Archive for the Brandi Carlile Category

Brandi Carlile: Concert Review

Posted in Amy Ray, Brandi Carlile on February 11, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

YouTube vids only today… because I’m afraid of the blogocide.

I went to a Brandi Carlile show last night at Knoxville’s Bijou Theatre, and a hoedown broke out. More on that later…

I have to start my review of the show with a mention of Amy Ray from the Indigo Girls. Amy opened the show with a solo set that completely put me back on my heels. I’ll admit to not being too familiar with Amy’s solo work, and I went into her set expecting a nice, quiet folk perfomance full of tunes from the Indigo Girls catalogue. What I got was fiery set of full tilt rock and roll from Amy and her rock solid band.

Quite simply… I was impressed. I went in with expectations for one style of music… a style that Amy does very well… and got something else entirely. What’s more, it turns out she does rock just as well as she does folk. Amy Ray is a true professional, and it was a treat to see her perform. I was already sold on her set even before she brought Brandi out to sing two songs to close her portion of the show.

This is a YouTube video of Amy and Brandi singing “Stand and Deliver” from Amy’s 2008 release Didn’t it Feel Kinder (Buy Album). This version was recorded last June in Wisconsin and is a bit more sedate than the version I saw last night with Amy’s full band… but it’s a great sound nonetheless.

After a brief changeover… it was time for Brandi to take the stage. Brandi and her band gathered, bluegrass style, around a single microphone to open the show with a beautiful rendition of “Oh Dear,” the closing track on her new CD Give Up the Ghost (Buy Album). One of the Hanseroth Twins (Phil, I think) played the mandolin as the only accompaniment while Brandi delivered a pristine vocal in front of a four part harmony from the rest of the band. I’ve always known Brandi had a great voice… but it wasn’t until I heard in this setting that I fully appreciated it for what it is. Her performance here was simply captivating, and let everyone in the building know we were in for a great show.

After that, Brandi switched gears into a full band (plus Amy Ray) rendition of “Looking Out.” As spare and intimate as the opening number was, this song was equally lush and bombastic. When Brandi’s band (Tim Hanseroth on guitar, Phil Hanseroth on bass, Josh Neumann on cello, and Allison Miller on drums) was fully engaged, as it was on the more rocking songs of the evening, they drove things to the highest level. Brandi unleashes the full fury of her voice in the full band setting as well. The set closing “The Story” found her practically screaming the final chorus over crashing drums and soaring harmonies from the Hanseroth Twins.
Despite the obvious Rock & Roll flare of most of the show, Brandi was not shy about showing off her folk and country roots to this East Tennessee crowd. Folk love was shown to Bob Dylan with a rather electric rendition of “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” The Hanseroth Twins later opened the encore with just the two of them playing and singing Simon & Garfulkel’s “the Sounds of Silence.” Brandi calls their version of the song, “The most beautiful and disturbing thing you’ve ever seen.”
The highlight of the night for me, though, came when Brandi continued the encore with a crowd pleasing Johnny Cash medley featuring a tease of “Jackson,” in which she sang both Johnny and June’s parts, and a full version of “Folsom Prison Blues.” Brandi demanded that everyone in the house stand and sing along to pay tribute to Cash. No one seemed to argue.
Brandi revealed that she grew up listening to and singing country and western music. She says the old female country singers like Tammy Wynette were a profound influence on her vocal style. To prove it, she belted out portions of Wynette’s “D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” “I Don’t Want to Play House,” and “Stand By Your Man” before sharing her own original country song, “Same Old You.” The song was full of all the old country cheatin’ cliches… but it played as a loving tribute to the music of her youth.
Simply put… Brandi Carlile has the goods. Last night was the first time I’ve seen her play live (it was her first headlining gig in Knoxville), and I hope it will not be the last. My wife and I both left completely impressed by her talent and her performance. Go see her if you get the chance.
I’ll leave you with this video of Brandi, Josh, and the Twins performing “The Story” at Knoxville’s local independent record store, The Disc Exchange, before the show. I didn’t get to attend this performance, but luckily someone caught it on video. Enjoy…

Well… that didn’t take long. The video from the Disc Exchange has been removed from YouTube. Here’s something official instead. It’s the video for “Dreams” from Give Up the Ghost.

