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March Ramblings & Nathaniel Rateliff

Ahhh… it’s March in Austin, Texas. Do you know what that means? It means South by Southwest is right around the corner. I’m trying to work up a little post featuring some of the artists I’m excited to see this year — but in truth I can’t focus. I know the silence in these pages would lead you to believe I’m not freaking out on the inside that it’s almost my favorite time of the year. After all I wouldn’t shut-up this time last year because Sx was not in the cards for me. I promise you, I am ELATED that it’s almost Christmas, uh, I mean SxSW (my version of Christmas). 🙂

It’s just that I have the worst case of Spring Fever. We’re having a wretched cold spell here and it’s not helping my frame of mind. Or my focus. I moved south with visions of a tepid winter: long sleeves, boots and scarves — no more. And while yes, I escaped the snow of Colorado, it’s been much colder than I had hoped. I mean, I own four winter coats and I’ve had need for them ALL. In Texas. Boohiss.

Nathaniel Rateliff’s latest album, Falling Faster Than You Can Run, has been keeping me warm. And sane. It’s also been distracting me from writing about South-by… and since my lil blog is getting lots of traffic from searches for “SXSW”, it seems I really should get on the ball. I’d say I’ll think about it, but I can’t think about anything while listening to this album. It’s pretty much my favorite thing on the planet right now and it’s an all-consuming listen. Multi-tasking? Uhm, no.

The entire thing undoes me in the most delicious way, but these two songs. Holy Apollo. The Mahogany Sessions has my whole-hearted thanks for these session vids.

I saw Nathaniel Rateliff live twice in 2012, both at SxSW and also in Boston. He was touring with Communion’s “Austin-to-Boston” tour. You can read a little about that: here.

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Kina Grannis [does] The Neighbourhood — MIMFL Cover Songs (Vol. 15)

MIMFL - Vol 15I couldn’t decide which of Kina’s covers to share with you. A good friend recently tipped me off to her cover of Lorde’s, “Team”. He knew I was already smitten with that tune and Kina’s version was, indeed, sensational. But then I listened to her cover of The Neighbourhood’s, “Sweater Weather”. Well, hell. Seriously?!

The tug-of-war began. I can’t post both, can I? However will I choose? I tested the waters with her cover of “Team” over on the ol’ facebook page and you guys LOVED it. Which was rather awesome, because now it’s already out there and I’m free to share “Sweater Weather” here. You’ll like it, too. I promise.

Although…. the harmonies on “Team” are out-freaking-standing. Like, woah. So maybe, I will have to post them both after all.

Cover songs are often a controversial topic among music lovers. I see both sides of the topic, but I myself am very PRO-cover. Inspiration is found in nature, in a kind word, in a thoughtfully penned poem, in the laughter of children. Different things inspire different people at different times, but I think music is universally the most inspirational medium. Musicians who are just starting out hone their craft by learning covers that inspire them, songs originally played by people they admire. I love that! I love the respect and reverence you can hear in a thoughtfully done cover. I especially adore it when a song is reworked and has new life breathed into it. [original source]

I loved “Sweater Weather” the first time I heard it. It’s an excellent jam. But there is something about this version that really brings the lyrics to the forefront and the result is undeniably hot. It’s slower. Deliberate.

All I am is a man. I want the world in my hands. I hate the beach, but I stand in California with my toes in the sand….

GAH. It’s so good. She’s so gooood. If you haven’t heard this, brace yourself.

The original

And then there’s this tasty morsel. Prepare for hair raising, spine-tingling perfection when Kina comes in at 0:28.

The original has already been featured in these pages: HERE

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check out the previous songs in this series

MIMFL Cover Songs (Vol. 1) • MIMFL Cover Songs (Vol. 2)

MIMFL Cover Songs (Vol. 3) • MIMFL Cover Songs (Vol. 4)

MIMFL Cover Songs (Vol. 5) • MIMFL Cover Songs (Vol. 6)

MIMFL Cover Songs (Vol. 7) • MIMFL Cover Songs (Vol. 8)

MIMFL Cover Songs (Vol. 9) • MIMFL Cover Songs (Vol. 10)

MIMFL Cover Songs (Vol. 11) • MIMFL Cover Songs (Vol. 12)

