Friday, January 29, 2010

New Track from Joe Pug's Messenger...

Got an email this morning containing some free tracks available from One of which happens to come from a very highly anticipated album - Joe Pug's full-length debut Messenger. The disc comes out February 16th via Lightning Rod Records following Joe's impressive first two EPs. Get Nation of Heat here and In The Meantime is still available for free when you join Joe's mailing list.

  1. Messenger
  2. How Good You Are
  3. Not So Sure
  4. The Sharpest Crown
  5. The Door Was Always Open
  6. The First Time I Saw You
  7. Unsophisticated Heart
  8. Disguised as Someone Else
  9. Bury Me Far (From My Uniform)
  10. Speak Plainly, Diana

Also up for grabs in the email was a track from Great Lake Swimmers - a band I'm slowly but surely getting into. This one comes from their 2009 release Lost Channels. It's a rousing acoustic track that's "swimming in harmony."

Great Lake Swimmers - Still
buy Lost Channels (2009) [CD][Vinyl][MP3 - only $5]

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sarah Jarsoz (and a few others) get Grammy Attention...

Sarah Jarosz is a fresh-faced young lady from the Texas hill country. At just 19, she's already had the opportunity to not only meet, but create a record with some of her contemporary heroes (although most nearly a generation ahead of her). Because her instrumental reputation precedes her (Sarah plays mandolin, banjo, guitar, and even a toy piano on her album), she was able to employ Tim O'Brien, Chris Thile, and Abigail Washburn as additional musicians/vocalists on her first record. Each of these bluegrass legends offered up a glowing foreword about Sarah, praising not only her playing, but also vocals and songwriting.

I first learned of Sarah when I saw that she had a slot opening for the Dave Rawlings Machine on their recent tour. I was able to catch this show when they made a stop in Austin, and even ran into Sarah patiently waiting in line to catch Dave/Gillian/OCMS as they performed in-store the evening before the show.

Sarah's debut, Song Up In Her Head, will go down as a well-crafted new-age bluegrass record. Despite where Sarah may take her career in the future, the guestlist it features will help it to remain a bluegrass favorite for some time and is currently helping garner extra attention for the young musician. This attention reached its pinnacle when Sarah learned that she would have a chance to take home a Grammy Award Sunday night.

Grammy nods don't often drift into our realm of the music world, but when they do, they usually show favor to the bluegrass end. Gillian Welch's debut was nominated for Best Contemporary Folk Album in 1997 (when Sarah was 6) and her work on the O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack helped it win the Grammy for Album Of The Year in 2001 (10, when she started playing the mandolin). As Sarah made obvious in her set in Austin, she was thrilled/honored/maybe a little nervous to open for a true heroine in the business. Fittingly following Gillian's lead, Sarah's debut finds itself in the running for a Grammy. Her song 'Maninneedof' has a chance to be named the Best Country Instrumental Performance. Sarah will be contending against international outfit The Greencards for the song 'The Crystal Merchant' off their album Fascination. Also nominated in the category are Alison Brown and Steve Wariner.

Sarah Jarosz - Maninneedof
The Greencards - The Crystal Merchant

But bluegrass isn't the only genre that occasionally get Grammy attention. Obvious ThisMornin' favorite Ryan Adams found himself thrice nominated in 2002. Gold: Best Rock Album, 'New York, New York': Best Male Rock Vocal, 'Lovesick Blues': Best Male Country Vocal. In 2004, Wilco's A Ghost Is Born took home the honor for Best Alternative Music Album.

The award for Best Contemporary Folk Album was first awarded in 1987. Previous winner include John Prine, Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Alison Krauss, Bob Dylan, and Steve Earle - who is again nominated this year for his well-crafted tribute album Townes. Joining him in the category is Neko Case, whose Middle Cyclone is also nominated for its artwork with Best Recording Package.

Steve Earle - To Live Is To Fly
Neko Case - People Got A Lotta Nerve

2010 will mark the first ever award for Best Americana Album, hopefully starting a much-deserved shift in notoriety for the growing genre. Your nominees:

Bob Dylan - Together Through Life
Levon Helm - Electric Dirt
Willie Nelson & Asleep At The Wheel - Willie & The Wheel
Wilco - Wilco (The Album)
Lucinda Williams -
Little Honey

Indie mainstay Karen O finds herself nominated in two categories for two different projects. Her band, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' It's Blitz is in the running for Best Alternative Album. Karen's work on the Where the Wild Things Are Soundtrack has been praised all over, and the song All Is Love is nominated for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture.

