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!

Thinking Ahead - To Write Love On Her Arms

As will become very apparent over the next few days - I'm starting to plan concerts for the early part of 2013. Earlier this week, To Write Love on her Arms (a fantastic organization) announced that the concert event they put on in Orlando earlier this year would be touring, and Chicago was on the list of cities. Among other artists, Noah Gundersen is going to be there, which means you should be too. I know I will.

Here's a video of Noah, his sister Abby, and a bunch of other fine musicians from the TWLOHA show in Orlando earlier this year:

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0UvF0MBH9M&w=640&h=360]

 

And, just for fun - a fan shot video of Noah and Abby doing the song "Moss on a Rolling Stone":

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGrIvq5a6pc&w=640&h=360]

 

This is gonna be one you probably don't want to miss.

Sunday, and the Week Ahead

So. It's Sunday. Which means the winding down of another weekend - preparing for the week ahead, and watching sleeting rain falling outside and dreading tomorrow. What better way to ease into the week then with some of those songs & videos that make these cold nights in December feel just a little bit warmer. This video from Field Report went up earlier this week, and it's a really wonderful, gritty version of one of my favorite songs on their album from earlier this year.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3ienPVB5To&w=640&h=360]

 

I can't even begin to express how excited I am for this new Local Natives album - and this video of them doing "Breakers" by some water is absolutely gorgeous.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NaUo38gHwm8&w=640&h=360]

 

Gregory Alan Isakov covering John Hartford. Also by some water. (I miss spending time next to bodies of water. Can you tell?)

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

 

Also, I went and saw Spirit Family Reunion at Schuba's last night. That was two hours of whiskey drinkin', stompin', clappin', and singing along at the top of our lungs. If you get a chance to see these guys live, you really should go. Seriously.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1aHHoy2C3E&w=640&h=360]

 

Well - good luck tomorrow. Mondays suck. But watch these videos, go back and take another listen to the winter mix, and hopefully you can keep your head up - Christmas is coming!

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.

Catching Up

Sorry for the weeklong absence everybody! I've been working furiously at doing some end of the year list type posts, but part of that has been me going back and spending some time with albums I haven't been playing as much lately. So, hopefully those posts will be done soon, and then posted for your viewing/listening pleasure. I'm also working on a nifty winter mix for your downloading pleasure, and I'm shooting to have that up in the next two weeks or so. I think it will make your ears happy. I hope so anyway.

In the meantime - I'm still on track to go to 100 concerts this calendar year. Which is absolutely ridiculous. And awesome. So, I'll be busy at shows this December (if you have any to recommend  I'm all ears - I'm still 3 short!), and I'll be posting about as many of them as possible!

 

I want to make sure I give you some things to listen to as the nights get longer and I'm working on all of this stuff - so in the meantime, here are a few things that have made me really happy in the post-Thanksgiving doldrums:

 

This track from Deep Sea Diver, whose debut album came out this year and was fantastic:

[bandcamp track=588464022  bgcol=FFFFFF linkcol=4285BB size=venti]

 

This track from Half Moon Run (who I'm seeing open for Patrick Watson on Sunday):

[bandcamp track=515405096  bgcol=FFFFFF linkcol=4285BB size=venti]

 

And this video from Hey Rosetta! (via Adam at songsfortheday) performing Graceland by Paul Simon, which I got to see them play live at Bonnaroo at about 3 am in the woods, which was pretty unforgettable:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMxNCRAILk4&w=640&h=360]

 

Enjoy! (And keep an eye out for big posts in the next two weeks!)

On Why I'm Thankful for the Internet

Thanksgiving is tomorrow! I've begun to reflect on the things that I'm really, truly thankful for - and as I sat down to write this post, I realized how truly thankful I am for the music community that  the internet has fostered and allowed to grow and shrink simultaneously. I've found so many bands through blogs, forums, social media, and a few incredibly innovative websites that continue to blow me away on a daily basis. So I want to use today's post to introduce you to some of those resources, and the community that's so important to me.  

Bandcamp

First - a giant, gleeful shout-out to Bandcamp. For those unfamiliar, Bandcamp is a tool that allows artists to sell their music directly to their fans, in a simple, straightforward manner. The artist receives the majority of the money (At least 80%) and can name their prices, etc. Additionally, you can listen to entire albums before buying. As more and more artists embrace this medium, I hope more and more people buy their music here, as opposed to funneling money into iTunes, money Apple certainly doesn't need. Also, as of today, Bandcamp is beta testing a social component to their site, in which users can share things they've bought, interact with artists and other fans, and discover phenomenal music. You have to check this site out. Below, here are links to a few awesome songs I found in about ten minutes of exploring the new functions, all of which are phenomenal.

