Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Indie Meets Lindy

My friend just sent me an e-mail asking if I had ever seen this video. I had not, but I'm glad I have now.

The Weepies "Be My Honeypie" music video features the lindy hoppers Evita Arce and Nathan Bugh. Check it out:

Isn't this so great and adorable? I love how indie music and lindy hop can come together sometimes.

Summer Tunes

Summer is finally upon us. Up here in Minnesota, we've had a long, hard winter with a spring that barely showed itself. But today there was finally humidity in the air and while that may not seem like a good thing for long, today it felt like the promise of summer and its warm temperatures.

So, to celebrate, I thought I would share a short list of my quintessential summer tunes.

1. "With Arms Outstretched" Rilo Kiley
One of the lines from the chorus screams summer to me: "now some days, they last longer than others but this day by the lake went too fast." I really enjoy the song as a whole lyrically. It makes me think of days where you just drive because you can or of summer flings that arise out of the spirit of summer. All in all, this is my number one summer song.

2. "First Time High (of Chicago Accoustic Version)" Of Montreal
I don't usually like this band, but this accoustic version has been a favorite of mine, especially during summer. This song makes me think of all the spontaneity, adventure, and playfulness that summer brings. It also captures the feeling of having a summertime crush. This is definitely my number two summer song.

These two songs will forever be my summer songs. Some other great tunes for summer include:

3. "You" Gold Panda:
Great for driving down the freeway with the windows open on a warm summer night.

4. "Daisy" Karine Polwart:
I love listening to this on mornings when I've actually gotten up early to go to garage sales.

5. "Fools" The Dodos:
An energetic song about being laid back, which is the paradox that is often my summer: energetic laziness.

What kinds of songs make it to your summer playlists? Please share some of your favorites!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Balboa Joy

There are so many videos from ILHC this past year that I have yet to watch. Only today did I really even begin watching the balboa jack and jill videos, and I'm sad that I didn't know about these gems sooner.

Adam Speen and Mia Goldsmith (1st)

Bobby White and Heather Ballew (2nd)

Patrick Szmidt and Nelle Cherry (3rd)

They made me joyfully happy. Maybe they won't create that kind of response from you, but I hope that you least enjoy them!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Balboa/Top Drawer/TC Bal Fest

I really love lindy hop and charleston, but I also really love balboa. I wish there were more people out there (especially leads) who knew how to dance it. The feeling of dancing balboa is different, but oh-so-good. Sure, it isn't as flashy as lindy-hop/charleston, but you must admit by watching Top Drawer's routine (Nick Williams & Marie Mattsson, Jeremy Otth & Laura Keat, Bobby White & Kate Hedin) that it looks classy.

Watching this makes me really excited to go to Twin Cities Balboa Festival this summer (July 8-10th). I went last summer and had a great time! I met so many great people and had so many great dances. The instructors were so helpful, encouraging, sweet, and fun. I can't wait to take more classes with Bobby and Kate again.

P.S. Thanks to all of the great leads who joyfully danced with me that weekend even though I was in the beginner stage of balboa. Marty Visconti, Reed Miller, and Jeff: I'm talking to you. Ya'll made that event one of my favorites thus far in my dance life. Plus, I got to enjoy the company of one of the best bowling teams around that weekend! Thanks Jeff and Patti, Annie, and Lori for letting to good times roll. :)
Hopefully, I'll see you all again in July!

And for the rest of you: you should come too!

Just Dance

Here he is dancing with Carla Heiney.
I am very much a curious person about people I know or have heard about. I like to know about their lives and find out what they like and who they are. My whole point in telling you about this is that facebook suggested I should be friends with Jon Tigert, whom I have met but don't really know. But my curiosity kicked in and started perusing his page and found the link to his website, which led me to his blog, which I then read. 

One of his posts was about how to get better at dancing and I very much agree with what he had to say. You can read the post for yourself here. If you're too lazy to do that, here is my quick synopsis of the post: you can get better at dancing when you learn to dance by (and may I suggest, for) yourself.

