Interview with Drew Holcomb

by Will Hodge Published Nov 24, 2014

Americana has become one of those genres that is easier to define by its characters than its characteristics, a fact that is wonderfully embodied by the boundary-blurring sound of Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors. Over the last decade, Holcomb and his band have put out some of the best roots-inspired music the genre has to offer, with their previous album Good Light garnering them their largest audience yet and some much-deserved attention from radio and television.

As both a “thank you” to fans and also as an exciting lead-up to the release of their new album Medicine (out January 27, 2015), they are currently offering Good Light in its entirety for a limited time here on NoiseTrade.

Ahead of the release of their new album, I spoke with Holcomb about the breakthrough of Good Light, his inaugural Moon River Festival, and what fans can expect from Medicine.

NoiseTrade: Looking back at Good Light, to what do you attribute the splash it made on the charts and the buzz it generated with fans old and new?
Drew Holcomb: We have been a band for nearly a decade, and when we made Good Light, I had a much clearer vision as a songwriter than I had on previous records. We decided to keep the recording process simpler than we had before. In the end, the album felt more like we play as a live touring band, a lot less going on sonically, with better articulated songs, melodies, and arrangements.

As a songwriter, there are songs on Good Light that were way more personal and more mature than anything I had written before; songs like “What Would I Do Without You”, “Tennessee”, and “Good Light.” I think it was the record that we and our fans always wanted us to make.

NT: Good Light allowed you guys to do an international headlining tour for the first time as well. What was that experience like for you as a performer compared to when you play here in the states?
Holcomb: First off, our crowd overseas skews much older. It’s more of a 70′s songwriter-loving crowd and less of a hip, Americana crowd. They are very intentional listeners and they give you more benefit of the doubt. Whereas in the states, lots of audiences can throw a vibe that makes you feel like you have to prove something to them. Both are great experiences, just very different.

NT: This summer featured your first annual Moon River Festival that you founded and hosted. What sparked the decision to start your own festival and what was the biggest thing you learned from it?
Holcomb: I’ve always wanted to host my own festival, and specifically host it in my hometown of Memphis, TN. I wanted to introduce our fans to my city, and to bring artists we have met along the road together for a big family style musical reunion. I learned that it takes a lot more work than I envisioned, but the end result was also more rewarding than I had imagined.

NT: With your new album Medicine being set for release at the end of January, what song are you looking most forward to sharing with your fans?
Holcomb: There’s a song called “You’ll Always Be My Girl” which might be a career song for me. It’s a simple song about love and marriage, but to me it really speaks to the height of joy and the depth of sorrow that real love entails.

NT: Thinking back to when you were entering the studio to record Good Light, what is one of the biggest differences between your mindset then and more recently when you were getting ready to record Medicine?
Holcomb: I think Good Light gave me the wings I needed to really make music the way I want to make it, without other voices – commercial expectations, or the work of my peers – having too much influence. Medicine is the harvest of that mindset. We recorded Medicine in just 8 days, and it feels like the most natural and present record we have ever made.

When writer Will Hodge isn’t liking the way you hung the moon, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack

Happy (early) Thanksgiving, NoiseTraders! While songs explicitly devoted to Thanksgiving aren’t quite as plentiful as Christmas songs (Adam Sandler and Reverend Horton Heat aside), I do have one turkey-themed selection in this weekend’s picks to help you enjoy the holiday. Now, before anyone shouts out that “Jingle Bells” and “Home for the Holidays” were both technically written to be Thanksgiving tunes, we all know Christmas co-opted them long ago, making songs about eating turkey in a big brown shoe and turkey trottin’ (gobble-gobble-diddle-ip) all we really have to work with. So with that in mind, crank up the Dollyrots while you’re in that shopping line on Black Friday (or Black Tuesday, or whatever day it’s starting this year) and have an awesome Thanksgiving everyone!

Lily & Madeleine
Rabbit, Run For It

I’m such a huge fan of the Asthmatic Kitty roster and Lily & Madeleine are one of the main reasons why. The Jurkiewicz sisters both have incredible individual voices, but the seamless otherworldy blend that is created when they sing together is even greater than the sum of their already great parts. This unbelievably tight 5-song sampler features a single from their most recent album Fumes (“Rabbit, Run For It”), a relaxed cover of Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner’s “Stuck on the Puzzle,” and three alternate acoustic versions of songs from their self-titled debut album: “Come to Me,” “You Got Out,” and “Spirited Away”. “Rabbit, Run For It” is an accurately plucky introduction to Fumes (which was just released last month) and I guarantee it will enhance your Autumn if you go out and pick it up this weekend.

