June Spotify Playlist of the Month

What goes better together than avocados and indie music? Maybe PBRs and a fixed gear bike? Well, we're not here to argue, but we Read More

Making Newport Dangerous Again: Predictions for NFF’s Speak Out Set

On May 4th, Newport Folk quietly announced “Speak Out,” a set scheduled for Sunday evening, just before the headliner. Not much has been officially Read More

July Spotify Playlist of the Month

Coming back at you in July with another big-time playlist. This month features 65 fresh jams from the likes of Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, Read More

October Spotify Playlist of the Month

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Maimed & Tamed Spotify Playlist of the Month October 2015

It’s October which means everyone you loathe and despise in the world will be sharing apple picking, pumpkin spice latte filled photos all over your social media feeds, but have no fear we’ve got 40 new jams to take your mind off of your friends’ cringeworthy online behavior.

This month we’ve got freshies from Gardens & Villa, Swimm, Teen Daze, David Berkeley, Level & Tyson (our new favorite Scandinavian pop band), Stars (who put on one of the best shows of the year last week in Williamsburg), and many many more.

Check out all those artists and more on the full playlist below and remember to subscribe for new tunes every month.

Gregory Alan Isakov: The Forefront of the Singer-Songwiter Movement

Posted on by Ryan Schmitz in M&T Favorites | 2 Comments

Photo curtesy of gregoryalanisakov.com

Beacon Theatre is an awfully big place for just a guy and his guitar to keep entertained.  But on September 24th, that is exactly what Gregory Alan Isakov was tasked to do.  The singer-songwriter has taken the road on his own these days, while occasionally grouping back up with his band, like last weekend at Boston Calling.

A few days before his show I got a chance to catch up with Isakov and talk about his influences, the tour, and some future plans.  Originally from Pennsylvania, now relocated to Colorado, Isakov’s influences are from all over the musical map.  “Originally I wanted to sound like Pearl Jam,” he says, when asked where his particular brand of music came from.  “But I feel like everyone goes through a phase where they want to sound like them.”  While Gregory and his band may not sound exactly like Pearl Jam, their catalog has found its own niche in the current indie music world.  With almost 10 years of music under their belt, this group has mastered a very particular sound that is extremely difficult to pin down.

One of the things that sets Isakov apart, is his songwriting abilities.  There is a very genuine feel to his lyrics, with songs like “Master and a Hound” or “Second Chances,” the listener is given a window into the world of the singer.  In regards to “Master and a Hound,” he said that “there is a lot of longing in that song, it’s about wanting to be in two places at the same time.”  Longing is probably a word I would use most often when trying to summarize a mood in his music.  There is always a strong emotional aspect to his songs, a sort of feeling that you may not be able to come up with right away but you can tell is there.  The power in the music is undeniably palpable and something that has not come easy.

“I’ve always written songs and thrown away more than I keep and once in a while I get lucky.  I really look up to Springsteen and Leonard Cohen, I hear them and think everything that comes out of them is genius, but no one sees their trashcan.  If the song doesn’t make me feel anything, that goes back into the scrap pile.”  That patience is the key to the consistency that his listeners get when they see his show or throw on his record.  It’s not about quantity it is all about quality.

Nowadays Isakov is mostly listening to the people he plays with.  At his shows he will always introduce his band members as his best friends, all of whom have their own music that they are creating in one way or another.  The group has two albums that are in the works, one being a live recording with the Colorado Symphony that should be out this December.

For anyone who is on the fence about seeing one of their shows for whatever reason, they are a must see.  Out of all the concerts I have been to in my life I don’t think I have ever come across a band that connects with the audience on such a personal level.  One of the most poignant examples of this is something Isakov has lovingly dubbed “the nerdy folk moment.”  Inspired by the frustration with amplifiers and microphones, at some point during the show, if the venue is the right size, the group will unplug all of their instruments, walk to the front of the stage away from the mics and just play out to the audience.  With nothing between us and the group, there is a tangible connection that one rarely finds in concert halls these days.  “There’s all these things between the songs and the audience that can get in the way, when we just say fuck it and unplug then we can at least connect in a real way.”  The intimacy that something like that provides speaks volumes to the kind of artists that these guys really are.  When they play a show they want the audience to connect to the music as much as possible, and this is one of the most effective methods I’ve ever seen to accomplish that.

Luckily for you all some hero has posted a video of them playing “Saint Valentine” during just such a moment.  Here you go, enjoy.

Americanafest 2015: Week in Review

Posted on by Ryan Schmitz in Americanafest 2015 | Leave a comment

Americanafest 2015 Review

I am still trying to decompress after the 5 day long musical bar hopping session known as Americanafest 2015.  There were tons of memorable moments and too many amazing acts to see with not enough time.  So sitting here today it is my task to distill the week into a few key moments.

Americanafest 2015

The Bluegrass Situation Jam-  Three straight hours of non-stop bluegrass music.  This odyssey could have its own article dedicated to its highlights.  Led by the house band, The Bluegrass Situation featuring Chris Eldridge and Noam Pikelny of Punch Brothers fame, what must have been 20 different artists took the stage.  Personally, the closing jam with Della Mae, Eddie Berman’s crowd-moving rendition of “You Can Call Me Al” (more on him later), and what was lovingly known as “Mandolin Armageddon” were the highlights from the marathon jam.

The Dustbowl Revival- This LA based group (pictured at the top of the page) brought a lot of versatility and tons of energy to the City Winery Thursday night.  I went into that show with a fairly limited knowledge of their work and left a tremendous fan.  These guys have an amazing breadth of music with songs ranging from dixieland jazz to old time blues.  I can’t say enough about the talent in this group.  My personal highlight had to be when they played the Gillian Welch standard “No One Knows My Name.”  Everything about that song was perfect but the harmonies were enough to drop any jaw in the audience.

The Wood Brothers at Americanafest 2015

The Wood Brothers- I knew going into the festival that this show was going to be among the best around and I could not have been more correct.  They played twice over the week and each show brought a different energy to the crowd.  Their main showcase on Friday night was unquestionably the place to be, we saw classics like “The Muse” or “Postcards From Hell” as well as cuts from their new album Paradise, my personal favorite being “Never and Always.”  These guys are truly one of the most authentic sounds in Americana these days and really deserve all the attention they can get.  Here is my favorite track on the new album so far.

Photo curtesy of newfrontiertouring.com

Willie Watson-  It’s tough to describe Willie Watson’s set properly.  He played to a PACKED Station Inn, late on a Friday night.  Hell, even Dave Rawlings stopped by to catch Willie’s set.  He prefaced his show with a simple sentiment, “I am a folk singer, this is a folk concert” and he stuck strictly to that dictum, singing old traditional folk songs and having the audience sing responses, it was really a special show.

Photo curtesy of musicnobbery.com

Eddie Berman-  Last but certainly not least comes Eddie Berman.  I mentioned him earlier when he played his rendition of Paul Simon’s classic “You Can Call Me Al,” which was a very bold move.  But damn this dude absolutely killed it!  The reaction of the crowd to his song stood alone in a night full of energy and enthusiasm.  I made it a point to catch his show Friday night at The Listening Room and I was as far from disappointed as one can possibly be.  Berman has one of my new favorite sounds, employing different instruments with beautiful subtlety to find music that is both gentle and resonating.  His band played and sang beautifully with a set that included guitars, drums, upright basses, even an accordion thrown in there.  The group was living proof that well placed accordion can actually sound amazing.  This is definitely a band to keep an eye on because there is a lot of talent here.  They are on the verge of releasing a new album though no release date is set yet.  However, they already have an EP and LP out with some borderline hypnotic songwriting and covers.  Just to prove my point, here is Berman’s version of the Bruce Springsteen classic “Dancing in the Dark.”

