Check Out: Ben Rosenbush and the Brighton

I really should get paid to listen to music…or at least to surf Spotify and highlight good music. On one of the many nights I spent on Spotify, I stumbled upon Ben Rosenbush and The Brighton. A mix of folk rock and instrumental escapades, Ben Rosenbush and the Brighton take the listener through songs of love and loss, and change. This Minnesota based act primarily performs in the upper midwest, but scored a few minor hits off of their 2010 release “The Brighton” and charted in CMJ’s top 200.

I was drawn first and foremost to the music. Very complex yet folksy. The music has multiple facets and gets better after each listen. Rosenbush’s voice is pretty haunting, but has more energy than some of his contemporaries (e.g. Bon Iver or Iron & Wine). The videos from their live performances also show quite a bit of energy.

My favorite of the songs off of their most recent release, 2012’s “A Wild Hunger” is called West.

Be sure to also give This Fire a listen. I found it to be a bit more in line with other folk artists popular at this time.

You will like them if you like: Iron & Wine, Wilco, the Avett Brothers

Oh, Jack Johnson

Jack Johnson is one of my long-time favorite musicians. I discovered his music when Sleep Through The Static came out, and fell in love. I’ve gone great distances to see him play live and I’ve defended him many times when people hate on his mellow. I got super excited when I heard the news of his new album set to release this year. And when I read that he played at Bonnaroo, it was the first time in my life that I wished I had been sizzling in Tennessee, just so I could be at that show. And as soon as the link to the first single from the album, which will be called  From Here To Now To You, came up on my twitter feed, I clicked it.

This first single, “I Got You,” is very much why Johnson is so loved and so criticized by many. It’s a mellow love song. Which is what you can say about so much of his music. Do I like it? Yes. Will I buy the album? Yes. Will I try to catch him on his tour? Yes. Do I hope that the rest of the album offers something new? Heck yes. And I hope for different sounds, because while I enjoy this song and I can appreciate it, it’s also forgettable. Unless he were singing it to me, in which case I would probably faint.

I’m still excited about the new album and wish it were being released a lot sooner than September. It’s been too long since the last one. Three years is too long, man! Anyway, here’s the lyric video. But you can catch the music video here.

TBT: Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, Wakarusa 2010

Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad @ Wakarusa 2010

The first time I heard Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad was earlier this year at the G. Love & Special Sauce concert in Fayetteville (‘member that?). They were the opening act and I didn’t know anything about them. So I asked what kind of music they played, and a guy came over and said “it’s baby-making music.” That was my introduction to Giant Panda G.D.S. That guy was right, to certain extent, but after seeing them for a second time I learned they’re much more than just baby-making music.
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TBT: ALO at Wakarusa 2010

ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra) @ Wakarusa 2010

Music is good for the soul. And the ALO set at Wakarusa was just what my soul needed. There was a big crowd at the Revival Tent waiting for them, so when Dave Brogan’s drums started “Man of The World” (the title track of their new album) it gave cue for what would be a big sing-along. The set was a great mix of old favorites and new material. Songs like “Walls of Jericho,” “Wasting Time,” and “Try” are some of the must-know ALO songs; the smiles all over the audience made that evident to those seeing ALO for the first time.  Continue reading

Last Summer on Earth 2013

If I could follow one band around the world as they tour, the Barenaked Ladies would be that band. As mentioned in a previous post, I am unabashedly a huge fan. I may also be one of the few fans who think that the band has gotten better since co-founder and lead singer Steven Page left the band. I believe that in his absence, the remaining members of the band have all had their time to shine and contribute to the creative direction of the band. It is true that their shows now have a different flavor as they lack the antics and crazy energy of Page, but you can tell by watching that these four men are on stage as brothers having the time of their life.

This show was no exception. BNL headlined their first Last Summer on Earth tour last year and were joined on stage by Cracker, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, and Blues Traveler. This year Guster, the newly reunited Ben Folds Five and comedian Boothby Graffoe were support for the tour. This year, they did not have Las Vegas on their tour, so I ventured to Los Angeles for the June 23rd show at the Greek Theater. I was excited to see them in an amphitheater again as I believe BNL is best enjoyed outside. The Greek Theater did not disappoint with its amazing views, easy access, and incredible view of the stage at every seat. Due to the traffic coming up the mountain and a very large Italian dinner at Palermo in Hollywood, I was unable to see the opening comedian or Guster. I’ve heard Guster puts on a great show, and was bummed to have missed them. I arrived inside the theater just before Ben Folds Five was to start their set. I will be honest; I’ve never been a huge fan of the Ben Folds Five, or Ben Folds as a solo artist. I appreciate their talent as musicians, but just never got behind the band. That changed with their 45 minute set on Sunday. They played a few new songs mixed with their hits. Ben Folds is incredibly energetic and likes to interact with the crowd. He even took pictures of the crowd and his band while they were playing. My favorite BF5 song, “Brick,” was performed, and I was able to get short snippet of the song on my phone.

