Recap: 2011’s McDowell Mountain Music Festival

The weather was ideal, there was a beer truck tapped with New Belgium Brewery’s Beers (among others), and the artists delivered. Yes, ’twas such a good time at the 2011 McDowell Mountain Music Festival, that I think that, over a week later, I’ve finally fully recovered. Of the three days of music on the main stage, I missed only one band – Friday’s opener Paper Snowmen. Sorry Paper Snowmen, I’ll make it up to you somehow.

Day One

After settling in at the hotel late Friday afternoon, meeting up with my buddy Trevor, and cracking a couple beers in the room, we caught the free 24×7 shuttle to the parking lot of the Compound Grill – transformed for the weekend into a grassy, musical nirvana. The vibe – as expected – was low key, laid back, and live and let live. Just the way I like it.

I rolled in just in time to hear Martin Sexton‘s opening guitar plucks. Now, last year, I saw him backed by a full band at a regular gig inside the Compound, and Nils friggin’ Lofgren (E Streeter and Crazy Horser) popped on stage for the last hour. So, there was a mighty lofty precedent set. It was a cool set though. Was I blown away? No. But Martin was playing the 6:30 to 8:30 slot on opening night, so there were conflicts. Meeting up with friends, grabbing some food (tacos were $1 a piece opening night, compared to $3 a piece the rest of the weekend), and making my maiden voyages to the aforementioned Beer Trailer of Goodness. Now beer lovers, take note – tapped on the truck and available all weekend long were: Fat Tire, Ranger IPA, Mothership Wit, and Blue Moon! Heaven, I tell you! Yet there were still people ordering Coors Light – Golden Colorado’s natural pee water. I’ll never understand that.

Martin Sexton
Martin Sexton

JJ Grey and Mofro were up next to close out Friday evening on the main stage. Good, down home southern fried blues rock. The highlight for me was when JJ channeled his inner Otis Redding, and belted out a song called “That’s How a Woman Wants To Be Loved By a Man”. The Stax sound filled the venue, and the people were happy. This was, for me, the highlight of Friday. Admittedly, I found parts of the set a little generic at times. Mofro are veterans of the festival scene, and know how to lay down a set, but some of the lyrics and hooks occasionally leveled out a little too much for my taste. I wasn’t as wowed as when I saw them last year at the ACL Music Festival. Still, though, overall satisfaction damn high in the setting of the MMMF. JJ is a great frontman and a beast on the harmonica.

JJ Grey
JJ Grey
JJ Grey and Mofro
ladies in the front

JJ and the band wrapped up the set, and it was time to head inside the Compound for the late show with jam/electronic wizards Particle. The keyboards on stage right captured my attention from the start (much like they do on the albums I’ve heard). Cool, electro/techno-inspired sounds and fills while the rest of the band drove into jamband happyland. It was all instrumental (at the least the first set was) and included, one must not forget, a cover of Harold Faltermeyer’s “Axel F”, aka the theme from Beverly Hills Cop.

At set break, I succumbed to Friday-night-after-a-long-work-week exhaustion, and it was back to the hotel.

Day Two

After a decent slumber at the Sleep Inn ($52 per night!), it was time to drive back to the southeast valley and gather my wife and my two music loving girls (they have no choice, poor things) for Saturday and Sunday’s festivities.

We made it back to the venue about halfway through Saturday’s opener, Phoenix’s own Kinch. I’d heard great things about these guys, and the handful of songs I saw did not disappoint. Balls out guitar-driven indie rock. Really creative, good hooks, and an energetic bunch of guys. They’re playing a handful of dates as Jimmy Eat World’s opener, and some others on their own. I recommend ’em if they stop through your town (


Next up was my favorite local band, What Laura Says. Psychedelic, retro, imaginative… I’ve used all these adjectives before, but they stick. I truly dig these guys. They played a smattering of tunes from both of their studio albums, Bloom Cheek and What Laura Says Thinks and Feels (their debut): “Training”, “Keep Running Shoes Special”, “Couldn’t Lose Myself If I Tried”, among others. Their third record, Talk, comes out May 24th. If you’re in Phoenix, you can hit the album release bash on May 20th at the Icehouse in downtown Phoenix.

