Angels Bend Closer is the first new album in the USA from Jane Siberry in over five years.  Siberry crafts her storytelling while genre skipping through Folk, Gospel, Jazz, R&B, Rock, Electronic, Pop and at times a bit of Celtic.  Her voice is charismatic, vulnerable, soulful, sultry, intimate and powerful, often with an evocative quality that only great singers posses.  http://www.janesiberry.com

When Siberry began crafting Angels Bend Closer, she set a clear goal: connecting with the “wider world.” Instead of going for original and esoteric, Siberry sought renewed mainstream accessibility.

To achieve it, she went in the exact opposite direction: off the grid. Siberry, it turns out, spends most non-winter months living without running water or electricity at her remote North Ontario log cabin.

“It’s so quiet,” she says, “it can actually wake you up sometimes.” It also allows her to tune in Earth’s own symphony—the fantasia of whispering trees, bubbling creeks and forest-animal choruses that informs these songs.

“I decided long ago, that I would trust and take my spiritual guidance from nature,” says Siberry. It inspired her as she meticulously produced each track, then retreated to the hotel room where she spent nights chiseling her musical statements to perfect points. “I speak more directly than I ever have in these songs,” she says. “I took the approach, ‘Time is ticking. Let’s not waste it if we’re going to communicate with each other.’”

And she wanted that message to be “something lush and beautiful and joyful and calming, in a world that’s very ungrounded these days.”

“Angels Bend Closer overall is a tremendously rewarding, enchanting
and uplifting listen. It re-establishes Siberry as one of
the great singers and songwriters of our lifetime.”
Keith Creighton, PopDose



Here’s a random list of my favorite albums and songs from the year.  As always, thankfully, I have no trouble finding new music I love, that will live far beyond the calendar year.

David Bowie – ‘I Can’t Give Everything Away’

Band of Horses – ‘In a Drawer’

The Stray Birds – ‘Sabrina’

Day of the Dead – ‘Cassidy’

Tedeski Trucks Band – ‘Anyhow’

Phish – ‘Miss You’

Rag ‘n Bone Man – ‘Human’

Parquet Courts – ‘Dust’

Big Thief – ‘Masterpiece’

Karl Blau – ‘Falling Rain’

Animal Collective – ‘Floridada’

Kyle Craft – ‘Eye of a Hurricane’

Jim James, Adia Victoria, Chance the Rapper, Margaret Glaspy, Kishi Bashi, Mitski, Norah Jones, A Tribe Called Quest.

Some records I returned to regularly over the year included The New Pornographers ‘Twin Cinema, Genesis Foxtrot, George Harrison All Things Must Pass, Procol Harum’s first album, the Clash Sandinista, Miles Davis Jack Johnson and many more….

ghost of your charms arriving

Screen shot 2013-07-20 at 9.00.41 PMNEW COUNTRY REHAB love it here.  Spearheaded by lead singer and fiddle player John Showman, joined by bandmates Anthony da Costa on guitar, Ben Whiteley on double bass and Roman Tome on drums and backing vocals, the Toronto based collective isScreen shot 2013-07-20 at 8.57.26 PM

back for another extensive run across the US.  With dates already in Nashville, Asheville, Raleigh and now at Grey Fox Bluegrass for the weekend, the band heads back out to Montpelier, Boston, Portland in the next two weeks.  Luxury Motel, the second full record from New Country Rehab, has just been released in the US, and will be supported with touring thru September.

Maverick magazine’s Russell Hill describes the band’s sound as ”Successfully merging the old and new in a rambunctious way”and describes the band as having”their feet planted firmly on the ground, this Canadian band has the right intentions and there is to be no stopping them.” (March 2013)

Must hear songs from the album include “Luxury Motel”, “Lost Highway”, “Home To You” with a companion video, and “Lizzy Dying of a Broken Heart”.

hear the harmonies here

TIN BIRD CHOIRTIN BIRD CHOIR – The second album from the band, Homesteady, will be released on July 2 and celebrated with a show at Concerts Under the Stars on Sunday July 14 with WXPN.  The new album is a bold evolution of their signature ‘barn rock’ sound.  The album, fully funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign, was recorded in the band’s barn in Coventryville, Pennsylvania by Kevin Killen, and includes the work of Heather and Eric Hurlock, with bass player Josh Sceurman and drummer Ellen Houle.  With literate lyrics, organic harmonies, urgent melodies, Tin Bird Choir is intelligent and original, simple, fun, often quirky, and sometimes even a little haunting.

