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Tag: Dawes

IckMix 6: Move

I put this together for my brother a few months ago as a running/exercise companion. Since then, I’ve listened to it quite a few times on my runs, and quite simply, it pretty much kicks ass.

So download, throw it on your iPod/iPhone/SmartPhone of choice, and move! (Or, sit back in a La-Z-Boy with a strong cocktail. You do what you want, I’m not your daddy).

IckMix 6: Move (mp3)

[audio:ickmix6.mp3]

1. “Month of May” – Arcade Fire (3:51) | The Suburbs
2. “Bushwick Blues” – Delta Spirit (3:44) | History from Below
3. “Seaside Bar Song” – Bruce Springsteen (3:35) | Tracks
4. “Run Runaway” – Slade (5:01) | The Amazing Kamikaze Syndrome
5. “Now It’s On+ – Grandaddy (4:08)  | Sumday
6. “When My Time Comes” – Dawes (5:08) | North Hills
7. “A More Perfect Union” – Titus Andronicus (7:10) | The Monitor
8. “The Leader” – The Clash (1:42) | Sandinista!
9. “Boom Boom (Out Go The Lights)” – Pat Travers Band (5:06) | Pat Travers Band…Live! Go For What You Know
10. “Let’s Go Crazy (Special Dance Mix)” – Prince (7:37) | Ultimate
11. “Freedom Park” – Marah (4:35) | 20,000 Streets Under The Sky
12. “I Do (LP Version)” – J. Geils Band (3:08) | Monkey Island

Pete’s Top Albums of 2011

2011 was another year of musical discovery for me. Clocking in highest on the discovery meter were San Francisco’s Girls; but right up there with Girls were two bands that can’t technically qualify for my best of 2011 album list: Delta Spirit and Titus Andronicus. Their latest albums – History from Below and The Monitor (respectively) – were both released in 2010, but I didn’t hear them until this year. Overall, when I think of 2011, these three groups reigned supreme in my corner of the world.

When it comes to 2011 live shows, it was also Titus Andronicus that blew my mind (back on April 18th at The Rhythm Room in Phoenix). All punk and passion, courtesy of front man Patrick Stickles. My jaw hit the floor.

But on to the albums. Looking back at my iTunes and Last.fm listening history, it was clear to me that I wouldn’t be able to muster up a Top Ten list. Sure, I could B.S. and include something like the Beasties’ Hot Sauce Committee Part Two – which I enjoyed on some level, but never listened to straight through more than twice. Thinking about albums, ’tis all about honesty, and what’s truly important to me as a full body of work. So in that spirit, here are my Top 8 albums of 2011…

1. GirlsFather, Son, Holy Ghost ($5 on Amazon)

I had heard – and loved – “Laura,” a single off Girls first album a couple years back. But it wasn’t until this year that I fell completely head over heels for the San Francisco band led by Christopher Owens. The quirky “Honey Bunny” video drew me in – and when I tracked down the new album, Father, Son, Holy Ghost, it was over – I was hooked. It’s rich with emotion, it rocks, it’s delicate… I can’t wait to follow Christopher around from here on out and hear what he has to say. Both Girls full lengths and the EP are excellent – discovering them has been the music highlight of my year.

Highlight: “Alex” – Hypnotic. Beautiful. Sublime.

2. Greg BrownFreak Flag ($4.99 on Amazon)

Here’s one that surprised me. Though I loved “The Poet Game” single many years back, no full album of Greg Brown’s had really come along that knocked my socks off. Freak Flag did just that. Full of beauty, wisdom and Greg’s wry sense of humor, it’s the folk masterpiece of 2011.

Highlight: “Where Are You Going When You’re Gone” (mp3) – All groove and growl. Toe tappin’ funky folk (there is such a thing).

3. Middle BrotherMiddle Brother ($5 on Amazon)

I love Delta Spirit. I love Deer Tick. I love Dawes. So it’s no surprise that Middle Brother was up among the tops this year, since the group is made up of the front men of all 3 groups. I had the pleasure of seeing Middle Brother live this summer at the Newport Folk Festival, which may very well have been their last performance… but something tells me Taylor Goldsmith, John McCauley and Matt Vasquez will be making more music together somewhere down the road.

