Portraits & Walls

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A Look Back On 2012

I didn’t get a chance to listen to as many albums as I wanted to this past year but I was able to listen to a bunch of really great songs. So, instead of compiling a list of my favorite albums I decided to just make a playlist ofsome of my favorite songs from 2012. I’ll to do my best be more present in 2013. I hope everyone had a happy new year and 2013 treats you well!

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An Explanation of Absence

Hey guys!

Sorry for the long absence. The majority of my time has been occupied with law school business (i.e. taking the LSAT, applying to law schools, etc), I haven’t been able to post anything recently and for that I apologize. I hope to be back to my regular weekly schedule in the upcoming months (probably around December or January). See you all then!

Heyward Howkins debut release The Hale & Hearty

Today Heyward Howkins releases his debut album The Hale & Hearty! Based in Philadelphia , PA, the name Heyward comes from the singer’s five-times grandfather Thomas Heyward. Gaining recognition a decade ago while playing lead guitar with the two time Rollingstone.com’s Editor’s Top Picks of the Year group The Trouble with Sweeney, Heyward was also a founding member of the acclaimed choral group, The Silver Ages. The Hale & Hearty is Heyward Howkins debut LP release. Enjoy!

Like what ya hear? Be sure to check out Heyward Howkins’ website & support his music!


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Twitter: @HeywardHowkins

After much cons…

After much consideration I’ve decided to change things up on Portraits & Walls. Posts are going to try and focus more on introduce people to new music. Enjoy!

Five For Your Friday

This week’s edition of Five For Your Friday features music from Ha Ha Tonka, Wild Sweet Orange, Alpha Rev, He’s My Brother She’s My Sister and Steel Train. Enjoy!

Ha Ha Tonka

Hailing from Springfield, Missouri Ha Ha Tonka has been together since 2005. Named after a state park in southern Missouri, in 2008 the group opened up for Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. Known for their edgier sound Ha Ha Tonka has released three studio albums.

“Usual Suspects”

Wild Sweet Orange

Forming back in 2004, Wild Sweet Orange comes out of Homewood, Alabama.  Opening for groups such as Counting Crows, Augustana and Guster, the group released two EPS and a studio EP.  Having their music featured on Grey’s Anatomy in addition to having performed on Late Night with David Letterman, the group  sadly disbanded in 2010.

“Ten Dead Dogs”

Alpha Rev

Hailing from Austin, Texas Alpha Rev started back in ’05 following the breakup of Casey McPherson’s previous Endocrhine. Consisting of McPherson, Alex Dunlap, Brian Batch, Dave Wiley, Derek Morris, Tabber Millard, Zak Loy, the group two EPs and three LPs.

“New Morning”

He’s My Brother She’s My Sister

Based in Los Angeles, California, He’s My Brother She’s My Sister is made up of Rachel and Robert Kolar, Lauren Brown, Satya Bhabha and Felipe Ceballos. Making their first official release,  He’s My Brother She’s My Sister EP, in 2010, the group claims to be influences by The Everly Brothers, Donavon, The Mama’s & Pappa’s and Bob Dylan.

“How’m I Gonna Get Back Home”

Steel Train

Making indie rock jams since 2002, Steel Train calls New Jersey home. Having toured with groups such as Silversun Pickups, O.A.R, Fun. and Ben Folds, the group is made up of Jack Antonoff, Evan Winiker, Dan Silbert, Jon Shiffman, and Justin Huey. Performing on both Late Night with David Letterman and Conan O’Brien, Steel Train has released three EPS and three LPs.

“Bullet”

Five For Your Friday

This week’s Five For Your Friday brings you tune from Hoots & Hellmouth, Hey Marseilles!, The Barr Brothers, Yukon Blonde and Darwin Deez. Enjoy!

Hoots & Hellmouth

Formed in 2005, Hoots & Hellmouth bring us folk/rock tunes out of Philadelphia, PA. Originally starting out as a duo between Andrew Grey and Sean Hoots, the group now consists of Hoots, Rob Berliner, Todd Erik and Mike Reilly. Earning themselves an Independent Music Award for Best College Record Label Album for their debut release Hoots & Hellmouth (2007), the group has since released three more albums.

“You and All of Us”

Hey Marseilles!

Coming out of Seattle, Washington, Hey Marseilles! have been cranking out indie pop jams for the last six years. Composed of Matt Bishop, Colin Richey, Philip Kobernik, Nick Ward, Samuel Anderson, Jacob Anderson, and Patrick Brannon, Hey Marseilles! was founded by Ward and Bishop while they were attending the University of Washington.

“Hold the Morning”

The Barr Brothers

Coming together in 2006, The Barr Brothers is made up of brothers Brad and Andrew Barr, Sarah Page and Andrew Vial. Based out of Montreal, The Barr Brothers’ have performed on David Letterman and have also had their music in television shows such as Touch. Their debut self-titled album was released in 2011.

