Sessions Archive

The Moondoggies, Live Session #89

by oz on June 12, 2011

I first met The Moondoggies at Slims in San Francisco back in 2008. They made a trip down from their hometown of Seattle to play a few select dates in Northern California. I was a huge fan of their debut album, Don’t Be A Stranger, at the time and asked them if they had any plans to tour through Chicago. I mentioned our sessions and they said they’d love to, but weren’t sure when they’d be able to put together a real tour.

Two years later, The Moondoggies released an album called Tidelands, a cohesive body of Americana music that featured the same three-part harmonies found on their predecessor and a sound inspired by Neil Young and The Band. Tidelands quickly became one of my favorite albums of 2010.

I’ve since caught The Moondoggies in Atlanta and Austin and, although it took three years for a pass through the Windy City, we didn’t hesitate to extend an invitation for a live session last November. Enjoy the tracks.

The Moondoggies – Band Intro

Exclusive: The Moondoggies – What Took So Long

Exclusive: The Moondoggies – Empress Of The North

Exclusive: The Moondoggies – Fly Mama Fly

Exclusive: The Moondoggies – Down The Well

Download The Moondoggies Live Session as a zip file.

Video: The Moondoggies – What Took So Long

Video: The Moondoggies – Fly Mama Fly


Futurebirds, Live Session #75

by oz on August 3, 2010

Futurebirds. What else can we say that hasn’t already been said over the past several weeks? We fell in love with this Athens, GA alt-country band with the release of their free EP and then they exceeded all expectations with their debut album, Hampton’s Lullaby. The band rolled into the studio and tore through a set that featured ragged, reverb laden guitars and banjo against dripping pedal steel. The video for “Ski Chalet” gives you a sense for why there’s so much buzz about the band’s live shows (make note of the slow motion rock star moves, including a couch jump). They seem to feed off of one another with an energy that’s infectious.

That’s why I love Futurebirds. They do write great songs, but whether by design or natural chemistry, their music is unpolished and imperfect. It’s also brash and unapologetic. For the casual listener, their sound may not be immediately palpable, but for those of us that “get it,” we find ourselves captivated by the band’s gritty spirit and authenticity. For those that own Hampton’s Lullaby, hopefully this session serves as a nice supplement. For those that don’t, allow this to be your primer.

Futurebirds Band Intro Jam

Exclusive: Futurebirds – Johnny Utah

Exclusive: Futurebirds – APO (Videos: Vimeo | YouTube)

Exclusive: Futurebirds – Sam Jones

Exclusive: Futurebirds – Ski Chalet (Videos: Vimeo | YouTube)

Download the Futurebirds session as a zip file.

Video: Futurebirds – APO

Video: Futurebirds – Ski Chalet


Horse Feathers, Live Session #74

by oz on July 14, 2010

Over the years, I’ve grown to love this band called Horse Feathers.‚  This marked their second visit to Shirk Music + Sound for a HearYa Live session (find the first session here) and we greeted them on the heels of the release of Thistled Spring, the band’s third LP.

The band is led by songwriter/guitarist/vocalist Justin Ringle and supported by multi-instrumentalists Nathan Crocket, Catherine Odell and Sam Cooper. Each band member is an incredible talent in their own right, and nowhere is it more apparent than on “Starving Robins.” In a live setting, I’m always amazed by Nathan, Catherine and Sam and their ability to change instruments on the fly. It’s a four-piece band creating the sound of a seven-piece orchestra.

In fact, “orchestra” is a word you’ll hear frequently in describing Horse Feathers. They are a folk band, but their sound is much more classical and elegant than the traditional folk fare. In reviewing their album, I used adjectives typically found in descriptions of wine: Full bodied. Balanced. Smooth. Mellow. Vigorous. Fruity. Elegant. Distinctive. I’d recommend pouring yourself a glass and let their music wash over you.

Horse Feathers Band Intro

Exclusive: Horse Feathers – Thistled Spring (Video: Vimeo | YouTube)

Exclusive: Horse Feathers – As A Ghost

Exclusive: Horse Feathers – Cascades

Exclusive: Horse Feathers – Starving Robins (Video: Vimeo | YouTube)

Download the session as a zip file.

