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.

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

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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 dramatic romantic … Continue reading

A Good Read A Good Listen and a Good Drink: Paul Bohak

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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. When I took over the blog a year ago, when April commenced her (now over) hiatus, I put up submission guidelines in which I asked artists to give me their “elevator pitch.” Since then I’ve gotten all flavors, sizes and shapes – some good, some bad, some just there. A week or so ago, Paul … Continue reading

Ought, Beautiful Blue Sky

Ought slider Hera Chen

That song… That song that makes someone grab someone else to immediately transmit the new infection… A song that makes someone sigh with relief… A song that makes someone break down… Ought are responsible for that song. Their new album Sun Coming Down arrives September 18th. July 17th will find them at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, Illinois. After that, Europe. 01 Aug Binic Festival, Binic (FR) *FREE* 03 Aug Cas’Aupa, Udine (IT) 04 Aug SuperUho Festival, Sibenik (HR) 06 Aug Chelsea, Vienna (AT) 07 Aug OFF Festival, Katowice (PL) 08 Aug Klub 007 Strahov, Prague (CZ) 11 Aug Radar Festival, Aarhus (DK) 12 Aug Folken, Stavanger (NO) 13 Aug Landmark, Bergen (NO) 14 Aug Oya Nights, Oya Festivalen, Oslo (NO) 15 Aug Way Out West Festival, Göteborg (SE) 17 Aug Sommerloft 2015, Berlin (DE) 18 Aug EXIT 07, Hollerich (LU) 19 Aug Bogen F, Zurich (CH) 20 Aug For Noise Festival, Lausanne-Pully (CH) 21 Aug Pukkelpop Festival, Kiewit-Hasselt (BE) 22 Aug MS Dockville Festival, Hamburg (DE) 23 Aug Lowlands Festival, Biddinghuizen (NL) 24 Aug Noorderzon @ Vera, Groningen (NL) 27 Aug Barretto, Portoferro (IT) 28 Aug Frames, Fondogianus (IT) 29 Aug Soundpark Festival, Brugnera (IT) 01 Sept Village … Continue reading

Chill Out, Drown Out: Resplendent, In Vivid

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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 for when … Continue reading

Canadian Music Week: Two Songs From: Brock Zeman

Photo by Jamie Kronick

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:

A Good Read A Good Listen and A Good Drink, Adam Sturgeon, WHOOP-Szo

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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. WHOOP-Szo is a fluid musical collective currently operating out of Guelph/London, Ontario, Canada. Previously they were my most favorite purveyor of tone-poems inspired by the Canadian Arctic, but with Mirror North, the a-side of their offering for Record Store Day, things have taken a turn for the sludgy. The record/song was created by an incarnation … Continue reading

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

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 Winter … Continue reading

Canadian Music Week: Cassie and Maggie MacDonald, Sterling Road

Cassie and Maggie MacDonald. Photo credit: Haley Anne MacPhee

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:

Canadian Music Week: Two Songs from: The New Wild

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The New Wild are Sean and Daniel Guezen of Winnipeg, Manitoba. They play heavy, bluesy garage rock, the kind of thing that will rattle your bones and pin your ears back if you’re standing in the front row. This is Dallas, the first song from their self-titled EP, which causes me to sway along in my chair, grinning, every time I listen to it: The New Wild by The New Wild And this is Play It By Fear, from the same EP, which is . . . something of a cautionary tale, complete with guitars that burst out like the sharp end of a buzz-saw: The New Wild by The New Wild