Anytime an album turns into a much-loved smash, there’s always an unnerving amount of pressure that gets applied to the follow-up release. Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent released O’ Be Joyful – their debut album under the Shovels & Rope name - in the summer of 2012 and it ended up taking the Americana/roots music world by storm. After extreme amounts of marathon touring and winning crowd after crowd over at each festival they played, the incomparable husband-and-wife duo are back with their sophomore release, Swimmin’ Time (out August 25 on Dualtone Records). To help alleviate the pressure and keep their own unique voice consistent throughout, Hearst and Trent once again wrote, played, and produced the album themselves, this time trading in the mobile recording confines of hotel rooms and vans for their home studio in Charleston, South Carolina. Fans of O’ Be Joyful will immediately feel the resonating themes that reappear on Swimmin’ Time, including the duo’s matchless vocal interplay, their garage-folk stompers, acoustic weepers, murder ballads, and their unparalleled chemistry that was felt so fiercely the first time around. In other words, forget dipping your toe in and prepare for a full-on cannonball into the deep end of Swimmin’ Time.

Ahead of the release of Swimmin’ Time, Shovels & Rope have compiled the Swimmin’ Time Primer. This fantastic 6-track EP is great for getting you up to speed on what they’ve done on previous albums and letting you know what to expect on their new album. Swimmin’ Time Primer kicks off with “When the Devil is All Around,” the first single from the new album. There’s also two tracks from O’ Be Joyful (“O’ Be Joyful” and “Shank Hill”) and a handful of rarities, including a cover of J Roddy Walston’s “Boys Can Never Tell,” a live version of “Lay Low” courtesy of KEXP and Pickathon, and “Mother’s Scorn” from their 2008 pre-duo collaborative album. Swimmin’ Time Primer ends up being a win-win as new fans will be able to jump right in and long-time fans will appreciate owning the tracks that have previously been unreleased.

This week I also interviewed Shovels & Rope and the charming duo opened up about some of the inspiration behind Swimmin’ Time, why they recorded the album themselves, and what exactly those audio easter eggs are that are layered underneath some of their songs.

From the song titles to the lyrics to the sonar ping that closes out the last track, your new album Swimmin’ Time is definitely – pardon the pun – swimming with watery themes. What do you think is the source of all the aquatic inspiration?
It happened as an accident that there were so many water themes in the new songs. It wasn’t planned. Some of the inspiration is geographical because we live around rivers and marshes and we see the tides every day. We are also informed by a certain anxiety that persists because we live near the sea. It’s easy to look around and see people disregarding the nature of, well, Nature, and it can make you nervous for the future. Coincidentally, we had a beautiful song about a doomed submarine and an ode to a river fisherman. We surrendered to the coincidence.

With your last album O’ Be Joyful making such a splash, you guys probably could’ve had your pick of producers for Swimmin’ Time. What drove the decision to produce the album yourselves?
It seems to serve us best to produce our own records at home. We had always made our own records, and we like having control over that process. But since we are always traveling, it also makes sense to make records while we are “resting up” at home. Its important that we can do it on our own time, on our own dime. We think part of the magic is that the music comes straight from us, warts and all, straight to the record store racks.

Your first single from Swimmin’ Time, “The Devil Is All Around,” perfectly captures the sugar and smoke vocals that distinguish Shovels & Rope from every other duo around. Did you both feel it the first time you ever sang together or did you come to it over time?
We could sing together pretty well right away, but it was the years of gigging that honed the sound. Once we really learned to sing together, we could imitate each other and match up tight when we wanted to or we would vibrate real loose and slow, but with purpose. Thats the fun of singing with another person, afterall.

Being that you both had solo careers before joining forces, do you still write songs alone and then bring them to each other or do you write from scratch together?
We write separately as well as together. It happens all different ways, but it’s rare that we’ll just sit down and write something together from scratch. Usually one of us will have an idea and bring it in. A verse, a chorus or a whole song… it’s different every time. It was a learning process at first but we’re getting better at it.

