Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"Come Mornin' I'll Be Through Them Hills And Gone"

Headed out overnight for another New Year's ski trip. Destination: Beaver Creek - my absolute favorite place to ski. Looks like my Top 50 Songs of 2009 will have to wait 'til 2010.... wow that's strange to type.

If I find some time during the trip, I'll begin another set of Download Code Contests. I've got 3 album downloads available from my Top 10 this year: JTE's Midnight at the Movies, Deer Tick's Born On Flag Day, and Conor Oberst's Outer South. Be sure to check back for those.

For now, here are some songs to fit the mood:

Reckless Kelly - Snowfall
Fleet Foxes - Blue Ridge Mountains
Gillian Welch & Dave Rawlings - Snowin' On Raton (live)
White Antelope (Robin Pecknold) - Wild Mountain Thyme


Friday, December 25, 2009

Links & News: Christmas Edition....


Merry Christmas to all. In the last few days, I haven't had time to prepare any sort of Holiday post, do any thoughtful gift-buying, or properly wrap the gifts I hastily snatched up today. My shopping expedition was haunted by a looming CVS stop and the drive to Grandma's this evening was nearly thwarted but 35+ mph wind gusts. But I'm safe and warm now, enjoying Christmas with the family... though, in a place without much for speedy internet necessary for uploading songs. So, this year, I will direct you to some that did have the time.

Christmas Music Mixes, etc:
I Am Fuel, You Are Friends
plus Heather's (re-upped) 2008 and 2007 Christmas posts.
Rollo & Grady
Brooklyn Vegan
(including some sweet videos)
Songs: Illinois
Nine Bullets offers a holiday song... and a nice reminder.
Bag of Songs is 24/25ths of the way through it's Bag of Christmas songs.
Middle Distance Runner (#7) has a free holiday track.
And, as always, Star Maker Machine has plenty of festive music.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Lists: Top 20 Albums of 2009 (1-10)


Part II of my Top 20 Albums of 2009

10. Justin Townes Earle - Midnight At The Movies

Bloodshot, 3.3.2009

Justin Townes Earle's second album cemented his star-studded name as star in his own right and won the top spot in the first ever Bird List - by a landslide. Justin, like some of the best out there, has a difficult time translating his live show allure to a studio CD, but Midnight At The Movies does a damn good job trying. His rollicking, 'Hillbilly Music' (tracks like 'Walk Out' and 'John Henry') are where he grabs your attention, but it's the slower, more personal songs ('Mama's Eyes', 'Someday I'll Be Forgiven') that truly separate JTE from other folk-country acts out there.

Justin Townes Earle - They Killed John Henry
[Direct][Vinyl][CD][MP3][eMusic][iTunes]

9. Sea Wolf - White Water, While Bloom
Dangerbird, 9.22.2009
Alex Brown Church and the folks behind him, better known as Sea Wolf, are probably one the most accessible bands I promote here. I have to admit that they had a little advantage making my top 10 due to the fact that I didn't discover their 2007 release Leaves In The River until last year, and wanted to make up for not mentioning it in my inaugural posts. This year with White Water, White Bloom, Sea Wolf continued to make listener-friendly indie-rock paved with inspiring string pieces, powerful rhythm sections, and soaring vocals.

Sea Wolf - Dew In The Grass
[Direct][Vinyl][CD][MP3][iTunes]

8. Samantha Crain & The Midnight Shivers - Songs In The Night
Ramseur, 4.28.2009

Samantha Crain broke into the folk scene last year with a superb EP. Don't let the fact that her debut full-length was released early this year and the hype surrounding her may have since slowed lead you astray. This is one killer album. Songs In The Night contains very mature writing and even better music created by The Midnight Shivers. It's got a perfect mix of tempos - sing-along folk-rockers, contemplative acoustic ballads, and even a couple electric grooves. If I could pick a poster-band for the sound I want out of my Americana, this is it.

