November 11, 2013

Ásgeir

If You Like: Bon Iver, Ben Howard

I know, I've written about Ásgeir before. But last time, I had simply heard a song or two, and I thought, "what pretty, relaxing, Icelandic songs." Now, after putting his debut album on repeat for the last few days, I have more to say. One listen of the record (the American version called In The Silence) had me thinking how high to place it on my 'Best of 2013' list. His voice is as pure as they come, and his melodic warbles have been weaving in and out of my head for days. The best surprise from the album is that he doesn't stay safe in the acoustic singer/songwriter cave that he so easily fit into. There are synth soundscapes, frantic computer drums, and on the fantastic "Torrent," beautiful masses of noise that bring to mind Bon Iver's "Perth". All in all, this record has me floored. And did I mention that he's 21?

If you trust me, grab the album here

In his native Iceland, he is a rock star. According to some estimations, one in ten Icelanders own his debut record. One in ten!! Iceland is a tiny country, but still, that market penetration is off the charts! I'm hoping that he gains a bit of a following in the States, at least enough to come tour here. Otherwise, I'm going to need to book a flight pretty soon. 

October 01, 2013

RÁJ - "Ghost"


These past few months, I have found myself gravitating to slow, undulating, R&B-influenced tracks, usually with male vocals. This contrasts the previous six months in which everything I liked seemed to have female vocals. The last track to really grab me came from mysterious singer RÁJ. While I have not been able to learn where he is from or anything about the guy, I know that his debut single, "Ghost," is gosh-darned beautiful. 

It begins with a simple, distorted vocal sample repeated over guitar strumming and echoey chanting. As the song evolves, however, it gathers energy like a hurricane, eventually bringing forth quite a storm of powerful instrumentation.

If you enjoy it, you can catch him on tour opening for The Neighbourhood and Lovelife on the California leg of their tour

(Warning: This video contains small amounts of nudity)

September 16, 2013

Reviewed: Volcano Choir


There's no question that Volcano Choir owes its popularity largely to the huge success of Bon Iver. I've always thought that without For Emma, Forever Ago, Volcano Choir would not even be on the map. Silly me.

Last night, Justin Vernon and friends tore down the Paradise Rock Club with their beautiful, epic, brooding tracks. Their recent sophomore release, Repave, has received very positive reviews so far and has allowed the group to make their live TV debut on Jimmy Fallon and travel the States on a nearly sold-out tour. Contrary to what I used to think, this supergroup (that includes members of Collections of Colonies of Bees) has earned its fanbase purely on the music. With vocals from the falsetto master himself, their songs aren't great for a campfire like Bon Iver is. Instead, they are larger, bombastic, and would feel appropriate to listen to on a large voyage.

Standing behind a cloth covered podium, Vernon with his stunning vocals and silly antics seemed to be where the crowd was focused. He, however, chose to stay as far from the spotlight as possible, letting guitarist Chris Rosenau handle all the audience interaction. It was pretty nice to see Vernon not hog the spotlight that he knows he could easily control. It helped the audience see the group as a full band and not just his brainchild.

When they played the brilliant single "Byegone" second to last, I had doubts that anything could follow that display of power. Again, silly me. They next busted out the track "Still" from their debut album, Unmap. This song samples Bon Iver's stunning "Woods," but turns it into something of very grand scope. It is also one of the most beautiful songs I have heard in recent memory.

September 13, 2013

Reviewed: Boston Calling Fall 2013


I must admit, I expected Boston Calling to flop. There were too many things that could go wrong. The inaugural lineup wasn't unique in any way, the venue seemed awkward, small, and ugly, and many locals were frustrated by the lack of local flavor.

I have officially been proven wrong. A week after sweating out half my body weight in the giant mass of people that was Made In America, the accessibility and moderate size of Boston Calling was a welcome change of pace. The second time around, Crash Line Productions, those behind the festival, tweaked the stage locations, separated the daily lineups by genre, and made things a whole lot better. The sound was relatively good, and because of the small venue, you always had a pretty good view of what you wanted to see. The food was shockingly cheap for a festival and by bringing Sonicbids into the mix this time around, two additional acts made it onto the bill for the early risers to check out.

The first day saw the indie/rock bands hit the stage. Lucius kicked things off with a bang, letting the audience know why they should be excited for the October release of their debut album, Wildewoman. Dressed to match (as always), the group's lead singers were in fine form as they previewed new doo-wop tracks and they sing-along title track from their upcoming record.


Unfortunately, the energy subsided for a bit after their set when Okkervil River brought a little too much psychadelia and not enough folk to their set. After they bowed out, Deer Tick played a set of almost exclusively new tracks off their upcoming album, Negativity. While it was interesting to hear the slower direction the band is heading in, some fan favorites wouldn't have hurt.