BURNING BRIDGET CLEARYBBC-2 COVERThe young Celtic powerhouse band is just back from another successful festival showcase, and preparing to spend the month of July in Ireland on tour.  This is the band’s second trip to the roots of their sound, and a chance to explore the music and culture of their Celtic past.  The reception in the first month of release of their new album, Pressed for Time, has been fabulous at Celtic and Folk and Acoustic radio.  The album is also now available for programmers digital download at www.airplaydirect.com/burningbridgetcleary.

THE BOXCAR LILIES – Beautiful second album, Sugar Shack, from the trio of Jenny Goodspeed, Stephanie Marshall and Katie Clarke.  The album was released in May and was the #2 album for the month on the FOLK-DJ charts, with lead songs including “Lightnin'”, “If I Needed You”, “Don’t Send Me Up to Heaven” and the amazing treatment of Sweet Baby James “That Lonesome Road”.  Screen shot 2013-06-29 at 6.42.35 PMThe band will appear at Green River Fest this month, and was just chosen for the 25th Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in August, and will be showcasing at NERFA in November.  The band will be touring the Northeast thru the Summer and Fall.  You can hear their recordings on hundreds of radio stations in the US and Europe, and national programs like Folk Alley and XM.

#1 on FOLK-DJ for the month


SUSAN McKEOWN – “Everything We Had Was Good” was the #1 most played song for the month of February on the FOLK-DJ charts, which include 150+ DJ’s from the US, Canada and Europe.  Fantastic reaction from all corners to this duet with James Maddock.  This is in my opinion Susan’s best record in many years, and is filled with songs of passion, vulnerability and conviction.  You should also hear “Patience” and “On the Bridge to Williamsburg”.

BEN ARNOLD – Just mailed Ben’s new album, Circle ‘Round the Sun last week.  This Philadelphia writer continues to make solid record after solid record, and the new album is no exception.  Great new songs include “The More Things Change”, “Thankful”, “January’s Gone” and “Float Down Stream” which WXPN just put into rotation this week.  The record was done primarily in Los Angeles, and includes players from Amos Lee’s band and Feist’s as well.  You can see Ben’s live performance of the songs here.

THE WHISPERING TREE – The new EP, The Escape, is available next month, and serviced to radio now.  Over the past eight years, classically trained vocalist Eleanor Kleiner and French bassist Elie Brangbour have traveled the world on an adventure that began when the two met at music school in London. With a shared passion for music and travel, they took their unique brand of folk/rock across continents, logging enough frequent flier miles to make any avid traveler jealous.  Screen shot 2013-03-25 at 11.06.34 PMRecorded live at The Bunker Studio in Brooklyn over three days, The Escape features a deep, vibrant sound, with Brangbour switching from bass to guitar, Clif Jackson on upright bass, Chris Shultz on drums and Clifton Hyde on additional guitars. With Kleiner’s acclaimed songwriting and vocals, The Escape is a moody, introspective disc full of contrasting guitar styles and textures, from one of New York’s most compelling indie folk rock acts.

LAURA TSAGGARIS – Excellent early reaction to the new album, Everyman from Laura.  With Ryan Adams joining in at the studio, her song “Dig” is generating airplay action at WERU, WDVX and others.  Beautiful production from Jamie Candiloro.  Laura just completed her first video for the new album, and you can see it here.  Please give a listen.

BURNING BRIDGET CLEARY – The band is preparing for the release of their fourth album in the Spring, and have just released a track from the forthcoming album, Pressed For Time, with the song “The Ballad of Tim Evans” a celtic rave-up with an almost prog rock fiddle break in the middle.  The song is available digitally from my office, or i can send you to their coded website for a .wav file.

