Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cover Thursday: Baby, You Don't Know What It's Like

Ray LaMontagne is playing Merriweather Post Pavilion tonight, and I'm currently kicking myself for not getting tickets.  I've already seen him a handful of times and he and his band do an amazing job.  I also think Ray's voice is as close and we can get to Otis Redding in today's music.  Oh well.  As they say times are tough, and I'll have to catch Ray LaMontagne on his next trip through.

Just in case you're feeling the same way I am about missing the show, here's something to hold you over.  A few years back Ray LaMontagne and Damien Rice sang a cover of the Bee Gees "To Love Somebody."  It's a pretty stellar version!  Enjoy it!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Concert Review: Matt Nathanson @ 9:30 Club, Washington, DC- 9:27.2011

I've been going to Matt Nathanson concerts since my sophomore year in college.  In those seven years and numerous concerts, I've never been disappointed by Matt Nathanson.  Each and every time it's been a blast.  However, going into last night's show, I wasn't convinced it would be the same. To me Still Waiting For Spring and Beneath These Fireworks are quintessential Matt Nathanson albums.  They're all time favorites in my book, and like most artists that make a huge personal impact, their following albums don't exactly measure up.  It makes sense really.  Artists evolve and change just like their fans, and the chances that both are on the same wave length as they were previously, is unlikely.  The last couple of Matt Nathanson albums, I thought were pretty good, but I didn't like them as much as Still Waiting For Spring and Beneath The Fireworks.  To be honest, I didn't know what to expect.

Well, as it turns out, Matt Nathanson still puts on a damn fine show.  The new songs off Modern Love, that I wasn't too fond of, turned out to be gems live.  The old songs were just as good as they were seven years ago.  The night started with "Mercy", a new one.  It was then followed by "Pretty the World" a perfect song to get the night going.  For the better part of the evening the band alternated between old and new.  One aspect of Matt Nathanson concerts has never changed.  The banter was still hilarious.  A particular favorite was his introduction to "Queen of (K)nots".  Nathanson talked about dating someone, and then realizing they were evil.  He explained, "It's like waking up one Sunday and saying, 'Oh, I'm sorry. I thought I was sitting on computer chord, but it was just your devil tail.... you evil shitty human being.'"  Hilarious right?  But besides being hilarious, his songs and their explanations are about basic human emotions.  Who hasn't felt that way about someone?  Everyone at the show last night seemed to have dated someone they perceived as evil, and that's why Nathanson's music works.

Other highlights included "Kiss Quick" a song I had previously underestimated, an acoustic "Bare" and "All We Are".  "All We Are" was chosen by fans on facebook, as a song they'd like to hear this week.  Matt Nathanson has always been on the forefront of using social media to reach out to fans, and this is just another example.  The set also included covers of "La Bamba", "Here I Go Again", and Prince's "Little Red Corvette."

It turns out my fear of disappointment was unfounded.  The new songs from Modern Love do well when given a live setting to stretch and breathe.  While the style of Nathanson's music has changed, his live shows are still stellar!  Matt Nathanson's tour just started, so make sure to check them out.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Matt Nathanson: Sad Can't Catch Me, Or Call Me Baby Now

Heading back to 9:30 Club again tonight for a Matt Nathanson show!  His concerts are always entertaining.  Even if you aren't a huge fan of his music, you're guaranteed a good time, as he is hilarious.  I happen to be a huge fan of his music, so the jokes are an added bonus.

Matt Nathanson's latest album Modern Love was released this past spring.  Check out one of my favorite songs off the new album, "Room @ the End of the World."

The 9:30 Club is just the second stop on Matt Nathanson's tour, so there's a good chance he's heading your way.  Check out his website for details!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Concert Review: The Head and the Heart @ 9:30 Club, Washington, DC- 9.23.2011

What a great concert last night at the 9:30 Club.  The Head and the Heart was everything we expected and more.  This band is on it's way to big, big things.

A bit of a cold and a week full of teaching left my voice in pretty rough shape last night.  That coupled with the fact that The Head and the Heart wouldn't be taking the stage till 11, left me hoping I could just make it through the evening.  This getting older thing is no fun at all.  Fortunately, none of those things got in the way of having a good time.

After a couple beers at our trusty nearby Irish bar, my concert buddy, Teresa, and I arrived at 9:30 Club shortly after 10.  We missed the first supporting act, Devil Whale, but walked in as Thao with the Get Down Stay Down were just starting.  Though much of the crowd talked their way through the set, as is typical, Thao and the Get Down Stay Down grabbed quite a few fans with their set.  Nearly everyone around us made some kind of positive comment.  The praise was well deserved as set was very energetic.  Favorites included "Bag Of Hammers" and a cover of "You've Really Got a Hold on Me".

