Live streams of Newport Folk Festival all weekend. A year ago today my best friend and I actualized a dream five years in the making. A secondary dream of seeing Bob Boilen was also actualized. Maybe next time one of us will have the courage to actually introduce ourselves… I shall now reminisce.


On October 15, Seattle’s Head and the Heart will return with their sophomore effort, Let’s Be Still. (via The Head and The Heart Announce New Album “Let’s Be Still” | Under The Radar)
07.22.13 /22:00/ 33

My first experience of the song “Get Lucky” was in fact the cover by Daughter. In most cases I am opposed to a cover song coming about so close to the release of the original for reasons such as this. Upon further analysis I came to realize the vast difference between the two versions, and t each one’s ability to convey an entirely dissimilar meaning. Daughter’s cover is able to convey such beauty (moody and brooding)— as does anything that voice is graced with singing. This is how covers should be done— a completely new spin on the original that leaves you wondering how it was meant to be.

The original and the cover.

There isn’t much to say about Iowa - in reality - most people outside of the ___ don’t know it exists, soybeans and corn are grown here and therefore are major contributors to the deadzone in the Gulf of Mexico, CAFO’s, small towns - yep that’s about it.  But I’m a native and maybe doesn’t seem like a really great place to be from, but i am for some reason fiercely proud of being an Iowan.  So therefore, I must have something to be proud of and sense this blog is really only about one thing - music and the love of it - I’m sure you can easily imagine what I want to share.  I don’t want to write an essay, so I am here to highlight four local musicians that i think make Iowa a better place to live and can vouch for their great live performances.

Sarah Cram - from Cedar Rapids, she is a long staple in the Iowa community - playing the guitar and serenading crowds with her beautiful, unpretentious voice. She has a band behind her that fills out her music but she herself stands out even when their behind her leaving no doubt as to who you are there to listen to.  She seems to master the are of being subtle about her music in all formats that either make you sway or dance all out.

Har-di-Har - these are some new-comers from Cedar Falls, a married duo with a sound that seems to take elements of jazz, atmospheric indie rock with syncopated rhythms and a gorgeous mix of male and female vocals. Starting out merely a year ago with a goal of writing a song a day, this group has moved fast with recording and touring - showing a maturity in their approach to music that comes out clearly in their songs. With a business sense and passion for local music they also push efforts in their own community to promote and encourage local music.

William Elliott Whitmore - hailing from Lee County, this artist can take a banjo and his gritty voice alone and make you swoon. His songs, a blues and bluegrass mixture that are performed with dare I say a hint of punk ethos, are emotional, often speak of his connection with the land and seem to evoke a feeling of an era long gone, resonating with you long after their over. His on stage and off stage personality welcomes you to his music and will make you a fan for life.

River Monks - this boys are from Des Moines with a folky, lyrically focused pop that comes off quite effortless.  Listening to their music on records impresses you and make you float along their music - their combination of soft voices, harmonies, beautiful picking and strumming. Seeing them live definitely cements the experience and I can’t wait to see this group progress and grow with their sound.

I have no idea when the actual heyday of the soundtrack was - I know that these days I rarely buy/listen to them unless they feature significant amount of new music I wouldn’t be able to acquire otherwise. I know that for me the heyday was the 90s and it comes with a lot of memories.  recently, I had the privilege of putting together a soundtrack for my sisters wedding reception which of course once began, meant delving back into our shared music history - a very illustrious past for our relationship and simply for the most formative years of my musical tastes.  so once the nostalgia hit - I couldn’t stop thinking about some of this music and listened to that playlist a lot myself.  below are some of the influential and wonderful soundtracks that I don’t know where I would have been or would be musically without 

splendor - a marvelous techno exploration where I listened to the two track sequence I Don’t Know Why I Love You and Kelly Watch the Stars over and over (along with some very intense dancing) followed by repeats of Only the Strongest Will Survive and Flowerz and Bizarre Love Triangle. this playlist was a perfect example of how soundtracks can bring to you music and remixes that you might never have found otherwise 

but then one day I gave you I gave you flowerz

romeo + juliet (baz lurhmann) - this is just truly a perfect reflection of 90s music that manages to make you feel angry, elated, desolate and enamored with the idea of romantic tragedy - at the time I was a big Garbage fan and #1 Crush was a perfectly morbid profession of love, but the highlight for me was always Young Hearts Run Free, Everybody’s Free and it’s abrupt entrance into To You I Bestow - this combination held the right combination of emotion for a pre-teen who was a bit susceptible to overwrought drama

I will burn for you, feel pain for you, I will twist the knife and bleed my aching heart…and tear it apart

velvet goldmine - a glam rock phantasmagoria from start to finish with wicked covers and originals. my favorites 20th Century Boy, The Whole Shebang, Satellite of Love and Baby’s on Fire - all great songs in their own right, but I also liked singing along in strange and dramatic voices which really the whole album let me do. at the time I also had a deep passion for glitter, costumes and bowie 

but love is extra-terrestial, and love falls from the stars 

stealing beauty - I don’t know how to categorize this soundtrack, but can only say the combination of heavily electronic influenced songs mixed with heavy handed jazz songstresses creates a beautiful, heavy and thick soundscape, juxtaposing old and new in a heady, intoxicating way where Portishead and Billie Holiday can tell the same story

