Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Freebie: Get Pretty Much All of Caroline Rose's Brand New Album for Free!

Right on the heels of Jeff raving about the debut album from Caroline Rose, Noisetrade is offering pretty much the entire album for free. For the price of your email address, you can get 7 songs out of the 11 on her new album, I Will Not Be Afraid. She's well on her way to becoming a blog favorite, and this is an amazing offer to get a great album for nothing, unless of course you feel like leaving a tip.

Head on over to Noisetrade to download the I Will Not Be Afraid Sampler for free. As you are downloading the majority of her album, head on over to Caroline Rose's website to get some more info on her, including tour dates.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

First Listen: New Releases for August 26

Another packed week this week. Here are the highlights:

The Bad Plus - Inevitable Western: The Bad Plus made their mark outside of the jazz world with their covers of popular and classic songs, and the result is a style of jazz that, as someone who isn't a jazz fan, I can sometimes get behind. Jazz, on a whole, doesn't do much for me, and Inevitable Western is a Bad Plus album with no covers on it, which will ultimately limit its appeal. If you, like me, came on board to see what they decided to work on this time, you might not find much to like. If their style is your thing, though, you'll probably find some enjoyment here.

Basement Jaxx - Junto: Of the electronic acts that have perservered over the years, Basement Jaxx has never really connected to me the way, say, Orbital or Crystal Method has. The new album, well, it sounds like Basement Jaxx. It didn't do much for me, but it sounded as I expect a Basement Jaxx album to sound, so that's something. A copout review, but that's what I have to say.

J Mascis - Tied to a Star: Blog favorite J Mascis's new solo album is primarily an acoustic affair, and after I got over that unexpected jolt, it turns out that there's some good songwriting and interesting soundscapes here. My initial comparison is to some of the Mike Doughty solo albums of recent years, but in terms of a classic grunge singer/songwriter turning out something a little left of center, this is a quality release. I'll have to spend more time with it to see what the staying power will be like, but this is worth a listen if you're someone who has found their way to this blog.

Gemma Ray - Milk for Your Motors: Probably my pick for release of the week, Gemma Ray's newest is a pleasant, deliberate affair. Some consider her a throwback of sorts, but I hear someone who makes beautifully-crafted, sometimes quiet, accessible music, and I enjoy it every time. There's a lot to like here - "Desoto" plays with a lot of different sounds, "Buckle Up" is a charming sing-a-long. It's all pretty great, and it's an album I'm already itching to revisit. Definitely worth a listen.

Cymbals Eat Guitars - LOSE: Cymbals Eat Guitars is a really good rock band. I don't know why they don't get more attention, to be honest, but the reality is that their newest album, LOSE, is really a strong piece from start to finish. A loud, rocking affair with a lot of memorable songs ("Warning" and "Chambers" were immediate highlights for me), it's definitely worth a listen if you're looking to rock out a little bit. A very good listen.

Cold Specks - Neuroplasticity: I don't recall what it was that first got me interested in Cold Specks, but her first album, I Predict a Graceful Explulsion, was a lo-fi folky delight in a lot of ways. I didn't realize she had a new album on the horizon, so seeing Neuroplasticity on the docket for this week was a welcome surprise. Her new album expands the instrumentation considerably from her debut, bringing the background instruments to the forefront to provide a different sound that still highlights her unique and clear voice. It's a beautiful album, feels a lot lighter than her past work, and is absolutely a must hear for the week.

Robyn Hitchcock - The Man Upstairs: It's probably unfair to call Robyn Hitchcock a legacy act of sorts now, but given that the heyday of The Soft Boys was almost 30 years ago and some of his best work is behind him, it's hard to not use that framework. His latest release is half originals and half covers, and none of it is particularly exciting. It's new Robyn Hitchcock music, for sure, but with two folkish releases out this week that do some interesting things and/or attempt to forge new ground, this album ultimately loses some of its luster. Be aware.

