Category Archives: The Head and the Heart

The Head and the Heart Announce Spring 2012 Tour

Seattle folksters The Head and the Heart have had a busy and successful 2011, and they’re gearing up for an even better 2012. They just announced a North American spring tour, and tickets go on sale Wednesday. (If you’re on the mailing list, you have access to a presale that begins tomorrow.)

Check out the dates below, and please go see these guys live. You won’t regret it. For more about THATH’s concerts, take a gander at some of my previous reviews here and here.

Sun, Mar 04 Lawrence, KS The Granada
Mon, Mar 05 Urbana, IL Canopy Club
Tue, Mar 06 Louisville, KY Headliners
Thu, Mar 08 Chicago, IL Vic Theatre
Fri, Mar 09 Indianapolis, IN The Vogue
Sat, Mar 10 Columbus, OH Newport Music Hall
Sun, Mar 11 Pontiac, MI The Crofoot Ballroom
Tue, Mar 13 Toronto, ON The Opera House
Wed, Mar 14 Montreal, QC La Tulipe
Thu, Mar 15 South Burlington, VT Higher Ground Ballroom
Fri, Mar 16 Portland, ME State Theatre
Sat, Mar 17 Philadelphia, PA Union Transfer
Sun, Mar 18 New York, NY Terminal 5
Tue, Mar 20 Baltimore, MD Ram’s Head Live
Wed, Mar 21 Richmond, VA The National
Fri, Mar 23 Athens, GA 40 Watt Club
Sat, Mar 24 Nashville, TN Cannery Ballroom
Sun, Mar 25 St. Louis, MO The Pageant

News: Bombay Bicycle Club Turns Pacman, the Head and the Heart Release New Video

The band’s website says it all: “have you felt like something’s been missing from your life recently? well you can stop worrying now, because the bombay bicycle club pacman game is finally here.”

Yep. Bombay Bicycle Club Pacman. The guilty pleasure you never knew you needed. It’s genius, really–not only does the game release clips from new songs (off August 29th’s A Different Kind of Fix), high scores enter you in a contest for a 7″ single of “Evening/Morning” and signed album artwork. The deets are on the graphic above.

I suck at Pacman, but it’s a fun way to hear a bit of music. At least in the 10 seconds before I get killed by Jack, Ed, and Jamie ghosts. BBC will be on the East Coast for a few dates in September–check ’em out here.

And take a look at the trippy new video for the Head and the Heart’s “Cats and Dogs”.

Belated Reviews: The Head and the Heart, Johnny Flynn, Okkervil River, Bob Dylan, the Felice Brothers

Hey everyone. Since I’ve last posted, I’ve graduated from college! Twice! (No, really. Being a double major, I had two commencement ceremonies.) Although I’ve sadly neglected my own blog, I’ve gotten a few things out for The Owl Mag, MXDWN, and For Folk’s Sake. Also, check my Flickr (right sidebar) for some pics. I’ve posted excerpts of my reviews below, but click the links for the full articles. I’ve also been writing a ton of music video reviews for the Owl Mag, so take a look at their main site.

Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit at the Independent, 5/17/2011 (Owl Mag)
“For me, it all started with Johnny Flynn. The first few notes of 2008′s A Larum led to an all-consuming obsession with English folk music (the dubiously labeled “new folk” scene, to be specific) that refuses to let up. I can’t help but be charmed by the Shakespearean lyricism and lively instrumentals; he and his Sussex Wit find just the right spot between eclectic and familiar, old-world and contemporary. With an even blend of songs from A Larum and 2010′s Been Listening, Tuesday’s gig at the Independent showcased everything there is to love about the talented troubadour.” Read more

The Head and the Heart at Bottom of the Hill, 4/27/2011 (Owl Mag)
“It’s the evening of April 27th and San Francisco’s Bottom of the Hill is bursting at the seams. I was pressed against the stage by a kid and his parents on one side and a gaggle of hipsters on the other, all eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Head and the Heart. “Called Seattle’s next big band” by NPR, the folk-pop sextet has quickly wound its way into the world’s hearts and headphones. They’re defying the odds in an era where bands have to fight harder than ever to be heard above the din.” Read more

Okkervil River, I Am Very Far (MXDWN)
“Okkervil River’s I Am Very Far opens like a slap across the face. The first crisp hits of the snare drum in “The Valley” are a jolt of energy, an invigorating introduction to the band’s sixth studio album. The Austin quintet never abandons the bombast of these initial beats, but instead revels in this theatricality for the album’s duration. Even the slightly haphazard waltz of “Hanging from a Hit” or the dwindling oohs of “The Rise” are imbued with an almost overwhelming dynamism. From powerful start to fading finish, I Am Very Far masters the art of coming undone.” Read more

