Friday
May072010

Album preview: Delta Spirit - History From Below

Wednesday
May052010

New music: St. Claire

You know that fuzzy feeling you get when you find a new song or band that completely blows you away on first listen?  Well, I got that feeling last night when I stumbled onto St. Claire's myspace page and heard tracks from their upcoming debut Everyone Lives Here.  Really excited to share this with everyone. 

I really don't know much about the band beyond what's on their myspace, so I'll just focus on the music.  Emily Forsythe's sultry voice takes these simple, dreamy folk songs to a another level - the result is completely mesmerizing.  While the vocals are what drew me in, these are truly great songs - full of lush melodies and smart lyrics.  Layers of harmonies, background vocals add depth, while banjos, glockenspiel and snare add texture  -- and that's just The Simple Things, which the band has graciously allowed me to post for stream or download:

St. Claire - The Simple Things

The band's debut record Everyone Lives Here is out later this summer - and they'll be celebrating the release of the record July 8 at Great Scott with Hallelujah The Hills, Mr. Sister and Sleepy Very Sleepy.  Get tickets here.  I won't miss it.

Check out more songs from the upcoming Everyone Lives Here on myspace, as well as fantastic covers of Neil Young's Round and Round and John Lennon's Love.

Wednesday
May052010

Recommended: John Shade

     

The fantastic debut from John Shade, All You Love Is Need, is an album that deserves attention.  The songs are musically simple, which allows the beauty and heartbreak of the lyrics to shine through.  Shade (not his real name) is a deft songwriter and lyricist, and his pop sensibilities are apparent.  The arrangements are mostly sparse, but are highlighted with strings, horns and percussion that give the songs life.  Also, this record sounds great - really nice production.  The entire album is available for free - or whatever you want to pay for it - here.  Get it now.

I had such a hard time choosing which song to post, I decided to post three (hope that's okay!).  Little Heart and So Long, Theresa are heartbreaking and beautiful.  I Hate The World... is a bit more uplifting.  All are great.

Little Heart
So Long, Theresa
I Hate The World (And Everyone In It)

John Shade has 2 weeks left on his 3 week residency at Lizard Lounge - get tickets here.  Great openers as well - Vikesh Kapoor opens 5/11 and Jocie Adams of The Low Anthem opens 5/18.  Tickets only $5!

Tuesday
May042010

New release: Woods - At Echo Lake

 

Lots of heavyweights on the "New Release" racks this week.  Broken Social Scene, Josh Ritter, The New Pornographers, The Hold Steady, etc.  However, the release that I'd like to focus on is Woods' At Echo Lake.  The songs that comprise At Echo Lake pick up where 2009's Songs of Shame left off - psych jams built on blues, country and pop foundations.  They continue to have a knack for writing songs that sound tossed-off at first glance, but reveal depth with each listen.  Folk songs with filthy blues guitar licks, sludgy jams laced with pop melodies - this is right in my wheelhouse.

After a few listens, Suffering Season is one of my favorites from At Echo Lake - enjoy and please support Woods:

Woods - Suffering Season

Friday
Apr302010

Kitchen Sessions #1: The David Wax Museum

Kitchen Sessions is the brainchild of visible voice contributor Steve Legare.  The idea is simple; great bands playing intimate house shows, filmed for all the world to enjoy.  Good deal.   

The first installment of Kitchen Sessions features the great David Wax Museum.  This amazing content comes courtesy of Kitchen Sessions - check out kitchensessions.net for more videos.  Also, huge thanks to guest contributor Maria Cristina Romero!

 

Combining many musical styles can be tricky, often resulting in mimicry, identity failure, or at worst, a total sonic nightmare. The David Wax Museum, however, pulls it off with seemingly effortless skill. Emerging at a time when indie roots-rock groups are a dime a dozen, the Boston-based band is an exciting exception, melding rural Mexican melodies with Mid-western folk. I was fortunate enough to experience this unique sound first-hand when The David Wax Museum brought its unparalleled musical chemistry into my living room last March.

Having heard only a few tracks off of the sextet’s second album, Carpenter Bird (September 2009), I didn’t know what to expect when Steve Legare, my housemate and Visible Voice contributor, told me the band would be coming to our apartment. Legare met Missouri-bred front man, David Wax, in February after an exuberant set at a sold-out Club Passim. When Legare invited Wax into our kitchen, he enthusiastically agreed. Just days later, The David Wax Museum was in our home, serving up its refreshing blend of Mexo-American roots-rock to an audience of intimate friends and new acquaintances.

Wax and Co. transformed the 15 x 24 living room with their effortless and ebullient play.  David stirred and strummed his guitar (and jarana), as Suz Slezak’s effervescent fiddling and occasional donkey jawbone rattling added melody and texture. Wax’s cousin and fellow Missourian, Jordan Wax, added extra flavor on accordion while Jiro Kobuko delivered masterful solos on the mandolin and dobro. With a set ranging from folk ballads to Andean-inspired chants, the foursome showcased its Latino alt-folk fusion, and left our eager ears wanting more. Despite being short two members—percussionist Greg Glassman and bassist Mike Roberts—the Wax Museum put on an unforgettable performance. Drawing us in with honey-smooth harmonies in “Beekeeper,” bringing us to our feet with “Colas,” and haunting us with hearty howls in “Unfruitful,” the band left with a roomful of Somerville fans that night. The evening culminated in the countrified son jarocho-inspired title track, “Carpenter Bird.” Jordan filled in for Glassman, the featured percussionist and vocalist on the album version, and the band performed beautifully, belting out verses from atop chairs scattered throughout the audience.