The New Pornographers - Brill Bruisers: This has been an interesting last decade or so for The New Pornographers. Twin Cinema was a true achievement, but the more recent albums by the band were both lackluster and overshadowed by solo projects from New Porno members like Destroyer, Neko Case, and even AC Newman himself. Brill Bruisers is absolutely the best album they've put out since Twin Cinema and has an immediacy to it that their recent work has lacked. It has some great songs as well, from the title track to "War on the East Coast," but there's a definite part of me that hears this album and visualizes a band that might be trying a bit too hard. It deliberately stays left of center in its sound, and the result is an album that works wonders when it works and feels forced when it doesn't. The parts are better than the sum, but those parts are worth giving this a listen.

The Rentals - Lost in Alphaville: I somehow missed the initial boat on The Rentals, which I had always put aside as a random Weezer side project that I didn't need to bother with. Suddenly, 15 years after their most recent release, we get a new album from them, Lost in Alphaville. The word I can use the most here is "tentative," as so many of the songs feel ready to burst out of the gate but never quite get there. It's doubly frustrating in some regards given that the drummer from The Black Keys and the lead women from Lucius guest throughout and that the result is good songs that you're waiting to become great and just miss that something. Don't get me wrong, this is great to hear and is arguably unlike a lot of what's being released these days. It's just something I want more of and I'm not getting.

Also out this week:

* School of Language - More Fears
* Ty Segall - Manipulator
* Shovels and Rope - Swimmin' Time

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Check Out a New Song by Mission of Burma

Post-punk gods Mission of Burma are gearing up for a West Coast tour later this week, and they just posted a video of them rehearsing a brand new song, "Panic is Not an Option." It's a four minute aggressive blast that sounds like it could have fit right in with Burma's early material. In other words, it's yet another great song by a fantastic band. I don't think there's another reunited band that took that much time off, then came back for a few reunion shows, stuck around to record, and just keeps releasing such quality material.

For more information on Mission of Burma, including tour dates in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and Bumbershoot, head over to their website. You can also watch the rehearsal video for "Panic is Not an Option" below, which hopefully will end up on a new album sooner than later.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday Mix: Best Songs of August 2014

Another month gone by already, and we have some real winners from August. This month's mix features some of our favorites of the last month, and, like July's mix, will be updated later this week with notable songs from tomorrow's new releases.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

First Listen: New Releases for August 19

One of the weirder weeks for new music since we started this project up. Away we go!

Octagrape - Emotional Oil: Ken knew of this band because they opened for Sebadoh (and wrote about them here), and I can totally understand why they did. If one was to think about what "indie grunge" might sound like in 2014, this EP would almost certainly take the bill. I'll be honest - I didn't love this, but it definitely has an interesting take and could absolutely find the right audience even if it isn't me. At under 20 minutes, it's not much of an investment and you'll know how you feel about it almost immediately.

Orenda Fink - Blue Dream: Orenda Fink's third solo album, and first since the reformation of Azure Ray, sounds a lot like an Azure Ray record, and that's not a bad thing. Putting aside the dream pop in favor of a more dreamy folk atmosphere, the album, on first listen, seems more successful than her previous solo efforts in a number of regards. I'll definitely be spending a lot of time with this album going forward, definitely a highlight of the week.

Literature - Chorus: At under 30 minutes, this new full-length from Literature feels like a really quick hit of somewhat-retro indie pop. It's a quality album, for sure, but throughout my entire listen I felt as if something was missing. I'm not sure what it is, but the album is still good enough as a more traditional indie guitar record to give it some more time. Definitely worth a listen.

Sarah Jaffe - Don't Disconnect: Sarah Jaffe first hit my radar, as she hit so many others, with her song "Clementine" about 7 years ago. It was an absolutely gorgeous folk-tinged song that worked on so many levels. When she released The Body Wins in 2012, it was a crazy departure into electronic beats and glitchy pop music, and, while it wasn't what I expected from her at all, it was still pretty great. Don't Disconnect is still more Body than "Clementine," but it bridges that gap between the two disparate tones in a very real way, and it ends up being a very solid listen. Fans of St. Vincent in particular will find a lot to love with this new album, it's definitely recommended.

