Songs of Summer

I know the summer just technically started, but here are a few songs I think will help define my summer. While it is true that my recent Repeat One post highlights some of the songs that say Summer of 2017 for me, but there are more (always more).

First up is Margo Price who is bringing us back to the country music of Patsy Cline (with a bit more sass and a lot of weed). I am late to the game with Price who has been a Nashville staple for a while. Her Midwest Farmer’s Daughter is an instant classic.

Here is “Hurtin’ on the Bottle”:

 

If you could pick a new song that is the other side of the spectrum from Margo Price, that song would probably be the first single off of Arcade Fire’s forthcoming release. “Everything Now” is a disco jam made for summer. The video, like all of their videos, is a work of art and to me is reminiscent of one of my favorite podcasts, Welcome to Night Vale. 

 

Let us mess with genres some more, okay? I was not a fan of Dispatch until LouFest 2013 when @begutierrez introduced me to State Radio and Dispatch. Now I cannot get enough of Dispatch, State Radio or Chadwick Stoke’s solo stuff. Their newest record America, Location 12 has been a pleasant summer surprise for me. My favorite song off the record is a great road trip song, “Painted Yellow Lines”. This version was filmed at the Paste studio.

 

Finally, and on a slightly more somber note, Nahko & Medicine for The People has been one of my favorite live bands since seeing them at Life is Beautiful a few years ago. I had the pleasure of seeing them earlier this summer with a few more mainstream reggae acts. Nahko, always the activist, put on an incredible show. The live version of “Love Letters to God” from the most recent release Hoka both destroyed and inspired me. This incredibly emotional video captures that feeling.

Summertime Repeat Ones

With the official start to summer last week, and Spotify releasing personalized Summer playlists, I have been reminded to share some of the music that I’ve been obsessing over the last few weeks. This summer will bring a bit of travel and excitement into my life, which is fantastic, and as usual, I am sure the music will keep me grounded and help me enjoy the fun (and challenging) times ahead.

My newest musical obsession is Ásgeir, an Icelandic singer-songwriter. Now, I love Icelandic music, probably more than anyone who is not Icelandic. I was shocked I had not heard (or maybe paid attention is a better phrase) to the genius of this man. Earlier this month he released his 2nd full length record Afterglow. On his first record he sang in Icelandic (and later released an English version). I could listen to Icelandic being sung all day, but I am so happy I get to understand the lyrics in English. Some of them are from the poetry of his father.

The song I am listening to the most is the the title track from Afterglow. I will be honest, it is not everyday you hear and song and know that this song will be with you forever. I listen to a lot of music, and love a lot of songs, but as soon as I heard this song, I knew I had heard a song that will be a life-time favorite. For met it is in the same league as Oasis’ “Don’t Look Back in Anger” and The Killers’ “Read My Mind”…the real deal. Here is a pretty spectacular live version (along with another great song “Stardust”).

I first heard The Collection because of my Spotify discover list (aka my weekly present). They have many of the elements of the bands that I am currently listening to, so after I heard the first song, I had to dig deeper. They currently have two full-length records and an EP. The lead singer and lyricist, David Wimbish also has a new solo record. His lyrics are very introspective and full of emotion. The song that I keep coming back to is “Some Days I don’t Want to Sing” from Ars Moriendi.  With lyrics like this, how can I stay away:

Is this the end? Are we in?
Do I watch all my friends just take dives off of cliffs ‘cause their heads are full of questions we can’t know now, unless we go?
And the weight of the world does not rest on your shoulders
No, it strains and it bends on the same arms that hope sends
So don’t carry it now! Lower it down!
When faith dies and hope flies, then love must prevail or else this all means nothing

Up next is The Brevet out of Irvine, CA. I first heard this band when they were on the lineup for the never to happen Goosenecks Music Festival. I really liked their music from day one. Last week I was able to see them as they opened up for Sister Hazel. Here is “Moving Mountains”.

Up next and no stranger to Sandy Beats is the newest song from The National Parks, “Places”. I cannot get enough of this band, and I am super excited for their upcoming new record. I do hope they hit up Las Vegas this summer. I’ve seen them twice, and that is not anywhere near enough.

The final song for the day is “Long and Happy Life” from the forthcoming new album from Delta Rae. This is one of my favorite live bands (who also sing one of my top favorite songs – on the same list as mentioned above), and one of the more outspoken “Americana/country-ish bands” out there. With their Fleetwood Mac style songs, and high energy it is difficult not to like them. This new song is a bit more “country” than much of their previous work, but they were recently signed by a country label and have been doing a bunch of radio station gigs. I am looking forward to seeing them in August.

Spring 2017 Repeat One(s)

Spring is in full effect here in the beautiful Mojave Desert. I am already thinking about summer, but am not really ready for those super hot days and slightly less hot nights. I am, however, excited for a summer of music. By last count starting in April-August there are 11 shows on the docket. I am sure more will be added. As I am currently procrastinating doing homework, I will be more brief. The following songs have been on heavy rotation for me this Spring. Good news is that I’ll get to see some of them soon.

First up is “Can We Hang On?” by The Cold War Kids. Their song “First” from the previous record is one of my all-time favorite songs, and this one is very powerful and gives me some of those same feelings.

