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
Sally Where'd You Get Your Liquor From *
To The Ghosts Who Write History Books
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
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


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


The Morning Benders: TT's Cambridge 4.17.10


The Morning Benders released one of my favorite records of 2010 so far in Big Echo.  The record is full of big ideas executed beautifully, and it has a sheen and prettiness that would turn me off if the songs were anything but perfect - which they are.  It is a near-perfect pop record.

My expectations were high for their show at TTs last night - and all things considered, they delivered.  The band was tight, charismatic and sounded great.  Compared to Surfer Blood, a band which I had similarly high hopes for, The Morning Benders were heads and shoulders above.  However, the encore-less set came in at a disappointingly short 50 minutes.  9 of the 10 tracks on Big Echo were played - only the Grizzly Bear-esque closing track Sleeping In was missing.  While I expected the set to be heavy on Big Echo material, I was surprised that debut Talking Through Tin Cans was completely ignored.  A headlining set that comes in under an hour is disappointing, especially for a band with two albums under their belt.  Overall, though, the quality of the songs and performance far outweighed the negatives.

Full set is available for stream/download below - sound on this one is very good, thanks to excellent sound in the club.  No photos or videos this time due to some technical difficulties.  Enjoy and please support The Morning Benders by buying their music

The Morning Benders
TT The Bears - Cambridge MA
April 17, 2010

Wet Cement
Cold War (Nice Clean Fight)
Pleasure Sighs
Hand Me Downs
Mason Jar
All Day Daylight

Full set download (mp3 zip)


Record Store Day is TOMORROW (4/17)

 Record Store Day, to me, is better than Christmas.  It is the one day of the year that I can fully celebrate my music nerdiness.  Last year I missed out on a few of the goodies on my list by sleeping in and not getting to my local Newbury Comics BEFORE doors opened.  I will not make that mistake again this year.

Below are a few of the exclusives I hope to bring home, full list is here.

Josh Ritter - So Runs The World Away (vinyl early-release for RSD)
Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball 10" (b/w Ghost of Tom Joad w/ Tom Morello)
John Lennon - 7" Box Set (3 7" singles w/ postcards, etc)
Joe Strummer - Global A Go-Go / Streetcore vinyl reissues (first time in vinyl!)
The Love Language / Let's Wrestle - split 7"
Jimi Hendrix - Live at Clark University (4 tracks live in Worcester, only available on RSD)

...and plenty more




New music from The Love Language

Libraries - out July 13 on MergeThe Love Language's self-titled debut was one of my top-5 albums of 2009.  The lo-fi garage soul sound is right in my wheelhouse, and the super-catchy melodies came along just at the right time to drag me out of winter's dreariness.  The album is still in regular rotation and Providence, Lalita, Sparxx, etc still get my toes tapping and head bobbing uncontrollably.  So, it is with great pleasure and excitement that I post NEW MUSIC from The Love Language!

Heart to Tell is the first single off The Love Language's upcoming Merge debut, Libraries.  This picks up right where the last album left off - the mop-top melodies are still there, as is the driving percussion.  The production is slightly cleaner than the last record, though it still has the rough-around-the edges sound that gave the last record so much of its charm.

The Love Language - Heart to Tell

In other news, a Love Language / Let's Wrestle split 7" will be available on Record Store Day!

Check out this behind-the-scenes video of the making of Libraries.  Surprised to see that, like the debut record, Stuart McLamb again plays everything himself (though this with the benefit of a producer and studio).  Can't effing wait to hear this record:

Snowed in with The Love Language from Jason Arthurs on Vimeo.



Delta Spirit live at Northeastern AfterHours 4.8.10

Over the last 1-2 years, I have probably seen Delta Spirit more than any other single band.  I've seen them as opener and headliner, Upstairs and Downstairs at the Middle East.  I saw them at Bonnaroo, playing a rescheduled set with borrowed gear while torrential rain and tornados (or at least a warning) raged outside the tent.  Each time I've seen them, they have been significantly better than the previous time.  With lots of new material in tow - new album History From Below is scheduled for June 8 release - the band played by far the most unusual show I have seen in some time last Thursday at Northeastern University.

The venue, AfterHours (which is on the Northeastern campus), leaves a bit to be desired - it has the ambiance of a Starbucks.  Literally -- there was a Starbucks at the back of the room.  There was no mistaking this was a college student center, not a rock club.  The crowd was somewhat thin, maybe 100 people total, and much less liquored-up than I expected out of college students on a Thursday night.  However, Delta Spirit took the stage with the unmistakeable presence and energy of a band that knows what they're doing -- mocking "it's been our life's dream to play at Northeastern".  They proceeded to rip through a mix of new tracks in addition to more well-known favorites from their debut, Ode to Sunshine -- People C'mon, Trashcan, Strange Vine, etc.   

Bushwick Blues and 911 (dedicated to Howard Zinn) were both standouts among the consistently-excellent new tracks.  White Table starts slow and builds to a raucous climax of cymbal crashes over a military march, before fading away again.  Ransom Man is a slow-burn murder ballad of-sorts that ends with a cacophonous freakout.  Vivian, a tender, soulful ode to singer Matt Vasquez's late grandmother might be the most beautiful song in the Delta Spirit catalogue. A cover of Tom Waits' San Diego Serenade was the perfect segueway into Trashcan, which rocked as hard as ever despite no appearance from the trashcan lid.  Motivation, an unreleased track described as "the first song we ever wrote", closed out the show on a high point. 

The hour-plus set left me in awe, yet again - Delta Spirit continues to deliver every night.  Check out the full recording from the show below, along with an excellent video of San Diego Serenade > Trashcan (video cuts out towards the end of the song, full memory card...). 

Delta Spirit
AfterHours at Northeastern University
Boston, MA

Bleeding Bells
Bushwick Blues
Strange Vine
White Table
People C'mon
Ransom Man
St. Francis
San Diego Serenade* > Trashcan

* Tom Waits cover

Video:  San Diego Serenade > Trashcan




New music: Movers & Shakers "Movin' On"

Boston's Movers & Shakers meld soul and punk into their roots-rock sound.  On record, horns, three-part harmonies and organ flourishes create a sound reminiscent of The Band - but live, the songs take on a grittier sound.  Throughout their solid set opening for Delta Spirit at Northeastern's AfterHours club I couldn't help but draw Replacements comparisons, with more anthemic, fist-pumping choruses.  These are songs designed for larger stages. Check out the band's myspace here.

New track from their split-7" with The Cold Beat:

Movers & Shakers - Movin' On

M&S open for Reigning Sound at TTs on June 18, be there


New music: Golden Ages remixes Surfer Blood

Philly's Golden Ages has remixed Surfer Blood's Twin Peaks, definitely worth checking out.  The remix is a bit slower and more chilled-out than the original -- perfect for those sticky-hot days that await us.  If you dig this, check out more on their myspace.

Twin Peaks (Golden Ages remix)

Golden Ages is at HMS Putnam on Saturday


Free Futurebirds EP

Futurebirds, a septet from Athens GA, write earnest folk-rock songs with plenty of harmonies and then drench them in reverb - sounds like most of my favorite bands.  Yes, recommended for fans of My Morning Jacket, Fleet Foxes, et al.  If you aren't already sold, the band is giving away their great EP gratis --  go here and get it or, click below to stream one of the tracks:


FYI - Futurebirds will be at TTs on May 16 with Jessica Lea Mayfield