Joe Pug has a passion for music. After attending the University of North Carolina to study play writing, Pug left for Chicago. He fit gigs in at night while working as a carpenter during the day, touring extensively since 2008. Since then he's toured with the likes of Josh Ritter and M. Ward. In 2010 Joe Pug released his first full length album, Messenger.
Check out Joe Pug performing "Unsophisticated Heart" off Messenger.
I came across Grouplove this weekend while perusing daytrotter. This seems like a band on the verge of something big. Forming in 2009 as a result of an artist retreat in Crete, Grouplove has been steadily building a following on the strength of their 2010 self-titled EP and their role as a supporting act for Florance + The Machine.
Grouplove's debut album is out in just two weeks! Never Trust a Happy Song (one of my favorite album titles of all time and a phrase I think we should all live by) is out in the US on September 13th. Their accompanying US tour begins September 9th right here in DC at the Black Cat.
Please enjoy Grouplove performing "Tongue Tied" off their soon to be released debut album Never Trust a Happy Song.
You can find out more about Grouplove and their debut album by exploring their website.
Everyone has songs that hold a special meaning to them. There's the song you played on loop for days because it made you think of her. The song you played on loop when she got away. The song you played when you moved on. The song about growing up. Music has a crazy way of transporting us back in time.
With the amount of music I listen to, my favorite song of the moment is constantly changing. There will be one week where I can't stop listening to song A only to have it replaced by song B by the time the next week begins. But there's always been a constant, irreplaceable song, that has stood strong at the top of my list. It doesn't remind me of a place or a time. It doesn't remind me of someone I loved. All I can say is that it makes me feel like I'm home. It's safe. It's the one thing in the world that makes me think someone out there understands me. I struggle with explaining myself, so if someone wanted to know how I was feeling, I would play them this song.
For me, that song is "Round Here" by Counting Crows. My apologies for those searching for new music- this song is 18 years old now. I just had one of those nights where you need someone that really knows you. This song knows me.
Bad news. Unfortunately Hurricane Irene has put a damper, quite literally, on Silopanna Music Festival this weekend. The events have been cancelled, but it's most likely for the best as it certainly won't be a safe environment for a concert.
I was planning on featuring Trombone Shorty & Orleans Ave tonight as they would have been one of the headlining bands. Even though the festival is cancelled, there's probably no more fitting song to feature than "Hurricane Season" off their debut album Backatown.
For all those in Hurricane Irene's path stay indoors, and stay safe. Until then, enjoy some Trombone Shorty!
Back in May I went to see Trombone Shorty & Orleans Ave. in Richmond, Virginia. It was absolutely one of my favorite concerts of the year thus far. Sure I'm excited to see some bands I've never seen before at Silopanna this weekend (provided Hurricane Irene holds off), but I can't help but be pumped to see this band live again. They are incredible musicians. I'll stop there. There's more to come from Trombone Shorty and Orleans Ave. tomorrow!
Here's Trombone Shorty & Orleans Ave. performing the Louie Armstrong classic "On the Sunny Side of the Street", featuring an incredible note Trombone Shorty held for almost three minutes!
Matt & Kim are a punk/dance duo from New York City. I had the pleasure of seeing them perform at last year's Virgin Mobile Freefest, and they'll be playing the main stage at this weekend's Silopanna Music fest. You may have heard Matt & Kim's music without even knowing it. Their hit "Daylight" was featured on a number of commercials, television shows, and movies. It's a catch number too, so it's understandable that it's been used so much.
Here's Matt & Kim performing "Daylight" off 2009's studio release, Grand.
Back in March some friends asked if I wanted to see The Damnwells in concert. Despite not knowing much about the band, I accepted, and as it turns out it was a great show. However, not only was I surprised by how much I enjoyed The Damnwells, but also how much I enjoyed the opening band Harper Blynn. They were more than entertaining, and I watched many members of the small Iota audience make their way to the merch table to purchase some Harper Blynn music. When Silopanna Music Fest's list of bands came out, I was happy to see Harper Blynn on the list. I was also excited that they would be playing the main stage with the other headliners.
