NoiseTrade One-on-10,000? For our newest NoiseTrade One-on-One interview we got to chat with 10,000 Maniacs as they celebrate 35 years of making some of the best college rock, alt-folk, melodic gold around. We got lead singer Mary Ramsey and founding member Dennis Drew to reflect on the band’s enduring legacy, to detail their upcoming Greatest Hits Live album, and to give us a little background on the previously unreleased track “Go Song Go” from 1986, a song only available on their exclusive NoiseTrade sampler For Crying Out Loud.
NoiseTrade: First off, congratulations on celebrating 35 years as a band! During your time in the band, what have you seen as some of the driving attributes of the enduring legacy of 10,000 Maniacs?
Mary Ramsey: One of the main reasons the band has continued on is our collective love of music. We all enjoying performing and making music. The enthusiasm of our fans and audiences is a major factor in our drive to continue composing and playing together.
Dennis Drew: Clearly we love each other and treat each other with respect. I suppose the same goes for our audience. We love them and respect them. In the end, we’ve lasted this long because the songs are really good. We certainly play them well, enjoy playing them, and it shows. We also don’t sound like any other band. We have a somewhat unique sound. We are not a blues-based, rock and roll band and not really a tender folk band. We all bring different influences to the table: Joy Division, The Cure, Fairport Convention, The Heptones, REM, Graham Parsons, Patti Smith, we blend it all.
NT: This year the band will be releasing Greatest Hits Live, from which “These Are Days” and “Love Among the Ruins” are taken for your NoiseTrade sampler For Crying Out Loud. How does it feel to be able to still get such an enthusiastic audience response decades after the original release of these songs?
Drew: Yeah, it’s humbling. The songs still go over really well. We are actually a pretty dynamic band in a live setting and our engineer does a great job. So the music is physically very powerful. We have seven people up there. The rhythm is intense. There is really nothing like a live rock band at the top of it’s game. We are on top of it for sure.
Ramsey: It is rather remarkable that the response to the bands songs are genuine and so intense. There seems to be a magical chemistry when these songs are performed. The audience makes it work!
NT: For Crying Out Loud also contains a couple of tracks from your last few releases, including “She Moved Through the Fair” from last year’s Twice Told Tales. What was the initial inspiration behind recording an album of traditional English folk tunes and how was the band’s overall experience going the direct-to-fan route with PledgeMusic?
Ramsey: We had always wanted to do a cd of traditional Celtic music. My viola-violin playing and voice seemed a good fit with these traditional songs from centuries ago. Twice Told Tales was a pleasure to make.
Drew: Mary was the inspiration for that. She sings and plays that traditional music so well. John Lombardo turned us on to that kind of music back in ’81, right from the very beginning. but it was Mary’s singing and playing that inspired the whole effort.
NT: Long-time 10,000 Maniacs fans will be absolutely ecstatic to hear the For Crying Out Loud exclusive track “Go Song Go” – a previously unreleased instrumental track that you guys uncovered from a 1986 rehearsal recording. What can you tell us about the song and what else do you guys have hiding back there in that vault?
Drew: That one just feels hell bent for leather. It’s a bass driven song in the mold of “My Mother The War” or “Death of Manolete”. Steve [Gustafson] had a great bass riff and we just ran with it. It’s a one chord thing that’s more sonic than melodic. Lots of fun to play. There is so much stuff in that vault, I can’t begin to imagine.
NT: Finally, along with the release of Greatest Hits Live, what else can 10,000 Maniacs fans look forward to from the band in 2016?
Ramsey: We are always working on new song ideas and revisiting some of catalog of work. We also enjoying experimenting and trying covers that work with our sound. So you never know what might pop up in our set list for 2016 shows.
Drew: We’ll be out there playing as much as we can. A little bit of everything, from a whisper to a roar. I think we’ll take the ’16-’17 winter months to put together new material. I’d like to do something expansive. We have songs ideas now that run everywhere from jazz fusion, to singer-songwriter introspection, and back through piano-pop and dance music. I can’t wait.