Jon writes, "So you are wondering how you can become a better dancer, even if you don't have a partner, or you can't afford classes.
Get off your butt, stop reading blogs and watching videos, put in your earbuds and just dance."

Just dance. Amen to that!


Typically my favorites are folk or folk inspired (as if you couldn't tell by now), but I definitely have a pop and punk rock history that still influences me. For instance, the song that I have been listening to repeatedly today has been "Colours" by Grouplove. So good.

Something else I've noticed about my musical tastes is that I like abnormal voices. The lead singer, Christian Zucconi's voice is almost strained and whiny, and I love it. Also, part of the reason I'm hooked on this song is due to the stuttering part in the beginning, which wouldn't be as addicting if it weren't for his abnormal voice.

Currently, the group only has a self-titled EP out, but a full-length album is due out in September. Their first single from the full length, "Itchin on a Photograph" will be available in the U.S. on June 21st.

Also, shout out to The Current for introducing me to this band and many others. I'm glad I live in Minneapolis where there is such a great artistic scene with a great radio station to match.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles

I'm surprised that more people, especially in the Twin Cities area, don't know about Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles. They are a local gem that more people really ought to know about.

There is something old timey, yet fresh and new about their music. Rhythms that are clapped and stomped out, mixed with sounds cello, upright bass, accordion, and ukele, mixed with Lucy's one-of-a-kind vocal stylings blend together to form this unique band that plays with an almost nonchalant energy.

What's worse, Lucy is so nice. Met her once while out dancing to Patty and the Buttons and she was so sweet and amiable.

Anyways, my whole point is this. You should probably at least know about Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles. Good music and good people. Can't go wrong with that.

Also, if you like jazz, you should check out Lucy's side project, a duo (though sometimes more) simply called Lucy and Charlie. They perform a wide array of covers, from Ella Fitzgerald to the Beatles. I got to see them perform almost by accident at Aster Cafe and was quite impressed. She puts soul behind her singing and will make a sad song even sadder, but in a good way. They don't play many shows, but if you get a chance to see this jazz duo, it's worth your time and money. Plus, their Myspace recordings do not do them any justice, so seeing them live is definitely the way to go.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Wilderness of Manitoba "Summer Fires"

I really am a sucker for just about anything with a banjo or mandolin. On the song "Summer Fires," the Ontario based band The Wilderness of Manitoba utilizes the sound of banjo along with male/female voice harmonizing to create a great modern folk sound. The introductory guitar part almost makes me believe that the song could have been a rock song, but then the banjo joins in and the music swells, opening up to the vocal part causing one to know that this is folk. Even so, I feel as though there are elements of classic rock influences placing its fingerprints on this song. Take a listen for yourself.


For Minnesota local music fans, you might like to know that they are currently touring with Cloud Cult. You can see their tour dates here.

Also: in looking up information about these guys, I came across another Canada based band called Evening Hymns. I am really digging their stuff. It's mellow and folky, with a touch of rock. Check them out for yourselves.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Good Lindy Hop Reads

I'm sure that many of you already know about these blogs, but for those of you don't, I just wanted to pass my knowledge on. Here are three that I've been reading most recently.

Wandering and Pondering
(he also has a facebook page where he posts more frequently)

Swungover by Bobby White

Nick William's Blog
There's not much here, but enough to give some insight.

Small Town Heroes

Like I've mentioned before, I've gotten to be acquainted with much of the music coming out of Lafayette, Indiana, due to a good friend of mine. One of the bands that she has shared with me is SmallTown Heroes. After knowing about them for over a year, I finally purchased their CD Lo, The Hard Times.

It's definitely country folk record, which I love. Mandolin, guitars, harmonica, fiddle, and tales of cowboys complete the aura of country folk. All of the voices on the record take a little getting used to, or at least they did for me. The main guy's voice is bit more gruff than I'm used to and Bethany's voice has a lot of vibrato. In the end, I don't think either is a bad thing, it's just that it takes getting used to.