As 11PM rolled around, so did The Head and the Heart.  Earlier in the evening Teresa and I talked about how surprised we were that the show was sold out given the relatively short history of the band.  It's a clear indication that this band is onto something.  The audience sang along to nearly every song, and was very enthusiastic.  Just as their self-titled debut album opens, last night's set opened with "Cats and Dogs" and "Coeur d' Alene".  From their the band ripped through each song on the album as well as a trio of new songs, each just as promising as their existing material.  The band made sure to comment on how amazing the venue and crowd was.  They had been to 9:30 Club a few months back as a supporting act for Dr. Dog.  The band seemed blown away by the response from the crowd last night.

While the entire set was top notch quality, my favorite performances were "Rivers and Roads" which ended the main set, and the final song of the evening, "Down In The Valley."  "Rivers and Roads" is a song that extends to both ends of the spectrum.  Mid song the instruments stop for vocalist and violinist Charity Rose Thielen's angelic voice.  The pause in only temporary as it quickly picks up to a raucous fervor, which slowly gets stripped back to a chorus of voices singing "Rivers and roads/Rivers and roads/ Rivers till I reach you."  Really the perfect song to get the crowd riled up for an encore.

The encore began with a solo song and ended with crowd favorite "Down In The Valley".  As we sang along I couldn't help but notice how the entire room was fully behind this newish band from Seattle.  They have quite the following, and it's clear that they'll be around for awhile.  Coming from Seattle in relative obscurity at this time last year to selling out the 9:30 Club on the other side of the country is no small feat.  Go check them out.  You won't regret it!

Back to 9:30 Club next week for Matt Nathanson!

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Head and the Heart: But I Miss Your Face Like Hell

Heading out to DC tonight to see The Head and the Heart.  I've been looking forward to this concert for months now.  Ever since catching The Head and the Heart and DMB Caravan, seeing them again has been high on my list.  This is the third Head and the Heart video I'm posting.  They only have one album out.  Pretty soon all the songs will be represented!  Really, go out and buy they're album or catch them on tour.  They're a great band, and you won't regret supporting these guys.  They're great.

From this year's SXSW, here The Head and the Heart performing "Rivers and Roads".

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cover Thursdays: The Picture In Reverse

Yesterday R.E.M. announced that they were breaking up as a band after 31 years.  The break-up was reportedly on very good terms, and was a mutual, yet difficult decision.  A band performing that consistently for over 30 years is astonishing. When you think about it, R.E.M. is a bit unique, even in the context of the best bands of our life times.  There's not many bands like them, with that amount of success.  The reason R.E.M. was so loved, was because of the emotional connection they made with their audience.

To celebrate the work of R.E.M. here they are performing one my favorite songs from their catalog "Nightswimming".  Also, check out Ingrid Michaelson utilizing a loop station in a cover of the very same song just below this video.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Trent Dabbs & Amy Stroup: The Quiet Feels So Loud

The way music lovers learn about new music sure has changed over the years.  Of course there's itunes and the surge in digital downloading.  There's music discovery websites like Pandora.  But from the "Why didn't we think of this sooner" department, TV shows and movies are one of the most outstanding avenues to discover new music.  In recent years, music has become and integral part of TV shows.  The music not only adds to the corresponding scene, but it adds emotion to the song as well.

One show which always seems to feature great music is Parenthood.  I've found quite a few songs while watching this show, and last night's episode offered another one.  Check out Trent Dabbs and Amy Stroup performing "Odds of Being Alone".

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Patrick Park: Putting Past Poisons Gently To Sleep

Sometimes a song will start playing on the radio  your ipod, that you had completely forgotten about.  One that you loved, but for some reason it completely escaped the "heavy rotation" section of your music library, never to be heard from again.  That is, until it creeps up one day, and the love affair has started all over once again.

As you may have guessed, that recently happened to me.  Back in college I stumbled upon an artist named Patrick Park.  One song in particular caught my attention, entitled "Past Poisons".  I downloaded the whole album instantly, because of how much I liked this song.  I don't know why it slipped from my list of well-liked songs, because upon hearing it the other day it returned.  It's the honesty and emotion of the chorus that gets me.  He sings, "If you want me/ You'll know where I'll be/ Putting past poisons gently to sleep."

"Past Poisons" is off Patrick Park's debut studio album Loneliness Knows My Name.  He's since released two more full length albums, the latest being 2010's Come What Will.

