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Sometimes an album is great and on that album is a song that is so righteous, it deserves your attention. This is a feature about those times…

I will not deny that Aaron Bowen’s voice has its Michael Jackson moments. I will also not deny that those “na na na na’s” in the background call up thoughts of Paul Simon. But both of those things are not bad, y’all. Both of those things, in the context of ‘Oh, Edith’ are, in fact, fucking awesome.

For another comparison, let me bring up one of our favorites, Tyler Lyle. While this music doesn’t call up memories of Golden Age And The Silver Girl specifically, I am amazed that like Tyler, Bowen seems to have put this album together mostly on his own, with the help of but a drummer. Written, produced, and recorded by Aaron Bowen. WOW.

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Aaron Bowen :: Oh, Edith [mp3]

BUY The Karaoke Fallback Plan

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I want that you will remember me as a kitchen dancer and not the mess I am now. I want that you will remember days at the river, feet in the water and sun on our backs, swimming together as little boys chased crawdads. I want that I will remember your sayings (“Simpler than a branch minner”, in particular) and your old faded swim trunks and not that you argued with me over who deserved the last beer, despite that I’d paid for it and lunch. I want that I will remember that while I always paid for it, it should have mattered not. It was unimportant and I gave that too much credence.

I’m leaving now, I cannot stay. I haven’t got the time.

I want that you will be able to look back on it all fondly and not as something now tainted by my late night loneliness induced rambles, sent over a phone line and that I regret in the morning. Always, I regret it. It is an equation, a sad one. I am alone and there is no small boy here to remind me that life is okay, good even, and the house swells and suffers with a feeling of longing. I see that window you broke and repaired so well, having the glass cut to fit. I remember us, what that was then and what that meant. Then. Not now, though. Anxiety plus a three sheets to the wind over-thinker equals an edge that is sharper than a new Case pocketknife. When it’s all multiplied by the lack of closure and a texted “ha ha ha” out of spite, the result is this thing now. I walked for months with my head high. I want that I can get back there again.

Remember me with yellow hair and freckles on my nose.

I want that I will not forget why you’re not here anymore and why we’re not what we used to be. I want to that I will remember that 15 years of friendship can be swiped away in one fell swoop by two people, so much prouder than we ever thought or will ever admit. Too proud to just fucking say I’m sorry. Your sister called us donkeys. She was right.

We never got to end the thing we never could begin.

I want that I will remember that we were comfortable and that it was good once. I want that I will forget sweaty shins and hair curling out from under a Budweiser hat, a beard grown despite an employer forbidding it. I want that you will remember us, in the woods. I want that you will not forget how much you used to love me and I want that you will remember what you felt when you cared enough to get up early, brew that pot of coffee, and leave a note on a paper plate. I love you with all my hearth, you said. You misspelled it but it was good anyway. I want that you will remember that it  all counted for something. That it once wasn’t the shit that it’s all gone to now.

I want that you will know that I am better than this thing that I am now. I want that you will forgive the tears you have not seen, the breakdowns behind a shower curtain and locked doors, all that I hid behind anger when really it wasn’t that at all.

I want that I will remember that this is for the best. I want that I will believe that this was for the best.

Your name is just a noise now, your face is only skin.

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The Spring Standards :: Only Skin [mp3]

BUY yellow // gold :: SITE

I’ve been taking a second of because…well. Because I fucking felt like it, but dudes, I just came back to tell you this. THIS IS IMPORTANT. This little fact might just turn your year for the better so listen up.

The new Horse Feathers album is stunning. Nay, STUNNING, all capital and none of that lowercase shit. Yes internet, I’m yelling. I should really save this for the weekend, for a time when I can sit with headphones in and ruminate on these tones instead of writing about it so nonchalantly whilst simultaneously making dinner for this starving kid over here but I can’t wait. I owe the record more than that, I know. But I’m a loudmouth and so here I am, now.

The band and Kill Rock Stars are offering the album up on some sort of rad progressive pricing scale I’ve never before witnessed in use (fuck yeah, y’all, for progressive anything, especially in my jams!) so as of RIGHT THIS DAMN SECOND it’s just $4.99. Honestly, I bought it and now feel like I should forward a check for another 40 bucks (or clams or whatever you call them) but alas. I’m busy listening.

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Horse Feathers :: Last Waltz [stream]

 

BUY Cynic’s New Year :: SITE

My hometown is not L.A. and it’s not anything even remotely like it. But the reason’s I am in daily love with it are the same as the reasons honeyhoney love their new hometown.

This morning, upon the discovery of sad fact that there was no coffee grounds to be found in this abode, I slipped on shoes and traveled just across the street with an empty cup to be used as a receptacle. It was dark outside — not black but blue up in the sky, the dark blue that signifies that nature’s alarm clock has sounded and the sun would soon be making its first morning appearance shortly. There were birds and there were tree frogs. There were crickets. Their morning sounds were the only things that filled the air and in the middle of the street, in my pajamas, I stopped and listened. Sometimes it’s so beautiful here it actually hurts my feelings…

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honeyhoney :: L.A. River [stream]

 

BUY Billy Jack :: SITE

As the skies released months of built up rain last night and all through the foggy morning here, The Maple Trail soundtracks.