Later that evening, Boston mayor Tom Menino took the stage to commend the festival and introduce one of the best performances all weekend. Local Natives were hilariously wide-eyed from their mayoral intro and couldn't stop bringing it up. The charming LA-natives played a solid selection of tracks from both of their critically acclaimed discs, closing with the foot-stomping "Sun Hands." This set, and the audience's rapt attention got me thinking that with a little more material behind them, these guys will be a great headlining act. Their material has been remarkably consistent, as have their energetic live shows.


Ezra Koenig and the rest of Vampire Weekend closed out night one in style. With a flowery backdrop, they ran through a lengthy set of the finest prep-pop this country has to offer. I find it very easy to forget how many great tracks they have, until I hear twenty of them in a row. Leading things off with one of my favorite songs of the summer, "Diane Young," and closing with the catchy and Massachusetts-appropriate "Walcott," they had a set packed with hits. The fans new nearly every word and proved why Ezra & Co. were worthy of a headlining slot.


Day two brought a significantly younger (and more brightly dressed) crowd thanks to the EDM-heavy lineup. Starting with Flume, a producer who makes perfect, chill head-bobbing beats, the crowd kept dancing all day long. Beyoncé's funkier sister Solange brought her soulful jams to the center of the city. There must be something in the water at the Knowles' household because it turns out that both daughters are ridiculously talented.


Following the funk, three huge electronic acts rocked the fest with their various takes on dance music. First, Chicago trap-masters Flosstradamus got things "turnt up" with their hip-hop inspired beats with coordinated shouting at the crowd. While I would never listen to their music in my room, their no-holds-barred attitude, booming bass, and squelching synths fit in perfectly among the rest of the lineup.


Wolfgang Gartner was next, taking a more traditional dance music route. His electro-house beats, however, show off his deep musical knowledge, utilizing chord progressions inspired by classical music and rhythms slightly more complex than those often found in EDM.


The climax of the evening came somewhere during the Major Lazer - Kendrick Lamar one-two punch. Diplo, the man behind the dancehall project, put on one of the craziest shows I have ever experienced. With precise command of the crowd, he and fellow members Walshy Fire and Jillionaire led what could have easily passed as a celebratory riot, filled with outrageous dance moves, scantily clad dancers, and a festival-wide clothing swap.

Mr. Lamar had by far the most anticipated set of the weekend, thanks to his hugely successful album, good kid, m.A.A.d city, and renowned live shows. This time, however, he left a few unsatisfied. While the MC himself was on fire behind the mic, his set was unusually short, not even filling up his allocated slot. Also, his backing band seemed to have a few issues, resulting in muddy sound from all his instrumentals. Regardless, it is clear why Lamar has made such a name for himself. He is a genuine, exciting performer with enough popular tracks to keep the crowd's attention for as long as he wants.


Closing out the festival were Boston locals Passion Pit. While enjoying their records, I've never been a big fan of their live shows because of singer Michael Angelakos' weak voice on stage. Despite this drawback (and he has gotten better over time), the electro-pop group was a fitting way to end the weekend. Not only were they one of the few local groups to play City Hall Plaza, they are one of the few Boston bands in recent years to make a large national impact. Somewhat like the slowly growing festival, the band has had to prove themselves to those out of the region. Let's see if Boston Calling can keep this up!

If you enjoyed this past weekend, or wished you were there, Boston Calling will be returning next year on Memorial Day Weekend. Starting now at bostoncalling.com, you can get a weekend pass and poster for an early bird price of only $75!

See the rest of our pictures here!

Photos by Kaitlin Deveau

September 03, 2013

Reviewed: Made In America 2013


I had no idea people owned so many American flag-themed clothing items. Fervent patriotism was in full force this past weekend at Made In America, the Philadelphia festival born from a partnership between Jay Z and Budweiser. In its second year, it seemed as if the festival had worked out kinks and had thought of just about everything that could go wrong. It had a killer diverse lineup, a beautiful riverside park for its location, good food, and spot-on branding/advertising thanks to Budweiser. However, there was one large thing keeping this festival from being near-perfect: over-crowding. You know there are too many people in the venue when someone has to wait nearly an hour for an $11 beer. The capacity of the park was 50,000 per day, yet somehow the sold-out festival claimed 60,000 attendees per day. Not sure how that worked.

