Hey there, hi there, ho there, my friends! I hope this missive finds you well and that all is dandy in your little corner of the world. If you’re gearing up to attend Bonnaroo this June, we’ve got a couple of early ‘Roo-themed goodies for you before you head to the farm. First, be sure to nab our HUGE 38-track Bonnaroo Mixtape 2015 sampler featuring Against Me!, Brandi Carlile, Twenty One Pilots, Rhiannon Giddens, Guster, Courtney Barnett, and many, many more. Second, don’t miss our interview with Bonnaroo co-founder and music festival guru Ashley Capps. Alrighty, get into all the things!
In between recent stints as a live guitarist (Kings of Leon, Lees of Memory), punk rock troubadour Ethan Luck has been recording songs for his follow-up to last year’s spectacular Hard Seas EP. “Damned” is the first of these new tracks to be released and Luck’s West-Coast-meets-East-Coast twang fuels this beautiful barroom singalong that sonically lands somewhere between Bakersfield and Nashville. I can’t seem to pick my favorite between the arm-around-your-buddy’s-neck full band version and the drink-alone acoustic version, but Abby Gundersen’s fiddlework on the latter might just be enough to tip the scales.
The Wallies are a Sarasota, FL-based no-holds-barred rock band and their album artwork for Covers perfectly captures the vibe of their raw brand of red, white, and blue American rock ‘n’ roll. Covers allows for a really cool look at The Wallies through five unique cover songs: “Diane Young” (Vampire Weekend), “Best of Friends” (Palma Violets), “Will You Be Mine” (Earth Angel), “Lightning Bolt” (Jake Bugg), and “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve” (The Orioles). Their garage rock take on “Diane Young” is probably my favorite of the bunch due to the spirited vocals of Croatian-born lead singer Neven Skoro.
Over the last couple of years I have found myself describing Courtney Barnett as “an Australian Guyville-era Liz Phair” (a HIGH compliment from me, by the way) and the more I listen to her, the more I believe she is exactly that (and much, much more). Barnett’s unassuming vocals, deadpan delivery, unadorned guitar-playing, and playful lyrics all mix together to create a sound that is somehow both comfortably familiar and entirely brand new. Her World Cafe Session features four tracks from her “debut album” The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas spliced between an enlightening interview with host David Dye.
Joey Esposito’s Pawn Shop graphic novel series captures the intertwining lives of a widower, a nurse, a punk, and a city employee, all living out their days against the revolving backdrop of New York City. In Issue #1, the widower character walks around Manhattan and tries to make sense of his upturned life. Each subsequent issue (also available here on NoiseTrade) focuses on a different-yet-correlative individual to create what USA Today’s Brian Truitt calls, “four stories of love, loss, pain and hope… both a memorable love letter to New York City and a touching study on the interconnectedness of us.”
When writer Will Hodge isn’t clean as a whistle, baby, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack
As the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival (June 11-14) descends onto the Manchester, TN farm for its astounding fourteenth year in a row, we took the opportunity to chat with Ashley Capps, Bonnaroo’s co-founder and all-around music festival guru. In this insightful interview, Capps shares how Bonnaroo first came to be, details what goes into making it one of the premier summer festivals each year, and even shares some of his own personal Bonnaroo memories from over the years.
NoiseTrade: The beginning’s always a good place to start… I know your background is in concert promotion, but how specifically did you dream up Bonnaroo and actually get it started?
Ashley Capps: I first started presenting outdoor concerts in 1992, in a park in the heart of downtown Knoxville. It was difficult and challenging, but it was also – more often than not – a really special experience for the fans and the artists. We mostly did single concerts but some of the shows – like the H.O.R.D.E. Tour – had a festival vibe to them and after a few years, in 1997, we tried a couple of festival concepts – multiple days, multiple stages – with bands like Santana, Widespread Panic, String Cheese, Galactic and others.
A couple of years after that, the park was closed down to build a convention center, and we started to look for other options. The first of these was a camping festival outside of Asheville in 2000 called Mountain Oasis. It had a modest line up but was a huge success – selling out its 6,000 tickets and we had to turn away thousands of people. We knew we were onto something.
Soon afterwards, we began discussing a bigger festival with some key artists, and then I also met the guys at Superfly, who were just getting their business going. The original big festival discussion that I was having didn’t quite get off the ground, so I started talking to the Superfly team about the idea. Soon after, Bonnaroo was born.
