We did it, you guys! Another wonderful week is in the books and the weekend lays before us like blank canvas just waiting for shenanigans to fill it from corner to corner. I’ve been a bit sleep deprived this week covering the amazing goings on at AmericanaFest – including a killer show this afternoon I’m really looking forward to featuring The Avett Brothers, The Lone Bellow, Shakey Graves, and Angaleena Presley – so this is gonna be short and sweet. This week’s recommendations are a bit theme-based, as every artist in this foursome turned in an unbelievable set during their AmericanaFest showcases. While I try to find the nearest place to take (another) nap, dive in and sample some of the best voices and songwriters in the rootsy Americana game. Onward and upward, my friends!
If you like the slink-and-thump of 1970s-era classic country, you’re gonna love Sturgill Simpson. Channeling a modern day Waylon Jennings, Simpson’s deep drawl and conversational storytelling style of songwriting is a truly fresh take on the unpolished outlaw country of decades past. The self-description of “bonafide mountain hillbilly soul” accurately hits the nail on the head like few others do. This sampler features four tracks from his stunning debut album High Top Mountain, and they are all worth a listen. “Railroad of Sin” and “Some Days” are the standouts here, but give “You Can Have the Crown” a spin and you’ll see why Simpson still introduces it as “the song I wish I had never written. If you like Simpson’s sound, he also just released his fantastic follow-up album Metamodern Sounds in Country Music this year as well.
I’m still buzzing from Amy Ray’s untouchable Thursday night showcase at Mercy Lounge, so I thought I’d pull this one from the vault and shine another light on it. It’s been available here on NoiseTrade for awhile and you owe it to yourself to pick it up if you’ve not done so already. Featuring 12 catalog cuts from Ray’s solo material – including tracks from Stag, Prom, Didn’t It Feel Kinder, and Lung of Love – and a few bonus live tracks as well. This is a rich retrospective from one of the best voices and most gifted songwriters in all of music. Sure, I may be a little biased since those of us that grew up in Georgia where pretty much raised on Amy’s voice. But even if you aren’t already a fan of hers, I’m sure you’ll find my fervor well deserved when you dig in to this incredible collection.
Back in 2010, Josh Ritter & The Royal City Band traveled to Iveagh Gardens in Dublin, Ireland and recorded a two-hour show spanning his entire career. It was the first rock show ever performed there and the 21-songs presented here accurately capture the aural atmosphere of that magical night. Ritter’s beautifully wistful take on “Moon River” and the frenetic funk feel of “Rattling Locks” are gorgeous entry points. As a bonus, there are also two tracks from Ritter’s The Beast In It’s Tracks from last year. I’ve always felt Ritter’s voice fits somewhere between the passionate tone of Glen Hansard and the wiseman whimsy of Tom Waits, so if you are into either one of those legends, give Ritter a spin.
For Joe Pug’s AmericanaFest set, he straight knocked the walls out of High Watt with his booming voice and his modern folk masterpieces. I promise you it would not be overstated hyperbole to say that he has one of my all-time favorite voices. The fact that he is an unquestionably brilliant lyricist just sweetens the pot. Most ears will impulsively try to attach the Bob Dylan tag, but a closer listen will show that influence as a starting point and not a destination.
I’ve come to be untroubled in my seeking and
I’ve come to see that nothing is for naught.
I’ve come to reach out blind, to reach forward and behind.
For the more I seek, the more I’m sought. – “Hymn #101”
I mean, c’mon. Download the intro sampler, go buy everything he’s ever put out, and then tumble sweetly down the rabbit hole.
When writer Will Hodge isn’t closer to fine, can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack
Happy weekend to you, NoiseTraders! While I’m sure most of you have already grabbed some free tunes this week from those young Irish upstarts in U2, I hope there’s still a little room left in your gratis music playlists for a few more releases. Not only do we have a fantastic new NoiseTrade EastSide Manor Session from Justin Townes Earle, but I’ve got four more recommendations to add to the mix. All in all, I’d say this is a pretty standout week on the free music front. Get into it!
