Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Best of 2014

It is once again that time of year where Larry and I go through all the music that we have collected and enjoyed throughout this year and give you our choices for both songs and albums that we think are the best. Once again Larry and I thank you so much for reading our blog. We love having the opportunity to share with you our musical tastes and really appreciate your support of this blog. It makes it all worthwhile when we get notes from people telling us just how much they enjoyed a particular album or band that we have featured. That is exactly why we share our love for music with you. We encourage you to leave us a comment as to what albums or songs did we leave out that you think need to be included. You will soon know our favorite music of 2014.  What were your favorites from this year?

Fletcher’s Best of 2014 picks
This year for me was a good solid year of music. Some of my favorite artists put out new music and there were a bunch of really good new bands to the scene. I always love listening to new bands and introducing you to them. I find a lot of bands I write about end up in my favorite albums and songs, but I guess I write about them because I like them so much. So no harm done, hopefully. I did finally whittle my top albums of the year to six. Make sure you click on all the links of songs for they go to a video of each chosen song.

Top Albums of the Year (listed alphabetically by band)

Ark Life. The Dream of You and Me- From the first time I heard this band from Denver, I really fell in love with the songwriting and 3 female to one male harmonies. I had the opportunity to work their merch table when they came through Baltimore. I was worried how the studio sound would translate live. It was amazing. Enjoy “(Rock and Roll Got) The Best of Me” and "Have to Leave You Now".
Courtney Barnett. The Double EP & A Sea of Split Peas. Love this women’s sense of humor and word play. Great stories and a wonderful delivery and phrasing of her lyrics. Check out "History Eraser" and "Out of the Woodwork".
Jukebox the Ghost. Jukebox the Ghost- This album came out late this year but is a solid effort from my friends from Brooklyn. This album shows a lot of maturity musically but keeps their fun loving piano based pop style. They write such catchy tunes that you will be humming throughout the day. These are all great songs to get stuck in your head.Enjoy "The Great Unknown" and "Made for Ending".
Marah. Mountain Minstrelsy- I can’t get enough of this album from my favorite live band ever!!! Two years in the making but worth every second. This mountain, americana, folk, psychedelic, indie rock music strikes you to the core. Done in the Marah way, by recording it in Monophonic. They always do it their way and stay true to who they are. Go get this one now!!    Here is "A Melody of Rain" as well as "10 Cents at the Gate" (I sang this song live with them in Baltimore-see below)
War on Drugs. Lost In a Dream- I also wrote about this band earlier this year. This is a very strong album. Made many “best of” lists this year. It deserves it. “Under the pressure” is still one of my favorite songs of the year. Listen to "Under the Pressure"  and "Suffering".
Wye Oak. Shriek- It has been a few years between releases from my friends originally from Baltimore. They continue to make our city proud. When people and critics heard that this album was made without any of their usual lead guitar, people panned it before they even heard it. This brilliant album made with just keys, drums and bass is truly incredible. They made all the critics eat their words. Way to go Jenn and Andy! Take pleasure in "The Tower"  and "Logic of Color".

Top Songs of the Year (listed alphabetically by band)
Apache Relay. Katie Queen of Tennessee- This folk rock Nashville band put out a self titled album with one of my favorite songs of the year. Great vibe.
Cloud Nothings. I’m Not Part of Me- I wrote about this Cleveland band earlier this year. Still in love with this straight ahead rock tune.
Horse Thief. Devil – Had the pleasure of working the merch table for a show for this psychedelic folk rock band from Oklahoma. Very cool sound. Love his phrasing of this song.
Matt Hutchison. Only You- This Baltimore based songwriter works each song with great hooks. He is the former front person of Fools and Horses which was a big band in this city for years. Love the jangly guitar opening chords on this hummable song. I am sending you to his web site.
Ray Lamontagne. Drive-in Movies- This former shoe factory worker from New Hampshire has such a soulful and emotional voice that you believe everything he says.
LP. Into the Wild. You can’t be helped but to be moved by her soaring voice. I wrote about her this year after seeing her live and being blown away. I still am.
Scars on 45. Golden- After being dropped by their label a few years ago, I was worried they were done. Thank goodness I was wrong. They are back with their killer male-female harmonies, as good as ever.
The Strypes. Blue Collar Jane- This Irish band of four musicians under the age of 20, sound like the British invasion bands from the 1960’s who were influenced by the blues. Don’t let their age fool you, they kick ass.

