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These United States: TAS Tour Blog

These United States — which actually hail originally from two states, New York and North Carolina — are currently on tour with Trampled By Turtles. Both bands land at Webster Hall tonight, April 17.

The geographically-minded band led by Jesse Elliot releases a fifth eponymous album on June 12. After finishing their tour with Trampled By Turtles, they'll hit the road with Heartless Bastards in May.

TAS asked These United States if they'd blog about their tour journey, well, across several states leading up to their New York show. Brand new bassist Anna Morsett kindly obliged and recruited Lindsay Giles McWilliams to take photos:

Day 0.5 – April 9th 2012

Tour begins! Well, almost. We arrive in Minneapolis for a few days of serious rehearsals and a little show with our dear friends The Poor Nobodys and Silverback Colony at Cause Bar. Oh, the Midwest. Everyone is so nice, I don’t know what to do with myself. My face hurts from smiling and we’ve only been here a few hours.

Day 1 – April 10th 2012
More rehearsals, a steady stream of jokes from Tom and Jesse (“What’s worse than biting into an apple and finding half a worm?” Ask Tom for the answer ....) and my face still hurts from smiling. Later that evening Trampled By Turtles (TBT) plays a packed show at 7th St. Entry and a few of us hustle over to catch their set. I’d never seen them play before and was eager to see just what was in store for us this tour. It was a ruckus! With the crowd belting out lyrics and thrashing around it almost felt like a punk show. TBT fans dance like they’re at a rave, yell like they’re watching their favorite sports team win and hug each other like they’re at a family reunion. I can’t wait to get this tour started.

Day 2 – April 11th 2012

First show with TBT at the renowned First Avenue in Minneapolis. The show is sold out! One load-in/sound-check later and we’re backstage writing out our set lists and listening to Erik Koskinen and his incredible band open the night to a densely crowded house of 1700 enthusiastic fans. They kill it and even though we’ve barely seen the crowd you can just feel their energy oozing through the walls of our little green room. Soon enough we are on stage for a 45-minute blur of playing, sweating and singing. It’s exhilarating; the crowd is unbelievably excited and dancing up a storm. A few TBT members join us on stage for our last three songs and the energy escalates even more. Unreal.


While we’re loading out after our set, the mayor of Duluth (where TBT is from) and the mayor of Minneapolis come out of stage to congratulate the band and THEN crowd surf! Both of them! They launch themselves off the stage, over the photo barricade and into the crowd. What?!


Day 3 – April 12th 2012

Early start and we drive to Madison for a live acoustic set for a radio station before our show at the Barrymore Theater. Also sold out! Such a cool old theater; the ceiling even has little blinking lights in it that look like stars. During the show Aaron, our drummer, and I just keep smiling at each other like we’ve won the lottery. Afterwards we drive a few hours back to Chicago, Tom and I bond in the back seat over banana chips and stories of our past romances. Jesse drives and is our hero. Sleep sleep sleep.

Day 4 – April 13th 2012

We awake a little outside of Chicago and make breakfast and a new merch box/set-up before heading off to a live video/audio streaming set for Audiotree Live. We laugh as we sweat under bright lights and the gaze of four moving cameras while playing and answering questions like, “If we were any other life form what would we be?” Tom says he’d be a cat, Jesse says he’d be himself in a parallel universe, Justin says a tree (we decide that Tom could hang out in his branches), I say I’d be a sea creature, or a unicorn, or hell, how about a "sea unicorn" which makes me feel like I’m 12 and Aaron says he’d be fungi. At the end of one of our songs the DJ yells out, "Funky Vaudeville Explosion!” which has since become one of my favorite tour quotes. 

Off to the Metro for tonight’s sold out show where posters line the walls of the legendary bands that came before us. The show is probably one of the best we've played thus far - each time we play we just get tighter and tighter. I get in Tom’s face and dance like a maniac.

Day 5 April 14th 2012

Only Day 5? 7:30am and we're moving towards the edges of the rust belt. Several hours and a few rest stops later and we arrive at Mr. Small’s in Pittsburgh, a beautiful old church converted to venue about 10 years ago. Lindsay, Jesse and I experiment with the venue’s outdoor grill where the chef is a madman with sauces – all are extremely delicious and extremely spicy. After a few small bites my lips and belly are immediately on fire, tears bud up in my eyes and the hot, sweet, honey badger sauce dribbles from face and hands while I lurch around for the relief of a beer. Once the fire’s out, I join the rest of my bandmates and other members of TBT to work through a new cover to end our set with.

The night ends in serious band bonding on the TBT tour bus with Erik Berry and Tom bonding over their mutual love of the Grateful Dead while Molly (TBT’s guitar tech) and I bond over guitar geekery and quotes from youtube videos.

Day 6 April 15th 2012

Talley-ho to Canada!! Hangovers in tow we venture north to Toronto to play at Lee’s Palace for the rowdiest and most wild crowd that we’ve encountered yet. And on a Sunday night no less! One particularly enthusiastic guy felt so “inspired” he actually forced his way on stage in the middle of our final song. The tiny stage could barely hold all of us, (including our TBT guest stars) and our new fan jumped off the six-foot stage in hopes of crowd surfing but landed instead face first on the concrete. Audible gasps from the crowd, while all of us on stage try to hold it together through Steve Earle’s “Steve’s Last Ramble”. We watched him stand up, wobble for a bit and then exit with his wounded pride and injured limbs. AND as he left a little fight also broke out and I think someone lost a few teeth. Wow, Canadians, who would’ve known?! Our green room was located above and to the side of the stage so we had an incredible view of the TBT set and THEIR wild crowd. More crowd surfing (successful this time) and near moshing as TBT whipped them into a thrashgrass frenzy. People dancing and yelling and holding one another, people on each other’s shoulders, bottles falling and someone even passed out . . . ? Happy but exhausted we tumble into bed. Day 7 –

April 16th 2012
Ten hour drive to NYC!

Anna Morsett
These United States
April 2012

These United States Tour Dates with Trampled By Turtles:

4/17 - New York, NY @ Webster Hall
4/18 - Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club
4/19 - Syracuse, NY @ Westcott Theater
4/20 - Washington, DC @ 930 Club
4/21 - Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
4/22 - Charlottesville, VA @ The Jefferson Wed
4/25 Columbus, OH @ Woodlands Tavern* Thurs,
4/26 - Maumee, OH @ The Village Idiot*
4/28 - Cincinnati, OH @ Taft Theater *w/o Trampled By Turtles

(dates below with Heartless Bastards)
5/11 - Baton Rouge, LA @ Spanish Moon
5/12 - New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jacks
5/15 - Tampa, FL @ The Orpheum
5/16 - Orlando, FL @ The Social
5/17 - Gainesville, FL @ Double Down
5/18 - Athens, GA @ 40 Watt Club
5/21 - Charleston, SC @ The Pour House
5/22 - Chattanooga, TN @ Rhythm and Brews
5/23 - Lexington, KY @ Cosmic Charlie's
5/24 - Bloomington, IN @ Bluebird Nightclub
5/25 - Columbia, MO @ Mojo's
5/26 - Iowa City, IA @ Gabe's
5/27 - Omaha, NE @ The Waiting Room
5/29 - Lawrence, KS @ Granada Theatre



TAS Takes On Valentine's Day With Not-So-Silly Love Songs

Ah, Valentine's Day. A time of crushes, Cupids, chocolate and champagne. Or a depressing night spent with a dopey Katherine Heigl rom-com while polishing off a pint of Chunky Monkey. No matter what your take on the loveliest - or most loveless - of days, The Alternate Side staff has pulled together some of our favorite songs that we feel express the best and worst of romance.


