Saturday, December 22, 2012

Moon Taxi

You may have noticed that Moon Taxi was a front runner for our top albums of the year list. I would personally argue that their 2012 release, "Cabaret", was the best of the year.

I first saw Moon Taxi at a show I was playing with my old band, Static Revival. It was one of Mercy Lounge's 8 off 8th shows. I had heard a great deal about them and was very excited to be able to share the stage with them. I was not expecting the face melting that I received.

Since that show, I have seen Moon Taxi more times than I can remember. Between Kevin and myself we have seen them more than 10 times this year alone. Before the release of "Cabaret," I began to get worried about them. Their on-stage intensity was decreasing and they seemed to be getting bored with the songs they had been playing. As soon as the now songs started popping up, especially this year, Moon Taxi has really taken off. The highlight of their shows this year for us was their Bonnaroo set. If you were not there, I suggest that you click that link and listen to the whole set. The show took place on Thursday night and the energy I saw at that show is rare at Bonnaroo as a whole, let alone at the performance of a nearly unheard of band. It was wild and crazy.

I like to describe Moon Taxi as a progressive rock band with jam band tendencies. These guys rely on intricate sounding riffs, high energy performance, and songs with a thick beat to get the crowd moving. The songs are typically shorter and have less guitar soloing than most jam bands, but the way they move and the progressive nature of the music makes it easy to draw lines from them to bands like Umphrey's McGee. The sound is unique and very pleasing to the ear of the average listener as well as the music enthusiast.

I would suggest seeing them at a smaller bar type show instead of a large public event. The extra set time gives them a chance to do more than just promote their most recent release. They will typically launch into longer jams and do some really dancey synth based stuff.

These guys are so great and they are really at the top of their game right now. I am counting down the days until their show with Umphrey's on the 30th in Atlanta and will be seeing them again at the Bijou Theatre in Knoxville on Jan. 18. If you live close to Knoxville, I would highly recommend this show. I hope you enjoy Moon Taxi and get the chance to see them soon. Let us know what you think.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Top 10 Albums of the Year

Well, the year is coming to a close, so we figured why not let you know what we think are the top albums of 2012. The funny thing about this list is that we have seen every single band that is presented in the top 10 this year. There is definitely a little bias towards the South, but hey, this our blog, and we can choose whatever albums we want, right? If you have not purchased or listened to these albums make sure you give them a shot. Feel free to provide some feedback with any albums that you think should have made the list. As always, thank you for taking the time to read our blog.

10. Somewhere Beneath These Southern Skies - The Dirty Guv'nahs
Why? The Dirty Guv'nahs have been killing it in Knoxville, TN for many years now, and this album was produced entirely with fan based donations which I am proud to be one of those fans. Somewhere Beneath These Southern Skies somewhat diverges from the Guv's usual southern rock/ bluesy sound, but the production quality is top notch. I would recommend this album for any fans of The Rolling Stones and The Black Crowes.

9. Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now - Justin Townes Earle
Why? Everyone can agree that country music is not what it used to be, but JTE is able to capture those classic country themes about drinking and drugs, being heart broken, and leaving. Feeling down? Just throw this album on and share the company with JTE.

8. Space Capone - Space Capone
Why? This album is full of soul and funk. I am not usually a huge fan of this genre, but you can't help to get your groove on. If you ever have a party and are lacking on some dance music, this will be sure to make everyone put their dancing shoes on.

7. The Carpenter - The Avett Brothers
Why? The Avett Brothers consistently put out one great album after another. The Carpenter took a little time to grow on me because I have grown fond of the almost sloppy style of their thrashing guitars and banjos and screaming vocals in previous albums. Even though I feel this album is a little over produced, I love the theme of life and death portrayed throughout the entire album.

6. Carry Me Back - Old Crow Medicine Show
Why? I was worried these guys were done making music after a hiatus in 2011 and Willie Watson leaving the band. Was I ever wrong. OCMS returned with original member Critter Fuqua and new found energy. Carry Me Back is filled with fast paced, high energy old time foot stompers and uplifting ballads. As always they perfectly capture the tradition of Appalachian music in a modern way.

5. Hall of Fame: Class of 2011 - Umphrey's McGee
Why? First off, I don't think you can really appreciate this album without seeing Umphrey's live. This album is loaded with the top songs from their live performances over the past year based on the vote of fans. This is "The" jam/prog band of my generation. Class of 2011 almost makes you feel like you were at these shows. \mm/

4. Live From Alabama - Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit
Why? Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit represent everything that is right about the Southern Americana music scene. Live From Alabama was recorded over two nights in Birmingham and Huntsville Alabama and provides a snapshot of how Isbell and the band have progressed over the years and perfectly captures the energy of a live show. The album ranges from old Drive-by Truckers favorites to current Isbell songs. Isbell will go down as one of the greatest performers and songwriters of our time.