Samantha Crain & The Midnight Shivers - Devils In Boston
[Direct][CD][MP3][eMusic][iTunes]

7. Middle Distance Runner - The Sun & Earth
Engine Room Recordings, 10.20.2009

Every year so far, I've had at least one album that made my list for one simple reason - it rocks. This year's album that always seems to get my head bobbin' is Middle Distance Runner's The Sun & Earth. I stumbled across the D.C. band earlier this year thanks to a couple mind-numbing singles/EPs they released. I grabbed the full album released in October, delighted to see those tracks on it, and even more thrilled to enjoy the rest of the disc. It's one of those albums that you seem to not remember tracks names simply because it's 45 minutes of pulsating Rock n Roll intertwined with moments of acoustic bliss of that all melds together in you brain - in a good way.

Middle Distance Runner - Round Here
[Direct][CD][MP3][eMusic][iTunes]

6. Dan Auerbach - Keep It Hid
Nonesuch, 2.10.2009
I was skeptical of Dan Auerbach breaking from his bandmate to strike out on a solo mission. But I was a fool. Dan brought his funk-filled guitar licks to the studio, polished them off just a tad, and ultimately brought everything to his solo debut that The Black Keys were missing. Keep It Hid has the feel of an artist who knew the exact sound they wanted. Plus, who knew this blues-rocker could slow it down and give us a handful of touching down-tempo ditties to compliment his unique, blistering electric sound.

Dan Auerbach - When The Night Comes
[Direct][Vinyl][CD][MP3][iTunes]


5. Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band - Outer South
Merge, 5.5.2009

I had Outer South, the second album bearing Conor Oberst's name and the first bearing The Mystic Valley Band, in my library for a while this year before I really gave it a listen. I don't know what held me back - maybe I was overwhelmed by the amount of tracks on it and the fact that Conor participated in another release this year - but as soon as I listened once through, I knew it was a top 5 album. This year will mark the 3rd year in a row that Conor Oberst has placed an album in the top 5 here at This Mornin'. Last year, I made the claim that his self-titled album solidified his place as the Best American Songwriter under 30, and with this release I stand by that claim - though he only has 2 more months to hold the title. He will then have wait 5 years in a distant second place until Ryan Adams turns 40.

Outer South doesn't necessarily show us anything particularly new about Conor - his songs continue to be energetic - only slowing when necessary - well-written, and most noticeably perfectly delivered. Conor has a knack for isolating a line apart from the music behind it with the effect of heightening the importance of that lyric like no one else. What sets this album apart from Oberst's earlier work is his band. Although The Mystic Valley Band played on Conor Oberst, that album was more about Conor. On Outer South, he lends prime real estate to his bandmates letting them take 7 of the 16 tracks, including tracks as early as 3 and 4. The songs that Nick Freitas, Taylor Hollingworth, and Jason Boesel wrote and provide lead vocals for aren't my favorite off the album, but they ain't bad, either. Hollingsworth may have the standout non-Oberst song with his Replacements-esque 'Air Mattress.' Outer South is yet another disc from the Omaha alt-rocker that doesn't have a single skippable track.

Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band - Cabbage Town
Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band - Air Mattress
[Direct][Vinyl][CD][MP3][eMusic][iTunes]

4. Deer Tick - Born On Flag Day
Partisan, 6.23.2009
Easily my most anticipated release of the year, Deer Tick's sophomore effort obviously pleased me. But not right at first - if you read my initial reaction, you'll see I was happy with it, but thought it paled in comparison to 2007's War Elephant. What I grew to enjoy about the album after some time, however, was everything that sets Born On Flag Day apart from their debut. Aside from John McCauley's grizzled vocals, this album doesn't have the same grunge-rock feel of which we were introduced to Deer Tick. In its place as an overlying feeling on the album is a bit of a retro-vibe. Born On Flag Day boasts multiple tracks that sound straight out of a 50's studio session outtake disc. Both vocally and musically, I've heard traces of The Everyly Brothers (when they tried out an electric set), The Animals, Chuck Berry, and even some Beatles when I listen to this album. John manages to get those familiar, classic rock tones from his sea-green Fender Strat, both on this album and in the band's live show.

