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 Read More

Americanafest 2015: Week in 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 Read More

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

Beacon Theatre is an awfully big place for just a guy and his guitar to keep entertained.  But on September 24th, that is exactly Read More

October Spotify Playlist of the Month

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 Read More

November Spotify Playlist of the Month

This month's playlist features M&T favorites like Rah Rah, David Wax Museum, and French Horn Rebellion along with Boston and Brooklyn locals like Long Read More

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

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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.

Bellwire Premiere New Video For “Time Out”

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Bellwire "Time Out" Video

Boston based powerpop quartet Bellwire have released a brand new video for their single “Time Out.” The video, directed by Ben Bocko (who also snapped the lovely photo of the band above), was filmed in Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain, MA. The song will be included on the band’s upcoming full-length produced by Elio DeLuca who has previously worked with acts like Titus Andronicus and Hallelujah the Hills. After watching the video for “Time Out” it’s no surprise that DeLuca and Bellwire fit perfectly together given the tongue-in-cheek approach we have seen Titus and HTH take on some of their previous work as well.

The band will be on tour across New England this October and will follow up with a more extensive run of dates next Spring to support the release of the new album. Keep your eyes peeled to the band’s website for tour updates. Until then check out the video for ‘Time Out” and let its sweet summery vibes put a smile back on your face on this rainy Wednesday.

Exclusive Premiere: Hayley Sabella – “Speak To Me Loud (Anchour Remix)”

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Last year one of our favorite Massachusetts based songwriters, Hayley Sabella, released her full-length album King Solomon, which featured the beautifully minimalist track “Speak To Me Loud.” Now the fine folks at Anchour Studio in Windham, Maine have given “Speak To Me Loud” a remix treatment that turns the solitary and contemplative original into a bona fide summer jam. Take a listen to the original and then try not to get out of your seat and dance while you stream the remix below.

If you’re in Boston make sure to catch Hayley opening for Jason Myles Goss’ album release at Club Passim this weekend on July 11.

Dwight Ritcher Trio at the Lizard Lounge 3/27 & 3/28

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Our friend Dwight Ritchter of Dwight & Nicole is making his triumphant return to The Lizard Lounge with The Dwight Ritcher Trio. If you’ve never seen his live show before you are in for some groovin’ vibes and face-melting guitars. Lucky for you we’ll also be giving away a pair of tickets to one winner who signs up for our newsletter through the link below. Check out Dwight and his trio shredding at Lizard back in ’13 in the video below and make sure you sign up for our newsletter now for your chance to win a pair of tickets to one of this weekend’s shows.

Enter To Win Tickets

The Western Den, Kevin William, and Billington Sea at Great Scott 3/23/15

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If you’ve heard the whispers, they’re right – The Western Den, Kevin William, and Billington Sea are folking up Great Scott on Monday, March 23rd.

After a year and a half stunning listeners with the spellbound folk tunes from their debut EP, Battle Hymns, The Western Den have returned with their highly anticipated new EP, All The Birds. In fact, March 23rd will be the first time to hear the haunting harmonies in the flesh and we’re shaking in our bones to get our hands and ears on it.

And although last summer’s shadow seems a world away, the stark romance of Kevin William’s Current Fears EP still remains. With the initial flicker and flame at its release in May 2014, Current Fears has now slipped into the go-to queue for late night feels and the singer/songwriter looks as though everything is ahead of him at the moment.

And, finally, fresh off the release of their self-titled debut album Billington Sea appears to be building steam. After a steady stream of shows up the east coast over the past month – specifically a killer set at Sofar Sounds Boston in February – the charming duo have set their sights on March 23rd to bring their playful tunes back to the stage.

On top of all that – Maimed & Tamed will be giving one lucky winner a pair of tickets to the show. All you have to do is sign up for our newsletter below and we’ll select a random winner who will get all sorts of folked up on March 23.

Enter To Win Tickets

Flight Facilities at The Sinclair 3/10/15

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It’s perhaps no surprise Flight Facilities are headlining The Sinclair tonight in Cambridge. They are, after all, the OG’s of that sunny electro-goodness to which Boston seems to finally be graced with – in more ways than one.

