Concert Review

Dirty Gold might just be the most blogged about new band in 2011. In these days of viral videos and blog hype, bands that plug into the right interweb coordinates seem to spread around the net at the speed of light. What hasn’t changed, however, are the difficult realities of putting on a live show.

I caught Dirty Gold last Wednesday night at Union Hall, and although there were moments of unbridled genius that filtered through, I was struck mostly by their youthful inexperience. Not that they don’t have a good excuse; they’re in high school, have yet to release their first EP, and have never played in front of more than a 150 people. I guess it’s only fair that I temper my expectations a bit. Highlights from the set included Overboard, The Quiet Life and California Sunrise.

Oh yeah, and the best part of the show was when they mentioned that the reason they were able to tour is because they’re on spring break. Their debut EP, Roar, will be released tomorrow (April 12th).

Dirty Gold – California Sunrise

Video: Dirty Gold – California Sunrise (Live at Union Hall, NYC)



Joe Pug and Strand of Oaks played an early show at The Earl in Atlanta last night. I’d review the show, but do I really need to say more about Joe and Tim? It’s impossible not to love both of these artists and I’m proud to have been introduced to their music very early on in their careers.  Take the time to check out the tour dates. It’ll be the best $10 you’ve spent in awhile.

Other than seeing Joe accompanied by upright bass and an incredible lead guitarist on this tour, one of the highlights from last night was seeing Pug cover an Austin, TX singer/songwriter named Tex Thomas. I don’t have the song title, but it’s a great two minutes of song. Anyone out there familiar with Tex Thomas?

Video: Joe Pug covers Tex Thomas (Live at The Earl in Atlanta, 4/6/11)


Listening to The Poison Tree elicits a unique sense of d©j  vu. Although the precise cause of this feeling is difficult to articulate, it is entirely evident that the band has created one of the most beautiful albums in recent memory.

The Poison Tree is the latest project of former King of France front man, Steve Salett, and an assortment of musicians from his Saltlands music collective in Brooklyn. The resulting self-titled LP is a seamless exploration of love, life, and the human condition. From the opening track, Saletts warm baritone vocals wrap the listener in an auditory embrace that is not relinquished until the albums concluding notes. Along the way, acoustic guitar, strings, and subtle harmonies, provide a gorgeous background. The striking combination of these elements is perhaps most apparent on “My Only Friend”, an eerie song that speaks of wounded pride.

Earlier in the week, as winter tried to deny the onset of spring with another onslaught of snow and slush, The Poison Tree crossed into Manhattan to warm a star-studded audience at Joes Pub with its halcyon sound. The bands brilliant 13-song set focused on offerings from the LP, but also included a King of France song, and a few new tunes. Throughout the night, Salett was joined by different musicians including a trumpet player who contributed his part on “Welcome to the Neighborhood” and “Caught” from his table in the audience.

The aforementioned feeling of d©j  vu will undoubtedly subside as my experiences with The Poison Tree move from a false sense of familiarity to actual reality. However, the pleasure that this album brings is unlikely to be as ephemeral.

The Poison Tree – Never Know Me

The Poison Tree – My Only Friend (set to a famous scene in the Orson Welles movie Touch of Evil)

The Poison Tree – “My Only Friend”; Touch of Evil (1958) from Pierre Bonnenuit on Vimeo.


The Love Language at Schubas [Concert Review]

by That Guy on March 7, 2011

Sellout. It’s been a big topic of discussion lately on HearYa about bands like The Black Keys, but last night it took on a different meaning. The Love Language took the stage to a sold-out audience at Schubas along with Telekenesis. The wife and I had a burger at Pint in Wicker Park, a quick beer at Estelle’s, and then made our way up to Schubas in time to say hi to the band before they took the stage. (Side note: they’re easily one of the most personable bands I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with.)

