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 & 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.

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?