May 22, 2012

Streaming: Sigur Rós - Valtari

Sigur Rós will release their upcoming album, Valtari, on May 29th. Until it drops, you can stream the gloriously epic album in its entirety, thanks to NPR. This album, their first in four years, is a solid addition to their discography, featuring Jónsi's trademark falsetto and slowly growing, monolithic arrangements. Any thoughts?

Stream Valtari here.

Guide To Sasquatch: Festival Ins and Outs

For all those Sasquatch rookies out there, here's a little info about the fest, where to be, and what to avoid.

The Acoustic Tent

Last year, one of my favorite surprises was the Acoustic Tent, situated right in the middle of the festival grounds. Simply by scanning a bar code with your smart phone and entering your e-mail address, you can win access to the tent for the whole day. Many bands, before they perform their full sets, stop by the tent to play for 15 minutes or so to about a hundred lucky fans. Last year, I was able to catch intimate shows from The Decemberists, Givers, Foster The People, Flogging Molly and Fitz and the Tantrums. Keep an eye out this year for how to gain entry. It's well worth your while.

The Walk

For Sasquatch first-timers, keep something in mind. If your favorite band is playing at 1:30, don't leave you tent at 1:25. The walk, from the average camping site into the festival, can take up to 20 minutes in crowds. And that won't be a happy 20 minutes if you miss bands you want to see. Just by entering the festival early last year, you might be surprised by some bands you don't know yet, and you have a greater chance of getting in the prized acoustic tent.

The Stages:

Sasquatch Stage

The Sasquatch Stage, of course, is where the big guys play. Sasquatch has a unique feature here though: the view. While watching any group perform at this stage, you will have the pleasure of seeing the beautiful Columbia River in the background. If you're tired, I recommend setting down a blanket on one of the amphitheater's grassy ledges and camping out to watch great act after great act. For those of you who need to be close to the stage, luckily, the main stage at Sasquatch due to its size and layout, is very easily accessible. It is often very easy to get a great spot for some awesome bands.

Bigfoot Stage

The Bigfoot Stage is the second largest stage at The Gorge, and this year, will host The Roots, Explosions in the Sky, Mogwai, Tune-Yards, Alabama Shakes, and many more. Situated right near the entrance to the fest, Bigfoot is a great place to catch a glimpse of an act you're unfamiliar with on your way in or out of the grounds.

Yeti Stage

The Yeti Stage is the smallest stage at the festival, which means it is a great place to go if you want a great view of some of the smaller bands on the bill. This year, Dry The River, Honeyhoney, Hey Rosetta!, Said The Whale, and many more will grace this little stage with their presence. 

Banana Shack

The Banana Shack is a large tented stage that is reserved for electronic acts and comedy. The innovative lighting rigs always make it a perfect place to dance the night away. This year, Portlandia, James Murphy, Nero, Wolfgang Gartner, Beats Antique, Apparat, and more will pay a visit to the Shack. 

The "Maine" Stage

This stage is brand new this year. The sole purpose of the "Maine" Stage is to get young Northwest hip-hop artists attention. With Seattle hip-hop getting lots of attention these days thanks to artists like Blue Scholars and Macklemore, dozens of other artists are waiting in the wings. The Physics, Sol, Scribes, Grynch, and other locals will hoping to build some buzz after their performance at The Gorge.

Most importantly, relax, have fun, and enjoy all the great things Sasquatch has to offer.

Austin City Limits Lineup Announced

Austin City Limits has just announced their lineup for 2012. The festival will take place at Zilker Park from October 12-14. Headlining the festival are Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, and The Black Keys. Also playing the fest will be Jack White, Florence + The Machine, The Avett Brothers, Avicii, Bassnectar, The Roots, The Shins, The Civil Wars, M83, Childish Gambino, Andrew Bird, Delta Spirit, Alabama Shakes, M. Ward, Big Gigantic, Michael Kiwanuka, Ben Howard, The Lumineers, First Aid Kit, Dry The River, and many many more.

See the complete lineup here.

May 21, 2012

Guide To Sasquatch: Set-Time Conflicts and What To Do

One of the biggest drawbacks of any large festival is that it is impossible to see all the acts. This year, Sasquatch, with five stages including the new "Maine" Stage, has its fair share of difficult conflicts. Here are some of the most cringe-worthy examples and a little help choosing where to go.

