To See or Not To See: Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros

The second installment in this series.

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros: All 217 of them

Well, 217 might be an exaggeration, but there are seriously about twenty people who comprise this band in some form or fashion.  Their first full album is Up From Below (2009) and everyone should have heard “Home” by now.  You are probably familiar with the hook from “Janglin” from a Ford Fiesta commercial.  I’ll preface my next sentence to say that I mean this in a good way.  I have to thank Wikipedia because I would have said an iPod/Pad/Phone commercial.  I really hate all those commercials, but they do have some catchy background music in them.

The whole time I listened to this album, I could not help but think that they would be opening up for The Mamas & The Popas in the ’60s.  I really have no clue why that band popped (pun intended) into my head, but they did and I will stick with that comparison.  Note: I always stick with my first thought unless someone gives me reason to change my mind.

Grade: B+ (88)

Upcoming shows in Nashville or festivals:

4/15-4/16 – Vanderbilt Rites of Spring Music Festival

To See or Not To See: Amos Lee

I was talking with a friend on Friday and I started to realize just how much music festival season is creeping up on us.  I have wanted to start digging into some of the artists that will be playing the festivals I am planning on attending and I plan on posting some reviews/information on the artists here so you can judge if you would like to see them or not as well.  Use this how you see fit to plan who you will want to see at the festivals or the next time they come through your town.

I will give a grade at the end of each post and I plan to use this grade, once all the schedules are announced, to break any ties on double-booked times.  I have not really decided on my grading scale yet.  (If you were a teacher, would you use 90-100 as an A or 93-100?)  If you have any artists that you would like to know more about, let me know and I will add them to the list I have started.  These entries will not be long because they should just give you the basics on the artist.  If you would like for me to let you know about some of their best songs, just ask and I can add that as well.

AMOS LEE: Folk Troubadour

Amos Lee is probably one of the better known of the artists that I plan on reviewing.  Everyone mostly knows him from his self-titled 2005 album with songs like “Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight”, “Arms of A Woman”, and “Colors”.  Lee has released three other albums: Supply and Demand (2006), Last Days At The Lodge (2008), and his new release Mission Bell (2011).  The best way that I can describe Amos Lee is that his music is good.  Nothing in it really jumps out as amazing, but at the same time nothing is awful.  His music is great for a sunny summer day lounging around at the park (which is where I listened and took notes) or driving around with the windows down.  Fittingly, the first single off Mission Bell is titled “Windows Are Rolled Down” and the title holds true.  If you like singers like Norah Jones (who invited him to open for her during her 2004 tour), you’ll like Amos Lee.

Grade: B- mainly because he’ll be playing 3 places that I will be at so he won’t be a must-see since I will have three chances.  Hangout would probably be the best setting for him (but wouldn’t it be for any artist).

Upcoming Shows in Nashville area or Festivals:

4/8/11 – Ryman Auditorium

5/1/11 – Beale Street Music Festival

5/22/11 – Hangout Music Festival

6/12/11 – Bonnaroo

The Soundtrack of My Life – Volume 1

So technically this is not a new blog “entry” but it is something I wanted to share with everyone again now that I have started Tones of Yo.  I have added more detail in this post than what I initially had when I posted this as a Facebook note almost two years ago.

The purpose of this exercise is to create a soundtrack that explains your life and there are two views on how it can be created.  One way to go about this endeavor (and I do mean endeavor because it is a tough task) is to pick songs that meant a lot to you at different pivotal points in your life.  The other way to start this project, and the way I chose to use, is to view yourself from another person’s perspective and create the soundtrack based on what they would play during the movie about your life.  I highly recommend all music lovers to try this at some point.

I threw my iPod on shuffle and listened to every song that was on it at the time when I started to think about what songs I wanted on my soundtrack.  The task can get tedious when you have 11,000+ songs, so there is no way that I got through every song (side note: I am now over 15,000).  However, I was unemployed at the time and making the Nashville-Memphis-Nashville trek at least once every two weeks so I did make it through a good bit.  I gave every song a chance by listening to it for at least one minute before skipping to the next song and I actually discovered some new songs and artists that I might have normally skipped if I did not try this project.  I remember my initial list of songs came to about 35 and I had to narrow down from there. You are probably tired of reading my narrative by now, so I will get on to the music.  A post on why each song made the cut will come soon.

