I’m pretty sure that when Pilot Machines drops, I’ll have a new favorite band. The debut album by Darlingside won’t be released in its entirety until July, but to tide their fans over until then, Darlingside is releasing a series of 7″ singles in the new model of a subscription album. There are different tiers of subscriptions available: you can choose to stick with the digital, or go all the way with the vinyl. After the session, I received my first ever downloadigami. That is, a download code that doubled as my first real lesson in origami (a piece of paper that would fold into a boat if I followed all the directions properly). The model and approach are both very refreshing and organic. It feels like there’s nothing they haven’t thought of, and nothing they’re too afraid to try.
This is the first session we’ve done with a full band, and I hope you’ll enjoy the songs as much as we have.
Darlingside – The Ancestor
Today marks the second pre-release of Pilot Machines. Subscribers are now able to listen to studio recordings of “The Ancestor,” as well as a track called “The Woods.”
Darlingside – Sweet and Low
Nothing tastes like sugar
It’s all Sweet and Low
Nothing drinks like lemonade
Nothing skips like stone
“Sweet and Low” is my favorite of the three (but I say this loving them all). When I listen, I feel lost in the longing of the music and the beauty of the poetry. It’s no small feat to have penned beautiful verse about an artificial sweetener. From its packaging to its purpose, Sweet & Low is ugly; it’s a poor imitation of something we’re not supposed to enjoy that doesn’t actually meet its goal of being healthier than what it is meant to replace. And that’s what losing love is like: every sensation is numbed, every experience dimmed. You’ll remember the chasm of emptiness that comes with loss when you listen to this song. You might even realize the emptiness is greater than you thought. And that, in my mind, is the true accomplishment of this song: in realizing how deep blandness can be, you also realize how much there is to fill and be filled by. The art that sticks with you the most is the art that increases your capacity for experiencing love and beauty. “Sweet and Low” has done this for me more deeply than most songs I’ve ever heard.
Darlingside – Blow the House Down
When I learned that all 5 members of Darlingside shared a house together, I didn’t feel surprised. The deepness of their playing sinks beneath practice and talent. Seeing the five of them sing together is a spiritual transformation for everyone in the room. After this session, I can’t wait to experience what the full live show is like.
Meet the Dharma Bird himself: Ali Telmesani. I first met Ali in the parking lot of The Space, but it didn’t stop there. A few weeks ago, he moved within walking distance of my attic, so I was able to catch up with him for a quick session the other night. Please say hello to our little kitchen, where you can meet George Harrison and likely predict our inevitable doom by way of mountainous returnables (but please don’t go rooting for them just yet). And meet Jefferson Lewis, who, in addition to managing the day-to-day here in the attic with me, is engineering the Dharma Bird demos as well as performing as one of them himself.
Dharma Bird – Colorado Rain
Ali’s songs are all beautiful, and it’s a true pleasure to be surrounded by someone who is so enveloped in his craft, and so eager to share it with those around him. His songs yield the dusty freshness of a home: a seemingly contradictory way to describe an environment, but something you understand if it’s been too long since you’ve been able to drop your coat in the hallway and not be hassled to think about putting it away until whenever it is you remember.
Dharma Bird – Oh Dinah!
Please follow Dharma Bird everywhere on the internet, and keep your fingers crossed for when you might be able to do the same in real life: DB website, BandCamp, and Facebook. The Facebook page is pretty new, and every “like” counts in today’s drizzle of media and networking, so if you have an account, I know your click would be appreciated.
Dharma Bird – Hannah’s Heart of Laughter
As always, please share this videos everywhere in the world, and find us on Facebook and YouTube.
When Catherine and Bernadette of Bern & the Brights came to visit a couple weeks ago, they broke more than one record. I don’t think we’ve had anyone else visit us while on tour yet, and definitely no one has rocked out as hard on an electric guitar on my couch before. There’s such an amazing blend of musical energy in these two, both in their singing and their guitar playing.
Bern & the Brights are a great band from New Jersey. These cats have been releasing music and playing shows all across the region since 2008. Please visit them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the Internet proper. And check out all those beautiful pedals.
They visited on Super Bowl Sunday, and I’m really happy to say that they turned around my entire day. A week before their session, the Attic fell victim to many dirty dishes and a broken garbage disposal, and by the time I got home for their session, the wear of showering with all of our dishes in the bathtub had been really getting to me. But as soon as they started playing, I felt like a lightning bolt of energy and joy was surging through me. I hope you enjoy these videos as much as I enjoyed filming them!
