Season Changes

I want to write something profound, but my creativity juices have not been flowing as much as they. Perhaps it is because I’ve been getting more sleep and taking a bit more care of myself…which means fewer late restless nights.

I love Fall. It is my favorite season. Las Vegas does not have much of a Fall, but that does not mean I cannot celebrate. I don’t really have “Fall” music, unless it is Halloween music or bands like Oingo Boingo and Bauhaus (WHO ARE BACK TOGETHER), but as I finished school late in the summer, I have been listening to more music. I am also taking a break from drinking this month, so music will be a pretty big stress reliever and constant companion.

For this post I will highlight a couple artists I am really enjoying.

Josh Ritter is an Americana singer songwriter from Idaho, though listening to his newest record, Fever Breaks (which is produced by Jason Isbell), you would swear he was from the Southern US. This year he has had two significant releases for me. The first is his newest album and the second was his cover of “Old Old Fashioned” on Tiny Changes the record celebrating the 10th anniversary of Frightened Rabbit’s Midnight Organ Fight.  I love the original by the Frabbits, but his cover is one of my current favorite songs.

Ritter’s Fever Breaks is a very political record. My favorite of those songs is “All Some Kind of Dream” where he comments on the current state of affairs in the US.

“I saw my country in the hungry eyes
Of a million refugees
Between the rocks and the rising tide
As they were tossed across the sea
There was a time when we were them
Just as now they all are we
Was there an hour when we took them in?
Or was it all some kind of dream?”

Oddly enough, the band I listen to the most in the last two years has only received one post here. Penny and Sparrow  are folk/American duo with Texas & Alabama roots. They have a religious tone that flows through their songs without being overt, which is probably one of my favorite things about them. Their lyrics are always heartfelt, and often full of sadness. Their newest record Finch is probably their least sad and contains one of my favorite love songs of all time “Don’t wanna be without ya”. The video is also incredible as it includes scenes from some of the best Romantic Comedies of all time.

On a different note, their record Let a Lover Drown You from 2016 is full of heartache. They are pretty active both touring and recording as they’ve released 3 records since 2016. I am excited as I get to see them later this year. Here is “Gold”.

 

Tow’rs is an indie folk family band from Flagstaff, AZ. Like Penny & Sparrow they have songs that have a very spiritual tone running through them. They just released an incredible album New Nostalgia which shows how the band has matured over the years, but their sound is still pretty unmistakable. One of my favorites off of the new record is “Pink Confetti”.

It is tough to pick a favorite song from Tow’rs, but this version of “Girl in Calico” from Grey Fidelity may be my favorite.

As the season progresses, I am sure I will find some more artists to enjoy!

Spring Heavy Rotation

There have been so many new albums released over past few months that have captured my ears. Mixed in with bands that are old favorites are a couple new discoveries and new found appreciation for bands I did not give much time too in the past.

The National is a band that I should like because they are often quiet and sad. I do like some of their songs, and very much appreciate their influences on bands like Frightened Rabbit. Their newest record I Am Easy To Find is filled with such great melancholy that I really have no choice but to embrace it. My favorite song off the album is “Light Years”.

Speaking of Frightened Rabbit, through an online group of Frabbits I found out about an up & coming Scottish band called Wrest. Wrest can easily fit in a set with Frightened Rabbit, The Twilight Sad and We Were Promised Jetpacks. They recently released their debut album Coward of Us All. I love each song on the record, but my favorite is most definitely “Human”. I really hope for big things from this band. Their insightful (and melancholy) lyrics really hit the spot.

Sandy Beats favorites Of Monsters and Men will be coming out with a new album later this year, and will also be performing at Life Is Beautiful (!!!). From the sound of their first single “Alligator” off the upcoming record Fever Dream that they may be a bit less folky… that is definitely okay with me. I am excited to see them live again and to hear more new music.

My most anticipated album for the first half of 2019 was definitely Living Mirage from The Head and the Heart. The album does not disappoint. I like it just as much as their sophomore release Let’s be Still. Each new THaTH record has a new favorite song…this time it was “See You Through My Eyes”…I cannot wait to hear this song live. The first single off the record is “Missed Connection” and is another incredible song.

Another album that I was anxiously awaiting during the first half of 2019, Bear’s Den’s So That You Might Hear Me brought another hefty dose of English melancholy and introspection into my world. I am pretty sure its the album I’ve listened to the most this year (with Wrest and THaTH coming in tied for second). I love each song on this record, but have two favorites: “Crow” and “Hiding Bottles”. The video for “Crow” gets me every time.