Bob Dylan, The Complete Mono Recordings (MXDWN)
“One could be skeptical about Columbia’s Complete Mono Recordings. Could this reworking of Bob Dylan’s first eight albums really improve them? Would a shift from stereo sound to mono make that much of a difference? How much more brilliant could they be, anyway?” Read more

The Felice Brothers, Celebration, Florida (For Folk’s Sake)
“When I think of Americana, I think of banjos, harmonica, gritty vocals with a bit of a twang. Frankly, I think of songs like the Felice Brothers’ ‘Frankie’s Gun!!’, with its old-time storyline and humming accordion. The New York band’s latest work, Celebration, Florida, hardly fits this well-established mold: Ian Felice’s Dylan-esque tone is swathed in synthesizers more often than acoustic guitar. Nonetheless, the Catskills quintet has produced a modern portrait of the United States, chock full of contemporary themes and sounds.” Read more

New York Times Highlights Alessi’s Hotel Room Concert

Sea of Bees performs at the Hotel Driskill for NPR Music.

From everything I hear, SXSW is a completely unique experience. Besides the thousands upon thousands of musicians and industry buffs braving the Texas heat, the festival also features gigs in just about every square inch of space Austin has to offer. This includes everything from Jack White in a parking lot to fireworks courtesy of the Strokes.

The New York Times highlighted one of the most intimate uses of space at the festival: the hotel room. Three singer-songwriters–Holcombe Waller, Jenny O, and the inimitable Alessi’s Ark–took to the Driskill Hotel to play cozy sets for some music insiders and friends. The event was set up by Waller’s manager, Alicia J. Rose. According to the article, Alessi’s addition was a stroke of scheduling luck and chance: “‘They handed me a piece of chocolate and asked if I had any more shows, and I said no,” Ms. Laurent-Marke said. “Then they said they were having this salmon breakfast, and asked if I’d play. I said yes, of course. I love salmon.'” Her soft songs would be a perfect fit for this makeshift ‘venue’, with a bed for its stage and nightstand lamp its only spotlight.

San Francisco-based blog Yours Truly partnered with MTV to produce another intimate session: the appropriately titled In My Room. This Austin edition (previous San Francisco In My Room sessions have included artists such as Memoryhouse and Holly Miranda) featured Cults, Twin Shadow, The Kills, Yuck, and The Head and The Heart.

These events and others like them (see video above) speak not only to the desire for personalized performances (the popularity of Blogotheque-esque video recordings in increasingly eccentric locations is nothing new), but also the coolest part of a festival like SXSW. This massive influx of talent and creativity inspires all manner of seemingly organic maneuvering within the defined structure of the event itself. At least to this outsider, SXSW Music feels like a giant high school reunion, with groups of friends (old and new) coming together for the sake of art and discovery. The result–performances in unique spaces from hotel rooms to bike shops–lets intimacy cut through the din.

Festival Envy

As I sit here writing papers on things like copyright law and public opinion polls, the rest of the music-loving world is journeying to Austin, Texas. The interactive/film/music powerhouse that is SXSW draws everyone from industry insiders to spring breaking hipsters because of its sheer awesomeness. I’m going to be living vicariously through all the music bloggers and tweeters taking over Texas this coming week, and I’ll try to post some of my findings on here. In the meantime, here are some suggestions for SXSW bands and artists to check out.

Admiral Fallow
The Scottish band formerly known as the Brother Louis Collective released their debut, Boots Met My Face, on March 28th in the UK. They have the Scottish vigor of a band like Frightened Rabbit, but have added a bit of softness and a lovely wind section. Their lyrics are clever and evocative, and standout track “Squealing Pigs” is the cheeriest ode to that “sinking feeling of being alone” I’ve ever heard.

Alessi’s Ark
There’s really nothing about Alessi’s Ark that I can add to what I’ve said already. If you haven’t climbed aboard the Ark, you’re missing out–big time.

Bombay Bicycle Club
There’s nothing new or small about Bombay Bicycle Club, but these guys do give a great live show. I saw an acoustic set at London’s Old Queen’s Head pub, and was instantly sold. That they followed up their 2009 debut I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose with an acoustic album (Flaws) made me pretty darn happy. Word on the street (er, in NME) is that they’re returning to electric for album number three, which will be released in June.

Goldheart Assembly
Goldheart Assembly released 2010’s Wolves and Thieves to positive reviews, and by all accounts their live performances are even better. NME called their on-stage sound “an explosion of energy”, and the band’s energetic California-esque harmonies seem built for live audiences.

