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

Don McLean – American Pie

Today on Throwback Thursday we remember the “day the music died”. This week marks the 54th Anniversary of the tragic and untimely deaths of Rock & Roll founders Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. Richardson. These music pioneers were among the first to introduce the world to the new sounds of Rock & Roll in the late 1950’s and were all on the path to success (and indeed had already achieved it) when their small plane crashed in a blizzard on a short flight from Mason City, IA to Fargo, ND. Valen’s death was especially tragic. 17 years old and only eight months into his career, he had already achieved fame with his hit song La Bamba.

It might have been better to choose one of Buddy Holly or Ritchie Valens songs, but I thought it would be more appropriate to showcase Rock & Roll’s most famous tribute to the day the music died. I am confident that you all have at  least heard Don McLean’s “American Pie,” even if you don’t have all the lyrics memorized (which along with Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” is the really the most important song to be able to sing along with when it comes on the radio – so get on that). However, if you haven’t had a chance to check out the rest of the album, I encourage it. The music is fairly low key, but the lyrics really are great and make it one of my favorite all time albums.

Don McLean – American Pie

Also, find a version that doesn’t have the horrible sound quality of a youtube video and listen to that too. Then tell us what you think of it.

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.

 

 

The Andrews Sisters – Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy

The Andrew Sisters entertaining troops in WWII

Todays Throwback Thursday honors the passing of Minnesota native and music legend Patty Andrews who, until her death yesterday at the age of 94, was the last surviving member of the Andrew Sisters. The singing trio, originally from Mound, Minnesota, were famous for their jazzy tunes and coordinated dancing. Along with contemporary actors and performers like Bing Crosby, Bette Davis, and Doris Day (who was also Patty’s romantic rival), the Andrews Sisters spent the second world war singing for soldiers and raising morale in Europe and Africa. They also were sought after for WWII films and even performed on Broadway. Although the group broke up once in the early 50’s and again in the 60’s with the death of LaVerne Andrews, the group remains an icon of 1940’s swing and an important, if often overlooked, part of Minneapolis’s musical heritage.

The song Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B (yes the name is silly, but get over it) was one of their biggest hits and was put back on the charts in the 1970’s when Bette Middler covered the song in 1973. This clip is from the film “Buck Privates” and is a good example of what the Andrew Sisters were all about. (Also notice how risqué their dance moves are for a 1941 family film – I can totally see the Andrews Sisters being popular pin-up girls for the soldiers.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qafnJ6mRbgk

As always tell us what you think about the Andrew Sisters or just how much you like these boogie woogie jazz babes (because the fact that you love them is already a given.)

Local Natives – Ceilings

The Local Natives

 

Today marks the official release of Hummingbird, the second album from Los Angeles based Local Natives. Local Natives came out with their album Gorilla Manor a few years back much to the joy of indie rock fans everywhere. They have been compared to bands like Arcade Fire and Fleet Foxes, but their new album definitely puts them closer to the former band than the latter. If I had to describe Hummingbird in one word, it would be messy, although I say that as a fan and in the best possible way. Their instrumentals are all over the place (think white noise) and they moved away from some of the crisper melodies (comparatively crisp that is) they showed in their earlier album. To be fair however, judging from the picture above, messy just might have been the goal and I can’t deny that it works well for them.

I’m going to say right out that the track I picked to share with you all here is not the most representative song on the album. It is cleaner and more put together, which is undoubtably why I was most drawn to it. But then as a whole this entire album shows more diversity than their debut album did so picking a “representative” song would have been difficult even had I chosen to attempt it.

Local Natives – Ceilings

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaXCPfqZRMY

As always, leave us a comment and let us know what your opinion of the Local Natives new album 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. 

Field Report – Fergus Falls

Milwaukee Based Band Field Report

 

Field Report is an up and coming Milwaukee based band with deep midwestern roots. Their ephemeral folk is reminiscent of the music of fellow Wisconsinite Bon Iver, perhaps unsurprising considering the band’s founder, Christopher Porterfield, had previously worked with Justin Vernon in their band DeYarmond Edison back in 2003. Unlike Bon Iver, however, your can actually understand most of Field Report’s lyrics. This last fall Porterfield has really broken out from under Justin Vernon’s shadow and Field Report is definitely a band we will be keeping our eye on.

Although their entire debut album, recently picked up by Partisan Records, is soothing and melodic, the opening track’s reference to Minnesota gives it a special place in our heart.

Listen here and let us know what you think:

FERGUS FALLS

This is the one in which I miraculously pulled out of a freefall dive over Fergus Falls, Minnesota
This is the one like ten years ago I told you about where my wings iced up in the fall as it gets colder

I was concealing his kid under his crewneck stateschool sweatshirt while he grinned off in the distance behind prescription shades that were blocking out the clouded out sun while he as hoping against a daughter and no one saw my banners, my bruises, my flares, my flags.

I could have been an artist if I had the tools I could have been a preacher if I suffered fools When we move into the city I know I will have to pay my dues and my respects to his sister and his mother too.

 

Bless This Mess by David Bazan

In my opinion, David Bazan is one of the best songwriters of our generation. Tragically, he has incredible theological knowledge, but appears to have turned from God some time ago. He grew up the son of a pastor and this comes through in his music. Apparently he never even heard secular music until his early teen years. My guess is that he was very sheltered as a child and possibly saw some hypocritical living from people in his life or experienced something that caused him to have serious bitterness toward God.

The biblical themes throughout his music caught my attention when I first heard David Bazan’s Curse Your Branches. My heart breaks for Bazan. He is obviously trying to wrestle through the head knowledge he has and the obfuscated feelings he has toward Christians, God and church.

His website explains:

“Branches is considered by many to be a legitimate masterpiece. Charting Bazan’s increasingly skeptical struggle with the precepts of the evangelical Christian world in which he was raised…”

“Bazan is a gifted storyteller, weaving parables of spiritual conflict, suburban ennui, and personal surrender into magnetic, well-crafted songs.”

My prayer is that David Bazan, and all the people wrestling with thoughts like his, would come to know the One True God, and the truth that he loves us unconditionally and died so that we could be with Him.

God bless the man who stumbles
God bless the man who falls
God bless the man who yields to temptation

God bless the woman who suffers
God bless the woman who weeps
God bless the children trying her patients

Trouble getting over it
Is what you’re in for
So pour yourself another
‘Cause it’ll take a steady pair of hands

Holy or unholy ghost
Well now I can’t tell, but either way you cut it
You should get some distance if you plan to take a stand

God bless the house divided
God bless the weeds in the wheat
God bless the lamp hid under a bushel

I discovered hell to be the poison in the well
So I tried to warn the others of the curse
But then my body turned on me
I dreamt that for eternity
My family would burn
Then I awoke with a wicked thirst

By my baby’s yellow bed I kissed her forehead and rubbed her little tummy
Wondered if she’d soon despise the smell of the booze on my breath like her mom
And it makes me want to be a better man
After another drink

God bless the man at the crossroads
God bless the woman who still can’t sleep
God bless the history that doesn’t repeat

Return of the Grievous Angel by Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris

I have my sister to thank for introducing me to Gram Parsons, and therefore, his various projects like The Flying Burrito Brothers, The International Submarine Band and his time with The Byrds.

This song with Emmylou Harris is definitely one of my favorites. Their honeyed harmonies and the guitar, fiddle, lap steel (or pedal steel)  and piano parts give the song that perfect country sound.

Won’t you scratch my itch sweet Annie Rich
And welcome me back to town
Come out on your porch or I’ll step into your parlor
And I’ll show you how it all went down

Out with the truckers and the kickers and the cowboy angels
And a good saloon in every single town

Oh, and I remember something you once told me
And I’ll be damned if it did not come true
Twenty thousand roads i went down, down, down
And they all lead me straight back home to you

’cause I headed west to grow up with the country
Across those prairies with the waves of grain
And I saw my devil,
And I saw my deep blue sea
And I thought about a calico bonnet from
Cheyenne to Tennessee

We flew straight across that river bridge,
Last night a half past two
The switchman wave his lantern goodbye
And so long as we went rolling through
Billboards and truckstops pass by the grievous angel
And now i know just what i have to do

And the man on the radio won’t leave me alone
He wants to take my money for something
That I’ve never been shown

The news I could bring I met up with the king
On his head an amphetamine crown
He talked about unbuckling that old bible belt
And lighted out for some desert town

Out with the truckers and the kickers and the cowboy angels
And a good saloon in every single town

Oh, but I remembered something you once told me
And I’ll be damned if it did not come true
Twenty thousand roads I went down, down, down
And they all lead me straight back home to you

Twenty thousand roads I went down, down, down
And they all lead me straight back home to you

The Way It Was by The Killers

The Killers released their new album, Battle Born last week and I’ve just begun to scratch the surface of this latest work. They’ve stayed true to the 80’s style arena rock they are known so well for. Brandon Flowers holds the same balance between strong, deep tones and the purposely quivering, vulnerable tones that permeate his vocals.

Between the synth pad, rock ballad guitar and steady snare beat complemented with big drum fills, I feel like I should be watching Top Gun or The Breakfast Club. That’s what I really like about The Killers; they’ve mastered the art of emulating the best parts of 80’s rock and they are so consistent. At the same time, they don’t just borrow from other artists to achieve this sound, they bring their own unique flavor to it and make it new.

I drove through the desert last night
I carried the weight of our last fight
Elvis singing “don’t be cruel”
And I wonder if you feel it too
It’s like we’re going under

Somewhere outside the lonely Esmeralda county line
The question of my heart came to my mind

If I go on
With you by my side
Can it be
The way it was
When we met
Did you forget all about those golden nights?

Maybe a thief stole your heart
Or maybe we just drifted apart
I remember driving
In my daddy’s car to the airfield
Blanket on the hood, backs against the windshield
Back then this thing was running on momentum, love and trust
That paradise is buried in the dust

All of our plans have fallen through
Sometimes a dream, it don’t come true

Darling!
Darling!

If I go on
With you by my side
Can it be
The way it was
My heart is true
Girl, it’s just you
I’m thinking of
Can it be the way it was?

Maybe a thief stole your heart