 

[bandcamp track=1039584313 bgcol=FFFFFF linkcol=4285BB size=venti]

[bandcamp track=3809657895 bgcol=FFFFFF linkcol=4285BB size=venti]

[bandcamp track=1693462345 bgcol=FFFFFF linkcol=4285BB size=venti]

 

Also, feel free to check out my beta profile over there, and see what I'm buying/collecting. Here's the link: http://bandcamp.com/musicmeansfamily

 

Daytrotter

Daytrotter is the brainchild of Sean Moeller, who lives over in Rock Island, IL. If you haven't checked out this site yet, you need to. Daytrotter features daily live sessions from tons of artists, both established and new, with awesome mini write-ups and illustrations, and all of the recordings are fabulous. A $24 yearly membership gives you access to all of the downloads you can fit on your computer, and it's one of the best gifts I've given myself in a while. Additionally, you can download their app to your phone and listen to new sessions all day long, which is pretty great for work/transit/etc.

Here's a link to their phenomenal session from late last year with The Lumineers. Listen, check it out, and then get a membership. You really won't regret it. Daytrotter - Lumineers

 

The Blogosphere

There are so many wonderful independent music blogs around right now, that are infinitely more valuable than the garden variety Stereogum/Pitchfork crap - and you should be reading them. Here's a few I love.

 

Songs For The Day - This blog, run by my friend Adam, highlights a new song or two or seven everyday that you should check out. His recommendations are generally perfect. And he's a pretty cool dude.

Folk Hive - Another small blog, this one from Missouri. Sam(antha) who writes it, is a wonderful writer with great taste in music. Please pay her site a visit.

Fuel/Friends - This is the blog that got me into blogging. Heather is a beautiful writer, and her interaction with, and support of, the music community is really sweet. Every so often she posts an amazing chapel session, recorded near her home in Colorado, and you can download them for free. Today she posted this gem from Hey Marseilles. Watch the video below, then check out her blog and download the session (and all of the other sessions too).

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tSeYWQ1CwA&w=640&h=360]

 

Check out all of these awesome things. Enjoy your turkey tomorrow. Enjoy friends & family. I probably won't pust again until Saturday, so if you do shop on Friday, my only request is that you do your best to shop local. Visit cool stores in your neighborhood. Participate in Record Store Day. Get some really cool limited release records from The Lumineers, The White Stripes, and tons more. Most importantly, don't stress. Love you 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.

3 Days Until Turkey

So, another (thankfully short) week of work, and all I want is to spend time with friends who are back home and eat delicious things. I got to spend the evening yesterday with some of them, and I'm feeling very centered, albeit eager for the week to end. Because of this, and in the spirit of my delightful friend Chris, I wanted to post a few things that reflect the calmness I feel right now, mixed with the anticipation and yearning for the holidays bouncing around in my head. I know I've been on a Field Report binge. This video from the Current in MPLS is excellent though. And perfect for today.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pj_mcgid39M&w=640&h=360]

Chris and I watched this unbelievable video of Pretty Broken Things at Doe Bay Fest last night. You should watch it tonight. It'll make you happy.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1YPv3XI6_E&w=640&h=360]

This new song from Hey Rosetta! on their holiday EP is just ridiculously good, and makes me way too excited for the coming month.

[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/66634882" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

I'm slowly putting together a winter playlist for the snowy months, so keep your eyes/ears out. Also, I'm going to try and get some love for some more "upbeat" stuff over the next few days here, so be ready for some of that.

Happy Monday!

Last Night

Last night I was at the always wonderful Schuba's - seeing one of my favorite new bands this year, Field Report. Field Report, the brainchild of Chris Porterfield, formerly of DeYarmond Edison (which was comprised of Porterfield, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, and the band now known as Megafaun), is a superb Americana/rustic roots-rock band hailing from Eau Claire, WI. Their debut album came out this past September, and it's gotten an enormous amount of plays from me. Their concert last night was, as expected, absolutely phenomenal. They have an unbelievable ability to hold an entire room spellbound for an entire evening. Watch this clip below, and then seriously, go get the album, you absolutely won't regret it.