Best surprise: Scruffy the Cat unreleased recordings. The Good Goodbye. I wrote last year about the tragic loss of Scruffy the Cat’s front person, Charlie Chesterman. A number of you replied that you also LOVED this band from Boston in the 80’s. I know I did. They changed how I looked and listened to music and made me thirst for underground bands at that time. They were one of the best live bands I have ever seen and I saw them a number of times. They were just joyful people who were way ahead of their time. I mean what band in the 80’s used banjo’s and mandolins with their punkish pop Americana songs. Anyway, I was so pleased that this album was released this year by Omnivore Recordings because it lets me remember their greatness. Hopefully, this release will introduce them to new ears.

Best Musical Moments- No doubt. MARAH presents Mountain Minstrelsy. They came back and came back strong with this side project that features a 12 year old fiddle prodigy. It is not a shtick, for he can play. I helped bring them to Baltimore on two occasions and became their merch guy for a number of East Coast dates. This is a band I have loved for years so for me to be in their presence was inspirational. For me meeting them is like most people meeting a Beatle. I have said on numerous occasions to anyone who will listen that this is my favorite live band ever. After going out with them on a number of dates, I can still vouch that this is true. I brought out lots of people to their shows here and they all came up to me and asked why aren’t they huge, It is because they do things the way the want to. They always do it well. They may never be rich but they can hold their artistic heads up high. They know themselves better than anyone. Anyway my best musical moment was guest singing with them at a show here in Baltimore. I asked them if I could sing and they didn’t even hesitate. What a thrill. It will be the best musical moment of my life and will be one of the best moments of my life. Thank you to Dave and Christine and the rest of the band for being so kind to me on all of our excursions. It has been an honor.
            I had another great year working the merch tables for a number of bands this year. Some new ones included the Hold Steady, Seawolf. Ark Life, and Ozomalti. Thanks to everyone who trusted me working with them this year.

Looking Forward to in 2015- The Damnwells!!! I know I said this last year also. The album did not come out this past year. The original members recorded the album on their own. Before they put it out a label signed them which will delay it until March/April. Can’t wait, Also I am looking forward to new Decemberists as well as Courtney Barnett. The Waterboys are releasing a new album early in the year. My fingers will be crossed. The new Lone Bellow also drops early next year.

Larry’s Best of 2014 picks
This year presented a terrific mix of new faces and the return of some old favorites, sometimes in a new form.  My favorite musical moments will take a new turn, as this year I moved from Texas to Hawai'i.  The music performed here and the music scene itself is a bit different than anything I've seen on the mainland.  As is the case with Fletcher's picks you will see many familiar artists from earlier blog posts along with, what I hope will be, a few surprises.

Top Albums of the Year (listed alphabetically by band)

The Delines. Colfax. I keep playing this album for it's terrific songwriting and for Amy Boone's amazing voice.  Listen to "I Won't Slip Up" and "The Oil Rigs At Night".
Nels Cline and Julian Lage. Room- This album, just released the last week of November, is an amazing gift for lovers of creative virtuoso guitar work. Both players are masters of their craft. Here, they selflessly collaborate to create beautiful music. I've been a fan of Nels work since he joined Wilco in 2004.  However, Nels started his career playing jazz.  Julian Lage was a child prodigy who has played with an impressive who's who of guitarists since he was a child.  This album is a tribute to Jim Hall's work. One can also hear echo's of Larry Coryell works.  Here is a link to a recent show by Nels and Julian at this year's Ottawa Jazzfest.
Ryan Adams. Ryan Adams- Ryan is rocking again, and rocking well.  I really like the tone of his guitar on this album. Listen to "Gimmie Something Good"  and "Stay With Me".
Sturgill Simpson. Metamodern Sounds in Country Music- I like good country music. Sadly, with a few notable exceptions, there has not been much great country music to listen to the past couple of decades.  Sturgill Simpson is one of those exceptions. Listen to "You Can Have The Crown/Some Days".
Temples. Sun Structures-  I really am drawn to the retro sound of this band.  Listen to "Keep In The Dark"  and "Colors to Life".
War on Drugs. Lost In a Dream- Fletcher turned me on to this band earlier this year. Both the songwriting and the performances on this album are terrific.  Enjoy a full live performance from these artists on KEXP.

Top Songs of the Year (listed alphabetically by band)
Ambrose Akinmusire. Our Basement- There are not many pleasures that can surpass hearing Amrose's amazing trumpet work tastefully riffing alongside Becca Stevens gorgeous voice. Beautiful stuff.
Drive-By Truckers. Till He's Dead Or Rises- Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley still know how to write good tunes. Here is but one example.
Jamestown Revival. California (Cast Iron Soul) – Terrific harmonies can be heard in the work of this Texas duo. This is a wonderful song.  It's melody will be in your head in no time.
Leonard Cohen. Did I Ever Love You- In the past few years Leonard Cohen has again emerged as one of the best song writers in the business. This ballad is yet another example of his genius.
Saint Saviour. Nobody Died- This is a beautiful haunting ballad. While I never cared much for her electro pop stuff her singing and songwriting here is top notch.
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings Stranger to My Happiness. Sit still while you listen to this song.  Come on.  I dare you. I double-dare you.
Spoon. Rent I Pay- Spoon just keeps their wonderful sound coming.  I love the guitar on this one.
Wussy. Teenage Wasteland-  The sound of this band and this song is first rate.  Anyone who has ever been in a garage band, or been a fan of garage bands will be charmed.

Best Musical Moments- In February, I was fortunate to see the Manhattan Transfer perform at the Dosey Doe in Spring, Texas.  They put on a typically awesome show.  I was extremely saddened to learn that Tim Hauser passed away last month.  MT had a terrific sound that endured for decades.

As a new arrival in Hawai'i I was extremely lucky to see Henry Kapono perform in front of an intimate audience at the Playing For Change show at Ala Moana last month. He's an amazing performer that usually plays in front of much larger crowds.

Looking Forward to in 2015- Like Fletcher, I am also eagerly awaiting the forthcoming albums from  The Damnwells and the DecemberistsDiana Krall and Bob Dylan also have new albums in the works.  It will be exciting to hear what what both of these artists are up to in 2015.

Monday, November 17, 2014

States of Delines

Songs that masterfully tell stories, while bringing out empathy in us for their characters, are always a delight. Even better and much rarer is the joy of enjoying songs free of cliches. Add in a passionately moving and beautiful voice into the mix and you have a great album. The Delines debut album, Colfax Ave., sings unforgettably powerful stories better than any other album I can think of in recent memory.  

How the Delines came to be is a terrific story in itself.  Willy Vlauntin, author, song-writer, and frontman for the band Richmond Fontaine, was approached by one of the band's backup singers Amy Boone.  She asked him to write an album for her.  Vlauntin reports that for some time he had been entranced with Amy's voice as he listened to her warm up for gigs.  He was so impressed with her singing that he decided to take her up on her offer and write an album of music for her.  

Vlauntin spent two years writing the songs for Colfax Ave. He says it was a joy crafting songs and stories that he wanted to tell, but that were not suited to his voice.  At the same time, he expressed personal vulnerability regarding this project.  What if Boone did not like these songs? Fortunately, for all of us, she liked them.

Vlauntin and Richmond Fontaine drummer Sean Oldham then set out to fill out the rest of the band for this project. They found some terrific musicians to round out the band.  Tucker Jackson is on pedal steel. The Decemberists’ Jenny Conlee is on keyboards, and Freddy Trujillo is on bass.  Vlauntin serves as the band’s guitarist.

