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The Goat Rodeo Sessions, an amazing record from Yo Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile, was released yesterday and is likely going to be my album of the year. The stunning arrangements keep the listener coming back to discover new depths. The musicianship, as always with these fellas, will make your jaw drop, and the dynamics that this album provides are incredible. There are two tracks with vocals from Thile and Aoife O’Donovan which are simply brilliant and provide a good change of pace at precise moments on the album. Seriously, check out the preview for the record below along with a live performance of “Attaboy.” Enjoy and Go Buy It!

“Attaboy” Live

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Last Saturday, I received a record in the mail on pre-order that I’ve been looking forward to for the last several months. Having been a Nickel Creek, Punch Brothers, and Chris Thile fan in general, I was eager to check out the new project he had been working on with Michael Daves. I knew that they had played together at the weekly bluegrass jam at the Baggot Inn in NYC, and that the record would be concerned with old bluegrass tunes, but I knew very little of what the finished product would involve. Thile has stated that Daves’s visceral relationship to music has freed him up to not over-think everything going on and just to let the music happen, and that is clearly evident in this new batch of old tunes.

So, let’s get to the music.
On the surface, it’s just 16 old bluegrass tunes cut at Jack White’s Third Man Studios in Nashville. Dig a little deeper and you will see how excellent this record is on multiple levels. To begin, this album is truly a Thile/Daves record, not a Chris Thile and this other guy record. Having not heard of Daves before, I was primarily excited about this project because…well…it’s another project from Thile. Daves quickly exceeded my expectations, and I am sold that he is one of the best guitarists and exciting vocalists I have heard in a while. Both musician/singers get equal playing and singing time, and the two sound as if they are brothers having a great time together.

Rabbit in the Log from Chris Thile & Michael Daves on Vimeo.

Their approach to these old tunes is quite refreshing. In the musicianship itself, Daves’s effect on Thile’s playing is evident. It is not as if Chris is sloppy or careless, but he plays the songs fervently, with a rustic nuance that is hard to find in other Thile projects. It’s exciting to hear him not being as careful and precise (as wonderful as that always is) and to just hear him playing these tunes as they are–gritty. These songs are about raw life, and Daves and Thile perform them that way.


My Little Girl in Tennessee from Chris Thile & Michael Daves on Vimeo.
Daves and Thile are clearly masters of their instruments, and it often shows in their restraint. You quickly learn that they can plow through an extremely fast solo with ease, but speed is not always the point. When soloing, they play within the boundaries of the song, only doing what properly lives in the world of the tune itself. The album is vocally exciting as well. Daves’s voice is intriguing; he sings like his life depends on it, sometimes hitting notes you think he shouldn’t attempt (“Cry, Cry Darlin'”), only to be rewarded with more life and emotion in the song. Thile sounds like he is having a blast on the faster tracks and delivers the lines of the ballads as if he wrote them. Even he offers a surprise or two, particularly on the standard “Rain and Snow.”

Lastly, the songs. This will be a great introduction for many, including myself, to some wonderful old bluegrass numbers. I have gone back and listened to many of the old recordings, and Thile/Daves not only show great respect for them, but they also give the songs appropriate and exciting updates. In the end, I highly recommend this record to musicians who want to be challenged, those who love bluegrass, and all who enjoy good music and would like to try something new. Go get it!

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Let me introduce you to one of my favorite bands, Okkervil River. I came across them several years ago thanks to a Paste Magazine music sampler. The bands leader, Will Sheff, is a masterful songwriter and composer. There is a literary element to the music they produce that is unceasingly interesting to me. Their new album, out on May 10, is entitled “I am Very Far” and is streaming free for the next few weeks at NPR. The new record is an interesting, and exciting turn for the group. Their previous records, which are all on sale for $5 at Amazon right now, are brilliant and come across as hopeful, energetic….epic. With this new installment, the band sounds like they are on the verge of destruction, creating a beautiful, nervous sounding album that somehow stays intact. It’s a darker album, but the lyrics and beauty within make this record very much worth your listen. Here is a video for “Wake and be Fine.”

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Those who know me well know that Chris Thile is my favorite musician. I was therefore very excited a few months ago when I heard about this new project he was doing with guitarist Michael Daves. Their new album, Sleep with One Eye Open, is dropping on May 10 and it consists of updated takes on old bluegrass tunes. To add to the excitement, it was recorded in just a couple of days at Jack White’s Third Man Studios in Nashville. Check out a preview and interview about the record below, followed by a live video of the title track, Sleep with One Eye Open. Try to keep up with their fingers…..you can’t.

Chris Thile & Michael Daves: About the Album from Chris Thile & Michael Daves on Vimeo.

Sleep with One Eye Open from Chris Thile & Michael Daves on Vimeo.

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March Records

Here are most of the records that I listened to in March.

2011 Middle Brother: Middle Brother
2008 Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down: Noah & the Whale
2011 100 Lovers: Devotchka
2009 The First Days of Spring: Noah & the Whale
2011 Last Night on Earth: Noah & the Whale
2011 A New Kind of House: Typhoon
2010 Hunger and Thirst: Typhoon
1966 If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears: The Mamas and the Papas
1968 Music from Big Pink: The Band
1969 The Band: The Band
1970 Stage Fright: The Band
2011 This is Where we Are: Seryn
2011 All Eternals Deck: The Mountain Goats
1978 Street-Legal: Bob Dylan
2011 The Best of Gloucester County: Danielson
1967 Disraeli Gears: Cream
2005 Colour Revold EP: Colour Revolt
1997 Where Have all the Merrymakers Gone?: Harvey Danger

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I have really been enjoying Typhoon‘s new EP, “A New Kind of House.” Here is a video from NPR of them playing two songs at SXSW. Seriously, watch this and pick up the EP. You won’t be disappointed.

 

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Music: Seryn

Let me introduce you to the music of Seryn. I listened to their debut record, This is Where We Are, twice today at work and was blown away by their thoughtful lyrics and melodies, tight harmonies, and amazing energy. You should pick up their record or at least listen to a few streaming tracks. Here a video of “Our Love” to get you started. Be patient with this one, there are a few hiccups but it’s worth it.

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