I’m so tired of playing with this bow and arrow, I’m gonna give my heart away…leave it to the other girls to play

brokedown palace - this was another soundtrack that is able to create a mood as strongly as stealing beauty that brought me songs with eclectic influences and sounds that ranged from monastic to hip-hop to southeast asian with also a large glad hand to the strong electronic influences of the time. this compilation brought me songs that I would never had sought on my own (Policeman Skank and Contradictive good examples), might have scorned (I was not a big Sarah McLachlan or Nelly Furtado fan) and that might not have had the impact if not found in this context 

it’s not that my glass is empty but I need another cup

and what seems to be the power of a truly good soundtrack is it’s a ability to put music together in a way that makes it impossible from thereafter to imagine the songs being arranged in any other sequence and that the story they tell could be said in any other way. I fell in love with these compilations before seeing the actual movies, sometimes years prior which shows there is a true art to simply putting things side by side 

it’s stormy out and I’m sitting here enjoying Like Drawing Blood, an album that despite the popularity of Making Mirrors, proved difficult to buy in the US for quite awhile (which makes it all that more precious).  as it is on my mind today as i listen to my physical copy - for those who do not know his previous work, you can listen to it through the Lucky Number Bandcamp

photos of Punch Brothers as mentioned - I’ve only seen them twice and both times made we want to immediately see them again - some of the most amazingly skilled instrumentalists that make you fall in love with simply because they are obviously so in love with their instruments


Radiation City - Foreign Bodies

This Portland based group is one I’ve regrettably never blogged before today. I first heard them when they released their dream heavy EP Cool Nightmare where I was floored by the chick vocals, then saw them play at CMJ 2k11 what seems like a hundred times [not really, but really] in various types of spaces. From what I remember, no matter the venue size their sound was consistent, which I think attributes to the talent of a band’s members. What I love about this band is their balance of sound. There is this perfect balance between sharing of chick and dude vocals, doo-wop-esque sound intertwined with modern day synths that compliment instead of overshadow. At the end of the day, it’s just good fun music that I really enjoy listening to.

This is their lead single off their brand new LP Animals in Median due out 5/21/2013 via Tender Loving Empire [great label name]


Really love this sound - and will echo the sentiments above of the perfect of mix of modern and old in their sound

An amazing recording of the savages playing songs off of their debut Silence Yourself live - an export we can all appreciate. Shot in stark almost bleak sepia tones only emphasis the ferocity of this band. Recording is courtesy of KEXP Seattle Radio.



The National will release their latest album, Trouble Will Find Me, next Tuesday  May 21st, but you can listen to it now at itunes.

Trouble Will Find Me Tracklist
1. I Should Live in Salt
2. Demons
3. Don’t Swallow the Cap
4. Fireproof
5. Sea of Love
6. Heavenfaced
7. This is the Last Time
8. Graceless
9. Slipped
10. I Need My Girl
11. Humiliation
12. Pink Rabbits
13. Hard to Find

Took advantage of this myself and was well excited with the first listen!


What’s my current musical obsession? So glad you asked. Lately I’ve been compulsively listening to the Punch Brothers. They’re like a bluegrass/jazz fusion band. Jazzgrass. Is that a thing? If it is, that’s the kind of music they play :)

Here they are covering a song by one of my all time favorite bands, the Cars.

See CDs by the Punch Brothers in our catalog here!

See CDs by the Cars in our catalog here!

A great video from the a.v. club again - both their musicianship and winning personalities is an amazing combination in performers and this small setting is a perfect venue for both - this might inspire me to find some old photos of Punch Brothers shows to post…

alt-J - giving us a fabulous light show in time with your unique songs at a SOLD OUT show at the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee.  another bonus - the two hippie dancers swinging around incense sticks next to us, detracting attention from my own enthusiastic dancing

I listen to music in several different ways, but often times in order to decide the format I buy, I ask myself: do I need to listen to this in my car? I have a stereo at home, I have a computer, I have a record player and of course I have an iPOD. But what can reveal my true love is an album’s location and time spent in my 6 disc changer on wheels.  When loading a cd, I have to ask myself: what album can I handle removing from this endless rotation?  This question, incidentally, determines many of the albums I love the most.  Below are some of the albums I haven’t been able to remove recently - some of them I might have mentioned before - and however you determine your loves -  top 25 played on itunes, worn out grooves, most listened on spotify - check these out and see where they fall.

Guards - In Guards We Trust - briefly,  a debut of catchy anthemic pop that can’t be anything but the perfect summer album, windows rolled down

Foals - Holy Fire - briefly, atmospheric with versatile vocals and guitar that can range from alternative to harder rock

Cold War Kids - Dear Miss Lonelyhearts - briefly, wickedly danceable keyboards and drums, vocals rife with sensuality and emotion

Canvas  by  andbamnan