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Breathe Owl Breathe

[2010’s Most Revered is The Hive’s version of a year-end list.  Right about now (or meow, if you will) we will highlight the albums, EPs (yes, EPs), and what-have-yous, that made us sit up and listen over the past 365 days.]

Dudes, let me clue you in.  This here is a music blog.  Yes, I ramble about personal shit and then throw some semi-related tunes at you but in my defense, this is what I know how to do.  I can journal; I cannot write a music review.  That requires like, college and shit.  But because this is a music blog there will be a year-end list.  There HAS to be.  However, I won’t pretend to be smart enough to analyze what jams and beats and albums were the best across the board in this Year of our Lord, 2010.  Again, college.  But I can tell you the albums that were most revered in this house over the past year.  I will say this: this series will be the most awesome and yet fucked year-end list you’ll find on the internetz.  Also, no #10.  Get over it.

All that said, we present Folk Hive’s Most Revered of 2010: The only year-end list on the internet that features intelligent input from a five-year old.  Let’s hop to it, shall we?

****

[Number NINE :: The War On Drugs Future Weather EP]

I’ve mentioned that ‘Taking the Farm’ was an important song in this house.  First, I had a simple love affair with this band’s chosen moniker (oddly enough, I was reading this when I got into War) and then, there was the music.  Wagonwheel Blues is still an album that is on consistent rotation around here and though Future Weather is an EP, it is so colossal that it defies that classification.  As much as I loved the previous, the new blew that shit right out of the water.  It was beautiful and expansive and it burned.  In a way, The War On Drugs remind me of the greatness of Petty in his heyday — it’s something that feels like maybe you could put it together with your friends in the garage after a lager or two because it’s that simple but then you really listen and your ass knows better.   There’s no way you could insert that emotion into an organ chord and there’s no way you could write and then sing out like Kurt Vile.  I mean, shit.  He’s Kurt fucking Vile, dudes.

**

The War On Drugs :: Baby Missiles [MP3]

The War On Drugs :: Comin‘ Through [MP3]

BUY Future Weather EP :: WEBSITE :: Secretly Canadian

****

[Number EIGHT :: Peter Wolf Crier Inter-Be]

Perhaps one of the most disappointing moments to me in this past year was learning that the GAYNGS show I had tickets to in Nashville had been canceled.  I was not saddened by my inability to see a supergroup in N’ville, per say, but by the fact that not being in that town on that night meant that I would not be in that town for the Peter Wolf Crier show the night prior.  “Crutch and Cane” reeled me in early this year and since that time, I have been enamoured with this band.  I have spoken of my love for these two men previously and considering that they’re members of the un-bearded sect of society, this is massive in Hive Land.  Inter-Be rocked my 2010 and expanded the musical horizons of this avowed folkie.  I suspect this album will get considerable play in the new year.  And to remedy this year’s sadness, I’ll be seeing them in live in 2011.  Also, Moen induces lady boners.  LADY BONERS.

**

Peter Wolf Crier :: Down, Down, Down [MP3]

Peter Wolf Crier :: Hard As Nails [MP3]

BUY Inter-Be :: MYSPACE :: Jagjaguwar

****

[Number SEVEN :: Eric & Magill All Those I Know]

All Those I Know hit me like a ton of fucking bricks.  Unexpected, storied, and unprecedented in that such a wonderful album was simply given away, it stayed in rotation for weeks.  When it was occasionally relegated to the back burner by the Blackbird, Blackbird’s and Arcade Fire’s of the indie world, it was immediately brought to the forefront again with a singular listen.  To say that the opening track (after which the album is titled) is massive and fan-fucking-tastic x 10 is an understatement.  The rest of the album follows that song’s lead and every tune is an eye-opener.

