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