Band: Cotton Jones
Origins: A six year old outfit based in Cumberland, Massachusetts.
Sound: Folk music (sometimes of the psychedelic variety) disguised as a harmonized conversation between a husband and wife.
Formerly “The Cotton Jones Basket Ride”, husband Michael Nau, and wife Whitney McGraw are the hard to ignore forefront of the northeastern group. Nau’s storied lyrics, and rambled voice makes for memorable music when combined with the steady and classic nature that the rest of the ensemble offers so generously. I discovered the band through David Bazan who shares music management with the Cumberland natives. Both are managed by Bob Andrews of Undertow Music Collective. The same collective that introduced and popularized living room shows (which Cotton Jones has participated in performing).
Band: The Bronzed Chorus
Origins: Conceived 2005 in Greensboro, NC.
Sound: A rare instrumental duo that does NOT sound like a duo.
Adam Joyce (Guitar) and Hunter Allen (drums/synth) are musical magicians. No wires, strings, or hidden compartments, just two guys and their gear. And STILL you are left wondering, “how the fuck did they do that?!”. One guitar sounding like many, and drums/synthesizer being played simultaneously by one man, casts a vast and impressive sound scape that does not leave one wanting lyrics. They give you the title of the song and the music. The story building is up to the listener or show-goer. And they make it easy to paint that picture in your own head.
Band: Eyedea & Abilities
Origins: A Duel effort from rapper Eyedea and DJ Abilities from Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Sound: Legit melodic hip-hop. True words to sick beats
Honesty seemed to be rule number one in the E&A camp. Every track argues
controversial subjects with strong and heart-felt points. Each its own poem written by Micheal (Eyedeas) Larsen, and scored by Gregory Keltgen (also known as DJ Abilities). Sadly on October 16, 2010, Larsen was found dead in is home by his mother due to an opiate toxicity. A huge loss to the hip-hop community and music as a whole.
Band: Harrison Hudson
Origins: Began Performing as a band in ‘05 in Atlanta, GA
Sound: Modernized versions of good things from the past. Like reincarnations of songs that passed away in the 1950’s
Hudson’s latest outing titled “American Thunder” is rock and roll in its purest and hippest form. Listening to this record puts me in an atmosphere comparable to Happy Days in a weird, but very satisfying way. His songwriting seems very nostalgic for an era when “cruising” in cars, jukeboxes, and diners was what America was. I think its pretty rad that a record that gives off such vibes can sound so accessible and relevant at the same time. I mean it’s not like the lyrics reference malt shops, rydell high, or letterman jackets, but it does (to me anyway) feel like it pays homage, and I love that.
Band: Lost In The Trees
Origins: Founded by composer/guitarist Ari Picker while attending school in Boston.
Sound: Orchestral folk. Neatly arranged horns and strings adding unbelievable dynamics to simple and genuine folk songs that turns them into anything but simple.
Lost In The Trees are an amazing journey to take. The first time I heard them I immediately went searching for their record. And when I found it, I started with track one and didn’t stop. It almost feels weird to just listen to one song and stop. It’s like the equivalent to watching the opening credits to a movie and then leaving the theater. Even after hearing the record in its entirety before, I have have to see how it ends every time.
Band: Via Audio
Origins: Met and formed at Berklee College of Music in Boston 2003.
Sound: Concentrated pop, with electronic attributes and synth lines.
Via Audio are super talented people with lots of emotions to convey.
While record listening to them you will most definitely encounter a bouquet of experiences and feelings. You will be reminded of the time you embarrassed yourself at that party, thought you had fallen in love with someone, and when you had the best night of your life. In short, their music has a tendency to make you feel nostalgic for times you had and times that have yet to come… listen.
Band: Only Son
Origins: 2006 endeavor pursued by former Moldy Peaches guitarist Jack Dishel
Sound: Poetry music. Jack’s inner thoughts set to vibrant, gentle, and sometimes pleading melodies.
I discovered Only Son right after he had released his first record “Drop To The Top”. He was on tour supporting said record and close musician friend Regina Spektor as her opener. His set was wildly unfamiliar but overwhelmingly enjoyable. Armed with only an acoustic guitar and his iPod plugged into the house system with a D.I. box, he pretty much won everyone over with the first verse of his first song. He made light of playing along to his backing tracks on his iPod by having a conversation with his own per-recorded voice talking about fictional people in the crowd.
Band: Valley Maker
Origins: South Carolina dweller Austin Crane’s 2010 senior thesis project.
Sound: Heart felt re-telling of bible stories from unheard point of views to beautiful guitars and vocal harmonies.
Austin Crane who is already locally established in his own right, released this record/school assignment first, for his professor and second, for anyone who would listen. These ten songs tell stories from the first book of the bible, Genesis. With tracks titled, The First, Cain and Abel, and Babel, the album describes events ranging from the conception of Earth, to the first murder of man. Although these songs and stories are directly from the Bible, they never appear “preachy” or religious at all really. They are storytelling at its finest and music at its purest. He and musical companion Amy Godwin (who has her own music as well) take turns intertwining their voices to make amazing harmonies that help convey the happenings of each story.
Band: The Tallest Man On Earth
Origins: Singer-songwriter Kristian Matsson began using this musical pen name in Dalarna, Sweden circa 2006.
Sound: Intricate yet swooning guitar finger-pickings running parallel with Dylan-esque stories and voice.
Every individual song paints an incredible picture. Each vivid and telling using curious words and phrasing. I’ll be the first to admit I have no idea what some of his lyrics mean but I do believe I understand the feelings behind them, which provokes an out of the ordinary listening experience and says so much for his songwriting. To be able to use such off the wall symbolism and peculiar words to convey something in you, and have the listener comprehend those feelings who may not understand the lyrics is a show of a true writer and artist.
Origins: Six year old brainchild of Connecticut native Merrill Garbus.
Sound: This band pulls many musical faces. They can be raw, and wistful one measure and migrate to a planned attack of notes the next. They also have a tendency to take detours toward the sounds of East Africa (appropriate due to the fact Garbus spent time teaching singing in Kenya). Merrill and often present musician friend, Nate Brenner turn Garbus’ head-humming ideas into a full fledged sound show. Using loop pedals, single standing drums, two mics, and a ukelele, all of which are gracefully handled by Garbus, along with slow-churn chunky bass guitar pops hand-dug by Brenner, wandering around at the back of the stage.
In a country where most of its “scenes” are beginning to be littered with loop pedal users and layer upon layer of noises recorded over one another, tUnE-yArDs finds a way to do that, but does it in a way that isn’t stale. Instead of building a song with layers for two minutes and then finally playing along with it, Garbus makes the construction the art. Every vocal brick she lays is purposeful and with intent.