Tag Archive for 'Nathaniel Rateliff'

The It’s Time to Play B-Sides Top 20 Albums of 2015

Top 20

We’ve made it through another year of music. 2015 was another year of the music industry trying to figure out the future. Heavy hitters like Taylor Swift and Adele removed their music from online streaming services like Spotify– which might be interpreted as an ego move on both parts. Jay-Z’s Tidal enjoyed a bit of press due to Prince releasing two albums exclusively on it, though I still don’t know anyone who is using it.  Adele’s last-quarter release of her much-anticipated 25 album has just surpassed 5 million copies sold. There is a lot of debate about the significance of this as it applies to the general health of the industry. Ultimately, though, I don’t think you can use this as any kind of barometer– certainly not an indicator of “rebounding.”  One thing is for certain, though, her 50+ date tour in 2016 will be the top grossing.

In other re-warmed news, a reformed Grateful Dead with Trey Anastasio as “Jerry” played some high-grossing shows in LA and Chicago showing that baby boomers and Gen X’ers are willing to shell out lots of money to recapture even a brief glimpse of their youth. The shows seemed like a fitting celebration of 50 years and a kind of closure to the promise of the remainder of the band getting back together. The following “Dead and Friends” tour with John Mayer as “Jerry” has been benefiting from the exposure and in my opinion are an improved version of the Dead. His vocals and guitar work are top-notch and add a real polish to the proceedings.

Looking this list over, it shows that I spent most of 2015 listening to local artists. Iowa has really been stepping up its game for music and we’ve got some of the best music around. There were a lot of notable releases outside of Iowa, but I just didn’t find myself putting any of them on repeat. It says a lot– you don’t have to go far from your back yard to get world-class music.

Looking over other Best of Lists, I see some albums that I listened to and thought were good, but they just didn’t stick with me: The Decemberists – What A Wonderful World, What A Terrible World, Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell, Father John Misty – I Love You Honeybear, Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly, Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color.

Here is the list in no particular order–

Dickie – Self Titled : Dick Prall moved back to Iowa and started a new project with Kristina Priceman crafting a wonderful string-wrapped package of retro-inspired pop rock. Somewhere between the Beatles, Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly sits this collection of autobiographical songs with heart.

Younger – Self Titled : This one from the new Iowa City band Younger was a late discovery for me, but no less brillant. Former members of The Wandering Bears and Emperors Club have put out a Riot Grrl-ish album that people are drawing comparisons to The Breeders and Bikini Kill. To me it sounds more like Pylon and Throwing Muses. In any event, a fantastic record that I’ll be spinning a lot in 2016, I expect.

Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit : Yep. More edgy Riot Grrlish rawk. On almost everyone’s list for 2015.

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats – Self Titled : I’ve been a fan of Nathaniel Rateliff ever since I saw him on the Daytrotter Barnstormer shows back in 2010 along with Delta Spirit. I’m a sucker for his well-crafted folk albums to date, but his transformation into an R&B powerhouse and seeing the nearly-universal embrace of it is pretty unexpected. Fantastic record and the return of Stax Records!

Holy White Hounds – Sparkle Sparkle : Des Moines band Holy White Hounds are gaining momentum by word of mouth. These guys make some pretty fantastic rock coupled with a great live show. Kind of 90’s throwback metal/grunge reinvented for the new century.

Phil Cook – Southland Mission : Hiss Golden Messenger sideman, member of Megafaun, producer and all-around great guy Phil Cook releases his first solo album with him singing. Due to a stupid security issue at Eaux Claires Festival this year, I missed his set, though it’s on YouTube. Rootsy, bluesy gospel-influenced boogie rock. I could put this album on every day and it puts the same dumb grin on my face every time.

Tom Jessen – Hunting Season : Former Iowa musician Tom Jessen released his first album in years– and that pent-up potential created what has to be the best snapshot of current American dystopia ever. Pretty damn fantastic portrait of how fucked up things are. LISTEN TO THIS ALBUM.