Caroline Rose - I Will Not Be Afraid: Caroline Rose's debut album is really a lot of fun, perfectly blending old-style country music with a more modern touch. In a year where I've been obsessed with Lydia Loveless, this is an even more traditional sounding album in many ways, and yet it all feels like it works. Really, if you have any love for the current crop of alt-country or indie country artists, this has to hit your radar. It might end up being one of the better releases of the year.

Benjamin Booker - Benjamin Booker: Blog favorite Benjamin Booker finally releases his debut album this week, and it pretty much lives up to the hype that we've been hearing so much about. Kicking off with "Violent Shiver," it largely keeps that sort of pace and attitude throughout, and it's really the roots rock album (with the emphasis on the rock) I didn't realize I was looking for. If there's any justice in the world, he'll be spoken of in the same breath as Jack White in a few years. That's how good this album is. If you only pick one thing to listen to this week, you probably won't go wrong with this one.

Kimbra - The Golden Echo: Most of us first heard Kimbra with her guest spot on that Gotye song from a couple years ago. She released a pretty great solo album shortly after that, and The Golden Echo is the really weird, really strange, really experimental follow-up. As someone who really loved her first album, I admit that this one is a really difficult listen. It's more Tune-Yards than anything else, and... I don't know. I hate to drag my own expectations in on this, but at an hour long and without much in the way to hook me in, the album just doesn't work for me at all. Might be good for those really into experimental pop, but even then...

JJ - V: JJ (once jj) is a Sewdish electronic duo who named their third album after the Roman numeral for 5. The album is weird and uncomfortable, and part of me believes that's the point, but in a year which has had a lot of superlative releases in this genre, there ultimately feels like there's more than a little missing from it. Give it a shot, but be aware.

Laura Mvula - Laura Mvula with the Metropole Orkest: I fully enjoyed Mvula's debut album, Sing to the Moon, a solid soul/R&B album from the British singer. Her new album with the Metropole Orkest is a rerecording of that debut with an orchestra at Abbey Road studios. The good is that it provides an interesting alternative to the sound of her album, and ends up being a gorgeous record as a result. The production value, however, feels lacking, as it sounds like Mvula's vocals are buried somewhat often, and it gives the entire proceeding a flat quality. Overall, a good album and worth your time even if you're not a fan, but it could have done with some better mastering.

Bishop Allen - Lights Out: For as long as Bishop Allen has been on my radar, it's shocking to me that this is really only their third album. The good news is that Bishop Allen is really one of the most reliable indie bands going right now, and Lights Out is as solid a release as any of their others. It certainly shows a further maturity compared to their first, and it has the solid production values of their second from 2009, so, really, you know exactly what you're getting. An essential indie pop album by one of the great indie acts going.

Imogen Heap - Sparks: It's fairly impossible to judge Sparks based on one listen alone, nor can you judge it solely on the musical output provided. Sparks is a long-term project that includes fan involvement, technological achievements, label disputes, and so on. The individual songs, in many forms, have been available for some time, but as a full album, it's more interesting to listen to for what it is than for any sort of musical benefit. The music is good, don't get me wrong, but the album is a little staggered and, ultimately, I'm more interested in the production ("Me the Machine," for example, was composed using Mi.Mu Gloves) than the album itself. Still, as a musical experiment and maybe in contrast to Kimbra, there might be some interesting stuff for musicophiles in here.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Download the New Single and First EP From Delta Spirit for Free!

In advance of the 9/9 release date of Into the Wide, their 4th album, Delta Spirit is offering the first single from that album as a free download through NoiseTrade. Not only that, but it's being offered in a package called Lost & Found which also includes their amazing 2006 debut EP, I Think I've Found It, all for free! It's well documented how much we love free music here at If It's Too Loud..., and we really love it when bands put up entire releases for free. Especially when they're as good as Delta Spirit. 

