June 7, 2012

in the belly of the whale / in my bedroom i can’t sleep

Lately when I cue up music, I find myself craving something rollicking and urgent that will completely take me away for a few minutes from thinking about my past-due grad school paper I have been wrestling vigorously with this week. Did I say wrestling? Oh, I meant beating into bloody submission.

So I keep reaching over and over for the new Langhorne Slim record like a drug because it is a smart, tightly-wound explosion of howl and clatter that I so love Sean and his music for consistently delivering. I’ve been waiting for the follow-up from 2009′s Be Set Free (one of my favorite albums that year), and it’s out this week and it is terrific.

The Way We Move is Langhorne Slim & The Law’s first release on the top-notch Ramseur Records label, most famous for being the historical home of the Avett Brothers, and this record forges a good sonic kinship with their efforts. Man, they can both let out that rootsy, anachronistic howl.

A theme song of Summer 2012, this one:

The Way We Move – Langhorne Slim

I like this video for it because it captures the frenetic, bouyant energy of a Langhorne Slim show (which I missed last night in Denver, Idontwannatalkaboutit).

#with Ha Ha Tonka
*with Jessica Lea Mayfield

June 7 – Lawrence, KS /// Jackpot Music Hall #
June 8 – St. Louis, MO /// Twangfest @ Duck Room #
June 9 – Nashville, TN /// Mercy Lounge #
June 11 – Atlanta, GA /// The Earl #
June 12 – Durham, NC /// The Casbah #
June 13 – Washington, DC /// Rock And Roll Hotel #
June 14 – New York, NY /// Bowery Ballroom #
June 15 – Philadelphia, PA /// Union Transfer #
June 16 – Philadelphia, PA /// Main St Music
(solo in-store 2pm)
July 20 – Pittsburgh, PA /// Club Café
July 21 – Indianapolis, IN /// Radio Radio
July 22 – Madison, WI /// High Noon Saloon
July 24 – Boulder, CO /// Boulder Theater
July 25 – Telluride, CO /// Telluride Mtn Village Sunset Series
July 27 – Stanley, ID /// Sawtooth Music Festival
July 28 – Bozeman, MT /// The Filling Station
July 29 – Missoula, MT /// The Palace
July 31 – Bellingham, WA /// Wild Buffalo House of Music
August 2 – Vancouver, BC /// The Media Club
August 3 – Seattle, WA /// Tractor Tavern
August 3-5 – Happy Valley, OR /// Pickathon Festival
August 7 – San Francisco, CA /// The Independent*
August 8 – Los Angeles, CA /// Troubadour*
August 9 – Santa Ana, CA /// The Constellation Room*
August 10 – San Diego, CA /// Casbah*
August 11 – Phoenix, AZ /// Crescent Ballroom*
August 14 – Austin, TX /// The Parish*
August 15 – Denton, TX /// Dan’s Silverleaf*
August 16 – Memphis, TN /// Hi-Tone Café*
August 17 – Louisville, KY /// Headliners Music Hall*

[top photo by my wonderful friend Todd Roeth, who is also responsible for the purdiest images from any interview I’ve ever conducted]

Tagged with .
February 8, 2011

if i’ve got to remember, that’s a fine memory :: Langhorne Slim in Boulder



Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of seeing Langhorne Slim rock the gorgeous Boulder Theatre, just around the corner from where we did that excellent photo shoot and long, chatty interview in ’09.

I’ve raved before how marvelously anachronistic his rootsy music is, and how much I enjoy his raw, ragged, intelligent songwriting. He’s now touring with a band billing themselves as “Langhorne Slim and The Law” (with this rad hoodie I wanted). They shredded the banjo, the standup bass, and the drums, Avett Brothers-style. In fact, Langhorne is now working with Dolph Ramseur (who started the Avetts career) in a pairing that was a long time coming, but according to Slim, just feels right.

Someday I would really really like to see Langhorne backed by a full gospel choir. Can we make that happen, please? Langhorne also told me that they’re working on a new album for 2011 and I, for one, can’t wait.

He closed his set with this Leonard Cohen cover:

you kept right on loving, I went on a fast,
now I am too thin and your love is too vast…

…and she’s moving her body so brave and so free.
If I’ve got to remember that’s a fine memory.

