From the first time I heard Sandra McCracken’s voice singing a duet of Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love” with (then future husband) Derek Webb in the late 90s, I was hooked by the unique emotional weight carried in her voice and her powerfully gentle delivery. As I have followed her career, she has continually built upon (and surpassed) this initial sonic stamping with album after album of lyrical creativity, thought-provoking confessions, encouraging challenges, honest longings and communal engagement. Her attention to the craft of complimentary musicianship is phenomenal as well. She has proven again and again that there will be no throwaway lines or stray instrumental noodlings on a Sandra McCracken album. You can enter into each album with confidence, knowing that both entertainment and enrichment are waiting within the sounds and spaces.
Her newest album, Desire Like Dynamite, follows true to this preceding catalog. Your heart, brain and ears will all be equally attended to as clever melodies dance with candid lyrics above a rich bed of folk-pop instrumentation. Take opening track “Go” for example. A whimsical string line and (serendipitously taped-up) piano introduces deceptively understated lyrics like “Listen when you first wake, your compass aligns to the sounds of the morning, thoughts like tiny earthquakes alive in your head, a light and a warning.” As the additional organ, drums and trumpet usher in the chorus, the song literally comes alive in conjunction with the direction of the lyrics. With “Forgiveness,” the quiet piano ballad unrolls over a steadily strummed acoustic guitar that gives just enough of an uncluttered foundation for the gravity of “When the blessed assurance is hidden behind a great cloud, when the joy is a secret and pain like a trumpeted sound, oh for grace to be measured by more than my means and to love with a love that gives free without strings.” You could actually pick any song as this poetic synergy is genuinely found throughout the entirety of Desire Like Dynamite, creating an integrated listening experience that sticks with you long after the final song has ended.
In addition to writing and performing, Sandra produced Desire Like Dynamite with (now present husband) Derek Webb, with additional co-production assistance from Jordan Brooke Hamlin and Joshua Moore. Derek, Jordan and Joshua also contributed their talents via a variety of instrumentation throughout the songs. Sandra even has a few impressive guest vocals from her friends Matthew Perryman Jones (“The Wait”), Lori Chaffer (“Dynamite,” “Forgiveness”) and Chelsey Scott (“Forgiveness”). The final result is a stirring album from a fantastic artist that is beautifully accompanied by a creative community of friends.
Desire Like Dynamite is currently available in physical or digital form from sandramccracken.com, as well as through iTunes and Amazon. You can also get three of the songs (“Go,” “Gridlock” and “Dynamite”) via her NoiseTrade sampler HERE.
When writer Will Hodge isn’t crawling down the avenue, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack
Courrier will be releasing their new album, ‘Cathedrals of Color,’ on March 12th. Based on the few new songs that have been released and the way Philip describes the new record, it’s going to be good. If you still haven’t given Courrier a listen, the band is currently offering songs from their previous album on NoiseTrade. The questions were answered by lead guitarist Philip Edsel.
Being an independent band, do you ever have days or weeks where the work or pressure feels like too much to sustain on your own? Does it take certain successes to feel like the band is continually moving forward in the industry?
We are a totally independent band. We have management, but we all work together as a team, instead of us working for a label. And your assessment of the pressure on us as an independent band is definitely accurate. In the label model (I imagine), bands don’t feel the pressure to keep making stuff happen because their label assumes it. And that pressure is the end of a lot of bands. The indie band model feels like a war of attrition; how long can you last, how many successes will you need to continue (or conversely, how long can you go without success before you can’t continue)? But at the same time, it’s way more exciting for us as an independent band, I think. We live with the pressure, but we also get to experience the excitement first hand. Every feature, every placement isn’t the next move by a label machine, it’s the fruition of the hard work of our little team, or it’s a great kindness someone has shown us by taking a chance on an indie band.
- To go along with that, is there some plateau you all have in mind that is the point you can say you’ve made it?