Highlight: “Million Dollar Bill” – This is a Goldsmith-penned song that also shows up on Dawes’ new record, Nothing Is Wrong. On the MidBro version, the three guys each get a verse, and the result is profound, in my ever so humble opinion. I prefer it to the Nothing is Wrong version.

4. DawesNothing Is Wrong ($4.99 on Amazon)

It’s hard not to be endeared to this L.A. band that channels the SoCal /  Lauren Canyon 70’s vibe. Taylor Goldsmith is a brilliant lyricist, and they’re just getting started. That’s scary (in a very good way). And their live show? Forget about it. Passionate and fiery stuff…

Highlight: “Fire Away” – This tune features Jackson Browne on background vocals, Taylor’s brother Griffin taking lead vocals on the bridge, and the Heartbreakers’ Benmont Tench on the organ. Great sing along chorus – a tune that really takes off into the stratosphere by song’s end – especially live.

5. My Morning JacketCircuital ($4.99 on Amazon)

Jim James (er – Yim Yames) and the boys of MMJ always put me in a good place. Another solid studio album featuring tunes that ignite in a live setting. I must have watched MMJ on at least 3-4 festival webcasts this summer. Another mind-blowing live band that can also deliver in the studio. Confession though: I just don’t like “Holdin On To Black Metal.”

Highlight: “Wonderful (The Way I Feel)” – I’m a sucker for some mellow MMJ. A great moment when the drums come in at “I-I-I-I’m going where there ain’t no fear…”

6. Deer TickDivine Providence ($5 on Amazon)

Snarly wild man John McCauley is back with another Deer Tick record. This time he shares the spotlight with drummer Dennis Ryan and guitarist Ian O’Neill, who write and sing on a few tunes. Divine Providence has a little bit of everything – honky-tonk rock, punk, pop. Oh, do I need to mention they’re also a killer live band? I saw them three times this year – twice in their home state of Rhode Island as they took over the Newport Blues Cafe during Folk Festival time.

Highlight: “The Bump” – The Deer Tick theme song. “We’re full grown men! But we act like kids!” The drunken devil strikes again.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_tC4_zaqaQ

7. Lenny KravitzBlack & White in America ($10.49 on Amazon)

I was frankly surprised by Lenny’s latest. Rock, funk, soul, pop – yep, pretty much the Lenny Kravitz blueprint throughout his career. But the hooks and melodies caught on quick with me, and had me coming back for more helpings. The last time I enjoyed a Lenny album this much, I was 21 (1991’s Mama Said)!

Don’t knock it ’til you’ve heard it.

Highlight: “Liquid Jesus” – A sexy 70’s soul vibe as Lenny channels his inner Curtis Mayfield.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyyznmFosi4

8. Frank TurnerEngland Keep My Bones ($9.99 on Amazon)

I was looking forward to a full length album from the UK’s Frank Turner since stumbling across his set at the ACL Festival a couple years back. It was worth the wait. Frank’s working class, populist folk/punk is alive and well in England Keep My Bones.

Highlight: “If Ever I Stray” – Certain songs give me goosebumps and make my eyes well up with their sheer power. This is one of those songs.

Recap: Dawes and Blitzen Trapper at the Crescent Ballroom

Hallelujah, there’s a killer new live music venue in my home town!! The Crescent Ballroom, open for just a week now, is a mid-sized room (able to accommodate 400-500 people) in a cool 1917 brick building located at 2nd Ave. and Van Buren in downtown Phoenix.  Great atmosphere, friendly staff, really good food in their patio lounge/restaurant, Cocina 10 (I recommend the bean & cheese burrito paired with a Moscow Mule – tasty).

Dawes

Last night, the Blitzen Trapper / Dawes traveling roadshow hit the Ballroom for a few solid hours of rock n’ folk. The tour is just getting started, having kicked off just a few days ago in Petaluma, CA.

After a very mellow but pleasing opening set by British guitar/vocal duo Smoke Fairies (Katherine Blamire and Jessica Davies), Dawes hit the stage, and, as expected, immediately won over the Phoenix crowd. Hard to tell, but it seemed like most of the crowd were new to the L.A. band, and it wasn’t long before the passion and earnestness of the four – especially frontman Taylor Goldsmith, won them over. Taylor is as genuine as they come, and a brilliant, evocative songwriter. In every song he sings, he makes sure the listener hears every word, pouring every ounce of his heart and soul into it. His brother Griffin (on drums) shares that passion and enthusiasm – his facial expressions alone are something to behold: his mouth in varied contortions of agony and ecstasy with every beat and fill. Bassist Wylie Gelber and keyboard/organ man Tay Strathairn round out the quartet, and it’s clear why they’ve been selected over the last year to back up the likes of Robbie Robertson, Jackson Browne and M. Ward. Such a cohesive, organic, and talented band.

