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Top Five Fridays: Radiator Hospital

Hey Folks,

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Top Five Fridays: Justin and The Cosmics

Hey Folks,
It’s time for PART II of All The Day Sounds’ Great Nashville Adventure!  Last week we hung out with the layered guitar rocking goodness of Idle Bloom as they took us on a journey through five of their fav LPs, and this week we’re staying in good ol’ Music City to hang out with Justin Collins, the brains and all around ring leader behind the punk fuled glam garage outfit Justin and The Cosmics.
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Like Idle Bloom last week, I came upon the “punk-mericana” musical musings of Justin and the Cosmics due to their involvement with the farewell tour of now newly defunct Nashville Rock ‘n’ Roll outfit Those Darlins.  I can not say how thankful I am to the Darlins for always taking fantastic Nashville talent on the road with them.
Justin and the Cosmics 2015 release “Schooly Dreams” is one of those records that elegantly crosses the line between rock ‘n’ roll and singer/songwriter.  It is an album that is able to draw on Bowie/Lou Reed/T. Rex Glam Garage influences and harness them while twisting them into its own voice and sound, which is no easy feat.  Seconds into songs like “Rippin’ The Heart,” you feel like you’re listening to a record you’ve loved all your life, but you haven’t, and you’re glad as all get out that you’ve found it.  Justin Collins is a man who knows how to make a record kick, as evidenced by his excellent production work with Adam Landry as part of the production duo Cosmic Thug; producing kick ass records for the likes of rock ‘n’ rollers Diamond Rugs.
One of the reasons I enjoy Top Five Fridays is that I love listening to musicians talk and write about music they love, and today I am reminded of that all over again. Justin Collins has give me one of the most damn poetic run downs of albums I could have ever hoped for.  Seriously.  Any man who writes sentences like “Teardrops behind sunglasses in the sunshine and secret vices to pull you through the long night” gets my vote.  That line should really be in a song Justin.  Also I think I am going to get Justin to write my blog for me from now on.
Give it up ladies and gentleman for Top Five Fridays brought to you by Justin and The Cosmics!
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Top Five Albums (in no particular order) that NEVER GET OLD to me:
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Their first album. There have been times in my life since I first heard this album in the 1990’s that I wondered if I should keep my love for it in the closet because it was so personal to me. It was always like my secret girlfriend that I wanted all to myself and for no one else to have or even know existed. It’s gloriously depressed, the dreamiest of the dreamiest, with irresistibly intoxicating vocals and melodies and grooves that make you feel proud of being sad.  A true original record. Teardrops behind sunglasses in the sunshine and secret vices to pull you through the long night. I’ve probably listened to this album more than any other album in my life.
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An album produced by Phil Spector. Allegedly, Cohen hated making it, not unlike myriads of others who made records with the iconic lunatic. Cohen always delivers lyrically and has his own definitive style, but on this album his voice is stretched unlike ever before to a backdrop of nearly psychedelic doo-wop. Full of spiritual longing, deep heartache, life acceptances, and exaulted exhaustion. My kind of cocktail.
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Under the radar dude outside of  Asheville, NC. Raw and haunting home recordings with brilliant, soothing melodies and nearly tropical/ jungle rhythms. At times it’s almost classy with virtuoso chops and gospel tendencies, but that’s all over-coated with it’s low fidelity atmosphere, edgy substance, and sharp witted sensibility. More people need to know this album.
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Maybe the perfect rock n roll album? Iggy’s vocals are excruciatingly present and urgent and his soul sounds like its gonna blow your speakers up on this one.  Produced by David Bowie (who also produced Lou Reed’s shocking classic Transformer in the same era), perfectly crafted and recorded songs with wreckless abandon. It’s truly glamorous in a New York dumpster diving kind of way. Dark at times, yet utterly touching and uplifting. It makes you want to fuck off and dance and it makes you want to sell all of your shit and take off down the road.
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Nashville living legend. Maybe the only true country artist left in this town? He’s an absolute modern day wordsmith that plays country the right way. A “timeless classic” captured in bare bone form. The words are so omniscient and pure in expression that you find yourself perplexed at how he was able to put what is in your own head into one of his own songs so precisely and effortlessly. It’s deep, sad, redeeming, heartbreaking, hilarious at times, and real as a mug. Drinking and crying music.
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Thanks so much Justin!  Anytime I end up with a list that includes BOTH Iggy Pop and Mazzy Star I know I’m working with an artist with my kind of sensibilities.
You know the drill folks, be sure to check out Justin and The Cosmics on their official site, like ’em on facebook, follow them on twitter, and do the same on instagram.  For more info on gigs, check out their SHOWS.  Finally, Justin and his partner in crime Adam Landry are producing some great music over at Cosmic Thug.  I do recommend you go check that out over HERE.
Remember you can check out all the past Top Five Fridays (including last week’s Nashville adventure with Hard rocking guitar heroes Idle Bloom) in the ARCHIVES.
well peace out good people of the world,
Peter Winter
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Peter Winter will defend Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice.  Sure it had bad pacing, but there are undeniably great moments in that film.  He tweets that and other such nonsense @peterwinter38