Bern & the Brights – War & Games
Bern & the Brights – Slave Driver
Bern & the Brights – I Hope the Devil Brings You Down
One of the things I love most about our attic is that everything we do is different. Every session, every house concert, even every party and get-together—they each end up being special in a unique and beautiful way. Last month, our friends Velocipede & Neil Pearlman came to perform and these are some relics from that night. Velocipede features New England natives Julia Plumb (fiddle, foot percussion) and Baron Collins-Hill (mandolin, tenor guitar) picking racy fiddle tunes of both the public domain and their own creations. They just met their Kickstarter goal for the recording costs of their new record, but are still gratefully accepting donations for the next two weeks.
Neil rocked the hell out of my Yamaha keyboard (more than it’s even been rocked) with the accompaniment of fiddle and congas. The atmosphere came together with the perfect blend of party and concert: people were running around making drinks and small talk, but there wasn’t anyone in the room who wasn’t captivated by the rhythm and pulse of the music. Neil is currently embarking on a long spree of tour dates across the country, and documenting his experience at his blog Note Roads. Please enjoy & share these videos, and keep these artists in your bookmarks as creative people to check up on.
Velocipede – Little Nell [Tony Mates] // Carnival Reel [traditional]
Velocipede – The Birdhouse // Cat After Sausages
Velocipede [with special guests] – The Noon Lassies
This session is different from any other we’ve done so far. You don’t get the deep red of our large couches, but rather the warm yellow of our bathroom. Our friend Van Kolodin is a man who travels with a guitar. He arrived late in the evening to a party we were having, and this session was a spontaneous concert that was enjoyed mainly from the inside of our shower stall. These songs are special and they sound like music no one has played or heard before; Van reinvents the guitar to create sounds that will seep inside you and make you feel awakened in a way you couldn’t before.
Last week our good friend Heather Maloney came over and performed two brand new songs on our large red couch. Heather Maloney is a local phenomenon who has been touring and recording amazing music since 2009. Her most recent record, Time & Pocket Change, features some of my favorite music that I’ve heard in the past several years. You won’t find these two songs on that record, and that gives you all the good reasons to watch these videos, and then listen to Time & Pocket Change for more.
Seth Newton: a pleasure if there ever was one. Seth came to our attic by his acquaintance with Golden Spurs, who were here last time for a session. He is a musician living in Northampton, recording in Springfield, and performing all around. After years as a bassist and vocalist in the band Magna Mater, Seth is now embarking on a solo career, currently working on his first solo full-length. I was thrilled to meet with Seth, and we’re so happy to have connected with him. His songs are long, and I think they require your full attention to really grasp: they start off slow and quiet and before you know it explode like huge gusts of wind, and if you’re not watching, you’ll miss how they change. He’s the kind of guy who will show up to your party with two full boxes of pizza when everybody has forgotten to eat because they’ve been overcome with poker fever. These videos feature some of the most raw and intimate performances we’ve had yet in the attic, and I hope you all enjoy them as much as we have.
It’s my absolute pleasure to be posting this session with Golden Spurs. Golden Spurs is a rock-blues outfit originating from Worcester/Boston, and soon moving to Nashville, TN. The band has undergone many line-up changes in the past years, but one thing that’s certain is that Jared Brodeur, lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter, is in it to stay. Usually armed with an electric guitar, Jared sat down and played these two songs with my acoustic, and I’m thrilled to have captured his music in this raw and intimate setting. He’s accompanied on snare drum by Jared Colby, audio engineer and multi-instrumentalist, who is moving with Jared to Nashville. Jared & Jared truly rocked it, and it’s a proud moment for The Music in the Attic as well: our first session with an instrument other than guitar, as well as the introduction of a genre that is entirely different from anything we’ve featured before. Look forward to a full-length release from Golden Spurs in 2012.
We need to fix how few views this video has on YouTube (as of posting, 52). I first heard Mike Evin in 2009, when he came on the then-annual Ships & Dip cruise. I immediately fell in love with his music, with his fluidity as a performer and pianist, and with the fact that he loves music so much, he’ll write a song about anything: brushing teeth, watermelon, doing dishes, receptionists.
After the cruise, I saw him perform in Boston, during the summer of 2009. I remember being blown away by the set, of course, but one song stuck with me more than all the others, even though that concert was the first time I heard the song. It was this one, “I’ll Get Behind You,” and this workshop video is the only bit of info I’ve been able to find on the song since. I love the playfulness of the melody, how it breathes so easily, and how the vocal line interacts with the piano part.
