Update - Up To Date!

Hey everybody - So I'm sitting at home with a fever, nursing a nasty headache, and I figured that was as good of a time as any to throw a big old update your way.

1st of all - if you've missed them so far, I urge you to check out the Music Means Family Skyline Sessions - we take a bit of time before various house shows to film 1 song sessions, and I'm really proud of how the first three turned out. It truly is amazing how talented these folks are. So, take a look at the 1st three sessions, with Courtney Marie Andrews, Field Report, and Hip Hatchet.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRhccdmYbY8&w=640&h=480]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXMXCa2hHtM&w=640&h=480]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGz1gXVopqE&w=640&h=480]

We'll have a couple more coming your way, after our next few house shows. Which you should come to. They're next week. And they'll be awesome.

On November 11th, we have a special evening with Vikesh Kapoor. Vikesh is a stunning songwriter, and wowed a couple thousand of us earlier this year at Timber! Watch this video - then go to the event page, then RSVP, then come.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkzEYb3iuHY&w=853&h=480]

The Event Page!

Then, I'm beyond excited to present the Brooklyn-based Cuddle Magic, with an opening set from Kalispell on November 13th. Again, watch this video, click the link, RSVP, and show up!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQR3dXbEx-s&w=853&h=480]

I really do hope I get to see some of you at one of these shows. They really are special occasions.

Last, but not least, Caroline Smith is playing at The Hideout this Friday. You'd be crazy not to go. She just did an awesome session with the great guys over at Audiotree - check it out, and come hang out on Friday night.

http://audiotree.tv/session/caroline-smith/

See you soon, I hope!

 

Under Construction

Hey all - Over the coming months, you'll see some slow changes to the platform of this blog, including the design elements, the layout, etc. I want everything to reflect every project that I'm currently working on as part of this blog - from the Skyline Sessions, to the intimate concerts, to the blog itself. I don't envision actually taking the site down to do significant updates for a while, so don't worry! I just wanted to give everyone a heads up.

In the meantime, I'll be announcing a few more shows over the coming weeks - and doing a few more Skyline Sessions. I'm so unbelievably excited about all of these, and I hope you are too.

If you didn't get a chance, take 3 minutes and watch the most recent Skyline Session, which we filmed the night of Courtney Marie Andrews and Erin Rae's house show. I haven't felt as emotionally vulnerable as I did listening to those two women on that beautiful evening in a long time.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXMXCa2hHtM&w=480&h=360]

 

Please keep an eye out for exciting changes here - and hopefully I'll see all of you on November 13th at 914 N. California for an intimate evening with Cuddle Magic and Kalispell.

Be well.

Introducing...The Skyline Sessions

Hey everybody! Happy almost middle of the week! As many of (read: all of you) know, I've been obsessively curating house concerts as of late, and hopefully, you've all been to one or will be coming to one in the future.

However, if you haven't been able to make it - I have a special treat for you. My cousin Dan and I have begun to record simple sessions before each show, one or two songs, with the hope of sharing them with you. Well, after some trial and error, I am truly, truly overjoyed to present to you the first two Skyline Sessions, from the recent shows with the fantastic gentlemen of Field Report, as well as the exceptionally talented Hip Hatchet. Know that I intend to write more thoroughly about these shows in the near future, but I wanted to give you a glimpse of these - and frankly, I was too excited not to share. And now...

Skyline Session #1 - Field Report - I Am Not Waiting Anymore (Alternate Version)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRhccdmYbY8&w=640&h=480]

 

Skyline Session #2 - Hip Hatchet - American Charm

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGz1gXVopqE&w=640&h=480]

 

I am so, so excited about these - and I can't wait to share more with you! Also, if you're in Chicago this weekend - two really incredible house shows coming up, with Courtney Marie Andrews and Erin Rae on Friday, and Bryan John Appleby on Saturday. Come over to facebook.com/musicmeansfamily and RSVP!

 

A Little Too Busy

Hey everybody - sorry for the infrequency of the updates. I've been traveling for work, and working on getting house shows set up, and seeing shows, and biting off maybe just a bit more than I can chew. There are worse things, right?

Anyway, I wanted to drop by and post a few things that have been keeping me sane while I wait for the leaves to change (don't worry - a fall mix is brewing)! Let's jump right in:

I'm in love with the new album from Luray - the project of Shannon Carey, who is the sister of Sean Carey (of Bon Iver). She strings together soaring melodies, soothing banjo, and copious layers to create a fantastic fall soundtrack. This has been on many mornings for me as of late. Here's a beautiful single take video of the title track 'The WIlder'. Go get this album folks.

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

 

Also, Caroline Smith's new album will find its way to your ears shortly. I can't say enough about Caroline's talent - and this album will most certainly deliver. Sharing this one again - make sure to grab this on 10/8.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WeBPKCtUC9M&w=640&h=360]

 

Nathaniel Rateliff's new album is absolutely breathtaking - and it's a wonder for the beginnings of autumn, Enjoy this video, and then go grab it.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7pfEsHQuzU&w=640&h=360]

 

I'll be dropping by with a true Autumn Mix soon - in the meantime, I hope to see you out at one of our house shows coming up. Come over to www.facebook.com/musicmeansfamily and check them out!

