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We made it. I made it. Winter could not take us.

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.

DOWNLOAD What Winter Could Not Kill :: A Spring 2013 Mixtape [.zip]

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Langhorne Slim & The Law :: Summertime [mp3]

Seems like we waited for a thousand years…

DOWNLOAD the Summertime EP via Noisetrade :: FACEBOOK

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Hayden :: Blurry Nights [mp3]

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.

BUY Us Alone :: FACEBOOK

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Willy Mason :: I Got Gold [mp3]

Yeah, still obsessed with Willy Mason. It’s probably a certifiable mental health issue at this point.

DOWNLOAD Don’t Stop Now via Noisetrade :: FACEBOOK

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Branches :: I Believe In A Thing Called Love [mp3]

If you think that Branches doesn’t win the covers game, you’re a dolt. If you aren’t as in love with the man singing here, Tyler, then you can I cannot be friends.

DOWNLOAD Covers :: FACEBOOK

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Wake Owl :: Wild Country (Live at Daytrotter) [mp3]

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.

DAYTROTTER Session :: FACEBOOK

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Smooth Hound Smith :: California Sway [stream]

Included because of reasons, that’s why.

BANDCAMP :: FACEBOOK

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Hollis Brown :: Nightfall [mp3]

If you’re not gonna include a Black Crowes or Tom Petty song on your mixtape, you might as well include one by a band that sounds like the lovechild of the two.

BUY Ride On The Train :: FACEBOOK

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Cayucas :: East Coast Girl [mp3]

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.

BUY Bigfoot :: FACEBOOK

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The Hollering Pines :: Carla Cain [mp3]

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…

FREE DOWNLOAD of Demos :: FACEBOOK

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Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit :: TVA [mp3]

I did not grow up 2 hours north of Birmingham and I have not ever fished next to Wilson Dam. But all that doesn’t mean I cannot attach myself to this song.

If you grew up in the Midwest and you’re looking for a song that will take you home, here it is.

BUY Live From Alabama :: FACEBOOK

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The Avett Brothers :: Hammer Down (Jason Molina cover) [mp3]

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.

From Cover Lay Down’s excellent Carolina Coverfolk, Vol. 5 :: SITE

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Whetherman :: Why Pretend [mp3]

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.

DOWNLOAD Streams & Pastures :: FACEBOOK

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The Cave Singers :: Shine [mp3]

I fucking love The Cave Singers. That is all.

BUY Naomi :: FACEBOOK

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Castanets :: I’m No Stranger To The Rain (Keith Whitley cover) [mp3]

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.

BUY I’m No Stranger To The Rain 7″ :: SITE

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Edward Herda :: Western Room [mp3]

This song is perfect. That kick drum slays my heart.

DOWNLOAD The Wondrous Folly of Vaughn Frogg :: SITE

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Quiet Hounds :: I Get Up [mp3]

Here’s a jaunty little jam that reeks of summer because jaunty little jams that reek of summer are wonderful.

BUY Megaphona :: FACEBOOK

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Jason Eady & The Wayward Apostles :: Wild-Eyed Serenade [mp3]

What, y’all thought I wouldn’t include a country jam?

BUY Wild-Eyed Serenade :: FACEBOOK

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Paper Bird :: As I Am [mp3]

The whole of Paper Bird’s latest album is a true delight. You should probably just go ahead and get that into your life.

BUY Rooms :: FACEBOOK

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Shakey Graves :: Late July [mp3]

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…

Absent for a month and indeed, sorry for that. But here we are now: the fall has descended upon the Ozarks and year 30 has dropped into my lap.

Let me admit some things. I will admit that I have not written since early October. I will admit that I have not listened to music — not a mixtape in my car, not a snuck secular jam in my office, not a handcrafted playlist in my home — in more than a month.

I will admit that it’s likely due to a combination of the weather and mood. I now possess a 30 year old disposition and I am finding it unbecoming. It is anxious and frail and it has left me at a loss for words. It has left me drained and without the want or will to find the energy to even just listen. It is a sad state. Those things I will admit.

I will also admit that today I spent no less than 8 hours in front of a computer with no other goal than to reacquaint myself with my medicine, that which has healed me in the past. I forget occasionally how that works and I lose track of the glorious seconds where I encounter a song that moves me and I have to physically remove my hands from the keyboard so that I can place them on my chest and feel along with the person singing. It is their story, their lyrics, but they’ve released them into the ether and the beautiful thing about it (and music in general) is that I can take those songs and use them as my very own ladders. They are helpmates out of holes in which I’ve dug myself into. These songs are friends that talk me down.

Last weekend, I ventured out to a country show. I packed up my travel anxiety and I left town on a last minute whim. I was with a hastily obtained press pass and without a hotel reservation. I packed myself into a tiny bar with 600 others, 300 or so of which I’m sure were most likely breaking some sort of fire code regulations with their attendance, and I danced my ass off to a genre of music that I have not two-stepped to since my childhood. There were two beers in each of my hands and there were great friends to my left and right. At times, I sang so loud and with such gusto that I felt it breaking my heart free from the locked cage in which it had decided it would spend the winter. I attempted to take video of a raucous sing along, “Long Hot Summer Day” so I could remember the minute it happened later — I grounded my camera on the thick hewn log railing that bordered the area where we danced upstairs in the bar but the crowd was stomping so hard that there was just no stability to be found, even among the timber. Fucking music. It saves the day always and apparently not just for me but for hundreds of others crowded in a bar for the country show. Fucking music, man. It’s so perfect.

Here’s to the fall and here’s to the damned cold.

Here’s to making it through the season…

DOWNLOAD the Folk Hive Fall/Winter Mix.zip, y’all.

