Ben Plasse of The Howlin’ Brothers recommends The Sanctified Grumblers

Ben Plasse of The Howlin' Brothers (center) and The Sanctified Grumblers (right)

The Howlin’ Brothers (l) and The Sanctified Grumblers (r)

Ben Plasse’s artist recommendation: “The Sanctified Grumblers are my new favorite band, ever since we were lucky enough to share a bill with them in Chicago this year. We’ve traded CDs with hundreds of bands while touring this year, and we’ve discovered a lot of fantastic new music, but these guys really were the best, hands down. They have the best original songs I’ve heard in a long time and their sound is really raw and bluesy, which I love. We actually just got out of the studio recording a new album and I put in a little homage to The Sanctified Grumblers, where I twisted one of their lyrics a little and added it to one of Jared’s songs. I hope they like it. We were so inspired by their show and their album, it felt right to put a little tribute in.”

New to The Sanctified Grumblers? Ben suggests you start here: “The Sanctified Grumblers album, No Lie is medicine for your soul. We loved the song 9 Bar so much, we’ve started playing it live. We’re happy to help introduce new people to this amazing band!”

About our guest author, Ben Plasse: Ben is the bass player and vocalist in The Howlin’ Brothers, a trio made up of three friends who met at Ithaca College, fell in love with O Brother, Where Art Thou and continued on to win over fans and critics alike with their debut album, Howl. You could call their sound roots or bluegrass, but their music also has a modern edge, complete with cuss words and driving rhythms that sets the trio far from seeming like a hokey retro act. The No Depression site says of the group, ” In a day and age where pretense is everywhere, and ostentatious attitudes are abundant, The Howlin’ Brothers provide remarkably fresh and unassuming change of pace.” Their authenticity got the attention of Brendan Benson, the great solo artist who also happens to be a member of The Raconteurs with Jack White. Benson went on to produce The Howlin’s new EP, The Sun Studio Session, which was recorded, you guessed it, in the legendary Memphis Studio where Elvis, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis cut their classics. The EP will be out on October 14, but you can still get out and see one of their loose and lively, foot-stompin’ killer shows. Keep your eyes and ears on these guys. They’re only gonna get bigger!

Chris Porterfield of Field Report recommends The Weather Station

Chris Porterfield of Field Report  and Tamara Lindeman of The Weather Station

Chris Porterfield of Field Report and Tamara Lindeman of The Weather Station

Chris Porterfield’s artist recommendation: “There is a band out of Toronto called The Weather Station. It’s singer and songwriter Tamara Lindeman’s project. Lindeman is a brilliant songwriter, and her performance on this record has beauty and air and panache and grace and humanity and detachment and warmth, all at the same time. Her voice is aerial and effortless, but you get the sense that it got there from a lifetime of effort, both on her craft and living through the struggle of being alive.

Her clawhammer banjo playing or her open-tuned acoustic guitar are often the rhythmic foundation of a song, embellished by a
conscientious band of listeners playing pedal steel, fiddle, bass and drums. Other arrangements showcase her sensitive fluid playing, toying with tempo as a master interpreter of her own songbook, like Willie Nelson.”

Not familiar with The Weather Station? Chris suggests you start here: “The second Weather Station record, All Of It Was Mine, came out in 2011 and is absolutely stunning. I’ve been coming back to it since the day I first heard it. Listeners have compared her voice to a young Joni Mitchell, and I can hear it. But there was a naiveté to a lot of early Joni songs that is simply absent in The Weather Station. Lindeman’s narrators are extremely aware, and her ability to use words thoughtfully and beautifully and sparingly makes listening to All of It Was Mine a true revelation every single time.”

Chris PorterfieldAbout our guest author, Chris Porterfield: In 2003, Chris Porterfield was playing steel string guitar and collaborating a guy named Justin Vernon in a band called DeYarmond Edison in Eau Claire, WI. The story goes that he moved to Milwaukee to be with the love of his life (and eventual wife) while the rest of the band moved to Raleigh for a change of scenery. Chris simultaneously put music behind him and watched Vernon morph into the frontman of Bon Iver. You’d think the story would have a Pete Bestian ending, but you’d be wrong. Music kept nagging at Porterfield as he began to write and go to open mic nights. He put together a band (which he called Field Report), enlisted Beau Sorenson (Death Cab for Cutie) to engineer and used Vernon’s studio to record the self titled Field Report album that has won praise from Uncut, Paste and Q Magazine. Porterfield’s songs suck the listener in, submerging them down into dark details that are expertly counterbalanced by arrangements that flick at hope and spot-on vocals. Field Report’s story continues to curve to the positive as they recently secured an opening spot for the ever-great Emmylou Harris and WXPN in Pennsylvania calls their record “the best debut of the year.” Be sure to follow Field report, check their tour dates and more at the official Field Report website.