Much as you did with the last track on O’ Be Joyful (“This Means War”), the closing track on Swimmin’ Time (“Thresher”) contains a charming bit of recorded conversation. What’s the story behind both recordings and what extra warmth do you feel they bring to the songs?
We are always making “field recordings,” and they’re almost exclusively of interesting relatives. Both of those audio easter eggs are field recordings. The new one in “Thresher” is one we taped of G. Wayne “Pappy” Powell singing a Kris Kristopherson song “Why Me Lord”. It seemed to fit what might be the bittersweet reflection of a man in his last hours, remembering good times. The former, from “This Means War,” was a recording made of Nobert “Papaw” Ables talking to a 4-year-old Cary Ann about finding a trusty dog.  Creatively, they add another dimension to the song. It’s almost psychedelic to hear a voice in your music, dictating some element of the story. Personally, the recordings are that much more sentimental to us as well.

You can pre-order Swimmin’ Time directly from Shovels & Rope on cd or double-disc clear wax vinyl HERE.

When writer Will Hodge isn’t holding on tight to a David Bowie look-a-like circa ’85, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack

Greetings and salutations! Welcome to the weekend, my friends. This week, I had the absolute pleasure of getting to interview one of my favorite bands, Shovels & Rope, and the always-charming duo did not disappoint. I hope you take a moment to check out our discussion on the NoiseTrade blog and be sure to download their exclusive 6-track Swimmin’ Time Primer in advance of the August 25 release of their new album Swimmin’ Time. Shovels & Rope are hands-down one of the best bands around today and Swimmin’ Time Primer is a guaranteed good time. However, that’s not the only NoiseTrade release worth picking up this weekend. Be sure to sample these test-driven tunes as well and if you enjoy what you hear, consider leaving a tip for your favorites. Alrighty NoiseTraders, see you next Saturday!

They Might Be Giants
First Album Live

When They Might Be Giants first released their self-titled debut album in 1986, many people didn’t exactly know what to do with the quirky duo from Brooklyn. From the Lucy-Desi movie mention in the opener “Everything Right is Wrong Again” to the shout-outs to Menudo, MDC, Olive Oyl, and Eurythmics in the closer “Rhythm Section Want Ad” and every song in between, the two Johns (Flansburgh and Linnell) showcased their one-of-a-kind lyrical humor and their unconventional musical chops. They played their debut album in full during their tour last year and this 19-song recording shows that They Might Be Giants are just as fun and energetic now as they were when it was first released.

 

Sandra McCracken
Desire Like Dynamite (Sampler)

When she’s not channeling new standards for the modern hymn movement, collaborating with friends on the Rain for Roots children’s albums, or crafting inspired essays for the Art House America blog; uber-talented singer-songwriter Sandra McCracken somehow finds the time to write a song or two for her own albums. This stunning 5-song sampler for last year’s Desire Like Dynamite album features three amazing album tracks (“Go,” Gridlock,” and “Dynamite”), along with bonus alternate versions of “Hourglass” (Acoustic Version) and “The Wait” (Early Piano Version). Along with the honest songwriting and inspired musicianship, Desire Like Dynamite is overflowing with insight, emotion, action, rest, hurt, healing, relationships and the lived life. Simply put, finding a connection point is as easy as opening yourself up to one.

 

Colony House
Colony House [EP]


With the release of Colony House’s debut full-length album When I Was Younger earlier this week, it’s worth a reminder that they’ve got a self-titled 3-song EP available here on NoiseTrade. While “Keep On Keeping On” and “Waiting for My Time to Come” are available on the new album, “Only You” is exclusive to this EP. The exciting trio – formerly playing under the moniker Caleb – features brothers Caleb and Will Chapman on lead vocals/guitar and drums respectively and “brother in heart” Scott Mills on guitar. Their indie-rock tones and memorable melodies not only stand up to repeat listens, but they actually seem to get better with each additional spin.


 

The Tall Pines
Hearts and Highways


The Tall Pines is an explosive alt-blues/Americana husband and wife duo that has been described by NPR Music as being “equal parts soul and twang, molasses and moonshine, sass and skill.” The smoky soul vocals of Connie Lynn Petruk dance elegantly over the swampy guitar licks of Christmas Davis in a way that evokes both the past decades of roots music and the present moments of the current roots music revival. The rockabilly shuffle of “If the Devil Knows You By Name” and the tambourine-tinged electric blues of “Black Ribbon” provide the perfect sonic backdrop for the Southern gothic storytelling of The Tall Pines.


