Wednesday, February 29, 2012

MP3 | Cowboy Junkies - Angels in the Wilderness

Will I make you confess it?
Or will I leave it alone?
And if it consoles you, will I take it away?

Toronto's Cowboy Junkies are finally nearing the end of their Nomad Series, the final offering being the fourth volume, The Wilderness, which drops on March 27. They'll be performing in Saint Louis at The Sheldon on April 18 ($35 Orchestra, $30 Balcony), a show that's being presented by the Old Rock House.

Here's a glimpse of The Wilderness, a track called "Angels in the Wilderness." Classic Cowboy Junkies if you ask us.

Cowboy Junkies - Angels in the Wilderness


Jam of the Day | Reptar - Sebastian

Here in Saint Louis, Missouri, we are currently enjoying an almost 70 degree day in February. Yup, I'm sitting near an open window with nary a sleeve to warm my pasty arms. It's good for the soul.

That's why it's so apropos that this new jam from Reptar (former recipent of Jam of the Day honors with "Stuck in my Id" from last year's EP, Oblangle Fizz Y'all) called "Sebastian" tickles my fancy with its beachy vibes. And, it even shares the same name as that little red crab dude from The Little Mermaid. Coincidence? I think not.

The band's debut LP, Body Faucet, is out May 1st on Vagrant. Catch the guys at The Firebird here in town on April 6th. For the mere price of your e-mail addy, you can get "Sebastian" for free below.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

MP3 | Kid Cudi - Dose of Dopeness (Produced by Dot Da Genuis)

where we goin'?
the moon.

I don't know what I like best about this track, which served as an appetizer to today's release of the new Kid Cudi/Dot Da Genuis album, WZRD. Is it the fact that Cudi is so damn smooth? The piano? Handclaps? Did you guys know that I love rap, not just sad music?

Kid Cudi - Dose of Dopeness (Produced by Dot Da Genuis)

Pajammy Jam of the Day | Sun Kil Moon - Sunshine in Chicago

"My band played here a lot in the '90s when we had lots of female fans, and fuck, they all were cute/ now I just sign posters for guys in tennis shoes.”

The above lyric from Mark Kozelek's newest entry to the Sun Kil Moon catalog strangely, and sadly, hit home for me after attending a Jeff Mangum show earlier this month. Standing in the balcony of a beautiful theater, I looked around and realized that the mostly male audience was not only visibly pushing a median age of 40, while being a little overweight, but also appeared to be trying their best to hang on to the last shred of youth that was duct taped to the soles of their Chucks. It reminded me that life changes at a ludicrous speed and letting go of the former "you" is pretty fucking hard sometimes.

"Sunshine in Chicago" also reminds me how comforting and familiar Kozelek's voice can be since it's been a constant in life since his Red House Painters days. Download it below and listen on a sunny morning wherever you are.

Sun Kil Moon - Sunshine in Chicago

Monday, February 27, 2012

Jam of the Day | Charli XCX - "I'll Never Know"

Though winter has been unseasonably warm for most of us, the air outside remains sharp and chilly here in Chicago (it is still February after all) and has us hankering for warmer climes. Charli XCX, the UK's latest upstart pop presence, is here to help. "I'll Never Know" is a steel drum accented pop gem that will transport your mind to the islands for four wonderful minutes. Charli's vocal performance evokes Lykke Li and Karen O... if they had a baby and that baby moved to Jamaica to be a hip street musician.

Let Charli XCX take you away. Listen to "I'll Never Know" below. Download the track here, for free.

Video | Bon Iver - Towers

This one's for all the cats out there who refer to Justin Vernon of Bon Iver as "sad cabin boy," or whatever the cool term is these days. Wouldn't you know it, these are the same people who have probably never seen the band play live. So it goes.

Anyway, Nabil Elderkin, who directed "Towers," offers this take on the new video:

When Justin sent me a breakdown of what certain parts/lines of the song meant to him I did my best to decode it and curate into something simple, and hopefully the viewer can take from it their own feeling of what the towers represent. It was shot up in Washington state, mostly on Indian-preserved land, and our actor's name was Mystic. He seemed to be very tuned into the land, and when he said he was also willing to fall into the freezing cold ocean up there (seems a bit sharky too), I knew he was my guy.

Ladies and Gents, "Towers."

Bon Iver -  Towers (Official Music Video) from Bon Iver on Vimeo.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Jam of the Day | The Magnetic Fields - Andrew in Drag

As an atheist, few things give me more pleasure than a healthy religious debate with an evangelical that is totally unprepared to defend his or her views. But religion itself is not a topic that I find unidentifiable. I have a religion, but instead of Jesus or Joseph Smith as my savior, it is Wayne Coyne and Black Francis who saved my soul from its descent into musical purgatory. Pearl Jam and Superdrag serve as my Old and New Testaments. The Rolling Stones are my golden plates. Radiohead is my burning bush. The Beatles are the wise men. Arcade Fire are the disciples.

