not pictured: Ivan, Alyosha
Ivan & Alyosha first drew me in because I read somewhere that their name was taken from characters in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. Any band with such highly literary minds is worth a listen in my book. And thank goodness I did! The Seattle-based quartet has become another new favorite. They have yet to release a full length album, but their two EPs – 2009’s The Verse, The Chorus and their early February release, Fathers Be Kind – are enough music to get you started.
The band’s folksy melodies are just so eeeeasy to listen to. Sometimes the vocals remind me of an old, very acoustic Rufus Wainwright, but other times, I hear something more along the lines of The Decemberists. Either way, Ivan & Alyosha’s catchy rhythms and casual instrumentation are simply magnetic.
One song in particular from the new EP (which can be purchased on Amazon (you’re welcome)) really hit me. The whining harmonica, careful harmonies, and cleverly penned lyrics of “Glorify” just melt me: “Glorify the Lord above, with your drink and making love / Glorify the Lord my son, with your whiskey and your gun.”
NPR featured Ivan & Alyosha in one of their Tiny Desk Concerts, which I highly recommend if your interest is piqued. You can also go to their MySpace and listen to tracks from both EPs and download “Glorify” for free. Now go!
Update (3.20.11): Just found this incredible video of the band performing “I Was Born to Love Her” at SXSW earlier this week. Had to include it.
Posted in sound
Tagged music, discovery thursday, folk, npr, seattle, ivan & alyosha, indie, sxsw, glorify, i was born to love her, fathers be kind, ep, the verse the chorus
I discovered The Civil Wars for myself mere weeks before their debut album Barton Hollow was released. The day it was released, I fell in love with them, and couldn’t wait another day to share them here on my blog. I was so moved by their music, I also felt compelled to review it formally. They played two sold out shows in town at the beginning of the month; I attended neither, having been behind the curve on finding them in the first place. Then(!) a serendipitous occasion sprung up: a Grimey’s in-store. Now, for those in Nashville, that is explanation enough, but for those who are unfamiliar with the gloriousness that is Grimey’s New and Preloved Music, I will simply say this: it is an incredible testament to the lingering importance of passionate, caring, locally-owned brick-and-mortar music stores. I think I will devote an entire post to Grimey’s soon, so I’ll get on with my story. The Civil Wars scheduled an in-store performance at the lovely little record shop for this past Wednesday evening, and the only requirement to get in was to have been one of the first 130 people to buy The Civil Wars’ CD or LP. Needless to say, I stopped by on release day.
yesss, I am one of those slightly pretentious vinyl lovers
And the in-store was everything I could have hoped for and more. My good friend Jess (who was also the good friend that introduced me to them in the first place) and I got in line very early and had a correspondingly amazing spot in the crowd. Just look how close we were:
look, ma, no zoom
And of course, Joy Williams and John Paul White were just darling. They were honest and enthusiastic and genuinely in awe of all the attention they’re getting. And then they sang songs, which explained everything. Afterwards, they signed autographs (my LP is now significantly more special than yours) and took pictures with us. It was awesome. And personally speaking, I absolutely adore a band that can get a city like Nashville excited about music. Everyone around here is just so jaded, and rightfully so, and as a result, it takes someone really exceptional to get Music City going, or in this case, two someones.
one slick chick
Katie Costello is only 20 years old, which kind of makes me sick. She’s 20 years old and just put out her sophomore album, Lamplight, which is a beautifully crafted collection of Ingrid Michaelson, Sara Bareilles-esque ballads and pop tunes. Costello’s magnetic vocals and poignant turns of phrases speak to her maturity as a singer/songwriter, her light-hearted approach to thematic elements that occupy every young girl’s head and heart exemplify the sprightly youthfulness of her songs.
With Lamplight, which was released a mere two days ago, Katie is already seeing some serious traction in the industry – big names like Billboard, Paste, Spinner, and BeatWeek devoted headlines to her blithe melodies and up-and-comer status. Update (3.23.11): links to articles added.
If you only listen to four tracks, try “Cassette Tape,” “Ashes Ashes,” “People: A Theory,” and “Stranger.” Two of these four can be heard on her website. Lamplight is available on Amazon, but if you’re still not convinced, read my official review and watch this ADORABLE video for “Cassette Tape:”
Posted in sound
Tagged music, discovery thursday, folk, paste, pop, katie costello, lamplight, kaleidoscope machine, tiny tiny records, singer/songwriter, billboard, ashes ashes, people: a theory
I gave Tyler two tickets to the sold out Punch Brothers show at Mercy Lounge here in Nashville for Valentine’s Day. Speaking for the two of us, we LOVE bluegrass music, and progressive bluegrass even more so. It’s therefore no surprise that we can’t get enough of Thile and company.
Chris Thile became a household name (in folk and bluegrass loving households, anyway) as the mandolinist of Nickel Creek. A few years ago though, the young trio took an indefinite hiatus to focus on other projects. Now, as much as I looooved Nickel Creek, Chris Thile’s new(-ish) endeavor, a bluegrass(-ish) quintet called Punch Brothers, is one incredible listen… and their live show is even better.
Tuesday night was my fourth time seeing the band, and they never cease to amaze. Their most recent album (released June 2010) is called Antifogmatic, which Thile’s explains as “an old term for a bracing beverage, generally rum or whiskey, that a person would have before going out to work in rough weather to stave off any ill effects. This batch of tunes,” he claims, “could be used in much the same way, and includes some characters who would probably benefit mightily, if temporarily, from a good antifogmatic.” Yeah, pretty awesome.
Punch Brothers played of everything from The Strokes’ “Heart in a Cage” to The Beatles’ “Paperback Writer,” not to mention a string of their own works, both old and new. Below is Thile playing JS Bach’s “Sonata #1 in G Minor” in double time. Yes, double time.
1 of 2 songs in the encore, Mercy Lounge, February 15, 2011. Blow your mind.
P.S. If you’re interested in my official review of the show, the piece can be found on my portfolio.
Posted in sight, sound
Tagged music, nashville, bluegrass, punch brothers, mercy lounge, live show, chris thile, bach, sonata, mandolin, classical
So normally I would dedicate one of my “Discovery Thursday” posts to my new obsession, a brand new folk band called The Civil Wars, but quite honestly, I can’t wait until Thursday to write about them. Listening to their debut album Barton Hollow (which was released today and is already sitting at #1 on iTunes), I am stunned. HOW HAS THIS BAND ONLY COME INTO MY CONSCIOUSNESS WITHIN THE PAST MONTH?!
Joy Williams and John Paul White are the perfect duo; their dynamics are poised and expressive. Ballads like their breakout hit “Poison and Wine” and “My Father’s Father” wash over me like a summer rain, warm and gentle. But their up tempo tunes, “20 Years” and “Barton Hollow” for example, blaze and flash like an old-world forest fire, harmonies glowing hotly while blistering strings accompany their voices. Even the lone instrumental on their debut, “The Violet Hour,” is elegant and haunting, ethereal piano like a lingering sprig of fresh greenery among the folksy brambles that populate the rest of the album.
Needless to say, I’m totally enthralled with The Civil Wars and their new album Barton Hollow, so I have three suggestions for you, Internet world: 1. Watch the video below of the title track from the album, 2. Go to the band’s MySpace to check out a few more tracks, and 3. BUY THE ALBUM (here it is on Amazon).
Posted in sound
Tagged music, folk, the civil wars, sensibility music, barton hollow, new release tuesday, duo, joy williams, john paul white, poison and wine, debut, 20 years, my father's father, the violet hour