Thursday, March 31, 2011

Jam of the Day | Jill Andrews - The Mirror


But I know there is light
Even in the shadows
Wherever the sun goes
I will follow, too

Last year, I got divorced. Never thought it would happen to me, but things change, and people change. Mostly, everything changes when you're married, whether you like it or not. And it all happens so damn fast.

I bring this up because today's JOTD makes me happy. It's a song about the search for independence after you choose to leave the darkness. It's about years of struggling, listening to your heart, and then breaking free. It's much more than simply about breaking mirrors and obtaining bad luck.

Shadows. Mirrors. Reflections. Choices. It's about all of those things.

Here's the thing -- not everyone is a leader. We're always told to be confident in moments of struggle, when the reality is that it takes years of struggle to build confidence.You don't always get what you want the first time around. Jill Andrews is a songwriter who understands this; she writes beautiful songs about the separation between darkness and light, and how we all face a decision about living in the moment. Because, after all, there is always a choice.

Jill Andrews - The Mirror

Jill Andrews' first full-length album, The Mirror, drops June 7th. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Jam of the Day | AgesandAges - So So Freely

Photo by Alicia J. Rose

I rather adore that the bio for Portland's seven-piece (yes, count 'em, seven), AgesandAges suggests that "church words" are the best way to describe its music. In fact, that same bio assures us that AgesandAges is not a cult. Good to know.

Yet, I do get the comparison. The collective's eternal optimist outlook might eek an eye roll out of the most jaded, but I gotta say, the effervescent tambourines and Sunday harmonies, for me, simply do what they oughta: lighten my mood.

On today's JOTD, "So So Freely," the free spirited indie-folksters recall the powerful group dynamic of The New Pornographers and the striking boy-girl choruses of Port O'Brien. A newly named All Songs Considered "Band to Watch For," AgesandAges is gearing up to take its unabashed enthusiasm for life in general to a wider audience. Won't you drink the Kool-Aid?

AgesandAges - So So Freely

More on AgesandAges...

Alright You Restless is out now. Buy the album here.

The band debuted a video for today's Jam of the Day from its record release show at Mississippi Studios over at Paste Magazine.

Also, do us a solid and watch the band's video for the song "Navy Parade" by clicking here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Concert Photos | Admiral Fallow + Wylie Hunter and the Cazadores @ Fullsteam Brewery in Durham

Photo By Lauren Bland

Tater Tots, Double Downs, Beer, and a Fantastic Evening of Music with Admiral Fallow 
(Sponsored by Speakers in Code)

Presenting a show isn't as easy as it looks - in fact, it's hard work. We learned quite a few lessons in our efforts to bring Admiral Fallow to Durham, North Carolina the weekend of March 19th. Like, how taxing the business of concert promotion can be, but just how rewarding it is when that work results in a sold-out sign posted on the venue's door. Or how American food, be it the salty simplicity of childhood favorite, the tater tot, or the gut-busting KFC Double Down, is glorious no matter how many arteries it clogs.

We were all fortunate enough to have an insanely talented, and fast on-the-rise band from Chapel Hill along for the ride with Wylie Hunter and the Cazadores. Who, as much as anyone else involved, promoted the shit out of this show to ensure a positive evening for all. We cannot thank them enough.

But learning really doesn't mean that much without experiences, and the low-key day and climactic evening were full of them. The below photos represent a whirlwind of a weekend, that was bookended by two caravan-like trips to the airport transporting seven fine Scotsmen (and one Scotswoman), to and fro gigs from Austin to New York.

Thanks to all that helped make this a magical evening. You know who you are.

Photo by Matt Smith

Lunch at Southern Rail in Carrboro, North Carolina

Photo by Lauren Bland
Wylie Hunter and the Cazadores - well worthy of a Jam of the Day nod

Photo by Lauren Bland

Photo by Lauren Bland

Photo by Lauren Bland

Photo by Matt Smith
Admiral Fallow singer/guitarist Louis Abbott, Scottish sharpshooter, backstage at Fullsteam Brewery in Durham

Photo by Matt Smith
Bassist Joe Rattray fuels up before the show by attempting to down a Double Down. We can attest he was only able to stomach a few bites.

