The Pines – Be There In Bells

I don’t know what it is about March that attracts me to the kind of music I’ve been sharing lately. I think it is the grayness. Everything in March is gray – the white snow has turned to a gray slush, the sky is constantly cloudy, the trees haven’t budded yet and they are just plain weary of winter, even my chickens’ eggs have been grayer than usual. It’s just plain dreary out and dreary weather apparently makes me want to listen to grainy, subdued local indie folk. (Of course, it could also just be that I like this kind of music, but I’ll continue to blame it on the weather.) However, while dreary weather might be conducive to listening to Minneapolis based band The Pines, it in no way describes their music. With course, echoey, sometimes Dylan-esque, vocals reminiscent of a creaking forests, regional lyrics like “All the sorrow and the cold north wind”, and a panoply of muted instrumentals that accompany the singers like a slow drizzle, one could only describe The Pines’ music as … ah, dreary. But I mean that in the best possible way. After all, who doesn’t love a Minnesota March? (Or is that only me?)

Originally I was going to post The Pines’ song All The While because it seems to be more well known, but then I thought, “That is no reason to play a song” so I decided to pick out my favorite – Be There In Bells. It is fairly representative of the other music I’ve explored from this band and should remind you of Wake Owl and Great Lake Swimmers. However, it is by no means a mirror of those bands and is further proof that Minnesota puts out great music.

If you want to see them live, they will be at the Hopkins Center for the Arts on March 26th, First Ave. on April 18th with Trampled by Turtles (ought to be a great show), and at the Mid West Music Festival in Winona April 19th – so plenty of chances to check them out.

Be There In Bells

Late at night, watching the satellites
North Carolina and the rolling hills

Orion, draws back the arrow
Aiming at the heart of a scarecrow

Cloud to cloud, hour to hour
Dust to dust, flower to flower
I close my eyes, so I might dream
Won’t you meet me,
When the Sun stands still?
And I will, be there in bells

I thought I was in love once, I don’t know
I was over dressed and scared to be alone

The pain is there, for to protect
If it didn’t hurt then we’d all bleed to death

Black to black, reel to reel,
Heart to heart, shield to shield
I close my eyes, so I might dream
Won’t you meet me,
When the Sun stands still?
And I will, be there in bells

The Great Spirit rose over ol’ St. Paul
You are forever forgiven and all

I fell asleep and woke up in the sky
There was a light so bright, I could see through my skin
All the sorrow and the cold north wind
I had to go through
I had to find you

Dollar to dollar, broke to broke,
Ash to ash, smoke to smoke
I close my eyes, so I might dream
Won’t you meet me,
When the Sun stands still?
And I will, be there in bells
I will be there in bells

Pickering Pick – Standing Stone

Sam Pickering Pick

Originally from England, Sam Pickering Pick now lives in Sacramento, California.

It’s difficult to find much information on him (And where a name like Sam Pickering Pick comes from) but this mystery can often make an artist that much more appealing. There is a great interview with him on The Mad Mackerel.

This track has a melancholy feel (which I always love) and sounds as if he’s alone in a big empty room with a piano. His tone and range on this song remind me a little of Tracy Chapman. You might be wondering, “Isn’t Tracy Chapman a woman?” The answer is yes. But compare Fast Car to Standing Stone (or any of the songs on Tropic) and tell me you don’t hear the similarities. I recommend checking out all Pickering Pick’s music at his website: http://pickeringpick.com/

As always, we’d love to hear from you – so share your thoughts below!

Wake Owl – Gold

Alright readers, it’s been awhile, but I am back and excited to introduce you to Wake Owl, Vancouver’s most recent gift to the music world. Vaguely reminiscent of Great Lake Swimmers (another great Canadian band you need to check out), but more melodic, their songs are the musical incarnations of birch trees and large bodies of fresh water (if that isn’t a good review, I don’t know what is). If after listening, you feel an overwhelming desire to pick up and move to the Northwoods, don’t blame me and remember that this is a normal reaction. Once again, dear readers, I have failed you when it comes to the possibility of seeing this band live. They played at the 7th Street Entry ten days ago and I missed it and you probably missed it (if you didn’t let me know how it was) and their return to Minneapolis, the city of great music, is yet unscheduled. Next time I promise to introduce you to a band that you will actually have the opportunity to see.

