A Good Read A Good Listen and A Good Drink: Pelicans and Their Allies

It’s a simple yet sublime pleasure, and just thinking about it can make you feel a little calmer, a little more content. Imagine: You bring out one of the good rocks glasses (or your favorite mug or a special occasion tea cup) and pour a couple fingers of amber liquid (or something dark and strong or just some whole milk). You drop the needle on the jazz platter (or pull up a blues album on your mp3 player or dig out that mixtape from college). Ensconcing yourself in the coziest seat in the house, you crack the spine on a classic (or find your place in that sci-fi paperback or pull up a biography on your e-book reader). And then, you go away for a while. Ah, bliss.

In this series, some of NTSIB’s friends share beloved albums, books and drinks to recommend or inspire.

I was initially intrigued by Just Like July by Pelicans and Their Allies because a) that’s an awesome band name, and I wanted to see what they sounded like and b) the title references July Johnson from Lonesome Dove, and I’m a sucker for those kinds of cross-cultural references. When I pressed play, I … Continue reading

The Ghosts of Johnson City, Am I Born to Die?

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Last week I brought you music from Australia. This week I’m jumping back across the ocean (to Portland, Maine, with echoes of Tennessee), and backwards in time (to the music of America’s early years) with Am I Born to Die, the debut effort from The Ghosts of Johnson City, turned loose upon the world today. While the songs are traditional favorites, the interpretations are fresh. I’m especially fond of the continuous slow burn of the harmonium in the background – it adds a layer of melancholy, haunted flavor, and to my ear, a hint of the sea.

I have a few quibbles, but they are minor, and more a matter of personal aesthetic, specifically that I happen to prefer the Felice Brother’s loose, ragged Jack of Diamonds to this particular iteration of Rye Whiskey – they are, in the way of many early folk songs, almost but not quite the same song – and having heard The Lemonheads rock n’ roll crash-and-burn version of Knoxville Girl, folkier versions … Continue reading

Three Songs from: Sea Legs

HEY Y’ALL.

I’m more or less settled in Mississippi now (translation: I’ve unpacked half my books) and I’m coming to you today with music from Australia because of the MAGIC of TECHNOLOGY. I love the internet sometimes, I really do.

Specifically, I am bringing you three songs from Sea Legs, who are from Bateau Bay, Australia (Central Coast, north of Sydney) which I like because they are either uncomplicated fun, making interesting use of shimmer and fuzz, or both.

Why Don’t We Go Out Tonight, from their upcoming EP Daddy’s Girl, is exactly what it says on the tin: an invitation to conjugate the verb “to party,” and is the kind of thing suited for driving up coast roads with the top down while wearing obnoxious sunglasses and/or dancing around your room while refining your Party Look. The guitars are satisfyingly propulsive and crunchy, as well, which I always enjoy. A++ would add to a roadtrip playlist.

Christopher Strong, is not as lightweight as Why Don’t We Go Out Tonight, but I’m still very fond of it. Based on a TRUE STORY, i.e. Sea Legs’ frontman Byron Knight’s chance encounter with Katherine Hepburn while traveling in America in … Continue reading

A Good Read A Good Listen and a Good Drink: Angéline

It’s a simple yet sublime pleasure, and just thinking about it can make you feel a little calmer, a little more content. Imagine: You bring out one of the good rocks glasses (or your favorite mug or a special occasion tea cup) and pour a couple fingers of amber liquid (or something dark and strong or just some whole milk). You drop the needle on the jazz platter (or pull up a blues album on your mp3 player or dig out that mixtape from college). Ensconcing yourself in the coziest seat in the house, you crack the spine on a classic (or find your place in that sci-fi paperback or pull up a biography on your e-book reader). And then, you go away for a while. Ah, bliss.

In this series, some of NTSIB’s friends share beloved albums, books and drinks to recommend or inspire.

Here is what I like about Angéline’s latest EP, Back to Pike Place: the percussion is subtle, spare, and compelling, but not overwhelming. Furthermore, her tunes reflect her travels: the rhythms are drawn, in part, from time spent in Cuba; the streetnoises of Havana and London are both incorporated into the larger soundscape; and … Continue reading

The Boxcar Boys: Cicada Ball

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Reasons I am super fond of Cicada Ball, by The Boxcar Boys:

1) Awesome cover art! They even have the creepy silvery wings. It only be better if some of them had red eyes.

2) Awesome tunes! The Boxcar Boys specialize in Dixieland jazz-folk fusion, featuring horns, mandolins, accordions, and the occasional burst of klezmer. Unlike actual cicadas, they’re good company on a lazy late-summer afternoon.

Some examples:

Shaking off the Cobwebs is a peppy little instrumental number:

Cicada Ball by The Boxcar Boys

Old Tracks, one of the few non-instrumental tracks, features sweet beautiful vocals by Kelsey McNulty:

Cicada Ball by The Boxcar Boys

And finally The Busker, which is both the longest and the most spare and delicate song on the record:

Cicada Ball by The Boxcar Boys

To listen to the rest, check them out at Bandcamp.