Lines stretched and wound all over the park and logjams prevented thousands of attendees from catching their favorite acts or seeing them from a favorable spot. While the farthest stages were only about 1500 feet apart, the walk could easily take 20 minutes due to set times that caused mass exoduses from one stage to another. On night one, I had to wait over 90 minutes for a burger, eventually giving up my morals and bribing people in the front of another line to let me cut. 

Putting the crowd issues aside, this festival proved that it is here to stay. With great support from the city of Philadelphia, Jay Z and Budweiser have created the most diverse festival I have seen and packed it with amazing acts from America and beyond. 


On day one, Haim kicked things off early with a powerful set that easily proved how hard the young sisters can rock. Playing a short six songs, they made the best use of their time, wowing the crowd with the groove of "The Wire" and making their fans dance with "Forever".

Other highlights included an enormous singalong set from Imagine Dragons, and a grand welcome to America for Phoenix, one of the few foreign bands high up on the bill. 


On the rap side of things, A$AP Rocky started things off, well, rocky. After arriving 20 minutes late into a 45 minute slot, he played a brief five tracks to an eager crowd leaving most wanting more. Later in the day, 2 Chainz and Public Enemy competed for the rap show of the day, with 2 Chainz winning over the younger half of the crowd with his over the top lyrics that have been heard in dozens of hits in the last year. 

When Beyoncé took the stage at the close of day 1, it became clear that she ran the show. Queen B drew every single attendee to the main stage to see her recently redesigned Mrs. Carter Show. Even though her hubby decided to stay out of the spotlight and not make an appearance, the show was flawless and clearly demonstrated why so many millions of fans revere her. On the epicness scale, this was among the biggest productions I have ever seen, keeping 120,000 eyes focused on her for an hour-and-a-half of hits, dancing, and outfit changes. 


Day two didn't go exactly as planned (for me at least). Trains carrying kids from the suburbs to the center of the city were so packed that they decided, without informing anyone, to not pick up people at every stop. Therefore, I walked into the show about two hours late, just in time to catch the end of Kendrick Lamar's set. He was joined by his fellow TDE artists Ab-Soul and Schoolboy Q and had an immense crowd in the palm of his hand the whole time. 


As every single Kendrick fan left at the same moment to see Miguel, I was stuck in the middle of it all, and was therefore unable to see Alunageorge. I decided to stick around the Freedom Stage anyway to see what GTA was all about. The Miami DJ's mantra is "Death to genres" and they follow that motto pretty strictly. With sets that could please pretty much every EDM fan out there, they definitely made a lot of fans at MIA. 

The rest of the night was full of hits, from a lively set by the always-fun Macklemore & Ryan Lewis to back-to-back-to-back electro-punches from Feed Me, Nero, and Calvin Harris. Each DJ brought their own style to the table and provided the audience with a taste of the currently diverse EDM scene. Needless to say, there was something for everyone. 



A bus issue unfortunately caused me to miss headliner Nine Inch Nails, putting the bookend on a travel-issue-filled weekend. Luckily Jay Z and his pals over at Budweiser put on a great show, one that couldn't easily be ruined by buses or trains. 

Well done Jay. Just remember: more people don't necessarily make a better festival. 

August 29, 2013

Ticket Giveaway: Kishi Bashi


Hey everybody! It's time for another exciting ticket giveaway! This time, you have the chance to see
Kishi Bashi, the Georgia-based multi-instrumentalist who has toured with Of Montreal and Regina Spektor. He released his orchestral debut solo album 151a last year to much critical acclaim and is considered one of the most exciting live acts around!

He will be performing at The Royale in Boston on September 11th and you can win a pair of free tickets simply by following the steps below.

1. Like Write To The Beat on Facebook

2. Enter your email address below.

August 28, 2013

The Coming And The Going

Album Art by Brian Holmes

August is a month of transitions. Kids return home from camp and get ready for a new school year, a new group of high-schoolers leaves home for the first time to head off to college, and people come and go from vacations. These changes, as exciting as they can be, are not always so simple or easy. The eagerness to leave a place is always contrasted by the possibility that things will not be the same when coming back. Leaving behind the old is not always easy, even when the new is a breath of fresh air.

These songs are all demonstrations of the bittersweet nature of transitions. Not quite sad, but not quite happy, this collection of music is meant to help you in a time of confusing change and adaptation. Enjoy.

If you want to hear more music like this, take a listen to the Songza playlist I created that inspired this mixtape.