**

Eric & Magill :: All Those I Know [MP3]

Eric & Magill :: Vegetable Gardeners [MP3]

GET All Those I Know :: FACEBOOK

****

 

[Number SIX :: The Black Keys Brothers]

While I have heard it uttered by serious, life-long Black Keys fans that this album is not their strongest and that the band has sold out (Christ, shut up.), I can tell you as a new Black Keys fan I was in love with this album from that first guitar lick.  In my defense, I did not discover the band on a hyped list, I did not hear them first on a commercial and then search them out, nor did I get like, a Verizon phone accompanied by a free download of a Black Keys jam.  I heard Dan Auerbach.  It was over.  While I have not been a fan from the beginning (forgive me Father, for I did not know of this band’s existence), I am now devoted.  If Brothers is the sound of someone selling out, then more bands should get on that.  Also, Jude probably spent 90% of his time pretending to be Auerbach when I first put this record in rotation.

The Black Keys :: Howlin’ For You [MP3]

The Black Keys :: Everlasting Light [MP3]

BUY Brothers :: WEBSITE

****

[Number FIVE :: Megafaun Heretofore]

The discovery of Megafaun in early 2010 turned this year around.  It inspired me and opened my ears and heart to a brand of music I had never heard.  Casual fans were interested in the association with DeYarmond Edison and Justin Vernon; devoted fans are astounded at the speed with which this band, on its own, manages to race toward the resonance of new so quickly and easily.  Every album, mini-album, and live show is an exercise in family and love and the healing powers of music.  Heretofore is gospel but it’s an au courant gospel.

Megafaun :: Volunteers [MP3]

Megafaun :: Bonnie’s Song [STREAM]


BUY Heretofore :: WEBSITE

****

[Number FOUR :: Nathaniel Rateliff In Memory of Loss]

My love of Nathaniel Rateliff is nearly unsurpassed.  While I will admit that I prefer Rateliff in the real as opposed to in a sound booth, recording a record, I’ll take whatever I can get.  I feel the same way about this music as I do your mom — both are awesome.  I fucking dare you to listen to a Rateliff Daytrotter session, I dare you to observe a Rateliff wail in video or person, and not tear up.  It is his ease and his seeming comfortability with what he’s saying that makes this music so close to perfection.  “Early Spring Till” is a masterpiece.  Yes dude, I am pressed down.  Yes, I am full of that feeling.  Yes dude, I like that deep v-neck tee.

Nathaniel Rateliff :: Early Spring Till [MP3]

Nathaniel Rateliff :: Pounds and Pounds (from Daytrotter) [MP3]

BUY In Memory of Loss :: DAYTROTTER :: WEBSITE

****

[Number THREE :: GAYNGS Relayted]

Alright folk, shit is about to get real.  And cuss yes, I’m serious.  GAYNGS changed my life.  This is not an exaggeration.  I love The Rosebuds, that’s been said.  I love Megafaun and that too has been discussed.  I also like to get down with Solid Gold now and then and I sure as shit love Bon Iver, even more than your mother.  So naturally, a group composed of those and then some gives me a slightly odd and scientifically unjustified lady chub.  Along with the fact that I have to deal with these awkward boners daily is the fact that I am also affected by what is known as Undiagnosed (And Therefore Only Potential, Whatevs) Social Anxiety Disorder.  This means concerts and shit of the like are typically out of the question.  Hell, going to the local Walmart without my child is out of the question.  So it is a testament of my love for GAYNGS (or perhaps more specifically, the parts of its sum) that planned to first travel 800 miles for a show and then when that was canceled, that I traveled 2000 fucking miles for one.  Yes, I did that.  I drove from the middle of Missouri to Durham, NC for a goddamn Gayngs concert. Let me bullet point this shit for you:

  • I left my kid for more than two days.  Unprecedented.
  • I drove through rush hour traffic in like, 12 states.  I shit myself.
  • Day one I was in a vehicle for more than 20 hours.
  • I made this trip with my sister.  We almost killed each other.
  • We got lost in Durham.  For three hours.  At 3am.
  • I slept an hour and ventured downtown, suffering from PTSD resulting from GETTING LOST FOR THREE FUCKING HOURS AT 3AM.
  • I drank Sparks in a parking lot, which I think is illegal.
  • I met amazing and rather endearing folk.  I talked to them like I didn’t have this undiagnosed Social Anxiety shit.  It was good.  They are my people.
  • I grooved down at the most badass show I wintnessed this year.
  • I triple-fisted beers.  Dude, it was GAYNGS.
  • I participated in using words like “GAYNG-bang” and “GAYNG-over” and I didn’t feel like a dipshit for doing so.
  • I woke up the next day with a hangover.  Drove 8 hours.  Slept in Nashville.  Drove another 8 hours.  Pulled into my driveway.

I have not spoken here of the two months of anxiety that nearly crippled me before this trip.  I have not spoken of the doubt and the realization that driving like, 17 states away for a concert, was just ludicrous.  I have only spoken of my doing that very thing.  And looking back, it was one of the sweetest trips of my younger years.  I am a GAYNGS devotee for fucking life.

Another tidbit: My father, a truck driver who frequently pointed out how juvenile and potentially irresponsible I was in making this trip, says, “So, what does this…GAYNGS?  Is that what they’re called?  GAYNGS?!  Jesus, so what do they sound like?”.  “Well dad, they’re like a bunch of folk dudes I guess, maybe.  Anyway, they make…fuck jams.  Fuck jams, dad.”  Dad: “WHAT?!  So, like Foreigner?”.  No dad, not like Foreigner…

GAYNGS :: Last Prom On Earth [MP3]

GAYNGS :: By Your Side (from Daytrotter) [MP3]

BUY Relayted :: WEBSITE :: Jagjaguwar

****


[Number TWO:: Breathe Owl Breathe Magic Central]

No band brought me to more tears this year than Breathe Owl Breathe.  Good tears.  Tears of happiness and tears that were the sum parts of beautiful music and a sense of humor and seeing my child flabbergasted. I wrote about it. And it was probably the most fulfilling and yet gut-wrenching thing I’ve written about this year.  My child and I are involved in a love affair with this band.  Magic Central is the first vinyl that he ever owned (it is also the ONLY vinyl he currently owns).  Breathe Owl Breathe inspired my five year old to pick up a banjo.  And I wouldn’t be all facetious about this next statement but Breathe Owl Breathe made us both better people.  The urge to tattoo their lyrics all over my body is strong.  Magic Central has the most fitting title of any album this year.

**

Breathe Owl Breathe :: Across the Loch [MP3]

Breathe Owl Breathe :: Swimming [MP3]

BUY Magic Central :: WEBSITE :: Hometapes

****

[Number ONE :: Cotton Jones Tall Hours In The Glowstream]

To understand my love for Cotton Jones and this album is to understand me.  I cannot say that I was captivated by this band from Paranoid Cocoon or even prior, the Page France days, as I was simply unaware of their existence.  What sadness.  But when I discovered Cotton Jones first album (under that moniker) early this year, I was stunned.  I was even further flabbergasted when they turned out to be so much more than just a one track band and that’s saying quite a bit considering how great each track is on its own.  Cotton Jones soundtracked the aforementioned journey to North Carolina — all 17,020 hours of it.  Cotton Jones is my fall back band when I’m in need of a musical bump.  “Somehow To Keep It Going” is probably our most loved jam this year.  Cotton Jones was my 2010.

Cotton Jones :: Somehow To Keep It Going [MP3]

Cotton Jones :: Ma, It’s A Jungle [MP3]

BUY Tall Hours In The Glowstream :: WEBSITE :: Suicide Squeeze

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When I was young, there was always music.  When I was six or so my parents gave me my first record for Christmas.  I remember playing it on my tiny little box record player.  I remember laying on my floor when I was sixteen, the one carpeted with the same weave that was there when my mother spent her teenage years in that very same house, and getting the speakers to my cheap cassette player as close as I could to my ears.  I yearned to hear the words of ‘Let It Be’ on a deeper level.  I wanted to hear every little fleck of emotion in Paul McCartney’s voice when he sang of his friend, Jude.

