L to R: Bryce Dessner, Scott Devendorf, Matt Berninger, Bryan Devendorf, Aaron Dessner.
The National are becoming a household name for rock/indie music these days, but the band's been around since 1999. Maybe it's because of their characteristic slow, moving, introspective songs not being radio hits, or maybe it's because they weren't making music for anyone but themselves.
Or, maybe, you just kept missing each other.
The good news is that it's okay, and there's plenty of time for you to get acquainted with this creative, unsuspecting group of guys as they continue their rise to music masterdom. Their 6th and latest album, Trouble Will Find Me, was nominated for Best Alternative Album Grammy in 2014, just sayin'.
The National is made up multi-instrumentalis brothers Bryce (also an acclaimed composer) and Aaron Dessner (writes most of the music), brothers Scott (bass) and Bryan Devendorf (drums), and Matt Berninger (lyrics and vocals) (who has a brother, but not in the band. His brother made a documentary about the band though - Mistaken for Strangers, which is awesomely funny and endearing, by the way)
Anyway, on to the whole reason I'm posting this - I recently was lucky enough to see That National at Red Rocks Ampitheatre in Denver, CO! And throughout the show, they played a remarkable number of songs I didn't know, and as (huge) fan, I took note of this and made a (fairly safe bet) hypothesis - a new album is on the rise. Well, yeah. Pitchfork told us all about it in May, but hey, I'm a little slow on the draw sometimes.
I swear that's the band. It's blurry, but only because I was there with my old iPhone, which is a better picture than one stolen from Google images any day in my book.
When I was 15 I saw The National open for Modest Mouse, who opened for R.E.M. and have missed them on every tour for the last decade, so to see them after all of this time I found that I really paid attention to their performance and noticed the intricacies that make this band something bigger.
The Dessner brothers are geniuses, let's just get that out there.
There are times in their music I hear something and wonder "How did they make that sound?" and a lot of those questions were answered on July 31. For example, this broad, shaking reverb effect that I hear on their albums - Bryce grabbed another guitar, while still holding his own, and proceeded to gently tap the 2nd gutiar's headstock onto the stage, bringing that fuzzy, vibrating sound to the background of the song. Neat. Very neat.
Let's not discount the Devendorf brothers though. Bryan (drums) has one of the best senses of time in popular music as far as I can tell. The National has so many songsthat dip into 9/8 or even 7/4, which are incredibly difficult time signatures to follow rhymically. and Bryan not only sticks to these signatures, but elaborates so well with percussion that one can listen only to the drums for an entire song and be captivated.
And Matt Berninger's live energy is amazing. For his controlled, sometimes monotone vocals, this man really has a presence. All around the stage, into the crowd, and back - you can feel how meaningful his lyrics are to him, and it makes them meaningful to you.
The band ended the show with this song, Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks - but for a few seconds I didn't know it.
They pulled out acoustic guitars, unplugged the mics, and started the front of the crowd singing. Then the middle caught on, then the back (where I was) heard it, and then I sang my heart out.
I would post a picture of it here, but I was too busy being in the moment.
The National is definitely a band not to miss, but at this rate, I don't think they're going anywhere.
Ease into their music when you can, they don't mind when you arrive.
The picture quality is so poor because it was taken on my own iPhone camera, so I think that adds a warm, fuzzy edge to this shot!
One of the best things about being in radio is the ability to know about so many up and coming groups and even get to see them live when they're nearby. But you also get to see huge names in music put out new projects, adventure into new territory, and hopefully get comped some of those higher priced tickets under the guise of "I work in radio so..."
Fortunately for me, the latter scenario occurred last week! Three days before the show, I found out about it's existence. A fast-typed email to a promoter and a hopeful follow up the next day struck gold: I was added to the guest list to see Case/Lang/Veirs on their way to Denver in Beaver Creek!
Now really quick, let's talk Case/Lang/Veirs.
Broken down, it's three powerful ladies who decided to collaborate on something that was a little out of each of their comfort-genres.