Patrick Park performing "Past Poisons"...

Find more from Patrick Park at his website.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Daphne Willis: Got A Stack of Disappointment

Daphne Willis is an up and coming 23 year-old artist working out of Chicago out Nashville.  According to a NPR article, Willis found herself with her current label, when an exec from Vanguard Records ran out ipod battery and plugged into the on board music station.  Fortunately for the exec and for Willis, one of her songs happened to be playing, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Daphne Willis' debut album, What to Say, was released in 2010.  Her latest album, Because I Can, was released just this past April.  Here's Daphne Willis performing "One By One" off Because I Can.

Learn more about this up and coming singer/songwriter by checking out her website.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

James Apollo: Call Off The Violins

James Apollo is a journeyman singer/songwriter.  He has that smokey jazz-infused voice, magnificently weathered by tours.  His music seems out of place to me.  Not in a bad way.  There's just not much out there right now that it sounds like.  It's always refreshing to find music that strays away from the trends to stand on it's own.  James Apollo's latest full length album 'til Your Feet Bleed was released in 2010.  The likes of Elvis Costello and Lucinda Williams are amongst the fans of the album.  According the Appolo's website, he and his band, The Sweet Unknown, have been in the studio recording with Damien Jurado.

Here's James Apollo and the Sweet Unknown performing "The Violins" off the 2011 EP Born Lucky.

Check out James Apollo's website.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cover Thursdays: I Don't Like You But I Love You

I may, or may not have a celebrity crush on Zoey Deschanel.  She's a classy kind of pretty, and she can sing.  I'm pretty much all about her.  Anyway, she's starring a new show called New Girl on Fox.  Since it premieres next Tuesday, I thought now would be a good time to feature this particular song.  In addition to starring in movies such as Elf and (500) Days of Summer, Zoey Deschanel is also a singer/songwriting.  In 2007 she teamed up with M. Ward to form She and Him.  They're released two albums together.

Here's She and Him (Deschanel and M. Ward) performing the oft-covered "You've Really Got a Hold on Me" by The Miracles.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Lost In The Trees: I Doubt Who I Am

I love bands like Lost In The Trees.  They utilize a long list of instruments to create a unique sound, in a world full of the mundane repetitive sounds.  The songs off Lost In The Trees' 2010 All Alone in an Empty House originated at Berklee School of music, where singer-songwriter Ari Picker attended school.  Eight years later they would re-emerge to make up All Alone in an Empty House which received high praise from NPR's Bob Boilan and others.

Check out Lost in the Tree performing "Time Taunts Me" off the 2007 album by the same name.

More from Lost In The Trees.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Concert Review: Virgin Mobile FreeFest @ Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD- 9.10.2011

This past Saturday was the music event of the summer for local music fans.  Virgin Mobile FreeFest commenced at Merriweather Post Pavilion, just outside Baltimore.  For those not familiar with FreeFest, the majority of tickets are free with an option of donation, while limited tickets are sold.  All the proceeds go to charities assisting homeless youth.  I have to say, this year they gave/sold way more tickets than last year.  The grounds were packed solid with fans.  I took in music at each stage, and they were significantly more crowded than last year.  While crowds don't mix with my need for personal space, they must have raised a ton of money for charity.

Merriweather Post Pavilion is one of my favorite venues in he area.  The grounds are absolutely beautiful, and it produces top notch sound.  The festival is set up for three stages for the 20-plus bands.  The main stage is at the Pavilion featuring covered seating and a large lawn area.  The second stage is at the West end of the park in an open field.  The third stage, termed "The Dance Forest" lies between the two other stages.  We had a three full days of rain in the week before FreeFest.  So much so, that flooding closed schools on Thursday and Friday.  To my surprise the grounds were in relatively remarkable condition.  There was bound to be mud with the amount of rain we received, but it wasn't terrible.  The west stage definitely was in the worst shape, and the mud had a bit of a foul smell.  All in all, the staff did a great job getting everything ready.

On the the music.  The first band I had the pleasure of seeing was Alberta Cross at the West Stage.  This was one of my favorite sets on the night, partly because it was early enough that I could get close to the stage.  Their set was highly energetic, and I would definitely go back to see them.  The guitars were ablaze, as Alberta Cross performed their Southern Rock-esque tunes.  It was a great way to start the afternoon.

