It shall be no surprise to anyone that I enjoy music with feeling. I am sure there are no examples of me writing about music with feeling on Sandy Beats. Never. You can not tell me any different. I would never say that. I hesitate to call that “fake news”. But I digress. This is not a political blog, per se, but it is about music which is most definitely political. However, instead of boring the reader with my post about protest music (which is being written), I will instead focus on some sweet new music that is full of feeling.
First up, one of my favorite feelers, Strand of Oaks (aka Tim Showalter) released Hard Love just this week. You may remember him as being featured in my last post that included the word “feels” called “The Feels”. The first single from the new record is “Radio Kids” and you can find the new album out now. I very much feel the nostalgia in this song. I was most definitely a radio kid with my dozens of cassette tapes full of songs off the radio. That was the biggest reason I got into broadcasting in college.
Tim has been interviewed quite a bit for this release, including a Morning Edition on NPR and this amazing article in Stereogum.
I am not a consistent fan of Ryan Adams, I will admit it. But I do go back to his music from time to time as the mood strikes. Well, the mood definitely struck as songs from his newest record Prisoner were released. In his first album post-divorce, many were waiting to see what kind of Ryan Adams would show himself. I personally believe we got the best kind of Ryan Adams on this heartbreakingly powerful album. After a few listens, this is most definitely in the running for a 2017 favorite. There are so many good songs to chose from, but “Do You Still Love Me?” is a great example of what the record offers, and the video was partially filmed at Red Rocks outside of Denver, my hometown.
Finally I am going with some pure cheesy feels. I do love my fair share of pop music, but I don’t listen to much of it. However, there are some exceptions, one of the biggest is Mexican-American siblings Jesse y Joy. There most recent Spanish language release, Un Besito Más was one of my favorite releases of 2015. This year they released their first Spanglish self-titled album. While this song is not on that record, the video is new, and I quite like it.
The only question now is when I will post again with the word “feels” in the title.
I have just recently gotten into podcasts (we’re not going to get into how late I am to this party). I have something like a one-track mind, and until now, I had never given podcasts (or even audiobooks) a chance. I get lost in the stories, so I’m afraid to drive and listen to an audiobook, I would be a danger to myself and other drivers. I mean, I can barely watch a sunset while driving. I usually find a place to pull over and just enjoy the sunset. Music is different, I’m able to engage in any task and listen to music, even though I do get quite distracted when a catchy song comes on. Which may explain why I like to listen to a song on repeat when I’m painting or drawing, it makes it easier to stay in the zone.
Wait! I’m getting off topic here, let me get back to what I wanted to tell you. I have been listening to podcasts while I cook lately. I cook like I make art, I get lost in it. And just a couple of months ago I discovered that one of my favorite NY Times columns, Modern Love, has been made into a podcast. So I gave this podcasts thing a try, I was almost positive that it wouldn’t work for me and I would end up with too many cuts or burns. But it has worked, oh it has. I have laughed, gotten mad, cried, gotten so lost in those stories while listening to the Modern Love podcast while cooking. So if I have red eyes in the kitchen now, the onions are not the only ones to blame.
But what does all this have to do with Sandy Beats? Well, last night I listened to a live episode of the podcast and it featured Lucius. They ended with their song “Dusty Trails.” It won my heart, of course.
Here’s a performance of the song at the Paste Magazine studios
I’ve been listening to the episodes in order, because I do that for some things… do them in order. And I’m almost out of episodes. And it feels like when I’m on the last few pages of a book and I don’t want it to end. I have a couple of other podcasts to listen to, but do you have any recommendations? Feel free to share them with me on the comments here or on twitter @begt
One more, cause DAMN!
Every now and then a song comes to me and makes me melt into a galaxy of fun.*
I ran into “Heart Stray” by The Fame Riot this morning and it was an instant match. I started oooooo-ing and singing along the catchy chorus as soon as I got the lyrics down.**
But then, you guys, I checked out the video. THE VIDEO IS SO GOOD. What is that fashion? 90s? A little bit of 80s? Portland Hipstery?***
These guys look like they enjoy the heck out of life. Can ya’ll adopt me? I will travel with you and take all your photos and will make all your album covers and t-shirt designs. Seriously, take me with you!
I hope all of you, wonderful Sandy Beats readers, enjoy this sweet, sweet song as much as me.
PS. In their about section on their website, it says “The Fame Riot is not a band; it’s a religion. The two brothers are at the forefront of a shift in musical style and culture, drawing influence from the last 4 decades of rock, pop, electronica, disco, and everything in-between.”****
*I haven’t written in this blog in so long, of course I had to start with a sentence like that!
**I am one of those people that is not good with lyrics, titles, and names, so this took me at least two listens before I felt confident enough to sing along.
***I should also confess here that I am not very well versed in fashion either.
It has been a while here on Sandy Beats….life has a way of getting you distracted with other things. However, music has been a constant for me, and 2016 has been filled with some great albums. Music is most definitely an art, but like paintings, photographs or sculptures I am drawn to those things that can be enjoyed many times over a long period of time and that speak to me on an emotional, spiritual or intellectual level. While I enjoyed some of the top albums that you will find on critic’s lists, I found so many of them as something that was great in that moment, but did not carry on its greatness after the moment had passed. With that in mind, I am not a music critic, I crafted this list based on what I listened to the most and what I remember the most from the year.