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A Good Read A Good Listen and a Good Drink, Damien Brennan

It’s a simple yet sublime pleasure, and just thinking about it can make you feel a little calmer, a little more content. Imagine: You bring out one of the good rocks glasses (or your favorite mug or a special occasion tea cup) and pour a couple fingers of amber liquid (or something dark and strong or just some whole milk). You drop the needle on the jazz platter (or pull up a blues album on your mp3 player or dig out that mixtape from college). Ensconcing yourself in the coziest seat in the house, you crack the spine on a classic (or find your place in that sci-fi paperback or pull up a biography on your e-book reader). And then, you go away for a while. Ah, bliss.

In this series, some of NTSIB’s friends share beloved albums, books and drinks to recommend or inspire.

Damien Brennan is a young singer/songwriter who grew up in County Down, Northern Ireland and later refined his craft busking and backpacking his way across Italy and Austria.

Below are three of his songs, all of which serve to demonstrate his big voice and big sweeping sound, and particular talent for setting a … Continue reading

Chill Out, Drown Out: Resplendent, In Vivid

Chill Out Drown Out: music for when you need to, well, chill out, and also drown out extraneous noise. Tunes for calming down and concentrating on important tasks or just having a peaceful time in the middle of a hurricane of a day/week/month/year/existence.

I occasionally feel bad when my highest recommendation for something is “this is excellent background noise,” but – it is truly one of the finest accolades I can give. It means the music has successfully walked the fine line between “delicate, beautiful, but unobtrusive, integrates well into the process of multi-tasking” and “so boring I forgot the first song half-way through.”

Resplendent, by In Vivid (Ben Snook, of Lawrence, KS) is indeed delicate and beautiful. The swirling textures and gently propulsive energy make it – for me, at least – ideal for tasks that require concentration and creativity. And, best of all, it stands up to repetition; I listened to it three times in a row one night last week and never got sick of it.

Here are three songs to whet your appetite, chosen at least in part because I liked the titles.

Lightswitch Indicator: The second song on the record, this one is … Continue reading

Canadian Music Week: Two Songs From: Brock Zeman

Brock Zeman, singer/songwriter, is from Ottawa, Ontario, and plays indie rock with country-folk undertones. He recently released his 11th record (!), Pulling Your Sword Out of the Devil’s Back.

The title track is more spoken word poetry with music involved than a song. It’s meta-commentary on the art and science and struggle of songwriting and broken hearts and stories that don’t belong to you don’t belong to you and that won’t go away. You won’t be able to sing along, he says, as he rolls to a crescendo, which is true. Still, if I had a car and oceans of prairie to get across, I think I would start my driving playlist with it, just for the satisfying rhythms and final, thundering stop.

Little Details, on the other hand, is, for lack of a better term, a rollicking break-up song, and you definitely can sing along:

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Canadian Music Week: A Good Read A Good Listen and a Good Drink, Mary Caroline

It’s a simple yet sublime pleasure, and just thinking about it can make you feel a little calmer, a little more content. Imagine: You bring out one of the good rocks glasses (or your favorite mug or a special occasion tea cup) and pour a couple fingers of amber liquid (or something dark and strong or just some whole milk). You drop the needle on the jazz platter (or pull up a blues album on your mp3 player or dig out that mixtape from college). Ensconcing yourself in the coziest seat in the house, you crack the spine on a classic (or find your place in that sci-fi paperback or pull up a biography on your e-book reader). And then, you go away for a while. Ah, bliss.

In this series, some of NTSIB’s friends share beloved albums, books and drinks to recommend or inspire.

For our second Very Special Presentation of A Good Read . . ., we’re jumping all the way up north to Yellowknife, NorthWest Territories, where singer/songwriter Mary Caroline divides her time between television and making indie-folk music.

As an introduction, here are some songs from her debut studio album, Life on Earth:

Songs of … Continue reading

Canadian Music Week: Cassie and Maggie MacDonald, Sterling Road

Previously on NTSIB’s own personal Canadian Music Week: some rock, some punk, some sweet dirty blues, from the rust belt and the praries. Today we’re jumping out to the Maritimes, to Nova Scotia, and to Cassie and Maggie MacDonald, who have an invigorating sound that draws from Scottish, Irish and Cape Breton traditions.

Here are a few tunes from their new record, Sterling Road:

Jimmie’s, written for an uncle and the family farm, is a charming delight, sweet as sea breeze on a warm summer day:

The Dusty Meadow Variations, a glorious piano and fiddle romp:

And finally, their interpretation of Buain A’ Choirce (Reaping the Oats), a Scots Gaelic milling song, which I like because it is both beautiful and gloomy:

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