Yellow Ostrich vs. HoneyHoney

Our Pick: Either group will be a fantastic kick-off to the weekend. Having seen Yellow Ostrich a few times, I will be at the Yeti Stage with HoneyHoney. If you haven't seen either one, Yellow Ostrich wins by a hair.

Girl Talk vs. Explosions In The Sky vs. Beats Antique

Our Pick: This choice completely depends on how you want to dance. Each of these acts are likely to put you in some sort of trance. Girl Talk will keep you dancing your ass off all night, Explosions in the Sky will wow you with their epic post-rock glory, and Beats Antique will amaze you with their exotic electro-world beats. We say catch the beginning of Girl Talk, then hop on over to Beats Antique if you want to keep dancing, or Explosions in the Sky if you're ready to wind down.

The Civil Wars vs. Alabama Shakes vs. Portlandia

Our Pick: This is a tough one. Considering it is primarily a music festival, I would suggest either The Civil Wars of Alabama Shakes. Having seen The Civil Wars twice, I will be watching the Shakes, but either way, you are guaranteed to be blown away. There's really no wrong choice here.

Kurt Vile vs. Dry The River vs. Sol

Our Pick: If you are a fan of soul-rap: Sol. If you want to hear a British group's take on folk with hardcore influences: Dry The River. If you do not fit in the first two categories: Kurt Vile

Hey Marseilles vs. Greylag

Our Pick: Hey Marseilles. It's a bummer to miss Greylag, but Hey Marseilles, with their huge orchestral sound are sure to be a hit. Also, their slot at noon on Sunday gives fans a chance to see them away from the evening crowds.

Bon Iver vs. James Murphy

Our Pick: Bon Iver. Do we really need to explain? James Murphy may be an icon, but he will still be up on stage turning knobs. We suggest laying down on the lawn, staring up at the night sky, and letting Justin Vernon's falsetto sweeten your Sunday evening.

Beck vs. Mogwai vs. Nero

Our Pick: Some of everything. Luckily, Mogwai and Nero both begin their sets half an hour before Beck's. Mogwai have announced that this tour will be their last before an extended hiatus, so if you're a fan, this may be your last chance to see the Scottish crew for a while. Nero is likely to pack the Banana Shack more than anyone this weekend, and with good reason. We recommend catching the beginning of either Mogwai or Nero, heading over to Beck for a while, and if it is not to your liking, you have two great shows to go back to!

Check out Part 4 here!

May 20, 2012

Two Trees - "Your Woods"

Sweden has always exported excellent music. From The Knife, to The Radio Dept., to First Aid Kit, the Scandinavian country has given us some of the most exciting sounds from overseas. The next sound to head this way comes from Two Trees, a folk duo based in Stockholm. This past week they put up the song "Your Woods" on their SoundCloud page. The relaxing tune, composed of sparse guitar picking and beautiful male/female harmonies, is a gem. The guitar melody is fantastically simple, and provides just the right backing for the lyrics about losing your words when near those you love. Keep an eye out for these two.

May 19, 2012

Portland Cello Project - "Ninjas In Paris"

Portland Cello Project recently released Homage, an album of hip-hop covers arranged for the cello. Personally, I think their music is much more enjoyable live, as this video demonstrates. In this clip, the group performs "Ninjas In Paris," their rendition of Jay-Z and Kanye West's "N****s in Paris." Unlike the rap duo, they only play this song once per concert. Enjoy!

May 18, 2012

Guide To Sasquatch: Bands To Know

While hopefully most of you have heard of the excellent groups headlining the festival this year, there are dozens of great acts lower on the poster too! We've put together a list of some groups that deserve serious attention before the fest. Who knows, they may become your new favorites!

Alabama Shakes

Few bands in recent memory have generated as much buzz as Alabama Shakes. The soul-rock group has stunned audiences at SXSW and CMJ with their powerful genre-blending, and Brittany Howard, one of the strongest frontwomen in music today. Keep an eye out for their huge foot-stomping sound. 