NT: Were there any other big outdoor festivals that you borrowed inspiration, models, or logistics from?
Capps: Of course, Woodstock was always a touch stone for me. And, although I have not yet attended it, Glastonbury is legendary to me. And there were others…the Phish festivals, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage, Doc Watson’s Merlefest…there was a lot of inspiration to draw from. We were generally influenced by the strong European festival culture. Beyond the inspiration, we also turned to people who had been involved in some of these events to form our Bonnaroo team as well.
NT: Within the summer festival circuit, there’s no question that Bonnaroo has created a unique space for itself. To what do you credit its individuality, its rise, and its ever-growing popularity?
Capps: I think we set the right tone from the very beginning by trying to put both the fans and the artists first. We were fans ourselves, and we wanted to create the very best festival that we could possibly envision. That’s the spirit that continues to drive us to this day. Being true to this principle keeps Bonnaroo fresh and vital and exciting.
NT: Does the planning stage for each year’s Bonnaroo begin the day after the previous year’s festivities are over or does it start even earlier than that?
Capps: It’s an ongoing process. We’re already well into planning 2016 and beyond. These days, it never really ends.
NT: I’ve always seen Radiohead’s headlining slot in 2006 as an important early moment for the musical expansiveness that Bonnaroo is currently known for. Being the closest to the festival, do you agree or would you point to a different moment that embodies that “all acts welcome” spirit?
Capps: I would agree that Radiohead’s appearance in 2006 was, at least symbolically, a transformative, watershed moment for Bonnaroo. In truth, it was one of many steps in the continuing evolution of the festival, which had been in process since the first year. But it was a big, visible step, and a remarkable, unforgettable performance. It definitely opened up the perception of the festival in a big way.
NT: Thinking back over some of Bonnaroo’s astounding headliners over the years (Paul McCartney, Jay-Z, Metallica, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Kanye West, Pearl Jam, Beastie Boys, Elton John, Eminem, Stevie Wonder, the list goes on…), who were some of the biggest surprise “gets” for you?
Capps: It’s been an amazing run. It’s a thrill to look over that list and remember those incredible shows. I don’t know… if you had told us in 2001, when we first started planning Bonnaroo, that Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen would one day headline the festival, we would have probably all laughed out loud at the possibility. But creating Bonnaroo was a bold and ambitious dream in the first place, and you can’t do something like that unless you also believe that almost anything is possible.
NT: Apart from its big headliners, Bonnaroo is also known for the way it champions emerging artists as well. Has that always been an important focus for you and your team?
Capps: The world of music is in constant flux, forever and continuously changing. Exciting new artists with bold new ideas emerge almost daily. It’s exciting and iconoclastic and it’s one of the things that attracted me to music in the first place. These young artists are the heart and soul of what keeps music vital and fresh and relevant. Being able to champion some of these young artists that especially move us is rewarding to us as music fans and keeps our festival fresh and vital as well. It’s at the core of Bonnaroo’s longevity and success.
NT: Finally, what are some of your favorite Bonnaroo memories – anywhere from big co-founder goal realizations down to your own personal fanboy moments?
Capps: Imagining, working, and watching Bonnaroo evolve has been an amazing experience. Most of the team behind Bonnaroo has been there more or less from the beginning, working together to continually create and recreate, invent and reinvent this unforgettable weekend. It’s like a family. It’s very, very hard work, especially in the weeks leading into the festival, and it forges strong bonds between people. It’s difficult to put into words, but simply being a part of the evolution, being able to work with such a wild, wonderful, extraordinary group of creative, caring human beings has been a remarkable experience.
Most of my lasting memories are about people. Beyond the Bonnaroo team, the weekend has become something of an annual homecoming for friends and colleagues from all over the world. It’s like a fabulous family reunion at times. And, of course, there’s the Bonnaroo community itself – everyone who attends – the fans and the artists – who create the experience with us. There’s a very special sense of community and fellowship during the weekend that is hard to describe, but I know that others feel it too. It’s quite something to be a part of it.
As for musical memories, they are innumerable. There are so many amazing highlights that it’s impossible to even begin to list them really. But there was a moment early on – in 2003, Bonnaroo’s second year – where something suddenly came over me. I was standing with my friends, under the full moon, while Neil Young & Crazy Horse were on stage and Neil was in the midst of this ecstatic guitar solo, almost symphonic in scope, and I was completely transported. It was a moment of pure transcendence. I’ll never forget it.