MIMFL Cover Songs (Vol. 13) • MIMFL Cover Songs (Vol. 14)

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Favorite Finds of 2013

The drum roll has long faded, the fireworks are gone, too. 2014 is well underway. Let’s invent a new phrase for time flies, shall we? It’s absurdly overused. Time sneaks by me on tip toes. Time goes right while I’m looking left. Time is like a delightful breeze racing across my skin – a quick stroke, a gentle caress, a little rustle through my hair… and as quickly as it comes it passes and leaves me wanting more. I sneeze, I blink, I spend one sleepless night and a whole year is GONE. Just gone. I don’t know how to explain 2013. A LOT happened this past year. I mean, I moved from Colorado to Texas; it’s not like I was standing still. But somehow I feel like my time was spent just going through the motions, doing what needs to be done to get from where I am to where I want to be. A brick laying year. A traveling year. Traveling as in — in transit. Not traveling as in — exploring the world. It wasn’t a time vortex type year, where the whole year passed in a hasty blur. Instead, 2013 just evaporated. Gone without a trace — almost as though it was never here. Truly bizarre and a first for me. Sure we may occasionally have a forgotten year, but forgotten when it’s barely even passed? That’s peculiar. Considering all this, I am immensely grateful to bring you 10 INCREDIBLE bands that increased my listening pleasure this year — bands that prior to 2013 I had no knowledge of. If I have no other proof that 2013 existed, at least I have this. (Check out 2012 and 2011‘s. favorite finds.)

