give you all the details.

 

Peace!

you're fireproof/nothing breaks your heart

New spring mix is being reviewed in my ears as we speak. However, it's been held up a bit because I can't stop playing the new album from The National. I honestly can't say enough about how incredible it is. Take a break from your day to watch them play 'I Need My Girl' - one of my favorite songs off of the new album: Late Night with Jimmy Fallon: The National: I Need My Girl.

I've found myself feeling really vulnerable lately (which The National can do to me). When that happens, I almost always find myself coming back to The Avett Brothers. There is a wonderful, frenetic yet soothing quality to their music for me. Watch this gorgeous video of 'Laundry Room' from Cardinal Sessions.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCozYHhlme8&w=560&h=315]

 

And last but not least for this little update, City and Colour had a Daytrotter session released today, and it's stunning. Listen to it here. And then get a Daytrotter membership. Best money you'll spend in a while.

I'll be back soon with this mix - gotta put it out before 'Trouble Will Find Me' is released next week and I get lost all over again!

a brand new day: music means family spring mix 2013

Here it is. A new mix.

This one took me awhile. Spring is such a complicated time for me - and it's been made even more complicated for me this year by a March marked both by sorrow and fear, but also by the blossoming of an incredible relationship and wonderful friendships.

In so many ways I look at spring as a precursor to summer, a readying of sweat-drenched smiles and outdoor adventures. But it's also a time for growth, for rebirth, for shedding the heavy winter snow that has held you down and for readying yourself to move into the year with your head held high and your heart exposed and vulnerable. So this mix, hopefully, is a gentle shove, encouraging you to place one foot before the other and let the first few sunbeams of spring dance across your face, reminding you that everything will, in fact, be okay.

Please take the time to listen, experience some music from astonishingly talented artists, and ready yourself for the warm months ahead. Let's make 'em special. As per usual, comment or e-mail if you want a download link.

[8tracks width="400" height="400" playops="" url="http://8tracks.com/mixes/1564393"]

if i can't find the rhythm/if i can't find a cure

It's been incredibly cold the last few days here, but, fortuitously, the perfect EP came out to ease away the winter blues. Tyler Lyle released a new EP "Expatriates" and it is absolutely wonderful. Tyler's voice just drips with this sense of searching, of yearning for something wonderful. There's a certain serenity that his music invariably brings me to, and this new EP doesn't disappoint. Listen to the track Medusa below, and then head over to Bandcamp and buy it.

 

[bandcamp track=473369729  bgcol=FFFFFF linkcol=4285BB size=venti]

 

I also stumbled on a few videos this week that made me quite happy, and figured they were worth a share:

 

This beautiful video of Typhoon, hanging out in a tree:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Af4TL0Qegb4&w=560&h=315]

 

And this one of Pickwick, whose debut album comes out this year, and which will be fucking wonderful. I mean seriously, listen to Galen's unbelievable voice, and this song, and wow:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRXbeZSFT-E&w=560&h=315]

 

This video of the National which I had never seen before. I'm really pumped to see them again at Bonnaroo this year:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cjORoHfTcg&w=560&h=315]

 

Thursday tomorrow! Week's almost done!

Winter Mix - 2012

Well. Here it is.

A mix to get you through those long winter nights. I really, really hope you like it. If you'd like a .zip copy, or a hard copy feel free to leave a comment here, or e-mail me, or tweet at me. I'd be happy to oblige.

 

[8tracks width="400" height="400" playops="" url="http://8tracks.com/mixes/1191942"]

 

Happy winter, y'all.

Thank You Note

After responding to a twitter cry for help from The Bowerbirds, last night my friend Ben and I found ourselves in the awesome position of getting to do a favor for The Bowerbirds, a band I've loved for about 4 years now. We volunteered to take care of their absolutely adorable dogs, Olive and Spice,  during the duration of their time at SPACE in Evanston. In doing this, we got to spend some time with Beth, Phil, Yan, and Leah, the aforementioned adorable dogs, and Chicago native Rebecca Rego, as well as the North Carolina band Prypyat. I can't begin to say enough about the immeasurable warmth, kindness, and talent of all of these people. They were gracious, welcoming, and so thankful to us for doing them a favor that we were more than happy to do. Also worth mentioning is how wonderful the backstage area of SPACE is, how well they seem to take care of touring artists who come through, and how excellent the food is there. Not to mention the incredible decor, sound, and service within the venue itself.

The show itself was absolutely breathtaking, from Prypyat's first song, all the way to the last note of the Bowerbirds' encore. If you find yourself near a Bowerbirds show in the near future (whenever their next tour may be) you should take it upon yourself to make sure you're there.

All in all, last night was a reminder of how powerful kindness, community, art, and the willpower of good people really can be. Watch this clip below, and seriously, go buy one of their records. They are incredible, beautiful people - and their music is perfect for these coming winter months.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLFf1ZVivNY&w=640&h=360]