Category Archives: Folk

Reminder to Breathe

Finals are over!! It’s finally summer!! I should not be as stressed out as I am right now!! Regardless, it was super convenient that I took entertainment reporting and writing with the one and only Holly Gleason this semester, so I have a record review written for you already — and bonus: it’s been graded.

Album: Lungs
Artist: Florence + The Machine

Lungs

Atmospheric might be one adjective you could use to describe Florence + The Machine’s debut; forceful, another. Frontwoman Florence Welch shows her fantastical side on Lungs, and she has enough talent to make it worth listening to. Her fantasy worlds create floating sensations, but her voice keeps listeners grounded as she sings about death, violence, and lonliness.

Though other female artists of her caliber prefer heavier sounds — Amy likes horns, Adele is partial to piano — Welch prefers harps, chimes and bells. The airiness found on Lungs could easily pull listeners out to a darker version of Neverland with Peter Pan, but use of heavy drums and Florence’s pipes keeps her audience on the ground wishing instead.

Lofty though the album may be, Welch’s lyrics tend to tell twisted stories. The Jack-White-esque single “Kiss With A Fist” is a stand out sonically, but it sets the lyrical tone. It seems easygoing enough, but lines like “A kick in the teeth is good for some, but a kiss with a fist is better than none,” make light of a tumultuous relationship as an angry Florence sings about mutual domestic violence.

The morose “Girl With One Eye” is an even better example. The track, the majority of which is comprised with a lone, echoing electric, deep drums and cymbal work, hovers above listeners as Welch slurs about cutting out some bitch’s eye for pissing her off.

Musically lighter tracks like “I’m Not Calling You A Liar” provide the perfect gust of wind to sustain wishful flight, though. Sleigh bells accompany light piano to open the track, and a harp joins in at the chorus to complete the atmospheric feel. In “My Boy Builds Coffins,” Welch crafts a dark story that brings listeners to a faraway fantasy world, while the band’s use of rolling guitar riffs, light harp runs and airy cymbal work creates the scenery.

Welch’s stories wouldn’t be so captivating if not for her voice, but that’s something Welch knows. The effect found on Lungs isn’t something many bands can craft successfully, but Florence + The Machine play to their strengths to create a strong debut.

Honorable Mentions: Dog Days Are Over, Howl, My Boy Builds Coffins, Hurricane Drunk

2014, It’s Been a Good Run

Well, here we are! It’s the end of 2014, and so starts another year. I’ll admit, I’m very proud of myself for making it this far with the blog. I honestly didn’t expect to find myself still blogging at this point. With that being said though, I would like to take a moment to talk about some changes for 2015!

This year, I’m going to be a full-time student, teaching swim lessons twice a week or maybe more, and training for a triathlon. My weeks might be getting pretty busy from this point forward and I MIGHT end up switching my update day — just a heads up so you can watch for that. I also have made some changes to my page. I’m really going to try to post a playlist on the sidebar at some point.

But I also want to talk about 2014 (I was going to update on Christmas Eve, but we had no internet *surprise surprise*, so I think a New Year’s post is appropriate).

In 2014, I went to a total of thirteen concerts. Not bad, if I do say so myself. That comes out to about one a month (which Alexandra and I were totally doing for almost six months). But which concert was the best? Here is my definitive ranking of the top 5:

5) Frank Turner

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So, I sort of had a hard time with this one. I was going to say The 1975, because it was totally sick and Matty Healy is Matty Healy and I’m not afraid to fangirl about it, but then I remembered White Arrows/The NBHD. That was just an amazing show. The energy at that show was amazing and I discovered a really awesome band called White Arrows. But then I remembered Frank Turner. I was going to go with The NBHD anyway, but I ultimately decided on Frank Turner for one reason: he really cares.

Frank Turner 2At one point in the show there were a few kids who wouldn’t leave him alone or start heckling and he went off and had them thrown out. Ultimately, it kind of seems like a jackass move (sorry for the sketchy language, Mrs. Clupper), but after the show it almost seemed like he felt bad about it. But in the moment, he wanted to share his thoughts and his feelings that he pours into his music with the audience and these kids weren’t very respectful of that. Also, at the end, during “Four Simple Words,” he brought three kids from the audience on to the stage and gave them tambourines. So yeah, Turner wins.

