Okkervil River | Stream The Silver Gymnasium

New album from Okkervil River, The Silver Gymnasium (Amazon, out 9/3), is streaming free right now. This is one of my favorite bands working. Some of the best songwriting around from frontman Will Sheff. I'm halfway through the stream right now and it's really good so far.

Get a taste of the new album from Sheff's open mic night. Or just listen here to open track, "It Was My Season"...

Jason Isbell on Fresh Air

Jason Isbell (2)

The more listens I give to Jason Isbell's remarkable album, Southeastern, the more I love it.

I point you to a lot of music and most of the time I blog on albums when they are on sale. Finding a good album for $5 or cheaper is joy. Southeastern is full price. It's $9.99. And it's worth three times the price. If you wait and spend your money only when albums are on sale, you will miss something remarkable. 

I submit into evidence Jason Isbell's recent appearance on NPR's Fresh Air podcast. Isbell plays a few of his songs live and talks about his own struggles with addiction. It's a great interview. And every song on this album makes me think. I hope you'll check it out.

Stephen King on God

King crop

Stephen King wrote one of my favorite books on writing called On Writing. His take on adverbs clearly has stuck with me. He has also written a popular book here or there. Terry Gross' interview of King on Fresh Air yesterday was really good, including a bunch of quotes worth checking out. Here's a great example. You should go listen to the whole thing.

I choose to believe it. ... I mean, there's no downside to that. If you say, 'Well, OK, I don't believe in God. There's no evidence of God,' then you're missing the stars in the sky and you're missing the sunrises and sunsets and you're missing the fact that bees pollinate all these crops and keep us alive and the way that everything seems to work together. Everything is sort of built in a way that to me suggests intelligent design. But, at the same time, there's a lot of things in life where you say to yourself, 'Well, if this is God's plan, it's very peculiar,' and you have to wonder about that guy's personality — the big guy's personality. And the thing is — I may have told you last time that I believe in God — what I'm saying now is I choose to believe in God, but I have serious doubts and I refuse to be pinned down to something that I said 10 or 12 years ago. I'm totally inconsistent.

Music Monday 4.16.12

Ipod toon



Check out the Tiny Desk Concert from First Aid Kit (album, The Lion's Roar). You won't be sorry. When they harmonize = wow. Also, follow along the lyrics to the second song, "The Lion's Roar." It appears to be their response to & reflection on church, religion, Jesus, Christianity. 

Fresh Air: Maurice Sendak is Happy/Sad


Terry Gross of NPR's Fresh Air interviews 83 year old, award winning author Maurice Sendak. You know him as the author of Where the Wild Things Are. He has a new book coming out, which is the point of the interview. But it turns into a talk with an author reminiscing about a life of art, being homosexual, therapy, losing loved ones, and ending life as an atheist in love with the world and feeling it slip through his fingers. Well worth a listen.

"I'm a happy old man, but I will cry my way all the way to the grave."

New Albums Streaming Free 9.19.11


Albums streaming free before they are released. Check out something new today.

King Creosote & Jon Hopkins | Diamond Mine

King Creo

Bob Boilen at NPR Music has been a worthy guide to good music for me for years now. So when he said today that King Creosote and John Hopkins: Diamond Mine is the best album of 2011 so far, I had to listen. I'm listening now and very much enjoying it. It's quite magical. Go stream it in full before the May 24 release.

From Boilen...

If the year ended right now, I'd know my favorite record of 2011. Out May 24, Diamond Mine does what audio does best: It takes me far from the here-and-now.

This labor of love, seven years in the making, opens on a café terrace in a Scottish town. Jon Hopkins sets his field recordings, rich in regional accents and casual conversation, against a lovely, spare piano. It's a few minutes before these soundscapes give way to the quivering vocals of King Creosote, at which point the scope of this collaboration becomes clear. This is storytelling through sounds and with song — bring your own pictures.

Creosote, a.k.a. Kenny Anderson, and Jon Hopkins describe this unusual record as the "soundtrack to a romanticized version of a life lived in a Scottish coastal village." Hopkins is a sharp musician: Electronics are his tools, dance music is how he fills nightclubs and textures are how he fills songs. Creosote is a prolific songwriter based in Crail, a small fishing village in the northeast of Fife, Scotland.

There's acoustic guitar and melodic-yet-ambient accordion holding these tunes together. The words to the songs seem to reflect big dreams — perhaps unfulfilled — set against the wonders of the everyday. This is a record for your late night or your quiet Sunday. Put it on when you when you need calm or you're prepared for a mental journey, and be grateful that in a fast-paced world, King Creosote and Jon Hopkins stopped and took their time.

Albums Streaming Free | 5.16.11


Here are a few soon-to-be-released albums streaming free I think are worth checking out.

Okkervil River | "Wake & Be Fine"

I'm a big Okkervil River fan. Some of the most creative indie music around. Lyrically rich. New album, I Am Very Far, drops in May. I can't say enough how much I love their albums: Black Sheep Boy (and Appendix), The Stage Names, The Stand Ins. Here's the official video for "Wake and Be Fine" off their new album (via)...

SXSW | Jack White & Seasick Steve

Jack White's bus from Third Man Records rolled into SXSW for a surprise parking lot performance (hear NPR's All Songs folks explain what happened). Jack played a Buddy Holly song, a White Stripes song, and then introduced new Third Man Records recording artist, Seasick Steve who stomped and played a song with a guitar with three strings (it's the blues, baby!). Some technical glitches in the last song, but I think you'll like this. The first video is the parking lot concert. The second is Seasick Steve on Jools Holland. Also, check out the album by Seasick Steve: Man From Another Time.

Damien Jurado | Tiny Desk Concert

I saw Damien Jurado in concert a few years back. His band was opening for Okkervil River. The show was compelling, but I really didn't dig into his music right away. I liked his 2009 album, Caught In The Trees. But his latest release, Saint Bartlett, is what made me a fan. Here's his recent Tiny Desk Concert. Hear Ya calls Jurado "wildly underrated." Maybe so. If you are looking for slick, super-polished, and ready to sell--this isn't it. It's a dude, his guitar, and good songwriting. Enjoy!