Bonjour, NoiseTraders! Happy Record Store Day to one and all! Ah yes, it’s the most wonderful time of the year for music lovers and vinyl junkies and it’s one of my absolute favorite days on the calendar. Having spent all of my previous Record Store Days traversing the Nashville shops like a boss, my first Chicago one should truly be a new adventure! (I’m coming for YOU, Sugarhill Gang double 12” and WWF’s Piledriver!) Death or glory awaits! While I spend my Saturday morning making what some would say is much too big a deal of grooved wax circles (or grooved wax stars, states, and police badges this year), please enjoy another batch of me-tested, me-approved music and book recommendations to wake up your weekend. Alrighty, get into all the things!
Alt-folk troubadour Jeremiah Tall spins his story-singing yarns as a certifiable one-man-traveling-band. Playing acoustic guitar and banjo, adding the occasional harmonica spice, and accompanying himself on a John Wayne-emblazoned suitcase-turned-kick drum, Tall’s voice prays and pleads while his foot pounds out the rhythmic heart beat of each song’s life. Tall’s lyrics deal with folk mythology, tall tales, and the ever-present struggle between man, God, and the devil, while his music is birthed in folk, blues, and traditional roots music. For my two cents, “Train” is a must-hear masterpiece.
NEEDTOBREATHE is hitting the road this upcoming week for their Tour De Compadres spring/summer tour and they’re bringing a few friends along with them. Joining NEEDTOBREATHE on this guaranteed good time are Ben Rector (leg 1), Switchfoot (leg 2), Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors, and Colony House. For a taste of what this talent-filled tour will sound like, take a listen to their Tour De Compadres Sampler that features two live tracks from NEEDTOBREATHE’s recent Live from the Woods album, as well as a track from each of the other bands.
Phoenix-based rapper Jordan Taylor recently dropped a handful of singles here on NoiseTrade and if you like grungy hip-hop with innovative production and hope-fueled, street-wise rhymes, you do not want to miss Taylor’s songs. Brought up through freestyle initiation and currently honing his self-penned “street conscience” lyrics, Taylor is one to keep your eyes and ears out for. While the Tupac samples on “Underdog” and “Modern Day Moses” are almost enough to make those my favorites, “City in the Sky” is the one I can’t stop spinning.
When a book claims to be about the “journey of understanding how we are to navigate a life of faith amid a world of such uncertainty, and oftentimes, of great darkness”, I personally can’t help but be intrigued. Dave Arnold’s Pilgrims of the Ally deals with the idea of purpose amidst displacement, and was written from his experience working with immigrants and refugees in Chicago and Detroit over the last 10 years. If you’ve ever dealt with the all-too-common “stranger in a strange land” feelings, Arnold’s Pilgrims of the Alley may just be the encouragement you need.
When writer Will Hodge isn’t thinking that Rick Derringer’s “Demolition” is still one of the greatest ring entrance themes of all time, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack
Apart from being one of my favorite bands, The Weepies are genuinely one of the best husband-and-wife musical duos you could ever hope to hear. Deb Talan and Steve Tannen effortlessly mix their crisp vocal interplay with catchy melodic hooks and inventive instrumental passages to make ear-catching, heart-piercing music that’ll sink deep and stay with you. Get ready for their upcoming album Sirens (out April 28 on Nettwerk Records) by grabbing their exclusive NoiseTrade retrospective sampler Who the Hell are The Weepies? and checking out our interview with Deb and Steve!
NoiseTrade: With the upcoming release of your brand new album Sirens (out April 28 on Nettwerk Records), you guys have compiled an exclusive retrospective sampler titled Who the Hell are The Weepies? What made you pick these specific songs to introduce yourself to folks who may not be familiar with your music?
Steve Tannen: We have a monkey named Chantal, and she threw darts at a stack of Weepies CDs…
Deb Talan: No, don’t listen to him! These are the most popular songs from each of the major projects of the last few years. So, people can see who we are without having to delve too deep in the catalog. Sort of a “Hi, my name is the Weepies” type thing.
NT: As a huge fan of Be My Thrill, I was stoked to see “I Was Made for Sunny Days” included on the sampler. Man, that bassline! Can fans expect some more of those bouncy, melodic moments on Sirens?
Deb: Thank you! Yes yes yes! Eli Thomson, that bass player, joins us again on several tracks here, as well as an amazing cast of other musicians. We feel there’s a good mix of up and down on this record. It reflects the emotions of the year, which turned out to be full of life!
