Entries in The Head and the Heart (13)


The Head And The Heart - Live at the Paradise Boston 4.20.11

The Head And The Heart's fantastic self-titled debut record landed at #14 on my favorite albums of 2010 list.  The truth is, with a few more months to marinate, it's now probably somewhere in the top 10.  Songs of weariness, of love and of home, delivered with honesty, confidence and a bouncy folk-pop jangle.  With a rough-edged charm, sugary-sweet melodies, male-female vocals and earnest stories of distance, there's a lot to love about this band.

As memorable as the songs themselves are, I'll never forget the journey they took into my collection.  Waking up in Seattle, hungover, with fading, hours-old memories of hearing about this great band that had just signed to Sub Pop records, I opened the band's myspace page and let the music revive me.  It wasn't long before I was in a coffeeshop expousing the merits of the band from my little soapbox here.  Hours later I was on a mission to get the album; a digital download just wouldn't do, I needed the physical artifact.  You see, there was no telling if I would have another chance to get the pre-Sub Pop self-released version back home in Boston - and for someone like me, that just wouldn't do.  So we walked.  First a pleasant stroll to Sonic Boom Lower Queen Anne.  "Sold out".  Then, coffee in-hand, a longer jaunt in a steady drizzle to Silver Platters.  "Nope, but Sonic Boom Capitol Hill might have some copies".  The cold drizzle now a heavy downpour, we kept walking - there was one last chance.  Through puddles and mud and tire spray, up Capitol Hill (the long, long way) and finally success.  I've never worked so hard to get my hands on an album.  Admittedly, it was a little insane - but well-worth all the effort.

So, you can understand my excitement this past weekend to see the band live for the first time.  As good as the songs are on record, believe me when I say that this is a band that you have to see live.  Playing their first-ever shows in Boston in support of Dr. Dog, they exuded the stage presence of a band far more seasoned.  It was one of the most impressive opening sets I've seen in a long time.  They held the focus of a rowdy crowd, performing a set that was energetic, engaging and hopefully a precursor to many headlining shows to come.

Check out a full recording of the show below - taped from the front row of the balcony, the sound is excellent.  Please support the band by picking up their album here.

The Head And The Heart
Paradise Rock Club - Boston, MA
February 20, 2011

Cats And Dogs
Honey Come Home
Heaven Go Easy On Me
Lost In My Mind
Winter Song
Sounds Like Hallelujah
Down In The Valley
Rivers And Roads

Full set download: mp3 zip

More photos



Dr. Dog + The Head And The Heart @ Paradise 2/19-20


This weekend sees two of the best indie-folk-rock bands out there playing not one but two shows at The Paradise in Boston.  You've got two chances, don't blow it and miss out on this.

If you need convincing, here are some tunes.  Seattle's The Head And The Heart recently signed to Sub Pop, and their fantastic debut album has just been released.  Preview "Down In The Valley", a gorgeous road song...

The Head And The Heart - Down In The Valley

We were in the house the last time Dr. Dog played the Paradise and got this fantastic live recording to prove it.  Enjoy!

Dr. Dog
Paradise Rock Club - Boston MA
May 12, 2010

Mirror Mirror
Hang On
The Old Days
Army Of Ancients
The Way The Lazy Do
Shadow People
The Ark
The World May Never Know
I Only Wear Blue
Unbearable Why
The Beach
The Breeze
The Rabbit, The Bat and The Reindeer
The Girl
Shame, Shame
Jackie Wants a Black Eye
Die Die Die
Fat Dog
Easy Beat
Heart It Races (Architecture In Helsinki)
My Friend

Full set download:  mp3 zip


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



New music: The Head and the Heart - "Down In The Valley"

I've been in Seattle for just over 12 hours and it's been quite a whirlwind.  Last night I found myself sitting in a bar around 5am Boston-time, listening to Curtis Mayfield and talking with a former member of a band that I was assured I "had to check out".  The band's name was The Head and the Heart.  A few short hours later, after some much-needed sleep, a strong cup of coffee and The Head and the Heart's "Down In The Valley" eased my hangover.  A mix of bouncy Beatles-esque pop with a folky edge, pop sensibilities and enough gruffness from Josiah Johnson's to avoid getting too cute.  The songs are carefully written, expertly arranged and lovingly executed - a fully realized piece of art, not your average debut album.  Not breaking any news here, the album has been out for months -- in fact, I'm pretty sure I had listened to a few tracks before now, but for some reason this just sounds perfect today. Enjoy "Down In The Valley" below...

The Head and the Heart - Down In The Valley

The Head and the Heart will be at the Paradise on February 19 with Dr. Dog.

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