The title cut, “Colfax Ave.," tells the powerful story of a sister trying to save her brother, a veteran suffering PTSD, from his self destructive path. The writing is so strong that we feel empathy and concern for both the sister and her brother. And not only is the brother in danger. The sister is clearly putting herself out on a limb to save him. “The Oil Rigs at Night” tells the story of a woman planning on leaving her man, if only she can bring herself to do it. During this song the protagonist laments, “I’ve covered up my heart for so many years, I don’t even know if it’s survived.” Throughout this album Boone’s passionate voice rings with a quiet intensity, vulnerability, and resilience. Here is a terrific performance of "The Oil Rigs At Night" performed live on KEXP.

Here's hoping that more music comes out of this amazing "side project" by these terrific artists.

Note:  This will serve as our final regular post of the year. Fletcher and I are both hard at work compiling our respective "Best of 2014" lists, and we plan to get that posted within a couple of weeks.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Jump on Board- Ark Life

Denver has had a burgeoning music scene the past few years. Bands like The Lumineers, Tennis, Elephant Revival, and Slim Cessna’s Auto Club have all broken through being just a regional band.  I have really fallen for a new band Ark Life. They call themselves “rock and roll with western soul”.  I think this is a great way to describe their music.

The band is led by the main songwriter and vocalist, Jesse Elliot.  His name might sound familiar in that he held the same position with the hard working band, These United States. That band is currently on hiatus after touring endlessly for a number of years. Jesse moved to Denver and quickly fell into the great music scene in this Mile High city.  He soon met the players who make up Ark Life (Lindsay Giles, Anna Morsett, Natalie Tate, and Ben Desoto). All of these players were in other bands or doing solo work when they met Jesse.They all knew when they played together they had something special. Jesse started writing songs especially for this band and they just released their first album, The Dream of You and Me, a few months ago.

Jesse wanted to make sure the band would be compatible, so he made a choice to do things a bit backwards from other bands. Ark Life went out on the road first to make sure they could be and work together in close quarters. Magic happened with the amazing songs and harmonies they put forth. They then decided to record the album and have been on the road touring it.

They have a very unique sound. With three female singers and Jesse, they have killer harmonies. Having three female voices gives their songs a very special sound. Trust me in that it is very beautiful and even better live. Here is "Proud of Me Out There Mama":

I had the pleasure of working their merch table when they came through Baltimore a while ago. They had been on the road for a while but they were so kind and to me and others. I loved their vibe not only musically, but as people. I look forward to getting back to Denver and hanging out with them again. In the meantime, you should listen to their rock and roll western soul, and see them for yourselves.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Billy Joe Shaver Will Live Forever

One of the treasures I discovered living in Texas for the past nine years is the pure and non-commercial country music of Billy Joe Shaver.  Billy Joe, who turned 75 this year, is one of the original outlaws of Texas music.  Over many decades his lyrics and music have shouted out stories of Texas life with charm, wit, and some of the best song writing you will find in any genre.  That said, it's been 7 years since Billy Joe put out an album with new songs.  Fortunately, for us fans, the wait is over.

Billy Joe's musical career started in the early 1970s after he hitch-hiked to Nashville, because he couldn't catch a ride to Los Angeles.  Billy Joe landed a job  in Nashville writing songs for $50 a week.  When such names as Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson began recording his songs the industry took notice and Billy Joe signed his first record deal in 1973.  Waylon Jennings remained a Billy Joe Shaver fan all of his life, and he once recorded an entire album of his songs.  Billy Joe's songs have been covered by everyone from Elvis to Bob Dylan.  He's also shown up in now and then in film, including an appearance in the well regarded film, The Apostle, made by his friend Robert Duvall.