After catching just a bit of Bombay Bicycle Club, I returned to west stage for Two Door Cinema Club.  This was the band I was looking forward to seeing most.  Unfortunately, I have to say I was a bit disappointed.  While I enjoyed some songs, it felt like many of them sounded similar.  They are a pretty young band, however, and their second album is in the works.  Sometimes it takes a couple of releases for a band to venture out from the comfortable.  For this performance, in my opinion, it could have been better.

From their I headed to the main stage for Okkervil River.  I've always heard about this band, and while I've briefly explored their catalog, I hadn't truly delved into what they were capable of.  While Two Door Cinema Club was a disappointment, Okkervil River was a pleasant surprise.  I think I enjoyed this set the most.  The band was made of solid musicians all around.  There was a mix of raucous songs and emotional slower songs.  Lead vocalist and song writer Will Sheff was particularly impressive.

Immediately following Okkervil River on the main stage was Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.  This was another impressive performance.  I saw Grace and company open for The Avett Brothers last year and was impressed.  This performance was even more impressive.  Grace Potter has an All Star voice, and she can really rock; more than most any female in music right now.  The Okkervil River/Grace Potter block was my favorite chunk of the afternoon.

I was only able to catch the final two songs of Cut Copy, and by all accounts of those who caught the entire set, I really missed out.  This seemed to be a crowd favorite, and judging by the crowd's enthusiasm during the final two songs it seems to be an accurate assessment.  I will definitely have to try to catch them some other time.

From there my night slowed down.  One of the drawbacks of the afternoon for me, was sheer volume of people.  I'm the kind of person who enjoys things from the outskirts.  I'm not comfortable in close quarters.  Well... outskirts didn't really exist at FreeFest.  Also, while the crowd was generally well behaved, like is bound to happen at an all day music festival, there were some who went beyond their alcohol limits.

I caught some of TV On The Radio, but was underwhelmed.  I did check out Teddybears in the Dance Forest, truthfully just so I could see those bear masks.  The masks didn't disappoint.  I'm not particularly into electronic music, so I wasn't expecting Teddybears to be a highlight for me, but they were entertaining.

Black Keys were the last band of the night.  I stayed for three or four songs which were decent.  However, the crowd completely filled the lawn.  Seeing the stage was near impossible, so I called it a night.

Virgin Mobile FreeFest is a great event.  I mean... it's free!  You really can't go wrong, and they consistently bring great bands on the cusp of what's next in music.  It was slightly disappointing for me.  However, it was mostly because of my own concert preferences rather than the quality of the music or the venue.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Glen Hansard: Scratching At The Surface Now

Typically the day following a concert would constitute a review.  While FreeFest was fun... and interesting, the review will have to come tomorrow.  Today is a special day of remembrance here in the United States.  Ten years ago the world changed on September 11th.  As we continue to move forward, we take this day to look back on all the innocent lives that were lost.  It's hard to believe that horrible day happened ten years ago.  I'm sure all of us can remember exactly where we were when we first heard the reports.  It's important that we never forget the heroism and solidarity our country showed on that day.

Awhile back, I was browsing Swell Season videos (clearly a favorite band of mine) on youtube.  Glen Hansard, vocalist for The Swell Season, has always been an outstanding storyteller.  I came across the accompanying video during my search.  Hansard tells a story about an elderly woman he met in a hotel, and her special jacket.  The woman lost her son in the World Trade Center attacks.  The story is touching really.  The moral behind her story is really twofold.  First, don't be afraid to say what's really on your mind to someone you care about.  I struggle with that constantly.  Second, cherish your life and live it fully.  There are probably more patriotic choices for today, but the story that introduces this song shows how September 11th effected us on a personal level.  I hope you enjoy the story and song.  It's a favorite.

Never forget!

Friday, September 9, 2011

FreeFest Freeview- Teddybears: I'm Robot Elvis Rocking My Bionic Pelvis

If you haven't been to FreeFest, there's something called the "Dance Forest".  The Dance Forest is where Sleigh Bells blew out my eardrums last year.  If you don't really know me, dancing isn't really my thing.  However, if I'm going to venture into the Dance Forest this year, it will likely be to see Teddybears.  To be honest, I know nothing about them.  Nothing, that is, besides the fact that they wear kick-ass bear masks on stage, and this song below has equally kick-ass lyrics.