Deer Tick - Stung
[Direct][Vinyl][CD][MP3][eMusic][iTunes]

3. Bombadil - Tarpits & Canyonlands
Ramseur, 7.7.2009

I could sit here and regurgitate words that tell you how Bombadil is groundbreaking, brave, and stylistically unclassifiable, but if you've ever heard their music, that is all too apparent. The simple fact is, it's fun to listen to them - and what else do you really need to know? Tarpits and Canyonlands outreaches the band's last album in terms of accessibility and execution. Here, there are real songs, still liberally arranged with instrumental twists and turns, but in a more focused way. The guys took their time with this recording, and it shows. Most impressively, Tarpits' strongest parts may be the more subdued moments. The slow-building opener 'I Am' provides a gentle, yet ominous lead-in to an album with peaks and valleys in terms of tempo and activity, but never a dull moment.

Bombadil - I Am
Bombadil - Kuala Lumpur

[Direct][CD][MP3][eMusic][iTunes]

2. Dave Rawlings Machine - A Friend of a Friend
Acony, 11.17.2009

I reserved big, comfy spot for this album in my Top 10 as soon as I learned of its release. Don't get me wrong - I still analyzed the songs, but I already knew what we were getting. For an artist with a resume like Dave Rawlings, over a decade to hone his songwriting chops, and the likes of Gillian Welch and Old Crow Medicine Show ushering him in, A Friend of A Friend was bound to be nothing short of spectacular. The last thing I expected going in was to be most impressed by the strength of Dave's original songs. 'Ruby' immediately shot to the top of my favorite songs list, while 'Sweet Tooth' and 'Bells of Harlem' are at once fresh and classically timeless. It's a short and sweet album, with a perfect mix of Dave's early co-writes, well-chosen covers, and original compositions that will no-doubt stand the test of time. Expect a further in-depth review of this one after I've let it simmer a little longer.

Dave Rawlings Machine - Sweet Tooth
[Direct][CD][MP3][eMusic][iTunes]

1. The Low Anthem - Oh My God, Charlie Darwin
Nonesuch, 6.9.2009
Last year, I expressed my thoughts on what I believe makes a great album. Most importantly, that it need be a cohesive, focused, flowing collection of songs, none being superfluous or out of place. The Low Anthem's Oh My God, Charlie Darwin takes this idea to another level. It's a beautiful record, start to finish, complete with ballads and rockers, an interlude, and a reprise. It flows seamlessly, taking you through ethereal hymns and turbulent gospel barn-burners. Some may argue that OMGCD was a 2008 release - the Providence-based band self-released the album in September of 2008 and were subsequently picked up by Nonesuch Records. The label then gave the record a proper release (including vinyl) in June of this year. I discovered the band just after this release and was pleased to see that their schedule crossed paths with mine and we would both be in Nashville at the same time - me for The Big Surprise Tour, them for an intimate show at The Basement. Catching a live show of theirs and meeting the band members had a big part in the placement of this album at the top of my list. Read my review.
The Low Anthem's strongest quality - as a band and especially on this album - is their unmatched instrumentation. Between only Ben Knox Miller, Jeff Prystokwsky, and Jocie Adams, The Low Anthem travels with a trailer-full of gear, all of which gets used on a nightly basis. Their stage progression plays out like a carousel, or literally a game of musical chairs. Most instruments can be played by more than one member, each with their own personal flair. I read a few interviews with the band prior to this write-up (check out this well-written one). In one interview, Miller says they try to push their musical limits by limiting their play on instruments they are comfortable with. He says they walk blindfolded into the instrument room; they "prefer to stumble into beauty." Another interesting note I picked up on, Miller says that band doesn't get too caught up in listening to a lot of contemporary music. This is obvious in the end result of their own music - you can't seem to pick out any specific influence or even compare it to anything else you've heard before: completely original music, earthy and natural.

The Low Anthem - Charlie Darwin
The Low Anthem - Horizon Is A Beltway
[Direct][Vinyl][CD][MP3][iTunes]

-------------------------------------------------

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Contest: Free Avett Brothers Album!

Round Two of my Free Digital Download Code Christmas Giveaway!

Available today is The Avett Brothers - I And Love And You. It was #12 on my Top 20 Albums of 2009. This one is simple:

What were my #1 picks for Album and Song for 2007?

