Category Archives: Music

Monday Morning Tunes: Trampled by Turtles

Trampled by Turtles
wfuv/Flickr

I think we can all agree that if we happened to be a victim of robbery in which the items we used to express the most vulnerable and real parts of ourselves (and make a living) were stolen, the appropriate actions would be to file a police report and then wallow forever. But Dave Simonett did not wallow forever after his car was ransacked and most of his music gear was stolen while playing a show with his band at the time. Instead, armed with a single acoustic guitar, he pieced together a new band lodged solidly within genres that didn’t require amplification — folk and bluegrass.

Legend has it that this is how Trampled by Turtles was born, out of the ashes of thievery and loss and into the vortex of a new genre it would take years to win the fans of. Luckily, everything worked out and I am able to write about them now.

What is particularly cool about Trampled by Turtles is the fact that none of the five musicians in the band had ever played bluegrass music before uniting with Simonett. Fiddle player Ryan Young had previously been playing drums in a speed metal band and bassist Tim Saxhaug had played in a jam band. A mandolin and banjo round out the sound and the product has been an evolving experiment until they finally found their sound with their fourth album, “Duluth,” named for the Minnesota town the band formed in.

I generally like to think that I know what I’ll like when it comes to music. I know what genres I tend to gravitate towards at least. While folk music has always been very high on my list of personal favorite music, the idea of bluegrass turned me off, and classic bluegrass still does. For some reason or another, my brain has always had a certain aversion to bluegrass. Color me surprised when I listened to Trampled by Turtles, immediately recognized the strong bluegrass sound, and decided I liked it. I pretty much started thinking about everything in life with the mindset that at 28 years old, I have absolutely no idea what I really like and dislike.

I adore the fact that Trampled by Turtles won me over and that their music made me reevaluate what I had thought were my tastes. I am now a more open-minded person when it comes to the artistry of music and not paying attention to what genre it happens to be housed in, but appreciating a sound simply for what it is.

Monday Morning Tunes: Chris Pureka

Chris Pureka
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I have been a huge fan of Chris Pureka for years. Many years. So many years, in fact, that I remember listening to her tracks on MySpace back when MySpace was the place to be and there was no Facebook. Yeah, I KNOW.

Chris Pureka is aching, desperate longing wrapped in a soothing rasp. It is music that makes you turn inward, into your own history of love, loss, and the depths that make each of us undeniably human, until you begin to ache right along to the sound of the strumming guitar.

I was an avid listener of Chris Pureka’s introspective stories since the first album, “Driving North,” was released and I immediately latched onto the song “Burning Bridges.” The recorded version is phenomenal, but there is a certain kind of magic in hearing it performed live.

I remember exactly where I was, physically as well as metaphorically in my life, when I first heard this song. I distinctly remember listening to it on repeat more times than I could ever possibly count and singing it louder than (thankfully) anyone else will ever have to hear. It has been 10 years since “Driving North” was released, but when I pulled this song up to listen to just last night, I remembered every single word, every minute inflection, every emotion it made me feel that first time I heard it.

I had very much the same chain reaction to the song “31 and Falling” from the 2006 album, “Dryland.”

Pureka has released five albums in total on the independent label Sad Rabbit Records. Despite my boundless love for the two songs I have discussed at (too much?) length here, each album is an excellent example of an artist’s ability to put words to the messes so many of us know too well, mostly about love and things that can hurt.

Chris Pureka has shared the stage with other like-minded talent like Dar Williams, Ani Difranco, Melissa Ferrick, Alix Olson, Peter Mulvey, and Martin Sexton. Her music has been compared to artists including Bruce Springsteen, Gillian Welch, and Patty Griffin.

Monday Morning Tunes: Katie Herzig

Katie Herzig
butohmedusa/Flickr

Me and a very good friend of mine have always loved sharing music with one another. It’s our thing, along with having what some might call inappropriate conversations that could easily be labeled as “TMI.” Obviously, we have the best conversations. We also both have incredibly varied taste in music, and in all of the years we have known each other (something like 13 years now, wow how time flies), some of our favorite music has come at the recommendation of the other.