NT: One of the major life ingredients that went into the writing and recording process for Sirens was Deb’s diagnosis, treatment, and recovery from Stage 3 breast cancer. How do you feel that the individual songs on Sirens captured specific steps along that journey?
Steve: Rather than steps, I think it hangs together like a musical photo album. We’re not that intentional, where one thing leads to another. We tend to work better when not looking too directly at anything. It lets in a little more of the unexpected and strange. Sirens was made literally upstairs from some very heavy emotions, but it wouldn’t have made sense to just sing about exactly what happened. The songs that made it to the surface are all informed by what went on below. It’s hard to say what exactly happened way down there, you can just feel it.
NT: I read that many of the vocal performances were recorded while Deb was still undergoing chemotherapy treatments, particularly the song “Sirens” which was captured in just one take. Can you describe what you hear and what you feel when you listen back to them now?
Steve: I hear some fear in there, but I think Deb sounds great.
Deb: It’s like looking at pictures of yourself from last year. You think, “Remember this? That was rough,” or “Hey you look cute here.” We don’t generally listen to our own records though – not after mixing them over and over!
Steve: It’s nice to hear. Though sometimes when we’re out and about, we have a kinder ear than we used to, even for ourselves.
NT: Your list of guest musicians on Sirens is beyond impressive: Pete Thomas and Steve Nieve (Elvis Costello), Gerry Leonard (David Bowie), Rami Jaffe (Foo Fighters), Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel), and Matt Chamberlain (Pearl Jam), just to name a few. How did you manage to wrangle all of them onto one album and how did you decide which songs to put them on?
Steve: We were isolated from everyone during treatment. So we thought “If we could have ANYONE play on this…” Then we literally rung up our heroes, and they all said yes. They were very kind and genuine. It was what you hope when you talk or work with someone you admire. It was a bit surreal. A lot of support came from very unexpected places this year. We’re grateful.
NT: Finally, Sirens includes a cover of Tom Petty’s “Learning to Fly” that feels so joyous and spirited. What made you choose that specific song to cover and also to take it up a notch from the original?
Steve: We really weren’t trying to challenge a classic! After we had given a new album of original songs to Nettwerk, Deb was healing and full of energy and we still had time in the studio. Since we had just finished a big project, we felt freed up to do just about anything. We were goofing around with songs we adore by other artists, just literally playing, and after we listened back this take sounded so hopeful. We shared it with Nettwerk, they loved it, and it made it’s way onto the record. Again, not much planning, we just followed the music.
When writer Will Hodge isn’t tumbling down like Jack and Jill, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack
Welcome to the weekend, NoiseTraders! First things first, if you haven’t downloaded Josh Garrels stunning brand new album Home yet, stop what you’re doing and remedy that immediately. Seriously, you need to hear this album. To make things even easier, HERE is another link to it. Now there are no excuses. I’ll wait… Alrighty, you back? Good! Now, if you try to tell me that “Heaven’s Knife,” “Leviathan,” and “At the Table” aren’t some of the best songs you’ve heard this year, I will freely arm wrestle you Over the Top backwards cap-style in the back parking lot. Also, be sure to check out my in-depth interview with Garrels to get an even deeper picture of what went into the writing and recording of Home, as well as his thoughts on the ongoing “free music” discussion that continues to be debated within the artistic community. But that’s not all, folks! I’ve also got your lovingly-curated weekly music and book recommendations waiting for you as well. Don’t say I never gave you nothing! Alrighty, get into all the things!
Even after three decades of crafting some of the richest sonic genius that has ever come out of the Christian alternative music scene, The Choir continues to show they have no knowledge of even the existence of a brake pedal. The Loudest Sound Ever Heard was released in 2012 and is currently being offered here in its entirety to help celebrate their upcoming tour, unquestionably their biggest tour in decades. Running April 17 through June 14 (with more shows continuing to be scheduled), their Circle Slide 25 Year Anniversary Tour will commemorate the release of their landmark 1990 album Circle Slide. If you’re new to The Choir, I recommend starting with “After All”, the dreamy closing track to The Loudest Sound Ever Heard which is a duet with the incomparable Leigh Nash of Sixpence None the Richer.