For our newest NoiseTrade One-on-One, we were seriously stoked to have the opportunity to talk with legendary singer-songwriter and Stars Hollow troubadour Grant-Lee Phillips in advance of his new album The Narrows (out March 18 on Yep Roc). Along with offering an exclusive NoiseTrade compilation Gather Up, Phillips breaks down the inspiration behind some of his new songs, discusses his relocation from Los Angeles to Nashville, describes the recording atmosphere at Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye Studio, and even graciously indulges a little Gilmore Girls chit-chat.
NoiseTrade: Your new NoiseTrade compilation Gather Up features “Smoke and Sparks” from your upcoming album The Narrows (out March 18 on Yep Roc). What can you tell us about the song and your new album?
Grant-Lee Phillips: Mortality, transcendence, dignity – that’s what I’m touching on here with “Smoke And Sparks”. It was written as my father was dying. This collection of songs came out of a hard time, including loss and relocation. Very often my songs, whether it’s me or the voice of a character, are about navigating tough waters while keeping the shore within sight.
NT: A lot of your new songs on The Narrows deal with your recent move to Nashville after three decades in Los Angeles. What inspired the move and did you know it was going to be so sonically inspiring?
Phillips: Los Angeles was home for a big part of my life. My wife and I had to ask ourselves if it was where we wished to raise our daughter and remain for the next decade. As a touring musician and songwriter, I’m not as pinned down to one particular place these days. The city winds me up. I get plenty of that energy on the road. The thought of living with my ear a little closer to the ground – I was ready for that. Musically speaking, there’s a lot going on in Nashville. Some of it’s really inspiring and some of it hurts my head. But I love the place.
NT: Another topic that you write about on your new album is your Native American ancestry, specifically on the song “Cry Cry.” What was the inspiration for that song?
Phillips: I’ve always been interested in trying to tell some of these stories that we talk so little about. Native American history has been largely told by Western movies and poorly so. “Cry Cry” is about the Removal, also known as Trail Where They Cried. Part of the trail actually winds through Nashville. Being of Creek and Cherokee heritage, it hits home when I visit some of these places and I think of what my ancestors endured.
NT: Did recording the album at Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye Studio (with its amazing collection of vintage gear) help shape the sound of The Narrows in any surprise ways?
Phillips: Dan’s really built the ideal recording studio. As you would imagine, there’s a big emphasis on old gear and the room is set up to play live without a bunch of separation. It’s a very workman-like space, set up to get down to business. Collin Dupuis, who engineered the album, is so quick on the draw. That freed me up to just play and forget that I was making a record. The marimba on “Cry Cry” was one of Dan’s instruments, that and the parlor guitar I played on “Holy Irons”. All old instruments are kind of haunted. So yea, having those things to grab for was great.
NT: Alongside the new track “Smoke and Sparks,” Gather Up also features two tracks each from your last two albums (Walking In The Green Corn and Little Moon) and “Heavenly” from your 2000 debut solo album Ladies Love Oracle. What made you pick these songs to help represent your catalog?
Phillips: I felt like this little grouping of songs worked well together. More and more I’m drawn to albums that allow me to remain in a certain emotional place for awhile. When it feels right you don’t want to be yanked by the collar to some other place. It’s a reflective batch of songs. These are the kind of songs that are most personal and the songs I would sit and play for myself in the late hours.
NT: Finally, as a big Gilmore Girls fan, I have to ask… What was your favorite moment playing the Stars Hollow town troubadour and is there a chance we’ll get to see him at all in the new Netflix episodes?
Phillips: Gilmore Girls was something I never could have predicted. I meet people the world over who have discovered my music through the show. “Love, Daisies and Troubadours“ remains my favorite episode of course. That’s the one where I have to battle it with Dave “Gruber” Allen for troubadour turf. I’m as thrilled as any fan about these new episodes. I wore my own clothes for the character back in the day and the jacket still hangs in the closet, along with my busking rig. This Troubadour is ready to spring into action.