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

Also - I discovered last night that currently Shane Leonard, who records under the name Kalispell, is currently playing drums, violin, and banjo for Field Report. Kalispell's debut full length just recently came out, and it's beautiful. It's only $7 on Kalispell's bandcamp page, and it's absolutely worth it. Listen to 'Westbound' below:

[bandcamp track=280376926  bgcol=FFFFFF linkcol=4285BB size=venti]

I really hope you enjoy these as much as I do.

P.S. - Ivan Howard, from The Rosebuds, released an entire cover of Sade's magnificent album Love Deluxe. And it's free. And perfect. Get it here: LOVE DELUXE

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!

 

A Few Links (To Get Us Through The Week)

As I slowly come down from my post-Bowerbirds high, I find myself staring at three more days of work this week, and I'm feeling the need for a little juice to get me through. So I thought to myself, let's find some great videos and some great artists to keep my mood up for the rest of the week - hopefully these can do the same for you. This song by The Staves is beautiful. Their debut album came out today, and it's really quite perfect for this late fall weather. Check it out!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnxJ7DYvVkc&w=640&h=360]

Adam over at Songs For a Day reminded me of this awesome video of Ben Sollee singing 'A Few Honest Words' at the Lincoln Memorial. A reminder of how thankful I am that the election season is over.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfrNG3gr1U8&w=640&h=360]

I saw Daughter a few weeks ago and it was one of my favorite shows of this year. Her music is perfect for this time of year.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrv9DmA5Z64&w=640&h=360]

This is just beautiful, and I forgot about it until I felt the cold wind on my face coming home from work today.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2b2H89rDwXI&w=640&h=360]

This song from Lucy Rose, another English artist, is also keeping me solid right now.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5jFuoKMQRA&w=640&h=360]

One more, from Broken Twin:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FW4LXvFBB6I&w=640&h=360]

 

Keep your heads up, y'all - it's almost Turkey Day!

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]

A Rainy Sunday Evening

I hope everyone's somewhere safe and warm while (at least here in Chicago) the sleety rain starts to pound. I wanted to share a few songs that are getting me through this weather, and that will hopefully keep me calm during the Bears game tonight.  

Cold Specks' debut album came out earlier this year, and it's absolutely phenomenal. I'm seeing here here in Chicago on 11/29 and I couldn't be more excited. Check out 'Blank Maps' below:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhm79Kh-9Lk&w=640&h=360]

 

The Oh Hello's just released their debut album, and it's phenomenal. Perfect music for this late fall weather. Check this track out:

[bandcamp track=1758491848  bgcol=FFFFFF linkcol=4285BB size=venti]

 

This song by Ivan & Alyosha is amazing. The video is beautiful. I wouldn't mind being right about there right now.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C99OZwbV-hQ&w=640&h=360]

 

Enjoy your Sunday evening, and good luck getting through Monday morning tomorrow!

Another Weekend

As I find myself restlessly preparing to head out for the evening (which should be specatacular - one of my best friend's birthdays and then seeing Allen Stone!) I found I needed a song to wind down from work. Naturally, I went to this stunner from Pretty Broken Things. This track is free on their bandcamp, and their currently raising money for their new album, which you can donate to/pre-order here. I've donated, maybe you will too. Check out the track below: [bandcamp track=3910840364 bgcol=FFFFFF linkcol=4285BB size=venti]

Later tonight I'll be partying with Allen Stone. He's awesome. Seriously. Just watch this:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u23HiFKGlME&w=640&h=360]

His debut album is out now, and he's pretty cool. Hope you enjoy - have an awesome weekend y'all!

Field Report

Field Report is a new band from Chris Porterfield, who used to play with Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) and Megafaun in their old band, DeYarmond Edison. Field Report's debut album came out in September, and it's gotten an absurd number of plays from me in these autumn months. They're playing Schuba's on 11/15, and I will certainly be there. Maybe you should be too. Check out this clip from a session they did for Halfway House Sessions, and then go get the album. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvXJIRHq7wM&w=640&h=360]

Noah Gundersen

I saw Noah Gundersen on Tuesday night. He's unbelievable. And stunning. And astounding. And you should listen to him. His sister, Abby Gundersen, is also amazing. Noah's new album is being mixed right now, so look for that and a bigger tour on the horizon. In the meantime - noahgundersen.bandcamp.com. Buy stuff. Be happy. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbtfnHg3Lwo&w=640&h=360]

 

Also -

 

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

 

And then, they finished the evening with this (right as we collectively discovered Obama was projected to win Ohio, and the presidency):

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpnNOg9TTuA&w=640&h=360]

 

Buy his music. See him on tour (I may be going to see him again in Madison on Saturday.). Enjoy!