The Dirty Guv'nahs

Somewhere Beneath These Southern Skies

American roots rock band, The Dirty Guv’nahs, have just released their latest album, Somewhere Beneath These Southern Skies. Having attended the release party that took place in Knoxville, Tennessee in Market Square along with Moon Taxi and The Black Cadillacs, there is no doubt in my mind that this band is onto bigger and greater things. The Knoxville-based band has been voted Best Band in Knoxville every year since 2008 and has played Bonnaroo twice. 

This six-piece band formed through a mutual friend nicknamed “The Guv’nah.” They began performing in 2006 and releasing their first album in 2009. Their second album, Youth Is In Our Blood, released in 2010, brought about their hit songs, “We’ll Be The Light,” “Wide Awake” and “Baby We Were Young.” The album, with its similarities to southern rock band The Black Crowes, got them a slot opening for the Zac Brown Band and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. 

When listening to their music lead singer, James Trimble, is sure to leave a lasting impression in your ears with his soulful, almost bluesy, voice that differentiates the Guv’nahs from the average southern rock band. His stage presence always reads off light and joyfulness as he dances and catapults his body across the stage with the swing of his arms or the rock of his head.

In short, they are not just a band, but a true show. Among the other members are Justin Hoskins (bass guitar), Aaron Hoskins (drums), Chris Doody (piano, vocals), Cosmo Holloway (guitar, vocals) and Michael Jenkins (guitar). Don’t waste another minute, click the link below and listen to one of their songs! 

The Black Keys

"Little Black Submarine"

Let’s talk about The Black Key’s new song “Little Black Submarines,” from their latest album El Camino. The two-piece band, made up of Dan Auerbach (guitar, keys, vocals) and Patrick Carney (drums), formed in Akron, Ohio in 2001 after dropping out of college. Since then they have released seven albums and become a sensation among the American rock crowd. 

“Little Black Submarines” is one of my favorite songs from their album El Camino. It begins quite soulfully with just Auerbach’s voice and soft guitar accompaniment. He speaks of trying to reach to a loved one and being unable to do so. In my opinion, it’s quite reminiscent in style to a White Stripes song. 

After the song has been performed in an acoustic setting, the song picks up with electric guitar, drums, both members singing, and in the spirit of rock music the chorus is repeated with a growing intensity followed by guitar solos. The song reaches out to me as a listener mainly because of the dynamic quality it holds by starting off simple and raw and ending with a bang.

This is especially important when the band consists of only two people and only so much sound can be produced. This means that the art of growing in volume and intricacy is extremely important. If you enjoyed this song I would also suggest listening to other songs of theirs such as “Tighten Up,” “Your Touch” and “Too Afraid To Love You.” Their music videos and interviews are often funny and worth checking out as well! 

The Dirty Projectors

Lo Magellan

Let’s talk about the Dirty Projectors! They play at the Cannery Ball Room this Monday August 13th. This six-piece band is full of expression with their American rock band eclectic style that spreads across their entire span of instruments. In particular, I’d like to point out their singing style.

Although they do have lyrics, singers Amber Coffman (guitar) and Olga Bellthey (keys) apply lots of ahhs and ohhs to back lead singer David Longstreth, that takes ahold of their song immediately. Take for instance their song “Cannibal Resource.” While I do not attempt to fully understand what they are singing about the song is meant to be a little creepy, and they do a wonderful job of that.

The band is from Brooklyn, having released seven full-length albums, they are not new to their trade. Longstreth’s first album, The Graceful Fallen Mango was a project that began during his freshman year at Yale University and was released in 2002. Ten years later and he his latest album, Swing Lo Magellan, is meant to be a collection of songs instead of an album with an underlying theme.

One of my favorites from this album is called “Gun Has No Trigger.” It’s quite eerie and much more personal than some of their former songs. It’s definitely experimental rock with Longstreth singing a rock-like ballad, Olga and Amber singing ohs in the background throughout the entire song, with bass and drums pulling the song forward with every word spoken. It has somewhat of a spiritual sound to it. I would also suggest listening to their song “The Socialites” from their latest album. It’s much more upbeat and shows off Amber Coffman’s beautifully soul-ridden, but petite voice. So go see them this Monday!

Regina Spektor

"Apres Moi"

Who doesn’t love Regina Spektor? Being an avid fan of the musician myself, I’d like to talk about her song “Apres Moi,” that was used as the background of a figure skating duo at the Ice Age: Cup of Pros. The Russian duo gave an outstanding interpretation of the song as they chased each other across the rink, even splattering paint over themselves during their opening scene.