Top Five Fridays: Idle Bloom

Hey Folks,
Today for Top Five Fridays, we’re off for the first time ever to  Nashville, Tennessee, where guitar rockers Idle Bloom will be taking us on a walk through five records they hold near and dear.  I am so incredibly excited to be working with this crew for T5F; their December 2015 cassette tape “Some Paranoia” released on Nashville label Theory Eight Records is basically surgically grafted into my tape deck and stands untouchable at the top of my “2015 Albums that would have been on the top of my year end list but I didn’t discover them till 2016” list.  I am just such a fan of how these cats are able to fuse melodic rock with crushingly heavy and urgent riffs.  It’s almost as if All Dogs and Black Sabbath made a baby, and that baby made a cassette tape that I can’t stop listening to.
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 Idle Bloom came on to my listening radar due to their part in the farewell tour of beloved Nashville rock ‘n’ roll outfit Those Darlins.  Given that Those Darlins have never brought a Nashville act on tour with them that did not melt serious face, I quickly purchased “Some Paranoia”and as mentioned before, I have been  unable to stop listening.  Although there is not a weak track among the 6 songs that make up “Some Paranoia,” I have to give a special shout out to the second to last track on the EP, “Pride Line.”  As one monster riff cascades over another, framing a defiantly memorable vocal line, one wonders if it is even possible for the track to rock any harder; then the 2:55 moment hits, and you realize it most certainly is.  With out further ado, give it up for Idle Bloom and their Top Five Friday!
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We chose an important album to us all + each of us chose either an influential album from way back or a current dig.
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Idle Bloom’s Pick:
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       We all have such diverse tastes which makes our tour soundtrack really interesting. This we can all get down to, especially on a sun filled long drive.
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Katie’s Pick:
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I was in a weird LA goth bar that made me feel like I was in either The Matrix or Blade. The DJ was playing High Functioning Flesh. It was a perfect setting for this album to be heard for the first time and I haven’t stopped listening to it since. The album is reminiscent of Alien Sex Fiend in the sense that the vocals are aggressively punk while the music itself falls somewhere between industrial rhythmics and danceable, cold synth-pop. They’re about to go on tour, so I highly recommend checking them out if they come through your city.
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Olivia’s Pick:
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Ok, this year marks the 20th anniversary of this iconic record. All of my friends know how much I love Tori Amos and I kind of have to pick this record. No other artist has impacted me so much. It’s so hard to just pick ONE record! SO yeah, I love lots of stuff but Tori Amos is in my personal holy trinity. She’s such an amazing composer and lyricist, it’s crazy to think that people even mock her (death to haters). This record is a concept record essentially, having to do with the fire goddess Pele and some experiences she had tripping on Ayahuasca…I probably haven’t grasped all the nuances and I’ve listened to this record a million times. Some of these songs are OUT THERE which makes them even more interesting. She’s a damn genius and this record is from top to bottom perfection.
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Weston’s Pick:
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I forget how I originally discovered Boards of Canada, but it was sometime early in high school. I’d heard a song here and there and was struck by the subtlety and feeling of nostalgia their songs invoked. I remember finally buying “Geogaddi” at Tower Records. When I put that CD on in the car as I pulled out of the parking lot, my perception of how music could affect me on an emotional level was forever changed. The ebb and flow of this record is as enigmatic and complex as the band themselves. Be it the melancholic psychedelia of the track “Sunshine Recorder,” the undulating, percussive fever dream of “Gyroscope,” or the mysterium and foreboding of “You Could Feel the Sky,” this album never fails to grab me in one way or another. I’ve since picked up the vinyl reissue which has me enjoying “Geogaddi” in a whole new light.
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Callan’s Picks:
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I was a junior in high school and was riding through the North Carolina mountains when I first heard Souvlaki. My friend put it on without any preface and I completely lost my shit. I felt swept away by it– the mix of textures and dynamics, the way the guitars swirl around themselves, the way the songs swell up and melt. I was so inspired by the different sounds they were able to get out of a guitar and that really influenced me as a musician. There’s such a melancholic beauty to the record that still moves me despite having listened to it a near-embarrassing number of times. Plus Eno co-wrote two of the songs and that’s cool as hell!
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Thank you so much Idle Bloom!  I would like to shout out to Aaron Hartley of theory eight records for helping get all of this together.  Check out that label folks, every artist is pure gold.
As mentioned before, Idle Bloom was out on the very last tour of Nashville legends Those Darlins this week.  I hope you were able to make one of the shows. They also have some dates of their own.
Idle Bloom has recently finished recording their full length debut record.  If that is not enough to make you excited, they worked with the man the myth the legend Kyle Gilbride himself.  This thing is going to slay.
Besides their official site, Idle Bloom is on facebook and twitter. Click all those links so as not to miss out on the LP announcement and other fun stuff!
well peace out good people of the world,
Peter Winter
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Peter Winter loves rock ‘n’ roll, tacos, beer and Star Wars.  You might have things in common. You might be friends. He tweets @peterwinter38

Top Five Fridays: The Plums

Hey Folks,

I’m excited to kick off another exciting season of Top Five Fridays, the part of the show where some fantabulous artist comes aboard this crazy ol’ website and takes us all on a magical mystery tour through five of their favorite records.  Our guides this week are a rowdy bunch of good time rock ‘n’ rollers from music central Philly PA, The Plums.

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I first heard tell of The Plums from their fellow York PA rockers The Ok-Oks (some of you repeat offenders to this blog might recall The Ok-Oks’ own T5F back in 2015).  Thanks to the incomparable Animal House Shows, I was finally able to catch the band live at a killer showcase in Harrisburg a couple weeks back, and from the instant I heard the opening riff of their banger “Bad Apples,” I was sold.  Seriously, I’ve had that song playing on a loop while I was writing this piece.  From the dueling lead guitar intro to its call to arms ear worm of a hook “Bad Apples” is as a great a slice of garage rock goodness as you’re going to find anywhere these days.  These gents are far from a group of one trick ponies though.  A listen through their live album “Live at Sign Of The Wagon 6/6/14” shows a band who is just as capable bringing out the meandering windy guitar jams as the blazing riff rockers.  These cats can play.  Perhaps the greatest sum up of their sound I could offer comes from the band itself: “What the Ramones would sound like if they had learned more than three chords.”

Today for their TF5, The Plums have offered up a selection of records as eclectic as their live show, and I’m excited to share it all with you…Give it up for The Plums!

