dru cutler - promo

Tuesday Tunes – “Familiar” by Dru Cutler

The television and film industries have seen plenty of remakes and reboots these last few years, with even more rumored to happen. Please make it stop. The same is true for the music industry, namely, band reunions. It’s rumored that Oasis may reunite and even Chris Cornell has said that an Audioslave reunion isn’t out of the question. While I’m always down for more Audioslave, it’s evident that nostalgia has a hand in shaping popular culture. Put on your rose-colored glasses (or take them off) because today’s tune explores that concept.


Album Review: Dust & Gold by Rafe Pearlman and Jonathan Plum

Dust & Gold - album art“Let me hear you,” Rafe Pearlman sings in “Even The Stars,” the opening track of his album with Jonathan Plum, Dust & Gold. “…Through dust and gold now / The echoes that showed how / Harder to hear in the noise that’s around.”

Perhaps unintentionally metaphorical, these lyrics are an excellent description of Dust & Gold. It’s a soft, mellow album that doesn’t scream for the listener’s attention, but rather, commands it through a unique blend of genres and influences.

Released on March 20, 2013, Dust & Gold is a collaboration between Seattle-based singer/songwriter Rafe Pearlman and producer/guitarist Jonathan Plum, with contributions from Tasha Jamison, Seth Littlefield, Chris Littlefield, and others.

Overall, the album has a gentle, sweet mood. Some songs, like “Over The Water,” reveal feelings of love and longing: “‘Cause I wanna be just like the stars and live and die as lovers / It will be sung, our song to the sun / We’d walk over the water.” Elements of nature such as fields, birds, water, stars, and sunlight recur throughout the album and fit perfectly with its organic, stripped-down sound.

Jonathan Plum and Rafe Pearlman (via Kickstarter)

Jonathan Plum and Rafe Pearlman (image from Kickstarter)

Although the similar mood of some songs can make the album feel a little lengthy at moments, the instrumentation makes each song unique. There are wonderful little nuances in the mix, like the soft claps in “Sweep Up The Stars” and the bass playing on “Missing You Every Day” and “Crown Us.” The beautiful transition from “Shade” into “Over The Water” is also worth noting.

The closing track, “Looking For A Field” evokes feelings of gratefulness, both for life and its unanswered questions. It satisfyingly concludes the journey Dust & Gold takes the listener on while hinting that the journey may not be over just yet.

For more on Dust & Gold: Bandcamp

builder of the house - promo photo

Tuesday Tunes – “There Is No Hourglass, Only Sand” by Builder of the House

Weather-wise, not much has changed since last week’s Tuesday Tunes post. In fact, I’m not sure it ever truly stopped raining. This weather doesn’t bother me too much, but I can tell it’s starting to wear on some people around me. For this week’s song, I figured if we can’t get sunshine outside, we can at least get some in this music video – literally.


nathan angelo promo photo

Tuesday Tunes – “September 22nd” by Nathan Angelo

It’s National Nathan Angelo Day! Or, September 22nd as most people call it. Today’s song by Nathan Angelo is appropriately titled “September 22nd” and featured on his album Through Playing Me (2006). Where I am, we’re having a rainy, dreary introduction to the fall season so it’s always great to have upbeat music to counteract the weather.

“If blood’s flowing through my veins / And there’s air to breathe, life to live / Then I’ve got a song to sing on this normal day / September 22nd.”

How’s that for an uplifting message? As long as we’re alive and breathing, there’s joy to be found and a purpose to live out, even on a completely ordinary (or rainy) day.

Check this out – on September 22nd of last year, Angelo shared the story behind “September 22nd” on his site.

I’m glad he still has a song to sing :-)

For more on Nathan Angelo: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Soundcloud | YouTube

Interview: Trenton Wheeler of Seryn on “Shadow Shows,” Faith, and Life Through Death

seryn - promo photo

(from left): Aaron Stoner, Scarlett Deering, Nathan Allen, Trenton Wheeler, Jenny Moscoso, & Jordan Rochefort

Since their 2011 debut, This Is Where We Are, Seryn has undergone changes ranging from their sound and lineup to the place they call home. In late 2014, the band’s home became Nashville when members Trenton Wheeler (lead vocals/ukulele), Nathan Allen (guitar), Jenny Moscoso (guitar/vocals), Aaron Stoner (bass), Jordan Rochefort (drums), and Scarlett Deering (violin) relocated from Denton, Texas. Seryn released their sophomore album, Shadow Shows, on February 17, 2015. The album retains Seryn’s signature vocal harmonies and folk roots while expanding the musical groundwork laid in their debut.

The band graciously allowed me to sit in on their soundcheck during a stop on the Shadow Shows tour. As they played through “The Fire,” sound swept through the venue and filled it to capacity before any attendees had arrived. I had no doubt that I was in for a gorgeous performance later that evening. But before that performance, I sat down with Trenton Wheeler to discuss Seryn’s latest album, the band’s spiritual dynamic, and the evolving meaning of “We Will All Be Changed.”

Runabay - promo photo

Tuesday Tunes – “Sign” by Runabay

Today’s tune comes from Runabay, a six-piece band from Northern Ireland. In just over one year as a band, Runabay has developed a sound that blends elements of folk, pop, and rock. In June, the band self-released their debut EP, The June EP. It’s a nice collection of songs with great use of vocal harmonies, and I love that all six members contribute vocals. There’s some nice imagery in the lyrics as well.

