After seeing a live show by Time for Three recently I’ve been wandering through YouTube checking out other non-traditional acts featuring violin. The track below, from The Trouble Notes, is amazing. Things get crazy around the 5 minute mark, but don’t skip ahead; it’s worth the ride. Play this for the in-laws at Thanksgiving.
If you’ve been a reader here on TWF over the years you know that I have long been a proponent of Zach Williams. His current band is The Lone Bellow and their sophomore album is widely available starting next week. If you’d like to take a listen before you buy NPR’s First Listen is streaming the album now.
I highly recommend seeing them in a live setting as their energy and harmonies are infectious. I’ve never again witnessed someone signing so passionately as I did when The Lone Bellow played a small concert venue here in Indianapolis. For a hint at what you can expect take a second and watch their Tiny Desk Concert.
Enjoy the music.
Zach Williams is the front man for current up and coming sensation The Lone Bellow. I personally began following his career around seven years ago. From the very beginning I have been impressed. He approach to music has always been filled with an honesty that comes blasting through his vocals. Other than Sufjan Stevens and The Weakerthans there is no other artist I have written about more frequently on The World Forgot. Seriously, I’ve written a lot about his career (one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, exclusive ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen) starting in 2006 when I found him on MySpace and continuing through a few months ago when I helped financially support his latest album via Kickstarter.
My interest began by trolling through MySpace (something all bloggers did in 2006). I found his music, ripped a few tracks, and put them up on my blog. I used them copiously in mixes. As the years rolled on Zach and I eventually exchanged emails and I encouraged him to continue making music. From that first song I believed he had a unique voice. An honest voice. Eventually Zach moved to New York and our communications eventually drifted apart. Through it all I followed his music and continued to push his albums on my siblings and friends as Christmas and birthday presents. I even convinced some friends in New York to go to his shows. The one comment I remember those friends telling me is that they met Zach after the show and he was “incredibly nice.”
I often thought of driving to New York to see a show, but financially it really wasn’t an option. And then a few months ago Zach’s latest band, The Lone Bellow, announced that they going on a small tour and would be playing in my current home town. The only catch; they were going to play on a day when I was going to be out of town. My wife and I called the airline and the resort to see if we could get an earlier flight. The cost to change reservations was over $300 – once again I was financially unable to attend a Zach Williams show. I was bummed, but it didn’t last long. The Lone Bellow backed out of their original performances and rescheduled for later in the year (this time as a headliner – not the opening act).
I carefully cleared my schedule. I couldn’t find anyone who was free to attend the show. I went alone.
I was standing at the back of the venue during the opening group because I usually see someone I know when I’m at this venue. And then Zach walked in on a video call, stood right in front of me for a few minutes, and then walked past me again on his way out the front door. I stopped him at that point (sorry for interrupting your call) and he gave me a head nod that clearly communicated “I don’t know you, but people often call out my name, so hi.” I wasn’t even sure if he would remember me and I hadn’t even attempted to let him know I would be at the show, but when I introduced myself he lit up immediately. We got to meet face to face after seven years of internet encouragement. During the show he even told the brief story of a kid named Billy who had a music blog who believed in him all those years ago when he was playing 2am shows in Chinatown.
From all of this you could probably surmise that I’m slightly biased. However, my wife pointed out that they must be doing something right if they’ve been in People magazine twice now (Zach humbly and instantly gave all the credit to their “really good publicist”). All personal connections aside, The Lone Bellow put on a gem of a concert. They played and joked for around 90 minutes. They hit all of the songs from their debut album, covered the John Prine & Bonnie Ratt song Angel From Montgomery (which you can watch here on vimeo), as well as Paul Simon’s Slip Slidin’ Away, and interacted with the audience in a way that made everyone feel like they were a part of some special shared moment.
At the end of the regular set Zach mentioned they were approaching the end of the road which prompted a front row patron to spontaneously launch into the chorus of Boyz II Men’s staple End Of The Road. The band took it in stride and sang two full verses acapella. Then for the start of their three song encore, just to prove they had some legitimate 90’s R&B credibility, they sang a wonderful rendition of Mariah Carey’s Always Be My Baby. The crowd loved it and you could see the band was truly enjoying themselves in Indianapolis.
During our brief conversation I asked Zach if he felt they had finally made it. He was straightforward in his response saying they’ve all quit their other jobs and this band is paying their bills. I still believe in the honesty of Zach’s voice. There is an undeniable intensity to his performance and I can’t encourage you enough to go see them when they play your town. Their debut album is a solid effort, but it is elevated to to a true experience when it’s played in a live setting. You’re invited to sing along and become a part of a unique moment in time that will leave a smile lingering for days after it’s done.
Zach – it was great to finally meet you in person. I’m eagerly looking forward to your long and successful music career. Come back and play in Indianapolis some day.
If you have followed this blog over the past five years you have probably realized that I greatly enjoy the music created by Zach Williams. You can see a collection of my posts about him here. I remember that I randomly stumbled upon his music on myspace (yeah, remember that place?). There was something captivating and honest about his voice. Something earnest, honest, and at the risk of sounding cliche, something pure.
He’s gone through a lot in recent years. He’s moved to New York. He left his old band, found a new one. And he successfully ran a kickstarter campaign to raise money for recording a new album. The song below is ripped from a video update he provided for financial backers over on kickstarter. Enjoy. We all look forward to the album.
A long time ago in our galaxy I used to create monthly lists that I referred to as Best of the Month (BOTM). Along the way life became more filled and music gathering, curating, and dissemination became more and more pushed to the periphary. Today as I was cleaning up a personal hard drive I stumbled upon these tracks that at some point I thought worthy of being shared. So I’ll just dump them here (mostly so I can empty that folder from the drive).
Enjoy the music.
mp3 : Cee Lo – Radioactive (Kings of Leon Cover)
mp3 : Childish Gambino – Break (AOTL)
mp3 : Crooked Fingers – Under Pressure (Queen Cover)
mp3 : Deer Tick – Dirty Dishes (Live on MOKB Radio)
mp3 : Elbow – Running to Stand Still (U2 Cover)
mp3 : Ingrid Michaelson – Can’t Help Falling in Love (Elvis Presley Cover)
mp3 : KiD CuDi (feat Vampire Weekend) – Cudderisback
mp3 : Mochi Beats – Gifted Stop
mp3 : Serena Ryder & The Beauties – The Funeral (Band of Horses Cover)
mp3 : Willy Wonka – Pure Imagination
Yes I understand that “Willy Wonka” above is actually voiced by Gene Wilder, but keeping it as Wonka adds more whimsy to the piece. And we could all use a little bit of whimsy. Also the Childish Gambino lyrics are absolutely not safe for work, or really any sort of public consumption, but this is one of the shining examples of his trademark flow. Same goes for the KiD CuDi track (amazing flow, don’t let your mom hear it). The Mochi Beats track is a mashup combining too many influences/sources to name (including Glee).
A few days ago I wrote a post about a track called Boeing 737 by The Low Anthem. In the lyrics of that song The Low Anthem intertwines the tragedy of the World Trade Center terrorist attack with hanging out in a bar with Philippe Petit (the man who strung a high wire between the twin towers). In that track there is a certain beauty found in what is ultimately a melancholy and utterly tragic experience. It takes a unique talent to capture the bittersweet emotions of certain events and forge from that fire something beautiful and worthy.
The Low Anthem succeeded with their song Boeing 737. Sufjan Stevens somehow paralleled his own short comings with those of John Wayne Gacy, Jr., in a heartbreaking song. The Weakerthans have a brilliant song called Night Windows which details the loss of a friend to the war in Afghanistan. And although this list could probably continue, I am often reminded of the following track by The Long Winters.
In The Commander Thinks Aloud, John Roderick, lead singer of The Long Winters, tells the story of astronauts on their way home from a mission. He details their euphoria, the return of gravity as they descend, and the amazing and breathtaking view they are afforded from their seats. And yet, just as they begin to descend, as he sings the line “Can you feel it we’re almost home? / Yay! Yay!” it all starts to fall apart. The song ends as the space shuttle Columbia begins to disintegrate and fall apart. Yet from this great tragedy; not only for the astronauts we lost (and their loved ones), but for the entire space program as well, The Long Winters have found a beautiful way to tell their story and commemorate this event.
It’s tracks like this that keep me blogging. Originally recorded for their 2005 EP Ulitmatum (amazon) (itunes), the original version of this song is filled with guitar distortion and feeback. The version I have posted today was recorded live in the WOXY Lounge (which no longer exists as both WOXY and their website went out of business and were closed permanently in 2010) and I believe it is the definitive version of the song. I am fortunate enough to have snagged this version a long time ago and I wanted to make sure it was passed around the internet a few more times. Enjoy the music, no matter how tragic it can be.
I could probably subtitle this post “It was songs like this that ultimately led me to starting a music blog.” The year was 2006 and Amazon didn’t have an mp3 store, iTunes was still wobbling around, and the idea that virtually every song, ever recorded, would be available for instant streaming on a mobile phone was unheard of. 2006 is when The World Forgot officially began and it was because of songs like My City of Ruin. I would occasionally stumble upon standout tracks (or in this case versions of tracks) that were so moving that I simply had to share them. I was compelled.