Tracklist
1. Milk Carton Kids - "Michigan"
2. The Decemberists - "June Hymn"
3. Nick Drake - "Road"
4. Honeyhoney - "LA River"
5. Tyler Lyle - "When I Say That I Love You"
6. Sufjan Stevens - "All The Trees Of The Field Will Clap Their Hands"
7. Michael Kiwanuka - "Home Again"
8. Farewell Milwaukee - "Come Back Home"
9. The Wooden Sky - "Oslo"
10. Ásgeir Trausti - "Going Home"
11. Alexi Murdoch - "All My Days"
12. Small Houses - "Oh, Hiding Out"
13. Dustin Tebbutt - "The Breach"
14. Milk Carton Kids - "Milk Carton Kid"
15. Benjamin Francis Leftwich - "Atlas Hands"
16. Bear's Den - "Agape"
17. Benjamin Gibbard & Jay Farrar - "One Fast Move Or I'm Gone"
18. Volcano Choir - "Byegone"

Download The Whole Mixtape Here

If that link does not work, try this one.

If any artist would like their song removed from the mixtape, please email me at jonah@writetothebeat.com and the song will be promptly removed.

August 12, 2013

Stefan Weiner - Potluck

If You Like: Town Hall, Gregory Alan Isakov, Blind Pilot

If you're an avid reader of this blog, you may recognize the name and face of Stefan Weiner. Not so long ago (and hopefully still!), he fronted the New York folk group Town Hall, making some of the cutest, most soothing folk music around. Weiner's voice was always one of the best things about the group; it is easy to like, yet not ordinary enough to pass by unnoticed. 

Now, with his new solo EP, Potluck, Weiner expands upon his sound, collaborates with some old and new friends, and has created one of the most interesting folk releases of 2013. While some of the tracks like "Fearful Lullaby" and "Say I'm Strong (feat. Phoeby Ryan)" sound at first like classic Town Hall, he grows these songs far beyond what the trio has ever done. A veritable orchestra helps back him up on many of the songs, resulting in a huge sound, the whole time led by fearless captain Weiner.

"Frozen Ground" was the biggest surprise for me. This song is the closest thing to a lively pop song that he has done so far, and it works so so well. If there is one song on this EP that will get him noticed, it is this one. It is catchy, charming, interesting, and just about anything anyone could want from a pop track. Strings weave in and out as his voice is taken to its limits. He rarely sings this loud, but that doesn't mean he can't. The rest of the tracks show his astounding diversity. Hints of jazz, blues, soul, and classical pop up all over the place and make you sure that this guy will not be pigeonholed. 

The album has just been released on Bandcamp, so grab yourself a copy and listen below!

August 08, 2013

Astronomyy - "Don't Need U"

If You Like: Jaymes Young, Bipolar Sunshine. The Weeknd

This song starts out innocent enough. Soothing guitar chords are plucked, a soulful voice arrives, and it seems as if you know where this is headed. But then the beat comes in. Astronomyy, a mysterious British group from Worcestershire, has crafted a stunningly simple beat that takes this song to an entirely new level. It stays relaxing, but now in a zone-out kind of way. Take a listen and let your mind drift away.

August 07, 2013

Natural Animal - "Who You Are"

If You Like: Cut Copy, Miike Snow, Foster The People

So much electronic music today is either overtly sexual, aggressive, or just bad. The Toronto producers of Natural Animal have made a dancey electro-pop track, that is a happy-go-lucky jam that will put an instant wholesome smile on your face. Perfect for driving down the highway with the top down, this song is ready to be placed on the Summer Songs of 2013 list. Turn it up!

August 06, 2013

Figaro - "Moving Slowly"

If You Like: Vampire Weekend, The Strokes, Spoon

It is difficult to make a great song, but even more difficult to make a great track that is incredibly simple. Figaro has done just that with "Moving Slowly," a sparse, sprightly pop tune that brings to mind the catchy cuteness of Vampire Weekend. The group, made up of two Americans and a Frenchman, met in college and seem to have quite the knack for making beachy songs. Until we hear more from the promising crew, enjoy the sunny vibes of "Moving Slowly."

August 05, 2013

Bastille - "Pompeii"

If You Like: Kodaline, Imagine Dragons, Walk The Moon

The British stars of Bastille have made it big in their home country, but are just starting to make waves stateside with their debut single, "Pompeii." The track begins with a jumpy synth line and slowly builds with choral samples, and culminates in a chorus as big as any I've heard this year. This is a stadium-ready hook, and I can see these guys getting a pretty solid following on both sides of the pond. Get ready to cheer and sing along when they head to the US of A this fall for a tour to promote their debut album, Bad Blood, out September 3rd in the US.

