Repeat One

My Spotify Discovery lists have been a bit different this year. They have been a lot more stomp-and-holler-y than ever before (the exception would be maybe around the time of last year’s Fayetteville Roots Festival… they got very folky for a couple of weeks, then.)

Anyway, this week’s list was weaksauce. It was a list for someone I didn’t know (perhaps me, but in an alternate desert that is definitely not this desert.) I think I liked about two songs, but this one really stuck. I had it on repeat for a couple of hours.

Tom West
“Easy Love”

PS. I almost didn’t write this post, because I didn’t like the video. I don’t want to take away from the artistry of the video, but I feel like this song deserved a video that went a completely different direction. Something more meaningful. But since the song is still playing on repeat through my speaker, I decided to post this anyway.

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Late Nights & Music Videos

Music videos are one of my most favorite things. No, I am not just talking about videos from my youth that changed the way I “saw” music. I still see “Black Hole Sun” from Soundgarden or “Today” from Smashing Pumpkins when I dream at night and the KLF videos still live with me everyday the strangeness that they exuded. I know this may be shocking, but artists and bands still make music videos. I know they are not played on MTV anymore, but there is still a market. And its not just Americans (rather it is probably mostly not Americans) who watch these videos. Now some of them are straightforward and boring. But others are works of art. Maybe because they are no longer being shown on MTV and VH1, artists (and directors) can be free to experiment with their story telling. The quality of some of these by relatively unknown bands is exceptional because we all have high tech cameras and editing software. However, the fancy equipment is not the only thing great about these videos. The emotions that a video can evoke, the changed meaning of a song, these and other visuals can completely make or break a song (in my opinion).  I often watch videos late into the night when I am already open to feeling and sometimes I come across a video that just blows me away.

Earlier this week I was listening to new music from some of the bands that have releases in the next few months. I had previously been familiar with Atlanta based Manchester Orchestra partially through a friend and through their relationship with Frightened Rabbit. They have been around for a while and have a pretty deep catalog. Their style is not easily defined ranging from harder indie rock to straight folk. If the first single, “The Alien”, off their upcoming record A Black Mile to the Surface is any indication, this album may be a bit more folky. When I first heard “The Alien” I liked the song and it really got me excited for the new record. When I watched the video for “The Alien”, I was blown away. It struck me as very different, very beautiful and it added an entire new layer to the song (see it below).

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.

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.

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!

I can’t get this song out of my heart

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.
****SWOON!