Check out Harper Blynn performing "Bound To Break" off their self-titled 2010 EP.
Harper Blynn latest album, Loneliest Generation, was also released in 2010. You can find information regarding that release, as well as anything else you'd like to know at Harper Blynn's website.
All these emergent bands playing soul and funk get me excited! There's something about that Motown sound that's intimate and emotional. No band, however, does it better than Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings. They're right out of the 60's. Forming over a decade ago, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings are finally getting the recognition they deserve. Their 2010 release I Learned the Hard Way was and still is immensely popular, hitting #2 on the independent albums chart and reaching #15 on Billboard's Top 200. I can't wait to see this band live, as they are well known for their live performances. It may be a show best enjoyed with the eyes closed, so I can imagine it taking place decades earlier.
Here's Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings performing "Let Them Knock" off 2007's 100 Days, 100 Nights.
Next Saturday is the Silopanna Music Festival in Anne Arundel, Maryland. I'm really looking forward to it, because it's been too long since I've taken in some live music. The festival will feature 20 bands on three stages. The bands range from popular local acts to national headliners. Over the course of the next week, I'll feature some of those bands leading up to the festival.
First up is a band I caught at Dave Matthews Band Caravan in late June. Fitz and the Tantrums come to us from Los Angeles. They play a brand of music that feels as though it came straight from the 70's- a soul-funk, can't help but dance style that has reeled in a strong following. Their 2009 EP Songs For a Breakup, Vol. 1 and their reputation for strong live performances caught the ears of fans and music critics alike. This led national tours supporting some of musics biggest names and appearances at some of music's finest festivals. In August of last year Fitz & the Tantrums released their first full length album, Pickin' Up the Pieces.
Glen Hansard has made fairly regular appearances on our Cover Thursdays. Truth be told, Hansard can sing pretty much anything and make it his own. Years of busking on the streets of Dublin seem to have served Hansard well.
It's amazing how listening to certain songs can bring back memories of certain times, places, people, and emotions. Listening to a song years later can take you back to that very place. That's why I chose this performance for this week's cover. It's clear that Hansard associates this particular song with a specific moment in his life.
Here's Glen Hansard (Swell Season, The Frames) performing R.E.M's "Hairshirt"
In late June, on a Sunday afternoon in Atlantic City, New Jersey I was pleasantly surprised by a band I had never heard of. It was the beginning of day three of Dave Matthews Band Caravan, and we arrived fairly early to catch some must see bands. While we awaited those bands to take the stage we wandered upon the Pete Kilpatrick band, who really put on an excellent set. Pete Kilpatrick Band hails from Portland, Maine where they have a big local following. For those playing the "sounds like game" to me this band fits well with Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers. Last year they released their fifth independent effort Shapes and Sounds.
Take a listen to Pete Kilpatrick Band performing "September Leaves"
Death Cab For Cutie is a band that snuck up on me over the years. They're band that most music lovers already know. I own a couple of their records, but listened to them only occasionally. That is until just recently when I realized just how many songs gradually crept their way onto my frequently played lists. When I think about it, Death Cab For Cutie is a perfect band for my taste, mostly for the emotionally charged lyrics. I spend a lot of free time exploring new bands, but sometimes it's good to appreciate what's right in front of you.
Here's Death Cab For Cutie performing "Brothers On A Hotel Bed" off 2005's Plans album. The lyrics are pretty powerful.
Death Cab For Cutie is currently on tour with Frightened Rabbit. You can check out more information from Death Cab For Cutie on their website.
