Top Albums of 2011 10-6
We all love lists, and we all love sarcasm. Though, I think its important to reflect upon the last year of music, I’m going to do so through the use of a list. It was a fantastic year full of awesome albums, and I’m going to count down a bunch of my favorites, and give you something to listen to while reading.
Welcome to the top 10, albums that to be quite honest, could all be number ones, but hey it wouldn’t be a list without some order.
10. Rural Alberta Advantage - Departing
The Rural Alberta Advantage - North Star
An album that its nearly impossible to choose a favorite track like Departing is such a thrill. The RAA really killed it on this album, although not entirely much different from Hometowns style, Departing is a bit darker, a bit more moody. Its heavy on piano and guitar melodies, and surprisingly catchy songs about the landscapes of a Canadian winter, love lorn & love lost. The only painfully weak spot on the album is its length, but it begs to be on repeat, so don’t feel bad about listening to it again and again. Favorites include: Tornado 87, Muscle Relaxants, and North Star.
Buy > Departing
9. Dan Mangan - Oh Fortune
Dan Mangan - Oh Fortune
This album floored me from the moment I heard Oh Fortune, the title track. Mangan’s strong voice, the dropdead gorgeous orchestration layered beneath his acoustic / singer songwriter style, and some song writing that will constantly be an earworm. I find myself consistently turning up these songs, louder and louder. And as a side note, the percussion track on Oh Fortune swell to ungodly amounts, its really amazing sounding. Favorites include: About as helpful as you can be without being any help at all, Oh Fortune, and Leaves, Trees, Forest.
Buy > Oh Fortune
8. Deer Tick - Divine Providence
Deer Tick - Miss K.
John McCauley and his troop of boozy rockers Deer Tick released one of the best album I heard this year. Top to bottom a litany of songs that you can get up to dance to, drive your car too fast too, or just play far too loud. The rag on this album was that it was an album full of drunken college party songs, but I’ve found it to be more of a definition of Deer Tick’s live acumen. These guys live and play on the road, and maybe they party pretty hard but it never stops them from wearing it on their sleeves. Its endearing, fun to see, and the new material really amps their live shows. What they have here is 10 solid jams that run a gamut of irreverent party jams to bluesy ballads. Good luck turning the volume down. Favorites include: The Bump, Main Street, Miss K., and Walking Out The Door.
Buy > Divine Providence
7. The Barr Brothers - The Barr Brothers
The Barr Brothers - Beggar in the Morning
This album snuck up on me, it sort of jumped out of nowhere. I had heard the name a bunch, and had heard single Beggar in the Morning, which by itself is fantastic… but it wasn’t until I got a hold of the full album about a month after its release that it jumped out at me. Whats so striking is the extreme beauty and care is taken in each song to delicately create something so unique in sound. Its generally speaking, a folk album, but elements of blues & bluegrass support songs with beautiful instrumentation and tender melodies, but still has range enough to hit the heavy notes on “Lord, I Just Can’t…” It’s a total listeners album, and sounds even more fantastic live. Favorites include: Beggar in the Morning, Give the Devil Back His Heart, and Lord, I Just Can’t Keep From Crying.
Buy > The Barr Brothers
6. Dawes - Nothing is Wrong
Dawes - If I Wanted Someone
Its no secret I’m a huge Dawes fan, and that I had a lot of love for this album, but I truly think it is well deserved. For me, music is all about the writing, and truly that is where this album stands out. Taylor Goldsmith will probably be remembered long after he’s gone as one of the preeminent songwriters of his time, his ability to paint the perfect picture with words is frankly a great gift to us listeners. The album is truly is a gem, its a fantastic listen that displays both superb writing skills and some of the best musicianship out there these days. Sure the content & style is made for a more mature audience and lovers of a retro folk rock paradigm (I find myself saying “My dad would love this”) its a testament to musicians not trying to reinvent the wheel, but perfecting a sound that is timeless. Favorites include: Time Spent In Los Angeles, So Well, and A Little Bit of Everything.
Buy > Nothing Is Wrong
The weekend got started off right Friday evening with an early show, and I mean early show at the Royale. After a long week, amazing sets by The Belle Brigade, Dawes and Blitzen Trapper seemed to be just the fix.
The Belle Brigade hit the stage at 6 p.m. sharp. While Ethan and Barbara Gruska are siblings, their voices don’t share the usual high/low combo of most boy/girl duos. So what stands out about their folk rock sound is not their relationship to one another, but their song writing and catchy harmonies. They won me over during their short set.
Around 6:45 p.m., the Royale started really filling up. Taylor Goldsmith walked on stage shortly there after and jokingly greeted the fans with ‘Good Afternoon!’. As co-headliners of the night, Dawes played a satisfying hour-long set complete with a good mix of new and old songs.
Full of Dawes fans, the audience sang along most of the night. And on How Far We’ve Come it occurred to me that as Dawes fans, we’ve come a long way. One of the first venues that Dawes headlined in Boston was The Great Scott. And now they’re co-headlining at the Royale.
Griffin headed up the band for their cover of Paul Simon’s Kodachrome. And Taylor took back the mic for the closer off of their second album, A Little Bit Of Everything, which was also clearly a fan favorite. One of the things that Dawes does best, is take a beautiful and slow song off of their album, and breathe life into it on stage. A Little Bit Of Everything is the perfect example of that. It’s entirely possible that Taylor Goldsmith is one of the only people able to sing ‘mashed potatoes’ and ‘chicken wing’ with genuine heart.
Dawes ended the night with Time Spent in Los Angeles, but not before first leading in a huge sing along of When My Time Comes. There really is nothing more cathartic than screaming ‘when my time comes’ at the top of your lungs at a Dawes concert.
Portland, Oregon natives Blitzen Trapper took the stage next for an hour-plus set that packed in 20 or so tunes. Touring in support of their September release American Goldwing, Blitzen Trapper played a variety of material, old and new, all of which got everyone moving around. Even Griffin came out during the encore to enjoy the last few songs from the crowd.
The show was over by 9:20. Which left plenty of time for after parties. Overall a fantastic way to spend a Friday night.
Tomorrow Night | Dawes, Blitzen Trapper and The Belle Brigade at the Royale
Simply put: tomorrow night’s Dawes, Blitzen Trapper and The Belle Brigade show at The Royale is bound to be well, pretty freaking great. Grab your tickets now, arrive early and enjoy.
Dawes, who released their sophomore album back in June, are on their first post-Middle Brother tour promoting their new material. And while audiences became fans with the epic sing-alongs of When My Time Comes, it’s about time that we get to hear some of their new stuff, how it was meant to be enjoyed, live. If you’ve caught Dawes any time in the past few years, you’ve likely heard a few of the new tracks. If I Wanted Someone and How Far We’ve Come were played back in 2010 at The Great Scott, and Million Dollar Bill also makes an appearance on the Middle Brother album. But it’ll be a nice change up to hear songs from two amazing albums from the band. And if we’re lucky, as Dawes fans usually are, perhaps we’ll hear some completely new tunes as well.
Fellow vintage folk rockers Blitzen Trapper are co-headlining the show in support of their September release American Goldwing. The Portland band’s third release is full of authentic vintage country influences and is overall a great listen. These two bands really are a perfect fit for a live show. Brother-sister duo The Belle Brigade will start off the night.
Doors are at 5:30 and none of these acts are to be missed. Tickets are $20.
Tonight | Dawes at The Wang Center
Dawes’ sophomore album Nothing is Wrong released back in June, and I was a huge supporter of the stunning lyrics and a 70’s styled folk sensibility they displayed on the album. But one thing that is different about a Dawes album and a Dawes show is just how absolutely fantastic they truly are.
The band has been touring relentlessly since they released the album and are stopping here in Boston tonight to open for the incomparable Alison Krauss. For those in the stands tonight that aren’t aware of just how fantastic this Californian band is, they are in for a really great surprise. I honestly can never get enough of this band, and have probably to a fault been an evangelist for this band. They are beyond amazing live, and if you have the opportunity, I highly suggest making your way to the Wang Center tonight.
There are still tickets—starting at $39—available for tonight’s show here.
Dawes’ sophomore album Nothing is Wrong releases today, its the highly anticipated follow up to 2009 indie-folk sleeper North Hills. Nothing is Wrong picks up where they left off 2 years ago, with stunning lyrics and a 70’s styled folk sensibility.
Two years ago, when Dawes released North Hills, it would have been on my top 5 list, so there was a lot to live up to for me. Since then, Dawes has toured relentlessly and luckily we’ve been blessed out here in New England with a few shows from the band and have seen the band play some of their new material. This new material presents itself as more of a blend of 70’s folk rock elements rather than the quieter, understated folk style they employed on North Hills. It seems as they’ve grown up on the road, they’ve also turned it up a notch. As someone that has seen Dawes play live numerous times this album plays more like a show of theirs than does its predecessor. Taylor has been allowed to step out in front, and showcase himself as a lead guitarist, playing solos that are timeless sounding; a near re-imagining of his past influences.
The album opens with the road weary ‘Time Spent in Los Angeles’ a poignant track that leads with ”These days my friends don’t seem to know me, without my suitcase in my hand,” a line that really paints a picture of the loneliness and desolate nature that comes with life on the road which seems to be a common theme.. Dawes sweeps through subjects of heartbreak on released track ‘If I Wanted Someone,’ & ‘Million Dollar Bill.’ Goldsmith’s songwriting shines on each song as he has a special ability to write intimate and revealing songs that capture some of the raw emotion of lost connections and a travelling life and ultimately a reminder that no matter how far they get away they’ll always make their way back home. Its this steadfast nod to where they come from &their influences that make this album shine.
The album is truly is a gem, its a fantastic listen that displays both superb writing skills and some of the best musicianship out there these days. Sure the content & style is made for a more mature audience and lovers of a retro folk rock paradigm (I find myself saying “My dad would love this”) its a testament to musicians not trying to reinvent the wheel, but perfecting a sound that is timeless.