The Head and the Heart
I love these guys. As I previously wrote, I discovered the Seattle band at a Stornoway concert–and they blew me away. Now they’re signed to Sub Pop, touring with everyone from Dr. Dog to Iron and Wine (later this spring), and are certainly going to keep climbing. Check out their official video for “Lost In My Mind”, which has been circulating MTVU:

High Highs
The lush music of High Highs strikes the perfect balance between ethereal and energized. Their songs are simply beautiful. I was first wooed by this dreamy cover of Wild Nothing’s “Live In Dreams”:

James Vincent McMorrow
See my post at For Folk’s Sake on the husky Irish singer-songwriter. Seems like just the type to create a hauntingly intimate live show.

Matt Corby
Gotta give a Communion shout-out to Australian Matt Corby, who morphed from Australian Idol contender to scruffy folkie. The transformation seems to suit him well, and got him signed to Communion after a placement on one of their Compilations.

Matthew and the Atlas
Matthew and the Atlas truly takes my breath away. Do yourself a favor and check them out, as soon as possible. Like, stop reading this. Go.

Noah and the Whale
Though I’m not crazy about their brand spanking new third album, Last Night On Earth, my love for NATW still knows no bounds. I’ll be officially reviewing the album later, but for some great and heartbreaking tunes, check out The First Days of Spring.

Summer Camp
I think I’m beating a dead horse on this one. They’re great, we already know that.

The Vaccines
Ohhhh, the Vaccines. I’ve yet to fully make up my mind on this straight-up guitar rock project from Justin Hayward Young and co., but it is unquestionably fun pop music. Their EP was released in the US on March 8th, and their debut album will be available May 31st.

Also: Alex Winston, The Antlers, Birds & Batteries (San Francisco bands FTW!), Bobby Long, Caitlin Rose (who I’ll be seeing with Johnny Flynn in May!), Cheyenne Marie Mize (who I saw with Johnny Flynn in November), Hunx & His Punx, John Grant with Midlake, Maps & Atlases, Nathaniel Rateliff, Pepper Rabbit, Rural Alberta Advantage, Sea of Bees, Smith Westerns, Trampled by Turtles, Tune-Yards, Wye Oak. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Stornoway at the Independent, Part 1: How The Head and the Heart Won Mine

During finals week, I was faced with a dilemma: do I halt my studies, pause my paper writing, to go to December 12th’s Stornoway concert at the Independent? Do I sacrifice a semester’s worth of hard work to see what the Times called “Britain’s most exciting nu-folk band”?

I wish this had been a difficult decision. I’d like to say I was pried away from my books, my friends ripping St. Augustine’s Confessions out of my cold, dead hands, but this was very much not the case. I had been looking forward to seeing this folktastic band, whose first single “Zorbing” instantly won my heart, for months. I tossed my textbooks into the corner, rushed out the door, and trekked across San Francisco to the swanky but simple Independent (which bears striking resemblance to London’s Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen).

Before the Oxford boys took stage (yep, Stornoway is not actually from Stornoway), a fast-rising band called The Head and the Heart played songs from their eponymous debut album. I hadn’t done my usual pre-concert opening band stalking, and thus had no idea what to expect from the Seattle sextet; all I knew was that the man behind me (wearing a red reindeer sweater) was about to faint from excitement. It didn’t take me long to discover the reason for his enthusiasm–like the rest of the unsuspecting audience, I was quickly swept up in their buoyant brand of Americana-pop. Anchored by strong percussion, rhythmic keyboard, and a pair of strong lead vocalists (Jon Russell and Josiah Johnson, as well as wonderfully textured backing vocals by Charity Rose Thielen), their well-crafted songs are both accessible and authentic. The concerns of transitioning twentysomethings are couched in catchy melodies, with oft-changing time signatures and well-placed rousing crescendos. Although the band feels surefooted and mature, their most successful moments come from simple statements of vulnerability: the vehement repeat of “I’ve changed, I’ve changed, I’ve changed” in “Ghosts”, or the sweetly sentimental chorus of “Honey Come Home” poignantly betray the band’s youth. As a twentysomething myself, I couldn’t help but relate to their expressions of restlessness and homesickness, promise and nostalgia–the hopeful instability in this phase of life.

Like folk kings Fleet Foxes before them, The Head and the Heart has signed with Seattle’s Sub Pop Records. Their manager is Jordan Kurland (Death Cab for Cutie), and they’ve opened for Dave Matthews and Vampire Weekend. They’ll shortly be playing with the Walkmen at none other than London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire (as well as a headlining show at the Lexington, in my old neighborhood), and will then begin a tour with Dr. Dog. Clearly the group of Northwest transplants has made some impressive leaps since self-releasing their album this past June, and it seems likely that NPR’s prophecy will prove correct: they are perfectly poised to be “Seattle’s next big band”. And the next time they come to San Francisco, I’ll likely be bellowing the lyrics just as loudly as the man behind me in the reindeer sweater.

Sounds Like Hallelujah by theheadandtheheart