We don’t discuss plateaus or visions of “making it” very often, other than being able to have a career in music and provide for our families. Of course we have goals, and more than a few long-shot dreams, but we really just want to be able to create good art, share that art with people, and make a living of it. (But a world tour with Sigur Ros, Springsteen and Coldplay, a platinum record, and a couple Grammys would be lovely if anyone wondered what we wanted for Christmas).
What can people expect from the new album, ‘Cathedrals of Color’?
The new record is all based around one concept, the concept of home. We wanted to make an album, which by definition should feel like one consistent piece of art, and to make it feel consistent, a motif naturally emerged. The motif that encapsulated home for us was a lyric that kept popping up in the writing process, which ended up being the album title, ‘Cathedrals of Color.’ Musically and stylistically, this album is a lot different than our last record in a couple ways. We’ve been really inspired by Jonsi, and the way that he creates soundscapes and moods. In every track we used synths as textures (as opposed to lead instruments) to create these moods. You can see what we mean in the first single from our new record, “Love is a Fire.”
Probably the biggest change in this record has been a result of our growth as songwriters. We jokingly discuss enrolling in the “School of Hooks.” What we appreciate most about music is the melodic hook, to be as abstract and intangible as possible. Our last record, looking back on it, felt kind of heavy and sluggish to us. Lots of rhythm guitar, and maybe some melodies that take a few listens to appreciate. With this record, we wanted to make everything a hook. Very little rhythm instruments, only rhythmic melodies. You might say I’m describing pop music, which is true to a certain extent. It is a pop-ier record, but it’s still an alt/rock record. LIAF is a good example of this new direction too.
What makes you excited about these new songs?
These songs are an accomplishment for us as songwriters and friends more than anything. I say songwriters because even though we always hope to be getting better, for the first time we feel like we’ve grown into who we want to be as a band. Or at least, we now know who we want to be, even if we haven’t become that yet. I say friends because this was a very difficult record to write. We used to write songs on our own, bring it to the band and say, what can you add to this? For this record, at the first inkling of an idea, we would bring it to the band and say, what should we make of this? That’s a lot harder because we all have very different opinions and can disagree on almost everything. But through this push and pull process, the songs turned out much better than we could have hoped for on our own, and as a band we’ve grown so much closer in the way we work with one another. It was a huge, and often frustrating, period of growth for us as songwriters and friends. The “cathedrals of color” were also the things we built as a band with this record, if that makes sense.
Going back to the independent question, what’s your relationship with money and music?
Ha, oh man. I’ll try to give you the condensed, non-ranting version. I was thinking through this the other day and it seems to me like the problem is that we’ve created a culture that doesn’t value the artist monetarily. And services like Spotify, Rdio, etc., are really just capitalizing on this culture shift. I think they’re good in theory, now that music is so accessible it makes sense to have a streaming service, but the problem is they don’t help create value for the musician. They’re exploiting the musician by not paying them a fair share. (And I know all the counter-arguments, but we as an independent band only see the minuscule portion they pay the artist per stream, and not what is claimed to be paid back to labels.) And I know there is also the argument about exposure. We as a young band need exposure more than we need money (and we need really need money, which is saying something), but I don’t know who is using Spotify for discovery purposes. Maybe some people, but it seems to me that it’s more about consumption.
It also seems apparent to me that the artist these days has to be a salesman in every industry but his own. We can sell T-shirts, stickers, iPhone cases, but a musician can’t sell music; that’s strange to me. But that’s not to say we aren’t selling any music entirely, or that people don’t still buy music on iTunes or at shows. It’s just something the industry is seeing less of. And I don’t consider myself particularly unwilling to adopt a new mindset, I just wish this new mindset (ad-supported music, streaming services, etc.) was fair to the artist. Ultimately though, music will never become obsolete. So I think we’ll reach a point where musicians can’t afford to put as much money into production and artists will either spend less on making records, rely more heavily on crowdfunding, or the streaming services will pay the artist more fairly. Or maybe I’m just being too optimistic?
Why put music on NoiseTrade then?