Head over to NoiseTrade to download Lost & Found for free! You can also check out their website for more Delta Spirit goodness, including dates for their fall tour, and to pre-order their new album. Make sure you also check out the teaser for Into the Wide below.

The Splendid End - Demonstration Suite

The Splendid End started back in 2010 when Guy Low and Amy Buchanan met and started trading ideas through GarageBand. It's now a full fledged band, with 5 total members. They released their debut, Demonstration Suite, earlier this year. The 13 songs are described by the band as fitting 2 different albums, which is just about perfect. The first songs from the album were recorded with the current full live band, while the last songs on the album are earlier recordings from before the band coalesced. 

The earlier tracks have a much more polished sound and fit in with their current Dresden Dolls without the gimmick meets Veruca Salt and that dog sound. The album opener, "Cabaret," reflects this by being a hard rock cabaret song. "Holkham Beach" is both epic and dreamy, mixing 60s pop with the drone of shoegaze and 90s power pop.

The later songs have some fantastic moments, too. "Add Alcohol" starts off as a fairly standard pop song but devolves into a noisy clusterfuck of the most epic proportions. "Dear Baby" is reminiscent of Daydream Nation-era Sonic Youth.

To hear and purchase Demonstration Suite, check out The Splendid End's Bandcamp page. It looks like they might have the follow up out by the end of the year, so keep an eye out for that one. This is a definite band to keep your eye on.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

First Listen: New Releases for August 12

With Jeff out of town, he asked for me to fill in for him. This week we have new releases from '80s, 90's, and '00s acts as well as brand new bands with their first releases. Let's get started!

Dilated Peoples - Directors of Photography
With their first release in 7 years, Dilated People's are back with a return to form from 2000's Expansion Team. If you like old school 90s conscious hip hop, this is definitely for you. The only problem might be the album's length. For the first 12 or so songs, it is a fantastic album and would get my vote for hip hop album of the year so far. But, at 18 songs and over an hour, it gets pretty repetitive and feels dull towards the end. A little diversity and expansion would have helped the 2nd half of this one immensely.

The Gaslight Anthem - Get Hurt
I know I'm going to sound like a crotchety old man here, but I've just never gotten the whole Gaslight Anthem thing and lumped them into the whole neo-pop punk category with bands like Good Charlotte. Get Hurt doesn't change anything for me, as it feels too arena rock ready for my taste. It reminds me of Fall Out Boy meets Muse, so maybe that's your kind of thing. Also, get off my lawn.

Brian Setzer - Rockabilly Riot! All Original
Since the 1980s, Brian Setzer has been America's leader in throwback music. From The Stray Cats 1950s rockabilly revival to The Brian Setzer Orchestra's swing throwback, he's always looked to the past for inspiration. This solo album returns him to his rockabilly roots, as you can tell by the title. It's a sequel to his 2005 Rockabilly Riot Vol. 1: A Tribute to Sun Records, but with original songs. As with everything he's done, there is just a touch of a cheesy factor to it, but it's really, really fun. If you think you want to check this out, you'll end up enjoying it.

FKA twigs - LP1
This week's oddest new release is also one of the best. Jeff wanted me to make sure I included the debut album from FKA twigs, and I'm glad he did. It's odd and quirky in the best way, mixing the trip hop of Portishead with the freakiness of Tune-Yards and Bjork. If you like any of those bands, you need to check this out. 

It Looks Sad. - S/T 
My favorite of this week's new releases also has the worst band name. Luckily, the music is infinitely better than the band name would suggest. At only 4 songs (2 of which are "bonus tracks") and 15 minutes, I assume we'll be hearing more soon. It has elements of The Cure meets emo, but more the Jawbreaker side of emo. If you like the earlier material by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, you'll want to hear this. I'll be looking out for a full length hopefully sooner than later.

Prawn - Kingfisher
I wasn't familiar with Prawn before this week, but to me they sound like a less screamy version of The Sheila Divine. Good, straightforward alt-rock with the slightest hint of a 90s emo edge to it. Definitely worth a listen.