Alisa Ali (Host of The Alternate Side, Producer and On-Air Interviewer for WFUV)

The Decemberists, "Red Right Ankle" — I love this song so much that I almost can't bear to listen to it. When it comes on randomly on my MP3 player, I get a funny feeling in my belly. I play it sometimes on The Alternate Side. But rarely.  'Cause it just turns me into a blubbering mess (I'm a cryer what can I say?). This song addresses love and love lost. I get verklempt just thinking about it:

And some, they crumbled you straight to your knees
Did it cruel, did it tenderly
Some they crawled their way into your heart
To rend your ventricles apart

Jeff Buckley, "Lover, You Should Have Come Over" —  In my opinion, this is one of the best songs ever created. The intensity of his yearning is almost overwhelming. This is another song that I can't play that often, because it's just too good.  Lyrically, it's so expressive. You can listen to this on the sunniest day and still feel like it's raining outside. He was such an amazing vocalist. Hearing him sing the line, "She's the tear that hangs inside my soul forever," just floors me.  

Van Morrison, "Sweet Thing" —  Sorry to state the obvious, but Astral Weeks is possibly one of the most perfect albums of all time. "Sweet Thing" exemplifies blissful contentment. I love so many things about this song, like the imagery: gardens all misty and wet with rain, clear, clean water and ferry boats.  And the jive talk, like "sugar baby" and  "dynamite!" I put this song on a mixtape for a boyfriend many years ago and it always bugged me that he never commented on it, or said that he also liked that song. Clearly, we were not a good match. But I still love this song and I reckon I always will.

Aretha Franklin, "You're All I Need To Get By" — Specifically, the version found on the Rare & Unreleased Recordings from the Golden Reign of the Queen of Soul. If you are a fan of Aretha — and who isn't? — you should really get your hands on this outstanding album. This song, written by Ashford & Simpson and originally recorded by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell in 1968, is one of the best love songs ever created. But man, the way Aretha sings it knocks me out.  I feel like my heart is going to explode with joy. I couldn't find my favorite version but this one is pretty fantastic.  


Russ Borris (Host of The Alternate Side and WFUV Assistant Music Director)

Love ...  

Tom Waits, "Picture in a Frame" —  Always love Waits as the balladeer; this one is just beautiful. 

Depeche Mode, "Somebody"—  I always found Martin Gore to be an underrated lyricist. Love the 101 version of this one. 

Nick Cave, "Into My Arms" — Not unlike Waits, here's the other side of Nick Cave: "I don't believe in the existence of angels, but looking at you I wonder if that's true."  

Loss ....

Black Sabbath,  "Solitude" —  Ozzy has so much sadness lamenting the loss of his woman. Such a contrast to the dark sound the band is known for.

Soulsavers, "You'll Miss Me When I Burn"— Will Oldham wrote this, but Mark Lanegan's voice brings an unbelievable sense of ache and pain to this one. Actually, it is believable. 

The Cure, "Pictures of You" —  I don't have pictures of someone I long for, but Robert Smith makes me wish I did. Something about The Cure makes depression seem alluring.  


Eric Holland (TAS Weekend Host, WFUV Presenter):

Nick Cave, "Into My Arms" — This is a romantic song for the ages and one that battles cynicism about the mythology of love and champions same as true religion.


Kara Manning (TAS Web Editor/Writer and TAS/WFUV On-Air Interviewer):

Stars, "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead" —  The bittersweet narrative of this thorny song captures everything about shattered expectations, anger and loss. Also, the interplay of Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan's sweet, but sullen vocals against the drunken horns, thudding drums and woozy, waltzing strings sounds like the aching morning after the worst night ever.

TLC, "Baby Baby Baby"—  So many great, gutsy songs from this underestimated trio (could it be that this track is twenty years old?), but this one pretty much lays down the ground rules.

Gruff Rhys with El Perro Del Mar, "Space Dust #2"— In this beautiful duet of just over two minutes, the meet-cute, hook-up, inevitable jealousy and terse break-up of two scientists at a conference. 

The Cure, "Just Like Heaven"  —  One of the most dizzyingly pretty, not-quite-happy love songs ever written. Plus you get to spot Robert Smith dancing with his childhood sweetheart Mary in the video ... and they've been married for 24 years. 

Paul Weller, "Thinking of You" — Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards' "Thinking of You," first recorded by Sister Sledge in 1979, was covered by Weller on his 2004 release Studio 150. Although both versions are exquisite, it's Weller's gruff and tender take, one of his most vulnerable recordings, that claims my heart.


Sarah Wardrop (TAS Substitute Host, WFUV Assistant Program Director, WFUV Music Weekend Host):

Van Morrison, "Sweet Thing" —  Whether you consider Van a sweet sight or not, he's written some beauties on the subject of l-o-v-e. It's tough to pick just one, but "Sweet Thing" is actually one of the least saccharine of the bunch.

Kathleen Edwards, "Asking For Flowers"  — "Asking for flowers is like asking you to be nice." Nothing dramatic, just punch-in-the-gut ouch.

Bon Iver, "I Can't Make You Love Me/Nick of Time" — Justin Vernon has his own batch of heartbreak songs (see Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago), but here he sings a medley of two songs that Bonnie Raitt made famous: one that's a rough reality check and one that adds a light at the end of the tunnel. He included some Donnie Hathaway in his performance of this tune on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," but this two-song version serves up a serious Valentine's Day mood swing.


Joe Grimaldi ((TAS/WFUV Assistant Director of Technical Operations, TAS Video Team/ Photographer)

James Blake, "Limit to Your Love" — Blake's cover of Feist's  "Limit to Your Love" is a song that closely resembles my love life over the past several months. This is a song about longing for a commitment that you know won't ever be made. There is no greater pain than unrequited love, and "Limit to Your Love" describes coming to terms with the realization that your feelings will never be reciprocated. Blake's use of reverb evokes a sense of loneliness, even emptiness, that I strongly identify with.


Breaking Bands 2012: TAS Staff Picks Next Year's New Faces To Watch

Looking ahead to 2012, The Alternate Side staff — not normally betting folk — are gambling that bands and artists like Alabama Shakes, Daughter, Gary Clark Jr., Hospitality, 2:54, Zambri, Lucy Rose, The Cold and Lovely and Friends will making a significant impact over the next twelve months. At the very least, we're really looking forward to their debut (or next) albums.  

Russ Borris (Host of The Alternate Side and WFUV's Assistant Music Director)

Guineafowl: This band from Sydney started as a solo project from Sam Yeldham who crafted his songs in typical DIY-fashion. In order to pull them off live, though, he needed a band, and so Guineafowl grew into a five piece. Check out the High Anxiety EP as they work on a full length due in 2012.

LITTLE FINGERS by Guineafowl

Hospitality: This Brooklyn band released an EP back in 2009 and will put out their full-length debut on Merge Records in 2012. Catchy, fun songs that are immediate and stick with you.

