Entries in Joe Pug (5)


Songs for Wednesday // Islands, Joe Pug and more

'Hallways'- Islands
Handclaps? Check. Parlor piano? Check. Harmonies? Check. Bouncy, overly catchy rhythm? Check. Cymbal crashes? Check. There's nothing to dislike here.  (website)

'Hymn #76'- Joe Pug
There's not a more underrated songwriter today than Joe Pug. This song is a masterpiece.  (website)

'Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)' (Arcade Fire Cover)- Hey Ocean! feat Aidan Knight & the Friendly Friends
The one thing that always bugged me about the original was the ABBA vibe to it. This removes that. I like this a bit better.  (website)

'Faithful Man (for YoursTru.ly)'- Lee Fields & The Expressions
Whoa. Just...whoa.  (website)

'Eighth Avenue'- Hospitality
A breezy tune that's perfect to daydream to.  (website)


21 Favorite Albums of 2010:  12-16

12. Dr. Dog - Shame, Shame

Dr. Dog's music has always found a comfortable groove somewhere between The Band's rootsy-rock and The Beatles' more psychedelic moments.  Nothing on Shame, Shame, does anything to change that reputation, but why change a formula that works?  What has changed over time is the band's confidence on stage and willingness to commit that live, raw sound to tape as opposed to the more carefully-crafted studio creations that characterized their early records.  Indeed Shame, Shame follows that progression, featuring loud electric guitars, bouncy basslines and a swagger that translates directly to the stage - but the songs are the key.  At the same time ragged, poignant, anthemic - it's an album that begs to be played amongst friends, loudly.

Dr. Dog - Shadow People


13. Sharon Van Etten - Epic

Last year, Sharon Van Etten's Because I Was In Love was more or less an afterthought for me.  My mistake.  From the first time I heard Epic, though, I was hooked and instantly fell in love with Van Etten's intensely emotional songs and soaring voice.  I've called her songs "moody odes to love and loss [that] are best consumed late at night with a bottle of something strong" - but I'm now convinced there isn't necessarily a certain time or mood for these songs.  As music fans we so often find our pleasure in the pain of the artists, and this is surely one of those times - but as personal as these songs are, Sharon Van Etten turns the pain into something beautiful, something we can all relate to.

Sharon Van Etten - Don't Do It



14. The Head And The Heart - Self-Titled

The Head And The Heart's debut album kind of snuck up on me - after hearing a song or two a few months ago, it didn't fully hit me until a recent trip to Seattle (the band's hometown).  Since rediscovering it, the record has firmly taken root and earned its place on this list.  Folky, Beatles-esque pop is right in my wheelhouse so it's really no surprise that this makes the list.  The songs reflect the fact that the band is made up of a group of recent transplants to Seattle, touching on themes of exploration, the meaning of home and friendship.  On "Down In The Valley" they "I am on my way back to where I started" as the song builds on a shuffling beat and rolling piano.  One of many beautiful moments on this fantastic, and promising debut album.

The Head And The Heart - Down In The Valley


15. Delta Spirit - History From Below

Delta Spirit's sophomore effort History From Below was a long time coming, and one of my most eagerly-awaited albums of the year.  Following 2007's breakthrough Ode To Sunshine the band toured incessantly, building an increasingly rabid fanbase.  History From Below delivered on all of the expectations - expanding the scope of Matt Vasquez's songwriting and the band's guitar-driven sound.  The album blends social commentary with pure sun-soaked pop, ragged edges with swelling singalong choruses.  Still, the bands live show will blow away every studio cut - but that's more of a testament to their impressive live prowess than any shortcomings of the album.

Delta Spirit - Bushwick Blues


Joe Pug - Messenger

Joe Pug's Nation Of Heat EP was my first introduction to the singer-songwriter and his set at Newport Folk 2009 was one of the highlights of the festival for me - a single man on stage with just a guitar, harmonica and a few great songs.  His full-length debut Messenger features a fuller sound, adding electric guitar, pedal steel and a rhythm section.  His songs of relationships and personal struggles are delivered with the same plainspoken honesty - "How Good You Are" a tribute to his father, "Not So Sure" a reflection on a failed relationship, "Bury Me Far (From My Uniform)" an affecting plea sung from the perspective of a fallen soldier.  Messenger is a fantastic album from an exciting young songwriter - looking forward to hearing a lot more from Joe Pug.