As a brand new resident of the Windy City, my eyes have quickly become accustomed to being drawn towards anything with the Chicago flag on it. Such is the case with my attraction the artwork of Twelve Towns by Into It. Over It., the solo project of my fellow city-mate Evan Thomas Weiss. The entire Twelve Towns project initially consisted of 12 songs named after various cities (notwithstanding the exclusion of Chicago) which were released over a series of split EPs with other bands. Presented here is a sampling of the album with two of those tracks, “Portland, OR” and “Augusta, GA”. If you enjoy the emo-influenced, introspective songs of Into It. Over It., we’re also offering “Summerville, SC” (another Twelve Towns track) in its originally released state as part of the Snack Town EP split with Castevet as well.
Masterfully layering electro-jazz structures with drum-and-bass grooves and putting a Fender Rhodes into the forefront of the mix, Marc Cary has created a unique musical project that is overflowing with creativity, improvisation, and genre-less versatility. Hit the Rhodes features three standout instrumentals from Cary’s 20-year career, including the frantic “Astral Flight 17” from Rhodes Ahead, Vol.2, the bubbling horn-led “Running out of Time” from Cosmic Indigenous, and the space-lounge bounce of “The Spectrum” from Four Directions.
If you’re interested in photography but don’t exactly know all the ins-and-outs of what you’re looking for gear-wise, Jeremy Cowart’s The Photographer’s Toolkit is exactly what you’ve been waiting for. Cowart has shot for a wide variety of well-known celebrities and humanitarian projects and his book details the specific gear he uses, from free to not-so-cheap, in his real-world, day-to-day sessions. No matter your level of engagement with photography, The Photographer’s Toolkit will help you get to the next level of what you’re looking to achieve.
When writer Will Hodge isn’t chasing the kangaroo, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack
Throughout his career, Josh Garrels has always written songs that are easy to enjoy and hard to label. His acoustic-based, indie-folk foundations have always been bolstered by lush accompaniments such as sampled beats, synthesizer loops, and orchestral ornamentation. The result is a stunning sound that is completely unique to Garrels and one that has garnered him an ardent following of fans and supporters.
Take a listen to Home, the brand new album from Garrels (released this past Tuesday), and you’ll hear that he’s added a wonderfully soulful, vintage R&B layer to his already impressive eclectic sonic palette. For our newest NoiseTrade One-on-One, we chatted with Garrels about the writing and recording process for Home, his new backyard studio, and his two cents on the ever-evolving “free music” discussion.
NoiseTrade: You’ve given your new album the deceptively simplistic title of Home, a word that can mean many different things to different people. What specifically does it mean to you?
Josh Garrels: The idea of home, in it’s most idealized sense, would be the place where we’re fully known and accepted. I was fortunate enough to have a pretty solid upbringing. Since I was young, home-space has always felt sacred and safe to me. Yet, I am conscious that home being a safe place has not been the reality for many.
But regardless of whether we come from a good home or broken home, leaving home is a necessary coming of age experience for all of us. Now I’m a man, with a wife, and children, and a home of my own, yet somehow life has begun to feel more chaotic, anxiety-ridden, and out of control than it ever had before. In short, I’ve had the trappings of a home but have felt inwardly homeless (unsafe, scared, unknown). It’s these unsettling feelings that I had to work out with God and in my songwriting. The result is the 11 songs that make up Home.
NT: From a musical perspective, it seems you’ve added an even more soulful layer to your songs than you have on previous records. What inspired that new sonic layer and how did you go about achieving it?
Garrels: I’ve had an abiding love for soul music for years. I grew up listening to hip-hop, which was my gateway into soul music. Most of the hip-hop I listened to was just samples from James Brown, Al Green etc. with a grimy beat layered on top. All my albums have had a little bit of soul influence, but I gave myself permission on this one to really push into it. My dear friends at Mason Jar Music in Brooklyn helped with the production of about two thirds of the album. They heard where I wanted to go with some of the songs, and they did a great job capturing the vibe with string arrangements, horn sections, and their live house band.
NT: I hear shades of vintage R&B records and late 60s-70s Motown/Philly International singers in songs like “Leviathan,” “The Arrow,” and your gorgeous album-opener “Born Again”. Did you have any specific bands or records in mind while writing and recording these new songs?
Garrels: Yeah, I’ve definitely been listening to a lot of older music for the past few years (50s, 60s, and 70s), so I’ve been influenced by the classic production and songwriting from those periods. Ive always been partial to Al Green and Stevie Wonder, but also newer soul singers like D’Angelo and Michael Kiwanuka. On a song like “The Arrow” I was probably harkening more to my love of blues rock bands like Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, or The Black Keys.