However, thanks to the miracle of audio and video recording, you don’t have to see them live to hear their music! You don’t even need to rely the the good taste of a radio station (because you’d be waiting forever on that). You can sit right where you are, on your bear skin rug next to that raging fire on your hearth with a bottle of home brewed mead, flip open your laptop or smartphone and be inundated with the wilderness music of Wake Owl (unless you in Appalachia, because I swear they don’t even have 3G their, but then if you are in Appalachia you probably don’t need me to bring you great music.) So, here is Gold (as in the color of your honey mead), a track off Wake Owl’s recently released debut EP Wild Country (Jan 29, 2013). It is a little bit more mellow than the other four tracks they have released, but this way it will only add to the reverie caused by the gently falling snow outside your hunting cabin in the forest. Enjoy and let us know what you think.

Lyrics:

So, didn’t you find love or salvation in what they do,
a heart is built of gold, they fairies they are too, its in the hands you hold,
how long can we ignore, we build a little more, and then we break our truth

oooooo

I don’t feel like I’m falling, I’m up against the sky,
I said I’d taken it all in to make the good life,
I don’t feel like I’m falling, I’m up against the sky,
let’s grab the heart of the world and turn into the light

But I cannot turn around, the angels hear me now, go where i’m bound,
you smile like you know the new world has been found

oooooo

I don’t feel like I’m falling, I’m up against the sky,
I said I’d taken it all in to make the good life,
I don’t feel like I’m falling, I’m up against the sky,
let’s grab the heart of the world and turn into the light
I don’t feel like I’m falling, I’m up against the sky,
let’s grab the heart of the world and turn into the light

Andrew Bird – Three White Horses

Andrew Bird in a familiar pose with his violin

It’s interesting to note that Andrew Bird is from Chicago, because to me, he looks and sounds European. It’s probably a combination of his wardrobe and his clear, melodic voice that is often emphasize with vibrato. I am starting to hear some similarities between Bird and Rufus Wainwright, not only their voices, but they both seem to have classical and Broadway influences in their music.

The song Three White Horses is from his latest album, Hands of Glory. The song has some some elements that sound like Country Western (Think Southwestern), but Bird’s crooning voice gives it a ballad feel and there’s the interesting pitch modulation technique used on the lead guitar parts. There’s an interesting contrast with some of the other songs on this album like Spirograph, which also has a bit of an old country feel to it, but I would say it is more melodic than Three White Horses. When That Helicopter Comes has a little bit of a 50’s rock sound to it. I’m really enjoying the exploration of this latest album.

It looks like he’s on a South American tour currently and will be coming back to America, but not anywhere close to us poor Minnesotans in the near future.

There’ll be three white horses
All in a line
There’ll be three white horses
In a line

Three white horses
When you go on that way
You will need somebody when you come to die

Don’t dismiss it like it’s easy
Tell me what’s so easy
Bout comin’ to say goodbye
You’re gonna miss her in the evenin’
You know all you needed
Somebody when you come to die

There’ll be three white horses in a line
There’ll be three white horses in a line

There’ll be three white horses
When you go on that way
You will need somebody when you come to die

It’s not desperation that we’re breedin’
It’s just a need we’re feedin’
Before we say goodbye

You’re gonna miss me in the evenin’s
You know all you needed
Somebody when you come to die

Yeah all you needed
Somebody when you come to die

Southwire – Live on The Current

Southwire, from Duluth, MN consists of Jerree Small, Ben Larson, Matt Mobley and Sean Elmquist. They performed three songs live on The Current’s Local Show the other day and The Current describes them well when they say the band has a “gorgeous blend of folk and heavy atmospherics.” If I had to categorize it I would say it’s folk with some old soul mixed in.

Jerree Small’s voice reminds me a little of Feist, especially on Gone Astray  and the band produces a soothing, ambient sound throughout all their music. If you listen to the live recording you’ll also hear them talk about their church and that Charlie Parr is also a part of it.

You can listen to the entire live session here.

If you like what you hear, Southwire will be performing at 7th Street Entry on Friday, April 19.

 

 

Ben Kyle – The Dark

Ben Kyle

Ben Kyle’s birthplace of Belfast, Northern Ireland, to me, explains his immense talent. The city is also the birthplace of Van Morrison, C.S. Lewis, and Amy Carmichael, to name a few extraordinary individuals. But what’s even more amazing to us proud Minnesotans is that Kyle has lived here in Minneapolis since the age of 13. His band, Romantica, is currently on a hiatus as Kyle and some of the other members pursue different projects.