August 01, 2013

Bipolar Sunshine - "Fire"

If You Like: Miike Snow, Mikky Ekko, Frightened Rabbit

I may be a little late to the party here, as the British producer known as Bipolar Sunshine has become a bit of a music blog and Soundcloud star, but this is something I have to share. "Fire," the first song he showed up online with, is gunning for the Chillest Song of the Year award. Delayed guitars, a calming, accented voice, and a chorus that will have you cheering and relaxed at the same time. The track, which includes a laid-back rap and a sample from The Notebook, reflects on tough relationship arguments and the importance of cooling off. This is the kind of song that makes you think about your life with an incredible sense of perspective. 

Try to eliminate all distractions, click play, and savor this one. 

Buy his debut EP here.

July 30, 2013

Bird

If You Like: DJ Shadow, Pretty Lights, RJD2

It seems that the more mysterious an artist is, the more people want to know about them. This is where the producer who goes by the name Bird excels. First of all, his name is nearly impossible to Google. But after wading through ornithologist websites and mentions of Andrew Bird, I stumbled across www.whoisbird.com. Finally, some information.

The Bird-man is a Canadian producer, fresh off the release of his debut album, La Notte, which you can stream below. The album is a fascinating collection of dark, gangster-tinged beats. This record is incredibly cinematic, sounding like it came straight from a 1920's black and white film. The instrumental tracks soothe, and the songs with raps over them bring the music out of its shell. This little mystery is pretty enjoyable.

July 29, 2013

BASECAMP - "Emmanuel"

If You Like: Disclosure, Rhye, James Blake

Normally, the Nashville sound involves guitars and a whole lot of twang. BASECAMP, however, are not being constrained by their city's musical history. Their latest track "Emmanuel" has a distinctly seductive R&B vibe and a super memorable hook. The large bass presence floats in the background as clinks of percussion keep the beat going. After getting quite a bit of attention for this track, they are preparing the release an EP in the coming months. Get ready.

July 26, 2013

Jaymes Young - Fragments

If You Like: Mikky Ekko, The xx, Woodkid

Jaymes Young has been awfully hard to categorize. He has a poppy, soulful voice, but his tracks have so far ranged from smooth R&B croon, to dubby electronica, to poppy guitar-laden anthem. His latest hit is a chill, bass-heavy blanket of beautiful sadness. As he sings about a failed relationship, the musical backing  enhances the laid-back mood but keeps things intense with the exciting instrumentation. His eagerly-anticipated debut mixtape will be released on August 20th.

July 25, 2013

Bombadil

If You Like: Hey Marseilles, Langhorne Slim, The Avett Brothers

Tom Bombadil was a minor character in The Lord Of The Rings, but his last name has lived on to take on another meaning: this band's name. Bombadil is cute and quirky, with music combining folky influences with lush harmonies and simple songwriting. Their newest record, Metrics of Affection, will be released on July 23 and expect them to make some waves. The North Carolina group has been slowly building a strong following with their energetic live shows and charmingly fun three previous albums. Listen to a track and download a free "Pocket Guide" to the band via Noisetrade below.


July 23, 2013

Mettro - "You"


I recently struck up a conversation with Steffen Paust, a writer over at Sound of Aarhus, a great blog that focuses on local music from the lovely Danish city. We decided to exchange some music, and in the shuffle, out came Mettro.



Writer: Steffen Paust

The young boys have previously visited major festivals like Skive Festival, Bork Music Festival, DMF festival, Den Grimmeste Festival and Samsø Festival, and Their fans include prominent names such as Mattias Kolstrup - lead singer of Dúné!

"I believe that there will soon be a new Skive-based band with potential" Mattias earlier said to Fyns Amts Avis.

Mettro is not an entirely new phenomenon in the Danish underground scene in Skive, where they have played countless times. They also provided top entertainment, in places like Train in Aarhus and Band Battle where they both won the competition and the Radio Skive price. In addition to this they also won Gym spot in 2012 where they received laudatory words from the many judges, which was not a second of doubt about their choice.

Last month the band released their new single “YOU," featured above.

July 22, 2013

Kodaline

If You Like: Passenger, Dry The River, Frightened Rabbit

I'm not sure why - maybe it's the rain - but musicians from the UK or Ireland seem to have a different kind of melancholy than us Americans. It is rusty, dull, and never-ending, like a brick wall slowly pushing you backwards for eternity. The folks from that area of the world also have an uncanny ability to turn that sadness into gorgeous music (See bands mentioned above). 

The latest band to do so is Kodaline, a group of Irishmen who topped the charts in their home country with their debut album, In A Perfect World. Nearly every song on the record has a stadium-ready hook and tears at your heartstrings with a deep emotional sadness. If that wasn't enough to make this band your go-to for breakup jams, they make beautifully filmed videos to go along with their finest tracks. Both videos below are as emotionally stirring as any I have seen. Get your tissues ready. 

