Hey kids! It’s about time for another installment of something no one ever much comments on (but plenty of folks download): The Best January Submissions to our BOTG Mailbox!
Every month, we get more than 100 music submissions, artists and promoters of artists who ask us to give their songs or albums a spin. Many are up-and-coming. A few are starting to break through. Because we live in the South, we rarely know one from the other. Because we’re not really connected to the music scene, we have no dog in the hunt. But we respect music, and we respect musicians who are risking years of their lives and their souls in taking a risk and reaching for a way to make music a career.
This is our teeny tiny way of hoping we can help. You, dear readers, can sample their wares here for free. If you like anything you hear, seek them out and purchase a song or an album, or notice their names when they’re touring near you and pay to see ‘em live. Music ain’t born from some miraculous Big Bang. Music needs to eat and needs a roof over its head.
Besides, you can be cool before the cool people even know the temperature has changed! Get ahead of them by getting to know a few of these bands. Almost every mailbox feature we've run included at least one or two bands that manage to climb up the independent ladder!
Best Album of the Bunch: Tin Cup Gypsy’s CALICO
Words - Tin Cup Gypsy
This Nashville-based trio can’t help but get me wistful for Nickel Creek. These folks are a little more interested in exploring a broader range of sounds and instruments, and they pull it off darn well, but it’s when they’re at their most hushed and intense that I find myself liking them the most. Songs like “To the Sea” and “The Other Side” had me headed to their web site and wondering when they’d be performing in my town. Especially worth buying: “Bury Me”
Here’s the rest of the BOTG Mailbox Music Bonanza:
Til We Arrive - Early to Bed
I love stories like this. Girl writes and records in her bedroom in the U.S. Guy gets her stuff in Denmark and polishes it and builds it into a more-realized production. The kind of fuzzy breezy stomach-tingling jangle-pop that simply wouldn’t exist 20 years ago. The kind of 5-minute song that makes you grateful for all that wonderful beautiful technology.
Not Evident - The Narcoleptic Dancers
Maybe it sounds like it was supposed to be on a commercial. It prolly will be if it hasn’t already. But this is a seriously infectious earworm, and I can’t listen to it with out bobbing my head ever so subtly back and forth and cracking just a tiny little smile of joy.
Easy - The Soft Collapse
I hear that cello, and I think of Andrew Bird. But Andrew, while plenty loved by folks, never quite hit me right. The Soft Collapse plays a few steps closer to the mainstream (which, c’mon, isn’t that hard to do when compared to Bird). It’s mellow and stripped down and intense. The album is called Little Songs.
My Eyes to See - Alcoholic Faith Mission
Trippy and intense little song. Watch the video, and you’ll be even more impressed. Their entire EP Let This Be the Last Night We Care is breathtaking and feels familiar, yet I can’t find a single band in my tiny mental encyclopedia with which to compare them. If these Danes aren’t moving up the recognition ladder soon and quickly, I’ll be very surprised.
I Won’t Wait - Albany Down
You’ll know within 20 seconds whether you like this band. For me, Albany Down takes me back to ‘80s rock bands that were somewhere left of the proverbial dial, bands like Dreams So Real and Fetchin’ Bones that had some pop hooks in them but never quite caught the right eyes at the right times. This one makes me think Bad Company. But that probably just makes it obvious how little I’ve listened to Bad Company. My point is, I like their stuff.
The Fear - Lovett
Another damn catchy album from a guy who hasn’t been in any hurry to get his name in spotlights. He scores films. He produces stuff for people. He disappears for a while and lives a semi-hermetic life. Then he produces an album of songs called Highway Connection that, if you like what you hear in “The Fear,” you are certain to enjoy.
Nowhere Near My Heart - Kori Pop
Another song made all the more fun by watching the video. Another worthy earworm. Another song destined to be in a commercial. From her album From the Outskirts.
Alone - The Morning After Girls
This song takes me back to the mid-90s, a band willing to let a guitar sit out there and take the song on a journey. Their new album by the same name, and they bring up the Dandy Warhols a lot. Since I’m not well-versed on the Warhols, I’ll take their word for it.
I Know I Fucked Up - Darren Hayman
Call me old-fashioned, but that title was gonna get a listen, and it was definitely worth doing. Darren has recorded a song from scratch every day in January, and he’s posted them all on Tumblr. Check ‘em out. His reasoning -- that he wasn’t exactly making much cash going through a company, so why not just give the shit away and hopefully draw in some more folks to his live shows -- is at the very least worth giving him your ear for a few minutes.
Last Boat - Montpelier
I’ll admit the first time I listened to this one, I wasn’t too taken. But the third, the fourth time... it burrowed into my heart. The guitars carry this one, too. That the song is about the singer’s teenage struggles with OCD also grants it some heft. The song works itself from something bordering on despair to something hopeful and yearning, and every listen makes me like it more.
Dust - Chamberlain
From their album Bitter Blood, these darlings of Grace Potter & the Nocturnals remind me a little of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes with maybe a little Kings of Leon thrown in. They’re that catchy, but not bad.
Reunion Day - APL
From their album Ancient Tunes, this song (intentionally?) goes thin on the bass. Very midrange and treble-heavy. But dang if it doesn’t have a nice little hook to it.
Open Arms and Broken Hearts - The District
This one had me three seconds in. That guitar intro taps my spine. It’s got this nice country tinge, and it loves itsself some 6-man harmonies, and it’s just this chill acoustic joyride. Their album Wellfleet drops in February.
El Matador - The Lines
Killer-esque syntho-rock with a Brit soul. If you like Britpop, these dudes have toured with Babyshambles and The Charlatans, among others, and you should give ‘em a spin.
If I Had a Boat - James Vincent McMorrow
Song is from his album Early In the Morning, which comes out next week. He’s Irish. He’s got soul. He’s got some seriously good songs. If you like this one, check out “We Don’t Eat,” which was my favorite.
Pink Redemption - Moving Units
The falsetto ambitions of Scissor Sisters or The Darkness. A few disco bloops and beeps. Some handclaps. A catchy bass line. Kitschy, but not shabby! From the album Tension War.
Calling - Donots
Another band finding much inspiration from the syntho-80s. It’s Killers territory, but these guys do a pretty good job establishing their residence there as well. From their album The Long Way Home.
The Scientist’s Lament - Daddy Lion
Daddy Lion has sent stuff before. It’s just as worthy of attention as the last time. Catchy verse licks, and I like the closing chorus line, “Everything’s just matter, and I don’t have the proof.”