Newport Folk Festival Spotlight: Lake Street Dive


[Editor's Note: Guest blog post by contributor Ryan Bach] Lake Street Dive released their second album earlier this year, and since has been gaining attention Read More

July Spotify Playlist of the Month


Christmas in July is almost upon us once again, so what better way to get amped up than M&T’s July playlist that just so Read More

Best of 2014... So Far


(Somehow) we're more than halfway through 2014 already, and over the past 6+ months we've had our headphones in ~85% of the time. Throughout Read More

5 Must- See Acts at Newport Folk Festival 2014


The best and worst thing about the Newport Folk Festival lineup each year is that it is always stacked with talent. The amazing abilities Read More

Newport Folk Festival Spotlight: Ryan Adams


[Editor's note: Many thanks to our friend and guest contributor, Jamie McKillop, for writing this wonderful piece] Mixing the country twang of Gram Parson, the Read More

M&T Favorites

Best of 2014… So Far

Posted on by Caroline in Best of 2014, M&T Favorites | Leave a comment

(Somehow) we’re more than halfway through 2014 already, and over the past 6+ months we’ve had our headphones in ~85% of the time. Throughout the year we’ve been compiling our monthly playlists featuring 20 new tracks each, but we wanted to share some of our early favorites in the running for the ‘Best of 2014′ designation. Eric and Caroline highlighted an album and a song each from this year’s ‘Best Of’ crop and compiled a playlist with those artists and more for your listening pleasure. Check out our favorites below and make sure to subscribe to the playlist  for continued fun throughout the year.

Caroline’s Picks

Kishi Bashi – “The Ballad of Mr. Steak”

Kishi Bashi’s work has been ambitious from the start, but his 2014 release Lightht offers next-level musical stunts, and pulls them all off. Most notably, “The Ballad of Mr. Steak” is an ode to a cut of red meat that’s equal parts classical, digital and disco. With a whimsical and absurdist storyline set to a whip-smart symphonic arrangement, “The Ballad of Mr. Steak” is the indie-pop groove of the year. But beyond its sonic offerings, the song has a magic, spellbinding effect. It’s simply impossible to be nonchalant when “Mr. Steak” comes on – even the Cool Kids will be cheesing like crazy and doing iPod-commercial-worthy spins down the street to this jam. The song’s blatant joy just cannot be ignored. For three blissful minutes,”The Ballad of Mr. Steak” forces us all to ditch our standard head-bobbing, arms-crossed power pose, and enjoy music as our truest selves. And that’s actually way cooler than being cool.

SKATERS – Manhattan

Hedonism runs rampant in music today, and SKATERS are doing it best in 2014. This delinquent crew of twenty-somethings are unapologetic in their party-sex-repeat lifestyle, and more importantly, in the indelicate way that they write about it. Learning from the example of musical forefathers like The Ramones, SKATERS’ songwriting is straightforward beyond compare. An example (eyeroll trigger warning): on an album called Manhattan, they’ve got a song called “To be Young in NYC,” and the chorus of the song is, “To be young in New York City / To be young in New York City.” So yep, SKATERS’ lyrics may come off as lazy at first, but the overall aftertaste of Manhattan is incredibly refreshing. When flocks of musicians are choosing to over-produce, distort, and mumble nonsense, SKATERS’ move to enunciate every shallow craving and indulgent party story (and then lay them over an incredibly polished punk soundtrack) truly stands out.

Eric’s Picks

Girls Guns and Glory – “Rockin’ Chair Money”

If you aren’t familiar with Girls Guns and Glory and their new album Good Luck you may assume upon first listen that its twangy vibes come straight from Nashville…or maybe Boston? Though our home city isn’t known for being a country music mecca, GGG have embraced Beantown and led the local charge in the recent revival of alt-country. Though Good Luck is certainly solid from front to back, the slow-burning “Rockin’ Chair Money” stands out above the rest. The track is nestled near the end of the record which seems fitting as it starts softly and unassuming, but quickly picks up the pace midway through. As the reverb laden guitar hits, the track immediately becomes reminiscent of A.M. era Wilco, a record that clearly inspired many of today’s artists who identify with the alt-country classification.