3. Who's Feeling Young Now? - Punch Brothers
Why? Front man and mandolinist Chris Thile and his band are perhaps the most collectively talented group of musicians out there right now. With Who's Feeling Young Now they perfectly balance progressive bluegrass (I like to call it prograss) and traditional bluegrass. The album also showcases the songwriting ability of Thile and proves he is among the best of the best.

2. Cabaret - Moon Taxi
Why? Moon Taxi seems to have finally gotten the break they have been looking for with the release of Cabaret. This album opened doors to many summer festivals this year with performances that left crowds begging for more. The album is full of melodic jams and strong vocals the can attract fans from pop to prog rock. Do yourself a favor and take a ride on the Moon Taxi.

1. II - Bad Books
Why? Andy Hull, Kevin Devine, and the rest of the members of Manchester Orchestra combine once again to form the indie rock super group known as Bad Books. With II, Hull and Devine showcase their collaborative songwriting ability flawlessly.If you are familiar with how powerful Manchester's songs are, just imagine the same level of intensity with a catchier sound and more hooks. The album ranges from tunes that just let you rock out to haunting melodies that send chills down your spine.

Honorable Mention
Boys & Girls - Alabama Shakes
Be The Void - Dr. Dog
Handwritten - The Gaslight Anthem
Stars and Satellites - Trampled by Turtles
Home Again - Michael Kiwanuka
American Spirit - The Paranormals
Blak and Blu - Gary Clark Jr.
Kids Raising Kids - Kopecky Family Band
- Kevin

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Space Capone Album Release Show (11/16/12)

Press play.

We had been hearing about Space Capone for a couple years now. They have been gaining momentum and have been turning up on festival lineups. We saw these guys for the first time earlier in the year at Starry Nights Music Festival near Bowling Green, KY. They played in the middle of the day and we had all been drinking.

I was very excited to see Space for the first time and was thoroughly impressed. We danced our asses off in the sun and it was beautiful.

I was very curious to see how the band would translate into a venue. As we have said before, Mercy Lounge is probably our favorite place to see a show in Nashville. We got there kind of early and were worried that the crowd was going to be small, but people started filing in and there ended up being an impressive turnout. You could tell that there was a buzz about the crowd and that they were ready to dance. Magnolia Sons started off the show and proved to be a solid precursor. Their music wasn't nearly as funky as Space Capone, but they definitely got the crowd dancing. When Space Capone came on, everyone crowded forward and the dancing erupted immediately. Hipsters, hippies, and frat dudes were all breaking it down. The most impressive part of Space Capone is how tight they are. Every single beat is perfect, something that is difficult to do with a 10ish piece band.

Space Capone did not disappoint and delivered a nearly 2 hour long set. I found myself very sweaty by the end.

I felt the need to include this gem of Kevin and his dance partner for the night.


My advice regarding Space Capone is see them live and purchase the album. The album is a funk masterpiece and has some super thick grooves to draw you in. Keep your eye on these guys, my guess is that they will be playing tents at most of the big festivals this summer.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Wayside Shakeup (Philadelphia, PA)

As always, I recommend that you go ahead and click "play" while you are listening.

The blog has been going for about a month now and I just want to stop for a second and say that we have been pleasantly surprised by the amount of readership we have had so far and I would like to thank everyone and I hope you are enjoying what we have had to offer so up to this point. With that being said, this post, featuring The Wayside Shakeup is the first post I have had a chance to do from a submission. We are not pretentious assholes as many music bloggers tend to be and one thing that we are very thankful for is the opportunity to help bands out and get them some exposure.

The Wayside Shakeup is from Philadelphia, PA. As I listened to this self titled album for the first time, I thought I had accidentally clicked "pause" on SoundCloud and "play" on Spotify. From song to song, the genre seems to completely change. This band does not blend their influences, each of there songs seems to reflect a different influence. The first track, "I'm Not Responsible For Your Happiness," has a Pearl Jam feel to it. This song was not my favorite from the album, but things started picking up for me when I got to track 2, "Nothing But A Good Time." This song has a super fat groove to it and starts off very laid back, super danceable, and has a little funk to it. The next track, "Don't Run Away," is by far my favorite track on the album. The first part of the song has a kick drum drenched with reverb behind an acoustic guitar and Jack White style vocals. The middle section drops into a haunting, psychedelic chant-like high gain guitar solo. This song is very solid and although I am an "album in its entirety" kind of guy, if you only have time to catch one track, go ahead and skip to this one.