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The Avett Brothers :: The Fall

This is a literal fall and there is the fall which drops the leaves from the tree branches. And then there is this song by The Avett Brothers that reminds me of springs and summers during which I opened wide all the windows in the house and turned the speakers up to 11 so that I could hear these words while I planted flowers in the front garden. There was a beer beside me and there was sun on my tank-topped back. Those were the days, man.

Those days shall return, yes, but in the meantime there is old school Avetts to mind that gap.

(If you’ve yet to meet your awesomeness quota for the month, might I suggest a purchase of The Avett Brothers Four Thieves Gone that was just released in the most badass of vinyl packages? Get that here.)

BUY Four Thieves Gone :: SITE

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Adam Faucett ::The Way You See It (Live at Daytrotter) [mp3]

My history with Faucett is both non-existent and storied. We have never met, will never meet. But if Six Degrees of Separation is a real thing then by God, we’re best friends. I once met two of his pals at a bar, musicians both, and saw his face in a facebook photo of those boys. My musical blogger instincts said that man too, with his beard rivaling that of his friends that I’d once encountered, probably had a band too. Indeed, he did. That bearded, legally blind man was Faucett and now that I am fully comfortable with his wail and his words, I am devoted.

We have never met, never we shall. But his music will ring through this house all fall and all winter. I assume that on the river next year even, I will hum this song in my head as I round bends to long, deep eddy’s.

Faucett’s DAYTROTTER Session :: BUY More Like A Temple :: SITE

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The Deep Dark Woods :: Sugar Mama [mp3]

This is most likely the best 2:39 of song I’ve heard in the past…forever. A song of lament and hope with a country-folk bent that’s right up our alley. This song has been played over 500 times in this house and will likely be played over 500 more. What with that lament of age and displacement of one’s youth and it’s summery, sunny sound, how could it not?

BUY The Place I Left Behind :: SITE

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Gin House :: Midwestern Mind, Southern Heart

There is a thing I like about this song. That thing looms large and that thing is a personal comfort and a knowing that lurks within these words. This, to me, is a gloriously written alt-country jam with a full on, lyrical country bent.

BUY Gin House EP :: SITE

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Passenger :: All the Little Lights [mp3]

Sometimes a mantra is needed, something to repeat as the warmth leaves this Midwestern state, something that will convince my heart that one day the sun will return. The chorus of this Passenger jam work just fine in that capacity: We’ve all got million of little lights shining in our hearts and they show us the way. The sun isn’t always necessary, not when you have all those little lights.

BUY All The Little Lights :: SITE

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The Oh Hellos :: The Truth Is A Cave [mp3]

At the ass end of 2011 The Oh Hellos put out a stellar album that I dug into just a few months ago. As it usual, I quickly fell in love.

Sometimes though, when one loves an album and a band so much, there is cause to worry. When an album reaches that pinnacle within your heart, one might be cincerned that the greatness of the second can never match the wonder of the first. But awesomely, in regards to The Oh Hellos just released second effort, Through the Deep, Dark Valley, one needn’t have ever concerned themselves with thoughts like that to begin with.

The last lines of this song utterly slay my heart. I was tired of giving more than you gave to me. And I desired a truth I wouldn’t have to see. A-fucking-men.

BUY Through the Deep, Dark Valley :: FACEBOOK

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Some Dark Holler :: Sweet Red Wine [mp3]

If you’re one of those people who doesn’t believe with all your heart that autumn is perfectly soundtracked with foot stomps, a violin and a dobro, and words about some form of booze then we were probably not meant to be friends.

BUY Hollow Chest :: FACEBOOK

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Aiden Knight :: Jasper [mp3]

Aidan Knight is a songwriter and a damn fine one at that but not just one man (as the moniker would imply) but instead a quintet of folkies from Canada. I think. In other news, Aidan Knight is awesome.

Also, dudes. Here is a video of Aidan Knight and Dan (fucking) Mangan singing “Jasper” in the snowy wilderness. It is glorious and you should watch it.

 

BUY Small Reveal :: SITE

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The Wooden Sky :: Take Me Out (Halfway House Sessions) [mp3]

I fucking love this song (and this band) and on the aforementioned roadtrip with my moms, she fell in love with it, too. I learned, after wondering all these years, from who it must have been that I inherited a need to play certain songs on repeat, over and over for days and days. My mother took over the stereo, hitting back again and again, until we realized that she had played this song approximately 32 times in a row as we passed over state borders and county lines.

WOODEN SKY Halfway House Sessions :: BUY Every Child A Daughter, Every Moon a Sun :: SITE

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Brett Detar :: Coasts [mp3]

Breaking circles, man.

DOWNLOAD Bird In The Tangle :: SITE

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Wake Owl :: Gold

Wake Owl’s “Wild Country” has, without a mathematical doubt, been played more in this house this year than any other song I’ve come across within the past 365 days. FACT. Want another fact? “Gold” is in the running for being the second most listened to jam. For  an EP release of just a few songs, that’s quite a fucking feat.

BUY Wild Country :: SITE

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Father John Misty & Phosphorescent :: I Would Love You [mp3]

No comment here because no comment can equal the utter awesomeness of such a duet between the immeasurable Misty and Matthew Houck.

FOUND on Aquarium Drunkard

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Lemolo :: Letters [mp3]

This is included because of…reasons.

BUY Kaleidoscope :: SITE

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Chris Ayer :: The Infinite Abyss of Space [mp3]

Listen to the first 7 seconds of this song, indie music fan, and tell me that you don’t like this. Do it, I dare you. See what happens…

BANDCAMP :: FACEBOOK

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Tumbling Bones :: Trouble Around My Soul [mp3]

Something about some dudes harmonizing a capella about the troubles that those of us in this land seem to innately understand from birth gets me every damn time.

Tumbling Bones’ Selections: 2011-2012 is a stunningly gorgeous collection of jams. I stumbled upon it a week ago and have had it on repeat since, all 8 bits of it. Highly (no seriously, bro, HIGHLY) suggest you snag it.

