January 22, 2010

The Swell Season covers Bruce

A reader who was at Radio City Music Hall on Tuesday night to see The Swell Season sent me this stunning link. Amidst the sweet, sad saxophone, it once again becomes a singalong. Holy heck.

…Lying in the heat of the night like prisoners all our lives
I get shivers down my spine and all I wanna do is hold you tight

November 30, 2009

The Swell Season stunned me

Swell Season 032

Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova represent everything that the hot & honest parts of me love the most about music. As The Swell Season, they are completely humble and engaging, they passionately perform their craft with every ounce of their souls, and they sound damn lovely the way their voices blend together. Somehow it has taken me until now to see them live, and last night at a sold-out show in Denver, I wondered what had taken me so long.

Swell Season 110-1

It felt alternately like a candlelight church service or a campfire at the Ogden last night, with pin-drop silence when it was required and all-encompassing enthusiasm every time Glen invited us to sing along. “All you have to do is sing this simple melody,” he instructed us with a wide smile from behind his guitar. “I don’t care if you mean it or not, just sing it. Well no, actually,” he reconsidered — “Don’t sing it if you don’t mean it.”

But instructions aside — when all of our voices started to rise together to the melody of “Falling Slowly” or “When Your Mind’s Made Up,” I think everyone in the room had to have been convinced. I’ve sang along at the top of my lungs to “Falling Slowly” in my car dozens (if not hundreds) of times, and I gotta say — it was catharsis at its best, to throw my head back with 950 other fans and let all those harmonies soar out into the darkness. It was one of the most honest and wonderful concerts I’ve seen in years. You get the sense that they are doing this for all the right reasons, and their fans respond warmly to that.

There is an undercurrent of hope in their new material that they played last night, and as much as I loved being melancholy and drowning in longing through their past songs, I too feel I am entering a period of hope and some wholeness, and songs like this new marvelously gospel-infused rendition are exactly what resonates with me:

A High Hope (new song, live in LA) – The Swell Season

Maybe when our hearts have realigned
maybe when we’ve both had some time
I’m gonna see you there

Maybe when we’re both old and wise
maybe when our hearts have had some time
I’m gonna see you there
where the good times go
where you are forever young…

The crowd singing here with all they’ve got, the woman in the crowd with the virtuoso voice ringing majestically over the crowd — this must be how ascension feels, no other way to put it.

All of my pictures are up on the Denver Post’s Reverb site as a slide show, if you would like to see more. What a gorgeous night, what a spark in my heart.

Swell Season 008

October 25, 2009

if you’ve got something to say, say it to me now

Irish songwriter Glen Hansard took the crowd outside Fingerprints by surprise last week, as they waited in line for his appearance inside with Marketa Irglova (of The Swell Season, and the movie Once):

Doesn’t that just give you the best kind of visceral reaction in your gut-parts? Sometimes I wish we could always live inside wonderful moments just like that, where people sing out what they mean, and mean the things they sing. Glen is an artist of the first-class.

That night their set included tracks from the new album Strict Joy (out tomorrow on Anti- Records), the Once soundtrack, Leave (The Frames), Tim Buckley’s Buzzin’ Fly (Jeff Buckley was once Glen’s roadie, ‘member?), and “New Partner” by Will Oldham. Those who were there say it was truly magical.

Say It To Me Now – The Frames
(from Hansard’s 1996 album Fitzcarraldo; a version was later on the Once Soundtrack)

SwellSeasonFinalSMIn conjunction with the fine folks at Fingerprints, I have one autographed poster from that event to give away. It’s only signed by Glen (“Marketa wasn’t feeling great, so after the performance and almost two hours of meeting fans we set her free for the nap that was calling so loudly”).

Leave me a comment if you’d like to be entered for the poster — and go see Swell Season on tour this fall, eh?

11/01 Milwaukee, WI – The Pabst
11/02 Indianapolis, IN – Clownes Theatre
11/03 Toronto, ON – Massey Hall
11/04 Montreal, QC – Olympia
11/06 Boston, MA – Berklee Performing Arts Centre
11/07 Providence, RI – Lupo’s
11/08 Philadelphia, PA – Merriam
11/09 Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
11/12 New Orleans, LA – House of Blues
11/13 Houston, TX – Warehouse Live
11/14 Dallas, TX – Palladium
11/15 Austin, TX – The Paramount
11/17 Mesa, AZ – Mesa Arts
11/18 Los Angeles, CA – The Wiltern
11/19 Los Angeles, CA – The Wiltern
11/20 Oakland, CA – The Paramount
11/22 Seattle,WA – The Paramount
11/24 Portland, OR – Crystal Ballroom
11/25 Vancouver, BC – Centre For the Performing Arts
11/27 Boise, ID – Egyptian
11/28 Salt Lake City, UT – Jeanne Wagner Theatre
11/29 Denver, CO – The Ogden
11/30 Kansas City, MO – Uptown
12/03 Chicago, IL – Auditorium Theater
12/04 St. Louis, MO – The Pageant
12/05 Minneapolis, MN – The State Theatre
01/19 NYC, NY – Radio City Music Hall

August 12, 2009

New Swell Season :: “Fantasy Man”


In 2007, Glen Hansard (The Frames) and Marketa Irglova entranced a whole lot of us music lovers with the simple and sweet story of Once, and the flawless ways their voices blend together on the soundtrack of original material. The song “Falling Slowly” still puts a knot in my gut when I hear it, and that whole soundtrack is magic.

If you liked that film, you must stop what you are doing today and visit the NPR “Tiny Desk” concert series to hear the set they recently did with six new songs, plus an urgent and impassioned rendition of “When Your Mind’s Made Up” from the film. They are back with their first album of new material since that soundtrack.

Strict Joy is out October 27th (-Anti Records) under their proper band moniker, The Swell Season. The forthcoming album takes its name from a work by Irish poet James Stephens, and was co-produced by Hansard and Peter Katis (The National, Frightened Rabbit).

Of the six songs they previewed from the new album for the lucky folks at NPR, this one riveted me the fastest. The dulcet harmonies remind me quite a bit of Lisa Hannigan’s haunting work with Damien Rice…

Fantasy Man (live on NPR) – The Swell Season

…And I second NPR’s notion that “Feeling The Pull” sounds like a lost Van Morrison track — which reminds me how much I love this cover:

Into The Mystic (Once b-side, Van Morrison cover) – The Swell Season

Download the whole seven song podcast here.

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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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