The last song is not new, but the version most definitely is. While the band Penny & Sparrow does have new music coming out this year (Finch), this song is a John Denver original. “Annie’s Song” will always remind me of parents. Apparently my uncle performed this at their wedding (I have heard a couple different stories regarding this)…but whether or not this song was at their wedding, it is their song to me. I love the John Denver version and it will always be my favorite, but this version is just so perfect as well.

There is no better way to end a post than with this beautiful song.

January is Coming in HOT!

It is still January and we have been blessed with a ton of great new music! With the increased tension across the United States (and world), I’ll start off with a couple very political songs from folks not known for their politics.

The first is “This Land” from Gary Clark Jr. Clark is known for his incredible guitar playing and his swagger, not his politics. The song and the video discuss Clark’s experiences in Trump’s America. The video is one of the most powerful I’ve ever seen. It is directed by 25 year old Savanah Leaf. I get chills every time I listen to the song or watch the video.

 

Las Vegas’ own The Killers are also a band not known for their politics. Singer Brandon Flowers has dabbled in his support for local candidates or issues, but those statements have been few and far between. With their newest track “Land of the Free” they take on issues like immigration and gun control. It is also the most “Springsteen-esque” I’ve heard them. The video for this song was directed by Spike Lee.

2019 has already been a banner year for one of my favorite types of music, melancholic. One band who embodies this is the appropriately named Twilight Sad. They hail from Scotland and were very close with the lead singer of Frightened Rabbit. Their newest record IT WON/T BE LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME, finds a return to the synth heavy 80’s sound that I first loved them for. I am hoping to see them on this current tour. They put on one of the most emotional shows I have ever seen. Here is “VTr”:

The Queen and King of American Sad (Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst) dropped a surprise album earlier this week under the moniker Better Oblivion Community Center. They have created something truly beautiful and melancholy. I’ve listened to little else this week. Hopefully they’ll make a stop in Las Vegas if they tour. Here is “Didn’t know what I was in for”.

Anti-Folk hero Sharon Van Etten has bulldozed into 2019 with her loudest and most synth-heavy record Remind Me Tomorrow. After having a few acting roles (including in my fave The OA) and a baby, Van Etten is back with her first release in four years. The songs are much more nostalgic and hopeful than some of her previous work. I adore the new record despite it taking me a little time to get used to loud. Here is the very appropriately titled, “Comeback Kid”:

My favorite young Brit Rockers Catfish and The Bottlemen are back with the first new single “Longshot” off of their forthcoming The Balance. If you get a chance to see them, do. They will absolutely melt your face.

I look forward to even more amazing music this year…both The Head & The Heart and Grouplove should be coming out with new albums, so that alone will make this year perfect for music.

Tiny Changes

I am working on a “Best of 2018” post, but odds are that won’t be posted for a little while. As I was thinking about the songs that defined 2018 for me, two songs in specific came to mind. As mentioned in the post “Woke Up Hurting” in May the lead singer of Frightened Rabbit, Scott Hutchison killed himself. I had already been listening to FRabbits a lot in 2018, but starting in May that went into overdrive. I’ve listened and re-listened to each of their albums many times, but The Midnight Organ Fight has become a favorite. This was the record that launched the band which had started out as a solo project for Hutchison. In 2018 they had begun touring on the 10th anniversary of the album. I had listened to this album before, but it really did not hit home until this year.

The two songs from the record which I have listened to almost once a day (at least) are “Modern Leper” and “Heads Roll Off”. Each of these songs has powerful lyrics (as typical with Hutchison’s writing). They performed them both earlier this year as a part of the MOF tour, and these two are taken from their AV Club Sessions.

A line from “Heads Roll Off” has become the rallying point for fans of FRabbits since Hutchison’s death. It has been heartwarming to hear about the impact Hutchinson has had on other singers and regular folks. Singers continue to honor his legacy, and fans have donated thousands of dollars to mental health organizations in the months since Hutchison passed. Like many of those regular fans, the line also sticks with me and will definitely be a motto for 2019 and beyond.

“While I am alive I’ll make tiny changes to Earth”

Exploration Explanation

I will be the first to admit that the last few months I’ve not been listening to a lot of music or artists that I did not already know. However, I have stumbled on to a few artists who are new to me that I just cannot get enough of. The first such band is ISLAND , an English alternative band. They recently released their first full length record Feels Like Air. The album is fantastic. I first heard of this band while traveling in Ireland this past May. They reminded me a bit of Catfish & The Bottlemen, with a little less volume. Here is “The Day I Die”.