The switch between "Don't Run Away" and "Where You Gonna Go Alone" is a great characterization of what I was saying about the music weaving between so many genres. This song pulls in a kind of island feel that will resonate in a few other tracks through the rest of the album. "So Fast" is the other track on the album that I was really drawn to. The beginning keeps the same island feel as "Where You Gonna Go Alone." The gem in this song is the slow groove style jam with a mandolin solo layered on top. About half way through the solo, an electric guitar comes in and weaves its way in and out of the mandolin. This was a very tasty way to take it to the end.

The Wayside Shakeup describes their music as "ranging from shameless pop to wobbly blues." I would agree and take it a step further. They have a very strong 90s influence mixed with an island style jam feel. However, they don't hesitate to take their music to psychedelia and they even delve into country a bit. So, check out The Wayside Shakeup and show them some love on social media (links included below).




Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Weekly Jam 2

Please subscribe to our playlist if you like what you're hearing. Last week's is no longer available.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Weekly Jam

Alright, Cory and I decided we're going to make a playlist and update it weekly with whatever we're digging at the time, and you'll probably dig it too if you're musically promiscuous. We're using Spotify so you may have to download it to listen in.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Drop Electric

I have been wanting to do a post covering a smaller band. Today I was listening to Drop Electric, a band I started listening to this time last year. I actually stumbled across them based on an ad that they were running on Facebook.

These guys are from Washington, D.C. and describe themselves as experimental rock. I would be inclined to compare them to Explosions in the Sky or Mogwai (who just released an EP). They are post rock but not post rock at the same time. They have the ominous guitars with uplifting refrains, profound vocal samplings, and their songs move similar to post rock songs. However, they build much quicker. I think this is the most attractive part of them, they put everything that is good about a 26 minute Mogwai masterpiece into a 7 minute song and then add some other elements to it.

Anyways, I felt moved enough to write this post randomly, so I would definitely urge you to check these guys out. Also from what I could tell, they are pretty into cinematography and their videos reflect it. Here is one from their sampler that is available for free on their Bandcamp

Bandcamp: Spotify:


Monday, November 5, 2012

The Features (Show) 10/31/2012

I don't have enough good things to say about The Features. About this time 3 years ago during my freshman year of college, I was roped into attending one of their shows at Exit/In all because of a rumor flying around that Kings of Leon was playing a secret show with them. That didn't happen. What did happen was me leaving that show with a new favorite band. Since that time, I have rarely missed a show in the eastern half of Tennessee. Recently, I described The Features to a friend as the best band on the planet, by planet I mean Tennessee, and by Tennessee I mean the planet.

Hailing from the small town of Sparta, TN, these guys are the best kept secret of the Nashville music scene. From what I know of their history, they started off playing together during high school in the mid 90's and have been at it ever since. They are truly a road tested and battle hardened band. After their first full length album, Exhibit A, their label dropped them due to lack of sales. Not about to give up, they were eventually picked up by Snakes & Serpents, Kings of Leon's label. The Features went on to record Some Kind of Salvation and most recently Wilderness with them. All of us owe Kings of Leon for keeping them alive. I read an interview about The Features touring with KOL and Caleb Followill said he went outside and puked after The Features set because he was so nervous about how they would follow them up.

On to the night's show, The Features kicked off their "late" night set with everyone clad in their Halloween costumes. Cory was a hipster ghoul and I was the infamous Steve Bartman. They opened up with "Kids" starting the night off right with a heavy hitter. The show, as usual, did not lack intensity. I was surprised to hear old favorites such as "2x2", "The Beginning (Week One)", and "Contrast" all which are rarely played, at least the shows I've been to. They squeezed in as many songs as possible during their longer than usual hour and half set. The crowd started to dwindle about halfway through mainly due to the fact that it was past midnight and most in attendance had school or work the next day. Those of us die hards who stuck around got to hear a new track that should be appearing on their new album supposedly coming out in March of 2013. For the last of song of the encore, The Features broke out the fan favorite "Thursday". I consider this to be their equivalent to "Free Bird". It's always the most bittersweet part of the show because everyone in the crowd loves belting out all the "Ya da da das", but you also know the show is coming to a close. With all this being said, The Features gave us all treats and no tricks on this All Hallow's Eve, and I can't wait for the next show.


The Features "Thursday" from Lake Fever Sessions on Vimeo.

Monday, October 29, 2012

STS9 (Show) 10/24/12

I will start this post by including the Spotify player for their most recent studio release. It is nice to listen to the band you are reading about to put you in the mindset.