Tonight Will Be Fine – Leonard Cohen

(all photos from the night here)

# with the Avett Brothers
March 21 @ Visulite Theatre – Charlotte, NC
March 22 – The Pour House – Charleston, SC
March 23 – Jack Rabbits – Jacksonville, FL
March 25 – Ruth Eckerd Hall – Clearwater, FL #
March 26 – McRaney’s Tavern – Winter Park, FL
March 27 – Bell Auditorium/Augusta Ent. Ctr – Augusta, GA #
March 28 – The Bottle Tree – Birmingham, AL –
March 29 – Classic Center – Athens, GA #
March 30 – Mercy Lounge – Nashville, TN
March 31 – Proud Larry’s – Oxford, MS
April 14 – Verizon Wireless Theatre – Houston, TX #
April 15 – Old Settler’s Festival – Austin, TX
April 16 – Palladium Ballroom – Dallas, TX #
June 4 – Wakarusa – Ozark, AR

February 9, 2010

put on your blue lipstick and i’ll put on my venus boots

langhorne slim

One of my favorite songs on Langhorne Slim‘s last outing Be Set Free was the rambling, jangly romanticism of “Say Yes” — specifically where he pleads, “Put on your blue lipstick and I’ll put on my venus boots, and we’re in California but it might as well be the moon. Say yes, say yes, say yes…”

I couldn’t resist that request from him, even if I’m not exactly sure what it means. I’d say yes.

Go send the song in a fancy little Valentine’s Day card to someone you’ve taken a shine to. I’m seeing Langhorne on Wednesday night at the Hi-Dive, and I have a prize pack to give away to a lucky Denver reader:

- One vinyl copy of Be Set Free
- One signed Langhorne Slim canvas bag
- A pair of tickets to his show Wednesday night at the Hi-Dive

Leave me an amenable, yes kind-of comment and we’ll sort things out Tuesday night.

Say Yes – Langhorne Slim (do it!)

He is touring all over to about 40 cities between now and April so seriously, you got lots of chances to agree with him, and I think you’ll find him and his music…mighty agreeable.

December 21, 2009

Fuel/Friends favorite things of 2009


Speaking of snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes, I worked my last December day of the year on Friday, and now am settling into two luscious weeks of time off over the holidays (one of the hidden benefits of working in academia!). Before the college closed, I went to the radio studio on one of the snowiest and coldest days of the year and recorded my third year-end appearance on NPR’s World Cafe with David Dye. We chatted about some of my favorite albums from this year, and you can listen on Friday January 1st, at 2pm/ET on the radio or 3pm/ET on the XPN website — or stream the archived show through the NPR site shortly after it airs. Whee!

Now in the waning countdown before Christmas, as we open our advent calendars and go on walks to look at the lights, I revel in concentrated time to do things I enjoy — like talk to you all about some of my favorites things in 2009, this last year of the decade.



Hands down, this is my favorite album of the year. They’re barely twenty, but The xx have created a stunningly complete, addictively good album. I cannot get enough of this London band, formed around the female/male pair of Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim — best friends from school since they were age three. Their self-titled debut album fuses sparse, effortlessly cool beats and a new-wave sensibility, with thoroughly delicious male/female vocals that play off of each other like the best doo-wop or soul duets. Their playful back-and-forth chemistry (oddly) reminds me of an analgesic, blissed-out Otis Redding and Carla Thomas, in the perfection of the duet. Romy’s voice is very malleable, an immensely flirtatious alto, and in every place, Oliver’s is the perfect counterweight back.

Recorded largely in a garage at the XL studios, over the course of many nights and in the wee small hours of the morning, the album is meticulous and quiet, but it also laden with space and echoes that get under my skin. It is an unabashedly sexy album, full of insinuating bass-lines that propel the songs forward, and clever bits of minimalistic drum machine or coy xylophone melodies. Everyone that I play this for, even if it’s on in the background, instantly wants to know who it is. I think it would be near impossible to not be drawn into this album. It’s like a sticky spiderweb.

Basic Space – The xx

MUMFORD & SONS, Sigh No More

I first heard this indie-bluegrass folk band from London while prepping for SXSW early in 2009. The friend who sent me the link knows of (and is largely responsible for) my love for The Avett Brothers, and here in the music of Mumford & Sons I found the wrenching honesty of Frightened Rabbit blended with the banjo-plucking soul and brotherly harmonies of the Avetts. I was completely sold from the very first listen, and I have listened to this album more than almost anything else this year. Sigh No More is out in the UK now, coming to the US on Glassnote Records in early 2010.