Neko Case (left) Member of Maow, Cub, and The New Porographers, also a well established solo singer/songwriter. k. d. lang (center) Grammy award winning singer/songwriter from Canada and occasional actress. Laura Veirs (right) Folk singer/songwriter out of Portland, but born in Colorado Spings.
Their record label Anti- explains "Several years ago k.d. lang sent an email to Neko Case and Laura Veirs on a whim. It read simply, 'I think we should make a record together.' Though the three musicians were barely more than acquaintances 'Laura and I both responded immediately,' recalls Case. 'There was no question.'"
So switch back to July 9, 2016.
I'm driving slightly above the speed limit, less than 12 hours ago finding out I was cleared to see this group just a mere two hour jaunt from Grand Junction, which is far, far better than SLC or Denver, and I reach the Vilar Performing Arts Center, a high class 535 seat opera-house style venue in the center of the Beaver Creek Resort.
Not saying I didn't look nice, but I would say I was a little on the under-dressed side of things upon arriving. A beautiful building, a sprawling resort, and a parking garage - these are all things I am not accustomed to, but I am in awe as I wander towards my seat.
Loch Lomond, an indie band out of Portland, Oregon opens the show with big harmonies and tinkling bells, then the main act takes the stage. The small, intimate stage. And immediately a glorious, harmonic experience begins with "Atomic Number" and only gets better from there. Throughout the show each of the women laid down a few of their solo careers, but they played their debut album together in it's entirety much to (probably) everyone's excitement. Not only that, they played an encore.
Wait. No. Two encores.
Wait. Wait. Three encores?
Two at least.
It's hard to say. I got lost in the experience for a lot of reasons.
Over the course of this show, which mostly had an audience of 60+ aged people, morph from solemn and attentive to standing, dancing, and even one woman jumping on stage to kiss k.d. lang on the lips. She told us on the microphone she drove all the way from Durango to see lang, and had to "make this one count" before she planted her lips on lang's.
Along with these experiences, there was also lang's amazing, soulful vocals, Neko Case's ridiculous banter, and Laura Veir's sweet words and occasional acoustic-guitar-shred-session.
So basically what I'm saying is check out the debut album case/lang/veirs - case/lang/veirs, and if you get a chance to see this trio live, I'd highly recommend going.
It is bound to be an experience.
I almost don't know where to start with one. It's too good.
Do you like motown? Do you like pop? Do you like soulful vocals?
Yes to any of those?
Listen to Daydream by Empty Houses right now. I mean it, RIGHT now.
This debut album out on Sargent House records dropped June 10, so I'll admit, I'm a little behind on this one. But "better late than never" is an understatement for this record. David Mackinder, Adam Mercer & Ali Shea make up this Detroit outfit, and they're bringing essential elements back into modern pop music. The title track "Daydream"Billboard calls "A Phil Spector-influenced gem" and it definitely has that wall-of-sound pop glory that you remember from tracks like "Be My Baby" Jump to the next track, "Lost at Sea" and you're seeing the bandstand and hearing elements of "Earth Angel" bouncing off the walls. The perfect amount of horns, that driving motown groove, and Shea's soulful, soaring vocals reel you in over and over again. "Mercy" and "Every Word" have the soul and style of Adele, and "Falling Away" will have you undoubtably dancing wherever you happen to be. Put on "Hold Your Hand"
I think my favorite part of this album is the flawless use of bells, clapping, and auxiliary percussion. The tinkling blends effortlessly into this pop A+, the clapping only adds to the beat, and the occasional wood block or castanets just fit.
Get in on this band before they blow up, seriously. Give the first track, "Better of Me" a listen and fall in love with that 60's pop all over again. This band feels like a blast from the past, but the good news is that they aren't, and hopefully they'll be making new music for a long time.
Seriously, don't quit reading this. I promise, the name isn't indicative of how this band from Tennessee sounds.
DP doesn't have a lead guitarist. DP doesn't have a lead and a rhythm guitarist.
DP has 4 guitarists that all equally, if you will, shred.
From Nashville, these guys really are harkening back to the days of yore, when guitars mimicked each other constantly, tapping was frequent, and glam rock was a common phrase. Their third album, Turn to Gold, out on Infinity Cat Records, opens with the song "Hardstyle" which is so triumphant it's hard not to stand up and look heroicly off into the distance. Follow that up with "Announcement" which does just that - Here is Diarrhea Planet, in all of their silly named and fantastic guitar glory. Elements of Bruce Spingsteen pop up here and there, thoughts of Styx will hit you on and off, and musing of Blink 182 will breeze through your mind. DP calls their music "pop played through the filter of heavy metal"
When this album crossed my desk I was cautious. The word "diarrhea" has actually never been used in a positive way around me before. But there's a first time for everything, right? I'm glad I gave it a shot, it's most certainly going to the anthem of my summer.
There is no shortage of perfect harmonies this week in Radioland.
Amber Arcades (top left), Tegan & Sara (top right), Margaret Glaspy (bottom left) and Britta Phillips (bottom right) flooded our ears this week and it was a soothing, dreamy experience. Let's chat about some ladies, shall we?
Can't get over this gal. Her debut album, Emotions and Math, is due out on ATO in September, but lucky for us it's going for radio promotion NOW! Soulful, smokey vocals and creative pop guitar work make her first album one to remember, and makes us even more excited to see what she'll do in the future! But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Check out the title track "Emotions and Math" now and see why Margaret has really captured our attention. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S622IPgL-TE
This lady makes you feel like you're either the lead actor in an elegant movie or sitting in the hippest coffee shop, writing the most elegant movie. But don't get ahead of yourself, because Britta has actually be involved in all of those things. In and out of several bands, including Luna and Dean & Britta, since the early 90's, Britta has also been in and written music for movies. Her first solo album, Luck or Magic, really draws you in a cinematic way, with gorgeous vocals and great song structure. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrOpkUxhntE
So beachy and dreamy that you FINALLY understand what "dream pop" is all about. Actually Annelotte de Graaf from the Netherlands, she recorded this album, Fading Lines, in New York, with members of Real Estate and Quilt in the backing band. There's no wonder it feels like it fits right in, it was recorded with "dream pop" royalty! Let her vocals carry you away to the beach or the clouds or wherever it is when you close your eyes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRjA93obQgE
Tegan and Sara:
These Canadian sisters are unstoppable. Over the course of their musical career (this is their 7th album) these women have changed their sound a bit, but this album is undoubtably my favorite pop album of the year. If you've recently experience a break-up or are perhaps pondering one, Love You To Death is an album that is crying for your speaker system. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0C62PVctMSg
It's been a gorgeous week for music and a great way to start off summer listening.
Tune in to hear new music from these ladies daily at KAFM!
And what's not to like? Dirty country blues, country sway, ballads, sunny syncopation, foot stompin' foot drum, slide guitar, finger picked frets, with a who's who of guest appearances from Natalie Maines, Sarah Jarosz, Noam Pikelny, Eamon McLoughlin, and Jano Rix.
Fast on the heels of the CD release is this video, featuring Zach and Caitlin performing 'Stopgap Woman Blues'. So grab your cat, dog, significant other, whatever's handy, and turn it up!
We have got to get these guys to KAFM's 80 seat venue, The Radio Room, and soon!
Added this week to the new music wall at KAFM: Marlon Williams, with his self titled album Marlon Williams.
From the first track you think you know what the album will be. "Hello Miss Lonesome" features fast picking,
fast vocals, and an overall Americana, nearly bluegrass feel. It certainly draws you in. Yet as the album goes
along, it gets farther and farther from the norm. "Dark Child," the single from the album, is a deeply heartwrenching
anthem, as is "Strange Things." This track though adds a whole new element to the story telling, combining
perfect volume and tone to accentuate the odd and upsetting feeling of the tale. "I'm Lost Without You" has an almost
50's feel, and "After All" and "Silent Passage" completely capture Americana. This album is varied in so many
ways but is strung together perfectly by William's rich, expressive vocals.
"Each song is a character,” says Marlon Williams of his self-titled solo debut: a remarkably assured and
diverse nine-track tapestry, united by one of the most versatile and evocative voices you’ll hear this or
any other year. “I don’t really ever sing out of character. Even if it’s a very personal song, once it’s written
it doesn’t belong to me.”
This album absolutely captured me, and I am GREATLY anticipating a tour date in Colorado.
So from now on I'm going to be showing your our TOP ADDS as well for each chart!
What's a TOP ADD you say? Here's my spiel:
Our charts show what we've been playing within the last week, but ADDS are a little different.
ADDS are things we got in THIS WEEK that have yet to spin, BUT we think they're going to do well, we're excited about them, and
really enjoy them ourselves! So I showed our TOP ADDS this week, and then added some genre info next to each artist. One of the
best ways for artists we care about to do well is to spin them ourselves! Feel free to check them out. I'll be putting them in the studio
today/tomorrow. And remember, if you hear an artist/band during the week that you LOVE, shoot me that email! I'll put it in for consideration as a TOP ADD on the following Tuesday.
Other question to answer, "What exactly IS Top 200?"
TOP 200 essentially includes all genres of music except some roots.
It really depends on the routes the artists take with their promoter/management whether or not they'll be eligible for CMJ charts. So
some roots musicians (take Angela Perley for example) show up on CMJ! While others are too independent/focused on other charts to
want to be on CMJ. That being said, CMJ does stand for COLLEGE MUSIC JOURNALISM, so you can assume that some artists may
not be entirely interested in the stations that contribute. BUT CMJ is widely used by College/Non-Commercial stations across the
country, it is most certainly not just colleges.
So TOP 200 for the most part means just that, the TOP 200 artists spinning at your station.
Anyway, now that that's out of the way, let's talk spins!
1 SMOOTH HOUND SMITH Sweet Tennessee Honey 2 SAM LEWIS Waiting On You
3 CHRIS ISAAK First Comes the Night
4 THE WESTIES West Side Stories
5 JOHN DEL TORO RICHARDSON Tengo Blues
6 KING LOUIE AND LARHONDA STEELE Rock Me Baby
7 JOHNNY RAWLS Tiger in a Cage
8 BENNY TURNER When She's Gone
9 RACKY THOMAS Goin' Home
10 TOMMY Z Blizzard of Blues
TOP 200 ADDS
1MARLON WILLIAMSMarlon WilliamsLiberation
2DONKEYSMidnight PalmsEasy Sound
3DR. DOGThe Psychedelic SwampAnti
4FIELD MUSICCommontimeMemphis Industries
5EDWARD SHARPE AND THE MAGNETIC ZEROS"No Love Like Yours" [Single]
TOP 200 CHARTS
1TEDESCHI TRUCKS BANDLet Me Get ByConcord
2STICK FIGURESet In StoneRuffwood
3JAMES HUNTER SIXHold On!Daptone
4CHRIS ISAAKFirst Comes The NightVanguard
5CAGE THE ELEPHANTTell Me I'm PrettyRCA
6THE PINESAbove The PrairieRed House
7RECORD COMPANYGive It Back To YouConcord
8MIRANDA LEE RICHARDSEchoes Of The DreamtimeInvisible Hands
9PHOTO OPSVacationBad Friend
10SHEARWATERJet Plane And OxbowSUB POP
11MASS GOTHICMass GothicSUB POP
12ANGELA PERLEY AND THE HOWLIN' MOONSHomemade Vision
13ADRIAN YOUNGESomething About April IILinear Labs
14BEACH HOUSEThank Your Lucky StarsSub Pop
15REED TURNERNative TongueSelf-Released
16VILLAGERSWhere Have You Been All My LifeDomino
17ANE BRUNWhen I'm FreeBalloon Ranger
18HEY MARSEILLESHey MarseillesShanachie
20JULIEN BAKERSprained Ankle6131
21NIGHT BEATSWho Sold My GenerationHeavenly
22NAP EYESThought Rock Fish ScaleParadise of Bachelors
23JENNY GILLESPIECure For DreamingNarooma
24ST. GERMAINSt. GermainNonesuch
25ELEANOR FRIEDBERGERNew ViewFrenchkiss
27DAWN LANDES AND PIERS FACCINIDesert Songs [EP]Six Degrees