I’ve been listening to this album for a month and I honestly have put 30+ listens into it, and I know for sure, it is one album you must own in this year, and years to come I can honestly say, when it comes to this album… Nothing is Wrong.
Get yourself out there and buy Nothing Is Wrong I guarantee, it will be one album you remember.
Tue-Jun-07 Louisville, KY Iroquois Ampitheatre
Wed-Jun-08 Columbus, OH LC Ampitheatre
Thu-Jun-09 Pittsburgh, PA Stage AE
Fri-Jun-10 Philadelphia, PA Mann Center
Sat-Jun-11 Vienna, VA Wolf Trap
Mon-Jun-13 Vancouver, BC Vogue Theatre
Tue-Jun-14 Seattle, WA Moore Theatre
Wed-Jun-15 Portland, OR Crystal Ballroom
Thu-Jun-16 Bend, OR Athletic Club of Bend
Fri-Jun-17 Chico, CA El Rey Theatre
Sat-Jun-18 Los Angeles, CA Orpheum Theatre
Mon-Jun-20 San Diego, CA House of Blues
Tue-Jun-21 Tucson, AZ Rialto Theatre
Wed-Jun-22 Phoenix, AZ Marquee Theatre
Thu-Jun-23 Las Vegas, NV Silverton Casino
Fri-Jun-24 Reno, NV Knitting Factory
Sat-Jun-25 Oakland, CA Fox Theatre
Sat-Jul-02 Emeryville, CA High Sierra Music Festival
Thu-Jul-07 Winnipeg, MB Winnipeg Folk Festival
Fri-Jul-08 Winnipeg, MB Winnipeg Folk Festival
Middle Brother Daydreaming…
The supergroup that was once known as MG&V and now known as Middle Brother, is John McCauley of Deer Tick, Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes, and Matthew Vasquez of Delta Spirit.
Their self-titled debut, will be released March 1, 2011 on Partisan Records. Here’s Middle Brother performing the first track off the record, “Daydreaming.”
If you haven’t heard of Dawes, now would be the time. A fusion of country and rock, Dawes (not a last name but a middle name) pays homage to musical influences from CSN to Dylan. They’ve got a dusty, timeless feel to them; but anyone that has experienced their live shows knows they put on a show that is nothing but electric. Listening to their recorded album, North Hills, you can get a sense of what these guys are all about. An americana feel with excellent writing, written mostly by frontman Taylor Goldsmith.
After seeing what could have been the best set at Newport Folk Festival this past summer, I was expectedly excited for an evening with Dawes at the Royale here in Boston.
The energy in the room was great, and apparently Dawes cashed in on their success at Newport, there were plenty of people in the crowd eagerly awaiting them to take stage. Crowd pleasers like, “My Girl to Me,” and when drummer Griffin sang “How Far We’ve Come” took the crowd by the metaphorical horns. Griffin was surprisingly fantastic from behind the kit echoing his inner Levon, bringing the crowd into a 500 person harmony. New track “Fire Away,” which one can assume will be on the forthcoming album was warmly received by the excited fans, but as the night came to an near end, the band dropped “When My Time Comes” their most popular song, a boisterous yet ruminative track about life and death. The crowd all standing on their toes singing along at the top of their lungs, it was exactly what they had been looking for.
On the encore, the sing-along “I’ve Got a Feeling,” which left us all in bliss back in Newport, was epilogue to a fantastic night that won’t soon be forgotten, in the end, “it’s gonna be alright.”
You can truly see these guys have something special, and are hands down one of the best young bands out there today.
Catch Dawes Touring:
Nov 8 2010 Horshoe Tavern Toronto, ONT, CANADA
Nov 9 2010 Magic Stick Detroit, MI
Nov 10 2010 Lincoln Hall Chicago, IL
Nov 11 2010 First Avenue Minneapolis, MN
Nov 12 2010 Majestic Theatre Madison, WI
Nov 13 2010 Turner Hall Ballroom Milwaukee, WI
Nov 14 2010 The Maintenance Shop Ames, IA
Nov 15 2010 Hi Dive Denver, CO
Nov 16 2010 The State Room Salt Lake City, Utah
Nov 18 2010 Tractor Tavern Seattle, WA
Nov 19 2010 Doug Fir Lounge Portland, OR
Nov 20 2010 The Independent San Francisco, California
Nov 21 2010 Soho Restaurant & Music Club Santa Barbara, California
Nov 26 2010 El Rey Theatre Los Angeles, California
Nov 27 2010 The Casbah San Diego, California
Dawes - When My Time Comes - Craig Ferguson Late Night, and late night in general has been killing it as far as booking some amazing talent. It seems as though they are right in my wheelhouse lately. But this is a fantastic performance from the band Dawes. There is tons of emotion sang through this song, and its really well done. Dawes seems to be one of those bands that may have slipped through the cracks a bit, but I seem to be hearing their name more and more lately, maybe they are gaining traction.
Last year they had a great daytrotter session, and are touring their new album with Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, and are giving away this track as a free download when you sign up for their newsletter. Get out there and enjoy this live session, this new track, and the video posted.