One of the bands swirling closely outside deity status for me is The Magnetic Fields, who just so happen to have our Jam of the Day today with “Andrew in Drag.” This song, more than any other in recent memory, sounds as if it was taken from a vault sealed off in 1995. It hearkens to my golden era of musical enlightenment – creating the urge to drive back to my college town, pick up my friends, and roll to the beach, left-arm hanging dangerously out the window.

See what "Andrew in Drag," from the upcoming album, Love at the Bottom of the Sea, does for you. The LP is officially out March 6th on Merge Records and can be preordered here.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Video | Gary Clark Jr. - Catfish Blues

Photo by Jason Gonulsen

Gary Clark Jr. is a bad man, and he's soon to be a star. Besides being scheduled to play every festival known to man in 2012, he recently wowed President Obama and the First Lady, rocking out his version of "Catfish Blues." If you love live music, you must see Gary Clark Jr. play guitar this year.

Pajammy Jam of the Day | Rosie Thomas - Sometimes Love

Photo by April Brimer

Rosie Thomas once wrote a song called "Bicycle Tricycle," which could probably be used as a universal definition to describe the feeling of nostalgia. Other songs in her catalog, like "Farewell" and "Death Came and Got Me," are for sure some of the saddest songs ever written.  (I should note, however, that when I interviewed Thomas a few years ago, she seemed to be one of the happiest persons on the planet.)

Today's PJOTD, "Sometimes Love," is beautiful because, in just over four minutes, Thomas pretty much sums up the complexity and seemingly undefinable feeling that is love. And you should know by now -- I'm a sucker for songs like that.

Thomas' latest album, With Love, can be purchased here. See her at the Old Rock House in Saint Louis on 3/21.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Video | Jessie Baylin - Hurry Hurry

If there's an overlooked album already in 2012, Jessie Baylin's Little Spark would surely be nominated for such a thing. The singer-songwriter from New Jersey, who now lives in Nashville, isn't exactly going unnoticed, though -- she'll be performing on Jay Leno this evening, which gives us a reason to post the Scarlett Johansson-directed video for "Hurry Hurry," our favorite song from Little Spark.

Jam of the Day | The Mynabirds - Generals

Photo by Daniel Muller

It was almost two years ago when we became hopelessly devoted to The Mynabirds' blue-eyed soul Jam of the Day, "Numbers Don't Lie." The single's album, What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood, went on to become one of our favorites of the year. So, imagine our delight when our inboxes rained good news, of the Mynabird variety, today.

Yup, singer-songwriter and lady in-charge, Laura Burhenn, is back with a sophomore summer album, GENERALS, slated for a June 5th release on Saddle Creek. Hyped as both a concept album and a protest album, the second offering features the title track, AKA, your Jam of the Day.

Judging by "Generals," the album will be more percussive, more frustrated. Gone are the days of Young Rascal-esque chirping birds. They've been replaced with delicately harnessed anger in the form of toothy lyrical protests and guitar gristle. Think: "Let the Record Go" on crack. With a political slant.

There's no Saint Louis stop on this leg of the tour, but for the roadtripper in you, catch The Mynabirds in Columbia at Mojo's on March 20th.

10 to Spin | Ha Ha Tonka

Photo by Todd Roeth

No, we're never gonna have much
Myself I'd take such 
as a compliment
We can blame it on the circumstances
Oh, at least we took the chances
we had to

Why we're attracted to a certain song, a certain album, or a certain band is a mystery. I really do believe that.

I had seen Ha Ha Tonka live three times, never really coming away with much of an opinion, before I listened to "Lonely Fortunes" one night off their stellar 2011 album, Death of a Decade.  And finally, the greatness of this band from Springfield, Missouri became clear: I had connected on a deep level.

Let's take a few minutes to re-visit the magic.

I now consider Ha Ha Tonka a "go-to" band when I need something to get me focused, or when music isn't really speaking to me. Because I know when I hear the first few notes of songs like "Usual Suspects," "Up Nights," or "Westward Bound," I'm convinced that I've solved a small part of music's mystery -- that there is something out there for all of us to discover and hold on to.

We're pleased to the bring you the latest playlist in our 10 to Spin series: Ha Ha Tonka.

When I was in high school in the 1990s, I ran cross country and the distance events in track & field. Our team was called the Zizzers and our mascot was a lightning bolt. I was on a few 4A State Championship teams and was All-State in Missouri. I was also friends with the two German foreign exchange students and worked on the school magazine. Needless to say, what with my 110 pound frame and dangerously short-shorts, I was cool and had a lot of sex. Well, I'm in a rock band now and the playlist I've compiled is loosely about running and the 1990s. Don't worry...Backstreet is NOT back (quite). --Brian Roberts, Ha Ha Tonka

Race for the Prize - Flaming Lips

This song should be track 1 on the next mix-tape we send off into outer space. It heralded the end of a millennium and the beginning of another. That ain't hyperbole, it's just that awesome.