BIRDIE BUSCH – Birdie was featured as World Cafe Next artist last week, which featured ‘Part of Apart’ and “Far From the Tree’ as David’s picks.  An amazing bit of recognition that has generated emails from all over the US immediately.  You can read the whole story here on the NPR Music page.

THE STRAY BIRDS – Their debut album was just released in the UK, Ireland and the Benelux countries.  Lots of excitement from Fish Records, Songlines Magazine, R2, and Maverick.  Their song “Dream in Blue” will be included in 15,000 CD’s next month.  Here’s a reaction to the album from the UK correspondent for No Depression.



music on both sides

LINDI ORTEGA – “Murder of Crows” – The second emphasis track from Cigarettes and Truckstops, serviced this week via allaccess.com digital delivery systems.  You should have received an email on Wednesday with a link to the track.  This is the most played song at Americana radio.  Lindi continues her tour this month with dates in Charlotte, Atlanta, Nashville,  and then a headlining run across Canada and then dates in the UK and Europe.  The press continues to build with stories this week in the New York Times and Philadelphia Inquirer.

RAH RAH – “Prairie Girl” – Second single from the album, the poet’s DEAD.  First single from the album was a Top 30 track on CMJ College 200.  They continue to tour the US, including dates at SXSW this year.  You can find this track on the new fmqb CD sampler mailing this week, as well as in the Sunset Sessions Conference later this month.



SUSAN McKEOWN – Belong – A gorgeous new album, the first collection of original songs from Susan in over five years.  In collaborations with Declan O’Rourke, Erin McKeown, James Maddock and others, Susan has created the most personal, vulnerable and engaging record of her career.  Please listen to “On the Bridge to Williamsburg”, “Everything We Had Was Good”, and my new favorite song of the year, “Patience”.

JOE D’AMICO – A Short Time’s A Long Time is the second album from Joe, who is also the leader of the trad/acoustic band Mason Porter. Screen shot 2012-12-20 at 3.09.41 PM The new record features the best players in Philadelphia, who have assembled a beautiful collection of songs about marriage, home building and family building, with a powerful mix of rock, prog and acoustic.  The record is already getting play from Bangor Maine to Eugene Oregon.  Check out “Look From the Mountain” and “20/20”.

LAURA TSAGGARIS [sa-garr-iss] “Dig” – First track from the third album from Laura, Everyman, recorded in Nashville with multi-instrumentalist and producer Jamie Candiloro.  Jamie also brought Ryan Adams to the studio to sing with Laura on this song and also on “Unsteady”.  The band also includes guitar master Kenny Vaughn and some of the finest musicians who work with Jamie.

THE STRAY BIRDS – “Dream in Blue” continues to dominate the FOLK-DJ charts for another month, and tour dates are increasing accordingly.  Following on the heels of their recognition from NPR with the Top 10 Folk/Americana releases for 2012, the band is headed to Toronto for the 25th Annual International Folk Alliance Conference.  The band’s appearance there will include a special public showcase at the venerable Hugh’s Room, as well as showcases and jamming all over the Delta Chelsea Hotel.

In other news, this Foxygen track “San Francisco” has got to be the best tribute to Syd Barrett of them all.  And many of them, as numerous bands have shown their influences, and a few have had careers in their own right like Robin Hitchcock, and bands who have taken their name from Syd songs like Gigolo Aunts.  However, the Foxygen track is a perfect use of the melody style and lyric cadence of Syd’s writing form.  I’m a huge fan of Syd’s work, during and after Pink Floyd, and this new track is great.  Another great new track is ‘A New Life’ from Jim James.  The album is excellent, and will be one of my favorites for the year.  And his performance of the song on Jimmy Fallon is a Grammy award-wining night.

Birdie Busch cover story in City Paper

Birdie was interviewed in this week’s Philadelphia City Paper about the upcoming Philly Opry III at Johnny Brenda’s next Friday night.  She had a chance to talk about the recording process for the new album, her fundraising campaign with PledgeMusic, the packaging and artwork, and her plans to find a distributor for the recording, Birdie Busch and the Greatest Night.