The Dollyrots
“Let’s Turkey Trot” (single)

You guys, if you can find a more celebratory Thanksgiving song than “Let’s Turkey Trot,” then please let me know. The Dollyrots have just released their punk-rock take on the 1963 Little Eva classic (using the word “classic” ever so loosely here) and it’s a sure-fire remedy for helping you survive both a too-many-mashed-potatoes couch coma and also your Aunt Edna’s unending attempts to kiss you on the lips. “Let’s Turkey Trot” was originally written by Gerry Goffin, the same legendary songwriter who gave us “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “Up on the Roof,” “Some Kind of Wonderful,” “Tale Good Care of My Baby,” “Saving All My Love for You,” the theme from Mahogany, and so many more actual classics. Between Goffin and The Dollyrots, your Thanksgiving is in good hands (hopefully not your Aunt Edna’s).

Angel Snow
“Secret” (single)

There’s a palatable energy rumbling through Angel Snow’s new single “Secret” that makes the song transcend beyond its lush sonic space. Propelled along by a thumping heartbeat bass line and Snow’s smoke-and-sugar vocals, “Secret” beautifully embodies both empowerment and challenge. Snow is currently recording a new album and after listening to “Secret,” you’ll be thankful it snuck out of the mix early. Snow also has a live EP (Live at Eddie’s Attic) available here on NoiseTrade to help alleviate the wait for her new album.

Scott Ian
I’m The Man (e-book)

If you’ve enjoyed rock memoirs like Anthony Kiedis’ Scar Tissue, Motley Crue’s The Dirt, or Keith Richards’ Life, then you’re going to want to check out Scott Ian’s I’m the Man. As a musician, Ian is the guitarist, lyricist, and co-founder of thrash metal’s Anthrax (who I was introduced to through Public Enemy when Anthrax’s covered PE’s “Bring the Noise” in 1991, a monumental musical moment for me). As a writer, Ian is a fantastically honest and humorous storyteller who devotes more of the book to his own pitfalls than those of other people. Throughout all of the crazy stories, Ian weaves a wonderful tale of perseverance and spotlights the importance of relationships.

When writer Will Hodge isn’t cuttin’ a record from side to side, 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! We’ve had another fantastic week of releases here at NoiseTrade and I highly recommend taking a few moments to click around the site and see what’s out there. While you’re doing that, don’t forget to take a quick second to sign up for your very own NoiseTrade fan account. We’ve had an amazing response to them so far and they’re super easy to setup and maintain. Just click the “Sign Up” link next to the search box and you’ll be fan accounting in no time. Alrighty, enough with the sales pitch, let’s get into some tunes!

The Fighting Jamesons
The Fighting Jamesons

If you’re looking for some authentic Irish pub punk on par with The Pogues, Dropkick Murphys, and Flogging Molly, then The Fighting Jamesons might be your new favorite band. Mixing traditional Irish singalongs with hard-to-tell-the-difference originals, The Fighting Jamesons perform with a reverent doff of the cap to the Irish spirit and an unrelentingly raucous energy. Their self-titled album only features three Irish folk traditionals (“Tell Me Ma,” “Drunken Sailor,” and “The Irish Rover”), but you’ll swear the rest of the songs are as well. Put on this album, pour a pint, and prepare to dance and sing away what ails you.

Jessica Martindale
Seven Nation Army

If you do a well-crafted cover of a song by one of my favorite bands, there’s a good chance I’m really going to dig it. Such is the case with Jessica Martindale’s desert-night cover of The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.” While the original’s percussive thump and immediately distinguishable riff has seen it co-opted by marching bands and Guitar Center noodlers across the country over the last decade, Martindale’s decision to relax the groove and jazz up the vocals is a soaring sonic success. Martindale has also included three other equally charming tracks on this release, with the intimate vocal-and-guitar only “Huckleberry” being my favorite.

Go Betty Go
Worst Enemy

Go Betty Go were one of my favorite mid-2000s Side One Dummy bands and I’m so glad they’re back on the scene with all four original members and new music! Their new EP Reboot is being prepped for a full release and while you wait (if you’re not already one of the pledgers who got it early), you can grab some of their bilingual SoCal punk goodness from their Worst Enemy and Nothing is More albums here on NoiseTrade. If you need summer to last just a little bit longer, throw on “C’mon” and you’ll feel the sonic sunshine on your skin in no time. ¡Viva las GBG!

“Seize the Day” [Single]

Man, GRITS and I go back a bit. Their Factors of the Seven album came out the year I graduated high school and I picked it up mostly due to its guest list featuring spots from Knowdaverbs and Out of Eden. However, the lyrical interplay between Coffee Jones and Bonafide Carter immediately hooked me and I’ll forever be on board with whatever these two put out. This digital single for “Seize the Day” is a brand new, previously unreleased song featuring FYUTCH and it contains a killer sped-up sample of Barry White’s “I’ve Got So Much to Give” (I think, haha).

