Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Kay Hanley joins Brad Byrd on "American Life"

Lost in American Life, 
 looking for love. 
 Somehow I'll get by.

This is one of the prettiest songs of the year and definitely worth your time. Journeyman performer Brad Byrd has teamed up with some of music's brightest and best for his new album Phases out this Friday (May 3, 2019). Today we have the new single, "American Life" which pairs Byrd with Boston music legend Kay Hanley (Letters To Cleo).

A song told in three parts, "American Life" is a track about empathy and survival. The first section is Byrd alone delivering poetry. Byrd's protagonist walks these lines alone accompanied only by soft guitar and sparse drums. And, is if by magic, when the sections ends, another begins.. 


Hanley enters and matches Byrd perfectly. Their harmony is met by pedal steel. The middle of the song is so damn delicate and beautiful it feels like a spell is being cast so you hold your breath and just hope it lasts forever. 

The song's midriff ends in a rise and the voices are chased away by a sun too hot and too near.  The third part of the song is a soft return that reminds us what once was. "American Life" surrenders to an easy instrumental chorus of harmonica, pedal steel, drums and guitar. And just like that, it's gone. 

Photo by Alison Dyer

Is this song about the melancholy state of culture or is it about surviving the loss of one's soulmate - or something else entirely? Perhaps only Brad Byrd knows for sure. But I suspect maybe Kay Hanley does too.

Listen to this one on repeat and pick up the new album Friday. One of my favorite albums of the year so far and I've only been listening for a few short days, marking a new level of achievement for Brad Byrd. Long may you run sir, long may you run!

Phases (May 3) / Spotify

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Monday, April 22, 2019

Songwriter Night at The Brewery!

This Saturday evening 7pm

Exhibit A Brewing 
81 Morton St
Framingham, MA 01702

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Cherry Baby by Bess Atwell


BIO: Bess Hildick-Smith, known by her stage name as Bess Atwell, grew up in the English countryside, one of four children to an eclectic family of artists, songwriters and doctors. Growing up Atwell dabbled in acting, musical theater, and fine art. She says “the love of singing is something I think most people realize at a very young age. I grew up in a creative household; many of my extended family are musicians, my dad a songwriter himself, and mother an artist”. She explains how her earliest years were spent assuming she’d follow in her mother’s footsteps, and still considers fine art her first love. She discovered song-writing a little later; “when I was ten my dad bought me a Spanish guitar and we both took lessons with the same teacher. 

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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Song Debut! Running For My Life by Skunkmello

Focus on Sound - This is a story about one of the most fun live bands I've ever seen and their new song - debuting here today. "Running For My Life" appears on Skunkmello's Discount Liquors (LP out in August). This will be the band's first new album in three years and I'm excited as all hell to share just a bit of it here.


What you hear today is special. "Running For My Life" is a worthy new addition to the band's back catalog. It forms the perfect bridge to 2016's Hot Chicken, a song with swamp blues and southern electric guitar. Matt Bartlett isn't exactly a Dionysian poet as you can hear on "Running" he defiantly "walk the dog" with ease - with style and indifference reminiscent of early Dylan.   

The recording of this album found the band at personal and professional crossroads. (Members now reside in three different cities and have embarked on somewhat divergent paths.) The songs demonstrate the same sensibilities and the can-do "making the best of things" stories their fans love.  Something all music listeners can find: The sessions for Discount Liquors had some implied urgency and special meaning for the band. And that works out as rewards for listeners.  

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In Their Own Words - A Skunkmello live show is pure run-and-gun rocket-fire-from the hip – a whiskey-addled sonic evolution of garage-folk, fuzz-country, sewer-blues and red-eyed rock and roll.  

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

RIBS are recording new music

This just in...
RIBS are making new music!


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In A Few Short Words - the Early April Edition

Still sort of mentally-unpacking from the SXSW trip and dealing with the workload resulting from being away for nearly 2 weeks. I'll be brief and to the point: to be a music lover down in Austin during that time period is just so exciting! And it has been a few very long years since I've felt that. Definitely missed that excitement. That excitement for discovery really came back to me the other night when I saw a local open mic night at a coffee shop near my home. 

And then there was this year's Outlaw Roadshow. The setting helped elicit some of the best live music performances I've ever seen and to absorb their power one after the next for hours (and days) was amazing. Though I know I missed out on some acts I wanted to see, it would be pretty hard to convince me I didn't see the best live music in Austin during this year's festival. 

Artwork by Krzysztof Domaradzki [link]

One of the the things I cooked up in my head in Austin was a new series for the website in which I could point readers into the right direct, rapid-fire style. Unload some vital knowledge, share a video or a quick thought and get back out again. This is the first one and I'm already failing. 

This is Philadelphia's Don Babylon who were acutely themselves in Austin and therefore amazing. 

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Death sucks. And this whole thing has made it clear I'm really not over losing Chris Cornell or Tom Petty. 

Reliving the past this week with millions of others. It's the  anniversary of the losses of both Nirvana's Kurt Cobain and Alice in Chain's Layne Stayley stirred more than a little emotion and nostalgia for music lovers. This is a cover song. 

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The Susan Constant have always been one of my favorite bands. That's partially because I saw them absolutely SOAR at SXSW 2013 during their biggest show of all-time. The band are hanging their collective party hats and have announced a final show in May. You need to see them if you can get there. You'll dig them as much as I do and then join me in asking them back for an annual reunion show. (A music blogger can hope, right?)  

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I started off positive and I'll end that way in this post. WILCO front-man Jeff Tweedy surprised this week announcing that he had not only recorded a full-length solo album (WARMER is out in just three days via dBpm Records) but it was ready to be released on vinyl only (initially) via this year's Record Store Day. (Run count is supposedly only 5K copies nationwide.) Good luck with that wax folks! 

Jeff Tweedy at Solid Sound by 5342 Studios [link] for

Here's the lead single (a lyric video at that) for the record, which has got a lot of fans pretty excited.

Wilco / Wiki / Solid Sound (June 2019)

Ryan's new Music Mixes
Inevitable Things (April 2019)
Like Seedlings ... (March 2019)
A Little Sun To The Face ... (February 2019)
Mercy is Just a Five Letter Word (Late January 2019)
Decembers are Last for a Reason (Early January 2019)

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Portrait I

I landed in Austin with all of the excitement one might expect. An arts lover stepping into what a week of what is undoubtedly the shining beacon for music during those dates. And when I crossed the threshold of the doorway to see The Howl & The Hum (York, England) I felt a huge sense of satisfaction seeing a such gifted band from so far away as they passed through. 

The small venue was awash with stage lighting effect, the perfect pallet for this band's sound. {editor's note: In retrospect, my expectations were elevated and completely unfair.} But no matter how high I wanted them to fly, The Howl & The Hum soared higher. Characterized by crafty, nearly poetic songwriting, the performances were equally arresting musically. This is Portrait 1 two ways.

Portrait I
Gold, gold, she looked like she was golden
Think she would have landed me if she got any closer
But as I leaned in, she grew wings
Felt like I was falling through it as she rose then
Gone gone, quickly as the dawn
I was never knowing if she'd ever come home
So with all my might changed my mind
But an angel leaves an imprint on your broken bones
Girl, churl, from out of this world
Slow like thunder rare like pearls
When morning came the darkness stayed
Now all I want to do is shade the shame
Shade the shame
Shade the shame
Shade the shame
And when she's falling
Do you really think you'll waste my time
Her name I am calling
Do you really think I've lost my mind
A study of the girl with wings
Daylight it never felt right
To live…

The Howl & The Hum
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In Their Own Words:  "The Howl & The Hum are a miserable disco who write Bond themes for films where Jimmy is still hung up on that girl. They combine dark hypnotic pop with post-punk influences, pierced with lyrics that make you call your mum the next morning."