 

9/24 - Field Report

10/3 - Hip Hatchet, Justin Klaas, and Old Sap

10/11 - Courtney Marie Andrews and Erin Rae

10/12 - Bryan John Appleby

 

You REALLY don't want to miss any of these. I promise.

take note, there's still a hole in my heart

My favorite thing about Saturday mornings is putting on a record, grabbing a mug or 4 of coffee, and just taking some time to myself to listen to whatever is moving me at the moment. It's a way to sort of exorcize the stresses of the week, to forget about the trivial stuff, and to really spend some time taking care of all of the thoughts and ideas I haven't worked through during the week. This morning, I can't stop spinning Volcano Choir's new album, 'Repave'. I was lucky enough to see them last night, and this record is just as incredible live as it is recorded. If you haven't picked it up yet, please do yourself a favor and go grab it. It's a soundtrack for the fall, a means to shake off the last hazy days of summer and embrace the crisp changing of the seasons. Justin Vernon's voice is still as entrancing as ever, and, similar to Bon Iver's eponymous album, there is a constant feeling of introspection and calm that this record brings. Here's "Comrade":

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4dZbJHT7_4&w=560&h=315]

I've been listening to a ton of other stuff lately as well, and I feel bad I haven't been sharing it here. So I think I'll just throw a bunch of great stuff out to you to accompany that Volcano Choir album, and hopefully you find something new (or old) you love this weekend!

 

I recently acquired a copy of Gregory Alan Isakov's 'That Sea, The Gambler' on vinyl, and I fell in love with this song all over again.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2RgYkkK7OM&w=560&h=315]

 

It's no secret that I love Noah Gundersen, and SerialBox just did a great session of his song 'Cigarettes':

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvnZRnK7ySk&w=420&h=315]

 

It's almost fall. Which means I'll be listening to the Field Report album from last year a lot. I love this stripped down session from SXSW earlier this year:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEziJYWV9vk&w=560&h=315]

 

Like I needed another reminder that I wanted to be at Doe Bay - here's a video of Mikey and Matty with the Passenger String Quartet at this year's Doe Bay:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tQfXmQ0Bmg&w=420&h=315]

 

To make it clear that I'm ready for fall - here's an old favorite from Lucy Rose:

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

 

Enjoy the rest of your weekend y'all. Also, if you haven't yet - please come over to facebook.com/MusicMeansFamily, click the 'Like" button, and check out the upcoming house shows. There are going to be some special ones.

Be well.

 

 

 

House Shows! 3 of them!

I promised I would be announcing a couple more house shows - and I'm here to deliver! So without further ado:

10/3/13 (8:00p) @ 914 - Hip Hatchet w/ TBA

Philippe Bronchtein (Hip Hatchet) is a stunning, raw talent with a voice that knocks me off my feet whenever I hear it. This will be a great way to usher in October, with whiskey in hand and friends surrounding us. Check out this video from Hip Hatchet earlier this year, and then swing by and check out the Facebook event (http://on.fb.me/1a3MBi6). RSVP at musicmeansfamily@gmail.com

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6XYIl-06us&w=560&h=315]

 

10/11/13 (9:00p) @1858 - Courtney Marie Andrews w/ Erin Rae

I can't tell you how excited I am about this. If you've stopped by the blog at all this year, you'll know how fond I am of Courtney's album that came out earlier this year, and Erin is a phenomenal talent as well. This one will be at a new venue, and we'll be doing some things a bit different. Bring a blanket, or pillows, or a lawn/folding chair to sit on. Think candlelight, soft October shadows, and what promises to be an unforgettable evening. A video from each of these stunning songwriters below, and the Facebook link for the event (http://on.fb.me/1447Gq9). RSVP at musicmeansfamily@gmail.com

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHUaulRv83I&w=560&h=315]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MEHzHfb8oM&w=560&h=315]

 

10/12/13 (9:30p) - Bryan John Appleby (solo)

Again, there are very few words for how excited I am about this. Bryan is one of the finest songwriters around, and the opportunity to see him perform solo in an intimate space has me jumping for joy. The space for this one is yet to be announced, but it'll be great - I promise. I really can't wait to see you here. Facebook link (http://on.fb.me/1clOhRB). RSVP at musicmeansfamily@gmail.com

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tm8tr-UDYH8&w=560&h=315]

 

I really do hope to see all of you at each of these. I'll leave you all with a quote from the best thing I read all week:

"That darkened hall, that holy space, where the face next to you no longer matters. That place where the arms on your wristwatch are meaningless. The hurried things of your life are made common and then invisible by the hovering heaven of strings – suddenly the pedestrian things are made unimportant by the music. Here, in these places, the darkened audience all faces forward watching only one thing: the musicians."

you stood strong/though you were wrong

Vandaveer - Studios at SPACE 5/19  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had the opportunity to see Vandaveer perform last night in the studio at SPACE, with about 20 other lucky concertgoers.