Comment with the answer and your email (or email me if you like that better).
First correct answer wins the download code.

---------------------------------------------

Congratulations again to Scott, the winner of the first contest. He won a download code for The Felice Brothers - Yonder Is The Clock by being the first to answer this question:

Which Felice Brothers song contains a 'pop' in the audio, allegedly due to a nearby lightning strike while recording in the rain?


Answer: The Felice Brothers - Hey, Hey Revolver
It occurs about :35 seconds in - you hear a quick drop in volume, then the telltale thunder roll seconds later.

I should get the Top 10 Albums posted tonight, and I have a handful of download codes to give away from those as well. Stay tuned.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Contest: Free Felice Brothers Download!

'Tis the season of giving. And although I haven't let loose any holiday music just yet, I though I'd join the spirit of the season with the first-ever This Mornin' I Am Born Again Contest/Giveaway!

I try to buy vinyl as much as possible. I've basically stopped buying CD's unless I've just got to have a hard copy and it's the only option available. These days, with most new vinyl purchases (and many re-issues) you get a code to download the album in high-quality mp3's. Thing is... I'm an impatient person. More often than not, by the time I get to the record store or the vinyl arrives in the mail, I've already found a way to get my hands on the digital tracks. So, lucky for you, I have a stack of unused (hopefully still valid) download codes just waiting to be redeemed.

Up for grabs tonight is #16 on my Top 20 Albums of 2009 - The Felice Brothers' Yonder Is The Clock.
Here's what you gotta do:

Which Felice Brothers song contains a 'pop' in the audio, allegedly due to a nearby lightning strike while recording in the rain? (mentioned before on this blog)

Congrats to Scott, who sent in the correct answer, 'Hey, Hey Revolver.'

Comment with the answer and your email (or email me if you like that better).
First correct answer wins the download code.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Lists: Top 20 Albums of 2009 (11-20)


Here it is folks! Expanded for 2009, my
Top 20 Albums of the Year - Part I.

20. Wye Oak - The Knot

Merge, 7.21.2009
It's a loud, alt-rock album kept country with a heavy dose of steel guitar. Wye Oak is Jenn Wasner (guitar, vocals) and Andy Stack (drums, vocals). If being signed to Merge Records isn't enough, the beauty of The Knot, their sophomore album, should help bring some attention going into the next decade.

Wye Oak - For Prayer
[Direct][CD][MP3][eMusic][iTunes]


19. Wilco - Wilco (The Album)
Nonesuch, 6.26.2009
The boldly titled seventh album from alt-country mainstay Wilco did not disappoint. Jeff Tweedy continues to provide welcoming melodies and infectious guitar licks overlain with his unmistakably heavyhearted vocals. Each time I listen, I find a new favorite track. In fact, as I write this, I already wish I would have placed it higher in this list.

Wilco - I'll Fight
[Direct][Vinyl][CD][MP3][iTunes]

18. Slaid Cleaves - Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away

Music Road, 4.21.2009
Folk storyman Slaid Cleaves may not pump out albums, but for our patience we get carefully crafted song showcases that continually impress. While Everything You Love doesn't have a 'Broke Down,' there remain 11 songs filled with first-person experience that only Slaid could recount with such ease and grace.

Slaid Cleaves - Black T-Shirt
[Direct][CD][MP3][eMusic][iTunes]

17. Stephanie Briggs - Birds Barely Know Us

Smith Entertainment, 3.31.2009
It's strange that out of all the Texas acts I used to follow, a female, Stephanie Briggs, would bring an album that follows the general direction to which my musical tastes have shifted. What's not so strange is that running around with the likes of Cody Canada, Stephanie learned how to use a guitar the right way. Calling New Braunfels, TX home, Stephanie (guitar, vocals) and husband Matthew (percussion, vocals) offer a freshly energetic album with an indie-edge.

Stephanie Briggs - Private Parts
[Direct][CD][MP3][eMusic][iTunes]

16. The Felice Brothers - Yonder Is The Clock

Team Love, 4.7.2009
Since 2007's Tonight At The Arizona, each of The Felice Brothers' albums have become slightly less enjoyable - mainly due to too much album-filler. But just as I passed through Yonder Is The Clock to check inventory, I remembered just how good the good ones are. Ian Felice can strike my fancy just as easily with a raucous barn-burner as he can with a plaintive dirge. Read my original review.

