The Habit

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New Album

New Album

The next time someone tries to tell me that The Lumineers or, God help me, Mumford & Sons are updating folk traditions for the masses I’m going to plop them down in a chair and make them listen to The Town Where We Live In, the sophomore offering from Brooklyn-based The Habit, who mingle contemporary Americana with the folk-grounded, punk-infused greatness that powered prime Pogues, Waterboys and X side project The Knitters as well as current Stateside kindred spirits like The Devil Makes Three, Trampled By Turtles and Split Lip Rayfield [seriously, “Break Down The Walls” on the new album is the best Shane MacGowan not actually penned by that semi-toothless whiskey sponge].

Like these quality forebears and contemporaries, it’s the mingling of dead solid musicianship, touching vocals, and especially, great songwriting that elevates The Habit above the norm. It’s a careful dance of elements that requires a kind of sincerity and devotion to music in the larger sense that goes well beyond a desire for notoriety, adoration and riches that poisons too many wells. Even just two albums into their catalog it’s clear The Habit skip with moving dexterity and enlivening energy.

Will Croxton (guitars, vocals, songwriting), Siobhan Glennon (lead vocals, keyboards), Tyler Holzer (mandolin, keys), Brian Mendes (guitars, harmonica, vocals, songwriting), Eli Thomas (bass, guitar, vocals) and Mike Ratti (drums) possess a layered synergy that pleasantly recalls the classic lineups of Fairport Convention and Pentangle or perhaps The Byrds with a healthy estrogen infusion. Like their winning debut, Lincoln Has Won [DI review], The Town We Live In was produced by the great Ivan Julian, a man who keeps only quality company, and the results are direct, engaging, and exciting in ways that don’t seem to always be entirely in control [see the shouting, clattering “Leave Her, Johnny” to see what we mean].

We snagged Siobhan Glennon for a double length 7 Minutes chat where we delved into the ins & outs of being a truly independent band in modern times, making music in Brooklyn and more.

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Papa Bear and the Easy Love

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We set the timer and snuggle in with our favorite new bands in the Impound’s version of speed dating with a killer-diller soundtrack.

Papa Bear and the Easy Love headline at San Francisco’s fabulous Great American Music Hall on Saturday, June 15th, sharing the stage with Big Tree, Song Preservation Society and City Tribe. Pick up tickets here.

7Min_PapaBear_Album

There’s a crucial difference between being emotionally open & celestially switched on and being a patchouli scented hippy dip. The distinction can be subtle to casual observers, but in the modern era one is usually a bohemian seeming consumer with dreadlocks and a patron/trust fund and the other is a pilgrim on a path less taken in an increasingly capitalist world, waving a divining rod in search of things more meaningful than a dollar or fancy title. San Francisco’s Papa Bear and the Easy Love are music makers of the latter variety, explorers of how love and compassion can be puzzled over and communicated in song. But just based on their name and the tie-dye ready cover art for their sweetly swaying debut album, For The Wild, one might confuse Aaron Glass (Papa Bear) and his collaborative cubs for the former sort, and that’s a mistake.

What’s stirring in this shifting, vibrant band/collective is closer to the communal happening surrounding Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (though the songwriting and playing is stronger and more seductive with Papa Bear) or perhaps a more pastoral, long-haired cousin to the Akron/Family experience. A spirit flies from this music that curls around one, embracing and uplifting, a positive shiver that reminds us we are made from love, and thus, able to give love if we’ll only surrender to this notion. None of this is easily accomplished with the tool of music but Papa Bear and the Easy Love are so sincere, so utterly joyous in their pursuit of this idea that one needs to be a serious grump to resist the warm, friendly hand they extend.

Musically, there’s pinches of vintage Greenwich Village folk, 60s pop craftsmanship, California canyon People’s Rock, and all stitched together by a delicate balance of instruments that move so smoothly one may miss how well arranged and neatly embellished they are. All in all, a fine first step into the world for a bunch of kind-hearted travelers dedicated to wrapping their arms around a love starved planet.

Papa Bear emerged from his winter slumbers to chat with DI about the band’s evolution and underlying philosophy.

hug it out!

Brad Brooks

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We set the timer and snuggle in with our favorite new bands in the Impound’s version of speed dating with a killer-diller soundtrack.

Brad Brooks is currently on a Southern singer-songwriter tour with Jeff Campbell and Clay Bell that hits Little Rock (4/16), Memphis (4/17), Nashville (4/18), and Atlanta (4/19) running through April 19th. Dates and details here.

Brad Brooks by Mark Kitaoka

Brad Brooks by Mark Kitaoka

The latest exceedingly well put together album from Brad Brooks begins, “Well, I’ve been twisted, misplayed, pissed and dismayed,” and eventually suggests, “Let’s quit our jobs and shit/ Spit out the chomping bit, deal it down/ Sell what we borrowed/ Donate what we stole, leave this town.” A palpable urgency to move on, heal and reflect permeates Harmony of Passing Light, but it’d be easy enough to miss amidst the doggedly catchy pop-rockin’ Brooks’ many big ideas and deeply etched emotions ride inside.