When I first heard Katie Herzig, I messaged her with the demand that she listen immediately, but I had so many favorite songs that I couldn’t choose. Asking someone to listen to just a few songs instead of an entire album is a disservice, especially when it comes to Katie Herzig. She is better than the snippets of her work that I could send in a quick Facebook message. Her catalog of work is so much better when it is given the time and attention it rightly deserves. You will appreciate everything she puts into her sweet, twangy sound and the construction of a catchy melody held up by the integrity of a whole lot of heart.

Katie Herzig has been part of the music industry since the late 90s, all the while being an independent artist not signed to any major label. This is something that I have an immense amount of respect for, given the fact that my fiance is an independent professional musician. I know first-hand that this road is not always an easy one, but the freedom it allows you means that the music you put out is 100% authentically your own, and you afford yourself the luxury of always remaining true to yourself.

Quite a few of Katie Herzig’s songs have been featured in television shows (most notably “Grey’s Anatomy,” six different songs in six different episodes, as well as “Smallville,” “One Tree Hill,” “Pretty Little Liars,” and “Cougar Town,” among others), commercials, movies, as well as the movie trailer for Disney’s “Saving Mr. Banks.”

Katie Herzig appeared in the 2008 independent documentary, “A Nashville State of Mind,” and was featured in the campaign “30 Songs/30 Days” supporting Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.

Katie Herzig is a female singer-songwriter that will carve out of a place in your heart and cuddle up inside of it. She has shared the stage with the likes of Brandi Carlile and Missy Higgins, both of which she can easily hold her own next to. She is simply a mesmerizing, heartfelt treat.

Monday Morning Tunes: The Civil Wars

The Civil Wars
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It shouldn’t have taken me until now to write about The Civil Wars, or at least mention them. Since it has taken me until now to dedicate a Monday Morning Tunes post to them, I have to tell you that this incredible, four-time Grammy Award-winning duo has officially parted ways.

Having been on an “indefinite hiatus” since late 2012, Joy Williams and John Paul White released a statement in early August announcing that their musical partnership had come to an end. The only work the Civil Wars have put out during the time of their hiatus has been the “Bare Bones EP” that featured alternate versions of the songs “Oh Henry” and “Eavesdrop” and acoustic versions of four other, previously-released songs.

So why was I compelled to write about the Civil Wars now? Well, it seems as if their song “Poison & Wine” has suddenly appeared everywhere, regardless of the fact that it was released three years ago on the “Barton Hollow” album.

I have a few go-to music resources I utilize throughout a typical workweek and no matter which I put on, this song always eventually shows up. I’ve loved it from the first time I heard it and I know you will too.

“Poison & Wine” was also used in its 3-minute and 39-second entirety during a montage at the end of a season 6 episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.” Fun fact.

It’s difficult to pinpoint what is truly the best of the Civil Wars. They have received critical acclaim for nearly everything they have released.

In 2012, the Civil Wars won their first and second Grammy Awards, for their album “Barton Hollow” and for Best Country Duo/Group Performance, respectively. The next year they took home their third Grammy in the category of Best Song Written For Visual Media for their collaboration with Taylor Swift on the song “Safe & Sound” for “The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 And Beyond” soundtrack.

Their 2013 self-titled album helped them scoop up their fourth Grammy in 2014, again for Best Country Duo/Group Performance.

It’s unfortunate that the Civil Wars have decided to part ways, especially considering their repeated, widespread success. Then again, that much success has been known to poison relationships. We’ll probably never know why the Civil Wars decided to call it quits, but we do know that Joy Williams will not be leaving the music industry behind.

In their final farewell statement, she said:

Looking ahead, I’m excited to share the music that I am writing and recording in the midst of this difficult transition. I’ve loved being back in the studio, and have missed performing live. I look forward to seeing you soon.”

At least we have that to look forward to.

Monday Morning Tunes: Sia

Sia
laubarnes/Flickr

I have been on a total Sia kick lately. Cannot get enough of her.

This is actually the second time I have written about Sia here on Woman Tribune. The first time was back in 2010, when she spoke out about developing a panic disorder after being outed as bisexual by celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton. Losing her privacy at the height of her fame and suddenly inundated by the peering eyes of the public, she suffered panic attacks and ultimately decided to step out of the limelight.