“Beggar in the Morning”

Yukon Blonde

Coming out of Kelowna, British Columbia, Yukon Blonde has been making music together since 2005. Originally starting out as a quintet under the name Alphababy, the group adopted the name Yukon Blonde in 2008. Currently composed of Graham Jones, Jefferey Innes, Brandon Scott and John Jeffrey, Yukon Blonde made their latest release this past March.

“Wind Blows”

Darwin Deez

Calling New York City home, Darwin Deez is an indie band that formed back in 2009. Named after the band’s frontman Darwin Smith aka Darwin Deez, the group gained popularity in the UK after their release of the single “Constellations”. The group released their debut self titled album in 2010.

“Radar Detector”

Five For Your Friday

This week features a collection of quartets and one quintent, featuring tracks from San Cisco, Amatorski, Walk the Moon, The Paper Kites and Headlights.

San Cisco

San Cisco is another indie-pop gem out of Australia. Forming in 2009, the group was previously known as King George, but opted for the change after feedback from friends and fans. Composed of Jordi Davieson, Josh Biondillo, Nick Gardner and Scarlett Stevens, the quartet all attended high school together. Releasing two EPs, “Awkward” is off their latest release of the same name.

“Awkward”

Amatorski

Coming out of Ghent, Belgium, Amatorski formed in 2008. With their name translating as ‘amateurs’, the four-man group has proven to be anything but by making it to the finals of Rockrally (a Belgian rock contest)  as well as having their tack Come Home reach the #1 spot on “De Aferkening” on the radio station Studio Brussel

Walk The Moon

Known for face-paint and wildly energetic shows, Walk the Moon is a four-piece indie-rock group out of Cincinnati, Ohio. Made up of Nicholas Petricca, Kevin Ray, Sean Waugaman and Eli Maiman, the quartet has supported acts such as Weezer and Grouplove. Playing at well-known music festivals such as Lollapalooza, SXSW and Summerfest, they released their debut album I want! I want! at the end of 2010.

“Anna Sun”

The Paper Kites

The Paper Kites are yet another group out of Australia. Composed of Sma Bentley, Christina Lacy, Dave Powys, Sam Rasmussen and Josh Bently, the five create mellow indie folk that “Aim to put a smile on your face and some love in your heart”.

“Featherstone”

Headlights

Forming back in 2004, Headlights unfortunately broke up in January 2012, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy their amazing music still. Comprised of Erin Fein, Brett Sanderson, Tristan Wraight, Nick Sanborn, the quartet was based out of Champagin, Illinois.

Interview with Jeff Beam

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing a hidden treasure from Portland, Maine, who was kind enough to share his Thursday afternoon with me and give me some insight on what makes Jeff Beam tick.

P&W:  Well, first off, congrats on the new album and upcoming tour, this has got to be an exciting time for you.

Jeff:  Thank you. Yes, it’s very exciting and busy. Lots of 3am bedtimes, lately, but it’s all worth it. I feel like it’s going to go by quickly, one big blur.

P&W:  I can only imagine… So, how did you end up performing psych-rock? Was it a genre you grew up listening to?

Jeff:  Yeah, I vividly remember listening to The Beatles on cassette when I was about 2 or 3, riding around in my dad’s truck. From there it was Jimi Hendrix when I was 10 or 11, and from there it was Olivia Tremor Control when I was 16, and from there it’s been Deerhunter & Herbcraft & MMOSS. I just love the philosophy & motive behind psychedelic music. It’s almost always aimed at broadening one’s perspective.

P&W:  Very eloquently put.

You mentioned listening to cassettes back in the day, is that one of the reasons you decided to release Be Your Own Mirror on cassette in addition to CD? Do you prefer to listen to music via a certain medium i.e vinyl, cd, mp3 etc?

Jeff:  The idea to release it on cassette happened pretty late in the game, just a few weeks ago. It was a quick decision and I just plowed into it and started painting tapes. I guess I did it because a lot of folks my age still have cars with tape decks & no CD player.

Vinyl is definitely my preferred way of listening to music. The sound is much more dynamic & alive. I wish I could put out Be Your Own Mirror on vinyl, but it’s a bit costly these days. I suppose cassette is the next best option; it’s still analog, it’s portable, and it’s pretty easy to make.

P&W:  Oh for sure, vinyl is definitely lovely, but releasing a new album on cassette kind of gives you, for lack of a better term, a “badass” status. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the one to bring cassettes back into popularity.

Jeff:  Hahaha There is definitely a small cassette culture. I’d like to see it grow. Of Montreal recently re-released their entire catalog on cassette.

P&W:  Hm, I did not know that hah. Learn something new every day.

So, you recorded this album in a bunch of different locations, mostly in the North East but also randomly in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. How did you end up there?

Jeff:  My girlfriend & I went there to a meditation retreat with some of her friends. They’re from the Chicago area, but she met them in India. We went out there for a weekend in December, and our friend Molly was there. I made her bring her cello up from Chicago, and we tracked it in a gazebo on the beach of Lake Michigan. It was like 13 degrees outside, and only slightly warmer than that in the gazebo.