Joe Pug - Messenger



First half recap: my favorite albums of 2010, so far

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.

Wooden Dinosaur - Can't Be Me


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.

Dr. Dog - Shadow People

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.

Spoon - I Saw The Light


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 YearsSo 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.

Josh Ritter - Southern Pacifica


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.

Titus Andronicus - Theme From "Cheers"


Not to be forgotten:

The National - High Violet
Kingsley Flood - Dust Windows
Joe Pug - Messenger
Crusaders of Love - Never Grow Up
The Morning Benders - Big Echo



Justin Townes Earle: Great Scott Allston 3.4.10

Justin Townes Earle at Great Scott March 4, 2010

Justin Townes Earle is the kind of songwriter and performer that reminds me how important real country music is.  With the utter shit that passes for "country" music these days, it seems that real country music is getting increasingly lost behind the redneck pop that is marketed as country music.  Sure, plenty of people can reference Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams or Gram Parsons in conversation -- but when you think of country music, for most people, the first image that comes to mind is Garth Brooks or Taylor Swift.

I don't get the impression that Justin Townes Earle is on a mission to change that, but I think his music has the power to.  His background and musical influences are obvious (um, Justin Townes Earle) -- but this dude clearly loves and appreciates the history of the music he plays.  During his set at Great Scott he took us all on a tour of southern roots music -- folk, honky tonk, blues, -- covering Woody Guthrie, Lightnin' Hopkins and The Replacements (!?).  His originals vary from traditional rave ups to country inflected folk ballads.  Live, the songs come to life even more than on record thanks to a fantastic band (fiddle and upright bass) and captivating stage presence and showmanship.  The full set is offered for stream or download below in excellent sound quality - enjoy!

Poor Fool
They Killed John Henry
Halfway to Jackson
I Don't Care (Woody Guthrie)
What Do You Do When You're Lonesome
Mama's Eyes
Boy Keep Movin'
Ain't Waitin'
A Wanderin'
So Different Blues (Mance Lipscom)
Starter Wont' Start (Lightnin' Hopkins)
Hard Livin'
What I Mean to You
Someday I'll Be Forgiven For This
Ain't Glad I'm Leavin'
Workin' For The MTA
Mama I'm Coming Home
Midnight at the Movies
South Georgia Sugar Babe
Can't Hardly Wait (The Replacements)
Walk Out
Close Up The Honky Tonks (Buck Owens)

Full set download (mp3 zip)


Check out State of Mind for fantastic photos from the show here

Wanted to share this video of Joe Pug and Justin Townes Earle covering Atlantic City by Bruce Springsteen from their show in Carrboro NC.  Love the quote "If you don't like Springsteen, then you don't like Woody Guthrie, which means you don't like songs"



Joe Pug: Great Scott, Allston - 3.4.10

Joe Pug's Nation of Heat EP was one of my favorite releases of 2008 and his set at the Newport Folk Festival last year was one of many highlights of that fantastic weekend.  When i talked to him following his set at Newport he wasn't sure when the debut full-length would be released, despite the fact that it was already done. The wait was well worth it - nearly six months later, The Messager was released on February 16.

I have given the album quite a few spins in the last couple weeks - highly recommended.  The songs sneak up on you, the magic is in the lyrics.  These are songs of doubt and loss, but are at the same time comforting and even uplifting.  Touring behind The Messenger and supporting Justin Townes Earle, Joe Pug played a fantastic 50 minute set featuring songs from both Nation of Heat and The Messenger.  Solo acoustic with electric accompaniment from Andrew Harrison on a few tracks (who notably sports one mean ass beard).

Full set available below for stream/download - sound is excellent despite some audience noise and a bit of distortion at the louder moments.  Enjoy!

Nation of Heat
I Do My Father's Drugs
How Good You Are
Unsophisticated Heart
Nobody's Man
The Door Is Always Open
Speak Plainly Diana
Unknown Song
Not So Sure
Hymn #35
Hymn #101


Note:  recordings are posted with the consent of the artist for personal use - do not sell any recordings found on visible voice.  Please support the artists featured on this page by buying their albums and visiting their websites.  Joe Pug official site