Entries in Wooden Dinosaur (6)


#ff Wooden Dinosaur, The Oh Hellos, Josh Netsky + Kopecky Family Band

Words // Scott Pingeton

New thing here that I'll try to keep going for at least 2 weeks.  You tweeters might recognize #ff as the hash tag for "friday follow"...or basically "it's friday, follow these people".  That's kind of the idea here too.  Cool stuff that's new or old, but I'm digging it and want to share.

Wooden Dinosaur - "Good Winter"
These Vermonters are one of my favorite New England bands.  Songwriter Michael Roberts writes literate, heartfelt folk songs that are perfectly suited for summer dusk porchlight or winter's coldest nights.  On their brand new (and excellent) album Spaces, the sound expands a bit from 2010's Nearly Lost Stars - expect more electric guitar and more yodeling (both good things).  Roberts is a master of wringing pure emotion from the strings of an electric guitar - listen to his work on David Wax Museum's excllent Everything Is Saved and on "Good Winter" off Spaces.  This song will singlehandedly propel me through the dreary final days of winter still to come and usher me into spring's embrace.  Absolutely love it.

Wooden Dinosaur - Good Winter


The Oh Hellos - "Hello My Old Heart"
When Jay Sweet, Newport Folk Festival producer and musical tastemaker, tweets about a new band he's digging, you listen.  That's how you discover bands like The Oh Hellos.  The band cites Mumford & Sons as an influence, and I believe it after hearing how "Hello My Old Heart" builds from a beautifully simple folk tune into a majestic anthem complete with layered vocals, handclaps and strings.  Grab their excellent 4-song EP right here (pay what you want!).

The Oh Hellos - Hello My Old Heart


Josh Netsky - "The Spirits"
Reverby vocals  give "The Spirits" a dream-like quality, but a military march propels the song forward - alternately staggering through a hazy psych-folk fog and bouncing along on plucked banjo notes.  Rochester NY's Josh Netsky is brand new to me, but I can't get enough of this song.  Grab "The Spirits" for free on his bandcamp page, or get the whole album for just $5 (recommended).

Josh Netsky - The Spirits


Kopecky Family Band
I'll leave you with this, because it's just freaking fantastic and needs no introduction...


New music: Wooden Dinosaur - "I Shot A Gun"

Words // Scott Pingeton

Wooden Dinosaur's Nearly Lost Stars was one of my favorite albums of 2010.  A perfect marriage of casual backporch folk instrumentation and songwriter Michael Roberts' poignant, melody-wrapped lyrics.  Since the release of Nearly Lost Stars, Roberts has been busy.  He's played a bunch of shows with Wooden Dinosaur, toured as a member of The David Wax Museum (including stops at Newport Folk and NPR's Tiny Desk Series), got married, signed to Last Kind Word Records and still carved out enough time to work on the next Wooden Dinosaur record.  "I Shot A Gun" is the first track off that upcoming album, and it picks right up where Nearly Lost Stars left off.  Shuffling percussion, appalachain fiddle and mounful pedal-steel guitar propel the song, which features plainspoken lyrics that recall Townes Van Zandt (at least to my ears).  I officially cannot wait to hear what Roberts & co. have in store for the rest of the album which drops February 7.  Watch the video for "I Shot A Gun" below and get excited:


Review: Brown Bird, The Devil Makes Three, Wooden Dinosaur - Pawtucket RI 5.19 

By Brian Hodge

Dave Lamb has got some striking ink.

The bearded singer (and guitarist and percussionist) of Brown Bird boasts sailing ships, dark bands and other interesting designs. But the most captivating piece resides on the lengths of his fingers, between his first and second knuckles.

It is there you can see the word “COME” clearly scrawled down his hand, the ‘c’ beginnning on the index and the word unapologetically creeping towards the pinky.  On his opposite hand lives the word “HOME.”

Put together, it’s a pretty powerful missive.

The duo are based out of Rhode Island but they recently looked quite at home on multiple instruments, percussive kick-drums and their barnstorming brand of outlaw folk-rock.  Their blending of distant influences (delta blues, eastern European) has allowed them to travel far and wide, but at the Met Cafe in their native Rhode Island, the pair looked glad to be home amongst friends and family, releasing their new EP.