 

4) Local Natives

Local Natives 1 Local Natives 2

 

 

 

 

 

I have no words. I wish I had words. But I don’t. I still can’t listen to Local Natives without being overcome with PCD. The emotion and excitement of the concert are still so alive, and I saw them in April. I mean, forget about that group of kids that stood in a circle at the front and talked the entire time. The rest of us were so involved in the music and the atmosphere and the lights and the emotion. It went from upbeat to slow and emotional to excited and everything in between. I highly recommend.

 

3) DMB (That’s Dave Matthews Band for anyone not in the loop)

This picture 100% belongs to the band's instagram page.... I was WAY too far away.
This picture 100% belongs to the band’s instagram page…. I was WAY too far away.

DMB will always make the list. They can go out there and not sing a single word and still make the list. The music is what matters at a Dave show. You make so many friends, and Dave fans are pretty die-hard. Dave shows unite thousands of people, the music is always good, you can dance like no one is watching, and the energy of the band really translates to the crowd. There’s nothing like yelling “YEAH” at the top of your lungs during “#41” with hundreds of other people. So really. Even if it isn’t a good show, it’s a great show. Everyone who can go see DMB should go see DMB.

 

 

 

2) JT

JT1JT2 JT3Honestly, I haven’t been to a show like JT’s before. Like, holy crap does this guy have talent. And the setup — I mean the stage FREAKING MOVED. I don’t even want to know how much that costs. Regardless, it’s really refreshing to see a pop artists with real instruments to accompany him. Plus, he brought out Garth Brooks at our show so we were basically winning as an audience. Would I go again? Probably. Could I afford it? Hell no.

 

 

 

 

 

1) Fleetwood Mac

FM2

I saved the best for last. I truly mean it was the best. You know how you see these bands that were super cool in the 70s and 80s, but now they’re just sad and they should probably stop (*cough*KISS*cough*)? Fleetwood Mac is not one of those bands. They haven’t lost anything. And let me tell you, Christine McVie KILLED it. Like, she sounds exactly like she did in the 70s. It’s amazing. And despite the fact that Lindsey Buckingham takes himself way too seriously, he’s super talented. They all are. I won’t even lie about it, I totally cried when they came out and started playing. I have nFM1ever been so overwhelmed by greatness. I have never been in the same room with such greatness. It was the most amazing moment of my life. I’m seriously considering going by myself to the show in Knoxville, despite the fact that it will more than likely empty my checking account. It was that good.

 

 

So there you have it. These were my top five, and if you get the chance to see them, I highly recommend it. What were your top five concerts on 2014? Let me know in the comments here, on Facebook, or on Twitter! You can also follow me at @notreallyindie on Twitter for updates on the music scene!

As always, keep listening 🙂

Also, if the picture placement is odd, I apologize.

Battles Won and Battles Lost

So it’s technically Thursday. Sue me. This one was a challenge.

This one’s for Jane. I’ve been promising her since July.

Album: Barton Hollow                                                                   Artist: The Civil Wars

Bartonhollow_civilwars

So as always, I’ll start with a little background. The Civil Wars are a Nashville duo consisting of Joy Williams and John Paul White. The group was formed after a music writing workshop of some kind in Nashville in which White and Williams had been paired together. There must’ve been some instant chemistry, because not long after the Civil Wars released their first EP. And then came their first full length studio album: Barton Hollow.

I remember when this album came out actually, because “Barton Hollow” was in Spotify’s top charts (or whatever they call it) and I remember putting it on repeat. I also recall how surprised I was at how much I liked the song; after all, I’m not much of a country/folk/bluegrass person. But after all, that’s what this is, isn’t it? The workshop Williams and White originally met at was meant for a country group.

Jane, I see why you’re obsessed. Maybe it’s the pure chemistry between performers, or maybe its the soft, honest sound of the lyrics coupled with the simple instrumentation, or maybe it’s the lyrical content — but I can’t help but really invest myself into this album when it plays. As Williams’ angelic, swinging voice rings through the speakers and White’s own restless and rasping vocals join, the listener can’t help but get swept off to a world that could easily be a century ago.

From the crooning voices on “20 Years” that sing of secrets and lost love, to the western swing of “Forget Me Not,” the Civil Wars manage to deliver. It’s no wonder the album brought in two Grammy Awards.