We are honored to be selected for the WXPN Feature Album of the Week this week.  With her fourth album, Birdie Busch & the Greatest Night, Birdie has created a muscular, angular and band psychedelphia of beautiful melodies, honest lyrics and engaging rhythms all cut live to tape in the studios of Dr Dog’s engineer, Nathan Sabatino.  Birdie and her band the Greatest Night will debut the album at her Philly Opry event at Johnny Brenda’s on Friday January 18 at 9pm with Jason Loughlin and Joy Kills Sorrow.  Some tickets are still available for this show.  Birdie was chosen last week as part of the Pledge Music favorite albums of the year by the staff and founder Benji Rogers.  Love that.


I will be joining Dan Reed for the 7th Annual High’s in the 70’s Prog Rock Marathon on WXPN this coming Saturday January 5.  This year we are doing 12 hours of prog with Echoes NPR host John Diliberto and Star’s End host Chuck van Zyl.  Joining us this year will be author Dave Thompson, who will bring his own collection of prog oddities.  Plenty of classics and my personal assortment of vinyl near-cult classics like Blodwyn Pig, Tasavallen Presidente, Audience, Andy Pratt and Matching Mole.

What makes for near cult status in prog?

6th annual prog marathon

glad tidings for the new year.

while reading the station’s top 100 list, i assembled a list of favorite recordings of 2011. these are not necessarily the best of the year, but are the ones i listened to again and again, and found something more i liked about them each time. i would define a “best of” list as those that got the most airplay and sold the most copies, and achieved mainstream attention in a world that has adapted to the mediastream. so instead of the ‘best’ here’s my most enjoyed.


my morning jacket – best rock record made this year. loved the who^ references, especially the pete townsend windmill riffs in ”circuital”. intense, delicate, serious and tongue in cheek, MMJ marries all the parts together and makes the record everyone thought they could.
laura marling – mature beyond her years, and amazing finger-style guitarist in the english folk trad. ”sophia” may be my favorite song of the year. see her live, and twist and whisper.
wilco – i’ve learned not to look at the words. just enjoy the melodies, the singing, the keys and the bass playing, and the blips and bleeps. the guitars are less like a dentist’s drill, and nels was very cool in the NPR tiny desk concert. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dk-2wEuZLmU. with so many different textures all working great together, this could be their best album since summerteeth. “one sunday morning” totally makes up for “impossible germany”. simply beautiful.
ryan adams – gorgeous new album. live show is a stunning 2+ hours of total wack job. my new ryan fave is “invisible riverside”. sounds like he and glyn johns were going for a dave mason alone together rhodes and wah wah effect. male vocalist of the year. where’s the heavy metal record?
anna calvi – single best live performance video i saw this year. many other great songs on the album. she studied edith piaf and jimi hendrix from age 5. maybe it’s her use of red. first learned of her from all songs considered, and am forever grateful. i was watching this video every morning in the summer to remind myself how great it is to be involved with music. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KVVCHeHKXM&feature=results_video&playnext=1&list=PL6838B90361C2569B
emily arin – most forthright and lovely record this year. ‘patch of land’ deserves more attention. emily publishes a monthly song subscription service and has started working with the radio free song club in hoboken that is run by kate jacobs and dave schramm and freedy johnston.
amos lee – it all came together on this fourth album for amos with the help of calexico. his most personal songs, and with the most expansive sounds. a philadelphia favorite and a textbook case of great opportunities, and doing everything right with them. prolific, concerned, loyal and wide awake in america.
the head and the heart – excellent songwriting and excellent stage presence. loved them at non-com. ”lost in my mind” was this year’s ”when my time comes”.
dale earnhart, jr, jr – just for the song “simple girl” this should have been one of those one-hit wonders of the summer of occupy.
adele – what’s there to say? the single most successful recording of the year. confounding the pundits and restoring the concept of people do buy records still. all based around someone who wrote honest songs and sings great. go figure. now this would be the best album of the year. resonated with millions, and i think that’s what songwriters are trying to do.
joe d’amico – excellent sense of melody and rock pedigree. joe plays almost all of the instruments and wrote and recorded everything himself, and this is one of those records that just works as a complete album. he draws on a broad history of rock and roll, and puts his own signature on the sounds. “listen to the summer” and “monsters” just knock me out.
paul simon – continues to be one step ahead of relevant to the times. this is why i am happy to be part of the new elderly. quotes his own work from almost 50 years ago, still tells the truth, takes chances and looks to the future. ‘get off my lawn’, but still making great records.
lana del ray – “video games” may be the only track she ever needs to do.
gary clarke jr – the blues and rock still work great together and he has put in a quick 10,000 hours on guitar. i’ve worked with many guitar greats over the years; jeff beck, stevie ray vaughan, randy rhodes, vernon reid and more. this guy is in that club.
joe bonamassa/beth hart – “well well” without a doubt the cover of the year. no one would ever believe a band could play stronger and tighter than clapton/russell/allman/mason/cropper/preston/price/raddle but these two not only found this classic, they nailed it.