Hospitality - Betty Wang by MergeRecords

Alabama Shakes: Genuine garage-soul from Athens, Alabama. It's pretty authentic stuff and a sure bet to make some (more) noise in 2012.


Alisa Ali (Host of The Alternate Side, Producer and On-Air Interviewer for WFUV)

Alabama Shakes:  Apparently gaining some more pride in their home state, the Shakes have renamed themselves Alabama Shakes and they put out an excellent self-titled EP this year. They've got a kind of a retro-Motown-Southern-rock thing going on — which is just crazy enough to work. Alabama Shakes just got picked up by ATO Records and will release their full-length debut in April.

Tony Castles:  Great. Just what we need. Another band outta Williamsburg. No! Really!  I know its cool to hate on W'burg, but there are some reaslly good bands that come out of that part of Brooklyn. Case in point is Tony Castles who obtusely described their sound to CMJ as “something a younger someone who might like to be sexual maybe with someone of the opposite sex or same sex or just talk MIGHT PUT ON at a moment of fun with their friends.” Interesting. Tony Castles should release a debut album this year on Das Racist’s record label Greedhead.

Tony Castles - Heart In The Pipes (Kauf Remix) by LostInRecords

2:54:  London sisters Hannah and Colette Thurlow pair dark, screechy sounds with breathy vocals. Their music has an ambient, shoegaze-y feel to it, but it also feels anxious, like a caged animal.  Anyway, I really enjoy this band, now a quartet, and I hope to be seeing and hearing more from them. They've got an upcoming UK tour with The Big Pink,  so maybe that will help get them some more attention and bring them closer to our shores.


Kara Manning (TAS Web Editor/Writer, On-Air Interviewer for TAS and WFUV)

In addition to London's soulfully savvy Michael Kiwanuka and the scruffy, Motown-loving Various Cruelties, who've already been blessed by high-profile appearances on the BBC's  "Later With Jools Holland" and, in Kiwanuka's case, the BBC's Sound of 2012, the following artists and bands, from the UK and BK, should make intriguing full-length debuts next year:

Lucy Rose - Back in July, when I first heard Lucy Rose's sweet, smoky vocals on her first single, "Middle Of The Bed," I thought for a split second that it was a leaked track from Leslie Feist's not-yet-released album. Not so, but Rose, who sings frequently with Bombay Bicycle Club (and just toured with them in Europe), shares a similar, deceptively insouciant quality as Feist, masking a willful and vulnerable undertow. Rose begins recording her debut album this January, but her singles "Scar" and "Middle Of The Bed" are available now.

Lucy Rose - Middle Of The Bed by Lucy Rose

Friends: Brooklyn's Friends released one of the best singles of 2011, the come-hither, bass-led slink of "I'm His Girl" (backed by a cracking cover of Ghostown DJ's' "My Boo") so the quintet, fronted by pals Samantha Urbani and Lesley Hann, will definitely be closely watched when they finally release their debut. The band, currently on the Lucky Number label, has also been longlisted for the BBC's Sound of 2012, surprisingly the only indie artist to make the cut.

Friends - I'm His Girl by LuckyNumberMusic

Daughter: London-based Daughter, steered by the mist-shrouded vocals of 21-year-old Elena Tonra, create painfully beautiful songs that seem born from a bleak, Scandinavian detective thriller, like the love-as-murder "Landfill." Since Tonra works with her boyfriend Igor Haefeli, that might not bode well for their romantic future, but it makes for pretty compelling music. They are just two excellent EPs into their career, releasing The Wild Youth in November on Communion and His Young Heart last spring. Their full-length debut can't come soon enough.


Daughter - Landfill (taken from the 'His Young Heart' EP) by ohDaughter

The 2 Bears: Yes, it's a bit easy to predict that a side project from Hot Chip's Joe Goddard, joined by ex-publicist Raf Rundell, might get some attention. However, it's not so much for the Hot Chip connection, but for the 2 Bears' plushie convention weirdness (or adorableness) — the duo wear bear costumes in performance — matched with terrific singles like "Work" or their cover of Sade's "When Am I Going To Make A Living?" that seems to be getting them the most press.  Fusty-smelling bear suits aside, their exuberant dance-pop debut, Be Strong, drops in January


Eric Holland (TAS Weekend Host, WFUV Presenter)

13Ghosts:  This Birmingham, Alabama band started in 1998 but found difficulty gaining momentum, due to extended periods of not playing together. They released two albums in 2011, Garland of Bottles Flies (Skybucket Records) and the snarling Liars Melody (This Is American Music), which create a twisted world of memorable characters and unpredictable soundscapes. They've received some press but are still a discovery waiting for New York City.

13ghosts - Broken Objects by No Deal Music

Air Review: A five-piece out of the Dallas area; their America's Son EP boasts hooky, well-crafted songs.

America's Son EP by airreview

Zambri: Alongside the former lineup of School of Seven Bells, there is room on TAS for another band featuring twin sisters.  Cristi Jo and Jessica Zambri piqued my interest with their moody pop on their Glossolalia EP, produced by Chris Coady (who has worked with Beach House).


Sarah Wardrop (TAS Substitute Host, WFUV Assistant Program Director, WFUV Music Weekend Host)

Alabama Shakes:  Where some bands draw from the classic soul sound with polish and precision, this Athens, Alabama foursome turns up the volume and stays rough around the edges. With their debut album set for release in the spring, here's hoping they don't get swayed (unless they want to) -- and that Brittany Howard's raw, powerhouse voice holds on.

Gary Clark, Jr.: With his 2011 EP, The Bright Lights, Gary Clark, Jr. left no doubt that there's a new guitar-slinger in town. Sure, it sounds ridiculous to call a guy who plays electric guitar "electrifying," but to see Clark perform live is nothing less. Look for his major label debut next year.

Gary Clark Jr. - Things Are Changing by discosalmon

The Cold and Lovely: Nicole Fiorentino, the Smashing Pumpkins' current bassist, and Meghan Toohey, a LA-via-Boston songwriter/guitarist/producer, released a single this year as The Cold and Lovely, describing their ambient, rock sound as "broken hearts, bitterness and love." Enticed? Well, depending on Billy Corgan's plans, we'll hopefully hear more from the duo in 2012.

Not With Me by thecoldandlovely

The Black Keys, M83, PJ Harvey And More On TAS Staff's Best Of 2011

The Alternate Side staff both loves — and dreads — the annual rush of ubiquitous end-of-year lists, sifting through the best albums and singles of the twelve months gone by. There are usually far too many records or songs we'd like to mention, so consider the following just a start of what we really enjoyed in 2011, leaping from The Black Keys to tUnE-yArDs to Elbow to Little Dragon. And feel free to add your comments on what you liked too — we'd love to hear from you.