While Nashville’s Judah & the Lion prep for the release of their sophomore album Folk Hop N Roll (out March 4), their offering up their debut full length ‘Kids These Days’ in its entirety. We chatted with Judah & the Lion’s Brian Macdonald about the band’s eclectic musical alchemy, working with Midas-touched producer Dave Cobb, and what fans can expect from the band’s upcoming headlining tour.
NoiseTrade: If the title of your new album Folk Hop N Roll (out March 4) isn’t a dead giveaway, you guys love bending and blurring the lines between musical genres. What sparked this approach in you guys individually and then as a band?
Brian Macdonald: I think we all have these different tendencies towards genres, because we grew up in an age where music was so accessible. We have always described our music as a mash up of different genres, and this album definitely covers that arena even more than the last.
NT: Do you find that audiences immediately take to your specific brand of musical mixology or does it ever take them a second to warm up to it?
Macdonald: We definitely notice when it takes them a second to warm up, but hopefully, in a lot of shows, we can win them over with humor, lightheartedness, dancing, anything to make the crowd loosen up and know that we’re not taking ourselves too seriously on stage!
NT: You worked with producer Dave Cobb again for Folk Hop N Roll, who is a guy that has worked on some of my favorite albums from the past few years from folks like Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell, Anderson East, and HoneyHoney. What was it like to work with him a second time and what did he bring to the table as a producer this time around?
Macdonald: We really get along with Dave and vibe with his philosophy. As any great producer should, he really challenges us and makes us work hard to take the music to the next level. His musical palette is so broad that he will make suggestions that seem way out there. Sometimes you just have to trust that he knows what he’s doing even when it seems out of left field. We love that guy, and he really got us into motorcycles this go around, so that was fun.
NT: Speaking of Dave Cobb, he produced your debut album Kids These Days that you are currently offering up here on NoiseTrade. What differences and similarities do you hear between the band that recorded Kids These Days and the one that just finished up Folk Hop N Roll?
Macdonald: I think there are a lot of similarities in that it still has the Judah and the Lion feel with the mando/banjo, folk influence. The main thing that spiced it up for us on Folk Hop N Roll is the ‘Roll.’ We just started rehearsals this week; after we played through the first song, we all gave this look to each other like, ‘when did our show turn into a rock show! WOW!’ We’re super excited, i think the Rock N Roll element will really take our show energy to the next level.
NT: Next month you guys will be heading out on your biggest headlining tour to date, running February 12 through April 24. What new songs are you guys most excited to play live?
Macdonald: It’s hard to pick favorites just yet, BUT one that has been standing out is “Insane.” It’s a song making an honest statement; nobody really has it figured out, we’re all just going Insane. All I will say about it is, its going to be a very tender part of the set, which will then quickly turn into insanity, chaos, etcetera.
With her new album Sweven having just released last week, we chatted with the enchantingly inventive singer-songwriter Brooke Waggoner for our newest NoiseTrade One-on-One. Along with her Sweven NoiseTrade EP, we’re offering this pull-back-the-curtain look at how emotional and instrumental inspirations played out in Waggoner’s new collection of songs, how her childhood writings found their place in her current lyrics, and how the birth of her son helped influence the album’s completion.
NoiseTrade: Your NoiseTrade EP features two live cuts from your recent OurVinyl session and three songs from your brand new album Sweven. Where did the album title come from and what can you tell us about these new entries in your songwriting catalog?
Brooke Waggoner: The word sweven is an old English term that rarely gets used anymore. The sonic elements of the word along with it’s meaning really encapsulated the “feel” of the album for me – a dreamlike state, futuristic, vision. It’s also the title of one of the album’s songs; a short darker lullaby of sorts that has a bed of whimsical instruments and a more poetic slant on the lyrics. I wanted this album to feel like a world you may happen upon underwater – murky at times, floating in space, submerged in emotion. But also create songs that are more traditional in structure and less tangent-oriented. The lyrics are full of stories and imagery involving nature, travels taking place at night, becoming a grown-up with a lens for childlike creativity in the realm of adult problems like divorce, death, and regretting wasted youth. But there’s important lessons to be learned from all of those hardships – a lesson in “how to respond.”