The Sound of Ghosts continues the bands bold, upward trajectory, building upon the dark, engrossing Devil Dancing.  The four track effort features a Lamb’s solid baritone voice in full, confident force.  Morgan Eve Swain (violin, cello, upright bass) sounds more assured in both her fiddling and her vocals, particularly on the brisk “Cast No Shadow.”

(She is also more than capable in laying down the groove on the upright bass.  Check “Bilgewater” for proof.)

Brown Bird - Bilgewater

“Rat Tail” is a bluesy tune that takes a worms-eye view of the Rhode Island shipyard and the aforementioned “Cast No Shadow” carries over their effective sing-a-long sorrowful choruses.  All together, The Sound of Ghosts steps with the livelier pulse of a well-seasoned outfit poised for larger leaps.

The pair also played a new song from their full length album due out this fall.  It had a cinematic, Middle Eastern bazaar flair with the violin substituting for a sitar sound.

Put simply, if Brown Bird continues to make records - and put on shows - as good as these, you may want to catch them while they’re still around, lest you be the ones imploring them to come home.  They still have a few more Rhode Island dates on the books, including the Newport Folk Festival.  These dates (as well as their new EP) can be found here.


The Silks opened the evening with dance-friendly southern soul that owed a sly smile to Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Wooden Dinosaur were next with honest, earnest folk music.  The lyrics of Michael Roberts were well-suited for the bands gently rolling swells and choruses.  The jazziest tunes were graceful and rife with Dixieland motifs, led by the melodic trumpet of Craig Barowsky (even if a bit hobbled by a foot injury.)

The Devil Makes Three were the third act and boasted a raucous followin.  The trio cranked out punk-infused folk music, sounding a bit like if Robert Johnson went down to the crossroads and came back with a new tattoo.


Visible Voice Winter 2011 Mixtape

So, this is the first of what will be a quarterly thing on Visible Voice...the seasonal mixtape.  I plan to use these mixtapes as an opportunity to share some of my favorite new music.  Great tunes by local or not-so-local bands that you should know and, in many cases, tracks that have not been officially or widely released yet.  For this inaugural winter mix a cold, snowy Boston is my (our) backdrop and, fittingly for this time of year, many of the songs here evoke themes of reflection.  During the cold winter months I find that the music I listen to becomes increasingly spare, unadorned, raw.  These songs fit that mold; gritty and uncompromising, yet intensely beautiful.  I'm sharing this as two "sides" (think cassettes, vinyl), instead of individual mp3s, so that this might be listened to as a cohesive whole.  There will also be a limited number of physical copies available with individual tracks, please email if you'd like one.  

A huge thanks goes out to all of the bands that agreed to take part.  Please support them by buying their music and going to shows.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I have putting it together -- and please share!

Side A
1. You Are Not My Love - Wooden Dinosaur
2. I'll Be Fooled Again - Twain
3. Great Move North - Faces On Film
4. Wither on the Vine, pt. 2 - The Old Ceremony
5. Wolves of Winter - Lonesome Lake


Side B
1. Dancing On Your Tears - Hands and Knees
2. Long Time - Guards
3. Sweeties Babies - Push Pals
4. Say What You Will - Joe Fletcher & The Wrong Reasons
5. Crooked Road Blues - Mount Peru




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



Recommended: Wooden Dinosaur

This post has been a long time coming.  Nearly Lost Stars, the debut album from Vermont's Wooden Dinosaur, is one of my favorite albums of the year so far.  Michael Roberts' timeless lyrics are the centerpiece of these folk songs, but the band's interesting arrangements help flesh things out.  Horns, bells, banjo and strings add color to the sepia-toned fingerpicked acoustic guitar that forms the base of these songs.  Highly recommend checking this out - buy the record here, or check out more tracks on their myspace

One of many favorites from the album:

Wooden Dinosaur - Can't Be Me

The band plays All Asia in Cambridge on May 21.  Look for more on Wooden Dinosaur on visible voice soon.