Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Album Review | Brandi Carlile - The Firewatcher's Daughter

"Let them roll over me when I doubt you," Brandi Carlile sings on "The Things I Regret," one of the standout tracks on her latest release, The Firewatcher's Daughter. The album follows a familiar formula that will please most fans: smart, strong songwriting ("The Eye") and gorgeous vocals ("I Belong To You").

But if you've seen Carlile live, you know it's more than that. There is passion and grit in her performance, and I don't just mean that it's loud and fast, which are often the buzzwords that guide the path to popularity. Listen to "Mainstream Kid" and hear her sing, "I'm on the list, I'm gonna get in." Then go see her do that in front of an audience.

"The Eye" and "I Belong To You" are as beautiful as anything Carlile has ever recorded, especially the ending of the latter -- I could hear her sing the words "I belong to you" over and over. But also take note of two other songs lurking in the album's second half: "Blood Muscle Skin & Bone," which reminds of the hooks of Surfer Blood, and the almost-western "The Stranger at My Door," which I don't really prefer, but I admire the gamble.

Carlile also rolls the dice on a cover of The Avett Brothers' "Murder in the City," which closes the record. While it's not her best vocal performance -- it seems lazy somehow, or maybe she just got too comfortable by a camp fire, especially at the beginning -- these words cannot be repeated enough:

Always remember there was nothing worth sharing
Like the love that let us share our name

Thanks for the reminder, Brandi.

Photos | Sturgill Simpson + Anderson East at 3rd & Lindsley in Nashville

All photos by Kristen Abigail
Sturgill Simpson, a rising country artist who calls Nashville home, played two back-to-back sold out shows at 3rd and Lindsley this past weekend. Local radio station, Lightning 100, presented Sturgill's second show for their Nashville Sunday Night showcase. Simpson just wrapped up a winter tour to support the release of his most recent album, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music. Simpson is preparing to go back out again on tour later this month, but will make an appearance at the Grand Ole Opry before he hits the road again.

His opening act Anderson East had the crowd mesmerized as soon as he opened his mouth. East is also a Nashville based artist, but has a gritty Americana sound that complimented Simpson well. East just announced on Monday that he will release his debut record, Delilah, on July 14 through Low Country Sound and Elektra Records.

Please enjoy these photos by Kristen Abigail below.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Jam of the Day | Kopecky - Quarterback

If anyone ever needed an audio-example of how a band name can influence the way users consume a piece of music, I offer EXHIBIT A. Kopecky Family Band (Kopecky's former name), draws visual images to something much more...rural than their sound suggests. Or maybe rural is a ill-conceived term and we should be using "traditional" as a descriptor of what comes to mind. But it certainly doesn't suggest something boundary-pushing or cutting-edge. A "family band" suggests something safe. Something that grandma feels as comfortable listening to as crazy-cousin-Carl. Ok, that made no sense, but you get my drift.

But, Kopecky...on the other hand leaves the door pretty-wide open stylistically, and the first taste we get of their upcoming album, Drug for the Modern Age, may just be the perfect EXHIBIT B, as to why a name change needed to occur. "Quarterback" is a guitar-forward-all-out-pop-assault, that leaves you equally as deaf, when cranked to 11, as hook-hummingly-addicted.  I'm on my 8th repeat, if that gives you an idea of what you're in for...lawd!

Certainly, grandma would ask us to turn this shit down. Kopecky, and crazy-cousin-Carl, should be very pleased.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Photos | Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors at Ryman Auditorium in Nashville

All photos by Kristen Abigail
Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors, the four piece Americana Rock band native to Nashville, sold out Ryman Auditorium this past Saturday evening. Drew & his band started with 3 songs off the new record before he brought Ellie on stage. The duo left the Mother Church audience with few dry eyes behind their sweet song "Hung the Moon". The Neighbors also had a few surprises up their sleeves last night, including a collaborative performance with Bo Rinehart of Needtobreathe.

Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors are on tour this spring to promote their recent record, Medicine, which was released on January 27. They'll also be touring with Needtobreathe, Colony House, Ben Rector and Switchfoot this summer for Tour De Compadres. Please enjoy these photos by Kristen Abigail below.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Jam of the Day | Beach Slang - We Are Nothing

It's cold here - okay, okay, I know it's just cold for North Carolina, and many of you have it far worse, but I live here not to be cold - and I'm kind of cranky and irritable all the time. Winter blows, you guys, as I'm sure you know. Wouldn't we all rather be somewhere sunny and warm with an umbrella-decorated drink in our hands? We totally would.

So Beach Slang won't get you that umbrella drink, but the driving guitar line and rapidfire vocals protesting we are nothing like them in a ragged and fierce way might just suit your desire to stomp on the weather's face, and their name will at least make you think of those sunny days that are, approximately, a million miles away. I don't know that this song makes me wish for summer, quite, but it makes me forget all about how much I hate February. Instead I'm thinking about how much I like Beach Slang, and "We Are Nothing", and all songs about fighting against expectations: two thumbs up.

Beach Slang plays Carrboro on 3/5 at the Cat's Cradle. It will probably still be cold, so you should go and stomp on winter with them.