I also really enjoy what they say about themselves:
"SmallTown Heroes is not a band, we are friends who play music. We laugh with each other, we cry for each other, we live our lives and our faith together. I never wanted to be in a "Christian" band, I always hated the idea of running around and singing to people how great it was to be a Christian, and how happy we are all the time, or raising ourselves up as some sort of example to follow. But as time wears on and we all change I start to realize that I don't have to be anyone I don't want to be. In fact we should all strive to be better than we are but know who we are so we do not become over inflated. SmallTown Heroes celebrates life, generally it's the more difficult parts and it doesn't always feel like a celebration, but every party needs a pooper and that's where our music comes in. Take it or leave it, but we hope you take it."

All in all, I think the record is completely worth it, if only for the song "Sad Songs." It's the song that really did it for me.

Artist Dolan Geiman

Usually I write about music or lindy hop, but there are times when I really appreciate other art forms as well. During the summer of 2009, either at the Stone Arch Festival of the Arts or the Uptown Art Fair, I came across the artist Dolan Geiman. Can I just say I really enjoy his work? Cause I do.

Dolan with some of his pieces.
This one is my favorite.

You can read more about the man himself (here) or where he gets his inspiration (here).

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Haley Bonar "The Size of Planets"

Tonight is the kind of night for some old school Haley.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Automatic Associations

When I hear certain songs, I automatically think of certain moves. Mostly because I've watched a certain YouTube clip a thousand times and it's simply reflex to think 'this move to that part' of the music.

For instance, whenever I hear "Communication" by Slim Gaillard, I see Jo's feet doing the piano part starting at about 2:00.

Or whenever "Hit That Jive, Jack" gets played, I almost always end up slapping my leg (ex: 0:14).
Can you tell that I've watched this video a ton? I've only posted it three times now.

 Or whenever I hear "Gang Busters" by Slim and Slam, I think of this:

I'm sure there are more songs that create automatic associations in my brain, but you get the gist of what I'm saying. 

Maybe this is another reason why my friend doesn't like watching dancing clips (referring to this post)? By having these automatic associations to the music, I'm prevented from letting my body simply dance out the music. Instead, I've created for myself mini routines.

What do you think? Have you ever experienced this? Is it good/bad/neutral to have these automatic associations to certain songs? Let me know what you think.

German Error Message

I haven't listened to these guys in-depth but I like them. They've become my background music in the past few days and they have served their purpose well. They have a mellow, folky, yet slightly dark feel. All of their albums are free on Bandcamp, so you've got nothing to lose. 

Here is the stream of their entire album After the Warmth:

This track, "Feverhead," caught my attention by its lyric "I will hold out my arms graciously and blind."

If you end up listening to them in-depth and form an opinion, you should share it with us all.

We Are the Willows "Somewhere, Virginia"

Please go listen to We Are The Willow's new single "Somewhere, Virginia" (click link to go listen to it!). It makes me very excited to hear the new EP Places, due out Tuesday June 7th.

The EP release show is on June 4th at the Loring Theatre. The Daredevil Christopher Wright and Aria Souder are opening for him.

So while you wait in anticipation, you could spend some of your time checking out his blog. I think he's a pretty humorous dude.

Stop Making Excuses

This past year I taught lindy lessons for a college club. Through this experience, one of the biggest things I learned about dance classes is the pointlessness of making excuses.

It could be very frustrating to hear students making excuses for the why they weren't making corrections according to my input. My thought process as a club instructor goes a little bit like this: "If you ask for my help, maybe you should listen to what I'm saying. Those previous experiences are interesting, maybe, but sorry (SORRY!), I don't really care about them right now. Just stop making excuses and at least attempt to try the thing I've told you. You are more capable of doing those things than you think you are. Trust me, I've seen worse. Now, please, shut up and just do it...or at least try."

I admit that this might be really harsh, and I kind of feel bad about feeling/thinking this way, but it is the honest reflection of my thought process.

