Greetings and salutations, Noisetraders! With a couple of overcast days in this week’s forecast and apocalyptic rumors of Pumpkin Spice Lattes in this week’s late night television monologues, Fall (sweet, sweet Fall) must be right around the corner. Can you smell it? No, not the lattes. I’m talking about that faint whiff of heaven in the early autumnal winds. To really help set the mood for summer’s wake, here’s your weekly handful of test-driven tunes to sample. Shovels & Rope have a brand new album coming out Tuesday, so if you happened to miss their Swimmin’ Time Primer a few weeks ago, don’t let it happen twice. Plus, we’ve also got some amazing synth-pop sung in Dutch tucked away in this week’s picks. So what are you waiting for? Release the Kraken!
Ahead of the release of Swimmin’ Time (out this upcoming Tuesday 8/26), incendiary garage-folk duo Shovels & Rope have compiled the Swimmin’ Time Primer. This fantastic 6-track EP kicks off with “When the Devil is All Around,” the first single from the new album. There are also two tracks from their most recent album 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.
Oftentimes I’ll aimlessly click through the various pages of NoiseTrade offerings – essentially the digital equivalent of riffling through stacks in a record store – looking for album artwork that strikes me in some way. This is how I first stumbled upon Thad Kopec’s Noble Neighbor. The faded family photograph struck me because I know that station wagon, that house, that scenic view, and that young boy sitting on the hood as the two suited men talk and gaze. Of course, I don’t know the exact things captured in that specific photograph, but I absolutely have my own version of every single one of them. That familiar cognitive connection drew me to Noble Neighbor and it has quickly become one of my new favorite EPs. For sampling purposes, the wistful Southern-sprung hymn “Albatross” and the alt-folk flow of the title track are the standouts for me here.
Dutch-based record label VOLKOREN celebrates their 10th anniversary with this enthralling and expansive retrospective compilation. Featuring 17 songs from albums they’ve released over the last 10 years, this sampler allows you to hear the creativity and diversity of the artists on the VOLKOREN label. While many of the English-speaking artists have fantastic offerings (Kim Janssen’s tenderly quiet “The Sound of Someone Watching Me” and Hillmadelow’s reflective “Camouflage” are both beautiful), it is Mensenkinderen’s stutter-grooved “Kinderen We Drinken Op Het Vaderland” and At the Close of Every Day’s “’T Hellend Vlak” that have garnered the most spins from me.
If you like the fuzzy synth tones of Washed Out, the robo-stoic vocals of Joy Electric, and the electronic dance beats of early Depeche Mode, you’re going to want to give Service Unicorn a listen. The calculated coldness of C. Stewart’s vocals provides the perfect foil to the playful instrument bed of slinky synths, pulsating drum pads, and bouncy bassline. Although titled as an EP, this release is really just a digital single of “A Single Thread of Silver” from Service Unicorn’s yet-to-be released debut EP. Labeling logistics aside, the electro-pop bounce of this song seriously makes me want to hear the rest of Service Unicorn’s stuff. So call it a single, EP, LP, or box set, just give me some more!
When writer Will Hodge isn’t within and without, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack
Goooooood morning NoiseTrade! After such a heavy week of sadness, hurt, and ugliness going on all around us, I sincerely hope you are able to find (or steal) some quiet moments of repose and renewal this weekend. To aid in that endeavor, I’ve got a few musical recommendations for you to try out. First, we released another NoiseTrade EastSide Manor Session this week with Australia’s alt-folk outfit Boy & Bear. These talented Aussies crafted a wonderful 5-song live set that’s perfect for the closing weeks of summer. We’ve also got some amazing multi-cam videos of their performances, an interview, and some candid behind-the-scenes footage available on our YouTube channel as well. This week’s Weekend Wrap-Up foursome also contains some stellar releases that span the gamut from spunky pop punk to acoustic roots singalongs to humorous hip-hop to cinematic indie-folk. Who else is offering you inventive covers of The Ramones and Taylor Swift in the same batch of sonic suggestions? That’s NoiseTrade, baby!
