Carbon Leaf: Gathering


I've long been a fan of Virginia-based band Carbon Leaf, and they recently released a new, short album called Gathering — the first of a projected quartet. With it, they've returned to form, harkening back to some of their best albums. 

Those albums were published in the early 2000s: Echo Echo (an indie record), Indian Summer, Love Loss Hope Repeat, and Nothing Rhymes with Woman. What really set them apart was their songwriting: full of vivid imagery and emotion that evoked nostalgia, and a longing for a sort of rural America. Their sound is hard to pin down: Their songs range from indie-folk-country-rock to pop-traditional Irish. They split from their record label after Nothing Rhymes with Woman and did a big campaign to re-record all of their work under their own indie label, which slightly improved the songs and brought them back to their own sound. 

Since that split, they've meandered a bit. 2010's How the West Was One was supposed to be the start of a short album series, which captured a lot of that feel that made them so great, but while 2013's Constellation Prize and Ghost Dragon Attacks Castle have their notable tracks, they're pretty forgettable records. 

Gathering feels more like a return to form for them. It's a short album — only five songs, that come in at 20 minutes — but each one feels like it packs an outsized punch, bringing that great sense of nostalgia, folksy feel, and loneliness through their songs. I've always sort of thought of them as bringing the feeling you get while returning to a home you haven't been to in a while. Songs like "Gathering," Bow & Arrow (Shore Up Love," and "Gifts from the Crows" feel as though they'll be future classics. 

The only bummer is that this is a short album: it's easy to cycle through it, and hopefully, the short length will mean that the band will churn these out at a bit of a quicker pace than the typical one-album-every-couple-of-years-rate. 

Echo Echo

St. Patrick’s day is a good day to listen to one of my absolute favorite albums, Carbon Leaf’s Echo Echo. Released in 2001, this was one of my early introductions to the band, alongside their first major record label album, Indian Summer (also quite good). had released the album as a free download while I was in college, and the album became a regular on my rotation of songs on my iPod and computer playlists. Interestingly, it’s remained there since, and one of the few albums that I return to again and again.

Echo Echo is a perfect balance between sound and lyrics. There’s a certain comfort that the band seems to have across the board here, listening to the album from start to finish. ‘The Boxer’ opens up with a quick start, with a rich blend of instrumentation and vocals from both Barry Privett and the rest of the background group. The rest of the album falls into place nicely after that, through to the end, with songs like ‘Wanderin' Around’, ‘Shine’, ‘Mary Mac’ and ‘Desperation Song’ injecting energy to the thing, while ‘On Any Given Day’, ‘Torn To Tattered’, and ‘Toy Soldiers’ balance it out with something a little slower. The album ends up with ‘Maybe Today’ and a hidden track ‘My Dear’, to close out the album softly.

It’s difficult to explain some of the hows and whys of how the sound works for me. I don’t have a background in music, but I suspect that there’s something to do with the chords, but to my untrained ear, the album feels fresh, full of air and very spring like – it conjures up images of bombing along some of Vermont’s back state routes with the windows down, the music high up on the speakers. Particularly, ‘The Boxer’, ‘Toy Soldiers’, and ‘Lonesome Pine’ all help there, evenly spaced along the album.

Lyrically, the album holds up well though out, particularly ‘Toy Soldiers’, as I keep coming back to it year after year with reaffirmed meaning and understanding of the lyrics:

We find the people of our dreams We find that they're not what they seem I've learned that people come and go I've learned that families break and grow Toy soldiers brave away those tears Toy soldiers hope for better years Today I strike out on my own The dog is dead. We kids have grown.

Other songs hit me in much the same way, with the same weight. 'Wandrin’ Away' speaks to me as someone who’s travelled a bit, while 'Torn To Tattered' has comforted me when I’ve been down more than once. The lyrics are stories, complicated ones, and their meaning still comes out and speaks to me years on.

I seem to always find myself listening to this album around St. Patrick’s day. While the album doesn’t have any particular ‘Irish’ theme, there are subtle influences throughout, especially in ‘The Boxer’ and ‘Mary Mac’ (although Mary Mac is really a Scottish song). The band has been known to play covers of Irish songs at their concerts (including a recent one known as ‘Irish Song’), and amongst their instrumentation, their use of the Tin whistle also helps add in the flavor to a number of songs.

At the end of the day, Echo Echo just works. Balanced between an excellent sound and lyrics, Carbon Leaf’s never quite managed to top the album, for which I’m thankful. Their growing collection of songs is impressive, and they’ve put together some great albums, but none quite feel as consistent and click in quite the same way.

