Joywave-“Doubt”

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Over the past few months a handful of my friends have been talking about Joywave. Most of them are into stuff a bit poppier than I am, but I wanted to check them out before they start getting super popular. When they released their recent single, “It’s A Trip!,” I wasn’t too excited by it. The latest song, “Doubt,” is much more in tune with my tastes.

The song is a bit darker, more synth-pop with a New Wave 80’s influence.Produced by vocalist Dan Armbruster and Sean Donnelly, you can feel a lot of the bands that they’ve been opening for over the last couple years starting to seep into their sound. They’re about to head out for some dates with Cold War Kids and Young The Giant later this summer, and the fans of those bands should be prepared to show up early to hear a group they’re sure to love.

Check out the band’s website for details on the new album Content, as well as tour dates (also to hear the new song if you can’t check it out via Spotify below).

Bent Knee at Schubas 6/12/2017

I was introduced to Bent Knee a couple weeks ago when I read about their new record, Land Animal, which comes out next week on Inside/Out. The title track was put out as the first single, and I was sure it was a cover at first because there was something familiar about it. The pace and timbre of the delivery from Courtney Swain was stuck in my head for a couple of days. I realize now that my mind was just playing tricks on me. Her voice does remind me of Hayley Mary from The Jezabels (particularly on “Noah’s Ark”), but the song is wholly original.

Going into the live show I didn’t really have any expectations. Bent Knee has been playing together for a long time now, so I knew they’d be tight, and I had some idea of what they sounded like on record but no clue what their concerts were like. Turns out they’re just as interested in having fun as the people in the audience.

The show was being taped by the people at Audiotree, who also own the venue. That limited where I could go to take pictures a bit because I didn’t want to get in the way of the guys filming up front. I moved around a bit to try to get some different angles, but there were enough people there for the show that it wasn’t always easy (I’m average height, but a lot of concert goers are much taller than myself).

The most animated member of the band, Ben Levin, was a joy to watch. He seemed both completely focused and freewheeling at the same time. He was all smiles and his energy just couldn’t be contained by the stage. That energy was felt throughout the audience, as the ground shook multiple times from people stomping and jumping right along with him.

I enjoyed what I heard from this group of Bostonians. Swaine’s vocals can feel overwhelming at times, but it’s that same raw power that gives the songs their emotional weight. The label “orchestral pop” does fit to a degree, but I’ve never liked it. Nor “chamber pop,” though I think that works better. Having a live violinist is almost always a good thing, and though I didn’t get any good pictures of him, Vince Welch working the knobs and synths adds a great element to the music.

Arkells at House Of Blues 6/9/2017

Arkells returned to House Of Blues on Friday night after opening for Frank Turner at the venue back in January. Frontman Max Kerman must have been taking notes during those gigs, because he utilized every square inch of the stage during their headlining set. And when he divided he needed even MORE space, he just jumped over the barricade and hung out with the crowd. They’re a fun bunch of guys, and their music lends itself to a night of fun and good feelings. This was my fourth time seeing them in two years, and I have left each show very satisfied.

With last year’s release of Morning Report I think Arkells turned a corner and stumbled onto the path to fully realizing their potential. Like most great bands, it took a while to get there. I think they’re headed toward much bigger things in the future.

The set list was a mix of new and old, reaching as far back as 2008’s Jackson Square for “Pullin Punches.” For newer fans who haven’t gone back to listen to the older albums, its good to pepper in some of that original stuff so they get a better idea of where the band came from.

One of the big highlights for me is watching Max mess with lead guitarist Mike DeAngelis. I don’t know them personally, but they seem to have a great relationship. Mike is a great guitar player and, I think, gets overlooked at times due to Max’s boundless energy and charisma.

The connection with the audience is really what it’s all about. Arkells do a great job of making everyone feel involved, naming the concert goers the “non-denominational choir” of whatever city they’re playing. They even asked a guy to come up and play guitar on a song-and he sounded pretty good!

Floco Torres-You!

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Photo by Maryann Bates

Music videos don’t always have to be big-budget, high octane thrill rides. Sometimes it’s better when they’re just a fun and honest depiction of the artist. That’s exactly what you get with this clip from Floco Torres.

The Akron, Ohio-based MC has over 20 releases to his name over the past 9 years, and will be dropping Again, his latest EP, on July 7th.

You can navigate some of Floco’s older stuff and see where he started and how he’s evolved over the years. My  favorite discovery was a little remix of Kate Nash’s “Dickhead” he posted back in 2013.

A Day In The Country Turns 10!