The Felice Brothers - Boy From Lawrence County
[Direct][Vinyl][CD][iTunes]

15. Ryan Bingham & The Dead Horses - Roadhouse Sun
Lost Highway, 6.2.2009
Another product of the Texas Music scene, Ryan Bingham emerged with the basics only to build upon them to gain national success. I'll admit, if I hadn't found this album for $3.99 on Amazon, I most-likely wouldn't have given it a shot this year. Sure glad I did - Roadhouse Sun is a dustblown disc expertly arranged with the fullest sound to come from Ryan yet.

Ryan Bingham - Change Is
[Direct][Vinyl][CD][MP3][iTunes]

14. Great Bloomers - Speak of Trouble
Maple Music Recordings, 4.21.2009
The Great Bloomers came out of nowhere (actually Canada) and brought us an easy choice for a top 20 list. Lowell Sostomi and crew offer piano-fueled, guitar-aided, harmony-highlighted folk-pop that oozes optimism. Listed first in their 'influence' column are The Beach Boys, and nowhere does that 'influence' ring truer than when they institute deft 4-part harmonies. Speak of Trouble jauntily guides you though 11 tracks of unique arrangements and sticky melodies.

Great Bloomers - Admit Defeat
[Direct][CD][MP3][eMusic][iTunes]

13. Brendan Benson - My Old, Familiar Friend
ATO, 8.18.2009
This is Brendan Benson's fourth solo album, but remains the only one I've heard. I was first introduced to Brendan when he joined forces with Jack White in The Raconteurs. When I heard My Old, Familiar Friend, it was quickly evident how much of Consolers was influenced by Brendan. If you like the pop melodies and smooth vocals from The Raconteurs, Brendan Benson comes highly recommended. First order of business for 2010: check out Benson's back catalog.

Brendan Benson - Garbage Day
[Vinyl][CD][eMusic][iTunes]


12. The Avett Brothers - I And Love And You
Sony/American, 9.29.2009
Just two short years after The Avett Brothers topped my list of albums, it seems they are already the clich├ęd choice. Good news for them, but as you'll remember from my original review, (sorta) bad news for me. Their meteoric rise from obscurity landed them in the studio with Rick Rubin for 2009's I And Love And You. His polished touch on the album created a different sound that initially rubbed some of us the wrong way. From the small sampling of reviews I found that weren't fawning over the disc, one common theme emerged: This album will grow on you. While in its second listening round, the album hit me in a different way. Once I got over the production choices, all that was left were the songs. And they were good.

The Avett Brothers - And It Spread
[Direct][Vinyl][CD][MP3][eMusic][iTunes]

11. These United States - Everything Touches Everything
United Interests, 9.1.2009
Reigning Best Album champs These United States released their third disc in just two years. Last year's Crimes was my choice for Best Album last year, but interestingly enough, I couldn't find a song from it to include in my Best Songs list. The same approach was taken with 2009's Everything Touches Everything, in which Jesse Elliot crafted a cohesive album. None of the songs were written with a single in mind, but rather each was written as an equally important element to the disc. Maybe it's not quite as good as Crimes (due mainly to the fact that its opener was a stellar, thematic lead-in), but still an immense joy to listen to - and that's all that matters.

These United States - I'm Gonna Assemble A City
[Direct][CD][MP3][eMusic][iTunes]


----------------------------------
Continue to Part II (Albums 1-10)....
2009's Top 5 EP's
2009's Best Videos

----------------------------------
Refresh your memory with last year's lists:
Top EPs
Top Songs
Top Albums, pt 1
Top Albums, pt 2

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Lists: Best Videos of 2009

Here's an unranked group of some of the best music videos from 2009. I didn't scour the internet (or god-forbid watch MTV/CMT) for every video made this year. They are basically taken from those artists in my Top 20 Albums list (coming soon) that happened to make videos this year.

