Entries in Ryan Adams (5)


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


Favorite Albums of 2011 20-11

20. Hey Rosetta!
Lush strings, crunchy guitars and anthemic crescendos propel this ambitious and addictive collection of songs from underrated Canadian indie-popsters. 

 Hey Rosetta - Yer Spring

19. Dawes - Nothing Is Wrong
The sophomore effort from California-based road warriors Dawes didn't quite meet my high expectations.  A solid effort, seemingly teleported straight out of 1975 - but just didn't grab me the way North Hills did.  Still among the best live bands you'll see, though.

 Dawes - Fire Away

18. The Decemberists
The King Is Dead
A welcome return to the straightforward folk sound that the band had moved away from on recent records.  No bloated arrangements or convoluted storyline - just simple songs and Colin Meloy's lyrics on full display.  Plus a little help from Peter Buck and Gillian Welch.   

 The Decemberists - This Is Why We Fight

17. Kurt Vile
Smoke Ring For My Halo
Where past records were draped in a haze of guitar effects and muddy noise, Smoke Ring For My Halo is crisp and clear.  The melodies and lyrics are discernable and the genius of Kurt Vile's songwriting is on full display.  

Kurt Vile - Baby's Arms

16. Real Estate
On Days, New Jersey beachniks Real Estate clean up the production a bit without losing their lo-fi charm, and deliver another batch of summery pop songs that range from roadtrip-ready singalongs to slow-burning sunset jams.

Real Estate - It's Real

15. The Devil Whale Teeth
A lucky discovery early in 2011, The Devil Whale released their sophomore effort Teeth in May.  The Utah-based band creates catchy indie-pop that recalls Dr. Dog or a grittier The Head And The Heart. 

 The Devil Whale - Earthquake Dreams

14. Roadside Graves
We Can Take Care of Ourselves
Ramshackle, whiskey-soaked folk-rock from New Jersey's Roadside Graves.  A concept album loosely based on S.E. Hinton's classic "The Outsiders", the story of the Greasers and the Socs sets a backdrop but never feels forced or contrived.

Roadside Graves - Hank Williams

13. Ryan Adams
Ashes & Fire
Ryan Adams' music ushered me through the most formative years of my life, from high school to college and beyond.  29, Easy Tiger and Cardinology kind of lost me - but Ashes & Fire has me back on board.  Focused, honest and sans-Cardinals...welcome back Ryan.

Ryan Adams - Ashes & Fire   

12. The Low Anthem
Smart Flesh
Local favorites The Low Anthem return with their third full-length.  What Smart Flesh may lack in cohesiveness it makes up for in spirit - with whisper-soft hymns standing alongside ragged folk-rockers.

The Low Anthem - Boeing 737

11. Tristen
  Charlatans At The Garden Gate
I was late to come around on Tristen, but have been making up for lost time.  Tristen treads in similar waters to Sharon Van Etten, a strong woman writing about ellusive love and failed relationships.  However, she paints with a more vibrant and diverse pallette - great stuff.

 Tristen - Avalanche



Catching up: The Barr Brothers, Ryan Adams and Real Estate

Words // Scott Pingeton

Each of these albums rightly deserves it's own full review, but I've been busy and procrastinating and it's just not happening.  So, let's call this a quick catch up on new(ish) stuff you should be listening to...

The Barr Brothers - self-titled

Beggar In The Morning

Since being tipped-off to these guys by a VV reader over a year ago, I've been anxiously awaiting the release of The Barr Brothers' self-titled debut; a wait made more excruciating by the fact that I've known the album has been complete for months, but haven't been able to hear it.  Now it's finally out and I've spent some time with it I can say it was well worth the wait.  The brothers Barr have traded in some of the glossier production from their former band The Slip (highly recommended as well) in favor of more subtle, earthy and ethereal nuances that recall their friends The Low Anthem.  In fact, some of the tracks (see "Cloud (For Lhasa)" and "Ooh, Belle") would not sound at all out of place on a Low Anthem record - and Jocie Adams even makes an appearance on the record.  "Beggar In The Morning" will probably end up on many year-end "best song" lists, but the secret is there's about 4 other songs on the album that are just as good.  If you're a fan of The Low Anthem, Iron & Wine and the like this is absolute must-listen stuff.


Ryan Adams - Ashes & Fire

Ashes & Fire

Ryan Adams emerges from semi-retirement with one of the most impressive records of his turbulent post-Whiskeytown years.  That isn't to say it's his best - or even close to it - but it's certainly one of his most consistent.  Ashes & Fire signals return to folkier territory after the increasingly alt-pop leanings of the latter Cardinals records.  That alone would be a welcome change from my perspective, but the songs themselves are some of the best he has released in the last 5 years.  "Dirty Rain", "Ashes & Fire", "Lucky Now" and "Do I Wait" are all among Adams' best work. For a songwriter that made his name playing the "lovelorn trouadour" card, he shows that he can write from the happier side of love too.  In fact, he finally sounds comfortable, unafraid to be honest - maybe the best is yet to come.  Great new records from Wilco and Ryan Adams?  Feels like I'm in college again.


Real Estate - Days

It's Real

Full disclosure:  I'm a total Real Estate fan boy.  I've been all-in on this band since I grabbed their "Black Lake" 7" on a whim and totally fell in love.  I wore out the band's self-titled debut and tracked down every live recording and b-side I could.  Every new track I heard leading up to the release of their sophomore LP Days ratcheted up my anticipation more - "Out Of Tune", "It's Real", "Green Aisles" - reaching a fever pitch.  I held off on listening to the full album until my vinyl copy finally arrived last week, and since then I've fully immersed myself in it.  And this is truly music to get immersed in - with swirling, hypnotic guitar lines and a laid-back summer vibe.  While the band certainly hasn't abandon the hazy vibe of the band's previous work, Days does show a progression towards a cleaner more accessible sound.  While the songs still sound like they were conceived in a basement, it no longer sounds like they were recorded in one.  Let this be your antidote to winter.


New music: Ryan Adams - Lucky Now

Ryan Adams' semi-retirement ends on October 11 when Ashes & Fire drops, the once-prolific songwriter's first collection of new music since the lackluster Cardinology (III/IV were from the Easy Tiger sessions, so that doesn't count).  The first single "Lucky Now" finds Adam trading in the glossier pop/rock production of his later work with the Cardinals for a more stripped-down sound that will appeal to fans of his earlier solo work.  A great song and strong indication that Ashes & Fire might be a wecome return to form.   Preorder Ashes & Fire here and check out "Lucky Now" below...

Ryan Adams - Lucky Now by ryanadams


New Ryan Adams: Class Mythology 7" - "Go Ahead And Rain"

One of many things that caught my eye when checking out the Record Store Day lineup today was a new 2x7" EP from Ryan Adams.  Yes please.  From what I can gather, the EP will contain four Cardinology-era outtakes.  Far from my favorite era of his varied output, but I can't say no to new music from Ryan Adams. 

So, want a preview??  Here's one-fourth of the EP for your listening pleasure: