Gospel Claws seek help funding sophomore album

One of my favorite bands is looking for your help. Gospel Claws, like so many indie bands nowadays, is asking fans to donate money via Kickstarter to help fund their sophomore LP. The quintet needs a total of $12,000 to record the album and only need $4,000 more to cover the costs.

“If you don’t know us, we’re from Tempe, Arizona and have been playing music together since 2007,” they write on their Kickstarter, “Our record label, Common Wall Media, has helped us release a self-titled EP (2008) and a debut full length album, C-L-A-W-S (2010). Last year we were fortunate enough to be selected as an official showcasing act for SXSW as a result of our first album.”

In addition to being invited to 2011’s SXSW, the band was named a Best of What’s Next artist by Paste in November 2010 and I recently named them to the magazine’s 50 States Project as the best up-and-coming band based out of Arizona.

Here’s a video of them recording at Flying Blanket (Mesa, Ariz.) where they are recording the album with the legendary Bob Hoag.

Gospel Claw’s goal is to raise the funds by the first week of June and they are offering an array of packages for pledgers. Check the project out to see a breakdown of recording costs and a funny video of them introducing themselves and explaining the project.

Richard Edwards on his own music

I talked to Richard Edwards, frontman of Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s quite a bit over the past couple of months at places like Drunken Unicorn in Atlanta and at DeLuna Fest  in Florida as well as multiple phone conversations for a feature that will go live in tomorrow’s (March 20) Paste Magazine mPlayer.

At the tail end of one lengthy conversation I asked him to discuss his favorite songs he had written for each album and which one he’d like to change. It was more of a fanboy moment than a journalist moment, but I wanted to share part of the transcript. This particular interview took place on January 30 via a phone call.

On favorite tracks written for each album:

Dust of Retreat – The only one on there that I can still listen to without cringing – I think “Skeleton Key” is a really interestingly laid out song. I get why people like it. I wish the lyrics were different – but the one whole song on there that I still think is pretty good is “Bookworm.” I know it’s probably not most people’s favorite, but that one sounds a little bit mature, I guess, than any of the other stuff on there.

Not Animal – I don’t think it’s the best song on there necessarily, but I really like that “Shivers” thing. I just like listening to it and it was always fun to play. It never seemed to go over that well; that’s why I think we quit playing it. I don’t think that’s the best song on that record. That record has some songs that are pretty good, but that’s definitely one of my favorites.

Animal! – It’s not quite as easy. “O’ What a Nightmare!” is always kind of up there for me. I really like that “Mariel” song. I still think “My Baby Shoots Her Mouth Off” is a creepy, cool song. If I had to pick out of all of them I’d probably say “O’ What a Nightmare!”

Buzzard – It’s tough. I still like quite a bit of those a lot. Probably “Birds.” It’s probably the best song I’ve written in general. It’s number one on there. I think “New York City Hotel Blues” and “Claws” are pretty good songs. I really like “Tiny Vampire Robots” a lot. It feels really cool when I listen to it.

Rot Gut, Domestic – My favorite song on there is probably a song called “Fisher of Men.” It’s kind of another rock song. It’s another one that I don’t really know if it’s the best song on there technically, but I like it the best.

On the song he would want to change the most:

I can’t get into Dust of Retreat that much and I’m happy for people who can. I was still very young and didn’t quite have my voice as a singer. It’s hard to listen to it without wishing I could have discovered my voice which I guess I have found since that record. That whole record is kind of difficult to listen to.

I really, really, really wish “I Am a Lightning Rod” was not recorded the way it fucking is. And “A Love Song For Schuba’s Bartender.” Those are the only two major regrets that I have as far as recordings and they are kind of huge major regrets. I think “Love Song” was a nice kind of funny ballad and it got worked over to where it sounded – I don’t know. It doesn’t sound like us. It sounds like a band trying to record a song that they feel self conscious about being a ballad. “Lightning Rod” was one of my favorite songs and I kind of thought of it as sort of – I don’t know. Forget what I thought it was, but what it ended up being I really, really have a problem with some of the guitar stuff on it. I think it kind of Radioheaded it up. It’s another one that I listen to that when those moments come up it kind of bums me out because I feel less like naturally what comes to us and a little bit more like it’s trying a bit too hard to mess with something as opposed to playing it pretty naturally like we would. I wish that song was a lot more sparkly. I wish I would have just recorded by myself with an acoustic guitar. Then it, at the very least, it will sound like us and not like a stretch.