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According to an old saying, bands with a name starting in “The” only listen to other bands with names starting in “The.” We’re still undecided. Here’s five of our most cherished LPs, thanks for tuning in.

The Plums

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The La’s : Self-titled 

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The go-to tape in our band van. Perfect blend of psychedelia, Mersey-beat and pop—if you haven’t heard any of their songs besides “There She Goes,” take a listen to some of their Timeless Melodies.

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The White Stripes : De Stijl

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We spent the early years of the band cooped up in friend’s basements, recording the weirdest songs on an 8-track cassette recorder. We’re not technophobes by any means—at the time we were just too broke to afford 21st century recording equipment. Most were original songs that ended up becoming our album, but a few didn’t make the cut—there’s a tape somewhere of us doing a Wesley Willis-esque cover of Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You” with a running time of 12 minutes. “De Stijl” is one of the best home recorded albums ever, and as a kid, it was A Boy’s Best Friend.

And did you see The Hateful Eight, when it cuts to “Apple Blossom” in the snow? Perfection.

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Dionne Warwick’s Golden Hits Volume 1 & Part 2

These recordings have influenced our songwriting in surprising ways. We try to crush dark chord progressions like these into our double-timed, electrified garage rock—what the Ramones would sound like if they had learned more than three chords. If you’re going through a bad breakup, Make It Easy on Yourself and take a listen.

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The Clash : Sandinista!

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What the world needs now, is triple albums, sweet triple albums…Jeremiah has a vinyl copy of this new wave odyssey. We used to drink endless pots of coffee and clean our old apartment to it and yes, it took 36 tracks to get things straightened up. We always ended up throwing a big party that same night and wrecking the place all over again—the seasonal ritual of sacrificing an acoustic instrument, broken ceiling tiles, wrestling, you name it—our landlord was a patient and forgiving man. I think we did it because deep down, we just wanted to listen to Sandinista! One More Time.

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Hartle Road : Self Titled EP

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Last but certainly not least is Hartle Road’s self-titled EP. We met these guys at our first show in Philly—these guys are “super-rad” musicians who play some of the meanest, most inventive psychedelic rock coming out of the South right now. We fell in love with the cut of their jib when they did a perfect note-for-note rendition of Television’s “Marquee Moon” and we’ve been fans ever since. Take a minute to check out their Bandcamp, they have some great tunes.

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Thanks guys!

I’m going to stand by any band that cites both The White Stripes and Dionne Warwick as influences.  Also late era Clash does not get enough love.  Combat Rock any one?

If you are aiming to have a good time and are roundabouts Philly Saturday March 19th, The Plums are playing Connie’s Ric Rac.  More info about that HERE.  I advise you go and experience this fine outfit for yourself.

These gents have some links across the interwebs, including Facebook, and Twitter.  Follow them/like them wantonly click on these links so you can see what they are up to.  Also keep checking their website for news of a full length album!

 

Thanks for reading folks and tune in next week for another exciting installment of Top Five Fridays!

well peace out good people of the world,

Peter Winter

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Peter Winter loves music, tacos and not exercising.  If you like these things as well, mayhaps you should follow him on twitter.

 

Jimmy John’s, Jock Jams Vol. 1, and Life’s Trajectory: An Interview with Laura Stevenson

 

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Hey Folks,

I’m a sucker for opening tracks.  Songs that make you sit up, press your headphones tighter to your skull, and hold your breath in anticipation for the record to come.  I’m thinking Patti Smith opening “Horses” with the slam poetry rock ‘n’ roll run away train of “Gloria,” or Bob Dylan bringing “Highway 61 Revisited” to a start with “Like A Rolling Stone” and the snare drum crack heard around the world.  With out question, one of my favorite album openers of 2015 was “Out With A Whimper” off of New York songwriter Laura Stevenson’s latest record “Cocksure” released on the incomparable Don Giovanni Records.  When an artist kicks thing off with a slow building song that questions whether they even want to continue making music and touring, or whether it’s time to just hang up the ol’ spurs and get a steady job and the stability that brings, you know that there is going to be something on the line for the remainder of the record.

 In addition to ramping up for a full band tour with Chris Farren and Crying, Laura will be playing some solo acoustic shows over the next few weeks, one of them being this Friday (02/19/16) at the Millworks in Harrisburg as part of Animal House Shows Showcase for Millenium Music Conference.  In the midst of rehearsing, Laura was good enough to take some time and have a chat about song-writing, well constructed records, and tacos.

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 I love the different aesthetics of your 2013 album “Wheel” and 2015’s “Cocksure.”  They both sound like Laura Stevenson, but “Wheel” has a folky freewheeling vibe to it while “Cocksure” has more of a punky power pop feel to it.  You do both so well.  What were you listening to early on that led you to be able to write so comfortably in these two veins?

Neil Young records were always on at my dad’s house and he would take me to see him play a lot, which makes me a VERY lucky person. I think Neil Young’s ability to bounce back and forth between being the quiet singer-songwriter on a chair to the front-person of a big messy rock band really inspired me to do the same. Both Neil solo and with Crazy Horse are just as big and powerful on recordings and in live shows- that to me is the mark of a really good writer, which is what I hope to be someday.

You’re going on a full band tour with Chris Farren and Crying (I’m so excited for that) however you’re currently playing a string of solo acoustic shows.   How do these two types of shows feel different to you?  What are things you like about each? Does one make you more nervous/excited?

