Obviously, this is causing some excitement in our neck of the woods…
1. BANJO! (You guys want to borrow my banjo, Anna Lee? I’ll totally let you borrow my banjo Anna Lee.)
2. I’ve never even met Caitlin Doyle in real life but this song plus her voice plus that girl’s style plus the fact that she was (is?) a part of Dustbowl Revival makes me want to BFF her.
3. I suspect I’ll be lucky enough to hear this song in person soon, this band positioned on an old porch in front of me, and I also suspect that I will clap along so goddamn hard there might need to be a nurse available to attend to the damage I’ll do to my digits in my excitement.
4. I am no musician, this is true, but I know a thing or two about it. One of those things I know is that blending rockabilly and blues and folk is a delicate thing and one that is hard to pull off. Yet, Smooth Hound Smith does just that. Back and forth between songs that tug at your heart and songs that send you rocking about in your chair is a tough row to hoe but Smooth Hound Smith somehow manages to perfectly plow that field.
2. Listen to this jam from Nathaniel Rateliff’s new project, NR and the Night Sweats.
If you follow the musings of those three (awesome and) aforementioned blogs, you’ve already heard this. We’ve all four been raving over and singing the praises of this perfect insanity for the past few days. If you’ve missed it, your life has been lacking. Adam says it is “like a profane gospel song” and frankly, I don’t think there’s a better description. Unless we’re going with Heather’s: “The best band in Denver. Boom.” In-fucking-deed.
I am disgustingly in love with Rateliff’s previous work which makes it so very unlikely that I’d be able to love a side project of his at all. It just seemed there would not be enough love left.
And then Rateliff set in with the dancing and the big band cut in with a sax and a piano and I was proven wrong…
I’m just popping in for a minute. I have something to say about this…
I have listened to Donovan Woods’ “Sask” over and over for the past three days. I regret leaving the house because I cannot take it with me, so to speak. I mourn the departure soccer games bring because it’s inappropriate for a mother to sit on the sidelines with headphones on. I feel this song so hard that I actually miss it when I don’t have it on me.
There is an amazing simplicity in the lyrics, nothing more than a few sentences really, and I’m still struck, after hundreds and hundreds of listens, at how perfectly and efficiently Woods is able to tell a story with so few words.
I was planning to go somewhere warm with the money.
I was planning to go somewhere warm with the money.
No offense Saskatchewan, you live a lie, live a lie, live a lie.
I ain’t one to talk, dear. So did I, so did I, so did I.
So did I.
Goddamn. I never realized it until encountering this song but it’s so rare that we take responsibility for our part in breakdowns and bad things. I’ve realized it in others perhaps, but less so in myself, I guess. There is blame and there is occasionally guilt but full on acceptance of our own parts in it nearly never come. It might happen in song more than I’ve noticed — perhaps I’m willfully blind to it for whatever reason — but it seems even more rarefied in that medium.
I’ve spent a few days trying to reason with this song. I’ve spent more than a couple of hours trying to understand what it is about Woods’ words here that absolutely refuse to let me tear myself away from them. I can come up with no other apologia for my mad obsession other than to say that hearing someone sing that it wasn’t Saskatchewan’s fault at all but his own too has pulled one or two of the strings surrounding my heart. There he is singing, angrily vulnerable. Apologetic. Full of blame. It was you, it was me. This song is both killing and saving me, I swear it.
Woods’ Don’t Get Too Grand was released 26 March via Aporia Records. It is wonderful and it will turn you inside out, exposing your heart and all your fragile inside bits. If you’re anything at all like me, that is.
I want to both berate nature for having inflicted all those cold, hellish months on me and thank it profusely for having whisked them away with chirping birds and blooming iris’ and sunshine. This is the conundrum of the Midwest clime and it is one that baffles me every damn year, despite 30 of them here. Here, when it turns cold, you grit your goddamn teeth and steal yourself against the wind and you pray it’s one of those seasons that ends sooner than the Farmer’s Almanac says it will. You promise things you cannot give to the Gods in exchange for a single blade of green grass and you convince yourself that last year’s winter taught you to survive this. The last 30 winter’s taught you to survive this.
For some reason, this winter was rougher to weather. It was not the worst I’ve seen and yet for some reason, it felt as if any day now I would just wither into steam.
While the Midwest might be the greatest of assholes for punishing the innocent with its wintertide grip, it is also a kind of savior for rescuing us with spring. It makes that first warm light seem so much greater than it probably is. To call it an awakening is restrained.
I’m so goddamn glad winter finally heeded my calls to fuck off. Here’s a mixtape to commemorate that.
So, let’s just be honest: This jam doesn’t necessary fit the mood of this here tape. However, I am right obsessed with Hayden and as such, will include one of his jams on every tape I make until that obsession subsides. Deal with it.
This song has soundtracked every hard thing I’ve endured for the past year. Turns out, the live version is just as stellar as the album version but in such a different way. It’s muted and the swells of the original are corked with calm. The song and it’s lyrics (which can easily stand next to some of the best ever written, I SHIT YOU NOT) are both nearly overshadowed and bolstered by the weeping violin. The original is an all seasons song; this version was made just for spring and the awakening that comes along with it.