His new album, Long in the Tooth, is a very personal album, and it's full of the exemplary song writing one has come to expect from Billy Joe Shaver.  The opening track, sung as a duet with Willie Nelson, "Hard to Be an Outlaw" is a swamp rock hoot.  It takes well aimed, and well deserved shots at the current state of country music. In a recent interview, Billy Joe was asked about the current state of country music and whether or not today's country music stars have demons.  Billy Joe replied, "They do. They're just not writin' about them." Fortunately, for us, Billy Joe is not afraid to write about his demons.  The title cut, "Long in the Tooth", has all the edge of a great Lucinda Williams tune.  Things get more serious and reflective on the third track, "The Gitgo".  The remaining 7 tracks on this album are all strong.  This 10 track album consistently represents Billy Joe Shaver's work at its best.

The band backing up Billy Joe on this album is top notch, featuring Leon Russell on keyboards, Tony Joe White on guitar, and Mickey Raphael on harmonica.

Enjoy "The Gitgo"

I've seen Billy Joe perform live twice.  His shows are terrific and not to be missed.  He is currently on tour.  Now that he's 75 I don't know how many more opportunities we will have to see his shows.  If he is heading your way I strongly encourage you to catch one.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Say Yes To This War On Drugs

I am telling you to say yes to this War on Drugs. To most of us baby boomers, the war on drugs was a naïve and failed policy that encouraged people to “just say no” to drugs during the Reagan years. The War on Drugs I am encouraging you to check out is an amazing band out of Philadelphia. They have made a steady incline into the business the past few years and have just released a critically acclaimed new album.

The War on Drugs is fronted by Adam Granduciel.  Adam grew up in California before moving to Philadelphia in 2003. He, like many other artists, starting recording his own music on a tape machine from his bedroom. He had a thing for Dylan’s music and when he got to Philly he met Kurt Vile, who was also into Dylan. They hit it off and Adam joined Kurt’s band The Violators. Adam was still making his own music as War on Drugs. In 2005 together they released an EP as War on Drugs and did a tour together. The band was signed to the Secretly Canadian label and put out their first full length titled Wagonwheel Blues.

It received some good press and they toured America and Europe promoting it. Kurt left after this tour to promote his own solo career, so Adam became the sole front person. Because Adam tends to be a perfectionist the band went through some personnel changes. Adam then recorded Slave Ambient which was released in 2011. This is the album I was happily introduced to this band. They toured this album to more critical acclaim.

Adam's career was now to the point where he could do music full time. He then started the process of recording the next album. Because of his perfectionist tendencies he would record a song, re-record it a number of times, trash it and go back to the first recording of it. He was feeling a lot of pressure and during this time his life took a bit of a tailspin personally. His long term relationship ended, he was feeling insecure, depressed, and couldn't move forward. He gave up drugs, smoking and changed his diet which all made him feel better. Adam then made a decision to become more democratic and involve his current band to help him out in the studio putting together this new album. This was a great choice and they in March released Lost in a Dream. Pitchfork calls this album “psychedelia-smeared country rock”. I couldn't agree more. Please enjoy the new single "Red Eyes"

I think you have just heard some of his influences like Dylan, Petty, and Springsteen.I have never had the opportunity to see this band live but I have heard great things about their shows. If you liked this one, you should also check out "Under the Pressure" which is an 8:00 reverb drenched guitar anthem.  I hope this gives you reason to say "yes" to this War on Drugs.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Two Sides of LP

The artist LP is a testimony to perseverance in the music business. She has been signed to labels, dropped, resigned, dropped, and every time continued to move forward. She never gave up and just recently put out her first full length album (or I could joke LP) and it has been getting a ton of attention. LP may be short in stature, but not in determination. When you hear her powerful voice you wonder how it can come out of her body. Her voice soars and brings you into her lyrics immediately.

LP was born in NYC in the early 80’s. She likes to be a bit mysterious (hence using a moniker rather than her real name) and not giving a date of birth. Her dad was a lawyer and her mom was an opera singer who passed away while LP was still in high school. Music is how she coped with her mother’s passing. David Lowery from Cracker heard her and featured her on a 1998 Cracker song. Lowery produced her first full length album but if never caught on. In 2006 she performed at South by Southwest and a bidding war was started to sign her. She signed to Def Jam records but left the label before she put out an album due to artistic differences. She then signed with RedOne Records, but that also never materialized an album.