RULES:

  • No more than 20 songs
  • Must fit on one disc

THE SOUNDTRACK:

1. Blind Melon – “No Rain”

2. Cary Brothers – “Blue Eyes”

3. The Killers – “Glamorous Indie Rock and Roll”

4. Modest Mouse – “The World at Large”

5. Aerosmith – “Dream On”

6. The Doors – “Break On Through (To The Other Side)”

7. Jeremy Kay – “Have It All”

8. The Beatles – “In My Life”

9. Bill Withers – “Lean On Me”

10. Cake – “Friend is a Four Letter Word”

11. Dashboard Confessional – “The Places You Have Come to Fear The Most”

12. Survivor – “Eye of the Tiger”

13. Gov’t Mule – “I’ll Be The One”

14. The Beach Boys – “When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)”

15. Ben E. King – “Stand By Me”

16. The Weepies – “Can’t Go Back Now”

17. The Meters – “Mardi Gras Mambo”

18. Bobby McFerrin – “Don’t Worry Be Happy”

19. Wade Yohanek – “Adam”

20. Semisonic – “Closing Time”

Bonus Track (because “Adam” is not recorded anywhere): Ben Harper – “Glory & Consequence”

2010 Concerts in Review

If you know one thing about me, know that I’m a sucker for a live show.  Ask me to go with you and I’ll probably go if I care just a smidgen about the artist (especially if it’s free).  Concerts are where the artist can bring you full circle to show you the emotion they put into their music.  A CD will not let you see the tears that Ray LaMontagne sheds during his first performance at Bonnaroo to an overwhelmed crowd at That Tent.  A CD will not let you smell the organ that catches fire while Grace Potter wows you for the first time at Voodoo Fest.  A CD will not let you see the effort that Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals put into every note as they play an all-acoustic, three-hour, two-encore show at the mother of all live venues, The Ryman Auditorium.  (Quick aside: I still get asked for copies of that show six years later.  Here’s that setlist … let me know if you want a copy.)  Now I love listening to CDs, don’t get me wrong there, but a concert is a memory that you share with those in attendance who are usually some of your best friends (or become that way soon after).

I have compiled a list of my favorite concerts from last year below and how I will remember them.

  • The National – Ryman Auditorium – I have been keen to The National since late 2008 and this was the first time they made it to Nashville.  They did play Bonnaroo in 2010 and they are one of the two reasons I wish I had gone (more on that later).  I watched that webcast and had huge expectations for this show and I was still completely floored by the performance … hands-down favorite show of the year.  Matt Berninger walking down our pew while belting out “Mr. November” encapsulates this show.  The first time I have seen someone come to the audience from the stage in The Ryman.
  • Flaming Lips – Cox Convention Center, Oklahoma City – How better to end 2009 and start 2010 than a road-trip concert?  Looking back personal-wise, I really needed this at the time.  The Lips played their normal (well in their case abnormal) set and, after sharing the largest balloon drop with some great friends, played Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album in its entirety.  I cannot think of a better band to put their spin on an album.
  • Garth Brooks – Bridgestone, show 2 – Who sells out nine shows at Bridgestone Arena?  I’m talking packed.  Open stage so there were no seats blocked off.  I hate country and I loved this friggin show.  Garth Brooks can entertain … plain and simple.
  • Garth Brooks – Bridgestone, show 9 – Who goes to all nine Garth Brooks shows?  Well, not me, but there were a couple of people with signs saying they did.  The first show I went to was cut a little short since it started at 10:45, but this one got going about 9:30 and he was able to get more songs in.  Also threw in a little “Piano Man” cover.
  • Mumford & Sons – War Memorial Auditorium, sound check – (the second reason I wish I went to Bonnaroo 2010) Woohoo … I won me some tickets to see M&S do their sound check with about 40 others.  It wasn’t much, but it was all I could get after their tickets sold out 15 minutes before I could get to the office to buy them.  It was great though to see them joking around and playing a majority of each song to get all their levels right for those lucky few who would be there that night.  They even teased us by playing a bit of “Shelter From the Storm” … perhaps foreshadowing playing with Bob Dylan at the Grammy’s.  Oh, I hated those bastards that were going to the show that night.
  • Mumford & Sons – War Memorial Auditorium, main show – Yah, I ended up being one of those lucky bastards that got to go after scalping a ticket.  The two margaritas after the sound check convinced me that I had to see the full show.  They played their entire CD, mixed in a couple of new songs, and ended the night with their friends (and Nashvillians) Old Crow Medicine Show.  The two groups joined up to pleasure our ears with “Tell It To Me” and “Wagon Wheel” by OCMS and “Roll Away Your Stone” to end the night.  They all then went on to surprise Nashville with their fourth show of the day (Grimey’s in between sound check and main show) at Station Inn which I almost went to, but decided I couldn’t call in sick to work the next day.
  • many – Hangout Festival, Gulf Shores – I have a recipe for fun: mix almost equal parts of Black Crowes, Ben Harper & R7, Girl Talk, The Roots, Hightide Blues, Guster, Ray LaMontagne, OK Go, Michael Franti, Keller Williams, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Grace Potter, Matisyahu, Brett Dennen.  Toss in sand.  Pour in waves.  Blast in Surprise Fireworks and Elevator Dance Party.  Drizzle in actual showers (and a monsoon).  And for that final touch, sprinkle “She Talks To Angels” finally after seeing The Black Crowes for the eighth time.  I am so glad I stumbled upon this festival on Consequence of Sound.
  • Girl Talk – parking lot of Mai – Halloween night, costumes, complete and utter fun.  The after party dance in the empty parking lot extended the fun times
  • Neil Young – Ryman Auditorium – I am not a huge fan of Mr. Young’s but a chance to see a show like this (solo) at The Ryman could not be passed up.
  • The Avett Brothers – Ryman Auditorium – The show where you could only semi-dress up for Halloween.  I may hate their newest album, but they put on one helluva live show.