I’m excited too, I think it’s going to be great! The solo stuff definitely makes me much more nervous, for sure. Especially the guitar solos that I always seem to want to play and bungle up if my hands are cold, and my hands are ALWAYS cold. Both types of shows have their merits, I have much more control of my voice in the solo setting so I’m really able to connect with it and use it as an instrument and feel more through it. If that makes sense. Also, I play a lot of quieter stuff which I don’t get to do too much of in the rock band setting… both shows are just as intense just in different ways I guess. The full-band stuff is so fun because all the melodies I have in my head can get played all at the same time, by amazing musicians who are also very fun to hang out with and play with. We had a practice last night and then had a pizza party and it got me very excited for the tour with them in March. They’re all such great musicians and we’re really close, I think that shines through and people like watching us play together because we like each other. I’m extremely lucky that I get to play with them.

I know sequencing an album is something that is really important to you.  On “Wheel” I know you actually wrote some tracks you thought the album needed.  What goes through your mind when you are sequencing an album? What do you look for? What are some albums that you think are sequenced really well?

That’s a tough one – yeah with “Wheel” I was feeling like there was something missing when we were putting it together. The songs were so all-over-the-place from one to the next, dynamically and with the instrumentation. I didn’t want the sequencing to be jarring but in a lot of places it is, which some people say is one of the record’s strong suits, so it definitely depends on the way people like to listen to records. It’s always hard… things make sense at the time and then you listen back to it a year later and you wish you put two songs back-to-back that you hadn’t thought of. But, then you get to play those songs together on tour… we’re doing that with some of Cocksure which will be fun. Songs that we didn’t realize were in the same key, or complimentary keys, whatever. I think I’ve had the most success with planning the sequencing before going into the studio- we did that with Sit Resist and with Cocksure. I’m most comfortable with that process- however, that means you’re kind of locked into having certain songs on the record despite whether or not you think they were your best performances. I mean, making a record on a very tight budget is scary, you can’t go back in afterwards and say, “let’s do that again” – you just have to trust the people you’re working with and yourself and your band and let go a little bit and hope for the best. Records that I think are sequenced well…. obviously “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea”, songs bleed into each other really beautifully on that record, you can tell he had that all worked out beforehand. What else… “Exile On Main Street”, “Comes A Time”, “Marquee Moon”… I’m bad at this because I always exclaim in the van “this record is perfect!” about so many records and I can’t think of any right now. Oh I always say it about “Is This It” by The Strokes haha.

In regards to having the track list and order before recording the album, when did the title “Cocksure” show up? How did you come up with the title and at what point did you make that decision?

The title came up way before the record actually. My friend, Ian Graham from Cheap Girls actually suggested it one night while we were on the Against Me! tour together, I think he was just trying to fuck with me. He was just like, out of the blue, “your next record? Cocksure.” I don’t know why it stuck with me, probably because it’s perfect, and I guess I had mentioned it to my friend Chris Farren somewhere along the way because while I was making the record I was going over possible titles with him and he was like “whatever happened to ‘Cocksure’?” I couldn’t get away from it but honestly, it’s so perfect for this record.

Could you talk a little bit about the Laura Stevenson song-writing process?  There are a lot of layers going on in your lyrics, will you spend a lot of time editing or re-working a lyric?

I never over-work lyrics, I feel like that’s kind of cheating. I just throw it all out there, in the end I’ll take out SOME of the garbage but I leave a lot of garbage in there for people to sort through if they want. I definitely think vague is a little better, it protects me or the subject of the song, which could be cowardly a little, but it also gives more people the ability to connect it with their own lives, and sometimes that helps people going through stuff they can’t really put words to.

I listened to your Spotify commentary for “Cocksure,” and I really liked how aware of other people’s songwriting styles you were.  You were saying how one song you thought had a Cars vibe, another felt a bit like a Wilco song, you even brought up artists like Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison.  Who are songwriters you really look up to in regards to their craft?

I look up to all of those people for sure. Who else… Leonard Cohen, Judee Sill, Townes Van Zandt…. the list is long. I’m friends with a lot of great musicians who all inspire me very much not just like, people from the 60s and 70s. I’m not like, some weird music historian snob or purist in any way. I also very much like everything on Jock Jams Volume 1.

You are very open about your struggles with depression.  How does your songwriting, your art, help as a weapon to battle those feelings?  How would you want your songs to help others who might be dealing with the same struggles?

Just singing alone in a room, that is the most cathartic thing in the world to me, I would do it every since I was little and I would cry while doing it… even if it was nonsense words, it was the best way for me to get something out… there was a lot of instability around me as a kid, a lot of chaos and everyone was either angry or very sad or both and it was confusing and, in turn, I was a very angry kid. That anger kind of turned inward when I got to middle-school age and I started going through depressions that would wax and wane until it got to a scary place when I was about 19. Anyway, after all that happened, I started singing again and writing songs that were definitely not good. And then I started writing songs that were kind of good, and my friends started pushing me to share them with people… doing this for real was never like, my big goal. I just kind of fell into it, Mike (the bass player in the band and now also my fiancee) was the one who pushed me to make my first record, and now we’re on our fourth, it’s kind of crazy. None of this was my intention, BUT it really makes me so glad I stuck around to help people – now people come up to me at shows and tell me that a certain song or record helped get them through the same stuff that I was battling/am battling… it’s amazing. When I’m low now or feeling myself dip back into it, I think about how I’ve contributed a little bit to other people’s lives, and it really helps me… that might be selfish kind of, I want to help people for sure, but them telling me I help them is what makes me remember it’s good to be alive so everybody wins.

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*Lightning Round*

What have you been listening to lately?

Let’s see… this morning I listened to “The White Album” and some Beethoven. That Notwist record “Neon Golden” has been a heavy play in my house for the past few weeks. The song “One With the Freaks” is the best song I’ve heard in a long time. I can’t stop listening to it.