I was about 4 feet from them, and sat in perfect, reverent silence through most of their 15+ song set. It was almost as if I was at church, if church were a rare, incredible experience, that you longed for with every ounce of your being.

Vandaveer's music is at times heartening, at times terrifying, and always enveloping. They have a remarkable ability to make time stand still, as haunting ballads sweep through the air and wash over you with a sense of overwhelming yearning.

They released an album of murder ballads entitled "Oh Willie, Please" earlier this year, and it's hauntingly beautiful. Their previous album "Dig Down Deep' was one of my favorites of 2011.

Here's a Lavomatik Session of 'Dig Down Deep':

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW0_aO9Q5Hk&w=420&h=315]

 

And a great little Take Away Show:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCi4kmP_svY&w=560&h=315]

 

If they come through your town on tour - go see them. Really. Do it.

i would love you now/but my hands are on fire

Happy actual warm weather guys! It feels like the world is picking up some steam again, throwing off the tiredness of winter. Bands are releasing albums, huge tour schedules are being put out, and I see lots of big smiles wherever I go. I have a lot of exciting things in the works for this blog this summer, and I'm super excited to share them all with you.

My next post will hopefully be a new mix - a sort of spring/early summer mix to counteract my previous spring mix, which was very much meant for the very beginning of spring. For now, I'd like to share a few things that have really brightened my past week, in hopes that tehy'll give you something to smile about as we eagerly await the weekend.

I had the pleasure of seeing Fort Frances play an EP release show in Chicago this past weekend, and man, do they put on a hell of a show. I'm absolutely in love with their new EP, "Harbour". Click here to buy it, and watch this amazing video of an acoustic version of 'How To Turn Back'.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lr0nvzLei34&w=560&h=315]

 

The Great American Canyon Band opened up that show, and they're also a hell of a band to watch live. Their music is mesmerizing, an ethereal throwback to all of the positive vibes of the early 70's, cars gliding along dusty highways, and the soft breeze in your hair. This video plays off all of that, and I can totally dig it.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKzbP5I7ayI&w=560&h=315]

 

Dallas Green, better known as City and Colour, released the first single off of his new album, entitled 'The Hurry and the Harm'. It's a stunning song, and perfect for these spring days.

[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/90342483" params="secret_token=s-vduPV" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

 

The National released the first video from their upcoming album. I'm beyond excited for this one. Watch 'Sea of Love' below.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIWmRbHDhGw&w=420&h=315]

 

I can't stop listening to Kodaline these past couple weeks, and this Take Away Show is unbelievable.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-XPVw1LhZk&w=560&h=315]

 

While I realize these links got a little heavier as the post went on, I'm going to end it on a heavy note, because I've been meaning to post this video for a bit. Watch Jon from The Head and the Heart absolutely blow you away:

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

 

 

Exciting things ahead. Keep your eyes and ears perked! Happy Spring!

 

i would never write another song/i would never say another prayer

So, May is a pretty awesome month. I mean, other than it's 38 degrees and freezing rain. But I mean, otherwise, May is a pretty awesome month. May/June

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That's a whole lot of feelings right there. And a whole lot of dancing, clapping, and singing along. You should come. You really should.

 

In the meantime, Heather over at Fuel/Friends released an incredible Spring mix today. Go to Fuel/Friends now and download it for free.

 

Also, Caroline Smith and the Goodnight Sleeps posted this video with their tour announcement today. Wow. Wow.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WeBPKCtUC9M&w=560&h=315]

 

Laura Marling played her new single 'Master Hunter' on Jools Holland this past week. She's getting more and more expansive in her talent as she ages (she's 23). Check this out:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_E-EoSOC_N8&w=560&h=315]

 

I ran into Shane Leonard of Kalispell last night at the S. Carey show. Reminded me to remind you of how good his album that came out last year is. It's really a perfect soundtrack for this time of year. Go to his Bandcamp after you listen to this song and buy it. Then sit back with a beer, and enjoy.

[bandcamp track=3150645325  bgcol=FFFFFF linkcol=4285BB size=venti]

 

As to that S. Carey show. Breathless. Almost speechless. So frequently when I find myself listening to music I find myself having an intellectual reaction, realizing how poignant lyrics are, then getting swept away in the undercurrent of guitar, or piano, or violin. With S. Carey, it's so much the opposite. His music is a rapidly expanding river of vastness and possibility exploding from behind my ribcage as I try not to weep and shout with joy at the same time. It is so deeply visceral, and so connected to the Earth, there's an inescapable, very palpable almost aura-like quality in the room when he plays. If you have a chance to see him, please do go. This a cell phone video from last night, but hopefully it gives you some idea of how powerful it was.

