And I’ve looked for days upon days upon nights, I’m sick of the taste of the failure to fight

Sometimes you hear a new song and become enamored more with the song than the band itself, possisively playing it exclusively on repeat until I come to be able to anticipate each strummed downstroke, each quiet clap of the tambourine layered in the background.  However, I cannot pinpoint just one such song from Great Spirit to be consumed by; rather, it is the entire EP that must be on continuous loop.

A folk-rock quintet from San Francisco, Before the Brave creates music that pulses: pulses with joy, pulses with despair and throbs with hunger, throbs with hope.

before the brave

The opening track “Holy River” is reminiscent of a hymn: a call, to gather, to awaken, to unite.  The track ignites in crisp a capella style, then picks up speed into a rhythmic, guitar-driven pace alternating between layered group harmonies and Jason Perry Steven’s lead vocals, rugged, warm, and wise.

“Hand Holding is Encouraged” follows, a humble yet incredibly majestic song, imploring:

So won’t you hold my hand, across the deserts, seas and foreign lands, that I might forever be to you a man, because I behold you face to face.

Taking the place as the third track in the heat of Great Spirit, “Systems of the Son” is impressive in that it manages to navigate through multiple distinct, arguably contradicting styles with ease, yet all the while maintains a strong sense cohesion throughout.  The frenzied, almost frantic feeling characterizing well over the first minute and a half of the song then transitions gracefully into a surprisingly more mellow but yet not at the cost of being aimless.

For the penultimate song of the EP, I started typing lyrics as I listened to include a portion in my post.  As I started typing and listening, listening and typing, I found myself unable to find a stopping point.  I kept telling myself, “just one line more,” yet each “one ” line more turned into another.

I do not think the disarming simplicity of “Brave Ruth’s” lyrics quite sunk in before I set out to write about this song; however, now I cannot escape its chill:

So break my bones and hold my tongue, shed my skin after all I have done.  And you wash my feet in the river so sweet, I’m a wrestling soul trying to find who to be.  And I’m looked for days upon days upon nights.  I’m sick of the taste of the failure to fight.

“Haven’t a Clue” closes the album.  In case you hadn’t been thoroughly impressed by the vocal talents of Jason and Beth by now, Before the Brave ensures that you will not leave this album anything less than mesmerized.  It is difficult for me to resist a delicate female harmony floating wistfully above the foundation of a rich male lead’s voice.  This song both fulfills and exceeds all of my expectations.  *for a hand-clapping, heart wailing, foot stomping time, 2:20 on cannot be missed

In return for your email address and zip code, Before the Brave is offering their EP Great Spirit for free. Download it now from Noisetrade, leave a tip if you like.  Stay connected with the quintet on Facebook and Twitter.

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but if you wait, it can save what you love and I know that it’s you

miner

I have a hunch that Miner’s bedroom project single “Hey Love” is not merely a song.

Songs transmit sound waves, but this song, its chorus in particular, does more than just stream, it effuses pure joy.

A family effort, Justin Miner, wife Kate and brother Jeremy effortlessly blend warm harmonies and infectious banjo melodies to create an output that is incredibly authentic and quite frankly impossible to listen to just once.

I sometimes struggle to find songs to recommend to my less folk-enamored friends; however, sending this link to them is an absolute no-brainer.  It doesn’t take a soft spot for banjo to fall head over heels for Miner’s “Hey Love.”  Just listen to the transition between 3:03 – 3:06 and try to tell yourself that you didn’t just let out a sigh of relief the moment you heard Justin count 2,3,4 to rekindle the song you really weren’t quite ready to be over.

.. what I wouldn’t give to see Miner perform live.

Still can’t get enough of “Hey Love?”  Head over to http://www.thisisminer.com/ to pick up your free download and then show Miner some love on facebook.

hold up your hands if you hear me
I’m coming honey
hold on, hold on
lift up the sun with your love
I’ve been laying low
so long, so long

sundaes and collaborating

If your favorite artist’s songs are like scoops of ice cream, for me consuming moments when these same artists join forces and collaborate on one song is an ice cream sundae.  And I inhale the whole thing.

There is something especially magical and decidedly unique about a collaborative performance between 1, 2, 3 (the more, in my opinion the better) of the artists you love.

The energy is infectious as each performer plays off one another, allowing you to experience a completely new side of the artists that you thought you knew so well.  There is no star, no face forced to shine through; rather, the individual pieces combine to create something far greater than the sum of its parts.

Not convinced? Give these collaborations a listen:

In a passionate encore, David Bazan, William Fitzsimmons, Mariah McManus, Noah Gundersen, Abby Gundersen, and Chris Carrabba cover Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” (don’t miss from 3:29 on)

Up next, a collab including Allen Stone,  Kris Orlowski, Mychal Cohen of Campfire Ok, and some other talented folk..

Listening to this over and over, Neil Young’s “Hey Hey, My My” in Seattle performed by Lerin Herzer, Andrew Joslyn Hannalee, Goldfinch, Naomi Wachira, and Noah, Jonny, Abby, and Lizzy Gundersen.  The echo resonating in the Cathedral at 2:42 stops me in my tracks..

And now that since my last post you’re officially Daughter converts, brace yourself for the forces of Daughter and Ben Howard to unite and erupt, especially from 6:15 on ..

Kris Orlowski, Campfire OK, and Lemolo team up on Kris’ “Your Move.”

One last video,the perfect send-off, be prepared for chills: Bon Iver and the Staves ethereally layer lush harmonies in “re:Stacks”

Why am I so hopelessly enamored with collaborations?  I think it has something to do with the fact that I can almost picture myself as just one extra voice among many .. or an unnecessary but somehow obligatory tambourine player joining in on the side.

I hardly know you and I don’t wanna let you go

I’ve never been known for my self control.

Especially when it comes to songs rich with any combination of acoustic guitar, rhythmic vocals, pulsing banjo lines, piercing lyrics, and intertwining harmonies, whatever hope of me playing it cool is lost, replaced by what appears to the innocent bystander to be a manic foot-stomping, finger-tapping frenzy.

Hudson Taylor’s “Chasing Rubies” is one of those frenzy-inducing tracks.

Formally “Harry and Alfie”  of Youtube origins, the Irish brother duo composing Hudson Taylor originally created their Youtube channel in 2008.  Three years and about 25,000 subscribers later, Harry and Alfie transitioned formally into Hudson Taylor in order to pursue music more seriously.

Although many might argue that starting off on Youtube can negatively affect a musician’s career and credibility, I am even more drawn to Youtube musicians I find talented.  Not only do I find the personal connection and low-quality video/audio charming, but the fact that talent shines through Youtube musicians’ videos performing under these low-budget circumstances actually leads me to respect them as musicians even more.

Maybe then the issue with Youtube origins and credibility deals more with the social need to maintain distance and hallowed, untouchable air between artist and the common fan rather than credibility itself.

Tangent aside, call them the next Mumford, call them the next Of Monsters and Men, call them whatever folk-infused breakthrough band you like- comparisons really are of no use.

Only time will tell if we’re all just cynics on the run.
If we’re all just cynics come undone.

Not so long story short, you need to check them out.  Head on over to iTunes to download their new 4-track EP released August 27th.  While you won’t find the track I’ve been obsessively replaying on Youtube “Chasing Rubies,” “Battles” is well worth a listen as is “Hideaway.” http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/battles-ep/id547907856

This is not dejavu
I’ve never met somebody like you
I’d like to tell you the truth
And I hardly now you and I don’t wanna let you go
and I don’t wanna let you go