This young band makes honest, compelling music that veers towards triumphant even as they chronicle the litany of life’s difficulties. It’s epic and substantial music, loaded to overflowing with truth that crawls under my skin with its vulnerability. And perhaps it’s the multiple voices rising together of all the band members, but there is a distinct feeling of kinship here, almost like a gospel choir or a Greek chorus, a community vibe that lends some sort of strength through such raw lyrical content. As one who often mulls over issues larger than I can get my head around, I appreciated this year how folks like David Bazan, Mountain Goats, J Tillman, and Mumford and Sons all truthfully explored matters of God and grace and falling and seeking in their music. Mumford and Sons are intensely wise in their lyrics, seeming to bely a personal understanding of God’s grace to a broken world, but also an intense, brutal struggle. As I wrote to a friend, “I love how they sing both about grace and the Maker’s plan, but also bald-facedly sing, ‘I really fucked it up this time.’”

The Cave – Mumford & Sons

FANFARLO, Reservoir

Fanfarlo exploded this year from Sweden and the UK, with a shimmering, hard-driving, gorgeously colored album. There’s so much brilliant light in their songs that they’re almost like the anti-xx to my ears this year. I first fell in love with their song (and video) for “Harold T. Wilkins” right before SXSW this year, and then was sucked into their debut album deeply and irrevocably. It is rich, primal, earnest, and effervescent. Although I was first enticed by the thumping drums and the cathartic yell-along lines, they use a hugely expressive palette of instruments — heavy on the shiny trumpets, the dazzling saws, mandolins and accordion.

Lead singer Simon Balthazar has a distinctive voice that’s absolutely evocative of a young David Byrne; all swoops and vibrato, but powerful and clear. The songs often feature time-signature shifts and a loosely-corralled sense of musical primal anarchy that reminds me of Arcade Fire at times, but with a greater effervescence (like a sheer wash of fluorescent color dripping down). It is a stupendous album, first song to last.

Harold T Wilkins, Or How To Wait For A Very Long Time – Fanfarlo


Several albums I loved this year fused fascinating, seemingly disparate sounds together to make new amalgamations of awesomeness. Handsome Furs come from Canada via Seattle’s famed Sub Pop label, and have a very simple formula behind this fantastic album: raggedly anthemic electric guitar and howlingly visceral vocals (from Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner) with sexy-as-hell electronic drum machine beats (from the whipsmart bombshell Alexei Perry).

Face Control is unrelenting, often veering from effortless cool to earnest anthems in the same song – laced through with a seething mutual lust between these married two that melts the paint off the walls. The album radiates an icy Eastern-European aesthetic that the duo talked fascinatingly about when we chatted in July. I was hooked from the first time I popped the promo CD into my car stereo player on a roadtrip earlier this year, the yellow lines on the highway flying past to their immense beats. And to watch these two create their music live together at the Larimer Lounge (see: Favorite Shows This Year) was scorching, and somehow even more fantastic than this supernova of an album. It all sounds good to these ears.

Talking Hotel Arbat Blues – Handsome Furs

ROMAN CANDLE, Oh Tall Tree In The Ear

I like the way the world looks through a Roman Candle album. You stop to listen to the birds and frogs and cicadas, and see the beauty in every streetlight and every moth, and notice the millions of stars. Oh Tall Tree In The Ear is a fine bluesy Americana album full of richly literate lyrics that keep giving to me, even as I’ve listened to this album dozens of times. It’s hard to think back now in this cold winter weather, but not too long ago this was my soundtrack for the entire sticky warm months of July and August, driving around with my windows down and this sweetly unaffected album playing on my car stereo. It ranges from upbeat, windows-down tunes like this one (which I think channels some Mick Jagger) to slow, easygoing slow-dancing-on-the-back-porch tunes.