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

 

I'll leave you with that, my friends - and I hope to see you out and about this lovely May. Especially once the weather actually catches up.

these lonely dreams need something to work towards

Courtney Marie Andrews is a stunning songwriter from the Pacific Northwest. She released a new album today - "On My Page', and it is absolutely heartbreakingly beautiful. It's the perfect soundtrack for strong coffee, spring mornings, and watching the dew drip in the soft April sunlight. Listen to this track, watch a video of her play, and then head over to her Bandcamp and buy the album. It's a whole $5. I promise it's worth it.

[bandcamp track=4002082823 bgcol=FFFFFF linkcol=4285BB size=venti]

 

This video was recorded in December - but this is the title track of the album.

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2NdGM16ZB0&w=560&h=315]

 

Seriously guys, do yourself a favor and pick this one up. Right now. Listen to it tomorrow when you're fighting the sleep away and settling into your morning.

on why this weekend was awesome

This weekend I had the opportunity to see two absolutely incredible shows. On Friday night I found myself at Schuba's for the incredible triple bill of Pickwick, Basia Bulat, and The Local Strangers. Then, Saturday Night, The Local Strangers played a small, intimate house show in Evanston, that may have been one of the more perfect concert experiences I've experienced in a great while. For those who haven't caught on to the wonderful, infectious music that Pickwick is making: watch this video, then run over to iTunes, or to their website, and pick up their debut album "Can't Talk Medicine".

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdkOREr27Vk&w=560&h=315]

 

Basia Bulat was a name that had been on the edge of my radar for a bit, but I never had taken the time to really listen to her music. For those who haven't had the pleasure, don't make the mistake I did - watch this one, then go get her newest album, "Heart of my Own".

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

 

As far as The Local Strangers are concerned - I spent a lot of my weekend with them, hearing their powerful, soul-searching, eyes-to-the-stars music wash over me. They released their debut full-length last year, and it's absolutely gorgeous - not to mention that Aubrey and Matt are two of the sweetest, most earnest people you'll ever meet. I can't say enough positives about this band. Listen to the song 'I Will Let You Down', then watch this video of an incredible new song they played last night. The video isn't great - but it's the best I can convey the power of this song. Seriously, go buy their album(s). Right now.

[bandcamp track=1570852936  bgcol=FFFFFF linkcol=4285BB size=venti]

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEgZYH2lN9Q&w=560&h=315]

All in all - an incredible weekend.

P.S. - Watch this Take Away Show with Kodaline that was posted at the end of last week. It's haunting and painful and gorgeous.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-XPVw1LhZk&w=560&h=315]

I'm Alive!

Holy long hiatus Batman! So, I've been gone for a month. I got quite sick, started dating a pretty fantastic girl, and had to get some recovery time in, but I'm back (and hopefully better than ever)! Some updates - I'm working on a slew of things. One is a mix for y'all to get you through the end of winter, and to welcome in the beginnings of spring. The next is (if all goes well) a pretty exciting series of house style shows in the coming months with some really amazing artists. On that note, if you're a musician, and you're reading this, and you like playing music for people, please e-mail me! Third, I'll be updating this blog in the next two months or so so that I have my own fancy little domain. This should go hand in hand with some more features and some more content for those of you who read this, which I'm super excited about.

Anyway, you come here for music, so let's get to some music. A lot has happened in the last month!

I'm obsessed with "Agape", the new EP from Bear's Den. When I hear the title track (see video below) I get that butterflies-bouncing-in-my-heart feeling that The Head and the Heart get me with all the time. Check it out, then head over to Amazon or iTunes and get a copy for yourself.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FMdORf5iGs&w=560&h=315]

 

The new Local Natives album is out, and it's everything I hoped for and more. "Gorilla Manor" has gotten countless plays from me, "Hummingbird" will follow suit. Check out this amazing Blogotheque video for "Heavy Feet" and then go get the album. Do it.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9AvNpJrBYw&w=560&h=315]

 

If you haven't seen this video of The Lumineers doing an amazing new song in San Francisco as a part of a Take Away Show, you're in for a huge treat. This song might be the epitome of things that give me the warm and fuzzy feelings.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b07gcIuKUYk&w=560&h=315]

 

I desperately want it to be summer already, and so I've been listening to Prairie Empire's stunning album over and over and over and over again. And watching this video of Prairie Empire's Brittain Ashford, and taking breaks to imagine grass between my toes and summer sun on my shoulders.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPct6aM9j5I&w=560&h=315]

 

Everything Caroline Smith does is worth watching/listening to. I promise. This gem that was a Reddit exclusive is not to be missed. Really beautiful.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvYeRo9BCN4&w=560&h=315]

 

Small change of pace, but I love everything HAIM does, and their new EP looks like it won't be any exception. They're a great band to listen to when dreaming of spring. Trust me, and check out the track "Falling" below.

[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/78796179" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

 

And, as Adam over at Songsfortheday will tell you, it's been a Night Beds kind of month. So watch this video of "Ramona", and sleep a little better tonight.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLMeIsA1xDc&w=560&h=315]

Well guys, really glad to be back, and I'll get that mix out ASAP. ANd seriously, if you, or someone you know wants to play a house show - e-mail me at musicmeansfamily@gmail.com.