Streaming/free music services are exacerbating this culture of free music entitlement, but exposure is sometimes more valuable (even financially more valuable) in the long run. NoiseTrade in particular has created valuable fans for us. Not only has we added thousands of fans to our email list (nearly 10,000 over a couple years), we have fans from NoiseTrade that actually come to shows. Just last night I talked to a girl who downloaded our NoiseTrade sampler two years ago and came to the show. That’s something I think is unique to the culture of NoiseTrade, probably because of how vocal Derek has been about the site’s philosophy, and how that philosophy is built into the site features (tipping, social media integration, etc.).
While enjoying the Grammy Awards last night, I was struck by a couple of things. First, I can’t believe the bombastic closing number from LL Cool J, Chuck D, Tom Morello and Travis Barker was interrupted by the closing credits. Personally, I can think of quite a few other performances I would’ve rather swapped it out for. Second, watching fun. perform in the rainstorm was both pretty cool and pretty surprising. I was glad that no one got electrocuted, but did you see just how much water was getting dumped on the instruments? I believe at one point you could see the piano player have to close his eyes from all the splashing. It was pretty hilarious. Third, like it or not, JT is back folks.
But the biggest thing that kept sticking out to me last night was how many performers, winners and nominees I recognized that had associated themselves with NoiseTrade at some point along their musical journey.
Let’s start with fun., one of the night’s biggest winners. Nominated for 6 Grammys (including Song, Record, and Album of the Year), fun. took home 2 awards (Best New Artist, Song of the Year) last night. You may remember fun. offered their debut album Aim and Ignite on NoiseTrade earlier last year.
The Lumineers were nominated for 2 Grammys (Best New Artist, Best Americana Album) and performed a stirring rendition of their breakout smash “Hey Ho” to an enthused Staples Center crowd. The Lumineers used NoiseTrade to release their 4-song Tracks from the Attic EP late last summer.
The Civil Wars won a Grammy for Best Song Written for Visual Media for “Safe and Sound,” their collaboration with Taylor Swift for The Hunger Games soundtrack. They’re still using NoiseTrade to offer their amazing Live At Eddie’s Attic album, an impressive live recording of their second ever concert.
If you wanted to hear a little bit more from the guy who dueted with Rihanna on “Stay” last night, you can check out Mikky Ekko’s Strange Fruit EP that he’s currently offering on our site.
While Jack White tore things up (literally and figuratively) with both of his bands last night, his all-female band The Peacocks housed two NoiseTrade-affiliated artists. Pianist Brooke Waggoner just inaugurated our very first NoiseTrade Sessions release and Jack’s duet partner Ruby Amanfu had a track from her band Sam and Ruby featured on the Nashville Film Festival 2012 Mixtape.
Hip-hop artist Lecrae won the Grammy for Best Gospel Album and you can currently find his name on 4 separate NoiseTrade offerings.
Alabama Shakes frontwoman Brittany Howard sang “The Weight” as part of the stirring Levon Helm tribute with Elton John, Mumford and Sons, Mavis Staples, T-Bone Burnett and Zac Brown. The Alabama Shakes have their track “I Ain’t The Same” on the ATO Records sampler found on our site.
So, did I miss anyone?
While it would be laughable to infer that the road to the Grammys runs through NoiseTrade, it’s hard to dismiss the fact that we just might be one of those kooky roadside attractions worth stopping at for a t-shirt and a pecan log.
When writer Will Hodge isn’t getting no sleep till Brooklyn, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack
We here at NoiseTrade are beyond excited to announce our brand new NoiseTrade Sessions and we’re extremely proud of our first release with the enigmatic Brooke Waggoner. Brooke is an extremely creative artist who filters pop melodies through classical training and she refuses to conform to any genre boundaries. Along with the 5 intimate in-studio performances found on NoiseTrade Sessions, Brooke has also included “Rumble,” a track from her third full length studio album Originator, which will be released March 5.