Charlie Parr – Stumpjumper : Speaking of Phil Cook, he produced the latest album from Minnesota retro blues and folk historian Charlie Parr. He was picked up by Red House Records which is a good home for him. This is the first album he’s done with a full band and the fleshing out of his sound really benefits the proceedings. “Over The Red Cedar” gives me goosebumps every time I play it.

Calexico – Edge of the Sun : Calexico tends to swing back and forth between full-on Latin-influenced albums and albums that lean a little more towards Americana-rock. This one ends up being more the latter. For me, I welcome the changes the band goes through– continually pushing the identity of what Calexico is.

Ryan Adams – 1989 : I did listen to this one a lot as soon as it appeared. It’s a really great album, but it seems like it is just an extension of last years self titled release– which isn’t bad at all. I like it, but I just about didn’t include it on the list because, for me anyway, Ryan Adams is a complete musician and songwriter, so I prefer to have more complete work rather than covers. I suppose some of this feeling is due to my relative unawareness of Taylor Swift’s blockbuster album it’s based on.

Dagmar – Afterlight : I can’t say enough about this Iowa duo. Atmospheric and sublime harmonies with unique counterpoint and rhythm. Jawdroppingly gorgeous album– somewhere between Philip Glass and Sufjan Stevens sits this baroque choral folk.

Pieta Brown – Drifters EP : The “lost” tracks from 2014’s fantastic Paradise Outlaw album. Brown is using this to launch her own “underground” imprint Lustre Records. Includes a remix from Justin Vernon!

The Pines – Pasture: Folk Songs EP : A kind of surprise drop from The Pines this year in the form of an EP of covers from Joe Price, Mance Lipscomb, Iris Dement, Mason Jennings & Greg Brown. No new ground broken here, but is a tribute to the songs that The Pines have included in their sets over the years.

Jim Viner’s Incredible B3 Band – COMANGO! : Jim Viner– Iowa drummer extrordinaire– assembled a collection of musician friends to create a retro B3-driven album with influences from The Meters and Booker T and the MGs. A really fun album that recalls the pre-Diplomette-vocals days of The Diplomats of Solid Sound. Destined to be part of the soundtrack to a cable TV show near you!

Kamasi Washington – The Epic – If I have any complaint about this sprawling masterpiece of Jazz, it’s that it can’t reasonably be digested in one sitting. But, if you’re willing to dedicate the time, this album is impressive in its diversity. I consider myself a fan of Jazz, but I don’t listen to much contemporary Jazz as I haven’t found much that really keeps my attention. I hope this signals a new generation of jazz artists who are willing to explore and innovate.

Thundercat – The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam – Thundercat works with Flying Lotus and Kamasi Washington, and all three worked on the Kendrick Lamar album How To Pimp A Butterfly — noted for its adventuresome approach to the music. His short album (16 minutes, but Flying Lotus said it’s an album, not an EP) from this year featured him front-and-center singing and leading most of the music with his jazz and funk bass riffs.

Aero Flynn – Self Titled – Justin Vernon raves about Josh Scott as a songwriter. After a lot of years not performing music, he comes back with Aero Flynn. Atmospheric and swirling it sounds like a distant cousin of Radiohead when they made more straightforward songs (OK Computer, maybe).

Beth Bombara – Self Titled – Beth is back with her most polished and accomplished record to date. She continues her shuffling, pining folk and country. Dusty and awesome.

Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free : Brilliant record– literary and scenic songwriting. Isbell continues to impress with one of the great records from this year– almost unanimously agreed.

Lyrics Born – Real People – Lyric Born has never been shy to work with live band. He did one tour with a full band behind him (documented on the Overnite Encore Live album), he contributed vocals to the 2007 Galactic album From the Corner to the Block. His new album Real People includes members of Galactic as well as a who’s who of New Orleans musicians including Ivan Neville, Corey Henry, Trombone Shorty, the Revivalists’ David Shaw and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Typically upbeat and tongue in cheek the album is a funk overload. Great record– not sure why more people aren’t calling it out (see what I did there?).