Also released this week:

Sinead O'Connor - I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss
Lucero - Live from Atlanta

Monday, August 11, 2014

Monday Mix: Travelogue

As I'm heading out on business this week (and Ken will be taking care of new releases), I was somewhat inspired to do a travel-themed mix this week. It's not to say that all the songs are about travel, but either something in the song or something in the title or something in my brain made me think of traveling. Designed to go from start to finish, hopefully this gets you through your travels this week.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

First Listen: New Releases for August 7

A very packed week this week, so let's not waste any time.

Katie Kate - Nation: I didn't know of Katie Kate before this week, and she sometimes raps on this always electronic album that combines some electro and synth on this interesting album. I'm going to need to spend some time with it, I think, to really see if it has staying power, but this was an interesting listen for me on a whole. If you dug the Princess Superstar from a few weeks ago, this might be worth a shot for you.

Tuatara - Underworld: I've been a fan of Tuatara since their first album nearly 20 years ago. I only got into it because it was a Peter Buck side project, but I became a fan in general pretty quickly. The downside to the group was that, as it expanded, it moved away a bit from its instrumental, experimental world music roots into something a little more broad, to the point that they actually had some basic vocal albums of late. Underworld, thankfully, is a return to the early albums in nearly every way, with some catchy tunes and interesting soundscapes throughout. I recommend everyone at least give this a shot, and if you fell off the bandwagon sometime in the last decade, this is definitely a reason to hop back on.

Arkells - High Noon: This is some fairly inoffensive, radio friendly pop rock music. I don't have a lot to say about this at all - having listened to it, it left no impression on me whatsoever, which probably isn't the best sign. With so much out this week, I can't really see this being necessary.

Clairy Browne and the Bangin' Rockettes - Love Cliques: I don't know if my perception of this group is shaded by the amazing "Love Letter," but if you're expecting an EP of tunes like that, this isn't the place. These are much slower tracks, still pretty good, but not really the exciting, immediate stuff Browne and crew are probably known for. As an EP, it works well, but if this is a shift in direction, I'm not so sure.

Spider Bags - Frozen Letter: Their first album for Merge, Spider Bags is a band I didn't know prior to this week. It's a weird one in some regards, with lo-fi elements alongside a crunchier, more produced feel. I enjoyed a lot of this album, although at 8 songs and around 30 minutes of a runtime, it's not a lot of album to really get attached to. Still, with my interest in this sort of thing, this is an album I'll be putting in rotation. Hard to compare it to something similar, but it does fit right in with the Merge oeuvre.

The Wind + The Wave - From the Wreckage: With The Civil Wars officially calling it quits this week, it was interesting to trip up on the debut album from The Wind + The Wave. While I think Angus and Julia Stone (also out this week, see below) better fill the slot, The Wind + The Wave do a sort of radio-friendly, accessible folk rock that seems to be The Big Thing as of late. With that said, it sounds like I'm disparaging it, but it's actually a really solid, enjoyable album from start to finish. It could stand to be a little less polished, but if that's the only complaint, I can only hope this has some staying power. Worth a listen.

Mozart's Sister - Being: Mozart's Sister is a one woman electropop project through Asthmatic Kitty. For some, that might be all you need to hear. For others, this is a pretty good, albeit kind of strange, album to listen to. I enjoyed it enough, but I can't say everyone would, and you'd probably get a good idea about how you'd enjoy the rest of the album. I'm a fan, though, and I'll be sticking with this one for a while.

Bear in Heaven - Time is Over One Day Old: I resisted Bear in Heaven for a long, long time. I think I was just tired of Bear bands and they were caught in the crossfire, as their brand of electro indie rock (which is somewhat muted on this album) really works for me. This is definitely a shift of sorts that kind of blurs what makes them interesting, and this ultimately means that we have an album that is good enough to listen to, but unmemorable enough to essentially be forgettable. You'll probably enjoy this as I did on first listen, but especially in a crowded release week, it has questionable legs.