NT: Since the songs on Sweven have their roots in your childhood writings and recordings, what were some of the more interesting things you found out about yourself while revisiting them?
Waggoner: I was reminded from early childhood recordings that I’ve always listened for melody first. Rhythmic patterns, repetition, developing an idea; all of those things came and still come second. Melody first. I also rediscovered the way I used to the think about the world. Things really were seen through rose-colored glass, and the world seemed truly like my oyster; a place to find adventure and fulfill young dreams. All so optimistic.
NT: Being that you succeeded at hitting your self-set deadline of finishing the recording of Sweven before the birth of your son (by at least an afternoon), did you give him a producer’s credit for knowing when the songs where done or do you have any of the typical “unfinished” feelings that can accompany the end of an album’s recording sessions?
Waggoner: Ha, I should have given Ames a “producer’s credit”! My son was a driving motivator in completion timelines. And I’m grateful for that. It can be easy to marinate too long in the production process and lose the original excitement of the project. I can honestly say, this album feels very complete to me, and I feel I addressed what I wanted to say. That doesn’t always happen, so I’m grateful for that!
NT: I’m transfixed with the lush, goth-lounge vibe of “Fellow” from your live OurVinyl session. What was your sonic inspiration for that song?
Waggoner: That song was originally written and recorded to be an instrumental piece. I later decided to add vocals and lyrics. This explains a lot of the push and pull of the tempo – definitely not locked in. The way you would typically play an expressive solo piano piece. But that was an enjoyable confine when recording vocals. The chord progressions felt like a new level for me artistically, taking it places I wouldn’t have been able to go 3, 5, or 10 years ago.
NT: Finally, what is one of the more profound lyrics your 9-year-old self wrote that you just couldn’t find the right place for on this album? How about the most funny or interesting one as well?
Waggoner: Ha, there’s some pretty “bad” lyrics in all of those old recordings. Thankfully, right?! You’ve got to start somewhere and usually the early stuff just sounds “bad”. Just trying to find your place in it all. The first song I can remember writing when 9 was a little ditty called “Right Now”. It’s about the tumultuous plight of a 4th grader dealing with a crush and having no idea how to think about boys much less talk to them. “Right now, I’m here…. right now…, I’m here.” That’s poetic gold right there.
There’s no question that Ethan Luck expertly harnesses his punk pedigree on his exciting new EP Ethan Luck & The Intruders . You can download the whole thing here on NoiseTrade and there’s still time to pre-order the 10″ vinyl version from SuperFan Vinyl too! For our newest NoiseTrade One-on-One, we talked with Luck about the recording of his new EP, what it was like to hand over the producer reigns to Paul Moak, and we got him to tell us some of his own favorite band-to-solo artists as well.
NoiseTrade: What do you think are some of the biggest differences and similarities between your new EP Ethan Luck & The Intruders and your previous two solo EPs, Wounds & Fears and Hard Seas?
Ethan Luck: The biggest difference is, it was the first batch of solo songs not recorded at my home studio (My Garage). I recorded these songs at The Smoakstack in Nashville and it was produced by Paul Moak, who owns the studio. Although I’ve recorded in tons of pro studios over the last 19 years, this was a first as a solo artist. Paul and his dudes took these songs to a place WAY above my expectations. It’s my favorite studio in Nashville, hands down.
NT: Your previous solo releases, while including multiple instruments, feel a little more intimate and folksy than your new EP. What made you decide to tackle this one with the bigger “full band” approach?
Luck: On my first two EP’s, I really wanted to include my love of old country music. I wanted to include other instruments I play and just try new ideas. I’m happy with them, although this new one is definitely more “me.” These songs are more a reflection of what I listen to and have been listening to for so many years. Another reason for going the sonic and style route I did was, that’s how my older songs end up sounding live anyway – louder and faster!
NT: As a songwriter, what’s your indicator that lets you know it’s time to get back into the studio to record?