Cults was formed in New York City in 2010 by friends Brian Oblivian and Madeline Follin. They're responsible for what may possibly be the catchiest song of the year, "Go Outside". If you somehow haven't heard it yet, you likely will very soon. Cults first got attention for their three song EP they released on bandcamp.com. It received so much attention, that this fledgling band already had a hungry audience awaiting their very first full length release. On June 7th, 2011 those fans got their wish with the band's self-titled release. Cults has received positive reviews from music outlets throughout the country.
Here's Cults performing "Go Outside". It's pretty simple lyrically, but I'm willing to bet you'll be singing it to yourself later on.
I could tell you that I chose Xavier Rudd for today's post because he's a talented, multifaceted musician, playing a highly diverse style of music. All of which are true. That's not why I chose him though. It has less to do with his talent and more with the fact that he plays the didgeridoo! That's just cool! Xavier Rudd, like the didgeridoo, is a native of Australia. He's known for playing multiple instruments, during his grassroots performances. His songs are largely centered on love of Earth and life.
Xavier Rudd most recently released Koonym Sun in 2010. Here's Xavier Rudd performing "Stargaze" off 2007's White Moth.
Leonard Cohen undoubtedly has one of the most iconic voices in music, which can only be outdone by his poetic lyrics. It's not all that often where you can read lyrics without the accompanying music, and still be effected on the level. Cohen's lyrics always find a way to do that very thing.
Sean Rowe's booming voice is as close an you can get to Cohen's. Here's Sean Rowe performing "Chelsea Hotel No. 2". For those who don't know the background of this song, Cohen wrote it about an encounter with Janis Joplin.
To be completely honest, Electronic music isn't really my cup of tea. My musical tendencies lean toward acoustic driven folk and rock where the lyrics are at the forefront of the song. But good music, is good music. While the bulk of my music library fits fairly neatly into one broad musical bin, there's plenty of outliers. One of those outliers is Passion Pit. Their music is heavy on electronics, that's true, but behind the dance invoking bass and beats, lie incredible lyrics.
Passion Pit came into existence in 2007 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. All members save keyboardist and vocalist Michael Angelakos attended Berklee School of Music in Boston at the time of the band's formation. Their debut full length album Manners was released in May of 2009, to wildly positive reviews. For a band just releasing their debut album, they sure had a lot of hype behind them. The band asked the PS22 Chorus to provide some vocals for three of the album's tracks, including their single "Little Secrets."
When it came to picking a song for this post I was torn. I fell in love with a stripped down version of "The Reeling". It's just Michael Angelakos and the keyboard. When all the extras are left out, you're forced to concentrate on the lyrics which have a completely different tone in this version. That being said, it's not typical Passion Pit. Therefore, there's two videos today. An electronic version of my favorite Passion Pit song, "Little Secrets" and the aforementioned acoustic "The Reeling". Enjoy!
Check out more from Passion Pit on their website.
Kristian Matsson, better known by his stage name, The Tallest Man on Earth, is an absolutely outstanding songwriter and performer. The Tallest Man on Earth comes to us from Sweden. On first instinct one would compare him to Bob Dylan. He has the unconventional voice, he has the outstanding lyrics. The comparison is one thrown about more often than it should, and The Tallest Man on Earth is one of the rare performers who is worthy of such a comparison. However, I think The Tallest Man on Earth will be carving out his own little place in history.
NPR's Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton both listed The Tallest Man on Earth's 2010 release The Wild Hunt on their lists of 2010's best music. The Tallest Man on Earth is also known for his mesmerizing live performances.
Here's The Tallest Man on Earth performing "Where Do My Bluebird Fly" off 2008's Shallow Grave.
Thao Nguyen grew up and started her music career in Fall Church, Virginia, just outside DC. She sites the Lilith Fair as her her musical inspiration at the age of 12. She is also the Thao in the band Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, who are now housed out of San Francisco. A few months back I came across one of NPR's "Tiny Desk Concerts" featuring Thao Nguyen. I was easily taken by her creativity and energy. She's also got some great beat box skills. Last year Thao toured with Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn (better known as Mirah) as the two provided backing vocals for each other's songs.