The tracklist includes Brooke’s unembellished take on “Metempsychosis,” “Fresh Pair of Eyes,” “The High Wind,” “San Juan Capistrano” and “Meek; Wild.” Each performance is sparse enough to capture her pure talent and quiet enough to hear the squeak of her piano pedal. NoiseTrade Sessions offers the ability to hear an artist without artifice and Brooke is certainly fitting of that description.
I had the opportunity to ask Brooke a few questions about her songwriting, her new album Originator and her impressive stint as part of Jack White’s backing band.
NoiseTrade: Congratulations on being the inaugural artist for our exciting new NoiseTrade Sessions! Since your albums are very orchestral and layered, what was it like recording these gorgeously unadorned, one voice/one instrument versions of your songs?
Brooke Waggoner: This is how I always originally write and record for each song or project – vocals and piano. It’s important for me to know if each song can stand on its own in an isolated way.
NT: Your artistry is created from a place that is steeped in years of formal classical music training. Can you tell us a little about your music development through that time and how it has translated into your songwriting now?
Brooke: It all goes hand-in-hand. Trying to get better with everything you do and hoping to grow every time you make something. I never tried to over think things in my upbringing with classical (which is sometimes hard to do) and I try not to over think things now. The real trick is finding what you love to play and accepting there will be some piggybacking. All art piggybacks. That’s an important moment to recognize.
NT: For your upcoming album, Originator (release date March 5), you bypassed all computers and technological trappings and recorded straight to 2” analog tape. What drove the decision for this traditionalist direction and how do you feel it paid off?
Brooke: I had already experienced that setting a few times with other bands I’d previously produced records for. So I was feeling more comfortable with that idea when the time came to make my new record. I mostly wanted to create those confines for everyone involved and I needed to surround myself with something simpler and tangible – the actual process of watching tape being recorded is enough to inspire anyone to want to do this every day.
NT: After producing your last album (Go Easy Little Doves) by yourself, you’ve teamed back up with Chad Howat, producer of your first two releases (2007’s Fresh Pair of Eyes EP and 2008’s Heal for the Honey). What are some of the things you learned with solo production and what are some things Chad brought to Originator?
Brooke: Go Easy Little Doves was a unique project for me that made sense to produce alone – it’s all very cinematic and classical. The majority of the writing for that record came from actual notation (i.e. writing short pieces for a string quintet). But for Originator I wanted to enlist more creativity from other minds. It helps me to have someone to discuss what I like and don’t like. I need that conversation. Otherwise, I’ll get too far into my own brain and start to lose perspective at times.
NT: As far as your new songs, is the bouncy bravado found in first single “Ink Slinger” indicative of the entire album or are there even more sonic surprises in store?
Brooke: It’s probably the dancey-ist song on the project. Not at all indicative of the entire album. It’s really a brief introduction into the world I wanted to create for this project. There are so many moods explored.
NT: You appeared on Jack White’s Blunderbuss album and played keys and organ on his subsequent tour. As a musician, what was it like playing alongside someone who is known for their eclectic performances, improvisational spirit and “give ‘em a different show every night” attitude?
Brooke: It’s thrilling. I think he’s thought about every facet of what the show should look and feel like. And it totally works.
Here’s a look at Brooke’s new video for “Rumble” (directed by Allister Ann):
When writer Will Hodge isn’t conversing over a nice spot of tea, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack
As important as the immediate response to a tragedy is, it’s equally as necessary for the attention and action to continue on long past the initial outpouring. While watching the devastating coverage of Hurricane Sandy late last year, Mickey Hart (former drummer for legendary rock band The Grateful Dead) was touched by all of the destruction and the loss and was moved to pen the song “Jersey Shore.” Having grown up around the area himself, Hart drew upon his own childhood memories to craft what he refers to as “a song of victory over adversity… of hardship, of hope, tears, and smiles – but above all, survival.”
Here is Hart’s own description of the inspiration behind “Jersey Shore”:
“I was a kid from Coney Island, Atlantic Beach and Far Rockaway. The Shore was the totem, the centerpiece, a physical representation of community spirit for many generations. My inspiration for this song began when I saw Brian Williams on the NBC Evening News. Brian showed distress clearly in his eyes and voice. It was a deep loss, not just property, but so much more. Jon Bon Jovi was with Brian, telling the story of personal loss of his sense of place growing up, losing his most precious places, now only memories–powerful, moving words.”