Luck: There’s no actual indicator, other than the songs are where I like them. I’m writing and recording all the time. Once I have a batch of songs I feel good about, I think “Ok, time to record it.” I’m always coming up with different ideas, musically. I have a few instrumental surf songs, ska songs… whatever. I like exploring everything I feel I’m pretty good at. I like getting my music out at fast as possible too. I hate when bands record and the album comes out 8 months later. It’s 2015, you don’t need to do that anymore.
NT: With this being your first time working with an outside producer for your solo work, what was your experience working with Paul Moak?
Luck: My experience was incredible, as I expected. I worked with him before on the last Relient K album. Although that album wasn’t really good, the sounds, environment and experience were amazing. We’ve been friends for a while and it’s been a dream to record my solo stuff in his place. Paul pushes you, knows what he wants next before you finish something. He’s driven and excited. He doesn’t go through the motions just to get it done. He puts his heart and soul into what he works on. I hope to record there again the next time around.
NT: Were there any differences working with a producer for your solo work, as opposed to how it’s been for you working with a producer within the context of a band?
Luck: With a band setting, you do your parts and thats about it. With my old bands, I would record my parts and still hang in the studio because I like that creative environment. With my solo stuff, I’m basically playing everything. So, there’s not much stopping especially at Smoakstack. I’d finish drums, listen back, Paul would hand me a bass, then guitars…etc. Paul did some percussion, BGV’s and O\organ on the EP, so it was cool to take a break here and there. I like doing it that way. It’s almost non-stop all day! If I were to use a full band on another release, I hope to do most of it live in the same room.
NT: Being that you’ve had such a prolific career as a band member (The Dingees, Relient K, Demon Hunter, The Supertones) and as a live sideman (Kings of Leon, Lees of Memory), what does having a solo career mean to you personally and do you approach your solo songs any differently than when you are playing someone else’s songs?
Luck: Well, I wouldn’t call my solo stuff a “career” by any means, haha! It’s what I would be doing no matter what my actual job is. It means a lot to me though. It’s my therapy. I try to keep my heart on my sleeve in regular life and in songs. Sometimes, I feel I can explain myself better in songs. I’ll never stop doing it. In music, I’m mostly attracted to music with substance. I try my best to do the same. I approach what I play with other bands differently, but can still feel connected to it. It’s like listening to your favorite record, there’s a connection. There are songs that I play with Kings Of Leon or The Lees Of Memory that are amazingly beautiful! How can you not feel something? Especially if you’re playing the instrument you love at the same time. And The Lees Of Memory songs? Forget about it, to me, that’s worship music. 100%
NT: Finally, in a previous interview I asked you to list some of your favorite EPs from other artists. This time around, I’d like to know what are some of your favorite formerly-band-to-currently-solo albums from other artists?
Luck: One of my favorites is Jakob Dylan. I always liked the mellow stuff on Wallflowers albums and he does that even better on his solo stuff. Others would be Joe Strummer (RIP), Mike Ness, Rhett Miller, and John Davis.
When writer Will Hodge (@will_hodge) isn’t flat-footed on the streets of Chicago (knuckles up when the pipes play victory), you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack
Matthew Mayfield’s brand new Wild Eyes Unplugged EP captures an artist that is unafraid to reimagine and reinvent his own material. We recently chatted with Mayfield to discuss his thoughts on the creative process of stripping down these songs and covering Lorde’s “Team” for Wild Eyes Unplugged, and we even got him to pick a few of his own favorite acoustic versions of songs by other artists.
NoiseTrade: Your new Wild Eyes Unplugged EP features four new acoustic recordings of songs from your most recent album. What made you pick these specifics songs to reimagine this way?
Matthew Mayfield: Well the original thought for the EP was to strip the production back on a few of my favorites from the album and showcase the songs in a totally different way. It’s similar to what Ryan Adams did with Taylor Swift’s record. So I essentially 1989‘d myself. I picked these 4 because they had the most potential for a full 180. A good song should be able to shine in any format. I hope that these can do just that for my fans and the NoiseTrade diehards.
