This week we launched a new feature: Song of the Day, highlighting new, emerging, or new to us artists, as well as new songs from Avenue favorites. Avenue listeners have a big appetite for new music and every weekday over the noon hour (about 12:30) we will try to feed that passion. And to introduce you to the project, this week’s Listening Room is a playlist including the first batch of new music featured in Song of the Day. You can click the links below to sample. And, we’ve also created a Spotify playlist,91.1 The Avenue: Song of the Day, where we will compile all the featured songs. Tune in Monday through Friday around 12:30pm for your new music fix. Song of the Day is sponsored by August Haven – bringing you tomorrow’s classics today.
Our friend Weston Mueller of Listening Party brings us this week’s batch of fresh songs. You’ll know Listening Party from The Avenue and our VOICES 2018 sampler cd. If you haven’t caught one of their shows, put that on your to-do list STAT! Find out more at listeningpartymusic.com For now, put your ears on this!
Some warm tunes for the coldest time of year. These songs are filled with grit and emotion, packed with lyrical greatness. Enjoy
Christopher Gold is a Kentucky-born songwriter living in Wisconsin. Together with his band The New Old Things he has written and recorded folk songs, country songs, rock & roll songs, and everything in between citing a love for songwriters like Townes Van Zandt, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and anybody else whose work begins with paper and pen. That’s the official word.
Unofficially, yet well-known, Christopher is one the hardest working, prolific, thinking, funny, and big-hearted people you’ll come across. And his music is good, too. And he’s right here. Go see him. Go to christophergold.com to learn about all things Christopher Gold including shows and latest music.
We asked him for his latest playlist…and in Christopher Gold fashion, he took the assignment in his own direction. Because Christopher Gold loves everything about records, and maybe you do too. So, this week we offer a “visual” Listening Room. And as long as we’re talkin’ art, Christopher Gold and The New Old Things artwork is by Oliver Gold. Seems fitting.
And now for something completely different…
I love records. I’m on the move as much as or more than most people so I have a use for mp3s and CDs and all that, but I love records. I love talking about them, I love hunting them down, I even love organizing them. As for how many I have, I like to paraphrase the Jerry Seinfeld quote about his cars, “I have enough that if I told you how many you wouldn’t say, ‘Yeah, that makes sense.’”
I enjoy the sound of a record more than an mp3. I enjoy being at a record store more than being on Spotify. I enjoy sorting records on a shelf more than scrolling through titles on my phone. But for me one of the biggest points in the “records vs. any other medium” debate is the artwork.
I love these big 12x12 works of art. I love knowing or theorizing how this particular imagery is meant to interact with or increase the impact of these particular songs. I love learning who did it. I love comparing the various covers through an artists’ history to see if I can spot a theme. Did they use the same artist throughout? Did they evolve from minimal to complex? Did they use the same font every time? I obsess about these things and every other little detail about a record.
When I decided I wanted to write about album art, two bands immediately came to mind. Neither band is hugely popular, and both are probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but I love them and their album covers are perfect examples of what I’m talking about here.
The first band is The Builders and The Butchers. They are originally from Portland and, though they are somewhat dormant these days, they are one of the most unique and exciting bands in my collection. It would be lazy to just call them a folk rock band. Yes, they often hit the stage with acoustic guitars and banjos and mandolins, but they also have 2 drummers playing pieced-together kits made of mismatched drums and whatever else seemed to be lying around. There are horns, melodicas, distortion, and shouted backing vocals. They play percussive, minimalist songs that verge on gospel territory, melodic sea shanties, creepy murder ballads, and crashing rock songs about the devil. What’s not to like about that?
Each of their album covers was done by a guy named Lukas Ketner and they are wonderfully complex and eye catching and creepy and funny and a perfect complement to the music. Ketner, among other things, also did a graphic novel called “Witch Doctor” that I love for all of the same reasons.