Angus and Julia Stone - Angus and Julia Stone: Angus and Julia Stone started out as an old Amie Street find for me. Then "Big Jet Plane" was on a bunch of movies and shows and a lot of other people found them. Still, they're not nearly as huge as I feel like they should be at this point, as they are writing some of the best folk pop songs going right now. Especially with the gap left by The Civil Wars, Angus and Julia Stone have a solid shot with their fourth, self-titled album to fill that vacuum. Arguably my favorite album of the week, given the lack of missteps and near-perfect pacing, this is a must listen for the week.

Spoon - They Want My Soul: The latest album by Spoon is being hailed as a return to form, and I can't really disagree. I didn't care much for Transference, and I recognize that Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga was a little polarizing even if I really enjoyed it. This is Spoon the way my brain conceptualizes Spoon, and it's really solid from beginning to end. A highlight of the week for sure, and it might end up on a few end of year lists if the first listen is any indication for me. Highly recommended.

Sunny Sweeney - Provoked: The current trend in alt-country is really less "alt" and more "country," and, while Sunny Sweeney is part of that, her album is ultimately more Elizabeth Cook than, say, Sturgill Simpson or Kathleen Edwards. The level of twang that's on this album is normally a turnoff for me, but the longer I stayed with it, the more I got from it. There's a great Lucinda Williams cover in the middle, there's some solid storytelling, and it ends up being a quality album in the end in ways I didn't expect. Definitely a good listen if you're into a lot of the alt-country and folksy stuff we've featured here.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Monday Mix: Elephant Six

The 33/3 blog reminded me that Bill Doss of Olivia Tremor Control, also of Sunshine Fix, Apples in Stereo, and probably all the rest, passed away a year ago last week. The Elephant Six Collective were a group of bands that really, really took up a good deal of my listening time in college and beyond, so I figured, in honor of Doss, the mix this week would highlight some songs from those bands.

A fair warning to some - there's equal parts accessible (Apples in Stereo, Elf Power) and weird (Music Tapes, Major Organ and the Adding Machine), so, for best results, throw it on shuffle and enjoy the adventure.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Lees of Memory - "We Are Siamese"

For someone who was obsessed with Superdrag since 1996, I was really disappointed by their reunion album, Industry Giants. Somehow, it was just missing something their earlier recordings had, some kind of spark. Happily, that is back with The Lees of Memory, the new project featuring former Superdrag members John Davis and Brandon Fisher. This is their shoegaze project, and it's much more on the My Bloody Valentine side of things than it is The Stratford 4. It somehow merges the drone of shoegaze with the fuzzed out guitars of Superdrag. You can watch the video below.

The Lees of Memory's debut album, Sisyphus Says, is due out 9/16 on SideOneDummy Records. You can get some more information on their Bandcamp page.

Newport Folk Festival, Fort Adams State Park, Saturday, 7/26/14

After missing Friday's edition of the Newport Folk Festival, I entered Fort Adams State Park on Sunday determined not to miss a single thing. Of course, with 4 official stages all going at once, such a thing is impossible, as I re-learn every year.

Starting the day off at the Quad Stage, The Haden Triplets came on bright and early at 11:05 am. Considering the last time I saw Petra and Rachel perform live, it was at the Middle East in Cambridge with That Dog, the circumstances couldn't have been more different. Instead of 90s post-grunge guitars, they performed beautiful 3 part harmonies over classic country and folk songs. Dedicating their set to their father, the recently departed Charlie Haden, they covered classics like Bill Monroe's "Voice From on High" and The Carter Family's "Single Girl, Married Girl."

After The Haden Triplets, I headed down to the Harbor Stage for John Reilly & Friends. Yes, it's that John Reilly of such films as Magnolia and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. It was curiosity that brought me down, but he proved he's not just a musical novelty act. He even addressed it by declaring that he had some nerve playing folk songs at the Newport Folk Festival. His set was very stylistically similar to The Haden Triplets, and even covered "Single Girl, Married Girl." Having Becky Stark sing backup sure doesn't hurt.