The best Music of 2010

I've largely fallen out of the music blogging stuff that I once was heavily engaged in. Too much writing, not nearly enough reward, and it got to a point where it interfered with other projects that I've wanted to do, and the things that I write about when it comes to music are fewer and further between. I've not stopped listening to music, however, and there's been a number of really good albums released this year. Here's what I liked the most.

Kirby Krackle, E for Everyone

Kirby Krackle was a discovery that I made earlier this year via a musician friend of mine, John Anealio, and it's easy to bill these guys as some of the best all around Geek rockers out there. With their prior self-titled album, they've got an excellent backlog of songs that run the line from comic books (There's a lot here - Iron Man, Green Lantern, Wolverine, Great Lakes Avengers and more) to zombies (what self-respecting geek musician doesn't have a song about zombies?) to things like conventions and geek romance.

E for Everyone is an album that hits all the basic, rich chords, combined with lyrics that I find impossible not to sing along with loudly in the car. The set is a fun one, and I hope to hear more from them at some point in the near future.

Ray LaMontagne, God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise

Ray LaMontagne is a long favorite of mine from college, and his latest album hasn't disappointed as he's changed up his style over the past couple of years. This latest outing is one that carries with it a particular country style with some of the songs, and looks to the virtues of a simpler, uncomplicated existence. The best song on the album is easily Beg Steal Or Borrow with its steady beat, perfect sound and breezy feel that makes me perk up a bit whenever I hear it on the radio.

LaMontagne has kept up with a good habit of not repeating his successes, nor does he change so drastically that his new music is something totally unexpected. God Willin' is an album that retains the best of his past, and changes as needed, and almost always for the better. While the album hasn't quite topped Gossip in the Grain, it's an excellent work by an excellent musician.

Goodtimes Goodtimes, Goodtimes Goodtimes

Franc, of Goodtimes Goodtimes, has been on a roll lately. He's just released a second music video from this album for 'Magic Hour' (Fortune Seller Song is the other, both excellent). Glue, the first album from Goodtimes Goodtimes, was a favorite of mine, but it absolutely pales in comparison to this self-titled album that's just been released. It's almost as if a filter has been removed and Franc's been unleashed. The music is polished, rich and textured, and the songs are superb. Each song on this album is excellent, strong and together, allow for a great album.

Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Grace Potter And The Nocturnals

Grace Potter & The Nocturnals starts off with a bang with their reworked version of Paris (Ooh La La). It's a blast of energy that Grace has been known for on stage, and it's a good thing to see retained in their latest (and largest to date), self-titled album. The album's not their best: there's a certain flavor that seems to have been lost from their original work, but the band has retained their fantastic songwriting skills, new sounds and still a great energy and vibe that work with Grace's voice wonderfully.

Anais Mitchell feat. Justin Vernon, Ani DiFranco, Greg Brown, The Haden Triplets and Ben Knox Miller, Hadestown

I've described this album as a indie-folk retelling of the myth of Orpheus set in a post-apocalyptic fiefdom. Yep. It's also completely fantastic, an upgraded version of a production that Anais Mitchell worked on a couple of years ago. Hadestown is a rocking good time: it's akin to a stage soundtrack, with various (well known) singers taking on different characters. Justin Vernon (aka, Bon Iver) takes part, and we follow a great story of romance, betrayal, greed and revenge. Musically, this album is diverse, rich and fascinating, and every time I listen to the tracks, I'm intensely reminded of Cherie Priest's novel Boneshaker, with it's dark atmosphere, twisted characters and foreboding surroundings.

Jed Whedon and the Willing, History of Forgotten Things

Whedon is a name that all geeks should know. Not only the name of Joss (who did Firefly, Dollhouse and Buffy) or Zack (Screenwriter for Fringe, Deadwood, and Dr. Horrible), but Jed, for his work on not only Dr. Horrible, but for his fantastic History of Forgotten Things, which is easily one of my top favorites of the year. This well composed alternative-pop album is one that is both smooth and ethereal. There's a real SF/F feel to the album as well: Drones was used in the show Dollhouse (as well as Remains, a single that he's released), as well as Last Man and Ancestors. Is this music that we'll see more of in the future? I hope so.

Holy Fiction, Hours from It

Hours From It is a product of the west, and it feels like it. This was an unexpected album from Holy Fiction, and one that I completely fell in love with after a single listen. It's been on a regular rotation while I take long car rides, and it's perfect for blasting down the roads of Vermont. Each song has a fantastic beat and sound that's been based off of that, one that's not too overpowering. Songs like Exit demonstrate the real shifts capable from the musicians, and where Iron Eyes gives me a nostalgic feel for cross-country trips that I've taken in the past. The album's single downside is its length: it's far too short, and I'm chomping at the bit for more.