After those songs specifically I became a lot stricter and proactive about making sure that nothing was happening on tunes that didn’t feel like it came from me or us naturally. I like the songs and that’s the bummer; I just wish that they were done with a bit more whatever-who-gives-a-fuck mentality.

‘Crackpot Mind’

Made another playlist. This one really didn’t have much thought to it and I’m not sure about the flow yet. There’s a lot of slower jams (what else is new?) and some artists I’ve never included in a 15 song set. I’m also too lazy to link all of the bands, so you’ll have to Google them yourself.

The title of it comes from one of the first lines from the first song. Enjoy.

  1. “Lunatic, Lunatic, Lunatic” – Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s
  2. “second wind” – yellowbirddd
  3. “Dane to Another Tune” – First Aid Kit
  4. “Yellow Brick Road” – Angus & Julia Stone
  5. “Missing Things” – JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound
  6. “That’s My Baby” – Sleeper Agent
  7. “Dead Sea” – The Lumineers
  8. “Sloom” – Of Monsters and Men
  9.  “Cheerleader” – St. Vincent
  10. “Hold You Down” – Childish Gambino
  11. “I Know Places” – Lykke Li
  12. “Prehistoric” – Now, Now
  13. “Gold Mountain” – Slow Club
  14. “Won’t Back Down” (acoustic Tom Petty cover) – Company of Thieves
  15. “Down in The Valley” – The Head and the Heart

Song of the Day: “Emmylou” – First Aid Kit

Every day (or as often as I remember/have time for) I will select song of the day and post some commentary.

Today’s song of the day is brought to you by a two sisters who were featured on my most anticipated album list for 2012 and a playlist I created a while back. First Aid Kit’s “Emmylou” is the iTunes track of the week and you can download it here for free.

Why should you download it?

Well, it’s a terrific Americana folk track about Stockholm. Wait, what? Yeah, that’s right. It’s about the bitter winter air consuming the singer and her desire for summer to come save her. There are great lines referencing classic American couples like the Parsons and Cashes.

“I’ll be you’re Emmylou and I’ll be your June
If you’ll be my Graham and my Johnny, too”

It’s a terrific love song that harkens some of the most fundamental folk traditions. Be sure to download it. Remember: it’s free!

My 5 most anticipated albums of 2012

Paste recently posted our 25 albums that the staff is looking forward to. My main man Tyler compiled the list and I had a hand in writing two write ups. One was my most anticipated album of the year (which is Paste’s 13th) and the other was just because I’ve been doing a lot of write-ups on the band.

Anyway, I’ve decided that I need to give you my five albums I’m most looking forward to.

5. TBA MixtapeChildish Gambino (TBA)
Donald Glover recently posted a blog saying that a mixtape was coming soon. While it’s still up in the air about when this would happen, it sent me into a frenzy. I’m trying to get a hold of his publicist so that I can get confirmation. Needless to say, a follow up to my favorite album of 2011 so soon would be the ultimate gift.

4. TBADavid Wax Museum (TBA)
I recently interviewed David Wax and Suz Slezak, and they told me their ideal release for the follow up to last year’s Everything Is Saved would be September. Their last album was one of my favorites from 2011 and I’m excited they want to make a more concise sound so quickly and are pushing to get another set of songs out by year’s end.

3. The Lion’s RoarFirst Aid Kit (Jan. 24)
You won’t have to wait long for this album. These Swedish sisters sound like they’ve been playing Americana since birth and have nearly perfected the folk singer-songwriter skills. What makes the album special is that it takes classic American folk, but uses Swedish influences that put a unique spin on what you’d expect.

2. The Lumineers The Lumineers (March)
I’ve already obtained an advanced copy, and can promise you this will be a favorite for many of you. Think Edward Sharpe, but less kitschy and more solid. It takes an autobiographical approach to a mixture of emotions and adds layers of fun sounds that have become quite popular in recent years. I can already count four possible singles off of it, but the rest of the album is just as solid.

