Tuesday, May 21, 2019

HEY! LISTEN: Del Barber -- ''No Easy Way Out"

A gas station is, almost by definition, uninspiring. It's simply a transition point on a longer journey. But what happens when that's where your journey begins and ends?

That's what Del Barber seeks to find out on his new single "No Easy Easy Way Out." The Juno-nominated roots singer delivers this character study with a gentle, sardonic lilt reminiscent of Robert Ellis. Barber's narrator is just as frustrated with small-town life as he is in his stubborn refusal to do much about it. But he's also a wry observer of his customers that makes him less unpleasant and more of a curmudgeon. The gentle roots rock carries the story to its inevitable conclusion, but the ride sure is fun.

Del Barber -- Official, Facebook, iTunes, Spotify

Friday, May 17, 2019

HEY! LISTEN: Chain Station -- "Half Full"

Seasoned string band Chain Station knows how to party and is greating the spring with the release of Backroads (out May 3rd.) Backroads is an album of original bluegrass songs inspired by the highways, landscapes and residents of the band's Colorado home.

"We met around a campfire," explains co-founder Alex Thoele, "and we've been putting that loose, organic vibe onstage ever since. We call it mountain music, because that's where we formed. That's where we live. And that's what we do."

Like its name suggests, Backroads could serve as an appropriate soundtrack for a road trip. "When we were recording," Thoele remembers, "we were thinking, is this something we'd want to drive through a mountain pass while listening to? So many of our fans listen to our albums while driving, so we kept that in mind and it influenced our creative process."

String music isn't really my thing but I was immediately pulled in by Chain Station's chemistry. "Half Full" is an optimistic tune that keeps us down to earth with an appealing gruffness. The band brings a punk energy to some useful reminders for those of us who maybe spend a little too much time running around and should be spending a little more time enjoying the ride. As bassist Jon Pickett writes, “This song is a celebration, so raise your glasses and...keep your glass half full! The second verse speaks to the fact that pouring your heart out doing what you love sometimes leaves you feeling empty. But friends and family and those certain moments in life give you that recharge you’re needing. I feel like that’s what this song and this album are doing for me as a musician.”

Chain Station -- Official, Facebook

HEY! LISTEN: Spirit Family Reunion -- "One Way Ticket"

It's been more than a minute since we've heard from Spirit Family Reunion, but I'm happy to report that the Brooklyn-based folk band has returned in excellent form. You can hear for yourself below on their new single, "One Way Ticket."

If there's one thing you need to know about Spirit Family Reunion, it's this: a few years ago they were featured performers in Bryant Park, a small oasis in the middle of midtown. On a Tuesday night, amidst the hustle and bustle of people rushing home from work, the band not only drew a crowd of devoted fans willing to ride the L train all the way into Manhattan, but they also managed to bring in a few dozen people who spontaneously dropped their evening plans to stick around in the park and enjoy the music.

This was when old-timey music bands were truly a dime a dozen in Brooklyn. When the rent actually was cheap, Williamsburg wasn't quite a cliche, and the borough was truly full of DIY energy -- and, of course, plenty of bad moustaches and skinny jeans.

Spirit Family Reunion's new album, Ride Free, will be out on August 9th.

Spirit Family Reunion -- Official, Facebook, Pre-Order

Jeremy Squires -- Poem

North Carolina's Jeremy Squires has been releasing a steady drip of songs this past year that showcase Squires' willingness to dig deep and spread out. The album, with the inexorable intention of a drip of water carving its way through a glacier, transition from longer, indistinct meditations to folk-rock that reaches an almost painful clarity.

Poem is an album that confronts depression and grapples with living a life alongside it. "Sommersault" is an intimate song that brings comfort even as it describes a worst-case scenario anxiety attack.In "Gift," Squires reckons with loss and nostalgia in a somber piece that insistently grabs your attention. As always, Squires' songs are painfully melancholy tempered by his inimitable purity. In "Heaven," Squires gives a love song bursting with complex emotions. Yet "These Nights" reminds us that these emotions can change in an instant.

Squires' songwriting requires you to be in a grounded space before you hit play: it'll take you places, and not necessarily the ones you want to be in. But Squires shows us that even these moments are an essential part of life.

Jeremy Squires -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

Adobe & Teardrops: Episode 63

We recorded this the Monday after Free Comic Book Day so beware: we show our true colors.

Get tickets to stream (or go!) to Micah Schnabel’s Storytellers’ Session on June 13th here!

  1. Pat Benatar -- “We Belong” 
  2. Hot Water Music -- “Rebellion Story” (Shake Up The Shadows)
  3. Leyla McCalla -- “Money is King” (The Capitalist Blues)
  4. Super Doppler -- “You Bring Me Down” (Singles)
  5. Grover Anderson -- “Wasps” (The Frontman) 
  6. The Head And The Heart -- “Missed Connection” (Living Mirage)
  7. Alexandra Babiak -- “Crazy For You” (Impatiens) 
  8. Tyler Lyle -- “Tyler VS. The Black Hole” (Tyler Lyle)
  9. Kelly Hunt -- “Even the Sparrow” (Even the Sparrow)
  10. Of Monsters And Men -- “Alligator” (Single)
  11. Two Cow Garage -- “What Dying Is For” (Sweet Saint Me)

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Erika Wester -- Home

Ah, yes, the three phases of love. When a glance turns from coquettish to baneful. When a person's partner's true flaws are revealed. And when you find a person who you realize you ought to keep around after all.

Erika Wester gets to the heart of all of these in her EP Home. Wester strikes a beautiful balance between sincere folk and pop music catchiness. Her soaring voice and tastefully minimal arrangements certainly help her cause. Home is brief, but captures Wester's wide range of songwriting abilities. It's a calling card for what's sure to be an impressive debut album -- so you might as well get on board now.

Erika Wester -- Bandcamp

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Josh Nolan -- Kind Heart to Follow

I'm writing this shortly before my sister's wedding. I've been at my job the longest I've worked anywhere and I'm about to move in with my love. It has me wondering: what does it mean to settle down? What is contentment, exactly? What am I going to gain -- and will I lose anything? I'm so used to the tumultuous of my 20s that it feels a bit unnerving to...not have that.

Josh Nolan's Kind Heart to Follow stage dives into that gap. Kind Heart is the electric follow-up to Nolan's fine 2014 album, the meditative Fair City Lights. Sounds like Nolan's found answers to some of the questions posed in that album. Kind Heart gives Nolan's generous, warm-hearted compositions the benefit of a full band, suggesting that the best way to get through the tough stuff is with other people.

You likely heard the album's title track, "Kind Heart to Follow," on here a few weeks ago. That should give you a sense of the album's energy. Nolan and his band imbue each track with an urgency I haven't heard since Two Cow Garage and the Gaslight Anthem. It's a refreshing reminder that gaining wisdom doesn't mean losing your edge. Not in the slightest -- in fact, no matter what bumps and bruises you get along the way, you need to open your heart all that much more to the things that heal you.

Kind Heart to Follow is out this Friday, May 17th and it's one of my contenders for top 10 albums of 2019.

Josh Nolan -- Official, Facebook, Purchase/Preorder