 

When writer Will Hodge isn’t o’ being joyful, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack

Happy Saturday to you and yours! Whether you’re reading this while still under the covers, devouring the Saturday morning staples (cold pizza and/or sugary, prize-filled cereal), or are already out enjoying the summer weather (I’ve heard of people that do that), I hope your weekend is off to a great start. Are you in need of some tasty tunes to help facilitate the frivolity? Well, as always we are here to help. This week’s picks offer a little something for everybody, including some whimsical Americana, bombastic pop-rock, hand-crafted hip-hop, and impressive singer-songwriter folk from a guy who’s still a few years short of getting his driver’s license. So what are you waiting for? Finish up those Fruity Pebbles and get to downloading!

Dead Fingers
Songs from Big Black Dog


Americana/folk duo Dead Fingers is one of the most refreshing acts I’ve ever heard come through NoiseTrade. They seamlessly blend together different forms of roots music to shape their own sonic hybrid of enchanting guy/girl vocals, quirky lyrics, and deceptively simplistic instrumentation. Their music has been compared to the collaborative work of John Prine and Iris Dement, but they’re certainly making a sound all their own. The country shuffle of “Twisted” and the railroad slink of “Free Tonight” are solid standouts on this fantastic sampler. If you dig Big Black Dog, Dead Fingers also has an equally beautiful self-titled debut album available from their site.

The Rival
The Rival


To help celebrate the release of their stellar brand new EP Endless out this week, The Rival are offering their self-titled debut album in full here on NoiseTrade. Songs like “It Ain’t Over,” “White Boots,” and “Open Road” showcase vocalist Phillip LaRue and multi-instrumentalist Allen Salmon’s effortless ability to create lush musical landscapes, adventurous melodies, and huge sing-along choruses. You’ve more than likely already heard their songs on a wide variety of television shows and advertising spots, with atmospheric album opener “Run Run” even appearing on the Apple iPhone 5 launch video back in 2012. Be sure to grab their debut album here and then head over to iTunes to pick up Endless as well.

Alert312
Singular Vision


I love organic hip-hop that’s produced through hand-made beats and real-world instruments. Alert312 (Boogalu and Moral One) take a fully analog approach to the aesthetics of their art – musically and visually – and the results yield an undeniable human touch that’s woven throughout all they do. Their new Singular Vision EP is a compilation of four singles that were released a week at a time and each one features a special guest: Tragic Hero, Lee Green, Sho Baraka, Jackie Hill Perry and Eshon Burgundy. The unique album artwork features the duo sitting in front of every instrument they used to create the tracks (look ma, no computers!) and the tactility-over-technology philosophy shines through in each song.

Sammy Brue
The Ghost of Woody Guthrie

With this week marking the celebration of folk legend Woody Guthrie’s birthday, it seems more than appropriate to highlight Sammy Brue’s folksy debut EP, The Ghost of Woody Guthrie. This young singer-songwriter has a depth of musical history in his songwriting that defies his 13 years. Take a listen to the title track or “LeRoy the Drifter” and you’d swear Brue had been spending his time riding the rails instead of roaming the halls of middle school. The EP closes out with the first song Brue ever wrote – at 10 years old, no less – that mentions Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie and not stopping until the world sees him “on the cover of the Rolling Stone.” It’s an ambitious dream from an amazing talent that will more than likely get to see it come true.

When writer Will Hodge isn’t walking that ribbon of highway, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack

With some insanely stellar releases from They Might Be Giants, The Howlin’ Brothers, and legendary classic rock/jazz drummer Ginger Baker, it’s been quite an exciting week for us here. Since I’m one of those people that actually count summer as their least favorite season, music is truly one of the few coping mechanisms to help me through. Thankfully, NoiseTrade is overflowing with fantastic releases to provide the much-needed aural air conditioning for my soul until sweet, sweet fall arrives. Until then, beware of back sweat, rethink those flip-flops, and enjoy this week’s selection of suggestions. Summer on!

(As always, be sure to click on each album title for a link to the artist’s download page.)