Check out Teddybears performing "Rocket Scientist".  Pretty fun, right?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

FreeFest Freeview- Cover Thursdays: Have Love Will Travel

Of course, this week's cover must be FreeFest themed!  Here are The Black Keys, probably the band I'm looking forward to seeing the must, covering "Have Love, Will Travel" orignally recorded by Richard Berry in 1959.  "Have Love, Will Travel" has been covered by many bands, most famously by The Sonics.  The Black Keys version can also be found on their 2003 release Thickfreakness. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

FreeFest Freeview- Patti Smith: Because The Night Belongs to Lovers

One of the many reasons why FreeFest is so amazing, is the supreme diversity of the musical acts.  While bands are playing in the "Dance Forest" bands like Black Keys are rocking hard on the main stage.  While Big Sean and Cee Lo Green and Big Sean are waiting backstage, Patti Smith at 64 years young will be taking the stage.  It's really fun for all styles and ages.  Patti Smith the "Godmother of Punk" has been performing since the mid 70's.  She's still going strong.

Smith's most notable song is undoubtedly "Because The Night" off 1978's Easter.  "Because The Night" was co-written with Bruce Springsteen and in 1987 for listed in NME Magazine's list of "The Top 150 Singles of All Time" coming in at 116.  Check out Patti Smith performing "Because the Night"

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

FreeFest Freeview- Okkervil River: She Whispered These Lines...

Sorry for the brevity of this post!  Tonight was open house, and 12 hours at school really wears me out.  FreeFest will definitely be something to get me through the week.

Tonight's post in the countdown to FreeFest comes from Okkervil River.  These veterans of the Indie music scene released their latest album in May, entitled I Am Very Far.

Check out "Wake and Be Fine" off I Am Very Far. Please enjoy!

As always, check out the band's website for more info!

Monday, September 5, 2011

FreeFest Freeview- TV On The Radio: Gotta Curse I Cannot Lift

TV On The Radio is a tremendously popular band from Brooklyn.  Their 2006 release, Return to Cookie Mountain, garnered high praise from many music outlets.  However, it was 2008's Dear Science that has been dubbed the band's breakout album.  Dear Science was named album of the year by Rolling Stone, Sping Magazine, and Pitchfork just to name a few.  After a brief hiatus, TV On The Radio released their latest effort Nine Types of Light this past April. 

Here's TV On The Radio with "Wolf Like Me" off Return to Cookie Mountain.  This video alone gets me excited for FreeFest!  Can't wait!

Here's more from TV On The Radio!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

FreeFest Freeview- Alberta Cross: We Grew Up In A Broken Side of Time

Another band taking the stage next Saturday is Alberta Cross.  While the band calls New York City home, it's members are well traveled.  Whether it's Petter Ericson Stakee traveling across Europe with his father, or Terry Wolfers upbringing in London, Alberta Cross' members brings a wide expanse of influences to their music.  Their brand of music comes in the form of bluesy southern rock.  Since their beginnings in 2007 Alberta Cross has opened for many notable acts across the US and Europe, and have headlined tours themselves.  They were at DMB Caravan in June, but unfortunately I didn't get the chance to catch them.  Hopefully, I'll be able to enjoy their set on Saturday.

Alberta Cross' latest release Broken Side of Time was released in 2009.  Here's a live cut of the title track from that album.

For tour dates and more, check out the Alberta Cross website.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

FreeFest Freeview- Two Door Cinema Club: She Spoke Words That Would Melt In Your Hands

Next Saturday is Virgin Mobile FreeFest at Merriweather Post Pavilion. To say I'm excited, would be a vast understatement. It's been way too long since I've been to a concert, and last year's FreeFest was amazing. Hopefully, next weekend will be a dry one so Free Fest doesn't suffer the same fate as Silopanna Music Festival.

For those unfamiliar, FreeFest is just what it sounds like... a free music festival. This year's band roster consists of 20 acts on three stages. Notable names include The Black Keys, Ce Lo Green, Deadmau5, and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, just to name a few.  Last year hooked me for good.  With bands like Trombone Shorty & Orleans Ave, Edwards Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and Sleigh Bells, I knew I had to attend this years event as well.

In order to prepare for next Saturday, each update for the next week will feature a band or two who will be performing at FreeFest.  First up, is Two Door Cinema Club.  This band from Northern Ireland formed in 2007.  A number of music blogs took notice of the band's first EP, Four Words To Stand On, and the band quickly gained popularity.  In the Spring of 2010 Two Door Cinema club released their first full length album, Tourist History.

Off Tourist History, here's Two Door Cinema Club performing "Undercover Martyn".

Find more from Two Door Cinema Club on their website!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cover Thursdays: Washed Away With Sorrow

This week's cover comes to us from the early '90's.  As part of A.V. Club's "Undercover" series The Decemberists covered "If I Can't Change Your Mind" by Sugar.  "If I can't Change Your Mind" was a bit of a one hit wonder off Sugar's 1992 release Copper Blue.  Enjoy!