Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ryan Smith - A Few Hundred Miles

Ryan Smith is a singer-songwriter from Ohio in the US and he's giving away his newest 6 track record for free through his website. It's a good listen with a couple of real standout tracks, 'Santa Cruz' and in particular the excellent 'A Few Hundred Miles'. Nearly all of his stuff is available to download on his website so if you like what you hear, there's plenty more to explore.

Ryan Smith - A Few Hundred Miles

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Iron & Wine Alternate Takes - Free Download

I'm a bit late noticing this but better late than never. From ironandwine.com

"As the year winds down, Iron & Wine is putting the bus in the garage for the season and shifting gears for more activities around the house. To kick things off, the archives were scoured and an amazing collection of alternate takes of songs from The Shepherd's Dog was discovered. We're excited to offer these eight songs to you, for free. Please click below for your download."

Iron & Wine - Alternate Versions

It's a really good collection of 8 songs from the excellent 'The Shepherd's Dog'. Well worth the download. It is free after all. Can't go wrong.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Handsome Furs - Face Control

Handsome Furs is Dan Boeckner (he of Wolf Parade) and his wife Alexei Perry. This is their second album after the rather disappointing Plague Park. This is not disappointing. It's a brilliant album right from the opening track 'Legal Tender' all the way through to the magnificent closer 'Radio Kaliningrad'.

I prefer Dan's songs in Wolf Parade (mostly, not always) so was delighted to have a full album of his that lives up to his Wolf Parade stuff. It's not out for a while but it'll be an essential purchase. Here's one of the tracks off it as a taster:

Handsome Furs - I'm Confused

My Morning Jacket - Live From Las Vegas

An iTunes exclusive, this is a 6-track ep of My Morning Jacket 'live' in a studio and its really good. There's one new track 'Dear Wife' while the others are older tracks, showing the quieter side of MMJ. There's a couple of songs from their debut album The Tennessee Fire, (They Ran & Nashville To Kentucky) a really great album, and one from their last offering Evil Urges (Thank You Too).

It's no more than a stop-gap and doesn't have the epic quality of MMJ live, like on the amazing Okonokos. But it's a good listen and well worth downloading for fans of the band.

Monday, January 19, 2009

New U2 single - Get On Your Boots

Fairly rubbish if you ask me. Have a listen here

Fleet Foxes on SNL

Fleet Foxes - Mykonos

Fleet Foxes - Blue Ridge Mountains

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Neal Casal - Roots & Wings

The publicity machine is not exactly in full swing for this record with no mention on Neal's official site of its release. But I'm fairly sure it's due out in the next couple of weeks and having heard it, I can certainly recommend it. I was really struck by Neal's voice at the Cardinals gig last year where he performed a couple of songs and it's just as strong on record.

The album is probably best described as folk-rock and is a strong collection of songs. There's 16 tracks which, for me, is too many, especially here where the songs are all quite similar. However there are a few really excellent tracks and Neal's great voice and guitar playing make it a very enjoyable listen all the way through.

Here's a performance from way back in 2001. Who would have thought Marty Whelan would be this far ahead of the game?

Road Records Closing

As you may have seen over the past few days, Road Records in Dublin are closing down in the next few weeks. It's a great pity as it was a brilliant shop run by two lovely people who have helped me track down a fair few cds over the last couple of years. There's been a lot of support shown in the last few days by bands and hopefully people will get down to the shop before they close and buy a few cds. It's been the best shop for young Irish bands looking to get their cds out there and will be sadly missed. If you get the chance, drop into the shop on Fade St. and pick up a couple of cds. Their reasons for closing were given in this message. Best of luck to them in the future.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What next for Ryan?

Ryan's stepping away from the band and from music for personal reasons. Very disappointing but he obviously feels he needs to and he's certainly been through a lot. Hopefully he'll work out whatever he has to and return someday.

From the Cardinals blog:

me- 34-a non smoker and happy, for the first time in my life.. i am excited to finish this wonderful time i have had with the cardinals and whatever new adventures may come after march. atlanta will be my last venture with the band and i am grateful for the time we have had and maybe someday we will have more stories to tell together. i am however ready for quieter times as i think it is very evident i am struggling with some balance and hearing issues.

also, no drama or anything but i am okay to step back from all of this right now and i think i did enough manic blogging when i felt alone and isolated during the last few years of travel. these last few years were the hardest i can remember and the most rewarding but i have loved ones to care for now and i am lucky i have been given a chance to turn around and see just what i am capable of as a friend and as someone who is not gone forever every year- it rendered me incapable of things i needed to be to myself and others- and my schedule sometimes never ended when the shows did- and some of that was my doing. and i lost someone i loved, and i lost myself.

that changed. i got to know just who i am in this little spell of time here recently. and change is the nature of the world and i naturally embrace that.

i won’t be blogging here anymore either- but not for effect- it just is not being kind to myself- i need a life that is mine- i need to grow up and grow in to who i have subtly been working back towards since i stopped all that nonsense and i know also no matter what i choose to do in the music world, because i chose to do things my way and never lie i will always be viewed as an “asshole” ( i hear and have seen things in the past) and i am not, and i know the truth and i know who i am.

also it is kind of ridiculous to blog as i am a musician and anything i say here just gets reprinted at some point out of context. i say NOT FAIR but it doesn’t matter what i say anymore or what is fair anymore really does it- the 21st century media has it’s own rules about what is true and what is not. it is not a life- not one i want to live anyway and i don’t really care to participate in narcissistic over-indulgent behavior anymore- that was never my intention- i just wanted to fight for my right to make music and to be given the benefit of the doubt. now, because i have stood up for myself and fought for myself i am labeled all kinds of awful things. well, i will walk away now and it will not matter what anyone say’s. there are other things i can do in this life, other ways to be creative and to try and help others and be expressive without being demonized for attempting to gain the same things any other human being desires- love- friendship- understanding- and being able to express yourself without constant fear of being mistreated for speaking up

i have friends to make, brand new books coming (two of em’ not counting that one already printed and on it’s way out there and i LOVE writing….yay!) and a whole lot of living and learning to do.

i am excited to step away. i lost more than anyone will ever know (hearing, someone i loved, my sense of dignity, a never ending losing battle with stage fright and now my hearing and balance due to an inner ear issue- people accusing me of not being sober when i am suffering tremendous pain and nausea from my inner ear symptoms- people accusing me of theft (THEFT- ….awful) and this is not much of a life, not glamorous like those ridiculous video’s a long time ago television played and no it is not monetarily as rewarding as people would like you to believe and yes, it is soul destroying. especially when you spend your life trying to write about the really difficult stuff and you stand there losing your way and people yell at you like you were in a circus. when it was your dream to matter and you realize one day, it never mattered- i mean, i am a punch-line and a footnote in what is worse to yell at someone besides “free-bird”. i mean, i lost. and it’s okay because i seriously snuck some pretty neat idea’s in there in the work when i was making those mistakes or they were being made by others. this business is no science.

andf you know, whatever this is- it’s not my dream. and it is a punishing thing to endure when you are getting worse and worse- it’s not my dream, my dream was to try and tap into that energy i saw watching Minutemen vcr tapes when i was just a little shit in NC of mike watt’s crazy shaking leg and his electric fingers- or how sonic youth droned into beautiful clouds those guitars shaking, kim and steve rattling the pulsing lines into feverish thudding imaginary subway cars racing through my heart- and how it felt to just let go and static up a riff and find the sweet spot- but getting yelled at for just being a songwriter- to be called so many horrid things because i chose to love music so much, and also to look for peace and balance in my life- that is not kindness and just not my thing. at least not now.

and i loved somebody. and i let others decided if that was okay and that was wrong and i was wrong and no one should deny themselves or others love or understanding because people don’t get it. that was an awful mistake. i always make big mistakes. it’s like i let myself learn that because that was a role, a niche’ i filled that make sense to a loud voice of strangers who would never really play a real part in my life.

never become that if you choose this path- if you go this route with your art. never listen to those loud dissatisfied bystanders who only want to see you fail because that will be entertaining for that moment. hold fast to your dreams, hold faster to your heart and never step out of the light of that love that made you whole. i did. and i know better now. and better late than never i suppose.

but i am okay now. i see a peaceful way to better days now. i am healing. and most importantly i feel loved and i have learned to treat myself with that same curiosity and lover that i have been lucky enough to feel and to learn to let guide my life. love is the great teacher and i am happy to be learning now. happy to be listening to that over this never ending painful ringing. this is the great lesson of my life. for once i want to be dignified in my study and in one place long enough to hear and understand without my pride or my lack of faith in myself leading me further away from things i need to know once and for all.

this is the real work now. the rest is something else entirely.

quitting smoking was a good step and i am happy i also am just now beginning to understand how important it is i take better care of myself in every way right now. hell i am even beginning to sleep a little and i can feel the things good and bad that i did not have time to feel when i was running towards a new oblivion of work, hoping somehow someday what i did would be accepted and maybe that would make me feel loved. how foolish.