Ok so I’m a huge Beatles fan and since you were listening to The White Album I have to know what some of your favorite songs off that record are. 
Hmmmm- well as a kid my absolute favorite songs were Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da and Rocky Raccoon. Now I really like Mother Nature’s Son and I’m So Tired. Those might be my favorites. Bungalow Bill is still terrifying to me.

 

What do you like to eat when you’re on the road?

Jimmy John’s. Is that bad? I get very very excited about “The Vito” from Jimmy John’s. Also, McDonald’s oatmeal is not too bad if it’s the only option. Their coffee isn’t terrible, just don’t get it with milk or else it’s seriously just a glass of milk. I get excited about tacos from Texas through the northwest. I will eat breakfast tacos, lunch tacos, dinner tacos, until like, Spokane and then the dream is over and it’s back to Jimmy John’s. I’m not healthy I just realized.

What do you AVOID eating when you’re on the road?

Subway. I’m done with Subway. I will use their bathroom if I have to but I’m seriously done. And Dunkin’ Donuts. Their coffee tastes like lemons and I hate it.

Your favorite lyric from “Cocksure.”

Maybe from “Out With a Whimper” – “we’ll buy a car with a million miles on it, I’ll dig it out of the snow, and we’ll set alarms and breakfast while it’s dark, I will slow down and flicker and fall”   those words paint a very clear picture in my head and bring me to the place I was writing from… that whole song is about stopping making records and touring and just having a life with structure and quiet and a job that’s a sure thing and maybe that being the thing that will make me happy… that’s something I think about and I guess it’s good to think about that, it’s good to check in with yourself about the trajectory of your life, right?

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As was mentioned earlier, prior to her full band tour with Chris Farren and Crying, Laura Stevenson is going to be playing a solo acoustic show as part of Animal House Shows Millennium Music Conference showcase at the Millworks in Harrisburg this Friday February 19th.  Also on the bill are Keeps, The Plums, and Roger Harvey.  The gig kicks off at 9:00, has a $5 cover, and is 21+.  These are cool people.  Go to this show and meet them.

Remember to like Laura Stevenson on Facebook, follow her on twitter, and buy her music.

 

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Peter Winter gave up buying records for Lent.  He is going to break that rule and buy “Cocksure” though.  He is on twitter @peterwinter38

 

 

First Steps into a Larger World: Navigating the New Era of Star Wars with The Force as Our Ally

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Read more…

There is No Death-There is The Force: How the Jedi Code Prepared Me for the New Era of Star Wars

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Hey Folks,

We’ve reached the tipping point haven’t we?  In a matter of hours, some of us will be sitting in a theater, watching a certain opening scrawl as (if we’re being honest) the most iconic theme in cinema history blares around us.  The Force Awakens is now upon us.  For the next week, we’re going to be even more inundated with Star Wars than we already have been this month (sorry you got upstaged this year Santa) as critics and everyone with a functioning social media account will tell us all how amazing the film was, how their childhoods have been restored, and how JJ Abrams should probably be made king.  Before the flood gates burst forth, I wanted to take this chance to say my piece finally and forever as to my personal journey leading up to this movie, and how some key moments of Jedi Teaching helped me navigate a rather “Dark Time for the Rebellion” in my life.

 I: There is No Emotion-There is Peace

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October 30, 2012.  A day that will live in infamy.  The day George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney for a cool $4 Billion.  The day that the film we now know as “Force Awakens” was announced.  The first time I ever deleted my own facebook post for containing far too many four letter words.  You have to understand, as a lifelong Star Wars fan, I grew up with a barrage of quotes from George Lucas that there would BE no sequel trilogy.  Read for yourself.  In 2008 interview he stated, “I’ve left pretty explicit instructions for there not to be any more features. There will definitely be no Episodes VIIIX. That’s because there isn’t any story. I mean, I never thought of anything. And now there have been novels about the events after Episode VI, which isn’t at all what I would have done with it. The Star Wars story is really the tragedy of Darth Vader.”

Part of my love for Star Wars is based on the idea of the closed story when it comes to the films.  The elegance of it.  I-VI.  Part 1, Part 2.  Old and New Testament.  There was an electric feeling that night in 2005 when Revenge Of The Sith came out.  Cause we all knew…it was over.  The circle was now complete.  I remember saying goodbye to a guy dressed as Obi-Wan I had never met before after the film.  We were standing in the parking lot and saying “Well, See you around.”  We knew we wouldn’t though.  Because we had finished the journey.  It was the single most electric moment of my highschool career.  Sorry to both my prom dates.

So suddenly, there were going to be more films?!  And the director I had always respected for protecting his independence above all else had sold his brain child to The House of Mouse?  I felt like the woman I had been married to for my whole life had suddenly announced she wanted a divorce and she was leaving me for Mickey.

To make matters worse, April 25, 2014 rolled around.  The date that The Expanded Universe was dissolved.

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Always canon for me.

If you don’t QUITE know what The Expanded Universe (now known as Star Wars Legends) is, it refers to all the spin off comics, novels, video games and other such products that continued the Star War saga throughout the 90s and 00s. The creative powers behind the new films decided to completely go their own way with the new trilogy, overriding existing story material detailed in these books.  I felt like JJ Abrams was coming into my house, snatching away my favorite comic book and going, “Oops sorry you read that for twenty years, here’s what REALLY happened.” To continue the marriage metaphor, I felt like my wife was not only asking for a divorce, but now she was telling me that all the good times we had together never even occurred.  It was a dark time my friends.