Trent Dabbs
The Career Collection



With the release of last year’s much lovedThe Way We Look at Horses, Trent Dabbs compiled a stunning retrospective sampler that featured the title track and a song from each of his previous albums. Dabbs’ textured folk-rock songwriting provides the perfect backdrop for his bluesy vocals to really shine, which is one of the defining factors that truly elevates him above the dime-a-dozen singer-songwriter crowd. While the entire sampler provides a wonderful snapshot of what Dabbs’ music offers, “Leave to See” from 2011’sSoutherner and “Harlem Rosewood” from 2006’s What’s Golden Above Ground are true standouts on this embarrassment of riches.

Andrew Bird
Hands of Glory & Break It Yourself



Andrew Bird’s unique mix of otherworldy violin skills, emotive vocals, and innovative musicianship makes each one of his releases a sonic journey worth taking. What this sampler lacks in quantity – four all-too-short songs – it more than makes up for in quality. Featuring “Spirograph” from Hands of Glory, “Fatal Shore” fromBreak It Yourself, and live versions of “Desperation Breeds” and “Orpheo Looks Back” from Northwest Passage, this sampler certainly works its intended magic. With Bird’s prolific back catalog and his wildly impressive list of guest appearances on other artists’ albums, you’re pretty much guaranteed to not run out of great tunes when you feel like you can’t get enough of his music.

Keaton Henson
Birthdays: A Fragment



Fragile vocals and washed-out guitar tones undergird the melancholy vibes of this 5-track sampler from Keaton Henson’s beautiful sophomore album Birthdays. While it may be one of the saddest collection of songs you’ve listened to in a while, Birthdays is heartbreakingly inescapable and certainly worth sitting with for awhile. “Sweetheart, What Have You Done to Us” is sure to stick with you long after your first listen. Also, be sure to check out Henson’s new album Romantic Works that he released last month Beyonce-style with no pre-release info or announcements.

Pilgrim
Pilgrim



When your bio promises “It’s as if Roxy Music merged with New Order and was remixed by Massive Attack,” you’re setting the bar insanely high for yourself. However, Pilgrim, the new electro-pop project from Portland, OR-based singer-songwriter Josh White, actually comes pretty close to delivering on that trifecta of inspiration. This self-titled release has a distinct 90s trip-hop slant to it and it sprinkles in enough 80s new wave synth and drum machine interaction to create a densely lush musical bed that’s easy to bliss out in.

When writer Will Hodge isn’t putting his hand inside the puppet head, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack

Happy holiday weekend to all those in the states and for all of our international friends, please send more hot dogs! As a kid growing up in suburban Atlanta in the ‘80s, July 4 only meant one thing: the Stone Mountain Laser Show. After a day of hauling my chubby childhood cheeks up 1,600 feet of quartz monzonite, I’d crash on a worn-out blanket with a bellyful of bad picnic food to watch a cheesy laser light show cast onto the face of the mountain. After all of the patriotic prerequisites, the grand finale featured the carved-in depictions of Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis “coming to life” as Elvis warbled “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” (Did I mention I grew up in the south?) Whatever YOUR plans are for this weekend – mine involve indulging my wife’s love of fireworks with a downtown bacchanalia – music is sure to play some part. If you’re like me, your playlist for this weekend certainly needs a little more oomph than just the standard “God Bless the USA” and “Living in America” hoopla, so here are a handful of heartily recommended tunes to help get you through the weekend.

(As always, be sure to click on each album title for a link to the artist’s download page.)

Jars of Clay
Gather and Build: A Collection


What better way to celebrate July 4 than with Jars of Clay’s whimsical cover of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land”? Along with their folksy spin on America’s unofficial anthem, Gather and Build also contains some new interpretations of their songs “Forgive Me” and “Flood.” Rounding out this release is a strong batch of catalog songs and some harder-to-find nuggets, such as “Save My Soul” and “Body and Wine” from the Freedom: Artists United for International Justice Mission album. This collection has something for everyone, from long-time Jars of Clay fans who want the rarities to newcomers who may have just found the band after last year’s release of Inland.