Carbon Leaf, How The West Was Vol. 1

One of my all-time favorite bands is Carbon Leaf, and as they've left the major record label Vanguard, they've begun to rework how they release music and tour around the country. I'm sad to have missed them this year, but I'm hopeful that I'll see them again in the state at some point in the future. How the West Was... Vol. 1 is the first of their new strategy to record and release music as an independent group. This short effort is a fun one with songs that I've wanted to hear on a record for a while, such as Native America. The album feels very much like a classic Carbon Leaf record, and it feels far more like an honest look at their songwriting, without the polish and production that's typically required of a major record. Their older stuff is great, and this is a great addition to it.

Hans Zimmer, Inception (Music from the Motion Picture)

This list isn't limited to bands. As such, Hans Zimmer's Inception soundtrack deserves some high praise. I loved the movie, and it's easily one of the best Science Fiction films that I've seen in a very long time, and that comes in no small part as a result of the soundtrack. The music compliments the film nicely, with a number of tracks, such as Half Remembered Dream, We Built Our Own World and Old Souls resonating with the emotional parts of the film, while Dream Is Collapsing, and Mombasa ratcheting up the tension where needed. The album's something I've listened to dozens of times, and it's a constant companion when I'm writing.

Ferraby Lionheart, The Jack Of Hearts

This album by Ferraby Lionheart is one that I'm somewhat split on. Some of the songs are ones that I'm not all that fond of. But the other half of the album is one that is just absolutely stunning: tracks such as Harry & Bess are ones that retain a nostalgic beat that feels like it wouldn't be out of place in the 1950s, and when the chorus kicks in, it's absolutely one of the best songs that I've ever listened to. There's other good ones here too: Arkansas and Sweet Tanzini retain a great Lionheart sound, and on the whole, it's a good, solid follow up to his first album.

Laura Veirs, July Flame

This album was one that I first heard about while driving home from Pennsylvania. Laura Veirs was an artist that I'd heard of, but hadn't listened to extensively - I'd actually seen her in person, opening for The Decemberists. I remember being unimpressed. July Flame, however, is a very good reintroduction to her, and I've found that this is a fantastic indie-rock album. Viers has a great voice and some great songwriting skills here, and July Flame is a quirky, fun listen.

Fictionist, Lasting Echo

Lasting Echo feels like something out of the 1970s, from the front cover of the album to the science fiction nature that some of the songs take on. This was a fun album to listen to, and moreover, it feels ... cool. Fictionist's songs are laid back, interesting and free: the song Human Wings exemplifies this, while Blue Eyed Universe is a neat little song that has taken to space with its music video. The sounds here are well balanced between the vocals and guitar work, which lends itself very well to my ears.

Mumford and Sons, Sigh No More

Recommendations from friends are the best sorts: my friend Laura pointed out Mumford and Sons to me, and it's clear that this album is going to land them on the map. With a short tour of sold out dates, the proof is in the pudding that they'll be growing a bit. Songs like The Cave, Roll Away Your Stone and White Blank Page bring in the energy that works well with their vocals. These guys sound like they're off to a great start. Can't wait to see how they turn out a couple albums from now. In the meantime, Sigh No More will have to do.

Josh Ritter, So Runs The World Away

Josh Ritter's latest album is a stunning piece of work, with some of my absolute favorite songs by him to date. The tone is set with Curtains, an instrumental, before launching into a set of songs that are rife with stories of mummies, killers, explorers and train rides. Ritter's songs are absolutely fantastic, with a rich blend of instrumental wonder and lyrical delights through out. My favorite songs off of this album are easily The Curse, about a mummy who returns to life, and a Southern Pacifica, for its smooth, train travelling song, Rattling Locks, with its harsh edges and Folk Bloodbath, the story of a, well, folk bloodbath. I'm desperately hoping that the band will be back in the area at some point soon - their live act is even better.

The Apples In Stereo, Travellers In Space And Time

For a bit of fun, listen to Travellers in Time and Space, an album that I came across while looking up songs for my geek music playlist. The Apples in Stereo have a slick synth-pop sound and feel that is bubbling with energy and enthusiasm. Songs like Dream About The Future, Strange Solar System and C.P.U. all feel very geeky with their titles and subject matter, and feel full of movement and bright sound that is both over the top and a bit like Electric Light Orchestra.

