Bands To Keep An Eye On

Band: The Head And The Heart

Label: Sub Pop
Genre: Indie-Folk
Sounds like: Ryan Adams, Fanfarlo, Mumford & Sons
They hail from: Seattle, Washington
What to expect: Strong vocal harmonies with Americana roots, perfect percussion with strains of violin and surprise girlie vocals
Fun Fact: They sold out of self-burned CDs in stitched denim sleeves that they brought to concerts and local record stores, earning them the title of Seattle’s Best New Band by City Arts Magazine.
Standout Tracks: Rivers and Roads, Cats and Dogs
Lyrics: “Down in the valley with whiskey rivers, These are the places you’ll find me hidin’”

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List: 5 Winter to Spring Trade-ins

Spring has arrived! (At least for now). It is time to put away the wool sweaters and take some light blazers out of storage. It is time to trade the fuzzy ugg boots for converse sneakers and ballet flats. It is time to bust out the sunglasses and the straw bags and, in due time, the bathing suits and flip flops.

In addition the many wardrobe changes associated with the beginning of over-50 degree weather, I find that when the first spurt of spring arrives so begins a shift away on my recently-played list. I exchange my Ray Lamontagne and Fleet Foxes records for something more whimsical and light, like a Camera Obscura or a Noah and the Whale.

So in honor of that, I have complied a list of some spring “trade-ins” – meaning replacements for those bands that really only fit into the cold blustery days. Bust out your sunglasses, it is going to get bright in here…

From Fleet Foxes to Noah and the Whale
Fleet Foxes is one of my favorite “mountain-y” bands, as I have stated before. The fact that their sound emits certain ‘snow covered mountain’ imagery is unmistakable. So when the sun is out and the snow has melted, trade in your Fleet Foxes for your Noah and the Whale. NATW is pure joy and features ukulele, piano and clapping. Like Fleet Foxes, NATW has choruses and verses of enchanting harmonies. “Five Years Time” even has whistling! Delightful!
From Joshua Radin to Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers
Both of these male singer-songwriters have a certain amount of mainstream charm but have been largely unable to cash in. Radin, on one hand, is the perfect fall/winter artist. He even has a song named “Winter.” His vocals are quiet, yet powerful. Kellogg is a lighter version. Even though he is from Massachusetts, there is a certain degree of Southern twang in his voice. He is a great lyricist who departs wisdom on his listeners. He captures how it feels to be young and innocent in songs like “Summer” and “Blue Jean.” “Milwaukee” (from 2007’s “Glassjaw Boxer”) is all about growing up and dealing with the changes of life. Throughout the song he repeats “I guess I learned that too” as a response to all of the experiences that occurred in his young years.

From Interpol to Spoon
One of the major characteristics of “spring” bands for me is the use of lighter instruments, like ukuleles, tambourines and percussion shakers. In creating their own signature style, Spoon utilizes these tools. 2007’s “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga” is an excellent example. It includes Britt Daniel’s charming vocal style and melodies. “Don’t You Evah” and “Rhthm and Soul” both feature light drums and could be inserted into any road trip mix cd.
From The Frames to The Long Winters
Glen Hasnard, front man of The Frames, has a strong presence and a stronger sense of how to construct interesting lyrics. John Roderick, the front man of The Long Winters, also shares this talent. The Frames are much heavier than The Long Winters and that is why TLW are one of my favorite spring band replacements. The acoustic nature of many of their songs lend themselves to a feeling of airy goodness. One song, “Hindsight,” wonders what happens when the snow melts: will things be the same? Of course, TLW use some electric guitars (“Rich Wife,” “New Girl,” and others) but Roderick’s vocals, harmonies and acoustic sounds are the most noticeable. Overall, when listening to this band, you will imagine open fields and crave the sunshine.

From Ryan Adams toLimbeck

Limbeck is one of these bands that I believe more people should know about. Hailing from Orange County, California, they are an alt-country rock band whose influences include The Beach Boys, The Replacements and Old 97s (according to their wikipedia page). The great part about Limbeck is the way they play – with pure enjoyment. Their songs are geographically aware and touch upon experiences that are incredibly universal – like hanging out with friends, trying to decide what to do (“Everyone’s in the Parking Lot”), feeling frustrated (“Trouble”) and being home (“Let Me Come Home”). Their use of tambourines and hand claps is unmistakably interesting. “Honk and Wave,” one of their best tracks, is kind of about a road trip and kind of about a broken heart. The version on “Hey, Everything’s Fine” (an acoustic/live recording of the songs found on 2003’s “Hi, Everything’s Great) features banter and hand claps. It is as if the band is reliving the experience via a sing-along with all of their fans and friends.