Grey Season – Time Will Tell You Well

I’m not trying to play favorites by writing about another local band here, this record deserves to be on any ‘Best Of’ list along with the nationally touring heavy hitters. Grey Season is a band who has been written about quite often on this blog and it’s for good reason. Their full-length debut, Time Will Tell You Well, was recorded primarily at Levon Helm’s iconic barn in Woodstock, NY and I think it’s something he would certainly be proud to be affiliated with. Though some may be quick to pigeonhole Grey Season as a bluegrass band, songs like “Good Friday”, “Satellites”, and “Look at Us Now” clearly show that there’s more to this band than fingerpicking and footstomping. TWTYW is the perfect record to play on your porch this summer, and every summer for a very long time.

Nate Leavitt Releases New Album, Set To Play Plough & Stars June 14

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Earlier this year local singer-songwriter and guitar whiz, Nate Leavitt, released his debut solo album You, Me and the Silence. Though Leavitt has been performing locally for more than 20 years, this album marks his departure from recording work with other Boston powerhouses such as Oldjack and Parlour Bells. The sound that Leavitt has found on You, Me and the Silence strays from that of the previous bands he has worked with, and seems more to draw inspiration from contemporary country music in the vein of Jason Isbell. With the increasing popularity of the Newport Folk Festival and mainstream critical praise for artists like Isbell, Josh Ritter, Joe Fletcher and others, it seems that Leavitt picked the perfect time to make his solo debut.

You can purchase You, Me and the Silence now via bandcamp and stream the title track below. Click the button below for more info on Leavitt’s upcoming show at Plough & Stars in Cambridge on Saturday June 14.

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TOKiMonsta – “Soul to Seoul (Part 2)” Video

Posted on by Eric in M&T Favorites | Leave a comment

Los Angeles based producer/DJ Jennifer Lee aka TOKiMONSTA released her sophomore LP Half Shadows in 2013, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to sit around and let the songs get stale. Last week Lee released the two-part music video for Half Shadows track “Soul to Seoul.” For the project, TOKiMONSTA collaborated with LA based Maker Music to create a captivating and deeply emotional video. I would continue to try and do the video justice with more praise, but I think this is one of those situations where a picture (or a video in this case) is worth a thousand words.

Boston Clawing Offers Alternative to 5/25 Boston Calling Festivities

Posted on by Eric in Concert Preview, M&T Favorites | Leave a comment
Couldn’t afford tickets for Boston Calling? Modest Mouse isn’t your cup o’ tea? Well have we got the Sunday night solution for you. Thanks to Dan Nicklin and the team behind this year’s SXNE festivities, you can see 10 bands at Ned Devines in Faneuil hall for the low low price of FREE 99. Yup you read that right. Boston Clawing, as the evening has been dubbed, is a celebration of local upstarts Tigerman WOAH (who will be playing that little festival next door earlier in the day themselves). The fearsome foursome will be joined by other local all-stars like Friendly People, The Silks, Parlour Bells, Eddie Japan and of course, Dan Nicklin’s outfit Oldjack.
All these awesome bands for a grand total of $0.00. So if you need a break from Boston Calling, or are in the area looking for something to do, there’s no better spot to stop by than Ned Devine’s.
Check out the full lineup via Facebook and a selection of tunes from some Boston Clawing performers below.

Exclusive Video Premiere: As The Sparrow – “Emily”

Posted on by Eric in M&T Favorites | 1 Comment

Today we are beyond thrilled to premiere a brand new video from one of our favorite up and coming folk acts in the local scene- As The Sparrow. Their video for “Emily” was directed and edited by Elena Guy and features a storyline that follows a CLUE themed murder mystery. It’s got everything you would want in a music video– deception, drinking, Colonel Mustard…and of course, great music.

“Emily” will be part of As The Sparrow’s forthcoming In A Box EP, which will be released early next month. The band will be playing two EP releases shows, at The Hard Rock Cafe in Boston on May 15 and at Arlene’s Grocery in New York on May 16. If you can’t wait that long you can also catch the band at John Harvard’s Ale House on April 18th. Check out the video below for “Emily” and  be prepared for a suspenseful, yet playful re-imagining of your favorite childhood board game.

Sofar Sounds Boston 3/26/2014

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Another month means another Sofar Sounds show, and March’s offered a trinity of homegrown folk and bluegrass. First up was Tall Heights, a Boston-based guitar and cello duo. Simply put, I’ve never met two voices more perfectly matched to one another. Singing seamlessly in unison or close harmony, the two presented vocals tight enough to rival Simon and Garfunkel… but thankfully without black turtlenecks or awkward power struggles.* Beyond their handwritten tunes, Tall Heights somehow managed to add new layers of meaning to an already moving song, with their cover of The Beatles’ “Yesterday.” Tall Heights’ short and sweet set at Sofar left us only wanting more, and luckily we’ll be catching them again soon at the Sinclair on April 10th.

Next to take the “stage” (which in this case was an oriental rug), was Darlingside, an indie-folk quartet out of Cambridge. Darlingside’s live performance is spirited, maybe even explosive, in a way that you may not expect from a spin of their record. The four Darlingside dudes rapidly jump in and out of the spotlight, both on vocals and their arsenal of string instruments, which creates a viewing experience not unlike watching a ping-pong match. Whimsical lyrics and lush harmonies evoke 1960s Laurel Canyon, which only makes sense considering Graham Nash’s recent endorsement of the band as nothing less than “delicious.” While Darlingside’s music is thoughtfully informed by the past, their inventive arrangements solidify their position as a forward-thinking, label-defying staple on the Boston music scene.

Last to play was Poor Old Shine, a five-man motley crew out of Connecticut. All stretched collars, wide eyes and boyish charm, the bluegrass outfit may lack a bit of, well, shine, but their rugged performance style only made them easier to love. PoS performs with a crazed energy and uninhibited joy, and that joy quickly became infectious in the crowd. And while their stage presence is youthful, their musicianship is first-class; they wielded instruments like banjos, mandolins, a pump organ, and even a singing saw to round out each track. Brimming with both talent and excitement, Poor Old Shine’s future is clearly bright.

*While we’re on the topic, THIS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sKfosGec4Y.

Max Garcia Conover Kicks Off Crowd Funding Campaign

Posted on by Eric in M&T Favorites | Leave a comment

The last time we saw Portland’s Max Garcia Conover he was putting on an inspiring performance for our friends at Sofar Boston and now he is embarking on a new project to fund his next record. Unlike other indie musicians who use a service like Kickstarter or PledgeMusic, Max is taking the DIY route and using his own website as a vehicle to fund his recording. We caught up with Max to talk about the campaign, his new album, and strategies for getting dressed in the morning. Read on for the full interview and click the button below to learn more about Max’s campaign and how you can contribute.

Max Garcia Conover Album Campaign

Maimed & Tamed: What made you choose to host your own campaign instead of using a crowd funding service?

Max Garcia Conover: I felt like there were things I wanted to do differently — weekly video demos, free copies of the album to everyone who supported the campaign — that I couldn’t easily do within the structure of one of the fan funding sites. Also a lot of those sites are all or nothing, which is a good idea, but one that seems pretty played out at this point. My fundraising goal is just a goal — I’m going to find a way to make the record regardless.
 
M&T: Tell us about the demo series and the songs that you’ve released thus far? What will the process be like for determining which songs will make it on the record?

MGC: I have twenty or so new songs that I like, but I only want a dozen for the album. So I started making these little homemade videos to see which songs people got excited about. This video for the campaign will be the sixth new song I’ve released. I’ve got a bunch more to go, but the process so far has been a lot of fun, trying to make each video interesting and appropriate to the song in a very limited amount of time.

M&T: Are there any supporter rewards that you are particularly excited about fulfilling (aside from making and sharing a killer record that is)?

MGCMan I’d love to do some international house concerts. And I think the blend of tea I make when I’m on tour is pretty awesome. Mostly I’m excited to get as many copies of the album out into the world as possible. I’m sending anyone who supports the campaign, even just by spreading the word, as many copies as they want.

M&T: The campaign video mentions fables and the impact that type of storytelling has had on your songwriting, did you have a favorite fable growing up or maybe something you discovered more recently that really grabbed you?

MGC: One of my college professors told me this one just before graduation: “There are these two young fish swimming along one morning, and they pass an old fish. The old fish says, “Good morning! Water’s great today isn’t it?” The young fish nod and continue along their way. A few minutes later one of them stops suddenly, turns to the other, and says, “Wait..what the fuck is water?!”

M&T: In 5 words or less, describe what fans can expect from the new album
MGC: Songs about home and belonging.
M&T: When you get dressed in the morning what do you put on first, your pants or your socks?
MGC: Pants. I save the the socks for last because they’re my favorite. I love socks.

Newport Folk Festival Spotlight: Reignwolf

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Normally a band who is touring with Black Sabbath wouldn’t appear at the Newport Folk Festival in the same year…those things just don’t mix. As we’ve learned over the years though, Jay Sweet and his festival booking team understand that the term “folk” can be interpreted in many different ways. We saw Freelance Whales and Tegan & Sara in 2011, tUnE-yArDs in 2012, and now the Fort will welcome the gritty blues rock of Jordan Cook aka Reignwolf to its hallowed festival grounds. Armed with a guitar, a kick drum, and a helluva lot of distortion, Cook is guaranteed to turn some heads at Newport this summer. Check out a video of Reignwolf performing “In The Dark” for NPR at last year’s Sasquatch Music Festival, and make sure to grab tickets for Friday while they last!

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Newport Folk Festival Spotlight: Death Vessel

Posted on by Eric in M&T Favorites, Newport Folk Festival Spotlight | Leave a comment

With the rolling lineup announcements for this year’s Newport Folk Festival there’s still plenty more to be unveiled, but already we’ve found ourselves completely smitten with the lineup. It wouldn’t be Newport without familiar faces like Dawes, and Conor Oberst, but it’s the newcomers that get us the most excited. Especially if that act is someone we had never heard before seeing them added to the lineup, which is exactly the case with Joel Thibodeau aka Death Vessel. After listening to Thibodeau’s debut album, Island Intervals, on repeat following its release, he has quickly become one of the acts we’re most looking forward to seeing at the Fort. Death Vessel’s music is deeply layered and eerily whimsical, yet still playful at times. Island Intervals immediately brings to mind the sounds of Sigur Ros so it’s no surprise that Sigur Rós frontman Jónsi makes a guest appearance on the track “Isla Drown.”

It will be interesting to see how Thibodeau recreates the sounds of Island Intervals in a live setting down at the Fort, but either way we will be there to witness it. Check out the official video for “Mercury Dime” below and grab your tickets for Friday’s festivities while they last. We guarantee they’ll be gone sooner than you think.

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Newport Folk Festival Spotlight: Shakey Graves

Posted on by Caroline in M&T Favorites, Newport Folk Festival Spotlight | Leave a comment

Armed with the loyal affection of fans from his hometown of Austin, TX, Shakey Graves is shipping his signature blues/rock fusion up north for this year’s Newport Folk Festival. While Shakey Graves (known off-stage as Alejandro Rose-Garcia) is a solo act, it’s much more than a “man and his guitar” situation. His kick-drum and tambourine are jerry-rigged out of a suitcase which he plays by foot, all while laying vocals that are so gritty they could sand your floors. Rose-Garcia’s finger-picking on a distorted guitar completes the lo-fi feel. So don’t let his one-man status fool you — just because he’s not jumping on a piano (#tbt to Matt Vasquez at NFF 2012) doesn’t mean the show will lack in energy. Shakey Graves’ sound is impossibly larger and livelier than his busker-esque appearance, especially on commanding crowd-pleasers like “Roll the Bones.” And even on “Word of Mouth” and his more subdued tracks, a slow-burning vibrancy remains. Each song in Shakey’s catalog is connected to the next through his distinct songwriting style, which is heavily influenced by “the good ol’ days,” for lack of a more specific time period. His old-school lyrics are so authentic that I’m half-convinced his sole form of currency is gold nuggets, and maybe the occasional fur pelt. Shakey Graves’ stories of stargazing, moonshine-swilling and straight-shootin’ will sound just right within the timeworn walls of Fort Adams. And we’re willing to bet that come July, the resident golden boy of Austin will be embraced by yet another tight-knit music community, this time at Newport Folk Fest.

You can listen to and download Shakey Graves’ latest album here.

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