Overdue: Two Albums That Should’ve Made My List

Posted by Payton | Posted in album review, best of 2009 | Posted on 03-31-2010

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It’s now the end of March – one-quarter of the year down. Just three months ago, I made my picks for albums/songs of the year. I gave you a list of 20 albums I believed to be the best of the year 2009. Now, I listen to A LOT of music, but as much as I try, I simply can’t filter through all that comes my way. Through these 3 months, I’ve had time to digest the multitude of tracks that I downloaded at the end of year preparing my lists. Here are 2 albums that, if I were to go back, would’ve made my list:

The first sorely overlooked album is Vetiver’s Tight Knit. The band, now on their 4th album, has often been associated with ‘freak folk’ acts like Devandra Banhart and Joanna Newsom, but I find their brand of folk to be far from freak. I’ve sampled Vetiver’s back-catalog since picking up this disc, and much of it is quite pleasant. Their songs tend to be low-key but feature prominent bass lines that create an equally lazy and positive vibe. Nowhere better have they found this niche than on Tight Knit.

A single song from this album found its way to me by list-making time and made my Top 50. ‘Everyday’ is easily the most accessible song from the album, but as you may have guessed from me taking the time to write about Tight Knit, it’s definitely not the only good track. The album begins the way I like ‘em – with an easy-going acoustic number. They increase the groove throughout the next couple tracks, but for the most part, the first side of the album remains peaceful. Beginning with ‘On The Other Side’, things start to get more interesting. ‘More of This’ stands out as the liveliest track in the set with a soft-punk guitar leading the way. Tracks 8 and 9 takes the sound a little lower to the ground with a hint of jazz. The final track, ‘At Forest Edge’, brings things full circle, setting the album down softly. The interesting mix of tempos and overall mellow attitude make Tight Knit a completely listenable album best enjoyed from a turntable on a lazy Sunday. Try it out.

Vetiver - On The Other Side
Vetiver - More of This
buy Tight Knit: [CD][Vinyl][mp3]

 

Not only did I miss this album last year, I also missed a chance to catch Dawes live back in 2009. They played a string of shows opening for This Mornin’ favorite Deer Tick and made a stop in Austin (check out a review of DT’s show with photos). Not having heard of Dawes, we decided to skip the opener in lieu of cheaper drinks down the road. Poor decision.

I downloaded Dawes’ debut North Hills just before finalizing my year-end lists. Their impassioned, harmony-laden ‘Give Me Time’ caught my ears first and sneaked in to my Top 50 Songs list. But that song is simply one of eleven amazing tracks. North Hills is a very accessible sort of Americana. Frontman Taylor Goldsmith leads the band’s chill-inducing harmonies with a smooth, almost familiar voice. North Hills supplies just about every variant of the folk/Americana sound you could ask for. Songs like ‘Love Is All I Am’ and ‘Bedside Manner’ keep the instruments subdued, allowing Goldsmith’s tender lyrics to come through bare and personal. Electric guitars are turned up in ‘When You Call My Name’ and ‘When My Time Comes’ creating a full sound that come across as uniquely Dawes. The rhythm section ushers in ‘My Girl To Me’, an impressively busy bass line keeping the groove. Although the stellar harmonies are present throughout, they boys of Dawes are simply showing off on ‘Give Me Time’ and ‘Take Me Out of the City’. I could go on, but just know that had I given North Hills a proper listen last year, it would have easily been a Top 5 album.

Dawes - When My Time Comes
Dawes - Bedside Manner
buy North Hills: [CD][Vinyl][mp3]

 

Dawes deservedly found themselves abuzz earlier this month at SXSW. Playing shows alongside last year’s breakout act Deer Tick sure didn’t hurt their cause. Even more, Taylor Goldsmith joined forces with DT’s John McCauley and Matt Vasquez of Delta Spirit to create of supergroup of prodigies who call themselves, simply, MG&V. They debuted at SXSW and you can catch some videos here.