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You know summer is coming when The Hideout announces A Day In The Country. This is the 10th anniversary of the one-day festival, celebrating musicians from all forms of Country music. Curated by Lawrence Peters of The Lawrence Peters Outfit, music fans will enjoy everything from Americana and Honky Tonk to Western Swing. Plus, Grammy winner Jim Lauderdale will be performing songs from his 30+ years in music. Here he is with Buddy Miller at NPR’s Tiny Desk.

You’ll also have the chance to eat some delicious Honky Tonk BBQ and treat yo’ self to some Bang Bang Pie!

Check out Hideout’s website for full details and lineup info. The music starts outside at 2pm and moves indoors from 5-11pm. Tickets are only $12 for a full day of music.

Taste Of Randolph: Great Music And Food To Check Out

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Taste Of Randolph has a pretty great track record of getting a diverse group of musical acts to satisfy all tastes. This year is no different, with headliners Dawes, Moon Taxi, and Robert DeLong providing americana, rock, and electronic fans with some of the best of each genre.

Further down the bill, you’ll find a lot of great local talent. Many of them are friends of the site, and I would urge you to check out each one if you can. On Friday at 6pm you can see Bassel & The Supernaturals on the Skyline Stage, Saturday Phillip-Michael Scales opens the fest on the same stage at noon, and Sunday you’ll find Donnie Biggins playing the Denver Live On The Rocks stage at 3pm while Nasty Snacks hits Skyline at 4:30.

Other great acts playing the festival: Head For The Hills and Son Little (Sunday), Wes John Cichosz and Growlers (Friday), !!! and Prob Cause (Saturday-back to back).

The first time I went to this festival was a few years ago when Divine Fits were headlining. The place was pretty packed, and a lot of the lines for the food vendors were too long to bother waiting before their set started. When they ended a lot of places were closing down, but as I walked toward the east exit from as far west as I could be, a wonderful aroma filled the air. I followed the scent to a little stand that featured De Cero Tacos. They were a little pricey, but that’s to be expected at these kinds of events. At $5, the taco didn’t stand much of a chance of living up to the price, but I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if it wasn’t one of the best tacos I’ve ever tasted.

The are where the festival takes place is known for great restaurants, and I’ve hit a few I can tell you are certainly worth checking out. The burgers at Grange Hall are delicious. I don’t know what their menu will be for this event, but they also serve amazing boozy milkshakes. If it’s a delicious bacon you desire, I recommend stopping by Publican for a hunk of meat so mouthwatering you’ll need a spittoon to catch all your drool.

I’ve always had a good time at Taste Of Randolph. I have to work over the weekend it’s going on this year, but I’ll try to get there to see Moon Taxi for sure.

This year they’re also offering VIP tickets, which gets you seats in the stands, discounts on beer, and private bathrooms. You can find details on those tickets here.

Good Morning Midnight-Basket Of Flowers

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It’s strange how well Good Morning Midnight‘s new album flows. The songs themselves are quite different, ranging from somber folk to indie-pop to raucous 70’s style AM radio tunes. The influence of bands like Wilco and songwriters like Elliot Smith are heard pretty easily throughout, and GMM’s Charlie Cacciatore captures their spirit with ease.

Produced and engineered by friend of the site Dana Telsrow and Luke Tweedy at Flat Black Studios in Iowa City, Basket Of Flowers is a polished, easy listen that lets the work speak for itself. No need for bells and whistles when you have quality songwriting and musical ability.

The first song I heard from the album was “Permanently Red,” a wordy tune with a lot going on sonically on which you can chew. It’s available over on GMM’s bandcamp page as the lead single off Basket Of Flowers, but don’t think for one second that you’re going to get 11 more songs just like it. I’m particularly enthralled with the closing track, “UNIVERSE or Donald J. Trump Vs. The Winchester Boys Choir.” It’s a ten minute epic, not unlike “Let’s Not Shit Ourselves” on the Bright Eyes album Lifted. Even without the Trump stuff, this is a really great song.

“Loneliness knows no limits at all. Expands like the universe. Demands like a black hole.” There’s a bizarre simplicity to this, but the way it’s sung makes it feel like a new idea I’m hearing for the first time. And that’s true of much of Basket Of Flowers. There’s a lot of sounds that I’ve heard before, but never like this. Delivered in a fusion of Radiohead and Neutral Milk Hotel. It’s really a great listen.

The album isn’t officially out until July 21st, but if you catch Good Morning Midnight at a show, you can get a physical copy. He’ll be in Chicago this Saturday, June 3rd, at Roach Manor (Western and 19th).

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