Cary Brothers, Under Control

Cary Brothers wrote one of my all time favorite albums: Who You Are, which I discovered in college. While Under Control doesn't quite live up to the same heights for me, it's still a very good album. Brothers has refined his sound during the break, and we're left with a lot of the great parts of his older work, along with an even better sound. Ghost Town, Break Off The Bough and Someday rank as my favorites off of this track, and there's a nice blend of fast/fun and softer/serious songs across the eleven tracks. I can't wait to see what he comes up with next.

This year felt like a good year for music, and at points, I feel like I've not listened to as much new music as I have in the past. Half of the albums that I listened to this year were from bands that I've liked enough to listen to again, while another half were new discoveries, recommendations and stumbled upon records that I'd never heard of before. I'm happy with that, and if you're looking for something to listen to that's reasonably new, these albums are all ones that I highly recommend.

Album Review: Nothing Rhymes With Woman

My favorite group, Carbon Leaf, is back with their third major label record, Nothing Rhymes With Woman, the followup to their fantastic Love Loss Hope Repeat, released in 2006 on Vanguard Records. Over the past three years, they've been touring in support of that album, while working on new material. They've come up with what is possibly one of my favorite albums from the group, (although Echo Echo, their last independent release will always be my absolute favorite), and Nothing Rhymes With Woman showcases the best of what Carbon Leaf has to offer.
Where Love Loss Hope Repeat was fairly consistent throughout when it came to tone and theme, Nothing Rhymes With Woman is far more varied, and at my first listen, it felt like a step backwards. However, with several more plays through the disc, I've come to believe that the album has a far more nostalgic theme to it. Where Love Loss Hope Repeat was tightly structured around the idea that falling in love and out of it again is akin to the passing of the seasons, it came with a fairly dark and somewhat somber feel to the album as a whole. Nothing Rhymes With Woman feels far more free and lively in comparison, if a bit less connected together when it comes to the overall sound and feel to the album.
In a way, this album feels like it should fall between Indian Summer and Love Loss Hope Repeat. There's a share of the more thoughtful, lyrical songs, such as Mexico, Lake of Silver Bells, Pink and Snowfall Music, more lively, free songs, such as Indecision, Miss Hollywood, Cinnamindy, What Have You Learned, and X-Ray, while there's a couple harder songs such as Another Man's Woman and Meltdown.
This is also the first foray for the group with their two new members, Jason Neal and Jon Markel, who replaced Scott Milstead and Jordan Medas on drums and bass, respectively. The change doesn't seem to have effected the group all that much, although I can somewhat detect some differences there, but nothing overly noticeable. The other three members, Barry Privett, on vocals, Terry Clark and Carter Gravatt, both on guitar, sound excellent as ever - their overall sound feels tighter, more mature and overall is easily at their best - this is something that I've noticed on the numerous concerts that I've attended for these guys, and it's fantastic to hear it translate into this album so readily.
The overall feel to this album is that it is nostalgic, looking back to good times. Indeed, the opening track, Indecision, contains the lines: "I face the trail of the old lonesome pine, I catch a glimpse, flickers of brilliance, straight ahead for what's left behind. Long days, fade away, I hope to see them again." and "I may get lost but I'll know where I've been." Lonesome Pine was a track from Echo Echo, and I can't help but wonder if this album is an attempt to go back to that style - a number of songs, such as Indecision, Lake of Silver Bells and Drops of Rain feel as if they could fit on that album quite easily.
The idea of nostalgia is prevalent throughout the album, and there are two tracks in particular that really highlight this - X-Ray, which looks back to the rosy boyhood days on summer vacation, something that I myself remember fairly fondly, and Pink, which looks at a woman dying of cancer, looking back to the days before her illness. Looking back towards better days isn't necessarily a bad thing - in this album, it shines, as each song looks back towards good times gone by, as well as some bad ones, but there's a parallel feeling that there's more to come, that there'll be more to look upon in the future. I especially got this feeling with What Have You Learned, a quasi-breakup song that looks at the failure of a relationship, but also looking at what good can come from such an event in one's life.
Of all the songs on the album, my absolute favorite is Lake of Silver Bells. It's a gorgeous song that starts off smoothly before everything kicks into high gear about a minute into the song. This is the perfect song to drive along with the windows down, the volume up, and falls well within Carbon Leaf's tendencies to write very descriptive and lyrical songs, and it feels very much like the album that I like the most, Echo Echo, for much of those reasons. Thus far, it's easily the best album that I've listened to all year, and undoubtedly (and I'm a bit biased here) one of my favorites for the year.
Download Lake of Silver Bells. (It's okay, the record company okayed this one.)