NT: Songs like “Heaven’s Knife,” “Benediction,” and “At the Table” still carry the layered acoustic-based vibe that your fans have come to expect from you. What all goes into your decision-making process as to whether you keep a song intimate and bare or whether you color in the sonic spaces with other elements such as full band instrumentation, samples, and sequencers?
Garrels: Sometimes I have a definite idea how the song should sound from the start, so choosing production (or lack thereof) is easy. “Heavens Knife” and “Benediction” came together fairly simply, as the acoustic guitar and vocal were obviously the focal point of the song and everything else would just be there to serve those.
“At the Table” was perhaps the hardest song on the album to produce! It was one of the first songs I wrote for the album, and I felt strongly that it was a vital part of the album’s arc and storytelling. Yet, when it came to production, I struggled with it. I threw so many ideas, snippets, and sonic textures at the song that at one point my wife Michelle said, “I think it’s beginning to sound schizophrenic”! It was the last song I finished, and it took a lot of discernment to know what to strip away and what to keep. My friend (and mix engineer) Dave Wilton helped me to find the heart of the song and only keep the instrumentation that complimented the focus.
NT: This is the first album you’ve recorded in your new hand-built, backyard studio. What were you feeling during the construction process and how did it evolve once you were able to work in there after it was completed?
Garrels: The studio is great. It’s one of the most substantial mind-blowing gifts I’ve ever been given, yet the construction didn’t come without toil and adversity. Part of the reason I haven’t put out a full length album for 4 years is that it took me a year and a half just to build the studio! Getting it done was a difficult process. The moment it was completed I got moved in and started another long, arduous process of making an album. It was a joy to create the songs in my backyard, appropriately at home.
NT: As someone who has never shied away from the free music platform, what sorts of conversations do you have with fellow artists about frequently giving your creative work away for a season?
Garrels: I think when I gave away Love & War & The Sea In Between four years ago, giving away full albums was a little more of a radical step of faith. In my estimation, over half the artists I’m friends with nationwide give away their work, at least for a season. With millions of people creating songs and uploading them to the web internationally, most artists know they need to dismantle the monetary barrier between themselves and the listener or they simply wont be heard.
I truly believe that generosity begets generosity. You give before you receive. Is it nice when people actually buy my albums? Yes! But if I had to choose between one person buying my album, or 10 people getting it for free, I’d rather have 10 people listening to my songs!
Will’s Weekend Wrap-Up: Josh Garrels, Morning and Night Collective, KaiL Baxley, and Eugene Petersen
Happy Easter weekend, NoiseTraders! I have lovingly filled each one of your Easter baskets with a bunch of goodies this week but, as promised, I did not break into your house wearing a giant bunny costume (again). We’ve reached the final week of our Josh Garrels album-a-week giveaway and I can’t recommend enough for you to make sure you pick up this week’s offering. The Sea In Between Soundtrack is one of his most captivating records and you’ll find yourself getting lost in its enchanting sonic embrace. Garrels’ new record Home will be released this Tuesday here on NoiseTrade and you guys are seriously going to fall in love with it. Morning and Night Collective and KaiL Baxley’s records are both pretty fantastic this week as well. My book pick this week is from Eugene Petersen and whether you are familiar with him already or not, you can trust me that he is one of the foremost author/translators you’ll ever come across. Dig in!
With the release of Josh Garrels’ brand new album Home merely days away (out April 7), this is your last opportunity to snag one of his previously released gems. Billed as “an LP of sight and sounds,” The Sea In Between Soundtrack is a fully realized audio-visual album that features Garrels and members of Mason Jar Music capturing deceptively simplistic live performances in stunningly picturesque landscapes around Mayne Island, British Columbia. The Village Voice described The Sea In Between Soundtrack as “Equal parts candid rumination and jaw-dropping performance all taking place on the rocky peninsulas and pine-lined shores of a location Wes Anderson would drool over.” You can also check out the full-length The Sea In Between Soundtrack documentary HERE.
NoiseTrade favorites Morning and Night Collective have just released the fourth installment in their Good Morning. Happy Easter. series and much like the three previous volumes, it’s a standout collection of diverse indie artists unifying under a common creative banner. Exploring the themes of Lent, Easter, and Pentecost, the songs featured on Good Morning. Happy Easter. effortlessly mix hymns both ancient and anew without being able to tell which is which. The unique sonic cohesion of Morning and Night Collective is perfectly exemplified in the way that the bubbly synth textures of JackRabbit’s “Oh Tom” and Tyler Ellison’s “Passion Song” sit so comfortably next to the acoustic intimacy of Von Strantz’ “Maybe” and “Sean Carter’s “Old Rugged Cross.”