Guster
Live with the Redacted Symphony


If all you know of Guster is the ping-pong percussion of “Airport Song,” then you own it to your ears to test drive more of their amazing material. Live with the Redacted Symphony captures Guster in the habitat where they shine brightest, live on the stage. Their quirky alt-pop melodies, little-bit-of-everything instrumentation, and stunning vocal harmonies create a lush listening experience and you’ll find yourself singing along in no time. To get you started, “Fa Fa” and “Satellite” are perfect points of entry. If you like what hear – and I’m thinking that you will – Guster’s also got another live acoustic sampler available on our site.

Wild Moccasins/The Eastern Sea
Summer Tour Sampler


This split summer tour sampler features four songs a piece from Wild Moccasins and The Eastern Sea, two energetic Texas bands who are currently out on the road together. Wild Moccasins is a fun, dance-rock quintet co-led by engaging frontwoman Zahira Gutierrez and guitarist/vocal foil Cody Swann. The Eastern Sea has some of the most beautiful jangle-guitar tones this side of early 2000s emo, with “A Lie” being a multi-spin favorite of mine. Throw on this sampler for an instant party starter of back-and-forth bliss outs. Much like Guster, if you like what you hear from The Eastern Sea, they’ve got last year’s summer tour sampler available on our site as well.

The Choir
Shadow Weaver [EP]


Starting out in the early ‘80s California punk/alternative scene, The Choir is one of the more legendary establishments within the realms of the Christian alternative subgenre. Their new album Shadow Weaver was funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign last year and this sampler EP contains three tracks from the new album: “What You Think I Am,” “Two Clouds Are One,” and “White Knuckles.” They also threw in seven bonus songs from their previous albums, in case you’re in need of an introduction – or reintroduction – to The Choir’s musical legacy. If you’re sampling the catalog tracks, be sure to give “After All” a listen, as guest vocalist Leigh Nash (Sixpence None the Richer) floats her beautifully ethereal voice over the atmospheric guitar lines to dizzying effect.

When writer Will Hodge isn’t telling Eddie Murphy to eat his heart out, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack

Happy Saturday to you and yours! From working on a retrospective album project with one of my favorite bands on Tuesday to getting four root canals done on Wednesday, my week has been a bit of a mixed bag. However, it’s the freakin’ weekend baby and I’m about to have me some fun! It’s been a super exciting week on the NoiseTrade front as we helped to celebrate the first vinyl pressing of Sufjan Stevens’ Enjoy Your Rabbit with a limited-time digital download of the entire album. This electronic instrumental concept album is equal parts weird and wonderful, with Sufjan’s untouchable mix of orchestration and chaos on full, indulgent display. While it may be the dark horse of his catalog, it’s certainly worth the ride. While you’re downloading the goodness, here are a few more selections that are worth your time and attention.

(As always, be sure to click on each album title for a link to the artist’s download page.)

The 77’s
The Late Greats – 2014 Summer Tour Mix

As a 90s-era YGK (youth group kid), the 77’s Drowning with Land in Sight album garnered a lot of spins from me thanks to their killer cover of Led Zeppelin’s cover of Blind Willie Johnson’s “Nobody’s Fault But Mine”. That song, along with 13 other catalog nuggets, comprises The Late Greats, a career-spanning compilation celebrating their upcoming summer tour. The 77’s got their start all the way back in the early 80s, so there’s a lot of rock and roll real estate covered here. If you’re not already a fan, the aforementioned “Nobody’s Fault but Mine,” their cover of Wilco’s “The Late Greats,” and their original “Frames Without Photographs” are fantastic entry points.

Roadkill Ghost Choir
“A Blow to the Head” (single)

Roadkill Ghost Choir is an imaginative indie-folk quintet that made quite an impression with their two sets at Bonnaroo a couple weeks ago. Take a listen to “A Blow to the Head” – the first single from their upcoming debut full length In Tongues (August 19) – and you’ll set what the buzz is about. Combining alt-folk ambiance with psych-rock flourishes, “A Blow to the Head” moves through a few different sonic spaces in its 6-plus minutes and closes out in bombastic fashion. If you like what you hear – and I’m thinking you will – be sure to pick up their debut EP Quiet Light, available here on NoiseTrade as well.