Life moves at such a pace for us all that it’s easy to occasionally forget that music has the power to fix all, to amend anything and stitch it up. Mending heartbreak, soothing an introverted brain, inspiring in the morning hours too early for anything but coffee. I tend to forget all these things until I stumble on beauty like that contained herein…

Whilst I’ve yet to dig into The Maple Trail’s catalog, I can say that Cable Mountain Warning is an album worth your time.

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The Maple Trail :: Kodiak [stream]

 

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BUY Cable Mountain Warning :: BANDCAMP

If you cannot tell me who Neal Casal is, we’re probably not gonna be friends in real life. I’m going to start an internet dating site for awesome chicks and there will be criteria for dudes before we accept their profiles. The following questions will be asked:

  1. Do you have a sweet beard?
  2. Can you play an instrument of any type (we’ll count kazoos, because we’re nice like that)?
  3. Do you know who Neal Casal is?

Answer no to any of that shit and we’re sorry, but you’re gonna need to head on down the road to Match.com.

It was brought to my attention recently, by my mother of all people, that 1/2 of the Brothers Robinson has formed a new band. Chris, being the intelligent long-hair that he is, has employed Casal as guitarist for said new band. I say that’s smart because obvs, I’m just gonna buy the shit out of that record because of his presence.

For those not in the know, Casal’s guitar is easily recognizable to any real Ryan Adams and the Cardinals fan. His voice is 4 steps more awesome than most making music today. I’m highly jazzed for both his work with the Chris Robinson Brotherhood and solo.

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Neal Casal :: Sweeten The Distance [mp3]

Sweeten The Distance is due for release 10 April via Royal Potato Family.

SITE :: Chris Robinson Brotherhood

(h/t to Songs:Illinois for the solid on the recommendation.)

Listen, bros. It’s really fucking early here and the daylight savings time bit, while awesome, has screwed my world so this morning really was built for sleeping in. HOWEVER.

{Will you fucking take a gander at that album cover?! Why hello 1972, I missed you!}

Draw Us Lines, some serious kindred blog dudes, threw up a post about Mount Carmel and introduced me to them this morning and here is my official reaction: HELL YES CLASSIC ROCKS JAMS. I mentioned the other day I’ve been on a real tasty rock kick, forgoing folk and banjo jams at home in favor of an electric guitar and a tune that I can throw my hair around in circles to and this fits that bill.

 

In short, this is the circa 2012 Stillwater I’ve been searching for.

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Mount Carmel :: Swaggs [mp3]

BUY Real Women :: FACEBOOK

There are very few albums that are good enough to allow me to sit through them in their entirety. Typically, there’s an off song here or there, a jam to which I cannot relate, a tune that rubs me the wrong way. And this from bands I adore and trust as much as most do their mood-altering medications.

For some perspective for you dear readers (as if you’d asked for it), consider that Nathaniel Rateliff makes those kind of albums for me. So does Shakey Graves, Trampled by Turtles, and the Avetts. These are bands I know like the back of my hand. They are my routine, these albums, my solace and my respite. And now I’m adding Hoots & Hellmouth to that very small list and this is awkward for me, as I’ve no idea who these rad fuckers are. They are foreign to me. I’m obviously failing at life.

Having heard their forthcoming album, Salt, in all it’s full glory and beauty, I encourage you to head out and just pre-order the piss out of this thing. For serious, do not fuck around. Preemptively, just like, what? 2 days into 2012? I’m telling you this one will make the Best Of… list at the end of the fucking year. Let me gush here for just a second: HOLY FUCKING LORD, I REALLY LIKE THIS BAND.

{Look dudes, I don’t fucking cuss that much.}

If the PR machine would let me gift you this entire album right now, I’d fucking take that train. But alas, this is AMERICA! I cannot. Instead, I will give you what they tell me I can and because I dig this album so much, I will tow that line happily. In Folk Hive land, the Americana bar has just been raised. ‘City Lights on a Country Ceiling’ is quite possibly my favorite song of the year thus far. I want to feed it whiskey, pluck it’s mandolin (if you know what I’m saying), and kiss it’s mouth. I am XXX-rated in love with this album.

Salt is being released 10 April. The band is touring, which is something they apparently never, ever stop doing, and soon they’ll be doing so with Frontier Ruckus which gives them infinite cool points.