The Love Language recorded a second live session at Shirk Music & Sound earlier in the day (find their first HearYa Live Session here), so they were good and warmed up by the time they hit the stage. I’ve seen The Love Language play quite a few shows over the last few years, but I’ve got to say their performance last night at Schubas was the best I’ve seen them. The songs were tight, Stuart’s voice not only sounded great but so was his stage presence, drummer Jordan McLamb was playing with some serious authority, new bassist Nick seems to be a great addition, Missy brings so much fun and energy, and BJ Burton has added some real juice to the live songs.

They cranked through a set with barely a pause between most songs, and looked like they were having a great time. Stuart knocked back a shot on-stage early in the set, new bassist Nick was smiling ear-to-ear for 90% of the show, and drummer Jordan was hitting the drums so hard he literally shredded one of his cymbals.

There were a couple other highlights during the show. The first was a great version of “Manteo” with the entire band singing the first few bars a capella before ripping into it for the rest of the song. The other was more of an inside joke between BJ and Stuart. Earlier in the day at the HearYa session, BJ was joking about how he was slightly ‘over-served’ during one of their recent shows. He couldn’t figure out how to tune his guitar in the middle of the set, which led to him kicking Stu on stage as hard as he could for no reason. The two joked about it at Shirk’s studio, and in the middle of the set last night Stu tried to get BJ back. They looked like a couple of rams up there plowing into each other during Blue Angel. It was indicative of the entire set – just great energy on stage and a great vibe overall. The most fun I’ve had at a show in a while.

Aside from a great show, Shirk captured some really cool live tracks in the studio earlier in the day – I can’t wait for everyone to hear them. Stuart did a solo acoustic version of “Brittany’s Back” that had a cool Bruce Springsteen Nebraska-ish vibe to it.

The Love Language – Heart To Tell

The Love Language – Lalita

In the meantime, here’s a fan video of “Lalita” from the Schubas show.


Beach House at Webster Hall, NYC [Concert Review]

February 25, 2011

How do you define the indie cred of a band? Does it have something to do with their Pitchfork rating? The tightness of their skinny jeans? The size of the smoke plume that rises from the audience when they hit their first chords? I’ve been to countless concerts at the Music Hall of Williamsburg and […]

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The Levon Helm Band with My Morning Jacket at Levon Helm Studios, Part I [Concert Review]

November 8, 2010

“After the finale, they’d have the midnight ramble,” Helm told Scorsese. With young children off the premises, the show resumed: “the songs would get a little bit juicier. The jokes would get a little funnier and the prettiest dancer would really get down and shake it a few times.” When Levon Helm, the legendary singer […]

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The Sheepdogs, Learn and Burn [Album, Concert Review]

October 23, 2010

Apparently, theres a saying that “nothing ever comes out of Saskatchewan, Canada except hookers and hockey players.” Nonetheless, there are at least two bands that are making a strong case for the statement to be augmented to include musicians. The Deep Dark Woods, a longtime favorite of HearYas, are one. While the other band, The […]

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Deer Tick and Matt Vasquez of Delta Spirit at Webster Hall, NYC [Concert Review]

August 17, 2010

Its been almost three years since I first saw Deer Tick perform at a Brooklyn apartment. Since then, the band has become one of the most prolific outfits, releasing two albums, an EP, and touring consistently. On Friday night, John McCauley brought his latest lineup of the band to Webster Hall for the final date […]

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Josh Ritter – So Runs The World Away [Album and Concert Review]

May 19, 2010

I first heard about this guy named Josh Ritter back in 2000 or 2001 on a little-known website called Anyone? Bueller? It was basically a poor man’s Napster, with comments and suggestions from other music downloaders. I spent roughly 5,000 hours on the site, scouring it for music. This was long before music blogs […]

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Monsters of Folk & Teen Wolf [Chicago Concert Review]

November 3, 2009

I had a friend named Prick Lachey who used to leave me voicemail messages from late night bars where he’d scream into the phone, “MmmmmmBEST DAY OF MY LIFE!” Those words pretty much sum up my Monsters of Folk experience. Pretty strong words considering Ticketmaster took a metaphoric dump on my head with close to […]

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