BUY Selections: 2011-2012 :: FACEBOOK

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Frightened Rabbit :: Old Old Fashioned

FRabbit is releasing a new album, Pedestrian Verse, in some months and I, for one, with my penchant for slightly depressing yet awesome indie rock, am jazzed for its arrival. To keep my whistle whet until then, I’ve dug out The Midnight Organ Fight and put it on repeat because it is good and I fucking love it.

BUY The Midnight Organ Fight / PRE-ORDER Pedestrian Verse ::  SITE

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Turnpike Troubadours :: Long Hot Summer Day

Remember when I told you about the time that I saw a band that had a crowd of 600 stomping so solidly that a building made of some seriously large logs actually shook so hard that it was impossible to even anchor a camera? This is that band that I spoke of and this is that song.

BUY Goodbye Normal Street :: SITE

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Shakey Graves :: The Waters [mp3]

YOU GUYS. Watch this:

 

I mean, Jesus, COME ON.

FACEBOOK

{Nota bene: We’re sucking this baby dry, y’all. You’ve read about it once, yeah, but this is a different set of words. NOW WITH MORE AWESOME VIDEO YOU HAVEN’T SEEN. Courtesy of the wonderful dudes at Show Me Shows, check out Shakey in an old chapel in a cemetery below. And stay tuned: Folk Hive and Show Me Shows aren’t done with Shakey Graves yet…}

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{Photo courtesy of Jarred Gastreich @ Show Me Shows}

In May of 1925, a crowd of pert near 1000 gathered at Hillhouse Cemetery, out next to the old Prichett schoolhouse. There was talk of family trees and babies that were nursed on the laps of 6 grandmothers in the pioneer address given there by the Hon. J.W. Armstrong, a state legislator from Pulaski County. At the end of that speech, Armstrong said this of all those buried beneath the hallowed ground on which he stood then: “Because they lived the simple life – content to bear burdens that others might enjoy more abundantly, is sufficient to earn for them a place in the hearts of all mankind.” I presume that when the Hon. J.W. Uttered this statement, he was standing in the chapel, if one can even call it that – a 2-walled, tin-roofed “building”, pews strewn about, trees shading it from the field behind. 87 years later, a man who prefers to go by the name Shakey Graves, ventured out to that chapel and inspired, just like J.W. Armstrong did… 

Shakey Graves is actually Alejandro Rose-Garcia, a name no one could seem to hold on their tongues Friday last when he made the trek from Austin to a small, rural Missouri town for a show on an old porch. All night he was just Shakey. Shakey, you want a Busch heavy or a Strongbow? Shakey, you like potato salad? Shakey, where in the hell did you get that drum? 

Not too many hours after Shakey was out in that chapel with the Show Me Shows guys, he was on a couch in a tiny house carefully exacto-kniffing small pictures out of a rather heavy military history book. Those were carefully glued to a tiny brown paper sack and stapled shut. Inside were CDs to sell at the show, handmade by the man himself as he bullshat with us. Hanging on the wall above him was a mess of 20 some photos, a visual family tree that includes descendants buried in that cemetery Shakey just left. 

{Photo courtesy of Jarred Gastreich @ Show Me Shows}

Roundabouts nine o’clock nature dimmed its lights and we lit up the porch. Shakey placed his beer in the cleverest of mic stands and hung a cigarette from the headstock of his old Gibson. Then he set in with the music. 

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The music of Shakey Graves has made the rounds. There is a unique quality about it that makes it hard to pigeonhole, something so much indie music suffers these days, and explaining what you’re about to hear to someone’s who’s never laid ears on it is a tough pill. It’s folky but rock-ier than that. It’s kind of at home next to some current Americana darlings but it occasionally fits in with country (murder ballads, y’all). It is gospel sometimes (a lot of the time, actually) and it is blues. All of this accounts for its acclaim – it fits in New York, it’s at home in Austin, Texas (literally), and it apparently wins over a crowd here in our one stoplight town of just 1800 people.

{Photo courtesy of Jarred Gastreich @ Show Me Shows

I stumbled upon Shakey’s only studio release in late 2010, but Bandcamp says it was released in 1987 so one can never been too sure when Roll The Bones was put forth. At any rate, I’ve been consistently returning to it over the past 20 months. It’s got longevity, this one. Even though Roll The Bones wasn’t Shakey’s only release (there was the EP, The State of Texas vs. Alejandro Rose-Garcia, a wonderful Lucinda Williams cover and original from two separate When You Awake compilations, and a Daytrotter session), it’s most likely what you’ve heard if you’ve heard of him. But even barring those little gifts we’ve been given over the past year and a half, Roll The Bones is an album full of songs that expand and are most adaptable. “Unlucky Skin”, the song that initially inspired our love, lends itself so well to its accompanying banjo in the original that it’s hard to imagine it working as well on an old Gibson in a cemetery chapel, but on those pews and within those two walls, it is still just a perfect. Ale (as he told us he liked to be beckoned as) sounds just as defectless in the studio as he does live. His guitar just as rusty yet untarnished. There is but one difference between the two venues, if you will: Shakey’s songs on a porch, the entirety of his repertoire, fill out. In a wooded yard of 25 or so people dancing and stomping their feet, they are intimate in a way that a room, even one with a soundbooth, cannot ever dream to recreate. 

But in a cemetery? Shakey Graves, out amongst the gravestones of those gone before, now resting in a field? There. There those songs sound like they are truly home.

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Shakey Graves :: Unlucky Skin [mp3]

BUY Roll The Bones :: SITE

VISIT Show Me Shows

Jessica said that sometimes foxes romp through her yard down at the end of the street. She said that one time a lady came down there and sat agape because there were 17 or something deer, eating in the snow on her front lawn. She said we could have a show down the street, just two houses down on either side, not far from where we usually do anyhow. We did that instead. Some of us were just built to roam, you know?

