Gracing his wrist, “The River Is Everywhere,” a quote from the piece “Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse rests on Andrew McMahon’s lower arm as a reminder that wherever you go there is always going to be a piece of you. Since the release of his latest venture as Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, this daily reminder could not be any more relevant. The long awaited debut of a solo album came under the moniker Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness following a short solo EP, The Pop Underground, in 2013, nearly 8 years with Jack’s Mannequin and 3 full length albums recorded with high school band, Something Corporate.
This week was a whirlwind of school loads getting way too much to handle, the CMA Awards taking over Nashville and to top it off my friend had ACL surgery. With all of the busy-ness this week, I wanted to put a few songs together, new and old, that bring me peace and comfort in the hard, negative and stressful times.
November 9th, 2013. Winter was upon us as potential students scurried around campus knocking leafs around the greek row sidewalks with their weathered, leather boots as they toured a campus and a city that might one day become a home to them. Pretending the brisk Nashville temperatures were still fall conditions, I dressed in a thin long sleeve shirt and prepared for the night ahead of me. We had been looking forward to this day for months. American Authors at one of Nashville’s most unique, bursting of character and quite frankly small venues, The End. Thrilled to leave the lonesome cave I’d created of post break-up tears and cheesy rom coms, otherwise known as my room, my friends and I arrived at the venue minutes before the show facing a crowd of no more than 30 people. Lost in chatter and introductions a voice suddenly broke through the noise and stopped me in my tracks. Who was this girl with the powerhouse vocals strong enough to shatter the thoughts of everyone in the room and draw every eye in this small dive club to her luscious hair, small frame and impeccable style? The voice belonged to Mandy Lee, one third of the trio Misterwives hailing from New York City.
“I feel like our previous music was fall and winter music. I wanted this new album to sound more like summer. I want people to feel like they walked outside on a summer day.”
– Ben Hardesty
Leaving us with high expectations and wide-eyed anticipation, Alt-J’s first album, An Awesome Wave, burst onto the music scene making a name for the English indie rock band with singles “Breezeblocks” and “Fitzpleasure.” Living up to and exceeding our expectations, their sophomore album, This Is All Yours, was released Tuesday offering us a different side of Alt-J that had not been shown in the past.
Boasting crowds approaching 20,000 each week, Nashville prides itself in having one of the best free music festivals in the country. You heard me right, free. Lightning 100, the only local independent radio station, brings in the best live acts for four Thursday nights full of food, fun and music then continues the party the last weekend by extending this Thursday night show into a whole weekend festival spicing up our Friday and Saturday. This year the lineup was better than ever with bigger bands and the same long sets. All of these Thursdays and weekend performances add up to 22 live sets by Cage the Elephant, The Head and the Heart, Capital Cities, Ingrid Michaelson, City and Colour, Jake Bugg, G. Love and Special Sauce, The Wild Feathers, Augustana, Delta Spirit, The Lone Bellow, Wild Cub, The Features, The Weeks, Spanish Gold, Johnnyswim, LP, All Them Witches, Goodbye June, Daniel Ellsworth and the Great Lakes, Sugar and the Hi-Lows and Phin.
“You better dance with us, even if it’s bad” John and Jacob said to a friend and I before the show. Apparently the whole crowd overheard this as swing dancers were in full motion by the first note of their vibey, fun music and they didn’t show any signs of slowing down. As the night went on, John and Jacob decided to share a little secret with us. Having an album all recorded and ready, they were only missing a release date. They decided what better way to release an album than exclusively to this Nashville crowd that night. The album is not available to anyone other cities or states right now except Nashville showing John and Jacob’s love and thankfulness for the supportive Nashville crowd.
Many of you have probably seen this popular video posted by Grady Smith reminding us how mainstream and non unique country music was in 2013. What most of you probably don’t know is why this video exists. This video was actually made in response to the negative comments on his top 10 country album list that readers penned “not mainstream enough.” I don’t think his goal was to bash mainstream country music, but to open listeners eyes to songs they won’t hear every 5 minutes when stuck in Nashville traffic at rush hour. I have always loved some of the lesser known, genuine, country crossover artists, but didn’t realize how big of a genre they were becoming until my dad pointed out a Reddit post to me last week. Someone started dissing country music and one clever Reddit user retaliated with a Spotify playlist full of the best country songs he could find that aren’t about girls, trucks and beer. This playlist, featured below, includes some of my favorite new artists in Nashville that really have the potential to change country and triple A radio.