Dr. Dog Drops New Album (4.6.10)

Posted by Payton | Posted in album release | Posted on 03-20-2010

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While preparing for my SXSW jaunt this weekend, I caught up with some sadly overlooked bands in my music library that I’d have a chance to catch. On the way over, I listened to Dr. Dog’s 2008 release Fate – an album I downloaded sometime after it came out, but sadly never gave it a proper listen. Their sound is pleasingly all over the place, and it gets stuck in all the right corners, too.

Though I didn’t get to catch a Dr. Dog performance this weekend, I have been spinning Fate on repeat to and from Downtown Austin. With dual songwriters/lead vocalists, multiple part harmonies, and ample use of the tambourine, the Philly-based band’s sound is happily Beatles-reminiscent. Scott McMicken’s (lead guitar) songs feature more of that 60’s sound, while Toby Leaman (bass) offers a rougher, more current rock vibe.

Dr. Dog recently announced the release of their 2010 album – Shame, Shame (pre-order available). Dropping in just a few weeks, the band has also let loose a couple tracks from the album.

Shame, Shame (4.6.2010, ANTI- Records)
1 Stranger
2 Shadow People
3 Station
4 Unbearable Why
5 Where’d All The Time Go?
6 Later
7 I Only Wear Blue
8 Someday
9 Mirror, Mirror
10 Jackie Wants A Black Eye
11 Shame, Shame

And here, check out a track from Fate featuring that jangly, harmony-driven sound:

Dr. Dog - From
buy Fate (2008)

Dr. Dog: [Website][facebook][MySpace]

The Black Keys Ready Album for May (New Track)

Posted by Payton | Posted in album release | Posted on 03-20-2010

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Blues-Rock duo The Black Keys have been busy as of late. In addition to their many side projects (Black Roc – a Hip-Hop/Fuzzy Rock collaboration of TBK and Mos Def, et al; a debut album from Patrick Carney’s band Drummer; Dan Auerbach’s latest solo album, Keep It Hid), the band somehow found time to record their sixth album. Brothers will be released May 18th through Nonesuch Records.

**Update: reposting this with the first single from the album

Brothers

1. Everlasting Light
2. Next Girl
3. Tighten Up
4. Howlin’ For You
5. She’s Long Gone
6. Black Mud
7. The Only One
8. Too Afraid To Love You
9. Ten Cent Pistol
10. Sinister Kid
11. The Go Getter
12. I’m Not The One
13. Unknown Brother
14. Never Gonna Give You Up
15. These Days



Here’s a B-Side cover I found in my library:

The Black Keys - Funk #49 (Bonus Track)

Iron & Wine Download Code Giveaway!!

Posted by Payton | Posted in contest, free music | Posted on 03-18-2010

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Time for a change of pace here. Been working too much recently… wishing I was a few miles down the road in ATX for SXSW. I seriously think it’s tearing at my soul. But, alas, I will be there in less than 24 hours.

To get some new content up here for you guys, I decided to offer another vinyl download code giveaway. We change gears for this one, bringing you Iron & Wine’s mellow Sea & The Rhythm EP from 2003. Sam Beam was one of the first ‘indie’ artists I got into and remains my go-to musician for lazy, sunny days.  When Sam released his collection of B-sides and rarities, Around The Well, sometime last year, I went on a bit of an Iron & Wine vinyl shopping spree. So stay tuned here for more I&W download code giveaways in the future.

Just click below or on the album cover above, enter your email address, and that’s it. I’ll pick a random winner next week at this time.

Click here to enter the contest

Viva la Vinyl: Now That You’re Gone 7″

Posted by Payton | Posted in artist spotlight, ryan adams spotlight, viva la vinyl | Posted on 03-10-2010

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The reader poll I ran for the last two weeks is now closed. The feature posts you guys enjoy the most here at ThisMornin.com are my Artist Spotlights. It’s a safe bet to assume that this victory was due more to the Ryan Adams Spotlights than the features on other artists. Coming in 3rd – behind New Digs – was Viva la Vinyl, so what better way to kick off this new, more-informed posting than with a post that tackles 2 of the top 3 features in one.