NT: When playing these songs live, what goes into deciding which version of your songs to do that night?
Mayfield: I like to mix it up on stage. On the last run, we were taking it night by night. Some shows we’d run backing tracks and play them just like the record and others we’d play everything super stripped down. Some nights it was just me and a guitar. I’d usually make the call based on the vibe of the room, the size of the crowd, and how I’m feeling in my gut.
NT: On the full-studio version of Wild Eyes, you added a couple of female vocalists (Amy Stroup and Chelsea Lankes) to add some wonderful vocal textures to “Settle Down” and “Why We Try”. Did you hear the sonic spaces for these additional voices when you were writing these songs or did it just come together naturally while recording?
Mayfield: Those two gals are so great and added so much to the songs. “Why We Try” was a pure duet from the very beginning. I knew having a female vocal would really drive the message of that song home. Chelsea came in the studio in LA and nailed it. She’s such a sweetheart too. “Settle Down” was one I wrote with Amy and when it came time to cut it, I knew her voice would be perfect for the harmonies. I only sang one or two background vocals on the entire album. The rest are Garrison Star, Amy, and Chelsea. I love the way it lifts the choruses and blends with the lead.
NT: You’re also including your cover of Lorde’s “Team” on Wild Eyes Unplugged EP. What drew you to this song and what made you want to put your own spin on it?
Mayfield: I’ve been a huge fan of hers since that record came out. What a powerhouse. “Team” is my favorite song on Pure Heroine, and it worked so naturally. It’s such a quirky lyric with a beautiful hook: ”We’re on each other’s team.” Such a beautiful line. When I play it live it makes me feel so connected to the crowd and has been a unique, special moment every single time.
NT: Finally, do you have any favorite full-band-turned-acoustic versions of songs that you really dig from another artists that we should check out?
Mayfield: Oh man, too many to list. But here are a few favorites:
Brandi Carlile’s ”The Story” (acoustic)
Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run” (acoustic)
Nirvana’s “All Apologies” (Unplugged)
And my good friend David Ramirez’s “Fires” (acoustic)
Will’s Weekend Wrap-Up: Best Interviews of 2015 with Blake Babies, Jon Foreman, Ingrid Michaelson, and David Gallaher and Steve Ellis
Welcome to 2016, NoiseTraders! Before we all rush headfirst into breaking all those New Year’s resolutions we just made, I think it’d be nice to take one more look at 2015 by revisiting some of my favorite NoiseTrade interviews from this past year. Whittling this list down was no easy task, as I was absolutely floored by the level of talent and awesomeness we were able to chat with this past year. I mean, Nate Ruess (fun.), Josh Garrels, Stephan Jenkins (Third Eye Blind), Alynda Lee Segarra (Hurray for the Riff Raff), Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek, Fiction Family), Deb Talan and Steve Tannen (The Weepies), the unbelievable list goes on and on. This year, we even had the unique privilege of talking with a few non-artists who were able to shine a light on different parts of the music industry like Ashley Capps (co-founder of Bonnaroo) and Allan Pepper (NYC’s legendary The Bottom Line). Enough of my chit-chat, let’s get into some of my other chit-chats. Alrighty, get into all the things!
Iconic mainstays of the 1980s college rock scene, Blake Babies delivered a unique mixture of syrupy sweet vocals and caustic lyrics, all laid out over a bed of jangly guitar work and nuanced drumming. We sat down with the band to discuss their experience coming up in the Massachusetts music scene of the 1980s, their lasting impact on present day bands, and what we can expect from their catalog reissues planned for 2016. Keep your eyes and ears out for the details surrounding the upcoming releases!
When Jon Foreman isn’t busy fronting Switchfoot or collaborating with Sean Watkins for Fiction Family, he’s quietly been writing and releasing a staggering collection of solo material. This year, Foreman released The Wonderlands, a multi-EP project featuring songs written to represent the movement of a full day – 24 songs for 24 hours. We chatted with Foreman about the creative scope of The Wonderlands, its decade-long gestation, and what makes EPs such a cool format for this type of release.