Alabama Shakes-"Hold On"
Said The Whale

Based in Vancouver, BC, Said The Whale will be pretty close to home when they visit The Gorge. With their latest album, Little Mountain, the rockers combined powerful choruses with strong harmonies, and bring to mind Manchester Orchestra (if they sang about nature more). After winning the hearts of Canadians and a Juno Award last year, America is next.

Said The Whale-"Camilo (The Magician)"
Hey Rosetta!

Another Canadian group, Hey Rosetta! have a rough, yet beautiful sound. Their latest album, Seeds, blends rock, pop, and folk, while keeping memorable melodies and fantastic songwriting. Incorporating violin and cello into their sound, the band's work makes for a unique blend that I expect to translate very well on stage.

Hey Rosetta!-"Seeds"
Yellow Ostrich

Yellow Ostrich, a trio from Wisconsin, is most definitely a Write To The Beat favorite. Frontman Alex Schaaf experiments with vocal looping to give the small group a huge sound. After their debut album, The Mistress, gained them an underground following, they followed it up with Strange Land, a disc that fleshed out their sound without compromising the charm and excitement captured on all their music. Supported by fantastic drummer Michael Tapper, the band shows no sign of slowing down. On stage, they are even better, and witnessing Schaaf's vocal looping live makes it even more exciting.

Yellow Ostrich-"Marathon Runner"
Hey Marseilles

Hey Marseilles call themselves folkestral (folk + orchestral), and that short description couldn't be more accurate. The Seattle-based folk group incorporates strings, horns, and a large sound into their French-inspired tunes. Behind the tender voice of Matt Bishop, the instrumentation is inventive and fantastic. The group is touring behind To Travels & Trunks, a collection of some of the most exciting folk music around. I wouldn't be surprised if the group also gives us a peek at a rumored upcoming album!

Hey Marseilles-"To Travels & Trunks"
Dry The River

With an opening slot on Bowerbirds' latest tour, and the brand new album, Shallow Bed, Dry The River has been storming the US with their British take on folk music. Inspired by hardcore bands as well, their live show may be surprisingly loud for a group that sounds so soft on record. But where they shine is where they open up, getting loud while maintaining their folk roots. 

Dry The River-"History Book"
The Physics, Sol, and Scribes
While the "Maine" Stage lineup is filled with local up-and-coming hip-hop acts, The Physics, Sol, and Scribes stand out as the strongest artists on that bill.

The Physics produce a unique blend of soul, R&B, and rap, making their music lively, and always fun.

The Physics-"After Effect (feat. Grynch)"

Sol is a soul-rapper who's smoke-inspired rhymes has a clever, poppy, and smooth flow

Sol-"Not The One"

Scribes is another up-and-comer who has garnered attention with his melodic, driving beats that lay underneath heartfelt, sharp rhymes.

Scribes-"Pass You By"

Check out Part 3 here!

May 17, 2012

Guide To Sasquatch: Bands You Can't Miss

We at Write to the Beat will be headed to the Gorge in George this Memorial Day Weekend to experience the Sasquatch Music Festival! With the fest approaching, we figured it would be time to share with you the bands we are most excited to see, as well as the ones we suggest you check out before the fest. Here goes:

The Headliners

Pretty Lights, filling the top slot on Friday, is one of electronic music's giants, and probably the one that will appeal the most to Sasquatch attendees. The Colorado-based producer integrates soul, funk, and jazz samples into his sets, making his music quite a bit more sophisticated than most DJs'. Also, with the gorgeous Columbia River in the background, his performance will be all the more fascinating and should include (you guessed it) very pretty lights.

Saturday's lineup is topped by Jack White, one of the biggest forces in rock music in the last decade. Sasquatch will be one of his first solo shows ever, and he should be busting out some old White Stripes favorites, Raconteurs tracks, and new material off his recent album Blunderbuss. Whatever he ends up playing, it will surely be an exciting set.

Bon Iver's performances are mesmerizing to begin with, and The Gorge has a way of making beautiful performances even more surreal. Justin Vernon's falsetto ringing throughout the amphitheater will definitely make a memorable experience. Especially with Vernon saying that it may be at least a few years before the next album from the group, I would recommend seeing them while you still can.

Beck hasn't released an album since 2008's Modern Guilt, but with tracks on two recent movie soundtracks, it is possible that something big may be in the works. I expect his set at The Gorge to be filled with his many classics, as well as possibly a peek at a very exciting future.