Kelsey Wilson of Wild Child recommends Holiday Mountain

Kelsey Wilson of Wild Child and Holiday Mountain

Kelsey Wilson of Wild Child (r) and Holiday Mountain

Kelsey Wilson’s recommendation: “The only music I listen to most of the time is music that was made at least thirty years ago. Nothing moves me more than the high priestess of soul, Nina Simone, or some good old-fashioned Stevie or Aretha. I grew up dancing in my living room to Curtis Mayfield, The Meters, and Sly and the Family Stone, and even now, funk, reggae and soul are still what wakes me up in the morning (literally – Sly’s, If You Want Me To Stay is my alarm clock).

That being said, within the last couple of weeks, I was introduced to a band from here in Austin called Holiday Mountain. Their album, Become Who You Are is the best thing I’ve heard in AGES. It’s the perfect combination of funk, reggae, soul, and a little something you’ve never heard before, that makes it impossible for you, or at least for me, not to wiggle around like an idiot.

The vocals are so perfect, kind of goofy, and listening to them you can’t help but smile and remember that music should always be made from love. You realize that the lyrics don’t really matter if the melody, rhythm or something else about the song makes you happy and makes you feel something when you hear it. Their lyrics are incredibly unique and uplifting, almost chant-like at times. Every once in a while the vocalist will just make silly noises that are so perfect it gives you chills.

I think as a musician, the most infectious thing you can do on stage is just smile and actually enjoy what you’re doing. People can hear it in your voice. That’s something I’m constantly reminding myself to do when I’m playing, and I’ve almost never seen any band do this more naturally or effortlessly than Holiday Mountain. Seeing them play reminds me to write and play and sing with passion, have FUN doing it (even if it doesn’t look cool), and remember that if you love making it, someone will probably love hearing it for that reason alone.”

Kelsey WilsonAbout our guest author, Kelsey Wilson: Yes, we jumped on the Wild Child bandwagon when we heard that the mighty Ben Kweller was slated to produce their sophomore album, The Runaround, but honestly, we should have been on top of this one sooner. Kelsey and Alexander Beggins are the co-leads of the band and they simply killed it with their debut album, Pillow Talk and the press responded appropriately. “By far one of the best albums to be released this year,” exclaimed KUT, Austin’s premiere radio station, a sentiment that was repeated by IndieShuffle and The Austin Statesman. If that praise doesn’t sway you, know that they also just cleaned up at the 2013 Austin Music Awards where they took home the awards for Best Indie Band and Best Folk Band. Simple arrangements, flawless harmonies and songs of heartbreak filled the first effort, but imagine injecting a fuller sound and Ben Kweller into the mix? Damn…the possibilities are endless. Be sure to keep up with the latest band news and tour dates at the Wild Child official band site

Suzanne Santo of honeyhoney recommends Eddie South and Radiohead

Suzanne Santo and Eddie South

Suzanne Santo and Eddie South

Suzanne Santo’s recommendation: “One of my favorite musicians of all time is a jazz violinist from Louisiana named Eddie South. I only have one record called Eddie South: The Dark Angel of the Fiddle: The Complete Standard Transcriptions that I listen to over and over. It is an instrumentally driven compilation (sans vocals) of the most gorgeous violin playing I have ever heard. He gave the instrument a dark yet delicate voice that I have yet to hear anyone else recreate. His gifts as well as his struggles as an African American musician in the late 20′s and 30′s are a true inspiration to me.

The other artist/album I can never get enough of is Radiohead’s In Rainbows. That record takes me through a gauntlet of emotions that leave me either wanting to go for a run, get it on or quit music and become an assassin. I come from the “mixed tape/cd” era where I want to feel a little bit of everything when I listen to music.”

Suzanne SantoAbout our guest author, Suzanne Santo: Suzanne Santo was working as an actress and tinkering in music when Ben Jaffe, a musician who recorded music for TV and film, went to one of Santo’s solo gigs. From there, the duo formed the band honeyhoney and were quickly signed to Kiefer Sutherland’s Ironworks music label. (Kiefer went on to star in and directed their video for Little Toy Gun.) Given Santo’s killer looks and the band’s history with mass media, it may be easy to write the group off as simply a solid band that aspires to end up on sitcom soundtracks. But that’d be a huge mistake. The band’s latest record, Billy Jack is layered with banjos and acoustic guitars, evoking equal parts of Gram Parsons, Rickie Lee Jones and Buffalo Springfield. This is roots music with a modern twist, complete with tight arrangements and Santo’s heartfelt vocals. Amazingly, the band is able to walk the mainstream line (they opened for Christina Perri on her tour) and still keep their head in the Dust Bowl. Be sure to check out their rollicking live shows on these upcoming tour dates.

MP3: Turn That Finger Around by honeyhoney from their album, Billy Jack