The 10-song set drew from both of their studio albums – North Hills and Nothing Is Wrong. There were some great moments – the build up and crescendos of “Fire Away”, Taylor’s fiery guitar solo on “Peace in the Valley” – but the emotional peak came with the 1-2 punch of “A Little Bit of Everything” and “When My Time Comes.” I appreciate and enjoy “A Little Bit of Everything” more and more with each listen, and Taylor’s detailed, story-telling delivery gave me goosebumps throughout the tune. Then, of course, the anthemic “When My Time Comes” whipped the crowd up, and they were primed to belt out the chorus when Taylor turned the microphone around toward the end.

Taylor and Wylie of Dawes

Since discovering Dawes in mid 2010, I’ve had the chance to see them four times now, and they just keep getting better and better. Last night’s set was another thrill as a fan.

→ Dawes Set List

Since finding out about the co-headlining tour with Blitzen Trapper, I’ve dug into the Portland indie-folk band’s catalog, and the music has definitely been growing on me. Now, after watching them live, I can call myself a fan. I love the dynamic of these guys. It’s a hard-to-peg grab bag of influences… I hear Grateful Dead, Zeppelin, 70’s folk, 70’s rock, Dylan… but all unique and original in their own right. Lead singer/guitarist/keyboardist Eric Early has an unassuming, shy demeanor between songs, but man, can that guy sing and shred.

Eric Early of Blitzen Trapper
Blitzen Trapper

Speaking of shredding, I got off on watching lead guitarist Erik Menteer tear it up on his Les Paul. The rest of the band chipped in on some great harmonies, but Erik was off to the side just killing on guitar (and occasionally keys).

Erik Menteer of Blitzen Trapper
Blitzen Trapper

Marty Marquis, off to stage left on guitar & keys, is the laid back jokester of the band, offering up most of the between song banter (thankful for the nice weather, unlike their last visit to Phoenix, when they “melted”).

I’ve been listening a lot to their new record American Goldwing, and they drew heavily from it, with tunes like “Fletcher,” “Astronaut,” “Your Crying Eyes,” and one of my faves, “Love the Way You Walk Away.” And then there was the sheer Zeppelinesque force of “Street Fighting Sun,” also from the new album. Loud, thrashing, arena rock size rock n roll absolutely filling the small Crescent Ballroom.

The encore was a triple treat too: Eric Early solo acoustic on “The Man Who Would Speak True” followed by an unrecorded song called “Jericho” (full band), and then, to add an exclamation mark to the evening, the finale – Zeppelin’s “Good Times Bad Times.”

Blitzen Trapper. Count me in.

→ Blitzen Trapper Set List

As I mentioned, the tour is just getting started. Some of my buddies back east are checking out the show soon. Even if you’re not familiar with either band, one live experience will convert you – guaranteed.

Triple D Playlist (more Deer Tick, Dawes and Delta Spirit)

To make sure I leave no stone unturned in my music geekitude, I’m now a premium subscriber to both Spotify and Rdio. You’d think I’d have all the bases covered for any song or album I’d like to hear, and for the most part, that’s true. There are still some holes though. Spotify, surprisingly, has no Delta Spirit and none of the three Deer Tick full lenghts. So I turned to Rdio to craft a special “Triple D Attack” playlist.

This playlist features Dawes, Delta Spirit, Deer Tick, with a healthy smattering of Middle Brother songs. Let’s just say I’m knee deep in a Triple D phase.

Song numero uno on the playlist below is “Dirty Dishes”, a song that is so beautiful and tortured and perfect that I just can’t stop listening – and it’s been months.

In Dawes news, many of you have probably heard about the recently announced tour with Blitzen Trapper. If you’re here with me in Arizona, they’ll be stopping in at the newest music venue in town, the Crescent Ballroom in downtown Phoenix. It’s a much needed mid-size venue that hopefully will attract a lot of talent. Dawes & Blitzen Trapper will be there Monday, October 10th. My ticket is secured, and I can’t wait.