The other band that springs to mind when I think of great album covers is mewithoutYou. Hailing from Philladelphia, mewithoutYou has been part of my life for 17 years. In that time they have released 7 albums combining hardcore, rock, punk, folk, psychedelia, shoegaze, indie rock, and post-hardcore all somehow held together by the talking/singing/screaming of frontman Aaron Weiss. I struggle to think of a older band for comparison, but I can name a couple of younger bands that likely wouldn’t exist without them. On the 15 year anniversary tour my wife and I drove 7 hours to see the show and would’ve driven longer if we had to to see them.
They are also another band that has used the same artist for each of their albums. Each time I rush to the record store on release day to buy their latest album I am greeted by a painting by Russian artist Vasily Kafanov. No band name, no album title, just a painting. Each one is different than the last, but feels somehow familiar at the same time. Kafanov has become yet another thing to look forward to when they release a record, and that is the kind of Russian involvement I can get behind.
I have a great fear that the days of album art are fading, but it will always matter to me. It may be on the decline, but there are still a lot of artists out there putting a lot of thought into their album covers and I’m happy to have a bunch of them on my shelf. Enough that if you heard the exact number you wouldn’t say, “Yeah, that makes sense.”
What are you listening to?
This week’s treats for your ears come courtesy of local singer/songwriter, Kurt Gunn. Dive in, discover something new, or rediscover an already familiar tune through his lens.
And speaking of rediscovering familiar songs through the lens of Kurt Gunn, check out a Kurt’s COVERS COUNTDOWN TO SPRING project on Soundcloud. Kurt covers favorite songs and is releasing one a week to help get us to spring! Seriously soooooooo good!
Kurt has new music coming out March 9. Album release event happens at Rock Garden Studio details here https://www.facebook.com/events/2265774333703749/
Now here’s what Kurt’s listening to…
Matthew Davies – Check him out on Bandcamp or with his band Thriftones. He also has a new album dropping any week now. I’ve shared a couple shows with Matthew now, and his songwriting is incredible. I’m a huge fan, and you should be too.
Nicholas Raymond – “Light And Sounds And Colors Collide.” I first heard this song on the Voices Of The Avenue CD. This is one of the standout tracks on that disc. I listen to this song daily.
For those of you that still listen to whole albums, here are a few you can go straight through on.
Death Cab For Cutie – PLANS
Warren Zevon – EXCITABLE BOY
Butch Walker – AFRAID OF GHOSTS (produced by Ryan Adams, and you can tell!)
Steve Earle – GUITAR TOWN (“My Old Friend The Blues” and “Someday” standout tracks)
Here are some of my personal favorites...
Lyle Lovett – “Nobody Knows Me”
This was the song my wife and I danced to at our wedding.
Theo Katzman – “Plain Jane Heroin”
Was introduced to this band by Sam Luna, thankful for that!
Jackson C Frank – “Blues They Run The Game”
Counting Crows have a great version of this song too.
Bob Dylan – "Baby Let Me Follow You Down”
This is the song that made me want to play guitar...still can’t play this song on guitar.
Bonnie Raitt – “I Can’t Make You Love Me”
If you’re into Bon Iver, he has a pretty great version of this song, but Bonnie’s is better.
Counting Crows – “Raining In Baltimore”
Speaking of Bonnie Raitt, Adam Duritz had originally written this song to give to her, but producer T Bone Burnett said no way you’re doing that! Thank God, because this is my favorite Crows song.
The Byrds – “Mr. Spaceman”
When I first discovered my parents’ record collection, I wore this puppy out!)
Cat Power – “The Greatest”
First discovered Cat Power through Austin City Limits, this is the song that made me a fan.
Damien Rice – “Trusty And True”
First heard this song on a great YouTube video of Damien Rice performing in a hotel lobby. Great stripped down impromptu concert, – the drummer, Earl Harvin is amazing.
Geri X – “Wishin’ You Were Here”
Geri comes through these parts a couple times a year for Mile/Steelbridge/Dark Songs, etc. Get out and see her when she does. Another great song I listen to a lot of her’s is “You’re Half Mine.”
Glen Hansard – “Way Back In The Way Back When”
Pretty much anything Glenn Hansard does is amazing.
What are you listening to?
This week’s playlist comes courtesy of Green Bay singer/songwriter Tae Popour. You may have seen her at one of several local music venues or as one of the performers at Mile of Music’s New Year’s Eve show. Once you see her you won’t forget her. At just 20 years old, Tae is a powerhouse. She’s got a voice that can absolutely nail an Amy Winehouse or Janis Joplin tune. Her style and her original music is fierce, fearless and honest. Go see one of her sets, we think you’ll be blown away.
Learn more about Tae and check her performance schedule at taemusic.com
Avenue staff and friends offered these holiday selections – and just like The Avenue’s playlist, there’s a wide variety. Merry Christmas and happy listening from everyone at The Avenue. Let it play.
Tis the season for Christmas music and if you’re a fan of Mile of Music here’s a playlist (links included) of holiday inspired tunes made entirely of artists who have played at the Mile. Thanks to Drew Hahn for compiling this list of new-to-our-ears seasonal tunes. Enjoy! You can also find all these tunes on Spotify – Jingle On The Mile presented by The Drew Hahn Show.
(click the title to listen!)
The complete playlist on spotify
Joshua Hester is one-third of Listening Party, the alternative folk trio out of Milwaukee whose music has found a home on The Avenue. Joshua’s the guy on the right side of the stage unassumingly, yet very skillfully, handling guitar, mandolin and bass duties. During a live set you’ll see those skills take center stage when he loops a solo arrangement. We wanted to know what Joshua was listening to that might have influenced him.
Listening Party is a band you definitely want to see live – for more information and show dates visit https://www.listeningpartymusic.com or follow them on Facebook.
Check out “Train” from Listening Party’s most recent album LESS IS MORE
Radiohead/Thom Yorke – THE KING OF LIMBS
Beginning with my early teens, Radiohead has been in my heavy rotation, to the point where I did not listen to much else. I have this way of obsessing over a musical influence, dissecting the puzzle, reading and learning each phrase, note, and part. There is a particular aspect of Yorke’s music that speaks to me; abject despair and relentless optimism, both working in tandem.
The album, THE KING OF LIMBS resonated with me most of all during a time of much emotional duress. Out of the whole piece, “Separator” was the song that I fixated on. The syncopated drums, a dreamy soundscape lined bottom and top with perfect layers of bass and keys/guitars. The haunting vocal lines of Yorke telling a story of perpetual discomfort and progress, begging to be let out of the dream.
Lord Huron – STRANGE TRAILS
Another amazing album.
When I first heard the song “The Night We Met” by Lord Huron, it struck me. That ethereal chorus warbling in the background, the arpeggiating guitar and shuffling drum beat. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, haunted by the ghost of you.’” I read that line and got goosebumps.
Then there’s “Fool for Love.” The ballad of a man fighting for the woman he loves against the aptly named Big Jim and losing everything in the process. Embracing his failure, we see a fallen warrior regretting but one thing: leaving his opponent alive. The song closes with the lines “I stare into the endless sky, and the sorry tale of my life goes by. I drift into the great unknown, and I really don’t know where I’m going.”
Punch Brothers – WHO’S FEELING YOUNG NOW?
The opening piece of this record, “Movement and Location” speaks volumes. It’s a song that came about when Chris Thile and Noam Pikelny were discussing the pitching technique of former Cubs pitcher Greg Maddux. It’s percussive, ambient, and driving. The unerring thump of the bass with Chris Thile’s unique percussive mandolin playing immediately catches my breath in my throat, regardless of how many listens I get in.
Pair that with the tracks “Flippen,” “Patchwork Girlfriend,” their cover of Radiohead’s “Kid A,” this album clearly exhibits a new genre of music, dubbed “progressive bluegrass.” It’s just a perfect personification of that term and has enchanted me since the first listen.