I’ve enjoyed listening to the EP and I’m interested in hearing more from Runabay in the future. You can stream The June EP here on Soundcloud. Happy listening!

For more on Runabay: Website | Facebook Twitter | Instagram | Soundcloud

Josh Garrels - promo - Nicole Mason

Tuesday Tunes – “At The Table” by Josh Garrels

Faith is a journey through mountains and valleys punctuated by periods of varying closeness and distance from God. For me, “At The Table” is a song about returning home and closing distance.

“At The Table” appears on Josh Garrels’ newest album, Home (released April 7, 2015), his highly anticipated follow-up to 2011’s Love & War & The Sea In Between. The album explores human and divine relationships, faith, sin, and grace with recurring themes of worship and homecoming. Despite initially being available for free, as is most of Garrels’ music at some time or another, Home charted on Billboard. If you’re interested, Chandler Coyle wrote a nice article on Garrels’ choice to give his music away.

Josh Garrels is a brilliant lyricist and I love the personification of innocence in “At The Table.” When innocence is given a face and a voice, it no longer seems like a small thing to lose. I just love how the lyrics put that in perspective.

“‘Cause I lost some nameless things / My innocence flew away from me / She had to hide her face from my desire to embrace forbidden fire / But at night I dream she’s singing over me / Oh, oh, my child”

“At The Table” serves as a welcome reminder that no matter how far we stray, there are loving arms awaiting our return.

For more on Josh Garrels: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp | Instagram

Go West, Young (Wo)Man: Adjusting to California

c/o PixabayYou may have noticed a gap in posts on my blog earlier this year. Long story short, I stepped away from blogging for a while to handle a schedule explosion and an illness in the family. Around that same time, a rapid and unexpected turn of events found me leaving the east coast for an internship in San Francisco. Aside from the three-hour time difference and steep terrain, San Francisco was a pretty big adjustment, so I thought it’d be fun to share some differences I noticed.

Can't we all just slow down and enjoy local coffee?

Can’t we all just slow down and enjoy local coffee?

The Culture of “Busyness”

Coming from the south, I’m accustomed to a slower pace of life. In San Francisco, people are generally very career-focused; they’re always busy and on the go. Since so many people work long hours, services that deliver groceries, do laundry, clean, cook, etc. are widely utilized. While working in San Francisco this summer, I ate at more restaurants in three months than I usually do in a whole year because there just wasn’t time to stay at home and cook. It was quite an adjustment for someone who’s used to cooking almost daily!

Public Transportation

Cable Car - SFBART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) transports around 300,000 people every day. It’s how I commuted to work and it (sometimes) beats sitting in slow-moving rush hour traffic. It’s loud, crammed like a sardine can during commute hours, and smells like weed half the time, but I didn’t mind riding it as much as I thought I would. In addition to BART, there are other public transportation options like the Caltrain and the famous cable cars. You can also rent bicycles to get around the city and there are designated bicycle lanes throughout San Francisco and most surrounding cities.  (more…)

erin mccarley promo photo

Tuesday Tunes – “I Can Be Somebody” by Erin McCarley

Update: The song has been removed from Soundcloud and the new link cannot be embedded, so you can hear the song and watch its new music video here.

This announcement came as a pleasant and unexpected surprise. New music! I first heard Erin McCarley’s music in 2009 when Love, Save the Empty was released. I bought the CD at F.Y.E. (whoa!), played the heck out of it, and it became part of the soundtrack to my junior and senior years of high school.

In 2012, McCarley released the iTunes-exclusive My Stadium Electric, a departure from the stripped down songs of her debut albumMy Stadium Electric didn’t quite match Love, Save the Empty for me, but it’s definitely not a bad album and it deserved much more promotion from the record label than it received. More on that in this 2012 Huffington Post story.

With my curiosity piqued by the announcement; I wondered if McCarley new music would sound closer to her debut or sophomore album, or if it would be something entirely different. This new single is in the same vein of My Stadium Electric. It’s upbeat, catchy, and the motivational lyrics have been replaying in my head quite a bit for the past 24 hours. “I Can Be Somebody” is the pep talk I didn’t realize I needed.

“Busted heart and it’s pouring rain / I feel the world turning for a change / I’m ready, I’m ready for a better life / And the waves running through the sky / I will raise my voice and cry / Oh, I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready!”

Lyrics like these make me feel that McCarley is not only embracing a new direction after some setbacks, but that things are only getting bigger and better from here. It’s a healthy, empowering attitude, and I love it.

I’m ready to hear more.

For more on Erin McCarley: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

Chris Cornell - promo - higher truth

Tuesday Tunes – “Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart” by Chris Cornell

The Soundgarden frontman is back in solo territory with his new single, “Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart.” Produced by Brendan O’Brien, this is the first song on Cornell’s forthcoming album, Higher Truth, and it’s paired with an excellent lyric video by Josh Graham.

On the first listen, this song’s arrangement reminded me of Cornell’s first solo album, 1999’s Euphoria Morning, which was remastered and reissued earlier this month as Euphoria Mourning. In this Kerrang! interview, Cornell discusses his solo career and new album. What’s most interesting to me is that “Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart” originally began as a country song! How interesting is that? I’m always fascinated by the way songs evolve from their early demos to the finished product.