If you’re looking for some amped-up pop punk with energetic female vocals and a sense of humor, then The Dollyrots have got you more than covered. Acting as a fantastic primer of the band’s sound and attitude, their playful mash-up cover of The Crystals 1963 smash “Da Doo Ron Ron” and The Ramones 1978 fan favorite “I Wanna Be Sedated” closes out their most recent album Barefoot and Pregnant. The tongue-in-cheekily titled record was released earlier this year and was named so because singer/bassist Kelly Ogden was pregnant during the recording of the album. If you dig this single and want to hear more, the band has Barefoot and Pregnant available on their website in swanky looking pink vinyl. They’ve also got a handful of other singles (including another great 60s cover of The Turtles “Happy Together”) available here on NoiseTrade.
When I first ran into Further Seems Forever on 1999 Deep Elm Records compilation An Ocean of Doubt, I was immediately arrested by the emotive timbre of Chris Carrabba’s vocals. Through the next few years, I eagerly followed his whisper-to-a-scream voice through his time with Further Seems Forever and into his creation of Dashboard Confessional. When I heard Carrabba debut his new band Twin Forks at last year’s SXSW, I was so pleased to hear the same passion and fervor of his previous bands filtered through the country and folk influences of his childhood. Twin Forks released their debut self-titled album this past February and they’ve been creating quite a buzz in roots music circles. This exclusive four-track sampler EP features two tracks from their debut – “Back to You” and “Kiss Me Darling” – as well as a previously unreleased song called “Good and Slow” and an infectious cover of Taylor Swift’s “Mean” that will not leave your head anytime soon.
While humor isn’t quite a foundational requirement for hip-hop lyricists, Phoenix-based rapper Foreknown might make you think it should be. Embodying the vacant (or previously non-existent) space between the societal consciousness of Common and the wit/intelligence mix of Weird Al, Foreknown quickly and effortlessly slides between making you really laugh and making you really think. Songs like “Quartermaster” and “#FootyPajamaPizzaDanceKaraokePartyGo!” contain some of the biggest punchlines and “Little Miss So & So” and “The Truth about Flight, Love, and BB Guns” contain some of the biggest pull-no-punches lines. Rarely before in hip-hop has humor been used so effectively to highlight deeper truths and differing perspectives. Ornithology is Foreknown’s debut album and I certainly hope it’s just the first in a long line of releases from this talented and engaging rapper.
There’s this significant moment in “Like You Do” – the opening track to Swear and Shake’s new EP – where the bouncy bass, plunky piano, and vintage vocals give way to a slinky slide guitar and a huge singalong chorus. That moment contains everything you need to know about Swear and Shake’s individualized sonic identity. It’s cinematic, melodic, crystalline, and downright fun to experience. The other four songs on Ain’t That Lovin’ display the same enthralling elements and guarantee multiple spins through this all-too-short EP. The songs “Daggers” and “Good as Gone” convey life on the road, while “Wishful Thinking on Seagrass Shoal” and “Be Your Strength” deal with navigating relationships and life events. If you enjoy Ain’t That Lovin’, Swear and Shake are also offering their debut album Maple Ridge here on NoiseTrade as well.
When writer Will Hodge isn’t sounding his barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack
On his upcoming album, Atlantic, singer/songwriter Ben Glover reaches across continents and decades to bring together the two musical and geographical worlds that he calls home — Ireland and Tennessee. Having immersed himself in the historic and artistic cultures of both lands, Glover tells wonderfully thoughtful, intentional tales of his search for and planting of roots.
Ahead of Atlantic‘s release, Glover put together a special NoiseTrade sampler, Precedent & Prophecy, which culls tracks from several previous sets along with a couple of cuts from Atlantic. As a whole, it captures the essence of Glover’s evolving artistry and offers a glimpse of what’s yet to come.
NoiseTrade: When you were getting started, you would play American folk tunes in pubs back home in Ireland, then play Irish folk tunes in pubs in Boston. How did you find your balance when you had feet in two different worlds?
Ben Glover: My objective was the same in both countries — sing great songs — and, in doing so, try and make a connection with the audience. I never felt off balance when my musical objective was consistent regardless of continent. Whether I was belting out rowdy Irish folk songs in the bars of Boston or doing some Woody Guthrie in the pubs of Belfast, my intention was to perform songs that had something to say and that would stir up an audience. Conceptually, there really isn’t much difference between American folk/blues tunes and Irish folk tunes — the songs from both traditions are filled with great stories, colorful language, and tales of both the joys and struggles of the people who wrote and sang them. I was drawn to both Irish folk and American folk/blues traditions right from the time when music began to mean something to me. So the music was really the thing that kept me balanced. It’s easy to find balance when you feel deeply connected to and love the thing you are doing even if one foot is either side of an ocean.