These United States - Everything Touches Everything


The Low Anthem - Charlie Darwin


The Avett Brothers - Slight Figure of Speech


Bombadil - So Many Ways To Die


Dan Auerbach - Heartbroken, In Disrepair


Middle Distance Runner - The Unbeliever


Sea Wolf - Wicked Blood


Brendan Benson - A Whole Lot Better

Survey Says........

In its inaugural run, The Bird List had a few snags - mainly the website - but the results are in. I'm fairly pleased with the way things turned out. Only 6 of the albums I included in my Top 20 made the combined list, but then again, this was a much more 'country-based' group than what ThisMornin' usually offers. So here you go:



The Bird List. A bird's eye view of the combined top 20 lists of what we like to call a "loose confederation of like minded bloggers". This is the inaugural year. It's been a patchy one! But what we do have is a decent idea, and what we feel is an interesting list. So Here it is. The best albums of the year as voted on by 30 of the web's leading aficionados of twanglike music.

1. Justin Townes Earle - Midnight at the Movies
2. Lucero - 1372 Overton Park
3. Ryan Bingham and The Dead Horses - Roadhouse Sun
4. Buddy and Julie Miller - Written in Chalk
5. Dave Rawlings Machine - A Friend of a Friend
6. Slaid Cleaves - Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away
7. Todd Snider - The Excitement Plan
8. Avett Brothers - I and Love and You
9. Band of Heathens - One Foot In the Ether
10. Tom Russell - Blood and Candlesmoke
11. Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit - S/T
12. Corb Lund - Losin' Lately Gambler
13. Charlie Robison - Beautiful Day
14. Drive-By Truckers - The Fine Print
15. Steve Earle - Townes
16. Deer Tick - Born on Flag Day
17. Wrinkle Neck Mules - Let The Lead Fly
18. Magnolia Electric Co. - Josephine
19. Guy Clark – Somedays The Songs Write You
20. Those Darlins - S/T
20. Miranda Lambert - Revolution

Contributing Blogs: A Fifty Cent Lighter, A Truer Sound, Alt-512, Amber Waves of Twang, Americana Rock Mix, Americana Roots, Beat Surrender, Because Whit Happens, Country California, Country Music Pride, Farce The Music, For The Sake of The Song, Front Porch Musings, Heartworn Highways, High Noon Saloon, It's Great To Be Alive, Kim Ruehl (No Depression), Juli Thanki, (The 9513), Romeo Sid Vicious, More Cowbelle, My Aimz Is True, Ninebullets, Sounds Country, The Gobbler's Knob, There's Always Someone Cooler Than You, This Mornin' I Am Born Again, Twang Nation, Twangville, Freight Train Boogie, When You Awake
Special thanks to: Truersound, Sounds Country, Romeo Sid Vicious, and David Attaway

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dave Rawlings Machine Double Shot

Headed to Waterloo Records in a few to catch an in-store performance from Dave Rawlings & Co. I've seen a few videos of similar shows and therefore am just as excited about the in-store as I am the full concert following. The Parish Room on 6th St will host the Dave Rawlings Machine and opener Sarah Jarosz. It's a great music venue where I've previously caught my favorite Old Crow Medicine Show performance. And with 3/5 of OCMS plus the addition of the ever-impressive Gillian & Dave combo, it's sure to not disappoint. Details/Photos to follow.

Here's a lively, OCMS-dominated track off A Friend of a Friend:
Dave Rawlings Machine - It's Too Easy
buy it - it's great.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Lists: Top 5 Eps of 2009...

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, but I've been cramming for finals. Ha. Not those... I'm done with school, remember. What I've been cramming is music. Into my ears.

You see, it's that time of year again where every self-respecting blogger boils down the thousands of discs and songs they've collected over the year into structured, numerical lists. This year, my Top Albums list will part of The Bird List (for the record, I voted for The United State of Americana) - a sort of master list aggregated from over 40 Americana/Country/Folk blogs. Our finalized lists of 20 albums are due tonight, and the results will be tallied and will go live (here) on Monday the 14th.

