Knock Knock Get Up feels like summer. It reminds you of lazy days, sitting on the porch of a cabin, and bonfires at night. It also has just enough melancholy and wistfulness to make its release date, Sept 4th, the day after Labor Day, the most perfect release date in recent memory.
The album’s opening track, “Will You Be Sleeping,” sets the mood perfectly with its laid back surf guitar and horns, and brushes right up against the edge of ska while keeping David Wax Museum’straditional Mexican modern folk sound. The laid back vibe stays throughout the entire album, which disappointed me at first since I was hoping for another “Unfruitful” or “Colas.” However, the more I listen to it, the more I appreciate that there is no standout track. The album should be listened to as a whole since each track blends perfectly into the next. The highest energy song on the album is “Leopard Girl,” which has been a live staple for the better part of a year. It also contains my favorite guitar riff yet in a David Wax Museum song by being fuzzed out and more garage rock than standard folk. My personal favorite from the album is “The Rumors Are True,” which sounds like Portishead if they ever tried playing folk.
Knock Knock Get Up comes out September 4th. You can stream it right now over at KDHX’s website, watch both videos for “Will You Be Sleeping” below, and of course, check out their website for a current list of tour dates.
For the first time in all my years of going to the Newport Folk Festival (7?), this was the first year I felt truly overwhelmed. The festival has swelled from just the three main stages to include six, as long as you count the Sennheiser Ruins Stage and the Late July Kids’ Tent, which I will since they had some of the weekend’s biggest acts playing. I didn’t even get a chance to set foot in the brand new Museum Stage. Since I couldn’t see everything I wanted to for the first time ever (trust me, I’m not complaining, it’s a fantastic problem to have), I’ll have to limit this to just the highlights, even though I’m sure I’m missing some.
Every year Newport has one break out act that comes seemingly out of nowhere and wins over an entire crowd by sheer talent and joy of playing. The past two years had David Wax Museumand Brown Bird. This year’s was Spirit Family Reunion. Going on Saturday morning on the smallest of the three main stages, they were virtual unknowns except for a few die hard fans. On stage, all six members (except the drummer) crowd around a single microphone and just sing along with everything they’ve got. Their blend of Appalachian rootsy folk may seem out of place in their native New York City, but it was right at home at Newport. By the end of their set, which included one of five true encores I have ever seen, the crowd had swelled in size and they received one of the most enthusiastic ovations I have ever heard. It felt like a truly special moment for both the crowd and the band.
Spirit Family Reunion at the Sennheiser Sound Lounge.
One of the hardest choices I had to make was whether to watch Deer Tick or Alabama Shakes who had overlapping sets. I started with Deer Tickover on the Quad Stage. Their latest album, Divine Providence, shows the band moving away from their original Hank Williams meets Nirvana sound and into more straightforward rock. Their set reflected this, included covers of John Lennon’s “Mother” and Chuck Berry’s “Maybelline.” It was still such a tight, solid set that I begrudgingly wandered over to the Fort Stage for Alabama Shakes, since they are by far the biggest buzz band of the weekend, and I saw it as my journalistic duty. For the band with probably the most to prove, they blew away everyone who saw them and defied all expectations. Lead singer Brittney Howard’s voice may not be traditionally pretty in the folky way, but she packs the punch of both Mavis Staples and Janis Joplin combined. They were by far the best pure live act of the festival.
Alabama Shakes at Newport Folk Festival 2012
Another pleasant surprise was Iceland’s Of Monsters and Men. I had no true interest in seeing them and had dismissed them as a radio friendly pop act with the big hit included to appeal to the kids. And, to be honest, they are. But they were amazing at it. They brought an unexpected life and energy to their set that was missing from the album. While they did have the advantage of attracting a crowd mostly in their early 20s, its energy and enthusiasm was infectious, causing just about everyone in earshot of the Quad Stage to join in dancing. I’ll be very curious to see where this band goes from here.
Another band that beat my expectations was First Aid Kit. Adding only a drummer to their live show, their set was sparse yet complete. Forming in their teens, their harmonies are more cultivated far past their ages. Being sisters probably helps with this since one would assume they’ve been singing together since Klara learned to speak. Don’t look up ages right now. Just trust me on this one. Even though their sound can be described as ethereal, they showed their more headbanging side on “The Lion’s Roar,” proving once and for all that Sweden loves their metal, even in folk form. They closed out their set with “King of the World,” complete with Conor Oberst hopping on stage at the end for his verse.
Conor Oberst and First Aid Kit at the Newport Folk Festival 2012
The most infamous set of the year was from Tom Morello. In his third year atNewport, he always seems to surprise the crowd and bring something new to his set. The first year was just surprise that the guitarist from RageAgainst the Machine could play without all the pedals and affects. The second year he brought a more full and fleshed out focus to his songs, even though it was just him. This year he brought along both electric and acoustic guitars along with a second guitarist. This allowed him to break out some of his more trademark solos, which did lead to an impressive but overblown solo during “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” complete with playing the guitar with his teeth. He brought the focus back on the folk side with his rendition of “This Land is Your Land.” He was joined by Jackson Browne to the stage to take a verse. For the third time he got the entire Harbor Stage crowd to their feet to pogo along during the last chorus. He kept the raucous mood going by asking the crowd to join him on stage and “Occupy the Newport Folk Festival.” Security was no too pleased with this idea, and attempted to stop the rush of fans from climbing onto the stage. After Morello explained that we were now all in the band and that he “… made [his] living with a song that goes #&*@ you I won’t do what you tell me,” security and police finally relented and the entire stage quickly filled up with eager fans, including Jackson Browne who could be seen taking pictures on his cell phone.
Jackson Browne joins Tom Morello at Newport
One of the themes of this year’s festival was Woody Guthrie’s 100th birthday. The two acts that brought this to the forefront were Guthrie Family Reunion and New Multitudes. Guthrie Family Reunion is the obvious one. Led by Woody’s son Arlo, Guthrie Family Reunion features three generations of Guthries on stage together. The family played a variety of their patriarch’s songs, including some of his lesser known children’s songs with Arlo’s elementary school age and younger grandkids taking over vocals. It was a great tribute to Woody as a songwriter and a family man.
Guthrie Family Reunion at Newport Folk Festival 2012
New Multitudes are a supergroup brought together to bring music to unfinished Guthrie songs, much like Billy Bragg and Wilco did with Mermaid Avenue. New Multitudes features Jay Farrar, Will Johnson, Anders Parker, and Yim Yames, and were much tighter than you would expect from a side project with very busy members. They stuck closely to the album (one of the best of the year so far) and added much more rock to the songs than would be expected. It made for a great modern take on a classic musician’s unfinished works.
Jay Farrar, Will Johnson, Anders Parker, and Yim Yames make up the New Multitudes
The two smallest stages brought some of the biggest moments. The Late July Kids’ Stage featured Elizabeth Mitchelland You Are My Flower, one of the best children’s music acts out there today. As if that wasn’t enough, it also had other festival acts playing a tiny, tiny, completely overlooked stage. You can’t ignore a tent when it features sets by Spirit Family Reunion, Conor Oberst, and a three song Nickel Creek reunion. Even more overlooked was the Sennheiser Ruins Stage. This stage was actually in the corner of the Quad, and featured everyone from Of Monsters and Men to Tom Morello playing intimate sets in front of small crowds. In order to drown out the nearby Quad stage, Sennheiser headphones were passed out to offer sound in perfect clarity. It also gave you a great chance to check out acts you might have missed earlier in the weekend, if just for a few songs.
Each night’s headliners, My Morning Jacket and Jackson Browne, each had to contend with weather issues that threatened both days of the festival but chose their sets to truly open up. My Morning Jacket brought their jam band meets Sonic Youth sound, starting off more melodically and as close to traditional folk as they get, and slowly built to a more indie rock sound, while still keeping it rootsy. I was never truly a fan from the albums, but they proved themselves to truly be an act you need to see live. Unfortunately, lightning and safety concerns cut their set about 40 minutes short, so we never got to find out how truly great they could have been. While he didn’t have to deal with torrential rains, Jackson Browne still lost a lot of the crowd due to the skies opening up and overall fatigue. Anyone who left early missed a set of a master songwriter in the midst of a true second life and rejuvenation thanks to things like the Watkins Family Hour podcast.
In 2013, the Newport Folk Festival will be July 27-28. While you’re planning, check out NPR’s website to stream some of the sets from Newport 2012, and keep an eye out here for our upcoming Newport Folk Fest 2012 picture journal.
Located on the grounds of Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH is a free two day festival celebrating music for all ages – HOPFest. You get music as diverse as classical to Mexo-Americana. For older kids there is the Tiltfactor Playcube, where they get to test out games designed by Dartmouth College students. Older and younger kids will love the Instrument Petting Zoo where they can try out a wide variety of instruments with instruction from HOPFest musicians. That’s right, your kid can learn how a sousaphone works from a professional musician.
Of course, there are bands playing. There is a wide range including the Classical Corner, where you sit on stage surrounded by Dartmouth College students and faculty playing chamber music. It’s not all amateur musicians, as bands as diverse as Asphalt Orchestra (alt-marching band), Pine Leaf Boys (Cajun), Sergeant Garcia (reggae-Latin-punk-electronica), and The Music Moms fave David Wax Museum, among others. There are also movies and a Friday night all ages dance party.
HOPFest is free, and starts at 4 pm on Friday, July 20, and 12:00 on Saturday, July 21. For a full schedule of bands and events, check out their website.
Featuring My Morning Jacket, Jackson Browne, Iron & Wine, Dawes, Conor Oberst, Tom Morello, and more!
On March 1, the line up for this year’s Newport Folk Festival was announced. It’s definitely not short on big names, with headliners like My Morning Jacket (making their debut at Newport), Jackson Browne, Conor Oberst, and Iron & Wine. Also on the bill are Deer Tick, Dawes, Brown Bird, First Aid Kid (one of the acts I’m most excited to see live), Tom Morello, Trampled By Turtles, The Head and the Heart, among many others.
Why do I mention Newport instead of other festivals this year? It’s one of the few big festivals perfect to bring a kid to. It’s not absurdly loud, there are no mosh pits, and no drunken buffoons. While everyone I know who has ever been to Coachella or Bonnaroo has complained about being too far away to actually see any bands, at Newport you can get right up close to even the headliners, which I love since I want to make sure my daughter knows where the music is coming from. Plus, last year brought the Lego Kids’ Tent, which featured Legos (of course), but also had small, incredibly intimate sets from bands likeDavid Wax Museum,Low Anthem, and Freelance Whales. They also still allow each person to bring in a small cooler of food and drinks, which is essential when you have a small child with you. It’s the perfect way to introduce your kids to live music.
The Newport Folk Festival takes place July 28 and 29 at Fort Adams State Park, Newport,RI. Tickets are on sale now, $135 for a two day pass, $74 for a single day, children 3-15 are $15 per day, under 3 are free(!!!). Buy yours at newportfolkfest.net.
It’s that time again where we scroll through our iPods and remember the best albums of the year. Since most of our writers have varied tastes in music, it’s nearly impossible to have one single, solitary list that represents everyone’s music tastes. That’s why we’ve decided to each pick our Top 5 albums of the year for your listening pleasure.
If you’ve been too busy this year to check out a lot of music, then this list of albums is a definite must! To hear a sample from our favorite albums of the year, check out our Spotify Playlist.
In alphabetical order by writer…(Maria is our newest writer, so welcome Maria!)
The Decemberists – The King is Dead: I’ve been a fan of The Decemberists for close to a decade but a couple of songs on this album have become my all-time favorites of theirs. Check out “Don’t Carry It All” and “Calamity Song.”
Wanda Jackson – The Party Ain’t Over: Wanda is the undeniable queen of rock ‘n’ roll! This is an essential additiona to any fan’s collection.
Various Artists – Rave on Buddy Holly: From The Detroit Cobras to She & Him, artists pay tribute to Buddy Holly with great deference. Even the Kid Rock track is good!
The Go! Team – Rolling Blackouts: This band has an awesome way of mixing sounds from all kinds of music to make sweet songs and crazy dance songs. There is a track for almost every mood. I love it.
Steve Earle – I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive: Steve Earle is an American legend. I recommend picking up this collection of timeless folk songs and checking him out live.
Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire: Ryan Adams’ best album to date. Simple evidence that Adams has matured in many ways and remains one of the best songwriters out right now.