When we left off, Ryan and Lost Highway had just released Love Is Hell. Soon after, a few different ‘Wonderwall’ singles were released (2 CDs and a 7″). Included with these singles were some great B-Sides (‘One By One’, ‘I Wanna Go Home’, and ‘Suspicion’) that all made the cut on my Ryan Adams B-Side collection Sweet Black Magic. This mixtape will only be available for a few more days, so if you haven’t already, go pick it up now.

After a 2004 Halloween Promo Disc I’ve already posted, the last music Ryan Adams released before 2005 was a PAX-AM 7″ featuring early versions of tunes that would be part of his first endeavor with The Cardinals. The Now That You’re Gone 7″ was the third and final (for five years, at least) release on his PAX-Americana label. Check out the first two.

A: Ryan Adams - Now That You're Gone (vinyl rip)
B: Ryan Adams - If I Am A Stranger (vinyl rip)
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So this brings us to the magical year that was 2005. The next post in the spotlight will be on Cold Roses.
Get your jam pants on…

Check out more from the Ryan Adams Spotlight:


See All

Happy Birthday Mr. Van Zandt

Posted by Payton | Posted in videos | Posted on 03-07-2010

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Today, March 7th, is the birth date of the late, great Townes Van Zandt. He would be 66 years old and had his lifestyle not gotten the best of him, he would no doubt still be creating beautifully haunting music. I’ve been meaning to get to some Townes posts here at This Mornin’, but keep putting it off. Maybe I’ll re-read John Kruth’s fervent tribute To Live’s To Fly. It was great the first time through, but I was in it for the story. Next time, I’ll log away all the recording session details and get some good post material from it.

Townes’ recorded music, more often than not, became the victim of terrible studio treatment, yet still the power of his songs broke through the odd backing vocals and poor accompanying music. Anyone alive today that fancies their self a songwriter owes much to Townes Van Zandt. And those that don’t aren’t worth listening to. Period. Rest in peace, sir.

Townes Van Zandt - Waitin' Around To Die (Heartworn Highway Documentary)
This video shows the emotional power in Townes’ music like no other. A simple song brings a weathered old man to tears.

Horse Feathers Prepare Third Album

Posted by Payton | Posted in album release | Posted on 03-03-2010

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Portland’s Horse Feathers has released details on their newest album, entitled Thistled Spring. It follows 2008’s House With No Home, which made my Top 10 Albums of 2008. I haven’t had the chance to check out the entire disc, but if it’s anything like the band’s (originally a duo, now a four-piece) first two albums, it’ll be exquisitely peaceful. Their unique brand of classical acoustic folk music, although draped with somber lyrics, evokes an elegant positivity. Check out a post I wrote on Horse Feathers back May of last year.

Thistled Spring (out April 20 via Kill Rock Stars)
1.  Thistled Spring
2.  Starving Robins
3.  Belly Of June
4.  Cascades
5.  This Bed
6.  The Drought
7.  Vernonia Blues
8.  As A Ghost
9.  The Widower
10.  Heaven's No Place

Pre-Order through Amazon

 

For now, Pick up the Cascades 7″ that includes a cover of Gillian Welch’s Orphan Girl.

New Digs: The Happen-Ins (Exclusive Tracks)

Posted by Payton | Posted in album release, album review, exclusive, new digs | Posted on 03-03-2010

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Austin is a music city – we all know that. From South Austin up to 6th Street, Town Lake to Lake Austin and beyond, you can find any genre of music that could possibly fit your ears. But take an eastward turn under I-35 and things begin to change. Instead of a background of competing soundwaves from bands up and down the street, East Austin offers a soundtrack of sirens and catcalls. That is unless you find yourself close enough to whatever dive The Happen-Ins are playing in that night.