If you’re unfamiliar with Barton Hollow, I’ll go ahead and let you know: it doesn’t have much instrumentation. Typically tracks consist of a couple guitars and some soft drumming (and maybe the occasional piano). Overall, I think the point was to draw attention to the vocals, but it’s done so in a way that’s a little reminiscent of Johnny Cash.

Barton Hollow opens with “20 years.” it’s a short track, but it’s a track that sings of lost love in a way that even the most successful artists can’t manage. I honestly found it a little hard to believe that these guys weren’t together at first, especially when they combine vocals in lines like “Darling if you please/don’t go without me,” found in “C’est La Mort.” And they know exactly what kind of chemistry they have; they put it to good use on the track “Poison & Wine.” It’s a track that slowly builds and brings a sort of cathartic tension to the album.

The only exception to the previous instrumentation I mentioned is the albums namesake. “Barton Hollow” has an aggressive approach with a sound that can only be described as Western. It’s a sound that’s embraced not only in musicality but in the lyrics; lines like “Can’t no preacher man save my soul” and “Devil gonna follow me e’er I go” paint a pretty picture of the oh-so-American Wild West.

I guess my point in all this rambling is you can find whatever track you want on Barton Hollow. The lazy “Falling,” the instrumental “The Violet Hour,” the aggressive “Barton Hollow” — take your pick. The album manages to demonstrate an impressive diversity while managing to stay distinctly within it’s own genre. I guess I have to eat my words. It turns out I don’t in fact hate country music. Thank you, Joy Williams and John Paul White, for showing me (and the rest of the world) that there is such a thing as modern country music that doesn’t make your ears bleed. In fact, I’m willing to put Barton Hollow in my top ten. That’s how impressive this album is.

Unfortunately, the Civil Wars only released two studio albums before breaking up. Apparently the name “the Civil Wars” had nothing to do with the actual Civil War, but Jane wanted me to point out that their breakup was inevitable because they decided to call themselves the Civil Wars. You can’t really argue with her point, I guess. It’s a little disappointing that they only left me with one more album to review, but I guess the world doesn’t revolve around me like I like to think it does. Oh well. I wish both artists the best of luck in their careers, and I hope that their work inspires other great artists to really go beyond the norm.

Seriously, go listen to this album because I find myself a little obsessed. Until next week, keep listening!

Honorable Song Mentions: 20 Years, Barton Hollow, The Violet Hour, Girl With The Red Balloon, Falling, Dance Me To The End Of Love (and basically the whole rest of the album)

A Post For The Tape Deck Heart

I’ll start this week’s post with an apology. I’ve reread some of the stuff I’ve posted, and in my opinion about 50% of it was total crap. Maybe it wasn’t (I’m hoping against all hope) because it seems to be a common theme that writers are overly critical of themselves, but I felt like it was, and so I’m sorry.  I cringe knowing that my 11 AP English teacher is my Facebook friend because with that knowledge comes the terrifying prospect that he’s read some of my stuff and is shaking his head and questioning whether or not I learned anything in his class. Thus, I now promise to try a little bit harder this week.

Before I officially start, I’ll give you a quick update because this is my blog and I want to. We (finally) got internet at our house! This means that this post will officially not bite me in the butt later when our phone bill arrives. And, because we were really on a roll this week, my speakers have been installed! I am now able to bring you this (hopefully) amazing post about Frank Turner and the concert I went to on the 30th of May. I hope you enjoy.

Album: Tape Deck Heart                                                                    Artist: Frank Turner

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It was around April 12th-ish I believe that the Coachella live broadcast was on YouTube, and despite the fact that I managed to miss most of the sets I wanted to see, I was able to catch the last half of Frank Turner’s. So naturally my concert buddy Alexandra already knew they’d be at the Bijou in May and talked me into going. Ultimately it was a good decision because I might not have bothered to listen to Frank Turner as much as I did in preparation for the concert/this blog post, and that would have been a tragedy.

Frank Turner’s Tape Deck Heart was his fifth studio album, and it’s been described (by who I couldn’t tell you, but accurately) as a “break up album.” The album was produced by Rich Costey, which surprised me. I believe what Costey is most known for is his work with Muse on their albums Absolution and Black Holes and Revelations. These albums and Tape Deck Heart sound nothing alike, but I digress and appreciate what Costey seems to bring to the table.