We were lucky enough to talk with Ingrid Michaelson while she was out on the road for A Summer Night Out Tour – her biggest tour yet – and we were so excited to partner with her to celebrate the summer shenanigans with a limited time release of A Summer Night Out Tour Sampler. During a charming, laugh-filled conversation, we chatted with her about the scope of the outdoor shows, her hilarious star-studded music video for “Time Machine,” and her own memories of outdoor shows as an audience member.
To help celebrate Free Comic Book Day back in May, we spoke with graphic novel legends David Gallaher and Steve Ellis about their unique collaborative partnership, their work on High Moon and Box 13, and their recommendations for other authors and illustrators we should check out. Not only were both guys completely gracious with their time and answers, but I think they really gave an incredibly interesting interview that anyone can relate to and enjoy, regardless of whether you’re a comic book know-it-all or not.
Will’s Weekend Wrap-Up: Best Picks of 2015 with Sandra McCracken, Flint Eastwood, Gospel Lee, and Billy Power
Merry Christmas, movie house! Merry Christmas, Emporium! Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan! Merry Christmas, NoiseTraders!
What better way to nurse that holiday hangover than by revisiting some of my favorite Weekend Wrap-Up picks from 2015? If you missed them the first time around, now’s your chance to remedy that and to make your heart smile. Alrighty, get into all the things!
Sometimes a feature comes along on our site that just genuinely blows you away. Sandra McCracken’s Psalms album has been in nearly constant rotation for me since its release this past April and the singer-songwriter-hymnist is currently offering “We Will Feast in the House of Zion” from the album, as well as nine additional (and equally compelling) songs for this special bonus edition. The bonus songs were birthed out of community songwriting retreats for A Rocha and are therefore amazingly littered with some special guest vocalists like Sarah Masen, Julie Lee, Chelsey Scott, and Rain for Roots.
When a band describes themselves as “a spaghetti western cooked in the ovens of Detroit,” you can’t help but give them a listen, right? If you give Late Night in Bolo Ties a spin, you’ll hear that Flint Eastwood definitely makes it worth your time. Pulsing dance beats, infectious chorus melodies, and lead singer Jax Anderson’s cool-croon-to-banshee-wail vocals make this four-track EP a must listen for anyone looking for songs with an unmistakable slinky bravado. Fans of Chvrches, The Kills, and the Alison Mosshart-led side of The Dead Weather will find lots to love in Flint Eastwood. I know I sure do!
Gospel Lee is a Phoenix-by-way-of-OKC rapper that mixes high-energy linguistics with clean, crisp beats to produce his singular strain of heart-piercing, thought-provoking hip-hop. Brilliant is Lee’s newest EP that was just released in August and he simply describes it as a “5-track album dedicated to the single idea that you are brilliant.” “Far Away” and “Okies” are my current favorites, but all five tracks are strong enough to hold their own against each other. Snap this one up!
Billy Power’s Bottle Breaker is an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at touring life in the mid-90s. During that time, Power was in Blenderhead and Bottle Breaker is his day-by-day, hand-written journal from the band’s 1995 tour with pop-punk mainstays MxPx. As a HUGE fan of both bands and Tooth and Nail Records (the label representing both bands at the time), this book is a dream for me. Power is a fantastic writer and you can also catch him on his Urban Achiever podcast as well.
Season’s Greetings, NoiseTraders! How in the world is this the last Weekend Wrap-Up before Christmas? It seems like after my annual season-long complaining about summer, the second half of the year has been a blur! But have no fear, there’s still almost a week of Christmas to be celebrated. That is, unless you are one of the “dashing through the no in a one-horse open nay” type of people who are counting down for a completely different reason. Either way, Happy (insert greeting of your choosing here) to you and yours from me and all of us here at NoiseTrade. Alrighty, get into all the things!