Born from the ashes of numerous Austin bands, The Happen-Ins honed their blues riffs in an East Austin garage before taking their show to the streets. In the last six months, they have amassed quite a loyal following – not huge – but consisting of the right kind of folks. Don’t be surprised to find a few well-known musicians enjoying their Austin nights off by taking in a Happen-Ins show. Providing much of the guitar-work and a healthy portion of lead vocals is Sean Faires – you may recognize his name as one-half of The Dedringers, a now defunct Texas band filled out by Jonny Burke (who’s also got his own thing going this past year). Ricky Ray Jackson (Hayes Carll, Lomita, Brothers and Sisters) sings lead on just about half of the disc, his songs sporting a bluesy-er feel. When not up at the mic, Ricky Ray offers his talents on the pedal steel, feeding a solid stream of a Byrds-style country sound to the album. John Michael Schoepf (Hayes Carll, Deadman, The Dedringers) provides a knee-knocking bass guitar to the set. On the drums, you’ll find Paul ‘Falcon’ Valdez, who has played with the likes of Eleanor Whitmore around Austin.

Photo by Alexandra Valenti

Set for a March 4th release (March 12th on Vinyl), The Happen-Ins’ self-titled debut proves that all you need to make great music is a mutual love for a good groove and a nurturing home base… and maybe a little talent. The Happen-Ins’ lineup could be be considered a supergroup – each member coming from previous successful bands, and each player superbly apt at their role. The band’s retro yet virginal sound is rooted in Sean Faire’s energetic guitar. The album is brimming with head-bobbingly memorable guitar riffs, most sporting Sean’s unique overhand bic lighter-style of slide. ‘Never Said’ leads things off with a bang – distorted guitars, a backing chorus, and a little spite for the girl that didn’t quite understand the romantic arrangement. The album’s sexual undertones climax with ‘Do It’, and, yes, that’s exactly what they mean. This theme continues with an album highlight, the short but sweet ‘Die’, in which Sean implores that “you better get some love before you die.” Hit after hit, you find yourself immediately recognizing the first notes and thinking “ooh this is a good one.” What sets this band apart from your usual hometown blues outfit is the quality of the songs, often highlighted with 4-part vocals. Towards the end of the disc, The Happen-Ins show their versatility, laying off the heaviness and letting their folk-roots (‘Bashful’) show through  the leftover reverb from the disc’s beginnings. But capping off the set is ‘The Kids Don’t Dance’, a groovy number that leaves you with a greasy, somewhat violated taste in your mouth, similar to what a Happen-Ins live show down on the East side will do to you.

The disc’s liner notes contain some vital listening suggestions:  “While preparing your listening experience, it don’t matter where you put your hands, where you sit or where you stand, this machine kills pessimists. We bring that John the Conqueroo, the rest ain’t really up to you. Calling all hens to the coop… If your body hasn’t already begun to move you’re closer now than ever before. Expect palpitations, perspirations and motivations to stomp the floor.” Very true.

The Happen-Ins – Baby
The Happen-Ins – You’ve Been Bad

[Purchase The Happen-Ins through Amazon.com]
Pick up another track as part of LimeWire’s Ear To The Ground: Austin Sampler

Sure, it’s fuzzy. But it’s supposed to be. Funk & Roll, as I like to call it, should be loud, distorted, and at times gibberish. The Happen-Ins take their influential queues from the best of the Rock & Roll and R&B/Blues worlds. You’ll find a heavy dose of Stones-esque guitars, mixed in with a little Muddy Waters lyrical confusion, and highlighted by by a Townes-inspired style of songwriting.

The Happen-Ins will obviously be present throughout SXSW this month, and I predict they make out like Deer Tick did last year. The album has a very limited pressing, so if you’re going, I suggest you make grabbing it your top priority. The CD will only be available through Austin’s own Waterloo Records, but you can grab it digitally at Amazon. Catch the band’s LP Release Party March 12th at The Scoot Inn… East Austin.

The Happen-Ins: [facebook][MySpace]