Tag Archives: Music

Review: The Tallest Man On Earth There’s No Leaving Now

12 Jun

After his stellar 2010 album, The Wild Hunt, Kristian Matsson, better known as The Tallest Man On Earth, cemented his spot as one of the best folk artists in the world, and it wasn’t a stretch to say he was the best. He followed that record with a similarly stellar EP, Sometimes the Blues Are Just A Passing Bird. Now, two years after those releases, Matsson looks to capture lightning in a bottle once again on There’s No Leaving Now.

The first thing longtime Tallest Man fans will notice is that this album has a different sound. Specifically, there’s more instrumentation than ever before. Of course, before there was just a guitar and a voice, with the occasional banjo mixed in. To say that there’s more instrumentation than ever doesn’t mean Matsson has developed a sound to rival Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, or Seryn, but there is more sonically going on here. I’m not one to discourage progression for a band, if an artist I love makes a change that works, I’m all for it. Slow Club’s sound changed considerably from their first album to their second, and the second is superior. I liked the first two tracks on There’s No Leaving Now, but something felt off.

The beginning of the album sees the addition of jangly keys, electric guitars, and woodwinds. The most noticeable difference is that there is a less earthy feel, and a more plugged in vibe than on Wild Hunt or Shallow Grave. Not too grand a departure from the normal Tallest Man sound, and it all worked instrumentally, but the songs as a whole felt detached. Specifically, Matsson’s vocals feel distant. This is unusual for a Tallest Man song, where vocals are often the driving force. At first, I was taken aback by this change. It felt too separated. The music has always been extremely emotive and though he hides truth with abstract lyricism, he’s never hid the emotion. The vocal mix made it seem as though a detachment was being made on purpose. A wall being put up. Then, moments later, on “Leading Me Now,” whatever wall or barrier I imagined was completely destroyed. The third track is extremely reminiscent of Tallest Man’s previous recordings, driven by catchy finger picking and vocals with an added bass drum that works to great effect. From there, the record explodes in a string of brilliant song after brilliant song. “Bright Laterns” sees the addition of pedal steel, which works beautifully with Matsson’s vocals and guitar work. “There’s No Leaving Now” is a heartbreaking piano ballad, think “Kids On The Run,” that is a perfect center piece for the album. I could go on and on about each individual song, and I would, but there’s more to talk about. Continue reading

Feature: Best Music on TV

7 Jun

Music is often an underrated component of great television. Acting, direction, and writing are all mentioned as the foundations of brilliant television and no doubt they are, but a TV show that uses great music will forever hold a special place in my heart. I’ve come across many shows that use great music over the years, and ironically, only one of these shows will still be on the air come fall 2012. Nonetheless, here are my top 5:

Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights might be the most underrated show in history. Many put it off, believing it was just a show about football, and a cheap way to make a buck by spinning off from the movie of the same name. Those people could not have been more wrong. No television show of the last decade was as seamless as FNL. Moments rarely felt forced, acting and writing combined so fluidly that it was easy to forget it was all fiction. Incredibly powerful, moving, and real, this drama would have been one of the best shows I’ve ever seen had there not been a lick of music. Luckily for me, the show heads had some great taste.

MFH favorites used:Tony Lucca, Iron and Wine, The National, The Heartless Bastards, A.A. Bondy, Jakob Dylan, TV On the Radio, The Black Keys, Explosions in the Sky, Whiskeytown, Drive-By Truckers, Jose Gonzalez, Spoon, Ryan Adams, Rogue Wave, Shakey Graves, Wilco, Beck, Vampire Weekend, The Avett Brothers

Introduced me to: Whiskeytown, Drive-By Truckers, Explosions in the Sky

Favorite musical moment: Continue reading

Get Familiar: You Won’t

6 Jun

You Won’t is a indie-folk outfit from Massachusetts. Though I call them “indie-folk,” the truth is that their sound is genre defying. Their debut album, Skeptic Goodbye, is an eclectic mix of 12 songs that pull from the worlds of folk, indie-rock, garage rock, soul, and blues. When a group tackles a variety of styles, usually some work well and others fall flat. You Won’t is a venerable music chameleon. No matter what genre they find themselves in, it seems to fit. This is due in part to the unique tone of lead singer Josh Arnoudse, but also because the band doesn’t try to do too much. Although they are soundshifters, they don’t let themselves get bogged down with too much instrumentation. This allows them to produce songs of various genres while retaining a sound that is unique to them.

Labels or no labels, Skeptic Goodbye is one of my favorite records of 2012, and one you should get familiar with.

Recommended Songs:
“Three Car Garage,” “Fat and Happy,” “Who Knew,” “Dance Moves,” “Television”

For more on You Won’t, check out the songs and video below. Also, be sure to visit their website, Facebook, and follow them on Twitter!

You Won’t performs “Three Car Garage” for Big Ugly Yellow Couch

Review: Good Old War Come Back As Rain

10 Mar

Philly folksters Good Old War offer a unique blend of upbeat melodies and instrumentation with heartfelt, and often somber, lyrics. Its third album, Come Back As Rain, is its most complete to date, a great listen for long-time and new-found fans.

The best description of Good Old War is listenable. Its music is pleasant to listen to, in just about every situation. The album is packed with up-tempo instrumentation and lush harmonies, coupled with often somber lyrics, an interesting combination that provides an enjoyable listening experience. The first half slows it down on occasion with “Amazing Eyes,” a cleverly worded love song of sorts, and “Not Quite Happiness,” but the tempo change is very slight, and not enough to cause a distinct contrast. The second half keeps the pace up for the most part, taking a slight step back on “Loud Love,” an album standout that features exquisite call and return harmonies and a nice moment where most of the instrumentation is dropped to focus on the vocals. The sound is classic Good Old War, but I would have liked to see a little more variety. I love the up-tempo style, but if it was slowed down just a few times over the course of the album, it would heighten the effect of all the songs. You can only do one thing so many times before its poignancy starts to wane. Continue reading


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