Regina is know for singing in French and Russian, as she does in “Apres Moi.” In fact, she is a native of Moscow who moved to the United States as refugee through the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. She learned piano at an early age, but had to leave the instrument behind when she left the Soviet Union in 1989. After moving to New York she began practicing piano in the basement of her synagogue.

Spektor states that she is, “very connected to the [Russian] language and culture,” having quoted from the poem February by Boris Pasternak in the song “Apres Moi.” The song’s title is actually in French however, meaning “after me.” This line is repeated in the song as so: “Apres moi le deluge. After me comes the flood. I must go on standing. You can’t break that which isn’t yours.”

As an avid listener of folk music, I believe that it is important to go back to your roots. Regina has done just that with her music and has made a lasting impression on many people because of it. This beautiful ice skating event is merely scratching the surface on that impact.


Dr. Dog

Takers & Leavers EP

Want to hear something new? Take a step back six years and listen to Dr. Dog’s Takers & Leavers EP. While this is by no means their latest album, it is a great way to get a cheap taste of the band Dr. Dog, being only $5.94 on iTunes. This six piece indie rock band from West Grove, Pennsylvania have dubbed themselves and their friends with nicknames that pertain to their personal lives. All of the names start with T, such as Taxi, Tables, Truck, Today, Trial, Thanks, Teach, Text and Turbo.

Their earlier albums give off a lo-fi sound that is not present in their latest albums, which have a much cleaner production sound. I find their music to be quite soulful both in voice and instruments such as church organ. They are quite reminiscent of the 1960s, mainly during their harmonies, such as in their song “California.”  

“Ain’t It Strange” also gives off that '60s vibe that I’m speaking of. The album has a theme of love and dreaming that especially gives an air of the '60s lifestyle. Actually, at the end of the EP’s last song “Livin’ a Dream” a poem written by Dr. Dog’s Scott McMicken which includes the lines:

“Well, I know there’s always been greed and green acres, and war and peace makers. And then there’s your takers and your leavers, your havers and your havers and your needers.”

Need I say this is where the album title comes from? Being a keyboardist and singer, I especially love the song “Die, Die, Die,” being mainly composed of a singer and organ with a soulful preaching-like tune that hits me as the saddest song on the album with lines like, “I don’t want to die in your arms I just want to die” and “you died in my arms when I died.” But if depressing songs are not your cup of tea, do not be dismayed! Listen to “I’ve Just Got To Tell You.” It will surely have you swooning and jumping for joy!


Oh No Fiasco

Knoxville based rock band

Check out the up and coming band Oh No Fiasco, formerly The Few, from Knoxville, TN. They recently played in the Vans Warped Tour and are finally playing through your computer speakers as you read this article! Look up their song “Cardiac Arrest,” oneof my favorite of their songs from their album titled Oh No Fiasco. They’ve been called the next Paramore with their punk rock attitude.

Lead singer, Lindsey Stamey’s voice is nothing short of breath taking. Having had experience fronting a local pop band, Vertigo, she knows how to give you a performance. She will bend over backwards for you as she belts her songs, literally. Having seen the band perform, I can assure you that their stage presence is polished and ready for any stage they choose to play at. Do not pass up listening to their song “I Have To Know.” It’s extremely dreamy, depicting a struggle to get someone to listen to you. This song gives me the chills every time.

The band is definitely punk rock and that isn’t for everyone. But this album does a good job of keeping a variety of people interested with their more punk-style songs like “Where You Used To Be” vs. pieces like, “The Constant.” If you decide you enjoy this music, I cannot express to you how much buying their CD will help them, being a band that hasn’t hit it big...yet. So share something new with your friends and be the first to say I knew about Oh No Fiasco way back when!


Northen Hills

Need something new to listen to in the car? Turn off your radio and play the album Northern Hills from the L.A. based folk rock band Dawes. This being the first of two albums, the four piece band pulls from influences such as Crosby, Stills, and Nash and Neil Young via their connection to the Laurel Canyon sound in California, a neighborhood where they recorded this album to an analog tape, giving it a vintage sound. Their music is centered around the theme of love and the value of life and the time we have with it, with catchy choruses atop a simple mix of guitar, bass, drums and keyboard. 

Much of their vocals are focused on harmonies during their choruses, that give them a flare of folk. This is especially true in the song, “Give Me Time.” However their verses are often much more like rock ballads with their lead singer Taylor Goldsmith’s very broad and elongated rock-like vocals. This combination of two sounds are what make Dawes so entertaining to listen to. You probably know them from their song “When My Time Comes.” They even played that song and “How Far We’ve Come” on December 1, 2011 alongside Jackson Browne at Liberty Park during Occupy Wall Street. If you’ve never heard of them, here is the playlist of five songs I suggest listening to and where/ how I would listen to them:

1) That Western Skyline

2) When My Time Comes

3) Love Is All I Am

4) Give Me Time

5) Take Me Out Of The City

They’re playing at the Cannery Ballroom in Nashville on August 16!

