Posts Tagged ‘Folk’

Lilah Larson-Pentimento

January 30, 2017 Leave a comment


I’ve been a big fan of Lilah Larson since 2011, when Oliver Ignatius sent me some tracks he was working on for Sons Of An Illustrious Father. They pretty instantly became one of my favorite bands, and the album One Body has been a constant in my streaming habits (as well as vinyl listening-a beautiful oxblood red piece of wax). They’ve kept fairly busy the past couple years, but I’m glad Lilah made some time to do a solo record because what we get on Pentimento is pure in vision and executed beautifully.

The album came out at the tail end of 2016, but now it’s streaming on Spotify, Bandcamp, and iTunes. I took a couple spins through Pentimento last week and really fell in love with a couple of the songs. They all come off as well-crafted and sincere, but “Father Daughter Ghost” and “Someone Else” stand out above the rest for me.

The former struck me as a little odd at first. The beat is totally different from the rest of the record, and the electric guitar’s small section early in the song reflects a bittersweet yearning. The thing that really caught me up is the lyric in the bridge, which could have easily just been a throwaway: “If I saw you would you see me, too, and would that mean that we were born again? And tell me what good would that really do? We really wanna do it all again?” The electric guitar comes back after and has a more triumphant feeling, like a burden has been lifted.

“Someone Else” has a more traditional sound, carried on pure emotion from Larson’s delivery. She does an amazing job of projecting sadness, anger, confusion; often all at the same time. Trying to make someone else happy sometimes requires a lot of compromising your own happiness, even your own identity. It’s even possible to compromise so much that you kind of lose yourself along the way. Here, torn between heartbreak and a life of pretending to be someone you’re not, Larson acknowledges that some things are more important than others.

There are some other cool things on Pentimento, from the electronic drums on “Windsinger” to the way Larson layers harmonies with her own voice on “tbh,” it’s an impressive production. Larson plays darn near everything on the album-save for a little percussion on “Father Daughter Ghost” and “You Are.” This is solely and uniquely her own, and it’s a great testament to her talent as a musician and songwriter.

Conor Oberst And The Felice Brothers-“Napalm”

January 19, 2017 Leave a comment

A few years ago I had the pleasure of heading west to Los Angeles for a little festival in Santa Monica. Way Over Yonder was billed as a folk fest put on by the same people that do the Newport Folk Festival every year. There were certainly some great folk acts on the bill, but it was here that I saw the greatest rock and roll show I’ve ever witnessed-Conor Oberst backed by The Felice Brothers.

It’s just been announced that Conor is working with the band again on a new (sort of) album. Salutations is going to be 7 new tracks, plus all the songs from Ruminations done with a full band instead of solo. Yesterday they released the first new track, “Napalm,” as well as their version of  “A Little Uncanny.”

“Napalm” is, in my opinion, the most electrifying track Oberst has released since “Roosevelt Room” appeared on Outer South. There’s a little twang in the vocals on some lyrics, and since Ian Felice isn’t focused on singing he’s free to go wild on lead guitar.

Salutations also features Oberst’s Monsters Of Folk bandmate Jim James and drummer Jim Keltner. The Felice Brothers will join Oberst on tour (seriously must-see live) for dates in Europe as well as a handful here in the States. Check out the tour dates here.

The album is up for pre-sale through Nonesuch.

Savannah Stopover Announces Full Lineup

January 17, 2017 Leave a comment

Savannah, Georgia, routinely third of the Georgian cities when it comes to music, is gonna be the host for some great bands from March 9th through the 11th (making it number 1 in my book, if only for a few days). Savannah Stopover, now in its seventh year, features headliners Kishi Bashi and Lee Fields & The Expressions as well as my personal favorite Ezra Furman.

Other featured artists include Julien Baker, Lewis Del Mar, and Alanna Royale. With over 80 bands confirmed, including some great music local to the state of Georgia, there’s sure to be something for everyone!

The multi-venue festival takes place the week before South by Southwest, so it’s a bit of a warmup for some of the acts trying to make waves at this year’s greatest networking opportunity. This is a great chance to see these musicians in a room full of music fans and not industry people talking loudly while sipping on PBR.

For tickets to the festival, click here.

Steph Barrak-So Familiar

November 17, 2016 Leave a comment


It’s been more than three and a half years since we heard new music from Steph Barrak. Her debut LP, Words To Break Your Heart, came out on Valentine’s Day 2013 and she added her name to my list of singer/songwriters to watch. Finally she’s back with a new single and a record due out in early February.