If this song was released more than a week ago I’m gonna be really pissed because I could have been using it to usher in the sun. This jam feels like when you’re in your kitchen at 9 am in the morning trying to finish that last batch of jello shots as quickly as you can before you get on a boat on the lake.
Let’s slow it down right quick how about. I cannot place what it is about this song that feels like my home. Is it the name Carla, which is also the moniker of a woman I can see playing this in her kitchen while she fries chicken for Sunday’s family dinner? Is it that guitar, carrying on as if it were raised in a barn? Is it the words: Momma said what’s done is done?
I can not say but there need not be an explanation for this kind of love. Over the past two weeks I have turned this song up to maximum volume and sang my country guts out on at least 49 separate occasions. That’s some praise right there…
Because there will always be an Avetts’ song on every mixtape I ever make. Because this one happens to be a Jason Molina cover. Because I saw the light is a lyric that perfectly describes what happens when Spring arrives.
To say that Whetherman’s Streams and Pastures has overtaken my ears and hearts is a vast understatement. I was driving the other day, the varied songs playing over the speakers and so very positively influencing my mood, and thinking that there should be a piece here about how glorious easy listening albums are. Not easy listening as in your mom’s favorite Richard Marx jams; easy listening as in albums that cover great and excessive stretches of ground in just 12 songs but manage to hold your attention entirely. Last year’s self-titled album from Denver did that for me and thus far this year, Whetherman’s jams have perfectly fit that bill. I’d like to say something really elegant and nuanced about this album because it deserves it but I can’t. I just love it. I love it real hard.
The music of Keith Whitley is a certain sort of sacred here in the Midwest. Like John Denver and Bob Seger and the Ozark Mountain Daredevils. You don’t touch it, you don’t cover it, you don’t shit talk it.
That said, I like this. I don’t know how my mother, who still cries when she hears a Whitley song, would feel about it but this ain’t her blog so fuck it.
And here, a special treat to top it all off. Shakey played our house last summer. Ryan taped the whole thing because Ryan is a God among mere men and the result is a disc called Live at Folk Hive. The thing’s got a beautiful cover, complete with a photo courtesy of the ever-awesome Jarred. On the back it lists my tiny town’s name.
Let this be a lesson to all: Old porches have great acoustics. At the end of the album it is fully night and everyone is covered in sweat and the cicadas are so incredibly loud that they almost drown out the music. It was perfect. That is Missouri. That is Folk Hive.
There is no better reminder that summer exists and is a thing that is coming to fix your life all up than a jam from an album that was recorded live on your street in your tiny town of 1200. You should all get one of those, I say. One of the greatest antidepressants ever concocted.
And with that, a jam from the last house show we hosted last summer, we usher in the warmth. Here’s to so many more of those shows and summers, too…
There’s really not a lot I can say about Patty, other than to point out she’s my favoritest of lady songwriters (and one of my favoritest of songwriters, period, gender be damned). I can also say that she has the voice of a goddamned angel.
American Kid will be released 7 May via New West. The first single, “Ohio”, is bliss wrapped up in the backing vocals of her man, Robert Plant.
I wish someone had told me when I was 17 and listening to nothing but classic rock, believing it would be the only thing I’d ever listen to, that one day years from then I was be listening to the best that roots music has to offer with backing vocals provided by one of classic rock’s biggest voices, Plant. Led Zeppelin to Patty Griffin, my musical journey has now come full circle.
The quiet roll of the harmonica and fiddle here have caught my attention and slayed me. In the early morning weekend hours, I listened to this album on repeat and thought about how it might be that those two instruments might never have been used so perfectly as background accompaniment in a jam, specifically “Finder’s Keepers”, before. They do not own this song — they are not loud or overpowering — but like a chorus of mere voices in the background. I can’t be the only one that thinks this fiddle and this harmonica is telling a story as great as these lyrics…
Do not let anyone tell you any different: This album, Streams and Pastures, is roots perfection.
Sunday morning the sun made its first appearance here in months. The grass seemed to turn green overnight and that night, I stood in the middle of the road and listened to bugs makes noises I have not heard in many moons. I awoke and turned off the albums I’d been using to soothe my winter depression (Phosphorescent’s Muchacho and the latest Frightened Rabbit) and put this on instead. I closed my eyes and imagined everything blooming again. This album was the soundtrack to that…
Don’t let anyone tell you any different: This album, Streams and Pastures, is the best on a morning when the sun has appeared and brought with it growth. It is perfect for ushering out winter sadness and carrying in, on its mighty shoulders, Spring’s delight and happiness.
I played this album and nothing but all day Sunday. I put it on as soon as I woke this morning. I’m tempted to let it become the only thing I listen to in the near future.
It is 80 degrees outside. SUMMER IS COMING. I survived. I took my sweater off (for the first time in 6 months) while standing in the sun today and thought to myself, “I survived”. I screamed it in my head and I let the sun burn my closed eyelids and I wondered how I’d ever made it through…
In honor of making it through yet another harsh winter, here is this righteous undeniably warm weather jam from Wildlife Control.