II: There is no Passion-There is Serenity

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This part of the Jedi Code deals with learning to let go.  Time has passed, and I’ve thought about these words as well as Qui-Gon Jinn’s teaching to Anakin, “Your Focus Determines Your Reality.”  I now believe Lucas sold Star Wars for reasons of Legacy.  He wanted to make sure that his baby would live on in the right hands for future generations.  Sure Disney is incredibly exploitive with their creative properties, but they ARE respectful.  For decades, they can have milked Mickey Mouse and his cohorts for all they were worth with a quite dignity, and look, those characters still matter to kids.  The  same can’t (sadly) be said about something like Looney Tunes.  Bugs Bunny appears to be lost on this generation.  As I said earlier, my love of Star Wars is really a personal thing.  It’s not based on fan conventions or belonging to some some local chapter of a collecting society. It’s about me and a 12 hour movie I love with other works thrown in that deepen the mythology. That being said, I can’t get over seeing the next generation fall in love with a galaxy far, far, away.  Those moments when I see a kid who wasn’t even alive for Revenge Of The Sith, much less A New Hope, wearing a Darth Vader shirt.  When a youngster who doesn’t even come up to my elbow thanks me for playing the Star Wars Main Title Theme at a gig.  Moments such as these cause my cold, bitter nerd heart to melt.  As I discuss in the essay I wrote for Pennlive (I was selected as one of 4 Ultimate Star Wars Fans in Central PA) Star Wars gives us a unique playground for our imaginations.  It is a place where we meet our most foundational elements of story and myth in an environment that’s new and strange and wonderful.  I want this 3rd generation of Star Wars fans to have what I experienced throughout the 00s.  The Universe (I-VI) as it was will always be there for them to love, but this new trilogy of films will be all their own to anticipate, experience, grow up with, and dream about.  These Star Wars films are for them, even if they’re not quite for me.

III: There is No Death-There is The Force

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Wired recently ran an article with the headline “You’ll Never Live to see The Last Star Wars Movie.”  While that statement does instill in me some fear that the quality of output associated with The Star Wars Universe may one day wax and wane, I am excited that in a kinetic, vital way, something that has meant so much to me for so much of my life will continue to inspire people far beyond my mortal reach.

So tonight, I’m going to suit up in my Storm Trooper shirt, sit down and experience the dawn of a new era.  I’m frightfully zen about the whole thing.  Steven King was once asked, “How do you feel when TV and film directors ruin your books?” to which the master replied, “They didn’t ruin my books, my books are right behind me on the shelf.”  Disney and Abrams have neither the power to save nor ruin Star Wars for me.  Star Wars sits on my shelf as I write this, a gleaming and perfect 12 hour plus epic of fathers and sons, angels and demons, wisemen and fools, loss and redemption.  It is is joined by a collection of comics, novels and that sweet ass Clone Wars cartoon by the samurai jack guy, all of which have come to enhance and deepen the story for me over the years.  That for me is what has come to mean “Star Wars.”  Though, like all truths we cling to though, I admit that it depends greatly on my own point of view.

 

May The Force Be With You All,

 

Peter Winter

 

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Star Wars as I see it. Expanded Universe, and characters from all six chapters intermingled together.  Thanks to James Robinson for taking this shot.  Originally included in the piece about Ultimate Star Wars Fans for PennLive.

 

 

Peter Winter tweets @peterwinter38

 

Top Five Fridays: Salinas Records

Hey Folks,

Welcome back to Top Five Fridays (#TF5)!  Where I get to hang with some cool cat who brings five records to share with all you good readers!

As many of you frequent readers know, I have a deep love for the Philly DIY Scene.  One of my first posts ever, involved gushing about how much I love Swearin,’ and I’ve had both Jeff Bolt (Radiator Hospital, Swearin,’ Stupid Bag Records) and Michael Cantor (The Goodbye Party, The Ambulars) both on board for editions of Top Five Fridays.  Following this trail of musical bread crumbs, It was only a matter of times before I ended up getting in touch with Marco Reosti, the man behind Detroit based Salinas Records, the label responsible for bringing all of these artists to vinyl.

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I could mention the praises that have been heaped on Salinas Records in its 12 years.  I could mention that Impose Magazine included it in their roundup of the best record labels of 2014 saying, “We’re hard pressed to think of a label that put out a more excellent collection of pop-punk, guitar pop and power pop this year.”  Honestly though, it’s far more effective to let the band’s incredibly impressive roster speak for itself.  The Salinas catalog is a veritable “who’s who” of major players on the DIY scene including not only must hear Philly acts such as Katie Crutchfield’s and Keith Spencer’s colab project Great Thunder, but also bands from across the country such as Ohio’s All Dogs, Detroit’s Bonny Doon and San Francisco’s joyride!  Also I would be not doing my job if I didn’t mention Salinas also has a 7″ of Waxahatchee, Screaming Females, Swearin,’ and Upset  performing Guided by Voices covers…what more do you WANT from life?

So fasten your seat belts folks, I am incredibly grateful for Marco taking time to be part of this pet project of mine.  He has provided me with so many of my favorite records, it was high time I heard about five of his.


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An incredible record by any standard, but so much more important to me because it came out of a community of people that were doing really inspiring stuff in the early 2000s.  Jamie from Bent Outta Shape sent me a cassette tape of this record before it came out, adorned with handmade artwork in his trademark style.  The tape was in my late model Buick back in 2008 when the car was stolen, and the loss of the tape was far more upsetting than the loss of the car.  Devastatingly, our community would lose Jamie later that same year.

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Duh.  “The Boat Dreams From The Hill” is what music should sound like.

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One of my oldest friends put “La Familia” on a mixtape for me when I was in my early twenties.  I remember thinking that it had this incredible sound to it, like nothing I really listened to at the time.  It’s that much better that from what I know it was recorded without a lot of fancy studio magic.  I once saw Mirah perform in the lobby of the Guardian Building in Detroit, a beautiful relic of 1920’s art deco architecture.  I have rarely ever seen a musician and venue matched so well.

