Hey, NA. It’s been awhile! One of my favorite venues in town is back at it with the Spring & Summer Seasons and I am thankful. It’s a little late (now that it’s June…) but April First Fridays brought in water colors by local artist Hank Ehrenfried. (The opening featured torrential downpours and gusty winds, so the garage door had to be lowered for the first few minutes. Luckily, the storm passed!)
…then you’ll love Frances Luke Accord.
Whimsical melodies, sweet harmonies, dreamy lyrics. Interesting rhythms. Beats of rock, harmonies of folk, soul of Americana, creating tight & together songs.
Simon and Garfunkel’s vocals and strings over the decades have made us all weak at the knees. Their sound is America and comfort. For those of us that didn’t grow up in the 60’s and 70’s (raises hand) they make me feel like I’ve been an American for longer than I have, which is pretty weird. They take me to specific times and places. They make personal histories and larger decades of musical soundscapes.
I saw Frances Luke Accord for the first time this past week, at a Garage show here in Charlottesville. They’re touring from Chicago, stopping hundreds of miles from home in our little town. I was struck by their timeless sound after the first song, “Over Your Roof.” The tight harmonies entrance their audience. They bring to mind immediately a younger-blood Simon and Garfunkel.
In case you need any more convincing, I just found this guy too.
P.S. This track tricks me into thinking I’m listening to Chris Thile, so I’m officially an FLA fan now.
If you like Alabama Shakes (so, all of you) then you’ll love Electric Guest.
Alabama Shakes is known for it’s killer vocals from lead singer Brittany Howard, cutting guitar licks, chanting harmonies, and textured bass notes that come together in an effortlessly bluesy rock ‘n roll style that Howard herself calls “genre-bending.” The Shakes have been quickly gaining popularity since debut album Boys & Girls won 3 grammies after it’s release in 2012.
Electric Guest also released it’s debut album Mondo, in 2012. The band is categorized as “indie electric pop rock” or some combination thereof, and is known for the beautifully high (almost electric, if you will) vocals, chorus-like harmonies, unexpected beats and genre-defying qualities that are reminiscent of the Shakes. Their second album is due out any day now. Check out this music video of “The Bait.”
While I can’t deny the Shakes have more potential of the two to hit an album out of the park, I do find Electric Guest to be nothing but catchy. If any of you say you weren’t doing some form of sit-dancing during that last one, you’re lying.
/photos from alabamashakes.com and electricguest.bandcamp.com/
So if you know me at all, you know that no music speaks to my soul quite like Punch does. And the Beach Boys are legendary – a truly revolutionary rock band. Now, I’m not going to voice my opinion about which band I prefer (they’re revolutionary to the world of music in different ways and for different eras). But because I love them both so, here’s 3 reasons why Punch is the Beach of the 21st century.
#1: Iconic vocals. The Beach Boys are known for the effortless harmonies that tie each song together. They gave harmony a voice (so to speak) and made it a significant element of the melody, not a slightly audible background noise that adds some texture. The vocal track is as textured as possible. Also, all 5 members of both BB and PB sing. The vocal ranges of Brian Wilson and Chris Thile are beautifully similar, hitting notes that I couldn’t hit when I was a 5 year old girl. Here’s a Thile example for you.
#2: Genre Confusion. The Beach Boys are first called a rock band, but they’re influenced heavily by doo-wop, jazz vocal groups and today are called mid-century pop. They defied a single definition and under the creative genius of Brian Wilson, took the form of many all at once.
Similarly, PB can be called a bluegrass group, but that just doesn’t describe well enough what it is they do. They have the instruments of a bluegrass band, sure, and lead vocalist and mandolin player Thile is known for his bluegrass background (such as in the recently reunited band Nickel Creek). But they play off of modern classical as well, as is visible in their inclusion of Passepied by Debussey or the Prélude by Scirabin on their most recent album The Phosphorescent Blues. They take the classics of classical and bluegrass and give them an undeniable edge, creating something totally new.
#3: “America’s Band” – in more ways than one. The Beach Boys are known for singing of American ideals, particularly during their sunshine-surfing-girl-getting songwriting days. They are the iconic sound of the 4th of July, of young love and of the rebellious teenage years. But what seemed obviously American on the outside was hiding something dark inside, which came out later in albums like Pet Sounds. Brian Wilson’s personal darkness reflected in his songwriting. And what you would call “bluegrass” of Punch Brothers isn’t the typical bluegrass round style (although it’s certainly drawn from that). There’s a dissonance present in their songwriting that twists the classic American style into something totally new. They take modern classical pieces, arrange them with new instruments, and pair them on an album that talks about the human inability to relate to his fellow man in a technology-driven age.
Is there anything more American than something that seems understandable and simple on the outside (freedom, bluegrass music, popular rock ‘n roll) but is complicated and dark on the inside?
Here’s one of my favorite BB songs from their album Pet Sounds.
If you’re a fan of these bands and have thoughts on the subject, I’d love to hear your input!
Paul McCartney, musical genius. Complete with vocal french horn. This man steals my heart day after day.
Happy fourth! (For some reason when I think about celebrating America I think about February 7th, 1964 – the day the Beatles came to the US. Thanks, Brits.)