After a rather lengthy spell since their initial touchdown, the Aussie production duo returned in October to release their first full-length, Down To Earth. Pulsating with the same airy catch-tunes that we’ve come to expect from the duo, Down To Earth represents somewhat of a compilation of pre-released hits (“Stand Still”, “Claire de Lune”, “Two Bodies”, “Crave You”) while still offering a healthy dose of surprises. After all, everyone knows it’s impossible to talk Flight Facilities without including “Crave You” – an absolute gem that still makes summer feel like summer.

The ever-perceptive LA via Sydney based DJ, Touch Sensitive, will preface the Aussies with his electro-drenched 80s disco jams. Despite the bill’s lack of consideration for cold weather and snow, I think they’ve lined this one up for a winner. I might even stretch to say that the club is, in fact, set to go up on a Tuesday.


Jose Gonzalez – Vestiges and Claws

Posted on by Woody Black in Album Review, M&T Favorites | Leave a comment
Photo: Malin Johansson

Photo: Malin Johansson

Adrift in the milieu – José González emerges once again a teacher and student of his own craft on his third LP: Vestiges and Claws.

Almost ten years removed from Veneer – González’s debut LP – the Swede remains more or less unscathed. While a decade typically leaves its mark on a folk singer – usually a few more mediocre tattoos or perpetual whiskey-breath – González has emerged the same whispery apparition that he entered as. And for it Vestiges and Claws picks up from the last chord strummed on the 2007 release In Our Nature and wanders on.

Laced with the intimacy and intricacy of an ex-lover, the work almost breathes familiarity. As the nylon-stringed arpeggios dance and drape the bedroom environment on the opener, “With The Ink Of A Ghost”, a kind of confession is made. González seems to say; I’ve returned, I’m the same, take it or leave it. For a natural recluse, a non-verbal statement of the like is about the closest González will ever get to combative, yet this statement seems more about communication than confrontation. González seems to express his true desires, or better yet true self, in this message to the folk community through his decision to remain sonically consistent once again. Although remaining unchanged seems, at times, stemmed from a lack of artistic direction, it can be a very thoughtful and active choice all the same. González appears to have made attentive decision and, still regardless of its similarities – Vestiges and Claws remains a somewhat novelty to the folk community.

As the record ambles on, the essence of the work begins to take shape. Sheparded at times by González’s punctual vocal and then at others by assemblies of claps, snaps, and shakers, “Let It Carry You” serves as the lone up-tempo track visited by Vestiges and Claws. While many, undoubtedly, will recall the briskness that gave Veneer its charm with this track, “Let It Carry You” seems to solve a different riddle. It’s freshness and resolve allows the track to exist not only as nostalgia for González’s previous work in Veneer, but also as a composition in and of itself too – a piece that can stand on it’s own two feet. The ability to remain interesting while remaining homogenous; thus is the brilliance of José González. While many folk singers fall victim to the tides of criticism and critique – González seems to live outside it and remains attentive to his self and his craft.

It can be argued that the development of craft is not always synonymous with the achievement of stardom in pop music. However – in the folk community – craft most of the time precedes even stardom and José González is no exception. Having been born in Sweden to Argentine parents, González was introduced to Latin and Caribbean folk music in his early years while learning to speak (and sing) in English too. This exposure to the broader folk communities proved effective in González’s return to the classical guitar after several hardcore-punk trials in the early 2000s (Rajagopalan). When the singer returned, though, he returned with the dexterity of a proficient guitarist.

In many of the same ways Nick Drake became well known for his unity and ability with a guitar in the 1960s, José González attracted acclaim for his fingerpicking style and proficiency after the release of Veneer in 2003. After the subsequent release of In Our Nature in 2007, the evolution of González’s craft was – as somewhat expected – very gradual. Besides the introduction of multi-tracking guitars and vocal doubling, the sound of In Our Nature did not fall too far from the tree of Veneer. The result, however, was a more refined, more deliberate sound that brought the Swede’s craft closer to the resonance featured on Vestiges and Claws.

Intertwining soft-spoken phrases with long drawn-out vowels, the vocals rise and fall throughout Vestiges and Claws. Without an alarm or place to be it’s easy to disappear into the music and lose track of time. While most of the time Jose González’s consistent craft serves as his strong suit, there are moments through the interior of the album that it also flirts along the line of a downfall. “The Forest”, in particular, feels more like a watercolor painting than a consequential character study. Yet, the deliberateness of his work remains all the while and compels attentiveness rather than analysis. It becomes clear eventually that González’s outward charm has been discovered by the folk-singer himself, and that his work is a direct result of that discovery. González, it seems, understands the relationship between steadiness of character and consistency of craft in creating a legacy. And a legacy he’s made.

The Districts @ The Sinclair, Cambridge, MA 2/12/15

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The Districts_Graffiti_Ryan Farber23

Photo: Press/Ryan Farber

Seeking refuge and revival, a lucky collection of listeners bundled into Cambridge’s dark horse, The Sinclair, for a shot of that soundgood-feelgood. Besides The Districts, the bill featured another four-piece from New Jersey Pine Barons, and the buzz worthy barrage of Boston locals, Vundabar.

As the dark, dimly lit overheads illuminated the foyer, a lone cry came from the concert hall. The source, buttoned-up in dark cottons and hair-covered eyes, became recognizable immediately as Brandon Hagen of Vundabar. Shifting from Ed Sullivan-esque Beatles upstrokes to Bowie-like vocal exaggerations to Bombay Bicycle Club-ish melodic riffs, Hagen challenged and frequented the stereotypes. The self-proclaimed jangly pop-ers of Boston – although mostly harmless – aroused a sense of self-indifference with their stage antics, but the crowd was all together amused.

The half-dancing soon subsided with the arrival of Pine Barons – an eclectic and rather erratic rock quartet from southern New Jersey. As the group dipped and dove between fingerpicked folk tunes and full-on post-punk ballads, the soundscape wandered off at times unattended, but the lyrical content remained potent. The set soon became an extended assemblage of tracks with little post-song banter and ultimately found its conclusion on a particularly electric rock-n-roll tune.

Not too long after a new drink and a new friend, the wait was over. Shepherded by the curly-haired Eric Grote, The Districts assumed the stage now studied by several hundred onlookers. After a few long and illustrious years impressing heads at Fat Possum, then Bonaroo, and recently Late Night with Seth Meyers, the Lancaster-based casual-rockers have found their way out of the trans-lantic indie circuit and into the buzz. Halfway through the opening ballad it became clear what the buzz was all about.

Reviving the all-too-familiar upbeat stop-start of Spoon, The Districts filled the room with an almost refined nostalgia as they chipped and chirped through the softer anthem “Long Distance” while the young audience sang word for word. Despite allusions of Spoon, though, Grote’s versatile vocal seemed to distinguish the four-piece from their influences and moved them into what’s becoming known as “The Districts” sound. The result was all-together spellbinding as Grote along with guitarist Mark Larson, bassist Conor Jacobus, and drummer Braden Lawrence chugged through “Lyla” and into a goosebump-inducing finale.

As whistles and wails rose from the crowd of believers and converts alike, The Districts withdrew from the stage for several minutes before returning again to even more deafening applause. It was the 12-minute volley of foot stamping and yelling that ensued as “Young Blood” built to the top from the bottom, though that left its final mark on the night with a healthy dose of ear ringing to remind the lucky listeners that The Districts are sticking around.

American Field Brooklyn Curated Playlist

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American Field Brooklyn

Back in September Maimed & Tamed booked 10 local folk and Americana acts to perform as part of Ball and Buck’s Boston edition of American Field. This weekend American Field will take to Brooklyn and once again the music will be brought to you by none other than the fine folks from M&T. Our team curated a playlist of some of the best folk, Americana, bluegrass, blues, and soul music to help set the vibe for this weekend’s festivities. While you browse through the finest in American made apparel, wares, and other various products we hope the sounds of Houndmouth, Deer Tick, Uncle Tupelo, Lucero, and many many more will make you feel like eating cherry pie and reading the Constitution.

Check out the full playlist below and make sure to stop by 274 36th St in Brooklyn between 10am and 6pm on Nov 22 and 23 for an All-American experience you won’t want to miss. Get all the details you need on American Field here before heading to Brooklyn this weekend.

Win $200 in Concert Tickets from Rukkus

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Looking for the perfect holiday gift for your audiophile friends? We’ve got you covered. NYC based ticketing site Rukkus is giving away $200 worth of concert tickets and we’ve got the scoop on how you could win. There are two ways you can enter and they’re both quick and easy:

  • Send an email to with a four sentence poem describing your favorite live music experience
  • Tweet “I just entered to win $200 in concert tickets from #jointherukkus”

So what are you waiting for? Click here for full details and your name could be called when the winner is announced On December 1.

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