In the past couple weeks I’ve been tearing through new albums I’ve pulled from the SXSW listings, seeing what there is to see out there. At least once a day I come back to Parker Millsap – an Oklahoman who plays music that the heart-felt old-time country genre would surely adopt.
The kid has a great set of vocals and knows how to write a song that bounces along and makes you forget the time passing. It’s really good. His self-titled debut came out at the beginning of February, I’d suggest checking it out.
StaG is out of Los Angeles that frankly I do not know much more about. They play this great atmospherically ambient rock – somewhere in the vein of Lord Huron. And I dig it. There isn’t a full album yet, but “I Think I’ll Shout” holds a lot of promise, try it out.
I’ve begun my SXSW digging, one of my favorite times of year. Expect a mixtape sometime soon, but I couldn’t help but sharing these dudes right away.
Michael Kiwanuka recorded this new original for the Blue Series that is done by Third Man Records. It’s cold and impressively arranged with some amazing Nashville musicians. If anyone ever wants to buy me the entire Blue Series, I’d love you more than cats love knocking water glasses off counter ledges. You can keep the Insane Clown Posse one though.
Dirty Sax. That’s all that is needed to say about “Talk is Cheap” – Chet Faker’s first single from his newly announced full length album, Built on Glass, coming April 15th. If you spend any time around this blog, you know about my unabashed love for Chet Faker – and so when I heard this new track, it wasn’t at all surprising that I immediately fell in love with it.
The saxophone layered on this one is just so dirty, I can barely handle it. The electronics growl and vocals spin up into a thick saccharine gloss before just melting into the other areas of the track. It’s great. I have high hopes for this album.
Sean Carey will unfortunately never out grow the constant Bon Iver mentions, I tried not to do it, but somehow it just ended up in the first sentence. It certainly is something very important about him – and I think it’s often mentioned because you can easily hear the influence he had in the Bon Iver albums, which is something impressive.
He has just released “Fire-scene” from his upcoming album, Range of Light, due out April 1st. It’s dreamy. Not only in sound but in that sense when you wake up from a dream and two minutes later you can’t remember what just happened. It’s experiential and comforting, but light and escaping.
It’s also important to note that S. Carey will be playing the Middle of the Map fest here in Kansas City come April.
It was last year about this time that I went to watch Noah Gundersen and David Ramirez play the Record Bar in Kansas City. The weather just about as it is right now – dreary, frozen, miserable. I was the same as well. But I was excited to see these men play their songs. No one else could come along that night, so I went alone. It was all too appropriate.
As I sat somewhere near the middle of the room with a glass of whiskey that felt almost stereotypical, I melted experiencing Noah’s songs. He played with his sister and took the air right out of the room – it was amazing. The energy was material and everyone’s full attention was momentarily stolen by the stage. He took his guitar and his songs and left everyone in disbelief. It wasn’t showy, it was just genuine.
I was excited to hear that this year was finally going to see a full length debut from Noah – his EPs have broken up his catalog, and I’ve always been an album man. And this album is one that creates disbelief not unlike his live show, and while it can’t replace his performance it carries it own special qualities. Like how it benefits from a full band making it lush and bringing new arrangements to his songs.
What can’t be ignored is his ability to write incredibly. Songwriting has been criminally undervalued in the recent past – settling for what can be bought or what indulges the mass populace. Noah’s writing takes turns exploring setting, tone, and emotion – creating music with incredible substance.
“Ledges” is out February 11th – and it’s worth spending time with. It’s heavy and warm, it takes work to benefit fully from, and it’s extremely well crafted.
Middle of the Map hits Kansas City April 3rd-5th. Last year it was something spectacular, the festival was planned out perfectly and went off without a hitch. They had some great artists including a slew of local bands. This year they’re stepping up their game and making this thing even bigger. A terrific set of national touring acts and roughly 60 local acts will all be playing throughout the weekend.
MoTM does festivals a little differently, and I’m a big fan of it’s style – it’s somewhere between SXSW and sanity. Shows are spread throughout venues around the Westport neighborhood with one outdoor stage included. You don’t have to married to the festival either, come and go as you please, eat where ever you like, go home and take a nap in the late afternoon – you do you.
Don’t miss out on this if you’re in Kansas City – The Record Machine really knows what they’re doing. You will find me at Of Montreal, J. Roddy Walston & The Business, Kishi Bashi, !!!, Fanfarlo, Har Mar Superstar, The Weeks, Cowboy Indian Bear, and the list goes on..
A new one from David Ramirez – just as harrowing and heavy as the rest of his songs. He’s a man who knows how to write. I’ve already listened to this one a dozen times, it punches me in the gut every time.
“RAW” is David’s upcoming acoustic EP due out April 15th – it’ll include 5 unreleased tracks. He also just announced some tour dates, no stop in Kansas City unfortunately.
I am so happy to see The Districts release some new material – the guys just signed to Fat Possum’s label and gave us a self-titled EP this week. For music that is based out of Pennsylvania, their songs bled that southern rock sound authentically. They recorded a new version of “Funeral Beds” for this album, and I’m smitten with it. The long build up into a perfect crying breakdown is just too good.
The guys will be touring with White Denim, surely making some noise for themselves as well as playing at SXSW – keep an eye out for them. And grab their self-titled ep.
Robert Ellis’ third album, The Lights From The Chemical Plant, is out February 11th – but you can stream the whole thing on NPR right now – and I’d recommend doing so. It is amazing to see what consistently happens to an artist when they move to Nashville like Robert did – you can hear the country greats like Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard channeled through his new songs in an authentic way. The town somehow gives artists new life in an almost magical way.
Stream “Good Intentions” below – it’s dark and charming, some of the many tones this album carries. And then go listen to the whole thing on NPR.
Welcome to Yankee Calling - an indie folk / rock / americana / alt-country music blog based out of Kansas City that's been called mediocre at best.
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