MIMFL - ff2013

MIGHTY OAKS Berlin indie-folk trio Might Oaks’ three members hail separately from the UK, US, and Italy, which may have something to do with their unique sound. ‘Just One Day’ is like a blissful journey through summers gone by, with a wonderful build up and intricately layered guitars throughout. I’ve previously featured that one HERE. Recently Mighty Oaks did a stunning session with TV Noir, which is how I discovered this beauty. It’s safe to say I am on pins and needles waiting for their LP due out by February’s end. Even more exciting, we’ll be having them stateside for SxSW. The brand new video for their new single, Brother, (out February 14th) hit the interwebs today. ALFRED HALL Synth pop duo Alfred Hall are the finest export to come out of Norway in recent years. Their exquisitely crafted songs are dreamy, uplifting, and insanely catchy. The dazzling ‘Foreign Coast’, with its sublime harmonies and beautiful guitar hook is a stand out tune, while the more up-tempo ‘Wild At Heart’ is a great candidate for a next single: both are featured HERE. The entire album is a daydream infused soundscape and one of my favorites releases of this past year. (*the birds chirping in the beginning of this makes me so happy) JOSH RECORD Folk-soul troubadour Josh Record released his debut ‘Bones EP’ back in February of ’13. Recorded in his bedroom on the rough South London estate he calls home, the title track showcases his angelic vocals, sweet harmonies, complex arrangements, and worldly lyrics. Josh has been previously featured HERE. He’s high on my must see live list. Stateside tour soon? Maybe?! A girl can hope. SLEEPY TEA Sleepy Tea are an Australian band, fronted by Tom Wearne, who produce dreamy acoustic pop infused with subtle electronics. Their lead single ‘Make Believe’ from their debut EP ‘The Place Where We Lay’ begins with a stripped down guitar over a filtered broken beat, with a delightful string section kicking in as the full beat drops, accompanied by some lovely synth lines sitting unobtrusively in the background to fill out the surreal soundscape. I featured Sleepy Tea’s ‘Make Believe’  this time last year when their debut EP hadn’t even been released, yet. I was anxious for new music then and the same holds true now — their 5-song EP was everything I’d hoped it would be and it went a long way to pacify me, but I’m ready for more. Patience has to be one of the hardest things about being such a avid fan. But hey, we can enjoy this tasty Tame Impala cover while we wait. LLOYD YATES The unique voice of Lloyd Yates projects a rare honesty and emotion, drawing inspiration from the unpredictable, occasionally chaotic natural beauty of his ocean home in Jersey. Prompting comparisons to Ben Howard and Bon Iver, he revels in the highs and lows of life, and this is evident in his songs. Lloyd found his way to me late in the year and I recently featured his, ‘Burn Baby Burn’ HERE. And don’t miss this treat by Bristol based, Loadstar [feat. Lloyd Yates]. EMMA LOUISE You’ve probably caught on that my listening tastes lean (strongly) in favor of a fella and his guitar, or some variation of… If you were to check my iTunes you’d see a mere 10% of my vast library is occupied by female fronted bands. But 21 year old Australian songstress Emma Louise was one of my listening highlights this year. The brilliant single ‘Boy’ from her sophisticated album ‘Vs Head Vs Heart’ reeled me in and solidified my undying admiration. Sadly I missed SxSW 2013, but I did catch Emma at The Hotel Cafe in LA, the week before — which I cover HERE. She was an absolute delight to experience live. NEULORE Neulore released their fantastic concept record ‘Apples & Eve’ back in 2010. In early 2013 they returned with ‘Shadow of a Man’, a spectacular single which brought this Nashville trio to the attention of the mainstream after appearing on the Grey’s Anatomy soundtrack. Neulore founds its way into these pages on my birthday last year — you can find that write-up HERE. I had hoped to catch them on the road with Andrew Belle this past fall, but I was in the midst of getting settled after my cross country move and couldn’t make my path connect with theirs. A SxSW rendezvous is in order! Mmmm. This one.  JOSH HOKE After releasing his amazing album ‘Ghosts & Glory’ at the beginning of the year (including personal favorite ‘Love Me or Leave Me Alone’ with guest vocals from Hannah Glavor), Josh Hoke, who’s recently relocated from my beloved Portland, OR, to Nashville, TN, returned with another offering in June, in the form of a 3 track EP entitled ‘Wait for Me’. This beauty is from it. VANCE JOY Australian singer-songwriter Vance Joy’s debut EP ‘God Loves You More When You’re Dancing’ is the product of years of plying his trade at open mic nights around his home town of Melbourne. While the entire EP is sensational I have a soft spot for ‘Emmylou’, which I shared HERE. I’m a sucker for the gentle beginning which leads into a thrillingly energetic climax. I’m over the moon that he’ll be at SxSW (again) this year! SIVU Sivu, aka James Page, is another artist in this year’s line up representing for London. I discovered him via his Soundcloud page which is chalk full of goodness: two EPs, a few free downloads and some really great remixes. He’s been previously featured in these pages RIGHT HERE. He’s also making the trek to Austin, Texas, for SxSW! It’s gonna be a killer year for music, my friends. Stay tuned to these pages for some vicarious living. SxSW is my CHRISTMAS and I will give you the full scoop. BONUS: noteable one to watch this year. Elliot Maginot *I’d like to extend a HUGE thank you to Johnny, a musician and wordsmith based in London, for lending me a few of his words and offering me some inspiration to finish this post! Without his help I might have managed to procrastinate another month.

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Cheers to 2014, dear kindreds. May you live each day intentionally. Remember to step out from behind your keyboard. Put your phone down when you have coffee with a friend. Support the artists you love and pay for the music that fuels your soul. Say thank you and pause to make sure those around you know you mean it. Make eye contact. Laugh often and at the expense of no one. Give the gift of your time — remembering that our days, hours and minutes are numbered; spend them with those who fill you up and inspire you to be the best version of yourself. Dream big and take leaps of faith. Failure, while no fun at all, pales in comparison to the adrenaline rush of living boldly and with courage. I challenge you to love more fully than you did last year — a heart that expands never goes back to its original size. You can always love MORE and it’s worth the effort. I promise. I’ve heard too many whisper, “Maybe this will be my year” — it IS your year, all you have to do is drop the ‘maybe’. Embrace these days. Every single one is a chance to start over, to make a friend, to right a wrong, to learn something new, to say grace before a meal (and then savor it), to write a love letter or a thank you note, to befriend your body, to discover new music, to expand your mind by reading more, to share your light, to go where you’ve never gone before – but always wanted to . . . someday. Never forget, tomorrow is promised to no one.Namaste

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The Mighty Oaks [cover] Rihanna — MIMFL Cover Songs (Vol. 14)

MIMFL - Volume 14This post may or may not be a stall tactic. You see, it’s 13 days into the new year and I still haven’t posted my Favorite Finds of 2013. I know y’all are waiting with great anticipation. [wink] If you keep up over at my facebook page I’ve dropped a few spoiler alerts. It IS in progress and I had hoped to have it live today, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. It’s nearing 2 a.m. as I write this and my day begins in less than 5 hours. Soon, my dear ones. Soon.