Today, I’m 28 and I have my Jude.  He listens and he sings and he’s interested.  Not all the time, granted, but there are songs and bands that seem to move his little soul.  There are bands with the power to open his eyes a little wider and to hold his attention.  Breathe Owl Breathe is one of those bands (if not THAT band).

I know this is the Breathe Owl blog lately.  For that, apologies.  But here’s the thing: I cannot sing to my boy so I have to trust someone else to do that very precious thing for me.  Because music is not just music to me, because it can be so heavy and because it possesses the ability to hold so much meaning in our darkest times, I want to give him things — notes and instruments and an ear that can discern what could literally save his life one day (as it has mine)– more than I want him to have things.  Because he is so young I feel solely responsible for showing him that this thing — something as simple as lyrics and music — can change his life.

This is important to me.  I was ecstatic that he would get to see his band in real time.  I was beside myself that I’d get to see his face when they sang his favorite songs and when he sang along.  This is the singular show in my roster of concerts that during which I spent more time watching a little boy than I did the band.  And he was beaming.

We arrived at the art gallery and Andrea happened to be outside.  My slightly shy one walked over, with little hesitation, and told her he loved her band.  He gave her his drawings.  And I’ve never seen someone whose in a position to be jaded if they’d like be so much of the opposite.  She was kind.  She was smiling.  As a mother to that little boy standing in front of her, I wanted to cry and hug that woman at once.

Jude sat through the two opening acts.  After a day full of basketball games and driving, he was beat.  He wept, he wanted to sleep, his missed his doll, Andy.  The time came, Breathe Owl began to set up, and Andrea came out and taped his drawings to the speakers on stage.  The kid awoke.  The kid stared.  The kid was in it now.

The band was simply wonderful.  They held his attention, he laughed, he sang, and he danced.  To see the power of music in the face of a five year old is intense, especially when that little human is someone you’ve raised and cared for.  Andrea told the crowd about Jude’s bunnies, complete with appropriate beards for Micah and Trevor.  He watched her through the entire show, in awe of her multi-instrumentalism.  So did his mother, in awe of her kindness.

After the show, Jude got a hug from Andrea.  Jude got a drawing from her in his tiny little composition notebook he carries around, messily taped together at the spine and full of his doodles.  In twenty years, I have no doubt he’ll look at that page and really see the significance in that night.

Yesterday, I bought Canadian Shield.  I listened to “Your Cape”.  I cried.  Being a kid is fucking hard sometimes — in the midst of play and learning it all seems so simple and easy but we should all know better.  Everything is important when you’re young.  And that doesn’t change until we age, until we realize that a slight on the playground isn’t the end of the world.

I feel like I owe this band a very big thank you card.  They give meaning to what Jude is feeling but cannot always say.  They make him laugh and they make him think.  They make wearing capes in public okay.  That’s a lesson I hope stays with Jude forever.

**

Breathe Owl Breathe :: Your Cape [MP3]

BUY Canadian Shield


Today I do not slave for the man.  Today I will ignore the cold (and it’s there) and I will put on makeup and socially acceptable clothing and I will drive 30 miles.  Today I will pick up Jude’s banjo.

It is a Christmas gift for my son and I’m hoping it’s one from which joy will come and one that will last longer than last year’s Wii or those drums I bought him two years that were favored not as an instrument but as something off which to jump.

About three or four months ago, I played this song for Jude.  It was a Saturday and he was, no doubt, Lego-ing on the floor under my feet.  He asked first, “What is making that noise?”.  I answered his query and he asked second, “Can I have one?”.

Today there is a banjo and tomorrow is Jude’s first concert: Breathe Owl Breathe.  The serendipity of these two things combining so close together in the timeline of our lives is not lost on me.  As a sidenote, it’s really fucking awesome to have a great kid.

Breathe Owl Breathe :: Toboggan

BUY Canadian Shield