Cross Country Songbook: Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals Live at The Greek Theatre 9/18/2015

Posted on by Eric in Concert Review, Cross Country Songbook | Leave a comment

Ben Harper and The Innocent Criminals at The Greek Theatre

After disbanding all the way back in 2008, Ben Harper announced late last year that he would be reuniting with The Innocent Criminals for a short run of shows in early 2015. Luckily for us, that run continued and we were able to score some tickets to their comeback tour stop at the famed Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. Set against Griffith Park, the Greek was the perfect location for Harper to make his return to Los Angeles amongst the trees and under the stars.

If there was any rust to shake off in the rehearsals leading up to the reunion tour it certainly didn’t show last night as Harper and the rest of The Innocent Criminals ripped through songs spanning across Harper’s 20+ year career with the focus of course on his earlier work recorded with the unit who performed last night. Classics like “Diamonds On the Inside”, “Burn One Down”, and “Steal My Kisses”, brought everyone in the crowd back to their collective stoner dorm room daze, but it was the grittier selections where the band really shined. Songs like “Forgiven” from 1999’s Burn to Shine and “Ground On Down” from 1995’s Fight for Your Mind gave Harper and co. the opportunity to dig into some extended jams that even further energized a crowd that had clearly been counting down the days for this reunion since 2008. The highlight though may have been the band’s rendition of “Where Could I Go”, a song Harper recorded in 2004 with The Blind Boys of Alabama. Near the end of the song Harper abandoned his mic and the crowd immediately went silent to look on in awe as he belted out the song’s final verse with no amplification whatsoever.

With the band reportedly recording material for a new album, the hope amongst fans is clearly that this run of reunion shows might continue in support of the next record. Until then we’ll have to keep our fingers crossed and The Innocent Criminals classics on repeat.

September Spotify Playlist of the Month

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Maimed & Tamed Spotify Playlist of the Month September 2015

We’ve been so hard at work on the Cross Country Songbook that we nearly didn’t have enough time to compile and complete our September Spotify playlist, but better late than never right? Plus the wait will be much shorter now for more new tunes in October. You’re welcome.

This month’s playlist features some familiar faces like Big Scary and Rayland Baxter, a new favorite in Mise (who we were lucky enough to catch in Seattle a few weeks back), and of course some local Boston picks from Box of Birds, Funeral Advantage, and Infinity Girl.

Check out all those artists and more on the full playlist below and remember to subscribe for new tunes every month.

Where To Be At Americanafest 2015

Posted on by Ryan Schmitz in Americanafest 2015 | Leave a comment

For those of you still hungry for some good music festival action look no further than Americanafest in Nashville, TN.  As you may have read on Eric’s earlier posts from his Cross Country Songbook, Nashville is a music Mecca with tons to offer.  Well next week Nashville will open its doors to Americana fans of all shapes and sizes with a 5 day festival celebrating folk, bluegrass, country, the blues and many others, basically it’s all about American music.  Here are some acts to catch for the upcoming festival:

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats- Wednesday at 10:00 PM in the Mercy Lounge:  Rateliff has been blowing up these days with his hit “SOB” getting some major radio play.  The Night Sweats’ entire self-titled album is virtually flawless, I haven’t been able to stop listening to them since their show at Newport Folk Festival.  The much needed mix of soul and roots music makes them an act that are not to be missed.

Watkins Family Hour- Wednesday at 11:00 PM in the Mercy Lounge:  Another group that totally killed the Newport Folk Fest, Watkins Family Hour will take the stage immediately following Rateliff.  This is some of the best foot-stompin’ music out today so passing up a chance to catch them in a small venue would be nuts.  Also, the line-up has “surprise” billed for after their set so basically Wednesday night you better find yourself in the Mercy Lounge cause there promises to be at least 3 straight hours of amazing music.

Daniel Romano- Thursday at 12:00 AM in the Basement: Whether you call it Thursday night or Friday morning, midnight in the Basement is the place to be.  Daniel Romano will take the stage promising his trademark blend of bluesy alt-country.  Personally, I’m praying to hear “She Was the World to Me,” but with the very recent release of his latest album If I’ve Only One Time Askin’ there will undoubtedly be an awesome set to see.