What Laura Says
What Laura Says

Former Meters bass-man George Porter was up next on the main stage with his band Runnin’ Pardners. It was time for tha funk – New Orleans style. We got the Allen Toussaint-written “Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley” and Little Feat’s “Sailin’ Shoes”… of interest here is that both of these tunes showed up on Robert Palmer’s 1974 debut album, and who backed him up on the record? The Meters. Interesting… speaking of the Meters, the show was not without its Meters tunes – most notable was “Liver Splash”.

George Porter
Runnin' Pardners guitarist Brint Anderson
Runnin' Pardners sax player Khris Royal

George Porter took a small break, then pulled double duty as the bass player for 7 Walkers (, also featuring Louisiana’s Papa Mali, multi-instrumentalist Matt Hubbard and former Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann. They have a swampy, loose feel, which showed itself in “New Orleans Crawl” and their theme song “7 Walkers”. But for me, they hit their stride with a collective assault of tunes by the good ol’ Grateful Dead: a slow burning “He’s Gone” inevitably conjured up images of the late great Jerry Garcia. Papa Mali looks sort of like a backwoods bayou cousin of Jerry, doesn’t he? George Porter took lead vocals on “Sugaree”; then Papa brought us home with “New Speedway Boogie” and the always welcome “Turn On Your Lovelight”. I will always have a soft spot for those Dead tunes. I was lucky enough to catch ’em 10 times toward the end (in ’94 and ’95), and hearing the songs in a nice setting like MMMF just put me in a great place.

Papa Mali of 7 Walkers
Bill Kreutzmann
Matt Hubbard of 7 Walkers

Then it was SOJA (Soldier’s Of Jah Army), a reggae group from Washington, D.C. SOJA was one of the bands I was completely unfamiliar with coming into the festival. After watching these white rastas rock the festival crowd, I was converted. Singer/guitarist Jacob Hemphill and bassist Bobby Lee (the birthday boy) were energetic and inspired, leading the band through their catalog of good time and socially conscious tunes. A small horn section (sax and trumpet) and drums and percussion added just the right flavor.

Jacob Hemphill of SOJA
Jacob Hemphill of SOJA
Rafael Rodriguez and Bobby Lee (SOJA)

Headlining the main stage Saturday night was Australian one-man wonder Xavier Rudd. Like Martin Sexton the night before, I had seen Xavier once before backed by a band (at the Marquee Theater in Tempe), but at MMMF, he came solo – if you can really call it solo, the way he worked his rig of percussion, stompers, didgeridoos, guitars, and bits & pieces. It was unreal at points. The coolest for me was when he’d launch into these trance-like club beat chants, using his mouth on the didge and pounding out these sick rhythms on the assortment of drums. Xavier transformed that place. The sounds he unleashed coupled with the trippy lighting had me questioning where I was exactly in the time/space continuum. If you see a Xavier Rudd show announced in your town, GO.

Xavier Rudd
Xavier Rudd

It was time to head into the Compound once again for the late show – the Otis Taylor Band taking the stage this time. Otis has a cool thing going – part blues, part folk… Down and dirty, raw.. notable in the band was female fiddle player Anne Harris and a straight ahead rock guitarist Jon Paul Johnson. Both of them infused some unique elements into Otis’ raw sound and lead banjo playing. Fun show during that first set. Yeah yeah, once again, the day caught up and I headed to bed.

Day Three

On Sunday, after a nice breakfast at First Watch, a breakfast joint recommended by my photog-man Owen Brown, we set up shop at the festival before the first band hit the stage – that first band being Orgone.

Hadn’t heard of Orgone before the lineup announcement, but, like SOJA, they impressed the hell out of me with their funky rhythm guitar & horn driven L.A. sound. It was instrumental soul & funk, straight out of the 70’s (I found similarities with Brooklyn’s Budos Band). But they also brought out an L.A. soul singer, introduced as Aphrodite, though Google won’t help me find any info on her (checked “Afrodite” too). She sang a few tunes, including a cool version of “Funky Nassau”. These guys set the tone for the day for me. It’s a shame some folks missed them, their funky 70’s vibe was a great backdrop to a sunny early afternoon – and they finished with Funkadelic’s “Cosmic Slop”, for cryin’ out loud.