{Photograph courtesy of Jarred Gastreich @ Show Me Shows}

In attendance, the normal crowd. Immediate and extended family. Someone brought a little baby that danced but only when Shakey sang. Many friends from town and a few from out-of-town that have proven to be counted upon attendees, despite their long hauls. My postman. Legions of (uninvited) chiggers. The dudes from Show Me Shows. A dog named Honcho. Carpenters, Harley enthusiasts, farmers, truck drivers, Mainers, and social workers. And the definition of a Texas Gentleman, Shakey Graves, with his old Gibson that suffered so much falling sweat it could have used a hanky.

{Photo courtesy of Jarred Gastreich @ Show Me Shows}

First, there were songs sang out at an old cemetery near here, where we buried my uncle in Hippie Corner. There is a chapel, or what used to be one. Gravestones and Shakey Graves. Then there were my couches were we all sat and waxed philosophical about the distinct differences between Natural Light and Busch heavy. There was a minute in the backyard and then the walk down to the dead ends of Locust.

{Photos courtesy of Jarred Gastreich @ Show Me Shows}

And then. Then we all saw a show and what a fucking show it was.

I’m still sort of in awe. There was dancing and there was a crowd of faces that immediately understood what I’ve been going on and on about for years. In the presence of nearly enough Strongbow to kill a horse, Shakey Graves balanced his beer on his mic stand and his cigarette in his guitar, all while putting on one of my favorite shows I’ve ever been lucky enough to see just because of the immense intimacy of it. The sun fell; we turned on the porch lights and toes tapped in unison. Shakey moved through the songs I’ve listened to for years now, one by one, playing a lengthy set that resulted in a yard full of new fans, now loyal to the man who was kind enough to drive all those miles to stand on a porch in Pulaski county for us.


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Different this time was that I was able to hound the dudes from Show Me Shows, Ryan and Jarred, into bringing their asses down the highway and into town. They’re responsible for the glorious takes you’ll see soon out at that old chapel. They are responsible for the video above and the photographic evidence of a wonderful night. Because they are stellar dudes, because they are consummate professionals, because they are fucking good, I am now a follower that will fucking fist fight on their behalf. A huge, utterly massive thank you goes to them. You helped make it what it was, dudes. I love this fucking state — it’s music, which is sorely underrated, and most of all, it’s people.

Thanks, of course, to Ale. Reader, you must see his show. Find one in your state, travel to Austin if you must. Just see it. As you’ll understand then, as some of you most likely already know, the music is weighty. But aside from that, Ale is a dude that deserves any accolades afforded him simply because he is righteous human. He will eat your barbecue, he will drink that beer (and you don’t even have to tell him to), he will hang out in your backyard making friends with your lifelong friends, and he will sit at your kitchen table long after the sun has descended, rambling right along beside you. I am more devoted to the music of Shakey Graves than I was before, as if that were even possible.

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Folk Hive, all the music and words and time that it requires of me, is sometimes a mighty endeavor. My alarm is set 2 hours before it need be every morning to accommodate it. Dinner is made late every night to oblige it. Money is budgeted for albums and trips when it could certainly be spent on vacations and new tires instead. It can be tiring and is usually done with an attitude that says there will be no thanks but that is fine for miles. There is a reason for that: Once in a while, things like a house show with Shakey Graves happen. It is a transformative experience, one that renews beyond belief. Hearing a song that I’ve played thousands of times, when things were both easy and stunningly hard, on a porch that I’ve stood on since I was a child will mend a heart. Watching my friends and family look on and begin to understand what it all means will cover a soul and sustain for a good long while. It validates everything I’ve ever written, every hour I’ve ever spent with headphones in.

{Photo courtesy of Jarred Gastreich @ Show Me Shows}

Without Jessica and Bill, all the friends and family that came, the Show Me dudes, and Shakey it never would have happened. I’m so glad it did. My most heartfelt of thanks to everyone involved.

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Shakey Graves :: Built To Roam (live) [mp3]

BUY Roll The Bones :: SITE

All photos and that lovely video are courtesy of the guys at Show Me Shows, who we now worship. Based in St Louis, they produce some real fine videos. Check out Jarred’s photography here. Check out Ryan’s studio, R&R Music Labs, here.

Residents of Pulaski County, NAY! THE WORLD OVER! Tonight, Shakey Graves will travel in for barbecue, beers, friendship bracelet making, games of Uno, and jams. SWEET, SWEET JAMS. Also, we’re not really playing Uno, that’s dumb because seriously, music. Who cares about Uno on a day like today. You should get thee asses here. We’d like to meet you!

RSVP here. Though, you don’t have to, really. We’ll still let you in if you just show up. That’s Midwest hospitality at its finest.

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Shakey Graves :: Unlucky Skin [mp3]

BUY Roll The Bones :: SITE

In the future, I’m going to lament that music is making me sad and heart heavy, for it seems that doing so brings the goods. In the few days since those written words sprung forth from my keyboard, I’ve stumbled on more glorious things than in the last weeks combined. Alright universe, I get. I’M A WHINY DICK.

Whilst I could save all this up and give it to you in snippets, tiny delicious morsels of tastiness, I love you enough to lay it all out on the line at once. Prepare yourself. Grab a beer, dig in…

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Other Songs Music Co. released the Scott Orr record, Where I Lived, And What I Lived For, and while perusing their roster because seriously, I love their fucking moose logo that much, I came across Medicine Hat. Oh hai chick jams I actually like!

Medicine Hat :: To Be Named [stream]

BUY Medicine Hat

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I became aware of You Won’t in July of last year (if the date tag on the mp3 I possess is not a dirty liar) and like an asshole, sat on that shit. Prompted by a recommendation from Fuel/Friends, I fired it up again and now the full depth of my being a moron is exposed to the light. Get on this band. Like, literally, GET ON THEM.