Brian Wright- Friday 9:00 PM at Basement East: I first saw this guy open for the Milk Carton Kids in Boston and I was blown away.  He is a wildly accomplished singer songwriter with a ton of music out there.  This Nashville native is sure to kill it up on stage.

The Wood Brothers- Friday 10:00 PM at Basement East: These guys are some of my all time favorites and they have a new album coming out!  That means this show is going to be awesome for a couple of reasons.  It won’t be all new material but we will get some samples of the new record AND we will for sure hear some of the classics.  These guys have one of the most authentic Americana voices out there right now so definitely make sure you make it down to their show.

Willie Watson- Friday 11:00 PM at The Station Inn: Willie Watson of Old Crow Medicine Show fame has established himself as a true Southern voice in his solo career.  With his album Folk Singer, Vol. 1 he has shown exactly how good American roots and folk music can be.  With his name all over the Americana spectrum he kind of embodies the festival itself.  If you want to catch American roots music at its very finest you NEED to see Watson at The Station Inn.

There are a lot of honorable mentions on this list, with tons of acts to check out there will be no shortage of amazing music next week in Nashville.  Here is a link to the full showcase lineup for those interested and for good measure, here is a video of Willie Watson playing the old folk song “Rock Salt and Nails.” Damn…

Cross Country Songbook: The 101

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Cross Country Songbook: The 101

If you’re traveling from Seattle to San Francisco there’s no better way to do it than the 101. It might be quicker to take the inland route, but the vistas you’ll find along the Oregon coast are more than worth it. With the Pacific Ocean as your constant companion, throw this playlist on and enjoy the view, but make sure you don’t take your eyes off the road for too long.

Deep Sea Diver – “One By One”

If you’re making this trek down from the Pacific Northwest chances are you’ll come across the music of Jessica Dobson, the former Shins and Beck guitarist whose work as Deep Sea Diver provides the perfect segue from the Puget Sound to the Pacific Ocean.

Pacific Air – “Float”

I’ll let the artist and song names do all the talking for this one.

Millionyoung – “Hammock”

A wistful indie-pop jam to carry you into the mountains and along the winding roads of the Oregon coast.

Clive Tanaka y su orquestra – “Neu Chicago :: Side A :: For Dance”

The steel drums and floating synths set the scene for a beachside pit stop along the highway.

Pearl Jam – “Given To Fly”

Here the playlist takes a turn to capture the ruggedness of the coastline. Whenever I listen to this song I always imagine Eddie Vedder standing on a cliff above the ocean, the wind blowing through his beautiful man-mane, and the waves crashing high up on the rocks as he belts out the lyrics to this epic late-90s classic. And now you will too.

The Long Winters – “The Commander Thinks Aloud”

Though the lyrics are quite tragic (inspired by the fateful descent of the Space Shuttle Columbia and detailed in one of my favorite episodes of the Song Exploder podcast), the music is airy yet powerful in a way that matches the scenery for most of this drive.

Woods – “Moving to the Left”

After pulling yourself out of the emotional journey of the previous song, relax and let these beautiful guitar melodies bounce around your head while you contemplate the coastline.

Funeral Advantage – “Gardensong”

It wouldn’t be an oceanside sunset drive without lots of reverb right?

Here We Go Magic – “Over The Ocean”

Where ‘Given To Fly’ captures the power and frenetic energy of the coast, Luke Temple and co. encapsulate its serenity and peacefulness.

Mulatu Astake – “Ené Alantchie Alnorem”

As the sun meets the horizon line after a long day of driving, let the breezy flutes and whimsical soundscape of this tune whisk all your worries into the ocean.