Oh god, I'm about to Graduate

Toy Soldiers
Today I strike out on my own
The dog is dead. The kids have grown
I fell asleep in my writing chair
I drempt I'd found my childhood stare
To family dinner Christmas night
We'd cross the river shipyard lights
Before the heartbreak and unknown
Today I strike out on my own

Hi-diddely-o, didn't ya know?
You fade once you glow
Didn't ya know, child?
After the ryhme, high time
diddely-o, didn't you know?
You fade once you glow.
Didn't ya known, child?
After the ryhme, high time.

The families gather but we're all
Mere Shadows in this Banquet Hall
I'm beggin mom will you understand
I'm beggin dad will you hold her hand
To play outside was all i'd known
And Christmas lights on every home

Hi-diddely-o, didn't ya know?
You fade once you glow
Didn't ya know, child?
After the ryhme, high time
diddely-o, didn't you know?
You fade once you glow.
Didn't ya known, child?
After the ryhme, high time.

We find the people of our dreams
We find that they're not what they seem
I've learned that people come and go
I've learned that families break and grow
Toy soldiers brave away those tears
Toy soldiers hope for better years
Today I strike out on my own
The dog is dead. We kids have grown.

Hi-diddely-o, didn't ya know?
You fade once you glow
Didn't ya know, child?
After the ryhme, high time
diddely-o, didn't you know?
You fade once you glow.
Didn't ya known, child?
After the ryhme, high time.

We Used to Drive this Blue Ridge Laughing...

So, Carbon Leaf played in Vermont again last night. They must really like coming up here, because it's the fifth time in two years that they've made the trip, and I've gone to each of their concerts. Last night's set completely rocked, and really surprised me - They played more of their older stuff than from their newest album.

Set list:

-The Crane Wife 3 (Song on the speakers, guys came on and played along with it while warming up for a minute)
- Changeless
- Blue Ridge Laughing
- What About Everything?
- Torn to Tattered
- I'm On Fire (Bruce Springsteen Cover)
- Life Less Ordinary
- Desperation Song
- Love Loss Hope Repeat
- American Tale
- Grey Sky Eyes
- Under the Wire
- This Is My Song
- Texas Stars
- Raise the Roof
- The Boxer
- Encore
- Learn to Fly
- Let Your Troubles Roll By
- Bron-Y-Aur Stomp (Led Zepplin Cover)

This was a fantastic set list, and more older stuff than they usually play, which was really really cool. I've never heard American Tale or Blue Ridge Laughing live, and they sounded fantastic. I went with my friend Sam and his fiancee, Miranda, who are also big fans of the group, for their first concert with them. They also loved it. The speakers were playing the Decemberists's newer song The Crane Wife 3, and to warm up, the band members came on stage and played along for a minute or two, before launching right into Changeless.
The band sounded like they got off to a bit of a rocky start, but they hit their sound early on and really went off. Carter had some fantastic guitar solos throughout, and I think they knocked over three mike stands. Blue Ridge Laughing, I'm On Fire, Desperation Song, What About Everything, This Is My Song, Texas Stars, The Boxer, all fantastic songs. I was hoping that they'd play Comfort, but still - good set list.
One of the coolest things though, was that for their encore song, Learn to Fly, Barry, Terry and Carter grabbed their guitars and jumped into the crowd and went to the middle - TEN - TEN FEET FROM ME - and played Learn to Fly without mikes. Sounded incredible, and they got the entire crowd singing along. That was really cool, and I've never seen them do that before. My friend Eric from school was also there, and literally standing in front of them. Lucky him.

Really fun night.

Rest of the pictures are here:

Before the Robots

Life has been going good recently. School's going well, work's going well, despite the increasing number of sketchy people walking around the Berlin Mall, things in general have been looking up, a big improvement over last year, where at this time, I was angry, depressed and hopeless.
Not to be depressing.
I'm enjoying work; business is picking up as the holiday season approaches. I've been making more sales while out in the kisok, which is a welcome change, as that job is horribly boring. Since we're not allowed to read while on the job, I basically have to amuse myself by walking in circles, straightening out calanders to the micron and bugging every customer if they need help with something. (They never do, they're just looking). I do get the occasional funny occurance, which is diverting. The last amusing thing happened last week: A woman burst into the mall, took about five steps in, looking like she was going somewhere important, dragging two small kids behind her. It was then that she stopped, looked around and turned to me: "Where is Optical Expression?" - the local eye glasses store and clinic. I didn't do anything but point. The store is just a store away from Walden Books. She turned and went in. The old guy sitting next to the kiosk in a wheel chair just laughed and said: "I guess she really needed those glasses." I guess so.
Today, I saw something like ten people that I a) know from school, ) know from school and haven't seen them in ages, c) knew from high school/elementary school, d) from scouts. It was weird.
The rest of the time is devoted to stewing.
I also found a movie that I really need to look into watching - The Iron Giant. I'd heard a bit about it a couple years ago, when a movie called The Incredibles, a fantastic animated film, was released, directed by Brad Bird, who had directed a box office failure called The Iron Giant. Despite it's lax returns, the movie had gained a sort of cult status (What good science fiction film DOESN'T develope a cult status nowadays?) and around the time of The Incredibles release, it was released on DVD. I'd read a couple DVD reviews, but I haven't actually gotten a chance to watch it, until I caught the last half hour or so of it on Cartoon Network this evening.
Man, what a good film - solid animation, fun storyline and likeable characters. It reminded me a lot of Titan AE, one of my favorite animated Science Fiction movies. I need to see the rest of Iron Giant, but I suspect that this will be included on the list. The basic plot is that a giant iron robot falls from the sky and lands near a small town in Maine. While there, he befriends a small boy, while the government comes after them to try and destroy the robot. I definently need to rent this at some point.
And I still need to bring my computer into Computer Services. I've been getting a bunch of popups lately, more than ever, and a lot of random applications that I suspect are spywear. I've run dozens of virus/bot/spyware checks, defragmented and optimized my harddrives, done error tests and am still having minor problems. It's driving me nuts.
And I'll post up my TV Recap sometime tonight. Haven't had a whole lot of time to finish it this week.

EDIT: YES! YES YES YES! Someone posted up the 10.23.06 Carbon Leaf Concert at the Higher Ground, the one that I went to with Keelia, where they sounded awesome - You can download all the songs here, although be warned, they're .Flac files, which are huge and require additional software to decode. You can play the files on Winamp. I'll get them all, and for those of you who know me, will be seeing me and who issued me death threats about attending this, would you like a copy?


Note to self:
With a two piece bike lock, it's best to try and actually keep the two pieces together, not in two places, one said place being hidden away in a place that I forgot, because said lock is useless with just one of said parts.

Note to customers:
Please stop being bitchy. Yes, the price on your receipt that I just printed off for you is accurate, because it's tallied up by a computer and is exactly the same price that I just told you. Now take your merch and stew somewhere.

Note to NBC:
You have better keep Studio 60 on the air or I'll pull a Dane Cook and start punching infants. (Not really, that's just for shock value)

Note to Carbon Leaf and Snow Patrol:
Why is your music so damn discriptive that it hurts?

What About Everything?

My ears are ringing, I'm still shaking from the excitement, and I'm back from the Carbon Leaf concert over at Higher Ground this evening.

Those guys fucking rock.

I've never seen them better, and man, they had a great setlist and amazing energy. Barry was bouncing all over the stage, along with everyone else, and some of those songs were just amazing. I took Keelia (my younger sister) along, and she also had a great time. One of my professors from Norwich was there with his significant other, and Keelia saw a number of people from her school there.

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Set list:

  1. Comfort
  2. What About Everything?
  3. One Prairie Outpost
  4. Under The Wire
  5. Love Loss Hope Repeat
  6. Life Less Ordinary
  7. Texas Stars
  8. Russian Dance (Tchaikovsky) Intro To...
  9. Paloma
  10. Royal One
  11. Bron-Y-Aur Stomp
  12. Block Of Wood
  13. Let Your Troubles Roll By
  14. Learn To Fly
  15. Intro To...
  16. Desperation Song
  17. The War Was In Color
  18. The Boxer

Great, great set list. There were a couple of random songs that I'd hoped would be there, such as This Is My Song or Native America, as well as a couple others from Echo Echo, but this was just awesome. Sigh, I should probably sleep now.

Edit/Addition: Want to hear a similar playlist from the same tour and setlist? has a concert from Colorado that's quite good and easy to access, here. They don't seem to have as much energy as the VT group last night - the crowd was great, really enjoyed themselves.
I don't think that I've ever heard them better. The past three times that I'd seen them, they were really good, but this time they were really into it. The opening band, Matt Nathanson was good. They were funny, as most of the opening acts seem to be, and they had some good songs, but Carbon Leaf just blew them out of the water.
Note to self: Don't stand under a speaker. My ears were ringing all last night. I bought a shirt, with some of the LLHR artwork on it, which I really like. I actually remembered my camera last night, a first for me, and all my pictures that I took are here. Unfortunently, they don't seem to be in the proper order.
The opening band, Matt Nathanson was good. They were funny, as most of the opening acts seem to be, and they had some good songs, but Carbon Leaf just blew them out of the water. However, Matt reading a trashy romance novel to a racy bass beat was priceless, as was his quote:

"Oh Vermont, you liberal bastion of the north."