You Won’t :: Who Knew [mp3]

BUY Skeptic Goodbye

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From a very succinct email sitting in my inbox, whose subject was “cheap beer and good tunes”, comes this track via Rob Bravery. It’s pretty. And I like it. “Sweet seratonin…” You should know, Bravery was the key’s man for Alessi’s Ark. Fun fact!

Rob Bravery :: Remy [mp3]

FACEBOOK :: SOUNDCLOUD

**

I keep pages and pages of notes, a repository of handwritten thoughts on things I like and occasionally, why I like them. Truckstop Honeymoon caught my attention because, A. I’ve got a soft spot for the good ol’ truckstop, and B. They fucking rock.

Truckstop Honeymoon :: On The Prairie Now [mp3]

BUY Steamboat in a Cornfield :: SITE

**

If country radio played more good shit like The James Low Western Front, well. I’d listen to more country radio. In other news, you guys, GET THIS. I was in our small town chinese restaurant last night and they had a country station blasting and there was this damn song, “Made In America” I think and it was the biggest pile of bullshit I’ve ever heard. I don’t care who sings it, I don’t even know, but seriously, it made me want to move to Canada because you bet your ass that crappy pap doesn’t get written there…

Anyway, rant and a ramble. This song has a line that goes, “Heat stroke killed my best blue ribbon steer,” which is just about the best line I’ve ever heard in a song, NO HYPERBOLE.

The James Low Western Front :: Whiskey Farmer [stream]

BUY Whiskey Farmer :: SITE

**

{Illustration courtesy of Johnnie Cluney}

I waited for this session for approximately one million years. After all this time and since the months and years that have passed since I first heard Shakey Graves in December of 2010, I still dig this dude.With the release of this there are just two things left to pine for: Shakey in my backyard and his new forthcoming album. In other news, ELECTRIC SHAKEY!

Shakey Graves :: Word of Mouth (Live at Daytrotter) [mp3]

DAYTROTTER SESSION :: Seriously, spend two damn $’s and get access to this download.

**

From a recent and totally badass piece at Paste highlighting Missouri bands you must hear comes The Grisly Hand. Home state, REPRESENT! How nice it was to find a band that’s not just not awful but also happens to be totally fucking rad.

The Grisly Hand :: Western Ave [mp3]

BUY The Western Ave EP :: SITE

**

Nice dude Ray Foley once made a film about Neal Casal once. He wrote me about it but as it were, he also made a film about Mark Olson (Jayhawks, dude) once and while I have not seen that film, the trailer was stunning. You should watch that thing. Those of you city folk should look it up on watch it on one of your fancy cable channels. We don’t have those out here in the sticks.

Grain Pictures

**

Sent to me; loved at first listen. The email containing the words that made me aware of this band was sparse on details but I encourage you to do some legwork and seek this band out. Both albums sent along for my listening pleasure were just…stunning. They felt like home and I love them for that.

Jonas Friddle & The Majority :: A String To A Bell [mp3]

BANDCAMP :: SITE 

**

And that’s that. Boy, that escalated quickly! I mean, that got really got out of hand fast! (Brick killed a guy. Did you throw a trident?)

‘Til next time, y’all…

 

The Ozark Mountains, and all its rivers and streams, are beyond the ideal setting for music played in real time. In real life. 10 miles from  me one way there is a quaint little smattering of primitive cabins on the river. 10 miles the other way is the old, restored mill, with its own little happy gathering of dwellings.

It would seem to me that land such as this would breed such beautiful music but in terms of those making it around here, there are no terms. It’s not happening. The only strumming of a guitar the trees that quietly line the gravel road hear is that of Eric Church as an ol’ Chevy makes its way along the winding path, an occasional Natural Light thrown from the window. The flowers and birds of our woods never hear a banjo, as they damn well should. The hawthorn’s buds have never encountered a mandolin, as I believe they deserve.

What a glorious thing it would be to remedy that. How happy it would make me to gift the inanimate objects of the woods that surround us here with something as beautiful as the gifts they give to me on the days that I’m willing to take the time to see them.

I often imagine Pickering Pick on an old cabin porch. I dream about Shakey Graves sandwiched between two hundred year old oaks in a field. I pray for all 13 members of Typhoon on the side of a gravel road, serenading the unsuspecting passer-by as they hit a road cruise on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

If I were to curate a festival, up here in our woods, alongside a drearily moving river, my favorite place of all on Earth, these are some of those I’d invite. I’d pay them in exceeding gratitude, cheap American beer in cans, barbecue barbecued the best way (slowly, in case you’re wondering), and other morsels derived from the recipes of my mother and great-grandmother. I’d float them down the waterway in a canoe my father’s long-time employer made and show them the way to properly put a worm on a hook, if they aren’t already aware. I’d show them what’s left of the untouched country in America.

If I were to curate a festival up here in our woods and someone said, “Seriously dude, no Avetts or Bon Ivers. They are fucking expensive and Pitchfork likes them and we’re poor folk.”, these are the bands I’d invite…

**

Trampled by Turtles :: New Orleans (HearYa Sessions) [mp3]

This is a given. If I’m being honest, I’d reserve the sweetest cabin for these men. Simonett and Co. would get the bestest canoe. They would be the headliners.

There’d be a set in the morning, as biscuits are fried over an open fire and we’d rejuvenate ourselves and the band with sun and river shell hunting all day, before we asked them to play again after the sun has descended and the mosquitos and they’re much more bearable cousins, the fireflies, venture out for the music with us.

PRE-ORDER Stars and Satellites :: WEBSITE

**

Shakey Graves :: The Waters [mp3]

Basically, one of the few goals I have in relation to this here blog in this here year, is to get Shakey into this here county.