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Coming of age in the Midwest at the turn of the century, bands like The Promise Ring and Braid regularly came through town and played shows with locals like Empire State Games and Small Brown Bike.  Of all of the records of that era, this one is my favorite.  I think it holds up best because it took a few more chances.  From the way the a-side flows, to he clean simple artwork, I love everything about this record.

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Slang was a band from Gainesville, Florida.  I saw them play a show at a house in Lansing, Michigan that my friend Shawn Quinn ran.  That venue played incredibly important role in shaping the person who I am today.  Shawn, his brother and their friends ran the house solely for the love of music, a noble value.  Through the house I met my wife, many of my closest friends, and was introduced to a lot of great music that holds a special part in my heart.  This records has a similarly noble feel:  Hand screened covers for an honest and beautiful record by a far too obscure band.

Thanks so much Marco.
Here’s the deal folks, go to Salinas right now, buy a record. That’s right.  Go Here. It’s the best way for you to spend $10.  That’s right not $20, not $15, $10.  Instead of buying Wendys for you and your friend, you could have the new All Dogs LP.  Or Groovy Kinda Love by Great Thunder. Or Torch Song by Radiator Hospital.  Or Surfing Strange by Swearin’ or Silver Blues by The Goodbye Party! Oh heck. For your listening pleasure and guidance, click HERE for a playlist I made just for you comprised of some choice Salinas tracks.  Listen, enjoy, THEN go buy a record.

Read more…

Top Five Fridays: Left & Right

Hey Folks,
Welcome to another exciting Top Five Fridays (#T5F)!  The part of the week where a a happening individual that knows which way the wind blows shows up to share five great records they cherish with the rest of us! Last week we were across the pond in England as blogger nightrocker (the curator of the site “Prey To None,” a blog dedicated to the live performances of singer-songwriter Laura Marling) shared his top five favorite Laura Marling live performances of all time.  Today we’re back in Philly to hang with the gut punch punk of Left & Right. These guys hail from Charlottesville, VA but are currently calling the city of brotherly love home (let’s face it, like so many amazing bands right now).
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Left & Right

Like alot of bands I discover coming through Harrisburg PA, I found these guys when they stopped to play a quick day time show at Little Amps Coffee (Seriously folks if you want to know what’s going down in this town be sure to give Little Amps a like on facebook).  Intrigued, I checked out their 2014 album “Five Year Plan” and was totally sold from the first moments of the opening title track.  “5 Year Plan” starts with some slow guitar interplay before exploding into a rough and ready anthemic chorus that make you want to dance and break stuff all at the same time.  Quite simply, it’s the best damn opening track I’ve heard in some time.  I would be amiss if I did NOT mention that these boys are touring their way down to FEST 14 and are stopping in the ‘burg to play a show on Sunday at HMAC. Do yourself a favor and buy a ticket.
I love when bands try to find a uniting thread for the albums they select for T5F, and the gents of Left & Right take the idea in a totally new direction, selecting albums by bands they have toured with.  Honestly, it’s one of the single strongest collections of music that has ever been served up on TF5, written with insight and humor.  I’m super excited to share all these great records with you all.  Give it up for Left & Right!
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 they are one of the best bands we’ve played some of the worst shows ever with. one was in delaware, no one was there. we opened for a band where a big fat guy wore a giant cat suit and walked around on the bar knocking stuff over. we also played a show in DC with them on their drummers birthday. no one was there. the stage was incredibly tiny and had a low wall blocking the view. karl started playing the set crouched down entirely hidden by this stupid wall at this stupid venue that shouldn’t have been having shows in the first place. we also played a head shop disguised as a record shop with them but there were actually people at that show so things are really looking up for these cats.
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– they are from the swamps of lafayette louisiana. they are all about the shred. kinda imagine dinosaur jr if they wanted to have more fun. one time i learned all their songs on drums just so we could play a show with them in new orleans while their drummer was away on some camping trip. i wished they toured in a shrimp boat. i hope they get famous
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– these guys are great. we’ve stayed at their drummer sean’s house a few times and we always make a fire out back and talk about the possibility of extra terrestrials. i think this is the closest to pop-punk any of us are going to get on board with. you can’t argue with those guitars though. their records are pristinely recorded.
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– i feel very very lucky that we met these guys. we set up a show at an art gallery in providence and found this ep on bandcamp and while it’s very good, it doesn’t do them justice. they’re really incredible live. i don’t know if they’d be upset at mentioning this but they’re all older, which translates into a self assured and confident band that just enjoys themselves for the hell of it when they’re ripping. they have mores stuff coming out soon and i’m really excited to hear it because it’s going to rule hard. if we ever get famous enough to take someone on tour i think they’re the first ones we’re going to ask.
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– these guys are just a bands band. super tight, they all seem like they have jazz chops. they go to school at oberlin which is a killer conservatory and college that i couldn’t get into when i was applying to schools so they’re all probably smarter than me as well. i think this album sounds the way it feels to get drunk and be alone in the dark and fall asleep on the couch.
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Thanks guys! Totally dig the insights on the records and the war stories from the road!
I would suggest stopping by their bandcamp good people.  Left & Right are down to the last amount of vinyl pressings of their album on WarHen records, so go here if you want one! Don’t delay! Be sure to check ’em out on facebook as well.
Remember folks, these gents are on tour as they travel down to FEST 14, so check those tour date here.  You can catch these guys in Harrisburg at HMAC this Sunday playing with Darren Keen.  Don’t miss it.  Seriously.  Buy your tix NOW. Here is a link.
Remember you can check all the great Top Five Fridays of the past by visiting the ARCHIVE
well peace out good people of the world,
Peter Winter
Peter Winter is going to try really hard to talk about things besides Star Wars in the days leading up to Force Awakens.  You can follow him on Twitter @peterwinter38 and see if he succeeds.

