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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Beck - Heart Is A Drum


NEW TODAY


from the Morning Phase album






Monday, July 28, 2014

Sunday closes one of the best Newport Folk Festivals ever

Newport Folk coverage
by 5342 Studios & Ian Perz 
Words by Ryan Spaulding

If the first two days of Newport were about new musicians, louder play and going electric (links to our photos and observations: Friday and Saturday) then Sunday was the return to form for the festival with eyes cast towards celebrating Mavis Staples' birthday and artists with a more traditional composure for Folk. Of course there were exceptions.. Glorious exceptions..


DAWES PLAY NEW SONGS, DOMINATE NEWPORT FOLK



As a music lover and a passionate supporter of Newport Folk, I too was concerned about the way the new program would be received. After speaking with planners backstage, they were every bit as tense at certain points. And, like me, they couldn't have been any happier with the reaction of the fans this year at Newport. Sunday was all about close friends. Dawes were the set of the day for this writer. They just keep getting better and better, even performing new songs like old favorites. What's my favorite Dawes show ever? Probably this one.


THAO & THE GET DOWN STAY DOWN AMAZE -
THEY WERE THE SUN DURING THE RAIN


Thao Nguyen is just so amazing - the way she structures her songs (incorporating slide guitar, banjo, lap steel, etc) is inspired, as is her writing. The fiery performer was dressed in yellow on the Fort stage as the day's heaviest rain began to fall. The performance by her and her band, The Get Down Stay Down, was all the sun the crowd needed and they danced in their ponchos as the rain beat down upon the soil. Sun Power, Soul Power!

Gregory Alan Isakov leaves Newport Folk 2014 with thousands of new fans and admirers and he can count me among them. I really knew nothing about the man before Sunday's set at Fort Adams and you can trust I will be following up. The strength of the set was obvious almost immediately as the play ascended higher and higher. Then, I learned, that it's the man's storytelling and vocals that really won me over. Maybe my favorite new discovery at Newport this year.


AN AMAZING STORYTELLER - GREGORY ALAN ISAKOV 



I really didn't anticipate loving the Hurray For The Riff Raff set as much as I did. But there was lots to love. The band moved seamlessly from songs of lost love to a total rambler of a number. The sound was unmatched on Saturday, making this one of the most magical sets of the entire weekend. I can't wait to see them again.


HURRAY FOR THE RIFF RAFF EFFORTLESS ENTERTAIN


With so many sets, any fan at Newport Folk knows you can't stay too long at any set if you want to see it all. That didn't keep me from parking at Valerie June's Harbor Set for essentially the whole thing. It was a soft, sensual telling of love songs and a defiant foot-down in others. This was a real standout for me on Sunday. I need to get some of her records and soon.


THERE'S SOMETHING MAGIC ABOUT VALERIE JUNE



TRAMPLED BY TURTLES - AS BRILLIANT AS EVER

CONOR OBERST IS OUTSTANDING
PLAYS HIS SET WITH DAWES & LARKIN POE


MAVIS STAPLES WAS THE STAR OF THE SHOW
HAPPY 75th BIRTHDAY!


Hozier had everyone buzzing on the Harbor Stage



BLUE COLLAR HEROES LUCERO WERE OUTSTANDING 

CO-FOUNDER GEORGE WEIN ADDRESSES FOLK


MORE PHOTOS & WORDS:
FRIDAY NEWPORT FOLK COVERAGE
SATURDAY NEWPORT FOLK COVERAGE



Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Powerful Day Two at Newport Folk 2014

Newport Folk coverage
by 5342 Studios & Ian Perz 
Words by Ryan Spaulding


J RODDY WALSTON DEVASTATES FOLK AUDIENCES



With a heady rock set influenced by blues and soul, J Roddy Walston and the Business were one of the big, big winners this year at Newport Folk. Their Harbor Stage set was seen by many thousands of fans, many of which walked away saying the performer had "stolen the show." They had. But such proclamations here in Newport can be fleeting.


THE OH HELLOS OFFERED SUNSHINE AT NEWPORT


Folk audiences were blown away early by the magic of The Oh Hellos - who offered energy, instrumentation and harmonies that reminded this writer of Folk alumnus: Typhoon, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Hey Marseilles and The Lumineers. The band whipped the energy of the Quad Stage into a frothy mix of sunshine and joy and before you knew it, Saturday had truly begun in earnest. For me, this set was every bit as exciting and honest as the first time I saw Trampled By Turtles play in Newport.. There's magic here to spare!


SHOVELS & ROPE SET THE FORT STAGE ON FIRE


Playing the Fort Stage at Newport is both a blessing and a curse for most bands.. It's a place full of hope and the ghosts of festivals past fly close and all around. To see a duo own it the way Shovels & Rope did, makes me unbelievably happy. It's been wonderful to see them take off the way they have. Thousands got a little gasoline poured on their fire with this one!

With staggered stage times, most concertgoers were merrily bouncing from one set to the next all day long on Saturday. Hearts were won and then won again throughout the day. And like Friday, the themes were loud, larger - and plugged in. There were exceptions (as you are about to see) but the days in Newport this year will be remembered by most as powerful and electric..


HOUNDMOUTH WERE, ONCE AGAIN, AMAZING



CAPTAINS OF DESTINY IN NEWPORT: DEER TICK


KURT VILE RIDES THE TIDE OF EMOTION IN NEWPORT


WHAT AN OUTFIT! LUCIUS OWN THE HARBOR



POKEY LAFARGE - ONE OF SATURDAY'S BEST SHOWS


SHAKEY GRAVES WERE A HUGE DRAW AT FOLK


STRINGS ARE THE THING - MILK CARTON KIDS


THIS SET WAS DELIGHTFUL! PUSS N BOOTS





Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Biggest Sets of Day One at Newport Folk 2014

Newport Folk coverage
by 5342 Studios & Ian Perz 
Words by Ryan Spaulding



REIGNWOLF ELECTRIFIES NEWPORT!


Each year a couple of Newport acts take this little sea by storm. Anyone who listened in advance realized that Jordan Cook, the guitar-crushing singer of Reignwolf, was the embodiment of change at this music festival. Steeped in the music of the past, he used his guitar like a microphone and shouted his presence at the world. For a moment there was only Reignwolf and there was only this place.

Plugged-in throughout, Reignwolf was the loudest set to be played at Newport in the seven years I have been attending. Know what? It worked. The skies didn't darken and the ground didn't open up and swallow us whole. All that mattered was Mr. Cook and company played the best set of blues-inspired rock that Newport had maybe ever seen. It was the set of the day and almost everywhere you went people were buzzing about it.

JIMMY CLIFF TRIUMPHS AT NEWPORT


For me the most surprising set of Friday came from Jimmy Cliff. I anticipated a set that was celebratory but was readying myself to enjoy it as an exhibit is seen, digested and remembered. I was going to take it in until the spirit didn't grab me and then see another set. There's so much to see and hear at Newport, there is no crime in this. Jimmy Cliff and his band had other ideas.. This was one of the most uplifting and joyous sets I have ever seen at Newport. Hand-clapping, fist-pumping, waving arms from the crowd, so much energy -- and an undeniable spirit to create and interact. The more I think about this set, the more I realize that Jimmy Cliff is another of our treasures. I will definitely be seeing Jimmy Cliff again, and soon I hope. So righteous!


LAKE STREET DIVE ASSUMES CONTROL


Lake Street Dive have grown in prominence the last two years and they play Newport Folk at the pinnacle of their musical prowess. My lord, I knew they were good but I guess I didn't realize just how amazing they could be. An unstoppable, sunshine set that left hundreds dancing on the Quad stage, the Lake Street Dive set on Friday offered what could be one of the most memorable moments of Newport Folk 2014: Mavis Staples stepped on stage with the band and brought the set to a whole new level. Staples, who is more marvelous every time I see her, turns 75 this year and Newport Folk has turned this weekend into a birthday celebration for her. I would not be surprised if we see Staples again, today and again on Sunday. [Insider Information: Mavis Staples will be playing with both Lucius and Puss N Boots on Saturday. You heard it here!! Is a Jack White / Pokey LaFarge collaboration also in the works for today? We'll see! - Ryan]


ROBERT HUNTER SERMONIZES WITH SONG



I get into these esoteric and creativity conversations with songwriters all the time. I'm most amazed by two very simple precepts of songwriting: the genesis of the song (the moment it ceases to be a passing breeze and starts being a thing) and the way that music comes to life when the songwriter begins working with other musicians or that song gets covered by someone else.. The song's the thing. And with that in mind, I ended up spending a great deal of time with Robert Hunter on Friday. To hear the music he's responsible for be played at Fort Adams, an area swarming with all kinds of creative spirits and old ghosts, really fired my brain up. In a moment, we see we are but a small thing but also connected to everything else. And sometime later, the set is over and you realized you and 2,000 other people just had what amounted to a religious experience through music. Very special!


BAND OF HORSES ARE THE RIGHT FIT AT NEWPORT



Magic Folk Moment of the Day for me came during the Band of Horses set. I've done so many of these wonderful Newport events, I look for really great takeaway moments that I can cherish for years to come. Sitting and watching Band of Horses play the Fort Stage under a gold and blue sky has to be right up there with individual performances of Alabama Shakes, Billy Bragg and The Decemberists - amongst the best sets on the big stage in many years. The band sound so very amazing right now and Newport Folk was a perfect fit.

Funny Side Story - Some years ago, I was talking with Newport Folk Executive Producer Jay Sweet about acts that could be plugged into the lineup in upcoming years over a beer. I quipped, "Band of Horses would be a really great fit," and Jay said something to the effect of, "I woud love that, but c'mon, that will never happen." (Read the Rolling Stone article that touches on Newport's ability to make the impossible happen.) Fast forward to Friday... Not only did it happen, it was as amazing as I knew it could be. This is a band you should be seeing if you have the chance. Their new live album, recorded at the Ryman is most-worthy.

Each year planners take the Newport Folk Festival in a series of interesting new direction through initiatives and (clearly) through the music. The Festival has evolved so rapidly from a two day music event, to a successful music weekend, to a three-day long weekend-long music event with spin-off events happening in the evening and somehow, everything is still grounded. Part of that uniqueness comes from the limited capacity. Planners sold something like 11,000 tickets for each day well in advance. The festival is sold out before a single artist is announced and that means there's a lot of trust inside the stone walls of Fort Adams. The people of Folk are protected - like a Darwinian island, the events on these stages are insular, special and true. But this is a paradox because change is the rule here as well.. As most clearly noted in the artist and genre mixes. One thing never changes: the Folk are happy. Children dance and play, while a few feet away sailboats drift by and the ocean air lifts the clouds. This is a very special place. And my life continues to be enriched by the time I spend here.

As with previous years, Newport Folk announced several new initiatives this year. With the passing of Pete Seeger, planners this have rolled out "For Pete's Sake" - a platform for Folk Musicians who carry the spirit of Seeger's life work, and of the first festivals in Newport. For Pete's Sake performers are presented in the spirit of the original Newport Folk Foundation and have been chosen for their dedication to the traditions of bluegrass, gospel and roots music. The "Pete's Sake" sets are being performed on the Fort Adams' Museum Stage - which is being managed by Chris Funk of the Decemberists. For Pete's Sake at Newport Folk this year features: Thomas Maupin, Blind Boy Paxton, Daniel Meyers, Hurdy Gurdy Band, Katie McNally, David Neimen, Matt Fitchenbaum, Sanlikol Barsamian Du, Harvey Reid, as well as workshops for Troubadours and Mandolin players.

Ultimately, the "For Pete's Sake" stage allows the fort to maintain it's deep roots and pay homage to the great Pete Seeger, while allowing planners to shift the focus of the main stages to contemporary performers who play here with every bit the same spirit, if not in the same sound. The times are a-changing still. What was a gamble by planners in 2008 (the shifting of the festival to independent sounds and to full-on electric sets) is a matter-of-course just six years later. With a Friday that featured the wild, wailing electric guitar of Reignwolf (possibly the loudest set ever at Newport) and a Saturday that will headline Jack White... This year will prove to be the most plugged-in Newport Folk ever.




Thursday, July 24, 2014

Back Here With Me Again.


MAKING A MUSIC VIDEO 101 - "Back Here With Me Again" is the new single from Aloud's It's Got To Be Now record (RSL'S Best of 2014). The video, filled with excitable ironic titling, is sure to put your fans in the right place to love your music. Aloud have always been (if nothing else) intellectual rockers and that much shines through. We already loved the music. Filmed by Stephen LoVerme and Erin Genett, the video was edited by Aloud's own Henry Beguiristain. Several New England bands and friends of bands appear here, making this fun little poke at band merchandising an actual time capsule of sorts. Enjoy!





Wednesday, July 23, 2014

TIME VS MONEY from THE BYNARS



The Bynars have been inspiring in the ways that their music overflows the stage, their sets quite often (quite literally) leap off the page. Performances interact with fans live, on the web and the band has found ways to allow fans to inspire one another. This new video was directed by Shaun Clarke. Clarke also directed the band's amazing interactive video "How Does It Feel to Be in Love?". This new one features two extremely talented dancers, Kirsten Evans & Alex Lantz, with choreography by Viktor Plotnikov.



- The Bynars -
Albums / Web / Fb / Tw

Monday, July 21, 2014

New VOLCANO SUNS

SOUND 
INVESTMENT





This just in from MERGE RECORDS

As a special surprise in the spirit of our 25th anniversary reissue series, we have released Old Pain(t): Live at City Gardens, a new Volcano Suns download-only live album. It’s available now in theMerge digital store as well as iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and Rdio. Priced at $4.99 this is history you can buy into.





Jeff Wiegand of the band offered some background on the release:
"This show was recorded at City Gardens in New Jersey during July of ’86. We had just finished up the final mixing of All-Night Lotus Party in June and went back out on the road for a bit. The original cassette tape was restored by Bob Weston and Jon Williams. Bob tells me the whiz-bang technical term for this is “audio restoration.” Whatever it might be called, they did a great job."

VOLCANO SUNS
Album / WebWiki



Friday, July 18, 2014

a US Tour for AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER


One of the most warmly received bands to ever play The Outlaw Roadshow, Boston's AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER have new music and their first ever US tour next month. They appear on Outlaw Radio with me tomorrow (July 19 4pm - 6pm) to discuss it all and perform some acoustic numbers for us. It will be great to catch up with this red hot pop group and find out what they've been up to since 2012's Nordo (A RSL Best of 2012 Album Selection.) Can't wait!






Sat 19 July - The Outlaw Roadshow on WEMF
4pm - 6pm (Web / Listen Live)

US Tour in August
Sat 02 Seattle, WA - Barboza's (21+)
Mon 04 Reno, NV - Singer Social Club (21+)
Wed 06 San Francisco, CA - Bottom of the Hill (AA)
Thu 07 Los Angeles, CA - Bootleg HiFi (21+)
Fri 08 Phoenix, AZ - Electric Ballroom (AA)
Sat 09 Las Vegas, NV - Container Park (AA)
Sun 10 Salt Lake City, UT - Loading Dock (AA)
Mon 11 Denver, CO - Lost Lake (21+)
Wed 13 El Paso, TX - Lowbrow Palace (18+)
Thu 14 Austin, TX - Holy Mountain (AA)
Fri 15 Houston, TX - Warehouse Live Studio (AA)
Sat 16 Dallas, TX - Prophet Bar (AA)
Sun 17 Little Rock, AR - Rev Room (AA)
Tue 19 St. Louis, MO - The Demo (AA)
Wed 20 Chicago, IL - Schubas Tavern (AA)
Thu 21 Pittsburgh, PA - Hard Rock Cafe (AA)
Fri 22 Arlington, VA - IOTA Club (21+)
Sat 23 New York - Mercury Lounge (21+)
Sun 24 Philadelphia, PA - Ortlieb's Lounge (21+)
Tue 26 Boston, MA - Great Scott (18+)




  AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER
Best of 2012 / Web / Fb / Tw


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

New from FEINTS





Super-psyched to share a new video from FEINTS (pronounced "faints") who tore the roof off the Rock n Roll Rumble this year. Singer Amy Douglas (amazing pipes - also of Sunrise Highway) is remarkably gifted at the rawk. The band have big things in-store for the next 12 months, they say. And I believe them. The whisky-loving band members are: Amy Douglas (Vox, Keys), Dave Baron (All Guitars) Rob Phillips (Bass) Tim Marten (Drums).

FEINTS
Album / Web / Fb / Tw


Photo by Kira Doucette for Ryan's Smashing Life


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Morrissey - World Peace Is None Of Your Business

On Further Review

Mark Phinney is a Director. 
He lives in Boston, MA.
More on his film





IN STORES TODAY

I was one of the fortunate few who got to see his last show on this tour in Boston - during which Morrissey showed off about five of the new tracks, including the title track - before the rest of the tour was cancelled. When the album was announced a while back, I fell in love with the title - World Peace Is None of Your Business. It’s the perfect, biting satire that Morrissey has come to be known for. At the same time, the album cover features the light touch of Moz and his best friend, a brown lab waiting for a treat. Be not fooled by this meek imagery though, for inside that cover is a host of snarky, razor sharp, and sometimes mean, maladies (as Moz would put them). In this humble fanatics opinion Morrissey hasn’t gotten this down and dirty since ‘92‘s Your Arsenal.


SPOKEN WORD

ALBUM AUDIO

The title track is everything you want it to be: big, bold, brash. It’s a plea. A cry for you to unite with Morrissey’s rally against everything dictatorship-y. It’s all done in his trademark, wise ass wink and nod. You want to follow him after hearing this triumph of catchy chords and harmonies. You can feel that he sympathizes with the people around the world who live in chains, under horrible regimes. At the same time, he is imploring them to stop allowing it to happen.





The tunes here run the spectrum from political to personal to the literary and beyond. “Neal Cassidy Dies” shows off the Mozzer’s book smarts and his empathy for love lost at the same time. It can fall easily into this old chestnut- “This love is special because it’s ours” - when he talks about “ (Allen) Ginsberg’s tears.”

“I’m Not A Man” is probably the most personal tune since the Meat Is Murder Smiths days. Here he gets back to his hold steady beliefs about eating meat and the destruction of our planet. He mocks the big, strong so - called, men who show off their testosterone in a cowboy society, where he is quietly picking them to pieces with lyrics and melodies like - “Don Juan picaresque. Wife beater vest.”




Along this theme, “The Bull Fighter Dies” is an ode to the animal, railing against the cruelty of the “sport.” It’s another one of the upbeat tunes as well.

REVIEWER'S PICK

The stand out for me is “Staircase at the University.” It’s my favorite kind of Morrissey melodrama about young people and the adult shackles that are put upon them. This time it plays out the scenario of a Vladimir Nabokov or Philip Roth chapter in which a young girl has endured pressure at the hands of a scholarly father much the way Moz did in “Headmasters Ritual.” In the end, the pressure kills the girl. She dies by her own hand, much the way that Robert Sean Leonard’s character did in “Dead Poets Society.“ - this keeping in time with his cinematic homage’s. I have always felt a kinship between this movie and Moz, as if he could’ve done the soundtrack. Not to mention it’s the catchiest, most rocking tune on the record. How ironic.

FEATURED TRACK


This album is an amalgamation of the life Morrissey is living, loving and hating right now from cities and politics to love and hate. With that, one of the released singles, “Istanbul”, represents Moz’s love for yet another location, another home, which he has talked about a lot lately as a place he adores. A place near and dear to him as a beautiful, artistic open city - much like his beloved Rome, Paris and even LA in the late 90’s.

He even has that ever elusive soft spot to be loved on the track “Kiss Me A Lot” which harkens back to “Let Me Kiss You” from 2004‘s You Are The Quarry. Songs like this give us more insight into the private feelings of Mozzer that are usually misconstrued. Sometimes he covers his yearning to be loved in witticisms - but in moments like this, he wears it on his sleeve.




THE EVALUATION

By the middle of this album, you will come to feel that this may very well be his best LP since the above mentioned Quarry. It is more patient, vibrant and broad. He doesn’t mince words or hold back. He is open and funny. He is serious and dramatic. All the Morrissey (and even Smiths) themes are here. It’s theatrical, poppy and grave in many areas. But as much as I love and will always adore the man and everything he does, even I have my moments when I turn a song off for l lack of it being the best he can be (this is very rare, mind you*). On this album I refer to “Earth Is The Loneliest Planet Of All” I am not a fan of the jumpy, mariachi thing he sometimes does. Not for me. Though the promotional little video he did for this is wonderful, with him and Pamela Anderson atop the Capitol Records building in Hollywood. The man truly knows regret and human tragedy and how to make it triumphant and beautiful. Yes, even the heartache. He always does something different in line with a new release. You can never say his music is the same. Not the albums, PR or videos. He is continuously inventive and evolving.



ALBUM AUDIO
'

SPOKEN WORD


Like I said, he revisits a lot of themes. “Smiler With Knife”, for example, is obviously about someone who pissed him off (there has always been drama between him and former band mates.) This tune is a nice companion to “Speedway” from ‘94‘s “Vauxhall and I.” You can literally line the lyrics up side by side and see the bitterness towards those that have fucked with him. Moz has never been one to hold off on letting enemies know how he feels. But he always adds his breezy, casual feel to the tunes. It’s always something you want to hear even when it’s dark and he plays the victim, as he tends to do often in his music.

As we come to the close of the album, we come upon another Smiths- esque song - “Kick The Bride Down The Stairs.” While he’s showing his cruel side, it’s reminiscent of “William It Was Really Nothing” - “How can you stay, with a fat girl, who says, would you like to marry me, and if you like you can buy the ring. I don’t dream about anyone, except myself.”




I know I have to end this review, so to sum things up, this album is Morrissey at his most mature. His middle age has made him even more progressive and tuneful. At it’s most masterful, it’s Morrissey’s traveling opera of ups, downs, love, hate and life itself. And it’s rounded off with a little sleep. Like on ‘91‘s “Kill Uncle”, this album’s “There Is A Place In Hell” is “Oboe Concerto.” - a nice, little meditation on life, career, art and music. There is always little summary at the end of his albums. Like an author with a novel, he closes with a thoughtful epilouge. And this album in it’s entirety is a thoughtful chapter in the on going book of Morrissey. I only hope it’s not the last

MORRISSEY
Album /  Fb 

the record is in stores today.


Morrissey – vocals
Boz Boorer – guitar
Jesse Tobias – guitar
Solomon Walker – bass guitar
Matt Walker – drums
Gustavo Manzur – keyboards, percussion
Joe Chiccarelli – production

Friday, July 11, 2014

Michael Flynn


WORLD PREMIERE
NEW ALBUM FACE IN THE CLOUD AVAILABLE ONLINE JULY 15th



Michael Flynn still sounds every bit the part of a pop angel, but as a seasoned veteran of the Charleston, SC music scene and a founder of Slow Runner, Flynn is an aggressive songwriter and driven performer; dead serious about creating.

Over the years with Slow Runner, we have come to marvel at the songwriting, the unique turn of phrase and quirky presentation - and there's every bit of that here with Flynn's solo effort. Face In The Cloud, his latest album, will be released next week. Today for the first time, you can hear the new track, "Old Soul" - a song that could have lifted off from the sessions for Damage Points (Slow Runner effort, Ryan's Smashing Life Best of 2011).




Flynn's emotional and heady writing are championed on the new record and you will find yourself haunted by one track after the next. And you will find yourself seeking the sweet embrace of their melancholy. This is a champion song-maker back in his craft.

MICHAEL FLYNN
The Album! / Web / Fb / Tw


bonus: Slow Runner - XXX 

with Shovels & Rope's Cary Ann Hearst

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Best of The First Half 2014


OUR LOOK AT WHAT'S SO-DAMN-WORTHY



14 BEST ALBUMS FROM 2014'S FIRST HALF

 


 


 


 


 












 


 


 


 


 



 


 



AND THE REST OF THE VERY BEST OF 2014

















































































































Keep The Awesomeness going

THE 50 BEST OF 2013