Kyle’s sound reminded me a bit of Ryan Adams/Whiskeytown when I first heard him, but this song, The Dark, in particular really had a Ryan Adams feel to it. It came as no surprise, then, when I discovered that Ben Kyle has not only collaborated with Ryan Adams, but Adams sang backing vocals with Kyle on The Dark on tour. (You can download this live performance free on NoiseTrade)

I have to say this is really my favorite type of music. Americana (Or Irish-Americana in this case), alt-country, folk-rock; whatever you want to call it is such a soothing, beautiful and sometimes sad style of music. I attribute much of this to the chilling harmonies and the unique sound of the pedal steel; which is one of my favorite instruments and is very prevalent in Ben Kyle’s music.

I don’t wanna go out tonight, if you’re staying at home
I don’t wanna go out in the dark of the night and leave you alone

The air is getting heavy, I feel like a rolling stone
Weighing me down like the memory of a Minnesota winter when I’m far from home
The dark is getting deeper, I feel so far from home
Pulling me in like the memory of the feeling of the fear of being all alone

I don’t wanna go out tonight, if you’re staying at home
I don’t wanna go out in the dark of the night and leave you alone

The rain is getting heavy, falling like a waterfall
Filling my shoes with the memories of me and you in Belfast in the fall
The rain is beating harder, here comes a cannonball
Flooding my veins, but the feeling is the same, being without you after all

I don’t wanna go out tonight, if you’re staying at home
I don’t wanna go out in the dark of the night and leave you alone

If I gotta be alone tonight, I’ll be praying for the morning light
I don’t wanna be a moon in the sky where the sun don’t shine
And the rain ain’t nothing but the tears we cry tonight

John Mark Nelson – The Moon and Stars

 

After a relatively unknown debut album, 19 year old Minneapolis local John Mark Nelson started to make ripples in the Twin Cities music scene with his sophomore album Waiting and Waiting released last August. Somehow managing to bring a unique sound to that folk singer/songwriter genre, a genre where typically one artist sounds much like another, John Mark Nelson quickly rose to the top my folk playlists when I first heard his music. Waiting and Waiting is a great collection of mellow tunes with a surprising amount of melodic diversity. Thanks in a large part to our favorite local MPR stations, The Current, John Mark Nelson is finally reaching an audience beyond just the young Minneapolitans who closely follow our local music treasures. Having just successfully raised money for a new album through a Kickstarter project, we look forward to see how his music will continue to develop.

Originally I was going to feature the song “Rain Comes Down” off of Nelson’s new album, but I wanted to post a video and currently the only one I could get my hands on was a track called “The Moon and Stars,” a single from the new project I just mentioned. I am actually quite happy about this because it not only gives a glimpse of  where he is going, but I think I actually like this song more than the one I was originally going to play. So enjoy, check out his Facebook page, and see him live on March 2nd at the Icehouse here in Minneapolis.

As always, let us know what you think.

 

 

Charlie Parr – To A Scrapyard Bus Stop

Charlie Parr

It’s Local Music Monday and I couldn’t resist posting again about local folk artist, Charlie Parr.

This is a very well done video of him performing his song To A Scrapyard Bus Stop. He plays this song on a beat-up 12 string guitar in front a fire place in Bristol, England. Sidenote: the YouTube channel this came from, beforethewinterfires, is full of great acoustic performances recorded in England from some underrated or lesser known artists.

This song is more laid back than 1922, which I posted about last week, but I think better highlights Charlie’s simple, yet profound songwriting and performing.

There’s someone out there, Out in the snow
I think that I knew her, long time ago
Homemade outfit, frayed cap and gloves
She is a monument, a tribute cause

It must be a bus stop, there through the snow
The wind whips right through her thin winter coat

She pulls a cart behind her, there are tracks in the snow
That lead to her possessions, tied up just so
I know that I knew her, but I can’t say how
Long time before anyway, the way she is now

There’s someone out there, but I can’t make her out
Salvation Army shoes on, sole all walked out
I know that I knew her, we were in love
Long time gone anyhow, there comes the bus

Crowd pushes past her, no one looks twice
She looks through her window, and I catch her eye
She doesn’t know me, She looks away
The bus slowly disappears through the snowy haze

Charlie Parr – 1922

Charlie Parr

Hometown: Austin, MN

Charlie Parr is a true folk singer and guitar picker.