Karen O & The Kids - All Is Love

Ryan Adams' on-again off-again go-to producer Ethan Johns is nominated for both Best Engineered Album and Producer of the Year for his work on Ray Lamontagne's album Gossip In The Grain.

Ray LaMontagne - You Are The Best Thing

All of this said, I'm still not gonna put myself through the agony of watching this commercialized spectacle - I may try to time it so I can catch some of the above mentioned awards. That is... if they manage to find time to televise them between Taylor Swift and Rihanna performances.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Justin Townes Earle Download Code Giveaway!!

Just picked a winner for the last download giveaway - Congrats Jeanette!

Next up is #10 from my 2009 Album List - Justin Townes Earle's Midnight At The Movies. This album was also the landslide winner of the first annual Bird List.

Once again, it's easy. Simply click below or on the album cover above and enter your email address. A winner will be randomly chosen next Wednesday (2/3).

Click here to enter the contest
Contest complete - Congrats Tim!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Link & News for January '10....

Here are some happenings in my music world right now:

has a couple new sessions worth checking out: The Roadside Graves (1/8), Dave Rawlings Machine (1/13) and Samantha Crain (1/20). And for you iPhone users, the folks over there have created an app for the iPhone that lets you stream any artist's session as well as Daytrotter radio.

The Low Anthem recently recorded one of those amazingly quaint NPR Tiny Desk Concerts. They perform 'Ghost Woman Blues,' 'Ghosts Who Write History Books,' and 'This God Damn House' - the tune with the infamous cell phone interference trick. Also notice the special placement of Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species on the bookshelf behind the band. You can view it on their website, along with a recent performance of 'Charlie Darwin' from Letterman. The Low Anthem will also be embarking on their first headlining tour soon following a road stint opening for The Avett Brothers.

Speaking of NPR, head over there to stream Patty Griffin's brand new album Downtown Church (Out Today). As the title may suggest, it's a gospel-flavored album that was actually recorded in an empty church. Another chillingly tender album from Patty. Go ahead and but it: [Amazon CD/mp3]
Here's a taste: House of Gold

Austin City Limits aired The Avett Brothers' set this past Saturday (my intention was to get this post up before the weekend to give you guys the heads up). It was pretty amazing - good mix of old/new material performed very intimately to a warm audience. See a preview here. Definitely picking up the DVD when it comes available.

Justin Townes Earle has a new track available. It's a cover of Dolly Parton's 'Do I Ever Cross Your Mind' done with Dawn Landes - Josh Ritter's wife. Justin's voice is velvety-er than ever on this one. Pick it up from Rollo & Grady.

Joe Pug's full-length debut is nearly upon us. I came across an advance (probably illegal) copy of it, but wasn't able to download it. Oh well, I can wait patiently. But for now, check this:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mixtape VI: Sweet Black Magic (Ryan Adams B-Sides)

Before I delve into 2005 and the onset of The Cardinals in my spotlight, there's still plenty of music that needs to be (over)examined. Now, I don't follow much less obsess over collecting each piece of music that any artist records like I do Ryan Adams, but from what I can tell, he's part of a select group of musicians that constantly offer up bonus tracks with each release. Forget all his 'unreleased sessions' or rejected albums for the moment; Ryan Adams' extra songs recorded alongside those that made final album cuts still stack up higher than most folks' entire catalogs.

Starting with 2001's Gold, Ryan has rewarded pre-orders, limited editions, and often folks from other continents with extra tracks that didn't make the proper album with nearly every release. As you'll see, these are often as good if not better than many of the album cuts, and the mystery remains why these songs were never properly released. My Ryan Adams Spotlight posts have been adorned with many of these tracks that were 'bonus album cuts,' but a lot of them were never even attached to albums of his. I've whittled these 50 or so songs down to the best 22 to bring you Mixtape VI: Sweet Black Magic.