LP was however writing tons of songs and a few of these songs were picked up by major artists. These varied from Rihannah to Backstreet Boys  to Christine Aguilera to Joe Walsh. Millions of people were hearing her songs and not knowing who wrote them. LP had earned a great reputation as a songwriter in the industry and was sought out after for her hit songs. Because of the overwhelming demand for her songwriting ability, she moved to Los Angeles. In 2011 she started performing again with her traditional ukulele by her side and this time drew large crowds to see and hear her. LP signed with Warner Brothers who put out an EP in 2011 titled Into the Wild.  The title song got a lot of airplay and was featured on a national bank TV commercial. All of a sudden everyone wanted to know who was behind that voice. LP just released her first full length album on Warner Brothers Forever For Now. I am not going to play "Into the Wild" but rather chose  "Night Like This" for your listening pleasure:

I recently had the privilege of work an LP show when she recently came to Baltimore. I had not heard much about her, so I didn’t know what to expect. I can tell you that she was one of the most humble artists I have worked with. She appreciated everything I did for her at the merch table. What impressed me most was she signed merch after the show. The line was very long and she spent time with each person one on one. She asked their names, had a short conversation, took pictures, and made each one feel like a friend. She wasn’t doing it to sell merch, she was really interested in what each person had to say. Her honesty and kindness came through. I was very impressed with her positive attitude about life, especially since she has gone through a lot to get to where she is today.

UPDATE: The gorgeous harmonies of Sweden's First Aid Kit are back with a new release titled Stay Gold. I have written about them in the past and this album has some stronger writing but continue the mesmerizing sister harmonies. Do yourself a favor and check it out. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

They Are Something-Cloud Nothings

I know my faithful readers are going to worry about me writing about the band Cloud Nothings. They understand that I love bands with beautiful harmonies and melodies, but every now and then you just need to turn the volume up to eleven and rock out. If you need to do that, you should be doing it to this band from Cleveland.

The band is the brainchild of Dylan Baldi. Dylan went to Case Western Reserve University where he was studying audio recording. He tired of it and dropped out to work on recording his own music in his parent’s basement. He did all the instruments, vocals, and recording himself. He started putting his songs on his My Space site and started getting noticed quickly. A couple of up and coming bands heard his stuff and asked him to tour with them as an opener. He then put together a touring band and hit the road. He gained more notice and signed with Carpark Records in 2010. He went into the studio as a one man band and came out as a trio now known as Cloud Nothings. They released the self-titled record the same year.

I fell in love with them from their 2012 album Attack on Memory. This album features screeching feed backed fuzz guitars and the desperate vocals of Dylan wailing about the sad state of growing up young in America. When I heard this band for the first time I was brought in by his vocals of despair and alienation. It reminded me of the first time I heard Kurt Cobain with Nirvana. The power of the music and vocals makes you have to listen to what they have to say. Dylan is speaking for an alienated youth that needs to be heard. The song "Wasted Days" was one of my favorite songs of that year. Cloud Nothings just released last month their new album Here and Nowhere Else. It is a bit heavier but still has the reverb, fuzz, and echo that make them so good. Here is "I'm Not Part Of Me" which is the single off the new album:

This band puts on some of the best and most intense live shows you will ever see. They are trashing all over the stage because they are so into their music. Please see them when they come to your town. Even if you are not wowed by their sound, their too good live to not see them.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Riding the Wave-Courtney Barnett

If you haven’t heard of Courtney Barnett yet, you will soon. This Australian based singer-songwriter is ready to ride the wave out of her home country into our homes. She is mega-talented in a number of different ways. The first thing you notice are her lyrics which are deadpan, funny, and serious, sometimes in the same song. I love the way she puts together her words. Here is the opening of “Avant Gardener” (have to love the title): “I sleep in late, Another day, Oh what a wonder, Oh what a waste, It’s a Monday, It’s so mundane, what exciting things will happen today”.  Then she delivers her lyrics in an ironic style with amazing phrasing. She punctuates her music with a killer guitar that at times can be psychedelic and other times can be subtle.  