Through realizing this, I have caught myself on multiple occasions doing the same thing when I am taking classes. It's funny how the flaws you find in other people are often the ones that you, personally, are struggling with the most.

So I encourage you to stop making excuses, realize the faults you find in others may be the thing you need to work on for your own self, and to go ahead and at least try the things you think you are incapable of doing. (I'm preaching to myself too.)

Sufjan Stevens

There are certain songs that force you to pause, soak in the lyrics, and respect the story it is telling. I’m sure I’m conveying nothing new to many of you, but Sufjan’s music often has that effect on me, whether he knows it or not.

Through the subtle crescendos, each pick at the banjo, and the soft sweet female vocal accompaniment, Sufjan mastered the scene of his story and told it with vividness. And we, the listeners, have the opportunity to “witness” this sweetly, sorrowful tale. 

My favorite song of his, "For the Widows in Paradise, For the Fathers in Ypsilanti," is the same way. It is the type of song that stirs something from within and moves you to experience melancholy emotions of awe/appreciation/thoughtfulness. Together with the banjo, the horn section adds such a lovely sorrowful touch.  As Sufjan and his female accompaniment's voice crescendo with the lyrics "I'll do anything for you, I did everything for you," there is this sense of longing, pleading, but yet still appreciation. The emotions that Sufjan can stir makes it hard to ever grow tired of his songs.
Here is an acoustic version of the song:

I love folk, so I deeply enjoy this side of Sufjan, but if you would like to listen to something different from him, I highly suggest you listen to "You are the Blood" (a Castanet's cover) from the Dark Was the Night compilation. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Current Playlist

This will be another quick post, but here is a current playlist of some of the songs I'm digging lately.

1. Blair "Hello Halo"

2. J. Tillman "When I Light Your Darkened Door"

3. Dirty Gold "California Sunrise"

4 Anni Rossi "Wheelpusher"

5. Blessed Feathers "American Sands, Earthly Treason"

Friday, May 6, 2011

"Northern Lights" Bowerbirds

I know, I know...I just posted about these guys. But I just really love this song and its longing lyrics.

The lyrics:
I don’t need from you a waterfall of careless praise
And I don’t need a trophy for all the games I played
But all I want is your eyes
In the morning as we wake for a short while

And I don’t need you to catch my wandering mind
And I don’t expect a southern girl to know the northern lights
And all I want is your eyes
In the morning as we wake for a short while

And I do need the wind across my pale face
And I do need the ferns to unfurl in the spring
And I do need the grass to sway,
yes I do need to know my place

yet all I want is your eyes
in the morning as we wake for a short while

Because I do need the wind across my pale face. And I do need to know my place.

Check out the Bowerbirds page on the Dead Oceans site for some free downloads.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Blessed Feathers

When I arrive on the other side of finals and graduation, I fully intend to write a bit more and add to what I couldn't say in these past few posts (so check back).

Anyways, ever heard of Blessed Feathers? Well, now you have. Enjoy!

Listen to them from their Bandcamp page!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Horse Feathers: Beards and Folk

Before I start my post, I think you should know something about me: I love beards (on men). I'm fully supportive of facial hair in general, but man, beards really get me. Yes, I'm one of those weird hipster girls. I've come to embrace this fact.

Anyways, when it comes to music, I automatically associate beards with folk. I know this isn't always the case (Black Keys, Broken Social Scene, Electric Owls). But one case in which it is true is with Horse Feathers.

Horse Feathers, like Haley Bonar and Basia Bulat, is one of the musical groups that I keep coming back to time after time. When I'm asked who my favorite artists are, they come after my beloved Haley.

Horse Feathers started with just head man Justin Ringle, but has since been playing with a cello player and a violist/saw player.