Download (zip)

's side 4 is fully represented here, and the mix takes its title from one the tracks. This set of 5 songs remains his strongest bonus effort to date and not necessarily hard to come by, have helped his sophomore album reach the critical level it has. Each side of Sweet Black Magic is finished with a signature down-tempo ballad from Gold's bonus side.

Two of the strongest moments on the mix come at each 2nd track and are both pulled from a label compilation. 'Choked Up' is technically a Whiskeytown outtake from the Pneumonia recording sessions that was part of a Lost Highway 'Lost Songs' collection. 'Monday Night' was released on a Bloodshot records 5-year retrospective entitled Down To The Promised Land. Another easy standout, 'Goodbye Honey' also comes from a Bloodshot Records compilation - the label's 100th release. The Japanese bonus disc included with Love Is Hell included two tracks featured here. Both are positive, mainly acoustic cuts that would never have fit right with the cosmic, dreary album.

Leading off the second side is one of Ryan Adams' best songs of his entire catalog. 'Fool's Gold' was never part of an official release but circulated on a collection of the same name in 2001 along with the rest of Gold's bonus tracks. The Latin-tinged rocker fits right in with the feeling of that album, even starring a familiar character, Mara Lisa, who was the inspiration for another one of those bonus tracks. 'Lovely and Blue' is another unreleased song that was available for a short time on Ryan's web site and features the more polished sound similar to Easy Tiger material. The remainder of the tracks here were b-sides released either on EP's or with singles. The best of these comes from the second 'Wonderwall' CD single with the infectious melody of 'I Want To Go Home.'

Check out more from the Ryan Adams Spotlight:
show all

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Deer Tick Download Code Giveaway!!

As promised, I've got a few more unused download codes to give away. Up for grabs this week is the newest album from one of the hottest bands in the country. Deer Tick's Born on Flag Day found itself at #4 on my Top 20 Albums of 2009. Read my review.

This time there's no trivia stopping you from giving it a try. Simply click below or on the album cover and enter your email address. Next Wednesday (1/27), I'll pick a random winner and notify them via email with the working download code. Do it.

Click here to enter the Deer Tick Contest
Contest Complete - Congrats Jeanette!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ryan Bingham leaves West Texas in the Dust...

Since honing his chops alongside many of the Texas/Oklahoma acts I used to follow, Ryan Bingham has signed with Lost Highway, released 2 critically acclaimed albums (the latest of which found my Top 20 Albums of 2009), and....

Sunday Night, New Mexico born, Texas raised Ryan Bingham won himself a Golden Globe Award. He took home the trophy for Best Original Song for 'The Weary Kind,' a tune written by Bingham for the film Crazy Heart starring Jeff Bridges. This film caught my eye as soon as the trailer surfaced. With a cast including Bridges, Robert Duvall, Colin Farrell, and Maggie Gyllenhaal, it was sure to get attention, but surprisingly, focus has been geared toward the music in the film as much as the film itself. Legendary producer T-Bone Burnett oversaw the production of the soundtrack alongside Stephen Bruton.

One of the first things that stood out to me about Crazy Heart was the fact that it was director Scott Cooper's directorial debut. He adapted the script from a book of the same name written by Thomas Cobb. It follows Bad Blake, a fictional yet very familiar country singer who, at 57, seems to have run his course in the business. Cooper had always wanted to tell the life story of Merle Haggard but could never sort out the rights. After finding the book, he learned he could not only tell Haggard's, but also stories of Waylon and Kristofferson, "with a little bit of Billy Joe Shaver and Townes Van Zandt all mixed in." Jeff Bridges pulls off the weary character perfectly, so much that he also picked up a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama.


Pick up the soundtrack (out today) from Amazon. It includes tracks from Buck Owens, The Louvin Brothers, Waylon Jennings, Lightnin' Hopkins, Townes Van Zandt, and a healthy helping from the movie's stars (Bridges and Farrell).

Here's your Golden Globe Winning Song performed earlier this month on Letterman:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Lists: Top 50 Songs of 2009

Finally, my first post of the new decade. After my ski trip, I was backed up with work, and I've had a lot of photos to edit. And for the second year in a row, the task of making my lists sort of drained the free-form fun out of what I do here. I'm ready to start finding new music as well as posting about some older stuff that had a hand in me starting this blog in the first place.