Russ Borris (Host of The Alternate Side and WFUV's Assistant Music Director):

Bon Iver, Bon Iver, Bon Iver - Ambitiously beautifully, nothing came close to this one. Nothing.
The Weeknd, House of Balloons - The first mixtape from this Toronto guy is a modern spin on R&B filled with songs about girls and drugs and clubs. Oh, and girls doing drugs in clubs.
James Blake, James Blake - I promised myself I wouldn't use the word dubstep when describing this record. Damnit.
Girls, Father, Son, Holy Ghost - A big leap forward with album #2 filled with sadness and hope. "Vomit" is the best song with the worst title of 2011.
PJ Harvey, Let England Shake - Just so solid. It's amazing how she makes a different and compelling record every time.
The Mountain Goats, All Eternals Deck - John Darnielle is one of the most intelligent writers going and this one only adds to his extensive resume here. Plus the in-studio session was a blast.
M83, Hurry Up, We're Dreaming - A giant double album that is always moving, keeping you hooked in.
The Shivers, More - Their most cohesive record yet, a cool twist on the classic "guy loses girl" story.
The Roots, undun - Brilliant and possibly their best album yet. Maybe The Black Keys are actually the second best band in the world. The Black Keys, El Camino - Somewhere along the line, The Black Keys became the best band in the world.

Songs: (alphabetical)
Alexander, "Truth" - I can never hear this song the same way after the "Box Cutter" episode of "Breaking Bad."
Blitzen Trapper, "Love the Way You Walk Away" - This song stuck with me from listen one.
Bon Iver, "Beth/Rest" - Memories of junior high school dances filled with cheesy keys and filthy guitar solos. Uh, the song, not the dances.
Elbow, "Lippy Kids" - A flawless recording. Just perfect.
Fool's Gold, "Wild Window" - One of my favorite lines of the year:  "No, you have not ruined me ... yet, despite your best efforts."
M83, "Midnight City" - The hookiest synth-line of the year.
Man Man, "Haute Tropique" - Hands down, the best video performance in Studio A in 2011.
Nerves Junior, "As Bright as Your Night Light" - This band from Louisville flew under the radar a bit this year, but I expect to hear more from them in the future.
tUnE-yArDs, "Bizness" - Merrill Garbus approaches recording like no other. This song is crazy.
Tyler, The Creator, "Yonkers" - When I first saw the video for this, I was sold. Interesting, controversial, ambitious.


Alisa Ali (Host of The Alternate Side, Producer and On-Air Interviewer for WFUV)

Beirut, The Rip Tide
Wye Oak, Civilians
M83, Hurry Up We're Dreaming
Milagres, Glowing Mouth
Shabazz Palaces, Black Up
tUnE-yArDs, whokill
The Antlers, Burst Apart
Washed Out, Within and Without
Wild Flag, Wild Flag
Real Estate, Days

tUnE-yArDs, "Bizness"
Beastie Boys, "Make Some Noise"
The Head and the Heart, "Lost In My Mind"
Beirut, "Santa Fe"
M83, "Midnight City"
The Antlers, "Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out"
Amor Fati, "Washed Out"
The Naked and Famous, "Young Blood"
Metronomy, "The Bay"
Friends, "I'm His Girl"


Eric Holland (TAS Weekend Host, WFUV Presenter)

Paul Simon, So Beautiful or So What - Paul contemplates life, love, and death with his inimitable wit.
Tom Waits, Bad as Me -  Tom in touch with all parts of his persona and stages in his career.
Danger Mouse & Danielle Luppi, Rome - A little album in some ways but enormously successful.
Wilco, The Whole Love -  Favorite Wilco album ever.
Wild Flag, Wild Flag - Women who often evoke CBGBs talent like Patti Smith and Television.
Feist, Metals - Unlike Björk this year, she managed to successfully balance her weird experimentation with song structure.
Real Estate, Days -  It was a good year for power pop but this was even better than Greenhornes, FOW, The Kooks and Matthew Sweet.
Girls, Father, Son, Holy Ghost  - Charming, infectious, clever, funny, ambitious, epic.
John Hiatt, Dirty Jeans & Mudslide Hymns - An especially great batch of songs from one of America's great songwriters.
Radiohead, The King of Limbs -  I miss guitars and enough with the deconstruction; still ... they're genius.

Lykke Li, "Get Some"
Amy Correia,  "Powder Blue Trans Am"
Garland Jeffreys, "Roller Coaster Town"
Mr. Heavenly, "Bronx Sniper"
The Drums, "Money"
Foster The People, "Pumped Up Kicks"
Paul Simon, "Rewrite"
Jimmy Cliff, "Guns of Brixton" (favorite cover)
Norah Jones, "Jesus Etc" (favorite cover)
James Blake, "Limit to Your Love" (favorite cover)


Kara Manning (TAS Web Editor/Writer and On-Air Interviewer for TAS and WFUV)

Elbow, build a rocket boys! - Four stunning singles also came tumbling off of this near-perfect album, including the masterful "Lippy Kids."
Metronomy, The English Riviera - Joseph Mount's sly, sexy and self-deprecating ode to his native Devon established Metronomy as one of Britain's most thoroughly delectable bands.
Laura Marling, A Creature I Don't Know - Marling's masterpiece at the mere age of 21. Ferocious, tempestuous and heartbreaking.
Holy Ghost!, Holy Ghost! - Brooklyn's Nick Millhiser and Alex Frankel's terrific debut which includes "Wait & See" (best video of the year) and the bittersweet "Jam for Jerry," a tribute to late drummer Jerry Fuchs.
Gruff Rhys, Hotel Shampoo - The enigmatic Welshman (and Super Furry Animals frontman) releases his most tender, intimate and candid solo album to date.
Megafaun, Megafaun - Proving that they are far, far more than merely Justin Vernon's former bandmates, Megafaun pushed the reset button on their approach to songwriting and released one of the most beautiful albums of 2011
Yuck, Yuck - A wildly eclectic, assured and mesmerizing debut. Made me sentimental for the 90s too.
PJ Harvey, Let England Shake - This might be Polly Jean Harvey's most brilliant and resonant album. Life during wartime: unflinching, brutal and unforgettable.
Butcher The Bar, For Each A Future Tethered - Manchester singer and songwriter Joel Nicholson often gets compared to Elliot Smith and for good reason; handsome tracks like "Silk Tilts" and "Cradle Song" blur both shadows and sunshine.
Cornershop with Bubbley Kaur, Cornershop & The Double 'O' Groove Of - It took six years for this album to see the light and it is, appropriately, positively luminous. Cornershop's collaboration with Punjabi singer Bubbley Kaur, a Lancashire housewife.

Everything Everything, "Photoshop Handsome" - Everything, everything about this song makes me happy. Even the jabberwocky nonsense of the lyrics.
Little Dragon , "Ritual Union" - Really, is there anything that Little Dragon's Yukimo Nagano sings that doesn't sound sexy?
DJ Shadow w/Little Dragon, "Scale It Back" - See above. Plus, is it wrong to admit that the song reminds me of vintage TLC?
Friends, "I'm His Girl" - Brooklyn upstarts mine a super-sultry bass line with tasty insolence (plus the B-side is their fabulous cover of the Ghost Town DJ's' "My Boo").
SBTRKT, "Pharaohs" - London producer SBTRKT recruited Roses Gabor for this sleek little number.
Boys Noize & Erol Alkan with Jarvis Cocker, "Avalanche (Terminal Velocity)" - True, Jarvis Cocker could read the ingredients off a cereal box and make it sound brilliant, but this explosive deconstruction of Leonard Cohen's song is particularly compelling
Michael Kiwanuka, "Tell Me A Tale" - Like a long-lost vinyl single from the early 70s. Gorgeous.
The Naked and Famous, "Young Blood" - Soaring, summertime perfection and one of several excellent singles off of this New Zealand band's debut.
Bombay Bicycle Club, "Shuffle" - Bombay Bicycle Club's A Different Kind of Fix just missed my top ten album list, but that excellent release was led off by this brisk, breezy canter of a single. Wonderful.
The Horrors, "Still Life" - The Horrors' Skying is another album I wish I could have squeezed into my top ten. "Still Life," like the balance of the album, is a wondrous wash of synth-pop grandeur.