Propaganda & Odd Thomas
Art Ambidextrous

Another week, another pick from the indefatigable Humble Beast collective. There’s a lot to love about this 2011 collaboration featuring Propaganda’s pen and Odd Thomas’ production, two great tastes that always taste great together. Tracks like “Como Se Dice,” “So Help Me,” and “I Hate It” carry a lot of weight and showcase both of their immense talents. They even bring a few friends like Braille and Alert312 along for the ride. Poetic rhymes, slick production, and real world themes make Art Ambidextrous a must have for any fan of conscientious hip-hop.

Humming House
Live at the Red Clay Theatre

With a unique mixture of all manner of traditional folk music genres (bluegrass, Americana, soul), Humming House brings the best parts of the past forward and adds their own modern spin to create a nostalgic freshness of sound. This live 6-song EP showcases their proclivity for energetic performances and their cover of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” is not to be missed. As a special bonus for Humming House fans, this is also the only release to feature “Breakfast,” a non-album, fan favorite at their live shows.

When writer Will Hodge can’t hear it on the radio, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack

 

Greeting and salutations! Whether I’m giving in to my OCD tendencies, simply enjoying a good challenge, or just shamelessly borrowing the format of This American Life, I decided to make this week’s Weekend Wrap-Up theme-based. The common denominator of my four picks this week is pretty simple – they’re all some of my favorite duos that are currently offering something here on NoiseTrade. As Ike and Tina, The White Stripes, and Hall and Oates have shown us, there is a unique power that is created when two musical beings can crystallize into one inseparable entity. Sure, sometimes the experiment goes awry and we get Nelson or The Weather Girls, but at least that kind of fallout gave us the karaoke knock-out punch of “It’s Raining Men.” No need to worry about any duo duds here though. Give these albums a listen and get your weekend started off on the good foot!

Sugar & the Hi-Lows
Sugar & the Hi-Lows

When solo artists Amy Stroup and Trent Dabbs first announced that they would be making music as the duo Sugar & the Hi-Lows back in 2012, there wasn’t a question of if it would be good, just one of how good it was going to be. Well, it’s safe to say that even with high hopes, their self-titled debut exceeded expectations. Their soulful sing-a-longs, garage-rock guitars, and vintage sonic vibe are only surpassed by the grandeur of their sweet-and-salty vocal mix. Come for the Motown flavors of “I’ve Got You Covered” and “Stubborn Lover” and stay for the bluesy swagger of “See It For Yourself” and “Two Day High.”

Shovels & Rope
NoiseTrade Sampler

In the spirit of full disclosure, let it be known that Shovels & Rope is actually one of my hands-down favorite bands from the last five years or so. I’ll try to headlock the fanboy and keep it brief. Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent are as explosively energetic as they come, but the dashing duo can also simmer and smolder at the drop of a hat. They have a brand new album called Swimmin’ Time due out August 26, and this exclusive NoiseTrade sampler will bring you up to speed with the geographically gorgeous “Birmingham” (from their smash debut album O’ Be Joyful) and a few songs each from their previous solo releases. Start your day with “The Winner” and end it on the back porch with “Who’s Gonna Raise These Babies” and you’ll go to bed with a full heart and a smile.

Ahead of August 26, here’s the video for “The Devil is All Around” the first single from Swimmin’ Time:

Mystery Twins
The Politics of Being Alone [EP]

Working with just a guitar, drums, and the singular voice that is created from the joint vocals of Stephanie Bush and Doug Lehman, Mystery Twins is a wonderfully raw and charismatic duo with a taste for experimentation. The Politics of Being Alone is an incredibly inventive EP that takes tracks from their debut full-length album Ghost in the Ground and reimagines them with sound collages, old movie footage, and audio recordings of enigmatic poets Charles Bukowski and Henry Miller spliced throughout. The result is a startling comment on individuality, isolation, and our endless attempts to find points of connection.

Grace & Tony
Hey Grace, Hey Tony

Grace & Tony blend punk, folk, gospel, bluegrass, and Texas swing into a curious concoction they refer to as “punkgrass” and I just can’t seem to get enough of it. I love their ability to sing murder ballads and love songs with equal aplomb. This four-song sampler features selections from their debut November and it does a great job of whetting the appetite for the full album. Each song features their acoustic instrumental prowess and their fluid and flirtatious vocals, a combination that has already been cemented as their calling card.