When writer Will Hodge isn’t right behind an ugly Saab with broken lights, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack

Interview with Service Unicorn

by Will Hodge Published Nov 11, 2014

I first latched on to the stunning synth stylings of Service Unicorn when “they” (Service Unicorn is a solo project from musician/artist Chris Stewart) released the single “A Single Thread of Silver” here on NoiseTrade. I immediately feel in love with the calculated coldness of the vocals playing the foil to the playful instrument bed of slinky synths, pulsating drum pads, and bouncy bassline. I heard echos of early Depeche Mode, Joy Electric, and even more modern elements of bands like Washed Out and MGMT. Recently, Service Unicorn released their second single “Watercolor Warpaint” and the bubbling synths and disembodied echo-drenched vocals are as sythnfully delicious as they were the first time around.

Service Unicorn just launched a Kickstarter for their debut EP (details found HERE) and as Stewart tells it: “I’m dreaming big. I’m hoping that this EP will be like the prologue to a bigger story, a truly fitting introduction to Service Unicorn for those who’ve never heard of ‘us’ before – which would be almost everyone in the world.”

You can watch Service Unicorn’s Kickstarter launch video below and be sure to check out our interview as well!

NoiseTrade: As cliché as it is… Let’s start with the name. I first clicked on your NoiseTrade page because the name Service Unicorn conjured up an immediate image of a helpful unicorn performing daily tasks for someone in need. Where’d the name actually come from?

Chris Stewart: Precisely! Well, almost. You’re right to picture a helpful unicorn, perhaps wearing one of those service animal vests, alongside a weary/lost/blind traveler. The rationale is this… if a service animal can help a weary/lost/blind individual find their way through everyday life, then I gather a service unicorn would help the mythologically weary/lost/blind individual to truly discover and engage with story, legend, magic and myth. Ultimately, as a Christian, I would think the service unicorn might even lead that mythologically blind individual into the Greater Story, as Professor Lewis must have also believed.

As a side note… as a lifelong Lewis reader, I somehow never got around to The Great Divorce until this year. I was delighted and surprised to read the passage about the blessing (herd) of heavenly unicorns that come rushing in at one point. I felt like it bolstered my line of thought on the band name, and that Lewis and I were “on the same page” as it were, all along.

NT: What first sparked your interest in analog synthesizers?

Stewart: I grew up with my mother and grandparents. My grandparents had all kinds of records, but among them was Kraftwerk’s Autobahn (the original release, on vinyl, of course.) My grandmother, in particular, seemed to really drink in the synth textures. I used to see her close her eyes and lay her head back on her chair, just listening and getting lost in it. I knew the synth tones and sounds made me feel strange and lit up some parts of my brain, but that was all I knew at the time, as a child. My grandmother also always played Mannheim Steamroller throughout Christmas time, and those first MS records were really synth-heavy – but I also loved the medieval instrumentation!

In addition to that, my mom used to write songs on an old Casio keyboard, record her own back up tracks to cassette, and go play in little night clubs. I was really just a toddler then, so the memories are vague, but my mom’s solo keyboard project obviously made quite the impression. Looking back, I think I mostly admire her boldness in playing solo with such an odd setup. I would sit with a friend of hers in the audience, and mostly scream and cry wanting mom’s attention, I think.

Fast-forward to high school. I spent a lot of years as a pre-teen thinking I just wanted to do the classic guitar/drums rock band thing (my biological dad was and still is a drummer, and my great grandmother was a Czech opera singer. I had music coming at me from both sides of the family, really.) I heard a lot of rock and metal growing up, actually.

Then, in 10th grade, on a seemingly normal school day afternoon, somebody popped in a Joy Electric cd, and that was it for me. I never looked back. It was like hearing magic happening, pouring out of the crummy little classroom boom box. In fact, I think the song might have actually been “The Magic Of” from CHRISTIANsongs, a record I more recently heard Ronnie in an audio interview claim to regret ever making for various reasons, which makes me so sad!

In more recent years, I’ve retroactively consumed a lot of the music that informed Ronnie’s own song craft (The Smiths, Erasure, Human League, New Order, etc.), but I didn’t grow up on those amazing bands. It was like Joy Electric was just a fresh link in a continuous chain for me at that point, and looking back I realize how interwoven synth music has been in my own musical formation since I was born, really.

NT: Is the equipment that you work with fairly easy to come by or do you search for the tried-and-true vintage instruments to get the job done?

Stewart: I only recently managed to put together a genuine, all-analogue setup, which is primarily KORG-based. For a long time, because of my deep admiration for what Ronnie was doing with Joy Electric (esp. early Joy E: Old Wives Tales is the ultimate expression of synth-based storytelling song craft, in my opinion). I thought I could never really produce the kinds of sounds and songs I wanted to without MOOG equipment. Well, it’s comes down to affordability for me-and at this juncture, KORG is making some rugged, true-analogue equipment that a young-ish married man with a fairly ordinary salary, still paying down his student loans can actually afford.

