Showing posts with label albums. Show all posts
Showing posts with label albums. Show all posts

May 01, 2014

Joseph

If You Like: The Staves, Laura Marling

Despite their band name, Joseph is a group made of three sisters from Portland, Oregon. Gentle harmonies, soothing arrangements, and crisp, concise songwriting help this trio stand out in the folk world. Bringing to mind their British equivalent, The Staves, their voices fit together like only siblings' could. The music is almost always relaxing, perfect for a quiet night in the Pacific Northwest, preferably in a wood cabin. The first track on their record, "Cloudline," is a builder, however, and slowly grows into a fiery sing-along jam. Going on a road trip? Experiencing nature? Or just hanging out? This is your new perfect soundtrack.

Their album, Native Dreamer Kin, can be streamed below or downloaded for a suggested donation over at Noisetrade!

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. 

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!

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 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


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 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.

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 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.
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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 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.
   

December 14, 2012

The Best Albums of 2012

25. The Staves - Dead and Born and Grown


The Staves-"The Motherlode"
This album is a simple display of how far solid songwriting and three beautiful voices will get you. Quite far it turns out. The British gals have been opening up for Bon Iver in Europe and making waves with their gorgeous, stripped down live show. Their debut album fleshes their sound out, but doesn't over do it, maintaining focus on the pristine harmonies and the rustic, woodsy guitar lines. 

24. Nas - Life is Good

It is not often that a rapper mentions his own divorcee in a remotely positive light. Nas, however, confronts the subject head on, presenting his ex-wife's wedding dress on the cover of his new album and lyrically dedicating the record to her. In doing so, he weaves a deeply personal account of his life, touching on subjects from his daughter to his love life, but most of all, his thoughtful introspection. Plus, this might be one of the last albums to feature vocals from the late Amy Winehouse. 

23. Jack White - Blunderbuss

Jack White-"Sixteen Saltines"
Jack White has always kept his name shrouded behind the name of a group. Whether it was the White Stripes, the Dead Weather, or the Raconteurs, White was always in creative control. But now, with this album he boldly stepped out on his own, labeling it with only his name. Hey, if I made this album I would damn well want credit too! He somehow made an album that would not have fit with any of his previous projects, but still sounds undeniably like a Jack White record. His trademark wobbly voice and bluesy licks keep it familiar but there is a tenderness and openness here that was hidden on his previous work. 

22. Baroness - Yellow & Green

Baroness-"Take My Bones Away"
This enormous double album sounds even bigger than it is. The sludge metal band lightens things up a bit and continues to evade simple classification on their third full length. The heaviness is still there, arguably even more so, but so is a new variety and experimentation the group has only leaned towards until now. They dove right into a giant genre-less void and it brought them huge success, and the catchiest, most exciting metal album of the year. 

21. Grizzly Bear - Shields

Grizzly Bear-"Speak In Rounds"
After Veckatimest made me a fan, I always categorized Grizzly Bear as sleepy indie rock that to me, got a little tiresome. The the band read my mind and released Shields. Right off the bat, the pace is more lively and everything is louder. There isn't a standout 'single' kind of track like "Two Weeks" was, but that only helps this album feel cohesive. The group retains their slightly ambient bend, but they trade sleepy ambience for a more tense, excited tone. 

20. Delta Rae - Carry The Fire

Delta Rae-"Morning Comes"
"Gospel stomp". Those two words introduced me to Delta Rae and brought the huge "Bottom of the River" to my ears. While that classification does a pretty good job, there is a lot more to their sound. There is part Southern twang, four phenomenal voices (three of them are related), and even a little musical-like spectacle added to the original formula. The singers take turns and hit with enormous harmonies. The songs are frightfully catchy, and are written to be big. Luckily, on their debut album they really pull it off. 

19. First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar

First Aid Kit-"King Of The World"
Considering the Söderberg sisters were born in Sweden, they sure know a lot about Americana. Over calm acoustic guitars with a touch of twang, the ladies pay homage to their idols and do so in spectacular fashion. Gorgeous Scandinavian space and minimalism entwined with rootsy campfire moods. Did I mention Conor Oberst makes a cameo?

18. Field Report - Field Report

Field Report-"Taking Alcatraz"
It seems as if Chris Porterfield had a lot riding on this album. The former bandmate of Justin Vernon does not want to be known as just that. Luckily with this collection of rustic tracks he sets himself apart while sounding just similar enough to attract some similar fans. He has managed to make his own brand of Midwestern folk, sounding equally new and familiar at the same time. All with beautiful melodies, harmonies, and arrangements. 

17. Michael Kiwanuka - Home Again

Michael Kiwanuka-"Home Again"
Named the BBC's Sound of 2013, Mr. Kiwanuka continues this year's trend for containing awesome new voices. His soulful croon caught the attention of Adele, who had him open for her on her British tour, and now it's popping up everywhere. This album is amazingly calming while remaining sophisticated and neither too poppy or tacky like many soul singers can be.

16. Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan

Dirty Projectors-"Gun Has No Trigger"
Dirty Projectors have always made sophisticated, complex, and challenging music. Not to say it isn't rewarding, but it often keeps many potential fans at arms length. With their latest, David Longstreath gave up on trying to make things difficult; he just pounded out some of the most straightforward and fantastic songs of his career. 

15. Frank Ocean - Channel Orange

Frank Ocean-"Thinkin Bout You"
Without a doubt, this album was the most publicized and controversial album on this list. With his coming out letter released only days before the album dropped, Ocean instantly became the poster boy for gay rights among the neo-R&B crowd. Good thing his music is awesome too! The amazing, poetic abilities displayed on this record are the same that are visible in his letter and are what made his admission of love touching and heartfelt as opposed to a publicity stunt. 

14. Ellie Goulding - Halcyon

Ellie Goulding-"My Blood"
Her first album catapulted her to the top of the pop world, and she didn't let it get to her head. Instead of a boring recycle of her first record, she really evolved as an artist, opening herself up more and creating a record that is darker, deeper, and more emotional than her last. All of this without sacrificing an ounce of catchy likability. Well done, Ellie. 

13. Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.A.A.d city

Kendrick Lamar-"Backseat Freestyle"
When Dr. Dre tells you he found the next big thing in hip-hop, he's probably right. His latest protege, and his most publicized since Eminem, shattered everyone's already high expectation with this album. Critics are already debating whether or not they can call this a classic album yet. Sure ya can! Lamar, with his 'from the streets but not of the streets' attitude gives a previously unheard perspective from the sidelines of his home of Compton. This is an important record, and aside from all the analysis on its impact, it is the best soundtrack of the year for a chill hangout. Dr. Dre is right on the money. 

12. Town Hall - Roots & Bells

Town Hall-"Mary A. Longden"
While the best word to describe this New York trio's debut is charming, they are not simple like the word connotes. The instrumentation is creative, the lyrics are honest and touching, and the vocals are fresh (male/female harmonies again). This is one of those debuts that really makes you wonder why there guys aren't known around the country. I'm not sure, but I don't think I will have to wonder for too long. 

11. Milo Greene - Milo Greene

Milo Greene-"Cutty Love"
Milo Greene isn't a real person, but the beautiful indie folk that bears his name is as real as it gets. One of the most exciting debuts of the year is a cinematic experience that, while having powerful singles, feels like a cohesive work of art. One of the most surprising things about this group is their lack of a frontman. Instead, four of them share vocal duties and switch instruments all the time, creating an evolving focus that never weakens. 

10. Alabama Shakes - Boys & Girls

Alabama Shakes-"I Ain't The Same"
Frontwoman Brittany Howard has been one of the hottest new things in the music world for a while now. After she wowed crowds with her enormous howl, this album was one of the most anticipated of the year. Thanks to a backing band that sound like it has been playing together for 20 years, Howard's vocals are in good hands, resulting in a killer set of tight, fun, bluesy tracks. 

9. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - The Heist

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis-"Ten Thousand Hours"
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are sweeping the nation fast. Not only are they doing it completely independent of a record label, but they are also doing it with a powerful message of honesty, love, tolerance, and party. Macklemore, as much as any other MC is able to put all parts of his personality on display, from deal-hunting hipster ("Thrift Shop") to social activist ("Same Love") to recovering addict ("Starting Over"). The most important thing in his eyes is honesty and that is one of the reasons this was the best rap album of the year. Unfortunately Ryan Lewis's production often gets snubbed a mention in reviews because of Macklemore's incredible lyricism, but not here. Without the perfect musical half to complete the duo, I wouldn't be writing this here. Lewis is able to translate Macklemore's thoughts perfectly into music and he even goes farther, saying something of his own in the beats. 

8. Dry The River - Shallow Bed

Dry The River-"History Book"
This is my dark horse album of the year. At first I let it slip by after a few listens as being a fairly good folk album with interesting heavier influences. but after I saw them live at Sasquatch, I kept coming back to their album, realizing more and more every time how I had completely missed something awesome the first time around. They combine baroque and folk influences with heavier rock ones to create something quite powerful and a seriously great listen. 

7. Of Monsters And Men - My Head Is An Animal

Of Monsters And Men-"Dirty Paws"
Arcade Fire, whether they know about it or not, has a long lost cousin in Of Monsters and Men. The Icelandic group pops out cheery anthems like it's nothing and looks adorable the whole time. The sweet male/female harmonies (I can never resist those) and sing along choruses have captivated audiences all around the world led by the ridiculously perfect summer jam "Little Talks." This album is made of singles and could use a tad more variety, but I'm perfectly content to wait for album #2 for that. 

6. Bahamas - Barchords

Bahamas-"Lost In The Light"
I would not expect the songs on this record to be stuck in my head for weeks at a time, but alas, Afie Jurvanen has found a way to make sure it happens. The Canadian guitarist has one of the smoothest voices I've ever heard and his music (perhaps influenced by his Scandinavian heritage) is sparse, simple, and delightful. Accompanied by two wonderful backup singers, Jurvanen tells tales of love while showing off quick guitar licks but carefully not overusing his obvious skills. He has one of the most exciting new sounds in music and I would be surprised if people didn't start catching on more. 

5. Purity Ring - Shrines

Purity Ring's music is dark, trippy, and frighteningly catchy. On Shrines, the Canadian duo creates the sonic landscape of a new, unexplored world. The synths simultaneously hover high above you and punch you in the gut. Megan James's sweet voice adds a sense of childlike wonder to the strange alien world the music occupies. Her voice leads you down the rabbit hole and never lets you out, hypnotizing you until you are lost in an odd state of fright and amazement. 


Rarely does a band's name speak as perfectly to the sounds of the music as Cold Specks does. The voice of Al Spx paired with her minimalist instrumentation feels cold, but in a crisp, wintry way. Her songs chill your bones but keep you cozy at the same time with how peaceful they sound. Her voice sounds worn and wise enough to be able to teach some lessons. Luckily the songwriting is easily strong enough to back up the gem that is her voice. 

3. Bowerbirds - The Clearing

Bowerbirds-"In The Yard"
This is the album that finally realized every ounce of potential Bowerbirds had been accumulating for the last few years. From the start, "Tuck The Darkness In" reveals that the duo let loose this time, not being afraid to let things build into beautiful climactic chaos. They hunkered down and wrote this album while building themselves a cabin in the woods so it makes sense that every track feels full, lush, and very naturally grown. 

2. The Lumineers - The Lumineers

The Lumineers were born from pain and you sure can hear that in Wesley Schultz's voice. This year the  Denver, Colorado group rose to the top of the twangy, hoe-down inspiring, folky heap. But unlike so many of the others (I'm looking at you Mumford) they don't try and have a party in every track. The range of this record, along with incredible songwriting, heart-wrenching lyrics, and some good old-rollicking fun help set this one apart from the pack. "Ho Hey" was the track that really pushed these guys forward, but "The Dead Sea" had the line that stuck with me the most: "You told me I was like the Dead Sea / You'll never sink when you are with me." Listening to this album, I'm really starting to believe him. 

1. Delta Spirit - Delta Spirit

Dirty, fast, mean, and hell of a lot fun is what rock 'n' roll should be, and that is exactly what this album is. While this isn't the San Diego group's debut album, they opted to give it their own name because they claimed to have found the sound they had been striving towards as a band. They got our expectations really high from that statement and they still blew me away. Without a weak track, this record has just the right amount of twang, and a whole lot of Matt Vasquez's gritty howl. Pop this one in your car stereo and you'll never want to stop driving.