What are you listening to?
Local Live Music Enthusiast - Avenue Supporter
Yes, that’s me in front of the stage at many local performances. Nothing will make the stresses of the day disappear faster than seeing magic being created in front of us on an almost daily basis here in Appleton. The best thing we can do to support the local music community and the musicians is to buy their music and merchandise. The added benefit of still buying a CD is discovering a new song that maybe hasn’t been played live or will never make it to the radio. More often than not, there is a hidden gem buried within the songs or is the last song on the album. That is the focus of this Listening Room.
First up is Dead Horses. If you haven’t seen them live yet, I can’t recommend them enough. The best way to describe seeing them in person is their performance is like a long hug dipped in tequila. It just keeps getting better. The last track on their album, CARTOON MOON, is “Peace My Soul.” When the day is challenging, pour yourself two fingers of your favorite whiskey, and this song will bring you back around.
Dead Horses “Peace My Soul” https://youtu.be/nvp-f-s96cE
Another favorite, with Appleton as their second home, is Listening Party from Milwaukee. Weston, Joshua and Jacob never disappoint and are in town almost every month. Each performance is different with variations being done on many of their original songs. And when they do a cover, they make it their own. “The Rock,” the sixth track on their self-titled album, is what got me hooked. These guys should be more famous and it’s only a matter of time. Be sure to check them out before their visits become less frequent.
Listening Party “The Rock” https://youtu.be/ZaF_728gi-c
Next is Auralai, the genius of Nate Lehner and Stephanie Tschech really shine with their album, SONGS FOR DOGS. I attended the CD release concert at Rock Garden Studios and have been a fan ever since and just saw them recently when they opened for Shawn Colvin in Oshkosh. The second to the last track is one where Nate takes over as lead singer with, “Already Always Yours.” If I could sing, this is the song I would sing to a significant other.
Auralai, “Already Always Yours” https://youtu.be/i6aI03jCkr8a
Another favorite, well-know in Appleton, is The Belle Weather. Not only do Eric and Tom have full time jobs, they manage to play over 100 gigs a year. I’m honored to call them friends and they have performed at my house three times. On their last studio album, SUITCASE, the fourth song from the end, “Unbound,” is now my go-to song. The lyric, “I want to be your lost and found,” gets me every time. Give it a go. Another favorite is ninth track on their first album, HOLD ON, is “Portland.” A tale about old friends reuniting.
The Belle Weather “Unbound” https://youtu.be/vVms-uUnx-Q
The latest album by The Mascot Theory, DAWN AND WHAT COMES AFTER, is their best work to date, in my opinion. The last track, “Unstick The Words,” is hauntingly beautiful. The moment I hear it, the hair on the back of my neck stands up and when it’s finished, I’m hitting the repeat button. Sonically delicious!
The Mascot Theory “Unstick The Words” https://youtu.be/XHUefWzXYQ0
This leads us right into Christopher Gold & The New Old Things with their 2016 release, WHICHEVER WAY HOME. As a person who has moved many times in the last 15 years, some by choice, some not by choice, the last song, “Coming Home,” really resonates. I’m a big fan of acoustic songs with a searing electric guitar in the background. And this song does not disappoint.
Christopher Gold & The New Old Things “Coming Home” https://youtu.be/T1bksQ1rn5s
On this journey, we can’t leave out Wild Adriatic, Mile of Music favorite. Their album, Feel, contains two must-listen-to songs. The first track is a song called “Appleton” a nod to their home-away-from-home and the song they end many of their local performances. The other is the third track, “Come Back Baby,” and will get you grooving. This song has it all. Listen for yourself.