Peace, y'all!

Have Some Links!

Hey All - So, I'm working on a new mix, which I'm hoping to put out early next week. In the meantime, I have a bunch of stuff to share with you. Here goes!

 

Heather over at Fuel Friends just released the chapel session she recorded last year with Field Report. It is absolutely stunning. I mean, jaw on the floor, I listened to it on repeat about 15 times today stunning. Watch this video of their cover of Neil Young's Borrowed Tune, then head over and download the session (and all of the other ones, if you haven't yet):

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTgo0QJ73i0&w=640&h=360]

 

Then there's this Take Away show, from Gabriel Bruce, that was just posted yesterday. It's sort of like watching Matt Berninger of the National wander the streets of Paris, a little lost, and just the right amount of sad. And there's something about it that's just so fucking charming.

 

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

 

Oh, and here's an older video of Kris Orlowski and Dawn Mitschele covering Luke Reynolds' 'Floating in Space'. By some water. I'm always a sucker for music played by some water. And this is really sweet, and really beautiful.

 

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

 

And last but not least, it is still winter, so I thought I'd throw my winter mix out there for anyone who hasn't checked it out yet. If you want a .zip download of it, let me know.

 

[8tracks width="300" height="250" playops="" url="http://8tracks.com/mixes/1191942"]

 

Happy end of Wednesday, y'all!

New Years is over...No excuses.

So, I took a bit of a break at the end of December. It was my birthday, then I got sick, then it was Christmas, then I got sick, then it was New Years, then I had to go back to work. So, lots of easy excuses. Well, no more. For my first post in 2013, I want to take the time to do something I meant to do at the end of the last year, but late is better than never! As some of you may know, I went to 100 concerts last year. Approximately 2 a week. It was intense, awesome, exhausting at times, and really, really fun. I saw some bands twice, or three times, and some bands that I barely knew until I saw them live. I saw big concerts, little concerts, festivals (Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza), and introduced some of my friends to some really cool live bands. Since I did this, I wanted to spend a bit of time and a blog post to comment on my favorite concerts of last year, and hopefully encourage you to see some of these folks live in 2013.

 

(The videos below are most likely not from the actual show I attended. Sorry!)

 

1. Noah Gundersen - 11/6/12 (SPACE in Evanston)

Seeing Noah Gundersen on election night, in this intimate, wonderful venue was an unforgettable experience. Noah, and his sister Abby, who I rave about every chance I get, kept an entire audience of people with election night jitters totally silent and unmistakably moved for well over an hour. His stage presence is phenomenal, and I'm so glad I had a chance to experience this one.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3txd7MUfZVo&w=640&h=360]

 

2. The Head and the Heart - 3/8/12 (The Vic)

The Head and the Heart are one of my favorite bands, and certainly one of my favorite live bands. They have an impeccable knack for getting me dancing, while feeling absolutely all of the feelings I could possibly feel. I saw them three times this year, and this show was probably my favorite. Drew Grow and the Pastors' Wives blew me away with their opening set, and The Head and the Heart followed it up with a set with a lot of new songs I hadn't heard, and wonderful renditions of those I had heard countless times. The video below is from their Lollapalooza set, which I was also at and was also incredible. Go see them live. As many times as you can.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YL3LoTsMHk&w=640&h=360]

 

3. Hey Rosetta! - 6/7/12 (Bonnaroo)

We left Alabama Shakes' Thursday night headlining set at Bonnaroo because the energy wasn't there and the sound was awful. In doing this, we happened to stumble upon Hey Rosetta! playing a 1 am set at a tiny stage in the middle of the woods, well outside of the actual Bonnaroo stage area. They played till almost 3 am, covering most of their material, and providing an unbelievable, unforgettable end to what had already been an incredible day. Their ability to write catchy rock music with astounding musical and lyrical twists and turns just makes for such an awesome set.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nv0udRjXqFs&w=640&h=360]

 

4. Daughter - 10/25/12 (Schubas)

Elena Tonra, who performs with her band under the moniker 'Daughter', has an eery, expansive folk sound that is inescapably beautiful live. Her show at Schubas came right on the heels of them getting in a car accident that day, and even though they were visibly shaken up, they managed to encompass the entire crowd with their enthralling sound. Really a beautiful show, and one I'm so glad I was at. I expect them to get bigger and bigger, and they really are meant to be seen in that size venue (200 or so).

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55XNinX7HhU&w=640&h=360]

 

5. Bowerbirds - 11/12/12 (SPACE)

The first time I saw Bowerbirds was in a slightly larger venue, and it had left me feeling a bit unsettled. Seeing them at SPACE was perfect, and I got to spend a lot of time just letting the music of a band I've loved for 4 years or so wash over me. We also got to spend some time with them before and after the show, and Phil and Beth really are some of the sweetest, most interesting people I've ever met. They played a gorgeous set, and I truly am grateful I had a chance to see them in this space (no pun intended).