Rita Houston (WFUV Music Director, Host of Whole Wide World)

Adele, 21
Amos Lee, Mission Bell
Diego Garcia, Laura
Elbow, build a rocket boys!
Gillian Welch, The Harrow and The Harvest
Iron and Wine, Kiss Each Other Clean
kd lang, Sing it Loud
Nikki Jean, Pennies from a Jar
The Head and the Heart, The Head and the Heart
Wilco, The Whole Love

Songs (alphabetical):
Childish Gambino, "Bonfire"
Cults, "Go Outside"
Dawes, "A Little Bit of Everything"
Givers, "Up Up Up"
James Blake, "Limit to Your Love"
James Maddock, "Beautiful Then"
Kids These Days, "Darling"
Lady Gaga, "Born This Way"
M83, "Raconte Moi Une Histoire"
My Morning Jacket, "Holdin' On to Black Metal"


Laura Fedele (New Media Director for WFUV and TAS)

The Decemberists, The King is Dead
Wilco, The Whole Love
Iron and Wine, Kiss Each Other Clean
Gillian Welch, The Harrow & The Harvest
The Head and the Heart, The Head and the Heart
Amos Lee, Mission Bell
kd lang and The Siss Boom Bang, Sing It Loud
Diego Garcia, Laura
Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi, Rome
Radiohead, The King of Limbs

Elbow, "Lippy Kids"
Adele, "Rolling in the Deep"
The Civil Wars, "Barton Hollow"
Nicole Atkins, "The Tower"
Dawes, "A Little Bit Of Everything"
Givers, "Up Up Up"
David Wax Museum, "Born With a Broken Heart"
Lucinda Williams, "Blessed"
My Morning Jacket, "Wonderful (The Way I Feel) "
Rachael Yamagata, "You Won't Let Me"


Sarah Wardop (TAS Substitute Host, WFUV Assistant Program Director, FUV Music Weekend Host)

Albums (alphabetical):  
The Black Keys, El Camino
Bon Iver, Bon Iver, Bon Iver
City and Colour, Little Hell
David Wax Museum, Everything Is Saved
The Decemberists, The King Is Dead
Feist, Metals
The Head and the Heart, The Head and the Heart
Colin Stetson, New History Warfare, Vol. 2: Judges
Gillian Welch, The Harrow & The Harvest
Wild Flag, Wild Flag

Songs (alphabetical): 
Adele, "Rolling In The Deep"
Nicole Atkins, "Cry Cry Cry"
James Blake, "Limit To Your Love"
Bon Iver, "Holocene"
David Wax Museum, "Born With A Broken Heart"
The Decemberists, "January Hymn"
The Head and the Heart, "Down In The Valley"
M83, "Midnight City"
The Rapture, "It Takes Time To Be A Man"
Wild Flag, "Romance" 


Joe Grimaldi (TAS/WFUV Assistant Director of Technical Operations, TAS Video Team/ Photographer)

The Black Keys, El Camino
David Guetta, Nothing but the Beat
Blue Scholars, Cinemetropolis
Lil Wayne, Tha Carter IV
Wick-it the Instigator, The Brothers of Chico Dusty (Big Boi vs. The Black Keys)
Wiz Khalifa, Rolling Papers
Socks & Chimes, I Love You Overall
Bon Iver,  Bon Iver, Bon Iver
M83, Hurry Up We're Dreaming
Gillian Welch,The Harrow & The Harvest
Childish Gambino, Camp

Ryan Adams, "Lucky Now"
Wale, "Ambition"
The Streets, "Outside Inside"
Atmosphere, "The Last to Say"
Foster the People, "Houdini"
James Blake, "A Case of You"
The Lisps, "Try"
Beyoncé, "Best Thing I Never Had"
Socks & Chime, "New Mexico"
Car on the Moon, "Sea of Indians"
Gillian Welch, "Hard Times"

LMFAO feat. Lauren Bennett and GoonRock, "Party Rock Anthem," (dir. Mickey Finnegan)
Kanye West feat. Rihanna and Kid Cudi, "All Of The Lights," (dir. Hype Williams)
Tyler the Creator, "Yonkers," (dir. Wold Haley)
Taylor Swift, "Ours," (dir. Declan Whitebloom)
The New Pornographers, "Moves,"  (dir. Tom Scharpling)
Jay-Z and Kanye West, "Otis," (dir. Spike Jonze)
Lonely Island feat. Michael Boulton, "Jack Sparrow," (Broadway Video)
Lana Del Ray, "Video Games," (dir. Lana Del Ray)
Wild Flag, "Romance," (dir. Tom Scharpling)
M83, "Midnight City" (dir. Fleur & Manu)
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, "Wings," (dir. Zia Mohajerjasbi)  


The Duke Spirit: CMJ Music Marathon Blog

London rockers The Duke Spirit don't release their third album, Bruiser, Stateside until January 17 (with a digital release slated for November 21), but the band made a quick trip to New York last week for the CMJ Music Marathon.

The group, which has changed up its lineup a bit since the depature of guitarist Dan Higgins in 2008, played two CMJ gigs and also had a chance to stop at the release party for the videogame "Batman: Arkham City." Their song "Creature" is featured on the new soundtrack, featuring original songs from MGMT, Florence and the Machine, Adele, Noel Gallagher and, believe it or not, Tom Waits.

The Duke Spirit's Bruiser, released through Shangri-La, was released in the UK in September and the band launches a tour there, supporting White Lies, on November 25. For their third album, the band recruited producer Andrew Scheps, who has worked with Red Hot Chili Peppers and Manu Chao. Seeking a slight shift, they diverged from the bluesy garage rock that dominiated their debut, 2005's Cuts Across The Land, and 2008's Neptune, opting for a sleeker, more straightforward rock sound, like the muscular "Running Fire" and the reserved, but roiling "Villain."

The Alternate Side asked the quintet's charismatic frontwoman Liela Moss if she'd keep a blog of her speedy trip through New York, which included a Nylon magazine shoot, the "It's A School Night" show at Bowery Hotel and a gig at Brooklyn Bowl.

Liela Moss' CMJ Blog:

Nylon magazine invite us over to play in front of their posse in their photostudio and offices. They shower us with Nylon love and then we scoot off for dinner.

Nylon Magazine - they have a great linoleum floor for dancing on. We play a little acoustic set and get down on it, for a sweet moment.

Olly and  Marc are now at the Batman Arkham City launch party. They put something pretty pokey in the cocktails, and Marc started getting agitated when he couldn't find his mask and gloves.

Liela hits soundcheck at the Brooklyn Bowl. Only problem was I seem to have a misunderstanding about the door handle. I just had some electrifyingly strong coffee from Bakeri café, just down the street on Wythe and 9th or so. Thank god for that place, today was a long day.

