Phosphorescent - "Nothing Was Stolen" (Live)

We've emerged from our winter hibernation and look forward to a merry and musical 2015. Although much of the country is currently braced in cold, we're warmed by the news that Newport Folk Festival tickets are again on sale. And again, it will sell out, so act quickly and enjoy this magical weekend.

A couple of years ago, Phosphorescent played one of the weekend's most magical sets (You can hear it here, via NPR) and if that set was good, his latest release sounds even better. On February 17, Matthew Houck and his bandmates will warm up your winter with an epic 3xLP live album, Live From the Music Hall. Houck's tender tenor wobbles between warm and weary, but he never loses his verve, and his band absolutely smokes. Give a listen to "Nothing Was Stolen" below and pre-order the album here


Cass McCombs and the Meat Puppets Pair, Push Limits

On the surface, Cass McCombs and the Meat Puppets might sound like a strange pairing, but both acts frame their keen, outsider insights amid unique artistry. But it is a strange pairing and their upcoming tour together promises to be the best kind of weird.

Perhaps in a way to memorialize the unlikely pairing, Domino Records is producing a 7" album (out on 10/28) with two new cuts from McCombs and two new covers from the Meat Puppets.

Stream a sample of the 7" below and be sure to catch them if the tour rolls through your zipcode. 

Cass McCombs / Meat Puppets Upcoming Tour Dates:
Sat. Oct. 25 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Club Cafe 

Mon. Oct. 27 - Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts 
Tue. Oct. 28 - Pawtucket, RI @ The Met Cafe 
Wed. Oct. 29 - Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair 
Thu. Oct. 30 - South Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground Showcase Lounge 
Fri. Oct. 31 - Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade 
Sat. Nov. 1 - Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade 
Sun. Nov 2 - Washington, DC @ The Black Cat 
Tue. Nov. 4 - Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506 
Wed. Nov. 5 - Atlanta, GA @ Vinyl 
Fri. Nov. 7 - Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald’s Downstairs 
Fri. Nov. 28 - Phoenix, AZ @ The Crescent Ballroom 
Sat. Nov. 29 - San Diego, CA @ The Casbah 
Tue. Dec. 2 - West Hollywood, CA @ Troubadour 
Wed. Dec. 3 - San Francisco, CA @ The Independent 
Fri. Dec. 5 - Seattle, WA @ Neumos 
Sat. Dec. 6 - Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge


Quiet Life - Housebroken Man

Housebroken Man, the new EP from Quiet Life, doesn’t wait long to introduce itself. A plinking piano and a chugging rhythm guitar practically kick the bar room doors open, letting the lilting voices of Sean Spellman and Cary Ann Hearst (Shovels and Rope) do-si-do on top. The titular housebroken man is “laying off the bourbon and the weed” but there’s enough winking knowingness here to give the listener doubt about its sticking power. It makes for a rousing opener.

“Shaky Hand” is another cautionary tale, this form in a Brucean ballad, about the dangers of booze. The next track, “Messin’ Around”, covers what goes wrong when those cautions go unheeded. “If I don’t die before I get old, I’m going to quit messing around,” Spellman sings.

Clearly, Quiet Life are leading anything but a tranquil existence. Growing success as an up-and-coming act can do that to a group. The EP seems to grapple with how to be the best versions of themselves amid increasing expectations and temptations.

These songs were written when a lot of things were in flux,” Spellman told Esquire. “Lyrically, they came together at weird or rough times in certain relationships I was having. Housebroken Man is about trying to be a good boyfriend/husband/whatever and imagining and idealizing the perfect life.”

The EP concludes with a cover of Townes van Zandt’s “Waiting Around to Die”  - complete with an assist from Jim James - signifying that despite the ratcheting worries, Quiet Life is capable of turning gut checks to gold.


Quiet Life - Housebroken Man from Kitchen Sessions on Vimeo.



Quiet Life -Shaky Hand from Kitchen Sessions on Vimeo.


Words by Brian Hodge

Photo//Video by Adam Richert


Strand of Oaks w/ Christopher Denny - Tractor Tavern - Seattle

Back in 2012 we reviewed the recording of Strand of Oaks "Spacestations" from the Dark Shores album which is the foreplay to to his latest explosive album "Heal." The Album "Heal" has a "radio friendly" quality to it due to its catchy and addictive nature. Make sure to grab this album, it is salty and sweet; you can rock out and dance all at the same time.

Seeing Timothy Showalter aka Strand of Oaks headlining for his first time in Seattle to a sold out crowd was a night that is hard to forget. Every band uses the stage as an outlet, a personal therapy session, and punching bag but this show was an exhalation of relief and contentment. Catch Strand of Oaks near you!


Theres nothing like going to a show to see one band and discovering a new artist. We had the pleasure of seeing Christopher Denny open up for Strand of Oaks! The unique vibrato in his voice and and oldschool charm take you to a different time when things were simple. Although he didnt have a backing band his voice filled the room and held the crowd. Check out Christopher Denny on tour with Strand of Oaks until September 20th.


Mutual Benefit- Back in Boston

It was the late fall when I first heard Mutual Benefit’s Love’s Crushing Diamond. It struck the right chord between comforting songs and interesting production - a smart, shimmery record by a clearly talented artist (Jordan Lee) and a rotating cast of friends. Partially recorded in Boston with local musicians, the record quietly grew into one of my favorites.

On September 2, Mutual Benefit is looking backwards as Lee and co. re-release 2011’s The Cowboy’s Prayer EP. Originally only a Bandcamp download, the collection of five tracks were the public’s first introduction to the group’s well-polished orchestral folk sound. Better still, the group returns to Boston to celebrate. See the magic come alive when they play the Middle East (downstairs) on September 18. You can get tickets here.