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a song for the cover series, I think I’ll do that now.

Cover songs are often a controversial topic among music lovers. I see both sides of the topic, but I myself am very PRO-cover. Inspiration is found in nature, in a kind word, in a thoughtfully penned poem, in the laughter of children. Different things inspire different people at different times, but I think music is universally the most inspirational medium. Musicians who are just starting out hone their craft by learning covers that inspire them, songs originally played by people they admire. I love that! I love the respect and reverence you can hear in a thoughtfully done cover. I especially adore it when a song is reworked and has new life breathed into it. [original source]

Mighty Oaks have been one of my most cherished discoveries of this past year and yes, they’ll be on the soon-to-come list of Favorite Finds. [Yet another spoiler alert!] For now, kick back and bask in this beautiful cover of Rihanna’s, Stay. If you’re jonesin’ for some good musical loving I think this will satiate you for a bit.

the original

___________________
check out the previous songs in this series

MIMFL Cover Songs (Vol. 1) • MIMFL Cover Songs (Vol. 2)

MIMFL Cover Songs (Vol. 3) • MIMFL Cover Songs (Vol. 4)

MIMFL Cover Songs (Vol. 5) • MIMFL Cover Songs (Vol. 6)

MIMFL Cover Songs (Vol. 7) • MIMFL Cover Songs (Vol. 8)

MIMFL Cover Songs (Vol. 9) • MIMFL Cover Songs (Vol. 10)

MIMFL Cover Songs (Vol. 11) • MIMFL Cover Songs (Vol. 12)

MIMFL Cover Songs (Vol. 13)

 

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Burn Me Baby — LLOYD YATES

When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable.  ― Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau’s words come to mind when I listen to Lloyd Yates’s 5 song E.P, Bring Back the Life. I don’t typically “fear danger”, but I have been feeling a lot of unrest lately. It’s not exactly bad, but it’s not good, either. I’ve been unfocused which makes me edgy and I feel like my inspiration muses have been on vacation. Music, the thing I rely on to center me, only seems to stir up the chaotic energy that’s been pulsating in me for months. As a result there’s been a lot of silence in my house and though the silence has a calming presence it also makes me sad. It’s a reminder that something is lacking, something is off. Every once in awhile I find an unexpected kinship with an artist or a song and I start to feel like myself again. It’s such a welcome gift. With a subtle, unassuming grace Lloyd’s melodies have infiltrated the silence and wrapped themselves around me like a glorious symphonic hug. And for a bit I fear no danger and am invulnerable.

From the island of Jersey, this singer-songwriter has no doubt drawn inspiration from growing up seaside and a relationship forged with the ocean. Calm and tranquil or moody and unrelenting, the ocean is both intoxicating and devastatingly honest. That’s the beauty of nature — no facades.  I know I quote e.e cummings a lot, but this one comes to mind: For whatever we lose (like a you or a me), It’s always our self we find in the sea. Spend some time oceanside and see if things don’t get real. The music of Ben Howard and Angus & Julia Stone make a strong case for this.

The honesty of Yates’s delivery is what drew me in. With just a few breaths his world became my world. Just the way I like it.

Get connected with Lloyd Yates
FACEBOOK
WEBSITE

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We’re on Each Other’s Team [feat. LORDE]

Anais-frameDearest kindreds,

Do you know how privileged I consider myself to walk side-by-side with you — to join hands, to lift our voices in song, to share what makes us come alive, to cry out in frustration on occasion and medicate with melancholy melodies? You maybe haven’t realized it, but that’s what we do here in these pages. I didn’t start this blog to review bands. I didn’t start it with the desire to uncover the hottest new bands.  I certainly didn’t start it wanting thousands of views and hoping to have my posts go viral. If you read regularly you know that’s just not what Music is My First Language is about.

I want to share beautiful music. I want to share how music moves me and in doing this I’m hoping to forge a connection with you — because I know music moves you, too. I chose the name of this blog to bring together those of you who share my common tongue.