It’s a terrific bit of sleight-of-hand that puts this San Francisco artist in the same fine Bay Area company as chaps like Chuck Prophet and The Mother Hips (not to mention likeminded SoCal great Michael Penn), where the figurative hooks are just as barbed as the musical ones. However, Brooks is a bit like the modern equivalent to Sons of Champlin in this bunch, where he’s still clearly a rocker but there’s a lot of soul – the dance floor variety and the more spiritual sort – in this man and nary a hint of Summer of Love loose-limbed-ness. In fact, it’s Brooks’ facility with darker themes and knotted feelings that gives his finger-snappers staying power and appealing complications, the fruits awaiting those willing to move beyond the surface of his groove thang. There’s kindred strain to Badfinger’s Pete Ham and Elliott Smith with all the same tuneful bloodletting but much less despondency and ugly self-loathing. Brooks is just as real but what Harmony of Passing Light makes clear is there’s reason for hope even in the roughest of seasons.

Brad pulled up a chair for a healthy little chat about inspiration, shedding light on one’s troubles, and other juicy subjects.

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Mike Coykendall

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We set the timer and snuggle in with our favorite bands in the Impound’s version of speed dating with a killer-diller soundtrack.

Mike Coykendall

Mike Coykendall

Mike Coykendall performs on Saturday, April 6, at The Lost Church in San Francisco, CA.

One of the foundational ideas behind Dirty Impound is to shine a light on great musicians who aren’t household names – the lurkers in the liner notes that consistently help bring quality music into being, the session cats with cult bands far better than the groups everyone knows, the dial twirlers with the instincts to pull the best out of players. That said, Mike Coykendall is kinda the archetype we had in mind. From his hook-laden, roots-rock-pop days with the Old Joe Clarks in the 1990s through his invigorating hand in standout albums by Richmond Fontaine, Blitzen Trapper, Tin Hat Trio, Luther Russell, Jolie Holland, Bright Eyes and more into his important role in the bands for M. Ward and She & Him and ultimately to his consistently knockout solo albums, the Impound has found that anytime we see Coykendall’s name we’re assured of quality stuff.

He’s probably most recognized by modern rock fans & critics for his collaborative relationship with M. Ward but it’s in his trio of albums under his own name that the full spectrum of Mike Coykendall’s talents are revealed. As accomplished with a mixing board as he is on guitar (and a wild host of other instruments), it’s on Hello Hello Hello (2005), The Unbearable Being of Likeness (2010) and last year’s best-yet Chasing Away The Dots (one of DI’s Favorite Albums of 2012) allow his vibrant musical mind to roam off-leash in a wholly satisfying way, a sound gently psychedelic in the most complimentary sense anchored to a cool mix of finger snappers, crunchy rockers, ambient explorations, “Yesterday”-esque Beatles ditties and more. Coykendall sings and plays with freed up bravado, particularly on Chasing, that takes one back to when rock was less uniform, to when it opened its arms wide to get turned on by, well, whatever. Simply put, these albums are palpably labors of love that are exceedingly worthy of listener love. And DI, for one, hopes he never stops giving us these occasional missives from his heart and soul.

We grabbed Mike for a 14 Minutes in Heaven segment because if you get a pro like Coykendall to chat it’s worth doubling down.

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Haroula Rose

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We set the timer and snuggle in with our favorite new bands in the Impound’s version of speed dating with a killer-diller soundtrack.

Haroula Rose performs tonight, September 20th, at the Swedish American Hall in San Francisco, opening for Azure Ray. For more details pop over here.

Haroula Rose

Haroula Rose

Sweetness can be alluring, but it can also hide subtle depths. It’s a flower’s bouquet that draws us close but there are the complexities of its botany – pollen, the transformation of carbon dioxide into oxygen, etc. Singer-songwriter Haroula Rose possesses a great deal of sweetness but spend some time with her music and the subtleties emerge – the patient songcraft, the measured performances, the ease her tunes stir in one.

There’s a lovely, just-left-of-center charm to Rose, and she sings tender, clear, romantic lines like “If we are only friends, why do you kiss me like you do?” with pitch perfect grace. She is kin to cult adored greats like Bridget St. John and Linda Perhacs, but tempered with some of the radio ready chanteuse aura of early Petula Clark and Carole King, where the feeling is we’re just beginning to see the potential reach of this young artist. Swinging between Topanga Canyon country rock and a classic pop sensibility, Rose has produced one full-length release [These Open Roads (2011)] and recently put out the swell 5-track So Easy EP, which finds a trio of winning new originals hanging with two choice covers [Francoise Hardy’s “Only Friends” and Jimmy Webb’s “Witchita Lineman”]. Her second album is due next year, and was produced with Andy Lemaster (Now It’s Overhead, Bright Eyes) and Zac Rae (Pedestrian) along with Jim White during sessions in Rose’s home base of Los Angeles and Athens, GA.