Best of the Rest:

  • B.B. King w/ Buddy Guy – Ryman Auditorium
  • Rodrigo y Gabriela – Ryman Auditorium
  • Drive-By Truckers – Mercy Lounge
  • Van Morrison – BJCC – Birmingham, AL … won two tickets, sold the extra for $175 which paid for my gas money and food for driving down for the show and then back right after.  I recommend seeing him, but he’s at the icon status where he plays for 90 minutes and is done.
  • Widespread Panic – Ryman Auditorium – 1st show where I was there to see them and only them.
  • Rites of Spring – Vanderbilt – So half of it was rained out … being close for Ben Harper & R7 was worth it.  Plus Phoenix put on a great dance party set.
  • Jill Andrews – somewhere on Music Row
  • Sam Quinn (and Apache Relay) – 3rd and Lindsley
  • Band of Horses – Live on the Green
  • The Wailers – Live on the Green
  • Dr. Dog – Live on the Green

I know I am leaving out some that will bring back some fond memories.  I’ll have to dig deep in my brain and go through my ticket stubs for the rest.

Until next time, all I can say is that my life is pretty plain.

My Top 10 ’10 Albums

Are you surprised?  I finally did it.  I am officially letting everyone know my top ten albums of 2010.  I have another surprise for you though.  I had every intention of naming only ten albums (with some Honorable Mentions) when I started reviewing everything but I soon decided that my music ADD would not allow me.  I cannot start my blog saying one album is better than another when my taste changes every three hours (or minutes … or seconds).  So what I have for you here is my favorite albums from the year and my brief review with some suggestions from the album.

Stayed in CD player for weeks

  • Mumford and Sons – Sigh No More – A superb first state-side album.  The mix of slow, fast, bluegrass, folk, punk-folk, rock is great.  I will let the album do the rest of the convincing.  Suggestions: all
  • The National – High Violet – I will say that this album does not touch Boxer (or maybe even Alligator) but that would be extremely difficult.  I recommend buying the expanded edition if you pick this up.  This album is my fall-back for when I want to listen to something newer when nothing good is on XM.  The album might sound dark and a little depressing, but I can listen to depressing music when I am in the happiest of moods (might be an interesting topic for a future post).  Suggestions: “Terrible Love”, “Afraid of Everyone”, “Little Faith”, “Sorrow” … but really, all
  • Broken Bells – Broken Bells – This album is not for everyone.  It is a little more synthy than some people like, but it works great for me.  The only two knocks on this album are that you almost expect more from James Mercer & Brian Burton and it is basically an electric/synthy The Shins album (and I don’t mean that in a bad way).  Suggestions: “Vaporize”, “The Mall & Misery”, “The Ghost Inside”
  • Arcade Fire – The Suburbs – I am not a big Arcade Fire fan, but this album is superb.  Seriously, the only other Arcade Fire song I like is probably “No Cars Go” but I can listen to this whole album.  Suggestions: “Modern Man”, “Ready to Start”, “We Used to Wait”
  • Girl Talk – All Day – You either get it or you don’t so I’m not going to say anything except this is some damn fun music.  Suggestions: “Oh No”, “Every Day”, “Jump on Stage”