While listening through Amy Stroup’s You Make the Cold Disappear, it’s perfectly normal to have thoughts of “Isn’t this song from that commercial… ?” or “Wasn’t this song in that episode of… ?” because “YES!” to both. The five tracks of holiday songs on You Make the Cold Disappear float along on Stroup’s warmly unassuming vocals that are packed with crystal clear tones and delivered in gentle waves of audible molasses. In fact, she possibly might have recorded my favorite version of “Mele Kalikimaka” (just don’t tell Courtney Jaye).
Like I’m always telling you guys, album artwork still matters to me. Sometimes I browse through the NoiseTrade digital stacks and take a chance on a new band based solely on my reaction to their album artwork. In the case of King Cardinal, that process turned out to be a really nice surprise for me! The classic-looking cardinal/wreath/pinecone/ivy combination called out to the Rockwellian side of my old-man soul and I’m glad I answered it. After giving the “Alone on Christmas Eve” single a spin, I was pleasantly surprised by its slow-burn folk and the warm wash of the vocal performance.
I’ve raved about Tyler Larson on here a few times before for his incredibly fun 8-bit chiptune releases, but this time around he’s picked up an electric guitar and recorded an album’s worth of smooth jazz Christmas instrumentals titled Colorado Christmas. Larson’s picked two tracks to offer here – “Jingle Bells” and “The First Noel” – showing both his range as an instrumentalist and also the overflowing festive atmosphere of Colorado Christmas.
Tired of the same old Christmas stories? If so, then author Brady Koch has a little something special waiting for you underneath the bunker… I mean, the tree! To keep things mysterious (as presents should be), here’s the log line for X-Mas for a Half-Life: “Foster had given up on his directive as one the remaining members of the Archivist’s Guild until he received a glimmer of hope: the first letter written to Santa Claus after three generations underground.” Bum-bum-bum…
Hey there, NoiseTraders! If you aren’t already one of the many who have been scouring our site for Christmas music (and according to the downloads, there’s not many of you abstaining), then I’d like to give you a few options to try out. This week my music picks cover a wide swath of genres and the book pick provides a really nice guide to Advent. Of course, if Christmas music ain’t yo thang… well, give me a few weeks and we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming. Alrighty, get into all the things!
Under the Sleeping at Last moniker, Chicago-based singer-songwriter-producer-composer Ryan O’Neal has turned a yearly yuletide tradition into a full-length album. Christmas Collection 2015 features all of the previous Christmas singles, along with this year’s entry, a cover of Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”. With an airy, relaxed vocal delivery and a less-is-more instrumental approach, O’Neal delivers a warm and relaxing collection of songs that is invitational, nostalgic, comforting, and refreshingly modern in its sonic qualities.
Doesn’t matter if she’s singing with Page CXVI, The Autumn Film, Moda Spira, or any of her other various projects, if Latifah Phillips is singing on it, I’m checking it out. Her newest musical endeavor is Heck Ya The Halls, a “fresh holiday co-lab” with Aaron Strumpel. Their first release is a quirky 5-song EP of Christmas standards that they describe as sounding like “french bistros and western campfires.” Presented her is the single for “Auld Lang Syne” and it perfectly captures their blending of the talented cool of The Civil Wars with the musical playfulness of She & Him.
Of all the genres that get “Christmas-ized” this time of year, high-energy electro-pop might be one of the few forgotten subsets and R&B vocal powerhouse Shuree is doing her best to change that. With a little production help from Todde Funk, Shuree has reworked “Go Tell It On The Mountain” into a ‘90s-flavored house jam that just might turn your next holiday party into a warehouse rave. There’s a good chance you’ve never heard “Go Tell It on the Mountain” done this way, but after a few listens it just might become your new favorite version.
The older I get, the more Advent becomes a bigger and bigger part of my own Christmas season. If you find yourself in the same boat, then you should really check out O Antiphons: Prayers for the Advent Season from author Thomas Turner. According to Turner, O Antiphons is a “fresh reading of the O Antiphons, along with an Old and New Testament scripture reading and a meditation with discussion questions to guide you during the last week of Advent.” Turner also works at International Justice Mission and also writes for a few different publications.