[We then played]  our first show of the night ["It's A School Night" at Bowery Hotel]. I think I'm hailing a cab in this photo, as I know we're running late for the next show.  

Onstage at the Brooklyn Bowl. The stage is high. Vertigo-inducing. Or they make their margaritas too strong. What's behind the velvet curtain? I didn't get time to investigate. Next time ....

Brooklyn Bowl - setlist




Radiation City: CMJ Music Marathon Blog

With their effusive, dreamy, retro-60s girl group panache, Radiation City, out of Portland, Oregon, cut their own warm, distinctive path at this year's CMJ Music Marathon. The band plays one last CMJ gig today, October 22, at Spike Hill at 3 p.m., introducing New York to their confident debut album The Hands That Take You, out now on Tender Loving Empire/Apes Tapes.

The Alternate Side asked the band — Cameron Spies, Lizzy Ellison, Randy Bemrose and Matt Rafferty — if they'd document their virgin CMJ Music Marathon experience via a blog and photos and they happily did below. While reading, check out three of Radiation City's tracks,  "Park,"  "The Color of Industry" and "Summer is Not An Act 1."

Radiation City - Summer is Not An Act 1 by tender-loving-empire

Radiation City continue their ongoing U.S. tour on October 25 in St. Louis, Missouri, wrapping their road trip on October 31 to play a special hometown show at Portland's Wonder Ballroom with Lost Lander and Brothers Young.

CMJ - Week long marathon of madness

This is our first time at CMJ. It's not unlike many of the festivals we've attended over the years, but being on the other side of things (playing) makes things very different. The week-long extravaganza is one of the more exhausting experiences we've had as band, and it's quite delightful, although fatigue set in quickly, due to free drinks and non-stop schmoozing. There aren't many opportunities to see the bands you'd like to see (due to playing multiple shows in one day), but sometimes you play a showcase with some remarkable bands that makes it all worth it.  [Friday afternoon, October 21] was one such showcase. We were asked to play for Distiller's showcase at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, opening for WATERS and Yellow Ostrich, and playing after Fidlar.

Fidlar is a name we'd been hearing about, since we arrived in New York, as a band to see. As we were loading our gear in, they began their set and blew the large crowd that attended away. Heavy early 90's inspired grunge-punk, with slightly immature lyrics, but tastefully so. They screamed about smoking weed and doing cocaine, perhaps even while in NYC. Spit flew from the lead singer's mouth, which is lovely to see (unless you're the next band to play and you normally go barefoot). They played what seemed like 10 songs in a matter of 25 minutes, at full volume, with no hesitation. It was exactly what this festival needed as most bands and acts tend to lean towards more current trends.

There were other acts in between including PUJOL, Lights Out and The R's, but unfortunately hunger was calling and we needed to eat.

Upon returning, WATERS (previously part of Port O'Brien) had already taken the stage. A wall of heavy distorted guitars pleasantly filled the air as Van Pierszalowski's voice resonated, surprisingly above the chaos. We'd recently watched their video, "For The One," and were very excited to be sharing the stage with his new project. I wish we had caught more of their performance, but the two songs we saw were stunning and not surprisingly so.

Finally, Yellow Ostrich took the stage. After having a beer for breakfast and Thai food for lunch, exhaustion kicks in. I was ready to leave, but their loops and infinite amount of instruments and pedals sucked me in. If you closed your eyes, it would sound as if a six- piece brass section and trio of singers were helping the band achieve their incredible sound, but no. Alex Schaaf has mastered the art of looping vocals and horns to sound larger than life, silencing the crowd. But it didn't stop there. Drummer Michael Tapper (Fool's Gold, We Are Scientists) had what appeared to be a cashew shell tambourine attached to his high-hat, making the most delicate, but effective, sound. They made me feel similar to how Braids makes me feel; there is still music being made that has heart. I can't wait to see what happens with these guys.

This showcase made CMJ worth coming to, even if nothing happens for us.

— Cameron Spies and Lizzy Ellison (and all of us in Radiation City)

TAS Interview (CMJ Preview): Chad Valley

British singer, songwriter and remixer-in-demand Hugo Manuel has been very active doing double duty with two projects: his band Jonquil, which released a lengthy Stateside EP last fall, One Hundred Suns, and just finished recording a new album, and Chad Valley, his more experimental, electronic-leaning, solo alter ego.

The Oxford-based Manuel, who wraps a North American tour with Active Child on September 30 in Los Angeles, has been focusing on Chad Valley this summer, garnering enthusiastic praise for his most recent EP, Equatorial Ultravox. This November, he heads out on a high-profile UK tour with Friendly Fires and SBTRKT, but happily, he'll also make a quick stop at New York's CMJ Music Marathon for shows at Le Poisson Rouge (October 20), Spike Hill (October 20) and Cameo Gallery (October 22). He'll also join Friendly Fires and Theophilus London for a gig at Terminal 5 on October 26.

The Alternate Side caught up with Manuel over email to chat about his multi-tasking band life, the Oxford music scene,  his most soul-shattering gig and why the term "chillwave" makes him queasy:

TAS: Hugo, you're actively balancing two projects - Chad Valley and your band Jonquil - and you're a member of Oxford's Blessing Force Collective. What was the impetus behind setting up the collective; as a future label, like Saddle Creek, or a really just a way of supporting a group of musicians who happen to be from the area?

Hugo Manuel: The idea was originally to be a kind of informal support group for all of our wider group of music making friends. I think the great thing about it is that it can be what any of us members wants to be. So there is a lot of stuff that comes under the banner of blessing force aside from the music. And yes, inevitably we are now using the name as a record label. The first Blessing Force release will be Trophy Wife's new EP - they all used to be members of Jonquil, so there is a nice cyclicism there.

TAS: Oxford seems a rather verdant, vibrant and diverse music community - from Radiohead, Stornaway and your friends Foals to newer bands like Ute. What makes it such a strong base for bands - and a strong base for you?

Hugo: It has taken quite a long time to get to where it is now in Oxford. There is now a really wide variety of stuff, but back when I first started out, it was pretty much 100% indie guitar music. One of the key things about Oxford is its proximity to London, and just the fact that it isn't London. I kind of think if you move to London, you're f**ked. You get sucked in... there is too much to do, too much fun to be had. In Oxford there is precious little to do, and I think that is very conducive to making music.

Now That I'm Real (How Does It Feel) ft. Rose Dagul by chadvalley

TAS: You've got both a recent Jonquil EP, One Hundred Suns, and a new Chad Valley EP out - and you just finished recording a new Jonquil album whilst touring as Chad Valley - how did you manage to balance both? Or even in terms of touring - you've been focusing on Chad Valley this summer and fall. Do you fear sometimes sacrificing something on either side?  

Hugo: It is hard sometimes, but I don't think anything is ever sacrificed, because there is such a different way of writing for the two projects. I like to keep myself busy. I am much happier now I am incredibly busy with the two things than I was when I was just doing Jonquil. So there is definitely something positive in that!

Jonquil - I Know I Don't Know by Jonquil

TAS: You just finished recording a new album with Jonquil. Can you tell us a bit about that? When do you see it coming out, album title ... a couple of tracks that have already emerged as ones you're excited for other folks to hear? Shift in direction?