Tenacious D

Jack Black and Kyle Gass have been dormant for quite a while, until they announced their Sasquatch! appearance and a new album on the same day. One of America's finest comedy musical groups, the D is sure to end the weekend with raucous laughter in their great slot that has them opening for Beck. Be prepared to hear new tracks from their brand new work, Rize of the Fenix, as well as their enormous hit, the greatest song ever made, "Tribute."

The Head and the Heart

The Seattle-based folk group has blown up since their appearance at Sasquatch last year, a feat that is noted by how far they have moved up in the billing. Having seen the five-piece multiple times, I can truly say that they never disappoint. Especially in their native Northwest, expect them to draw an enormous crowd and put on one of the most lively sets of the weekend. You are guaranteed to have fun during their show, and if you don't, you can blame me.

The Civil Wars

I have seen John Paul White and Joy Williams of The Civil Wars perform twice now, and I can truly say that they are quite a spectacle. Their voices are as perfect as can be, and their live sound far exceeds the beauty already present on their record. One of the biggest breakout artists of the last year, they are sure to mesmerize the entire crowd with their fantastic harmonies and some of the best stage banter you can hear these days.


Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein will feel right at home in the Pacific Northwest, the exact local the duo lovingly pokes fun at in their hit TV series. They are sure to bring some great self-deprecating humor to the Gorge, and knowing them, may have some great guests up their sleeve. Who knows what their live show will have in store, but I can't wait. Unfortunately, with their schedule slot overlapping Alabama Shakes AND The Civil Wars, none of the three acts is likely to get the crowd they deserve.

The list of great acts coming to The Gorge this year goes on and on. The next part of our guide to Sasquatch will include some lesser known acts to check out before you arrive!

See Part 2 here!

May 16, 2012

Cold Specks - "Winter Solstice" Music Video

Cold Specks is a young Canadian singer-songwriter who keeps her name anonymous, in fear that her parents won't approve of her profession. Luckily, she may be able to come clean soon, as her sound is catching the attention of listeners all across the globe. The quiet, reverb-y guitars combined with her slightly raspy, soulful voice combine to make something truly beautiful and relaxing. If her music doesn't calm you down, I would recommend professional help. Her debut album, I Predict A Graceful Expulsion, will be released May 22nd. Enjoy!

May 15, 2012

Field Report Daytrotter Session

Chris Porterfield and the rest of Field Report headed over to Austin, Texas to record a session with Daytrotter. The recordings, including three previously unheard songs and "Fergus Falls," add to their growing catalog, and inspire listeners to have even more hope for the up-and-coming group. Besides the few tracks that have popped up online, not much has been heard from the band until now. So take this opportunity to get acquainted. Download the free session here!

The Tallest Man On Earth - "1904"

The Tallest Man On Earth will release There's No Leaving Now on June 12th. The highly-anticipated follow-up to The Wild Hunt has shed its first light. The first single from the record is "1904" a slightly fuller, Dylan-esque track. Enjoy! Mr. Mattson has also announced a long string of worldwide tour dates in support of the release. 

The Tallest Man On Earth-"1904"

May 14, 2012

Hey Rosetta Take Away Show

Canadian folk-rockers Hey Rosetta!, while in San Francisco recently, filmed a new session with La Blogothèque. In this clip, they perform "Welcome," a track off their latest album, Seeds. This version of the track is a lot of fun, played all acoustically and with plenty of hand-clapping.

Dylan Owen - "In The Corner (feat. Kinetics)" Music Video

Dylan Owen, the New York rapper behind the excellent Keep Your Friends Close EP, has a new music video for the track "In The Corner" featuring Kinetics. The video gives us a glimpse of the young rapper, and how sincere his rhymes are. Remember, the whole EP is available for free right here! Owen represents one of the most promising young voices in rap today. Enjoy!

Animal Collective Announce New Album

Animal Collective have announced that they will release the follow up to 2009's Merriweather Post Pavilion in September. The new album, Centipede Hz, will include the single "Honeycomb/Gotham" that was released last week. I was a big fan of Merriweather and am eager to see what they have come up with this time!