February 4 – Elk Creek Cafe – Millheim, PA
February 8 – Higher Ground – Burlington, VT
February 10 – Stone Mountain Arts Center – Brownfield, ME
February 11 -Middle East – Cambridge, MA
February 14 – Tin Angel – Philadelphia, PA (2 Shows)
February 17 – The Black Oak – Oneota, NY
February 18 – The Rock Shop – Brooklyn, NY
February 19 – City Winery – New York, NY
March 2 – The Whiskey – Annapolis, MD
March 3 – Arden Gild Hall – Arden, DE
March 8 – Club Cafe – Pittsburgh, PA
March 9 – Beachland Ballroom – Cleveland, OH
March 10 – The Ark – Ann Arbor, MI
March 16 – Martyrs – Chicago, IL*
March 17 – The Strutt – Kalamazoo, MI*
March 18 – The Mill – Iowa City, IA*
March 21 – Headliners – Louisville, KY*
March 22 – High Watt – Nashville, TN*
March 23 – Grey Eagle – Asheville, NC*
March 24 – UNCW 16th Annual Wing Fling – Carolina Beach*
March 24 – SoapBox – Wilmington, NC
March 25 – Local 506 – Chapel Hill, NC*
March 29 – The Southern Cafe – Charlottesville, VA*
March 30 – IOTA – Arlington, VA*

* = with Frontier Ruckus

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Hoots & Hellmouth :: Why Would You Not Want To Go There? [mp3]

PRE-ORDER Salt :: SITE

Calling themselves The Collective (which is a seemingly simple name yet upon listening, one that perfectly defines this group despite it’s few syllables), these friends of Bison tell us “Someday we will find out what this all actually means”.

Amongst group harmonies, inventive beats, and absolutely perfect use of glockenspiels, David Wimbish’s voice rises above and yet compliments so wonderfully the stories this band chooses to tell.

Sometimes folk music can become just a man and a guitar, when people too closely stick to the definition and what a disservice that can do to the whole of this genre. Not that I don’t love or that we don’t trumpet those bands here because, let’s be honest, when that works, holy shit does it work. But if Wimbish had held true to the typical notion of what this genre is we, as listeners, would have been deprived of the swelling strings and rapturous lady vocals contained on this album and while I’ve no doubt I’d still be listening, I’m not sure I’d be taking the time this early in the morning and before even a full cup of coffee to talk about it.

I write about folk because I love it. I love the familial aspect of the music that this genre can perfectly embody and I love the genealogy of it all. I’ve yet to find it in many other genres and I’ve yet to find it in a majority percent of say, indie rock, and so I gravitate to this. To the collectives and the collections. To bands like this.

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The Collection : Lazarus [mp3]

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BUY The Collection EP :: FACEBOOK

I’ve already waxed on about just how much this Lyle fellow manages to blow me away. Get ready, I’m gonna do it again…

Today, a woman died. She was a woman without any family to speak of, her mother having died years ago, leaving her father and her to frantically and very seriously mourn her loss for years upon years. Her father, a man named Jack, possessed the ability to put his finger on a stack of one dollar bills and tell me exactly how many there were. He was 80 and his mind was a dagger. Late last year he died.

His daughter, this woman, had spent every second of her 60 years caring for her parents. She was never allowed to ride a school bus for her mother feared it would crash and she’d be left without a child. She was not allowed to play with cousins at the reunions and the making of friends was discouraged but really, she didn’t mind. She had her mother and father.

She lost Jack last year and while the rest of us mourned and carried on, she holed up in the house. She went to the post office occasionally and bought tv dinners and bologna at the grocery store once every couple weeks. She avoided people, even those of us that loved her so.

No one thought to check in on her when she didn’t empty her post office box for a month, her very much needed social security check languishing uncashed there in that dark metal hole. I didn’t think to stop and check on her when I noticed her front door ajar all weekend. I simply thought she was doing better, not missing Jack so much anymore, and that she wanted to see the sunlight out there. To watch the cars go by maybe, to be reminded there are people out there still alive. All the while, she was alone and done gone for the better of a month. No one even noticed.

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I was listening to Tyler Lyle when Jack died. And today I’m listening to him again, unexpectedly, just as I’ve learned that the one connection to him has gone too, a death that will go unnoticed even in a town of gossips and prideful know-it-alls. I hadn’t planned to say anything to the internet about Jack and his kin and I certainly didn’t plan to write about death. But being directed to Notes From The Parade, which Lyle has put forth as a thank you to his fans, a portion of the population of which I’m a part, today and then finding this song seemed so goddamn serendipitous. I just couldn’t help myself.

Somehow, I feel better now. Like maybe it’s okay that we didn’t do what we thought we should do for the woman that died in her house, all alone, because there was nothing to be done anyway. That in the end, time does indeed move steady along. A similar tune for a different song.

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Tyler Lyle :: Pinewood Chests [mp3]

Notes From The Parade :: BANDCAMP

PS – Read the ‘liner notes’. It’s worth 5 minutes of your valuable time.

PPS – Give this dude some of your money, seriously. I swear, if I find out you went over there and just took this shit and didn’t throw down at least like, your last 22 cents, then I’ma find you and fight you. With fists.