Courtney started her career as a solo act in Melbourne. She then played guitar in other people’s band before stepping out on her own to play her own music a couple of years ago. She became the front woman of her own band writing her own songs. In 2012 she started her own label Milk!Records and released an EP titled I Got a Friend Called Emily Harris. This garage pop EP got her a lot of acclaim in her native country. She quickly followed up with another EP titled How to Carve a Carrot Into a Rose. The lead single “Avant Gardner” drew international attention. The song is a true story based on an anaphylactic panic attack she had during a heatwave in Australia. The song has earned a heavy rotation in a number of Triple A radio stations across the country. There has been so much buzz about Courtney that she has packaged her two EP’s into The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas. It will be released this April. Here is the song that will turn you into a Courtney Barnett fan. “Avant Gardner”:

Courtney recently came to the US for a short tour in February. She stopped by the WTMD radio station for an interview with the morning DJ (and my good friend and rock and roll comrade) Erik Deatherage for his Saturday morning show Sunny Side Up. Erik is one of the best interviewers I have had the privilege of listening to. His thoughtful questions always make the interviewee feel comfortable and relaxed. Courtney admitted to him that she is very shy (but not on stage). At a party she isn’t telling the story, she is the one listening. She said she takes the observer role and then tell stories through her lyrics and music her own way. If her double EP is an example of her stories, I can’t wait for more. Please check out her music and ride her wave as she is getting ready to put out a full length in the near future. Be the first one on your block to tell people about Courtney. 

Update: One of my all time favorite bands, and my favorite live band ever, Marah, has released a new album featuring song lyrics from a folklorist who lived in the mountains of Pennsylvania over 100 years ago. David Bielanko and Christine Smith of Marah brought together local players to provide music to the lyrics, including an 8 year old fiddle prodigy, to record this album old school style. It is recorded in Monophonic. So Marah! The album Mountain Ministrelsy is amazing. It steps back 100 years and yet keeps that Marah pure rock and roll flavor and attitude throughout.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wonderous Temples

In writing this review I must provide you with a full disclosure. I grew up listening to groups like The Zombies, Traffic, The Beatles, etc. You get the picture.  So, when I first heard that their was a new band with a psychedelic sound I got excited.

Temples debut album, Sun Structures, opens with a terrifically driving riff played on a twelve string guitar. As the opening track, 'Shelter Song', develops I find myself savoring its tonal textures, which are rich, full and occasionally surprising. Consider, for example, the haunting use of a Hammond B-3 at the beginning of 'Sun Structures', the title track, and the sitar like tones that introduce a brief but enjoyable electric jam that takes place at the end of the same song.  The vocal harmonies are thoughtfully crafted and used throughout this album. This listener never knew when a background chorus would suddenly chime in. 

 I had listened to this album several times when it was streaming on NPR's First Listen prior to its release.  I downloaded it on the first day it became available and then listened to it a few more times before finally visiting Temple's website.  Scrolling through the photos posted there I happily and unexpectedly discovered a photo of the album cover of on of my favorite albums from the 70s, Steve Hillage's Fish Rising.  While this album is a true delight it is not one seen much these days.

Enjoy a terrific video of Temples performing 'Sun Structures' live.


Temples formed in 2012.  Originally they were a duo consisting of singer lead guitarist James Edward Bagshaw and bassist/singer Thomas Edison Warmsly.  After Bagshaw and Warmsly cut a couple of studio tracks and uploaded them to Youtube they the got attention of Heavenly Recordings founder Jeff Barrett who agreed to release a single.  They now have a full band, a great first album and they are touring the world.  I'm already looking forward to their sophomore release.