The LSOE show is one of the few shows I’ve seen that has run exactly according to schedule. The Barenaked Ladies took the stage approximately 5 minutes later than their scheduled time (I’ve never heard of this). They took the stage and performed one of the songs off of their new album called “Limits.” This was followed by their first single off of Grinning Streak called “Boomerang.” While not yet crowd favorites, I was excited to see Boomerang performed live, as I’ve become very partial to this song since the new album was released. The rest of their set was peppered with new songs like “Odds” Are (if you like BNL from the early 2000’s this is the song for you) and old standards like “The Old Apartment” and “Brian Wilson.” I was bummed because my favorite song, “For You,” was not performed. This is the first time in the last 5 shows I’ve seen when it was not on the set list. A nice treat halfway through the set was a performance of “Be My Yoko Ono” with comedian Boothby Graffoe taking over lead vocals. I love this song immensely and was so happy to see it live. You can see a clip of the song below.

Overall, this was not my favorite BNL show. Their set was much shorter than LSOE 2012 and seemed a bit rushed. I was excited to see the band again, and each time I see them I am more drawn to their music and their personalities. I am excited to see where the band goes after this album, which I feel is their best in a while. If you are a tried and true BNL fan, you will love them on LSOE 2013. If you are on the fence about them, this could be your chance to see them at their most mature and with great support from some fun acts.

Make sure to check out a show if they are in your area at

LouFest 2013

I learned about LouFest at the beginning of May this year, almost by accident. Walk The Moon posted on their fb page that they were adding LouFest to their Summer/Fall schedule, and that post showed up on my newsfeed. I hadn’t heard of LouFest before so I quickly googled it and looked at the awesome lineup (much more impressive than the Wakarusa 2013 lineup ever was to me).

This is fourth year for the two-day festival taking place at Forest Park in St. Louis, Missouri on September 7-8. The lineup this year includes The Killers, Wilco, The National, Alabama Shakes, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Jim James, Local Natives, Fitz and the Tantrums, Trampled by Turtles, Walk the Moon, Ra Ra Riot, and The Lonely Biscuits (I looked up the Biscuits and they’re not what I expected! But that’s another post).

Of course, I got super excited the moment I saw The Killers, Alabama Shakes, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros in the same lineup. I immediately started looking for someone to go with me. I never thought of asking @DocMurda to come along, even though he’s one of the biggest fans of The Killers that I know, because… Las Vegas is pretty far from St. Louis. I thought of contacting local friends first. But I’m glad he was fb creeping at the time I was posting invites, because he quickly jumped at the opportunity to come along.

I can’t wait!

New Music: Crystal Fighters

Summer is always the season where we get inundated with new, awesome music. I’ve been discovering a lot of new great songs lately… Or at least discovering that I have been missing out on some of these songs (Don’t you sometimes feel like you should have run into a band a couple of albums ago?)
One of the bands that has recently hit me in the face with great tunes is Crystal Fighters. I came to it by Spotify recommendation. This new-ish Spotify feature is a lot better than Pandora and iTunes recommendations, anyone else thinks so too? I thought it was a new band, but I was wrong. These guys have been around since 2007 and have two albums and a bunch of and remixes out. Their first album, Star of Love, was released in 2010, but didn’t make it to the States until the Spring of 2012. Their most recent album, Cave Rave, was released on May 27th. The first song I heard was “LA Calling” and was enough to get me hooked.

They sound like some type of alternative dance party spiced up with flamenco sounds (i.e. “Xtatic Truth”). The British/Spanish band has its origins in Navarra, Spain.

You will like them if you’d appreciate a remix of Grouplove, The Naked and Famous, and Ozomatli. I’m just going to leave you a couple of tracks here:

Check Out: Churchill

Here’s the back story: I’m going to a concert at the Starlight Theater in KC next week. I bought the ticket to see Imagine Dragons, but I always like to familiarize myself with any supporting bands prior to the date. Well, this concert seems to be a bit of a collage. When the weekend festival Kanrocksas (I keep calling it Rockansas!) cancelled, several of the bands got gigs at the Starlight instead, for what feels like a mini-festival. Another one of the bands playing that night is Churchill.

So I checked them out. And, well, first love happened… I instantly added “Lock Your Heart Down” to my Summer 2013 playlist. That song is part of their most recent EP The War Within, which was released about a month ago. Their new album comes out in July. Get excited!

Churchill is a band from Colorado and their first hit was “Change.” Trying to define their music is not easy. One might go with Indie-folksy-rock-alt-country. There’s a mandolin in there, so I’m sure @DocMurda will get as hooked as I have.

Here’s the video for “Change”

And here’s “Look Your Heart Down”

Funny story. I did my research a couple of weeks ago. And today while listening to my Summer playlist I went to their site to look at their tour dates. When I saw the June 28th date at Starlight, I had a moment of “WAIT! I’ll be up there on that date!” and then it hit me. New music overload? Or am I just getting old?

Happy beginning of Summer, everyone!

TBT: Andy Frasco, 2010

Here’s another Throw Back Thursday post! This one was originally posted on 05/13/2010 over at BOT. Check out Andy Frasco when you get a chance. His music has evolved quite a bit since the first time I heard him:

Andy Frasco @ Rogue
Words and photos by B “Cafe Con Leche” Gutierrez

Andy Frasco and his band spent the weekend pouring their hearts out all over Dickson Street in Fayetteville, AR. Three nights, three shows, and a whole lotta soul. I decided to attend the Saturday show at Rogue after catching his warm up session at The Smoke & Barrel Tavern the previous evening, and I’m so glad I did. I had so much fun even when the show was out in the patio and the night was cold due to a cold front that rolled into town along with Frasco and the band. His piano weaves new blues rhythms in a way it makes you comfortable. No matter how cold the night is, you’d be fine as long as the music lasts.
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