For awhile I made do with mix albums, painstakingly burned to CD, and mailed to friends and family. Eventually that evolved into electronic distribution (via email and now ancient sites like yousendit or zshare). Finally I settled upon the name The World Forgot, started a blog through Blogspot (back before the name change to Blogger), and the rest constitutes five years of finding songs, feeling compelled, and sharing them online.
On April 16th, 2006, I posted this live recording of My City of Ruin and to this day it is still the definitive version of the song for me. At that time this version was rare, almost impossible to find. Now, of course, you can simply order the entire album America: A Tribute to Heroes via Amazon (although curiously it still is not available in any downloadable format). Here I choose to present it again. This is the best version, ever recorded, of My City of Ruin and this song remains one of the reasons I have a music blog.
(below is the original text from the April 2006 post)
One of the greatest songs Bruce Springsteen ever wrote has been relegated to a simple prayer for 9/11. What’s really unique is that this song, My City of Ruins, was written before the events of 9/11. In fact Springsteen wrote the song looking back on his beloved city of Asbury Park, NJ. It’s the story of a once great place slowly slipping into decay as the people, and the money they had, migrates to other parts of the world. He speaks of empty churches, evoking images of rust and ruin, images of things long since past. It’s quite a change of pace from his more well known tracks such as Glory Days or Born in the USA.
Regardless of how it’s viewed now, how we’ve misinterpreted this song or labeled it as something it is not, it is ultimately a haunting tale. When The Boss sings mournfully “tell me how do I begin again?” you are forced to wonder if anything this far gone could find a new beginning. You want to have the answer to that question, to be able to give him a solution to all these troubles, but in the end you know that all you can do is clasp your hands and pray with him.
As originally recorded for the album “The Rising” this song takes on almost a sick sense of slick production and radio friendly vibe. The version below is the best one available of this song. Coming from the album “America: A Tribute to Heroes” this version is stripped down, filled out with harmonica and a gospel choir, and contains more emotion in the first fifteen seconds than all other versions of this song combined.
A few years ago I had the fortunate experience of seeing the Flaming Lips close out a festival. This, of course, was when festivals were awesome and you could spend two days watching amazing bands play back to back and not be completely broke at the end of the weekend. One thing that I will always remember is how crazy the Flaming Lips really are. It’s not an act or a gimmick the way they put on their live show. When you see them in concert you are seeing them raw and unfettered as they really are. And they are weird.
Yoshimi has long been my favorite track by the Lips and I am shocked that there isn’t a single decent cover of the song to be found. I thought for sure someone would have spun this song in a new direction, but if it’s out there I couldn’t find it. Although I’m sure a reader will post a link within 24 hours.
Mumford & Sons took the world by storm last year with their debut album Sigh No More. Since the album launched in February the boys have been busy traveling the world, playing various shows, opening for Bob Dylan, dropping a brilliant performance on La Blogotheque, and generally being involved in all manner of music making mischief. Seems as if throughout this process they’ve also begun penning and performing music for their second album, as of yet untitled, which is set to be made available in the later parts of this year.
It’s obvious on these two tracks that the band hasn’t strayed far from their modern folk sound (which is undoubtedly a good thing). Hopefully the remainder of the album will be as solid.
First and foremost let me say that I really enjoy Jimmy Fallon. He was brilliant as the one member of the cast who always broke on SNL. His rapport with Tina Fey on Weekend Update was the highlight of that segment’s long and storied history. And although he was the surprise pick to replace Coco on Late Night he has been superb in that time slot.
For those that are not familiar (or for those that live across ponds) Jimmy has taken the late night talk show and turned it into a sort of geeked out variety show where he occaisionally pays homage to the Hubble telescope, parodies/lampoons his favorite television series, and performs skits or songs with guests. In a recent episode Jimmy decided to don a Neil Young outfit (and quite a convincing vocal impersonation) and join up with Bruce Springsteen to cover the latest break out annoyance that is Willow Smith.
First of all, and I sincerely apologize for doing this, but here is a link to watch the original music video. It is quite honestly cringe inducing bad. As a sidebar, why on earth would Will Smith think it was appropriate to name his daughter Willow? Jaden got the upper hand in that sibling rivalry from day one.
This cover features Jimmy Fallon impersonating Neil Young as well as playing both harmonica and acoustic guitar. About half way through the song Bruce Springsteen joins him onstage with an electric guitar and a killer fake beard, mustache, and sunglasses. You can check the original video for this performance here.