I will begin this one with a story from Bonnaroo 2 years ago. Friday night was electronica late night with Bassnectar followed by Pretty Lights. Also, I believe that Lil' Wayne was playing and maybe Ratatat too. I chose to go hard with my friend Austin and go see Bassnectar and Pretty Lights back to back. This proved to be a good choice and a whole lot of fun, but it left me feeling tired the next day.

The next night was String Cheese Incident followed by Tribe. I had been so stoked to see tribe, but due to my dedication to the previous night, I was overcome with exhaustion about halfway through cheese. I made my way back to camp to rest before Tribe and long story short, never made it back to centeroo. I woke up the next morning yelling at my friends and trying to find out why everyone let me sleep. Turns out they had tried to wake me to no avail. So, at that point I vowed to see Tribe the first chance I got, this show was that chance!

The show was at the historic Ryman Auditorium. We had seen Umphrey's there earlier in the year and were already prepared for poor sound. The venue is beautiful, but it is never quite loud enough. We were running behind and had missed the opener, so we ended up walking in as they were starting their first song. The first thing that surprised me was how intense the smell of weed was. The Ryman is notoriously strict on smokers, but tonight they seemed to be more lax in light of the craziness that was unfolding.

The crowd was diverse, but had all the expected attendees. There were your classic deadhead style hippies, your electro kids drugged up on molly, the new wave hippy kids with flat bill hats and a wide variety of hat pins, and your in between music enthusiasts. Everyone was cool though and the vibes were excellent. What I will say for this crowd is that they came to dance and they were very happy to be seeing Tribe, as was I.

In regards to the band, I am thrilled to say that it was everything I had waited 2 years to see. They brought it. At times, their album work can be more laid back and ambient, but they play DANCE MUSIC live. Everything was adequately intricate and a nice blend between the traditional band and electro. The band is a bit older, not Cheese old, but older. However, they all looked like they were thrilled to be playing and that they understood all of the people who were so eager to enjoy their music.

My next series of comments involves the light show. Tribe uses an LED wall system that forms a pyramid behind the whole band and a rectangular panel, the width of the pyramid, between the guitarist and bass player and the rest of the band. The content that flows across these screens is magical and truly enhances the experience. Everything is synchronized with the music to some extent and really provides a unique experience. The only other time I have seen a light set up of this magnitude is with electronic artists. It was very cool to see a band doing something similar.

In closing, I will say that if you have not seen Tribe and they are coming to your city soon, GO SEE THEM! It is a hell of a party and you can't help but feel the good vibes and energy from the music.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Coheed and Cambria - The Afterman: Ascension (album)

One thing I have always liked about Coheed is their dedication to making an album that tells a story. This is something that bands just don't do a whole lot anymore. It is often difficult to listen to their songs without the rest of the album. I will admit I have not been a dedicated Coheed fan through the years. I could not tell you the story of the Armory Wars that the band's songs tell the story of, but I have always admired the band's dedication to a concept throughout their entire body of work and their ability to mix it up despite this dedication.

I had been meaning to check out this new album as I had been drawn to some of their stuff in the past, but kept forgetting to. I was in my A&R class one day a couple weeks ago and the subject of this album came up. A number of the students started commenting negatively on it, saying that it was the weakest album that they released to date and that they prefer the older stuff. The same stuff people like to say about new material that comes from many bands now days. I decided to check it out, for real this time. So, I added it to my offline Spotify playlist, and when I boarded the Megabus from Nashville to Knoxville this weekend, I started listening.

My personal opinion of this album is that it is awesome. There is the whole space theme and spoken word segments reminiscent of post-rock,and there is also the signature Coheed "epicness." Dynamically speaking, the album has all the highs and lows that it needs to take you on a journey, just as all of their other albums do. I'll admit, lead singer Claudio Sanchez's vocal style isn't the style I usually gravitate towards. That being said, it works perfectly with their hard hitting progressive rock style with metal tendencies. Basically, you need to check out this album, and I will go out on a limb and say that you also need to check out the second half of the release, "The Afterman: Descension", when it comes out in February 2013.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Train Songs

No, this is not a post about the band Train even though I can always get down on some "Drops of Jupiter" or "Meet Virginia". I have always loved the theme of trains in American songwriting and how they have always been a staple mainly in the country, folk, and blues genres. Earlier this summer, I was fortunate to land an internship with an engineering firm in Nashville, and we primarily work on the short line railroads around Tennessee and surrounding southern states. Needless to say, I have been spending a substantial amount of time out on the railroad walking the track and checking out all the cool, old bridges. During these times, I can't help but reminisce about what it would have been like to live in a different era when traveling by train was commonplace. All these artists who present trains in their songwriting paint this romanticized picture of skipping town on a light night, southbound train. Check out some of my favorites.


