Friday, February 23, 2018

Kacey Musgraves Releases Two New Songs, "Space Cowboy" and "Butterflies"

After the gold rush
there ain't no reason to stay

Kacey Musgraves is back, primed to release her fourth album, Golden Hour,  in March. For now, though, we'll have to settle for two new tracks, "Space Cowboy" and "Butterflies." The former is a goodbye to a past life; the latter is the glow of a new golden hour.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

[REVIEW] Dreaming with Josh Ritter at The Ryman in Nashville

Photo by Jason Gonulsen

Written by Jason Gonulsen

Ever since Josh Ritter picked up a guitar in Moscow, Idaho, he dreamed about playing the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. I only know this because he told us exactly that, early on in his debut performance at the legendary venue this past Friday. And midway through the opportunity to live his dream, Ritter unleashed one of his most ambitious songs to date -- the six-and-a-half minute "Dreams," from his latest album, Gathering.

Where 2013's Beast in the Tracks and 2015's Sermon on the Rocks were somewhat more immediate with songs like "New Lover," "Hopeful," "Getting Ready To Get Down" and "Where The Night Goes," Gathering develops slowly with  "Myrna Loy," "Train Go By,"and "Dreams."

The latter two were played, back-to-back, on Friday at the Ryman, perhaps to challenge the sold-out audience, which, for the most part was incredibly respectful throughout the evening, minus the woman near me who filmed most of one song, and then decided it a good idea to actually watch her footage, with audio, right after. I mean...

But I digress.

"Dreams" was absolutely stunning. The song itself is a journey on the album, but when witnessed live, you really get pulled in. It has nineteen verses. Not exactly the type of song you choose to perform if you don't feel like challenging yourself. Ritter, though, made it look easy, singing with his eyes closed -- the look of a focused artist who would not prefer to be anywhere else.

He had me hooked during the entire song, but the final, chilling three verses were the ones that did me in:

What else is there to say but to tell you that I love you
I haven't seen much of the world but I know
That there aren't any others who know me like you do
And your comfort seems to follow me wherever I go

I know you're no cure for the darkness inside me
But it feels better just to know that you're near
And your patience, your joy, and your strength are astounding
And I know that without you, I wouldn't be here

I know that without you, I wouldn't be here
And I know that without you, I would not be here
I know that without you, I wouldn't be here
I know that without you

When I write in the future about honest songwriting, let me always go back to this song. There's a reason why Josh Ritter is often compared to Bob Dylan, which, let's face it, is unfair, but it also makes sense. Who else, consistently, is writing songs like this? If you have the answer, I'll gladly travel to see him or her.

Or maybe I'll just keep driving across the Midwest to see the sure thing. Because, at this point, that's who Ritter is. His status as one of America's best songwriters -- easily on the level of a Lucinda Williams -- has not been fueled by arena-level hype. It has been earned.

His live performances only cement this belief.

He almost always performs "Monster Ballads" at his shows, because he knows how to drive its magic in a live setting. On this night, he performed it with Sam Kassirer on grand piano, who extended the song with a solo that was as delicate as the stained glass that reflected from the back of the venue. "Out on the desert now and I'm feeling lost," Ritter sang.

During a solo acoustic rendition of "The Temptation of Adam," his words stung a little more than normal. Its ten verses are all worthy of an award that Ritter will probably never win, but, you know, who cares. Here are my favorite four.

Oh Marie if you would stay then we could stick pins in the map
Of all the places where you thought that love would be found
But I would only need one pin to show where my heart's at
In a top secret location three hundred feet under the ground

We could hold each other close and stay up every night
Looking up into the dark like it's the night sky
And pretend this giant missile is an old oak tree instead
And carve our name in hearts into the warhead

Oh Marie there's something tells me things just won't work out above
That our love would live a half-life on the surface
So at night while you are sleeping
I hold you closer just because
As our time grows short I get a little nervous

I think about the Big One, W.W.I.I.I.
Would we ever really care the world had ended
You could hold me here forever like you're holding me tonight
I look at that great big red button and I'm tempted

That's how the song ends: with temptation.

Ritter's show at the Ryman ended with something more: singing about a girl in the war.

"If they can't find a way to help her, they can go to hell," he sang.

At the end of "Girl in the War," he describes her eyes -- like champagne. "They sparkle, bubble over, in the morning all you got is rain," he sings.

Kind of like the morning after a long dream that somehow came true.

Radiohead Announces 2018 North American Tour

Radiohead will tour North America in 2018, and you will probably want to go. So, like, make plans. No excuses, people!

Tickets will be on sale beginning Friday, February 23. For further information, go to

North America 2018

Sat-Jul-07 - Chicago - United Center
Tue-Jul-10 - New York - Madison Square Garden
Wed-Jul-11 - New York - Madison Square Garden
Fri-Jul-13 - New York - Madison Square Garden
Mon-Jul-16 - Montreal - Bell Centre
Tue-Jul-17 - Montreal - Bell Centre
Thu-Jul-19 - Toronto - Air Canada Centre
Fri-Jul-20 - Toronto - Air Canada Centre
Sun-Jul-22 - Detroit - Little Caesars Arena
Mon-Jul-23 - Columbus - Schottenstein Center 
Wed-Jul-25 - Cincinnati - US Bank Arena
Thu-Jul-26 - Pittsburgh- PPG Paints Arena
Sat-Jul-28 - Boston - TD Garden
Sun-Jul-29 - Boston - TD Garden
Tue-Jul-31 - Philadelphia- Wells Fargo Center
Wed-Aug-01 - Philadelphia - Wells Fargo Center

Thursday, February 15, 2018

[ALBUM REVIEW] Brandi Carlile - By The Way, I Forgive You

after all
maybe I should thank you
for giving me what I've found

Forgiveness has been a hot topic for, oh, I don't know, a thousand plus years. And music has a way of forcing us to remember the reason why we chose to forgive -- that's just the way it works. "Without you around, I've been doing just fine," Brandi Carlile sings on By The Way, I Forgive You, "except for anytime I hear that song." We forgive, but we seldom forget the things that tore us apart. And in doing so, sometimes, too, we remember the moments that brought us together.

This is probably the best album Carlile has ever released, but that shouldn't come as a surprise. The truth is, she has been writing and performing at an elite level for many years now, but with the way the music business works, certain circles of people will want you to believe that she is "taking it to the next level." Ignore all of that. This album is great because it represents a natural evolution of a supremely talented artist who has been releasing "next level" albums for some time. Recognition should not represent revelation.

"To remember what comes back, when you give away your love." That's what this album is about, and those are the words Carlile sings on "Most of All." She closes with "Party of One," a kind of song you don't hear often these days because it's not going to go viral, not going top any chart on Spotify. It's not going to immediately make someone a lot of money. But like forgiveness, over time, it will prove its worth.

Grade: A+

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

[PREVIEW] Noah Gundersen Returns to St. Louis On January 26th at Off Broadway

Photo courtesy of Facebook

open up your mouth
your mouth
if you want it

On Friday, January 26th, Noah Gundersen returns to St. Louis on the heels of his latest release, White Noise, an album that we called one of the best albums of 2017. It's a shift in sound for Gundersen, who often gets tagged as a "singer-songwriter." Expect something a little different on Friday.

To get you ready for the show, I've created a playlist of my favorite Noah Gundersen songs. Enjoy, and get your tickets to the show at Off Broadway here.