Delta Spirit just helped kick off the opening day of Lollapalooza on Friday. The good folks at the Audio Perv already have the webcast up (all tunes I saw live last week in Newport).

So here’s the Rdio playlist. Always worth the 7 day free trial to check it out…

Recap: My 2011 Newport Folk Festival

The last couple of weeks has been a whirlwind of activity for me and my family. It was our first vacation out East as a family – stops in Boston and NYC, and our first visit not only to the great state of Rhode Island, but to the storied Newport Folk Festival.

Staying in town at the Newport Harbor Hotel, right on the water, made for an ideal location. Especially since it’s located right across the street from the Newport Blues Cafe, where Deer Tick & Friends entertained all weekend.

On Saturday, we took the water taxi across the harbor to Fort Adams State Park, where the festival is held. On Sunday, we unwisely chose to drive our rental car. Yeah, not recommended if you don’t like sitting in a parking lot for an hour.

At any rate, the festival itself was a blast for all of us. The only down side was that I missed a lot of acts I would have loved to see, but there were conflicts with other artists. So sadly, I I completely missed Elvis Costello (who brought along the Imposters), Emmylou Harris, the Cave Singers, Mavis Staples, Trampled by Turtles (speedgrass!), among a few others.

But what I did catch made up for it. Here are some of my top moments from my first, and not to be my last, Newport Folk Festival:

M. Ward | A lot of people would question my sanity for attending the Newport Folk Festival, and missing Emmylou Harris’s closing set. But it had to be done, because M. Ward was stacked up against her, playing inside the Fort Adams Quad. Matt Ward roped me in a few years ago when I heard Post-War, and when he came out on stage alone with his guitar, and – after an instrumental warm up – launched into Post-War’s “Eyes on the Prize”, I knew I’d made the right decision. The first 30 minutes or so of M.’s set was very intimate, and about as downtempo as it can go. “Poison Cup”, a slowed down version of Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”, “Sad, Sad Song”… and one of the highlights of his set, a cover of Daniel Johnston’s “Story of an Artist” – a song I was not familiar with, but was absolutely moved by, especially with M.’s flourishes on piano. Dawes joined in for the last few songs of the set, including spirited versions of “Never Had Nobody Like You” and “Roll Over Beethoven”. There’s something very zen and calming about M. Ward. It was a great set.

Delta Spirit [Full set on NPR] | Having discovered Delta Spirit’s music early this year, and going cuckoo for their latest release, History From Below, their set at Newport was my #1 must see of the weekend. Matt Vasquez and the band did not disappoint. Only 4 of the 13 songs in the set actually came from their latest album. Half a dozen came from their first release, Ode To Sunshine, and the rest were new tunes. The band has been recording their third full length this summer in a Woodstock, NY church. The live tunes from ‘Ode’ were great for me – I haven’t spent near enough time with the album, and the songs were great live. In particular, “Trashcan” and the set finale, “People Turn Around”, the anthemic chorus having the whole crowd singing along. What a great band.

Pete Seeger in the Lego ® Duplo KidZone tent | With my wife and two young daughters in tow, we quickly discovered the shaded comfort and entertainment of the Lego Duplo KidZone tent (ideally placed next to the Magic Hat Beer Pier!). Among the arts & crafts & Legos was a small stage for short performances for the kids while the main stage was between acts. The primary act “in residence”, if you will, over the weekend was Elizabeth Mitchell & You Are My Flower. They welcomed such guests as The Low Anthem, Freelance Whales, and the PS22 Chorus from Staten Island. But we were also treated both days to the legendary Pete Seeger – 92 years old and still going… It was a privilege to sit front & center with my kids and listen to stories and songs from a folk icon like Pete. Among other tunes, we were treated to “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain”. I captured some of it…

Middle Brother [Full set on NPR] & Dawes | As the clock ticked on Sunday afternoon, it was time to uproot the family from the KidZone tent and make our way within the walls of the Quad to catch Middle Brother’s set. For the uninitiated, Middle Brother is made up Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), John McCauley (Deer Tick), and Matt Vasquez (Delta Spirit). Their debut record, Middle Brother, was released earlier this year. I’ve gotta say, I hadn’t spun the album too many times up to this weekend, but after hearing the songs live (with Dawes as the backing band – these boys are busy), I’ve gained a newfound appreciation for the album. The set was loose, wild and fun – no surprise with this cast of characters. My favorites: “Portland”, sung by McCauley (a Replacements cover), “Blood & Guts” sung by Goldsmith, and “Middle Brother” with special guest Jonny Corndawg. The emotional peak came between Middle Brother and M. Ward’s sets, when Dawes performed a couple of their own tunes (since they were backing both acts, there was no equipment change needed). The song was “When My Time Comes”, from their first record North Hills. With McCauley and Vasquez joining into sing, and the knowledgable crowd eating it all up, singing along at full tilt, it was truly a moving moment – a highlight of the weekend.

The Felice Brothers [Full set on NPR] | This band from the Catskills definitely has their own unique thing going. And with their latest album, Celebration, Florida, they’ve really taken off into another realm, with a really creative bend of folk and electronic sounds. So it was cool to see them live on the main stage. The opener, “Murder by Mistletoe”, set a perfect tone. Mellow, mysterious, and featuring the vocals of singer Ian Felice – a voice that probably gets compared most to Bob Dylan, but has another edge to it as well.

Carolina Chocolate Drops [Full set on NPR] | I got up nice and close for this set on the main stage. The CCD’s are an old time string band keeping traditional African American music alive – we’re talking 19th and early 20th century African-American music. Bringing that 21st century flair is a new member, beatboxer Adam Matta. He teamed up with singer Rhiannon Giddens for a scatting / beatboxing exhibition they called “diddlybox”. It was cool to hear that interspersed among the old time jug n’ banjo tunes like “Baby Ain’t Sweet” and “No Man’s Mama”. Rhiannon has a beautiful, powerful voice, and the other main Chocolate Drop Dom Flemons is a character, interjecting lots of humor into his performance. Cool stuff.

PS22 Chorus | I have to mention my kids’ favorite. PS22 Chorus is made up of 20-30 5th graders from a Staten Island school. They sing contemporary hits, with a few of the boys and girls taking lead and really belting out some impressive vocals. Our family favorite was their version of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”. Not only did PS22 play the Harbor Stage, but they also made it over to the KidZone tent where my kids sat front and center and watched them perform, including “Rolling in the Deep” – a song that firmly implanted itself in our brains all weekend.

David Wax Museum [Full set on NPR] | This was one of the pleasant surprises of the festival for me. DWM combine American and Mexican folk music, with guitars, a horn section, violin, and even a young dancer in a traditional Mexican dress performing a zapateado – basically on top of a mic’ed box, tapping the percussion with her feet. Lots of latin rhythms, and a very fun, high energy performance to take in.

It was the first sellout in the history of the festival, 10,000 people strong. Walking around, I sensed not only a very easygoing, friendly vibe, but also the sense that I was surrounded by avid music lovers like myself. I sure do love being among the like-minded – those who live & breathe every note of the music they listen to.

Newport was an A+ experience, one I hope to repeat some year soon.

—–

NPR Music, God bless it, has most of the weekend’s performances available for streaming right here.

Newport and the three D’s (Dawes, Delta Spirit, Deer Tick)

The Middle Brother Gang: Taylor, John, Matt

I’m just back from an epic family vacation that took us from the Valley of the Sun to Boston, then to New York City, and then on to Newport, Rhode Island for my (and my family’s) first Newport Folk Festival.

First off, it was great to have the opportunity to meet some of the people I’ve gotten to know through this web site, and through the internet music community I’ve been immersed in for the last several years. In Boston, I met Mike Heyliger, denizen of Popblerd. In NYC, I met my Ickmusic collaborator Michael Parr (who, unbeknownst to many, I had never met), his lovely wife Christine, and Dennis Corrigan aka @IrishJava. And finally, in Rhode Island, I met up with Ken Shane, senior music editor of Popdose, who was also behind the Newport Folk Festival’s social media presence, handling NFF’s Twitter & Facebook postings throughout the festival weekend.

As I expected, meeting these folks was nothing like meeting a person for the first time. Say what you will about the internet, but you really do come to know people through mediums like music blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Rdio, Spotify, and whatever social platform Google is trying lately (Buzz, +, etc.). It’s a connection of the like-minded: the shared passion for music, and its marriage with technology in the 21st century. These are exciting times to be a music fan – of course, all of this access to music and those who perform and follow it can be overwhelming, to say the least. But it sure is fun to navigate through it all with people like these folks. So Mike, Michael, Christine, Dennis, Ken – great to meet you all in person. Now you all know what a sexy beast I am in real life.

So in Newport, the music portion of the vacation took hold. My family, they’re good sports. They know that I’ll do my best to work in a music angle to every outing, near or far. This summer, it was the Newport Folk Festival. Highest on my list of must-see’s were Delta Spirit, Middle Brother, and M. Ward, backed by Dawes. Over the last couple of years, I’ve gone rather bonkers for the “D” trifecta: Deer Tick, Delta Spirit, and Dawes.

Although Deer Tick wasn’t on the festival bill, by no means did that suggest they’d stay quiet for the weekend. The band is from Providence after all. Much to my delight, John McCauley and the band announced three late night gigs at the Newport Blues Cafe – Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Best of all, the club was right across the street from our hotel in Newport. So, for me, the Folk Festival weekend ended up being bookended by two raucous late night gigs featuring Deer Tick and friends…

I missed the early acts on Friday, but when I rolled in at 10:30, Deer Tick was just taking the stage, and they didn’t stop until 1am. They played originals and some cool covers – a few Nirvana tunes (DT has an alter ego called Deervana, and have played entire Nirvana sets billed as them); John Prine’s “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You”, Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me”, and some – uh- others that I didn’t have the foresight to tap into my iPhone (damn Blue Moons).

Deer Tick during Friday's gig

Sunday’s gig was extra cool, featuring an opening set by Dawes, and appearances by Delta Spirit’s Matt Vasquez, M. Ward (for a brief guitar solo on the last tune of the night, “La Bamba”), Joe Fletcher, and my new favorite, Jonny Corndawg – a wild, young countryfied singer from Virginia – and a close bud of the Deer Tick clan. His debut is due later this year, but he does have a Daytrotter session under his belt, and is featured here on Songs: Illinois (I didn’t get him either, Craig, till I saw him perform).

The closing sets of my Sunday Newport Folk Festival were Middle Brother, Dawes, and M. Ward. I’ll have more about the festival itself soon in another post, but the good vibe that was evident in MidBro and Dawes’ sets continued on to the Newport Blues Cafe on Sunday evening. It’s so interesting to note the contrasts between the three “D” bands themselves, and the front men from each who make up Middle Brother. You have Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes – the introspective, sensitive one. You have Deer Tick’s McCauley – unrefined, raw, gritty, laid back, taking it all as it comes. And then there’s Delta Spirit’s Matt Vasquez – wild, carefree, and caretaker of a primal scream that can shake the rafters. Matt was clearly the MidBro member feeling the least amount of pain on Sunday night. Everyone was having a great time, but Matt was having a GREAT time. His lead vocals on two Nirvana covers backed by Deer Tick (“Negative Creep” and “Senseless Apprentice”) were a highlight – whipping the small club into a crowd surfing frenzy.

Delta Punk: Matt Vasquez with Deer Tick
Matt Vasquez with Deer Tick

Although the festival itself had its great moments- and I’ll cover them soon – it was the two late nights with Deer Tick & Friends that really made my weekend extra special. I was seeing Deer Tick for the first time, and on their home turf. The opening song of their debut album, War Elephant, is “Ashamed”. I liked the tune as is, but seeing it performed in Newport on Friday and Sunday, with the crowd wailing out in unison, “Ohhh–oooh-Ohhhhhhhh”, was one of those thrilling moments that make the live music experience so great – and make the songs you hear on the album so much better.

Sweet! It’s on YouTube. This captured it perfectly, because, well, this was it:

After Friday’s gig, I went up to John and thanked him for a great set, and since he’s a huge John Prine fan (like myself), I thanked him for keeping Prine’s music out there as well.

Telling him I came all the way from Arizona, John replied, “Welcome to my home state.” It sure was a great welcome, and ushered in a hell of a weekend in Newport, Rhode Island.

Deer Tick | Delta Spirit | Dawes | Middle Brother

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrrwckzksig&w=480&h=390

Recap: Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros / Dawes at the Clubhouse in Tempe

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Music discovery. I feel sorry for those that don’t keep their ears open to new sounds. As the calendar flipped over to 2010, I knew nothing (or next to nothing) about Dawes or Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. Last night at the sweltering Clubhouse Music Venue in Tempe, I enjoyed the hell out of these two great bands.

