The Woods are Calling

I am very interested in where a band or singer comes from. I think that they are ambassadors of their home, but also I think it at times can show in their music. From the more blatant (The Killers) to a more subtle approach (Trampled by Turtles). When I first listened to The Pines  I could sense their home in the music. They are from small town Iowa, but spent some time in southern Arizona before settling as a band in Minneapolis. Listening to the music its easy to pick up on the feeling of open spaces and small towns. This music feels like the north woods of the upper midwest, but also the desert expanses of the southwest. There is a melancholy in the music, and a sadness, but there is also hope.

Over the last two weeks, I think I’ve listened to their most recent album of original material, 2016’s Above The Prairie at least a few dozen times. It is difficult to not listen to the entire album in one sitting its a compelling progression of songs. There are three songs off this record that I cannot get enough of. The first is also the first song on the album “Aerial Ocean”. I love the mix of the very “country” sounding slide guitar, and the very ethereal synthesizer.

The next song is the second song off the album, “There in Spirit”. The song is haunting and reeks of a realistic despair.

The final song is the last song on the album, “Time Dreams”, which features the words and voice of John Trudell, a Native American activist, writer, and actor. There is so much beauty in this song.


I have listened to the other Pines albums on Spotify, but they definitely do not strike me like this one does. That is not to say that they aren’t also amazing.







2018 Jams…so far…

I know the year is young, but I’ve already been jamming out to some new music (and enjoying some new music videos as well).

First up is CHVRCHES with “Get Out”. The “video” is interesting, and the song is catchy as hell. I have a love hate relationship with CHVRCHES (not unlike that with The XX), but if this song is any indication, I will enjoy the forthcoming record.


The Decemberists are unique. They tell stories, their sound changes, but they are still such a strange and weird group. Their newest single “Severed” is a departure from their folky ways, but it is still every bit as Decemberistic(?) as every song they’ve ever released. The video is amazing, and is politically relevant, which we know I love. I cannot wait to see this band for the first time (!!!) at Innings Festival in March.


I’ve been enjoying English punk/folk singer Frank Turner for a few years. I’ve always enjoyed his raw sound. Despite many of his forefathers in the English punk/folk scene being explicitly political (think Billy Bragg), Turner has typically stayed away from those tones. His newest song, “1933” is very much a departure. He addresses the neo-fascist thinking that exists in our current environment while still having the typical Turner “lets go have a drink” ethos. I do quite love the statement “don’t go mistaking your house burning down for the dawn”. Such a vivid picture of our world today.


We all know how I feel about Moby. So it is no surprise that his newest single “Mere Anarchy” is here. The video is dark, but I think that is where Moby is (in his view on the world) at this time. If this song is any indication, I am looking forward to the new record.

What is Love?

It is February, which to many means the celebration of Valentine’s Day. I am not and have never been much of a fan of this “Hallmark” holiday. It is not that love isn’t important, its just that I know that love is not chocolate hearts, sugary sweet cards or flowers. I could wax poetic on love, but I will resist. I have a liberal interpretation of love songs. Love includes heartbreak and sadness. Love also means joy and comfort. Here is a selection of “love” songs that hit one (or more) of those marks for me.

The first song is a more traditional “love” song with a pinch of sadness and an understanding of mortality. Jason Isbell is a master songwriter. He is also madly in love with his wife and fellow artist Amanda Shires. Here is “If We Were Vampires” off of Nashville Sound.

The National Parks are one of my favorite bands of recent. Their songs are a bit more poppy and happy than much of the music I listen to. “Birds Eye” from their first record Young is no exception, though it may be a bit more melancholy as it is story of a lost love.

On a more somber note, “Empty” from Ray LaMontagne tells the story of the loss of love in a different way. His haunting tale has a way of filling up the quiet spaces.

It may seem at times that I do not enjoy good old fashioned pop music. I like a sing along as much as the next person. One of my favorite pop bands over the last few years has been Royal Teeth. Their songs are catchy as hell and have that sweet male/female harmony that I cannot get enough of (probably doesn’t hurt that the two singers just got married – to each other). Their first record Glow is a go-to album for good ol’ fashioned pop love songs. Here is “Vagabonds” from that record.

I believe that we only know the best that love has to offer when we understand it at its worst. I’ve heard some sad songs, but sometimes they do not seem to capture that feeling. “Play that One Again” by Greg Laswell is one of the few that captures that heartbreak and despair. Laswell wrote his newest record Everyone Thinks I Dodged a Bullet after his divorce from fellow singer Ingrid Michaelson. The entire record is amazing, and will hopefully be featured in a post about records made after a divorce or ending of a relationship.

In an unusual fashion, I will end on a high note. Now, I don’t love the String Cheese Incident. I am not a huge fan of jam bands (even ones from Colorado), but this song is a such a beautiful exception. “My One and Only” features Bonnie Paine, the lead singer of Elephant Revival (which makes this a Colorado Collaboration, if you will). The song is a mix of bluegrass, folk, and delightful harmonies.

2017 Top Songs

2017, like the years past, has been filled with incredible music. As it is quickly approaching the end of the year (ha, I started this post in December), I thought I’d provide a few of my favorite songs that were on albums released in 2017.

There really is no order, except for the first couple of songs which are my most listened to songs of 2017.