The time in between releases hasn’t caused any deficit in her songwriting or singing. “So Familiar” is as radio-ready and relatable as anything off Words. The production feels like it’s taken a step up, so the new record may be a bit more slick. She’s working with the same team from the last album, and they all seem to have grown together during the hiatus.

As with her previous album, 50% of the sales of this single will go toward Girls Rock Boston. You can purchase it here.

Never Again will be available February 3rd.

Josh Ritter at Thalia Hall 9/26/2016

September 27, 2016 Leave a comment

Last night Josh Ritter stopped in Chicago for his second headlining date of the year in support of his album Sermon On The Rocks. The first show was at the very cavernous and not-so-great-sounding Riviera, and this concert was at the much-preferred Thalia Hall, with it’s fantastic sound system and intimate atmosphere. The diehards made it out despite the double whammy of the Presidential debate between future Commander-In-Chief Hilary Clinton and some schmuck who thinks saying “Women-you gotta treat ’em like shit” is an okay thing to do, and also a high-profile Monday Night Football game. Well, after looking at the score and watching the debate on DVR, going to the show was definitely the Right Move(s).

The setlist was pretty fun-straying away from the most recent album quite a bit to play some classics. He still played plenty of tracks from Sermon On The Rocks, including “Henrietta, Indiana,” “Where The Night Goes,” and “Getting Ready To Get Down,” but he also played a lot of fan favorites, kicking the show off with “Monster Ballads” ¬†and “Me & Jiggs” from Animal Years and Golden Age Of Radio. There were a couple brand new songs thrown in as well, which sounded good.

The band was a little different this time around-no Sam Kassirer on keys (no keys at all), no Josh Kaufman on guitar (replaced by Marty something who could really wail), and no Liam Hurley on drums (Ray Rizzo subs while Liam is caring for his new baby). Zachariah Hickman was on bass, of course, but played the stand-up version for the whole evening. The songs had more of a country vibe with this arrangement, which I imagine has something to do with the upcoming dates opening for Jason Isbell. It was a nice change of pace, though, and I enjoyed these versions thoroughly.

I didn’t write down the setlist, and there hasn’t been an update made to Setlist.FM yet, so here’s how I remember it…very likely it’s wrong:

Monster Ballads, Me & Jiggs, Cry Softly, Henrietta Indiana, Long Shadows, Bonfire, A Certain Light, Young Moses, Right Moves, Myrna Loy (In The Darkness), Snow Is Gone (solo), Girl In The War, Wolves, Cumberland, Where The Night Goes, Folk Bloodbath, Getting Ready To Get Down, Kathleen ENCORE: New Song, Lillian, Egypt

Hoots & Hellmouth-Diction (Video)

September 15, 2016 Leave a comment

Photo by: Melissa Madison Fuller

It’s been about 5 years since the last release from Philly’s Hoots & Hellmouth released new music. They were singing about a wrecking ball a full year before that other popular song about wrecking balls came out, but it’s been quiet on all fronts since then. Which makes In The Trees a hotly anticipated record for fans of the band like myself. Yesterday they put out the first video to introduce us to new music. The song is called “Diction,” and it’s soulful and emotional and makes great use of the vocal range lead singer Sean Hoots possesses.

In The Trees comes out October 28. The band will start touring October 5, with a date here in Chicago on October 9th at Tonic Room. For all dates, click here.

Angel Olsen Announces New Album, Debuts New Song


I’ll never forget the first time I heard Angel Olsen sing. It was August 2010 and I was covering my very first show for a music site (the now defunct Chicago Tunes). It was a lot of firsts all at once-first time at Empty Bottle since I was 21 and drove up from Indiana to see Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Liars play forever ago, first time hearing the Neutral Milk Hotel cover band Neutral Uke Hotel, and my first time eating at the amazing burger place across from The Bottle, The Lockdown. So it’s a lot of stuff that was going on, but the second Olsen opened her mouth to start singing everything else faded to the background. She’s got one of those transportive sounds that just whisks you away to another time and place.

Since then she’s released a couple great records and toured extensively. She’s also become quite popular, so the chances of her opening for anyone at The Empty Bottle or anywhere else are pretty slim. Now she’s announced a new record called My Woman (September 2) on Jagjaguwar. Along with the announcement comes a new song, “The Intern.”

Olsen wrote, directed, and edited the video and it comes together really well. It feels very influenced by directors like Davids Lynch and Cronenberg, and the music certainly fits in their worlds.

You can pre-order the record here, if you wish. I know I will.

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