Until I finish my allegedly epic (in my head) post on protest music, the next Repeat One from Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit may have to suffice. The first single is called “Hope The High Road” and it is a protest rock and roll song if I’ve ever heard one. Isbell is not ashamed of his politics and his disdain for ignorance. His former bandmates Drive-by-Truckers had  one of the best albums of 2016 that also happened to be filled with social commentary, so its no surprise that he is more overt with this newest song.

“There can’t be more of them than us”, while I am not a praying man, Jason, by god, I hope you are right.

Next is my second favorite set of hometown boys, Imagine Dragons, with “Believer”. I’ll just leave this freaking incredible video to speak on its own. Plus Dolph Lundgren. If this song is any indication for what is next for one of Vegas’ favorite sons and his crew, I can’t wait.

One day my cubicle neighbor and friend asked if I had heard of LP. I had heard the name, but had not really ever given her a listen. That was an error on my fault. I’ve since remedied that, and have been listening almost obsessively. My favorite song is “Strange”.

Last year the band MUNA opened up for Grouplove and my life was forever changed. Since that time they’ve released their first full-length album and have been touring on their own. This version of their song “I Know a Place” is so hauntingly simple and beautiful.

And finally, the one not new song on the list comes from Bhi Bhiman and features Rhiannon Giddens (solo artist and of the Carolina Chocolate Drops). The song “Up In Arms” could also be placed in the aforementioned Protest Songs post, but we can enjoy it hear. This song gives me chills normally, this version even more so.

Of Modern Love and Dusty Trails

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!

David Ramirez: An Introduction

While I’ve been listening to him for a couple years now, this week I’ve really been getting acquainted with the work of Texas bred singer/songwriter David Ramirez over the last couple of weeks.  As I’ve been reading more about him, it is clear that the reasons I enjoy him are pretty widely shared by his fan base. He writes and sings about real life. Plain and simple. Each and every one of us who has lived any part of life can relate intimately to his lyrics. I’ve found many comments online about his work, but the one I keep going back to is an article published last week by Vivian Nunez, “I want the love that’s found in ‘Bad Days’  . While this specific article goes a bit deeper into the love that Ramirez discusses in “The Bad Days” it clearly illustrates the connection that a listener has to his music.

When I was thinking about writing this post, it became really difficult to choose just a few songs to feature. It changed about every day or so as I was thinking of this. So I am go with those that I am feeling today.

As referenced above, “The Bad Days”, is a song about real life love. This isn’t a fairytale love that exists in pop songs and movies:

“There are gonna be days when the love is so thin

The days are a game that we just can’t win

There are gonna be days you might want to be free

There are gonna be days that you hate me

But hold on strong

Don’t let go

We’ll carry on I know we can find a way

Cause you’re still my girl in the bad days”

These words hit me every single time I listen to this song. This is the real love. I’ve been fortunate to see this type of love in both my parents and grandparents. It’s not easy. But the good days outweigh the bad days.  I think this is why Ramirez speaks to me. He sings songs about real life.

In a similar vein, “Shoeboxes” describes finding items from a past love. There is no doubt in my mind that Ramirez has experienced this situation in order to have written these types of lyrics:  

“So I suppose you’ll be in every song I sing

If not written in my words, you’ll be hidden in these strings

Cuz how could I ever forget my first love

My first woman, first truth, first child from above

But why do I hang onto your pictures

Why have I not just thrown out that dress

Cuz it kills me to see you, but it kills me not to

It kills me to remember, oh and it kills me to forget”

I am sure there are hundreds of thousands of people who can relate to  this, but listening to this song it is like he wrote it just for me as it speaks directly to experiences I’ve also had. Ramirez writes songs that are not just his…they are also the songs of the listener.

The song “An Introduction” has the same autobiographical stance, but is different both topically and musically from the previous two songs. In this song, Ramirez is found having a spiritual crisis, which is something I would believe most of us can relate to.

“My biggest fear in the world

Is introducing myself in the grave

After all my years living free

I don’t have much to say

Oh the longer I live the more I know I’m gonna die

And the more questions I have the less I want to try

Time was winning so many times I stopped keeping score

Tell me where to find the Lord”

I’ve never been one to listen to to music and not listen to the lyrics. So perhaps that is where my mind has been it over the last couple weeks that Ramirez has been on constant rotation.

Happy Electro Dose of Discovery

My Spotify discovery list for this week is full of great Happy Electro sounds. Unlike last week, when it completely missed the mark. This week, though… This week was good. Full of remixes and happy tempos.
Here’s a list of the songs I like the best.

“Stay Young, Get Stoned” – White Sea

“Be Okay” (Matt DiMona Remix) – Oh Honey

“Never Find” – Fly Rebel Society

“With You” (Jai Wolf Remix) – Dirty South

“Kisser” (RII Remix) – Step Rockets

Bonus:
“Song3” by Abhi The Nomad feat. Foster

I think this week solidified the fact that I can like any song as long it’s remixed the right way. There were some songs in the list that I wouldn’t really like, because they are kinda lame, but the remixes that showed up on my discovery list were just right for me.

Yeah, I also couldn’t narrow it down to just three songs. But out of 30, I think this is a good selection.