The individuals in this group are not new to me (well 2 out of 3), but together they create an indie sadness super-group! With the collective voices and talents of Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus they are boygenius. They combine the best parts of their solo work, and add a little more electricity to this joint work. They only have 6 tracks on their self-titled EP, but they are all fantastic. The best performance besides their amazing Tiny Desk Concert is “Me & My Dog” from The Current.

 

Nashville based songwriter Phosphorescent was unknown to me prior to this year. I am not sure why as his music is pretty similar to what I often listen to. The song I first heard was “Song for Zula” which a beautiful and sweet song. It was one of my most listened to songs of 2018. His newest record, the 2018 release C’est la vie has been on pretty constant rotation in the last few months. His style ranges from more traditional Americana to a bit more soulful, but his lyrics are always thoughtful.

One of the songs from this new record, “C’est la vie No. 2” is one such song. He was at the Innings Festival this year, but unfortunately I chose to see another act. Hopefully I will get to see him perform in 2019

Songs of Summer Pt. 2

While I could write about the last minute cancellation of LouFest. I will not. I am sure that the press in St. Louis have done more than their fair share of that. But, I have had more great songs serve as the soundtrack to my summer. I know Summer is almost over, but here in the desert, we still have a good 3 weeks or so before it really cools down.

I’ve enjoyed the music of Muse for sometime now. A couple years ago I saw them on the “Drones World Tour” as was very impressed by the spectacle they put on. I am also very aware that a lot of people do not like them, or think they “sold out”. I like that much of their music has futuristic and anti-establishment lyrics. My current favorite song of theirs, “Something Human”, is a bit more of an interstellar love song (which they are also known for). The video is pretty entertaining and is fitting for a conversation I had earlier today about Blockbuster Video.

 

Next we have an old favorite of this blog, Delta Rae, with a stunning song and a more stunning video in one of my favorite places, Iceland! I am happy to see them releasing a song that is a little less country than the few they had when they first signed with their new country label. Here is “Do you ever dream?”

 

There has been a lot of new music this summer, and some of what I’ve liked has surprised me. I have been familiar with the music of Death Cab for Cutie for a very long time, and I enjoy quite a few of their songs,  but did not love the album prior to their newest record Thank You for Today. I completely adore each and every song, but…I do play favorites. My favorite track features Chvrches singer Lauren Mayberry and is called “Northern Lights”. I hope to see both bands at Life is Beautiful (tonight).

 

The only not new song on this list comes from the solo works of Nathaniel Rateliff (best known with the Night Sweats). I enjoy his song writing, and enjoy sad songs (as we all know). After listening to his newest record with the Night Sweats, Tearing at the Seems, which is a fantastic listen, I was recommended his solo work (thanks Spotify!). My favorite track is off of his 2014 solo release Falling Faster Than You Can Run and it is  called “Still Trying”. Ugh…this song.

Any songs you recommend?

Songs of Summer 2018

I’ve found myself going back to music from my past this summer. That is pretty unusual for me. But, that does not mean I am not listening to new music, just less of it.

Last year at LouFest I got to see and hear the amazing Middle Kids, hailing from Australia. I had never listened to them before, but was hooked after hearing the first song. Their debut record Lost Friends came out in May and the song “Mistake” has been a constant on repeat for me. I feel like they are from the 90’s but with a sweet indie vibe.

 

I was fortunate to see Norwegian singer Aurora open up for Alt-J during Coachella Weekend. As much as I love Alt-J, I was more excited for Aurora as I’ve been listening to her for a couple years. A few days before the show she debuted the song “Queendom” which has a positive message and a nice dance beat. In 20 years I am sure that Aurora will be her generation’s Bjork.

 

The summer of 2018 saw a much needed resurgence of British rock in my life. That was kicked off with the newest record from Snow Patrol. The mid-2000’s saw Snow Patrol as a soundtrack for many of my fondest and toughest times. I immediately listened to their newest record Wildness as soon as it was released, and the song “Don’t Give In” hit me on the first listen. The lead singer of Snow Patrol has seen some hard times, and he sends us all a message with this song.

 

This is not the first time The Decemberists have been highlighted, and it will not be the last. I am just days away from seeing them (at the time of writing) and I cannot wait. I’ve loved the new record I’ll be Your Girl and the song “Once In My Life” quickly became my favorite. I would recommend reading about the creation of this video for the full effect. It is a simple, yet beautiful song of hope.

 

In rare fashion, I will end the post with a love song. Young the Giant is one of my favorite bands to see live. They are amazing performers, and write spectacular song. This song is no exception. I feel such joy listening to this song. This video is all something special. Here is “Simplify”.

 

What are your songs of Summer 2018?