Coming Back to Life: The 2016 Spring Mix

unnamedIt’s closing in on the best night of the year…Daylight Saving Time begins in an hour. Tomorrow, it won’t be dark outside until 7 PM, and my internal clock will once again be back on track. While most of my friends are out getting an early start on St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to stay in and tackle finishing up the Spring Mix.

Spring is definitely in the air here in the Queen City. After a pretty emotionally tough few months – winter is always rough for me – I feel myself finally starting to perk up. The 2016 Spring Krissie Mix is definitely a reflection of what’s been going on in my life as I was building it…it is ALL OVER the place. Some new artists, some old loves. Some happy tunes, some sad. Anyway, there’s a little something for everyone to love.

If you want to read about why I was listening to these songs, or how I found out about the artists, or just get a sort of creepy look inside the way my brain works, download the liner notes here. I didn’t do a label this time around…if anyone really wants one, send me a note and I’ll make one for you. But I figure no one is really burning CDs anymore, right?

Happy almost Spring, everyone!

 

Advertisements

New Year, New Mix

Hello, friends.

I know it’s been months since I’ve written. No excuses. I just haven’t felt like writing much lately. Work is kicking my butt and the last thing I want to do at night is come home and fire up the old computer. My company – where I have been for nearly 18 years – got sold and the merging of the two new companies isn’t the smoothest transition ever. It’s been stressful. And my Mom had to have some more treatment – cancer sucks, by the way – so I made a quick trip home to Jersey to be with her for awhile. (She’s doing okay…strongest person I know, my Mom.)

Honestly, you guys, I’ve been pretty blue. And tired.

But it’s not all gloom and doom. I haven’t been sitting around doing nothing. I closed out 2015 with a big milestone…seeing more than 100 live shows in a year (101, to be precise). Kind of a big deal for me – I’ve never done it before, and I’ve been keeping track of all the shows I’ve gone to since 2004. It was such a big deal that one of my sweet friends made me a trophy. I’m really proud of myself…I got outside of my box and saw a LOT of new music this year. Artists and bands I didn’t know. I found new loves. Oh, and Christopher Jak is BACK. Played a show in Charlotte. And is making a new record. So there’s that.

And of course, the Panthers are making history here in Charlotte. So that’s super exciting, especially for those of us who have cheered them on through a couple of really tough seasons.

In between all of this, I made the Winter Mix. But the notes, which are usually my favorite part, just weren’t coming easy to me. I guess the whole not feeling like writing thing has been sort of infecting all of my life. So I’ve been sitting on it for awhile. But it’s a new year, and I’m trying to get re-inspired about writing.

So here it is. The Winter Mix. Winter’s definitely not my favorite season, but I like this mix a lot. Hope you will, too.

Grab the notes and the label here.

Lots of love,

Krissie

Quiet Hounds & The Wild Hunt

Quiet Hounds The Wild Hunt

The Wild Hunt, the latest album from Atlanta’s brilliant Quiet Hounds, drops on August 9th.

I am turning 40 next week.

It’s a big birthday, and to my credit, I am not freaking out about it. That said, the milestone has me doing a bit of serious reflecting ­– where I am versus where I thought I’d be, the things I’ve cut from my life in recent years and the things that really are important, and mostly where I go from here. I think a lot of people do this, don’t they? Because no matter how happy we are, I think it’s human nature to always be on the hunt for that next big moment, the new best thing…

Amidst all this ruminating and nostalgia this week, the new Quiet Hounds album, The Wild Hunt, landed on my desk. My admiration for this band hasn’t been much of a secret; I’ve put their music on a bit of a pedestal. I have an insane amount of respect for the way they’ve struck out to create music that is a deep and reflective experience ­– to challenge the “accepted” way of doing things. They’ve been uncharacteristically quiet as of late, so when The Wild Hunt arrived this week, it was an unexpected surprise and I dove in with pretty high expectations.

The experience begins before the first note even sounds, with the album preamble, where the Hounds set the stage:

Mystical creatures crafting story.
Personified in song and otherworldly experiences.
The Quiet Hounds find themselves amongst the souls, the embers, the lights of a new journey.
A seekers chase, a race to find the questions and to build the answers. The past, the future, the present. They all have their role.
And so the Wild Hunt begins…

A story of hardship, of life and of love. The weary traveler’s tale can only be sung. Though the cities have yearned, the path has been long and the wanderer takes on a life of his own. So listen close for his language is old but his message is burned into the deepest of souls. May you smile or may you cry, be you lifted by the light, share this tale with all kin in sight.

The record is, as I’ve come to expect from this sextet of artists and their compatriots, masterful. A few factoids on the actual recording: the album was tracked in a number of places around Atlanta, including the famed Southern Tracks studio. It was mastered to analog tape, so if you’re a critical listener, you’re going to notice the richer tones and slightly fuzzier sound (with all the percussion and low-end in this record, it sounds pretty fantastic.)

At 33 minutes, it is the longest of the three QH albums. There are nine tracks in total, and eight full-length songs, making it the deepest dive the band has taken to date. That’s not the only difference fans will notice. These songs seem decidedly more personal; while the lyrical poetry that is a QH hallmark is still at play, the fantastical and historical elements that peppered earlier songs are toned down in The Wild Hunt. Instead of an exotic adventure through lands foreign to us, this record is much more of an emotional journey ­­– and if you’ll forgive the metaphor, a lot like real life.

The album begins with an outtake from a later track, and then kicks off hot and heavy with “Good Bones,” a youthful, angsty, rebellious song loaded with clapping, buzzy bass, wicked drumming and cymbal smashes, and even a howling hound. “Wild Light” continues this theme of youth and adventure, of striking out to create yourself, no matter the risk. The horn arrangement that dominates the last minute of this song is pretty damn spectacular.