After the 2010 release of her fourth album, “We Are Born,” Sia stopped putting out music under her own name. On top of living with a panic disorder, she became addicted to drugs and alcohol and had survived a suicide attempt before entering rehab.

When Sia returned to the music industry, she returned as merely a songwriter. Her writing chops are responsible for chart-topping hits like Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” “Perfume” by Britney Spears, “Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself)” performed by Ne-Yo, Beyonce’s “Pretty Hurts,” she wrote “Cannonball” for Lea Michele after the untimely death of Cory Monteith, and she even co-wrote the World Cup anthem “We Are One.”

Of course you may have heard Sia before. Her song “Breathe Me” is what propelled her popularity with American audiences after it was featured during the monumental closing sequence of HBO’s award-winning show “Six Feet Under,” only one of the most incredible shows to have ever aired on television.

Last month, Sia released her first album in four years, “1000 Forms Of Fear.” It is spectacular. Sia’s personal music comeback has been amazing, and if you’ve turned on the radio at all recently, it’s likely you’ve been hearing a lot of “Chandelier.”

When I looked up the song “Chandelier” on YouTube, I saw that Sara Bareilles covered it during a live show in Charlottesville, Virginia. It’s pretty great, as Sara Bareilles usually is. It also made an appearance on “The Voice,” performed by kick ass rocker Kat Perkins.

But while it may be the song getting the most attention right now, “Chandelier” is only the tip of the greatness on “1000 Forms Of Fear.” I recently went an entire day listening to nothing but “Elastic Heart” on repeat. I’m not even kidding. Then the next day I woke up and put it on again. I think I’m doing that thing where you listen to a song obsessively until you get so sick of it you never want to hear it again, except I’m not getting sick of hearing it.

An alternate version of “Elastic Heart” was recorded with The Weeknd and Diplo for “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” soundtrack.

I’m ecstatic that Sia has decided to release a new album. It’s obvious that she has heaps of talent, but even more important than that, it seems that she has found her footing in the public world once again. This time I hope she fits more comfortably in the nook she has successfully carved out for herself.

Monday Morning Tunes: Broods

Broods
wfuv / Flickr

It’s safe to say that if you’re looking for some new music, specifically if you’re into alternative/indie rock and pop, you might want to pay attention to what’s coming out of New Zealand. Numerous solo artists, duos, and bands from this area of the world have hit it big with American audiences, such as Lorde, Kimbra, The Naked and Famous, as well as influential classics The Bats and The Clean.

New Zealand’s music culture only continues to flourish. Latest to come across my radar is Broods, a brother-sister electronic pop duo made up of vocalist Georgia Nott and multi-instrumentalist Caleb Nott.

The siblings began making music together when they were kids and went on to win the “Richmond’s Got Talent” competition in 2010. They were also part of the indie rock band The Peasants that won the 2011 Smokefreerockquest music competition. They didn’t pursue Broods until 2013, when they both dropped out of university to focus on the creation and writing for their new band. Sacrificing their education for a music career, while risky, looks like it is really paying off, and quickly.

Broods’ debut single “Bridges” was released online in October 2013 and was immediately picked up by music blogs and even MTV. It was during an episode of “Catfish” (DO NOT JUDGE) where I first heard the song and made it a point to remember their name to look up later.

I am so glad I did.

So far, Broods has only released their self-titled EP, released in January 2014. I’ve listened to it dozens of times, and it is a really solid 6-track teaser.

Broods’ first full-length album is due out at the end of August.

Monday Morning Tunes: Robyn

Robyn
nrk-p3 / Flickr

I was 11 years old in 1997 when Robyn’s song “Show Me Love” was one of the biggest, most popular songs in the country. It was all over the radio and when me and my best friend at the time got together, we would put the CD in and dance around her bedroom as the song played on repeat. Those were the days, right?

Robyn didn’t put out a second album until 2005, and by that point most everyone had pretty much forgotten about her. Such is the entertainment industry.

Her third album didn’t come out until 2010, and it took me until now to hear a couple of tracks from it while listening to my new favorite Spotify playlist.

Robyn’s album “Body Talk” is one of the most diverse offerings of pop music, and exactly what I would expect to hear from the Robyn I remember dancing in my girlfriend’s bedroom to as a tween.