So to answer your agonizing question... yes, my list is complete. And although I know you can't wait any longer to see the definitive Top Albums of the year, I won't be posting mine just yet. Like last year, I will begin my year-end lists with a small sampling of the Best EP's of the year. This year we have 5, 2 up from last year. My albums list has doubled to 20. And I plan on offering somewhere near 50 of my favorite songs this year. Stay tuned, folks.



5. Angus & Julia Stone - The Beast [EP]

I found Australian sibling duo Angus & Julia Stone through Rollo & Grady. I was a little late to the party - they have putting out music for a few years now. This EP saw its US release early this year in preparation for their debut LP A Book Like This. Julia's bubbly yet sultry voice (think Kasey Chambers, Joanna Newsom) is the initial attention-grabber, but Angus' smooth vocals and lyrics will keep you listening.

Soldier
[CD][mp3][iTunes][eMusic]

4. Deer Tick - More Fuel for the Fire [EP]

As expected, 2009 was a huge year for Providence's Deer Tick. Just five months after releasing their sophomore album, John McCauley and crew gave us a new EP sampling 3 new songs. 'La La La' might be the country-est tune Deer Tick has recorded thus far. Guitarist Andrew Tobiassen takes front stage on his tune 'Dance of Love.' And 'Axe Is Forever' is yet another retro-groove sure to stick in your head throughout next year.

La La La
[mp3][iTunes]

3. Jonny Burke - The Long Haul [EP]

Former 1/2 of The Dedringers Jonny Burke spent 2009 on the road across the country opening for such acts as James McMurtry and Ryan Bingham. Somehow, he found the time to record a 5-track EP. 'Ship Come In' enlists Austin's Band of Heathens to help fill sound and vocals. 'El Paso' is a western lament a-la Townes Van Zandt.

El Paso
[CD][free download]

2. Tristen - Deceivers Are Achievers [EP]

A gracious reader emailed me to suggest that I may enjoy an EP from Tristen Gaspadarek, a Nashville-based singer and multi-instrumentalist. He was right. Tristen's brand of jangly pop (rubbed in the dirt just enough to be folk) is right up my alley. Her youthful voice and original melodies have been known to stick in my head some.

Matchstick Murder
[mp3]


1. Joe Pug - In The Meantime [EP]

My favorite discovery of the year was, hands down, Joe Pug. He blew onto the scene last year with his Nation of Heat [EP], but it somehow slipped past me. I'm always a fan of simple acoustic music, and Joe has that art down to perfection. This EP - free on his website - consists of leftover tracks from the Nation sessions. Look for 2010 to be a breakout year for Joe as his touring has recently been shifted into full-gear (including some time overseas with The Low Anthem) and his debut LP, Messenger, is set for a February release.

Dodging The Wind
[free download]

----------------------------------
Refresh your memory with last year's lists:
Top EPs
Top Songs
Top Albums, pt 1
Top Albums, pt 2

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sam & Jill's New Projects....

The Everybodyfields were one of my favorite discoveries of 2007. Their album from that year, Nothing Is Okay, was a top 10 choice and remains in solid rotation. So I was understandably upset when I learned last year that they were taking separate paths. But my disappointment changed to excitement once I heard a couple tracks from their current projects.


Sam Quinn has since formed another band - Sam Quinn & Japan Ten. The band includes Sam, Josh Oliver, Megan Gregory, and Brandon Story. So far, they have only released a DVD (available here), but have set a tentative date of late February - early March for The Fake That Sunk a Thousand Ships:

1. Hello
2. Fanboy
3. So Strong
4. Suite Motown

5. Strange Wave.
6. Gun
7. Mardi Gras
8. Help Me
9. Late The Other Night
10. River


You can hear some of them here.


Meanwhile, the beautiful Jill Andrews has been hard at work recording new stuff, getting her touring feet on the ground, and making videos to tell us all about it. Jill has a 6-track EP out (both hard copy and digital) on her website.


Here's her latest (November edition) Video - this one with Matt Buthcer.

Check out her previous videos:
[Ocotber][September][August][July][June]

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Mixtape V: This One's For The Rose

We've reached a large benchmark in the Ryan Adams Spotlight here at ThisMornin.com. It's 2004 and Ryan has just talked Lost Highway into releasing Love Is Hell, his solo career-ending opus. The remaining part of 2004 will see Lost Highway release various singles from Rock N Roll and Ryan himself (through PAX-AM) put out a handful of 7" vinyls.