Don’t get me wrong, I will someday own a MOOG modular or Sub Phatty or maybe find an old Prodigy somewhere! It’s a bucket list item for me, for sure. For now, though, I’ve managed to come into my own with a lot of sounds and tones I genuinely love from the KORG set up I’ve built. None of it is truly vintage at this point, and I’m ok with that. It is truly analogue though, which is something I’ve worked to assemble for a number of years, aiming to no longer rely on software synths – no disrespect to you soft-synth composers out there! I’m still learning the instruments at this point, which is exciting and challenging for me.

I’m more of a songwriter and less of a gear-head, so taking the time to learn the ins and outs of a real synth when all I really want to do is lay down the next bass line or sparkly hook can be a matter of tedious discipline. But the more I tweak and turn and patch, I discover that I’m learning by way of play, and that’s the only way I really learn anything anyway. It’s the way creativity works. Play. The tinkering has its rewards.

NT: You work in a variety of other creative mediums outside of music. How do those inform your music and vice versa?

Stewart: Yes, I’m a freelance illustrator by night and a graphic designer at an agency by day. I love children’s books. Professionally, that’s a goal of mine, to be a children’s book illustrator. I have a BFA in design, with an illustration concentration. I was mentored by a number of amazing illustrators and professors who managed to make illustration a career-or at least a fairly regular and paying part of their professional lives.

It’s difficult to separate those creative mediums from the songwriting/music, because I’ve been drawing pictures and digesting comic books, etc. for as long or longer than I’ve been writing songs. But once music took hold of me as a pre-teen, it took a deeper root, in some ways, than the visual arts ever had. Songwriting is instinctual at this point. Something I do that comes as naturally as breathing. Illustrating/designing is something I have to sit and make intentional space for. There is an instinctual aspect to that too, of course, but there’s even more of a discipline, maybe? Then again, song craft takes a good deal of discipline too. They both take a great deal of one’s time to truly hone.

I think, perhaps, it all comes back around to “wonder” though? I’ve never lost my sense of wonder, especially as that pertains to the mystical/magical/whimsical. So, that feeds into what I tend to create with water color, or pen & ink, as well as the kinds of synthesizer sounds I prefer to build, or the kinds of lyrics I infuse into the songs I write. The common thread is wonder.

This is an aside, but artists/writers/and so-called creatives are by trade thieves, borrowers and students of the “other.” So, whether I’m taking a mundane walk in the neighborhood, overhearing someone quibbling away in the grocery store or noticing an odd patch of light on the wall across the room, it all becomes fodder to work with later on, if I maintain that sense of wonder about it all. It’s fair game. Artists have eyes to see and ears to hear. I pray I never go blind or deaf. And if I ever do begin to, I’m trusting the Service Unicorn will be right there, willing to let me lean on it, feel its mane, and walk slowly into something brighter and better than I could see or hear with my own dim eyes and ears.

When writer Will Hodge isn’t promising to love you with all heart and drum machine joy, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack

Howdy, howdy, NoiseTraders! I’m in a fantastic mood this weekend because it’s “No Shave” November and my back has never looked better. I hope you’ve been enjoying your November as well and if not, well, let these musical recommendations perk your spirits. Not only are all four releases strong on their own merit, but they pair perfectly with the post-Halloween, pre-Thanksgiving lull we’re currently in for the next week or two. Also, don’t forget about creating a NoiseTrade fan account if you haven’t yet. Immediate downloads, saved download histories, safe storage of credit card information for quicker, easier tipping, no more having to enter your email address and zip code for each download, no more having to enter in your information while tipping, what’s not to love? Just click the “SIGN UP” button on the NoiseTrade homepage and you’ll be the proud owner of a brand spankin’ new fan account in minutes. Now, on to this week’s tunes!

Streets of Laredo
An Introduction to Streets of Laredo

If you dig the communal, folk-rock orchestration of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros or the passionate garage-soul of Delta Spirit, then owe it to yourself to check out Streets of Laredo. There is a relaxed, easy air around the band’s songs that deceptively cloaks the incredible instrumentation bubbling underneath. Pulling influence from the wide-open musical landscape of the 1970s and filtering it through a modern, indie-folk energy, Street of Laredo will have you snapping, clapping, tapping, and singing along in no time. This sampler features five tracks from their debut Volume I & II, along with a nice demo of “Need A Little Help” that sonically defies its “bedroom demo” label.

