March 26, 2013

Reviewed: Sara Watkins, Field Report

The Sinclair, Cambridge, MA

I was already excited to go to last night's show at The Sinclair before the headliner's name caught my eye. Initially, I planned on attending solely to see Field Report, Chris Porterfield's beautiful folk group whose tour had somehow been eluding me for the last year. It took me a few days to realize that Porterfield would be opening up for the Sara Watkins. As in the singer/violinist who had earned my attention as one-third of Nickel Creek and live violinist for The Decemberists. Even then, I didn't expect to see a two-thirds Nickel Creek reunion on stage with Sean Watkins supporting his sister on guitar for "Reasons Why," a classic track from 2000's Nickel Creek

Kicking off the show to a half-full seated audience, Porterfield led his group through some of the most ethereal, soothing folk music being made these days. Accompanied by Randy Pingrey on trombone, Porterfield was all smiles, even while playing self-proclaimed "sad, kick you while you're down" music. With a small, quiet audience like that, it would have been easy for an artist to seem disappointed, or even upset with the crowd. But the charming frontman was affable, lively, and responsive. After a fan blurted out asking to hear "Taking Alcatraz," Mr. Porterfield quickly decided to take the guy's advice. And thank goodness. They hadn't been planning on playing it, one of their album's standout tracks. It seemed as if the group was more focused on the atmospheric, harder-to-digest tracks. In my humble opinion, if Porterfield plans on making some more waves, he should stick to that guy's advice. That track is killer!

Watkins hit the stage with her star-studded band and quickly turned up the energy level. With foot-stomping bluegrass jams and string-burning fiddle skills, Watkins featured her new album Sun Midnight Sun, but squeezed in a bunch of covers as well, taking on Tom Waits, John Hartford, Robert Earl Keen, and Bob Dylan tracks with ease. While Porterfield is a new voice hoping to emerge in the folk-country scene, Watkins is clearly a seasoned veteran, having played in some of the biggest groups of the genre. Now roughing it on her own, Watkins is easily proving that her practice has made perfect.

March 25, 2013

Ed Sheeran & Passenger - "No Diggity/Thrift Shop"

A few weeks ago, British folk champions Ed Sheeran and Mike Rosenberg a.k.a. Passenger let their fans in on quite a treat. While performing an acoustic set for Australian radio show Fifi & Jules, they let loose a beast of an acoustic cover-mashup. With their rustic voices intertwining, they killed with a glorious rendition of Blackstreet's "No Diggity," squeezing in a little "Thrift Shop" while they were at it. They take a classic song, and really run with it. Beautiful stuff.

March 18, 2013

Ticket Giveaway: Local Natives @ House Of Blues, Boston

This is exciting! Local Natives, touring behind their fantastic sophomore album, Hummingbird, will be playing in Boston at House Of Blues on March 30th. And we have a pair of tickets to give away for that awesome show! They put on a great, lively show and opener Superhumanoids is sure to be a lot of fun as well.

Here's how you can win:

1. Like Write To The Beat on Facebook.

2. Fill out the form below and you're good to go!

March 12, 2013

9 Boss / Baller / Badass Rap Songs

Sometimes, a huge, heavy, intense rap song is just what you need. Whether you need an uplifting underdog story, or somebody yelling just to rile you up, these tracks will help you when you're pissed, need an ego boost, or just need to feel like a boss/baller/badass.

B.o.B.-"Fuck Em We Ball"
Listen If: You just lost a game and you need a reminder who's boss
Best Line: "Gentleman and a scholar. Let me just pop my collar"
B.o.B. rarely gets riled up, but when he does he can make some of the funkiest, most intense stuff out there (See "Beast Mode"). And the title kind of says it all.

Eminem-"'Till I Collapse"
Listen If: People are telling you to give up on your dreams
Best line: "Till I collapse I’m spilling these raps long as you feel 'em, Till the day that I drop you'll never say that I'm not killing them"
Eminem is no doubt one of the kings of pump-up rap. While "Lose Yourself" is the obvious choice and could get anyone ready to battle their worst fears, "Till I Collapse" speaks to levels of long-term bravery and inner strength that most rappers can't even fathom.

Birdman feat. Lil Wayne-"Pop Bottles"
Listen If: You just got a promotion
Best Line: "Oh I'm sorry sweetheart, I thought you was my other woman"
When Wayne was on top of his game, he was overflowing with swag. While Birdman's verse is mediocre, Wayne kills his and the beat is just asking for a ridiculous rap-along celebration on your way home from work.