While the album is not yet available in the States, you can import a copy or download their EP here


July 19, 2013

Joseph Childress - "Whispering Tide"

If You Like: The Tallest Man On Earth, Maps & Atlases, Bob Dylan

Sometimes a pretty voice is not what music needs. Occasionally, a rough, worn, emotional voice can be the best thing for a song. San Francisco singer-songwriter Joseph Childress caught my attention by sounding like one of my favorite singers, Kristian Mattson aka The Tallest Man On Earth. Childress' quick fingerpicking and quietly rustic voice blend together wonderfully, creating perfect wood cabin music. 

His debut album, The Rebirths, will be released on August 20th. But until then, take a listen to the first single, "Whispering Tide."

July 18, 2013

Reviewed: Hudson Mohawke

Middle East Downstairs, Cambridge, MA

This kid is the future. The lanky Scotsman who most people know as HudMo has been making quite a name for himself lately. Last night, he brought his testosterone-filled beats to Cambridge to wow an enthusiastic crowd with the biggest, brashest noises in music these days.

The slightly grimy basement venue was the perfect match for his simple, drop-focused beats. Without saying a word, HudMo packed his set to the brim with his original beats, copious amounts of new Kanye tracks, and hard-hitting material from his TNGHT EP with Lunice. The crowd seemed to know quite a bit of his material and production work, going the craziest at the drops of Kanye's "Blood On The Leaves," and TNGHT's "Higher Ground" and "Bugg'n." He also featured a few tracks that have only been heard live or on his radio mixtapes, like personal favorite "Chimes."

There is something spectacular about hearing this tracks live. Even though they are not being made on the spot, the sheer wall of sound that comes at you when one of his songs drops is unparalleled. This is the kind of music that makes you want to run through brick walls, and makes you feel like you can. In a live setting, the force is just that much stronger.

July 17, 2013

GEMS - "Sinking Stone"

If You Like: Indians, The xx, M83

Swelling synths, cooing vocals, and echoey guitar plucks. Washington D.C. duo GEMS keeps things calm, but never sleepy. Their latest track, "Sinking Stone," starts off with a fascinating beat that draws you in. It is simple, but not immediately decipherable. The track gently builds from there, transforming itself into a love anthem that brings to mind The xx (times 100). This song is truly epic minimalism.

July 16, 2013

Smallpools

If You Like: Passion Pit, NONONO, Grouplove

LA crew Smallpools may have a claim on the catchiest song of the year. Their debut single "Dreaming" is a slice of perfect electro-pop that will force even the most stubborn of your friends to sing along. Luckily, the rest of the EP (released today) is more of the same: four tracks of danceable, easy to love, synth-filled deliciousness. If you like Passion Pit but get annoyed by the high vocals, this is for you. Currently on tour with Australians San Cisco, try to catch these guys before the wave of fans that are sure to come.


July 15, 2013

Songs For A Midnight Sun: The Scandinavian Mixtape

Album Art by Brian Holmes

For decades, Scandinavia has produced some of the catchiest, most interesting, exciting music in the world. Think ABBA, Björk, Ace of Base, and more recently, The Tallest Man On Earth, The Knife, or  Swedish House Mafia. The music created in the chilly nations in Northern Europe has a distinct minimalist quality to it, and is often able to capture melody like no other music can. As you read this, the Scandinavian music scene is stronger than ever, and filled to the brim with exciting new artists. Consider this mixtape a little primer on the most promising music from the region.

P.S. I know Iceland technically isn't part of Scandinavia, but I put it in anyways. They know their stuff!

Tracklist
1. Highasakite - "Indian Summer"
2. MØ - "Pilgrim"
3. Kill J - "Phoenix"
4. Kate Boy - "The Way We Are"
5. Tove Lo - "Habits"
6. NONONO - "Pumpin' Blood"
7. jj - "Fågelsången"
8. Indians - "I Am Haunted"
9. Åsgeir Trausti - "King And Cross"
10. Little Dragon - "Twice"
11. Broken Twin - "Out Of Air"
12. Joppe - "Orbit"
13. Mettro - "You"
14. Fallulah - "Out Of It"
15. Béatrice Eli - "It's Over"
16. When Saints Go Machine - "Infinity Killer"
17. Sailor & I - "Tough Love"
18. Pascal Pinon - "Årstíðir"

Download the whole mixtape here!

If that link does not work, try this one.

If any artist would like their song removed from the mixtape, please email me at jonah@writetothebeat.com and the song will be promptly removed.