altho it came out about a month ago, i would propose that the heartless bastards track “parted ways” is the first great track of 2012. i really liked the band’s last album, and this record goes to a whole new level, certainly beyond alabama shakes. the second half of the song sounds like an homage to keith moon drumming with patti smith singing. can’t wait to see them play live. book them for your summer festival now. hope they have a great year.


projects and music on the way in january and february include a new record from john flynn, the end of the beginning. with performances from kris kristofferson, freebo, brother sun, bill miller, and other guests, this is john’s most personal yet inclusive record to date. check out “the giving stone” and his re-working of “she’s the one”. “crazy as ever” should be a great wedding song.

the sultans of string, canada’s juno nominated gypsy jazz, folk and swing band come out swinging in january with their third album, MOVE. please check out “montreal”, “josie”, and their cover of “heart of gold” featuring dala on vocals. the band will be touring the northeast US this winter, and are a must see show.

tracy grammer has signed to red house records, and will be releasing an album of archived dave carter songs on st valentine’s day, little blue egg. these recordings are essentially the last batch of songs dave & tracy were writing and recording following the success of tanglewood tree and drum hat buddha, and include ”hard to make it”, ”better way”, ”gypsy rose” and a stunning interpretation of the woody/wilco/billy bragg track ”way over yonder in a minor key”.

annie crane has signed a licensing deal with starbucks for the use of two of her songs, including my favorite from the album, “you & me & the evergreen” in all of their stores in the US for the next 3 months. please give this record another listen, as annie has created a unique sound that embodies celtic arrangements with unexpected instruments, like trumpet.

lindi ortega won the apple/mac video award for iphone video of the year, and will be shooting another to debut at macworld in san fran the end of january. she was a world cafe NEXT artist over the summer, and continues to tour the US, just finishing a run with diego garcia.

joe d’amico recorded his first hand-held iphone video, for the title song ”asleep in my shoes”, directed and edited the production, and received a feature from the WXPN key in early december. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3-poW_rtOo . his band, mason porter, has just finished 4 new tracks for release in march. huge thanks for the support to vin scelsa, michael buckley and WXPN.

jen creed is receiving international radio support for her interpretation of cliff eberhardt’s “the long road”, and will be touring the east coast in the spring. please check out her covers of tom waits, springsteen, patty griffin, van morrison as well as her originals.

birdie busch recently celebrated the IMA college label of the year award at the living room in NYC for her EP, everyone will take you in, with songs set in philadelphia. she is in the studio working on her next record for a late spring release, and had another song in a TV show, with “hold ya” used in the opening scene of an episode of the protector. those things actually pay really good money.

i’m really looking forward to joining dan reed, chuck van zyl and john diliberto for the 6th annual prog rock marathon this coming saturday 1/7/12, from 10-5pm EST on WXPN. i’ll be bringing in my vinyl and CD collection and will once again embarrass myself with way too many geeked-out recordings from the 70’s including all your prog icons and near-cult faves. what would qualify for near-cult status in prog? taking your requests here now.

also looking forward to season #2 of portlandia. this show is ridiculous.

next week a look at the life and times of grammy® nominee linda chorney, who has already won the Perception Is Reality Award in the mediastream of 2011. it’s too bad everyone is mad at her. she gamed the system, fully grasped web 2.0, and caught the music industry leaders asleep at the wheel once again.


always love to learn what you are thinking and hearing. the next version won’t be nearly as long. thanks for reading and have a great new year.