She's Thao Nguyen performing "Bag of Hammers" off her 2008 solo release We Brave Bee Stings and All.
Thao and the Get Down Stay Down will be touring with the Head and the Heart starting in September. I happen to be lucky enough to be attending their concert at the 9:30 Club. You can check out more tour dates and news right here.
J Mascis is best known as a founding member and guitarist of Dinosaur Jr., a band formed in 1984 that recently experienced a resurgence after reforming in 2005. After Dinosaur Jr. originally disbanded, J Mascis started another band entitled J Mascis + The Fog. Most recently J Mascis released a solo album entitled Several Shades of Why in March of this year. J Mascis is a truly talented guitar player, who even has a Fender guitar names after him.
Check out J Mascis with a solo performance of "Ammaring" off the J Mascis + The Fog 2000 record More Light. The guitar alone is worth the listen.
You can find more J Mascis info on his website, such as his scheduled tour date in DC in September!
There are some songs, that just sound better when in the hands of someone else. That's not to say that the band or artist who originally wrote and performed those songs are bad. It just means that those songs were meant for someone else's voice or creative outlook. Bob Dylan himself admitted that he preferred Jimi Hendrix's version of "All Along the Watchtower." Noel Gallagher of Oasis confessed that Ryan Adams version of "Wonderwall" is superior to Oasis' version saying "I think Ryan Adams is the only person her who ever got that song right." I think the same is true of Joshua James' cover Modest Mouse's "Custom Concern." The stripped down version has so much more emotion. It's almost like that song was meant for James.
Take a listen. Here's Joshua James performing the Modest Mouse song "Custom Concern."
The uniquely named and punctuated band, Portugal. The Man, originated way out in Wasilla, Alaska. After moving to Portland, Oregon and releasing a few independent records, they recently signed on with Atlantic Records. Just a few weeks ago Portugal. The Man released In the Mountain Inthe Cloud. They're an exciting new band, who is heading out on tour this September. Go check them out!
Here's Portugal. The Man performing "Got It All (This Can't Be Living)" off In the Mountain In the Cloud.
Here in US, most people know David Gray for his hit 2000 single "Babylon." Unfortunately, what they don't realize, is that David Gray has a catalog of music spanning back to 1993, and that he's absolutely a top notch live performer. The English singer/songwriter slowly gained popularity through the mid 90's in the UK. In 1998 David Gray released his breakthrough album White Ladder. While White Ladder experienced critical and commercial success back home, it wasn't until White Ladder was released as the first album on Dave Matthews' ATO label, that David Gray experienced success stateside. In the decade since, Gray has continued to turn out excellent records.
Besides studio albums, David Gray is a fantastic live entertainer. He has an amazingly strong voice, and brings great stage energy. I saw David Gray for the first time last year at Merriweather Post Pavilion, and then again just over a month ago in Atlantic City and DMB Caravan. Both crowds were absolutely captivated as he played.
There's a very special reason why David Gray is featured in today's post. Today is my best friend Jan's birthday! Jan is pretty fond of David Gray, and we're pretty sure some of David Gray's songs are actually about Jan. We haven't confirmed this, but we have a strong suspicion. So for Jan's birthday, here are a bunch of David Gray videos. Happy birthday Jan!
David Gray- "The One I Love"
"The Other Side"
Hope you enjoyed the videos! Find more from David Gray on his website.
Black Dub is a collaborative project dreamt up by legendary songwriter and producer Daneil Lanois. Their self-titled album was released in November 2010. Besides one song that was written as a group, all the songs on the album were written by Lanois. However, it's Trixie Whitely's vocals that steal the show here. Her voice is tremendously soulful, and it appears that there is no boundary for her talent.
"I'd Rather Go Blind" doesn't appear on the Black Dub album, but the performance is spellbinding. Between, Whitely's vocals and Brian Blades rhythmic drumming you can't help but listen.