  1. “Afterglow” from Ásgeir – this song is magical. I cannot listen to it enough. As readers of Sandy Beats are well aware, I love Icelandic music, and the record Afterglow is one of my favorites from an Icelandic artist. (Bonus, the song “Stardust”, which is also incredible).


2. “Alien”from Manchester Orchestra – the official video is probably my favorite video of the year, and the song is one that stays with me after I hear it. Their new album A Black Mile to The Surface is my most listened to album of the year. Here is a live version of the track.

(The rest are in no specific order)

“On Hold” by The XX. I See You is another one of my favorite records of the year, and “On Hold” is also an incredible video. The XX also put on one of my favorite live performances of the year. Like the one above, I’ve already posted the video, so here is a live version.

“Run for Cover” by The Killers – we all know I love The Killers. This is my favorite track from Wonderful Wonderful and may be one of my top 5 favorites from The Killers. I’ve not posted the video before, so here we go:

“Do You Still Love Me?” by Ryan Adams – as someone who has been through a divorce, I know its a helluva a shitty drug. Adams’ split from Mandy Moore (swoon) has moved him to create some of his best songs yet, and his record Prisoner is evidence of that.

“Funeral” – Phoebe Bridgers

I’ve been enjoying what I’ve heard from Bridgers since I first heard “Georgia” a couple years ago. 2017 saw the release of her first record Stranger in the Alps. Bridgers writes some incredibly powerful songs. This one I cannot get out of my head.

“No Peace In Quiet” – Delta Rae

I have loved Delta Rae for a long time now. During 2017 I was fortunate enough to see them perform twice. They recently signed with a Country label, but their music still crosses all sorts of genre boundaries. This song is absolutely and heartbreakingly beautiful. The first time I heard it, I was sold. I cannot wait to see where they go in 2018.


Protest Music pt. 1

With recent events where Fascists are making their presence more known in the United States, I’ve decided to push forward part one of two about protest songs. This will not be a comprehensive history by any means, but will focus on some artists and songs that have made an impact on me. I’ve listened to protest music for my entire life. I grew up with a mother who was active in the civil rights and anti-poverty movements of the 1960’s and 1970’s so protest music was never “protest music” it was just “music”. As I got older and started to determine my own music preferences, I gravitated towards socially aware music (primarily from the UK). As an adult I spend a lot of time listening to this type of music, both new and old.

In the United States, protest music can easily be traced back to the time of the Revolutionary War. Later, it was prominent during the Civil War, in regards to both the military fight, but it also was present in the “spirituals” or songs sung by the African slaves. In the early 20th Century many protest songs were born from the labor movement (e.g. “The Preacher and the Slave” by Joe Hill)

In the 1930’s and 1940’s songs dealt with labor issues, but also addressed the dark past of the United States (“Strange Fruit” as performed by Billie Holiday)

and “Joe Hill” as sung by Paul Robeson (who was also persecuted for his left-leaning political beliefs)

Another prominent singer who addressed both racial injustice and economic inequality was Lead Belly. One of his more well-known songs is the very catchy “Bourgeois Blues”

While there were many protest singers in the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s, there are two who are arguably the most prolific and still currently widely recognized. These two individuals, Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, carried the folk protest flag from the 1930’s all the way until the 2000’s with the passing of Seeger. There songs, like those before them, often dealt with labor issues and economic inequality, but also were directly aimed at issues of their time. One such song, “All You Fascists Bound To Lose” was directed at the rise of Fascism in the 1930’s and 1940’s.


Guthrie is most well known for a song that is now (ironically enough) often sung as a very patriotic song, “This Land is Your Land”

Pete Seeger will figure more in the next edition, along with many of the singers from the 1960’s.

“Of all the things you are about to lose, this will be the most painful”

It has been a few years since Typhoon has come out with new music. Front man Kyle Morton released a record last year, but the sound was not as rich as Typhoon (despite the very deep dark lyrics that he…and they…are known for). The wait is finally over. Last week the Portland based band released the first movement of their forthcoming record Offerings. I have repeatedly listened to these songs, and watched the accompanying lyric presentation. I love the mood set by these four tracks, and I cannot listen to them enough. I am eagerly awaiting the new record after the first of the year.


Edit (11/12/17):

I was listening to more Typhoon this weekend, and ran into this live performance from La Blogothèque. This live set features songs from White Lighter. I love the description on the video (see below). While I’ve not seen Typhoon in person, I do believe their music is so incredibly beautiful and personal. It is so full of raw emotion and incredible musicality.


My City, My Heart


I have lived in Las Vegas for more than a decade. I was not born here, but I fell in love with this place shortly after I moved here. This is my home. I choose to live here, and I am not sure I will ever leave. The last few days have been such a surreal experience that is tough to put into words. I want to have words for it, but I just cannot get there…yet. I know I’ve been sharing some sad songs, and while the sentiment I want to share now may seem sad, its more of a love for my home. When I say Home Means Nevada, I mean it. This post is an ode to my home.

“Home Means Nevada” as performed by The Killers


“Viva Las Vegas” as performed by The Killers

“Vegas Lights” by Panic! At The Disco

“A Shot at The Night” by The Killers


“Its Time” (and more) by Imagine Dragons

“I don’t ever want to let you down, I don’t ever want to leave this town, cuz after all the city never sleeps at night”