Hart is currently offering the rousing “Jersey Shore,” along with 4 songs from his recent album Mysterium Tremendum and a 10-track live concert from Asbury Park’s famous Stone Pony, recorded just a couple of months before Hurricane Sandy. While the music is free to download, a donation is greatly appreciated, as 100% of the net proceeds will go towards Clean Ocean Action. COA has organized close to 4,000 volunteers to help with Sandy relief since last November.
When writer Will Hodge isn’t pondering a ripple in still water when there is no pebble tossed, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack
Usually the musical progression goes “start in band, end up solo act.” It is rarely super effective in reverse. However, much like fellow Nashvillian/former solo artist Thad Cockrell has done fronting LEAGUES, David Mead and Butterfly Boucher have successfully made the jump from “my music” to “our band.” Along with drummer Lindsay Jamieson (Ben Folds), the eclectic trio performs as Elle Macho and their debut album Import is coming out February 5.
Fans of any of Elle Macho’s individual parts will not be surprised by the melodic inventiveness, layered vocals and impressive musicianship showcased in their songwriting. It’s equal parts swagger and sway, with the feminine/masculine dichotomy continually being played with, blurred, fragmented and blended back together. Each Elle Macho song is the sonic equivalent of an iron fist in a velvet glove and their signature brand of powerful noise pop will demand (and reward you handsomely for) your auditory attention.
Elle Macho is currently offering an amazing 5-song sampler of tracks in advance of Import. It’s simply titled ! and I guarantee it’s more than enough to entice you to pick up the full album when it’s released next week. Along with the 4 tasty originals, they’ve also got a phenomenal cover of “Click Click” from The Beat’s 1980 Two Tone classic I Just Can’t Stop It. Maintaining all the danceable bounce and punk aggression of the original, Butterfly deftly handles both the spitfire vocals and the frantic bass line like a champ. (To be fair, David’s razor guitar and Lindsay’s driving drums aren’t exactly child’s play either.) Elle Macho has captured something really fresh and unique with their combined talents and I really hope to be able to catch this energetic trio live in the very near future.
When writer Will Hodge isn’t talking to the mirror in the bathroom, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack
When the child of a famous musician decides to follow in their parental footsteps, auditory amazement is never a guarantee. Genetics can certainly provide a good starting point, but truly inspired creativity is an individualized trait. That’s why it’s always nice when you find a musical apple that didn’t fall far from the family tree. With her third album on the way, talented singer-songwriter Holly Williams continues to prove that she is just such a case.
Coming from a family tradition that includes a rambunctious, outlaw country father (Hank Williams, Jr.), a feisty, genre-blurring brother (Hank III) and a legendary grandfather (Hank Williams) that has reached near mythological status, it would be easy for Holly Williams to try to get by on a just a name. However, she’s far more interested in carving her own path than with riding anyone’s coattails. With a distinct voice that perfectly harnesses the honest emotion of her lyrics and a gentle musicianship that underscores the depth of her songwriting, Holly has continually shown a finesse that surpasses any family name.
Holly’s newest release, The Highway, is set for a February 5 release and she’s put together an exclusive sampler for NoiseTrade that includes a new track from The Highway (“Without You”), three acoustic versions of songs from The Highway (“Gone Away From Me,” “Drinkin’” and “Waiting on June”), an acoustic version of “Alone” from her sophomore release Here with Me and a stunning cover Tom Waits’ “Hold On.” If you’ve not had the pleasure of hearing Holly’s music before now, this sampler is a fantastic introduction to her melodic, introspective catalog and this interview is an interesting peak inside her creative process, her musical heritage and her favorite extracurricular activities when she’s not wooing the masses with her music.
NoiseTrade: Your new album The Highway will be the third release of your career. What differences can listeners expect to hear by way of your album-to-album growth and what similarities can they look forward to as well?