Drew quite a bit of laughter from the crowd. I'll have to look into some of his stuff if I get the chance.

Note to self: Don't stand under a speaker. My ears were ringing all last night. I bought a shirt, with some of the LLHR artwork on it, which I really like. I actually remembered my camera last night, a first for me, and all my pictures that I took are here. Unfortunently, they don't seem to be in the proper order.
They had the best rendition of Bron-Y-Aur Stomp that I've heard yet, as well as great versions of Love Loss Hope Repeat, Comfort, Texas Stars, Desperation Song, the War Was In Color and The Boxer. Great opening songs and they went out with a bang with that one.

Man, what an awesome night. Next week is Amos Lee, whom I'm also excited about.

Breathe in the Night

I'm seeing Carbon Leaf tonight! This will mark the 4th time that I'll be going to one of their shows, and my third at the Higher Ground. I'm excited. They're great in person, and Love Loss Hope Repeat has some really good songs on it. I'm taking Keelia, my sister, along with me, and one of my professors from school is also going. Should be a fun time. I saw them this summer, and they sounded fantastic.

I'm actually going to remember to bring my camera this time, so I'll get some pictures. Hopefully.

I'm also getting my cast off today, officially. It'll be nice to finally not have to worry about it and get my hand back.

EDIT: 1606 : It's off! Finally!

Higher Ground Hates Me

The Higher Ground is a really nice concert venue here in Vermont. They attract quite a few mid-level singers and bands, and have had some incredible shows throughout the year. I've missed a couple already this year - K.T. Tunstall played earlier this year, while I was working, and Great Big Sea played the week before I returned from London.

What's awesome is that they have Carbon Leaf coming back again, on October 23rd, which is a Monday. Great, okay. But wait, I looked closer at the schedule:

10-30 - Amos Lee
10-31 - Mike Doughty
11-19 - James Hunter
12-29 - 12-31 - Grace Potter and the Nocternals.

James Hunter, I might/probably will skip. I like his music, but I've really only listened to one or two songs. Amos Lee and Mike Doughty however, both incredible artists, and back to back. Amos Lee I really, really, really want to see. And Grace Potter, well, hopefully I'll be able to see her. I love her music.


Love Loss Hope Repeat & New Job

Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat was released yesterday! I've since listened through it about 6 times. Man, it's such a good album. They've really been moving to a new sound since Indian Summer, and they really reached something good for this one.

The album opens with their single, Learn to Fly, about heartbreak, with a great beat and background music. From there, the album hits the the title track, the relaxed Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat, then to Under the Wire to Royal One, which has one of the cooler bass and guitar themes that I've heard from them. Girl and Her Horse picks up the pace slightly, leading to the fantastic Texas Stars, which opens wonderfully. Block of Wood is next, with more of a country/folk sound to it, which is really cool to hear. Comfort opens with a Mandolin, and comes to a solid beat and lyrics. The War Was In Colour is more of a story song, about a grandfather and a grandson, finding a box of pictures from World War II. Very moving song. Bright Lights lightens the mood with a fast beat, and the album ends with International Airport, which feels from the start like you're standing in a busy airport.

Overall, the album is amazing, fantastic and simply good work from my favorite band. I can't wait to see them when they come to a concert here on the 23rd of October.

In other news, today's my first day at my new job at Walden Books. Should be fun. I'm a little nervous because I've never worked retail before, but it's a bookshop, so I guess we'll see.

Carbon Leaf - Live at Battery Park

Great concert - I really had a good time watching these guys for the third time in Burlington. Great set list, great weather for it, and all around fun. I met up with Jakob, a counselor who left a couple weeks early to get ready for school, and Laura, another friend of mine, who's also a big fan of the band.
They played a good mix of things - a bunch of new songs from Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat : Learn to Fly, Love Loss Hope Repeat, Native America, Under the Wire, Texas Stars, Comfort, a lot of songs from Indian Summer, Paloma, Life Less Ordinary, Changeless, One Pairie Outpost, What About Everything and even a couple songs from Echo Echo: Desperation Song and The Boxer. All really good renditions, and the band has been sounding really good altogether. I really like the sound and feel of the new songs. It's gonna be a great album.
It was also fun to be there with people. The last time I went, I didn't have anyone that I was with. It was great to get a couple of drinks with some friends and to just relax.