(Upcoming Show) The Mighty Men of Dawes Return to Iowa – The Englert, Iowa City 8/19/2012

Taylor and Wylie of Dawes
Since the last time California band Dawes graced a stage in Eastern Iowa in 2010 they’ve been busy. Last year they released their sophomore album Nothing Is Wrong, got their video for “Time Spent In Los Angeles” added to VH1’s Top 20, tapped as his touring band by Robbie Robertson (and backed him on Letterman!), toured seemingly non-stop around the world both headlining and in support of bands like Mumford & Sons as well as hitting the festival stages at Coachella and Lollapalooza.

After being spoiled with a bunch of performances in 2009 and 2010 (three Barnstormer shows, RIBCO, Barn on the Fourth in Maquoketa, Gabes) we’re excited to have the band back in Iowa with what should be an amazing show at the beautiful Englert Theater in Iowa City next Sunday, 8/19. Joining them is fellow Barnstormer and Daytrotter.com alum Nathaniel Rateliff.

Here is video I shot of “So Well” from when Dawes played Gabes in Iowa City in August of 2010:

This promises to be one of the great shows of this year, so don’t miss it. The crowd will be packed with Barnstormer regulars ready to welcome the boys back, so the crowd will be bringing the love and if past experience dictates, the band will respond with an amazing show.

Be sure to pick up the August issue of Little Village Magazine where I have an interview with Taylor Goldsmith. You can read the whole issue online HERE.

Tickets are $16 in Advance and $18 the day of the show and are general admission.

Details are HERE.

Daytrotter Barnstormer 3 Details – Half of Admission Will Be Used for Charitable Help

Last year’s two Daytrotter Barnstormer tours brought bands and fans together in unique barn settings. These shows were not without their challenges– but proved to be memorable and transcendant experiences for the bands as well as the fans. Most of my favorite band and music experiences from 2009 were as a result of these shows– certainly in the case of Local Natives and Dawes we are seeing two bands from these barns on impressive career arcs. Both bands just finished “barnstorming” SXSW this year with multiple shows all with rave reviews from press and fans.

This year’s first Barnstormer show– which will be the third– will take place April 27th through May 1st and include shows in Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois. Unlike the first two tours last year, these will have a cover charge of $10. From last week’s Daytrotter e-mail:

We know that all of you Barnstormers enjoyed the freeness of the first two tours and we thank you for making the tour what it is. With the acts that we have set for No. 3, we need your help to pay for everything… Each night, half of every paid admission will go to someone who needs help. Maybe it’s someone you know. We are choosing one individual or family — based on your nominations — to receive some help from the Barnstormer. So, write rsvpdaytrotter@gmail.com with a story of someone who’s fallen on hard times and could use some assistance. We’ll take the best five stories and do what we can to make things a bit better.

The cover charge is a notable change– when I talked to Sean about this last year he said that since he really doesn’t spend any money for promoting daytrotter.com– these shows were going to be used as a method of promotion and his promotional budget would pay for part of it. Plus, the bands were playing these shows understanding that they’d get some needed exposure and hoping to sell merchandise and they were crashing at people’s homes and camping out– in Bellevue all of the bands were put up in a bed and breakfast operated by the owner of Mooney Hollow. While I don’t expect that the living conditions for the bands will be changed much, I’m sure that the $5 per head will be welcomed!

The idea of giving the other half of the money to a needy family or individual is great, and certainly in line with Sean’s idea of giving back to these little towns like the one he grew up in.