These words by Anaïs Nin explain it perfectly: I am an excitable person who only understands life lyrically, musically, in whom feelings are much stronger as reason. I am so thirsty for the marvelous that only the marvelous has power over me. Anything I can not transform into something marvelous, I let go. Reality doesn’t impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls. 

I heard the echos of all of your “amens”. We understand life lyrically. Musically. Our feelings are much stronger than reason and we wouldn’t want it any other way.

I want to write for you more regularly. I really do. But see, I made this promise back in the early days that I would only post when I couldn’t NOT post. I only post when something lights me up and causes me to come rushing to the keyboard.

And so today I share with you Lorde’s, “Team”. I didn’t want to hop the Lorde bandwagon. I really didn’t. While “Royals” is fun and catchy it’s not really my speed.  I listened further upon the insistence of a good friend, but I only made it four songs into the album. Then “Team” found its way to me.

And you know what I thought of? You. Us. This. These pages. ♥

[lyrics]
Wait ’til you’re announced
We’ve not yet lost all our graces
The hounds will stay in chains
Look upon Your Greatness and she’ll send the call out
Send the call out 

Call all the ladies out, they’re in their finery
A hundred jewels on throats
A hundred jewels between teeth
Now bring my boys in, their skin in craters like the moon
The moon we love like a brother, while he glows through the room

Dancin’ around the lies we tell

Dancin’ around big eyes as well
Even the comatose, they don’t dance and tell

We live in cities you’ll never see onscreen
Not very pretty, but we sure know how to run things
Livin’ in ruins of a palace within my dreams
And you know we’re on each other’s team

I’m kind of over gettin’ told to throw my hands up in the air
So there

So all the cups got broke
Shards beneath our feet
But it wasn’t my fault
And everyone’s competing for a love they won’t receive
Cause what this palace wants is release

We live in cities you’ll never see onscreen
Not very pretty, but we sure know how to run things
Livin’ in ruins of a palace within my dreams
And you know we’re on each other’s team

I’m kind of over gettin’ told to throw my hands up in the air
So there
I’m kind of older than I was when I reveled without a care
So there

We live in cities you’ll never see onscreen
Not very pretty, but we sure know how to run things
Livin’ in ruins of a palace within my dreams
And you know we’re on each other’s team

We’re on each other’s team
And you know we’re on each other’s team
We’re on each other’s team
We’re on each other’s team
And you know and you know and you know

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Poets, Philosophers & Troubadours [feat JOSH RECORD]

I often lament that there are no great modern day poets: Longfellow, Dickinson, Whitman, Emerson, Yeats — or the likes of more current favorites, e.e. cummings and Dylan Thomas. But this is rather ridiculous, right? They must be all around us. The spoken word scene is pretty incredible and most of my favorite songwriters are quite poetic. But still, who in our generation will make it into the history books? I guess if one’s work stands the test of time only then do they enter the realm of greatness. Which in turn means I’ll probably never know who gets sited among the great poets of the 21st century. I do hope poetry isn’t a lost art leaving us to forever regurgitate voices from the 19th and 20th centuries. (I feel the same way about philosophy and philosophers – where are all the great thinkers? But you don’t need to suffer through me ranting about that.)

Thankfully the music scene is laden with modern day troubadours. They satisfy my appetite for cleverly turned phrases and thought-provoking word pictures. I wish more songwriters made lyric books available as merchandise. I’d much rather pay for a small legible booklet, than turn the internet inside out trying to find the accurate lyrics for a song. And don’t ask me why, but if I have to sit down and type out the words myself, listening and relistening to make sure I’ve got it right — well, that pretty much ruins a song for me. I want to read the lyrics separate from the song and appreciate them the way I might ponder a phrase like this by e.e cummings, Trust your heart if the seas catch fire, live by love though the stars walk backward. Good lyrics stand alone without the music. But the music is a gateway, a passage for the words to reach more people and live forever in song. I love that.

And with that I leave you with this one by Josh Record. It makes lovely repeat listening. They also did a beautiful take of this song live at Latitude – I had a tough time deciding which one to share. Both have elements that I really like. This Burberry Session came out today and was the kick in the pants I needed to get this post live, so ultimately that’s why I chose it. I’ve been sitting on sharing Josh Record since…. March. Where has this year gone??

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