Things settle down a little bit with the hazy, sing-songy “Cove Noises,” the closest thing to an outright love song I think the band has done. That is followed by a tremendously upbeat “Young Clover,” which could easily be a breakout single for the band, with its snappy staccato percussion and stick-with-you chorus. Is this a song for a lover or a new spouse?  A song from a young parent to their child, or an aging parent to their adult child? I can’t quite put my finger on it, but this song just fits here. (Watch a live takeaway of Young Clover here.)

A pair of rockers, “Underwater Listening” and most likely my favorite Quiet Hounds song of all time, “Dangerlove,” team up to form what I’ve been calling the “midlife” songs: doing the work it takes to keep the life you’ve built, fighting for your identity and for those that you love, questioning your decisions, and pushing through the tough times. [Aside: Word from the QH camp is that “Dangerlove” barely made the cut for the record, so I have to say a little “thank you” to the band for bringing it to life.]

If this record is the tale of a life’s journey, then the closing two songs are reflective, looking back at life, teaching lessons to those of us yet to get to those later years. “Stand and Stare” is the carpe diem anthem, the one that chides us with quiet snaps not to waste and to not be held back, with a particular warning for our technology-obsessed society. “Making time to listen is an accident / we fall into our boxes, so hollow / Making time to turn away and lift our heads into the atmosphere/ oh, I follow.” The capstone of the album is “Weathervane,” an orchestral number rich with strings and timpani that reminds us that wherever our wild hunts may take us, we must seek out the things that truly bring us joy and comfort. It reminds me of Whitman, telling us “In things best known to you, finding the sweetest, strongest, lovingest/ Happiness, knowledge, not in another place, but this place, not for another hour but this hour.”

The Wild Hunt reveals another dimension of this mysterious band of brothers,  the next phase of the continuing evolution of Quiet Hounds. They’ve made an album that allows their audience to find a bit of themselves in every song. It’s that type of emotional connection that makes art the most meaningful, and that – at least for this fan ­– makes The Wild Hunt the best of what Quiet Hounds have created so far.

And as for me, I’m feeling a little inspired. I’m thinking that 40 might be my best decade yet.

The Wild Hunt will be released on August 9 to the public, coinciding with Quiet Hounds opening for Rodrigo y Gabriela at Chastain Park in Atlanta. For you vinyl enthusiasts, the album was also recently cut in Nashville, so expect an actual record to be available within the next few months.

More Quiet Hounds:  Web | Facebook | Twitter | Buy Megaphona or Southern Charm on iTunes

Pondering the Plight of the Modern Musician with The Well Reds

Volume is the soon-to-be sophomore release from Atlanta's The Well Reds.

Volume is the soon-to-be sophomore release from Atlanta’s The Well Reds.

Being a musician these days isn’t easy.  Costs of recording, merch, and touring mount up quickly.  Couple that with the fact that there are more artists vying for listeners ears than ever before, and that an increasing number of listeners are choosing less-profitable methods of hearing music… and, well, let’s just say it’s not easy to be a musician these days. However, artists continue to pour out their energy, their soul, and their wallets to make music for us.  Maybe that’s because they have an innate NEED to do it.

This idea is humorously captured in a new video from The Well Reds, a pop-rock four-piece from Atlanta, Georgia that has been gaining steam over the last three years.  The video is for the debut single “BPM (I Feel Rhythm) from their forthcoming album, Volume.  The fast-paced, dancy number spells out the plight of today’s modern musician … having to work a day job to fund your true passion.  While the video playfully depicts band members working day jobs (my particular favorite is Torin as a barista…), the sentiment is clear:  we do this because we love it, because we love our fans, and because there’s nothing that makes us feel more alive.

The best part of all of this? The single is available for free download on Noisetrade RIGHT NOW.

Check out the video for “BPM (I Feel Rhythm)” and get stoked for new music from these fellas!

MORE INFO ON THE FORTHCOMING ALBUM FROM THE WELL REDS
The sophomore release from The Well Reds, Volume was crowd-funded through a successful Kickstarter campaign in early 2013. For the last 10 months, the band has been diligently at work in the studio with producer Joseph Prielozny. Watch for more news on a release date here soon!

More The Well Reds:  Web | Facebook | Twitter | The Violet EP on iTunes and Amazon

New Music from Mighty Oaks

Hi.  Happy 2014.  I’ve been a total blogging slacker.  I’ll get better, I promise.

Although the year has gotten off to a slow start, there have been a bunch-a good music things a brewing this week, a ridiculous concert calendar shaping up through March, and The Rock Boat is only five weeks away.

But today…today brought the best thing of 2014 so far.  A new (and unexpected, which makes it that much sweeter!) song and video from Mighty Oaks – the American-Italian-British trio living in Germany.  AND, even better… news that they have a new album, Howl, coming out on February 28th!

The band describes “Brother” as “a story of friendship, youth, and adventure.” The video is darling. My loyal-to-the-core heart loves the story, adores the idea of friendships so strong that time can’t weather them. I’m telling you kids, this band…this band is going to win hearts in a big way.  2014 is their year.

I am already hopelessly obsessed with this song.  Give it until 1:30, I bet you will be, too.

If you’re lucky enough to live in Germany, you can pre-order the new album on iTunes or Amazon. (I’m hoping that it will be available in the States soon, too… but if it’s not, I may have to find a German friend willing to buy it for me on release day!)

More Mighty Oaks: Web | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud | Just One Day EP