With his drawled rasp and his honey-smooth delivery, boxer-turned-bluesman KaiL Baxley crafts a salt-and-sugar mix of dirty roots blues and vintage R&B melodies and rhythms. Heatstroke/The Wind and the War combines Baxley’s first two EPs and a bonus b-side (“War Dance”) into one greasy and gritty collection that feels as rich and heavy as the South Carolina soil from which he was raised. The juke joint slink of “Don’t Matter to Me” and the somber storytelling of “The Rebel” are fantastic entry points for this release. Keep your eyes and ears out for Baxley’s new album A Light That Never Dies slated to come out later this summer.
With an invitational charge to “Evaluate Jesus for yourself – without the preconceptions, without the dogma, without the culture wars”, Eugene Petersen’s The Message of Easter is a modern translation of ancient Scripture that realigns the language in such a way to convey the original tone of the stories and messages. Pastor, poet, and scholar Petersen has translated the entirety of the Bible in this way for The Message and he is currently offering a condensed glimpse into the engaging experience here with The Message of Easter. No matter if your level of interest is all-encompassing or non-existent, Petersen offers an equal opportunity encounter through an enjoyable read.
When writer Will Hodge isn’t the endless seed of mystery, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack
The Wans are known for playing unshackled, no-holds-barred rock ‘n’ roll and their newest release He Said, She Said is a cranked-to-11 testament to that fact. The band is currently offering up four songs from He Said, She Said here on NoiseTrade and we also were lucky enough to have them play at one of our SXSW Day Parties this year. Take a listen to their sampler and enjoy the interview below!
NoiseTrade: First off, thanks so much for being a part of our first annual SXSW Day Parties this year! How was your SXSW experience overall?
The Wans: Very fun and very busy! I’m pretty sure we had all the tacos and all the drinks.
NT: You graciously also contributed your thundering track “Black Pony” to our SXSW Day Parties mixtape. Can you tell us about that song and what specifically made you choose it to represent the band on our sampler?
The Wans: “Black Pony” is a solid representation of what we are what we sound like. It’s also one of my favorite songs to play so for me it just makes sense.
NT: Your most recent album He Said, She Said strikes an engaging mix of 60s melodic guitar-and-bass riffs and 90s garage-raw amp-and-drum tones. Did you guys intentionally strive to create that aural aesthetic or does it just happen naturally when you three play music together?
The Wans: It happens naturally. We like to be loud when we play and we’re all children of the 90′s. We like to experiment and strive for better tones and Dave Cobb (producer) made that part of the process enjoyable.
NT: I heard that you went into the recording sessions for He Said, She Said with over 40 songs. How did you guys whittle it down and decide on the 10 tracks that ended up on the record?
The Wans: For the most part, we had an idea going into it that these were the strongest songs and that also fit together the best.
NT: He Said, She Said was recorded entirely analog (no digital/computerized components) through a mixing console that had also been used by Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones. Do you feel that any of their rock god residue made it’s way into your songs?
The Wans: I suppose it’s not really for us to say… but I certainly it hope it made it’s way into the songs!
NT: Being that you guys are based in Nashville, have you felt well-received in the city mostly associated with pop-country up-and-comers and classic country legends?
The Wans: We definitely have a cool community of friends, musicians and fans in Nashville. Nashville’s music scene is so diverse and there’s room for everyone and every style. We’re not very good at listening to the dissenting voice. We’re much better at giving “the finger.”
Will’s Weekend Wrap-Up: Josh Garrels, The Echo and the Sound, Hurray for the Riff Raff, and David K. Wheeler
Howdy, howdy, NoiseTraders! After one final snow this past week in Chicago, I can only assume that spring has officially now sprung. This week’s musical recommendations continue our album-a-week roll-out from Josh Garrels, all leading up to the release of his new album Home in two weeks. Also included this week are some raw-some garage rock gems and a little of the best alt-country/acoustic blues there is to be had out there. David K. Wheeler’s eBook of poetry rounds things out pretty nicely as well. Wave goodbye to the last weekend of March, my friends!