I dragged myself away from John Reilly to head over to the Fort Stage for Pokey LaFarge. He kept the old-timey vibe going with his set of roots and Americana. Hailing from St. Louis, he always puts on a fantastic live show, so I didn't regret leaving John Reilly. He brought a 6 piece band, including a horn section, and played laid back numbers like "Bowlegged Woman" and "Sweet Potato Blues," the names of which perfectly describe the band's sound. Fighting the throwback act tag, their set was exquisitely timeless. Plus, the entire band was by far the best dressed of the entire weekend.

I made my way back over to the Quad Stage for my most anticipated act of the festival, Benjamin Booker. For an act to play one of the most prestigious festivals around without an album out, and with this much hype behind him, he better be amazing. Booker destroyed my expectations and rocked the entire crowd. Declaring right from the start that this wouldn't be a folk show, Booker delivered on his promise. His 3 piece band played harder than any other act I've seen in my 8 years of attending Newport, showing what Nirvana could have sounded like if Kurt Cobain had explored his blues influences more. He had the entire Quad Stage crowd up on their feet through almost his entire set, of which the highlight was "Have You Seen My Son." It was an interesting choice to slow it down with more mellow material for his last few songs, but it might have just been to bring us all down to earth for the rest of the day. His set was definitely the highlight of my weekend, if not year.

Houndmouth was up next on the Quad Stage. Led by the three way vocals of Matt Meyers, Katie Toupin, and Zak Appleby, I don't think I've ever seen a band have as much fun and play as loosely as they did on stage. Opening with a Funkadelic cover is always an interesting choice at a folk festival, but they made it their own and pulled it off. "Penitentiary" was just a revelation live and their pure joy at playing was contagious. After missing their set last year, it was spectacular to catch them this time around. I'll be keeping an eye out for them when they come around on their own, hopefully as soon as possible. 

Unfortunately, my desire to catch everything made my head down to the Fort Stage for Deer Tick. They've been involved with the festival for 5 straight years, and this was their main stage debut. To celebrate, the band took the stage decked in white tuxedos and yacht hats with a horn section. It was a triumphant set, with the biggest singalong of the weekend during "Ashamed." I don't think any band has come as far as they have since their debut at the Harbor Stage from bar band to overtaking an entire festival. I give it 2 more years until they're headlining the whole thing.

Of course, I wasn't able to catch all of Deer Tick since I had to make it over to the Harbor Stage for Lucius. It took me a while to warm to Lucius, but they officially won me over with their set on Saturday. They brought an updated version of 60s girl group pop to the festival and delighted the crowd. Their matching outfits and makeup can seem too gimmicky at times, but they clearly have chops, playing everything from keyboards to drums during their set. Mavis Staples even joined them for a rendition of "Go Home." When you can win over Mavis, you're doing something right. It was just another set of pure fun.

Puss n Boots closed out the Harbor Stage on Saturday. Norah Jones was the obvious draw for most in attendance, but they are truly a 3 person band with Sasha Dobson and Catherine Popper as equal members. I've never truly understood the Norah Jones thing, but she may have truly found her calling in an all female country band that plays Neil Young and Wilco covers. They were also joined by Mavis Staples for "Twilight." The crowd might have come for the A-list star, but they got a great performance from a band that I hope is around for a while.

Jack White closed out the Fort Stage and the night. Playing an absolutely firey set filled with more White Stripes songs than I could have expected ("Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground," "Hotel Yorba," "Ball and Biscuit"), he found new life with well known songs. It took a bit to accept that he has a top professional backing band, and some of the charm of The White Stripes is lost without Meg on drums, but you quickly got over it and just enjoyed the music. White made a comment that Newport was the first time in 12 years he could walk around a festival and just enjoy music without being bothered. And it was true. He was a regular fixture all day, walking around with John C. Reilly, and watching sets like Benjamin Booker. It's one of the truly magical things about the Newport Folk Festival. It's a huge name festival, but it's still as small and intimate as a club show. It's more of a community than an event.

Check back soon for our take on Sunday's edition of the Newport Folk Festival.