Tech N9ne-"Worldwide Choppers"
Listen If: You're ready to assume a throne
Best Line: "Bow down, I was crowned when they found me"
Tech N9ne is a rapper like no other. His flow is extremely fast and technical, and his beats are complex, crowded, and intense. While dozens of his songs could fit on this list, "Worldwide Choppers" is the pinnacle of his style. Tons of guests and some the fastest spittin' out there makes this track a unique one in the rap world.

Rick Ross-"Pirates"
Listen If: You have to go to work. As a drug kingpin.
Best line: "Fascination with fortune afford me mansion and Porsches, Panamera abortions, marijuana imported"
First of all, Rick Ross is THE Boss. His latest album is called God Forgives, I Don't. Does it get better than that? I don't think so. "Pirates" has the biggest beat on the record and is filled with Ross's signature 'wough' and a huge horn section.

Big Boi-"General Patton"
Listen If: You're getting disrespect and need to show someone who's boss.
Best Line: "Fuckin' up the game like ice, heroin, or speed"
A haunting chorus and horn stabs make this a truly scary beat. Combined with Big Boi's dominating flow, this song is just explosive.

Angel Haze-"Werkin' Girls"
Listen If: You're trying to move up in the ranks
Best Line: "I'm on top of my green like a motherfucking tractor"
Dubbed by many as the next great female rapper, Angel Haze knows how to bring the heat. This track proves that she can rap crazy fast, and isn't afraid to speak her mind, no matter how ugly it gets in there.

Jay-Z-"Oh My God"
Listen If: This is your life
Best Line: "I'm feeling like the world's against me Lord. Call me crazy but strangely I love the odds"
This is one of my favorite beats of all time, crafted by Just Blaze and twisting an obscure Genya Ravan sample into a crowded, fast, fiery jam. Jay's voice just oozes gangster and when the two join forces, out comes one of Hov's best tracks.

Lil' Jon-"Stop Fuckin' Wit Me"
Listen If: You really need to murder someone
Best Line: "Bitch back the fuck up and let me smoke my weed"
This song could make anyone angry for absolutely no reason. Lil' Jon's ridiculous gravelly screams over a sampled Slayer riff make this song straight up terrifying. Honestly, if you're not angry, this might freak you out a bit.

March 08, 2013

Anniversary CD Giveaway

In celebration of our recent 2 year anniversary, we have some amazing CDs to giveaway to you, our faithful readers! FOR FREE! And because Ryan Matteson and the guys at C3 artist management are so awesome, we have enough swag for more than one winner!

We have 3 prize packs to give away!! Each consist of 6 CD's from artists like Delta Spirit (our favorite record of 2012!), Yellow Ostrich, Heartless Bastards, Strand of Oaks, Little Hurricane, and more! In addition, one special winner will receive a limited edition, badass Delta Spirit Beer Koozie!

Prize 1: Delta Spirit, The Rosebuds, Strand of Oaks, Yellow Ostrich, J Roddy Walston and the Business, Smith Westerns
Prize 2: Strand of Oaks, J Roddy Walston and the Business, Yellow Ostrich, Heartless Bastards, The Whigs, Little Hurricane
Prize 3: The Whigs, The Rosebuds, Yellow Ostrich x2, Little Hurricane, Heartless Bastards

Here's how you can win:

1. Like Write To The Beat on Facebook.

2. Comment on this post, telling us which prize you want to win and the first drink you would put in that koozie!!

3. You're all done! We will tag you in a post on our page if you win!

March 06, 2013

Roadkill Ghost Choir - "Beggars Guild"

If You Like: Old Crow Medicine Show, Blitzen Trapper, Field Report

Roadkill Ghost Choir, an indie-folk group from Deland, Florida brings to mind a group of musicians playing their instruments on a porch down South. Their song “Beggars Guild” emulates the alt-country sound that is blowing up these days, while adding the band’s own unique spin to it. The song kicks off with a twangy, country-esque theme and then enters a lush psychedelic bridge, filled with cryptic Fleet Foxes-like vocals and a faint harp. The unique thing about this song is how it is able to seamlessly go back and forth between these two very different sounds. It is something that sounds similar while at the same time very different. Therefore, if there’s one song that you need to download this week, it’s this one.