Justin Townes Earle - Ghost of Virginia

Mandolin Orange - Train Song

Chatham County Line - Louisiana Freight Train

Blackfoot - Train, Train

Ben Harper - Fool for a Lonesome Train

Jon Foreman - Southbound Train

Old Crow Medicine Show - New Virginia Creeper

Scott Avett - I Won't Give Up My Train (Merle Haggard Cover)

Seth Avett - Miss A Lot of Trains (Tom T. Hall Cover)

Punch Brothers - Brakeman's Blues (Jimmie Rodgers Cover)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Bad Books (Show) 10/18/2012

    First off, let me begin by discussing The Mercy Lounge. If you have never seen a show there I highly encourage you to check it out anytime you are in Nashville regardless who's playing. I have consistently seen the best shows there. Even though the sound is not always the greatest, the venue provides a certain level of intimacy you don't generally find anywhere else.

    Leading up to the show, I had really good vibes about it all week long, and my friends Cory Smith and Chris Bishop were in attendance with me. Bad Books is basically a "supergroup" formed from all the members of Manchester Orchestra + the extremely talented Kevin Devine. I consider both Andy Hull (Manchester) and Kevin Devine to be two of the premier songwriters and performers of my generation. What I didn't expect was to be impressed by the two opening bands Harrison Hudson and The Drowning Men. Both kicked off the night with strong performances, bragged on each other, and talked about how fun this tour has been for them.

    When Bad Books took the stage, they demanded the crowd's attention right from the get go. They opened with the incredibly catchy song "No Reward" off their new album II  which had Kevin on lead vocals with the three guitar attack and harmonies added in by the rest of the group. After quickly trading off vocals on the next song with Andy, the opening track off the new album "The After Party", it became apparent this would be the theme for the night. All night long it was either a wave of sound that knocked you on your ass or haunting melodies that sent chills down your spine.

    What intrigued me the most was how Bad Books was completely Manchester Orchestra but also something entirely different at the same time. This was largely due to the addition of Kevin Devine (who I think should just go ahead and join the band). The way he and the rest of Manchester combined to produce this new sound was just incredible. If you are familiar with how powerful Manchester's songs are, just imagine the same level of intensity with a catchier sound and more hooks. The way they interacted with each other on stage seemed like this was their actual full-time band instead of a side project. They tossed around a few jokes like when some dudes decided it would be cool to mosh, saying they looked like they were back in '91 rocking out at a Fugazi show. Sticking with the 90's jokes, both Andy and Kevin said they had written a new song called "Let Her Cry". Little did we know they were referring to Hootie & the Blowfish which got some sing alongs and a few chuckles out of the crowd after a couple verses. Then again, Kevin said he had been working on another new song which was incredibly lyrically smart and belted out the lines "Days go by, glycerine" by Bush.

    After rocking out for a solid hour, the rest of the band left Andy and Kevin on stage to put on an intimate set of about five songs including Manchester's "Where Have You Been". Throughout the last part of the set, it was deathly silent as the crowd just stared and listened in amazement to the two of them trade off their powerful lyrics. I couldn't believe the humbleness and love they had for doing their own thing. They could have easily toured as Manchester Orchestra, a more recognizable name, and sold out the larger Cannery Ballroom downstairs. I was blown away by their performance in every single way, and all my hype about the show was met and surpassed in some ways. It was the perfect way to spend my Thursday night.

Below are links to both Bad Books' albums. Give them a listen.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Let's get started

So, this is Kevin Casler (left) and Cory Smith (right). We both live in Nashville, TN currently. Kevin and myself have been tossing around the idea of starting a music blog for quite some time now. We are both music enthusiasts and see shows frequently. We listen to a ton of different stuff, hence the name, and my music taste varies somewhat greatly from Kevin's. We figured it would be fun for us and hopefully informative to other music lovers if we were to give a heads up regarding stuff that we have seen live or heard recorded that we are digging. We will start out with some recent stuff we have seen or heard and maybe go back a couple months and hit some other stuff that has already happened that we like. So, this is us, passing what we like along to you. We aren't going to talk shit about anybody who is putting out an effort to do what they love. However, you may hear so heated top 40 jabs from me occasionally. Finally, we also love local music, so if you have a band or know someone in one that is kicking ass, but hasn't really been spotlighted yet, send us some tracks and we would be happy to write something.