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Archive for the ‘Band of Horses’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: DRY THE RIVER-“Bible Belt” (Field Recordings, March 27, 2012).

The Field Recordings project was such a neat idea.  Kind of like the Tiny Desk, but not.  Many of them were planned ahead of time and some of t hem seem surreptitious.  It’s a wonder they didn’t do more or aren’t still doing them.

Since the whole NPR crew goes to SXSW, it just seems like these little songs would be easy to score.  I realize that they now do the South by Lullaby, but this is different (sort of).

This Field Recording [Dry The River: An Oasis Of Calm Amid The Feedback] is from a band I don’t know.  They were playing at SXSW and NPR got them to play on the secluded patio of Joe’s Crab Shack’s  overlooking the Colorado River (which is one thing that makes this cooler than a Tiny Desk).

“Bible Belt” is a gentle acoustic song with delightful harmonies–not unlike Fleet Foxes or Band of Horses.  Dry the River includes a violin which adds a slightly different quality.  But like those other bands, the song looks to soar:

Dry the River typically writes music with big, cathartic climaxes in mind: Songs on the band’s first full-length album, Shallow Bed, tend to start with miniaturized melodies that eventually burst into thunderous rock anthems.

You can feel like this song wants to be bigger, but they handle a quieter version nicely.

On this particular morning, Dry the River arrived in a more intimate formation, swapping electric guitars for acoustics and its full drum set for a single snare. While this performance of the gorgeous “Bible Belt” eases back on the loudness of the original, the band by no means lacks power. The result is a hushed, stirring performance that highlights the band’s many strengths.

My favorite part is the moment the band grows really quiet and you can hear some birds singing.  I’m very curious to hear just how big the original gets.

[READ: November 8, 2018] “Cattle Praise Song”

This is a story about genocide and cows.  The genocide is unavoidable but not explicit; the cows are the focus.

Starting in Rwanda, a seven-year old boy, Karekezi, watches his father with their herd of cows.  The cows are everything to them.  Karekezi even has a cow of his own: Intamati–all of the cows are named.  Every morning they look after the cows carefully–removing ticks or other insects, carefully inspecting them, calling them by their name and petting them–even worrying about a cow that takes too long to pee:

He’d hold her tail high and boldly lean forward–never mind that if the cow finally decided to urinate she might shower him.  Nobody dared to laugh.  Anyway, isn’t cow urine, amagana, considered to be a potent remedy?

The first few pages discuss the caring for and nurturing of these cows–the hand feeding, the fires to keep away flies; the special water only for the cows to drink.  And then the milking–a family event in which the best milkers milked and the others carried the bowls of milk like a priest with a chalice.  The young children drank hungrily from the fresh warm milk. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BAND OF HORSES-Live at Newport Folk Festival (July 25, 2014).

 I was checking out some of the Newport Folk Festival archives at NPR and found this show from 2014.  This was Band of Horses’ first time at Newport and they sound great and have fun with the set up, by slowly building to a full band.

They start “quietly” with Ben Bridwell singing “St. Augustine” solo on acoustic guitar.

For “Part One,” the bring out Ryan Monroe and Tyler Ramsey to sing along.  You can hear a heckler shout “you need more beard.”

Then they bring out Bill Reynolds to play upright bass on “Weed Party.”  This song sound so very different from the album version–it’s a much more country, don home version, rather than the soaring record.  There’s even a middle break with room for a bass “solo.”

Finally, out comes Creighton Barrett behind the drums for “Everything’s Gonna Be Undone,” their then newest song and the only one from their 2012 album that they play.

The rest of the set is primarily from the first two albums, and the songs sound great.  Ben’s voice is in good form and the band is tight.  “Great Alt Lake” rocks and “Is There a Ghost” even gives Ben the opportunity to shout 1,2,3,4 mid song as they bust out the rocking section.  Ben even screams in the intro to “Laredo.”

Things slow down for “No One’s Gonna Love You.”  When he plays that opening chord everyone cheers, but he says, “that’s the wrong thing, though. that’s not right.” and then he gets himself sorted (with a pitch pipe?) and they play a gorgeous version of it.  The rest of the set sounds equally good, including a rousing “The Funeral.”

They end the set with a cover of a classic blues song “Am I a Good Man?”  Each band member gets a little solo and they even act out some soul with a “Newport are you ready? “One time!” [pow] “two times!” [pow pow] “half a time [tss].

It’s a great show and a precursor of future great shows that I’ve seen from them.