Photo By Lauren Bland
Admiral Fallow takes the stage to a sold-out crowd of over 250 of the Triangle's finest.

Photo By Lauren Bland
Sarah Hayes - magician of the flute

Photo by Tyrus Manual
The seventh member of Admiral Fallow that night, SIC drummer extraordinaire, Matt Smith

Photo By Lauren Bland

Photo by Matt Smith
Probably the best dog in the world, Angus Smith, snuggles with the band post-show in Chapel Hill.

Jam of the Day | Boy & Bear - Rabbit Song


Of all the bands that played SXSW earlier this month, Boy & Bear have been voted most likely to succeed by more than a few in attendance. They seem completely poised to pop, with comparisons to everyone from Fleet Foxes, to Midlake, to those oh-so popular Mumford boys.

Their catchiest song to date, "Rabbit Song," is exactly what audiences and labels alike seem to be salivating for these days: melodic folksy grooves, beautiful harmonies, and a driving rhythm section that echoes the Appalachians all the way from Sydney. It is at times haunting but still conveys a subtle beauty that builds throughout, culminating in a crescendo of goodness that must make even their most popular of band comparisons a bit jealous.

Listen to it below and either wait for it to come out in the good ol' US of A, or pick up the import via Amazon right here.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Jam of the Day | Young Galaxy - We Have Everything


Oh spare me today
I've had enough of the hurry hurry


It's Monday. And yes, you need a little Young Galaxy in your life.

I'm not sure if I've heard music like this in a while. That's probably because I'm too obsessed with singer-songwriters, but hey, that story is for another day. Today, I'm caught on my favorite new band from Montreal, one that's given me some hope and inspiration on this sleepy Monday (thanks a lot, Mary). I feel like swimming, or maybe even jogging. Hell, I could probably climb a mountain with today's JOTD playing in the background.

Okay, maybe not. Anyway, hooray for Young Galaxy!

Young Galaxy - We Have Everything

Friday, March 25, 2011

Video | DeYarmond Edison - Set Me Free (Carol King Cover)



Before Bon Iver and Megafaun separately blew the hell up, both bands were collectively part of DeYarmond Edison, the now defunct NC via WI super-group of folk power. Consisting of Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, and Megafaun members Joe Westerlund, Phil Cook and Brad Cook, they were poised to become the biggest thing to come out of the Triangle since Ryan Adams gave us all the finger and moved to NYC.

Well, they reunited for a short set at South by Southwest, playing just three songs - “Lovers Will” by Bonnie Raitt, “You’ve Got a Friend” by Carole King and “Set Me Free,” a DeYarmond Edison original. Sure would be nice to see a reunion like that in the road guys...just saying.

Pajammy Jam of the Day | Lia Ices ft. Justin Vernon - Daphne


Floating. Fluttery. Sparse. Intimate. All words that have been used to describe the music Lia Ices creates, and while all are spot on, I hear a quiet reservation bubbling below the surface of her songs. And while they are melodic, and whisper-quiet at times, the energy behind the effort is palpable. As you hit repeat, the songs lose any sort of condensed focus you may have heard upon first listen, becoming sprawling, expansive, and downright beautiful.

The quiet moments Ices conjures are truly powerful, and on "Daphne," we are led down a musical path where the sound builds with each step we take. And as Justin Vernon, for lack of a better term, "Bon Ivers" himself into the forefront, we're immediately pulled off course, and placed firmly on a new road paved with piano and guitar of the electric variety.

Download it, and pop on some headphones to listen for the first time. Lay back and enjoy, and when you're done, pick up her entire album, Grown Unknown, here.

Lia Ices ft. Justin Vernon - Daphne

Concert Photos | Oberhofer @ Local 506 in Chapel Hill

All Photos by Aggie Donkar/Brand New Kind of Photography

It's no secret that we here at Speakers in Code love Oberhofer. Hell, we've featured the band three times now, giving it a coveted spot on our Best Songs of 2010 list, sitting down with Brad and Pete for an interview over mediocre appetizers, and now we're giving everyone a taste of what we saw when they took the stage Tuesday night at Local 506 in Chapel Hill.

So, our work here is done. It's now your responsibility to become an early adopter.

Check out Aggie's beautiful pics below! The complete set can be viewed here.


 




Thursday, March 24, 2011

Brooke Fraser (The Interview)


I don't know why our words are so proud
Yet their promise so thin
And our lives blow about like flags in the wind


Allow me to speak from the heart: There are few artists who move me like Brooke Fraser. I'm not about to make grand comparisons, or say she's one of the best living singer-songwriters, or tell you that she'll change your life. She wouldn't even want to hear any of that. I'm just telling you what I know, and that is that almost every song Fraser writes, I feel something from its message. I hit repeat often because her songs make me think about what's important in my life.

Fraser, from New Zealand, won me over big time back in 2008 with her album, Albertine. Let's travel back for a moment and revisit the title track.


Friends, that's Brooke Fraser at her very best. And her latest album, Flags, one of our favorite albums of 2010, is more of the same beauty. She's given us songs like "Betty," "Something in the Water," and "Who Are We Fooling?," which all turn chimerical thinking into some kind of grand reality. Flags is her best work yet.

We caught up with Fraser over e-mail a few weeks ago, just ahead of her upcoming tour. Here's what she had to say.

1. You toured the U.S. last year in support of your latest album, Flags. What were some of the moments that stood out on that tour?

My constant surprise at people turning up, especially in places we'd never been, like Alabama! Mind blowing.

2. It's interesting to me that it was a trip to the Coachella Music Festival that sort of re-awakened you to writing music again. Can you talk a little bit more about your experiences there and maybe what you see as the best part of a music festival?

At its worst, music is noise but at its best, music can be such a powerful force for good.  It can unite, energize, inspire, heal.  I suppose that evening at Coachella I experienced music at its best and it's never left me.  You can't manufacture those types of moments, just try to appreciate and relish them when they come.

3. We named "Who Are We Fooling?" one of our favorite songs of 2010. Can you tell us a little bit about what that song means to you?

You did? Wow! Thanks! "Who Are We Fooling?" was such a joy to write  - a very pleasant surprise.  Matt Hales (Aqualung) and I got together to write and we can both be somewhat hesitant co-writers... but everything just clicked that day.  It was really rewarding talking about these characters, wondering whether they were going to stay together or not, discussing commitment. We really believe in this song and are so glad that it's connected with people.



4. If you could pick one songwriter to write a song with, who would you pick, and why?

Well now Halesy is in the bag, I suppose I have to have some new aspirations...

5. Finally, you end "Flags" with the line, "I know the last shall be first." What was going through your head when you wrote that song and lyric?

"Flags" is a bit of a follow on to the title track of my last record, Albertine.  "Albertine" was a call to action and a reminder of the responsibility we in the first world have of not being ignorant of or numb to the realities faced by our brothers and sisters in the developing world.  "Flags" deals with the tough questions behind why this inequality exists in the first place and its answer is, "I don't know".  We co-exist with the questions, but I am comforted by Christ's words of assurance that justice will one day come for those who are currently deprived of it.

Catch Brooke Fraser on her 2011 "Something in the Water" Tour.

Listen | Union Tree Review - "Parties (Demo)"


Back in September of 2010, we made Union Tree Review's "Let Me Be" the Pajammy Jam of the Day (as in a slow, made for bedtime kinda song). We wrote that "Let Me Be" is a chugging, acoustic train, reminiscent of Ryan Adams: brilliant lyricism, piano in all the right places, plenty o' references to booze and regret.

Half a year later, we still mean it. And, since we were first introduced, we've loved following UTR's path as they garner new fans around town and, pardon the cliché, make beautiful music together.

Union Tree Review is now working on a new record, and in unique fashion, the guys (and very purty girl) in the band want to give fans an inside look at the creative process. They're unleashing a demo version of new track, "Parties" for the first time today.

Here's what the band has to say about that: "We're currently working on a new record.  In that process, we record a whole lot of versions of each song ... some of them are just meant to be rough drafts, some of them are just experimenting with a new direction. This song is an example of the kinds of rough drafts we're producing: one take, a few instruments, and a whole lot of imperfections. Since what we do is so closely tied to our community, we thought it'd be nice to open the blinds a bit and include the audience in the creative process, no matter how rough-around-the-edges it can be."

To hear "Parties (Demo)" click thisaway. Damn, it's a heartbreaker. The lyrics are straightforward, the instruments sparse. Halfway through, scraped knees and sleepless nights emanate from the the howling vocals, desperation afoot in the streets of Saint Louis.

More on Union Tree Review...

The band is opening tomorrow for Margot and the Nuclear So and So's, along with Sleepy Kitty at The Firebird. Get your tickets here.

UTR is also playing Off Broadway on April 22nd, opening for Ha Ha Tonka with Spring Standards. Tickets can be purchased here.

Keep up with 'em at their website, where they post "gratuitous" shots of their instruments and write about their progress.

Jam of the Day | Jesse Thomas - You I Want


How did I fuck this up?
I should have held my tongue.

I usually say nothing or blurt out entirely too much. I'm sure many of you can relate -- you know, the perfect formula for a common disaster. I don't know the meaning of  "just enough."

Singer-songwriter Jesse Thomas seems to have that same kind of mentality, and that's sort of why I love her. Today's JOTD shows off Thomas' lyrical tendency to say whatever is on her mind, and still go after the prize. Sung over a catchy melody, Thomas' twenty-something-year-old voice sounds a bit weathered, like she's told this story a thousand times, which is probably true.

Fresh off her performances at SXSW, Thomas' future is looking bright and cheery these days. Have a listen to "You I Want," off her debut Hazel EP, below.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Album Review | The Strokes - Angles


Speakers Rating: 79/100

Back when The Strokes released "Under Cover of Darkness," the lead single from their new LP Angles, we wrote about how excited we were about a return to form, a deportation from the overworked anthems and somewhat indulgent compositions of First Impressions of Earth, and about a reunion with the sonic buzz and the angular, riffy, garage sensibilities of their debut Is This It and the steady rocking follow-up, Room on Fire. Well, it looks like the New York City quintet got about half way home with Angles, which at times can be as confusing as the Q-Bert meets New York Times crossword album cover.

The sounds of Angles are all over the place. From the reggae bounce of opener "Machu Picchu," to the wonderfully poppy skip of "Taken for a Fool," and the dark drone of "You're So Right," the record's continuity is somewhat lacking, but most of the tracks are, for lack of a better word... good. Angles' finer tracks include the aforementioned, "Under Cover of Darkness," "Two Kinds of Happiness," an homage to the '80s that is braised in The Cars' musical broth, and "Grastisfaction," a catchy jam that has been steeped for hours in Thin Lizzy's tea.

The Strokes - "Gratisfaction"


While the record hits oh-so nicely with pop-oriented, '80s tinged guitar grooves, Angles gets caught up with the cumbersome "You're So Right" and the obligatory one "slow" tune per record, "Call Me Back." We're optimistic that Angles will bloom and blossom in The Strokes' live performances, but that remains to be seen. We absolutely ache to hear "Taken For a Fool" live, to see Julian hunched over the mic stand, clutching it with one hand, to hear Nick Valensi's needling solo, to feel the "lock it up" rhythm of Albert's guitar, and to nod and bop to the surgical beats from Nikolai's bass and Fab's ever-impressive and reliable drumming acumen.

The Strokes - "Taken For a Fool"


Is This It was mind-blowingly brilliant in its hipness and provided the impression that this uber-high level of cool was innate to these New York twenty-somethings. Angles marks a turn back to that era, but the hallmarks of effort cast a pall on the record. Don't get us wrong, the record is good... It is just not great. The Strokes set the bar very high for themselves with Is This It, and that has canonized them and cursed them at the same time. They will be forever held to the standard they set for themselves with what is arguably the best debut record of all time and certainly one that defined the garage rock revival. Angles is a very solid C+. Thus, the 79/100 rating. Good enough to pass, but nothing particularly spectacular or noteworthy. We truly believe that The Strokes have another A+ in them... Maybe they should stop trying so hard.

Buy Angles here.

Jam of the Day | The Lonely Forest - Turn Off This Song and Go Outside

Photo by Peter Ellenby

For a high school English teacher like me (yes, I only moonlight as a music blogger), there's really nothing that rocks my socks more than literary references - whether oh-so subtle or fiercely blatant - infused into song lyrics. That's why, when I saw The Lonely Forest at Old Rock House way back in May of 2010, I was immediately drawn to the anthemic track, "We Sing In Time."

Boldly snatching key phrases of Mr. Walt Whitman himself, the song's chorus pleads, "Let us pretend we've got it together/ Let us ignore the coming sun/ We'll sing the body electric until machine and soul are one..."

Now, the new album, Arrows, is out (on Chris Walla's Trans Records), and the guys echo a similar romantic notion with today's Jam of the Day. One look at the title suggests we are in for some serious transcendental business here.

I think Mr. Whitman, among others, would be proud. Plus, the song rocks. What more can an English teacher want?

The Lonely Forest - Turn Off This Song and Go Outside


More on The Lonely Forest...

The band hits Saint Louis on April 22nd, opening for The Joy Formidable at The Luminary Center for the Arts. Get your tickets here.

Check out the revamped album version of "We Sing In Time."

And you can't miss the video that accompanies today's JOTD, "Turn Off This Song and Go Outside." Just don't look when the sun's shining!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Jam of the Day | Eddie Vedder - Longing to Belong


Eddie Vedder and his magical uke are back at it once again, and this time it's with some strings to accompany! He will release a new solo album, Ukulele Songs, on Tuesday, May 31st through Pearl Jam's Monkeywrench Records. Just another exciting piece to help us celebrate his other project's 20th anniversary.

Ukulele Songs is a collection of original tunes and covers performed by Vedder, with the some help from the likes of Cat Power and Glen Hansard. The first single from the album, and our Jam of the Day, "Longing to Belong," is available for sale through digital retailers today!

Give it a listen below - it will surprise you!

 

Speakers in Code Presents Hannah Miller (The Living Room Concert)


If there was a way I could bottle up the quiet energy and intimacy of a living room concert, and perhaps show it to you in a three-minute video, I would gladly do that. But, I can't. A video, or even any words I could write wouldn't do a living room concert justice. It's a different (and better) setting than the coziest venue around town (and we have some cozy ones). You really have to be there, I guess.

Hannah Miller -- the latest artist who will be performing in our living room concert series -- she's easy to write about. Her most recent EP, Journey to the Moon, released in 2010, was a fantastic showing of Miller's vast talents. If each of its four songs were shot toward the moon, they would probably land in four different places -- Miller doesn't focus on one style or sound. She throws everything in the air, hoping a good home awaits in the unknown distance.

On Saturday, Miller will be landing smack dab in one of our living rooms. We're almost at capacity, so if you're in the St. Louis area and would like to join us, or just want more information, shoot an e-mail to: jason.speakersincode@gmail.com. The suggested donation for the show is $5-10, and "doors" open at 8:00 PM. We'd love to see you!


Official Music Video, "Way About Ya" by Hannah Miller from Hannah Miller on Vimeo.

Monday, March 21, 2011

10 to Spin | The Lighthouse and the Whaler


Just last February, we featured a three-for-one Jam of the Day special with our favorite Ohio indie-folksters, The Lighthouse and the Whaler.

Riding high on our unadulterated adrenaline rush from TLATW's pristine take on whimsical pop 'n' folk, rife with head-in-the-clouds harmonies and dreamy percussion, we asked the Cleveland boys to put together a 10 to Spin. They got all Roberto Benigni on us, and the result is ten songs that remind us all that Life. Is. Beautiful.

Here's what The Lighthouse and the Whaler have to say about their theme of choice: "We've all had those crushing moments when our plans fall through and our dreams disappoint, leaving us wondering why we bothered. These songs remind us of a world we saw through younger eyes, like a fresh breeze in the winter brings the memory of spring."

Of Montreal - So Begins Our Alabee


Phantom Planet - The Happy Ending [listen]

Interpol - The New


Andrew Bird - Simple X


Copeland - On the Safest Ledge


Mew - The Zookeeper’s Boy


Blur - Coffee and TV


Apollo Sunshine - Eyes


The Faint - Southern Belles in London Sing


Menomena - Wet and Rusting

Pajammy Jam of the Day | Elbow - Lippy Kids


The guys who make up Manchester five-piece rock outfit Elbow have been making music together for over twenty years. Long lost (unjustifiably) amongst Coldplay, Doves, Oasis, Blur, and even U2 (and opening for at least a couple of these UK bands), Elbow have been cranking out beautifully layered and emotive songs since the 2001 (it took about 10 years for the band to actually record a full-length record as "Elbow") debut LP, Asleep in the Back. It is well known that Elbow have long been the critics' darling, but until they broke through with the Mercury Prize-winning The Seldom Seen Kid (2008), commercial success and any significant stateside attention remained elusive.

Elbow's music is unmistakably defined by sweeping, building sonic arrangements and the undeniable beauty of Guy Garvey's voice. As soon as Guy begins, you know the song is by Elbow, and you know you're in for a treat. The band's fifth record, Build a Rocket Boys!, was released in the U.S. on March 7th (Polydor/Fiction). "Lippy Kids" is a slow burning ballad that teases a jump off to a rocking finish, but never really gets there and instead, simmers in wonderful restraint. Guy's voice is the star instrument in this particular tune, and boy does it shine.

Check out "Lippy Kids" below and buy some Elbow records HERE.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Jam of the Day | Wylie Hunter and the Cazadores - Jordan


Gifted with a voice that is as much sandpaper as it is silk, Wylie Hunter has taken his talent to the next level by also wielding a heavy pen. His lyrics are intimate and poetic, and play well beyond the songwriter’s twenty-three years. And the highs and lows that he speaks of are matched by the rhythm of The Cazadores, a band that was not really assembled, but rather patched together from the busting Triangle music scene over the past year.

“Jordan," our Jam of the Day, traces the yearning of a young love not quite founded and conjures visions of the hushed, woozy glow of a morning’s first cigarette before realizing you’re still drunk from the night before. Built on the perfect combination of emotion and melody, Hunter exudes the qualities of a man who has not only found his voice but also has something profound to say.

And how about that...Wylie and his Cazadores are on right before Admiral Fallow takes the stage, as Speakers in Code takes over the Fullsteam Brewery in Durham tomorrow night! Show up early, drink a lot, and make sure to pick up a poster to support the acts and the blog!

Wylie Hunter and the Cazadores - Jordan

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Jam of the Day | Cory Mon & The Starlight Gospel - 3 Step


How can I say this best? Today's JOTD is Western roots-rock. Yup.

You probably guessed that from the picture posted above, or at least it had you thinking, "What the hell is this?" Well, let's all get out of our comfort zones and enjoy some Cory Mon & The Starlight Gospel! The first time I played this (in the interest of full disclosure -- I flat out blasted it in my house, windows open and everything), my dogs ran upstairs and went straight to their beds. I'm not sure what that means, but hey, I dig the sound of "3 Step." It sort of makes me think of what Crazy Horse would sound like if they went all Western on my ass. See, now you're interested.

Turncoats, the sophomore release from Cory Mon & The Starlight Gospel, is available now. It's dark, it's daring, it's sort of like the soundtrack to the weirdest days of your life. So far, anyway.

Cory Mon & The Starlight Gospel - 3 Step

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Jam of the Day | Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. - Morning Thought

Photo by Jeff Snow

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. first popped up on our musical map when the duo played the 2010 play:STL fest last September. They were a buzzy indie-pop band, riding high on a critically acclaimed EP, Horse Power, and a silly name. And let's not forget that sweet-as-pie cover of The Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" that will melt even the coldest o' hearts (by the by, that cover showed up on our 20 Best Covers of 2010 list).

Now the long-anticipated debut album has a release date, and the boys from Detroit have offered up the first track to fans, a bone on which to chew until It's a Corporate World drops.

"Morning Thought" is a grinding groove that tears up the gears, an indie-poppier version of The Black Keys' "Everlasting Light." Your shoulders wanna dance, but the somber lyrics make you think twice. Look up "dichotomous" in the dictionary, and there you will find "Morning Thought."

I'll leave you with this: it's one of my favorite jams of 2011 so far. Give it a listen below.



It's a Corporate World comes out June 7th on Quite Scientific.

The duo is also rolling through Saint Louis on March 23rd for a FREE show at The Billiken Club. Hip hop hooray! No need for tickets, obviously; just show up and look cute.

More Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr...

Check out the band's August Daytrotter session.

They remixed Junip's "In Every Direction." Give it a whirl.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Apache Relay (The Interview)

All Photos by Ashley Babb

"Those guys are in this for the right reasons," said some guy standing next to me.

Sometimes it's the simple statements that can help wrap up an experience in a nice bow. The guy was right. The Apache Relay really is in it for the right reasons, assuming of course he meant the band was playing on stage that evening because music is something it loves and is passionate about. It's something that is undeniable from the moment the guys walk out. They demand your attention and respect without having to ask for it. The collective experience exudes what I can only describe as pleasure, flowing from the stage out into the audience, making people who are not yet familiar with their music jump up and down.

This passion is something that is unmistakable, both on the stage and in person. We chatted on the phone with Michael J. Ford, Jr. and Mike Harris about everything from their secret house show with Mumford & Sons, to "Race City USA," as they made their way to Raleigh in their now infamous van.

Check out the interview, as well as pictures from the show below. And make sure to check out Apache Relay's Kickstarter Page. You can pick up the albums there and help fund their trek across the country.


Michael J. Ford Jr: Hellllloooooooooo! How you doing, man?

SIC: What's up Michael! We're good. You guys in North Carolina yet?

MJF: We're just crossing over the North Carolina/South Carolina state line. Actually, I'm being told we're  like twenty minutes away from Raleigh now somehow...

SIC: Well, there's an obvious difference between North Carolina and South Carolina. Come on, man! That's the sticks!

MJF: Oh man, totally... So, how are you?

SIC: We're doing good; can't wait to see you guys tonight.

MJF: We're so excited to have you guys out... We just got word that it's sold out, so it's going to be a packed crowd, tons of energy, it'll be great.

SIC: So, how does it feel to be the best band in Nashville?

MJF: Aww, man (laughs), that's really nice of you to say, man. It's funny, with everything that's been happening lately, we just feel so humbled by everything. With the recent Mumford & Sons show getting so much press, and the Deli Fan Poll, it's just really humbling people are pouring so much support like they are, we're just trying to keep our nose to the grindstone and just [keep] pushing forward, and it's exciting to see results stem from that.


SIC: Yeah, it's been interesting to watch. I don’t know if you guys remember, but we saw you guys in Chapel Hill at...

MJF: Local 506, yeah man!

SIC: Yeah, that's right - so, it's been amazing to hear the buzz start to swirl around you guys.  Must feel awesome.

MJF: It's such exciting times...just really exciting with the SXSW shows coming up and the U.S. tour coming up, we're just thrilled to be doing this.

SIC: Have you played SXSW before?

MJF: No, this is the first time there as a band, we're so excited, we're playing a couple of showcases and a few day shows, and just experiencing the whole rodeo of it all.  I played in other bands growing up that did it and man, it's just unreal.  We've kind of all just braced ourselves for it all, and we're fortunate enough to have a tour manager with us to help us out with everything, and then our whole team will be there from our manager to our lawyer, so it's going to be our whole family.

SIC: And you guys are with G-Love with a little while before, right?

MJF: We're doing like five dates with them. We started off in Nashville, then Greenville, then Charleston, of course Raleigh tonight, then Norfolk tomorrow night, then Dallas on the 19th. And it's been just a blast so far. I mean, G-Love and his entire crew have been so cool to us.  And the crowd has been really accepting of us,  so it's just been great.


SIC: So I have a six degrees of Kevin Bacon scenario as to how you ended up on this tour - tell me if I'm right.  Ok, G-Love's new album was produced by Avett Brothers.

MJF: Fixin to Die, that's right!

SIC: And Avett Bros played the Grammys with Mumford & Sons.

MJF: Yep...yep...

SIC:  And Mumford & Sons played a house party with you guys...so, there you go.  That was more like four degrees actually…

MJF: Yeeeeah, no... We actually got it through our booking agent, I think. But it's like, as a band, we're getting plugged into that entire community and through that, these opportunities are presenting themselves, and we just feel really fortunate to be a part of that - to be a part of a community based movement that's kind of taking over America with the Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons. I mean, to even know some of those guys, it's just really incredible for us. It's just an amazing example of plugging into a community and how that just really benefits everyone. It's really special.


SIC: Movement is a good way to classify what's going on right now.  I mean, two years ago, popular music sounded completely different than it does now. And while there's one band that breaks out, but there is that community of bands that are in the same mindset.

MJF: Yeah, exactly, about how they treat other people in the music industry.  It's so beyond politics and just loving other people, and bands - it's something that has really inspired this band. We've learned a lot from it all.

SIC: So, how the hell did that Mumford & Sons show happen anyway?

MJF: For this question, I'm going to pass it to my comrade James Michael Harris II. He kinda has the full scoop .

Mike Harris: Yeah, I guess the short answer is we had made friends with them through the previous owners of the van we're in right now, Cadillac Sky, when they were opening up for them on their fall tour, and you get a bunch of kids our age together - people who like to have a good time and play music - and a house show is bound to pop up out of that.

SIC: Yeah, well, we were bummed we missed it. Sounds like it was an awesome night.

MH: You know, for you guys to have people based in St. Louis, Raleigh, and Chicago, you would think someone would wise-up and start a Nashville sector as well!



SIC:  Yeah, we need to come and make some Nashville friends. We are hopefully making you guys more friends in our cities.

MH: We can make that happen for you guys in Nashville, man, and I'm actually from Mooresville, NC, so we know some people in these parts.

SIC: You're from "Race City USA?"

MH: Haha - the very same one!

SIC: It's a small world, huh? My sister-in-law is from there... So, tell us about the new album!

MH: Well, it's called American Nomad, and it's coming out April 12th, but we will actually sell them tonight for the first time. So, we will literally lay hands on them for the first time in just a few hours. We have a lot of friends at the show tonight, so we wanted to make it available.

SIC: And we saw that Kickstarter thing you guys are doing to raise money for the tour - what was the decision making process on that?

MH: I think we had just seen some other bands do a similar thing, kinda reward programs, and I mean, people want more than just their name on your website, and it's a great way to generate pre-sales, and obviously a revenue generating stream for us, but I guess the whole reason was it takes so much money to keep us on the road, it's just crazy with gas and food.  And we keep thinking if we keep on keeping on that we'll grow, so it's helping get us over that hump. So, that's why we went crazy with extravagant offers, so we just wanted to have fun with it and make it unique.

SIC: Well, that's all I have man.  I'll let you get back to the road.

MH: Ok man, we'll see you tonight!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Jam of the Day | TV on the Radio - Caffeinated Consciousness


Brooklyn's experimental rock heroes TV on the Radio are back, and they are prepping for the release of a new record, their fifth full-length, Nine Types of Light (out April 12th on 4AD). To perk up excitement for the record (as if we needed anything at all), the fellas have provided fans with a free mp3 of "Caffeinated Consciousness," a tune with rocking, funk filled verses and a smooth (almost Brit-pop like) hook. Upon first listen, we can just imagine that "CC" will be yet another sharp arrow in the quiver of TVOTR's dynamic live performances.

Grab the track at TVOTR's website. All it will cost you is your DOB and your e-mail address.