The Head & The Heart – The Head & The Heart: I’ve been very lucky to have been tipped to this one early on. Every time I listen I fall more in love with this album. The line “god have mercy on my rough and rowdy ways…” just kills me.
Joseph Arthur – The Graduation Ceremony: Arthur is among the most prolific artists we have and this sees him back to the Redemption Son ear. A true album about the tribulations of love and is everything you love about his style…lush and brutally honest.
Dawes – Nothing is Wrong: There is just not enough space to explain how incredible this record is, how gifted a songwriter Taylor Goldsmith is, and how impeccable the harmonies that Tay, Taylor and Griffin sing are. The fact that they have special guest Jackson Browne on the record can give you a small hint about how special this band and record both are.
M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming: I won’t lie. The first listen of “Midnight City” raise my eyebrow. I wasn’t sure what I thought. Then after a few listens, I realized Anthony Gonzales finally found the perfect middle ground between his love for 80′s pop music, and the loud, blistering white noise he showed us so early on in his career.
Laura Stevenson & the Cans – Sit, Resist: The more I hear this album, the more I like it. Lots of details come out in repeated listens.
Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside – Dirty Radio: I may have burnt myself out a little on this one earlier this year. It’s a very c lose #2.
Childish Gambino – Camp: I was a little hesitant to include this one because it’s so new, but I’m so addicted to “Heartbeat” right now.
David Wax Museum – Everything is Saved: Surprisingly, my only Boston based band on the list. 2012 will be a huge year for these guys.
Wild Flag – Wild Flag: Members of Sleater-Kinney throw a party and invite Mary Timony. Exactly what I wanted this album to be…which is a good thing.
Bon Iver – Bon Iver: The first time I heard “Holocene” from Justin Vernon’s project Bon Iver, my knees buckled and my heart fluttered. Recorded in a converted veterinarian clinic, the elaborately arranged Bon Iver is a beautiful compliment to its predecessor For Emma, For Ever Ago.
Cut Copy – Zonoscope: If Cut Copy’s album Zonoscope doesn’t make you want to dance, you might want to check your reflexes. Tracks from the New Zealand based dance-rock group like “Need You Now” and “Take Me Over” are the perfect addition to any dance party.
Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost: Chris Owens, how I love thee…The second album by San Francisco’s Girls draws inspiration from classic artists like the Beach Boys and Elvis Costello. Sure to make indie girls swoon, Owens pays homage to his mother on tracks like “Honey Bunny” and “My Ma.”
The Black Keys – El Camino: Can you believe that this is The Black Keys’ seventh studio album? The Grammy winning duo from Akron, OH continue to deliver “vintagey” blues-rock sounds and catchy riffs that make your feet tap and fingers snap.
CANT – Dreams Come True: Dreams Come True is Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear fame, and first solo project under the CANT guise. Recorded in a week and half, Dreams Come True’s hauntingly mysterious tracks make this album the perfect soundtrack for any gray, rainy day.
We are Augustines – Rise Ye Sunken Ships: I’ve officially worn this album out. It’s the epitome of a rock and roll record from members of the former band Pela. It’s difficult to put out an album that is dynamic and heartfelt, yet catchy as all get-up.
Bon Iver – Bon Iver: I’ve been a huge fan of Bon Iver and this album did not disappoint. The music is the ideal soundtrack to set the mood for a reflective day. A nice surprise was the pseudo-sounding Phil Collins-ish Beth/Rest.
Architecture in Helsinki – Moment Bends: Delicious and pop-stounding, this Australian band came back from the disaster-of-an-album Places like This. On Moment Bends, the band sticks to what they know best: great hooks and instrumentally-filled bliss.
Destroyer – Kaputt: Released in January, a lot of folks forgot about this amazing release. Not me. Granted I’m a Dan Bejar-aholic and this album is a great addition to Destroyer’s discography. Full of witticisms and interesting melodies, you always know a Dan Bejar song when you hear it…and that’s hard for most band’s to achieve.
The Rural Alberta Advantage Club – Departing: Canadian indie rockers are back at it on their second album. I’ve been smitten with this band since their debut Hometowns. In this release, they show a bit more maturity with lusher tracks but still the uncanny knack for interesting lyrics.