Tuesday, December 11, 2012

2012 Review Part Two - Favorite Albums

The albums that comprise this list were released in 2012, went to the top of my "must listen to this all the time" list and stayed there long enough to leave an impression. They are ordered chronologically by my personal date of discovery, not release date or level of awesomeness.

There were others, of course, but I'm big into lists of three and much of what I listened to in 2012 was old news by the time I found it.

Here we go!

Come Back As Rain by Good Old War

I was blown away by Good Old War when I saw them open for Guster a few years ago. I was fortunate to be able to see them open for Counting Crows this summer and I was even more impressed. Their sound is perfect for lounging on the lawn at a summer concert. They execute such a tight and delightful harmony to music that feels down-home comfortable. Every single track on Come Back As Rain is good. If I had to pick a favorite, I would not be able to. I'd say "Oh, Better Weather. No wait, Amazing Eyes. Or Can't Go Home. No, definitely Not Quite Happiness..." and on and on.

Keep in Touch by Old Best Friend

I wasn't sure if an EP qualified for this list but then I realized that I make the rules and if I say it belongs here, it does. I saw Mike Comite of Old Best Friend play with Julia Nunes at Common Ground in July and I was rather impressed by the couple of his songs that they played. He mentioned that his stuff was on Bandcamp and so when I got home, I looked it up and sort of went bananas over it. It's a small but very well done collection of story-telling songs and I hope we hear more from Old Best Friend soon.

Smoke Signals by Dan & the Wildfire

Dan & the Wildfire is one of my favorite Twitter Bands - that is, bands that I discovered via Twitter. I'm not really sure how we found each other there but I'm so glad that we did because this album is just so good I would hate to have missed out. The sound overall is a really fantastic blend of instruments and voices --  a little meatier than Good Old War but not heavy at all. Plus, there's trumpet (!) that is just delightful. This album is very easy to listen to. Each track holds up on its own and flows pleasantly to the next. Very sing-along-able, too.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Julia Nunes with Nat Osborn

The band
Julia Nunes with Nat Osborn
The venue
Some guy named Ben's living room
December 2, 2012

Julia Nunes plays ukelele and writes songs that are emotional, silly, honest and relatable. I'd seen her once before, at Common Ground this past July. Prior to that, I really only knew a handful of her songs from YouTube. That was enough for me to know she was impressive and her live performance only built on what I already knew.

A few weeks ago she embarked with Nat Osborn (who plays guitar and piano) on a living room tour after wrapping up a stint opening for Walk Off the Earth (another band I saw at Common Ground who, by the way, were super awesome). I'd never been to a house concert before and I wasn't sure what to expect. It was a much older crowd than I imagined and I certainly hadn't considered the place would be packed full of ukelele enthusiasts but that was what we got! It was a pretty cool mix of people in attendance.

If you've never heard Julia Nunes, you're missing out. If you've heard her but haven't heard her live, you're still missing out. She made a comment during the Q & A portion of the show that she never really thought her voice was that great and she said "people always say, 'no way, your voice is great!' So don't do that." So I didn't, but now I will. Her voice is great! The girl's got pipes. It's strong and really gorgeous. Nat's voice was also really great and they sounded amazing together. As they said, they've been playing these songs together for weeks and weeks so they better mesh well by this point, but I think it's more than that, too. He was a really lovely complement to her.

Beyond sounding super great, they were also funny and play well off each other. Julia did a great Q&A with some interesting questions. It's always cool to hear an artist talk about their songs and their history and Julia just seems to have a cool personality, very engaging and goofy, so that part was almost as fun as listening to them play.

I will always try to see Julia Nunes play when she comes to town. I was disappointed that I missed her on the Walk Off the Earth tour but the living room set made up for it for sure.

Check out Julia & Nat singing "O Come, All Ye Faithful".