Hugo: We wrote it together from January through to August, and the songs mostly started from my bedroom, and we finished it in our friend's studio out in the countryside in the middle of England. It was very collaborative in a way that our previous stuff wasn't so much. We had never really written all together like that before, and it was a really exciting thing to do. I think we have toned down our more overtly upbeat tendencies, and we have hopefully come up with something which represents a wider range of breadth for us. Maybe as a result of my work with Chad Valley there is more of a focus on the production and the atmospherics. I really want Chad Valley fans to hear the album and notice the similarities between the two projects.

TAS: As Chad Valley, you're touring with SBTRKT and Friendly Fires in November and in North America, you've been on the road with Active Child this month.  Excited?

Hugo: I am very excited, partly because its such a great opportunity, but also because the bands are such great fits for me, and I am genuinely a massive fan of those bands. Its still really exciting for me to meet new people in bands and hopefully making friends ... if they'll have me. The tough thing about being support though is always trying to win over fans of other people's music whilst they are effectively just waiting for their favourite band to play! I don't think I should have too tough a job though with these tours.

TAS:  How much does the term "chillwave" make you cringe?

Hugo: Like when my parents say the word 'sex'.

TAS: For Chad Valley, Equatorial Ultravox is your second EP - but at seven tracks, hovers near to being an album, especially since it's such a strong collection. What made you shy away from releasing it as an album? And what are plans for an album?

Hugo: Thank you very much. I could have easily turned it into an album with a few extra tracks, but I am very glad i didn't because basically releasing that EP was me clearing out all the tunes I had written over the last 6 months or so. So now with the album, which i am writing at the moment, it will be completely purpose-built, and I think that is very important for an album. Also i don't think i'm at the stage yet where I should be making an album. I've only been doing Chad Valley seriously for a year, and its a constantly evolving thing.

TAS: There seems to be such an eclectic array of sounds and vocal play filtering throughout this album, from the warm, propulsive murmur of "Fast Challenges" to the irresistible, straight-up groove of "Now That I'm Real." You seem to obsessively collect impressions - or influences - from 20-35 years ago which slip in and out of your songs. What was the genesis of this angle of your songwriting, especially as it related to where you were with Jonquil?

Hugo: I think that is very true... there is a stong sense of the past in my music, and that is very deliberate. I've never liked music that sounds completely up-to-date, or of the time. With the exception of a lot of the dance music I listen to. But to be honest, I never go into writing a song with a specific idea, I just let stuff happen almost subconsciously, and then hone it down into something good. I am a total sound geek, I get incredibly excited when playing with a new synth for the first time. Synths to me are like albums and the manufacturers are the bands. Different companies have different characteristics and different individual synths have different characteristics, and its exciting seeing the evolution of synths and how that has gone parallel to the evolution of music. So synths are where a huge amount of inspiration come from for me, and I can never be satisfied with staying in the same place with my gear... its always evolving, and so is my sound.


TAS:  If you were to recommend five albums that you felt were not only hugely influential for you in terms of both Chad Valley and Jonquil - but records that you thought were vital in any great collection - what would they be?

Hugo: David Bowie, Low. Paul Simon, Rhythm of the Saints. Stars of the Lid, Avec Laudenum. El Perro Del Mar, self-titled [album]. The Tough Alliance, A New Chance.

TAS:  I'd mentioned the excellent Chad Valley album to The Horrors' Faras Badwan and he told me that Chad Valley was a British brand of cheap toys. Is that what inspired you to choose the moniker? And speaking of The Horrors, who also have a love of synths as you do, which of your fellow UK bands do you feel need far more recognition Stateside?

Hugo: Its weird, because If you had asked my about British bands a year ago, I would have said that there arn't any good ones... but now there are really a lot. Obviously all of my Blessing Force comrades, and associates like Pocket House. I have been really excited about Theme Park, Alt-J, Visions of Trees, Outfit and Seams. The exciting thing is that all of these bands have only released a couple of single at the most, and they are all excellent, and will probably go on to big things.

Oh, and the name was just something that I saw and liked the sound of. I liked the fact that people think its my real name, like its an alter ego.

TAS:  You seem to have not many days off, but on a perfect day off in Oxford, what would you do? Where would you go?

Hugo: Coffee in G&D's, walk up and down the Cowley Road visiting the charity shops, walk through Christ Church Meadow, along the River Thames and some kind of ale in a tiny pub, like The Bear, would be essential. All the best things in Oxford involve the river somehow... punting, swimming, walking.

TAS:  What was the worst gig you ever experienced as either Chad Valley or Jonquil?

Hugo: As Jonquil we got paid silly amounts of money to play in a shopping centre in Milton Keynes for Samsung once. It was truly soul destroying.


TAS:  You did a great remix/cover of Foals' "Spanish Sahara." Aside from Foals, if you could ask anyone to remix a Chad Valley track - who would you ask and what track would you give them?

Hugo: Well funny you should say that, because Edwin [Congreave] of Foals has just done a remix of "Fast Challenges," and its a real banger. If he knuckles down, he could pretty great sideline there! But I would love to hear a really good banging house remix, or something like The Field or Michael Mayer.

Chad Valley Collection by chadvalley


TAS Interview: Thomas Dybdahl

Singer and songwriter Thomas Dybdahl is a platinum-selling artist in his native Norway, winning the equivalent of his country's Grammy (Spellemannprisen) several times. He's even borne quick comparisons to Jeff Buckley, Nick Drake and Justin Vernon, but surprisingly, Dybdahl remains relatively unknown outside of Europe. That might change dramatically thanks to the release this month of his new album Songs, his debut in the States and his second album in the UK.

The record, released on producer Larry Klein's Strange Cargo label via Decca/Universal is really a compilation of carefully chosen tracks from Dybdahl's five albums over the last decade, including 2002's  ... that great October sound and last year's multiple award-winning Waiting for that One Clear Moment. Klein, who has a storied career nurturing artists like Joni Mitchell and Madeleine Peyroux, discovered Dybdahl's music accidentally and was smitten.

On songs like "All Is Not Lost" and the majestic and sorrowful "From Grace," Dybdahl's shows off his strength as a folk-leaning songwriter who can be tender, but not sentimental or overtly soft. Shivers of alt-country course through some of his compositions, like the ramble "Cecelia" while other songs are buoyed  by thoughtful, string-driven asides and jittery, yet sophisticated, arrangements. There's edge, bravado and muscle to his quiet demeanor, demonstrated skillfully on tracks  like "Love Story" and  "The Great October Sound." 

Dybdahl kicks off his North American tour at  New York's Mercury Lounge tomorrow, July 13. He caught up with The Alternate Side over email this week and not only discussed what it's like to start anew ... but also revealed his past life as a devoted Metallica fan:


TAS: You're touring in North American through the end of the month. It must be a bit surreal to "begin again" when you've got such an established career in Norway. Is it rather fun - or challenging or odd or a relief - not to be recognized and to be a "new artist" again?

Thomas Dybdahl: I think it's probably all of those things at once. It's fun to see how people react to the music without knowing anything about me or the music to color their opinion. And it's definitely challenging to get into these songs again as if they were new, but me and my band have been looking forward to touring the US for a while now. I think we are prepared for just about anything.

TAS:  I suppose the inevitable question is - what took you so long to release an album here?  