Truth be told, I wanted a little extra time to refine this list as it is quite large. So without further adieu, my Top 50 Songs of 2009:

50. Sunflower Rain - Ryan Adams
49. Dog Days Are Over - Florence and the Machine [purchase]
48. You Never Know - Wilco [purchase]
47. Sailor Song - First Aid Kit [purchase]
46. Ship Come In - Jonny Burke [purchase]
45. Give Me Time - Dawes [purchase]
44. - Brendan Benson [purchase]
43. Two Weeks - Grizzly Bear [purchase]
42. Goodbye Hollywood - JET [purchase]
41. Cry - Slaid Cleaves [purchase]
40. Don't Come Calling - Stephanie Briggs [purchase]
39. Orion & Dog - Sea Wolf [purchase]
38. Boots Boy - Langhorne Slim [purchase]
37. Brother John - Middle Distance Runner [purchase]
36. The Guitar - Guy Clark [purchase]
35. In These Arms - The Swell Season [purchase]
34. Good Ol' Fashioned Nightmare - Matt & Kim [purchase]
33. Cooperstown - The Felice Brothers [purchase]
32. Bells of Harlem - Dave Rawlings Machine [purchase]
31. Eager For Your Love - Tristen [purchase]
30. Nikorette - Conor Oberst & The MVB [purchase]
29. Champion Angel - The Low Anthem [purchase]
28. Lisztomania - Phoenix [purchase]
27. Heartbroken, In Disrepair - Dan Auerbach [purchase]
26. Round Here - Middle Distance Runner [purchase]
25. Ten Women - Conor Oberst & The MVB [purchase]
24. Hurtin' You - Ben Kweller [purchase]
23. Smith Hill - Deer Tick [purchase]
22. Tell Me True - Sarah Jarosz [purchase]
21. Cage The Songbird - The Low Anthem [purchase]
20. Ten Thousand Words - The Avett Brothers [purchase]
19. The Traitor - Sea Wolf [purchase]
18. Funeral Singers - Califone [purchase]
17. Day Is Done - Ryan Bingham [purchase]
16. Everyday - Vetiver [purchase]
15. White Limo - The Felice Brothers [purchase]
14. Sweet Disposition - The Temper Trap [purchase]
13. A Thousand Men - Joe Pug [purchase]
12. Far And Wide - The Roadside Graves [purchase]
11. Easy - Deer Tick [purchase]
10. Mama's Eyes - Justin Townes Earle [purchase]
9. The Big Surprise - The Felice Brothers [purchase]
8. Speak of Trouble - Great Bloomers [purchase]
7. Laundry Room (live version) - The Avett Brothers [purchase]
6. Gunslinger - The Medders [purchase]
5. Take It In - Wye Oak [purchase]
4. I Got The Reason - Conor Oberst & The MVB [purchase]
3. Ticket Taker - The Low Anthem
2. Honeymoon - Bombadil

1. Ruby - Dave Rawlings Machine [purchase]

Ruby, let down your golden hair
When I'm standing at the bottom of your stairs
Ruby, I can see your TV on
But the people there, they flicker and they're gone
So let down your golden hair for me tonight
Let down your golden hair for me to climb
Just like an old-time telegraph man
I came here with a simple job to do
'Cause that news coming down the wire
Says that your head's on fire
And I'm trying to get a message through to you

Ruby, you ain't lonely yet
With your crystal and your Russian cigarette
Ruby, haven't you heard before?
Working is the finest tower when it hasn't got a door
So let down your golden hair for me to climb
Let down your golden hair for me tonight
Just like an old-time telegraph man
I came here with a simple job to do
'Cause that news coming down the wire
Says that your bed's on fire
And I'm trying to get a message through to you, Ruby

I'm that old-time telegraph man
And I came here with a simple job to do
'Cause that news coming down the wire
Says that your world's on fire
And I'm trying to get a message through to you

I'm that old-time telegraph man
And I came here with a simple job to do
'Cause that news coming down the wire
Says that your world's on fire
And I'm trying to get a message through to you