Liz Vice
There’s A Light

Man, oh man, is this a fantastic record! Liz Vice’s There’s A Light was recorded live to analog tape and the unmistakable “in the room” atmosphere becomes an instrument all its own throughout the record. There’s A Light plays off the vibe of classic 1960s-70s gospel albums, while still remaining incredibly present and fresh. Vice’s soulfully raw vocals feel unrestrained and emotional and there’s a good chance you’ll believe every word she sings. With a modern day “Al-Green-in-his-prime” R&B flow to her songs, Vice has got a little something for your heart and your hips. The tasty bass line of “Abide,” the organ-and-guitar interplay of “Empty Me Out,” and the roadhouse shuffle of the title track are all great entry points to sampling this album.

The Westies
Hell’s Kitchen [EP]

Some songs just sound better this time of year and The Westies prove it. There is a charming wistfulness to their sound and to echo Elton, their sad songs really do say so much. They took their name from the infamous Irish American gang in Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan’s Lower West Side and their music contains the same raw quality and dark realities you’d expect from their inspirational namesakes. Frontman Michael McDermott possesses a fantastic mixture of Dylan’s gravely inflection, Waits’ unconventional characters, and Springsteen’s storytelling pen.

The Dollyrots
“Happy Together” [single]

I’ve trumpeted the praises of The Dollyrots on here before and now it’s time again for another little toot. This digital only single for their cover of “Happy Together” adds a little thump and sass to The Turtles’ 1967 hit, while still retaining the impossible-not-to-sing-along-with-ness of the original. The Dollyrots have a handful of really well-down punk covers and this one definitely ranks up near the top of that list. By the way, if you can hear this song WITHOUT thinking of the groundbreaking cinematic classic that is Ernest Goes to Camp, I’m not sure we can be friends anymore.

When writer Will Hodge isn’t awfully glad it’s raining, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack

Interview with Ginny Owens

by Will Hodge Published Nov 6, 2014

With the release of I Know A Secret (out November 11), singer-songwriter Ginny Owens is back with a collection of introspective, hope-filled songs that are ready to encourage the listener and engage the world. While Owens is best known for her handful of CCM hits like “If You Want Me To,” “Free,” and “I Am,” as well as mainstream adulation from appearances at Lilith Fair and the Sundance Film Festival, her latest album proves that she still has more to say, more to sing, and more to do (including authoring her first book due out at the beginning of next year).

In anticipation of the release of I Know A Secret, Owens has released an exclusive 6-song NoiseTrade Acoustic Sampler to help bring you up to speed with new renditions of some of her best-loved tracks and some stripped-down versions of the soon-to-be classics from her new album. Even if you’re familiar with the album versions of “Be Thou My Vision” and “If You Want Me To,” you’ve never heard them this intimate and crackling with life. “No Borders,” her upcoming single from I Know A Secret is also presented here in a striking acoustic version that showcases the song’s beautiful lyrics and melodic inertia.

I recently spoke with Owens about both her NoiseTrade Acoustic Sampler and I Know A Secret, as well as her new authorial stint with her first book, .

NoiseTrade: Tell us a little bit about the new acoustic versions of the songs you’re offering on your NoiseTrade Acoustic Sampler. Where’d they come from?

Ginny Owens: This sampler contains a fun mix of tunes, including a few I wrote early in my career, my favorite hymn, and a couple acoustic versions of songs from my new studio project, I Know A Secret.

NT: These new versions of some of your best-known material have such a fresh and current feel to them. What’s your secret for making them feel like we’re hearing them for the first time?

Owens: Thank you! Anytime I write a song, I begin the process at the piano or with a guitar. Most of my live shows are me at the piano along with Kyle, my acoustic guitar player. So the versions of my songs on the Noisetrade Acoustic Sampler are what you would have heard as a fly on the wall during my writing sessions and what you’ll experience if you come see me live. The broken-down, acoustic setting is always my favorite and by far the most comfortable musical space for me. I’m sure I communicate that through the music somehow.

NT: For your new album I Know A Secret, what drove your decision to work with producer Monroe Jones again?

Owens: Not only are Monroe and his family like family to me, but because we’ve worked on so many projects together over the years, we have gotten the collaboration process down. We know how to read each other and tell each other the truth, and we enjoy creating music together. I’ve been doing music long enough to know how rare such partnerships are. My ultimate goal for I Know A Secret was twofold – to return to the organic musical elements Monroe and I explored on my earliest projects and to rediscover that incredibly honest place from which I used to write before an awareness of the music business caused me to over think. I had a sense that rediscovering would be best done by returning to work with the person I trusted most to help me navigate music. I think it was a good move.

NT: With I Know A Secret being your 8th full-length studio album, you’ve officially released half of your catalog under a label and half as an independent artist. In your experience, what’s been some of the main differences between the two?