- Frightened Rabbit – Painting of a Panic Attack
The desperation in the lyrics and the expansiveness of the sound on this record caught me on first listen. I’ve enjoyed previous efforts from Frightened Rabbit, but this record has spoken to me all year. Seeing the band live at LouFest and meeting three of the members at City Museum(!!) later that day was a live music highlight this year.
- The Strumbellas – Hope
This one is no surprise as this was my most listened to artist of 2016 (according to Spotify). I first heard the band in 2015, and then realized I had found them just in time for their 2016 release. This record is so full of introspective lyrics and catchy hooks I just could not stop listening. Their performance at Life is Beautiful is one of my top 2 festival performances this year.
- The Lumineers – Cleopatra
There are times when it seems that albums are made for you at specific times of your life. I feel this way about Cleopatra. Songs about life, loss and love never get old, but this trio has a way of communicating them on such an emotional level. They provided my favorite festival performance of the year. Looking at those who were around me, it was nice to know I was not the only who who shed a tear or two at the show.
- A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here … Thank You For Your Service
This is the newest record on the list, and may have been higher up had it come out earlier. As I tell pretty much anyone who will listen, this is the hip-hop that America needs right now. Amidst the overproduced and under-talented pool that is mainstream hip-hop, ATCQ comes back and seems as fresh as they day the first busted out onto the scene. The songs on this record cover a variety of relevant topics including racism, classism and the President-Elect Trumplethinskin. The first live show of my life featured Phife Dawg (RIP) and to this day I’ve not seen a better MC in person.
- John Paul White – Beulah
I loved the Civil Wars, probably to the point of obsession. When they split up, I was heartbroken. What they did with their two records spoke to me on a such an emotional level, I did not know if I would hear that from music again. Well, John Paul White proved me wrong. While I will always miss the Civil Wars, I am so very pleased that JPW released a record that is as raw and honest as the Civil Wars but also very different.
- Catfish & The Bottlemen – The Ride
I have a renewed faith in modern day britrock after learning about Catfish and Bottlemen a few years ago. These songs are super catchy and have a maturity not seen in the previous album.
- The Head & The Heart – Signs of Life
This was my most anticipated release of 2016. The Head and The Heart are consistently one of my most listened to bands, and I’d say they are one of my favorite bands. This is very different from their previous two records, but growth and change are good, and I think this album clearly illustrates that.
- Young the Giant – Home of The Strange
I’ll be honest to say that I’ve been more of a fan of YtG live than I have their studio releases. That all changed with Home of The Strange. Amerika is one of my most favorite songs of the year, and is particularly relevant noting the political changes to the United States. While I won’t say that YtG has not been amazing, I think this record really shows a maturity and sense of strength in whom the group is as a unit.
- Grouplove – Big Mess
If this record was not on the list, I am pretty sure my Sandy Beats collaborator, BEGT, would end me. Regardless of that, this is my favorite of the Grouplove records, and the songs live with me long after I listen to them. This was also one of my top concerts of the year. Grouplove brings so much passion and energy into their performances. It would be difficult not to like them.
- Travis – Everything at Once
I dare say that I’ve been a fan of Travis for almost 20 years. I greatly anticipated the release of this album, and enjoy that they are the Travis of my youth (and their own youth) while also growing as a band. This record spawned one of my favorite Travis songs, “Idlewild”.
Paper Lights – Great Escapes
Kishi Bashi – Sonderlust
David Bowie – Blackstar
The Avett Brothers – True Sadness
Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
Drive-By-Truckers – American Band
Mogwai – Atomic
In no particular order, here are a few of my favorite songs of the year (not previously featured) on Sandy Beats.
A Tribe Called Quest – “We the People”
The XX – “On Hold”
Travis – “Idlewild”
Young the Giant – “Amerika”
Judah & The Lion – “Take it All Back 2.0”
The Broods – “Heartlines”
MUNA – “Loudspeaker
Moby & The Pacific Void Choir – “Are You Lost in The World Like Me”
After @Begt telling me about The Naked and Famous a few years ago, they quickly became one of my favorite bands. After excitedly spotting them on the Life Is Beautiful line-up I knew they would be releasing new music soon. Finally it has happened. The first single, “Higher” off of their upcoming release Simple Forms was came out today. The album will be released in October.
This song will be a Repeat One for sure.
While not new music, The Lumineers just released a video for “Cleopatra”. With such an incredible song with really powerful lyrics, I was really excited for the video. I was not disappointed.
It’s a good thing that I thrive under pressure, because the last few days have been heavy. Today I realized I hadn’t listened to any music at the office this week and opened my Spotify Discover list. I haven’t listened to all of it, but this song is soothing me.
“Get High” by Remi Miles
If you like it, continue listen to him with me on his SoundCloud channel.
It should not come as a surprise that I’ve been replaying this video for most of the afternoon. The sounds on this trailer are exciting. And have me dreaming of a live show.