You can check out their tastefully shot black and white music video for “November” here:

When writer Will Hodge can’t go for that, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack

Welcome to the weekend, my friends! As you may have noticed, the NoiseTrade Friday Four has morphed a little bit into Will’s Weekend Wrap-Up. While the name has changed, the song remains the same. Each week I’ll still be doing my best to help you navigate through the thousands and thousands of releases on NoiseTrade by spotlighting four selections that are worthy of your time and attention to check out. Some selections will be old, some will be brand new, some will be by artists you know, and some will be by artists you may have never listened to before. However, they will all share one common denominator – they’ve been test-driven by yours truly and have been compiled here as a weekly digital mixtape from my musical heart to yours.

(As always, be sure to click on each album title for a link to the artist’s download page.)

Mike Doughty
The Furthermost of Mike Doughty

You may know Mike Doughty from his days fronting ’90s cult favorite Soul Coughing or from his prolific solo work since the early 2000s. However, if the name is new to you, The Furthermost of Mike Doughty offers you a chance to dive earsfirst into his poetic, guitar-driven wonderment. This 14-year retrospective features selections from his solo output (start with “Looking At The World From The Bottom Of A Well”), reworkings of Soul Coughing songs (“The Idiot Kings” is a must spin), a quirky sample-infused cover of John Denver’s “Sunshine on My Shoulders” (titled “Sunshine” here), and a tasty Christmas duet with Rosanne Cash.

Sarah Macintosh
The Waiters, the Watchers, the Listeners, the Keepers, and Me

Sarah Macintosh’s angelic voice effortlessly floats above and swirls around the alt-rock, electro-pop atmospherics of her songs in a way that shows a beautiful ebb and flow of restraint and abandonment. While her songs can be equally at home within a church or a club show, the place they will take up residence most in is your heart. The percussive thump of “Stop! Stop!” and the waltzy piano-riffed “Be Glorified” are fantastic starting points on this one.

Asthmatic Kitty Records
Asthmatic Kitty Digitial Sampler Spring 2014

Asthmatic Kitty Records is one of my favorite indie labels and their diverse roster of left-of-center artists never ceases to surprise and delight me. Their Spring 2014 sampler celebrates Asthmatic Kitty’s 15th year as a label and features standout tracks from Sufjan Stevens, Denison Witmer, Fol Chen, Sisyphus, and more. There are a few previously unreleased gems on here (such as Lily and Madeleine’s acoustic version of “I’ve Got Freedom”), some recently released goodies (Sisyphus’ unbeatable “Lion’s Share”), and a closing 13-minute electronically epic “Year of the Horse” from Sufjan Stevens to honor his 2001 album Enjoy Your Rabbit being pressed on vinyl for this very first time this summer.

Caitlin Rose
NoiseTrade Eastside Manor Sessions [EP]

We recorded Caitlin Rose last summer for one of our earliest Eastside Manor Sessions and this one’s a beaute. Caitlin’s smoky, ethereal vocals shine through the lounge-tinged, vintage country vibe of her songs and being able to capture it all in a live setting like this speaks volumes to her talents. “Pink Champagne” is a gorgeous weeper and “No More Lonely” is a fun rockabilly rocker, but you should seriously just download the whole thing and enjoy every second of this all-too-short EP.

You can also check out the entire session, some behind-the-scenes B-roll footage, and an interview with Caitlin in this video:

When writer Will Hodge isn’t blaming the memory of old numbers, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack

Happy Friday, my friends! I hope all of your weeks have been filled with awesomeness and fun times. I may or may not be destroying the competition in a Karate Kid-style ping-pong tournament this evening, so wish me luck. It’s been a good week for great music around these here parts and we’ve got some really excited things queued up over the next few weeks as well, so stay tuned. (Don’t you hate it when people announce non-announcements?) Before we get into this week’s NoiseTrade Friday Four, just a friendly reminder that there are only 201 shopping days left until Christmas!

(As always, be sure to click on each album title for a link to the artist’s download page.)