that is not love. love is being accepted for who you are. love is taking care of yourself and caring for others and dreaming out loud when it matters. not chasing rainbows. not hoping for some eventual collective sigh of approval which will never come. how did i ever think in those terms? i always knew better. thank goodness i know now how to be honest with myself.

anyway, enjoy these shows ( i will enjoy them immensely and i will miss them just as much) and know that i am not abandoning anyone, not the cardinals and not the fans, this is just something i need to do now, and that i loved playing music in the cardinals and hell, even before i was in a place to try and learn to be well, music was my life source- and cardinals was such a heavy crush and a real dream…i honor it too much to have any regrets right now, i am just proud.

maybe we will play again sometime and maybe i will work my way back into some kind of music situation but this is the time for me to step back now, to reel it in and i wish everyone peace and happiness and if music is your dream, or if just dreaming is your dream, may you find your way through the rough patch with ease and i hope you let go and it takes you all the way there-

loving kindness to all.


Bruce Springsteen - Working On A Dream

As a massive Springsteen fan I was always going to like the new album but it's even better than I expected it to be. It doesn't have the laser precision political tone that Magic had, it's much more of a varied, fun record. 'Outlaw Pete' is an absolute classic, and 'My Lucky Day' is going to be a live highlight. Other favourites are 'What Love Can Do', 'Good Eye', 'Surprise, Surprise', 'The Last Carnival' and 'Queen Of The Supermarket'. 'Queen' is a strange one because initially I was put off by lyrics like "As the evening sky turns blue/ A dream awaits in aisle number 2" which is just bad. But the song really picks up in the second half and the whole song makes sense then. Really grows on you.

The album has a very 60s kind of sound with a lot of harmonies and some really great melodies. Unfortunately Clarence doesn't make too many appearances which is a bit disappointing. Special mention has to go to 'The Wrestler' which even though it's a bonus track, is still one of the best songs on the album. Out next week, it's going to be one of the albums of the year without a doubt.

How Bruce came to write The Wrestler

Bonnie 'Prince Billy' - You Can't Hurt Me Now

After releasing one of the best albums of last year, Will Oldham is returning with his new album 'Beware' due out in March. He was on the radio for an interview and a song from the new album recently. Have a listen below

New Neil Young - Fork In The Road

Apparently the title track to his new album. The man never stops

Monday, January 12, 2009

Bon Iver - Blood Bank

Bon Iver's new ep is coming out next week and he's made the title track available to download. Great song.

Bon Iver - Blood Bank

Saturday, January 10, 2009

New M. Ward - Hold Time

Here's the new song by M. Ward. Very atmospheric. His new album will be streaming here from Tuesday. (Springsteen's new one will be streaming on the same site from January 19)

Hold Time - M. Ward

Ryan Adams - Black Cab Sessions

New performance of 'Sinking Ships' by Ryan & Neal Casal for the excellent Black Cab Sessions site. Head over to the site where you can see wonderful performances by Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Badly Drawn Boy, Mumford & Sons and dozens of others, all in the back of a taxi.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Peasant - On The Ground

While everybody seems to be wetting themselves over the new Animal Collective album (Pitchfork gave it a 9.6, Uncut said " Merriweather Post Pavilion doesn't just seem like one of the first great records of 2009, it feels like one of the landmark American albums of the century so far". I'm not a fan) I've been listening to something on the complete other end of the spectrum.
Peasant is Damien DeRose from Philadelphia and 'On The Ground' is his second album. The music is simple, understated and allows his remarkable voice to really grab your attention.

His fragile voice brings to mind Elliott Smith while other tracks remind me of Paul Simon. Every song is under 4 minutes, with most under 3 and this ensures it never becomes boring as variation is not one of its assets. But this doesn't diminish the value of this record, it's simplicity is one of its major strengths. It's coming out in the next couple of weeks and is well worth a listen. Here's a couple of tracks from a Daytrotter session he recorded not so long ago and a video for the song 'Those Days'. The rest of the Daytrotter session is here.

We're Good

Raise Today

Monday, January 5, 2009

Andrew Bird - Noble Beast

And so a new year of music begins. First new album I've been listening to recently is the new release from the always excellent Andrew Bird. It's got a more acoustic sound than his last album 'Armchair Apocrypha' and while I don't think it's as good as that record it's still a great album. It starts off brilliantly with 'Oh No' and the standard keeps up throughout. Take a listen to the whole album over at NPR and buy it when it comes out towards the end of this month.