BANDCAMP

**

Spirit Family Reunion :: On That Day [mp3]

While it would most certainly be a sacrilege of some type, I want to load this band in the back of an old beat up pick up truck and drive them to an unkempt cemeteries languishing in a far off field. We certainly have plenty of them here and if they were not to protest too much, I’d have them play this song for those people who would most appreciate — those who heard this kind of music way back when it was the best thing you could hear and when your grandpa was the fiddler in that band.

FACEBOOK

**

Punch Brothers :: Rye Whiskey [mp3]

I suspect that we could, with are immeasurable alcohol procuring skills in this county, come up with a super special, limited edition blend of Punch Brothers Rye Whiskey. It would kick the ass of whatever Jim Beam is calling rye whiskey these days, guaranteed.

BUY Who’s Feeling Young Now? :: WEBSITE

**

Pickering Pick :: Like A River [mp3]

Open Scene: Ext. Gently Flowing River Bank In The Middle Of Slow Moving Eddy – Day. Scene begins with footage of water and we get all hipster about that shit and fuck with the focus now and then, keeping it interesting. A canoe approaches. A cooler of cheap American beer is unloaded. Cut to multiple scenes of said beer being drank on said river bank, close up of a few laughing and/or smiling faces (my friends and family will play the extras in this movie, FYI). At some point Sam (not I; also hates green eggs and ham, I imagine) plays this jam. Everyone shuts up. Then we all laugh some more and float away. I’ve not figured out how we’re gonna get a goddamned guitar down the river in a canoe yet but I’ll get there.

BUY Tiger Balm :: FACEBOOK

**

The Beaten Sea :: Serpent Song [mp3]

I suspect that The Beaten Sea would be the band to bring the class to this supposed, imaginary festival, what with their penchant for hats and suspenders. Which is good because with the amount of moonshine we’d drink at this shindig, we’re gonna need a bit of class.

BANDCAMP

**

Ha Ha Tonka :: Usual Suspects [mp3]

Being that this band is from a city very close to us, one that I used to inhabit myself, and being that this band is named after a state park just a few minutes down the road from me, they’re in.Plus, we’re gonna need some indie rock up in this bitch.

BUY Death of a Decade :: WEBSITE

**

Harlowe and the Great North Woods :: Roses [mp3]

Amongst the piles of folk music I’ve listened to in the past two years, this band still holds a spot atop that stack. There is a place I envision, just down by the river and around the bend, and this band is resting on the rocks there, instruments in hand, playing this song.

BUY the S/T EP :: WEBSITE

**

Chatham County Line :: Wildwood (Live at Daytrotter) [mp3]

I’m really only inviting this band because I want to convince them that they should be my neighbors. There’s a vacant house next door, I will wax on to them about the possibilities of squatting, and maybe they’ll pack a van and move here. And then I can wake up to bluegrass instead of an alarm clock. I think I can make it happen.

BUY Wildwood :: WEBSITE

**

Typhoon :: Common Sentiment (Live at Daytrotter) [mp3]

If you’re not in the boat with Typhoon, you’re a slacker and you should really rent a canoe for yourself and catch up with us as we ’round this fast eddy. 13 members strong, perfection live. A set by this band in the woods would call out to the animals and in addition to the humans jamming out, the band would no doubt be playing for the squirrels and baby deer that would head out the woods to hear what was being putting down.

BANDCAMP :: WEBSITE

**

Joe Purdy :: San Jose [mp3]

There is far too little talk of just how awesome Joe Purdy is on folk/indie blogs and there is far too little Joe Purdy on my g’damn mixtapes. We insert him into this festival and all is forgiven. I feel better about myself already. (As a sidenote, one year, not too long ago, I listened to this song EVERY F’ING DAY. Deal with that.)

BUY Take My Blanket And Go :: WEBSITE

Whiskey Folk Ramblers :: The Penitent [mp3]

When the day winds down and the sun begins to set out over our hills, it’s ray sprinkling in still through the mess of trees outside our cabin’s doors, this band will play. They will provide the second wind, the one we blame the next day for our skinny dipping in the pool up the hill and our hangovers.

BUY Midnight Drifter :: WEBSITE

**

Ozark Mountain Daredevils :: Chicken Train [mp3]

After a couple of days of music and camaraderie, with a smidge of debauchery tossed in for good country measure, we’d ask our hometown heroes to close out our time together. I’ve spoken at length before about what the Daredevils mean to me and what they mean to my family, but a highlight of my life would undoubtedly be this little band that was once famous among the likes of Dylan and Young to playing for just us. While this is clearly one of the craziest songs to venture forth from the 1970s and while there are better songs I could feature, nothing captures the Daredevils like ‘Chicken Train’.

BUY Time Warp :: WEBSITE

{Hey fuckers! FYI: Fuckers is a term of endearment. Another FYI for you: I forgot I had a blog. But the accidental blogging interim did provide me with much time to not sit on the internet all day. It gave me time to process a break up. I mean, I think it was a break up. I officially gave up on getting married (I NEED SOME CATS!) and living on a farm. That was tough on my brain. But I’m fine now, all. Music is again my boyfriend. The break also gave me time to hang with my child, buy tickets to Wakarusa, and pine for summer’s return. But looking back, this here miniscule blog was such a joy that I’m picking it back up. I missed you, internet. I missed you.

Woah. WOAH! Wait a second, there. I just re-read this thing down here I wrote like, weeks ago and seriously, it is morose and depressive. Jesus. Sorry, folks. Expect more curses, references to cheap American beer, and crude humor in 2012.