I’m a huge fan of Humming House and I’m so excited that the folksy fivesome have captured their unparalleled mix of energy and chemistry in their new live album Humming House Party. They’ve put an appetite-inducing sampler here on NoiseTrade that features 6 of the 13 tracks found on the full length record and I guarantee you it’ll be enough to make you go and pick up the whole thing. Check out their rowdy folk-punk take on the old English traditional “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye” and their slightly more recent Justin Timberlake cover of “My Love” for just a taste of what this incredibly talented band can do with just a guitar, mandolin, fiddle, stand-up bass, and gorgeous gang vocals.
While Americana has become an ever-expanding musical category in the past few years, Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line are one of the recent groups that maintains many of the more traditional aspects of the genre. Valuing vintage aesthetics, acoustic instruments, rich storytelling, and high lonesome harmonies, Nora and the guys sound like they’re coming straight out of a greasy truck stop diner jukebox circa 1973. “Used to the Noise,” “We Must Have Been Out of Our Minds,” and their cover of The Everly Brothers’ “(‘Til) I Kissed You” are just three of the highlights on this tasty sampler that features three tracks from their newest Country EP No. 1 and five tracks from last year’s Carnival.
Amena Brown’s spoken word poetry is an iron fist of real-world truth wrapped in a velvet glove of serenely smooth delivery. Lyrically, Brown pulls no punches in her poetic portrayal of where she comes from and where she is headed. The mid-album triptych of “House Full of Women,” Dear Grandma Sudie,” and “Baggage Check” provides a stirring storytelling arch of the past, present, and future of Brown’s life. However, listen closely all the way through Breaking Old Rhythms and you just might find a surprising amount of relatable and redemptive elements within your own story as well.
Ahead of Tuesday’s release of their new album Just Enough Hip To Be Woman, Oklahoma’s own BRONCHO have thrown together a franticly fuzzy introductory sampler worth giving a listen. Along with two tracks from the new album (“Class Historian” and “It’s On”) are two standouts from their 2011 album Can’t Get Past The Lips (“Try Me Out Sometime” and “I Don’t Really Want To Be Social”), as well as a previously un-released acoustic b-side “Please Try Me.” If you’re in the mood for a little no-rules ruckus rock, BRONCHO is a really great place to start.
When writer Will Hodge isn’t telling your mama that you’d be in by ten, can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack
Friends, Romans, NoiseTraders, lend me (and these worthy bands) your ears and I promise to give them back in somewhat adequately working order. (That buzzing will eventually go away, I swear). As the last few weeks of summer lazily fade away (or outstay their welcome, depending on where you stand on the matter), I hope that there’s still room in your windows-down, fun-in-the-sun playlists for a couple more rambunctious recommendations. I’ve got some tasty tunes on tap for you this weekend and if you don’t find even one song you dig, I promise you a money-back guarantee on your free download. I hardly think you’ll run into that predicament though because these four albums are so top-shelf goodness that you’ll be surprised if you haven’t snatched them up already. As a bonus, I challenge any church-goers to try and sneak Lucius’ killer version of “Power in the Blood” somewhere into your Sunday service. It’s a divine dance party waiting to happen!
As a huge fan of both The Rentals and Tweedy, I’ve come to really love the bewitching joint-vocal stylings of Lucius even more after hearing them paired against some of my favorite singers. However, the fun and energy of their own indie-pop songwriting is really, really fantastic as well. Lucius Gets Noisey is an interesting 6-track EP that features the “triple threat quintet” in a live setting during their pre-Wildewoman days, along with the album version of “Hey Doreen” that fans have come to know and love so well. I promise you that the flawless vocals and tight percussive thump of “Don’t Just Sit There” and “Turn It Around” will have you double-checking that they are live versions and not over-dubbed studio recreations. As a bonus, do not miss their retro-electro version of “Power in the Blood” as it’s one of the hands-down-coolest versions of the hymn I’ve ever heard. It was written exclusively for WNYC’s Radiolab program and it is available on this must-grab EP.
Anyone who self-identifies as a “modern day hobo” – and has actually earned the title by living on the road in a van – is guaranteed to get at least a curious listen out of me. In the case of Caroline Rose, I’m all the luckier for it. While Rose’s fearless Americana-based instrumental experimentation, enticing vocal rasp, and road-dog storytelling defies her 24 years, the authenticity that flows through each performance allows her songs to feel genuine and uniquely singular to her wander-fueled experience. Featured on this sampler are seven tracks from Rose’s debut album I Will Not Be Afraid and the garage-blues pulse of “At Midnight” and the squiggly-keyed folk of “Tightrope Walker” are fantastic entry points. Existing somewhere in the space between the uninhibited vocals of Janis Joplin and the feisty younger sister of Shovels and Rope, Rose is playing by her own rules and thankfully we’re invited to the game.