May 11, 2012

Glen Hansard with Bono - "The Auld Triangle"

A few nights ago, Glen Hansard performed at The Living Room in New York. For The Frames' version of the classic Irish song "The Auld Triangle," his buddy Bono joined him on stage for a raucous sing along. Enjoy!

Adventure Club - "Do I See Color" (Big Gigantic Remix)

Two of my favorite electronic artists, Adventure Club and Big Gigantic, have finally teamed up. Adventure Club has done quite a few remixes and has a very smooth, liquid-like dubstep sound. Big Gigantic on the other hand, is in the process of blowing up on the electronic scene with their inventive combination of electro beats and live saxophone solos. Adventure Club released their track "Do I See Color" a few months back, and now Big Gigantic has put quite a spin on it. Listen to both the remix and the original below.

Do I See Color (Big Gigantic Remix)

Do I See Color

May 10, 2012

Hey Rosetta! - "Bandages" Video

Hey Rosetta!, whose 2011 album Seeds was finally released in the U.S. recently, created a video for their track "Bandages" that definitely took hours upon hours to edit. Composed of the band members playing the song in dozens of various places and contexts, the video easily kept my eyes fixed to the screen the entire time. The song is one of the strongest on the album, and the video easily matches its beauty and creativity. Enjoy!

Explosions In The Sky - "Postcard From 1952" Music Video

Post-rock kings Explosions In The Sky have released another video from their 2011 album, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care. The clip, for "Postcard From 1952," shares some intimate, beautifully filmed scenes from the life of a family in the 50's. Similar to the music behind it, the video is in slow-motion, and even makes the track more cinematic sounding than it already is.

May 09, 2012

Pretty Lights - "You Get High"

Electronic music producer Pretty Lights is undeniably one of the finest, most sophisticated members of the genre. Now at the level of headlining festivals like Sasquatch, Derek Vincent Smith continues to release groove-filled electro-jams packed with old-school soul samples. His latest single, "You Get High" features hard hitting synth lines, a sample that morphs between vocals and guitar, and the classic amazing Pretty Lights groove. Enjoy!

Pretty Lights-"You Get High"

Dan Mangan - "About As Helpful . . ." Video

In Dan Mangan's latest music video he plays a man living in the woods. Often accompanied by strange face-painted folk, Mangan's cheery clip accompanies tune quite well. The track, "About As Helpful As You Can Be Without Being Any Help At All," is the lead track from his 2011 album, Oh Fortune, one of the year's best. In the video Mangan seems to be the leader of the folk people, and hopefully that will one day become reality.

Fool's Gold - "The Dive" Video

Fool's Gold, the LA indie-pop group that has been granted the opening slot on Edward Sharpe's current tour, has given us a peek into their sunny lives with their latest music video for "The Dive." The track, off their album Leave No Trace, is soaked with reverb and expands upon the Best Coast-y California sound by incorporating African rhythms. Enjoy the beachy clip! The group will be at the Orpheum Theater in Boston on May 12th, opening for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

The Lumineers on Conan

The Lumineers have been generating quite a buzz with their excellent debut album and exciting live shows. They appeared on Conan the other night to perform the single "Ho Hey," and even with one song were able to display their raw, pure talent.

May 08, 2012

Shower Hour - Best of 2012 (So Far)

I decided to commemorate the final episode of Shower Hour for the season with some of my favorites of the year. I played some of the strongest tracks of 2012 so far, including material from The Lumineers, Of Monsters and Men, The Shins, Delta Spirit, and many more. Enjoy!

Maps & Atlases - "Remote & Dark Years" Music Video

Quirky Chicago rockers Maps & Atlases decided to just have fun and destroy a car while filming their latest music video for "Remote & Dark Years." The track, off their recent release Beware and Be Grateful, demonstrates the group's toning down of the weird. On the LP, they keep the quirky slightly more in check, opting for a poppier sound, and I'm not quite sure how I feel about it. What do you think?

May 07, 2012

Animal Collective - "Honeycomb/Gotham"

Animal Collective has reappeared with a new two-track single, out June 26th. The two songs, "Honeycomb" and "Gotham," are streaming for free below. Enjoy!

Jay-Z vs. The Glitch Mob

Carlos Serrano, the mashup artist behind the great Adele vs. Daft Punk mix, has done it again. This time, Jay-Z's "99 Problems" is laid over The Glitch Mob's "Fortune Days". The rap classic and the glitch masters make quite the super group!