You went back to County Donegal to make Atlantic. How would this record be different if you’d made it in Nashville?
County Donegal is one of the most rural and isolated parts of Ireland. The house we made the record in is at the foot of a mountain and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean — the album cover image is what we looked out on every day while making the record. That rugged, raw environment and spirit of rural Donegal had a massive influence on how this record sounds; its presence was huge on this album. That physical dislocation from anything to do with the music industry was a perfect environment in which to make this record. That’s not meant to be disrespectful to the industry, but it was extremely liberating and inspiring to make a record in a place that was worlds away from the marketplace, away from the distractions that Nashville or any city has.
It meant, too, that everyone who played on the recording was transported out of their comfort zones into an entirely different context. It brought something new and different out of us all. We felt that we were creating our own little universe during the recording process and, literally, we did as we transformed the house into a makeshift studio for 10 days. We created a recording space that will never exist again and, in doing so, created a sound for this album that we can’t replicate again. For those reasons, we could not and would not have been able to have made this record in Nashville. It definitely would not have had the rawness, intimacy, or personality that it has if we recorded it in a more controlled studio environment. In many ways, the record sounds like how Donegal feels to me, and that was one of the things that I wanted to capture.
You’ve made pilgrimages to sites related to some of your musical heroes — Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Robert Johnson, et al. How does that affect you as both a person and an artist?
To experience the very places that are marked by my musical heroes is something that is very important to me. It’s about deepening the connection with their legacy, but, more importantly, it lets me get closer to the source of the fire that their music lit in me creatively. For me, such places are shrines of sorts and there is definitely a spiritual element, too. Those artists have had great significance in my life and music and so journeying to sites that are connected with them always awakens and stirs up something inside me. To sit at Hank’s grave, to spend the day at Cash’s childhood home in Arkansas, or to go in search of Robert Johnson’s grave in the Delta excites and invigorates me in the same pure way that their music did when I first heard it. These trips fire up my creativity and imagination. Music is a sacred thing, and I need to go to sites that have sacred symbolism for me; it’s the duty of any good pilgrim! In some respects, too, it de-romanticizes my heroes in a good way — by visiting their graves, it’s a reminder that these mighty, near mythical figures were indeed mortal after all and just on the same journey as the rest of us.
When you are writing a song with another person, how do you dig into deeply personal things about yourself and hash that out in an honest way? It must take an incredible amount of trust… or whiskey.
Atlantic is the most personal album I’ve made and that was because I wrote it with trusted friends who were willing to dig as deep as possible to find these songs with me. There’s no point in going halfway to the truth. It only matters if you go all the way there and we were all committed to mining as deep as possible to get there, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable the writing process was. I wrote these songs with Mary Gauthier, Gretchen Peters, Neilson Hubbard, and Rod Picott; they are all amazing writers who bring a huge amount of integrity and courage to the writing process. They are also some of my closest friends, so it was easy to get deeply personal and dismantle any pretense. It also comes down to what you and your co-writer are writing the song for — if it’s for the charts and for commercial sales, then honesty doesn’t necessarily have to drive the process; but if you’re writing because you want to express your truth, then digging deep in an honest way is the only way to go. As for the whiskey, there was definitely some Bushmills involved in the recording, but not in the writing. We couldn’t possibly make a record in Donegal and not have a few sips…
Are you a fan of Southern gothic literature or did you just soak up — and conjure up — all the imagery and culture through your travels?
It’s a bit of both. Since moving to Nashville, I wanted to immerse myself in as much of the southern culture as possible, so my senses have been wide open and soaking it all up ever since I made my first visit to the South seven years ago. However, I had been reading William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, Cormac McCarthy, and many other gothic greats long before I set foot on southern soil. This mean’t my imagination was traveling through those hot, dusty, dark backroads of the South prior to me physically being there.
Hey there NoiseTraders! Once again I’ve carefully combed through our (computerized) stacks of (digital) wax to bring you another batch of certified sonic gems for your listening pleasure. Whether you’re in the mood for some Americana-fueled duets, atmospheric alt-pop, psychadelic-surf rock, Ohioan (yes, it’s a word) hip-hop, or all of the above, I’ve got you more than covered. As always, each of the selections this week have been painstakingly scrutinized and deemed worthy of your consideration. So sit back and relax as I trot them out before your ears to see if you find any keepers. I hope you have a fantastic weekend and remember: keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars!