1. Rot Gut, DomesticMargot and the Nuclear So and So’s (March)
When wouldn’t a Margot album be my most anticipated album of a year? I was shown the album cover during an interview (which will turn into a feature in March) with Richard Edwards a few months ago and he told me I was the first person outside of the band and close friends to see it. I’ve been eagerly awaiting this and loved the acoustic versions I witness Edwards play in Florida of “Prozac Rock” and “Coonskin Cap.”  It took me a bit to get used to Buzzard, but now that I know what to expect…boy, oh, boy! March can’t get here fast enough

‘Letter Home’

Lately I’ve relied on the good nature of friends to allow me to stay at their places while I lead what I’ve been calling a “homeless chic” lifestyle. I’ve been on the search for income, but that’s another story for another day. Needless to say my sleep pattern has been off because of a lot of aspects of my life have been pulling me in all sorts of directions and crashing.

But I digress.

Last night I got the three and a half best hours of sleep that I’ve had in a long time and I guess my body decided that four a.m. was an appropriate time to wake up. Throughout that time I thought of a new mix I wanted to create and just finished it up. I tried to pick out lyrics that helped explain my search of a home and a better understanding about where I’m going in life.

I’ve accompanied the track listing with lyrics I pulled out. It’s weird, looking back on them I realized that I think a lot of the “you’s” that are mentioned are some sort of home, or in some cases they’re me.

Its title is ­Letter Home; here it is.

  1. “Letter Home” by Childish GambinoCamp
  2. “Rivers and Roads” by The Head and the HeartThe Head and the Heart
  3. “Lucky Guy” by The Belle BrigadeThe Belle Brigade
  4. “Won’t Go Quietly” by Company of ThievesRunning From a Gamble
  5. “Plant a Garden” by TW Walsh Songs of Pain and Leisure
  6. “To a Poet” by First Aid KitThe Lion’s Roar
  7. “Look What You’ve Done To Me” by David Wax MuseumEverything Is Saved
  8. “Call It Off (Live) by Tegan & SaraGet Along
  9. “Mistaken For Strangers” by The NationalBoxer
  10. “Never Let Me Go” by Florence + the Machince –  Ceremonials
  11. “bare bones love” by yellowbirddddmissing
  12. “Cookskin Cap” by Margot and the Nuclear So and So’sLive From DeLuna
  13. “Cruel and Beautiful World”  by GrouploveNever Trust a Happy Song
  14. “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.” by Noah and the Whale – Last Night On Earth
  15. “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – Up From Below

Here’s some lyrics that stood out from each track:
  1. “You’re the only girl that I have ever wanted, every other girl is trying to be you”
  2. “And they’re going to better places, but our friends will be gone away”
  3. “Seems like a hell of a way to start out for me: walk right in and cause such misery”
  4. “I will not go quietly! I will not be silenced!”
  5. “I cannot stress this point enough: plant a garden when the going gets rough”
  6. “Oh, there’s nothing more to it; I just get through it”
  7. “I stay right where I am for the sake of this love”
  8. “Maybe you would have been something I’d be good at”
  9. “Make up something to believe in your heart of hearts so you have something to wear on your sleeve of sleeves”
  10. “Though the pressure’s hard to take, it’s the only way I can escape. It seems a heavy choice to make”
  11. “But now the world is getting smaller and i’m losing track of the days”
  12. “Keeping my ears warm, breaking my heart”
  13. “If it seems like we’re falling behind, we’re just slippin’ and tuggin’ from the mouths of our mind”
  14. “You’ve got more than money and sense, my friend, you’ve got heart and you go in your own way”
  15. “Home is wherever I’m with you”

Song of the Day: “Low Shoulder” – yellowbirddd

Everyday (or as often as I remember/have time for) I will put my iPod on shuffle and the first song that comes on will be song of the day and receive a a post chock full of commentary.

Welcome to the first installment of SotD. Today’s track is “Low Shoulder” of of my good friend Liam McCormack’s (who goes under the moniker yellowbirddd) latest album, missing. Considering this was his first LP with a full band, I’m suprised by how good it was.

“Low Shoulder” is a great jam filled with a catchy acoustic riff and backing music reminiscent of good ol’ ’90s rock. And that’s not a bad thing.

McCormack has a keen ear for a sing-song melody. His vocals have an ere of innocence, especially when he crows, “and I got a low shoulder / you should come over / rest your head right next to me .”