July 12, 2013

Macklemore - "Sneaking In The Show"


Most people know Macklemore thanks to his ubiquitous hits "Thrift Shop" and "Can't Hold Us," tracks that are seemingly everywhere these days. What you might not know, however, is that the Mack came out with a stellar record in 2005, called Language Of My World, before Ryan Lewis jumped in the mix. Recently, a track from those early years was unearthed. "Sneaking In The Show (feat. Ricky Pharoe)" definitely does sound like old Macklemore and showcases his storytelling abilities, bringing to mind a personal favorite, "Fake ID." The subject this time: Getting past strict bouncers. It doesn't seem like he will be needing to do that anymore. "Thrift Shop" is the fastest selling song in the first six months of any year. Ever. Wow, he's come a long way.

July 11, 2013

NONONO - "Pumpin' Blood"

If You Like: Icona Pop, Lykke Li, Beatrice Eli

In case there hasn't been enough awesomely catchy indie-pop coming out of Scandinavia, NONONO will fix that. The Swedish trio has perfected a loud, chanting sort of catchiness, complete with whistling, thumping drums, and bright synths. I know I already made my Summer Mixtape, but this track would fit well on it. While pumping blood might not seem like the most glamorous thing to sing about, this song about the functions of the heart might change your mind. 

July 09, 2013

Branches - "Halo"


If You Like: Old Crow Medicine Show, Fiction Family, Seryn

Beyonce's "Halo" has been a guilty pleasure of mine for a while but now, I like it in a whole new way. Branches, an indie-folk crew from Los Angeles gave the track their own spin and turned it into a brooding, twangy jam with banjo, harmonium, and some sugar-sweet harmonies. Filmed in a lovely country-side yard, this cover really shows a new side of the song and shows me once again how truly lovely it is.

Also, their song "Helicopter." So so good.

You can check out some of their other songs and covers here. Hint: Watch the "Skinny Love" and "Seven Nation Army" covers. You won't regret it.

July 08, 2013

San Fermin - "Sonsick"

If You Like: Lucius, Sufjan Stevens

If this song sounds familiar, take a look at the singers of the Brooklyn crew, fronted by composer Ellis Ludwig-Leone. The two gals who front Lucius, are featured on this track as well, intertwining their voices together to yet again form an entrancing sound. Their debut single, "Sonsick," shows a new side to the girls' voices that is not present in their work with Lucius. The swing and old-school doo-wop feel is replaced with an urgent, tense, burgeoning passion. Backed by a brass section, piano and drums, the girls let their voices loose, alternating lines in the chorus, harmonizing and complementing each other perfectly. 

July 03, 2013

Seryn - "Ivory Black"

If You Like: Hey Marseilles, The Head & The Heart, Farewell Milwaukee

Seryn, hailing from Denton, Texas, caught my attention with their debut single "We Will All Be Changed," a cheerful folk tune that placed the group clearly in the league of The Head & The Heart and at the forefront of the current folk revolution. But then, for about a year and a half, I heard nothing about the group as they laid dormant, or so I thought. They have recently returned with a brand new single, "Ivory Black." And it was worth the wait. The track begins meekly with a ukulele strum and builds to the group's signature style of chanting, sing-along climax. Enjoy this gem and keep an eye out. 


July 02, 2013

Ásgeir Trausti

If You Like: Lay Low, Pascal Pinon, Of Monsters And Men

Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson looks and sounds wise beyond his years. In testament to the fact that Europeans grow up faster than Americans, the Icelandic Einarsson, who sometimes goes by just Ásgeir, is only 20 years old. His soothing, beautiful folk music is unlike anything I have heard from an artist his age. The calm sense of perspective in his lyrics is moving, and his warbly voice is reminiscent of a more-accessible Jónsi. This past year, his debut album, Dýrð í dauðaþögn, was nominated for a Nordic Music Prize, and is filled with ethereal but memorable melodies. You can download his three-song Toe Rag Sessions EP for free at his Bandcamp page. It's starting to look like this guy may be the next great Icelandic export. 



July 01, 2013

Dustin Tebbutt

If You Like: Bon Iver, Ben Howard

Justin Vernon fans: Listen up! Australian Dustin Tebbutt may be the next falsetto voice to become a household name around the world. After relocating to Stockholm for two years, Tebbutt returned to his homeland armed with stunningly beautiful folk tunes that speak to the sparse, minimalistic, Scandinavian outlook on design. The first track to see the light of day, "The Breach," It takes you in, making you feel like a bearded man, huddled under a blanket and drinking hot tea in a lonely cabin in the woods. And I mean that in the best way possible. His echoey voice rings out above crunchy drums and delicate guitar work to form the closest thing to Bon Iver since, well. . ., the Vernon himself.