Owens: Great question! There are definitely upsides and downsides to both. The advantage of having a record label is the built-in team and resources that come with that model. There’s a marketing team who sets up the record, and though the artist offers input, his/her job is mainly to follow the pre-determined plan. As an indie, I often find the challenge of wearing the artist hat, business hat, and marketing hat overwhelming. On the other hand, as an independent artist, I get to do exactly what I want creatively. I’m free to write and perform music I’m passionate about. That in itself is motivation enough to continue my musical journey.

NT: In addition to new music, you’ve also been working on a book project for release early next year. What can you tell us about it in advance?

Owens: I can tell you that writing books is a heck of a lot harder than writing records, at least for me. But it was worth it. My co-author, Andrew Greer, and I have just turned in our manuscript, and it feels great to know we’ve conquered! The book is called Transcending Mysteries: Who is God and What Does He Want From Us? and it sounds a bit more scholarly than it is. We use stories from the Bible and stories from our own lives to discover who the God of the Old Testament is, and to explore how He is still relevant to us today.

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

¡Feliz Día de Muertos, NoiseTraders! Whether you’re celebrating and remembering family and friends who have gone on or are simply nursing a sugar coma hangover, I hope this weekend is wonderful for you. It seems like just yesterday I was complaining about the summer heat like an old man fanning himself in a rocking chair and he were are in November already. Tennessee has really been showing off on the leaves-changing front these last couple of weeks and I’m happy to report that Cracker Barrel already has any and all of your Christmas decorative needs on display (and has had since about mid-July, I believe). I hope you enjoy this weekend’s recommendations and if anyone needs me, I’ll be over here learning all there is to know about New York from this informative Taylor Swift video.

Butterfly Boucher
The Evolution

Butterfly Boucher is one of Nashville’s (by way of Adelaide, Australia) finest gems and if you’re not currently a fan of her super fun, melodic, impossible-not-to-dance-to, alt-indie-pop-rock jams (is-that-sufficient-hyphenation-for-you?) then let The Evolution catalog sampler led you feet-first into her wild and wonderful musical world. Featuring a handful of tracks from her most recent self-titled album and stretching all the way back to her 2003 debut Flutterby, The Evolution is an amazingly strong collection of Boucher’s textured, multi-instrumental material and there’s not a skipper in the bunch. May I recommend the fuzz bass, tribal-groove bounce of “For the Love of Love” or the frisky slither-and-thump of “5678!” to get your weekend headed in the right direction.

Shannon Stephens
Cold November

Cold November is a soulfully resonant EP from indie-folk songwriter Shannon Stephens that is primed and ready to soundtrack your fall. Mixing bluesy acoustic grooves and gentle melodies with her confidently emotive vocals, this all-too-short 4-song EP will slowly and sweetly put you in an indefensible heartlock with no hope of release. There is a refreshing absence of pretense in Stephen’s songwriting that feels both comforting and prodding in the best ways. Let the slide guitar stomp of “Your Fabulous Friends” and the snappy slink of “What Love Looks Like” work their way in and be sure to keep your eyes and ears peeled for new music from Stephens in the next few months, as she’s currently working on recording her upcoming fourth album.

Five7Seven2 Live

Reggae-based hip-hop run through an Orthodox Jewish filter is certainly not your run-of-the-mill musical mixture, but Matisyahu has been doing it with style since the mid-2000s. Many know him from his 2005 hit “King Without A Crown,” but as this exclusive live sampler showcases, there is much more to Matisyahu. Five7Seven2 Live captures 8 live performances from 8 different stops on his 2012 Spark Seeker tour and it is certainly worth your time to check out. Equal parts relaxed flow and kinetic word-play, Matisyahu paints with a unique pallet that is beautifully utilized on songs like “Chop ‘em Down,” “I Will Be Light/Beat Box,” and “Jerusalem.”

Yep Roc Records
The Best of Americana Music Festival 2014

Every year, the Americana Music Festival showcases some of the best mainstays and under-the-radar talent in the ever-expanding roots music realm and it’s a fantastic opportunity to hear new bands. With their The Best of Americana Music Festival 2014 sampler, Yep Roc Records has created the next best thing to being there. They captured a handful of bands for a live performance in Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A and let them do what they do best. Be sure to check out Jonah Tolchin’s gorgeous “Diamond Mind” and The Stray Birds’ “Pallet” (which features a must-hear stand-up bass solo towards the end).

When writer Will Hodge isn’t getting down to this sick beat, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack

Happy weekend before Halloween, my friends! May the skittles be ever in your plastic pumpkin bucket. We’ve made some great new updates around here recently and if you haven’t signed up for your own NoiseTrade fan account, then get on it! After creating your own fan account you’ll have access to immediate downloads, saved download histories, and you can even safely store your credit card information for quicker, easier tipping. No more having to enter your email address and zip code for each download and no more having to enter in your information while tipping. It’s super easy, super helpful, and super free! Just click the “SIGN UP” button on the NoiseTrade homepage and you’ll be the proud owner of a brand spankin’ new fan account in minutes.