Here’s a video of him performing “Low Shoulder” way back in 2010 (and the day after I officially met him the first time).


Check out his site and Band Camp for more information.



Listen to “Prozac Rock”

My favorite band, Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s, released their first single off of Rot Gut, Domestic (out in March) on New Year’s Eve.

I saw Richard Edwards play “Prozac Rock” live, solo and acoustic while sitting on a beach in Florida, but the full band track is completely different.

When he met with label executives he said they told him it sounded like a #1 hit from 1994. When I talked to him a few weeks later he said that was an exaggeration, but it honestly has that sound that came from the tail end of the grunge era.

My favorites of 2011

Here are my favorite albums, television shows and films of 2011. Enjoy.

5 albums:

1. Camp – Childish Gambino
A great first “official” album from Donald Glover that might not be as good as his EP, but offers a unique look into hip-hop: no  samples, no overhyped collaborations, just Donald and his friends doing what they do best.
For fans of: doing shots of whiskey, Asian girls, self-conscious revelations
Top tracks: “Heartbeat,” “Backpackers,” “Kids (Keep Up)

2. Happy Hour at Sprigg’s: Volume One – Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s
Richard Edwards is a master when it comes to crafting songs and it’s a real treat to hear him do a set solo and acoustic to appreciate songs from the “new Margot” era.
For fans of: wool-knit caps, intricate stories, raw honesty
Top tracks: “A Journalist Falls In Love With Death Row Inmate #16,” “There’s a Freakshow Downtown,” “Freakflight Speed”

3. Never Trust a Happy Song – GROUPLOVE
This group of friends just wants to have fun and that’s exactly what they do on this poppy album. They don’t take themselves too seriously, but they have serious skills
For fans of: laying on the beach, grabbing a bite to eat with friends, staying energetic
Top tracks: “Lovely Cup,” “Slow,” “Betty’s a Bombshell”

4. Everything is Saved – David Wax Museum
Mexicana-folk which contains slow, melodic songs as well as flashy upbeat songs. David Wax and Suz Slezak are unique indivuduals who have provided a unique sound.
For fans of: traditional folk, quirkiness, history class
Top tracks: “Unfruitful,” “Yes, Maria, Yes,” “Lavender Street”

5. Running from a Gamble – Company of Thieves
Amazing vocals, epic guitars and rocking percussion. They’re the most non-traditional traditional rockers around. The album is good, but the group is leaps and bounds better live.
For fans of: hand claps,  cinematic adventures, falling in love for all the right reasons
Top tracks: “Never Come Back,” “Gorgeous/Grotesque,” “Syrup”

5 shows:

1. Community – NBC
What is there to say about this show? It’s clever and the pop culture references are on another level. While the characters are sometimes caricatures, it works for the show and Abed perhaps the greatest character in this millennium. The only thing that can stop this show is the looming TBA return for the third season. NBC better recognize that the viewership is skewed because Nielsen ratings are a conspiracy.
Favorite episodes: “Advanced Dungeons and Dragons” (2.14), “Regional Holiday Music” (3.10)

2. How I Met Your Mother – CBS
It’s Friends, but smarter and more complicated. I love the mystery even though a lot of fans are growing weary of how long it has been dragged on. Even if discovering who the mother truly is has taken a backseat, the characters are still some of the realest on television.
Favorite episodes:  “The Perfect Cocktail” (6.22), “Ducky Tie” (7.03)

3. Dexter – Showtime
Whether the recently-wrapped sixth season was the best in the series or not is not even a real question (it’s not). It may have been slow, but I don’t mind slow. It built towards the biggest plot development since Rita’s death. There’s two seasons left and the finale was basically a pilot for the remaining 24 episodes.
Favorite episode: “Just Let Go” (6.06), “This Is the Way the World Ends” (6.12)

4. Wilfred – FX
It’s not amazing, but it’s interesting. I appreciate the freshness of the comedy and find the dark undertones to be surprisingly pleasant. The first season has a lot of bumps along the way, but it’s another show that will become a cult hit.
Favorite episodes: “Acceptance” (1.04), “Anger” (1.08)

5. The Killing – AMC
Sure, the show relied on a ton of red herrings and the first season finale frustrated me, but I can not wait for the second season to premiere. If you haven’t checked this out yet, I’d give it a shot.
Favorite episodes: “Pilot” (1.01), “Vengeance” (1.07)

5 films:

1. Midnight in Paris – Sony Picture Classics
I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t seen a lot of films this year. It’s sad, I know, but even if I saw all of the Oscar-favorites, I still believe Woody Allen’s comedy would be my top choice. It captured my desire to be in a different time period and explores delicate emotions that I connect with so well.