We grabbed Haroula for a quick chat.

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Bryan Elijah Smith

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Bryan Elijah Smith by KSD Photography

Bryan Elijah Smith by KSD Photography

Bryan Elijah Smith makes incredibly affable music. One is quickly struck by what good songs they’re hearing and how well handled, too, yet there’s nary a whiff of mainstream stink or premeditation. Instead, one encounters a lively craftsmanship-minded music that’s contemporary but with sturdy roots dipping into much older traditions, crooning, “It’s hard to write a folk song that’s honestly in tune…It drives me wild/ It drives me insane.” Smith genuinely sounds like he’s after something fresh, new, real, and true on his latest offering, One More Time, which is filled with tunes that attach quickly, an array of radio-ready takes on love and life that hum with deeper character than the mainstream generally offers. The primary backing of Smith’s band The Wild HeartsJeff Miller (banjo, vocals) and Jay Austin (fiddle) – swings and sways, stoking the romantic elements in his lyrics, as multi-instrumentalist Smith plies guitars, bass, drums, ukulele, harmonica and more. The album is also produced by Smith, who increasingly reveals an impressive studio savvy that’s full without being fussy, the arrangements riding infectiously below his husky, appealing manly voice. What his new album makes clear is Smith is one to watch, the sort of fellow that could easily be opening for dyed-in-the-wool singer-songwriters like David Wilcox and Greg Brown, or just as ably, the likes of Brett Dennen, James Blunt and other current chart tappers, and quite likely stealing the show from the headliners if he did.

We grabbed Bryan for a few minutes to chat about making music.

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Ghosts of Jupiter

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We set the timer and snuggle in with our favorite new bands in the Impound’s version of speed dating with a killer-diller soundtrack.

Ghosts of Jupiter by Michael D. Spencer

“I consider the circumstance/ and mold it into sound/ and whatever the trappings are/ I’m bound to shout it down.”

These tough, knotted lines open the roaring good self-titled debut album from Boston-based Ghosts of Jupiter, which seizes and holds one firm, a bold, musky sound that recalls the halcyon days of double gatefold vinyl and perfectly weathered denim and suede. That said, these Ghosts are cut a little leaner, forgoing 70s bloat for taut, meaty musicianship grounded in marvelously melodic frameworks. Heck, a lot of this set is radio ready if radio weren’t such a seething sinkhole of suck these days – we’d all be WAY better off if Ghosts of Jupiter were the yardstick for rock airwaves instead of Nickelback.

The album, released November 8, builds seamlessly, growing more interesting and throwing off expectations as it moves towards its final stand in softly burning fields where blackbirds fly overhead and the shoreline wind catches us with a snap – evocative stuff to say the least. And yet, it never feels cerebral, giving into animal instincts musically in a way that makes one wonder if Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott left some pale boy children around Beantown before he took his bow. Nate Wilson (lead vocals, keyboards), Johnny Trama (guitar), Adam Terrell (guitar), Tommy Lada (bass), and Thomas Arey (drums) are part of real rock’s new phalanx, shoulder to shoulder with The Black Keys, Rival Sons and The Raconteurs beating back the teen-focused twaddle that passes for rock in the mainstream.

We grabbed Nate Wilson to discuss Jupiter’s orbit.

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JEFF The Brotherhood

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We set the timer and snuggle in with our favorite new bands in the Impound’s version of speed dating with a killer-diller soundtrack.

JEFF The Brotherhood by Malia James

In prepping for this lil’ conversation with Jake Orrall, one half of rising underground classic rockers JEFF The Brotherhood with brother Jamin Orrall, I put on the band’s latest long-player We Are The Champions (released June 21 on Infinity Cat Recordings) to see what it stirred up. And then I played it again…and again…and again…six times in a row in total. More than any coherent thought, JEFF stirs up feelings, energy and an uncontainable wildness. This pair are pure rock beasts and their output is increasingly varied, a pleasant devil-may-care attitude infecting the all-over-the-damn-place nature of We Are The Champions, which shrinks not even a little at the Queen reference inherent in its title. They aren’t the polished creatures Freddie, Brian and the boys represent but they’ve got similarly sized stones and befuzzed hooks aplenty. JEFF The Brotherhood rattles cages willfully and successfully, even if underneath it all there’s just the usual girls, parties, fights and remorse that haunts most rock, rebellious by nature but without a stated platform. Whatever they’re on about, it goes straight to one’s head and permeates into the rest of one’s red meat soon after.

We grabbed singer-guitarist-songwriter Jake to discuss the Brotherhood.

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