Here are four (actually five) hot videos that we've had on repeat this week. Fresh new roots music to get your intertubes a-buzzin'.
The Lost Brothers - Spanish Reprise
I've been loving the music of Irish duo The Lost Brothers for some time now. They write songs that just stay on the tongue; music that's eminently memorable. They're informed by all kinds of roots music, but don't wear their influences on their sleeves. They seemed to be more focused just crafting great, catchy songs to connect with people. Their latest album, New Songs of Dawn and Dust, came out in 2014 and has a kind of old West vibe to it, mixed with a bit of Liverpudlian working class coal dust, the kind of grit that caught in the back of the throats of the early Beatles. The video for the opening track, "Spanish Fandango," is a wondrous little thing. Made with stop motion animation, little papercuts of old-timey people waltz and saunter across natural macroscapes of forests, ponds and fields. It's transfixing, and fits with the song itself, which interestingly has no vocals. It's more of a hummed aside fixed over a very old school Spanish fandango guitar sound. If people were making indie roots music in the late 1800s, this is what it would have looked like.
Alice Gerrard with M.C. Taylor - Strange Land
At Pickathon this year, I got to watch an on stage interview with North Carolina indie roots artist M.C. Taylor (who goes by his stage name Hiss Golden Messenger) and I can attest that he knows the folk music of his North Carolina hills very well. He's not a native, but still has a lot of respect and connections in the back country. He's proved this now with his new album from Durham artist Alice Gerrard. Herself a long-time transplant to North Carolina, Alice has had a storied career in the center of the old-time music revival in the US. A founder of the Old-Time Hearld, and one-time partner of Mike Seeger, Gerrard is best known for her trailblazing work with Appalachian singer Hazel Dickens. Together, the two of them shattered gender conceptions in the heart of the music and influenced 2-3 generations of old-time and roots musicians. M.C. Taylor just produced the new album, Follow the Music, from Alice Gerrard, and he's playing here with her in a beautiful outdoors video that showcases Alice's eerie and haunting original song "Strange Land." We worked with Alice on her last album and she's a powerful songwriter and font of knowledge about the traditional pathways of American roots music. Now with M.C. Taylor beside her, she's reaching a lot of new folks with this old music.
BONUS: Taylor's band, Hiss Golden Messenger, released an amazing album this year: Lateness of Dancers. It's more of his dark old-time music, and I'm hugely in love with the song "Southern Grammer." Check it out here in the lush woodscape of the Pickathon Festival, outside Portland.
This one kind of blindsided me since I'm kind of a jerk about indie rock these days. I tend to ignore most of the major bands (Vampire Weekday or Arctic Flame or something like that) in favor of slow, creepy, folkie stuff. But Field Report have restored my faith in indie rock. They've got plenty of roots touches, from the gorgeous fingerpicked guitar, to the campfire lyrics, and the rushing harmonies, but they've got plenty of buzzed-out crunch and spaced-up lyrics. Anyways, this is just beautiful music, so maybe I'll take a break on all the labeling for a moment. And the video is great! Full-on animation featuring a spaceman harvesting alien mouth rocks, but the lyrics and the song and the vibe just have such a great sadness to them that it pushes the animation to a new place. Been watching this on repeat and I love everything about it. Also, it reminds me of alt-hip-hop heads Shabazz Palaces' amazing new video as well which features suburban moms drug tripping in space kind of like a really messed up version of Gravity.
Check that one out here: Shabazz Palaces - Motion Sickness
J. Tex and the Volunteers - This Old Banjo
Hardcore roots-head J. Tex was born in Detroit, but grew up in Denmark and still makes his home there. As a young man, he roved the highways of the American South, getting in touch with his own roots. He still channels that dusty backroads vibe in his music, though he tours with a Scandinavian trio: J. Tex & The Volunteers. His music is a pastiche of noir Americana, referencing the darker sides of honky-tonk, country blues, and old-time music, all with a hopped-up electric guitar buzz and twangy banjo. That banjo's the focus of his new song, This Old Banjo, a teaser off his upcoming album, Old Ways vs New Days, coming January 30, 2015. Against a white backdrop, J. Tex's rough yet soft grumble of a voice sings about his old banjo and time gone by. It's quite affecting as a video and a lovely song. Here's to his new album, which we bet will be great!