Hump Day Notes: New Josh Ritter, New Brandi Carlile, and More

Posted in Brandi Carlile, Dawn Landes, jenny lewis, Josh Ritter, Rilo Kiley on February 10, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

It’s time for some mid-week notes…

***This qualifies as old news by this point as the official release went out on Monday… but it’s still news that I’m excited about.

Josh Ritter has completed work on his new album, So Runs the World Away. The release date here in the U.S. is May 4th (my birthday is May 3rd if any readers want to pitch in and get me a copy). This is Josh’s first full release since 2007’s The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter, and he says he’s extremely proud of the songs on the new record. He’s never made a bad one to my ears, and I’m almost giddy with the thoughts of new music from one of my favorite artists.

You can view a brief video and download a free track from So Runs the World Away at Josh’s website. “Change of Time” sounds like a perfect introduction to the new album.

Josh Ritter: Change of Time (Sign up for Josh’s mailing list)

***I learned recently in this post from High Noon Saloon that Dawn Landes is Josh Ritter’s wife. I somehow failed to notice that when I first mentioned Dawn here a few weeks ago.

Warren’s review of Dawn’s new album, Sweetheart Rodeo, is much more in depth than the brief one I put up… so I suggest you just go read that one. His assessment of the album is pretty much spot on anyway. While you do that, you can listen to one of the more country inspired tracks on the album.

Dawn Landes: Sweetheart Rodeo (Buy Album)

***Rilo Kiley’s long time drummer Jason Boesel granted an interview to Paste Magazine last week in which he says new music is on the way from everyone’s favorite indie band fronted by child actors. Well… not completely new music really. Rather a compilation of rare and unreleased tracks from the band’s back catalogue. Of course, to me, any new Rilo Kiley is good Rilo Kiley. Look for this sometime later this year.

Boesel also says Rilo Kiley vocalist Jenny Lewis is working on another new solo album away from the band. She’s working again with her boyfriend Jonathan Rice who was heavily involved in 2008’s Acid Tongue. Maybe the new album will contain one of the new songs I saw Jenny perform last July.

***Finally… Tonight is the night Brandi Carlile makes her way to Knoxville for a show at the lovely Bijou Theatre. I wrote rather extensively about Brandi’s music and her new album Give Up the Ghost in this post a few months ago. I’m pretty excited for the show.

Brandi has also just released a new EP in time for Valentine’s Day. XOBC is an iTunes exclusive featuring three new original tracks along with covers of The Beatles’ “All You Need is Love,” and Bryan Adams’ “Heaven.” You can purchase it from iTunes here. It serves as a nice addendum to Ghost and well worth the minimal price for Brandi fans.

I’ll leave you today with another video from Brandi’s recent session at The Interface. This is “Dying Day” from Give Up the Ghost.

Random Weekend Post: Brandi Carlile & Stephen Bruton

Posted in Brandi Carlile, Stephen Bruton on January 30, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

Two videos today… with a related theme.

First is Brandi Carlile covering Willie Nelson’s “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” from something called The Interface. Brandi will play the Bijou Theatre in Knoxville February 10.

Next is one from the late singer/songwriter/producer Stephen Bruton. Stephen has received a lot of attention lately for his work on the Crazy Heart Soundtrack, and I’ve dedicated a couple of sets to him at WDVX lately. His good friend Alejandro Escovedo dedicated a song to him during a recent visit to the station, and that has left Stephen Bruton on my mind.

A listener sent me this video last night after I played a song from Crazy Heart. It’s a song Stephen wrote that became a hit for The Highwaymen… a group featuring Willie Nelson. This is Stephen’s version.

Thanks Bruce.

Top 20 of 2009: 12-10

Posted in Brandi Carlile, Camera Obscura, Dave Rawlings Machine, Top 20 of 2009 on December 24, 2009 by AmericanaPulse
#12 – Give Up the Ghost by Brandi Carlile

My wife and I always look forward to a new Brandi Carlile album, and we were right there at the record store on day one waiting for this one. Brandi is one of those artists that I’ve followed since her debut album. I feel like I’ve been along for the ride with her since the start and have watched (and listened to) her grow as an artist with each new release. She takes another leap forward here with Give Up the Ghost, an album I reviewed (along with her entire catalogue) back in November.

As I wrote back then, Brandi covers considerable ground over the course of this album as she easily shifts gears from pop fueled arena rockers to delicate down tempo numbers. Guests Elton John, Amy Ray, Benmont Tench, and Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers all star in various spots on the album. John ‘s appearance especially stands as a highlight on the album as he duets with Brandi on the rollicking piano number “Caroline.” I don’t have permission to share that one, but here’s another of the many standout tracks.

Brandi Carlile: Dying Day (Buy Album)

#11 – Friend of a Friend by The Dave Rawlings Machine

I had a hard time figuring out where exactly to place this one on the list. It probably should be a little higher than it is, but it’s so new (Nov. 17 release date) that I still haven’t fully digested it. My unfamiliarity with the album probably dropped it a few spots. I did, however, see Dave’s Machine in action a couple of weeks ago with Gillian Welch and the OCMS boys. It was one of the finest performances I’ve seen in quite a while and certainly pushed it up the charts a bit. It’s certainly one of the best albums of 2009, but it might become one of my favorite albums of 2010. I stuck it right here in the middle.

Here, Rawlings takes over the spotlight from his long time musical collaborator Welch and seizes the opportunity to shine on his own. It’s about time. Rawlings is one of the most talented musicians working in any genre today, and it’s great to see him step out of the shadows so everyone else can see what a few of us have known for a long time. I think my wife’s jaw is still somewhere on the floor after seeing his rendition of Old Crow’s “I Hear Them All” (a song he co-wrote). She left the show comparing him to Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac. That’s about the highest praise she can give.

Dave Rawlings Machine: I Hear Them All (Buy Album)

#10 – My Maudlin Career by Camera Obscura

The story of how my wife and I came to discover this album is somewhat interesting. I heard the song “French Navy” on NPR’s All Songs Considered Podcast and left my wife a voice mail telling her about this amazing new song I had to heard. I just didn’t tell her the name of the artist or the song. Later that same day, she left me a voice mail to tell me about an amazing new song she and just heard on her XM Radio. When we both got home from work that day, we discovered we had both been talking about the same song.

Of course, we went out and bought the CD almost immediately after that and were immediately enthralled by the “Wall of Sound” meets lo-fi production and the enchanting voice of lead singer Tracyanne Campbell. The album is bursting with infectious hooks and several nods to that classic 60’s girl group sound. Despite the nods to the past, the whole thing is also infused with a modern indie vibe that grounds the album in the present. I know I’ve shared the video with you once before, but I’m going to give you a taste of “French Navy” one more time. It may be my favorite track of the year.

Camera Obscura: French Navy (Buy Album)

Brandi Carlile: Give Up the Ghost

Posted in Brandi Carlile on November 11, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

Before I get into my review of Brandi Carlile’s new album Give Up the Ghost, I want to share a bit of my personal history with Brandi’s music.

I first became aware of Brandi back in 2005 when my Music Director at Morehead State Public Radio gave me a copy of her self-titled debut. My boss was already pretty excited about the album herself and wanted to make sure I didn’t overlook it when I was checking out that week’s new releases. She didn’t have to worry. After one spin, I was immediately charmed by Brandi’s voice and confident swagger on songs like “What Can I Say” and ” Throw it Away.”