If you’ve ever heard the phrase “a band is only as good as their live show,” then you’ll understand the magic of Mandolin Orange’s Live Tapes EP. The Americana/bluegrass duo consisting of Emily Frantz and Andrew Marlin have an undeniable chemistry that beautifully plays out in the way they vocally and musically dance with each other. Marlin’s sly, unassuming cadence brings to mind John Prine and Frantz’s bright, clear harmonies evoke mid 70s-era Emmylou Harris. Their Live Tapes EP captures a few performances from SXSW, the Sawyer Sessions, and Americana Music Festival and profiles the duo’s ability to not only recreate – but also elevate – their songs in a live setting. The sad shuffle of “There Was A Time” is a perfect snapshot of what Mandolin Orange does best.
If you’re in the mood for some dreamy Icelandic alt-folk, then Low Roar could be your new favorite band. Mixing fireside acoustic guitars with heavenly electric lines, disembodied vocals, and atmospheric sonic beds, the band carefully crafts lush soundscapes that seem to echo out into horizonless spaces. Hávallagata 30 EP functions as a fantastic introduction to Low Roar as its seven tracks are comprised of four songs from their self-titled debut album, two songs from this year’s O, and an unreleased gem titled “Box Crate Weirdo.” If you need an entry point, “Friends Make Garbage (Good Friends Take It Out)” will gently lead you into their world of sonic wonder.
With their debut full length album set for release later this month, UK-based surf-pysch trio The Wytches have released the “Gravedweller” digital single to whet your aural appetite. Finding a unique sonic intersection somewhere between the rawer side of Nirvana, the bluesy side of The White Stripes, and the experimental side of Sonic Youth, The Wytches are really fun to listen to and provide the perfect eerie backdrop for a night drive through someplace you’ve never been before. As a bonus, the “Gravedweller” single also contains two non-album B-sides that will not appear on Annabel Dream Reader (out August 26).
The search for inspired indie hip-hop can be a bit of a hit-or-miss activity, but finding someone who is doing something different makes the task worthwhile. A good example of this is found in Good Times, Good Rhymes , the new mixtape from Adam Robb. Robb’s lyrical flow is both confident and playful, and the production found throughout Good Times, Good Rhymes shows both a tuned-in ear and a slick hand. “Sins of the Father” feels like the standout track on here, with Robb getting a little help from fellow rapper Josh Hill as well. In just six tracks Good Times, Good Rhymes covers a lot of sonic and lyrical territory to great effect, making this mixtape well worth your time and attention.
When writer Will Hodge isn’t getting arrested at the Mardi Gras for jumping on a float, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack
Head of Product / Lead Designer
Job Location: Nashville, TN / Long distance work possible for the right candidate.
Reporting to: President
Travel: If long distance, travel to Nashville 4-5 times per year.
NoiseTrade is a music marketing, distribution, and tribe-building company, founded in 2008. In February of 2014, the company expanded its already robust platform to feature and serve authors and publishers with the launch of NoiseTrade Books. NoiseTrade and its platforms allow fans and readers to download free music and ebooks directly from content creators in exchange for an email address and postal code. With over 20,000 artists and authors giving away content on the site and 400,000 albums downloaded a month, NoiseTrade has a large and loyal audience of 1.3 million and growing.
Candidates for the Head of Product role should have strong experience designing and managing complex UX projects and overseeing revenue-driving initiatives. The Head of Product will report directly to the President of NoiseTrade and will work daily alongside our Lead Developer and others on the development team to continue innovatively build the NoiseTrade platform.
What You’ll Do
- Work with the executive team to develop an innovative product vision across desktop, tablet and mobile platforms.
- Design the interface of the NoiseTrade platform from concept to wireframe to finished Photoshop file to pass on to front-end development. (Strong front-end experience a bonus qualification.)
- Work alongside our development team to execute the product vision.
- Oversee mobile strategy and lead product development of mobile apps and mobile-optimized experiences.
- Assist in developing analytics to systematically measure performance of all aspects of the web experience and conversion funnel.
- Collaborate with all other departments to ensure open communication about future product plans.