Those paying attention will argue that 29 was Ryan's last 'solo' record - and they have a point. 29 was recorded before JCN and Cold Roses, and without The Cardinals. But because it was released last out of the three 2005 masterpieces - and because the extra/bonus material from those sessions has yet to surface - I will review it later. For now, Ryan's solo career is over and it's time to slow down and take a look back at the multitudes of tracks released in the last 4 years.

To quote one of the greatest music-driven movies of all time, "the making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem." I've been working on this mixtape basically since I started this blog. This One's For The Rose is the quintessential 'Greatest Hits' formed from all of the 'unreleased' tracks Ryan recorded from 2000-2003. This excludes any track that was (or has since been) released in any sort of official form - as a bonus track, on a compilation, re-recorded for a later album, etc. The sessions that produced this material vary in quality, style, and genre, but then again, you could say about all of Ryan's stuff. These collections haven't been mastered and/or cut well, so I took this liberty of 'cleaning' them up a bit - cropping the tracks to eliminate leads-ins, restarts, and empty tape. These 19 tracks are split into two sides, each of which can be considered an album on its own - beginning with a strong, upbeat track, dancing around throughout the middle without a single weak song, and with one of Ryan's signature piano ballads to cap it off.


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You'll notice that two 'sessions' are very strongly represented on this mixtape: The 48 Hours and Swedish Sessions. These are by far the best unreleased albums Ryan has recorded. They are both concise, complete, and nearly flawless, whereas his other recording sessions contained strange throw-away tracks. But in-between those overzealous recordings, Ryan managed to mix in great songs. The Suicide Handbook was 32 tracks of mostly plaintive acoustic numbers that would help populate Gold and Demolition. His earliest - from 2000 - The Destroyer Sessions produced a couple tracks that would show up on Heartbreaker and lends a couple more tracks to this mixtape. The mix is rounded out with one track from each from Ryan's Love Is Hell NY, NY Session, Cowboy Technical Services Session, and the First Pinkheart Session.

This is a Greatest Hits, so there's not a clunker in the bunch, but special attention should be payed to a few tracks. Quoting John Cusack once more, "you gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don't wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules." I began with 'When The Music Don't Come' - a 'killer' track from the Love Is Hell sessions that almost became the title of this little compilation. It would've worked well as appeasement during Ryan's sabbatical before he recently decided to begin releasing music again. I took it up a notch with 'Walls' - the country-est tune in the bunch. To cool it off, I offered 'Dear Anne,' which is probably the most touching song here. Written as a letter to Anne Frank, it asks how Anne's fate came to be, and thanks the biographer for her words, whether or not they were his to read. Leading you back into heavier music is 'Born Yesterday' with its plodding tempo and passion-laden vocals. 'Madeline' lathers some sultry piano and blues guitar on the mix with a Huck Finn-esque river song. To end side one, I used the last track from the First Pinkheart Sessions. Just Ryan and his piano, the song doubles as a sort of midway interlude, fittingly mentioning that "its been so long for just half-over."

Side B reads much the same, highlighted by 48 Hours and Swedish Session songs. 'Friendly Fire' delicately tells of how relationships often come with the casualties of war. With the harmonica-driven attitude reminiscent of Heartbreaker's opener, 'Poor Jimmy' picks thing up in the middle. One of my all-time favorite songs, 'Poison & The Pain' gives off an eerie feel with Ryan providing his own sparse backing vocals and hand claps. The second side again ends simply, this time with a softly-picked guitar accented with the low end of a piano. 'String & The Wire' is a desolate song that Ryan once said of in a live show: "it’s really long and really totally boring, so if you need to get a drink or something, this is the best song to go." Not boring at all, it's simply soothing. And that's my idea of the perfect album-ender.


Stay tuned for more Ryan Adams mixtapes. I have plans for a B-Sides & Bonus Tracks compilation, a Live compilation, and maybe even an Unreleased Cardinals mix. In good time, my friends.

Check out all of my Ryan Adams Spotlight up to this point.