It’s like Christmas in August.
If you’ve attended conferences for work before, surely we’ve all collected the same array of doodads and logo-covered items over the years. But I’ve never experienced quite the excitement that I get tucked inside a nondescript canvas bag at the registration table for the Boulder music summit. Instead of letter openers and stress balls, I find enough sampler CDs and random little EPs to sate me for quite a while (even a Modest Mouse 7″! Yeehaw).
Many of these artists are buzz bands that I keep hearing about, and going through them for myself was a kick. I also came back just chock full of word-of-mouth recommendations from all the fellow music nerds there.
I’ve done some culling and here are five of the best for this week’s Monday goodness:
This gal was the opening act for Ryan Adams on Thursday night at The Fox, and I was really taken by her. Sara Bareilles is 25 years old and from Eureka, California (way north by Oregon). She was signed to Epic in 2005 with no formal musical training after singing in an a capella group at UCLA. She says the following, “I write mostly on piano and I’m a girl, so lots of people say it’s Norah Jones, or Fiona Apple. That’s fine. I love Norah’s subtlety and Fiona’s fierce lyrical prowess. But I also have an affinity for the playful and intelligent-pop of people like Elton John and Ben Folds.” She closed her set with this song, which she said was about a particularly intense relationship that took her six years to get over. You truly could have heard a pin drop in the room. I was moved by the mournful realization written all over her face as she sang these stinging lyrics. Her album Little Voice is only $6.99 on iTunes.
Robbers on High Street
Recommended for fans of The Beatles, Harry Nilsson, or the “where, exactly, in the UK is he from? Oh wait, it’s Chicago” accent of The Redwalls’ Logan Baren. Robbers on High Street are actually from New York, but my friend Josh and I spent several minutes during their lunchtime set discussing where “The Accent” was from. It’s not, apparently. I dig their sound — check “The Fatalist” on their MySpace, it’s also ridiculously catchy. These guys are in LA tomorrow night, and breeze through San Francisco’s wonderfully snug Cafe Du Nord on Thursday. The album is called Grand Animals and just came out two weeks ago.
Raw and rough rock from unsigned under-the-radar The Cobbs from Philly, this has a distinct fuzzy Black Keys feel to it. I hear that they absolutely kill it in concert — they’ve just finished a run with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and share some of the same ’60s guitar pop/garage rock vibe with a hint of the Stone Roses thrown in. This was a word-of-mouth recommendation to me that I’m glad I heeded, I look forward to spending some more time with their album The Cobbs Sing The Deathcapades this summer. You can stream the whole album over at http://www.apolloaudio.com/.
House of Regret
Wild Sweet Orange
With a duet-tastic chorus reminiscent of the harmonies on one of my favorite Bright Eyes songs – Landlocked Blues with Emmylou Harris – this track is the closing romp a little EP from Birmingham, Alabama band Wild Sweet Orange. Here’s the story of how I heard of these guys – last year after the Boulder summit I wrote about Joshua Radin, and posted my most, most favorite version of his “Only You” cover, recorded live at Reg’s Coffee House. Well, that Reg guy who runs it passed me this one as well — with his recommendation, I think you should take a listen. According to pal Dodge, they’re on tour soon with The Whigs and The Broken West, both of whom I have spoken highly of. That’ll definitely be a shared bill to catch.
This weekend I sat down and re-watched the Jeff Buckley: Live in Chicago DVD. Actually, watched is an understatement; I was more glued back into the couch cushions, unable to breathe. I’m serious, not trying to be melodramatic — that voice, in the flesh, does something to my ability to move. I tell you this because there’s most definitely haunting echoes of Buckley in the voice of British artist Scott Matthews, that much is clear from the first notes. He’s got a gorgeous silvery range with melancholy tuning that brings Nick Drake to mind. I hear he’ll be huge, but you should just listen because he’s good. His album Passing Stranger is out now as an import, and will tentatively be released in the U.S. on Sept 25 (Universal Republic).