Fall back options when I need something else

  • Sam Quinn – The Fake That Sunk a Thousand Ships – Anything by any member of The Everybodyfields will always make any list I make.  I cannot wait to put Jill Andrews new album on my ’11 list.  Suggestions: “Fanboy”, “Hello”, “Late The Other Night”
  • Menomena – Mines – Indie blog-o-sphere new comer of the year probably.  I never gave this one a chance until December and I am now sad that I missed their show at the Mercy Lounge back in November(??).  I was entranced when I first listened while at the gym to the point where I kept working out to listen to it back to back.  Suggestions: “Taos”, “Bote”, “Five Little Rooms”
  • Frightened Rabbit – Winter of Mixed Drinks – Sullen, depressing music.  Think The National except from Scotland … and the instruments sound happy.  Suggestions: “Things”, “Swim Until You Can’t See Land”, “Nothing Like You”
  • Best Coast – Crazy For You – Low-fi California girl writes California garage rock about her boyfriend, the summer, weed, and her cat.  Doesn’t sound like much, but it you’ll be suprised.  One song clocks in at over three minutes (3:02).   Suggestions: “Our Deal”, “Crazy For You”, “When I’m With You”
  • Grace Potter & The Nocturnals – Grace Potter & The Nocturnals – She’s hot and I still remember leaving everyone I was with at Voodoo Fest ’08 to go watch her and being in a crowd of about 40 people and getting up right by the stage to see her cover “Paint it Black”.  Suggestions: “Paris (Ooh La La)”, “Medicine”
  • Band of Horses – Infinite Arms – Third album from the band is a little lacking, but it is above average by most standards.  It sounds simpler than their previous two efforts and I think it is a step back for them.  It will not keep me from listening to it again, however Cease… or Everything… would be picked before them.  Suggestions: “Compliments”, “Older”
  • Dr. Dog – Shame, Shame – I have a hard time with this album because I always seem to forget about it, but then I listen again and I can’t stop.  Suggestions: “Shadow People”, “Shame, Shame”
  • The Soft Pack – The Soft Pack – The first thing that popped in my head when listening to this was “The Strokes … but cleaner sounding” and after a couple of listens, I stick by it.  Only two songs clock out at over 3:15, so that helps my musical ADD to like them more. Suggestions: “Down On Loving”, “C’mon”, “Answer to Yourself”
  • Citizen Cope – The Rainwater LP – CC is what he is, lazy day loungin’ music.  He works it and he works well.  Even his faster songs work to lounge around (or “lamp”) to.  Suggestions: “Healing Hands”, “I Couldn’t Explain Why”
  • Black Keys – Brothers – I can never get really into Black Keys, but I do find myself listening to this piece more than their others.  Suggestions: “Next Girl”, “Howlin’ For You”, “Never Gonna Give You Up”
  • JJ Grey & Mofro – Georgia Warhorse – Plain ol’ southern folk rock is the best way to describe JJ Grey & Mofro.  I imagine driving down a country road with windows down whenever I listen to this album (and their others).  Suggestions: “King Hummingbird”, “The Sweetest Thing”, “Georgia Warhorse”

The Best of Synthy/Trance

  • Yeasayer – Odd Blood
  • Gorillaz – Plastic Beach
  • Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles (II)
  • Caribou – Swim

So let me know who I missed.  I may have listened and didn’t like (ex. The Avett Brothers – I & Love & You), but I am always open to give a band another listen.  Oh, and top concerts will be the next post and I can probably rank those.

Some other “tops” that I think you will enjoy or that I check (not that I agree them):

Out The Other

Paul Shirley

Aquarium Drunkard

Consequence of Sound