P&W:  Oh gosh. Yeah it tends to get a tad chilly up there during the winter…

You actually gave me the perfect segue for my next question. There are a lot of different sounds/instruments and guest musicians throughout the album, how do you think Be Your Own Mirror will translate live? Also, what do you think will be the biggest challenge?

Jeff: Well. My band & I are playing the whole album in order tomorrow night at the CD release show. It’ll be interesting, for sure. A lot of it sounds the same, but there are plenty of differences. The last song, “Destroy All Solutions”, won’t be on piano for the live version. I’d say the whole thing sounds more muscular live, definitely a bit more raw. The layers are still there, but it’s being pumped out by live people. And for the most part, they’re playing instruments & parts that I played on the record, so it’ll inherently sound a little different.

But I like the idea that the record & the live version won’t be exactly the same. Any band can get together in a room and lay down their sound, but if I’m playing all the instruments in the studio, I’m creating a unique document that absolutely cannot be replicated in live form without cloning myself. It makes the album a little more special in a time where “the album” might not be as celebrated as it once was.

P&W:  You are giving me some very philosophical answers… I love it.

Jeff: Haha, that’s where my mind is at these days.

P&W:  Speaking of live shows, you’re about to kick off a tour. One of the show’s you’re playing is actually with your friends’ group You Won’t! How did you all come to be acquainted?

Jeff: You Won’t! I met those guys in Boston, where they live. I play bass in another band, The Milkman’s Union, and we were on the same bill together back in September. They’re super nice guys, and it looks like they’re starting to blow up a bit. They’ll be playing the Portsmouth NH show of the tour.

P&W:  Music just brings people together… as cliché as that sounds haha

Jeff: Haha, music is the best unifier & friend-maker.

P&W:  For my last question I was going to ask the quintessential “who influences you”, except you’ve given me such well said answers that I’ve decided to tweak it instead. Who would you like to influence your music?

Jeff: Who would I like to influence my music, very interesting question.

P&W:  I know, curve ball!

Jeff: I’d like to be more influenced by classical composers, like Stravinsky. I like the idea that there was a time in recent history when popular music was incredibly complex and didn’t have verse-chorus-verse structure.  I’d also like to take a page from performers like Lady Lamb the Beekeeper & Jacob Augustine; both are individual performers who have the ability to captivate the audience. I don’t think I have that ability, I feel like I need a lot of different parts all coming together for my music to have its full impact. But to be able to absolutely captivate a room like they both do, with just their voice & a guitar, that’s the real deal.

P&W:  Well, I could talk music with you all afternoon, but I’m going to give you a break. Thank you very much for speaking with me. Good luck with the release tomorrow!

 

Be sure to check out Jeff Beam’s new album Be Your Own Mirror out Friday, April 6th.

Five For Your Friday

In honor of Groundhog’s Day, here’s five tracks that have nothing to do with it. Featuring tunes from Electric President, Rökkurró, Milo Greene, Blair and Shilpa Ray. Enjoy!

Electric President

Started in 2003, Electric President consists of Ben Cooper (of Radical Face) and Alex Kane. Recording the majority of their music in a tool shed converted into recording studio, the electric-indie pop duo from Jacksonville, Florida have released five albums since 2006. Unaltered and fragile vocals intertwine with simple guitar phrases and electronic percussion perfectly in this hypnotizing track from Electric President.

“Insomnia”

Rökkurró

Founded in a Reykjavík attic in 2006, Rökkurró is five-person indie folk band who draw inspiration from their surroundings. The group released an EP six months after forming, followed by their debut album in 2007. Flowing strings, simple piano chords and delicate vocals sung in traditional Icelandic mesh together in this gorgeous track.

“Sólin mun skína”

Milo Greene

Initially starting as a trio consisting of Robbie Arnett, Andrew Heringer and Marlana Sheetz, Milo Greene formed when the three met at the University of California-Irvine.  Milo Greene eventually gained two more members and is now based in Los Angeles, CA. Starting off with a single guitar riff, rim-hits and tambourine, “1957” crescendos into a full-band affair featuring rich harmonies.

“1957”

Blair

Born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, Blair began performing at the age of 16 in local coffee shops and by her late teens began opening for artists like Bright Eyes and Cat Power. Blair has since relocated to Brooklyn, New York. A wailing chorus, crashing cymbals and guest appearances from the xylophone compose the refreshing tune “Hearts”.

“Hearts”

Shilpa Ray

Shilpa Ray‘s love affair with music first developed when she was 6 while growing up in New Jersey.  Through the influence of her parents, who wanted Ray to learn to play classical Indian music, she began  to play the harmonium and piano.  Ray gigged around New York a couple of years, playing solo and in a band, Beat The Devil,  before  eventually settling down and forming Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers in 2009. Dominated by powerful vocals, “Venus Shaver” stands as a testament to Ray’s incredible musical ability.

“Venus Shaver”

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