Who You Are
- A talented and intuitive interface designer. High competency in Adobe Photoshop a must.
- An effective manager with the desire to cultivate leadership
- Committed to recruiting the best possible product, development and design team as NoiseTrade grows
- Empathetic to the needs of customers (artists, authors, publishers, record labels, music fans, readers)
- Obsessed with beautiful design experiences
- 7+ years experience in ecommerce, mobile, and product design and management
- Strong understanding of web technologies, programming languages and webpage design
- Proven ability to develop and implement a successful social, platform, and ecommerce strategy, preferably in media (music, books, film, or other creative sectors).
- Able to translate analytical data into strategic recommendations
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills. Confident presentation skills.
- Great interpersonal skills
- An avid music fan with a strong understanding of the current landscape of streaming and digital download music platforms.
- Ideally an avid fan of digital publishing with a strong understanding of the ebook marketplace.
- Intensely curious. Entrepreneurial. Hard-working. Self-starter.
How to Apply
Submit cover letter, portfolio and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Man, is August upon us already? I’m so proud of myself for not subjecting you guys to a goofy “Christmas in July” themed Weekend Wrap-Up at any point over the last month. I definitely thought once (or thrice) about it, but it felt a little too QVC-cheese for my tastes. Besides, once late November hits I have a feeling my inner Ralphie Parker will make up for any lost mid-year seasonal shenanigans. This week I’ll just continue to keep it as summer and sunshine as my heat-hate will allow because I’m sure some of you are still planning outdoor activities and mapping out road trips. The only thing missing is that perfect album to help soundtrack the scenery and I’ve got another batch of potential mixtape material for you to try on and see what fits. Just be mindful of the artificial lighting in this place. It can be a little unflattering from certain angles.
Need a big batch of tunes to help you head into the last month of summer? Josh Rouse’s expansive 25-song Summertime collection might be just what you’re looking for. With his smooth vocal delivery and the whimsical musical thread he’s strung throughout each song, Rouse has created a relaxed sonic hammock that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. While “Summertime,” “Valencia,” and “Marvin Gaye” are standouts here, you can seriously just put this one on and let it run all the way through. As this collection covers a good chunk of Rouse’s decade-plus career, it also serves as a nice tapestry of his work in case you want to go back and experience the albums from which these songs are plucked. As a friendly recommendation, start with his gorgeously nostalgic 1972.
PUJOL is Daniel Pujol, one of Nashville’s best-kept (not so) secrets and there’s no doubt that his newest album KLUDGE will continue to let the cat out of the bag. Not only does PUJOL boast some of the most melodic garage rock you can hear this side of the 1960s, but the circumstances surrounding the creation of KLUDGE are pretty spectacular as well. The album was recorded at The Place – a suicide prevention center for teens located in a strip mall – with recording sessions held each night from 5pm-6am that were bookended by the setting up and tearing down of all of the temporary studio equipment. This sampler features three stellar KLUDGE tracks, as well as two songs from each of PUJOL’s last two albums. Sample the quirky garage gold of “Pitch Black” for your immediate party-starting needs.
As far as musical introductions go, a double album can understandably be a bit of a daunting “nice to meet you.” When alt-folk legends Over the Rhine released the beautifully sprawling two-disc Meet Me at the Edge of the World last September, they offered up this 5-song sampler as an advance teaser. Over the Rhine’s music has always managed to convey humanity and spirituality from both individual and intertwined viewpoints and these songs continue their tradition of blurring the dividing lines between the sacred and the secular with a deceptively deft hand. In their lyrics and in their music, Over the Rhine has managed to carve their own trail of jazzy, bluesy, folk songs, while simultaneously celebrating the untamed fringes.
While Ellie Holcomb magnificently contributes her ethereal melody lines as part of Rain for Roots and Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, her solo material is where her charming honey-rasped vocals truly shine. Her most recent solo album, As Sure As the Sun, was released this past February and its hopeful lead single “Marvelous Light” kicks off this impressive 6-song collection highlighting a variety of Ellie’s work. My favorite song on this sampler is “Hung the Moon” from Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors’ 2009 album A Million Miles Away, but there’s truly not a dud in this bunch. Between her two EPs and her debut full-length album, it won’t take too long to catch up and become a fan of her wonderfully expectant songwriting.
When writer Will Hodge isn’t feeling 1972 and grooving to a Carole King tune, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack
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!
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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