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Best Of TAS In Session 2013: Staff Picks


Over the past 12 months, the TAS staff — Russ Borris, Alisa Ali, Eric Holland and Kara Manning — has chatted with an array of bands and artists for our in-studio sessions that straddle The Alternate Side and FUV Live.

Narrowing those conversations down to three sessions that we especially enjoyed was difficult, but our TAS in Session standouts of 2013 included Nick Cave, John Grant, Chvrches, Laura Veirs, Yo La Tengo and many others.

Check out our selections (and listen to them, linked by name, in our archives) below and find out what these artists and bands accomplished since their TAS/FUV Live session took place ... and what lies ahead for them in 2014.

Russ Borris:

John Grant:
The singer-songwriter stopped by FUV in April to candidly discuss the evolution of his second solo album, Pale Green Ghosts, and his own personal struggles. John Grant's poignant, smart album topped many year-end critics polls and he'll begin 2014 on tour in Australia, traveling to Europe and the UK later in the winter.

Man Man:
Philadelphia's Man Man has always prided itself on its eccentricity and eclecticism, but the band's new album, On Oni Pond, might be their most melodic and, perhaps, straightforward release. The group visited in October and they're in New York this very week, opening for Gogol Bordello at Terminal 5 tonight, December 30, and on New Year's Eve.

Okkervil River:
For Okkervil River's seventh album Silver Gymnasium, songwriter Will Sheff reflected on his childhood in New Hampshire. In a session recorded in September, Sheff discussed his boyhood, laced with memories of bad television and cassette tapes. Sheff launched a sucessful Kickstarter campaign to fund a film, "Down Down The Deep River," and Okkervil River tours Australia in February and launches another North American tour in March. Unfortunately, no New York dates seem to be on the itinerary yet.

Alisa Ali:

Yo La Tengo
Back in July, Yo La Tengo's Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew spent quality time in the Bronx for a session centered around Fade, the trio's thirteenth album. Yo La Tengo toured much of the summer, including a gig at Brooklyn's Prospect Park opening for Belle and Sebastian. They also released a deluxe edition of Fade and in December, scored a comedy Christmas video called "Toymageddon." Yo La Tengo heads — like many bands — to summery Australia and New Zealand in late winter.

The Dismemberment Plan:
Not many bands can claim a drummer who also works for NASA, but The Dismemberment Plan's resident robotic engineer Joe Easley took time off from his day job to tour this summer with his Washington D.C.  bandmates who released their first album in 12 years, Uncanney Valley. They also engaged The Alternate Side's Alisa Ali in one of our funniest TAS interviews of the year. The Dismemberment Plan played their last show of 2013 earlier this month in Los Angeles and released a commentary version of Uncanney Valley on Spotify. No tour dates have been announced yet for the coming year.

Few British bands were the focus of as much advance hype as the Glasgow trio Chvrches, but the synth-pop trio lived up to expectations with the release of their very good album The Bones of What You Believe. Back in September, Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook and Martin Doherty visited FUV and The Alternate Side for a laid-back, amiable session, playing a couple of tracks from the new record. Chvrches are spending their New Year's Eve at Edinburgh's splashy Hogmanay celebration and then embark on a tour to Singapore, Australia and New Zealand in late January. A tour of the UK and Europe follows and Chvrches return Stateside by spring, playing New York's Terminal 5 on May 2 and May 4. As for their much-praised debut,  Google Play is currently giving away The Bones of What You Believe for free for a limited time as one of their top albums of 2013.

Eric Holland:

Nick Cave
The release of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' fifteenth album, Push Away The Sky, was fortuitous for FUV and The Alternate Side since our own Eric Holland had a chance to sit down with the man for an in-depth conversation back in March. Cave and his compadres toured for much of 2013 and are planning the same for 2014, returning to New York on July 26 for a gig in Brooklyn's Prospect Park. In addition, a documentary about Nick Cave, called "20,000 Days On Earth" is an official selection of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival 

Franz Ferdinand
Although the Glasgow band came very close to breaking up a couple of years ago, Franz Ferdinand soldiered on, shaking off rumors of their imminent demise, and released a confident fourth album, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, in August 2013. More tour dates are set for 2014, including a sweep through the U.S. again, focused on the West coast.

The Montréal group released their album The North in 2012, but finally made their way to FUV's Studio A in March. This past September, Stars released a doubled-sided single of two songs that didn't make it onto The North, "Wishful" and "The Light." According to their Facebook page, Stars are in the midst of recording another album and they'll play a charity gig in Toronto on January 18.

Kara Manning

Laura Veirs:
Whlie pregnant with her second child, Laura Veirs recorded her beautiful ninth album, Warp and Weft, an album fecund with songs inspired by an array of fictional characters and fellow artists, like the jazz musician Alice Coltrane and outsider painter Howard Finster. As a mother of two young children, Laura Veirs can't tour as much as she'd like, but there's always a chance she'll embark on another short road trip in 2014. Listen to the FUV Live session Laura Veirs either now or on TAS on 91.5 WNYE on Friday, January 17, at 11am.

Pure Bathing Culture:
One of the loveliest debut albums of the past year came courtesy of a couple who met while touring with Vetiver. Pure Bathing Culture's Daniel Hindman and Sarah Versprille released Moon Tides in August, a resonant collection of doe-eyed dream pop. Pure Bathing Culture head back out on the road on January 20 with La Luz for west-of-the-Mississippi jaunt.

Everything Everything:
The Manchester-based group, nominated for a Mercury Prize for their debut Man Alive, released its ambitious and accomplished sophomore album Arc in January in the UK. Everything Everything spent most of 2013 touring the world with a brief late March swing through North America — which was when they dropped by The Alternate Side's Studio A for a session. Arc officially came out Stateside in June and by year's end, Everything Everything figured out, rather impressively, that they'd played 128 shows in 88 cities in 25 countries over the last twelve months.