2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two – Warner Bros.
Okay, let’s be real: Harry Potter was my life. Without JK Rowling’s epic saga, I’m pretty sure I’d be a different person than I am now. It opened my eyes to a new genre. I hated the idea of the boy wizard up until a certain age and while I may have been late to the party, I never looked back.

3. Super 8 – Paramount/Bad Robot
Nostalgia. That’s why this film works so well for me. It’s time period is prior to my lifetime, but the emotions evoked are timeless. I feel we all want to go back to our childhood. We all want to relive that moment that changed our lives forever. This film is more than whether or not the monster was scary or not. So stop whining about how cheesy it looked.

4. Martha Marcy May Marlene – Fox Searchlights
I always like these dark, non-linear films. I initially thought, “Eh, I would have liked to see this story told in a traditional way” but then realized it wouldn’t have worked. If you have seen this film, let’s talk about…well, the entire film. I have a feeling I read it a lot differently than most.

5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Columbia/MGM
Maybe this made the list because I just saw it yesterday. I love the mystery of the first novel/film. I wish the rest of the trilogy was more like this, but understand the story is more about Lisbeth than anything. I just rather it not be. Rooney Mara’s transformation was terrific. I viewed her as the cute girl next door, but not anymore. She blew me away.

I promise I’ll blog more in 2012. Until then!

Top 5 moments from DeLuna Fest

Today Paste posted a list of our favorite moments from DeLuna Fest and one of my favorite moments made the list. Here’s my five most memorable moments (in chronological order) that I experienced this past weekend.

  1. Before the festival I interviewed Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s frontman Richard Edwards for a feature I’m working on to coincide with their upcoming album. It turned out Edwards was doing an acoustic session on the dunes for our AV crew and I went along to talk to Erik Kang (multi-instrumentalist and tour manager).  As I sat talking to Kang I watched Edwards sit quietly atop his guitar case singing quietly to himself in preparation for the three song set. I was blown away at hearing one of my favorite songs, “A Journalist Falls In Love With Death Row Inmate #16” as well as two brand new songs off of Rot Gut, Domestic. He played “Prozac Rock” and “Coonskip Cap” so softly that I nearly fell over leaning in to hear him.
  2. As Givers played their set on one of the smallest stages, everyone turned it into a dance party. I was a little farther back and away from the flailing, but standing next to me was Ra Ra Riot. I congratulated them on their earlier set and we talked and swayed back and forth to the Cajun-influenced music.
  3. Most of the earlier bands had scattered crowds. Even Telekinesis on one of the main stages had barely anyone there when the Seattle-trio started their set. Halfway through the crowd was a little larger, but certainly not as big as the band deserved. Frontman Michael Benjamin Lerner sat at his drums and said, “I’m sure we can all hear each other, so does anyone have questions?” Some people asked when they’d be back in a certain town, but one lady named Emma asked them to play “Fever Chill.” The band obliged even though they hadn’t played the song in years.
  4. This is sad that it’s on my list, but it was totally fun. I spent most of the day Saturday running back and forth to get free whiskey and cokes so often that the bouncers at the VIP tent started to recognize me. This all led to an awesome evening at the Shins. Garden State told me the band would change my life, and though James Mercer didn’t do that, the combination of whiskey and “New Slang” made for one hell of a night.
  5. I interviewed Grouplove early Sunday for a Best of What’s Next feature and it was awesome. We sat underneath the pier in the shade and talked about basic facts I needed to know, but they ventured off into hilarious stories. I met back up with them later that night after they rockin’ set and ended up eating dinner with them before drinking in the jacuzzi. We discussed everything from what inspires all of us and how the early 1990s are awesome. They thought it was awesome I watched 11 seasons of Cheers and now am watching Roseanne on Netflix. (So everyone in the office can suck it.) My favorite part of the conversation was discussing Kurt Cobain, Nirvana and how it’s better to die a legend than grow old and tweet about some bullshit.