This excerpt from the bio on his website describes Charlie really well:

It’s the music of a self-taught guitarist and banjo player who grew up without a TV but with his dad’s recordings of America’s musical founding fathers, including Charley Patton and Lightnin’ Hopkins, Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly. With his long scraggly hair, fathertime beard, thrift-store workingman’s flannel and jeans, and emphatic, throaty voice, Parr looks and sounds like he would have fit right into Harry Smith’s “Anthology of American Folk Music.”

You can read the full bio here.

I found it interesting that, although Charlie’s shows are primarily in Minnesota and the Northern Plains, he’s gained enough of a following in Ireland and Australia to tour there frequently. He will be performing at The Cedar Cultural Center on Friday and Saturday (Feb. 1 and 2) if you’d like to see him live.

This is a video of Charlie performing his song, 1922, at the Eagan Library – right in my neighborhood! This song really exemplifies his raw, old fashioned style and classic “working man” lyrics.

Well I worked all summer couldn’t save a cent
I gave all my money to the government
I don’t know quite how it got spent
but the banks are coming for my deed though
Man at the mill can’t see though
Let me get my feed for free though
Ain’t that the way it is

I cut out down a braver road
I traded my stock for a V84
Danced for town down on the floor boards
And the title owed down to me though
That gasoline ain’t free through
Just guzzling out my knee bone
Ain’t that the way it is

Well I met me a woman down in Saint Paul
With a little money and a little pole
Bloke told me that he’d bust my jaw
I talked to his sister again though
Don’t mean I couldn’t win though
There’s blood running down my chin now
Ain’t that the way it is

Well I slept all night on the bar room floor
And woke up this morning my head was sore
Pockets empty but I want some more
The bar man’s got my car though
Tales worth more by far though
As I leave her down at the bar now
Ain’t that the way it is

Well I hitched me a ride on the way back home
I got me a job on a family farm
Times are hard here but I can’t roll
And I ain’t got nothing more
Oh that company store
Gold’s looking good for sure though
Ain’t that the way it is

Well I worked all summer counldn’t save a cent
I gave all my money to the government
I don’t know quite how it got spent
But the banks are coming for my deed though
Man at the mill can’t see though
Let me get my feed for free though
Ain’t that the way it is

Johnny Cash and June Carter – It Ain’t Me Babe

Johnny and June

 

Casey and I are going to try to institute some daily themes to help give this blog a bit more structure. One of these is Throwback Thursday where we take you back in music history to some of the familiar songs and artists our parents (or grandparents) loved and maybe we’ll pull out some gems from the past that are less familiar though equally enjoyable (or at the very least influential).

As I was thinking about who to cover for our inaugural Throwback Thursday, I happened to stumble across an old Johnny and June record at work and I honestly couldn’t have thought of any duo more fitting than these two. Johnny Cash is easily one of the most recognizable names in country music and his distinctive voice and classic style harkened back to the roots of old country (or as I call it “good country”) even when much of the new country was going pop.

June Carter’s forebears were old country. The Carter Family was the first family of country music and, along with musicians like Jimmie Rodgers, helped define country as a genre in the 1920’s and 30’s different from earlier hillbilly or Old-Time music (and yes, there was a time when a genre of music called “hillbilly music” was the hip thing to listen to). Although never as musically successful as the original Carter’s, having been steeped in old country and folk from infancy, she became the perfect counterpart to Johnny.

The song I picked was actually written and released by Bob Dylan in 1964, but Johnny Cash liked it so much that he and June covered it just a year later and released it on the album Orange Blossom Special. Personally, I think their version is far superior to Dylan’s. I understand that the lyrics are a little odd considering all I just said about Johnny and June’s chemistry, but keep it mind it was written by the angsty Dylan about an old girlfriend.

“It Ain’t Me Babe” by Johnny Cash and June Carter

{Lyrics}
Go away from my window
Leave at your own chosen speed
I’m not the one you want, babe
I’m not the one you need
You say you’re lookin’ for someone
Who’s never weak but always strong
To protect you and defend you
Whether you are right or wrong
Someone to open each and every door

But it ain’t me babe
No, no, no, it ain’t me babe
It ain’t me you’re lookin’ for, babe

Go lightly from the ledge, babe
Go lightly on the ground
I’m not the one you want, babe
I’ll only let you down
You say you’re lookin’ for someone
Who’ll promise never to part
Someone to close his eyes to you
Someone to close his heart
Someone to die for you and more

You say you’re lookin’ for someone
To pick you up each time you fall
To gather flowers constantly
And to come each time you call
And will love you for your life
And nothin’ more

As always, let us know what you thing of this music or any comments in general.