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.

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“I can’t promise you anything”

September is always a busy month with both LouFest & Life Is Beautiful taking place. This year there were a few bands who were at both of these festivals (as typical). One of the bands who has stuck with me since I started listening to them before LouFest is LA based Mondo Cozmo. The band is the brainchild of Josh Ostrander who is not new to the music life having been in two previously signed bands. While touring, Mondo Cozmo includes a live band including former Imagine Dragons drummer Andrew Tolman. Prior to LouFest as I was listening to the bands who would be playing, I was struck by the honest lyrics and powerful songs. Hearing and seeing the songs performed at both Life Is Beautiful and LouFest exceeded expectations. After having watched a couple of the music videos that accompany the songs, I am even more enamored with Mondo Cozmo. I am excited to see them again in November for the Emerge Music + Impact conference.

My favorite song prior to LouFest is “Hold on To Me”. It can be found on the recently released Plastic Soul. This video is beautiful, and it hits close to home for me. I needed this song and this video.

“Shine” is raw and Josh Ostrander has an almost Bob Dylan quality in his voice during this song. I believe I heard the term “hippie jesus” used in reference to this song at Life Is Beautiful.

My favorite lyric from “Shine” is “My friends are so alone, it breaks my heart. My friends don’t understand we all are lost”. Pure poetry.

“Plastic Soul” is a song I will find myself humming and thinking about all day long. When I first heard it, I had swore I had heard it before. Maybe I had, but one thing is clear, the song sticks with me.

Mondo Cozmo is currently touring, and it seems like they will not be stopping any time soon. If you get the chance, check them out!

Music with the Feels

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.

Sweet New Tunes

These last few months have already presented us with great new music and the promise of some amazing records coming out in the late summer and fall.

One of my current favorite songs is from Seattle’s The Head and The Heart . “All We Ever Knew” is the first single from the forthcoming Signs of Light. I am hoping to be able to see them in the fall as they have a couple near-ish dates.

 

Another new jam is from The Avett Brothers. “Ain’t No Man” is the first single off of their next album True Sadness. I absolutely adore this video. I already have tickets to their show here in Las Vegas in September. There is no way I would miss this show.

I really enjoy that both The Head and The Heart and The Avett Brothers have adapted their sound a bit from each of their previous records.

On a different note, I generally prefer the more upbeat songs from Nahko & Medicine for the People, but when I heard “Directions” at their show in February it quickly became one of my favorite songs from the group. At the time I didn’t realize it was off of their now just released record HOKA. I really appreciate the meaning in calling for guidance from The Great Spirit and ancestors. At their last show in Vegas, this was the song they started off with.

 

This next song has been out for a few months,  but the record it is on was just released. The song “No Good” from Kaleo is a single from their first full length record A/B. On first listen, Kaleo sounds like a American southern rock band. You can just hear Nashville or Memphis in the way their guitars sound. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. These young lads all met in school in Iceland. I had the pleasure of seeing them last year at Life Is Beautiful, and I thought they were American until the lead singer spoke.

LouFest year 4 for us!


We’re excited about this year’s LouFest! The lineup was released this morning and none of our guesses for headliners were correct (we thought The Lumineers or Mumford and Sons might make an appearance in the STL fest). But we’re still happy with the lineup. I’m super excited to see Lauryn Hill and @docmurda is a St. Lucia lova, so he’s pumped about them. There is jazz, hip hop, R&B, and blues. I am down!

This is going to be our 4th year and I promise I will take better photos and post them in a timely fashion, unlike my slacking of previous years.

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