music on both sides

LINDI ORTEGA – “Murder of Crows” – The second emphasis track from Cigarettes and Truckstops, serviced this week via 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 & the greatest night at the opry

Birdie Busch and the band plays for a sold-out Johnny Brenda’s last Friday night.  The night featured Jason Loughlin and Joy Kills Sorrow and the debut of the cardboard universe and supermoon lighting.  Carl Cheeseman, Tommy Bendell, Todd Erk, Ross Bellenoit and Craig Hendrix make 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?



Found a great combination of artists of all ages making music still vital, challenging and just plain entertaining.  Gorgeous melodies, strong grooves and relevant themes continue to shine each year, in both the album format and the digital single.  These are not really the biggest selling records, but more the ones I spent the most time listening during the year.

I decided for the first time to divide the music makers into three age groups.  Never really thought about that before, but now that so many men and women are making pop and rock music into their 70’s, it has stretched the writing cycle well beyond teen angst and middle-aged revolution.


BOB DYLAN – ‘Duquesne Whistle’ has the single best groove of the year.
ROLLING STONES – Mick Jagger is as annoying as ever.  ‘Doom and Gloom’ is the best Stones in 20 years.
THE dB’s- 30 years between albums.  ‘The Wonder of Love’ is the horn song of the year.
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – The man is unstoppable.  He was great at SXSW as the Keynote speaker.  His albums continue to be thoughtful, sincere and hard rockin’ as can be, and the live show has not wavered since the Main Point days.


SHINS – one of the best melody writers in the business today.  His arrangements are pure pop in the Jimmy Webb, Bacharach-David style for the new generation.  Saw them live, didn’t care for the show, but love his writing.
A C NEWMAN – the best melody writer in the business today.  He has been on a creative run since Twin Cinema that just continues to offer great pieces of music.
JACK WHITE – the best riff writer in the business today.
CALEXICO – gorgeous, atmospheric song scapes.  ‘Splitter’ is one of the best songs of the year.


ZEUS – garage rock single of the year with ‘Are You Gonna Break My Heart’.
THE STRAY BIRDS – accomplished, reverent, literate, passionate and genuine.
JOHN FULLBRIGHT – most cinematic new writer on the scene.  The next Dave Carter.
TITUS ANDRONICUS – lyrically their work really caught up to their hard driving rock skills
LORD HURON – the best song of the year with ‘Time To Run’
FATHER JOHN MISTY – unflappable and full of music.  Reminds me a little of Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip.
MICHAEL KIWANUKA – amazing songwriter.  Mature way beyond his years.

So many good tracks from Free Energy, Grizzly Bear, Low Cut Connie, Heartless Bastards, Mumford & Sons, Django Django, Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer, Dr Dog, Tame Impala, Gabriel Kelly and more.  Gabriel wrote the song with the best use of strings this year.  As bands like The Amazing and Foxygen pay such close homage to the 60’s, Gabriel hit the 70’s singer-songwriter arrangement and production style right in the sweet spot.