$10 certainly isn’t a lot for five Daytrotter-approved up-and-comers anyway.  The band line-up looks pretty good and it already has some buzzworthy bands in it. Free Energy, originally from Minneapolis now living in the land of Philly cheesesteaks, has been getting a lot of blog press lately with their brand of power-pop. Dawes and Deer Tick-BFF’s Delta Spirit have done three Daytrotter sessions since 2007. Ra Ra Riot purvey a kind of organic unplugged britlikepop with a nod to some Smith-y ideal or a tip of the scooter helmet to mod groups like The Jam or The Police. The strings serve only to underscore the pining sentimentality, frankly. Pearly Gate Music is Zach Tillman– whose brother is J. Tillman of Fleet Foxes so you seem to be guaranteed a familial if not familiar pedigree. The tracks I’ve listened to on his MySpace page a strong in melody with slightly cockeyed perspective. I’m interested to hear this in a live setting– he apparently made fans of the Fleet Foxes fans when he opened for them. Nathaniel Rateliff is a new signee of Rounder Records. His sound is a melange that stands undecidedly somewhere between indie, country, bluegrass and the long tradition of folk music.

A nice selection of strong musicians and artists– just what we’d expect from Mr. Daytrotter.

DAYTROTTER PRESENTS: BARNSTORMER III SCHEDULE (generously lifted from daytrotter.com):

April 27th

7 pm — West Liberty, Iowa: Secrest 1883 Octagonal Barn, 5750 Osage St.(Performing — Delta Spirit, Ra Ra Riot, Nathaniel Rateliff, Pearly Gate Music, Free Energy)
Delta Spirit Daytrotter Session
Detla Spirit Encore Daytrotter Session
Delta Spirit Third Daytrotter Session
Ra Ra Riot Daytrotter Session
Ra Ra Riot Encore Daytrotter Session
Nathaniel Rateliff Daytrotter Session
Pearly Gate Music Daytrotter Session
Free Energy Daytrotter Session

April 28th

6 pm — Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Turner Hall Ballroom, 1032 N. 4th St.(Performing — Delta Spirit, Ra Ra Riot, Nathaniel Rateliff, Pearly Gate Music, Free Energy)
Delta Spirit Daytrotter Session
Detla Spirit Encore Daytrotter Session
Delta Spirit Third Daytrotter Session
Ra Ra Riot Daytrotter Session
Ra Ra Riot Encore Daytrotter Session
Nathaniel Rateliff Daytrotter Session
Pearly Gate Music Daytrotter Session
Free Energy Daytrotter Session

April 29th

6 pm — Lake Geneva, Wisconsin: Knotty Pines Farm N1204 S. Hwy 120 (Performing — Delta Spirit, Ra Ra Riot, Nathaniel Rateliff, Pearly Gate Music, Free Energy)
Delta Spirit Daytrotter Session
Detla Spirit Encore Daytrotter Session
Delta Spirit Third Daytrotter Session
Ra Ra Riot Daytrotter Session
Ra Ra Riot Encore Daytrotter Session
Nathaniel Rateliff Daytrotter Session
Pearly Gate Music Daytrotter Session
Free Energy Daytrotter Session

April 30th

6 pm — Monticello, Illinois: Kalyx Center, 442 E. 1300 North Rd. (Performing — Delta Spirit, Ra Ra Riot, Nathaniel Rateliff, Pearly Gate Music, Free Energy)
Delta Spirit Daytrotter Session
Detla Spirit Encore Daytrotter Session
Delta Spirit Third Daytrotter Session
Ra Ra Riot Daytrotter Session
Ra Ra Riot Encore Daytrotter Session
Nathaniel Rateliff Daytrotter Session
Pearly Gate Music Daytrotter Session
Free Energy Daytrotter Session

May 1st

6 pm — Maquoketa, Iowa: Codfish Hollow Barn, 3437 288th Ave (Performing — Delta Spirit, Ra Ra Riot, Nathaniel Rateliff, Pearly Gate Music, Free Energy)
Delta Spirit Daytrotter Session
Detla Spirit Encore Daytrotter Session
Delta Spirit Third Daytrotter Session
Ra Ra Riot Daytrotter Session
Ra Ra Riot Encore Daytrotter Session
Nathaniel Rateliff Daytrotter Session
Pearly Gate Music Daytrotter Session
Free Energy Daytrotter Session

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