It started with the Coachella webcast back in April, when I watched E.S. & TMZ ‘s set. Freaky, folky, hippie vibes – something refreshing and different. So when I saw their Arizona date (and no boycott – woo hoo!), I was all in. So then, just last week, I got curious about the opening band, Dawes, and checked out their web site. I watched a couple videos (“Love Is All I Am”, “When My Time Comes”), really enjoyed the sound and the harmonies, and promptly snatched up their full length debut, North Hills. And what an impressive debut it is – I’ve been enjoying the hell out of it since.

So it was with this frame of reference and mind that I went to the Clubhouse last night – getting there nice and early to catch both full sets.

Dawes are a four piece folk-influenced rock band from the Laurel Canyon area of Los Angeles. Led by brothers Taylor (lead vox, guitar) and Griffin Goldsmith (drums), they have something special going with their brand of catchy melodies and three-part harmonies. Man, the harmonies! They filled up the room from the onset, with the great opener “How Far We’ve Come” – where Griffin took the first line of the verses, Griffin and keyboardist Alex Casnoff on the second line, and Taylor joining in on the third. Great stuff. Harmonies abounded on tunes like “Love Is All I Am” and the crowd favorite “When My Time Comes”. They also showed a harder edge with a nice new one, “Fire Away” and “My Girl To Me”. Their set had us drawing comparisons to The Band at times, and they obviously grew up listening to a lot of Byrds and CSN.

Dawes

Great all around musicianship and singing with Dawes, but a special tip o’ the hat to the singing voice of Taylor Goldsmith. The guy can flat out sing. And when he gets way up there, there’s a soulful growl that wouldn’t sound out of place on an old Stax record. Great, great live band and great album. You’d do yourself good to pick it up.

On to Eddie and his Zeros, also formed out of the fair city of Los Angeles (the Silverlake section). By the time the band came out, the place was a stuffy, unventilated sweatbox. I got some reprieve by being directly under a fan behind the soundboard, but man, this venue clearly does not care about the comfort of its patrons.

After watching a live set online, I had a good idea of what was in store. And though the Polo Fields of Indio, Calif. have absolutely nothing in common with the Clubhouse Music Venue, the group’s vibe and spirit were intact. Some early microphone issues almost jeopardized that good overall vibe, turning frontman/leader/messiah Alex Ebert a tad grumpy – but all was sorted out.

And so the band played on – mostly tunes from their solid 2009 album, Up From Below. They kicked things off with “40 Day Dream”, “Up From Below” and “Carries On” – a trio of catchy sing-along songs that hooked in the crowd. Edward’s muse, Jade Castrino, was the sole female Zero of the show. Usually, Nora Kirkpatrick is along for the ride (*cough-hotblonde-cough*), but sadly she missed this gig in the desert. If you’ve watched Jade on stage, you’ve probably noticed she’s a little unorthodox as far as live performers go. She won’t face the audience – she sways and faces to the side, shyly smiling, with her eyes locked in on Alex 90% of the time. If you’re questioning the messianic quality of Alex Ebert, you’ll be convinced after watching Jade for a while. But anyways, she seems like a sweetheart, and she got some lead vocal duties with a song called “The River Won’t Flow”.

“Janglin” and “Home” were the feel-good highlights of the evening. It’s hard to not like these songs, paraphrasing my buddy Trevor. The gang of characters there on stage – keyboards, percussion, a trumpet, guitars, bass, and lots of smiles – the band clearly enjoys playing these tunes for the people, even in a 110 degree steam room. The band then wrapped up the evening in mellow fashion, singing “Brothers” while seated on the floor amongst the crowd.

It was short but sweet set, although a hot one. I got the feeling the band was good n’ ready to jump in the bus and make haste for L.A. Can’t blame ’em.

The experience was worth the heat though – two new, fantastic bands with tons of promise. Lucky for me, they’re both playing the ACL Festival this year, so I’ll be seeing them again in October.

Here’s a nice series of moments from the evening, courtesy of Rand LeSeur Photography

Set List
Clubhouse Music Venue, Tempe, AZ
June 22, 2010

40 Day Dream
Up from Below
Carries On
Black Water
Come In Please
The River Won’t Flow (sung by Jade)
Janglin
Desert Song
Home
Om Nashi Me

-Encore-
Brother