Holly Williams: I think the subject matter of the songs and the general style that I write in always remains. I love fingerpicking, I love playing piano, I also love a stompbox and an acoustic guitar. It’s all about the songwriting for me. I still love songs that I wrote when I was 17. I was always attracted to the heavier stuff and the real stories that painted a very clear picture for you in your head. Tom Waits songs read like little movies in my head, and I hope listeners always walk away feeling like I’ve taken them somewhere. That desire has remained the same through and through. My voice has grown so much I barely recognize myself on my first album. I’ve been touring for years now, and there is a confidence level in your singing and playing that you can only achieve by playing night after night. So I’ve definitely matured so much as a singer and player, and obviously the older I get the more life experience there is to sink into.
NT: From an artist’s perspective, what is the experience of having an innovative co-producer like Charlie Peacock behind the board?
Holly: It challenges you to your core when you work with another talent who is not only an amazing player but also a songwriter, producer, A&R guy, etc. But it is a great challenge that makes you work harder than you ever knew you could. He is absolutely brilliant, but we’re both artists so there were definitely moments of disagreement and confusion, along with moments of complete clarity and magic and great things happening. It was the hardest record I’ve ever made, and in turn the best record in my opinion, and the one that I am the most deeply proud of. He can pick up any instrument, which is great when we’re just sitting around deciding what to put where, and he appreciates the simplicity of a great lyric and not wanting to muffle it up with too many things! I was honored to work with him.
NT: The list of guest appearances on The Highway is quite impressive! What did folks like Jakob Dylan, Jackson Browne, Gwyneth Paltrow and Dierks Bentley bring to the project?
Holly: Some damn good vocals! I’m a HUGE fan of Jackson’s and he is a songwriting hero of mine. Charlie emailed his management. I was really nervous, and they said he loved the songwriting and was happy to sing with me. I’ve played with Jakob a few times and obviously we have a lot in common. I’ve always loved his strong, raspy vocal and it was Charlie’s idea for him to sing on “Without You” and I think he sounds brilliant! Gwyneth is a friend of mine and always loves singing harmony, so we decided to do that one totally raw. It was 2 guitars, 3 microphones (Gwyneth, myself and my husband) and one afternoon in LA. She has an incredible almost bluegrass sensibility to her singing. Super strong and always on pitch! Dierks has such a strong low tone that I wanted for “Til It Runs Dry” and I just emailed him the song on a whim and he came in to sing it. I’m obsessed with 3 part harmonies and happy to know so many talented people!
NT: Coming from such a strong musical pedigree, what do you feel has been some of the main contributing factors to your ability to create through such an unique, individual voice?
Holly: I am a huge fan of my grandfather, and my dad (he’s known for his rowdy stuff but he can sleigh you singing a simple song with his guitar or piano) and my brother’s style (Hank III) is super unique and impassioned. My dad busted his ass since he was 8 years old on the stage, and went through hell to get people to focus on his songs and not his dad’s. My brother’s been developing his fan base for years and years, and I’ve spent countless of nights in my 1994 Suburban traveling the country and on every train through Europe with a backpack full of cds and a guitar (as written about in my song “Without You”). We all have a fiercely independent spirit in my family. We will keep making music, whether radio plays it, whether we sell a million records, or not. We do it because it’s our greatest passion, and all we want at the end of the night is to connect with more and more people. Besides that part, it’s just in the blood. I’ve been writing since I was a little girl. Melodies always came naturally. Instruments came naturally. You can practice and practice to play something, but writing is genetic in my opinion. It just happens when your 8 years old and you’re like “How did I just write a song?” It’s a wild feeling.
NT: Although you’ve been successful at carving your own musical path, what does it mean to you when you cover some of your grandfather’s songs like “Blue Is My Heart” and “How Can You Refuse Him Now?”