If you picked up last week’s Love & War & The Sea In Between from Josh Garrels, then be assured that this week’s offering is a must-have companion piece of equally majestic music. With Love & War: B-Sides & Remixes, Garrels unpacks his creative approach to songwriting even more by reworking his own songs and allowing his friends to take a stab at a couple tracks as well. The new pronounced beat of “White Owl,” Kye Kye’s stuttered remix of “Rise,” and Beautiful Eulogy’s smoothed out “Anchor” are all standouts on this rich collection. Don’t forget, Garrel’s brand new album Home will be out April 7.
The Echo and the Sound is a fantastically unpolished garage rock duo that combines rough-around-the-edges rock with melodic dirges and eclectic arrangements. While the influence of bands like Flat Duo Jets and The White Stripes are heavily prevalent in their sound, they thankfully never rely on straight imitation to get their songs across. Buffalo Mouth is the band’s third EP and it’s definitely the strongest offering from them so far. The gin house slink of “Alice” provides my favorite moments on the EP, edging out the album-opening blast of “Who Says” by just a fraction. “Black & Gold” rumbles along as an enjoyable entry point as well.
Hurray for the Riff Raff is currently out on a sprawling U.S. tour and there’s a good chance Alynda Lee Segarra and company are coming to your city. If you need four amazing reasons for attending one of their shows, look no further than The Body Electric. This four-song EP features two tracks from Hurray for the Riff Raff’s most recent album Small Town Heroes, a topical protest song Segarra wrote for Trayvon Martin, and a stunning cover of Billie Holiday’s “Fine and Mellow” from My Dearest Darkest Neighbor.
David K. Wheeler is a musician, essayist, and poet, and Contingency Plans: Poems showcases his ability to poetically delve deep into areas of human struggle and endurance. Author Susan Isaacs has praised Wheeler’s work and said “he uses the same materials I do – words – but where I’ve built a fort, he has erected a cathedral.” Take the time to peruse Contingency Plans and there’s a good chance you’ll find your own resonance in his work as well.
When writer Will Hodge isn’t the same boy you’ve always known, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack
Greetings and salutations, NoiseTraders! With SXSW finishing up and March Madness heating up, spring is most definitely in the air. So if your friends are bombarding your social media feeds with too much of either one of those (We get it, every single SXSW band is killing it and you have most definitely been a fan of this year’s Cinderella team for practically your whole life), then why not tune them out with some new tunes? This week’s recommendations have been meticulously selected to help usher in the seemingly longer days and warmer temps of winter’s retreat, so shed those coats and head out into the world with these aural accomplices putting a smile on your face.
The artistic generosity of Josh Garrels is still going strong as we’re four weeks in to the album-a-week lead-up to his brand new album Home (out April 7). This week’s selection is his 2011 breakout record Love & War & The Sea In Between, an album Christianity Today described as “prophetic, incisive, achingly human, and longingly spiritual.” With a sonic palette found somewhere between Ray LaMontagne, Iron & Wine, and acoustic-era Beck, Garrels masterfully mixes musical eccentricity with lyrical invitation.
Pop-punk husband-and-wife duo The Dollyrots have a special “California Punk” StageIt show planned for this Sunday (March 22) and they’re offering up their own version of The Offspring’s “Come Out and Play” to help get you in the mood. While their version stays pretty close to the vibe of the original, there’s still an undeniable Dollyrots-esque playfulness to their fun interpretation of the mid-90s classic. As a special bonus, Bowling for Soup’s Jaret Reddick shows up for some guest vocals on the track as well.
J. monty’s Atlanta-based brand of hip-hop snaps me right back to my teenage years where I would pass the gorgeously gaudy afro of the So So Def Records billboard off I-85 about three times a week. Level 54 showcases J. monty’s fluid ability to effortlessly switch between mile-a-minute raps and melodic chorus hooks that are all wrapped around infectious beats and some impressive production skills. “My Nephew” and “Mr. Reverend” are fantastic starters, but I recommend giving the whole album a spin.
As SXSW is wrapping up another jam-packed year, I thought it would be an appropriate time to highlight a book we’ve recently featured, Dave Kusek’s Hack the Music Business. By approaching a music career with an entrepreneurial spirit, Kusek lays out a variety of successful, real-world strategies to apply to your own individual musical aspirations. With over two decades of experience and success working with independent musicians, Kusek’s ideas and tools have been road-tested and proven successful.
When writer Will Hodge isn’t up in One-Tweezy (after the party it’s the Waffle House), you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack