Tag Archive: Indie folk


Ben Howard becomes the second person to join the “3 Times” club here in my Song of the Day series. The only other artist who has had three songs used for this so far is They Might Be Giants. I’ve got a bunch of people who I’ve used twice, but no one else has come up to bat three times (although trust me, before the year’s out, Frank Ocean, Father John Misty, and others will make repeat entrances as well). As I’ve mentioned previously for “Old Pine” and “Keep Your Head Up,” I only even heard of this British folkster because he played Baeble’s SXSW show in Austin, TX this year. We got some really good footage of his concert, and before SXSW started, I wrote up the initial “Introducing” piece for him. So, I had an early chance to hear his debut record, Every Kingdom, before it dropped here in America, and god, it’s such a great fucking album. Out of all of the artists to play for us at SXSW this year, I still hold that Ben Howard was the biggest coup, and he has an incredibly bright future ahead of him. So, here’s another great track off that wonderful debut CD. (Aside, the album is up for, but will likely not win, this year’s Mercury Prize)

I have been wanting to use a Mumford & Sons song for this Song of the Day series ever since I started it back in April. However, I just haven’t felt like I had the right opportunity to do so yet. Unless I’m really struggling to find something to be my Song of the Day, I like to have these songs have some sort of thematic resonance with wherever I am in life right now (or if there’s a song that I’ve just happened to really fall in love with lately). Since Mumford & Sons have a new album, Babel, that just came out on Tuesday, now seems as good a time as ever to use a song from easily the most popular British folk-bluegrass band out there right now (at least here in the States). I can remember when Sign No More came out a couple of years ago. That album built up on word of mouth alone and ended up being a huge, huge seller. If early sales are any indication, Babel, is on a similar track. I’m going to use the lead single from their new CD, “I Will Wait,” today cause I’ve fallen in love with it every time I’ve listened to it at work. I hope you enjoy it as well.

I’m feeling like I’m in a Justin Vernon kind of mood today. If only I could grow an awesome beard of sorrow to match his. Long time readers may know that I consider the Bon Iver show at this year’s Bonnaroo to be the single greatest show I’ve ever been to. It was almost a religious experience. Before the show, I didn’t really understand why everybody was loving his new self-titled record show much since it sounded so different from For Emma (and in my initial opinion, not nearly as good). Seeing the huge band live changed my perspective on the grand yet simultaneously intimate ambitions of Justin Vernon’s music, and every time I’ve listened to the album since then, I’ve heard it an entirely new light. I can’t stress enough how spiritual of an experience Bon Iver’s music has become to me. It’s entered an echelon of emotional response usually reserved for Radiohead and Panda Bear. We’re using “Holocene” today because it’s a hauntingly beautiful tune with an absurdly gorgeous music video. Enjoy.

Ah. The Soderberg sisters. Or as they’re better known, First Aid Kit. Here’s a band that I had never heard of before I moved to NYC to do my internship writing about music for Baeble. However, on my very first day on the job, my second assignment (the first was a new Cloud Nothings video) was to write about their newest single in advance of their then to be newly released album, The Lion’s Roar (you have to remember that this was back at the end of January). That song was “King of the World” and it featured Conor Oberst from Bright Eyes. I’ve been in love with the gorgeous Soderberg sisters ever since then (or at least I’ve been in love with the pretty one. The other keeps getting progressively chunkier. Yeah, I’m an asshole I know). I’ve already used their gorgeous tune “Emmylou” many moons ago because whenever I heard it, I would always think of my then sort of girlfriend, my now ex. Along with “New York City” by They Might Be Giants and “Kissing the Lipless” by The Shins, it’s one of several songs I can’t hear without immediately thinking of her. Anyways, this song is a great folk tune that is much more upbeat than First Aid Kit’s usual output. Enjoy.

Continuing my series about acts I caught at this year’s Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, we find ourselves back in the land of the British. Laura Marling is a British folk singer. She’s probably most well-known to some as the ex-girlfriend of Mumford and Sons frontman Marcus Mumford, but she’s also an accomplished musician in her own right. I was really excited to catch her act. I’ve really enjoyed her albums lately, but because I went to see Colin Hay before her, I got to her show right as it was starting and there wasn’t any real room to try and get a good view. So, I decided to rest my aching feet (a common theme of the weekend) and take a seat on the hill near the stage. I couldn’t see her very well but I could hear her fine. I actually wasn’t crazy about her song selection (another recurring theme of the weekend) as I wasn’t very familiar with many of the songs even though I’ve given most of her records at least a cursory listen. I didn’t hear a single one of the songs I wanted to hear (although there’s a chance I was distracted and missed something). So, I’m going to break my rule about only picking songs that the bands actually played and choose my favorite Laura Marling song instead. It’s off her newest (and lovely) record, A Creature I Don’t Know. It’s a bluegrass-tinged folk number called “All My Rage” that was one of the better folk tunes of last year. I hope to hear more from Laura Marling in the future (and try to see her in concert when I can actually see the stage).

 

It’s weird which artists wind up getting used twice for this blog. Let’s take Ben Howard for instance who is making his second spot on this series (after already appearing once because of his single “Old Pine”). Here’s an artist that I had never even heard of before this February/March (not exactly sure when it was). But, he played my company’s SXSW showcase in Austin, TX, and I wrote our first little “Introducing” piece when we were rolling out the artists that were playing our showcase. Ever since I first heard his music, I’ve been crazy about it ever since then. His debut album, Every Kingdom, is so excellent that I’m really considering reviewing it for this site. Anyways, I’m specifically avoiding making any Song of the Day posts about bands that I’m seeing at Bonnaroo this year (one week!) ever since some arbitrary date a couple of weeks ago where I decided that (well the last time I used an act I am actually seeing at Bonnaroo was May 4th for Childish Gambino) because when I get back from Bonnaroo, I’m going to pick one song per band (in the order that I saw them) as my songs of the day. So that should ultimately be pretty fun. Ben Howard is playing Bonnaroo but he competes against tUnE-yArDs (who I know will make for a really awesome and eccentric show) and Fitz and the Tantrums so unfortunately, I won’t be seeing him. Both times I chose another act over him were two out of three of the toughest choices I had to make in regards to Bonnaroo. And trust me (you can read this article I did for work to see how much research I did for Bonnaroo) I had to make a lot of tough decisions. So, here is the song that’s tied with “Old Pine” as my favorite track off of Every Kingdom. I really have to catch Ben Howard live at some point.

So, this is my fourth Song of the Day post in a row without any actual movie, TV, or book reviews. I promise that will end after today/tomorrow though because I need to review last night’s awesome episode of Game of Thrones as well as Joss Whedon’s The Avengers (which I saw in theaters today and it was awesome). I’ve spent almost every second that ‘ve been home these last couple of days trying to clean the massive clusterfuck that is my dad’s apartment. Saying it’s a mess would be like saying that I’m really excited to see The Dark Knight Rises. I’ve taken in way too much dust these last couple of days. I’m going to be sneezing for the next three months. Anyways, I wanted to pick a song from this year as my Song of the Day, and I thought to myself, “Why not something from Father John Misty?” His album, Fear Fun, is one of the most lyrically impressive albums of the year. It’s lead single, “Nancy from Now On,” is either my favorite or second favorite song off the album (along side “This Is Sally Hatchett”), and it’s had one of the cooler music videos of the year. There’s some slight boobage towards the end of the video, so it’s slightly NSFW, but if you want one of the better folk/alt country tracks of the year, check out this ditty from former Fleet Foxes member, J. Tillman.

 

Let me be completely upfront. I hate country music. Unless we’re talking Johnny Cash, it just isn’t my scene. Not only is it not my scene, it’s the complete opposite of my scene. It is the antithesis of everything I like about music. It’s this faux-populist, jingoistic deluge of mediocre tunes of carefully constructed personalities appealing to some imaginary idea of what America should be (i.e. absurdly conservative and bigoted like North Carolina). I basically can’t listen to any country music unless the artist in question also has the word “alt” before “country” when people discuss his sound. So, when I say I love Swedish country-folk band First Aid Kit, I say that with absolutely no reservations because these incredibly young sisters are such talented performers and make gorgeous music. I caught them at Webster hall (which you can read about here) and they completely owned that 800 person crowd. One of my favorite First Aid Kit songs is “Emmylou,” a beautiful love song dedicated to some of their favorite performers of the past. It’s pure Americana country-folk, but that doesn’t make it any less haunting or memorable. And coming from a guy that despises the genre, that’s saying a lot.

 

If you want to check out May’s Song of the Day playlist, head on over to Spotify to find it here. I’ve also started aggregating an entire 2012 playlist which you can also find here if you want a wider selection of tunes.

This is going to be one of my shortest Song of the Day posts yet simply because I forgot to write it last night before I went to bed. I have a concert tonight after work. I’m seeing the Shins (hence the artist choice) and the concert is at Terminal 5. It’s on the Upper West Side, and I live in about as far the other direction as you can imagine in Brooklyn so I’ll be getting home very late tonight. Anyways, I’m incredibly excited to see the Shins. They’re one of my favorite bands. “New Slang” was the song that introduced me to the group thanks to Natalie Portman’s character in Garden State, and there’s a very high chance that if they play “New Slang” tonight, I might start to cry. I can’t wait for the show. Should be awesome.

 

Today is the last day of April which means that my Spotify playlist for April’s Songs of the Day is officially complete. You can listen to the entire playlist here! I think it’s pretty great. There’s basically something for everyone to enjoy.

I’m still coming down with a sinus infection. I don’t know what the hell is wrong with me. Well, I do know. The weather in NYC is more bipolar than my high school Spanish teacher. To make matters worse, there’s no hot water in my apartment tonight, and it probably won’t be back by tomorrow before I leave for work either. What the hell man? Whatever. I’m going to be back in WV soon where my hot water doesn’t go out every month and a half. That shit has gotten real old, real fast. Anyways, I figured I could use a song from the last year or so after going back to the 1970s for Talking Heads last time. At the company I work for, we shot Ben Howard who was one of the many artist who played our SXSW showcase in Austin this year. I was in charge of coming up with the SXSW Band of the Day post we did leading up to the music festival, and I listened to Ben Howard’s album Every Kingdom. It’s pretty great British indie folk, and I highly recommend it if you like bands like Mumford & Sons. So, I figured I’d use his fantastic song “Old Pine” as my song of the day. It’s probably my favorite song on the album. He’s playing Bonnaroo this year and I hope I get a chance to catch his set.

 

I feel like I’ve begun to belabor this point, but if you want to listen to the Spotify playlist for April (which only has one song left which will be tomorrow), click here and enjoy!