Oh yeah, here are some great musical recommendations for your weekend as well!

SerialBox Presents
The SerialBox Collection

I first got connected with SerialBox back when they released their Thad Cockrell session back in 2011 and since then I’ve often found myself listening back to the stunning live session they created together. SerialBox Presents captures equally impressive audio and video of single-take, multi-cam performances and their taste for artists is impeccable. Along with a laid-back take on “Rosalyn” from Cockrell’s don’t-miss session, true-to-the-moment tracks from Noah Gunderson, Fiction Family, David Ramirez, and more are available here in The SerialBox Collection. Compiled from sessions from the first two seasons of SerialBox Presents, this sampler will have you jonesing for the third in no time.

Death on Two Wheels
NoiseTrade Album Sampler

Pardon a little geographic favoritism here as I show a little hometown love to Atlanta, GA’s Death on Two Wheels. Deep in the vein of good and greasy rock ‘n’ roll, Death on Two Wheels plays raw, no frills twin guitar rock that they describe as having a “less twang, more bang” approach. This sampler features 5 raucous tracks from their self-titled sophomore album that was released last November. “Hey Amariah” has been my go-to repeater and its full-voice singalong chorus, killer bass line, and (I think) subtle shout-out to Offsping’s “Self Esteem” in the second verse have endeared me to its sonic fury. The organ-led slink of “Death Wolf” is pretty fantastic as well.

Service Unicorn
“Watercolor Warpaint” (single)

Service Unicorn is back with a brand new single entitled “Watercolor Warpaint” and it’s as synthfully delicious as their “A Single Thread of Silver” single I featured a month or so ago. The bubbling synths and disembodied echo-drenched vocals of “Watercolor Warpaint” provide an interesting dichotomy of cold-warm, human-robot atmospherics and it makes the song feel crazily entrancing. A couple listens are required if you want to pick out all the interesting bits of what’s going on in the background, but only one is needed to get you immediately hooked.

Work Friend

Mixing feel-good sonic sunshine with wonderfully raspy vocals seems to be the perfect combination for Irvine, CA’s Work Friend. They’re offering their debut album Slouching here in its entirety and I can’t stop listening to this unassuming stunner. Their songs move along at a relaxed clip, feeling like they’re building to something that they’re never really in a rush to get to. The result ends up being a really chill listening experience that will have you hitting repeat once the last song ends. Album opener “Any Good” is the perfect open road song to help soundtrack your summer-to-autumn transition in style.

When writer Will Hodge isn’t waiting until two and then turning out the light, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack

How’s YOUR weekend going? After a fun-filled whirlwind of a fall break in Chicago last weekend, I’m really looking forward to a wonderfully relaxing weekend full of weeping and gnashing of teeth as I jump back on the thesis horse. To help drown out the sounds of a grown man questioning his ability to form intelligence thoughts and mold them into complex arguments and logical sentence structures, I’ve got some new tunes for you! This week’s recommendations feature a rootsy solo acoustic set, slick hip-hop backed with live instruments, garage-meets-Motown Americana, and lush electro-pop remixes. Enjoy the songs and remember there are only 13 more shopping days until Halloween, so don’t Charlie Brown that mess!

Justin Townes Earle
NoiseTrade Eastside Manor Sessions

Justin Townes Earle released his phenomenal new album Single Mothers last month and we were lucky enough to get him to drop by for an intimate solo NoiseTrade Eastside Manor Sessions. Armed with just an acoustic guitar, his wonderfully resonant rasp, and a batch of new songs, Earle delivered one of the most intimate and intuitive sessions we’ve ever captured. If you hone in on the Billie Holiday-influenced “White Gardenias,” the soulful sweep of “Worried ‘Bout The Weather,” and the bluesy, retro-slink of “Single Mothers,” you’ll see that Earle has more than few new songwriting tricks up his sleeve left to play. Be sure to check out the accompanying videos on our YouTube channel to catch a video-only performance of his cover of Billy Joe Shaver’s “Georgia on a Fast Train” as well.


Of Vice & Virtue

I profiled ALERT312’s newest album Singular Vision over the summer and I figured now was a good time to also point back towards the equally awesome album that came before it. Of Vice & Virtue is the debut offering from the Chicago-based hip-hop duo and it profiles the sick, percussion-laden beats and analog instrumentation that they employ so well. Boogalu’s rhymes of real-world grittiness threaded with hope and truth are artfully elevated by Moral One’s organic, deceptively simplistic instrumentation loops. Listen to the bass drum bounce of “Vice Versa” and the slinky guitar riff of “Kill the Elephants” as entry points to ALERT312’s unique sonic mix.