Wild Adriatic “Appleton” https://youtu.be/PPcehORLn-M
Lastly, and for me personally, no Listening Room is complete without mentioning Wisconsin’s own, Willy Porter, based in Milwaukee. I may be a bit biased. Back before he was famous, we were students together at UW-Eau Claire and I was there from the beginning. If you asked me my top three bands/performers in the world, he is one of them. Each song is a favorite. He has an EP that came out in in 2012 called CHESSEBURGERS & GASOLINE. The third track is “Digging in the Dirt,” a seven minute Peter Gabriel cover. This comes with me on road trips. It starts out slow and methodical and builds up. And before you know, you listened to it four times and can’t get enough.
Willy Porter “Digging in the Dirt” https://youtu.be/0PTg91R5Y0k
Tom Thiel, Guitarist, Singer-Songwriter
Tom Thiel is best known for his years as part of the veteran Fox Valley trio, Boxkar. In 2017, Thiel released his first solo album, “Old Shadows,” and brought home a WAMI Award as Singer/Songwriter of the Year. Currently you can find Tom performing with Mudbone (along with Jay Stulo, Rodney Zimmerman, and Spencer Panosh) Sundays 6-9 at Gibson Music Hall, or sitting in with Kurt Gunn’s band. Several cuts off of “Old Shadows" have become favorites in the Avenue’s playlist.
“Usually when someone asks me what my favorite band or album is, my brain just locks up. It’s like the feeling you get when you walk into a record store and are so overwhelmed that you immediately forget what you had come in for. Some people are content listening to the same things they listened to in high school but I’ve always enjoyed finding new things. My ears get bored easily. I think listening to new music enhances your memories by providing an aural point of reference. For me, 1993 was the year of Jellyfish’s Spilt Milk, the fall of 1999 was Filter’s Title of Record, and 2013 was Justin Jones’ Fading Light. It’s so cool to keep adding on to your life’s playlist. Here are a few albums that have made my life’s playlist.
Gregory Alan Isakov Evening Machines – In October, Gregory Alan Isakov released Evening Machines and it’s really grown on me. The songs are so spacious and cinematic and his quiet melancholy voice fits so well over the top. There are subtle hooks in the songs that pull you in over time. There is a really amazing video for the song “San Luis” that was shot at Great Sand Dunes National park during a sandstorm.
“San Luis” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BJ7MDOmLPE
Nicholas Raymond Summer Shoes – Another new favorite is Nicholas Raymond’s Summer Shoes album. The entire album is full of great songwriting. The opening track “This Side” is like a song within a song. I love it! “Lights and Sounds and Colors Collide” is another of my favorites.
Summer Shoes on Bandcamp https://nicholasraymond.bandcamp.com/album/summer-shoes
Pat MacDonald Begging Her Graces – My brother played drums with Pat MacDonald for a little while years ago. They traveled around doing a 2-piece thing and I got to see them a lot. Pat was so particular about his sound and he always sounded amazing. I love Pat’s album Troubadour of Stomp and I listen to it all the time but there is something about “Begging Her Graces.” It’s dark, with some lighter moments, and full of Pat’s cleverly cynical lyrics. “Little Dark Angel” is my wife’s favorite and I would have to go with “Tyranny of Beauty.”
“Little Dark Angel” https://youtu.be/EZXUm1UC0DQ
Shakey Graves Audio Tree Sessions – As a kid there was a lot of music in my house but it was a lot of K-tel Greatest Hits Collections. I was always drawn to the epic classic rock guitar songs from bands like Foghat, Free and Led Zeppelin. I’m still drawn to the guitar and lately I’ve been really into Shakey Graves’ guitar style. It’s blues based, percussive and a little dirty. A great example is either of the Audio Tree Sessions he did in 2013 and 2014. He has a lot of stuff on YouTube and every live version is a little different.
Shakey Graves https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sD72LbIk02M
Motherfolk – Motherfolk - As far as Mile of Music artists that are in my current playlists, my wife Shawn saw Motherfolk a few years ago and turned me on to them. I really love their stuff and whoever runs their Twitter account is hilarious.
Listening to something cool?
Tell us about it. We may feature you on The Listening Room!