Ethan Luck
Hard Seas [EP]

Ethan Luck has spent the bulk of his musical career behind a drum set and guitar for a variety of bands, but recently he has stepped up to the microphone with a couple of stellar EPs. Earlier this year, he released Hard Seas, an incredible follow-up to his debut solo EP, Wounds & Fears. Luck mixes his punk rock roots with a West Coast country twang and a sprinkling of sparse folk simplicity that fits nicely between your Social Distortion and Old 97s albums.

Josh Garrels
Sampler 2014

Josh Garrels is a NoiseTrade favorite and you can take a listen to any of his releases to quickly find out why. With a new album set for release later this year, Josh has compiled a sampler of some of his previous work to help fill in the gaps of your collection or initiate you into the fold. Sampler 2014 features six previously released gems from Over Oceans (2006), Jacaranda (2008), Lost Animals (2009), Love & War & The Sea in Between (2011), The Sea in Between soundtrack (2013), and Kye Kye’s remix of “Rise” from the Love & War B-Sides album. You can check out the scenic live video for “Pilot Me” below.

Beautiful Eulogy
Instruments of Mercy

I know it seems like I’m featuring someone from the Humble Beast collective every other week, but when you got it, you got it. Beautiful Eulogy is actually a trio of artist/producers – Braille, Odd Thomas, and Courtland Urbano – that you may already know from their other solo projects and collaborations. Their brand of organic hip-hop is very lyric-driven and features clean, uncluttered sonic backdrops that bubble and percolate behind their impressive rhymes.

Forecastle Festival
Forecastle Festival Mixtape 2014

This year’s Forecastle Festival takes place July 18-20 in Louisville, KY and the incredible list of performers including Jack White, Outkast, Beck, The Replacements, Nickel Creek, Gary Clark, Jr. and more guarantees a mind-blowingly good time. This 23-track mixtape showcases some of the 40+ acts, with standouts from Local Natives, Mount Moriah, Drew Holcomb, Sun Kil Moon, and Trampled by Turtles. The entire 3-day lineup can be found at http://lineup.forecastlefest.com.

When writer Will Hodge isn’t waxing the car, painting the fence, and sanding the floor, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack

Happy Friday guys and gals! The weekend is upon us and with a graduation and a wedding on the books, I’m super excited about this week’s batch of road-worthy tunes. I truly hope you’ve been able to find some new favorites each week in the NoiseTrade Friday Four and if you’ve got some recommendations yourself, feel free to leave them in the comments.

(As always, be sure to click on each album title for a link to the artist’s download page.)

Amanda Palmer
Theatre is Evil Sampler


Theatre is Evil came out back in 2012, but it’s a dandy of an album and totally worthy of a shot if you’ve never given it a listen. Amanda Palmer did a Kickstarter for this album and ended up raising over 1.1 million dollars, a crowdfunding record at the time. Palmer is certainly one of the most energetic and enigmatic artists around and after listening to gems like “Want it Back” and “Ukulele Anthem,” you’ll hear exactly what all the hype is about.

Chatham County Line/Aoife O’Donovan
Telluride


This exclusive split EP from Chatham County Line and Aoife O’Donovan is a don’t-miss download for a couple different reasons. First, the music is incredible. Chatham County Line’s bluegrass-flavored folk and Aoife O’Donovan’s Americana acoustic storytelling are both solid examples of well-written roots music. Second, when you download this 6-track EP you’ll automatically be entered for a chance to win a 4-day pass to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival taking place June 18-22.

Civilian
Should This Noose Unloosen


If you dig melodic guitar-driven indie rock that is equal parts quirky and innovative, Civilian has got a little something for you, man. Should This Noose Unloosen eloquently traverses a few different sonic paths and the sonic swagger of “Teach That Girl To Dance” and the dreamy ebb and flow of the title track are fantastic on-ramps to join in on the journey.

The Welcome Wagon
Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing [EP]


The Welcome Wagon is a wonderfully eclectic married duo comprised of Monique and Reverend Thomas Vito Aiuto and Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing is a wonderfully eclectic EP of hymns produced by Sufjan Stevens. This EP was released between their self-titled debut and their sophomore release Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices and it carries on in their beautiful mix of sacred texts and kitchen-sink instrumentation.

When writer Will Hodge isn’t half a person, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack

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