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5WxpLngaDo&w=640&h=360]

 

6. The Lumineers with Kopecky Family Band - 4/13/12 (SPACE)

This show was exceptional if for no other reason than the fact that The Lumineers had already clearly blown up well beyond the size of SPACE, and it felt like a tremendous privilege to be there. Not to mention, Kopecky Family Band put on an incredible set as well, and are some of the coolest artists I've met. This show was unbridled energy, explosions of feelings, and a hell of a good time. When The Lumineers closed their encore with a cover of Talking Heads 'This Must be the Place (Naive Melody', the entire audience felt like it was crying and jumping for joy at the same time. What a show. (Posting a link for this video, because the embed code is breaking everything. Sorry.)

http://www.vh1.com/video/misc/815709/naive-melody-you-oughta-know-live.jhtml#id=1689765

 

Those were really the ones that blew me away in 2012, and I can't wait for 100 more in 2013! (Also, a new mix should be on the horizon in the next 2 weeks or so!)

 

Happy new year y'all!

The End of the Year

Obviously it's not quite the end of the year. It's barely December. That being said - Thanksgiving is behind us, whiskey and a few good porters/stouts/ales are in my future, and most of the year's major releases are out. So it's time for... The year-end list!

Now, let me be clear, I'm not going to do a Pitchfork/Stereogum-esque list asserting that I have some idea of what the "best" albums were that came out this year. I have no idea what the best albums are that came out this year, because I didn't listen to EVERY album that came out this year. Also, I think it's a really slippery slope to objectively analyze music, and even if it is possible, I'm still not sure how valuable it is. So, I'd like to present to you a list of the 25 albums that impacted me the most this year - albums that I think are phenomenal, stunning, and absolutely worth the money to buy and to treasure. If you don't see an album you loved here, I'd love for you to comment and let me know what I'm missing, chances are I'll listen to it and like it too. So, in no particular order:

1. First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar

Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg released this follow-up to their stunning debut album The Big Black and the Blue early this year. While they retained the evocative folk sound so deeply rooted in the sound of the late 1960's, they've added a drive and power to this album that makes it even more exciting than their debut. My favorite tracks on this one are "Emmylou" and "The Lion's Roar".

2. Anais Mitchell - Young Man in America

I deeply believe Anais Mitchell is one of the most valuable American songwriters alive today. All of her albums are treasures, and this one, while not necessarily my favorite, has still gotten an absurd number of plays at my house, on my iPod - everywhere. Her incredible carefully written lyrics, coupled with a superb sense of dynamics and an intoxicatingly unique voice - this album is a must have. Favorite tracks - "Shepherd" and "Ships".

3. Ben Howard - Every Kingdom

While this was technically a 2011 release, its American release was 2012, so I'm counting it. This is one of the most infectious, toe-curling, "here are all the feelings" albums of the year. Ben Howard is a phenomenal guitarist, a stunning songwriter, and his voice is amazing. THis was my primary soundtrack for late spring and early summer. Favorite tracks: "Keep Your Head Up" and "The Wolves"

 4. prairie empire - prairie empire

This was one of the first true gems I found using Bandcamp. It's the perfect album to listen to while waking up, or going to sleep, or doing anything where you can let your mind and your body be at ease. Please, do yourself a favor and listen to this one. Favorite tracks - "Summer Light" and "Where You Are"

5. Field Report - Field Report

The debut album from Chris Porterfield, formerly of DeYarmond Edison (the former band of Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, as well as the guys from Megafaun) is one of the most perfect fall albums I've ever had the pleasure of listening to. The richness of the pedal steel, the smoky storytelling of Porterfield and his exceptional lyrics, one of the most impressive debut albums since For Emma, Forever Ago. Don't miss this one. Favorite tracks: "Chico the American" and "Taking Alcatraz"

6. The Staves - Dead & Born & Grown

These ladies came on to my radar when they opened for Bon Iver on they're European tour. A folk trio comprised of three sisters, they weave impossibly beautiful harmonies into an ethereal blend of nostalgic folk that's perfect for those snowy nights ahead. Favorite tracks: "Facing West" and "Dead & Born & Grown"

7. Joe Pug - The Great Despiser

Joe Pug is one of my favorite young talents. His tireless work ethic, relentless touring, and friendships with some really strong musicians resulted in this fantastic album, in which he continues his hard-hitting Americana, conjuring images of long dusty roads home to the people we love. Favorite tracks - "Hymn #76" and "Silver Harps and Violins"

8. Cold Specks - I Predict a Grateful Expulsion

Al Spx, who performs under the name Cold Specks, is jaw dropping. This is her debut album, and she sounds like someone twice her age, who has lived through hardships and joys I will never even begin to know. At 23, I can't even imagine what the future holds, with a debut album as incredible as this one. Favorite track: "Blank Maps"