Although living in Nashville now, Roman Candle has roots that go back more than a decade in the Chapel Hills, North Carolina area, and those roots intertwine with folks I love like Ryan Adams and Caitlin Cary, which is what made me initially take a listen. I was summarily knocked off my hammock this summer by this thoughtfully-crafted little album, and its real attention to detail. You can listen to the lyrics like they’re poems. The title of the album is taken from a Rilke sonnet, and many songs are woven much more densely with subtle wisdom than you might pick up on first listen through. There’s a mature wisdom in the lyrics about love, attempting to balance growing up and growing old with someone, and that desire to go off and see Rome and watch the river go by, or hearing a song on a radio that makes you want to hop a train. As easygoing as it feels on initial listens, it keeps yielding up new rich appreciations every time I listen to it.

Eden Was A Garden – Roman Candle


Langhorne Slim takes his first name from the rolling farmland town in Pennsylvania, and he makes a delightfully anachronistic blend of music that seems half a step outside of our time. Yet he’s got a youthful passion that I very much relate to, the same stuff I hear in any of the young rock bands I love. Langhorne’s not even thirty yet, but a lot of his songs seem to capture this weight of another generation. There’s a ramshackle, loosely-hinged folk glory on Be Set Free, with threads of everything from soul-stirring gospel to old brokedown blues in his music. It’s all held together with his vulnerable, emotive tenor that’s reminiscent sometimes of Cat Stevens, but with the ragged folksy storytelling chops of the sixties folk troubadour generation. There’s also a larger cinematic quality on this release, where Slim tries broad additions to the recorded sound, whether it’s a horn section or a rootsy group of folks stomping along to his songs (and even a vocal duet cameo from Erika Wennerstrom of Heartless Bastards).

Langhorne is a very charming, earnest man, and this past September as we shared his bottle of wine in the old-fashioned Boulderado Hotel, one thing he said that stuck with me was how all the songs he writes are love songs. On this, his third album, those loves can take so many forms — from bidding farewell on heartbreaking songs like “I Love You But Goodbye,” to the convincing swagger of “Say Yes,” to one of my favorite lines of the whole year here on this song: “You can have my television, long as I got lips for kissin’ you, nobody but you…” over that huge shiny Wurlitzer explosion and the gospel handclaps. I’m a total goner.

Boots Boy – Langhorne Slim


I first fell in love with Lisa Hannigan‘s haunting voice when she contributed mournful duets throughout fellow Irishman Damien Rice’s debut album “O” in 2003 – I think she infused an immensely gorgeous, heartbreaking weight to songs like “The Blower’s Daughter.” So after the two parted ways a few years back, I’ve been waiting for this album of her solo material and it was completely worth the wait.

There’s an unvarnished air of clean-scrubbed honesty and clever inquiry on Sea Sew. I got to see Lisa play an acoustic set the day after Halloween, at a Denver bookstore in the middle of the afternoon, where she captivated everyone effortlessly. In addition to playing really every instrument I could think possible in the live setting (most of which I don’t know names for) she manages to blend whimsy and beauty without being silly, which is very difficult to do. There’s a charming imagination in her songs, a pristine and heartbreaking depth to her voice, and an incisive emotional honesty to this album that kills me.

I Don’t Know – Lisa Hannigan

KAREN O AND THE KIDS, Where The Wild Things Are Soundtrack

It’s a daunting task to take a beloved children’s book, especially one with only a few dozen pages, and make it into a full-length movie that both kiddos and adults can enjoy. It’s even harder to make a soundtrack that fuses all those primal, wonderful sentiments that course hot through Spike Jonze’s vision in the film, and capture the innocence of youth without sounding child-like. I dislike most kid’s music (no Raffi, no); it’s why my little guy likes things like Wilco and the Avett Brothers. Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and her band The Kids, have made an album we both loved wholeheartedly from the first enchanting singsong melody, which both of us have been humming around the house for months.

This is also a completely palatable album for those who never get near the small people, but who still connect with some of the urgency and imagination of youth. The earliest previews of this film featured a more wild, acoustic version of the Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up,” with the lyrics about “our bodies get bigger but our hearts get torn up.” Perhaps their early involvement in my initial impression are why mentally I get a very similar and marvelous sense from this album, in a year where I also finally truly got into Arcade Fire (!!). This soundtrack takes us to another place, “through night and day and in and out of weeks and almost a year to where the wild things are.”