Arcade Fire


You must be living under a rock if you’ve never heard of Arcade Fire. Don’t worry if you haven’t! Just keep reading this article and everything will be ok. Arcade Fire is an indie rock band from Montreal, Quebec. I first heard of them when I turned eleven, receiving their album as a birthday gift, and consequentially ranking in the top best birthday gifts ever.

The seven-piece band currently uses a multitude of instruments such as guitar, drums, bass guitar, piano, violin, viola, cello, double bass, xylophone, glockenspiel, keyboard, French horn, accordion, harp, mandolin and the hurdy-gury. With most of these instruments being taken on tour, the multi-instrumentalists will switch off playing these instruments throughout their shows. Their vocals, lead by Win Butler, are usually accompanied by his wife Règine Chassange, and others, who scream out lyrics like a band would with their best friends nearby.

Their first album, Funeral, speaks about family, friends and neighborhoods. In fact, they have four songs titled “Neighborhood #1” through “Neighborhood #4,” all being equally interesting and different. However, their music is not always happy in lyrics as they are in sound, with much of their words speaking towards the lessons we have to learn in life and the experiences of running away and looking back on death. Still, you will find Arcade Fire fans smiling and singing the songs as though they were singing “Happy Birthday” to their child. There is something about the way this band can place a heavy reminder on a person and then instantly lift their spirits with their instruments.

Since they are from Quebec, their songs also incorporate French in songs like “Une Annee Sans Lumiere.” If you’re looking for a fun and pumped sound listen to “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out).” This song is extremely fun to sing and dance to! Other than that, I suggest listening to “Wake Up” and “Rebellion (Lies).” You can also listen to their other two albums Neon Bible and The Suburbs (Radio Rip), both of which only grow on their first albums excitement!


Formerly 'The Format'

Are you tired of hearing “We Are Young” on every radio station in town? So am I. But don’t be discouraged! Let me introduce you to Fun.’s first album Aim And Ignite as well as their former band The Format, which are much better examples, in my opinion, of their musicianship than their latest album Some Nights. If you like their latest album you will love their early works!

Let’s start with their album Aim And Ignite. As you may or may not know, Fun.’s lead singer writes the songs for his band but cannot play a single instrument. This can prove cumbersome for the band, but ultimately they fall through with an amazing piece. With that in mind listen to this album with some appreciation. Songs like “Be Calm,” “The Gambler” and “Light a Roman Candle With Me” speak of love and how to handle difficulties in life while songs such as “Walking the Dog” talk about walking the dog because there isn’t anything else to do. 

Lead singer, Nate Ruess, encompasses the same vocal techniques in both Fun. and The Format, one band simply sold better than the other. However, the instruments used in the two bands are quite different, with The Format putting much more emphasis on guitar. His voice is very young in sound and has an impressive range, often slowing down and becoming very weepy during the more contemplative parts of his songs.

Being a relatively new listener to his former band The Format, I cannot give too much detail into those albums but can suggest songs that you should listen to. You will no doubt enjoy their music as much as you do Fun.’s. Do not hesitate to watch music videos of songs such as “Dog Problems,” “The Compromise” and “She Doesn’t Get It.”

Norah Jones

'Little Broken Hearts' album

Norah Jones is easily a house hold name with her signature jazz voice and piano skills that have blown everyone out of the water since her first album Come Away With Me in 2002 with hits like “Don’t Know Why” and “Feelin’ the Same Way”. But could you envision her singing soft rock? 

Now having released her latest album this past April, the singer-songwriter has taken to a very new genre of music along with an experimental way to write songs. In her album Little Broken Hearts, Jones collaborates with producer Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton to write this album from the ground up in the studio. 

The works include songs of loneliness, murder and above all, love. The album is nothing like the Norah Jones you’ve know in the past, this being a soft rock album that has a backbone of guitar and piano with a much more electronic feel behind it. However, Norah does not compromise her voice for this change in genre. She still holds strong her true voice, a voice that flows like honey off the album cover.

In fact, the album cover was inspired by a poster in Burton’s studio from the 1965 “sex-and-violence exploitation classic Mudhoney." It definitely gives off an edgy retro feel that is nothing like Jones’ past album covers. I personally have been listening to this album in my car since it came out in April and cannot get enough of it.

It’s a calming work, but at the same time displays a sense of rage and frustration that goes a long with love. Quite and inspiring piece made by two very talented musicians, you can surely sense their growing friendship within the depth and complexity of their music.