PS – Shit, ya’ll, I almost forgot. There were some really nice people, two or three of you, that sent me very kind emails about the absence. I won’t brag about it here but just know, the fact that some stranger somewhere out there on this big blue ball (oh God, yes, as if I needed a reason to type that sentence) missed a folk blog sort of makes my life. Cheers to you people. I owe you beers.}

*

2011.  A year that started with cold ends the same way here in the Midwest and yet, our little world has grown bigger this past year. Through the blog and the glory of simple words, I’ve made friends.  I’ve felt holes in my heart, burned in there by the lack of those around who seem all too much like me, filled and taped over with the edges of that stickiness bulging because there are now more connections than breaches.  The dam has been overwrought with inspiration and emails from souls far from me.  In certain instances, my family has met these people, face to face, and now knowing these faces and voices, has seen  me in a different life.  For all these things, I am beyond astonished and grateful.  For all these things, now that they’ve been added up and found to be the total of an equation that started with a simple music blog, I am indebted.

There is a quote by Jack Kerouac, pointed out to me once by a poet I now call a friend, having only met him once and in passing even then, that goes like this:

I like too many things and get all confused and hung up running from one falling star to another ’til I drop.

It explains too well the off days here and, for that, I am sorry.  But it is my nature and will likely remain so.  For those that have stuck around despite the absence, this is a love letter to you too.

**

Above my desk, there are many things.  There is a painting of a tree, executed by my grandfather, to my left (for if I am not a tree-hugger, then what am I?).  There is the drawing by Jude, this one just a facsimile as the original was given last year to Andrea of Breathe Owl Breathe, and it hangs to my right.  Top right, to be exact.  To the lower left is a measuring tape (a throwback to my days as a seamstress), and quite a few old illustrations of mine.  To the lower right is an odd sized letterpress poster, in nothing but pure stark white, depicting the logo of the band, Megafaun.  Directly on the desk to the right, book-ended by giant speakers, is a stack of vinyl, both purchased with my hard-earned cash and given gratis.  There is a copy of the first Analog Edition zine.  All of these things, presiding over me as I sit here, have made my year.  Without this music I don’t know what I’d say about this past year.

Without further ado, Folk Hive favorite albums of 2011.  As with the list given last year (that one topping out at only 9 and this one having to have been significantly narrowed), these are not albums we claim to be best necessarily, just the ones that have moved us most.  And that counts for something…

****

[Number TEN :: Middle Brother, Middle Brother]

Partisan Records

Any band/record that brings together members of Dawes, Delta Spirit, and Deer Tick, deserves a Top Ten spot for the mere awesomeness of the whole merging. And on top of that, this is a damn fine collection of jams, so, you know, that helps. The boys have concocted my most favorite collaboration since the era of the Traveling Wilbury’s (which occurred prior to my being a music loving teenager) and I ain’t the only one trumpeting that belief. I have no doubt that when summer decides to return, this album will be in the player, harkening its arrival, just as it helped us here at Folk Hive say goodbye to the warmth in 2011.

Further, any album that features the lyrics “I got a dick so hard a cat could scratch” is clearly going to get included here. I mean, really.

Middle Brother :: Middle Brother [mp3]

BUY Middle Brother :: WEBSITE

**

{Number NINE :: The Middle East, I Want That You Are Always Happy]

Spunk Records

This damn record. It broke my spirit upon the first listen and upon the next few hundred, slowly rebuilt it with banjos, emotion, and stories of ships in harbors. And then the band came along and broke my heart all over again when they split shortly after its release. Fuckers. At any rate, in times of both sadness and incredible happiness this past year, these tunes have been my companion and they’ve taken on incredible personal meanings in the Folk Hive abode.

The Middle East :: Land Of The Bloody Unknown [mp3]

BUY I Want That You Are Always Happy :: WEBSITE

**

[Number EIGHT :: Bon Iver, Bon Iver]

Jagjaguwar

I get that this will be the ‘Fucking Duh’ album on our list. I get that in the year 2011 it’s the cool kid thing to like Bon Iver, to jump on that bandwagon and ride that shit all the way to Hipster Town, but fuck all that noise. I was on this train when it was just one car, long before the depot was officially sponsored by Pitchfork. Long before Kanye became the conductor. While, as a folk lover, it should be obvious to most that I will always prefer For Emma… to whatever-the-fuck Justin Vernon gets himself into in the future, this was a serious effort on his part and a serious step forward. While it can be long-winded at times which has turned off more than one blogger here and there, as someone with that proclivity themselves, I can respect that. And if this record was necessary just to give us jams like ‘Holocene’ and ‘Beth/Rest’, then I’m okay with all that…

Bon Iver :: Holocene [mp3]

BUY Bon Iver :: WEBSITE

**

[Number SEVEN :: Blitzen Trapper, American Goldwing]

Sub Pop Records

TRUST: Every Folk Hive end-of-year list will always feature at least one 70’s classic rock tinged album. Last year that honor went to The Sheepdogs Learn and Burn but this year, this spot is occupied by American Goldwing. A sad fact is that I, for some reason most likely born out of stubbornness, had neglected to listen to this band until the release of this album. It’s one of those situations were a retrospective ass-whipping of large proportions is in order — I was denied the joy of songs like ‘Furr’ upon their intial gifting to the musical world, and considering my love for a good harmony and guitar lick combined, what a shame that is. But American Goldwing entered my sphere and from then on its songs earned places in nearly every gifted mixtape and the jams became the soundtrack to the closing of fall around here. Stunningly, the harmonica and reverb-laden jams made such a mark that this happy music has endured the winter and the album made me so goddamn happy that I’m keeping it on the back burner for some rad fucking summer jams this coming year. Folk Hive officially suggests picking this one up on vinyl.

Blitzen Trapper :: Love The Way You Walk Away [mp3]

Blitzen Trapper :: American Goldwing [mp3]

BUY American Goldwing :: WEBSITE

**

[Number SIX :: Balto, October’s Road]

Self-released

Our love for Balto and every one of its parts has been declared over and over. I owe the band a debt of gratitude for venturing here and for opening the eyes of my family and friends in regards to what I do here and why I love this music so much. The men of the Balto touring band in our backyard literally changed some lives. I’ve spoke about this album before, many a time, so I won’t do it again here on this list but this bad will forever rest in my heart.

