The Milk Carton Kids

Last week’s post included a video from the movie “Another Day, Another Time”. Also performing in that movie was a group that somehow I’d overlooked all this time, the indie-folk duo The Milk Carton Kids.

Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan formed the group in 2011 and have released four albums, the third of which “The Ash & Clay” was nominated for a Grammy.  Here they are rehearsing for the movie, playing their song “Snake Eyes” from that Grammy-nominated album. Chris Thile, Marcus Mumford (who wrote a song of the same name) and T Bone Burnett look on appreciatively.  Ethan Coen tears up at the end.  They’ve been compared to Simon and Garfunkel by some, and they have some deadpan fun with that.

For you Pink Floyd fans, here is a cover of a classic – Kids-style.

You may have picked up that Pattengale is a crazy good guitar picker, and this track from their Austin City Limits concert puts any doubt to rest.

If you’d like to see and hear a bit more, check out their NPR Tiny Desk Concert performance; a perfect setting for The Kids.

Grab Bag: Mark Whitaker, Draco Rosa, and Veruca Salt is Back!

One of our favorite excavators of new music, Jess at pH balanced and mvyradio, featured Boston-based artist Mark Whitaker on a recent blog post – a great voice, an interesting banjo style, and very nice song writing.  Here is “Nowhere to Land”.

Another one of our favorite sources, Read and Hear, recently featured a song by Maggie’s Dream. The band was fronted by Draco Rosa, along with the likes of Ricky Martin part of the boy band Menudo, and recorded only one album of rock, funk, soul in 1990. Despite recent illness, Rosa has continued to record, creating his own modern latin sound. See what you think of “Change for the Better” by Maggie’s Dream, and Rosa’s “Mas Y Mas” from his 2013 album “Vida”.

And not to shift your sonic gears too hard, but Veruca Salt is back! The original line-up, with vocals by Nina Gordon and Louise Post, put out a two-song EP in April for Record Store Day. Nina’s and Louise’s voices are as sweet as they were two decades ago on “The Museum of Broken Relationships”.

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Rock & Roll Salvation: Jack White, The Black Keys and The Strypes

This summer we can look forward to new albums by two of today’s giants of rock & roll, and we can expect to here a lot about a young Irish band.

Jack White is scheduled to release his second solo album “Lazaretto” in June, and a couple of weeks ago he put out the video for the instrumental “High Ball Stepper”, the album’s first single.  The Huffington Post claims that you will be watching a physics demonstration of non-Newtonian fluids and the operation of a Chladini plate as you listen to Jack’s blistering soundscape.   Physicists out there, feel free to comment.

The Black Keys have announced that “Turn Blue” will be out in May.  The title track and “Fever” have been released in advance and seem to be preparing us for a bit of a different album than 2013 Rock Album of the Year “El Camino”.  Danger Mouse helped produce the new album, just as he did “El Camino”, and the track below carries his influence.

While Jack White and the Black Keys are digging into all the corners of rock & roll, The Strypes tunnel right down the middle.  The young Irishmen have been on all the late night TV shows following last summer’s major label debut “Snapshot”.   The tracks “Blue Collar Jane” and “What a Shame” leave no doubt where this band’s heart is at.  They are fun to watch, and that drummer – wow.

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Sean Lennon, Charlotte Kemp Muhl and The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger

Sean Lennon, youngest son of John, together with Sean’s collaborator and long-time girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl, are about to release their third full-length album “Midnight Sun” later this month.  Their work together is put out as The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (GOASTT), and the first track released from the new album is “Moth to the Flame”.  The video has a strange and elaborate story line, and it might be best to close your eyes to really hear the music which is equally as elaborate (the song kicks in about 2:00 into the video).

Kemp Muhl began a modeling career as a teenager, and she is possessed of a beautiful singing voice that meshes perfectly with Sean’s and of the ability to make simple, tasteful contributions on a wide range of instruments. These live studio performances of “Jardin de Luxumbourg” and “Lavender Road” show off the pair’s vocals, subtle backing instrumentation, and cerebral lyrics. Try taking your eyes off Kemp Muhl – Sean can’t.

Both Lennon and Kemp Muhl have other projects. One of Lennon’s is Mystical Weapons, where he teamed up with drummer Greg Saunier of Deerhoof for an album of psychedelic instrumental tunes in 2013. The video for “Colony Collapse Disorder” has all the right visuals – especially to accompany the retro guitar riffs that come in at about 2:00. Kemp Muhl and childhood friend Eden Rice combined their ethereal vocals on the album “Black Hole Lace” in 2012.

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Mellow Tracks from Stephen Malkmus, Kings of Convenience and Paul Simon

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks recently released their sixth album, “Wig Out at Jagbags” to critical acclaim. Malkmus is an indie music fixture from California, heading up the band Pavement in the 1990s and The Jicks ever since.  The new album features a broad range of sounds, including the very mellow track “J Smoov”.

The Norwegian duo, Kings of Convenience, have been releasing albums together for over a decade – though they’ve been lying low since touring in the summer of 2013. Their acoustic sound has a heavy dose of bossa nova guitar. Here is “Misread” from their second studio album “Riot on and Empty Street”. If you like this song, you won’t be disappointed with their other material. Try “Peacetime Resistance” from their third album “Declaration of Dependence”.

Rounding out this week’s mellow set is an old, lesser-known tune from a lesser-known album by Paul Simon, “Train in the Distance” from the 1983’s “Hearts and Bones”. The album came out in between “Still Crazy After All These Years” and “Graceland”, both of which won Grammy awards for Album of the Year. Thanks to Jess at pH Balanced (see our list of favorite blogs) for continuing to unearth these gems.

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