As far as genre, Frank Turner is mostly lumped into folk, which I think accurately describes his sound. But Turner is a little more punk rock than you’d initially give him credit for. Frank Turner started out as a vocalist for a post-hardcore band called Million Dead, and for awhile during his solo career was signed with Epitaph Records. Surprising, since he might be the only folk artist on the label (Epitaph tends to sign punk, post-hardcore, and “emo” bands).

So between Turner’s obvious talent for the folk genre and his punk rock roots, he manages to bring a unique rock sound to his folk music with Tape Deck Heart. Seems like a conflicting combination, but it’s very skillfully done.

But before we go on, let’s ask ourselves: what exactly is a Tape Deck Heart? In explaining the title, Frank Turner describes a Tape Deck Heart as “someone who has a love of music above anything else.” An interesting idea, and one that is developed on the album. In “Four Simple Words,” (which is possibly my favorite song on the album), Turner asks his listeners if they too are “sick of the music/Churned out by lackluster scenesters from Shoreditch?” and goes on to claim that “[he] want[s] bands who had to work for their keep/Drove a thousand miles and played a show on no sleep/Sleeping on the floor in a stranger’s place/Hungry just to do it all again the next day.”

This is exactly how I feel. I love this song, and it’s my favorite on the album simply because, to put it informally, Frank Turner knows the feels. I really respect Turner for his views on punk rock. At the concert we went to, Turner had some guys heckling him while he was telling a story. Ultimately he had them thrown out and admittedly used some questionable insults (which, based on what he said to those of us who hung around to meet him, he felt kinda bad about), but it’s the principle that counts. To Turner, music is about coming together and sharing a part of yourself with your audience away from the judgment of the outside world. “Because punk is for the kids who never fit in with the rest.” So even though “Four Simple Words” seems like it’s about dancing, it’s actually about the meaning of rock. Try that on for size.

I’m done with my half page worship of “Four Simple Words,” but only because Tape Deck Heart has so much more to offer and I feel like I’m boring you guys. There are a lot of great songs on the album, the most familiar being “Recovery” and “The Way I Tend To Be:” both songs reflect on a past relationship and are about dealing with the heartbreak that came along with it. Honestly, Turner’s appeals for a second chance with “Darling, sweet lover, won’t you help me to recover?” are a little bit of a downer without the upbeat music that accompanies them, but it’s a good thing. Frank Turner’s lyrics have the kind of raw honesty that a lot of music lacks. But it’s not about what’s familiar either. It’s not just about the upbeat rock sound that Turner incorporates into his music, but it’s also about the easy, slow songs that explore the ideas of family, loss, recovery, and self-expectations.

From what I can tell, Tape Deck Heart received generally positive reviews. Metacritic gave the album a 76/100, which isn’t bad if you ask me. While Tape Deck Heart is by no means my favorite album, I love the musicianship Turner possesses, and I love his own appreciation for what he does. He isn’t afraid to talk about what makes others uncomfortable, which is refreshing. Tape Deck Heart is definitely a good addition to anyone’s music collection, and I hope that maybe one day his following in America will be as devoted as it is in the UK. I think he deserves it.

Please comment! I’d love to hear your suggestions and your opinions. I promise I’ll write about it if you throw it out there 🙂 I hope this week’s post was of higher quality than they have been recently. I actually started writing before 11:30 pm. Until next week, keep listening!

Honorable Song Mentions: Recovery, Good And Gone, Tell Tale Signs, Four Simple Words, Oh Brother

Personal Story Time!! We actually got to meet Frank Turner after the concert. He was really cool. He signed the setlist we got off of the stage, and he signed my vinyl copy of Tape Deck Heart “For Maddie, Frank Turner.” So that was pretty cool.

Also, there was this guy in a shirt. I didn’t actually get to see it, but Frank Turner freaked out and actually took a photo of them together on his personal phone, so that was one lucky dude.

And best for last, during “Four Simple Words” he pulled these 3 kids who were down by the stage up onto stage and he let them sing and dance and play tambourine with him. It was basically one of the coolest things I’ve seen in awhile. Pictures below!

ft2ft

setlist TDH