9. Macklemore x Ryan Lewis - The Heist (Deluxe Edition)

I couldn't be more proud of Macklemore. I picked up on him somewhere in the middle of last year, and watched his insane talent, unbelievable DIY work ethic, and his impressive relationship with producer Ryan Lewis take him from playing 100 person clubs to selling out 2,500 seat venues and larger with the surprising meteoric success of his debut album with Lewis. From introspective heartbreakers to massive party dance jams, this album is a pleasure, from start to finish. Favorite tracks - "Neon Cathedrals", "Victory Lap", and "Starting Over"

10. P.O.S - We Don't Even Live Here

Stefon Alexander, ringleader of the Doomtree hip-hop collective, has been peddling his exceptional brand of angry, punk-driven hip hop for over a decade. We Don't Even Live Here is his best album yet. It's uncompromising pacing, its plethora of exceptional cameos, and its unflinchingly honest lyricism makes it one of those albums that I always feel the need to spin when I have to shake off any slump I'm in. Favorite tracks: "Wanted/Wasted" and "How We Land"

11. The Bowerbirds - The Clearing

I've loved The Bowerbirds for a few years now, and each of their albums has a special place in my heart. As I type this, I'm actually listening to this album, and its calming effect is really remarkable. This is a perfect album for a long commute, to sit with on a cold night, or to wake to on a spring morning. Not to mention, I had a chance to hang out with this band earlier this year, and they are really some of the kindest, most talented people I've ever met. Favorite tracks: "Overcome With Light" and "This Year".

12. Kopecky Family Band - Kids Raising Kids

Speaking of phenomenal people - you'd be hard pressed to find a whole lot of bands cooler than Kopecky Family Band. Kids Raising Kids, their debut LP, combines their fun-loving upbeat rock side with their remarkable ability to write songs that can make me cry. Get this album - be part of the family! Favorite tracks: "Change" and "Hope"

13. Andrew Bird - Hands of Glory

As much as I loved Bird's full length Break it Yourself, this companion album spoke to me much more deeply, and reminded of what I initially came to love about Bird. His nuanced dynamism, his ability to bring the listener into the same space as him, his heart on the sleeve performances. You should pick up both, but this album is absolutely wonderful. Favorite track: "Orpheo"

14. The Avett Brothers - The Carpenter

I'll be the first to admit that I don't think this is The Avett Brothers' best album. However, it is an Avett Brothers' album, and as such, there are still a number of tracks that I probably will keep with me forever, because they're just that good. Their ability to blend foot-stomping glee with tearful ballads never ceases to amaze me. Favorite track: "A Father's First Spring"

15. The Lumineers - The Lumineers

After hearing their Daytrotter session, and then seeing them in April, I was unbelievably stoked about this release, and it did not disappoint. At all. Their, raw, unbridled energy is something that is hard to capture on record, and they did a damn good job of it. This was definitely one of my favorites of the year. Favorite tracks: "Slow it Down" and "Stubborn Love"

16. The Shins - Port of Morrow

I actually wasn't much of a Shins fan until this album, and seeing them at Bonnaroo and then Lollapalooza. They manage to create very diverse, interesting rock music while maintaining a very soothing aesthetic. I really loved this record. Favorite tracks: "Simple Song" and "Bait and Switch"

17. The Oh Hellos - Through the Deep, Dark Valley

This amazing bandcamp find (a brother-sister duo from Texas) make the kind of music that I always wished Mumford and Sons would make. They embody that same foot on the gas pedal, stomp and holler mentality, but with a much greater diversity and nuance - not to mention phenomenal female vocals. I gave this album so many plays since I found it late this year. Favorite track: "I Have Made Mistakes"

18. Lost in the Trees - A Church That Fits Our Needs

The haunting chamber-folk of Ari Picker and the rest of the band is both musically impressive and really overwhelming emotionally. While this album didn't hit me quite as hard as their debut album, it still managed to take me on a really vibrant and emotional listening journey, and I find myself really excited to listen to it in its entirety pretty often.

19. Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan

I'm still never sure what to do with this music, other than occasionally let it wash over me and experience it in whatever meaningful way I can. It's complicated, dense, and really, deeply engaging. This is a perfect album for just laying out and watching the world pass by. Favorite track: "Gun Has No Trigger"

20. Kalispell - Westbound

A beautiful, moving album self-released by Shane Leonard, who is currently drumming and playing various instruments for Field Report. This is one of those albums that is absolutely necessary, particularly paired with a great beer and a porch in autumn. No favorite tracks here, just listen to the whole album.

21. Mumford and Sons - Babel

I'll be honest - had I not seen them live in August, this album probably wouldn't be on this list. Their live energy significantly surpasses what they do on record, something they freely admit. That being said, this album is a leap forward from Sigh No More, both sonically and lyrically, and I think it's an important album to remember - especially if you can find an opportunity to see them live. Favorite track: "Below My Feet"

22. Adam Arcuragi - Like a Fire That Consumes All Before It...

Adam Arcuragi has flown under the radar for way too long. He's a folk-oriented sonic tidal wave, and you can't help but get caught up in the joy of it all. This is his best album to date, and you should listen to it.