  • “St. Augustine” *
  • “Part One” *
  • “Weed Party” *
  • “Everything’s Gonna Be Undone” ****
  • “The Great Salt Lake” *
  • “Is There A Ghost” **
  • “Laredo” ***
  • “No One’s Gonna Love You” **
  • “Islands On The Coast” **
  • “The General Specific” **
  • “Ode To LRC” **
  • “The Funeral” *
  • “Am I A Good Man?” [cover]

[READ: August 17, 2017] “The Itch”

The story begins that after his divorce, the narrator felt an odd physical and mental numbness although over time he began to talk more to people.

But the most persistent thing is the itch.  Sometimes the left wrist.  Although at home in the evening, it was the upper arms.  Thighs and shins at night.  He began to think of it as “sense data from the exterior.”  Although he didn’t really believe that,.

The only person he has told about the itch is his friend and co-worker, Joel.  Joel told him that he should contextualize the itch–look for a famous statesman with the same problem or perhaps something biblical.  He capitalized The Itch.

He had been seeing a woman whose name was Ana.  He liked that it was spelled that way but when he asked if there was a reason for it–family tradition, a European novel?  She disappointed him and said no.  Just a name spelled a certain way.   He hadn’t told her about The Itch.   (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 24, 2016] Band of Horses

2016-09-24-22-06-57This is our third time seeing Band of Horses in three years.  Sarah and I loved their first three albums a lot, so in 2004 when XPNFest announced they were opening for Beck, we knew it was an amazing pairing.  They were great and we decided we needed to see them as the headliners.  The following year, they came back although this time opening for Neil Young.  We were going to see Neil anyway, so it was even better that BoH was opening.  But that set was shorter than the first!  We needed the full experience.

One year later, the busiest weekend we’ve had in a long time, and BoH was squeezed right into the middle of it.

We love The Fillmore in Philly, it’s a great venue with really good sound (and nice parking).  So it was a great place to hear the soaring vocals of Ben Bridwell.and the rest of the band.

The show was an outstanding mix of songs from four of their albums (turns out that their previous album Mirage Rock has been largely dismissed by the band and they don’t play much from it anymore).  And that’s fine because the four albums are awesome. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 24, 2016] Restorations

2016-09-24-20-25-47Restorations opened for Band of Horses.  They’re from Philadelphia, but I didn’t know them at all.  At the end of the set the singer said that they used to practice around the corner from the venue and that it was a real trip playing here.  So that was fun.

Before the show, I looked them up and saw them described as alternative, punk and post-hardcore. I was expecting a really heavy rocking band.  But somehow, when they opened for Band of Horses, they sounded a lot more like…Band of Horses.  I’ve been listening to their stuff on the site and I’d say there’s something about the guitars of “Misprint” that reminded me of BoH.

On their studio albums, lead singer Jon Loudon has a gravelly voice, but it didn’t quite sound that way live for some reason.  And the music had the soaring quality of Band of Horses’ more rocking songs.

And it was great.  They were definitely heavier than BoH, but the overall vibe worked perfectly.

The drummer in particular played some great rhythms and really bashed the hell out of the kit.  But the whole band played well off each other.  There were quite a few guitars, occasional keys and a small horn section.

Loudon said that the trumpeter and trombonist who were on stage were playing live with them for the first time.  They added a nice touch but were not mic’d so it wasn’t always easy to hear them.  But when they came through it was good.

I don’t know any of their songs, so I can’t give a setlist, but According to some recent shows, the songs they’ve been playing are:  New Old, The Plan, Separate Songs, West River, Misprint, D, A, Let’s Blow Up the Sun, The Future, Tiny Prayers and Documents.  Confirmation of lyrics shows I have a 20 second clip of “Tiny Prayers” here.

I’ve been listening to their stuff on their tumblr site (it tickles me that their albums are called Restorations, LP2 and LP3) and it’s really good.

They were a great complement to Band of Horses (Ben Bridwell also raved about them when he came on stage) and I’m excited to hear more from them.2016-09-24-20-17-01

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aug24SOUNDTRACK: IVAN & ALYOSHA-Tiny Desk concert #109 (February 7, 2011).

ivanIvan & Alyosha are a five piece (no one is named Ivan or Aloysha) consisting of Tim Wilson (lead vocals) Ryan Carbary (guitars) Pete Wilson, (Tim’s brother), Tim Kim (acoustic and electric guitars) and drummer Cole Mauro).  They play bouncy folk (I assume that their non-Tiny Desk sound is bigger than two acoustic guitars and a tambourine).

“Beautiful Lie” is the first song.  The lead singer has a gentle falsetto and the other guys add nice harmonies (especially during the oooooooohs).

As they introduce “Easy to Love” Wilson says they recorded it at 2AM in their last half hour at the studio.  And it wound up being the song people like most.  It’s easy to like, with a fun clap-along and a simple electric guitar solo.  Again, I assume the actual song is bigger than this.

“I Was Born To Love Her” is a good jam (their words).  It completes that folks sound with two guitars and lovely harmonies.  They’d be a great opener for Band of Horses.  I’d see that tour.

Incidentally, the band name comes from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov.

[READ: February 3, 2016] “These Short, Dark Days”

I was planning on saving this story to put it sequentially with the other New Yorker stories that I’ll be posting in the weeks to come.  But this story is set on February 3, so why not post it on that short, dark day, since it is that day, anyhow.

This story begins with a suicide.  A man sees his wife out the door, then covers the windows and door gaps, pulls the gas hose off the stove and brings it with him into the bedroom (who knew the hose would be that long).

The next section of the story jumps to much later as we see a nun, Sister St. Savior, walking down the street.  She is tired and aching from begging all day. But she smells the smell of an extinguished fire and she knows in her heart that she must go there and help.  I love that when she arrives, everyone defers to her.  One of the men even acts as if he has sent for her, when clearly she came of her own design. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 16, 2015] Neil Young + Promise of the Real

2015-07-16 22.28.13Sarah has always wanted to see Neil Young.  And she finally got to, back in October.  And now here it is just nine months later and she gets to see him again.

I enjoyed his previous show quite a lot, but said I didn’t need to see him again unless he was with a band (which I assumed would be Crazy Horse).  But here he was with a new band (just what does Crazy Horse do in their off years?).  The band was Promise of the Real, which features Lukas Nelson (Willie Nelson’s son) and for this tour also featured Willie’s other son Micah (whom I gather is not usually in the band?).  I knew nothing about POTR, but I did get the new Monsanto album, so I got a sense of what they sounded like.

Speaking of the Monsanto album….  Lyrically it’s strident and a little obvious, but musically it’s really quite good–a lot of variety with some good loose rock.  And when they played it live, where it really loosened up, it sounded even better.

But back to the show.  Sarah and I predicted that he would play the entire Monsanto album, talk a lot about GMOs, and then maybe play a few classics.  We could not have been more wrong.

The show opened (well, actually, the concert opened with a Native American dance which we missed–I gather they were going to march on Washington and asked if they could address the crowd first) with two people planting seeds along the stage.  They put out plants and scattered seeds all over the place (I can’t believe no one slipped on them!  And then Neil came out.  It was like the previous show.  He played a few acoustic pieces on his various instruments: (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 16, 2015] Band of Horses

2015-07-16 19.36.14It was almost exactly a year ago that Sarah and I saw Band of Horses in this exact venue (we had much better seats last year, though).

Last year they co-headlined with Beck.  This year they were opening for Neil Young, which meant a much shorter set.  Because the parking situation was insane ($25 and a 7-10 minute walk to the stadium?) we wound up missing the first song.

They sounded great.  Although I have to admit that even though I was incredibly psyched to hear them, I couldn’t really settle into the show.  This had to do with a) the sun setting at an awkward angle and b) the guy sitting next to me who was talking a lot.  The Bank Center is a nice venue with really good sound, but I was amazed at how chattering people were able to rise above the music.

They played pretty much the same set that they did last year (although last year they played an amazing cover of Neil Young’s “Powderfinger,” which for obvious reasons they did not do this year).

They were a lot more no-nonsense as well, with very little chatter.  Indeed, their set was really quite short (although I never actually checked the time, I’d say maybe 35 minutes).  I love that they still let the noise ring out between songs (either feedback or drums or something).  And Ben Bridwell’s voice still sounds fantastic.

The setlist that I have below may not be exactly right.  But if it is, I am quite bummed that we missed “The First Song,” since they didn’t play it last time.  Of course, I love every other song, so that’s okay.

Sarah and I agreed that we need to see them headline a small venue, so guys, do please come back so we can watch your whole set (and finally get to see “St. Augustine.”

2014 2015
For Annabelle The First Song
Laredo Compliments
Powderfinger Laredo
Factory The Great Salt Lake
Cigarettes, Wedding Bands Is there a Ghost
Ode to LRC Cigarettes, Wedding Bands
NW Apartment No One’s Gonna Love You
The General Specific Ode to LRC
No One’s Gonna Love You The Funeral
Weed Party
Is there a Ghost
Island on the Coast
The Great Salt Lake
The Funeral

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