I had the chance to see them perform at the Cedar Cultural Center last April. The richness and simplicity of the strings and the low key tones of Ringle's voice created what I can only describe as 3-D sound. I felt as though the music surrounded me, enveloping me into the essence of the music. And like I've mentioned with Local Natives, Horse Feathers is the type of group that is so much greater performing live, proving that they are in fact great musicians. Because of this fact, I strongly recommend you download both of their Daytrotter sessions. You can also snag some free finds from Kill Rock Stars Records.

Here they are performing a Tiny Desk Concert. It starts with my favorite song of theirs "Working Poor."

Sunday, May 1, 2011


 Oh my goodness, why have I not really listened to the Bowerbirds until now?

I'm a "poor" college student, who really shouldn't spend tons of money on music, so I search for free (legal) downloads instead to fill my new music cravings. Well, a couple nights ago, I started to look up record labels to see if they featured free sample download songs from their artists. Many of them do, with Dead Ocean Records being one of them. They are home to The Tallest Man on Earth, John Vanderslice, and the Bowerbirds.

Anywho, I made a playlist of my newly downloaded music and at the top was The Bowerbirds. Instantly, I fell in musical love.
The first song was "In Our Talons" (from Hymns for a Dark Horse), which is upbeat and starts with an accordion. The three members of the band, Phillip Moore, Beth Tacular, and Matt Damron, harmonize their voices throughout most of the song, which makes me believe that it's the type of music they could create in their living room (maybe because it makes me think of the Indiana Boys' jam session). It also reminds me a little of Beirut, without the horn section.
This was followed by "Beneath Your Tree" and "Northern Lights" (from Upper Air). These songs were a bit more mellow and had more of the indie-folk sound that people usually identify them as having.

Anywho, I'm really tempted to spend some money and buy one of their albums now. Sometimes trying to save money only leads to spending more. (Update: I was responsible and didn't spend money.)

On a side note: while looking to see if the Bowerbirds were on Bandcamp, I came across another band called The Lighthouse and the Whaler that is worth checking into.

Haley Bonar's "Golder"

Like I stated in an earlier post, I once again completed my Haley Bonar collection when I picked up her newest album Golder at her CD release show. It was held on April 22nd at the Cedar Cultural Center, which is a venue I am appreciative (other than for parking purposes) that she picked for such a show.

I could write what I thought about the show, but it would be a pitiful attempt in comparison to what Natalie Gallagher wrote for City Pages (here).
What I can add:
  • The set was actually designed by her sister Torey, who was also the one to do the painting on the cover of the CD (the painting was hung up at the show and Haley even wittily remarked, "We may even let you smell it for a dollar."). 
  • It is not surprising that the set list, before the encore, ended with "Candy Machine Gun" as it is Torey's favorite song (or has been professed as such at other shows).
  • I wish that there had been less volume given to Jeremy and Jacob's guitars, as they sometimes overpowered Haley's vocals and made it harder to hear her. 
  • I was over-joyed when she played "Us" (Lure the Fox) during the encore, as it has been my favorite Haley song.
Now for the album itself: of course I like it, it's Haley! It is definitely the type of album that I want to listen to on repeat. It starts with "Candy Machine Gun," which is a great opening song for a Haley album. It has elements of typical Haley country folk, but also a little bit of rock 'n roll. I can see why it would be one of Torey's favorites.

It ends with "Wendybird," which is the type of song that prevents you from simply moving on from it, which is part of the reason that I often end up listening to the album all over again. The banjo and cello on this song, along with Haley's heartbreaking vocals about growing up make this song beautifully and simply bitter-sweet.

My favorite song (currently) from this album is "Anyway Rattlesnake." I'm really loving the line, "So please forget the things I said, I was dark in the heart, and deep in my head but I want you to know that I loved you the best anyway."

Overall, I think that this is the Haley album that I've listened to so repeatedly, though I don't think her lyrics are as strong as they have been in the past (please go listen to her album Lure the Fox). You may really enjoy Golder too, so you should give it a listen! If you're not sold, download the track "Raggedy Man" for free (here) and give Haley a chance.

(Tour Dates are featured after the break)