23. Delta Spirit - Delta Spirit

More often than I acknowledge, I just need a great straight-forward rock album. This fits the bill. THeir 3rd full length release, it feels like Delta Spirit really found the sound they wanted, and then pushed it as hard as they could. This was one of my favorite driving albums this year. Favorite tracks: "Empty House" and "Money Saves"

24. Various Artists - Long Distance Salvation: A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska

I loved Springsteen's Nebraska album when I was younger, and this set of covers is absolutely wonderful. Featuring covers by the likes of Joe Pug, David Wax, Strand of Oaks, Kyle Morton, and Adam Arcuragi, there isn't a whole lot not to love. Favorite track: "Atlantic City (Bonus Track)"

25. Deep Sea Diver - History Speaks

Deep Sea Diver is a project from The Shins' Jessica Dobson, and it covers a lot of sonic ground. There's some rock, some melancholy piano, and a whole lot of beautiful. In my mind, a must have for any Shins fan, and probably a must have for anyone else. Favorite track: "NWO"

 

SPECIAL MENTIONS

For all the albums that didn't make the cut - but were really phenomenal albums that I'd like to at least mention.

1. Frank Ocean - Channel Orange

2. Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel...

3. Lord Huron - Lonesome Dreams

4. Grizzly Bear - Shields

5. Cat Power - Sun

6. Patrick Watson - Adventures In Your Own Backyard

7. Sharon Van Etten - Tramp

 

I may have missed a few - this has been an incredible year and I'm a wee bit overwhelmed by all of the music. I can't wait to hear/see your comments and I hope you might find an album you might otherwise have missed from this list!

Happy December!

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.

2 Days

I'm feeling super nostalgic these last few days, and this time of the year is always kind of hard for me. I'm trying to honor the quiet, wistful yearning that's sitting deep in my chest, and the music I've listened to the last few days as really reflected that. I know I said I'd try and throw some higher energy stuff up here, but I think I just need a few more days to sit with those songs that tangle themselves up in your heart/lungs/throat and make it a little bit harder for three or four minutes, but leave you feeling a little bit better afterward.  

This Strand of Oaks cover of Damien Jurado's "Ohio" brings me near tears every time. Every time. Special thanks to Heather over at Fuel/Friends for opening my eyes to this:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcB04pzT0-c&w=640&h=360]

 

I've loved this Joni Mitchell song since high school, and to have Noah Gundersen cover it, and to cover it like this, holy shit:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QDotNjwc9k&w=640&h=360]

 

This performance, of this song:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAgbX7OYamQ&w=640&h=360]

 

And, when feelings are abundant, Ryan Adams is always a good idea. Or a tearful, no-air-in-lungs idea. Something like that:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihRqtqK3R3M&w=640&h=360]

 

I really will try and get some higher energy stuff into these posts soon - let's just settle down and eat some turkey, and have fun with the people we love these next few days.

 

Thanks for going on this journey with me, it would mean the world if you showed this blog to just one person you think might like it. Or share it on Facebook, or Twitter, or whatever. I really am thankful for everyone who reads this.

Live Sessions (They're Great!)

As I was bouncing frenetically  around the internet yesterday, scouring the dark corners for things that would perk me up in the middle of the week, I realized how many of my favorite representations of artists I love online came from certain "session style" recordings, generally done by various groups who film, with exceptional production values, random (and frequently acoustic) sessions of great bands. I wanted to take today to highlight some of my favorite people doing this right now, in hopes that you might unearth the massive amount of awesome that exists in their troves of footage. So:  

Hear Ya! Sessions - Filmed in Chicago, these guys grab bands who are playing shows in the area, and have them record one or two songs in their studio. Here are two gems from Hey Rosetta! and First Aid Kit:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qH8qJFPsL6o&w=640&h=360]

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Grkt4R8u3yI&w=640&h=360]

Show Me Shows - A monthly release from St. Louis. All of their videos are great. Here's one of my absolute favorites, The Head and the Heart performing 'Virginia':

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7rPbzBP8NY&w=640&h=360]

The Sight of Sounds - These are just amazing. That's all. Here's The Lumineers 'Stubborn Love' on a bus. Yea.

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

Fuel/Friends Chapel Sessions - Many of these are audio only, and all of them can be downloaded for free at www.fuelfriendsblog.com (Which you should also read, because it's awesome). Check out this stunning video of Bryan John Appleby:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tm8tr-UDYH8&w=640&h=360]

Take Away Shows - I can't even begin to address the number of amazing bands/videos/everything done by La Blogotheque, who are responsible for these amazing Take Away Shows, which generally consist of bands wandering the streets of Paris/NYC/Los ANgeles and making awesome music. You should probably watch all of them, ever - but feel free to start with these two, from Local Natives and Bon Iver respectively:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hhE_sqJG3g&w=640&h=360]

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

 

There are so many more, absolutely amazing people doing amazing sessions like these every day, and hopefully I'll have a chance to feature more in the future. For now, enjoy this little boost - the weekend is getting closer!

 

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]