Building All Is Love – Karen O And The Kids

MAYER HAWTHORNE – A Strange Arrangement

One of my students interned for a semester at the stellar Numero Group in Chicago this past Spring, they of the Eccentric Soul series and countless badass reissues from the lost vaults of cool. For a fresh-faced twenty year-old, Ben has formidable musical tastes, so when he told me to listen to Detroit whippersnapper Mayer Hawthorne, I took his advice immediately.

Mayer Hawthorne is only in his late twenties, and comes from a background of hip-hop/DJing, and despite a lifelong affinity for the sounds coming out of his dad’s old car stereo, he only started making this throwback doo-wop soul stuff just as a joke. Even the label heads couldn’t believe this was new material (not decades old) when Mayer first played his demos for them — even more amazing since he plays all the instruments, and recorded his swell songs on A Strange Arrangement at home in his bedroom. His music feels fresh and deliciously enjoyable – makes you wanna put on your good Sunday slacks and a healthy daub of Brylcreem and come buy me a mint julep.

Your Easy Lovin’ Ain’t Pleasin’ Nothin’ – Mayer Hawthorne

DARK WAS THE NIGHT – compilation album

It’s hard to cohesively talk about this double-disc compilation album, curated by The National’s Dessner brothers to raise funds and awareness for HIV/AIDS. The range of Dark Was The Night is so vast and all so beautiful, so achingly perfect in the variation. The overall mood in the 31 tracks (from a stunning variety of most of my favorite musicians) is mostly melancholy – although there are a few bright shiny spots from folks like Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings.

But from Antony covering Bob Dylan (and breaking my heart), to the duet with Conor Oberst and Gillian Welch that still sounds the closest to perfection that you can imagine –not to mention contributions from Bon Iver, Cat Power, The National, Grizzly Bear, Feist and Jose Gonzalez– this album is oozing with more flashes of talent than many albums this decade. So many things to love here, no wonder Dark Was The Night has already raised over $700,000 for HIV/AIDS. Beautiful.

So Far Around The Bend – The National

2008I didn’t really hear these until 2009, but they sure as heck would have been in the running for my tops list.
- BLIND PILOT, Three Rounds And A Sound (sublime warmth)
- THAO, We Brave Bee Stings And All (sharp and smart and catchy)
- TALLEST MAN ON EARTH, Shallow Grave (newish discovery; I’m addicted)
- ANTHONY DA COSTA & ABBY GARDNER, Bad Nights / Better Days (oh man)

vrg45Song Away – Hockey (hot dang)
When You Walk In The Room – Fyfe Dangerfield (I want you endlessly)
My Body’s a Zombie For You – Dead Man’s Bones (whoa-ohhh)
July 4, 2004 – Jason Anderson (I am, I am, and I love this part)
Quiet Dog Bite Hard – Mos Def (there it go like simple and plainness)

Los Angeles’ Local Natives covering Simon & Garfunkel’s “Cecilia” in a backyard, banging on trees with sticks. This is pure joy, and helped turn me on to their marvelous sound. They’ve released Gorilla Manor on Rough Trade in the UK, but it won’t be out in the U.S. until 2010 (on Frenchkiss Records). I have high hopes for this album next year, once I get some time to sit with it.

Cecilia (Simon & Garfunkel cover) – Local Natives

Mumford & Sons at SXSW.

I wrote this of their set in the open-air Spring humidity of Texas: Theirs was one of my most anticipated shows and Mumford & Sons didn’t disappoint. They opened with that new song “Sigh No More” that I posted last week and it absolutely slayed me. The chorus sings of “love that will not betray you, dismay or enslave you, it will set you free — be more like the man you were made to be.” I felt more like me, only better, when their set spun off at full tilt. Jawdroppingly pure.

- Okkervil River at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco (specifically the last song, “Unless It’s Kicks”)
- Handsome Furs at the Larimer Lounge in Denver
- Bat For Lashes at Outside Lands in San Francisco (with Josh Groban standing nearby, oddly enough)
- Denver collective Everything Absent or Distorted singing their final song together as a band, “A Form to accommodate the mess,” and hugging when it is over, representing everything that is right and good in the Denver music scene – and in the world of music in general.
- Finally seeing Lucero play “I Can Get Us Out Of Here Tonight” live, and being baptized into that cult.
- The Big Pink melting all of our faces off at the Larimer, a sonic wall of wonderful sound.