Video: Horse Feathers – Thistled Spring (live at Shirk Music + Sound)

Video: Horse Feathers – Starving Robins (Live at Shirk Music and Sound)


Jill Andrews, Live Session #73

by Shirk on June 17, 2010

Jill Andrews

When The Everybodyfields shared a pedal steel laced full-band arrangement of‚  “The Only King” during their HearYa Live Session nearly two years ago, they made big fans out of us.‚  More impressive than the band and the new song arrangements, was the power, control, and purity that I heard in Jill Andrew’s voice on that day.‚  It was a very special session as I realized that Jill is one of the finest vocalists I’ve ever hosted in my studio.

Eighteen months later, The Everybodyfields are no longer together, Jill Andrews has a baby boy, a husband, a new EP, and a blossoming solo career. We were lucky to catch her and sideman, Josh Oliver, for an acoustic HearYa session during their April stop in Chicago.

The session begins with a new, unreleased song that has never been recorded entitled “A Little Less.”‚  Enjoy this little masterpiece.‚  Since we recorded Jill’s session in April, I’ve listened to the rough mix of‚  the song about 100 times.‚  I’m still not tired of it. Jill has written a winner and I’m thrilled with how the recording came out.‚  Around the 4:20 mark, we even get a little visit from the mysterious CB Radio that has haunted my studio for over two years.‚  Luckily, Jill and Josh thought it sounded cool (*See footnote).

Next Jill and Josh ran through a powerful trio of songs from her recent EP including “Sweetest In The Morning,” “These Words,” and “Worth Keeping.” Very little adjustment was required once the session was underway.‚  Jill and Josh do a tremendous job at balancing themselves and using expressive microphone techniques to keep things dynamic.‚  I was the only one in the control room on this session and enjoyed sitting back, cranking the volume a bit and letting the music take me away, opening my eyes only occasionally to watch my arm hair stand on end.

Once we finished tracking the session, Jill shared a few new songs.‚  She hadn’t recorded demos of them yet and it was fun to hear she and Josh work through the arrangements.‚  Perhaps when her full-length album is released, we’ll be able to share these demos with you.‚  Until then, they’re in the vault.

Following the recording process, we all sat around the control room and talked about her new music, life on the road with and without a baby, married life and her musical life without Sam Quinn and The Everybodyfields.‚  As I later dug into mixing these tunes, the lyrics would often take me back to the conversation we had that day.‚  It was impossible for me not to try to piece these song lyrics together with all of the changes that she’s been through in the past year. I think this is one of the strongest acoustic HearYa sessions we’ve done to date. Jill’s talent as a singer/ songwriter is undeniable.

Jill Andrews Intro

Exclusive: Jill Andrews – A Little Less (Videos: Vimeo | YouTube)

Exclusive: Jill Andrews – Sweetest In The Morning

Exclusive: Jill Andrews – These Words

Exclusive: Jill Andrews – Worth Keeping (Videos: Vimeo | YouTube)

Download the Jill Andrews Live Session as a zip file.

Video: Jill Andrews – A Little Less

Video: Jill Andrews – Worth Keeping

* Please excuse the CB Radio interference that cuts into Josh’s guitar amp in “Little Less” (yes, we ran his acoustic into the fender vibrolux).‚  I’ve been hearing that same voice swear and scream into his CB radio and into my control room speakers for over two years, thinking it was some disturbed cab driver with a hopped up radio.‚  Not until this particular interruption did I decide to take action. I spotted a blue GMC truck with the 10 foot antenna out the window, so I left the driver a note and offered to buy him a case of beer if he would not talk on his CB when he drives around my building.‚  So far it’s working. Thanks for being cool, Loud CB Radio Guy in the blue GMC …and for not even asking for the beer in exchange.‚  I’ve since adopted the policy of buying beer for people to get things done. There is no better reasonably priced bargaining tool.‚  Today it got my HVAC fixed.



Elliott Brood, Live Session #61

December 8, 2009

I have Hurricane Rick to thank for meeting Elliott Brood in studio. For the first time in a couple of years, the Mrs. and I found a cast of thousands (babysitters, ex-nanny, mother-in-law, etc. etc.) to cover for us for a getaway to Cabo. The storm emerged and delayed us for one day, which was […]

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