Orgone - photo by Pete Icke
Guitarist Sergio Rios (Orgone) - photo by Pete Icke
Drummer Sean O'Shea (Orgone) - photo by Pete Icke

Next up was Brooklyn’s Rubblebucket, a hard to categorize band. Singer Kalmia Traver sounded at times like Bjork, other times like the singer from Swing Out Sister (during a song called or including the words”I Don’t Cry”). Oh come on, you remember Swing Out Sister. “Break Out”, anyone? Okay, I’m a little older. But there was definitely an 80’s vibe to their sound. There was also an afrobeat element, with trumpet, trombone, Traver on the baritone sax, and even a traditional African guitar.

Kalmia Traver (Rubblebucket)
Kalmia Traver (Rubblebucket)

Anyone who saw Rubblebucket undoubtedly was entertained also by the Sedona Hippie. Now, there must be a story behind this gent, and I’m sure he’s well known up in Red Rock Country – but this was THE happiest hippie you have ever laid eyes on. Clad only in tie-dyed long underwear, homeboy skipped around the venue for all of Rubblebucket’s set. He hugged people, he lifted people and spun them around, he had a few serious sessions of ring around the rosie… I mean, the dude was HAPPY, and was not messing around. No shame in his game – bulge be damned… Props to the Happy Hippie.

The Happy Hippie
More Happy Hippie

Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears! I’ve been enjoying this Austin retro power-soul band for a couple of years, and was looking forward to my first live show. Joe Lewis sounds like a seasoned pro – I was surprised to see he was just a kid in his 20’s. It was great to experience Lewis’ loud soulful pipes, the full on blast of the horn section (the Hard Proof Honeybear Horns), and the backing rhythm licks of Josh Duhamel-doppleganger Zach Ernst on guitar. They hit the crowd hard with new tunes like “Scandalous”, “Booty City”, and older ones like – you got it – “Bitch I Love You”.

Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears
The Hard Proof Honeybear Horns and guitarist Zach Ernst
Black Joe Lewis

So then it was time for my second Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros show in as many weekends. I caught Alex Ebert and his merry commune the week before at the Railroad Revival Tour in Tempe (along with Old Crow Medicine Show and Mumford & Sons). I was especially excited about this gig because my kids were along, and like a lot of kids, they love “Home” and “Janglin” – and they adore Jade Castrinos, Alex’s co-singer in the band. I took the girls over side stage before showtime, tracked Jade down, and asked for a photo with my girls…

Jade and my Girls (photo by Pete Icke)

Cool right? They were stoked. So then we waited. And waited. Not sure if Alex was exhibiting diva-like behavior, but the set finally got rolling over an hour past its scheduled start. But all was forgiven when they kicked off the show with “Janglin”, and, one daughter in each arm, we stood front and center and sung along, all three of us. They were thrilled, and I was thrilled seeing them thrilled.

Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
Jade Castrinos

Nora Kirkpatrick

A few tunes went by, and, for reasons those outside of the Magnetic Zeros Circle may never know, Jade left the stage and never came back. For their biggest hit, “Home”, Alex brought up a few audience members to sing Jade’s parts. It was entertaining and all, and must have been exciting for the chosen ones, but it was disappointing not to have Jade on stage trading lines with Alex. All in all though, Alex and the Zeros pulled off a great closing set. As the crowd thinned out, Alex joined the crowd in front of the stage and had everyone sit down with him as he sang the final tune. It was a pleasant, mellow ending to another great weekend at MMMF.

Highlights for Me:

  • Orgone, What Laura Says, Xavier Rudd, Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears
  • Blue Moon, Mothership Wit, Ranger IPA on tap (and not running out all weekend!)
  • Air conditioned trailer rest rooms. Didn’t have to squirt in a port-o-potty all weekend!
  • The swiss turkey burgers were tasty, especially with those warm plantains.
  • The Happy Hippie. See above.

Some Observations:

  • This is one of the most kid-friendly events around, but the kiddos need food & beverage options. Vitamin Water, regular water, and soda got old real fast. An ice-cold lemonade stand would have made a killing. How ’bout a sno-cone stand? Popcorn and popsicles? French fries and chicken strips? (Props to that Ice Cream van though!) We have to keep those kids happy…
  • Water Sprayer Guy – Year after year you deliver, spraying the hot festival goers with a cool mist. Hats off to you, water sprayer guy…
Water Sprayer Guy
Water Sprayer Guy - photo by Pete Icke
  • Yes, we all still miss Westworld, and hopefully in the future, the festival will return there. But I can’t stress enough how great a job the organizers do in transforming an upscale Scottsdale strip mall parking lot into a music lover’s paradise.
  • It seemed like a good sized crowd, with lots of good people supporting a great festival and two great charities. Here’s hoping MMMF keeps growing in popularity here in the Phoenix area. Those of us who attend do our best to spread the word, but let’s be real – you mention MMMF to co-workers and acquaintances, and only a few have heard of it. It’s up to all of us to keep promoting it, and hopefully the talent budget next year is even greater. Pull in a couple big names, interspersed with some of the lesser known acts, and it’s bound for bigger & better things.

Thanks again, MMMF! And everyone, mark your calendars for next year, the dates have already been announced: April 20-22, 2012.

Onward and upward!

Credits: All photos by Owen Brown Photography unless otherwise noted.

New Music from Deer Tick, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, What Laura Says

It’s Tuesday, June 8th – also known as a good day for new music in my world. Have a look at this trifecta of aural goodness.

First off, check out Deer Tick‘s new one, The Black Dirt Sessions (Amazon) now available for only $3.99. Rootsy and gritty rockin’ folk music.

Jamband sexpot songstress Grace Potter & her Nocturnals release their fourth full length record. a self-titled album ($5.99). It seems like I’m am always crossing paths with Grace’s music, and I enjoy it more and more as times passes.

Arizona band doin’ good What Laura Says release Bloom Cheek today ($7.99). Retro psychedelic sounds, Beatles-influenced harmonies; fresh and unique sounds – definitely worth a listen.

New Tunes from What Laura Says

Here are a couple of free & clear tastes from the forthcoming album (June 8th) by local band doin’ good What Laura Says. Below the tunes is a trippy newly released video – a “dubbed-out tanpura remix” from the new record, set to decomposed film footage of a 1960’s carnival (of unknown location – somewhere back East, apparently). I’ll have to pass on to the good folks at Shorpy, whose readers could probably name the place in a snap.

A Taste of What Laura Says’ forthcoming album: ‘Bloom Cheek’

My favorite local band by far is Tempe’s What Laura Says. Their debut record, Thinks And Feels, was one of my 2008 highlights – and their live show is just as impressive. Organic, psychedelic, folky/retro rock n’ roll; beautiful Beatles/Beach Boys-influenced melodies; and just all-around good vibes.

So I’m really stoked to see that this year will bring a brand new album entitled Bloom Cheek (on Terpikshore). A few days ago, they posted some sneak peeks at the new record. Take a listen to the minute and a half clips below. A great sign of things to come…

“On The Fence” | Great groove!

“Keep Running Shoes Special” | I saw them do this live, and it smokes.

“Tape It Spoke” | Brings out the folksy “Fleet Fox-y” side of the boys…

The Year in (Ick)Music – Pete’s List

It always takes some work on my part to parse out what was released this year, because I’m always discovering great music from years past too. But I’ve done it (and thrown in some pre-2008 tunes – I’m sneaky that way).

So without further ado, here’s my list! – Pete

Albums of the Year

1. Vampire WeekendVampire Weekend :: The hipsters give this band a lot of shit – why, I’m not sure. But I’m not a hipster, I’m just a dude who knows a catchy, original album when I hear it, and Vampire Weekend’s debut was one of my top albums of the year. “A-Punk”, “Campus”, “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”. Mansard Roof”, “Oxford Comma”… this album is full of great songs.

2. My Morning JacketEvil Urges
:: I love variety, and these guys bring it with every album. On ‘Evil Urges’, we get Jim James’ best Prince impression (“Highly Suspicious”), and some deep down and soulful grooves that reach back to 70’s soft rock and soul. Standout tunes: ‘Touch Me, I’m Going to Scream, Part One”, “Thank You Too!”, “The Librarian”, “Smokin from Shootin”.

3. What Laura SaysThinks and Feels :: It was refreshing (and surprising) to be so blown away by a local band. Tempe, Arizona’s What Laura Says is on the rise. Their label debut, ‘Thinks and Feels’ is retro psychedelic indie rock. With influences ranging from late 60’s psychedelia to Simon & Garfunkel to Dr. Dog and Ben Folds, this is an album I can play straight through 10 times and find something different every time. Beautiful harmonies and melodies, and a lot of surprises.

4. Cadence WeaponAfterparty Babies :: Edmonton rapper and former Pitchfork writer Rollie Pemberton aka Cadence Weapon has one of the most unique sounds out there. On ‘Babies’, Cadence lays down his quirky rhymes over techno grooves.

5. Okkervil RiverThe Stand Ins:: Led by my favorite of the bunch, ‘Lost Coastlines”, this album has not left my iPhone/iPod since I bought the album.

And growing on me fast:

Fleet FoxesFleet Foxes :: Appalachian church / folk music. You’ve undoubtedly seen this album on a bunch of top album lists. Initially, I wasn’t blown away, but this is an album that creeps up on you. Standout tune: “White Winter Hymnal”.

Songs of the Year:

1. “Strange Overtones” (mp3) – David Byrne :: “Joyous” is the first word that comes to mind when I think of this song. I first heard it on one of Radio Free Wohlman‘s podcasts earlier in the year. And then I saw Mr. Byrne come out on stage in Austin, he and his band dressed in white, and perform the hell out of this song in the show opener. This tune gives me goosebumps and doggone it, it makes me happy.

2. “Get Better Soon” (mp3) – What Laura Says :: An outlaw country shuffle of a tune. Great opening line: “Don’t worry about me, it’s you that needs the help”.

3. “Thank You Too!” (mp3) – My Morning Jacket :: My favorite from their ‘Evil Urges’ album. Laid back, smooth – exuding that late 70’s rock n’ soul vibe.

4. “Sausalito” (mp3) – Conor Oberst :: Like MMJ’s Jim James, Conor’s another one of those younger prolific MF’ers, and I really enjoy what he has to offer. “Sausalito” has that country roots feel I love so much, and it’s a pretty damn infectious tune.

5. “Oh Please” (mp3) – Jon and Roy :: Jon and Roy are one of those great under the radar singer/songwriter talents. They call Victoria, British Columbia home, and sometime this year, I must have got an email, and I stumbled across “Oh Please”. I love this tune. Simple. Soft. Real.

Cover of the Year

Creep” (video) – Prince – Live at Coachella :: Prince has done some cool covers (Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You”), and some not so cool (‘I Can’t Make You Love Me”, “Everyday Is A Winding Road” – a Sheryl Crow cover on a Prince record? Come on dude..), but his version of Radiohead’s “Creep” was something fresh and exciting to hear – even with the re-worked lyrics that changed the feel of the song. I would have loved to be at this Coachella show, or, as Prince calls it, “Co-A-Chella”.

Disappointments of the Year

John MellencampLife Death Love and Freedom :: I gave this album a few serious tries. I’m a big admirer of Mellencamp, and I was really looking forward to it, especially after hearing the lead single “My Sweet Love”. But I found it too dark, and too in need of hooks and melodies, which JM is surely capable of. It’s a rootsy, bluesy, morose record, and has received some stellar reviews. It’s John’s “dark” record. But truth be told, it didn’t do a thing for me. For dark Mellencamp, I’ll take “Jackie Brown”.

No Boss in Phoenix :: I’m still at a loss as to why Bruce’s Magic tour, with two full U.S. legs, totally skipped Phoenix, Arizona – the 8th largest metro area in the USA. Granted, most of the time I feel like I’m in a cultural wasteland with no soul, but that’s beside the point. I did travel to Anaheim for a show, though, and got to see Tom Morello shred it up with Bruce on “The Ghost of Tom Joad”.

Best Live Show of the Year

George Michael, June 22, U.S. Airways Arena, Phoenix :: Say what you will, but George’s show here in Phoenix was my live highlight of the year. Ol’ George is now back to his old ways (amphetamines and public toilets and whatnot), but as anyone who saw this tour can attest to, George was in prime form. His 80’s classics, his humble and genuine stage presence, his stage setup (Giant Screen!), all made for a show that ranked 10 out of 10 in my book. I was riding a GM high for weeks after this.

Band of Horses, September 28, Austin City Limits Music Festival :: After discovering the greatness of Band of Horses in January, I was looking forward to their ACL set from the moment I saw it was scheduled. I lingered around the stage all afternoon and made my way front and center when it was time for their set. I was not disappointed. Ben Bridwell and company rocked out with great tunes like “The Funeral”, “The Weed Song”, “No One’s Gonna Love You”, “Is There a Ghost”… And just as cool, the next morning at the Austin Airport, I met Ben Bridwell and told him just how great his music is.

Other great shows this year: Los Lobos, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, Steve Earle, Citizen Cope, Erykah Badu, John Fogerty, Gogol Bordello.

Best New (to me) Artist/Song:

Band of Horses :: 2008 was, for me, Year of the Horses. It took me until January 2008 to discover their incredible two albums, ‘Everything All the Time’ and ‘Cease to Begin’. In September, I got to see them front and center at Austin City Limits Music Festival. Ben Bridwell (above) is one of my new musical heroes. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us in the future (right now, they’re recording their third album in Muscle Shoals, Alabama).

Jenny Lewis :: I may not dig Jenny as much as my five year old daughter, but I was happy to discover her music this year – particularly her album with the Watson Twins, ‘Rabbit Fur Coat’. This video to “Rise Up With Fists” is what initially reeled me and my daughter in.

Missed the Boat” (mp3) – Modest Mouse :: “While we’re on the subject, can we change the subject now…” Another of my most listened to songs of the year. I love Isaac Brock’s voice, and on this tune, James Mercer pops in for some sweet backup vox as well. Great song that I didn’t hear until this year.

Just Can’t Forget” (mp3) – Jonny and Josh :: I stumbled across it on MySpace early in the year. Someone had it streaming on their profile. Jonny and Josh are singer/songwriters in the Denver area, and they wrote a song here that connected with me immediately. Dark and melodic, with a rhythm and hook that sticks with you.

Nobody Knows” (mp3) – Faces :: I’ve discovered a lot of the Faces catalog this year, and this song is one of the best. Rod Stewart and Ronnie Lane (I believe?) share vocal duties here.

“Diner” – Martin Sexton :: Quick and catchy, with that old timey feel.

“Lover’s Waltz” – A.A. Bondy :: A warm, pleading, gentle tune.

“The Story” – Brandi Carlile :: I heard this about a gajillion times during the Olympics, but it didn’t get old. Really a great pop song, and a great voice.

I Listen to What Laura Says, and You Should Too

Buy this album today.

What Laura Says. A band from my neck of the woods,  Tempe, Arizona (where every day I miss my home around the corner from Casey Moore’s). Looking at their pic here, you may be quick to judge. “Oh, hippie music! Deadhead muckety muck, don’t want it!” Ah, but dont ‘be so quick to judge. Sure, they have a side that will appeal to the psychedelic / jamband set. But there’s also a side that taps into late era Beatles. A side that taps into the Beach Boys. Little Feat. Canned Heat. Ben Folds. Dr. Dog…

But let’s stop the comparisons. What Laura Says manages to mix together a veritable tasty stew of genres. This album has followed me around for many weeks now. I’m so happy to have discovered “one of those” albums where you unearth something fresh and new with each listen. One of those albums where one song’s fabric weaves into the next, so if you pop one song on your iTunes, it doesn’t seem right without it’s companions. An album that is wholly original, quirky, and unique.

The album is an adventure – changing tempos and styles. The gentle harmonies of “Couldn’t Lose Myself If I Tried” kicks off the album with a banjo accompaniment and a happy go lucky lilt. Before you know it you’re off on a piano-driven, hand-clapping pop tune. Then comes “Fashionably Moral”, a haunting nod to raunchy Delta blues with a speeding freight train interlude. The clean joyous harmonies of “Illustrated Manual”. And how to describe “Wish I Could Fly”? Gorgeous harmonies, a melody that will have you singing along before the song ends – “boy I wish I could fly-y-eye-y-eye” – and a most-satisfying percussion frenzy toward the end.

There’s “Dot Dot Dot”, which you could easily argue owes to the likes of Simon and Garfunkel or Kings of Convenience. There’s “Waves” – a lazy summer daydreaming love song, which, for me, delivers the best 1-2 punch of the album with the next song-  “Get Better Soon” – a down home double backbeatin’ backwoods jam. “Don’t worry about me, it’s you that needs the help”, it starts (and just gets better).

Harmonies and melodies. Melodies and harmonies. Gah! I love this album!

And then I saw them live. Two words I uttered to myself as I got in the car to drive home from their CD release party at the Rhythm Room a couple weeks ago: “Holy.” and “Shit.” These guys blew my mind live – charismatic, quirky, having a good time, but very serious about delivering a quality set. They seem light years more mature than a young, upcoming band. Their live show is an experience – and if you’re in Texas, California or Vegas, you have a chance to catch them within the next couple of weeks…

Sep 11 2008 10:00P
Stubb’s BBQ Austin, Texas
Sep 12 2008 8:00P
Rock Bottom Tattoo Bar San Antonio, Texas
Sep 19 2008 10:00P
Bar Pink Elephant San Diego, California
Sep 20 2008 9:00P
SPACELAND Los Angeles, California
Sep 21 2008 10:00P
Beatles Revolution Lounge Las Vagas, Nevada
Sep 23 2008 8:00P
Blakes on Telegraph *CANCELLED* Berkley
Sep 26 2008 8:00P
The Clubhouse w/DATH Tempe, Arizona

So listen, I’m not blowing smoke up your ass because I’m gaga over a hometown band. These guys are the real deal, and I’d be gushing just as much if they were from Nome, Alaska.

Buy this album today.


What Laura Says – Jasper Corrine – this is a non-album track that sounds like a George Harrison-penned outtake from the White Album. I include it here because I’m not posting anything from the record except for “July 23”, which has the band & label’s blessing – and which you can still hear here.

What Laura Says is: Danny Godbold, James Mulhern, Mitch Freedom, Jacob Woolsey, and Greg Muller

Cruise over to their MySpace and say hi. And make sure to listen to “Wish I Could Fly” and “Couldn’t Lose Myself If I Tried”, which they have streaming.


Thank you. Carry on.

What Laura Says CD Release Party

It take a lot to get my arse out on a weekday night, and Wednesday night I will do just that and head down to the Rhythm Room in Phoenix for What Laura Says‘ CD release party. I’ve been playing the hell out of their label debut, Thinks and Feels, for the last couple of weeks. These guys are the real deal folks…. killer harmonies, a retro feel, an indie folk vibe – just really refreshing.

If you’re in the Phoenix area, join me down at the Rhythm Room.

Here’s one of the tunes from their new CD…

What Laura Says – July 23 (mp3)

Check out some more tunes on their MySpace page.

I’ll have a lot more on these guys soon.

Thinks and Feels was released last week. Check it out…

Local IckMusic: What Laura Says Thinks and Feels

what laura says thinks and feels

As a married pops of two living in the sticks outside of Phoenix, my days of spending five out of every seven nights bar-hopping and band-watching have come to an end. So my knowledge of the local music scene is pretty much limited to the local press and the occasional night out.

Today, a columnist for the Phoenix New Times posted about a cool local band on his blog. The title of his piece is ‘Annals of Bad Band Names’, and he has a valid point in this case: the band’s name is What Laura Says Thinks and Feels. They may have a good story behind the name, so I won’t judge. And after hearing these tunes, I was willing to overlook the silly name, because this stuff is infectious… a retro feel but completely unique at the same time. Folky, trippy, Brit-poppy, Brian Wilson-y.

Add your -y’s in the comments.

What Laura Says Thinks and FeelsCouldn’t Lose Myself If I Tried (mp3)

The New Times post has another tune you can listen to.

Their MySpace has three other tunes, including a nice soft one called “Dot Dot Dot” (reminds me of Kings of Convenience). And of course it’s excellent karma to support an unsigned band, so go to their CD Baby page and pick up their album. Or get it on iTunes. After listening to these songs, I think a lot of you will.