Luckenbach, Texas (ain’t nobody feelin’ no pain)

The Dust Jacket Project

joe pug
Joe Pug and I sitting on a Boulder park bench on a quiet summer evening, talking about the burden of the artist, the art of songcraft, and the places where youth and hopefulness intersect. Joe’s had a great year, and I still feel like he could maybe become a key songwriter of our generation. Talking to him felt eerily prescient, like being in the fledgling presence of someone who knows where he is going.

Hymn #101 – Joe Pug

- This.

That about wraps it up for me this year. Bring it, 2010.

October 13, 2009

Nobody but you :: Interview with Langhorne Slim


The music made by Langhorne Slim is an anachronistic blend of rollicking, boot-stomping Americana, howling rock, and plaintive love songs that defy a single era. Hailing from the small town in Pennsylvania that he borrowed as his stage name from, Langhorne is indeed an artist who defines himself and his genre simply as a man who writes love songs. From soul-stirring gospel to old brokedown blues, his music is influenced by many different styles as there are kinds of love, and “it just makes sense.” He has released a superb album this year with his Be Set Free. I’ve been listening to it nonstop.

Over a bottle of wine in room #312 of the rad historic Boulderado Hotel, we spoke of everything from his musical roots listening to Hole when he was 14, to his kinship with the older generation and his comfort in growing older, and the ways he challenges himself in music to keep things exciting. In the same way that someone like M Ward is both delightfully unpredictable and richly soaked in the blues, Langhorne moves fluidly between a range of influences.

There’s a loosely-tied thread of jangly marvelousness cascading through so many of these songs, like it’s just barely being held together around the edges, while pulsing wild and free in the hot-blooded center. He can also turn a lyric in a way that pierces me, and is just as sharp and clever in person as he is on his records.

Boots Boy – Langhorne Slim

September 9, 2009

FUEL/FRIENDS: You work really hard with your music, and you’ve been doing it for a long time – fifteen years?

Langhorne Slim: Well, I started writing music when I was pretty small, but I’ve been doing it professionally for six years or so. I’ve got high hopes with this new album, I want to make records that I hope will be meaningful to people for a long time.

F/F: Do you feel that you’ve approached all three of your records more or less in the same way, or are you trying completely new things here that you’ve never done in the past?

LS: Well, I tried to sing better, for one (laughs), because I do got it in me. No, I think the songs on this record represent growth. I’m proud of the other records that we did too but this one is a little bit closer to where I’d like to go. Maybe if you start thinking you’re getting it all right, that can be dangerous, but I am excited about the different chances we took, and maybe I felt more comfortable within myself to take those chances.

F/F: What makes this current one your best one, and how is it different from your last ones?

LS: You get a bit more used to being in the studio, it’s a lot different than performing in front of a live audience. For us a lot of times, people will comment on the different energy at our live show and on our records. I understand where that comes from but I also…resent it? Slightly. Because I think that it’s two different forms of creativity, or two forms of oneself. In front of 100 people or 5 people or a thousand people, you know, and experimenting with these songs that you’ve been playing, and trying to explore those in a studio atmosphere, they are two very different animals. I think this time with the people we had on board, it just came out right for what it was. And I am pleased with that.

To get up in front of an audience – you don’t have that energy in a recording studio. I think that you just challenge yourself in different ways when you’re in the studio. You try to bring different things out that you wouldn’t necessarily do in a live setting. You can’t have a horn section on the road, I can’t have backup singers, but you can do that in the studio. But it’s a fine line – you don’t want stuff to sound too crystal clear in a way that makes you sound not like you. To try to keep shit raw and real, while also treading that fine line, that very fun line to explore. One needs to keep challenging themselves in their music to keep it exciting.

F/F: One of your most striking lyrics on the new album is when you recount how your grandfather told you, “All pain hurts the same.” How do you get at that with your music?

LS: Well, I’m very close with my grandparents, I have a very close family and have been lucky to have them throughout my life. I relate a lot to my grandpop Sid, and we deal with a lot of the same….we’re wired the same way. For me, I’m very happy to get older because I feel like I’m more myself – I feel better as I get older. Anyway, one time I was talking to Sidney about feeling down and not even knowing why, and I said to him, you know people are going through some really bad shit, and maybe it isn’t that tough, but why do I feel so down? And he said that. All pain hurts the same. It always stuck with me, and made it into one of my songs.