Newport Folk Festival 2014 - Newport, RI

We look forward to the Newport Folk Festival every year. Late July in Newport, Rhode Island, hearing a cavalcade of interesting acts under the outstretched arms of the Pell Bridge. This year was no different.

We joined our friends - or perhaps, more accurately at this point, extended family - for another weekend of awesome music, memorable performances and warm company. We saw great acts perform awe-inspiring sets, like Jack White’s heart-wrenching, Seger-less singalong of “Goodnight, Irene”. We caught up-and-coming performers like Benjamin Booker and The Oh Hellos drop star-making sets. And at the end, as always, we marveled at our good fortune.

The Newport Folk Festival is routinely romanticized as a “pure” festival. It’s tough to discount the allure. Nary a festival on today’s bloated circuit scene can boast Newport’s rich, half-century history. It’s probably one of the few festivals that bands will take a pay cut to play. Due to the unique setting - the stage is situated on a national historic landmark - crowds are reasonable in more ways than one. The attendance is limited and as a result, the weekend sells out well in advance of line-up announcements, blurring the line between the bigger attraction - the festival or its acts. This also attracts a certain type of fan who respects not only the setting but the atmosphere. Positive vibes ring out as clearly as the tunes.

As any fan of “Mad Men” knows, nostalgia is a powerful drug. It’s easy to squint your eyes at just about any point during the weekend and imagine yourself at the same festival 50 years prior. (Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Mavis Staples is still the one bringing the house down.) It’s not just a festival but a weekend-long holiday - an intoxicating blend of history, tradition, familiarity and a healthy smattering of the unexpected. As it does every year, the holiday must end.



 Words by Brian Hodge of Visible Voice 

Photos and editing by Vanessa Roberts Richert

Photos and editing by Adam Richert


Amen Dunes Unplugged

On a steamy summer night, on the first stop on Amen Dunes' cross-country tour, I had the good fortune to sit down with the band. Inside the dreamlike Columbus Theatre, Damon McMahon was aided by Jordi Wheeler on piano, and keeping time was Gleb Wilson.

“Lilac in Hand” is a highlight off Amen Dunes’ stellar full-length Love, but it was the cover of The Lemonheads’ "My Drug Buddy” that ended up stealing the show for me. Much like McMahon’s catalogue, its melancholy melody has a tendency to jangle in your head long after the song fades out.



Jonah Tolchin - Release of New Album "Clover Lane" 


Jonah Tolchin’s Clover Lane opens with a hellacious harmonica and a furious footstomp. Right from the start it’s clear that this isn’t just a terrific local record; it’s a polished, propulsive record with enough quality and energy to take Tolchin places.

Based in Rhode Island and no stranger to the stage, Tolchin’s name has been buzzing for a few years now. His honest lyricism and wizened voice slid in almost too well with fellow Ocean Staters like Deer Tick and the Low Anthem. But as those bands took departures in different directions, Tolchin has chosen to simply take his act to another level and left town to do it.

The record was produced by Marvin Etzioni, whose production credits include Peter Case, and whose professional credits include founding Lone Justice. And Marvin “The Mandolin Man” appears to have a bit of Midas in him, as it is instantaneously obvious it is expertly produced. It seems to accurately capture the energy of the environment. Put simply, the record sounds terrific.

Recorded in Nashville, Tenn., the album’s second track is aided by sometimes-Tennessean John McCauley of Deer Tick. In addition to McCauley’s deft harmonies, there is some serious playing by seriously skilled musicians. Eamon McClaughlin lends some frenzied fiddle work, while Chris Scrugg’s steel guitar sets the thing on fire.

Not to say the album is without variety. “Diamond Mind” downshifts to showcase Tolchin’s tender voice and thoughtful lyrics. “I was looking up at the sky again / I fell into the sky. Looking for an answer, but I found me a question why,” he layers atop a lovely, Low Anthem-esque chorus.

“Hey Baby Blues” is a classically cool come-on with a sultry baritone sax. “Hybrid Automo” is a funky fusion that definitely lands on the pro-electric side of the energy debate. In lesser hands, these may be cause for concern, but the risky moves pay off well.

The album ends quietly with “I’ll Be Gone”, a plaintive rejoinder to the temporary nature of it all. “I’m leaving in the morning, and then I’ll be gone,” he sings. Fans who want to see Tolchin in person should do so soon, because he may be gone for bigger and brighter stages, and deservedly so. Might as well enjoy the trip. Thankfully Clover Lane is one hell of a ride.


 Words by Brian Hodge of Visible Voice



An Evening With Pete Yorn - The Crocodile in Seattle WA

It's remarkable how a song can be powerful enough to put you through a complete time warp. Pete Yorn’s catalog was the soundtrack to a significant chunk of time in my life (for good and for bad). His songs evoke emotions that directly associate themselves with memories that I cherish or try to forget. Regardless, with Pete Yorn’s music there is no denying that they are all "jams" that will always create new memories and feelings as you hear them.

Wednesday’s show at the Crocodile was a Pete Yorn “super fan” night. No set list, no backing band, just a singer/songwriter taking requests from a room of people who knew every word to every song.

As of late, Pete Yorn has been on a bit of a hiatus from his solo career. He was admittedly a little rusty although it was hard to tell. The mini tour he is on, “An Evening with Pete Yorn”  allows him to get down to his fighting weight and prepare himself for a full tour, hopefully in the near future…to promote a new album? Either way, Wednesday night in Seattle fulfilled that desire to go back to see an artist while they were playing “shows” vs. “concerts.”

Bandstand in the Sky

New York City Serenade -Cover (song by Bruce Springsteen)

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