Passion Pit - "Take A Walk"

Passion Pit has dropped the first single from their highly anticipated sophomore release, Gossamer, out July 24th. While the track keeps the synth-heavy feel of their debut, there is definitely some exploration of new sounds going on. They have also announced a string of tour dates to accompany the release. Enjoy!

May 06, 2012

Brother Ali - "Not A Day Goes By"

Brother Ali, one of the finest members of Rhymesayers Entertainment, the label that is home to Atmosphere, Grieves, Blueprint, and many more, has released a hard hitting new video. The single, "Not A Day Goes By," off an album to be released later this year, shows a new, heavier side to Ali. Especially since his last work was the tender, soulful, The Bite Marked Heart EP, this is definitely a new direction for the MC. Ali may be Muslim, but he goes HAM on this one.

May 05, 2012

Yellow Ostrich Remix Contest

Ever wanted to produce for Yellow Ostrich? Now is your chance! The group is having a remix contest for their delightful track, "I Want Yr Love," from their latest work, Strange Land. You can read all the details here, and if they like what you come up with, they will put the remix on their site! Go crazy!

May 04, 2012

Kanye West - "Lost In The World" Music Video

Kanye West sure loves his strobe lights. Almost two years after releasing his acclaimed fifth studio album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, West has teamed up with filmmaker Ruth Hogben to make a video for "Lost In The World." The track features samples Bon Iver's "Woods." In typical Kanye fashion, this isn't your normal rap video. The clip is black and white, featuring moving buildings, dancers, and a floor of mirrors. Enjoy!

May 03, 2012

Bright Eyes Teams Up With First Aid Kit

Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes recently teamed up with the Swedish sisters of First Aid Kit to record a sweet little White Stripes cover. The trio puts quite an interesting spin on "We Are Going To Be Friends," including synths and some of the best voices in music today. Enjoy! Both groups will be playing this year's Newport Folk Festival. If you weren't able to get tickets before they sold out, the two groups and Dawes will be performing a one-off show together at the Jane Pickens Theater in Newport, RI before the fest. Enjoy!

Bright Eyes-"We Are Going To Be Friends (feat. First Aid Kit)"

Aesop Rock - "Zero Dark Thirty" Music Video

Aesop Rock, who recently dropped the very-difficult-to-understand-on-first-listen single "Zero Dark Thirty," has now released visuals to accompany the chaos. The mesmerizing clip shows Aesop spittin' his rhymes with constantly evolving graffiti behind him. Oh and if you want some help with the lyrics, check this out.

May 02, 2012

The Lumineers on KEXP

After hearing their stunning debut album, and attending one of their lively shows, I have become enamored with The Lumineers. The Denver folk group is quickly on the rise, selling out shows and winning the hearts of thousands of new fans every day. One of their latest stops was the KEXP studio, where the band recorded a beautiful session, performing four tracks from their self-titled album. Watch and enjoy!

Macklemore Talks New Album, XXL, and Being Independent

Last week we posted about a great interview of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis done by Hard Knock Tv. Now, the second half of the video has surfaced. In this segment, the MC and producer duo discuss their choice to stay independent, their upcoming album, as well as the XXL Freshman cover and Kendrick Lamar. Enjoy!

Bowerbirds - North Shore Session

Bowerbirds recently went to the warehouse district in downtown Minneapolis to record a North Shore Session. While walking around an empty warehouse, they perform "Overcome With Light" and "Brave World" off their fantastic latest album, The Clearing. Truly beautiful.

May 01, 2012

Shower Hour Spring Show #26

Last night, one of the last Shower Hour's of the season, was filled with soothing singer/songwriters. Tunes from Siskiyou, The Frames, Field Report, Portage, Adam Arcuragi, and many more streamed across the airwaves. If you didn't catch the show last night, you can stream it right here!

Stream Shower Hour Spring Show #26

The Civil Wars - VH1 Unplugged

One of our favorite live bands, The Civil Wars, filmed an unplugged session with VH1 that is now available online. Once again, it is quite clear that they are one of the finest, polished live acts around. In case you haven't seen how awesome they are live, now you know! Watch "20 Years" from the session below, and stream the whole set here.