My Morning Jacket- “Spring (Among the Living)”

Among the living again
Out in the light of day’s warm embrace again

The members of My Morning Jacket are veterans of songwriting, and it seems the band’s not quiet through trying to figure things out. On May 5th, 2015, MMJ will release its 7th album marking its 17th year as a band (some members have come and gone). That sense of time, change and adaptation shines through on their early released tracks. “Spring (Among the Living)” is an unrelenting, evolving jam. Eerie echoes begin the build, a deep bass enters, and then we hear an idea: a flat guitar melody, a snappy snare hit, and then the verse begins. The beat is straight, insistent that it’s here to stay. The listener craves a change, but the song doesn’t provide it to you. At the 1:34 mark, Jim James gives you a classic rock countdown, but instead of rising in volume, the beat disappears, and the song has to rebuild again from the ground floor. The song continues to dissatisfy us, as we never reach that pop resolution. MMJ is done hibernating, but conscious that this spring’s light of day will soon move on. Welcome festival season MMJ.

Courtney Barnett – Depreston

Nothing new, but I wanted to highlight what is easily one of my favorite songs of this adolescent year.

Aussie song-writer Courtney Barnett first turned heads in late 2013 with Avant Gardner, a tune that serves as a fitting introduction for the style she has subsequently developed over two albums. On it she sings: “It’s a Monday, it’s so mundane. What exciting things will happen today?” Highlighting excitement in an otherwise humdrum existence is the unique voice that Barnett owns. Listening to her music is sort of like watching a Coen Brothers movie, in that she brings to life the surreal qualities of the generally unremarkable.

Like Avant Gardner, Depreston is a striking, poignant song. Which is impressive considering the subject matter is buying real estate in the suburbs. She finds a way to squeeze every ounce of life out of her surroundings. After describing the neighborhood and house in scattered detail, Barnett launches in to a daydream, singing: “If you’ve got a spare half a million, you could knock it down and start rebuildin.'” She repeats this phrase six times over the course of a minute, before finishing out the track with a meandering guitar solo that lets you settle in to that daydream with her. NL

American Wrestlers

If the plural name doesn’t trick you, the multi-instrumental backing might. American Wrestlers is in fact the work of a single man, Gary McClure, who evidently wants you to think he’s not alone. Judging by the deliberately lo-fi sound that defines his debut solo album, McClure also wants you thinking he recorded these songs decades ago. A closer listen reveal that this smoke and mirrors act is meant to instill a certain charm, rather than deceive. This charm falters throughout the album, but on high points like “There’s No One Crying Over Me Either” it elevates McClure’s adept song-writing. NL

The Suffers – “Gwan” & “Make Some Room”

The Suffers are a BIG 10-piece band from Houston, Texas, who performed on the The Late Show with David Letterman at the end of March. Riding the wave of soul/funk coming from the likes of St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Lake Street Dive, and the Alabama Shakes, the Suffers are breaking onto the main circuit at the right time. Check out their performance of “Gwan” below and my personal favorite, “Make Some Room.”

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FUTURISTIC FRIDAY

In light of “Throwback Thursday or #tbt” which involves posting something that has nostalgic value, we at RunTheMill wanted to turn this popular convention on its head. This weekly posting will share a song that is either ahead of its time or attempts to push us out of our comfort sound zone.

Sylvan Esso – Hey Mami (Big Wild Remix)

Take an hour for lunch. Drink two Thai beers with your Pad See Ew. It’s Friday and to celebrate, here is this anthemic remix by Big Wild of the breakthrough artist Sylvan Esso’s “Hey Mami.” Make sure you have both earphones on for this one. Shout out to AJ Gufffff for his field research at SXSW this year.

FUTURISTIC FRIDAY

In light of “Throwback Thursday or #tbt” which involves posting something that has nostalgic value, we at RunTheMill wanted to turn this popular convention on its head. This weekly posting will share a song that is either ahead of its time or attempts to push us out of our comfort sound zone.

The Landing – “Anxieties”

The new song from the Brooklyn solo act The Landing is light and fluffy with tender vocal backing and bouncy bongos. You almost get the sense that some of the members took a page out of an acapella book. The arrangement is tightly formatted and filled with divergent harmonies (see 3:25). All in all, it’s shoegaze at its finest.

And a great throwback that has similarities throughout:

Oh Mercy – “Sandy”

Hailing from Melbourne, Victoria, this indie rock group started as a duo and quickly expanded to a four-person band to tour. I have a natural affinity to songs with that pulsating rhythm section led by a thumping bass line and a steady snare hit on every 2 and 4 of the measure. It’s a rock trick, heard in acts ranging from Tom Petty and Bruce to current acts like War on Drugs.

CONCERT REVIEW

Artist: Mumford & Sons

Location: (Le) Poisson Rouge

Date: 4/6/2015

Rating: 4.0/5

As has been floating around the internet, Mumford AND His Sons have been popping up in random cities to give fans a first listen of their upcoming album, “Wilder Mind.” Luckily, RunTheMill was lucky enough to receive two tickets to the show at the small venue, Le Poisson Rouge, on Monday night. The crowd was what you’d expect from a M&S concert, speckled with a few celebrities including Olivia Wilde and Jason Sudeikis. (What does that have to do with the concert, you ask. Nothing, except that Jason Sudeikis is a cool guy.)

The sons arrived shortly after 9 P.M. and forewarned the audience that they would be playing all new tracks…and that there would be no banjos. The whole set had a collective feeling of moving forward and the excitement associated with discovery. Fame is a double-edged sword, and I felt that by going back to a smaller setting, Mumford and Sons were going back to the basics: learning how to cope with a completely new sound.  Acoustic guitars can only give so much feedback through a speaker, and the group had no trouble reaching peak volume. Some of the songs had the familiar slow-building, meditative verses followed by massive and break-free choruses (“The Wolf” ), but others dug slightly deeper into grooves, letting the spaces in between the notes, breathe (songs like “Monster” and “Just Smoke”). Working with The National‘s Aaron Desner definitely has perks.

Overall, the concert was more of an experience, than just a show. The general reception when the album debuts next month will likely be mixed, but my belief is that this is the only direction they could have gone, and I am entirely for it. See above for the entire set list.