F/F: Have your grandparents informed your music in other ways? Because I feel that there’s a weight of time in your music that is not often found in young people’s writing.

LS: Probably yes, but we’re all raised in the way that we’re raised. That line rang true for me so I put it in the song because I always remembered it. I think it’s just moreso their support and wisdom and love for music that they raised us in. My parents split when I was two and my grandparents decided that they were going to step up, on both sides of the family. There was just a lot of support and they loved music. With me it was never like ‘you should get another job or, you should try something else,’ it was not like that. And I am very appreciative of that support.

F/F: A lot of your songs are very personal. Are you comfortable in letting people interpret them in the way they want, just letting it go? Or do you want them to be understood in the way that you wrote them?

LS: Not at all — in fact, I would much prefer that if anybody connects to it, they do it in their own way, because it’s not about what my connection to it is, necessarily, once it goes out there. That’s what music has always been to me, I mean – shit moves me, in my own way. Well, here’s an example – Britney Spears has a song “Womanizer,” and okay, I’m not a womanizer, but I like that song (laughs). Whatever sort of hits you, that’s what hits you. I’m beyond alright with releasing my songs out there, that’s naturally what just happens. You sit with these things and then you put em on a record and then you gotta move on to the next thing and work towards that. It’s a map of what has been done. What’s more heavy than having somebody relate to something and make it their own? For me that’s a big part of what this is all about.

F/F: It’s an interesting dichotomy to put so much of yourself into something and then set it out there and in a way it becomes not yours any more, even though you’re the one performing it.

LS: Yeah….Sometimes you’re telling everyone out there a story about something that happened, and this is how it happened, but other times it may be about a feeling or an emotion, and a melody that you think is cool. Or a story that’s fiction but not totally fiction – you’re putting, maybe, four different relationships that you might have had into a simple song. So it’s not always as personal or simple as my story, going out there.

langhorne slim hallway snap todd roeth

F/F: There was a quote I read once where you said, “I only write love songs.”

LS: People say, “what kind of music do you write?” and you’re supposed to have a genre for what you do, and I’m not trying to sound too cool for school, but I don’t feel that way toward music. I feel that the category stuff is more geared towards what section do we put this in at the record store. But yeah, love songs – if there was a section for that in the record stores maybe that’s where my shit would be. It’s not just about romantic love, there’s happy love songs, and sad love songs. We can do something like we played tonight for the radio, and I think it went over well, but in the past years playing with all sorts of headliners like metal bands or noise bands or hip-hop acts, you know, that all made sense because we all respected what each other were doing. That’s something I miss a little bit, even though I can still bring people out on the road with me, but – if tonight weren’t a radio show, people could have yelled at us, or spent the whole night back at the bar. But how cool would it be if you could have like a traveling roadshow of different stuff that just made sense because it was all good? And people would react to it? I think I’ve been lucky to get to play with a lot of eclectic bands (Violent Femmes, Avett Brothers, Lucero, Murder by Death) but I would like to also do shows with people who wouldn’t make any sense. That’s why a lot of the festivals are cool – Snoop Dogg is over there and we’re over here, and if it works right, people are music fans and they are open to hearing different shit.

F/F: You just celebrated your 29th birthday the day after my 30th, so I wonder, do you see 30 as a milestone at all, and are there things you’d like to accomplish before then? Or are you pretty content with what you’re doing in this last year of your twenties?

LS: Well, yeah – I’d love to be able to get a house – it’s amazing to be able to tour as much as we do, but I look forward to the time where I can have a place of my own that I could come home to. It would be amazing to have my own little spot someplace. Also, just to get better at what we’re doing …. and to keep on going.

todd roeth langhorne slim gods light

[Interview originally published at gigbot.com [R.I.P.], and photos of course by the formidable Todd Roeth]

September 3, 2009

and I don’t wanna break your heart, but I probably will


Langhorne Slim is quietly building a solid backbone of fans through relentless (and scaldingly impassioned) live shows and substantive songwriting. His newest album Be Set Free is out at the end of this month on Kemado Records. The album was produced by Chris Funk (of The Decemberists) who also played various instruments on the record, and was mixed by Tucker Martine who has worked with folks like Sufjan Stevens and R.E.M.