Even now, watching the video of that day in the backyard, hearing the cicadas fight for attention while guitars, banjos, bass, and box drums play, I’m astonished. It’s hard to put into words: I was a seventeen year old once that dreamed of these things. I am a grown up now, writing and pining over songs, and here they are, being played on my territory. It was surreal and it was perfect. I watched my father drink and stumble across the street home (first time I’ve witnessed that fine mess in 28 years), I watched the jaws of friends and family drop as the boys began to play, and I ruined nearly every video I took for my too loud singing in the background (I blame the banjo player for getting me too drunk there; always blame the banjo player). For those reasons alone, this album could have made the list. But I’m proud to say that without that concert, it would be here, too.

Balto :: Self-Portrait [mp3]

Balto :: The Railyard [mp3]

BUY October’s Road :: WEBSITE

**

[Number FIVE :: Little John, Put Your Hands On Me]

Self-released

One of the most consistently played albums here this year was that which belongs to an outfit referring to themselves as Little John. The initial revelation that Australians could do folk just as good (if not better) than Americans was tough for me to grasp but really, why be exclusionary about shit? This is amazingly calming music that has the ability to totally obliterate your folk-loving face, all while making you think you’re its best friend. Lead singer John Dickson’s voice is the first thing to notice here, what with the intensity that blends so well with the longing, but overall the muscianship here is something I admire. It amazes be how much this album was overlooked (at the very least, on folk blogs this year) but we’re righting that wrong…

Little John :: Put Your Hands On Me [mp3]

Little John :: Ain’t Ever Gonna Leave You [mp3]

BUY Put Your Hands On Me :: FACEBOOK

**

[Number FOUR :: Tyler Lyle, The Golden Age And The Silver Girl]

Self-released

Much has been said about Mr Lyle and much has been said by bloggers I trust with my musical well-being. I remember reading here lately that this glorious freshmen effort cost a mere $250. I mean shit, bands with managers and publicists and studio engineers and top-shelf musicians, with million dollar budgets cannot pull off albums this heartfelt and so damn awesome. It was recorded in one day. Think about that for a second while you listen. ONE DAY, dudes. Instrumentation was apparently provided by friends of Lyle’s…which basically means I want to be in this guy’s talented circle.

I will admit that when I first stumbled up The Golden Age… I centered on the lead off track and stayed there for weeks. It was probably accidental that I forgot to hit repeat one day in the car, while the summer sun blazed in my eyes, but what a blessing that was. The discovery of all the songs and emotions here was a delightful part of my year, falling in love with every note. The acorn will be a forest in a thousand years, indeed.

Tyler Lyle :: Golden Age & The Silver Girl [mp3]

BUY The Golden Age & The Silver Girl

**

[ Number FOUR :: James Vincent McMorrow, Early In The Morning]

Vagrant Records

This fucking album, for those fellow lovers of folk and sad bastard shit that makes your sad bastard life look less sad, is a gem. I’ve not counted it up for I’m bad at the maths but I’d say that a good 3 or 4 of the songs from this album sit atop my 20 most listened to jams this year. ‘We Don’t Eat’ is a go to for shit days and ‘Hear That Noise…’ is a salve. Plus, dude covered Steve Winwood this year, and did it brilliantly might I add. He clearly deserves a Top Ten spot.

James Vincent McMorrow :: Hear That Noise So Soft And Low [mp3]

James Vincent McMorrow :: We Don’t Eat [mp3]

BUY Early In The Morning :: WEBSITE

**

[Number TWO :: Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, Here We Rest]

Lightning Rod Records

Late in the year the 400 Unit showed up at my door and from whence they came, I’ve not a clue. But at a time when music was not on my radar they burst through that threshold and grabbed hold of me, shaking me out of my apathetic bullshit mood and encouraging me, with tales of codeine and lost love and cheap beer in cheap hotel rooms, out of that sad, sad, shell. In ‘Alabama Pines’ I found a jam that I could share with my siblings, whose tastes are firmly planted in the country genre, a song perfect for sunny day road cruises. The rest of the album is just as solid and part of the reason I’m astonished by this album is that if I’d have judged it solely on the looks of these dudes, then I’d have tossed it by the wayside. That’s not to say we don’t have a crop of fine looking fellows writing and playing but honestly, my preconceived notions of what a band that sounds like this should look like has been turned around. A solid album from a band I’ve bought tickets to see this year, based on a 2 month long love affair.

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit :: Alabama Pines [mp3]

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit :: Codeine [mp3]

BUY Here We Rest :: WEBSITE

**

[Number ONE :: Shakey Graves, Roll The Bones]

Self-released

It makes sense that our favorite record of the year is one that was self-released. It makes sense that 365 days ago, plus or minus a few, this was a wholly undiscovered piece of originality hiding within the internet’s corners and now, it’s garnered attention and love from some of the biggest and best music blogs. It speaks to the originality here and the perfection, tucked down in the dirty and unkempt melodies. It’s not polished by today’s slick standards but it works and it works so goddamn well. With a fan supported new album coming in 2012 and, one can only hope, Mr Shakey Graves in Folk Hive’s backyard at some point in this new year, Roll The Bones is our favorite album of the fucking year, ya’ll.

Shakey Graves :: Unlucky Skin [mp3]

Shakey Graves :: Once In A While [mp3]

BUY Roll The Bones

 

I’m just gonna sit this here for you.

 

You may consider this Folk Hive’s celebratory post in honor of one Shakey Graves (The Man, The Myth, The Legend) reaching his Kickstarter goal.  COLOR ME HAPPY AS FUCK.  So happy, in fact, I’m gonna re-write that sentence and add a goddamn exclamation point.  This shit is serious now.  Wait for it…

COLOR ME HAPPY AS FUCK!

Shakey Graves :: Unlucky Skin [MP3]