Holly: It’s amazing! Of course I love to sing those incredible lyrics and tell those stories. Who wouldn’t? People always say “What’s it like, Hank Sr. is your grandfather??!! But I didn’t know him, nor did my dad. He was 3 when he passed. I am blown away at what he accomplished by 29 and he truly was the hillbilly Shakespeare as they call him. I sing only one of his songs in my set each night, but it’s a great honor to be in his bloodline and I only wish he could see what we are all doing now. Whenever I’m on the stage at the Ryman Auditorium (the original Opry) it just sends chills up my spine to sing anything of his where he used to stand so long ago.
NT: Apart from music, you’re also passionate about clothing and food. Tell us how you got into running your own clothing boutique (H. Audrey, located in Nashville, TN) and your website, The Afternoon Off.
Holly: I’ve always loved the business side of things (hence, releasing my album on my own label for the first time). I had been touring forever and knew Nashville needed more places to shop and find unique emerging designers that I was finding through all of my travels. I was in a near-fatal car wreck with my sister in 2006 and took a lot of time off after that. She had 29 surgeries and has been through hell and back (as described in her book “Sign Of Life”) but I opened the store to have something to keep me busy here in case my arm didn’t heal back properly and I couldn’t play anymore. I was pretty messed up for awhile but I completely recovered and was ready for more music. I get to see the world through music, and my blog is just another creative outlet where I talk about my travel guides, fashion on the road, favorite local/organic sustainable restaurants on tour, and most importantly detailed recipes and pictures of my favorite things to cook in my favorite place, the kitchen. Cooking is therapy for me. I always include a playlist with each recipe so be sure to check it out!!
When writer Will Hodge isn’t wondering to himself “what’s he building in there,” you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack
Swiss-born Valeska Steiner and German-born Sonja Glass make up BOY. The duo are entering the US market with ‘Mutual Friends’, set to be released February 2013. The album is a filled with Pop gems ready to fill the airwaves. In addition to BOY featuring several new songs on NoiseTrade, Sonja Glass was kind enough to answer a few questions about the upcoming US release.
The single, “Little Numbers” just released in the US and was featured on iTunes, how has the reception been? Any different than releasing the album in another country?
It is so exciting to know that our music can be heard somewhere that is so far away from our home. We are going to play in the US in March for the first time, so we don’t really have a feeling of what to expect. But we are looking forward to it. And of course, it’s a very special thing for us.
Mutual Friends has already been out for over a year in different countries, selling more than 100,000 copies, how do you keep the songs fresh as a performer?
For me it really varies – one night you feel more touched by one song, another night it can well be different one. But we love the music we play and we still love to play it ,and I’m glad that it’s like that. We also have different “coats” for the songs. We play a lot with the full band, but we also have acoustic setups with only one or two further musicians. And sometimes, there’s just the two of us. That way we try to keep it fresh.
Can you walk me through your creative process? Do you have (any) routines or goals in mind when writing?
For me there’s no real routine whilst writing. In the beginning every song is an adventure and you never know what direction it will eventually take. Especially, since we don’t sit in one room together when we start on new songs. It’s more that we develop the songs by emailing ideas back and forth until we think that we’re onto something. And as soon as we have a collection of a few songs together, we will go to the studio with our producer an work on the details. That generally tends to be a very long process, as we want all of us to be fully satisfied with what we’ve come up with when the song is finished.
What are some of your passions beyond music? Do you have hobbies you like to do in-between touring or things you do when you go on tour?
To be honest, we haven’t had much time to spend on things other than our music over the year and a half. When we’re at home, we want to see our friends, we like to dance to hiphop music and sometimes we do yoga. Or we read a book or go to the movies – the things everyone does when there’s time. No bungie jumping or free climbing involved, even though I would love to live like a cowboy for a while. I always imagine them to be free and wild. But I guess it’s only a romantic view on a very tough job.
I realize the focus is on getting people (US Market) familiar with ‘Mutual Friends’, but for those eager fans, can you share any information on new songs?
We are definitely slow writers and perfectionists. At least that’s what other people say. And we don’t write on tour. So it will take us some time to finish our second album. The good news is that we’ve already started to write new songs. But it’s still a little too early to talk about it at this point, I’m afraid.
