July 13, 2012

my thoughts were upside down

I’d reckon that the Campfire OK show tonight at Seattle’s Crocodile Cafe will involve a healthy dollop more joyful bouyancy, tambourining, and electrically-transmissible energy across the air than the gorgeous quietude here. But this slice of redolence is how I started my morning today as I lay in bed with the window open, and I enjoyed every bit of it.

This rendition of “Brass” (from 2011′s Strange Like We Are) was recorded in an abandoned steel jail cell, just the band and the sunlight. Video-wizard Christian Sorensen Hansen continues to impress me every time he makes a video. I want him to film me brushing my teeth, all dulcet and golden-hazy in rich bathroom light. He could make even that look good, I’m pretty confident.

Campfire OK is playing a set punched through with new songs tonight, from their forthcoming sophomore release (which we’re anticipating in late 2012). I’ll be there. You should come too.

June 14, 2011

not one good reason left to keep me / but please don’t let me go

Bryan John Appleby crafts thoughtful, melodic music about complicated relationships and desires, from his home in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. The singer-songwriter path is well-trod in every city, and Seattle is no different, but Bryan sets his music on a higher plane with the incisively intelligent way that he can wrap words around a tenuous moment. He said in an interview, “I write my best when I’m reading lots of books and listening to lots of bands and songwriters.” I think that comes through in his music, with a variety of historical, literary, spiritual, and relational groundings. It’s no wonder I fell for him.

My first listens of this song reminded me of the best, most achingly open parts of Blind Pilot songs. This is a song about the tension and the gulf between wanting someone and actually having them. There is SO much raw vulnerability in the way Bryan sings “not one good reason left to keep me / but please don’t let me go.” I am reminded of the old adage about how we need love the most when we deserve it the least.

Every line in this song seems to strip something in me bare, like when he sings, “I am roaming through the darkness, I am rambling through the night / I will find you soon my darling, be sure and hold the light.” Have you read No Country for Old Men? If so, this reminds me of the last page.

Fixin to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and all that cold….

Cliffs Along The Sea – Bryan John Appleby

And the gorgeous video for this song, by Christian Sorensen Hansen (who made this and this also), with Bryan singing on a lake whilst being paddled around by a harmonizing Mychal from Campfire OK:

[so pretty that you should watch it larger]

I had the distinct pleasure of seeing Bryan perform live last Friday night at the High Dive in Seattle, with a full backing band. The words I used afterwards were: “decimatingly muscular.” KEXP’s Hannah Levin called him “One To Watch” in the Seattle Weekly last summer, and finally getting to see him live myself, I completely agree. As well-crafted and piercing as the EP is, hearing the new material and seeing how his songs catalyze and explode in the live setting got me very excited for his upcoming full-length release, Fire On The Vine.

Bryan just launched a Kickstarter campaign yesterday to help fund the final steps of this new album. The songs are done being recorded, and he just needs advance commitment from folks who want to have it when it is released (on vinyl too!). As a refresher: Kickstarter is a rad way for lovers of music to commit in advance to the album that is yet to come, and in doing so get some sweet perks (a mixtape from Bryan! a handwritten letter! a personalized cover!).

I recommend you support this worthy artist who has something true and beautiful to say.

Also, hey — he’ll be playing at the Doe Bay Fest in August, for those of us who are lucky enough to be heading to Orcas Island! So get excited.

April 15, 2011

kickstart Cataldo. do it.

Eric Anderson is the core of Seattle’s Cataldo, and I love his music terrifically. I’ve written a few times before about him and included his songs on both my summer and fall mixes last year. There is something in the pointed honesty and cleverness of his lyrics, which when combined with the catchy melodies (banjo! singalongs! quiet handclaps!) reel me right on in. As he writes, the music “hopefully seems like it was composed by a hard worker with a mild taste for adventure,” which is an excellent summation.

His latest, greatest album Signal Flare came out in 2008, so it has been a long wait for some new music. Eric is finally is ready to release another, but needs a Kickstart. He has crafted the Kickstarter packages in finely dashing style too – in addition to the album you can get bonuses like a handwritten haiku, a pho date, a custom cover song, even what is apparently the best ice cream in all of Seattle. This is a man who is having some fun – and you can benefit. Please head over to his page; this is a rich, earthy, thoughtful, poignant album that needs to be heard.

Here is the gorgeous music video that Seattle videographer Christian Sorensen Hansen made of “Deep Cuts,” the opening track from the new album. Sorensen Hansen is the same distinctive director behind The Head and The Heart’s “Lost In My Mind” video — so evocative, his work.

I can’t tell which resonates in my heart louder: the song itself (“let’s begin at the end / of a bad year, with bad things at my back…“), or the combination of the sound of rain falling (!), the blanketing fog, the ocean horizon twinkling with lights, and the rising embers from the campfire:

PS – The new Cataldo album includes a re-worked electric version of “My Heart Is Calling,” which is good because I’ve listened to the version from Signal Flare about a jillion times.

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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