The lyrics are explicit: there’s nothing too complicated going on here. It’s like going to a local park on a nice summer day, and realizing that you don’t have to travel far to enjoy the weather. This is a song about friendship, and the emotional twists and turns that inhabit so many pop songs are completely absent here. I’m glad that Mike Evin is adding this to the pile of friendship songs, as he so points out at the beginning of the video. Maybe the sentiment is similar to dozens of other songs, but the expression is unique. I love the word choice for the theme “I’ll get behind you.” That phrase isn’t something I’d say in everyday speech, and I think “I’ll stand behind you,” would be more natural and common. Notice how Mike Evin uses the less descriptive, more vague “get” to avoid the cliched saying, but doing so has a more vivid effect despite the lack of imagery connected to the word. It demonstrates a lot of strength as a songwriter to be able to manipulate words like that, to achieve showing instead of telling while still using “weak” verbs.
Whether you’ve needed the assistance of another person recently or not, the experience of friendship is something we should all value on a regular basis, and this song is a welcomed reminder, guaranteed to make your day better, to make you smile at the memory that you have been a friend to another person, and that you’ve had someone else be a friend to you.
Oh brother of mine there were times when I was down
You’d come for a walk and we’d talk it through this town
Now if you ever need it too
I’ll get behind you and open up your door
Let me remind you we’ve all been there before
I’ll get behind you and call on me some more
Whatever you’re going through,
I’ll get behind you
Oh brother it’s real when you feel you got a hole
What’s eating inside and you hide from those you know
What if that’s all we took as the truth
I’ll get behind you and open up your door
Let me remind you we’ve all been there before
I’ll get behind you and call on me some more
Whatever you’re going through,
I’ll get behind you
Oh brother I know that you gotta show
You’re moving along, you’re staying strong
But just in case your plans fall through
J: Let the record show… this is Music in the Attic. We’ve got Maggie here from the famous Hannah & Maggie. I don’t know where the ampersand falls in the relationship: if you’ve got it, if she’s got it.
M: We’ll split it right in half.
Maggie Thomasina – Little Wind
Maggie Thomasina – Brighton Beach
J: That sounds reasonable. So you recorded your first record Fine Being Here last J-term. And you’re gonna record another record this J-term. So tell me about that record.
M: Oh man. Right now it exists obviously only in our minds and we’d love to record a couple more songs than we did last time. We have 11 tracks on the first album and we’d love to do at least 12 this time around. And we’re trying a lot of different things out for the first time. We’ve written a huge amount of music since last January. We’ve encountered so much, so many different influences. We’ve been listening to a lot of different music and meeting a lot of different musicians, and bands that we encounter either in person or on the internet. We’re constantly finding ways to incorporate new sounds in our own music.
So I feel like the album will be a lot different: it will still sound like us, but it will be a different kind of us. We’re looking to get a lot more percussion on the album, we want a drummer to play on every track for sure, which wasn’t the case the last time. We want strings, we want weird ambient noise in the background, we want a fuller sound. And that’s new for us, because the entire album Fine Being Here was the culmination of all of the songs we wrote over the course of our lives, before we knew each other. Now that we have come together and sat down and co-written all of these songs, we’ve pieced them together along the way to have other stuff in them. We’ve done artificial upright bass on GarageBand and drum tracks and shakers and pianos, all obviously on the computer, but we’d love to see what it sounds like live. So I guess long story short, it’ll be deeper musically, and I guess lyrically, there are a lot of songs about crazy times in our lives. I was abroad, I was studying in Ecuador for most of the time that I was writing songs that will be on the album and Hannah was about to graduate from college. So they are both really crazy experiences and they resulted in a lot of crazy music. I’m really excited, we can’t wait.
J: Are all the songs on the first record one or the other? Are any of them co-written?
M: There are, if I had to say, about two that are 100% from start to finish co-written. Which would be “Things We’ll Never Know” and “Not the One.” Those were two songs that we sat together and wrote the whole way through; we were with each other the whole time. The rest of them were either mine or Hannah’s, so we had to rework them to include each other. We wrote new harmonies, we wrote new guitar parts for all of them, but they originated with one or the other. Which I think is really interesting because this time around, we were both so involved in all of them, for the most part. There are one or two that we wrote completely alone, but for the most part it’s the exact opposite, it’s way more involved from both of our ends.
J: How do you guys go about writing together?