The songwriting was mature, the songs were fully realized, and the sound was huge. The chorus of “Throw it Away” was especially explosive with multiple vocal tracks, a driving backbeat, and a tidal wave of guitars that blended into something Heavenly.
The song that really pulled me in, however, was “Closer to You.” At the time, I lived in Kentucky, and my wife to be lived in Tennessee. I found this song really helped me make it through all of my late night drives to Knoxville. The shuffling drum beat propelled me down the highway in my own attempt to be closer to the one I loved.
Brandi Carlile: Closer to You (Buy Album)

When Brandi’s sophomore album The Story was released in 2007, my wife and I were on vacation in Myrtle Beach. We knew we wanted the album, but weren’t sure where to find it in a strange city. We drove around Myrtle Beach looking for a record store where we could buy a copy. After an unsuccessful search for a local shop, we ended up grabbing a copy at a place I normally avoid… Best Buy. I’m glad we did, because the album quickly became a large part of the soundtrack for our trip.
Soon after, it became part of the soundtrack for a large portion of the country as well when a couple of the tracks for the album were optioned for use in major national advertising campaigns by General Motors (“The Story”) and J.C. Penny (“Have You Ever”). The Story also got a major push from the TV show Grey’s Anatomy. It wasn’t the first time Brandi’s music showed up on Grey’s (three songs from the debut album were used on the show), but this time the show was used as a vehicle to launch the World Premier of Brandi’s new music video. It was a move that helped Brandi reach a larger audience and helped place her firmly in the public consciousness as an artist to be reckoned with.
The standout track here is the title cut. Brandi’s vocal is especially raw and highlights why Paste Magazine recently called Brandi’s the “Best Voice in Indie Rock.” Producer T-Bone Burnett recorded the vocals live in one take and kept some imperfections in the mix that help bring the track to life. Notice the crack in Brandi’s voice during the song’s cathartic climax (just before the 3:00 mark). It adds a notch of vulnerability and helps to ground the track.
Brandi Carlile: The Story (Buy Album)
All of this leads to Brandi’s new record Give Up the Ghost.
Of course, we got this one the day it came out last month, and I’ve listened to it several times since then in an attempt to get a full sense of the album before reviewing it.
The verdict? I like it… quite a lot really. The highlights are plentiful.
We’ll start with the album’s opening track, “Looking Out.” It starts out with Brandi’s trademark acoustic guitar strums and a search for answers…
“And when I asked the corner preacher,
I couldn’t hear him for my youth.
Some people get religion.
Some people get the truth.
I never get the truth.”
The whole thing seems rather ominous and bleak until the chorus comes along to serve as an affirmation and shine a light on the darkness. Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls adds some brightness to the proceedings as well with her wonderful harmony vocals.
Other highlights include guest appearances by Elton John on the rollicking piano driven “Caroline,” Benmont Tench (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers) on the sombre “Pride and Joy,” and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith popping up in multiple spots… most noticeably alongside John on “Caroline.” Elton John even loaned his musical collaborator Paul Buckmaster to Brandi for the project. Buckmaster arranged the strings on “Pride & Joy.”
As diverse as the guests are… the music covers a wide spectrum as well. In one four song stretch in the middle of the album things flow from the pop flavored, drum driven single “Dreams” to the delicate “That Year,” a song about the suicide of one of Brandi’s high school friends. From fragile to fabulous, the proceedings then immediately move on to the bouncy “Caroline” and the slow-building arena rocker “Before it Breaks.” Brandi shows tremendous range in both her songwriting and her vocal performance. Expect her to stay on the scene for a while.
I’ll leave you with the opening track from Give Up the Ghost, a song I mentioned earlier, “Looking Out.” I think it’s also worth mentioning that Brandi has started her own charitable foundation called The Looking Out Foundation that raises money for a variety of other charitable groups. Brandi donates one dollar from each concert ticket she sells to the foundation. You can find out more at Brandi’s website.
Brandi Carlile: Looking Out (Buy Album)
Edit: I have removed the mp3 links from this post due to a copyright infringement claim against this post. By the way… I still have the email from Brandi’s record label where I’m given permission to post links to the mp3s and another email where they tell me how much they love the post and thanking me for writing it. Not that any of that matters to the people who keep filing these claims…