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Long Time Set To Release Worth EP

Posted on by Eric in Album Review | Leave a comment

Long Time is a Boston based rock power trio. Guitar, bass, drums + vocals. True rock ‘n roll. An ordinary fan though may not realize that until they see the band live as these guys put out more noise than most 5 piece bands. Their first EP, Worth, drops on September 24th @ Great Scott. The trio’s sound is full rock ‘n roll, but there’s also plenty of soul locked within their new EP. And even more surprising is the fact that Thomas John Cadrin (guitar/vox), Andrew Nault (drums) and Colin Dinnie (bass) have only been playing together for just about a year.
From headlining Great Scott last November with The Box Tiger and Weather, to opening for Matt Pond PA @ Sinclair in April, and most recently crushing a night back @ GS alongside NYC rockers Highly Suspect, these guys have risen through the local ranks all the while managing to pull together some exceptional live recordings out of the well known Converse Rubber Tracks locations in Brooklyn, NYC (December 2014) and most recently, here at the new Boston HQ (July 2015).
Later on this month – on September, 24th @ Great Scott with The Color & Sound + Weakened Friends to be exact – they will be dropping their first studio release, the aforementioned EP called Worth.
Listen to “Bite Me Lovin”, the debut track off Worth, the new EP from Long Time, here:


Cross Country Songbook: Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Glacier National Parks

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Cross Country Songbook: Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Glacier National Parks

Last week we covered a lot of ground following our excursion through the Southwest and the National Parks of Utah. Traveling from Moab, UT up through Jackson, WY and into Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks we saw quite a stark change in landscape from the bleak canyons of red rock to the alpine evergreen forests filled with crisp mountain air. Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks are two of the most inspiring places I have ever visited in my life, and it’s no wonder that the former was the catalyst for creating the whole National Park Service. The sheer size of the park alone is a thing to behold and within each corner of its boundaries there are completely different ecosystems and scenery to discover and admire. We tried our best to capture the essence of those parks through the songs below, but if you haven’t had the opportunity to visit either park they should certainly be on every traveler’s bucket list. Make sure to subscribe to the full playlist below and follow along as we continue our cross country journey.

Modest Mouse – “Blame It On The Tetons”

Our drive through Grand Teton was brief, but also quite eventful. Not far past the entry gate we spied a coyote deep in a field of tall grass pulling apart a fresh kill for dinner. I’m guessing whatever animal it was that had fallen prey to the coyote would certainly agree with Isaac Brock in blaming its pitfalls on those pesky Tetons.

Jonathan Wilson – “Ballad of the Pines”

Even though we woke up in sub-30 degree weather at Yellowstone’s Bridge Bay Campground, putting this one on as we drove around Yellowstone Lake watching the sun rise made us completely forget the cold night air and focus on the beauty all around us in the park.

Fleet Foxes – “Meadowlarks”

I didn’t see any meadowlarks in my time at Yellowstone, nor do I know if Robin Pecknold has ever set foot in the park, but while exploring the northwest corner of the park in the early morning I couldn’t help but think that the Fleet Foxes frontman must have penned this one on a similar sunrise drive through the Lamar Valley.

Rich Aucoin – “Always The Same”

The build up and eventual climax of this song are the perfect accompaniment to driving along winding roads as you climb up and up into the heart of Yellowstone and finally reaching one of the parks may many awe-inspiring vistas. If you can ignore the irony of the song’s title as you explore the ever-changing landscapes of the park then this one will really boost your excitement for adventure.

Okkervil River – “The Rise”

Another song whose swirling strings and harmonies embody the constant fluctuations of Yellowstone’s terrain, “The Rise” is especially a great fit to go along with your exploration of the Norris Geyser Basin.

Iron & Wine and Ben Bridwell – “Coyote”

For the wilder parts of Yellowstone– We knew as soon as we heard this song earlier in the summer that it would end up somewhere in the Cross Country Songbook and it found a perfect home alongside Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley where the park’s wildlife is most abundant (coyotes included of course).

The Rural Alberta Advantage – “The Build”

Though The RAA hail from our neighbor to the north, they sure do a wonderful job of encapsulating the adventure and romance of exploring America and imagining what it was like for some of the early preservationists who first explored these parks in the pre-NPS era.

