visible voice has returned from the Sasquatch Music Festival, and it has to rank as one of the greatest weekends of my life. As festivals go, it was like a smaller, indie-er Bonnaroo -- but the breathtaking views made it completely surreal. While I went primarily as a fan, I vowed to return with some content for the site. My photos somehow didn't really capture the atmosphere of the festival (those two above might be the best of the bunch), so I decided to put together a roadtrip video. I hope you enjoy:
It's already June, and that means it's time to take step back and take stock of the new music that has come out so far this year. Force ranking art is completely arbitrary - records impact me differently each time I listen to them, so how can I fairly rank one against another? Therefore, I've decided not to do that. Instead, consider this a list of records that are well worth checking out, in no particular order.
Wooden Dinosaur - Nearly Lost Stars
Nearly Lost Stars from Vermont's Wooden Dinosaur is hands down my favorite discovery of 2010 (so far). These are rustic, plain-spoken and often heartbreaking songs of love and loss. Roberts' fingerpicked acoustic guitar and weathered vocals are the constants, but shuffling percussion, banjo, fiddle, lap steel, horns and the occasional electric guitar add layers of sound. The result is an absolutely beautiful record that deserves to be heard by the masses. Buy it here, and tell your friends.
Dr. Dog - Shame, Shame
Dr. Dog continue to put out consistently great records, and Shame, Shame is no exception. Like Fate before it, Shame, Shame shows the polish of a maturing band, and features a steady dose of bouncy folk-pop grooves. Shadow People, Jackie Wants A Black Eye, Mirror Mirror and Stranger are standouts, but the entire record is fantastic - this has rarely left my car CD player since I got it. Get it here.
Full soundboard recording of Dr. Dog's recent show at the Paradise in Boston available for stream/download here (newly remastered).
Spoon - Transference
I love it when a band follows up a commercially successful record with a bit of a curveball - a challenge to the new fans. Don't get me wrong, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is a fantastic record from start to finish - but Transference trades in the sugar-sweet Stax hooks and Spector-ish production for decidedly less-accessible influences; twisted rythms and wiry Tom Verlaine-esque guitar leads. Still, it's unmistakably a Spoon record - driving percussion, gritty guitars and devestating grooves. Get it here.
Josh Ritter - So Runs The World Away
I consider Josh Ritter one of the most important songwriters of our generation - one of few worthy of carrying on the tradition of Dylan, Springsteen, et al. 2007's The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter, probably the most "fun" and upbeat record in the Ritter catalogue, seemed a bit like a bit of a breather after the epic Animal Years. So Runs The World Away is a return to the cinematic storytelling and intricate compositions that made the Animal Years an incredible and moving record. Buy it here.
Titus Andronicus - The Monitor
The Monitor has been positioned as a loose concept album based around the Civil War, complete with marching drums and readings of period-era speeches. However, the Civil War pretense seems to only shift focus from the real story - this is a deeply personal account of a defeated man returning to the home he once wanted to escape. Less than a minute in Patrick Stickles sets the tone for the record, subverting the Springsteen anthem of optimism and escape, screaming "baby we were born to die!". The result though, through fist-pumping choruses and cathartic singalongs, is rewarding and satisfying. Get it here.
Not to be forgotten:
Dr. Dog brought their energetic live show to the Paradise last Wednesday for the second of two sold out shows. As I watched from the balcony, the stage was a blur of bright lights and neon. The songs were grittier and played with more intensity than the album versions, and came in rapid-fire succession - there were almost no breaks whatsoever. The packed crowd danced to a set that was expectedly heavy on tracks from 2008's Fate and the just-released Shame, Shame. Having seen Dr. Dog a few times now, I was impressed by how far the band has come in recent years - the rag-tag underdogs from Philly now have a deep catalogue of bouncy folk/psych/pop gems, a reliably excellent live show and dedicated, rabid fan base.
Fantastic full soundboard recording of the show is available for stream/download below. Thanks to Dr. Dog and their top-notch sound crew for the great recording. If you download this please support the band by going to see the show when they come to your town, and go buy Shame, Shame if you haven't already. Enjoy!
Paradise Rock Club - Boston MA
May 12, 2010
The Old Days
Army Of Ancients
The Way The Lazy Do
The World May Never Know
I Only Wear Blue
The Rabbit, The Bat and The Reindeer
Jackie Wants a Black Eye
Die Die Die
Heart It Races (Architecture In Helsinki)
Full set downloads: mp3 zip
visible voice is heading out to the Pacific Northwest for the Sasquatch Music Festival. I got shut out for press credentials, so I'll be going rogue and getting whatever content I can via non-professional still + video cameras. visiblevoice.net will be quiet for the next few days - but feel free to follow @visiblevoicebos on twitter for live tweets from the festival.
Also taking this opportunity to post one of my favorite tracks from a band that I will be seeing live for the first time at Sasquatch:
Delta Spirit’s upcoming sophomore LP History From Below is one of my most anticipated releases of the year. I’m very excited to announce that the full album is available to stream below. More comments to follow, but after one listen, I like what I hear. Let me know what you think in the comments.