This track from the new album is gorgeous, and rich, and my new favorite from him. And as usual, it was the lyrics that grabbed me primarily and viscerally. It’s always about the words with me.

Back To The Wild – Langhorne Slim

Sit all day pissing away my time
looking into a crystal ball and I don’t know why

Living too fast to live too long
and I don’t wanna die, but I don’t know yet where I belong

I’ve had it better than some, and I know I shouldn’t complain
though my grandfather told me once that all pain hurts the same

Your bottle is empty, but your glass has been filled
and I don’t wanna break your heart but I probably will

Some are born to be good, some are born to be bad
most did the best that they could, and others wished that they had

If I could return to when I was a child
I’d forget what I’d learned and go back to the wild
…back to the wild

Man, I love that song. I am hotly anticipating this album.

Slim has just finished some tour dates with Josh Ritter (and swung through to headline a night of our Underground Music Showcase), and will be doing an eTown taping up in Boulder next Tuesday. I think I’mma gonna have to go.

9/08 – eTown Taping – Boulder, CO
10/15 – Bell House – Brooklyn, NY
10/17 – TT The Bears – Cambridge, MA
10/21 – Grog Shop – Cleveland, OH
10/22 – Blind Pig – Ann Arbor, MI
10/24 – High Noon Saloon – Madison, WI
10/25 – 400 Bar – Minneapolis, MN
10/26 – Waiting Room – Omaha, NE
10/28 – Jackpot – Lawrence, KS
10/29 – Hi Dive – Denver, CO
10/30 – Urban Lounge – Salt Lake City, UT
11/02 – Tractor Tavern – Seattle, WA
11/03 – Media Club – Vancouver, BC
11/06 – The Independent – San Francisco, CA
11/08 – Troubadour – Los Angeles, CA
11/09 – Rhythm Room – Tempe, AZ
11/11 – Mohawk Outside – Austin, TX
11/13 – The Basement – Nashville, TN
11/15 – Cats Cradle – Carrboro, NC
11/16 – The Southern – Charlottesville, VA
11/17 – Rock N Roll Hotel – DC
11/19 – Johnny Brenda’s – Philadelphia, PA

February 15, 2009

Happy morning after


Rub your eyes and nurse your Valentine’s Day hangover with two mixes from When You Awake, full of songs that “represent that warm feeling you get when you wake up in your lover’s arms” (which makes me think of this, but hey).

Bands like Vetiver, Bowerbirds, Hymns, Dr. Dog and Langhorne Slim all selected tunes for the compilations, as well as some of your favorite bloggers. Check out their choices and two full mixes here.

The Ship Song (live at Glastonbury) – Nick Cave
[the original was selected by Howlin’ Rain for the mix]

August 13, 2008

Tonight at the Hi-Dive

Langhorne Slim and hot Denver band Young Coyotes!

Wed, Aug 13th Radio 1190 presents
Langhorne Slim
w/ the Legendary River Drifters, Young Coyotes

at Hi-Dive
Doors at 8:00 PM / Show at 9:00 PM
21+ $10.00

The Electric Love Letter – Langhorne Slim
Momentary Drowning – Young Coyotes

January 2, 2008

Gonna make a pie with a heart in the middle

This song keeps looping in my head tonight. I just finished watching Waitress which was more complex than I had thought, not just about baking pastries in a small town. Keri Russell plays a waitress with heart in a small town who bakes amazing pies. Her husband doesn’t support her dreams, the joy she finds in creating something small and sweet that makes people smile and brings joy into their day. As her belly grows with pregnancy, something begins to ferment and rise within her as she flirts with the ideas of other roads for her life to follow.

This charming melody is something that she sings a few times in the film while she bakes, a lullaby and a little love song. It’s bluegrass-tinged, a little sugary, and not at all rock and roll, but I’m a sap for good sweet singable melodies for kids, so I ripped this one and already do a pretty mean rendition.

Baby Don’t You Cry – Quincy Coleman
[there’s some good stuff on her MySpace, check it]

In addition to making me hum the Tori Amos song “Waitress” all day (which is not on the soundtrack), the film also included tunes from the likes of Cake, The Bottle Rockets, and these two:

You’re Gonna Get It – Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings [link]
The Electric Love Letter – Langhorne Slim [link]

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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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