This is a super cool video I just stumbled upon that explores the songwriting techniques used by Justin Veron on his Bon Iver song “Re: Stacks.” It goes into detail about this song in particular, but also touches on some of his overall strategies on the rest of For Emma, Forever Ago. Vernon’s music is unique, and it is neat to take a closer look into some aspects of Bon Iver that are not straightforward when simply listening to the song. If for some reason you have not had the pleasure of listening to Bon Iver before, you really must start, as it is some of the most beautiful music ever written. Furthermore, if you are a Bon Iver fan, but haven’t listened to any of Vernon’s other projects, I recommend immediately listening to “Bones” by DeYarmond Edison, the band Vernon cut ties with before writing the first Bon Iver record.
PEACH PIT raises the bar for lo-fi music in “Drop the Guillotine,” a song with an indie-pop sound and extremely catchy hook. I don’t have too much to say about this one, other than it has wormed its way into my brain and won’t come out. The music video is the cherry on top for this tune, as the simple live performance and psychedelic projections build upon the vibe of the song.
If you like this, you might also like: Mac Demarco, Car Seat Headrest, Blonde Tongues
Wildermiss is an up and coming group out of Denver, CO with an upbeat, alternative sound similar to that of Misterwives. “Keep It Simple” is the first song of theirs I heard, and it remains my favorite. The song has an infectious, dancy groove to it that is hard to ignore, and the repeating hook of “running uphill, looking down it” is simple, yet captivating. This song has all the trappings of a hit alt-rock song, and I wouldn’t be surprised if these guys have a break through in the upcoming year. They are playing a few shows locally here in Colorado in the next couple months, so be sure to catch them if you are in the area.
If you like this song, you might also like: Misterwives, Grouplove, Wardell
Yes, that is the real name of the band. No, their music isn’t sunshine and rainbows. Rainbow Kitten Surprise is like a cross between Kings of Leon and Glass Animals. Their songs are dark and ominous sounding, but oh so intriguing. “Devil Like Me” and “Cocaine Jesus” capture this aesthetic perfectly. I have been obsessed with these two songs recently. Their live performances are also killer, especially their Audiotree Live session. They are coming to Denver this month, but the show is already sold out unfortunately. Catch these guys if you get the chance, as they are sure to blow up in the near future.
If you like this, you might also like: Glass Animals, Kings of Leon, The Front Bottoms
Declan McKenna continues to impress with a cover of none other than Beyonce. Check out this unique take on an already bad-ass song! If you haven’t heard the original, be sure to take a listen for some comparison. The two are both amazing in their own right, but I love the grungier twist McKenna puts on this banger of a pop song.
Last Friday night I went to my first live show in quite awhile, and damn was it good! Genre blending Dustin Thomas opened the night performing an impassioned set filled with reggae, hip-hop, and folk influenced protest songs, and sent a message of peace and tolerance. I had listened to a bit of Thomas’ music before, but seeing him live was a whole different story. Right off of the bat he impressed the audience with his incredible beat- boxing skills, and captured the attention of everyone at the venue. His songs continued to be filled with beat-boxing and high energy playing, but transitioned to a more socially conscious theme. The audience was very receptive to these tunes, including ones pertaining to the Dakota Pipeline. Thomas was an incredible performer, and had an amazing stage presence. He put everything he had into the set, and even broke a string on his guitar at one point. This did not faze him, though, and he finished out the remainder of the set without switching instruments. If you’re not familiar with Dustin Thomas, I highly recommend listening to some of his songs, especially “Strong Like Jah,” “Let It Go,” and “Try Try Try.”
When Trevor Hall took the stage, the already energetic crowd came to life. For those of you who haven’t heard of him, imagine a more Rastafarian, less “surfer dude” version of Jack Johnson. Dustin Thomas put on a great show for sure, but his set did not come close to Hall’s. It was really interesting seeing the contrast in performances between the two, and it really illustrated how big of a difference there is between the raw energy in Thomas’ set and the polished nature of Hall’s. Hall’s set was short and sweet. He only played 11 songs, but made sure to include some of his best. He played a variety of new and old songs, and even brought out a Native American friend to perform a special dance. He also worked in a neat cover medley by injecting verses from various songs, including M.I.A.’s hit “Paper Planes” and Nahko and Medicine for the People’s “I Mua,” into one of his own. This, as well as his performance of “Green Mountain State,” were definitely my favorites of the night. The show was incredible, but I did leave a little disappointed that he didn’t play my favorite of his songs, “The Mountain.” But all in all, the night was amazing, and the show was a must see.
Audiotree TV is another organization that puts out stellar videos of artists performing intimate sets. The location of these sessions aren’t generally as interesting as the videos from La Blogotheque’s Take Away Shows or NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts, but the music is always great. Furthermore, the Audiotree Live Sessions also double as small interviews, as the hosts always initiate small discussions with the artists in between their songs. These conversations are sometimes about mundane topics, but occasionally there are unique tidbits revealed about the artists that would never come up in any other setting.
This particular session is a performance by the immensely talented one-man-band known as Shakey Graves. The whole performance is entertaining, but the opening song, “Roll The Bones,” is particularly groovy and energetic. Watching him finger pick intricate riffs on the guitar, lay down a rhythmic drum beat with both his feet, and belt out raspy vocals all at the same time is super impressive. It looks like he is getting quite a workout on stage, as he is practically dancing trying to play the drums, but seems to be having a great time doing it. The conversation in this video is also interesting, revealing that Shakey Graves was once an actor with a recurring role on the hit show Friday Night Lights before pursuing a career in music.