The Distance - Cake

I made out to this song in 1997 with a pretty awesome girl....second base, no biggie.

Running Down a Dream - Tom Petty

I studied pre-algebra & algebra 1 listening almost exclusively to Tom Petty. I'm still trying to forgive him.

Band on the Run - Paul McCartney

Say what you will about Sir Paul, the man has pipes and can write a tune...."Dance Tonight" excluded, of course.

Running to Stand Still - U2

Bono may or not be the second coming. I'm more than a little worried as to what his opinion on that matter might be.

Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen

I know this came out earlier than the 90s, but tramps will always be born to run.

Take the Money and Run - Steve Miller Band

Again, this pre-dates 1990, but I had the SMB Greatest Hits CD in high school and I still listen to it to this day. I think I paid $17.99 for it so I guess I've got my money's worth.

Run-Around - Blues Traveler

10 songs...jeez, I'm reaching a little here, but I always forget how cool Blues Traveler was/were in the mid-90's. We opened for them a couple of years ago and they were really nice guys to boot.

We Are the Champions - Queen

The ultimate power ballad...perhaps the only song worthy of the "power ballad" moniker. This song was only played whenever we won State. I revere it still to this day.

Nightswimming - R.E.M.

Obviously this would be post-race and sneaking off from some high school party. It could well be my favorite song of all-time. It always puts me in a nostalgic frame of mind.

Listen to Brian's playlist on Spotify here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Video | Lissie - Go Your Own Way (Fleetwood Mac)

There are cover records, beautiful ones, filled with songs by Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Lucinda Williams, you name it. And then there are cover records by Lissie, who has chosen songs by Kid Cudi, Lady Gaga, Joe South, Metallica, Nick Cave, and Fleetwood Mac.

The video below is Lissie cranking out "Go Your Own Way," taken from one of the best albums ever from 1977, Rumours. The gal can sing, folks.

The cover EP is titled, Covered Up With Flowers, can be purchased here, and can be streamed on Spotify here. (Who would have though she could have belted out Cudi's "Pursuit of Happiness" like that?)

Jam of the Day | Diplo (Featuring Usher) - Climax

Thinking back over the last decade, we've come a long way as a society. Gay marriage is becoming more acceptable (although not fast enough), medicinal marijuana is being prescribed for everything from glaucoma to phantom knee aches, and we have a president who balls instead of riding horses around his ranch. But one thing lacking recently is a new, quality song for strippers to get busy to. So, thank you very much Diplo and Usher - you've provided the soundtrack for ladies hanging from baby oil-greased metal poles around the world for the next few decades.

Listen to "Climax" below and just try your best not to crawl across the floor like a tiger preparing to pounce on a antelope - it's damn near impossible. Also, make sure to warn anyone in the general vicinity you'll be taking any loose bills under $5 from them in about a minute.

Video | Josh Ritter - Love Is Making Its Way Back Home

Just because it’s gone
don’t mean it’s gone for long

Josh Ritter, an American treasure when it comes to songwriting, released his new EP, Bringing in the Darlings, today. The six new songs were recorded and mixed in three days this winter in a Brooklyn studio, and they are further proof that Ritter has trouble writing a bad song. In fact, this is some of his best work.

Equally amazing is this new video for “Love Is Making Its Way Back Home,” which premiered on Etsy today. It “uses photographs culled from over 12,000 pieces of construction paper to animate a nighttime drive.” What are the odds that Kathleen was along for the ride?

Purchase Bringing in the Darlings on iTunes here.

Josh Ritter - Love Is Making Its Way Back Home from Josh Ritter on Vimeo.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Jam of the Day | Grimes - Oblivion

Canadian singer Grimes (AKA Claire Boucher) has a new record, entitled Visions, coming out tomorrow (4AD). Early spins of Visions indicate that Grimes has zeroed in on a unique musical alcove; beat-heavy electro-pop that consistently toes the line between dreaminess and darkness, the familiar and the odd. The lead single "Oblivion" kicks off with a primitive synth beat that pervades the track and serves as the fitting complement to her ethereal vocal stylings. "Oblivion" is heavy, nimble, sexy, and strange all at the same time, and that varied mix is definitely working for Ms. Boucher.

Pre-order/purchase Visions here. Stream the entire record here. Listen to and download "Oblivion" below, sans fee.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Jam of the Day | Admiral Fallow - Beetle in the Box

Last year, we introduced you guys to a little Scottish band named Admiral Fallow whose unique blend of woodwinds and heavy accents had us dreaming of the Isle of Islay. Hell, we liked them so much we even brought their arses to Durham, North Carolina for a shindig we were throwing, where they promptly blew the collective mind of the entire Bull City.

Well, now they're back prepping their second album, Tree Bursts in Snow, which will be out in May in the UK on Nettwerk. Our Jam of the Day, "Beetle in the Box," is the first single from this new LP, and it suggests they've grown a tad since the last time we heard them. Straightforward and melodic, the song moves like a summer day, with Louis Abbott playing the yin to Sarah Hayes' vocal yang. It comes together beautifully, making you honestly wish there were a few minutes more when the song ends.

Check out Admiral Fallow's new site here and grab their stellar debut record, Boots Met My Face. Then, download "Beetle in the Box" below.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Jam of the Day | Sugar & The Hi Lows - See It For Yourself

I'm not very good at comparing artists with other artists, or creating new genres like shoegaze-art-rock-hippie-angst-folk, so I won't start now. But Nashville singer-songwriters Trent Dabbs and Amy Stroup, the duo who perform as Sugar & The Hi Lows, do deserve to be called something, and it ain't country. It's not pop, either.

But you know, come to think of it, I didn't know what to call Cowboy Junkies' or Neil Young's music when I first heard it. So maybe that's when I know I like something -- when I can't categorize it. Congrats, Sugar & The Hi Lows: you fit that bill nicely.

Here's the first single off their debut LP, which you can purchase now.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Jam of the Day | Netherfriends - Bloomington, IN

When we last interviewed Shawn Rosenblatt about his musical outfit, Netherfriends, he was in the thick of his "50 Songs/50 States" project, traveling the country and writing a song inspired by a stop in each state. Now, he's sharing those songs with the masses, and our Jam of the Day is "Bloomington, IN."

The song itself has a tropical vibe, perfectly indicative of our white sand Midwestern beaches. (Please tell me you detect my sarcasm.) So, clearly these influences aren't meant to be so literal, but whatever the case may be, it sounds like Rosenblatt was enjoying the Hoosier State immensely.

Other municipal muses include "Lawrence, KS," "Fargo, ND," "Minneapolis, MN," "Omaha, NE," and "Rapid City, SD." Listen to them all HERE.

The album featuring the "50 Songs/50 States" tracks, Middle America, will get a proper release, thanks to Kilo Records, next month.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

V-Day Jam of the Day | Girls - I Will Always Love You

Both a fitting tribute to a recently deceased pop diva, and the perfect way to wish all our loyal readers a happy freaking Valentine's Day, our V-Day Jam of the Day is a live clip of San Francisco's Girls playing the Dolly Parton\Whitney Houston classic, "I Will Always Love You."

Give it a listen below and make sure everyone you love feels that love today.

Valentine's Day Giveaway | Win Tickets to Blind Pilot at Plush in Saint Louis on 3/2

So hold high have faith your reasons
Don't you forget you come from nothing

Hello friends, lovers, and music fans. We love you all, and we want to send you to see one of our favorite bands, Blind Pilot, perform at a new(ish) St. Louis venue called Plush on Friday, March 2nd.

Blind Pilot's 2011 album, We Are the Tide, was one of our favorite albums last year. Here's a jam from the LP called "Half Moon."

To enter to win a pair of tickets, please do one of the following:

1. Simply copy and paste this into a tweet: I entered to win tickets to see @BlindPilot on 3/2 @PlushSTL on @speakersincode!

2. Send an e-mail to

3. Leave us a comment on our Facebook page.

The contest will run through February 23rd at 5 PM CT, and we'll randomly pick and e-mail/DM the winner later on that night (if you enter through FB, we'll announce your name on our FB page). Good luck!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Keep Your Eyes + Ears On | Of Monsters and Men

Last December, friend and fellow SIC blogger, Matt, sent me an e-mail with a simple message: "Of Monsters and Men. Should have been on our Best of the Year list."

Since we usually wrangle a list of only 50 fantastic albums for our annual countdown, I knew that Matt's assessment of the Icelandic band must mean it's pretty special. And, after digging around on the Interwebs a little bit, I found that many other outlets of the music reviewing variety went ahead and placed Of Monsters and Men on their Best of the Year lists. Despite the fact that the band's debut album, My Head is an Animal, has yet to be released in the States...

So, don't worry, you're not that behind.

But, we're here to officially command you to keep your eyes on and your ears hip to Of Monsters and Men.'Tis good, 'tis good.

My Head is an Animal will be out April 3rd on Universal Republic, so time to get your calendars out. The sextet will celebrate the release with its first U.S. tour, beginning at SXSW in Austin in March. These fellas and lady are fixin' to blow up.

Test drive Of Monsters and Men with the lead single, "Little Talks." It's like the folkster version of the most rousing Arcade Fire track. With trumpets. And it's good.

Jam of the Day | Whitney Houston - I Have Nothing

On Saturday night, the legendary Whitney Houston passed away in Beverly Hills, California. Possessor of one of the greatest singing voices ever, if not the greatest, Whitney was just 48 years old. Today's Jam of the Day has been selected in her honor and memory. Rest in peace.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Pajammy Jam of the Day | The Caretaker - When the Dog Days Were Drawing To an End

Picture a dusty Victrola gramophone sitting alone in the middle of a room that hasn’t been entered for years. The floor is wooden, but the turntable rests on a worn Persian rug, cigar stained and scotch soaked. Somehow a record spins, the needle is dropped, but you can barely make out what’s emanating from the horn. You approach but can only get so close before the record stops and refuses to play again. This is what the resulting memory sounds like.

James Leyland Kirby's latest album as The Caretaker, Patience (after Sebald), is once again a collection of atrophied music, but this time Franz Schubert is the focus of his efforts. Gorgeous and as haunting as ever,  this record could soundtrack a morning hangover like no other music on earth.

Pick up Patience (after Sebald) here. And download our Jam of the Day, "When the Dog Days Were Drawing To an End," the most un-digital sounding, digital track, below.

The Caretaker - When the Dog Days Were Drawing To an End

Video | Bruce Springsteen - We Take Care Of Our Own

Photo by Jo Lopez

As if we need more evidence of his greatness, Bruce Springsteen keeps giving us gifts, this time in the form of a video for his new single, "We Take Care Of Our Own." Whether or not you're a Boss fanatic, you've got to admit: this guy is a treasure to many Americans, and many people across the universe. A true rocker and human being, if you ask me.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

[Premiere] Jam of the Day | Brandi Shearer - How Far You Gonna Get Without Me

One day I'll be happy, won't I?
I'll be happy, won't I?

If you haven't heard Brandi Shearer sing, it's certainly not because she can't. In fact, out of all the underrated artists out there who can belt out a tune -- and there are many -- Shearer's talent is so grossly unknown that you're left with the one remnant of reasoning that makes you feel better: that someday, the world will know.

Because when you hear Shearer's voice, you immediately want more. You turn it up, because you need to feel it, and not just listen to it. And today, we present to you Exhibit A, "How Far You Gonna Get Without Me," today's Jam of the Day, taken from Shearer's upcoming album, Hexer.

It's funky, it rocks, it's vastly different from anything Shearer has done in the past. And it will leave a mark.

Brandi Shearer - How Far You Gonna Get Without Me

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

10 to Spin | Bear in Heaven

Bear in Heaven will be releasing their new album, I Love You, It's Cool, on April 3rd via Dead Oceans/Hometapes. But, you can hear it now. Sort of.

The trio from Brooklyn began streaming their latest finished project back on December 11th, only they slowed down the playback by about 400,000%, so all you'll hear is a sound reminiscent of Wilco's "Less Than You Think." The LP is nearing the end of Side A, if you want to have a listen.

If you want a taste of something more recognizable, they're offering that, too. Here's a Lovelock (Steve Moore From Zombi) remix of a track from I Love You, It's Cool, "The Reflection Of You."

Finally, Bear in Heaven will be performing at the Luminary Center for the Arts on April 1st. Tickets are only $12 and can be purchased here. And as you St. Louisans might know, The Luminary is planning a move to Cherokee Street, but needs your help. You can donate via Kickstarter, but you only have four days left to do so. Do it now!

We were lucky to have Bear in Heaven recently participate in our 10 to Spin series here at Speakers in Code. Enjoy the tunes below!

We played over 200 shows to support our last record.  What does that mean? It means A LOT of time in a van.  The road has been on our minds a lot lately, so, here's a grab bag of sentimental faves from the van.  Songs that have their own story and meaning to us, or simply, just road related.

On the Road Again - Canned Heat

Pretty sure this gets played every time we exit the Holland Tunnel and are truly, officially, on the road.  Our best bud Dan Donahue made a mix, called Danned Heat.  A filtered mix of only the Blind Owl tracks from Canned Heat. A van essential.  We included this Wade Nichols edit instead of the original, because, it's incredible.

For a Reason - Lifetones

I think this song has made it on to every mix we've ever made. A band favorite, and just a good way to look at life.

On the Road - Azita
I'd like to hire someone, to make it go alright... get me on the road.  This one goes out to Aaron Treptow, the FOH/TM of our dreams. 

North Carolina Highway - Gerald Jay King
Gerald Jay King was a MySpace discovery 5 or 6 years ago.  300 clicks into top friends on MySpace, we found Gerald.  Blue collar New Yorker in his 60s? 70s?  Open mic night kinda guy with the voice of Neil Young from the bottom of the sea. 

Puppies and Babies - The Arts of Life Band
Pitchfork Festival 2009.  We did an intense 3 hour long press session, bouncing between interviews in the intense summer heat.  We just finished when these folks grabbed us and asked for another interview.  What followed was the most joyous interview we've ever done to date.  We met the band, and interviewed each other.  Read about The Arts of Life band here, and learn about how incredible they are.

Truckin' - Grateful Dead

Self explanatory.

Me and Paul - Willie Nelson

Absolute classic tour anthem. Filled with some perfect kick drum fills, but the lyrics say it all.
It's been rough and rocky travelin',
But I'm finally standing upright on the ground.
And after takin' several readings,
I'm surprised to find my mind's still fairly sound.
I thought Nashville was the roughest,
But I know I said the same about them all.
We received our education
In the cities of the nation, me and Paul.

Ship of Fools - John Cale

We were lucky enough to tour Australia with some really incredible bands.  It was a magical time.  This song was the soundtrack, and an apt description for a plane full of hungover hilarious musicians.

Animal Tracks - Mountain Man

We toured with these ladies for a couple of weeks last year, and fell in love with them.  Unfortunately they couldn't make do the entire tour, so instead, we played their album non stop for the next 4 weeks.  We camp a lot on tour, I wish we could sing like this around the fire.

Life Lessons 101 - DJ Exquisite

Have you heard of DJ Exquisite? HAVE YOU HEARD OF DJ EXQUISITE???!!  We met this mad man at an instore at Wreckless Records in Chicago.  He seemed like the kind of dude who hangs in the record store for 4-5 hours and then buys 1 record.  He clung on to us, wanted to know if we were from Brooklyn, Indiana and then gifted us his mix tape.  Can't tell you how much play this album got in the van. Basically an everyday thing.  Jon even remixed this track.  Til the world blow up, AND BEYOND.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Jam of the Day | ScHoolboy Q - There He Go

Swagger is something you're born with. It's innate, if you will, and no matter how hard you try, you either got it or you don't. I learned this during those awkward middle school years while sporting a Charlotte Hornets Starter jacket, Converse pump-up kicks, and a Champion hat tilted ever-so-slightly to the side. I used to walk down the hall, slapping fives, as Dr. Dre blared through my Walkman's shitty headphones. I gave it my all.

Listening to ScHoolboy Q, I'm reminded of what people who have swagger actually sound like. And while I tried my best to sit around talking about doing bitches, gangster shit, and what I was going to do when my moms dropped me off at the mall, my friends always wanted to spark up the Nintendo and hit up a little Tecmo Bowl instead of a blunt.

See how our Jam of the Day, "There He Go," makes you feel. I, for one, am wearing my khakis a bit lower today on purp.

If you like - pick up his entire new LP, Habits and Contradictions, here.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Jam of the Day | M.I.A. - Bad Girls

If you watched last night's Super Bowl halftime show, you may have noticed two musical sidekicks during Madonna's performance of the self-aggrandizing "Give Me All Your Luvin." Those talented ladies were, of course, Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. During the show, with one quick flip of the bird, M.I.A. created the most memorable news story to come from the entire broadcast, aside perhaps from the outcome of the game itself. Come on NBC / NFL, you didn't see this (or something worse) coming?

With her middle finger extended on camera for all the world to see, M.I.A. perfectly perpetuated her rep as a trouble-making, censorship-fighting artist while at the same time deftly promoting her new single, "Bad Girls," our Jam of the Day. From the Vicki Leekz mixtape, "Bad Girls" cranks out a Middle-Eastern style beat laced with M.I.A.'s distinctively daring lyrics and cocksure delivery: "Live fast. Die young. Bad girls do it well." How appropriate.

Look for a new M.I.A. record sometime this summer on Mercury Records. Until then, check out the dope video for "Bad Girls" below and grab the Vicki Leekz mixtape, for free, here.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Jam of the Day | Wylie Hunter & The Cazadores - Tattoo'd Girls

Photo by Agatha Donkar

Comparisons to music legends are at best, a double-edged sword. In the beginning, only one edge is sharp, and the resemblance to the likes of Bruce, or Tom, or even Bob, allows people to prepare for what’s about to tickle their eardrums. But as the clock ticks, the proverbial pigeonhole becomes exhausting to evade, and many have succumbed to the ever-present, second-side blade they themselves have helped hone. Wylie Hunter and the Cazadores have received all of the above accolades, but luckily, our Jam of the Day proves they will not be one of the bands doomed to a life of juxtaposition.

I don’t know if it’s Springsteen that I hear swirling in the soul of “Tattoo’d Girls,” or Josh Ritter, or even one of The Avett Brothers, but there is something immediately identifiable in Wylie’s phrasing. And that’s not to say he seems to be imitating, or channeling - rather it feels like a reinvention of old records we all borrowed from our folks after tracking down a turntable, before turntables were once again cool. The elements that bring this nostalgia about are at the forefront, and that may be what’s most refreshing about the song. A backroom piano plinks, an acoustic guitar strums, but it's Wylie’s voice that takes the forefront, because the dude can just fucking sing.

Download it below and support these guys as they release their debut LP, Someone You Used to Know, on March 31st right here. Put a reminder on your calendar if you’re absent minded like me.

Wylie Hunter & The Cazadores - Tattoo'd Girls

Concert Photos | Kathleen Edwards at Cat's Cradle in Carrboro, NC

All photos by Agatha Donkar

Kathleen Edwards' new album, Voyageur, has swept across the land in the past few weeks, earning praise for the lightning bolt of awesome that is the musician from Ottawa. In fact, we got to chat with her not so long ago; you can read our conversation with her here.

On Tuesday in Carrboro, Edwards sang her new songs at the Cat's Cradle, and Agatha Donkar was on hand to capture the magic. If you like the photos below, please check out more of Agatha's work here.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Jam of the Day | Ingrid Michaelson - Do It Now

so do it now
do it right now
don't waste a minute on the darkness 

and the pity sitting in your mind and
do it right now

If I could go back six or seven years, I'd take this song with me and blast it every day. The message is simple: get off your ass and do it now. Seriously, not tomorrow. Not after the next beer. Not after the next commercial. Not after the next tweet. Not after the next kiss.

We all have the opportunity to do great things right now. You young folk listening?

Ingrid Michaelson's new album, Human Again, is out on iTunes now.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pajammy Jam of the Day | Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit - Alabama Pines

Last night, I had the extreme pleasure of seeing Jason Isbell perform at The Peabody Opera House in Saint Louis, in all his solo, acoustic, countrified glory. He immediately made me swoon with his use of the term "fuck aroundery," and as I watched him play songs like today's Jam of the Day, "Alabama Pines," I slowly melted into my seat from his endearing and heartfelt delivery, his graceful guitar playing, his good ol' boy stage banter. I mean: fuck aroundery. C'mon. You can't beat that with a stick.

It was the eve of Isbell's birthday, and the headliner for the night, Ryan Adams, pulled him back onstage near the end of the show for an audience round of "Happy Birthday." Adams, a masterful songwriter himself, in my humble opinion, declared that he should hate Isbell because he was such a fine songwriter. He went on to say that if Isbell's songs got into a bar fight with his own, Isbell's would kick his songs' collective ass.

That hyperbole carries with it some truth. Jason Isbell's most recent release, with his band the 400 Unit, came out last April. Last night inspired me to revisit this album and pull a track to share with you. If you, for some reason, haven't yet given it a whirl, listen to "Alabama Pines" below and pick up Here We Rest immediately.

Concert Review | Ryan Adams at the Peabody Opera House in Saint Louis

Photo by David Black

It's hard for me to write about Ryan Adams without getting slightly sentimental with regard to what his music has meant to my life.

So, I'll turn to the words of Neil Strauss, who once wrote this about Adams: "No one likes admitting to a guy who knows he's a rare talent that he's right."

There are those, like Bob Dylan and Neil Young before him, who share Adams' recording philosophy: honor the muse as it reveals itself, and worry about perceived results at a later time. This approach, while frustrating to many fans, may not always offer immediate beauty, but gives our attention-deficit society an ultimate challenge: whether or not the result is popular, we must find value in each moment where inspiration has us in its grasp.

Adams' songs are snapshots from the years of his sometimes troubled life -- his fall from a Liverpool stage that resulted in a severely broken wrist, drug addiction, failed relationships, new love, and a recent battle with hearing loss. Combine that with a strong perception of being a difficult artist, well, Adams has had plenty of battles.

I once met Adams on the streets of Columbia, Missouri. He sat down with me, smoked a cigarette, and talked about Gwyneth Paltrow's ass (he had just met the actress on the set of Saturday Night Live). He was gracious with his time, funny, honest, and extremely polite. I've also asked other musicians about their working relationship with the singer-songwriter-metal enthusiast, and they have had nothing but nice things to say.

So, in my first-hand search to find out more about Adams, the "troubled" artist, I've yet to uncover any dirt or reservations, minus a show or two where he hasn't lived up to his standards (or, my own personal standards that I've set for him in my mind). But, again, that's relatively normal.

And after last night's brilliant solo performance at the Peabody Opera House, I can only come to one conclusion about Ryan Adams: we all have different expectations of who we want him to be, or who we think he is.

To everyone complaining about the quiet nature of his current tour, in Adams' defense, this show was not billed as "Ryan Adams and the Cardinals." In the fans' defense, the ones who wanted something louder and more upbeat, it certainly was not billed as "Ryan Adams: solo and acoustic with no electric bedazzlement and/or light show." It was essentially just "Ryan Adams," which, as I've already expalined, could mean anything.

But, there were hints about what was to come.

His latest album, Ashes & Fire, is more downbeat than upbeat. The Peabody's stage, which was darkly lit, featured a rug, a chair, a lonesome piano, and two acoustic guitars. An announcement prior to Adams' arrival mentioned the intimate, acoustic setting. And if you had done any homework before the show, there were plenty of blogs/reviews that would have informed you of the show that was to come.

And the biggest hint was Adams' opening song, Heartbreaker's "Oh My Sweet Carolina." Singing the song as quietly as possible, Adams took his time and let the song breathe, at ease with his surroundings (it was so quiet, you could hear his chair squeaking). It was as unguarded as anything I've seen Adams do, which, to me was refreshing, as we live in a live-music age where playing louder and hiding behind an amp is considered cool and edgy, and (sometimes) sadly, the standard.

Adams, on this evening, instead chose to take a song like Cold Roses' "If I Am a Stranger," and turn it into a dramatic acoustic dose of self-reflection. "I will try to be there for you, if I can," Adams sang, with a bit of despair. "What if I can't?"

He sang Ashes & Fire's best song, "Dirty Rain," with such soul that you could feel the beauty and liberation of dancing in past places where there was once disappointment. To call his vocal range a gift is obvious, and he did not shy away from flirting with its breaking point, something that would not have been clearly noticed if he had a full band in tow.

Adams also didn't shy away from picking songs from almost every album he's recorded, following "Dirty Rain" with Heartbreaker's "My Winding Wheel" and "Sweet Lil Gal (23rd/1st)," the latter which was performed on piano, and equally chilling as anything Adams did all night. "In the field where my plane went down," he sang, voice breaking from one range to the next. "Sweet lil gal."

He continued to slow down his repertoire, patiently focusing on vulnerable lyrics in songs like Gold's "Firecracker," Easy Tiger's "Everybody Knows," and Cold Roses' "Let It Ride," rather than highlight their usual faster pace. Perhaps this was the show's breaking point for some: if Adams wasn't going to pick up the pace here, then where?

But some reason, I don't think Adams viewed this choice as a risk, but rather an opportunity to remain willingly unguarded. He took this approach a step further later in the show, performing his most well-known song, "New York, New York," on piano -- moody, bluesy, and slowly. Probably not what 3,000+ were expecting, but it was laced with beauty nonetheless.

At this point in the show, Adams had retreated from his seated comfort zone and began to perform a handful of songs standing up, namely Love is Hell's "English Girls Approximately" and Easy Tiger's "Two." Another unexpected moment would soon follow: a solo version of Whiskeytown's "16 Days," taken from Strangers Almanac, which would be followed by "Come Pick Me Up," the last song of the main set.

Adams used the encore to cover Alice in Chains' "Nutshell," and concluded the evening with Jason Isbell, as the duo absolutely nailed Drive By Truckers' "Danko/Manuel," a song written by Isbell, who had just been serenaded by Adams and the audience to an acoustic (then metal) version of "Happy Birthday."

And finally, one thing was obvious: Ryan Adams does not take his songs on the road. He flies them through the air, scattering them across the sky, playing whatever that lands at his feet, waiting to be picked up, taken out, and stolen.

Only later to be found again, and to be played at whatever pace he desires... Some days ashes, some days fire.

Oh My Sweet Carolina (Heartbreaker)
Ashes and Fire (Ashes & Fire)
If I Am A Stranger (Cold Roses)
Dirty Rain (Ashes & Fire)
My Winding Wheel (Heartbreaker)
Sweet Lil Gal (23rd/1st) (Heartbreaker)
Invisible Riverside (Ashes & Fire)
Everybody Knows (Easy Tiger)
Firecracker (Gold)
The Rescue Blues (Gold)
Let It Ride (Cold Roses)
Please Do Not Let Me Go (Love is Hell)
English Girls Approximately (Love is Hell)
Chains of Love (Ashes & Fire)
Two (Easy Tiger)
Lucky Now (Ashes & Fire)
Wonderwall (Oasis cover, Love is Hell)
New York, New York (Gold)
Do I Wait (Ashes & Fire)
16 Days (Whiskeyown, Strangers Almanac)
Come Pick Me Up (Heartbreaker)

Nutshell (Alice In Chains cover)
Danko/Manuel (Drive by Truckers cover, duo with opener Jason Isbell)

Contest | Win Tickets to See Heartless Bastards at The Firebird

Photo by Nathan Presley

On February 8th, Saint Louis frequenters, Heartless Bastards, will make another welcomed stop in the Gateway to the West. This time, they're playing The Firebird. This time, Hacienda is opening. And, this time, we have a pair of tickets to give away.

The band's new record, Arrow, is out on February 14th (pick it up for the one you love), and you can take a listen to the first single, "Parted Ways" below. Erika Wennerstrom's thirsty, throaty vocals are a thing to behold. Fun fact: it's the Austin band's debut on Partisan Records.

1. Simply copy and paste this into a tweet: I entered to win tickets to see @theHbastards + @Hacienda_TX on 2/8 @firebirdstl on @speakersincode!

2. Send an e-mail to

3. Leave us a comment on our Facebook page.

The contest will run through February 3rd at 5 PM CT, and we'll randomly pick and e-mail/DM the winner later on that night (if you enter through FB, we'll announce your name on our FB page). Good luck!