Thomas: We have always been a small team in Europe and breaking into new territories has taken a lot of time, as we have done it city by city, playing small shows and then trying to build by word of mouth. I can't really regret anything. I have had a good career in the places where we have focused our energy and have a good relationship with my fans in these places. Another thing is the fact that it wasn't until now, with Larry Klein's involvement, that we have had a solid team behind us, making it possible for us to give it a real shot.

TAS:  Songs is a compilation of tracks from previously released albums; in a sense, it's a greatest hits album. Why was that the choice for your debut here as opposed to an entirely original album? 

Thomas: This was a decision by the label. They felt this would be a good way to introduce me to an audience in the US, as I am basically unknown to an American audience. The songs were picked by Larry and it was my job to try and make sense of the different picks and put together a coherent album.

TAS: You seem to be stepping into the States at a time when there's a drift towards more contemplative music, like Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes and Junip. But I read that you - quite wonderfully - began playing guitar because of Metallica! So where did you take a left turn into quieter music, from your early days as a hard rocker?

Thomas: Ha ha, you read that, did you? Well, yes, I was a shredder, spending my whole adolescence trying to play the Kirk Hammet, [Joe] Satriani and [Steve] Vai solos. I don't really know how or why I drifted into more melancholic music, but I think it was always there as a part of my personality. I always liked the more quiet and melodic songs anyway, even if I was listening to metal.


TAS: Are you hoping to really focus on breaking into the States and touring here quite a bit? And how do you balance your solo career with your work as frontman of The National Bank?

Thomas: Well, if we are going to give it a shot and try to find an audience for my music, it's going to take time. Nobody cares what you have done other places or how many awards you have. It's pretty brutal that way, but it's natural. We start from scratch here. The National Bank is something that happens when there is time and everybody is psyched about it.

TAS:  How did you connect with Larry Klein?

Thomas: He got in touch with me after having received a song of mine called "A Love Story" from a friend in France. Two days later he was at a show we did in Dammen, Norway and a week later we were in business. It was all very good timing for everybody, I think.


TAS:  It's inevitable, given your beautiful vocals on "From Grace," that you will be compared to Jeff Buckley because of the eerie similarity of your voices ... especially given the title of Jeff's album, Grace. Was "From Grace" a deliberate homage or quite accidental?

Thomas: It was very deliberate, but I don't really see any similarity in our voices.

TAS: You cite Jeff's father, Tim Buckley as well as Colin Blunstone and Serge Gainsbourg as influences, but in terms of what contemporary bands or artists inspire you at the moment, who are you drawn to?  

Thomas: I am a big fan of Gillian Welch, but also other bands and artists like Dirty Projectors, Beach House, Kanye West, Ben Folds and on ....

TAS:  You have an older song called "John Wayne" that didn't make it onto Songs. Are you very influenced by film?

Thomas: I am a huge movie fan, that's true. I was a clerk at a video store for three years when I started out as a solo artist. We were actually three friends who all worked together in the same store as well as living together in the same house. We used to have movie marathons every night, going through 2-3 movies. But I have a very wide taste in movies and find as much joy in a true Hollywood monster as in more arty films.

TAS: Is there any film, past or present, that you wish you could have scored and what would it be?

Thomas: It would have been nice to have scored "The Shawshank Redemption."

TAS: You've collaborated with Morcheeba in the past; any plans for more collaborations? Who do you wish you could work with?

Thomas: I don't know. I like it when collaborations go across genres though, like Bon Iver featured on Kanye West's album.

TAS: Tell me a little bit about your town of Sandnes - do you still live there? Do you have a strong childhood memory that involves music whilst you were growing up?

Thomas: It's a mid-sized Norwegian town (tiny in US scale, though, about 6000 people) and lies right outside its bigger cousin, Stavanger. So musicians and artists tend to gravitate towards the bigger cities as there is always more happening. I live in Stavanger. It's a very nice place, pretty quiet but quite international. Stavanger was where the big Norwegian oil boom got its start in the late 60s because of its geographical position on the West Coast. It was a natural base for all of the oil companies. Norwegian companies at that time didn't have the expertise that the American and other foreign companies had, so a lot of people came from all over the world to be a part of that adventure. So despite its size, it's got a little bit of an international feel.

Thomas Dybdahl Tour Dates

07.13 - New York, NY - Mercury Lounge
07.14 - Washington, DC - DC9
07.15 - Philadelphia, PA -  World Cafe Live - Upstairs (w/Gaby Moreno)
07.16 - Cambridge, MA - T.T. the Bear's
07.18 - Montreal, QC - Casa Del Popolo (w/Tristen)
07.19 - Toronto, ON - The Drake Hotel
07.20 - Cleveland Heights, OH - Grog Shop
07.21 - Detroit, MI -  Magic Stick
07.22 - Chicago, IL - Schubas Tavern
07.23 - Minneapolis, MN - 7th Street Entry
07.26 - Vancouver, BC - The Media Club
07.27 - Seattle, WA - Chop Suey
07.28 - Portland, OR -  Doug Fir Lounge
07.29 - San Francisco, CA -  Brick & Mortar Music Hall
07.30 - Los Angeles, CA - The Satellite

Northside Festival Coverage: Guided By Voices, Wavves, Sharon Van Etten

The Alternate Side's ace photo team of Joe Grimaldi and Bailey Baffert made it their mission to cover as much of this past weekend's Northside Festival as possible. 

Below, more festive Brooklyn visuals of Guided By Voices and Wavves' McCarren Park outing on Saturday, June 18, and Sharon Van Etten's rainy gig opening for Beirut (where she was joined by The National's Aaron Dessner on three songs) on Friday, June 17.

Van Etten, who told The Alternate Side earlier this year that her next album is produced by Dessner, has a handful of September dates, including the Bumbershoot Festival on September 5 and the Hollywood Bowl with The National and Neko Case on September 11. Wavves play Chicago's Wicker Park Fest in July, but return to New York to play the East River Amphitheater on August 25. Guided By Voices have lined up gigs this summer too, including the Pitchfork Festival on July 15.

For additional Northside coverage of Beirut, Grouplove and Eleanor Friedberger, go here.

Guided by Voices at McCarren Park, June 18 (with Wavves and Surfer Blood)

Wavves at McCarren Park, June 18

 Sharon Van Etten at McCarren Park on June 17 (with Beirut and Yellow Ostrich)

All photos courtesy of Joe Grimaldi and Bailey Baffert 

Celebrate TAS On WNYE Launch With Free David Bazan Show On June 22

Celebrate the launch of The Alternate Side on 91.5 WNYE with a free acoustic performance from Seattle songwriter David Bazan on Wednesday, June 22 at 2 p.m. at New York's Madison Square Park in the Flatiron District. TAS DJs Russ Borris and Alisa Ali will introduce the former Pedro the Lion frontman Bazan who  released his second solo album, Strange Negotiations, last month.

As of June 1st, The Alternate Side, the independent music service produced by WFUV, has been airing weekday mornings from 6:00 a.m. to 12 noon on the NYC Media-owned WNYE. As always, you can stream The Alternate Side 24/7 via the site and on and 90.7FM HD3, as well as weeknights from 10:00 PM. to midnight on 90.7 WFUV.

Madison Square Park is at 10 Madison Avenue at 23rd Street.