The Orwells decided there’s no better way for them to prove their well-deserved “best live band in America” NME-bestowed moniker than with an EP capturing their incendiary live performance. Recorded at the legendary London punk club Dingwalls, Live from Dingwalls features The Orwells at their abrasively melodic best. This is unrefined rock & roll from its embryonic American incarnations and the raucous ruckus in the room is palpably felt through the all-too-short 4-song EP. Come for the “Dirty Sheets” and stay for “The Righteous Ones,” you’ll be glad you did. Don’t miss them if they come through your town and if you get the chance to catch them, bring a dry shirt to change into for after the show.
If you know of another sampler on NoiseTrade that highlights bands featuring folks like Pete Yorn and Liam Gallagher, as well as former members of Oasis, The Las, and World Party, please point me in that direction. The roster for Harvest Records is an embarrassment of sonic riches that features the aforementioned Yorn and Gallagher bands (The Olms and Beady Eye, respectively), as well as a ton of new bands that are mind-blowingly great. Take a listen to the soulful dance-groove of “This Is What It Feels Like” by BANKS or the expansive indie-rock sweep of “Sleeping Giant” by Bootstraps and I guarantee you’ll be enticed to just dive into the whole mixtape.
When writer Will Hodge isn’t right here, right now (d’you know what I mean?), you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack
Being that Nashville is a town built on the monetization of music, it’s remarkably refreshing to watch talented songwriters who are more concerned with community than commerce. A roomful of lucky listeners got to experience that very thing last night at the inaugural kick-off of The Local Show – a recurring songwriter showcase series put on by Andrew Peterson and his creative collective known as the Rabbit Room. From the opening reading of a Wendell Berry passage that spoke of broadening the membership of your life, to the partnership with local non-profit Show Hope, to the borrowed capos and guitars on stage, the theme of community ran deep throughout the night.
The first night of The Local Show featured some of Nashville’s best kept singer-songwriter secrets: Sandra McCracken, Don Chaffer (Waterdeep), Randall Goodgame, and Eric Peters. What was immediately noticeable about this foursome – and what makes The Local Show such an immediate standout from the typical songwriter rounds that take place all over the city – was the spirit of creative camaraderie between all of the artists. Not only are they all professionally intertwined through a variety of album recordings and concert appearances, but they are all friends and fans of each other’s work as well. This was none more evident than on the constant chorale of “ghost harmonies” that wandered in and out of every song – even the new, unreleased ones. The friendly interactions that took place before, after, and during the songs showed evidence of a group of people that were fluent in each other’s lives. During normal songwriter rounds, you can usually spot the feigned interest of the performers as they wait for their spot to come back around. Whether they are thinking about their next song or the errands that they need to run the next day, the vacant gaze and forced banter always give them away. However, this was not the case at The Local Show, where each artist was fully engaged during each other’s songs – possibly even more so than during their own offerings.
From a musical perspective, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more entertaining and enriching collection of songs packed into a single setting. There were lyrics crafted from the perspective of an abandoned, rusty Schwinn and a pre-suicidal cancer patient, as well as hymns of timeless modernity sung alongside humorously instructional odes on how not to get eaten by bears. The songs were all beautiful, haunting, resonant, accessible, and undeniably life-affirming in equal measure. These were not three-and-a-half minute pop ditties ephemerally meant to lighten a moment, but instead were carefully crafted refrains meant to help soundtrack a lifetime’s journey. With meditations like “Will we choose the noise of our desire or the hope that makes no sound” and simple reminders that “the sky must be enjoyed,” The Local Show reminded that there are good musical companions to walk with you along the way.
