I’m not wasting a single second on the intro to this blog post. The world is ending today. I’m so certain that it is going to happen that I’m quitting this job, and spending the day with drugs and hookers. Wish me luck. If you had different plans, here’s your weekend rundown.
We have a fresh voice speaking out today. Kids, please welcome Josh to the program.
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit at Mercy Lounge
If you are anything like me, you may have been a Jason Isbell fan for longer than you thought. Isbell was a member of Drive By Truckers from 2001 to 2007, writing songs for and touring in support of albums such as The Dirty South and A Blessing and a Curse. In 2007, Isbell decided to part ways with the band and began pursuing his own solo career. Although Jason had attempted to write and record material for a solo album during his time with Drive By Truckers, he was often unable to due the tremendous amount of time that he spent on the road. Finally, in July of 2007, Jason released his first full-length album titled Sirens of the Ditch.
Isbell eventually began recording and touring with his backing band, the 400 Unit. The group, consisting of keyboardist Derry deBorja, bassist Jimbo Hart and drummer Chad Gamble, recorded their first album together 2009. Jason’s second album, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, was released in February of 2009. The album produced one of my personal favorites, the haunting “Cigarettes and Wine.” The song tells a story of a man, seemingly down on his luck and with fading hope in his future, finding peace inside of a bar. The man, in the waning days of his youth, finds happiness in the company of bartender, who leaves him happily to his vices.
In 2011, Isbell and his band released its most critically acclaimed project to date, Here We Rest. The album features songs with a wide array or sounds. “Never Could Believe” feels as if it was written inside of a honky-tonk on a hot, Alabama summer night. It is the type of song that makes you wish that you were somewhere drinking whiskey and dancing your ass off. Another great tune from the album, “Tour of Duty”, tells the story of a man returning home from war for the last time. The soldier has high hopes of regaining a normal life after spending time overseas. He vows to subdue any feelings from his experiences that may alienate him from his family and friends now that he was returned. Not to be forgotten, there is the beautiful “Alabama Pines.” The first song on the album actually won the group the Song of the Year Award from the 2012 Americana Music Awards and Honors. The album also broke the top 100 of the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart.
Most recently, the band released the live album, Live From Alabama. After one listen through the album, my excitement about this Friday’s show at the Mercy Lounge grew exponentially. Doors open at 8 PM and the show kicks off around 9 PM with Andrew Combs. Tickets are $15. If I haven’t done his work any justice, check out Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit performing recently on The Late Show with David Letterman. Hell, Letterman even says that he likes the band as much as he does his own mother.
Protomen at 12th and Porter
Assuming the world hasn’t ended yet by 9 pm, you can’t go wrong with checking out video game-themed and sometimes cover rockers The Protomen at 12th and Porter tonight! It’s the release show for the group’s new casette single “Drove All Night” and potentially the second time ever the band will perform a new track they premiered at PAX. The Protomen’s last Nashville show was Queen-themed. This one will presumably showcase a broader range of material and includes supporting acts Makeup & Vanity Set and Uncle Skelton. You can still snag tickets here.
Angel Snow w/Meiko at 3rd and Lindsley
Angel Snow‘s voice is nestled somewhere in a finite spectrum between the understated soulfulness of Norah Jones and the high-pitched soothing melody of Mindy Smith. Her latest self-titled release, is masterfully crafted, allowing Snow to sway the direction of each story’s narrative like an orchestra conductor. Yes, you might expect such wonder from the influence of and collaboration with Alison Krauss and Union Station, who did play with Snow on three of the new album’s tracks. Alison’s brother, Viktor Krauss, also produced the album, and drummer Matt Chamberlain was recruited to play on the album. But one shouldn’t automatically ascribe brilliant chemistry based on a collection of musicians with certain skill and reputation. Even so, it’s clear that this combination was clearly meant to be, because this album is cohesively good. It’s bold and engaging, with moving string ensembles, elegant acoustic guitar chops, and perfectly aligned harmonies. My favorite track is “Holiday.” It’s beautiful for its musical simplicity and recollection of regret, evident through lyrical lines such as “Has my summer caught up to my fall?” Check out the video for this song below:
Get your tickets here and get there early, like 6:30 or so.
End Of The World Party at The Coup
We’ve talked about Spoken Nerd and Last Of The Horsemen recently, and it is fitting that you can catch both of them on the same stage tonight at The Coup in Clarksville. You can find out more information about that event here.
Jessika has decided that if the world is going to end this week, she’s headed to theatre nerd nirvana, New York City, and thus sends you, good readers, TWiNYC. Should you happen to be in the Big Apple this week, she has some suggestions for your itinerary. If not, no fear, because you can still grab the music to listen along at home!
If Old Crow Medicine Show decided to enlist the help of local shadow puppeteer, Matt Sandbank, of Wild Goose Chase Puppet Theater, to tell stories like those of french rocker, Mathius Malzieu (Dionysos), you’d probably get something akin to Pig Pen Theatre Company’s THE OLD MAN AND THE OLD MOON. Show details for those inhabiting Manhattan available here.
If you’re not in New York and can’t catch the live show, you’re still in luck because Pig Pen also has beautiful internet videos that accompany their original music that help you get a feel for their innovative approach to intimate storytelling that incorporates live action, puppetry, original music, and more. You can scope their video for their song “Bremen” from their show below as well as some more of their sounds via the bandcamp embed. You can also download their music here.
It’s quite possible the fellows of Pig Pen will tour after their stint Off Broadway, and their sound is very Nashville-friendly, so here’s hoping they make it to town in the near future.
Everyone loves a love story. And more than that, everyone loves a love story when the lovers are ALSO partners in art/bandmates. Enter Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová aka The Swell Season. You know their story, you saw the movie, Once, that was sorta’ inspired by the mostly true story of their falling in love and you cried when you listened to their record, Strict Joy, and realized this was the soundtrack to falling out.
Glen and Markéta may no longer be indie rock’s royal couple, but you can fall in love all over again with their alter egos now that the hit movie has been made into a Broadway smash. In a world where BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL actually exists, ONCE is a refreshing outing for those that really do love really good music and enjoy it when a smattering of songs help propel a narrative along.
It will probably be a while before the next Swell Season record with both parties distracted by solo efforts, so if you’re longing for a live experience of their work, you can get info for the Broadway production here. It’s sort of like a tribute band, but with more jazz hands. ONCE will inevitably launch a national tour that will hopefully stop at TPAC soon if you can’t get to NYC while it’s up. You can preview the show below, stream the movie on Netflix, or go back to the source material here.