Tyler Hayes runs NBT.fm, a music discovery site.
Another day, another fantastic sampler made available by a record label that refuses to color within the lines.
Eclectic mainstays Vanguard/Sugar Hill Records caught up with a bunch of talented artists who were in Nashville for the Americana Music Association’s yearly festival and they captured some intimate live performances from them at Minutia Studios. Dubbed The Americana Sessions, this 9-song sampler boasts some beautifully sparse tracks that mostly feature no more than just one voice and one instrument. My hands down favorite song on here is “Ring Them Bells” from Sarah Jarosz, with “Sunshine” by Shawn Mullins and “Banks of the Leopold Canal” by Deep Dark Woods being standouts as well.
Here’s a video of Sarah Jarosz doing “Ring Them Bells” from her session:
If you’re in the mood for some more killer label samplers available here on NoiseTrade, I highly recommend checking these out as well:
ANTI- Winter EP – Shane McGowan (Pogues) and Johnny Depp singing an old sea shanty, Petra Haden’s multi-layered acapella cover of the main theme from Psycho and Bettye LaVette covering Bob Dylan.
ATO Fall Sampler – the gritty wail of “My Love Won’t Wait” by Two Gallants, the slick groove of “I Ain’t The Same” by The Alabama Shakes and the bouncy twang of “Levi” from Old Crow Medicine Show make this one really special.
Saddle Creek Summer 2012 Sampler – Worth it for The Mynabirds’ “Generals” alone, but it can’t be a legitimate Saddle Creek release without a swanky Bright Eyes cut as well.
The Best of American Songwriter Sessions – Technically not a label sampler, but it still fits the multi-artist, multi-genre requirement. Spectacular live songs from Justin Townes Earle, Courtney Jaye, Damien Jurado and Harper Simon (you may have heard a song or two from his dad, Paul).
Future Destination Records Sampler – With a song titled “K-Mart Makes Me Physically Ill,” how could you not give it a shot?
When writer Will Hodge isn’t giving you the best mixtape you have, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack
When she’s not channeling new standards for the modern hymn movement, collaborating with friends on a children’s album project, crafting inspired essays for the Art House America blog or co-writing a couple EPs worth of tunes as half of a marital musical duo; uber-talented songstress Sandra McCracken somehow finds the time to write a song or two for her own amazing albums. Brimming with vitality and vision, Desire Like Dynamite is her newest release and she’s celebrating her eighth solo studio album in pretty cool fashion.
First, pre-orders of the physical release of Desire Like Dynamite (set for February 14) get an immediate digital download of the entire album. (You can check that out HERE.) Second, she’s put a fantastic 3-song sampler here on NoiseTrade featuring new songs “Go,” “Gridlock” and “Dynamite.” (You can check that out HERE.) Third, she’s giving YOU the opportunity to express your own connections to Desire Like Dynamite through fan-submitted entries. Here’s the scoop directly from Sandra:
“Would you be interested in writing a short description about one particular song on my new album that has connected with you? We are putting together ‘song-by-song’ descriptions for ‘Desire Like Dynamite,’ and imagined no more effective way to communicate what’s behind these songs than your stories.
I’m looking for a short paragraph per song, maybe a personal story explaining your connection, or generally why it resonates with you (and feel free to write something for multiple songs separately). Please include your name and city/state in an email to us here: firstname.lastname@example.org
We will post our favorite submission for each song on the blog and at www.sandramccracken.com on or before February 1.”
Along with the stunning songwriting and musicianship, Desire Like Dynamite is overflowing with insight, emotion, action, rest, hurt, healing, relationships and the lived life. Simply put, finding a connection point is as easy as opening yourself up to one. Once you have, put pen to paper (or technically fingers to keyboard) and let Sandra (and the rest of us) hear all about it.
Desire Like Dynamite is currently available as a digital download and it will be released in physical form on February 14. Either option can be purchased HERE.
When writer Will Hodge isn’t a hurricane blowing over a straw man, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack