2008 releases 2009 releases artists artists to watch for in 2008 artists to watch for in 2009 digital downloads guitar live songs music music videos

Ari Hest – Twelve Mondays

The other day I got that kind of email that music bloggers love to get… an email from an artist’s management saying, “Hey… you know, I’ve noticed from your blog posts that you like xyz… and I think you might like some of my client’s stuff. Want to check it out?”… and you actually do love the client’s stuff.

(Side note: to management… if you’re going to approach music bloggers, make sure that you’ve actually read the damn blog. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve got emails about artists I’ve already posted about, or one that even said “Hey, I sound like Howie Day. You probably won’t know his stuff, here’s a link”… Srsly? Ahem. Rant over)

The point is, that in this case the email came from Shannon over at Brick Wall Management… and not only did she do everything right, but the client she thought I might like was Ari Hest. This is the kind of email I love getting. Where management has actually got my tastes damn spot on.

Um. Ari freakin’ Hest? Only someone I’ve been a fan of for ages… around 6 years or so, I would say, ever since I first heard “Aberdeen” from “Come Home” way back in the day. So of course, I was thrilled when Shannon told me that Ari’s just dropped a new album, entitled “Twelve Mondays”.

After listening to the album for about an hour, I twittered:
“Just been sent the new ari hest album to review. there’s a song on here that’s possibly the best thing he’s ever done, in my opinion.”

Yeah. It’s that kind of album.

Official music video for “Dead End Driving”, from the new Ari Hest album, “Twelve Mondays”

First off, some more background on “Twelve Mondays”:
Back in 2008, Ari started out a trailblazing experiment called “52“. Basically, what “52” entailed was recording (and releasing) a new song every week. Fans then voted on their favourite tracks, and twelve of those were collected into the album, “Twelve Mondays”.

That such an album could have come out of “a song a week” project is, quite simply, astounding, and only hints at Ari’s songwriting prowess.

Oh… and the best thing Ari’s written? Well, the whole point of the “52” project was that different songs would appeal to different people. So you should probably head here to purchase the entire album to decide for yourself.

For my money though, “The Weight” will go down as an all-time Ari Hest classic.

Listen. Love. Support.

Listen: Ari Hest – The Weight

2008 releases artists artists to watch for in 2008 guitar music

Joe Pug, live on NPR’s Mountain Stage

This is a really short note here, but to any of you readers who have enjoyed the stuff you’ve heard from Joe Pug on this blog so far, you might want to head over to NPR to stream Joe Pug’s October 5 performance from NPR’s Mountain Stage in fulltrust me, you won’t regret it.

The set features two unreleased tracks – “Bury Me Far From My Uniform” (absolutely killer!) and “Not So Sure” – as well as “Nation of Heat” and “Hymn #101”.

Joe Pug… still easily one of my favourite artists for 2008.

Thanks to Sharyn from No Door Agency for dropping me a line and keeping me updated on Joe’s whereabouts.

For those of you in the US, you can catch Joe at one shows in his upcoming tour, listed below:

Tour Dates:
11/15  Bluebird Music and Arts Fest / Columbia, Missouri
11/17  Tractor Tavern w/ Joe Ely / Seattle, Washington
11/18  Aladdin w/ Joe Ely / Portland, Oregon
11/21  Cafe Du Nord / San Francisco, California
11/23  The Loft @ UCSD / La Jolla, California
11/24  Hotel Cafe / Los Angeles, California
11/29  Cranky Pat’s / Neenah, Wisconsin
12/5   Stubb’s BBQ / Austin, Texas
12/7   The Continental Club / Houston, Texas
12/10  Hodi’s Half Note / Fort Collins, Colorado
12/11  Bluebird Theater / Denver, Colorado
12/12  Fox Theater / Boulder, Colorado
12/13  Three 20 / South Breckenridge, Colorado
12/19  World Cafe Live (with Rhett Miller) / Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
12/20  The Black Cat (with Rhett Miller) / Washington DC
12/26  Barrymore Theater / Madison, Wisconsin
12/27  Gennesee Theater / Waukegan, Illinois
12/28  Rialto Square Theater / Joliet, Illinois
12/29  First Avenue / Minneapolis, Minnesota

2008 releases artists artists to watch for in 2008 guitar music music videos

The Gaslight Anthem – The ’59 Sound

Included for not other reason than the fact that it’s a cracking tune, and that vocalist Brian Fallon looks like he couldn’t be having more fun… for some inexplicable reason, this (hardly ground-breaking) video has me excited about music again.


You can check out more about The Gaslight Anthem here

2008 releases artists artists to watch for in 2008 digital downloads guitar music music videos

The Avett Brothers – Murder in the City Video

Short note today… but just wanted to let everyone know that The Avett Brothers have released their new video for single “Murder in The City” (featured in this post back here)… and it’s a killer video (no pun intended).

Beautifully filmed, like the song itself, the video is full of quiet moments. Watch it below.


And here, once again, for those of you who missed it the first time around:

Listen: The Avett Brothers – Murder in the City

2008 releases artists artists to watch for in 2008 music videos

Joe Pug news – A new signing, a new video, and tour dates announced

First off, thanks to Sharyn at No Door Agency for dropping me a line, and keeping me abreast of all the developments in Joe Pug‘s career.

I first covered Joe Pug on this blog back here, with this post: Joe Pug – Nation of Heat. A thoroughly impressive debut …
I was instantly captivated by Joe’s music; it was – quite simply – the most impressive debut I had heard in 2008… and that accolade still stands.

As I mentioned in that post, Joe Pug wants his music to be heard; in fact, he wants you to give his music away. Send in your mailing address, and he’ll send you back some sampler CDs for you to distribute to your friends (along with, I might add, a really appreciative hand-written note). When mine arrived in the post, I spread them around to a few friends… and requests have been coming in fast and furious from people who want to hear more.

So, it was with much happiness that I heard from Sharyn that Joe has now officially signed on with Monterey International (take a look at their roster and you’ll see how impressive this is), and in addition has an upcoming fall tour. And, to top it all off, Joe’s just released the official music video for killer track, “Hymn #101”, directed by Sam Molleur, which I’ve included below. Interesting side-note to go with the video? Joe actually visited a ghost town in California and had to break into a locked-up old tavern to film it. Heh. Dodgy legal issues aside… it’s a cracking video, and hopefully should do wonders for Joe in terms of attracting attention.

Watch it below:


Joe Pug “Hymn #101” Video


Honestly, I could not be happier for this kid
(and yes, he’s younger than me, so I can call him a kid). He’s everything that music should be: poignant, compassionate, intelligent… and he’s a damn nice dude to go with it, who really goes that extra step to foster relationships with his fans.
Just as I voiced in my last post: Let’s help this music be heard. Spread the word, tell a friend. Add your voice to the crowd.

I’ve included Joe’s tour dates below. If I was in the US, I’d be there in a heartbeat. If you can, get there.

Tour Dates

9/10 South Bend, IN  *
9/18 Chicago, IL  Park West >
10/3 Chicago, IL   The Hideout (w/ full band)
10/5 Charleston, WV   Mountain Stage
10/10 Indianapolis, IN   Radio Radio #
10/11 Pittsburgh, PA   Mr. Smalls &
10/12 Westhampton, NY   Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center ^
10/14 Buffalo, NY   Univ. of Buffalo Performing Arts Center ^
10/15 Harrisburg, PA  Whitaker Center^
10/23 New York, NY   CMJ Music Marathon @ Arlene’s Grocery
11/1 Ames, IA   The Maintainance Shop +
11/2 Dubuque, IA   Jansen Music Hall at Clark College+
11/14 Columbia, MO   Bluebird Music and Arts Festival

* with Robert Randolph
> with Kasey Chambers
# with Justin Townes Earle
^ with Susan Tedeschi
& with Railroad Earth
+ with Pieta Brown

2008 releases artists artists to watch for in 2008 artists to watch for in 2009 digital downloads guitar music

Friday Music Roundup – Motel Motel, Hotel Lights and Capital Road

As another week draws to a close, and I head down the coast (and offline) for the weekend, I thought I would throw up a quick music roundup of those songs that have been spinning incessantly on my iTunes this week. So here you go…

Motel Motel – Mexico

Motel Motel
Motel Motel… these guys deserve to be bigger.

Listen to Motel Motel, even if only once, and you know that these guys are on the cusp of indie-hugeness (no, that’s not a real word. So sue me).
Having only formed in 2006, this band from Brooklyn sounds far more accomplished than you would expect from a two-year old outfit. There’s swaggering rock there, but also sweltering and dusty americana. Basically, everything that makes me fall in love with music.

The song featured below, “Mexico“, exemplifies that love. While Motel Motel’s new album, “New Denver” ranges from bar-room rock to frantic jangly guitars (see the track “Mountains”), this tune “Mexico” (which originally appeared on their “Old York” EP) is stripped down, dirt-covered folk at its best. It’s a shot of Jack Daniels and well worn denim. Take a listen, and you’ll see what I mean.

With one of the catchiest choruses I’ve heard this side on “The Alternate Routes”, “Mexico” is right up there as a contender for my favourite song of 2008.

Listen. Love. Support.

Listen: Motel Motel – Mexico

Hotel Lights – Firecracker People

Hotel Lights
Hotel Lights aka Darren Jessee

The day that Ben Folds Five broke up was a sad day indeed. After all, Ben Folds has most definitely released some great solo stuff since, there’s no argument about that; but let’s be honest here… most of that solo stuff has… well, sounded like Ben Folds Five anyway, hasn’t it? So it kinda made the break-up a bit of a moot point, to me anyway. Really, all that seemed to come out of it was that Darren Jessee, the drummer and sometime songwriter of Ben Folds Five seemed to slip into obscurity.
That was, until I heard his new project, Hotel Lights.

Hotel Lights is a bit more introspective than your average Ben Folds Five stuff was… but Jessee’s trademark touch in his songwriting is unmistakable, and hearkens back to that previous band at its best. This single, “Firecracker People”, is the title track of Darren’s new album, and it’s a great tune. Here’s hoping to more like this from Hotel Lights.

Listen: Hotel Lights – Firecracker People

Capital Road – Little Child

Capital Road
Capital Road (image credit: Shelby Grubbs)

So after my Pete Francis Live Music Friday post, an email hit my inbox telling me that I should check out some tunes from Capital Road, as I may like their music. And you know what? I really do.

Now, my love for Dispatch is no secret. One of my favourite bands of all time, Dispatch will always have a soft spot in my heart. And when they broke up, I thought I would never hear music such as their’s again. And then came along Capital Road.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s early days yet in our relationship, and I’m not saying that Capital Road can fill Dispatch’s shoes, by any means; the guys still have a lot of maturing, as a band, to do before we get to that stage. But I definitely feel something there, an ember that might become a flame.

Fact is though, that the fact that these boys sound exactly like Dispatch (and I’m not kidding here, close your eyes and you could picture yourself listening to early Dispatch) is going to be a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing, in the fact that they’ll find a ready-made audience, in old Dispatch fans like me, that are desperate to hear anything that reminds us of Pete, Chad and Brad. But it’s also a curse, in that they’re going to have to be careful not to fall into that trap forever; otherwise they might become something of a tribute band, and I can sense that there’s so much more to offer from Capital Road, so I really hope that they’re cognisant of that fact.

The song below, “Little Child”, is taken from their “It’s All Gravy” EP,  which is out now. I’ll be watching these guys with interest.

Listen: Capital Road – Little Child

2007 Releases 2008 releases artists artists to watch for in 2008 digital downloads guitar music

Wednesday Music Round Up – Jason Reeves, Justin Currie, Matt Bauer and Ray Lamontagne

Wow. It has been one hectic week, and at this stage it doesn’t look like there’s any sign of easing up. Which is disappointing, as it means blogging has had to take a back seat, and I’ve received some cracking pitches recently from some great bands flying Under The Radar. Hopefully (!), I’ll be able to follow these up next week. For now though, I thought I’d slip in a quick “Wednesday Music Round Up”, featuring tunes from Jason Reeves, Justin Currie, Matt Bauer and Ray Lamontagne.

Jason Reeves – Just Friends

Jason Reeves
Jason Reeves (Image credit: Stacy Blue)

After a stellar 2007 – wherein Jason Reeves spent nine months as the number one unsigned MySpace Folk artist, in addition to being named one of the Top Indie Singer-Songwriters of 2007 by iTunes – it looks like 2008 is finally the year for this 24 year old singer/songwriter from Iowa City, as he’s recently signed a deal with major label Warner Bros.
His album, “The Magnificent Adventures of Heartache (and other frightening tales)” is being released August 12, and it’s a fun ride. The songs are generally simple affairs, but ones that are all the richer for that… that simplicity allows the sincerity in Jason Reeve’s brand of soul to shine through. The tune below is the single, “Just Friends“, and it’s one of my favourites off the album. Definitely worth a listen.

Listen: Jason Reeves – Just Friends

Justin Currie – No, Surrender

Justin Currie - No, Surrender
Justin Currie (Image credit: Pat Pope)

Sigh. Aah, Del Amitri. Easily, and without a shadow of a doubt, one of my favourite bands for close on twenty years. So it was with much trepidation that I finally received my copy of the Justin Currie – founder and the voice of Del Amitri – solo debut, “What Is Love For?“.
I should never have been worried.

Justin Currie has always been one of my favourite songwriters. The guy simply knows how to craft a masterful song, with great melodies and poignant, forthright lyrics. His efforts on “What Is Love For?” are no different. While this solo effort – put out by the always brilliant Rykodisc label – is certainly a conscious step away from the Del Amitri signature sound, I can’t help but feel that this tune, “No, Surrender” is something of a follow-up to one of my favourite Del Amitri song, “Nothing Ever Happens”. There’s a resignation and cynicism there that has always been unmistakably Currie.

Should you stand and fight?
Should you die for what you think is right,
so your useless contribution will be remembered?
If you’re asking me, I say
No, surrender.
surrender, surrender
– Justin Currie, “No, Surrender”

“No, Surrender” is a 7-minute-plus indictment of modern-world ills, and it’s simply beautiful.
I may still be holding out on DA putting out a new album, but Justin Currie’s solo efforts look like they’ll be more than enough to keep me going. Here’s hoping to far more of this from one of the music world’s most under-appreciated artists.

Listen. Love. Support.

Listen: Justin Currie – No Surrender

Matt Bauer – Don’t Let Me Out

Matt Bauer - Don’t Let Me Out
Matt Bauer (Image credit: Nicolas Auproux)

Hat tip to Captain Obvious for turning me onto Matt Bauer‘s tunes; some of the most enticing new music I’ve heard this year.
There’s a somewhat anachronistic feel to Bauer’s release, “The Island Moved in the Storm, which makes all the more sense considering that the album is loosely based, and placed, in both the historical context of the unsolved murder case of “Tent Girl – which occured near Matt Bauer’s home in Kentucky – and a semi-autobiographical look at Bauer’s childhood in the area.
Appropriately, there are a lot of dark shadows in this release… an ominous, weary beauty, that infiltrates its way into your soul. I won’t go into too much more depth here, as Captain Obvious really sums it all up in his review, so I’d suggest you give that a read…

… But, ultimately, the point I’m making is: this is good stuff.

Listen: Matt Bauer – Don’t Let Me Out

Ray Lamontagne – Let It Be Me

Ray Lamontagne - Let It Be Me
Ray Lamontagne

I’ve been impatiently awaiting Ray Lamontagne‘s upcoming release, “Gossip In The Grain” (due out September 30) for months now, and the sneak preview in the form of this track, “Let It Be Me”, has only served to aggravate that impatience.
From the moment that the exhalation starts the track, to the second that that voice starts crooning… man, it’s killer.

It’s a smoke-filled, seductive, soulful voice that really is, these days, all Ray’s.
It’s a tune that brings a wistful tear to your eye, and prompts murmurs of, “Amen, brother. Amen.
It’s perfection.

Listen: Ray Lamontagne – Let It Be Me

2008 releases artists artists to watch for in 2008 digital downloads guitar music Uncategorized

New Tallest Man On Earth – A Field Of Birds (Yellow Bird Project theme song)

This is just a short note to let you all know that there’s a new Tallest Man On Earth song out – see my last post on this dude heretitled “A Field of Birds”… and it’s a killer tune.

Yellow Bird Project

The song’s been released as a theme song for the site, Yellow Bird Project; a non-profit initiative that teams up with indie bands to raise money for various charities. According to their site:

We collaborate with musicians in designing a T-shirt, we print and sell them on our website, and all of the money we make goes to charity. Which charity? Each of the artists gets to choose their own. We have three fundamental aims:

1) To make money for charities directly through T-shirt sales.
2) To raise awareness for charity organizations through artists’ endorsement.
3) To raise the profile of the artists we like.

… and seriously, that’s a noble aim. So, if you think a shirt designed by such groups as The National, Hayden, Wolf
Parade, Rilo Kiley and many, many more might be your cup of tea, I urge you to stop by their site.

Back to The Tallest Man on Earth’s new tune… it’s a trademark Matsson song. It may be a bit too “duelling banjos, Deliverance style” for some people, but it’s fun nonetheless. A rollicking, bouncing tune with some intricate picking and killer banjo accompaniment… it’s good times.

Listen: Tallest Man On Earth – Field Of Birds (Yellow Bird Project theme song)