And now, I'm going to bed...

Carbon Leaf!

Concert's today, in about four hours. Can't wait to get up and out there. I'm just waiting for lunch here at camp, then I'm out of here to watch. Full report when I get back.

And, apparently, the Dave Matthew's Band is going to be releasing a greatest hits album. The problem is, they can't figure out which ones to do, so they're asking fans in a survey:


Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat has posted up the cover for the next Carbon Leaf Album, LLHR, along with a track listing:

Track listing is as follows:

1. Learn to Fly
2. Love Loss Hope Repeat
3. Under the Wire
4. Royal One
5. Girl and Her Horse
6. Texas Stars
7. Block of Wood
8. Comfort
9. War Was in Color
10. Bright Lights
11. International Airport

I must say, I LOVE the cover, and I've heard a couple of the songs, Texas Stars and War Was In Colour. Can't wait to hear the rest of them though. Man, this album can't come soon enough.

Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat

Is the title of Carbon Leaf's upcoming album, as they announced on their websites and in a recent news letter. Really excited for it - listening to all of their previous albums, they've been getting better and better. Judging from the title, this one's also going to be something that I'm really going to relate to. All of the songs on Indian Summer had something that I could empathize with, especially Life Less Ordinary, One Prarie Outpost and Changeless. I can't wait for the album cover and track list. Hopefully, that'll be coming soon.
In addition to their new album, they've announced that they're returning to Vermont! August 12th, with a free concert in Burlington. Absolutely cannot wait for that concert. I've missed two concerts (James Hunter and KT Tunstall) and I don't want to miss any more.

Went out with a cabin sailing today, out on the Lake. Lots of fun, we brought lunch and had a blast sailing around. Even the thunderstorms, which were forcasted for this afternoon, haven't come yet. We were hit by a hard and fast one this morning at around five, which cooled everything down nicely. If only it'd do that for the rest of the year.

Lords of Abnaki

I'm exhausted.

I spent much of last week designing a weekend program based off of Dungeons and Dragons, as well as a bunch of other camp games. Lots of planning, writing, thinking and finally, implimenting on Saturday. The entire thing went on really well yesterday, and found things to fix, worked on tweaking it. Kids liked it, staff loved it, I think that we'll be doing it again. The Program Director, Brian, my boss, Jon and my Supervisor, Rhet, all thanked me for doing it and were happy that it went over well. As am I, but the entire thing left me really drained.

And I saw Pirates of the Caribbean : Dead Man's Chest. Really fun movie, almost as good as the first.

And, Carbon Leaf's new album is out September 12th. Yay!

Carbon Leaf

Been listening to Carbon Leaf a lot lately. My all time favorite band. There's been a couple of developements lately with their stuff. On their website, which they recently revamped, they've said that they're working on a new album, which is awesome. Their past couple albums have been amazing. Every single song that they've put on those I've either liked or loved.
They just stuck some cool clips of something on their website, a sort of looping music, no singing, just drums and guitar, but it's relaxing for just about anything. I've taken to listening to it on my ipod and having it repeat for an hour or so. And, just looking over at their myspace page, I saw that they've got a fan made video for a song that I haven't heard before, called The War Was In Color, which is awesome, very good song.
Just thinking about what might be on their new album, that's the second new song that I've heard from the. So, thus the list begins: Porpoises, Texas Stars, The War Was In Color - the only ones that I've heard. This short list are some others:
For the First Time
Native America
Unknown Bride
If I Were a Cowboy

Selected Artist: Carbon Leaf

Okay, I'm dispensing with the Of the Month, and I'll end up doing this more frequently, and when I actually remember to do it.
Carbon Leaf. My favorite band, still fairly new and upcoming, despite the fact that they've released 6 albums, one signed on with a major recording studio. They're from Virginia, and have toured the country a couple times - and have come to Vermont on a number of occasions. I've seen them twice, and they are very good in concert.
Personally, I've felt that their last two albums are the best, and I'll focus more on those, because I have all the tracks and enjoy them more.


5 Alive!

Echo Echo

Ether-Electrified Porch Music

Indian Summer


Shadows in the Banquet Hall

Their music style is a nice blend of rock, folk and Irish (More with Echo Echo & not as much with Indian Summer). Lyrically, they're very creative, with some outstanding songs. Indian Summer is one of the few albums where I can listen to every song, and relate to almost all of them somehow. Life Less Ordinary is the most listened to track on my computer, and the most relatable. However, Changeless, One Prarie Outpost, This Is My Song, Paloma and What About Everything? are likewise as good.