Fly Free Festival 2013

Adams, TN is a brief town: home to barely 600 people and a few miles of softly rolling fields, glinting golden in the husky glow of the late autumn sun. Signs for corn mazes and freshly harvested clover honey adorn the narrowly winding US 41–leading a silver Chevy, stereo blasting James Blake’s “Retrograde,” to the Red River Campground, where the one rule of the weekend is to fly free.

This past weekend hosted the inaugural Fly Free Festival, a festival aiming to de-Roo the middle Tennessee music & arts community. Bonnaroo, though it is a world of magic, has grown to such incredible proportions that it has lost the intimacy and mindfulness of the original festival mission–it is, essentially, a temporary urbanity. Fly Free was the type of festival where an unlocked car did not mean property theft and falling asleep under the stars did not pose an invitation for violence.

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Torres – Torres (Self-Released)

Mackenzie Scott is an exemplar of the Nashville music scene. Her voice warbles with the sincerest emotion–verging on despair–and her lyricism is an incredible force with which to be reckoned. The first two tracks (“Mother Earth, Father God” and “Honey”) are beautiful and, while it is a tad lengthy, “November Baby” serves to showcase her vocal range and songwriting abilities. Overall, Scott is a formidable musician and would pair very well with Austra, Beach House, and Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton. -H. McKee, 28. Aug, 13

Austra – Olympia (Domino)

Austra absolutely kills it on this album. As a long time fan, perhaps I am biased in favor of Katie Stelmanis’s ethereal vocals and the almost unintelligible lyrics, but this album has a transcendent quality that is nearly intoxicating. “Painful Like” and “Sleep” are gorgeous wails of abstraction, while “Home” soars with searing catharsis. The entire album is an overwhelming crescendo of emotion–perfectly tempered by Stelmanis’s incredible vocal range. Literally any track would be perfectly paired with most tracks from The xx’s Coexist or The Knife’s Deep Cuts. -H. McKee, 28. Aug, 2013

Frank Turner – Tape Deck Heart (Interscope)

Frank Turner’s fifth album is a thing of raw, pathetic beauty stemming from a devastating heartbreak and a harrowing descent into addiction. The tracks have a bit of a formulaic feel to them–each beginning with soft, self-deprecation and then crescendoing into unadulterated rage. Turner captured the anger and bitterness of the punk genre and has produced a very listenable album. My favorite track (“Plain Sailing Weather”) is, unfortunately not FCC-sanctioned, but it is the perfect rage jam. “Recovery” and “Four Simple Words” are both highly energetic and laden with self-loathing–perfect for a breakup playlist. Overall, this album makes me want to give Frank a big hug. – H. McKee, 26. Aug, 2013

Cayucas – Bigfoot (Secretly Canadian)

Upbeat/catchy indie pop! If you like bands like Vampire Weekend and The Drums (and who doesn’t?) this CD will be right up your alley. Running through the album is a relaxed, laid back vibe perfect for a lazy summer. I particularly recommend the first four tracks. “Cayucos” makes a jolly addition to any surf rock playlist, while “Will the Thrill” and “A Summer Thing” are more for relaxing on the beach. “A Summer Thing” might be my favorite track here: it employs exotic instrumentation and group vocal flourishes akin to Beirut to tell a compelling story about trying to hold on to a summer fling. Overall, Cayucas packs a bunch of sunshine and positivity into just 30 minutes, and I could really see them catching on. Highly recommended for rotation. – Zach Shealy, 3/29/2013

Night Beds – Country Sleep (Dead Oceans)

I love this album. It is so ambient. The only issue I have is that there are too many songs that start with the singer soloing first, however, when one gets into the song, the band creates a very ethereal yet acoustic sound. If you like the country sound, go for “Borrowed Time.” If you like a chill indie pop sound, go for “Lost Springs.” Definitely put in local rotation, if not primary. – Maralei Bunn

David Byrne & St. Vincent – Love this Giant (4AD)

Being a fan of both artists separately, I expected to love this album. While I do like it, it feels like it’s missing some of the magic that these two produce individually. They originally intended their collaboration to last only for a live performance. The venue lacked a sound system, so St. Vincent suggested adding a brass band, the two realized they could compose original music with the band, and the result is Love this Giant. The two appeared on The Colbert Report, where they mentioned that they mostly worked via email, which I don’t get since they both live in Manhattan, but I think that can account for some of the missing magic. As negative as this review may sound, this really is a good album. It’s funky and creative, and it’ll definitely spice up your playlist.