Roadkill Ghost Choir-"Beggar's Guild"

-Ben Rosner

March 05, 2013

Hey Marseilles - Lines We Trace

When I first heard Hey Marseilles, they instantly clicked with me. They were catchy, lively, fun, and combined indie-folk music with orchestral instrumentation. Perfect! Their debut album, To Travels & Trunks, had a magical, wondrous quality about it that gave it a sound unlike anything I had heard. When I chatted with the guys (they are as delightful as they seem) at Sasquatch last year, they revealed that they were working on their long-awaited followup. Needless to say, this was one my most anticipated albums of 2013. With their second record, Lines We Trace, the boys have grown up a bit, taken things back to Earth, and have done something very difficult. They have made a sophomore record that is at least equal in quality to their popular debut, without making a carbon copy, or alienating any fans. In general, the songs are mellower, more melancholic, and just as lovely.

Hey Marseilles-"Heart Beats"

While their debut is still one of my favorite folk albums in recent years, I have little doubt that Lines We Trace will get there too. The songwriting is much more mature on this record, taking more risks and longer, more developed tangents. The strings seem to be closer to the forefront than ever before and sound absolutely fantastic accompanied by the pleasant voice of Matt Bishop. The more I listen to his voice, the more it started to sound like a younger James Mercer: simple, peaceful, and calming.

"Heart Beats" is this album's jam-out indie anthem. While it is not as catchy as "To Travels & Trunks" from their debut, it hits harder, and features fiery electric guitar chugging. Their 2011 single "Elegy" and its gorgeous b-side "Cafe Lights" finally find a home on this album. They fit right in, especially the attention-grabbing string swells on "Cafe Lights" that would instantly wake anyone previously soothed by Bishop's sweet odes. The cello, captained by Samuel Anderson, sounds extraordinarily full, and the group's classical influences get the spotlight on "Madrona," a beautiful, elegant, instrumental classical number.

In the track "Heart Beats" Bishop sings "I still believe you love me, but in a different way." That's exactly it. I love this record, and I loved their debut. Just in a different way.

You can buy the album from the band's website here or on iTunes here.

Also, they will be performing in Boston at the Brighton Music Hall on March 29th. Buy tickets here!

March 04, 2013

Reviewed: Milo Greene

The Sinclair, Boston, MA
Photos by Kaitlin Deveau

I can confidently call myself a Milo Greene veteran. I have been with them since the beginning, and since hearing the first strums of "1957" off their Hello Sessions a few years ago, they have held a special place in my heart. Last night at The Sinclair, I saw them for the third time live, and boy have they improved. While they have always had a certain casual charm live, this time they turned that charm into visual, visceral passion that made their show louder, tighter, and all-around better. They no longer sounded like rookies; they are road-worn performers who know how to knock a crowd's socks off.

The LA-natives sold out the venue, their first stop on a month-long Eastern-US trek, and brought their A-game. Aside from some oddly stiff stage banter from Marlana (is Boston really your favorite city? I didn't buy it), the night went off without a hitch. One of the things I always love of about the group is their ability to seamlessly trade instruments and lead vocal duties for almost every song. Everyone on stage last night could be a frontman of their own band, and when combined, their powers multiply. While it was no surprise that they played their entire WTTB best of 2012 debut album, they also packed in a spot-on chant-worthy version of Sufjan Steven's "Chicago" and a lively rendition of Wilco's "A Shot In The Arm." A personal highlight came when they ended their set with "1957," my absolute favorite song of 2012. Even though this was not my first time seeing the group, they managed to keep things fresh and are lively enough that I wasn't bored for one moment. Well done guys!

See the rest of the photos here!

Overheard at the show: 
A woman to her friend: "What are you doing? Get off the floor!"
Her friend: "Shut up! I'm texting my future husband!"

March 01, 2013

George Kamel

If You Like: Fleet Foxes, Joshua James, Passenger

George Kamel has been playing music for years and has influences ranging from Bon Iver to The Avett Brothers to Fleet Foxes. Fully ingrained in the Boston music scene, Kamel has combined these influences on his latest album, The Great Coward. With a simple, sweet voice, he has produced a very solid indie-folk album filled with variety. "Found My Way" sounds like a peppier Devendra Banhart, while "Mockingbird" evokes Amos Lee or Passenger. While it seems as if Mr. Kamel has room to develop and hone his sound into something a bit more mature, this is a great start, and a step in the right direction. 

You can download The Great Coward for free on NoiseTrade.