Friday, February 24, 2017

[PHOTOS] Run the Jewels at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago


Run the Jewels are back, this time with Run the Jewels 3 and a tour that we can assume will put them at the heart of every music festival for the next couple years. And that's not so bad. Please enjoy these photos by Amanda Koellner.

Friday, February 17, 2017

[EP REVIEW] Maggie Rogers - Now That The Light Is Fading

Maggie Rogers' debut EP won't be for everyone, but you'll be glad you found it if it hits you in the right place. And that place is somewhere in the middle of beats and a gifted voice. Sunnier than Banks and Sharon Van Etten, darker than Maren Morris, Rogers is only 22, and her song "Alaska," included here, has already caught the ear of Pharrell William -- made him cry, even. "Dog Years" and "On + Off" are up to the challenge, too. This feels like the beginning of a versatile career.

Grade: B+

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

[ALBUM REVIEW] Ryan Adams - Prisoner

Broken mirror and my hand starts to bleed
Wish I could explain but it hurts to breathe
Didn't fit in my chest so I wore it on my sleeve
We disappear, we fade away

I'm divorced. And while I haven't given up on love, I've taken a break, if that's at all possible. At least it feels that way. The fact of the matter is that I've spent too many years putting myself second, or third, and I lost my way. And a few years ago, I was finally able to admit that to myself, and myself only. It's a very important thing to think about: what makes you happy? Is it really something that only makes someone else happy? There is a difference.

Music continues to challenge me to examine this difference.

Prisoner, Ryan Adams' latest solo release, is being labeled as a "divorce album," because we know a tiny bit about Adams' personal life, and because of the songs he has written. But what moves and impresses me about this particular album is that it serves as a guide on how to grow, to forgive, to improve. I've always told anyone who will listen that "sad" or "introspective" music can play a pivotal role in healing, in identifying and fixing your faults. Because the despair, the struggle coming from the other end -- those are words of incredible strength. You can use them to your benefit. That's the way I choose to look at it.

"These are the days you need double what it takes," Adams sings on "Shiver and Shake." "I miss you so much, I shiver and I shake." Later, he sings, "If I wait here any longer, I'll just fade away." It's this kind of honesty that lends a crucial latitude to oneself. The ability to say, "My love, we can do better than this," as Adams does on "Doomsday." The ability to say, "Sometimes a man don't know when he's gotta walk away," as Adams does on "Outbound Train." The ability to leave a haunted house.

I left my own haunted house three years ago, and my life changed. No matter the cost involved, no matter the hoops to jump through, no matter the lawyers, real estate agents, moving trucks, pet security deposits, tears, frustration, depression, or anger involved, I decided it did not make sense for me to be forever living with my past. I would have died there. There were other ways to "move on," but this was my way. And I wanted my way for once.

Prisoner is Ryan Adams' way. It ends with "We Disappear," my favorite track on the album. I mentioned honesty earlier, and, again, Adams doesn't go and hide. He writes:

Was I alone, am I still?
Nobody gets in, nobody ever will
You deserve a future, and you know I'll never change

A haunting thing to ponder: even if you were once married, or in a loving relationship, were you alone? Are you still? Do you want to change? We all grow old, and some memories even fade.

But stories remain. Ghosts remain.

There is a faint sound of a person laughing at the end of "We Disappear." A little snippet of a time long ago. A reminder that such a person existed.

A reminder that everyone is a prisoner: simultaneously connected to a time that has almost disappeared, and a future filled with hope.

Grade: A

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Air Traffic Controller | 10 Songs, 10 Stories

Boston's Air Traffic Controller released Black Box in 2016, winning four Independent Music Awards. The band consists of Dave Munro + Casey Sullivan, and they're our first artists to contribute to our "10 Songs, 10 Stories" series in 2017.

Munro and Sullivan wrote a little about each song on Black Box below, but before you get to that, please also have a view of their video for "The House."

And now, 10 Songs, 10 Stories with Air Traffic Controller.

Get It Over With – Dave Munro

I remember two guys sitting and chatting outside a local town bar, one was upset about a girl, I hear the other one say, "people can change, but only like this much;" he held up his hand to show with his fingers, about an inch. This moment was clarifying to me. We really can't change all that much, and in most cases, why the hell should we? Why is love is so powerful, it can make people stay together, even if they want to change each other drastically? It's kind of a shame if you believe there is someone out there for everyone. In a perfect world, people would meet and just hand each other a list of "flaws" and their life's agenda. When you know, you know, so congrats, you found love, but when you realize a relationship won't work, you may be have discovered so much more for yourself. "Get It Over With."

The House – Dave Munro

The song was written as a thank you to my parents, celebrating how being raised in the wake of a divorce ended up being kind of awesome. When I was in 5th grade, my mom married my friend's dad, a Vietnam veteran, who was naturally more strict than we were used to, but together, he and my mom made sure all 7 of us step children always had fun under their roof. The house became the hang out spot for all of my friends and all of my siblings and step-siblings friends. To this day, everyone still refers to it as "The House."

What You Do To My Soul – Dave Munro

Sort of an opposite to "Get It Over With," this song celebrates being in love and just knowing it, based purely on a feeling in your soul. Who knows what the future holds, things are working, regular days, fun days, it's all good. We should just do this forever. It's pretty simple really: I like how this feels, I like "What You Do To My Soul."

Creature Of The Night - Dave Munro

Some of us are night owls, and we're very apologetic about it, to our significant others, to society, it's looked at as an irresponsible trait. I get it, most of us have to work in the morning, but it's unfortunate because often our finest moments, our brilliant ideas, our thoughtful conversations, our happiest of times, occur in the wee hours. I applaud those who find a way to make night time fun happen, yes even on weekdays, and those who dream while they're still awake. We all recover eventually, it's not a bad thing to be a "Creature Of The Night."

This Is Love – Dave Munro

An indie filmmaker friend of mine made a movie about a serial killer and asked if I would write a song for the closing credits. I laughed and said I am not right the person to ask. He said, I know, and asked if I would try to do it anyway. As soon as I got off the phone, I started thinking about being someone else, a bad guy. Violent, abusive, sadistic, sociopathic, demons are sometimes exposed for their crimes, but others are walking among us, some right beside us, making us think they are compassionate human beings, sometimes even making us believe "This Is Love."

Phantom – Casey Sullivan

This song is about being in a situation where you feel really powerless. It was a time when I was trying so hard to have my thoughts heard but was essentially coming up against a brick wall and had no choice but to shut up and disappear. I knew it was for the best but it’s frustrating to feel like you’re not being heard.

Warrior – Casey Sullivan

"Warrior" was written in the aftermath of a really difficult breakup. This person was telling me how strong I was and that everything would be okay, but I felt like a piece of me had been taken away and did not feel strong at all. It felt a little patronizing to hear that I was “so strong” and it pissed me off, so I wrote this song.

Water Falls – Casey Sullivan

"Water Falls" is a song about attempting to live in the moment because otherwise I freak out about the lack of control I have over mostly everything. The chorus lyrics are basically me attempting to tell myself to enjoy the ride because nothing is guaranteed and there’s only a few things you can know for sure. The rest is just chaos and it’s exciting I guess, but also terrifying.

On The Wire - Casey

"On the Wire" was written at the very beginning stages of a relationship when I was very uncertain of where things would go, but I was feeling optimistic. It was that moment where my inner optimist popped out, which doesn’t happen all the time. It’s a fun feeling. The relationship did not work out.

Island – Casey Sullivan

"Island" is a song about tearing yourself away from a situation that you know isn’t healthy. The chorus says “I could be a loner or a liar.” It’s basically like I could be alone or I could lie to myself and keep going down this unhealthy path. It’s generally good to trust your instincts, even though I don’t always take my own advice.

Friday, February 10, 2017

[PHOTOS] Future Islands + Digable Planets + Noname at the Opening of House of Vans Chicago


Future Islands + Digable Planets + Noname helped open the doors at House of Vans Chicago last week. Please enjoy these photos by Amanda Koellner.