Top Five Fridays: Laura Marling Live via Prey To None

Hey Folks,

Let’s be honest, I’m always excited about Top Five Fridays (#T5F) but this one is special.  We’re mixing it up this week, and rather than go over five great albums, today we are exploring five great live performances from one of my favorite artists ever, the incomparable folk artist singer/songwriter Laura Marling.

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Laura Marling

Over the past 8 years Laura Marling has proven to be the most prolific and consistently interesting of any of the artists to come out of the late 00s British Nu-Folk scene.  With her her fifth record “Short Movie” released earlier this year, Laura’s recorded work paints a picture of an artist unafraid to evolve and change as the muse calls her.  And that’s just her studio work, her live performances are a complete entity in their own right.  Take for instance “I Feel Your Love,” an intense finger picked acoustic track from her latest record, which incredibly quickly evolved into this swampy electric number with her band.  The song’s journey wasn’t complete however, and just months later a new version surfaced from the director’s cut of her album providing me with my single biggest musical jaw drop of the year, “I Feel Your Love” had turned into the heaviest thing Laura has ever released.  Similar to an artist like Dylan who is not wed to the studio versions of his songs (Budokan version of “It’s Alright Ma” anyone?)  Laura treats her live show as something a bit more mercurial than just a chance to play her hits.  From alternative takes to covers to enough unrecorded (and often discarded) original songs to fill a couple of albums, Laura’s shows are filled with gems equal to, if not sometimes surpassing, the material on her records.  Seriously if your understanding of “Master Hunter” is the studio version you’re missing out kids, try the version she played on Letterman on for size.

So who is stepping up in the Laura Marling fan community to sift through all of Laura’s shows? Enter the invaluable assistance of Prey To None, an expertly organized and categorized Laura Marling blog dedicated solely to her live performances.  The site is run by Nightrocker, a self described “guy from England with a Laura Marling blog who goes by the name nightrocker.”  I was super excited to get in touch with him for a Laura Live themed Top Five Friday, thinking who better to serve up some Laura Marling gems? My expectations of the project were completely blown away when I saw what he had created.  Through videos of significant live performances of each album/era of Laura’s already almost decade long career, he’s created a fantastic overview of Laura’s creative journey up to this point.

I hope you all enjoy this today folks and share it with your friends.  Quite frankly I think what you’re about to read and watch is the defacto introduction to Laura Marling on the net!  So with out further ado, give it up for Top Five Fridays the Laura Marling Live Edition curated by Prey To None!

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I thought trying to pick 5 favourite Laura Marling live performances would be incredibly difficult for me but some came to mind immediately and then I decided to pick one from each of her albums which made it easier.  I wanted to do it this way because as well as being some of her best songs, I think the videos also show her progression as an artist and songwriter.  So these are listed chronologically:

1. My Manic and I – Live at St. James’ Church (2008)

This song and video is a reminder of how talented a songwriter and performer Laura has been right from the beginning of her career and how she had already built a good following at such a young age off the back of her own talent.  It reminds me why I was so excited about her back then about how good she could become.

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2. Goodbye England (Covered in Snow) – Live at Crossing Border (2011)

Simple bit effective.  This to me is why Laura is so good.  She can stand alone on stage with just an acoustic guitar and convey true emotions better than most.  I know quite a few people get emotional listening to this song (especially if they’re a distance away from loved ones) and in this video there are a couple of brief moments where it seems to be affecting Laura too.

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3. Sophia – Live on WNYC (2011)

Laura has sung and performed ‘Sophia’ in various ways over the years but this early solo version is still one of my favourites. This is the video I show to people who want to know why I think Laura is so good and for me, ‘Sophia’ will always be one of her best songs.
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4. Once I Was An Eagle Suite/Medley – Live on WNYC (2013)
I know I’m not alone in thinking the medley/suite of 4 songs that open the album ‘Once I Was An Eagle’ is Laura‘s finest moment so far.  She always sounds good performing it but this version is a particular favourite of mine.  It’s such a beautifully controlled performance, her voice sounds great and she makes it look effortless.  There is a funny small mistake whereLaura repeats a lyric but it’s just a little reminder that it’s not as easy as Laura makes it look!
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5. Short Movie – Live at Queen Elizabeth Hall (2015)
The short hair may be back (a 7 year cycle according to Laura) but this is very different from the first video I chose and her other early songs.  I think the song ‘Short Movie’ is a highlight of Laura‘s current album as it builds perfectly on Laura‘s sound so that the transition to electric guitar sounds natural and right.  What I like about this video is that Laura is clearly loving playing electric guitar and playing more loudly after years of acoustic guitar.  It also shows how Laura has come a long way but the best is yet to come in my opinion.  Can’t wait :).
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 Thanks so much Nightrocker!
I’ve already linked to it folks, but I can’t advise you enough to experience Prey To None.  If you are a fan of Laura’s albums, this is a whole other side of her music that you have to experience.
On the topic of Top Five Fridays, a couple months back Laura curated a playlist on spotify in honor of the extended cut of her album she was releasing.  I always think it’s incredibly eye opening to see what the artists you respect are listening to.  I want to hang with a lady who can put Tom Petty and Kendrick Lamar on the same playlist.
Although sadly the site is no longer updated and stops in 2014, while it lasted, Alas I Love Laura Marling was a wonderful resource to keep track of Laura’s interviews and other various comings and goings.  With Laura’s general lack of interest in social media, fan sites like this are super important resources.
Laura’s really not big on social media, but she has started posting to instagram on occasion.
Remember folks you can check out the rest of Top Five Fridays in the archives.  We have some great new artists coming through the pipe line in the weeks ahead, so stay tuned!
well peace out good people of the world,
Peter Winter
Peter Winter is so happy that it is October and he can start watching horror movies.  He talks about music and horror movies on twitter peterwinter38