THE LISTENING ROOM
Sponsored by East Wisconsin Savings Bank
The Belle Weather
Eric Cox is one half of the Wisconsin indie-duo The Belle Weather. Equal parts modern folk and indie rock – their music is a fusion of inspired anthems and the art of simple storytelling. The Belle Weather will be playing Mile of Music 6, and are part of The Avenue’s Spotlight on The Mile series. Check avenueradio.com for a complete schedule.
Eric spends a lot of time behind the wheel and he talks about the music that keeps him company while he drives to gigs. He offers up lots of good listening. And speaking of good listening - you can catch The Belle Weather at The Stoneyard on July 15. For full live schedule and more about the band go to https://www.thebelleweather.com
The Belle Weather - “Unbound” https://youtu.be/v1x1yo5fqVk
I take the back roads and side streets home from work every day. I slow down on yellow lights, hoping to catch the red. I don’t mind traffic jams (unless I’m on my way to a gig!). At the end of any trip – long or short – I typically end up sitting in my driveway, listening until the very last note of whatever song is playing. I’ll take any opportunity I can find to add another song to my day…
I logged over 28,000 miles on the road last year – the majority of which were traveled with a car full of guitars and amplifiers. Music is a constant presence in my life. I’ve always been an “album listener.” I’m not a fan of playlists, compilations, or “Greatest Hits.” I love being able to spend an hour or so with an artist in their time and space, and an album captures that in a very unique way.
Here is what I’m listening to at the moment…
On the turntable at home is Brandi Carlile’s new album, By the Way, I Forgive You. It’s a stunningly personal collection of songs, and a fine addition to the stellar collection of albums she’s released to date. I was fortunate to catch her first album in rotation at a music store about 13 years ago – her voice caught my ear immediately. Since that time, I’ve see her live more than any other artist. My wife and I even drove out to Red Rocks to see her on the Firewatcher’s Daughter tour in 2015. She’s on my personal “Mount Rushmore” of musicians! I absolutely love her voice, her sound, and her songwriting.
Brandi Carlile - “The Joke” https://www.youtube.com/user/BrandiCarlile
Last weekend, I saw Brandi Carlile play shows in Chicago and Milwaukee. The opening act both nights was a duo called The Secret Sisters. I purchased their new album, You Don’t Own Me Anymore, and that is playing on my phone at the moment. The Sisters’ close harmonies are incredible. Beautiful. Haunting. Ethereal. The richness of their intertwined voices tangles spectacularly with their dark, melancholy songs and biting lyrics. It’s an experience. My favorite track at the moment is murder ballad called “Mississippi.”
The Secret Sisters - “Mississippi" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkfFNVtlquI
When music first became universally digital, I struggled with trying to keep everything organized in one place. My brain likes things tidy. It’s been an exercise in futility, to say the least! Over time, I’ve come to enjoy having different music in different places. It’s expanded my listening… the turntable… my phone… my iPod…the cd player in my car…
On the Cd Player, at the moment, Milwaukee singer/songwriter Micah Olsan’s latest EP, Open Space. We’ve had the great pleasure of sharing a stage with Micah quite a few times over the years, and I’ve loved his music from the first time we heard him with Micah Olsan & The Many. His latest release is a solo effort, and these are some of his finest songs to date. He really lets his creativity and songwriting chops shine on this EP! My favorite is a track called “Dollar,” which gets stuck in my head (in the best possible way!) for weeks at a time.
Micha Olsan - “Dollar" https://www.micaholsan.com/music
Finally, the iPod. This is my “go-to” device for road trips. 120 gigs of mile-grinding sonic bliss. My most recent spin has been Less Is More from Milwaukee/Appleton folk trio Listening Party. I love their music. Their latest single, “Bones,” is a hit waiting to happen.
Listening Party - “Bones” https://soundcloud.com/listeningpartymusic/sets/less-is-more
I also have some standards that get me through the less inspiring trips. If I know I have a long day of work ahead of me (my days start at 12 hours and get longer from there), I’ll start the day with Lisa Hannigan’s latest album, At Swim. Her voice is absolutely breathtaking, and at the very least I’ll have that to carry my morning! If I need a dose of reality and brilliant songwriting, I head toward anything by Jason Isbell. He might just be the best songwriter of our generation. On late night trips after shows when I’m fighting to stay awake, my remedy is The Hazards of Love by The Decemberists. It is perhaps the most creative album since Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, and it’s engaging in a way that always gets me home.
I could go on for ages, perhaps I already have! There is so much great music in the world. The art of staying young is to keep searching, and discovering, and learning. I love to travel the roads with music I know, but there is nothing quite as exciting as hearing a new song that absolutely floors you on the first listen. I keep searching. I fully intend to be an embarrassing old man still attending rock concerts with the kids someday. In fact, I intend to play shows until my fingers won’t move and my voice won’t make a sound! I hope teleportation has a good sound system. I will probably choose to take the long way home!