June 28, 2013

Odesza

If You Like: Washed Out, M83, Neon Indian

When weather gets crappy, music can make you feel like it's nice out all year round. Odesza, a production duo made of Catacombkid and BeachesBeaches, has perfected the formula. Their sunny, bright chillwave tracks instantly put the listener on the beach and under the sun's rays. Incorporating smooth synths, chopped up vocals, and a keen sense of melody, the duo stands out in the crowded relaxing electronica field. As if it couldn't get any better, you can download their debut for free below! Even though their album is called Summer's Gone, it feels like it will never leave. 



June 27, 2013

Little Comets - "Jennifer"

If You Like: Maps & Atlases, Two Door Cinema Club


With summer in full swing, the sunny songs of the year are beginning to come out of the woodwork. UK indie-poppers Little Comets have now tossed in their submission with their latest single "Jennifer". The track takes quickly plucked guitar, intricate lyrics (how often do you hear the word 'taciturn' in a song?), and some good old doo-doo-doos and wraps them up in a clean, catchy, cute little package, making for one of the liveliest summer tunes yet. Enjoy!

June 26, 2013

Jordan Ruiz

If You Like: James Vincent McMorrow, Ben Howard, Bon Iver

For those rainy nights when you're relaxing at home and need a woodsy singer/songwriter to lull you into a meditative state, you now have a new artist to add to your playlists. Jordan Ruiz has a voice almost exactly like James Vincent McMorrow, and what a compliment that is! His recent Sundial Heart EP is a collection of heart wrenching folk tracks. Perfect for walking through a forest and napping beside a campfire. Beautiful stuff.

You can download his Sundial Heart EP for free at Noisetrade here or listen and download below.

June 25, 2013

Sarah Blacker

If You Like: Regina Spektor, Sarah Bareilles

Bostonian Sarah Blacker's music isn't normally what I gravitate towards. It is poppy, as sweet as high fructose corn syrup, and extremely easy to like. But her music and charming delivery instantly brought to mind Regina Spektor, making her tunes intriguing and very concisely and carefully crafted. They are short little gems of pop songwriting that are also catchy as hell! While you may not catch me blasting this in my car, it is a wonderful example of how pop music doesn't have to be dumbed down for it to be enjoyable. 

Check out Sarah's tour dates after the jump




June 24, 2013

Prides - "Out Of The Blue"

If You Like: CHVRCHES, Tanlines


It is the beginning of Summer. And that means you need songs to blast in your car with the top down, driving along the coast with the sun in your hair. "Out Of The Blue" is one of those songs. Scottish electro-poppers Prides combine buzzy synths with pounding drums, thick accents and a perfect sing-along chorus. Summer tracks this solid don't come around every day so put your foot on the gas and enjoy this one!

June 21, 2013

Mother Falcon

If You Like: Hey Marseilles, Arcade Fire

I have always been a fan of indie music that incorporates orchestral instruments (See Hey Marseilles and the Songza playlist I made of this stuff!). Mother Falcon are not only a member of that category, but they encapsulate the ways in which modern indie folk songwriting and a huge backing orchestra can benefit each other. Neither half takes the foreground, but they manage to work off each other, finding the perfect balance between the grandiosity of an orchestra and the intimacy of folk music.

They just recently released You Knew, their third full length album, and (at least I think so) the work that will get them lauded for their inventive musical approach. They deserve it!
 

June 19, 2013

Write To The Beat: The Summer Tape

Album Art by Brian Holmes

Ladies and gentlemen! It is summertime! For the first time ever, I have created a mixtape of Summer jams for all you kind folk to listen to this season. These tracks will help you drive along the coast, relax on the beach, get ready for a fun night out, and everything else the season may throw at you. Enjoy!

Tracklist
1. Magic Man - "Nova Scotia"
2. Vampire Weekend - "Diane Young"
3. Coasts - "Oceans"
4. Prides - "Out Of The Blue"
5. The Apache Relay - "Power Hungry Animals"
6. Lauren Mann & The Fairly Odd Folk - "I Lost Myself"
7. ODESZA - "Don't Stop"
8. Dan Croll - "Compliment Your Soul"
9. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros - "Better Days"
10. Cayucas - "Cayucos"
11. Said The Whale - "I Love You"
12. Jake Bugg - "Lightning Bolt"
13. Robert DeLong - "Happy"
14. CHVRCHES - "The Mother We Share"
15. Fall 2000 And Something - "So Many Details"
16. Admiral Fallow - "Guest Of The Government"

Download the whole mixtape here!

If that link isn't working, try going here.


If any artist would like their song removed from the mixtape, please email me at jonah@writetothebeat.com and the song will be promptly removed.