Being a fan of all four artists, it was really nice to hear familiar songs in such a relaxed, intimate setting. The Well Coffeehouse provided an incredible atmosphere for the songwriters to sing their songs and tell their stories, while the lightening storm flashing through the wall of windows provided an arresting backdrop. At a point where technical glitches threatened to sidetrack the mood, Don Chaffer simply unplugged his guitar, rested a foot on the front row of chairs, and sang a gorgeous break-up ballad to a pin-drop quiet crowd. One of the bonus benefits to relaxed settings like this is that new songs usually see their first light of day. On this night, Randall Goodgame debuted a new song called “Cellphone Jones,” Eric Peters introduced “Nobody,” and Sandra McCracken played “God’s Highway,” “We Will Feast,” and “Gracious Light” from her recently-recorded-but-not-yet-released next album. Don Chaffer even read a stunningly wistful prose poem of his called “On the Iron Bar and the Price You Pay, James Dean” that had everyone simultaneously laughing and introspecting at the same time. All four artists set the precedent that you never know what might be in store for you at The Local Show but you can rest assured it’s going to be good.
The Local Show will be looking to recapture the communal spark every other Tuesday in September, with plans to move to every week in October. The next show will be September 16 and will feature Jill Phillips, Andy Gullahorn, Andrew Osenga, and Jeremy Casella – another foursome whose professional/personal DNA mix together in a way that should provide the same uniquely communal atmosphere as the first show.
You can find out more about The Local Show and purchase advanced tickets for the next show here:
THE LOCAL SHOW
September 16 @ 8pm
Andy Gullahorn, Jill Phillips, Jeremy Casella, and Andrew Osenga
The Well Coffeehouse
690 Old Hickory Blvd,
Brentwood, TN 37027
Tickets: $12 in advance, $15 at the door
Howdy, howdy, friends! I hope you were able to join in the festivities this week as fun. celebrated the fifth anniversary of the release of their debut album Aim & Ignite with a 5-day-only-limited-time download of the album in full. I hope other bands join in the tradition and a “free album download” takes over for wood/silverware in the traditional fifth anniversary gift department. Someone get Hallmark on the phone! For the celebratory party punchbowl, this week’s picks create a raucous cocktail of explosive alt-rock, R&B-fueled pop, infectious hip-hop, with some laid-back acoustic folk to provide a smooth finish. Bottoms up!
There’s no better way to continue the 5-year birthday celebration of fun.’s debut album Aim & Ignite than spinning their 4-song companion EP Selections & B-Sides from Aim & Ignite. While the EP features “All the Pretty Girls” from Aim & Ignite, the other three tracks are pure b-side/rarity/remix goodness. There’s a remix (“Walking the Dog (RAC Mix)”), a live track (“Take Your Time (Coming Home)”), and a non-album track b-side (“Stitch Me Up”), all of which prove to be a nice continuation of Aim & Ignite’s inventive and playful sonic environment. If you still can’t get your fun.-fix, they’ve also got their Before Shane Went to Bangkok live EP available on our site as well.
You may recognize the name and voice of Mikky Ekko from his appearance on Rhianna’s “Stay” from her Unapologetic album. Just 3 short years before the quadruple-platinum single was released, Ekko put out his debut EP Strange Fruit. Available here in its entirety, Strange Fruit showcases Ekko’s otherworldy vocals and his uniquely creative sonic touch. “Only In Dreams” floats in and out before your ears know what hit them, leading into “Sedated,” the song that got Ekko his first exposure. Give it a listen and you’ll see exactly why so many artists have tapped Ekko for collaboration and why he has been able to rise so far, so fast.
This self-titled EP from Shopé isn’t his first foray into music-making (he used to rap under the name Spoken), but it is his first under the Shopé moniker. So because of that – and because it’s an introduction to his new sound – consider this a well-earned debut. Opening track “Cinema” brings you right up to speed with Shopé’s overflowing bag of songwriting and production talents. The song opens with a piano-flavored mid-tempo groove, changes direction half-way through with layered ornamental beats and aggressive tongue-twisting lyrics, and then returns to the laid-back feel for its closing. Pretty cinematic indeed.
With his unpretentious vocals and unassuming guitar-playing, Americana singer-songwriter Luke Brindley inhabits a beautiful cross-section of classic country balladeering and modern folk songwriting. With a little vocal help from Laura Tsaggaris and some banjo/mandolin accompaniment from Mike Meadows (Taylor Swift), Brindley has crafted The Whiskey Switch to be sonically relaxed and emotionally resonant. I recommend “Cold Hearts” for its melancholy musings and “Minnesota” for its Springsteenian storytelling.
When writer Will Hodge isn’t five minutes in and bored again, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack
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.