Nikki Lane
Right Time

Rolling Stone described Nikki Lane as “if Kris Kristofferson and Loretta Lynn had a baby; raised her on Motown, Leslie Gore, and the Clash; then let her join an all-girl hotrod gang at 15” and truer descriptors were never written. This digital single features “Right Time” and “Wild One” from Lane’s most recent album All or Nothin’ and both songs thoroughly embody the musical melting pot of her sound. The swampy garage rock stomp of “Right Time” and the late night diner shuffle of “Wild One” are pitch-perfect introductions to the Dan Auerbach-produced album of her modern-traditionalist musical mix.


With Beating Hearts
Summer Remix EP

While Colleen D’Agostino can usually be found fronting LA-based rock outfit The Material, she’s also got an incredible electro-pop side project under the moniker With Beating Hearts. This remix EP features three tracks from her debut release reworked by Blake Harnage (VersaEmerge), Blake Miller (Moving Units), and Joel Piper. While the remixes certainly show the individual identities and tastes of the remixers, I think it’s important to note how the songs still sound wholly and completely D’Agostino’s thanks to her powerfully identifiable vocals.


When writer Will Hodge isn’t all about that bass (no treble), you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack

Greetings and salutations from Chicagoland, NoiseTraders! My lovely and I are spending a nice mid-semester weekend in Second City where much frivolity will be had and much Giordano’s will be consumed. While I’m away, I leave you with four top-notch recommendations for the weekend and I promise that you can trust me on each and every one of them. It never ceases to amaze me what sonic gems have been uploaded to NoiseTrade over the years and what new ones continue to pop up every day. This week’s foursome features a live concert from a former Swell Season-er, a wonderful new pop singer, an old-time string band troubadour, and a rejuvenating, meditative batch of acoustic hymns. So it’s a 106 miles (give or take a few hundred) to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses. Hit it!

Marketa Irglova
Live from San Francisco

With the recent release of Marketa Irglova’s second album Muna last month, what better time to refresh yourself with this incredible live album from a few years back? Live from San Francisco captures Irglova while she was touring behind her debut album Anar and the 15 song set is overflowing with her delicate vocals and storytelling style songwriting. Irglova’s original songs really shine through, with “Let Me Fall in Love” and “Crossroads” eloquently highlighting her unassuming and uncluttered performances. Her duet with troubadour Sean Rowe on “Old Shoes” is another amazing standout. Fans of The Swell Season will appreciate the nods to her previous band with her solo versions of “I Have Loved You Wrong” and “Falling Slowly” presented here as well.

Good Luck

Lenachka just released her debut self-titled EP a couple of weeks ago and “Good Luck” is the super strong Charlie Peacock-produced lead single. The sickly sweet thump of the chorus will be stuck in your head for days and Lenachka’s smooth mid-range is such a refreshing breath within pop music’s current overabundance of over-singers. This digital single also includes a handful of exclusive, unreleased tracks including a remix of Kris Allen’s “Prove It To You” featuring Lenachka’s vocals, “Hard Target” (co-written with Andy Davis), and my favorite track on this release “Play It Slower” – a syrupy slow ballad that was co-written with NoiseTrade favorite Matthew Perryman Jones.

Dom Flemons
Til’ the Seas Run Dry

As part of The Carolina Chocolate Drops, multi-instrumentalist Dom Flemons help contribute to the old-time string band revival of the last decade or so (and thankfully gave us their crazy cool version of Blu Cantrell’s “Hit “Em Up Style” too). His timeless voice, astounding instrumental ability, and impressive catalog of traditional folk and blues music all mix together to create what makes Flemons so special. His new solo album Prospect Hillwas released over the summer and Til’ the Seas Run Dry contains a tasteful mix of songs from that release and a few traditional standards thrown in as well. Give Flemons’ take on “Stackolee” a spin and see what all the (much-deserved) fuss is all about.

Indelible Grace
By Thy Mercy – Indelible Grace Acoustic

Speaking of Matthew Perryman Jones… As someone who is quite fascinated with hymns both old and new, I love the work of Indelible Grace and their incredible collection of hymns albums. Matthew Perryman Jones appears on this release lending his inimitable vocals to his version of Sandra McCracken’s “Rock of Ages (When the Day Seems Long),” while McCracken herself appears with a beautiful piano-led take of “Lo The Storms of Life are Breaking.” Also contributing to this release are Andrew Osenga, Emily Deloach, Matthew Smith and more, creating a stunning collection of acoustic hymns that functions as both reminder and refresher.

When writer Will Hodge isn’t going back to that same old place, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack

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