Sigur Ros – ” Glosoli”

Put this on while you admire the Lower Falls of Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon and during your visit to the Canyon’s Grand View Point on the North Rim and you’ll be guaranteed to have your breath taken away.

Mogwai – “Death Rays”

Sometimes words can’t describe natural beauty so that’s why we let the powerful guitars of Mogwai do the talking and help to capture the majesty and grandeur of the mountains and landscape within Glacier National Park.

Yo La Tengo – “Green Arrow”

After a long trek through three National Parks in four days, this Yo La Tengo tune soundtracked our comedown from the high of taking in so much of America’s natural beauty in such a short period of time.

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Cross Country Songbook: Wilco Live at Red Butte Garden 8/18/15

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WIlco at Red Butte Garden

After hiking our way through Canyonlands and Arches National Parks last week (see our accompanying playlist here), myself and fellow M&T contributors Jeff and Kyle were able to catch a Wilco show in Salt Lake City. Isn’t it a beautiful thing when timing works out like that? And if you’ve never been before we can tell you about another beautiful thing— Red Butte Garden. The 3,000 capacity amphitheater and arboretum on the campus of the University of Utah was an absolutely picturesque setting to enjoy an intimate show with one of our favorite bands. The picture above (and any other pictures you can find on the internet for that matter) don’t do the venue any justice, but you can take our word for it, if you’re ever in Salt Lake City you need to catch a show there. Not only is the venue general admission (save for a small section reserved for sponsors and other VIPs) it’s also BYOB. Now if you don’t think that’s a win-win then you must be out of your mind.

When you have a gorgeous venue like Red Butte Garden, artists always tend to bring their A game and on this night Wilco did just that. On recent tour dates they have been starting their shows by ripping through their new album, Star Wars, front to back and this performance was no different. Though the whole album took them only a mere 40 minutes to perform they certainly didn’t hold back from incorporating some jam sections into songs like “Where Do I Begin” which featured three part guitarmonies by Jeff Tweedy, Nels Cline, and Pat Sansone. After playing through Star Wars the band went straight into “Handshake Drugs” and it was on from there. The band played through 20+ additional tunes after finishing off their new record and their setlist selection was magical to say the least. They covered their whole 20 year discography and then some, mixing in tunes from their collaborative Woody Guthrie project with Billy Bragg as well as Tweedy’s Uncle Tupelo days. Highlights included a face melting solo from Cline on “Impossible Germany” (after which Tweedy called out a fan in the front row for being on their phone through the duration of the shredding), the selection of songs from A Ghost Is Born (“Handshake Drugs”, “Hummingbird:, “The Late Greats”, and “Spiders (Kidsmoke)”), and the all-acoustic second encore which even gave John Stirratt a turn at lead vocals on “It’s Just That Simple.” Between the gorgeous venue and the perfect setlist we couldn’t have asked for much more from a Tuesday night in Salt Lake City, and if we’re ever back in Utah you can bet we’ll be making a return trip to Red Butte Garden for whatever show is on.

Check out the full setlist for Wilco’s show below and make sure to follow along with our Cross Country Songbook coverage as we weave our way out to LA and back to Brooklyn, stopping along the way to see shows and investigate local music scenes.

1. EKG (band entered to recorded version)

2. More…

3. Random Name Generator

4. The Joke Explained

5. You Satellite

6. Taste The Ceiling

7. Pickled Ginger

8. Where Do I Begin

9. Cold Slope

10. King Of You

11. Magnetized

12. Handshake Drugs

13. I Am Trying To Break Your Heart

14. Art of Almost

15. Hummingbird

16. Box Full Of Letters

17. Secrets of the Sea

18. Heavy Metal Drummer

19. I’m The Man Who Loves You

20. Dawned On Me

21. Via Chicago

22. Jesus Etc.

23. Born Alone

24. Impossible Germany

25. The Late Greats


26. Spiders (Kidsmoke)


27. Misunderstood

28. War On War

29. It’s Just That Simple

30. Give Back The Key To My Heart (Uncle Tupelo cover)

31. California Stars

32. A Shot In The Arm