Using call-and-response techniques and an array of instruments, the group creates an engaging and authentic sound that is difficult to compare. Nestled somewhere in between Hank Williams and Calexico, The David Wax Museum carves an untapped niche for its distinct style. With more son influence than mariachi, and a lot more fiddle, “Boston’s homegrown answer to Calexico” (The Bostonist) effectively sets itself apart. What Wax lacks in natural fluency he makes up for with his smart lyrics and his infectious energy. Being tagged “one of Boston’s hottest new bands” is no easy feat, but The David Wax Museum lives up to its hype. See for yourselves this Sunday, May 2nd when the band returns to Club Passim in Harvard Square with Jiro Kokubu, Greg Glassman, and Mike Roberts. 

- Maria Cristina Romero

The David Wax Museum also play a free show in Harvard Square tomorrow (5/2) as part of the Harvard Square MayFair, and have a busy summer with many dates in the area.  Check out their full tour schedule here 


Unfruitful

 
Si Te Vas

More videos at kitchensessions.net

 

Thursday
Apr292010

New Music:  Phosphorescent

I've now heard two tracks from Phosphorescent's upcoming LP Here’s To Taking It Easy, and both have knocked me out.  It's Hard To Be Humble (When You're From Alabama) is propelled by a bouncy bass line and horn section.  The Mermaid Parade, on the other hand, rambles along at a more laid back pace - sounding like a Basement Tapes or American Beauty outtake, guitar licks dancing with honky tonk piano. 

The Mermaid Parade
It's Hard To Be Humble (When You're From Alabama)

Here's To Taking It Easy is out May 11 on Dead Oceans.  You can pre-order CD and vinyl here

Monday
Apr262010

Recommended: Wooden Dinosaur

This post has been a long time coming.  Nearly Lost Stars, the debut album from Vermont's Wooden Dinosaur, is one of my favorite albums of the year so far.  Michael Roberts' timeless lyrics are the centerpiece of these folk songs, but the band's interesting arrangements help flesh things out.  Horns, bells, banjo and strings add color to the sepia-toned fingerpicked acoustic guitar that forms the base of these songs.  Highly recommend checking this out - buy the record here, or check out more tracks on their myspace


One of many favorites from the album:

Wooden Dinosaur - Can't Be Me

The band plays All Asia in Cambridge on May 21.  Look for more on Wooden Dinosaur on visible voice soon.

Thursday
Apr222010

The Low Anthem: Paradise Boston 4.20.10

I have seen The Low Anthem many times over the past year and while they are always great, Tuesdays show was on a different level.  I stood in shock, completely captivated by songs both old and new - this is a special band, and they seem to be hitting their stride.

The Low Anthem have come a long way (literally) since they last played the Paradise, when they played to a half-empty club in support of Blind Pilot last November.  Shortly after that show they embarked for London to play to a national audience on Jool's Holland.  In the months since, they have opened for Josh Ritter and The Avett Brothers, toured both sides of the Atlantic as headliners and holed up in a former pasta sauce factory to record their hightly-anticipated follow-up to 2009's Oh My God, Charlie Darwin.  Now they've returned to the road to test out the new songs.  As the band huddled around a single mic in the center of the stage on Tuesday night, I couldn't help but draw comparisons to Neil Young at Massey Hall in 1971 playing unknown classics to an awestruck audience.

As Ben Knox Miller's lyrics tumbled from the stage they were completely new, yet felt somehow familiar.  The new songs seemed more personal than the timeless parables that comprised Charlie Darwin.  The arrangements and delivery were both measured yet felt off-the-cuff, and nothing distracted from the songs. The older songs were played with confidence, fleshed by multi-instrumentalist Mat Davidson - the newest addition to the band.  The set was well-paced - folk songs were punctuated by electric blues romps, new songs intermingled with old favorites and everything flowed perfectly.  This is a band that seems in complete control; I'm grateful to have followed their arc, and I'm excited to see what comes next.

Full soundboard recording of the Paradise show is available for stream and download.  Sound is pristine - thanks to taper Steve Legare, the sound guy at the Paradise and, of course, The Low Anthem for making this fantastic recording possible.  Enjoy, and please support the band by visiting their site and buying their music


The Low Anthem

Paradise Rock Club - Boston MA
April 20, 2010

Cage The Songbird
Ticket Taker
[thanks]
Sally Where'd You Get Your Liquor From *
To The Ghosts Who Write History Books
Apothecary
Ghost Woman Blues
Charlie Darwin
Home I'll Never Be **
Cigarettes, Whiskey & Wild, Wild Women ^
Maybe So
This God Damn House
Don't Let Nobody Turn You Around %
Ain't No More Cane %
Dreams Can't Chase You Down
Ohio
Love And Altar
I'll Take Out Your Ashes

* - Rev. Gary Davis
** - Jack Kerouac
^ - Jim Croce
% - Traditional

Full set downloads:  mp3 zip (new link) | FLAC zip (362MB)

The Low Anthem are back in the area this summer for the Green River and Newport Folk festivals

Wednesday
Apr212010

Recommended: Annie & The Beekeepers

Last night's Low Anthem show at the Paradise was one of those special nights where everything just fell into place perfectly.  The Low Anthem delivered a mesmerizing and heartfelt performance, but what made the night extra-special was the quality of the opening acts.  Visible Voice favorites David Wax Museum played a fantastic, energetic set and Annie & The Beekeepers started the night out with a excellent set of folk songs, highlighted by Annie Lynch's honest lyrics and complimented by upright bass, banjo and cello. 

Full show reviews (+ incredible audio!) for both The Low Anthem and David Wax Museum are coming very soon - but in the meantime check out the following track from Annie & The Beekeepers, and pick up the band's most recent EP here.  Enjoy!

The Wine Song

Annie & The Beekeepers are back in Boston at the Hyatt Regency for a Mother's Day brunch show with Ollabelle on May 9.  Get tickets here

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