M: It’s different every time. For the most part, so say I am playing around on the guitar and I come up with this chord progression that I really like but I don’t know what to do with it I’ll record an mp3 of it and I’ll send it to Hannah because we don’t live in the same place. Hannah lives in Manhattan and I’m here in Northampton. I’ll send her an mp3 of just basic, bare bones, of me just futzing around on the guitar and she’ll take it and she’ll play mandolin over it, or she’ll come up with a melody, she won’t have words but she’ll hum the melody over the guitar and she’ll send it back to me and it’s this constant back and forth. We find things we like and we save them, things we don’t like we come back to or get rid of. And I guess once we both feel like there’s not a lot more to be done and we’re happy with it, we consider it done. We put it away and next time we see each other we work on playing on live, and get ready to flesh it out the way it will be in the studio. We help each other with everything. If she has a weird syllable thing where the words won’t fit I’ll figure it out, if I can’t figure out where the bass line should be she’ll figure it out. It’s totally collaborate which is awesome. It’s really great. Songwriting has taken a really interesting shape because we’re not in the same place. I guess the last time we wrote a song where we were actually together in the same room was over the summer. We’ve written 3 or 4 songs since then.
J: Over the summer when you were together you did a mini-tour of the Northeast. How did that go?
M: It was awesome. I’d never done anything like that before. You know, we, obviously as I said before, I was in South America and Hannah was at Smith College and the summertime came and I had a full-time job at a summer camp and she was traveling around a little bit after graduating. We realized the only time we really had was a 2 week block at the end of the summer where we were both going to be a) in the United States and b) in close proximity. We didn’t have a lot of expectations; we’d never even played 2 shows in a row, let alone 2 weeks of music. We started in my hometown in Maplewood, NJ and we kind of just went. We encountered a lot of crazy stuff on the way but it was mostly just laughing and music and meeting awesome people and we hung out with really really cool people along the way and made friends and sold some CDs and just got a taste of what it would be like to be out making music and that’s all you’re doing, which is what we want to do.
J: So summer 2012. Yeah?
M: Yeah! I’ll be done with college and I have nothing to do but try to play music. We’re gonna try and see what happens, we’re gonna try and meet more people and play more shows and be out playing for longer we’d love to do 4 weeks or something, or a bunch of little blocks of time. We haven’t done a lot of planning yet but we have every intention of playing as much as possible.
J: So are you going to move somewhere in New York?
M: Actually I’m pretty close in New Jersey. So I’ll be close enough where we’ll be able to rehearse during the week and we’ll be able to figure it all out. It’s been really interesting and difficult being in different places. But I think we’ve done an okay job of trying to play shows when we can and finding weekends when we can go to one place or the other. So it hasn’t been totally unbearable.
J: The second record is gonna be the fleshed out, band record. Are you planning to tour as more than a 2-piece or are you going to strip down the songs for the show?
M: We’ve talked about this a lot. We’ve talked about what it would be like to have a band. From a logistical standpoint: could we fit more people in this car full of instruments? And from a musical standpoint: would we have time to get someone in and first of all find someone who would want to play and second of all someone who would be into our music? I feel like there are so many factors you have to take into consideration when you have more people because music is a crazy experience for everyone it’s a totally personal intimate thing. Sometimes you find people you’re musically compatible with and sometimes you’re not on the same page. We’ve talked about all these things and we’d love to have more people playing with us. We’d love to play plugged in, louder, fuller, it would be awesome. It’s nice to play acoustic sets but after a while you wonder what it would sound like if there were more people involved. I think it would be great, you know, the best thing in the world. But you never know how many people you’re gonna find who are like yeah sure I’ll quit my job and come for a month in the summertime and you know, play shows and not get paid and all that stuff. So hopefully we’ll figure something out, so we can try to reproduce as best we can the stuff we do on the album.
J: Will the songs you played tonight be on the record?
M: Definitely the first song that I played which is called “Little Wind.” That will definitely be on the record. And the other one I’m technically not finished with yet. I wrote it in April or May and you know Hannah likes it a lot and we’ve talked, it could benefit from something else, maybe a chorus or something else in there. I can’t say officially that it will be on the album but I really hope it is. It’s an important song for me. We’re still trying to map out where we’re going to with it.
J: Do you have a favorite band?
M: Oh man! [let the record show that Maggie is thinking] I never know what to say when people ask me this. I can’t say for sure that I do. I feel like there’s music that I’ve been listening to consistently for a really long time, and maybe that qualifies, or someone that i’m really into right now. I’ve been listening to the Bon Iver album since the day it came out, and that’s going on six or seven months now. I refuse to stop listening to it. You could say I’m currently totally enamored. I liked his first album a lot, I love the fact that he went crazy on the second album and everything that came in between it.
Now let the record reflect that we chatted for a few more minutes, and I thanked Maggie profusely for stopping in for an Attic Session. Right now she and Hannah are running a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for their next record, which you can support here.