Robyn is also a pretty great person on a purely human level. In 1999, she traveled the world for two years as a UNICEF ambassador.

I love hearing when celebrities I adore have committed themselves to doing good in the world, and that is precisely what Robyn has done; on top of once again creating music that makes me want to dance all over the house.

Monday Morning Tunes: James Morrison

James Morrison
cowbite / Flickr

After our last couple of Monday Morning Tunes posts reached well into the outskirts of obscurity, I thought I would give you something a little more well-known and maybe more appealing to a wider audience. I aim to please.

It is not often that I listen to a band or singer/songwriter and deem their entire collection of music a must-listen. There are always throw away songs, or if they have been at it long enough, entire throw away albums. Those do not exist in the world of James Morrison. Everything that I have heard is phenomenal.

Through the weeks I have spent listening to all three of his albums, I am convinced that there is never a bad time for James Morrison. Sure, most of the songs deal with being so hopelessly, desperately in love that the Earth itself just may spin out of control by the end of a song, but they all have really great, catchy choruses that grab your attention and hold on regardless of the mood you’re in.

James Morrison is for good days; bad days; grey, sulky days; days when you feel like dancing; days where you play video games for hours on end and have music playing on a loop in the background (yeah, I am totally speaking from personal experience here.) And for days when you desperately want to tell someone you love them with everything you are.

Especially for days like that.

You have to think about who James Morrison is as a human when you find out that he put out his first album, “Undiscovered“, in 2006, when he was just 21 years old.

He was undiscovered then, but it didn’t take long for him to take the UK by storm with his soulful music of a heart lived fully, influenced and inspired by his mother’s record collection consisting of legends like Stevie Wonder, Van Morrison, and Al Green.

Monday Morning Tunes: MoZella

MoZella
djwhelan / Flickr

Not to be confused with the browser Mozilla, MoZella is sultry soul often mixed with delightfully minimally-produced pop, wrapped in a sweet and sometimes lovesick introspection.

I came across MoZella by accident, as is the case with most of the music I end up going back to again and again. The song “Light Years Away” is on one of the soundtracks of the old WB series “One Tree Hill,” which I was making my way through when I heard it for the first time.

It’s ironic that I first stumbled upon MoZella kinda-sorta through television, given the fact that in 2005 her music reached millions of television viewers when Mercedes-Benz featured her song “Amazed” in one of their ad campaigns. Her songs have also appeared in television ad campaigns for Verizon, Amazon Kindle, and Nissan, and her song “More Of You” was featured in an episode of “Pretty Little Liars.” Television agrees with MoZella.

Some of my favorite songs of MoZella’s are also particularly difficult to find on SoundCloud, where anyone can listen to music without having to create an account, though you can if you’d like. They are from her album “I Will,” which I highly recommend you find and listen to. You can find it on Spotify and iTunes, if you’re a subscriber to either of those services. The album features the aforementioned song, “Light Years Away,” but I also love “Can’t Stop” and “Messiah,” just to name a couple.

MoZella has achieved incredible success in the music industry, though she is still widely unknown for her own music. She has co-written songs for some of the most recognizable pop artists currently on the scene, including the Miley Cyrus Billboard No. 1 hit “Wrecking Ball” and “Tumbling Down” with Ryan Tedder of One Republic for Tessanne Chin, winner of season 5 of “The Voice.”

Monday Morning Tunes: Little Daylight

Little Daylight
kirkstauffer / Flickr

Head-bobbing, foot-tapping, instant ear worms that make you want to get up and dance. That, in a nutshell, is what Little Daylight is all about.

A trio that cannot be contained to one genre, Little Daylight is a New York City-based band bound by hyphens and adjectives: bubbly, bouncy, indie-pop-rock-synth goodness.

They make music that immediately puts you in a good mood. It wakes you up and prepares you for a day of getting shit done. I can write that declaration with complete confidence, having woken up and started my day by listening to their EP, “Tunnel Vision” (and only current release, although rumor has it they are currently busy working on a full-length album), with a full workload ahead of me that has been staring me dead in the face all weekend.

Great (and majorly productive) days begin with dancing.